On Growth as a Human, Gradually

Last night, I was in the bathtub, reading Good Housekeeping and drinking wine (because apparently I’m making the leap from my 20s straight to middle age), when I had one of those moments of sudden clarity. I realize that this is a conclusion that everyone eventually comes to, or in fact may be sheer common sense, but it hit me like a ton of bricks:

If you do something for long enough, you will eventually start to take on characteristics of that activity. 

I realized last night that I’d over-subscribed to magazines. This is much like my habit of signing up for Cousera.org classes thinking I can find the ten hours a week I’ll need for the class. “Of all the people I know, you’re the person with the least time. You should not be signing up for classes,” someone told me, laughing when I tried to rationalize my class-taking habit. “But I just want to learn!” I countered. “Even if I only do half the readings, or a third of them, I may learn something valuable.”

As a kid, I absorbed everything I could get my hands on. Now, with less time to spend absorbing knowledge, I’ve had to make conscientious efforts to maximize my exposure to valuable information. To be a fully conversational adult – and if you want to go even further and become a master of trivial knowledge – you need to be well-versed in most topics: money, politics, fashion, pop culture, business, science, etc.

Since I rather enjoy being right – one of my favorite aphorisms is “I’m not wrong” – I would prefer to be knowledgeable about a subject going into a conversation about it. It helps me to form arguments (not in the sense of altercations, but for debates), but more than that, if I’m unsure, it helps me ask good questions that will help me learn or clarify any confusion I may have about the subject.

But mostly, I just want to know everything about everything and be really good at everything. Right now. But holy shit, that’s harder than it looks. (That’s also a lesson I should have learned many times during the course of my childhood: climbing ropes, doing pull-ups, overhand serves at volleyball, piano playing, running….)

A few months ago, I was thinking about all of the changes I wanted to make, and instead of leaping directly into them, I wanted to slowly expose myself over time, hoping that certain things would rub off on me. Then, seemingly fortuitously, there was a magazine sale. $5 for each subscription? Sign me up! (My bank account cringed and rolled its eyes when it saw $30 in silly purchases.)

As a result, in addition to my regularly scheduled Economist, Esquire, and Elle, I now receive: Popular Mechanics, Town & Country, Redbook, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan (just to be clear, I’m well aware that this is nothing more than a good mental break), Good Housekeeping, and Elle Home. It might be Elle Design, Elle Decor, whatever, I don’t know. But it’s not important.

Obviously you can see that I intend to do: get better at knowing how to differentiate between whiskeys and how to wear a men’s suit, housekeeping and maintenance, decorating, science, cars, world affairs and politics, and girl stuff: fashion, accessorizing, food, makeup, etc.

The girl world is far more terrifying to me than politics. I will always choose to talk Benghazi before Burberry. But….there are moments when you can see that movement has occurred, that you are further down the path that you set yourself on. On Tuesday night, I had a dinner thing. I had found a dress that I liked at the Nord Rack (seriously, their selection of $20 – $25 dresses is unmatched) so I knew I wanted to wear that. I accessorized it without even thinking. I added a belt, something I never would have done in the past. I wore different colored accessories. Mindful of the fact that it might rain, I wore my blue trench coat. I looked fabulous.

Not my best picture, and I wish you could see the whole thing — my point is sort of moot without a full picture, I guess — but here’s me and my partner in crime for sushi devouring. We’re adorable:

It’s happening. Without realizing it, I’m starting to take on the characteristics of the media I’m taking in (for both better and worse). I consciously hoped that exposure would start to produce results, and it has. Granted, I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be, but these baby steps are the steps that move us forward without us even realizing how far we have come.

Study something (like the news) for ten minutes a day, every day, and after a year, you’ve ended up studying it for about 61 hours (if my math is correct). 61 hours! Imagine how much time you spend doing negative things or engaging in bad habits. Granted, this is an overly simplistic and optimistic view of productivity – but after reading about a dude who spends just 15 minutes per day cleaning, I was inspired to spend 15 minutes a day thinking about spending 15 minutes a day cleaning, which may eventually translate into actual cleaning.

The other night, I spent two hours cleaning. Not rushed, hurried, “they’ll be here in ten minutes for the party!” cleaning, but slow, careful cleaning. It was magic. It was amazing how much better I felt and how much I wanted to continue – just for the sake of continuing the progress. Baby steps.

