Video of the Day


Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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In Which We Step Inside Your Closet

Things You Might Read on a Fashion Blog


 - omg new favorite jeans

- This is what the inside of my closet looks like

- I want to change the title of this blog, here are the options: "Anthropologie on Adderall", "Frosting & Flared Jeans", "Scarf Tales". Vote in the comments section! A random winner will be chosen on Friday! You’ll receive a bracelet woven from prairie grass and the hair of an organic farmer’s daughter, omg so boho

- Congratulations to missy52343290342 and omgsopreppy43829043892, who won the bracelets! Be sure to email me with your contact information! Stay stylish!

- What I wore for brunch on Saturday! This lovely blouse was sent to me by fellow fashion blogger, Stephanie, of "Peplums & Pregnant Pictures That Were Probably Faked Because Nobody Looks That Good When They're Knocked Up", I'm going to say I think she wore it better even if I don't lol

- I live in stripes, here is a picture of all the striped shirts I own! I’m considered sending some of them to underprivileged children, but I just don’t know which ones to part with I love them all so much omg

- So hungover from the party I hosted last night, I made cocktails with Pellegrino, pickle juice, and flowers from my backyard, here I am sitting at this Starbucks with an iced coffee the size of my head, my neighborhood Starbucks doesn’t look like a Starbucks outside this is why I come here for my photos, wrought iron outdoor furniture ftw omg so Parisian. I’m wearing a beret in honor of the occasion and also because it’s like 105 degrees and I want to be edgy

- My significant other took this photo, look how cute he is, I won’t tell you that I set his old wardrobe on fire and picked out a whole new one because if I do then you’ll know we beautiful and well-dressed people don’t naturally attract one another and also that I'm crazy

- Haha I’m texting on my iPhone in all of these photos, such a dork

- I wore this to brunch on Saturday morning, we ate pancakes, I never want to eat anything else omg

- omg new favorite jeans they retail for $3289048329

- “I” “really” “love” “the” “vintage” “silhouette” “of” “this” “skirt”

- Omg thank you to the 15,343 people who reblogged my previous post (the photo of me in a the polka-dot dress, which I said was my grandmother’s but looks suspiciously like one they carry at J. Crew) with the word “This.” written underneath it, I feel so special you guys

- My fashion policy is that you can never have too many boyfriend sweaters, I have one in every color of the rainbow and some that are so far off the color spectrum they are invisible to the naked eye

- So I cut my hair short, I’ve always been so adventurous with my hair, I’ve had straight-cut bangs, straight hair, curly hair, pixie cuts, hippie hair lol it also helps that so many of you also have this exact same haircut I could pretty much guess that it would look good on me or at least know that people would like it lol jk

- I’m in New York for Fashion Week

- A lot of you have been asking about my beauty routine well here it is when I wake up in the morning I bathe my face in milk and then bacon fat to keep it well hydrated haha and then before I go to bed I meditate at dusk by the light of the moon and then bathe my face in a solution of my own tears and ammonia that I have kept in this vintage crystal bottle I found on Etsy omg

- I live in Los Angeles with a rooftop terrace that I have decorated with very expensive things that I bought during my numerous vacations to Hawaii and Europe, I documented them here and here, omg still love that bathing suit so much, omg running late for my part-time gig at this local designer I work for (Urban Outfitters)

- I love my parents!!!!!!!!!!

- omg new favorite jeans

- gratuitous picture of my brunch haha, yep still on a pancakes kick

- When I was in New York for Fashion Week...

