i can't wait just like you can't wait / until we're out past familiar gates / those seven words shook the life back in / so let's just run 'til we lose our breath.

there are the mckenzies. and then there is everybody else.

Posted: Nov 30, 2010 | Posted by marcy | 0 comments

holidays on one end of my family sometimes (always) go a little like this:

we drink wine from a box.

for no better reason than there is no reason at all.

[except that it’s tradition. and you don’t mess with tradition.]


we share our wealth of boxed wine with Maddie Pie.

because we are good sharers.

and because we think she will like it.


but she doesn’t really like it and runs away.

and we think this is funny.


we drag canoes to the middle of the yard.

because why not.


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and then we get inside the canoe.


and then we find all the concrete sculptures scattered around the yard and decide they would like to get inside the canoe, too.


and we think this is also funny.


and then we pose for an absurd number of photos with our concrete sculptures.

in the canoe.

in the yard.

with the box of wine.

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and then we try to put Maddie Pie in the bird bath.

but she is not into this.

kinda like she is not into the box of wine.


so we sit in the bird bath without her.

and that suits us just fine, too.


and then we sit on the back steps and talk about how glad we are that we are McKenzies.

and how we don’t really want to know what a “normal” thanksgiving is like.

because we think it might be boring.


and the McKenzie family doesn’t do boring.

or normal, for that matter.


[*editor’s note: if you are wondering where all the other McKenzie members are . . . they were the peanut gallery taking the photos. naturally. or inside eating.]

the appendix. but not the one in your stomach. or wherever appendixes actually are before they rupture.

“it wasn’t over. IT STILL ISN’T OVER!”

name that movie.

no, wait . . . don’t.

it’s embarrassing enough that this film quote has decided itself upon my inner dialogue, but it’s the first thing that came to mind. and it stuck. so deal with it.

the white impala is no longer mine. that gps lady no longer tells me to “turn left, then stay left, then turn left, then go point 2 miles and turn left”

that’s a circle, bitch!

we got along most of the time.

and now i’m left with the 96,000 photos i took as a means of relaying my world and direction to the crew that was always 4 days behind me. and then 3. and then 2. and then we were reunited on an island and it was sort of like christmas. but unseaonably warm. and on an island. with no christmas trees. otherwise, it was just like christmas.

i also have the infinite number of shampoo samples which i’ve crammed into my medicine cabinet. somewhat unsuccessfully. and about a year’s worth of expenses and paperwork to go through.

and about 300 free nights in hotels.

[hello, hilton family. so glad to be on your priority list]

oh, and travel pasta (thank you, angie . . . it made it all the way from vegas, through the entire state of nevada, and all of cali, and back across the nation again. and it makes me smile. and think about gavin. and cars.)

and i have the memories.

more memories than i’m even sure my soul knows what to do with. and certainly with no knowledge (yet) of how to process them appropriately. or maybe they don’t need processing at all. maybe they are just fine left unprocessed. like raw foods. which is fitting, seeing as though the memories themselves are rather raw.

because they just happened.

people keep asking me what my favorite part was.

favorite part?

that’s sort of like asking people who their favorite child is. and while they probably secretly do have one, the rightful response is always “i have no favorites.”

so my answer will remain the same.

i have no favorites.

and if i do (which i do), i think i’m keeping it to myself.

for now.

in the meantime, you can have my highlights. in no particular order. whatsoever.


[boulder, colorado. i like it here. probably should have put it on my list of college towns. which i realize is somewhat blasphemous with regards to my beloved athens, but we are talking in pretend terms, so it doesn’t count.]


[lake tahoe, california / nevada. because it encompases 2 states. which is rad. i don’t think this needs further explanation. and no, it’s not the encompassing of 2 states which makes it rad. figure it out.]


[chicago, illinois. which is sort of the perfect city because it has all the things about new york that i love without all the things that i hate. at least that was my impression. and there’s a lake. a big one . . . and other things which make it a highlight.]


[lake tahoe. again. okay, so that’s 2 for tahoe, 1 for the rest. whatever, get over it.]

002 (2)

[general store. placerville, california. okay, so maybe this isn’t saying much to you, but you weren’t there. like i said . . . some things i keep for myself.]

030 (2)

[en route to san francisco. while discussing the importance of eating an in-n-out burger while on the left side of the country. which never happened. if the sky looks like it was on fire, it’s because it was. even an east coast girl can say eat it, east coast.]


[alamosa, colorado. or just outside of it. there are cows nearby. i liked the cows.]


[in between central city and grand island, nebraska. there is an incredible small town blue collar pride here that makes me want to do something more honest. and be better. a lot lot better.]


[san francisco, california. should i go on? go here, dream here, do big things here, and stop complaining about how expensive it is. they have sea lions. i could move here. tomorrow.]

[and thank you.]


[zion, utah. it’s sort of a lame photo, i admit. but there is nothing i could show you that would justify the awesomeness of this place. it shook me to my core. and wait until i stain you with the video of my star athlete climbing that vertical rock on the left. you will book a flight the next day. it is that epic.]


[arizona. the.whole.damn.state. . . . don’t want to live here. ever. but i like it, nonetheless.]


[denver, colorado. any town that grows flowers in a toilet gets a thumbs up from me.]


[great sand dunes national park. just go there. and then thank me.]



[santa monica, california. let’s just pretend, for a moment, that it is entirely separate from los angeles. which it is . . . in my own mind. there is a ferris wheel. and sand. and drunk yoga on the beach. and a plethora of wetsuits which make the pacific ocean look like it’s been taken over by seals. and a sunset that will make you reevaluate your entire life.]



[catalina island, california. okay i just realized the majority of these photo memories take place in california. shit. this one also needs no real explanation. just go there.]


[the cows. in colorado.]