Baby steps for everything. This weekend, I’m baby-stepping into gardening. Keep your fingers crossed. This will be a disaster, but hopefully the kind that comes with the “I’ll do better next year” conclusions.

Now I realize that it seems simple. And it is. “You are what you eat.” “Kindness is as kindness does.” It’s all exposure – who and what you are exposed to shapes you.

But it’s interesting, because I argue that that’s not always entirely the case. My grandfather always says that you are who you associate with (which mostly likely means I’m a gay hipster), and to a certain extent, he’s not wrong. It’s like people who start to look alike after years together, or people who start to look like their pets. 

I hung out with a certain group of people in high school. I took on certain characteristics and behaviors, but I was never fully absorbed. I think I do the same things now, even though my groups of friends are vastly different, I fit in with them due my ability to adapt to them or perhaps it’s how my characteristics fit into different groups.

My friends now are super into electronic music. I like it; I’ll dance to it; it’s not my life. I still prefer hip hop. It’s funny how that works as we grow into adulthood – we don’t know everything about our friends anymore. But that’s cool, because what they’re into exposes us to such different experiences and we get to have adventures that we’d never otherwise have.

I always joke that when I got diagnosed with ADHD, I imagined that the medication would turn me into Monica from Friends – she’s obsessive about neatness and order. (That’s actually not a joke. I was crushed when I realized that wasn’t how it worked.) Apparently, organization did not come pre-programmed with my particular model. Damn. Even when I make conscious choices to be neater, I can’t. So perhaps I’ll have to spend some time around super neat people in an attempt to gain neatness through osmosis. Either that, or I’ll have to spend 15 minutes a day cleaning until it’s just part of my routine.

Do we get to make conscious choices about the habits that we pick up? Or is it luck of the draw? Are our proclivities merely the products of our cumulative experiences or are they more than that, innate but dormant until we happen upon them circumstantially? Do the attributes that we grow into stem from our intentions?

I’m still left with questions, and a stack of magazines I need to read. But at the end of the day, I’m confident that all of this exploration will lead me in the right direction – and eventually, gradually, I’ll be the person I set out to become. Not that the person I am now is all that bad, of course. It’s just that she can’t manage to hang her clothes up or remember to pick up all the lip gloss  — but on the plus side, her brother now knows the difference between lipstick and lip gloss, a very important distinction. See, he’s learning new things, too! Just think – some day I’ll be in my backyard, reading magazines in my hammock, drinking a mojito made with mint that I grew. Ah, life will be just as beautiful then as it is now.

 

 

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On the Weekend, Happily

I truly believe that sometimes life hands you exactly what you need when you least expect it. I believe that radiant joy can be found in the strangest of places, like a crowded bar or during an impromptu adventure sometime during the darkest hours of the night.

Last week, my horoscope said that my personal winter was over. As I read it, I sighed in relief. (I don’t care if you don’t put stock in horoscopes, I believe that even the slightest suggestion of positivity can work wonders, and thus, I allow them into my heart, hoping that they’ll plant the seeds of sustainable hope.)

The past few months have been quite the journey, testing me in ways I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to withstand. Whenever I feel like quitting, I laugh and think of my brother quoting Wedding Crashers, “Rule number 76,” he’ll yell, “no excuses. Play like a champion.” As soon as I posted that rather melancholy blog post last week about how down I felt at work and with life, I imagined what Mike would say. He’d have told me to stop focusing on the negative and to count my blessings, to cultivate the positive in my thoughts and in my life.

And I did.  The universe responded in kind, rewarding me with a weekend so full of joy and adventure that even through the exhaustion, there was no possibility but to be happy. So here we are. Spring. New beginnings. Renewed strength. Hope. Joy.

Exhausted from my third fifteen-hour work day last week, I went home Friday night and collapsed into bed. I’m so disappointed – I finished the three seasons of The League that Netflix has to offer and now I’m not sure what to work through. I could finish Breaking Bad, or Mad Men, or ….the possibilities are endless, and overwhelming. 

Saturday brought babysitting. I had two of the three girls. We painted, and did some stretching (we call it yoga, but it’s not yoga at all), and read some stories. I painted Carlos and a birthday card for Jacob.

I went home, got my nails done with Gina (oh yes, the simple joy of a pedicure and gel fill is like best kind of joy), went to my cousin’s birthday with my family – Happy 32nd, Brian! – and then went to meet up with Jacob for his birthday.

I usually have a “no drinking in heels” rule, but I just got some wedges that are so adorable that the rule had to be amended to “no shots in heels.” I danced, quite happily, and then managed to clumsily drop both a glass of ice and a cup half-full of gin and tonic. If you’re looking for a graceful woman, I am in no way your girl.

In all fairness, I was so nervous. For the first time in a long time, I have a crush on a boy developing and I’m panicking. “Be cool” is not a phrase that exists in my life dictionary. Also curiously missing is “Remember to breathe.”

We ended up chasing the dawn, a small party filled with music and couches and warm PBR. (I owe someone beer. Remind me to check on that. I hate drinking beer without giving back; it makes me feel terrible inside.) At some point, I grew bold and reached for his hand, and as our fingers came together, it was simultaneously terrifying yet familiar.

I danced. I talked to new people. I drove home and accidentally let the cat out and spent five minutes chasing him around the yard as dawn broke around me. The chirping of the birds sounded like mockery and I groaned as I finally secured the black beast and held him tight against my chest, pressing my face into his furry head with relief at his safe capture.

I woke up, threw on hipster shorts, and went to brunch with Jacob and Ben. We wandered down Colfax, bringing coconut water to a friend who’d joined us for the evening and who had to work early. We went to Cheeseman Park, pulling some sheets from my trunk to lay on. Just as we’d settled into the grass, the sky grew dark, the air suddenly biting with cold wind. Desperate for summer, we stripped down to our shorts, but frozen in the wind, we huddled under the sheets. It was miserable, and as we headed back to the car, it started to sleet/hail – small soft balls of ice shattering against my windshield.

I went home, napped, and then went to work. By the time I got there, I was wrung out, ready for a respite from consciousness, and thoroughly not prepared to be fully present. I told Evan that if I stopped, I’d most likely fall asleep, and we settled into a frantic rhythm as we helped the customer after customer who came in never-ending waves. I was laughing, though, delighted by my life and in the hilarity of the present moment, and the night passed easily.

I teased Evan about being a professional just as I nearly overflowed the strawberry container, and we had a discussion about his favorite physicist as we wiped down the store. At one point, I turned to Evan and muttered something about “….the inevitable existential crises” that result from our (under)employment at Dairy Queen. He laughed and nodded. I imagine that I won’t work there much longer after he goes; he’s my partner in crime, the other half of the A-Team. The lighthearted and yet mindful banter we engage in both enriches my life and keeps me entertained.

***

Totally off-topic, but then again, when am I ever fully on-topic?

Recently, my favorite pair of jeans resurfaced from the depths of the house, the same place all the socks must go. They are the first “nice” pair of jeans I ever owned, purchased when I was 21. They have traveled with me to countless cities, and they’ve been worn down to the soft point where they’re like pajamas. (The back pockets are also ripping, so it’s a “wear at your own risk or with big underwear” situation.) I put them on today, reveling in their nostalgic magic. But then I got to work and I remember why I won’t wear them anymore: as you wear them, they start to expand, as tired pants are wont to do. By noon, they’re now like two sizes bigger than they were when I put them on this morning. So you know, that’s less than thrilling. Perhaps they’ll have to become house-bound lounge pants from now on.

On Snow and the Oscars, Randomly

As Denver lay frozen under a blanket of desperately needed snow, Mike and I found ourselves both at home at the same time for the first time in quite a while. We shoveled together, him heaving shovelfuls of snow in my direction, me trying to sneak attack when he wasn’t looking. (I did manage one direct hit!)

After, I curled up on the giant bean bag and started trying to figure out how to use our new television remote. Buttons, man. A new remote is terrifying, uncharted technological territory. I feel like my grandpa, lost somewhere on Internet Explorer 6.0, errantly pushing keys and hoping something happens.

We decided to watch the Oscars, switching over to James Bond during commercial breaks. (All things James Bond make me happy. As a child, we watched all of the films, and I aspired to be the calm, suave gentleman/secret agent that he was. I realize now that I don’t have the heart for murder nor will I ever have the whole cool-under-pressure thing down – I panic and tell the truth when cornered. It’s usually a good thing, but in an MI6 situation, probably not the best.) 

The Oscars failed to hold my attention, but made me want to start making films again. In college, I hung out with a bunch of film students, so I participated in a slew of projects, from the ridiculous to the slightly more prestigious.