- Ok guys I've been feeling so melancholy for the past few days, I couldn't shake it, I just felt so deeply about you all and the response to this blog, it's been overwhelming, I even cried a little bit, omg I just can't get over the fact that two years ago there was nothing, and now there's this and I just feel like I'm heading in the right direction with my life, you know? Like this all matters? I don't know if that makes sense lol, anyways here's the new purse my boyf bought for me, haha some girls just get ice cream but I get retail lovin' from my man 

- I absolutely love this neon trend because I’ve always loved neon duh

- I’ve been saving this dress for the perfect occasion, it arrived in the mail a few days ago and i haven’t been able to stop touching it, it’s sort of like a security blanket I even sleep with it

- This is my ultra-cute miniature version of a dog

- I think I’ve worn this skirt like four times, it’s the most I’ve ever worn something before omg I must be tired, maybe I need a break you guys

- Look so out of it in these photos, we had a really crazy weekend at our lake house picnicking and taking the boat out and seeing all our friends and drinking a lot of very aesthetic cocktails and it’s been nice to just lie in bed all day and not have a job, I don’t think I’ve ever included a picture of my jammies before today

- Support your local designers!!!! Today I’m wearing a dress from H&M

- Cupcakes

- Just going casual in jeans and a t-shirt today, guess I'm a normal person too, oh wait look at these Gucci shoes

- My favorite neighborhood thrift store (omg visit if you come to LA) is so amazing, they always set aside things they know I'd like and occasionally sacrifice small animals in my honor

- Sold out online sniff sniff 

- Ugh I've had this bag forever, like since last Saturday, it's already been with me through thick and thin like when I spilled my iced coffee inside, oh boy I had to spend some time at the Genius Bar that day, here's me and Blake the guy who fixed my iPhone, he's got awesome nerd style

- Here is a picture of five-year-old me wearing mom's heels proving I was already so into fashion

- I always say just wear what makes you feel beautiful who cares about the trends OMG POLKA DOTS

-  Important! meetings! in New York necessitating large iced coffees 

- We found this shabby chic couch on the side of the 405, omg I just had to have my daily outfit pic with it so I made my bf wait for a break in traffic and then run out and balance on the median to get the perfect shot, I think it turned out well don't you lol 

- My boyfriend gave me his giant gold watch!!!!! He didn't even know it was so trendy right now, omg love you baby

- Hey look at these vintage pics of my grandparents, obviously style runs in my family

- Here's another picture of my face lol 

- I'm so sorry I haven't updated lately, I've been busy running errands, brunching, spending quality time with my close-knit friends and family with whom I never argue but who don't merit a place on this blog because duh they're not pretty enough, racking up credit card debt

- Book deal! omg guys, it's full of beauty tips, outfit suggestions, interior decorating tips, you can pre-order it here, I did it without you but I'm going to pretend I couldn't

Kara VanderBijl is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. She last wrote in these pages about Jeff Buckley. She twitters here and tumbls here.

"Sleep Tight" - French Wives (mp3)

"Me vs. Me" - French Wives (mp3)



In Which We Dislike Geographical Distances

Of Eros


I hate geographical distances and maybe that is why I am fond of photographs of celebrities catching flights on several different airports in one week. There is something in defying distance, something almost blasphemous or at least exciting in changing the scenery of her destiny every now and then.

At home we didn’t own a globe or a map of any kind. In my dad’s office there was one showing the former Yugoslavia’s topography. I never found it to be sufficient. My fingers would wonder outside of its borders sometimes to Italy, sometimes south, across the Mediterranean Sea, back to the place I was.

I often remember these finger travels when I’m at airports or at bus stations; also I still do these travels. I close my eyes and randomly place my finger somewhere. Before I do so, I make sure I’m far from the center, where Europe is, and that I’m not pointing very low or very high, so I’m at a safe distance from both poles. Now, very often, selfishly, I miss my self around some people who are far away, and then, I look up a stash of photographs in messy and unnamed folders.

One of those people is Raphael. We met at the opening of an exhibition of broken relationships. Among everyday items and quirky and sophisticated commemorative objects of past love stories, stood the only black man in the room. Over the curse of one very hectic week in August, I got to know this tall, Dutch student of English and literature. My initial drive was to tell him all the “interesting” things I learned from my high school librarian who occasionally taught postmodern literature. I’m pretty sure I followed my initial drive, because it is the only explanation for me defining love to him as "the creative energy of Eros." Of course, I was the one who asked that question in first place.

I didn’t stop speaking or being endlessly happy to have met him. At points it looked like an infatuation, and maybe it was. We didn’t explore that option, because among other things, he had infectious mononucleosis, commonly known as the kissing disease. Unlike the sleeping beauty, Raphael could not have been woken. On the contrary, he could have passed his sickness with one. If I was to be infected with fatigue and fever, I wish it would have been because of someone like Raphael.

I try not to think about it when he drives me on his bike in Amsterdam, when I’m leaning on his back, trying to be cool about it, and about the bare windows of homes of Amsterdammers implying unrestrained comfort; the river, the screaming tourists, the fact that it is so beautiful all together.

I don’t wish I had met Raphael when he was a teen for a simple reason, between playing basketball and playing a text based supernerdy multiplayer online game, he and his crowd were into coining nicknames. I bet I would have been nicknamed something similar to what they called the Christian girl: "Vaginus Innocentius." Also, Raphael was in love and could barely eat because of Tanya, a girl he remembers like “stunning natural beauty who I never dared to hit on.” With Tanya and later Charlotte on his mind, we could have never talked about anything or more enjoyably sat together in silence like we sometimes do.

If we forget Deny the dog, Selma is the only child. By all definitions and expectations, she should be a loner, self-centered and selfish. Yes, she is a loner, and she may seem at times self-centered, but she is never selfish. When I got to know Selma, I realized these trades are also chosen ways in which she deals with intrusions of the world, how she ignores the screaming brutalities of our war-torn country.

Selma and I were two cocky idiots who shared the same concerns. Our concerns were so frivolous, but we were two seventeen year olds who thought their observations are beyond their primer object of interest. We would often silently stand next to each other on the bus, observing people. Selma would notice the leftovers of hair gel on schoolboys’ ears; I would nod with a smile.

I will forever remember when I knew she was someone with whom I could share my secrets. We were at a school trip in a beach resort in Turkey. The loud pop music, the enormous sun and the sweet taste of food and drinks were making me dizzy most of the time. When I was with Selma, sharing our dizziness while walking hand in hand, the dizziness would slowly fade away. I guess, if each of us got an equally dizzy or sick companion, we would no longer feel any of it. Our platonic lesbian parade distracted the hormone-raging men of the beach resort. I’m not sure if we knew the full meaning of patriarchy then, but we surely felt like we were beating it in the stomach.

Selma lived outside of Sarajevo, in the suburbs of a smaller town. She would drive her bike around her idyllic neighborhood covered with apple and oak trees. She loved Alanis Morisette, Radiohead and Björk. Recently I have disclosed to Selma that I actually can’t stand Björk. Her squishy and at the same time screaming voice puts me at unease. “Unlike you, the eternal tranquilizing human pill,” I told her. Selma smiled back from a Skype window chat. She is in Japan now. Just recently she learned how to ignore the sounds of Tokyo and to appreciate when she senses that there are thousands of humans less out there.

The first thing that Selma and Helena have in common is their appreciation of Miranda July. Both of them lent or gave me something of her work. Selma lent me the DVD of Me and You and Everyone We Know, Helena lent me No One Belongs Here More Than You. She spotted the yellow cover of the books on a gas pump in middle of nowhere in Germany. It would have been exceptionally great if Helena found another book by July there, among love novels, porn and gossip publications.

Unlike most of us teenagers of the Scully and Mulder era, Helena never thought of dinosaurs or NLO. Like now, when alone, she read in her bed and wrote “really embarrassing poems” and made “faux-sad drawings.” Helena was born to be loved and listen to. I love her eyes and her expressions when she tells me a story or retells what happened to her since last we met. Helena’s charm is in the comfortable way she bridges the maturity of her soul and the unexpected desires of her young self. She never stops to be wise, understanding or compassionate. Not even when she breaks hearts.