[columbus, ohio. another cool town which i think might get overlooked. unless you are an ohio state fan. or me, who gets shipped there without knowing it’s actually a cool town. i like surprises.]


because it happened.

and because this is another photo op found inside an elevator shaft.

and because corporate suits are already talking about doing it all over again.

to which i reply:


the cutter crew.

team cutter took the road by storm (as if that wasn’t already happening) and embarked on a seemingly illogical reverse adventure.

los angeles to denver.

with no stops.

with raging hangovers under our belts (thank you, wrap party, i forgot how much i love mixing tequila and red wine. and a lot of both) we pulled out of santa monica well past the sunset, pumped up the jams at decibels worthy of a high speed police chase, and found ourselves in denver 19 hours later.

the cutter crew is made up of 4.

and we all serve a purpose.

i have been designated Cutter 5.

in the military, people are assigned numbers in accordance to their position.

5 is always the medic.

[or so i am told. i’m not in the military, so what do i really know. i’m just going with it.]

which is awesome considering all i can remember from CPR class is something about blowing air into one’s mouth and then pushing a whole bunch of times on their sternum until it either snaps under pressure or the heart starts beating again.

but i’m sure i could save your life if push came to shove.

this reverse trip wasn’t part of the original plan.

i was supposed to take a flight back to new york after logging the first 6,798 miles.


[and if you do the math, that’s the equivalent of crossing the motherland twice. at least. holla.]

i thought driving across the nation once would be enough. more than enough. i’m-so-tired-of-driving-i-want-to-put-my-skull-through-a-glass-window enough. that kind of enough.

apparently not.

cutter.0 (as in cutter-point-0 . . . that’s just what he wants to be called. even though it’s not an official rank. i didn’t argue. we’ll make it official for our own amusement.) wants to go to Amarillo next, eat a 72-ounce steak, and have all of us buy matching shirts and knives with our names on them.

that plan got vetoed rather quickly by the production company sponsoring this little journey.

perhaps because texas is not even remotely on the way from denver to new york city.

even though we tried to convince them it was.

with an atlas in hand and everything.

or perhaps because they knew we’d be putting all related expenses on the company amex.

which is hardly true.

i was fully prepared to purchase my monogrammed knife all by myself.

in any case, it was a good idea . . .

put your glasses (or styrofoam cups) together for the cutter crew. lord knows, we are.


catalina by way of san diego and santa monica. in the reverse order.

it’s the 2nd to last stop.

sort of.

i still don’t have a plane ticket home. and i still don’t care. it seems better that way. and it’s not my problem anyhow.

they could ask me to drive back across the nation.

and i could say yes.

in a week’s time, i’ve devoured vegas, death valley, lone pine (as if there could never be two pines. and definitely not three), lake tahoe, reno, placerville, san francisco, santa cruz, los angeles (and all the bits and pieces that come with that), and san diego – with a pit stop in san clemente for homemade chicken soup and some family. family i haven’t seen in a decade or more, yet it kind of seemed like yesterday. that’s the good kind of family.

the week looked a lot like this:


and i looked a lot like this:


[always with a seatbelt on. safety first.]

and my world was summed up by this:


[which, ironically, was found on the inside of an elevator shaft. but true. oh so true]

i hit 2 bars named sierra gold in 2 different cities. both with a closing time of never.

i sat inside a 400 year old general store in the middle of nowhere (also known as one of the greatest small towns this country has ever known. or, perhaps, not known) and wondered to myself not only how did i get here, but why did it take me this long?

i visited the sea lions at pier 39 who have it way better than the rest of us, stacked on top of each other in a lumpy pile, and wondered if they would like it if i pet them or if they would rather dismember my body limb by limb.

i had my life changed in 3 seconds by this:


and had my life changed again only days later by this:


2 words: lamb skewers. it’s like crack on a stick.

that is if i did crack and enjoyed it. then it would probably be something like that.

(hana zen. san francisco. go there, if you know what’s good for you. in fact, do just about anything in san francisco, if you know what’s good for you. and then do it all over again.)

i walked around in the pouring rain. and liked it.

i laughed a lot.

i even cried.

i rolled the windows down and sang my favorite song at the tip top of my lungs and then got pulled over by a cop because said song and said singing turned my rental car into a rocketship. apparently. allegedly.

and then i was told i could expense my speeding tickets to the company.


i picked 2 cities i want to move to and mentally made plans to move there as soon as i conclude this adventure.

and i meant it.

or mean it.

i took a bath with a miniature whale.

i drank overpriced vodka and ate overpriced food and had intellectual conversations about the art of filmmaking. with strangers.

i stared at this for a really long time and solved all of my problems. and probably most of yours, too:


i had my heart stolen by wonder.

and restored by newness.

i did a lot of things, saw a lot of things, thought about a lot of things that i will keep only for myself.

because they are better that way.

because they are mine.

and then i looked back through my photos just so that i could know for certain that it was all real.

turn my head.

i’ve made a dead stop in my tracks a few times over the last (i’ve lost count) many many days. which have now become full weeks.

soon to be over a month.

but never have i stopped as many times as i have in the last few days.

maybe it was the pacific air.

and maybe it wasn’t.

as i make my way down the coast of cali this week, i will inch closer and closer to the end of a journey that not only surpassed my expectations, but changed everything. and by everything, i mean a lot. and by a lot, i mean i don’t really know where to begin.

my biggest fear is that i’ll wake up in my own bed and think it was all a dream.

how could i not?

on the drive from san francisco to santa cruz this afternoon, i stopped for this:


something pretty awesome happens when that sphere of fire dives into the ocean.

and something also a little teeny bit sad.

the day ends.

and it might have been your favorite day. (it was.)

and you might not have wanted it to end. (i didn't.)

rest easy, people. there is a high note here: