since i was twelve.

Okay, I’m reusing my post from last Halloween…

– Why can’t witches get pregnant?

– I dunno, Mom… Why?

– Because warlocks have hollow-weenies!

[out of the 500 times i’ve heard this joke, i bet i hear the punch line about 25% of the time… the other 75%, she’s laughing too hard to deliver it.  i love my momma.]

…I just love it too much.

This year might have been the best Halloween since I was twelve.

Lady Gaga and a Radasaurus danced their socks off this weekend… combining all my favorite things: Pop Culture, Dinosaurs, Radness and Dancing.

bearded ladies, hotness, lady gaga.

radasaurus, geeky zombie, abe lincoln.

Hope you had an amazing celebration of fun!

cowboy, waldo, IT geek, radasaurus, abe lincoln. LOVE.

pull it together.

I’m back in Jackson.

It’s almost surreal.  Snow everywhere.  Everything is the same… except it’s all white.  So different than when I left.

Hard to get back into the swing of things.  [i say that like there was ever a constant rhythm to the swing.]

My radio show this morning.  Hard to wake up.

Walking to the station and almost falling over from slipping on the ice.

Anna was supposed to stop by and hang out for a while… and read some Public Service Announcements [cuz she’s the best at ’em].

A text from Anna:

“hey, don’t think i’m gonna make it to the station today.  sorry!”

Not a problem.

Songs played, songs played, I spoke.

I botched it.  Could hardly finish a sentence.  Stumbling over each word.

It was painful.  Painful.  Apologizing on air for not being able to speak.

Embarrassed.

Start the music again.  Five minutes pass.

Anna busts in the studio door with coffee in hand…

– Jesus Christ, Stevens, pull it together!  I heard you and figured you needed a latté in your life.

Highlights:

 

 

welcome home.

Yosemite.

The incredible mountains, the hilarious people, the climbing in mass amounts and the mass amounts of people climbing.

I love how it is always the same and I’m the one that changes every time.  I do love that so much.

Last year the change was almost tragic.  I didn’t want to be faced with the change in myself… the mess it was… the beautiful mess of it all.

This year is amazingly refreshing.

I forgot how many people you meet in Yosemite… how many friends are always here.

At the Mobil on the East side at 9am, I am walking in for coffee and I see an old friend…

– Hey!

– Heeeeeyyyyyy….

[big hug.]

– Welcome home, Rach.

So warm inside.  Home.  And the realization that this is not my home… I love my home that is not here… this is not my home… but it always could be.

Last night after logistic frustrations and spending most of my time with just one other person, I decided it was time to get a drink… not a beer… at a real bar… not a bear bin.

Went to the Mountain Room Bar for a stiff drink and some baseball watching.  Evan stayed for a hot second but then remembered that he hates baseball and had old friends to dine with, so decided to leave.  I sat at the bar, by myself, LOVING the amount of people in this silly Yosemite bar cheering so loud for the Giants.

An older man sat next to me and soon enough, we were friends.  His name is Dennis.  We ordered another drink, watched the game, talked baseball, childhood t-ball, father/daughter relationships, love relationships, Yosemite, jobs, everything.

– I’m here celebrating my 39th anniversary with my wife.

– Congrats!  That’s awesome.

– Thanks.  Yeah, thank goodness we’re just such great friends… aside from the romantic relationship and all.

– Yeah, that must help.

– Well, see… it’s all about compromise… every relationship is… but I think you’re too young to know that.  Do you compromise in your relationship?

– Ha… I try.  But, then again, I was sitting by myself at a bar because I wouldn’t let my boyfriend convince me to go have dinner with his friends.

– Haha… Good for you.

We ended up hugging after the Giants won and I congratulated him again on the amazing place he’s at in life… he wished me luck and thanked me for the good talk.  Friends.

I walked to a dark picnic table at Camp Four and had another drink, meeting/making new friends over candlelight.

This morning it was raining, Evan was feeling sick…

A sign for a garage sale.  In Yosemite?  Sure.  Let’s do this.