I could easily picture her 16-year-old self deciding to become “more of a girl." She would put lots of make up, borrow sexy dresses, and drink purple and green drinks. I bet, even then, she would single out from all the smoke, glitter, sounds of the clubs she is been to a beautiful lyrical scene to share with the diary or her friends.

Last time I saw Helena, she cooked a dinner for my sister and me in her home in Amsterdam. We sat around the table, a bunch of soon to be adults, concerned about everything, caring actually for nothing. I wish I was there when Helena’s first childrens' play premiered. After the show a mesmerized eight-year old asked Helena if the story was somewhere in a book so he could read it again.

I met Luka on Valentine's Day in a cinema, at an Ingmar Bergman screening. Most people would in defining Luka use the sentence “unlike anyone I have met” for reasons most limited to his calm and yogi like posture, and the fact that he wears things previously worn by his late dad or other male figures from his life. Luka is like nobody I have met because he is never angry, anxious or upset because of the weather or out of boredom. His discontents are short and mostly results of quarrels with his lovely Nona over groceries bought in the supermarket instead of farmer's market, and over “the extensive” usage of chemicals in cleaning.

I love walking with Luka. Few months ago, on one of our strolls, we stopped by the Memorial for children killed during the siege of Sarajevo. Luka casually flipped the rolls engraved with the names of the killed children only to stop it suddenly and say, “So here you have been.” Apparently, he has reconnected with most of his kindergarten and elementary school friends on Facebook, with few exceptions, among which is the girl whose name he just found. She and few other classmates’ faces were untagged on random class photos that every now and then someone would post.

I stood next to him, watching his calmness transform into something even more beautiful - a silent non-imposing grief. That is Luka; my warm friend who loves the mornings and is never ashamed to recommend a film by saying “I cried while watching it.” Luka spends the little free time he has during the week traveling through Google street view. Although we live in the same city, his profound sense of life and joy makes him, sometimes, unreachable and far away. I come with my daily worries and discontents and Luka hugs me and I feel war never happened, everybody is fine and we are still young enough not to be responsible for anything.

Now at home we have dad’s University Atlas from 1977. Geopolitically, the world has changed since the year of publication. Russia is no longer in a great Soviet Union, there is only one Germany, and Djibouti is an independent country. Last time I opened the University Atlas, my finger pointed somewhere in Pakistan. Wonderful.

Sumeja Tulic is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Sarajevo. You can find her website here. She last wrote in these pages about somebody else. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"That Was Only Wasting Time" - Kissed Her Little Sister (mp3

"I Ain't Got a Friend" - Kissed Her Little Sister (mp3)


In Which We Fear Going Overboard

Ingleside on the Bay


I was walking back from the corner store, my Snickers bar melting in my hand quick as a popsicle, when I met a pirate. She pointed a clothes’ hanger hook at her eyepatch and said, “They call me the Pirate.” I asked her what her name was and she said, “Argh!” and I said, “But what’s your real name?” and she said, “Macy,” so that’s what I called her.

Macy had lost a game of “think fast!” and got hundreds of caterpillar hairs stuck in her eye, so when she showed up at school with a wad of gauze and tape covering it, everyone started calling her the Pirate. And now she was the Pirate. “Ahoy!” she would say, and “Avast ye!” always waving her hook, and sometimes clomping on a peg leg. Sometimes it was her right leg, sometimes her left.

I gave Macy part of my Snickers and licked the other half off my fingers.

“Cool bandana.”


The next morning I followed her onto Roger’s boat to steal his dog. The dog’s name was Coon Dog and the boat smelled like a tackle box and Roger snored like a pirate, the same way he swore and drank, which is twice as much as a sailor. He’d been both, Macy told me, so he knew. We found Coon Dog tail-chasing inside the pilot house and she scooped him up and caught tongue all over her face. “Down, boy,” she said, but held him close.