I had a blast – at one point, I was assisting one of my film professors with a short he was working on and I got to read with a woman who’d been in R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet videos. If you haven’t seen them, find them. Your life will be forever changed. (Not necessarily in a good way.) Film was fun, and even though I never took it as seriously as I should have, I learned a great deal.

So here’s where this is going to get oddly confessional – I get so engrossed in media. I cry at most episodes of Modern Family and The Walking Dead (it’s totally normal, I swear). That stupid, stupid Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdale from this year’s Super Bowl? Every time. It’s not even a minute long, and halfway through it, I’m looking up, furiously pretending that I’ve got something sedimentary in my eye.

I love the idea that people can communicate such an array of human experiences and emotions through film. (For the purpose of this post, it’s solely film.) Every time I see a movie in theaters (rare, but it does happen), I come out playing out my life like it’s a movie. I imagine camera angles and I begin to create the script of my life as I’m living it. This feeling lasts for about ten minutes before I think, “This is stupid,” and go about my business.

But to make films is to be able to capture elements of the soul. I think that films have helped to change and inspire, inform and educate, and most importantly, connect us all. Regardless of your feelings about the ceremonies, the starlets, and the general Hollywood problem, you must admit that at some point in your life, there was a film that touched your soul.

And then, of course, there’s Stepbrothers. I’ve yet to meet anyone who hated that movie. If community showings of Stepbrothers don’t bring us together, I’m not sure what will.

On Joy, Happily

The shameless hipster that lives in me felt the need to post this quote today. The impulsive emoter (psssh, it’s a word now) that shares the space agrees. Deal with it.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

– Jack Kerouac

After spending the better part of the last month fighting a strange bout of utterly consuming melancholy, I seem to have emerged radiating joy. I can feel good energy flowing around me, and I’ve noticed that the world seems to be noticing that as well. I’ve been having the best conversations with friends and strangers; I’ve been smiling and laughing; I’ve been hooked by the promise of what is still to come.

I heard someone talking about what they’ve learned about grief and pain – they said that someone once told them that instead of fighting it, you should just let the waves of emotion wash over you. I did exactly that. Instead of struggling, I let the seemingly infinite sadness surround me.

Apparently, my life force was too much for the sadness, and I’ve been returned to my usual state of good humor. Oh, how I had missed it. This weekend was my first full-on return to joyous revelry.

I ended up in Boulder on Friday night at a show that my friends were excited about. They told me that some guy named Dave Au Jus would be playing…and all I could imagine was a man holding a French dip sandwich. As it turns out, there were no sandwiches nor a man who spells his last name Au Jus (très disappointing on both counts). The man, Dave Aju, was more amazing than a sandwich. I had a blast. I forget how much I like to dance. As much as I gently ridicule my friends for their love of “techno parties,” I’ve never had a bad time at one and I always end up having some sort of excellent adventure.

An excellent adventure it was. I ended up on a porch at an after-party trying to find Orion in the sky – I was extremely disappointed to find that the night had progressed so far that he had slipped away, but the people around me were kind enough to provide me with their sky maps so that I could search. (Note to self: find more constellations to love. I can find Jupiter, sometimes, or Cassiopeia, but other than that, I’ve got nothing. Not even the Big Dipper.) I slipped back into my house at 6 am, an hour I’ve not seen from the side of night in ages, desperate to find sleep before the sun started to creep into the sky.

***

Saturday brought a lingering breakfast of coffee and bagels, then babysitting. I didn’t see the girls last week, and it’s funny how much I missed them. From there, it was off to get ready for the drag ball and Emily’s birthday celebration.

This is the lovely birthday girl!

My costume and a direwolf – he made that himself and the hood was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I would very much like to own one.

More of us, but with my wig:

Since it was a drag ball, there were categories that people would walk in to win trophies and glory. I ended up judging at the last minute because one of the judges didn’t show. It was part terrifying, part really fun.

Jacob and Gina are beautiful people – Jacob won the (S)Executive Realness category for his stunning outfit and walking ability. (You should have seen the suit jacket he wore.)

Sunday brought brunch – if you ever need to lure me out of bed, just say “brunch” and I’m there. You might also want to say “bacon,” “gravy,” or “mimosas.”  Then I’ll hurry.