Walk up…

– Heeeeyyyy…

– Heeeeyyyy…

– Jane, right?

– Yeah!  Rachel?

Awesome.  Old friend.  I bought some of her old clothes, Evan was handed the most perfect shirt for him ever and we found Scrabble… which we’ve been kicking ourselves for not bringing this whole time.  Ah-mazing.

The simple simple joys of Yosemite.  Of life, I guess… but everything’s more alive, more gorgeous, in Yosemite.

On the walk away from the garage sale, with our large bag filled with new treasures in hand, we run into Dennis.

– Dennis!

– Rachel!

– Dennis, Evan.  Evan, Dennis.

– Hey, Dennis… I’ve heard a lot about you.

– Ha, oh, ummm… Yeah.

– Good day?

– Oh, it’s always an amazing day here.

– True.  Welp, have a good one.  It was great meeting you.

– So good meeting and talking with you, too!

Simple.

Gorgeous.

The tip of all the amazingness and love found in this valley.

And all to the soundtrack made by a love for our old employee kitchen.  Dillon, a beautiful Yosemite boy, called it “His Love Letter to the Terrace”… the Terrace being the area we lived.  I’ve been playing it non-stop and wish you were all here to sing along…

the sun did not see my tears.

Leaving my sister’s… again.

Getting out of town, getting out of Visalia, a coffee shop caught my eye.

It’s this coffee shop I regulared when my sister was going through her divorce and I was staying with her, helping her with Emerson… her daughter… two at the time… four now.

I sat out on this patio trying to figure out what the hell I was doing.

october 2008.

I’m sitting here again.  Decided to take another picture, in the same place… to see how I have changed… things have changed.

october 2010.

I tried to capture the same photo… the same feeling.  I’m closer now.  I’m more here.  But things are still so the same.

I am jobless again… not still… but again.

Family… FAMILY… just like then.

Yosemite is on my mind still.

I am in love again… not still… but again.

I still find joy inside myself.

I still find darkness inside myself.

Love is still a strength that baffles me.

Family is still a beautiful mess played by the most hilarious/amazing characters.

An exerpt from an email from my father:

“By the time I pulled into traffic, it was all over, I had to put on my sunglasses so the sun did not see my tears.”

…in reference to his love for this beautiful mess.

We’re all still just making it and making everything of it.

I have come full circle many times in life: rose to the top to have my chest swell above the world I know, slid to the bottom of days of darkness and praying for sleep… and everything between.  But what will always be the same, no matter where on that constant circling of life, is where I came from.

Thanks for the great time hanging out, Sarah and Daddy.

Okay, now, it is time to leave again.

the carbs.

oh, poor, abandoned blahg.

you look so skinny… i haven’t fed you in so long.

ah, it’s good for ya… i’ve been telling you to lay off the carbs for a while now.

don’t worry… you’ll get your feast when i’m having less fun.

what i’ll blahg about: portland, hip dinosaurs, the oregon coast, my family, excitement inside and HOW I WAS MISTAKEN FOR MY SISTER’S MOTHER.  ugh.

valid.

I saw Valentino Achak Deng speak almost a week ago in Jackson.

He is an amazing man.  A man who, as a boy… such a young boy, suffered though the turmoil of the Second Sudanese Civil War: being seperated from his family, no food, no water, death around him, death before him.

Deng came to Jackson and gave a presentation on the schools he is building to educate the children in Southern Sudan.  It was his heart and you could tell… he only wanted to give the life of learning to these children.

He didn’t say a word about his hardships.  He didn’t talk about how hard it was, how much he should have hated life, how cruel the world was to him.

So, when the question and answer time happened at the end of the presentation, it was obvious that someone was going to ask what we all wanted to hear…

– How did you get through such a hard time in your life?  How did you deal with that?

His answer:

I have hope and a belief in humanity.

Wow.  The whole night was worth if for that line.  I was completely blown away.  Someone who was treated so wrongly, had a hope in humanity.  A man who had EVERYTHING taken away from him… over and over and over… this man has a belief in humanity.