It was the first summer I spent with my father after he left, or after he was told to leave — the story changed with the teller. The arrangement my parents had reached was that I would weather the Iowa cold with Mom during the school year and then sweat it out with my father in Texas over summer break. This was not something I had any say in.

Macy and I slipped off the boat with Coon Dog and walked him up and down the road, and then to the marina, on a lead Macy had bought with scavenged change for just this purpose. Colt was at the marina, not doing anything, just being there, and he wanted to know whose dog it was. He said, “That’s not your dog, Pirate. You don’t have a dog,” and Macy said, “Shiver me timbers.” I said the dog was Coon Dog and it belonged to Roger.

“The boat guy?” he asked.

“He lives on a boat.”

The three of us walked Coon Dog back to the boat after he peed on every roadside vertical object. Also, he crapped twice. “We can use that later,” Colt said. Colt and I waited while Macy clambered onto Roger’s boat and put Coon Dog back.

“Where are you from?” Colt asked.


“Where’s that?”

“It’s real cold there.”

When Macy got back we went to her house and threw darts at a cardboard target she’d drawn and tacked to one of the house’s stilts. While we were playing, a tan kid on a bike started riding circles on the road in front of the driveway, crunching up the gravel. “Get out of here,” Colt yelled. “Go back to Mexico.” The kid said, “Soy de Cuba, estupido!” and pedaled off. Later Macy’s mom came out and asked who my parents were and when I told her about my father she did this kind of laugh that was also a frown. She said I could stay for dinner, if I wanted. I didn’t, but later I wished I had.

At home, my father’s snores Zzz-ing out of the living room sounded nothing like a pirate’s. And this lady who I’d never seen before was rummaging in the fridge. She was wearing my father’s union t-shirt and her underwear was yellow through the crotch. She looked up from the fridge and wiped a chilled beer bottle across her forehead.

“Linda,” she said. “You eat? I’ll put on some macaroni.” She set a pot of water to boil on the stove. “So Iowa, huh? Pretty cold there?”

I nodded.

“I bet,” she said, and then took her beer into the living room.

I waited in the kitchen and when the water started to boil and she didn’t come back I went to fetch her. She was passed out beside my father on the couch. Water hissed into vapor on the burner as I searched the cupboards for a box of macaroni, and by time I turned off the stove there was nothing in the pot but a roiling foam.

Every morning Colt, Macy, and I would kidnap Coon Dog and walk him to the marina or throw a ball for him in the empty lot next to Roger’s dock. Colt and I would throw the ball, but Coon Dog would only give it up to Macy. “Boyfriend material for you, Pirate,” Colt said. He pitched the ball toward the fat-trunked palms and viscous lines of slobber unspooled as it spun through the air. When the four us got bored with the game we’d go back to Roger’s boat, and if Roger wasn’t up yet we’d take our battle stations. I buckled under the weight of the imaginary cannon balls that I heaved into the breech, and when Macy said, “Fire!” Colt unleashed the broadside against the unsuspecting merchant ship, which was played by the Caldwell’s two-masted sailing yacht on the other side of the dock. Their booty now ours to plunder, Macy picked up Coon Dog and said, “Polly want a cracker?” and gave him a biscuit from the pouch she kept tied to her sash.

When Roger came up from below deck we followed him to the bow and watched as he cast his lines. “See what we get today,” he said, flicking his pole. Sometimes he would let Colt or me try, but Macy couldn’t on account of her hook. We watched for movement in the line while he went back under. When he returned we each took a handful of unshelled peanuts from the bag he offered and sat around littering the deck with stringy shells and flakes of red peanut skin.

“You boys know about riverine warfare?” he asked. “I know the Pirate here does.” He told us about ducking below the gunwales and shooting blind into the jungle beyond the banks, letting the pig go cyclical until the barrel glowed and drooped.

“Was that in ’Nam?” I asked. I’d heard my father talk about ’Nam before.

Roger coughed a laugh and shook his head no. His smile was all gap, no teeth. “Colombia,” he said.