After the drag ball, there was quite a flurry of internet activity, mostly comments about the party the night before. The original “Denver is Burning” drag ball was held last year in a DIY space. The party was a smashing success. It wasn’t repeated due to space issues – it’s really hard to find a good place to hold a sweet party sometimes.

[Odd side note – that silver cuff that I wear was gifted to me by an artist who was painting in the same building that night. I wandered in and apologized for bothering him, but I was fascinated by his work. He gave me the cuff and a necklace. It’s become one of my most treasured possessions, and I think of that man fondly every time I wear it.]

The chief dissenting comments discussed voguing, ball culture in general, and racial issues related to all of it. It is frustrating to see such good intentions be torn apart by misunderstanding. It also reminds me that Denver’s racial demographics aren’t conducive to creating the underground ball scene that Harlem saw in times past. Denver just isn’t that diverse.

Granted, some of the categories were a bit weird. Game of Thrones? Totally shouldn’t have been a category (even though I loved it). But it was awesome. I wish you could have been there – there was music and dancing, and I ran into friends that I haven’t seen in ages. Everyone looked amazing, and free, and happy. Isn’t that what life is all about? (Minus the looking amazing part. Just the free and happy part.)

Some people were frustrated about what they perceived to be the over-involvement of white people. As a white person who spends a ton of time in the gay/queer scene, I find it frustrating that people are so quick to jump on race like that. I was born white and straight. I can’t help that. But it doesn’t mean that I should be excluded from activities because of my biological sex, my gender, my race, my sexual orientation, etc. (Isn’t all that inclusion what we’re all working for?! We’re working backwards if we can’t start to love people of all colors, genders, body types, hair colors, whatever. Also include my obligatory “understanding of white privilege” statement, but I’m not going any further into it because it doesn’t apply here.)

Plenty of appropriate thought was put into it – plenty of links about the origination of ball culture and voguing were shared in the lead up to the party. Plenty of respect is held by everyone for the original ball culture, the original intent of ball culture, and the struggles that people have faced while trying to achieve the equality, respect, and recognition that they deserve.

Ball culture will never be what it once was – it’s impossible, not because of people’s refusal to embrace tradition, but because of the fact that situations have changed drastically. The world is a different place now in some ways, and exactly the same in others. The people who threw this party wanted to be respectful of the past, but also embrace something new. It’s how things will work, communities will grow, and people can become more educated.

I think that it did open up a very important dialogue, but it was hard to watch the pain that my friends felt – they worked so hard, and with such pure intentions, to create something magical. I hope that this doesn’t stop more like this from happening in the future – Denver could use more of it, and needs people to remain involved and motivated to create beautiful things.

***

I returned home from brunch to be lazy and do nothing. It was lovely. I killed some bugs on the side of the house. (That’s a lie – I made my brother do it.) Then I did some googling about said bugs. They’re harmless but annoying, and I imagine that the Barrys vs bugs battle that will undoubtedly take place this coming spring and summer will be nothing short of frustrating. (I can be a very determined woman – those bugs haven’t seen anything yet.)

***

When I was 18, I dated a guy who always used to tell me he was going to make me a bunch of rocks that said “Katie” on them. So they’d be Katie rocks. (Get it? I rock!) This weekend, my phone dinged and told me I had a message – there, out of the blue, was a picture of a rock with my name on it. A Katie rock. The caption? “I know it’s been years, but you still rock.” My heart cracked into a million pieces and a huge smile spread across my face. It absolutely made my day.

***

And so now it’s back to work, back to reality, back to responsibility, but with a renewed energy. I’m back to being my radiant weird self and I’m beyond thrilled about it.

On Falling Apart, Rapidly

It’s late and I’m sick, so of course, I’m beyond the point of exhaustion but at that point where the emotional mind is too active to let sleep settle on the body it inhabits. I was puffy before, the combination of tired and sick doesn’t wear well on me, but the sobbing has made me even puffier. It’s attractive, really.

I knew it was going to happen this week. I knew it. I felt the sore throat last night and I drank a glass of water, foolishly believing that would be enough to stem the coming sickness. It wasn’t. When I woke up this morning, I was sick. It was settling into my throat, my head was starting the heavy ache behind my ears. I knew it. And yet, I thought that if I could just get to work, I could push it off.

I couldn’t. Now, many hours later, I’m unable to sleep and feeling worse than I have at any point today.