I decided that I wanted to strive towards that kind of love and belief in goodness.  I wanted to give grace to the worthlessness of this world for the wonders of humanity.

And you would think that I could handle more with this new mindset fresh in my mind.  But the goodness and grace to humanity failed to come to the front of my mind when I checked my bank account to see that someone cashed a check of mine that did not belong to them.  A random picked up a check I had addressed to a friend from a restaurant.

I looked at the cleared check online and immediately thought, That mother f*cker.  Oh, I hate this.  Of course this would happen to me… of course on my vacation.  Dammit!  Who does this??  I hope this person suffers.

After being on the phone with my bank for over an hour, these thoughts became stronger and stronger.  To think how wronged I was was too much for me.

The goodness of people was gone… in an instant.  For what?  A dollar amount.

But still, I was livid.

In a city not my own, now without a companion, I decided I needed to get out, get coffee, sit, read, write, listen to music.

I came to a café that I was at a couple days ago… but today, it. is. packed.

Looking around, there was nowhere to sit… at all.  Well, except for that tiny kid table in the corner.  The rest of the normal sized tables were occupied with hipster students.

And standing there with latté in one hand and apple tart in the other, I sighed to myself and thought, Screw it., and headed to the kid table.

Just in case I wasn’t awkwardly tall enough, now I was sitting at a table that was less than two feet high in a smaller chair…

…with Portland hipsters all around me… the symbolism qualifies for lyrics better than those of The National.*

I sat reading, writing, loathing, sulking, until a little boy came up to me.  A three-year-old in full firefighter garb.  [day instantly better already.]  His mom came close after and asked me,

– We come here every Sunday so he can build firetrucks out of Legos.  I’m sorry, but can we sit here with you?

– Oh, my gosh yes, please.  Don’t be sorry.  I’m sorry… I’m the grown woman in the play area… there should be kids playing here.

So, they sat… Aiden [the little boy] and his mom [who’s name i’m so sorry i didn’t catch] on the tiny chair on the other end of the tiny table where I was sitting.

We were too close not to talk.  Wait, p.s., did I mention that Aiden also had a fireman’s hat?  It was amazing.

So, Aiden built firetrucks out of Legos and his mother and I made conversation.  She was so kind.

Before I knew it, I was telling her about Bard, the little boy I just had to say goodbye to and told her how her little boy made me sad about him.  I showed her pictures… she looked at Aiden, looked at me, lifted a whispering hand and told me…

– That is the cutest little boy ever.

…amazing.

She asked me why I was in Portland.  I danced all around the question for a little bit and she nodded politely at my bullshit answers until I paused, thought, Screw it., and told her…

– I actually am here because I convinced myself that this job I applied for out here was supposed to work out… So, I bought some concert tickets for my favorite band who was playing here… assuming I would be moving at this time.

The simple truth of that exposed failure and ridiculousness was met with bottomless compassion from the friend across the tiny table.  She told me stories of her own hard times, her own hopes… and then she encouraged me.  ME.  The creepy, stranger sitting alone at the children’s table eating desserts at 3pm.

We connected.  We shared.  Aiden made us laugh.  We built firetrucks.

She smiled.  I smiled.  We were happy to be there together.

Aiden had a three-year-old melt down and it was time for them to go.

– Thanks for letting us sit with you.  Have a great trip!  I’m really glad we met you.

– Thank you!  I’m really glad I met you as well.

Compassion.  The simple kindness that comes from deep within.

Humanity.

Who am I to think that I have it harder than anyone else?  Who am I to think that life is harder for me?  Money is harder for me?  Self-image is harder for me?  Love is harder for me?  That things are hopeless?  That people are hopeless?  That I am hopeless?

Having hope, believing in myself.

Having hope, believing in those around me.

Having hope, believing in humanity.

It’s worth it.  It’s true.  It’s valid.

*That is, more or less, an inside joke.