We looked over his frog tattoos and the shiny scar on his neck. We wondered where Colombia might be.

I went home at night, and then straight to the guest room. The bunk bed had only one mattress, up top, but I pulled it down after the first night when I woke with half my body hanging over the edge. The chest of drawers had a swivel frame for a mirror, but no actual mirror. When I unpacked my duffel into the drawers I found a piece of paper with taped corners that said free in big bubble letters. One of the two bulbs in the uncovered light fixture was burned and burned out. At home in Iowa, I’d almost outgrown my race car-shaped bed, but I still liked the solar system wallpaper and the planets that glowed in the dark, the stars on the ceiling.

Colt let the tan kid join us when he found out that he had an extra bicycle I could borrow. His name was Sebastian, but he told us to call him Seb, which sounded like sub. I said it, “Seb,” to test it out, and he said, “Dive, dive, dive!” which was very funny to him. Colt called him Mexico. “Hey Mexico, get the bike already.” The bike turned out to be his sister’s, and was a sun-faded blue with white tassels hanging off the handlebars, but at least it wasn’t pink.

“Will she be mad?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “She is gone away.”

“Back to Mexico?”

Seb glared at Colt. “To heaven.”

The days that Roger’s boat was gone, the four of us would ride around Ingleside on the Bay, from one end to the other, our speed a kind of shade, a kind of fanning. We biked up around the cove and watched giant yellow cranes hoist trusses for new offshore platforms while plumes from the refineries mushroomed in the distance. We rode south past all the stilted houses to the end of Bayshore Drive and stood up our kickstands and watched tugs push linked barges through the narrows. Orange-winged trainers from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi flew loose formations over the bay.

“Aye,” Macy said, “is that your dad?”

Colt said, “No. He flies real jets. He flies F-14 Tomcats. He’s a Top Gun.”

I was still waiting for the movie to come out on VHS. This was impressive.

My father was up and around that evening when I got back. The groceries he was putting in the fridge clinked and chinked and came in six packs.

“You having a good time?”

I shrugged. “Yeah.”

“Maybe we’ll do the Lexington next week, or the aquarium.”

I very much wanted to see the USS Lexington, the aircraft carrier anchored across the bay, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath. When it came to my father, I had no lung capacity.

Seb refused to come aboard when we visited Roger’s boat. He sat on the dock and said “What?” when we laughed and “What?” if we were quiet too long. Macy said, “Ahoy, landlubber!” and threw him Roger’s life preserver. He put it around his waist and bobbed up and down on his tiptoes.

On the boat, Roger told us about Arabia. “Rub al Khali,” he said. “The Empty Quarter. Nothing but sand and pipeline.” He told us about Panama. “Spiders big as dinner plates, mosquitoes thick as nets.” He told us about love. “The important thing is her soul-color,  how it refracts, but the prenup is a close second.” We didn’t even know what we didn’t know. From the dock: “Què?”

The morning Macy was late to snatch Coon Dog we asked her why her eyepatch was on her other eye. “He gave me something to whine about,” she said, without a trace of pirate in her voice. Her dad’s oil platform had just changed shifts, Colt explained. “Four weeks on, four weeks off.” Macy squinted her uncovered eye all day as we walked the neighborhood, collecting shirtfuls of mesquite pods. At home that night, my father complained that the rig monkeys had cleaned out the groceries and, with nothing to do, he went to bed early.

Colt managed to talk Seb onto the boat for the fishing trip. “Chicken, Mexico?” he said. Seb jumped onboard and got right in Colt’s face and said, “I’m Cuban,” and Colt smirked, but he never called him Mexico after that. I asked Roger if he would take us around the bay on the way out, but he made straight for Port Aransas and the Gulf. He only had three life vests, the orange kind you wear like a yoke, so Seb slipped the life preserver back on and stayed in the pilot house.