2:30 found me strep testing at Kaiser (god, what another lovely experience to add to my glorious review of segmented care and its effects on sanity – the woman on the phone sighed, loudly, as I asked her how to obtain a strep test and then asked me if I thought it was really necessary. Generally people don’t pick up the phone and say, I’d love for unnecessary tests, please! But wait, regular Kaiser doesn’t offer rapid strep tests. Their after-hours clinic does. So even though I was swabbed at 2:30 and dropped it at the lab some time around 2:45, I won’t know if I have strep or not until after 1pm tomorrow.)

Of course, the consensus at work was that I’ve been stretching myself too thin and that I need to cut back. Which is horrible to hear. I’ve been busting my ass lately, trying to cover all the bases and exceed expectations at all of my jobs. I’ve halted work on my freelancing gig, so technically, I’m down to three.

Last week when one of my co-workers at my real job told me that I should really take stock of my own performance because I could be fired at any time, I didn’t blink or feel a flutter of panic in my stomach. All I could think about was what it would be like to sleep. Or what it would be like to see my friends. Or clean my house. Or have 2 days off. I really don’t want to be fired; I love my job. You have to understand that. I really love my job.

[You’re all welcome to cross-reference my social calendar, too, just in case you’re curious. I’m defensive, yes, but I’m getting sick of fielding bullshit statements like, “But oh my god, you do all this stuff.” I’m 24. I’m trying to build a life. I can’t help that I want to do stuff. It’s not like I’m buying Lanvin left and right. A girl that I went to high school with started blogging and was discussing the fact that she has champagne taste and a beer budget. Her beer budget was J.Crew. My beer budget is Wal-Mart runs for cosmetics when funds and supplies run low simultaneously. My beer budget is that I love Nordstrom Rack and am willing to comb through rack and rack to find something that will fit well, wear well, and is also like 75% off. Yeah, I buy shit. And it’s none of your business. And yes, it’s always on sale. I grew up on all things “SALE,” I’m well-versed in playing pretend with economic status instead of doll-inspired dream houses. Trust me.]

“Your dreams are not what you thought they’d be.”

Trying not to feel like a failure is harder than it looks. I think that the harder you try to convince yourself that there’s still hope and that positivity is key, the harder you fall when the pieces you’re so carefully holding on to start to slip. That’s where I’m at right now: wrung out and exhausted, hopeless, crying, inconsolable. I have no idea where I went wrong. The truth is, I have none of it together. It’s full-time panic and there’s no way out. So honestly, I don’t give a shit if anyone thinks I’m spread too thin. Right now, that’s all I’ve got. It’s do or die and there’s no going back.

Sleep. For now, I will let sleep do some healing and let’s hope for sunshine tomorrow. The best piece of advice I ever got was, “When you’re upset, just go to sleep. It will pass.” The advice-giver was not wrong.

Because illness causes me to revert to childhood, this song will take you to my freshman year of high school. 

On Red Rocks and Night Skies, Blissfully

I went to Red Rocks Amphitheater to see the Airborne Toxic Event play with DeVotchKa and the Colorado Symphony last Thursday night.

I love Red Rocks.

devotcha airborne toxic event colorado symphony

If you’ve never been, you must go.

You will park in the parking lots. You will drink beer that you keep in a cooler in your trunk, or you’ll pour wine into plastic cups. You will laugh. You will watch people far drunker than you. You will overhear conversations. You will climb up the entrances to the amphitheater. You will be frisked. You will take your blanket somewhere, anywhere really, regardless of what your ticket says.

As night falls, you will get chills, not because you’re cold. You will look around you at the mass of people moving to the music. You will feel the earth around you. You will see the walls of the red rocks rising around you. You will look up and see nothing but the black sky, dotted with stars. Everything that weighs you down will be lifted for those moments. You will feel like a part of something.

Since my post seriously lacks eloquent writing, I’m just going to throw pictures from a long time ago into it to make it seem more legit.

Sunrise over Denver Red Rocks

(Sunrise over Denver from Red Rocks, 2007. Above and below.)

Sunrise Over Denver From Red Rocks

I’m 89% certain this is Red Rocks….if not, it’s St. Marys Alice, but that can’t be right. So yes, Red Rocks:

Sunrise Red Rocks Denver

Colorado, you’re beautiful.

