Sunday, March 3, 2019


There I was, standing on the side of a street, in front of what looked like an abandoned construction site, barefoot, my legs covered in mud, last Thursday night. We were in Santa Barbara. After a minute or two a woman with dark brown hair and a yellow jumpsuit turned the corner, looked at me, and said, "honey, you look like you're having a night."

She was right. I had been having a night.

It started a couple of hours before when I told Skylar that I was going to go for a run on the beach. He went surfing in another part of town. We had planned to meet back up for dinner after our activities.

The run was getting along just fine, until I got lost. The tide was coming in and it was getting dark and I couldn't remember how to get back to my car. I also came across about nine different dogs that I had to stop and give so much belly rubs.

By the time I escaped all of the unintentional detours I had run over 12 miles.

The point is, I was starving, and tired, and sufficiently cranky.

Skylar had arranged for us to meet some of his friends at an Indian restaurant, and we were already running late.

I drove, which I realized was a mistake as soon as I saw that I was going to have to parallel park on a busy street.

People who can parallel park should be in charge of the rest of us. They should get two votes in every election. We should have to pay taxes to these people.

Look. I can normally stay pretty calm in stressful situations. But that all comes crumbling down as soon as I'm pressured to quickly parallel park on a busy California street.

I got honked at. By a bus.

For his part, Skylar tried very hard to talk me down from my panics as I came within inches of several car accidents.

After a full eternity and a half, I got the car situated. I was climbing out of it, barking at Skylar that he would be in charge of all future driving, when I suddenly stepped onto what I thought was going to be sturdy ground, but turned out to be that quicksand from The Princess Bride. But, like, a much muddier version.

I sunk into the mud halfway to my knees. After several clumsy attempts, I pried myself loose from the mess, screaming so many profanities that the entire town of Santa Barbara is now technically considered a crime scene until further notice.

There was no sidewalk because of the construction site on the side of the road. So there I stood, on the side of a busy street, stripping my shoes and socks off of my feet so I could bang them against the asphalt to ineffectively free them from mud.

Skylar stood and stared for a moment, acknowledging that there was no way I could walk into any establishment in such a state, and then telling me he was going to find me shoes.

The next thing I knew, he was sprinting away from me, embarking on his own version of Supermarket Sweep. He was already out of my line of vision when I realized that I didn't even tell him my shoe size.

I didn't have my phone with me. I had left it at our Airbnb because I was doing this new stupid thing where I sometimes leave my phone at home because I guess I don't want the convenience that I pay for available to me at certain times.

I decided not to run after him, and that's when the yellow jumpsuit woman told me it looked like I was having a night.

I nodded as she walked by, almost immediately losing interest in me.

Skylar returned twenty minutes later, kindly not telling me how pathetic I looked. He handed me a box of shoes. Inside was a pair of black sneakers, almost identical to the ones I had just destroyed. He got the size exactly right. My muddy legs and squeaky-clean shoes jogged to an Indian restaurant to join our already-seated friends.

I hope every one of you finds your own Skylar.

And now, please enjoy our second part of our stories of asylum.

This time in Strangerville, Meg and Eli discuss their contractor woes. And as a second part to last week’s episode, another attorney discusses his experiences helping asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border.
Asylum II, by Austin Baird
Music: Crucible by Wildlight
Produced by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Do you pet stray dogs or were those pet dogs, and you were petting strangers' dogs?

  2. “People who can parallel park should be in charge of the rest of us. They should get two votes in every election. We should have to pay taxes to these people.”


  3. I’m very good at parallel parking. The trick is driving one of the smallest cars on the market (I have a FIAT).

    Also, re: Princess Bride quicksand, I just imagine Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day watching your predicament and helpfully exclaiming “watch out for that step, it’s a doo-hoo-hoozy!”

  4. The campus I work on has virtually no parking lot parking and none anywhere near my building so I've become particularly good at parallel parking in the last decade. I'll gladly take your extra tax money to fix my bumpers that are scratched because of people who are NOT good at it.

    And bravo to Skylar for the shoe save.

  5. The Suzzzzzzzz left a comment here and I accidentally deleted it and I don't know how to undo that. I'M SORRY OK

    1. That's it you're fired, Skylar is writing this blog from now on.

    2. Something tells me this won’t end well for Eli. RIP Stranger, you had a good run.

    3. I can't believe you censored The Suzzzz .....

    4. We are all afraid...

  6. All I did was cry a little at the thought that Skylar surfed Rincon without me, while I'm stuck behind a dumb old desk in dumb old Utah. Eli why didn't you go surfing too?!?! Running is punishment for hating yourself, surfing...even if all you do is paddle out to the line reward for being a good person who loves themself.

    1. Look. I like surfing just fine, but not enough to be cold. It was 58 degrees out. It needed to be 158 degrees for me to want to go surfing.

    2. That's what a 5mil wetsuit is for, problem solved! If you want cold look at Chris Burkard's cold water surf photographs. He gets in arctic water to photograph surfers in Iceland, Alaska, Norway, etc. It's insane but also incredibly beautiful. But seriously, go surfing the next time Skylar goes, you'll love it, it's much better than an Ironman swim.

    3. regardless of how thick the suit is, there is that excruciating 2 minutes when the water seeps into the suit and you are trapped as ice water slowly coats your body. And then you just have to pray to the God's above that your body has enough reserve heat to warm that ice water up so you don't start shivering.

    4. Hahaha but that's all part of the fun "will I live?" "will I freeze to death?" Who knows?!? But you're going to have fun regardless. If it involves a wetsuit I'm usually pretty stoked...surfing, scuba, white water rafting, etc. Food for cold water thoughts...

    5. I mean, I guess there's always peeing in the suit to speed up the warming process. My limit of "too Cold" is when my ears immediately give me a splitting headache, and I'm screaming at the top of my lungs into the water on every exhale of my stroke.

  7. Nicole, to be fair, I censor myself quite a lot and sometimes even that isn't enough to stop me from offending decent folks. I'm not fit to go out in public for most of my waking hours.

  8. I wonder if we could clone Skylar? Maybe that could be his medical school project? I would really love my own version of a Skylar, top of the human pool that one is!!

  9. This week's Strangerville made me cry. Eli, can you provide a link to this foundation or something? I'd like to be directed there.

    1. This is what Austin recommended:

      You can find ways to donate or volunteer there. Ruth (who told the Asylum Part I story last week) recommended also looking for organizations that serve refugees in your area because there are still a lot of needs for these families once they make it through the process and start integrating in your community.

    2. Organizations in the SLC area:
      International Rescue Committee (they have offices all over US)
      Asian Association
      Catholic Community Services
      Hartland with UofU Neighborhood Partners