Macy was still being quiet, but she did brandish her hook at passing vessels, at the freighters and barges and other fishing boats. I looked over the side for fish but only saw the barnacles scabbed on the hull just below the waterline. The sky was a blue shade of white and the clouds out over the Gulf thickened as the land behind us thinned into the horizon.

After a couple hours he said, “This’ll do,” and killed the engine. “There’s a reason the charter boats come out here.” We cast our lines and mounted our poles in the holders. We could see four or five boxy silhouettes out under the darkening clouds. “Spent some time on a rig,” Roger told us. “GOPLAT’s risky business.” We nodded, memorizing his words, trying to absorb this wisdom.

Seb asked about his scar.

“Which one?”

“On your neck, sir.”

“Don’t you ‘sir’ me,” he said. “I work for a living.” He laughed and took a sip of his beer. He tapped his neck. “Got some hot brass caught in the collar of my flak jacket. Stings like a--” He stopped and pointed: the end of my rod arched ever so slightly toward the water. I lifted the pole out of the holder and started to reel in the line, which was angling away from the boat faster than I could remember Roger’s instructions. I panicked and set the bail arm. The line caught and the rod whipped out of my hand, swung over the boat, and lanced into the water. Roger laughed so hard that he spilled his beer on Coon Dog and between gasps of air Seb said, “You almost got fished!” Macy laughed a real laugh, a girl laugh, instead of her normal “har har har.”

No one else got a bite before the storm picked up. We watched the lightning zap the oil platforms, one, two, twenty times as Roger turned the boat toward shore. The lightning just seemed to appear, to flash into existence fully formed, a silvery tether between cloud and rig. Roger made best speed but the storm overtook us before the shore even began to take shape. The waves went all Tilt-o’-Whirl and Colt painted the deck with his breakfast and when my cheeks ballooned Roger waved his hand and said, “Over the side, over the side!” but jellyfish were washing into the boat and I was afraid of being pitched overboard. The lightning fissured the clouds and Roger sent the four us under the deck and told us to keep our shoes on, not to touch anything metal, while he manned the helm. It was dark and muggy and smelled sweetly like skunk. Colt cried. I cried. Macy pirated. Seb got on his knees and started praying in Spanish really fast and then cried, “Papá es con los peces, papá es con los peces,” over and over and over until the rain muted everything.

The next week we held our own Olympics to celebrate the Fourth of July. Colt won the bike race and we ate too much of Seb’s dust in the sprint, but I got silver in fencing with a few pointers from Macy, who tagged each of our hearts in turn. Colt smeared Coon Dog’s poop on the wheelbarrows so that Macy and Seb couldn’t — wouldn’t — actually sit as we ran them down the dirt access road behind the houses. Seb was too wriggly and Colt spilled him in the bushes as I pushed Macy across the finish line.

The speed eating contest was a draw: nobody could finish their Worcestershire and Horsey-sauce-slathered sausage. That night, after the closing ceremony, my father and Linda and Macy’s mom and dad and Colt’s mom and Seb’s mom and baby sister and the Caldwells came out to light off the value-pack fireworks we’d pooled our money for. They gave us sparklers to hold and we watched the fountains spray neon and the strobing flashers cut the night into stills and the Roman Candles volley stars back at the sky. My father lit the fuse on the Black Cat strip and tossed it onto the road and we covered our ears as it popped off in a machine-gun staccato. I asked my father where Roger was.

“Who? The boat guy?”

As a group we walked to the marina to watch the displays over the bay. We hung our feet off the dock and drank melted Freezepops as colorful as the fireworks blooming in the distance. The patterns and dazzle would blink out before the soft report of the explosion reached us. While we watched, Macy handed us each a paper and told us to write a wish on it. She rolled up the notes and slipped them one at a time into a beer bottle and then twisted a stray cap onto it and handed it to me. I sailed the bottle out into the cove. We watched as it splashed and bobbed and then disappeared, and wondered where it might wash up.

Justin Erickson is a writer living in Portland, Oregon.

Photographs by Edward Burtynsky.

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