On the Weekend Adventure to the Grand Canyon, Impressively

I didn’t think he was serious. I think we were watching Donnie Darko when it came up that I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon. “Let’s go,” he said. (For the record, they all say that. We make tentative plans and then we don’t go.)

Friday night, I left work, went to babysit, and then flew home to shower and pack. By 10pm, we were on the road, headed west. He drove until Vail – where we encountered the full force of the law, so I drove until Moab, where we switched again, and then I promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, it was 7am and we were somewhere in Arizona.

We got to the gates of the park at 8:30. After a quick change of clothes in the parking lot, we went. And for the first time, I saw the Grand Canyon. It was beautiful.

We climbed around on rocks. Neither of us had brought an insane amount of hiking gear, so we stayed near the top and just looked around. Wandered through some ruins. (Not really ruins, more like signs pointing out trees and what things might have been. Underwhelming.)

(We were staring into the sun. Terrible idea. Both of us are squinty and look miserable.)

By noon, the awe surrounding the immensity of the canyon was wearing off and the annoyance caused by fellow tourists was beginning to wear on us, so we decided to bail on the park (and the already purchased camping reservation I’d purchased).

We had lunch. (I’ve been eating salami, cheese, and bread for weeks on end and it still tastes just as good every time.) 

I asked that we find water, and he pointed to Lake Powell on the map. So off we went. Driving past the North Rim area of the Grand Canyon as you head toward Page, Arizona is like viewing the Wall in Game of Thrones. It’s amazing. It looms over everything.

We got into the park, wandered around looking for a spot to swim, and landed at a very sandy beach. We crossed a very nasty looking inlet and then hiked through some spiky bushes to an empty sandy beach area. It was empty, and so it became ours.

We decided to camp there, so we hiked back across the muck and got our stuff. And hiked back across the muck and back through the spiky bushes and down to our beach spot.

Swimming and a sunset walk rounded out our evening. We finished off the meat and cheese by the lake and fell asleep just after the sun went down. (I am a little bummed about that – I was looking forward to night swimming.)

I usually don’t fall asleep very well when I’m camping. I’m too jumpy and nervous. As 1:00 am rolled around and I was awake for the fourth time, I finally pulled out Mike’s sleeping bag and threw it over me. Snuggled into that, I fell asleep and stayed asleep. I woke up to an empty tent and a beautiful sunrise (ish).

Britt swam out to that giant rock you saw above, and I nearly had seven heart attacks once I stopped being able to see his head above the water. (I used to be a strong swimmer, but am really out of shape now and couldn’t have gotten out there even if I’d had to.) My consolation was a boat floating near the side of the big rock. In my mind, they’d give him a ride back, and that’s exactly what ended up happening. The boat came directly at me, someone yelled “Man overboard!” and he jumped to swim back to me. I waved, yelled, “Thank you!” and felt my heart start to beat again.

We packed up camp and headed home, but not before getting the car stuck in the deep sand and being towed out by a shirtless man with a cigarette dangling from his lips. “You kids have fun,” he said before climbing back into this truck and heading back to the beach. There was even a shower involved! It was outdoors with no warm water, but it may have been one of the best showers I’ve ever taken. I was so happy to stand in the spray and feel the soap slide down me and drain away into the sand.

The redness of the rock and the blue of the sky reminded me of our road trip through South Africa and made me miss the country. The Native American land that we drove through made my heart ache. Handwritten signs spelling out “Tire Shop” looked just like the ones in the South African townships. If you could replace the tract housing with metal sheets, it could have just as easily been Capricorn or Vryground. Even the roadside markets, with their handmade stalls and hand-painted signs were similar. I could sense the rawness of the whole thing, and I felt simultaneously moved and unmoved. It was interesting. It was the same mix of emotions I felt in Cape Town. Respect for the situation but understanding of the complexities that have made it so. Realization that there can be no swift change, and that the emotions that haunt those involved will not fade for generations to come, if at all.

I drove while he slept. I threw my phone on shuffle and listened to music and just let the road take me. I was happy. Once I started to ache, I pulled over, got food and gas, and then switched spots with him. I didn’t sleep on the way home – he’d brought me his Kindle to read since I mentioned that I wanted to read The Hunger Games. I got engrossed in the book while we still had daylight.

We landed in front of my apartment before 10. I hauled my stuff in and made noodles while Carlos yowled and rubbed against me, apparently surprised to see me return home. Instead of falling asleep immediately, I read a few more chapters of the book and then finally turned out my light.

The weekend was fun. I’m surprised that we traveled so well together and I genuinely enjoyed myself. I was stressed before we left because of my natural pre-trip stress and the fact that I felt like we weren’t communicating well, but as soon as we were on the road that all melted away. This continues to unfold in an interesting way, and I am quite curious to see where it leads.

On Tuesday, fondly

Jumbled thoughts, collected below: 
I am pleased to report that I have successfully returned all six books to the Denver Public Library, one day before their due date. No fines! 
Your song for the day is Regina Spektor’s Us. I’m starting to get nostalgic – this week last year was the beginning of the end of South Africa. I remember so badly wanting to get out of the tangled mess that was the end, but I knew even then that an impermeable love for that place had settled in my soul. Every time I hear this song, I think about my commute to and from work. It reminds me of the jangle of the chain as I closed the front gate at Priscilla’s; the hustle of Wynberg market; the way the street smelled in the morning; the narrow, slanted sidewalks. I wish I had a jar of South African sand. I would open it right now and dig around, letting the sand slip through my fingers. I would think about wine, and the waves, and looming mountains. I would be home. 
I’m happy. I woke up this morning and I was utterly content, all the way to my bones. I didn’t want to get up; I didn’t want to leave; I just wanted to roll over and shut out the day. I wanted to nuzzle in, close my eyes, and pretend that the alarm wasn’t going to ring obnoxiously in another nine minutes. 
But of course it did, as alarms are wont to do. Even though I’m not nesting happily somewhere, there’s a constant current running through me. I can dig this. 
It’s too bad we couldn’t have just ray-gunned the Jackson 5 so they would have stayed in those childhood moments forever. Much better than their later selves, less creepy. 

On the Weekend

Don’t ask. We didn’t take any good pictures that night. I tried. But know that these two people are the two most beautiful people I know.  

apparently, I’m too pale for cameras. 

All ages shows make me feel old. 
Friday. Really fun night. The owner of the PS Lounge remembered me and K from last week and bought us drinks while Em and J ate at the Thai place, so that was nice. Then the concert happened. Em and J danced, K and I danced. I was blissfully happy. I love my friends. I love my life.  
Saturday. We ran errands – made a Costco run, ate burritos, washed the car (not mine, of course). I babysat. The little girls are always such a delight. 
Today. Woke up at 5. Made some muffins. Snowboarding with K, K, and E, Friends-giving in the evening. Cranberries turned out alright! 
Can you tell I’m too tired to actually type words? Going to bed early. Going to be a productive human being tomorrow. (maybe)
Day three. We’re going to get this by the end of the season, I promise. 
I guess I enjoy standing in front of people and blocking them in pictures. 
Em, K, me, K, day 3, Breckenridge

On the Week and Randomness

Your video for the day is Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe. Because it always makes me cry, but in a good way.

This week was wonderful because it went so fast.
I’ve been busy every night, but I haven’t felt tired until today.
Last night, I tossed and turned and tossed and turned some more. By the time I was finally ready to really be asleep, the alarms were going off.

We went sledding on Wednesday! I haven’t been in what feels like forever, so it was really nice to trek over to the sledding hill and go for it. E’s yellow lab came with us and had fun chasing the saucer sleds, as though she thought they were giant frisbees – they sort of are, but they don’t get as much air.
Sledding, followed by hot chocolate and pasole, was amazing! We all curled up in E’s basement. It reminded me of college.

Last night, instead of going to trivia, K and I ordered Thai (again – we panicked and couldn’t think of anything else) and stayed in. I think I’d like to keep him. We’ll see how this works out, but I find him to be incredibly interesting. He’s funny – deadpan sarcastic at all times; he’s super sweet; he wants a Burmese mountain dog AND he likes artificial banana flavor. What more does a girl need? I’ve had a really nice couple of weeks and am terrified that I’ll jinx it somehow.

Tonight, J is DJing at a gay techno party, so I’m headed there in time to see his set. I can’t stay late because I have to be a responsible human being all day tomorrow. But hopefully there can be wild shenanigans tomorrow night (i don’t know) and then snowboarding on Sunday, followed by the mad dash to the Avs games for H’s birthday.

It should be fun!

Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to do self-breast exams. Please, please, please know their topography. Talk to your doctor at the first sign of any change. It could save your life.