I want to be here.

It was a week ago today that I was in the ski accident. The ski accident where I lost control. Couldn’t gain control.

The ski accident where I hit a tree. With my face. Whiplash. Lost consciousness. Blood everywhere.

The ski accident when I broke my nose and cheekbone and bit through my lip.

The ski accident that gave me my first IV. My first CT scan. Two CT scans. The first when they thought there was bleeding in my brain. Where they might have to drill.

The ski accident where I was taken down on toboggan, driven in an ambulance to the hospital in Bozeman, driven in an ambulance to the airport in Bozeman, flown to Missoula, driven in an ambulance to the hospital in Missoula.

Right after the accident, there is a lot I can’t remember. There is also a lot I do not want to be reminded of about that day. That accident. The ski accident.

But there are some moments I don’t want to ever forget.

G E T T I N G   T W E N T Y   S H O T S   I N   M Y   F A C E

The pain of the actual accident was actually surmounted after the fact. After realizing what had happened to me, that it was serious, that I wasn’t going to make happy hour, that I needed to get about 40 stitches in my face; I waited for the plastic surgeon to come sew me up. A man walked in and looked at me. Just stared at me. Turned around.

– Hi, I’m Rachel. Who are you?

– I fix things like this. [stares at me again.] I think I can fix this.

And then he turns around again.

I give Evan the WTF? hands and he just shakes his head in confusion. The doctor prepares the needles and adjusts my bed so that I’m laying down flat.

– I’m going to numb up the area and then I’m going to stitch you up.

– Okay. I’m very scared of needles, but I think I’ll be okay.

I am scared of needles. When they put morphine in my IV, I asked, “Will this make me less scared of needles?” It didn’t. I don’t think it did anything, really. My adrenaline was too high.

This doctor did not care about my fear. He was so cold, he felt heartless.

He started putting the needles in my cheek. I tried to be brave; I really did, but it hurt so bad. And there were just so many needles in my face. So aggressively.

It wasn’t long before I started crying and it wasn’t long after that, when he started putting shots in my nose, that I started bawling.

He stood there silently, relentless, and stuck me over and over. It felt more aggressive with each needle.

By the time he got to my lip, I was begging. I was pleading with him to stop. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt and it felt like an attack.

Blood and tears streamed all over my face and I begged, screamed, as I sobbed, for him to stop. And he wouldn’t. Not for a second.

– Please, No, No, No, Please stop. STOP! PLEASE! NO MORE! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, please, please, no, no, no, no…

As I cry now, remembering it, I try to figure out why, why exactly, I want to remember this. Why do I want to remember?

Do I want to be able to compare every little pain I complain about to it? Remember what real pain feels like?

To realize that it was all worth it? In the end, the doctor did an incredible job stitching me up. His work was beautiful and those shots were ultimately a part of that.

To find faith in compassion? As I begged, he pressed on silently. As I bawled, he didn’t flinch. A hand on the shoulder or a “there, there, I promise it will be okay” would have beamed a bright light into my life. Empathy. Compassion. Something I want to remember.

T H E   S T A R S   I N   B O Z E M A N   T H E   S T A R S   I N   M I S S O U L A

The bathtub keeps bringing me back. I can’t take showers right now, to keep my face dry. So I take baths. To wash my hair, I have to lay my body down, my head horizontal, to dip it in the water. I’m rarely ever that flat, with nowhere to look but straight up. But recently, I was like that for a very long time. And these baths bring me back to the stars.

In Bozeman, they told me that there might be some bleeding in my brain and they were going to fly me to Missoula to get checked out. I cringed as they brought the backboard in. They put a neck-brace on me, they rolled me over onto my side, slid the board under me, rolled me back, and strapped down every part of my body, including [especially] my head.

The ambulance was ready in a parking garage, so it wasn’t that cold, it was nothing to see [upwards, at least].

When we arrived at the Bozeman airport, they opened the ambulance door and the cold took me over. After wheeling me out, I could instantly see the fog of my thick breath. But beyond that were the beautiful stars. So gorgeous in their perfect, comforting placement. It was like they were the only ones really [really] looking at me, understanding. We stared at each other with a pumping vein of tenderness and then I was lifted into the small plane.

The plane ride was almost miserable. I couldn’t move any part of me and every part of me hurt. Claustrophobia set in quick. A man who was flying with me, making sure I got everywhere safe, noticed my tears and rubbed my arm. When I told him my head hurt from the board, he loosened my head-strap and massaged the back of my head. I would have never guessed that the reassuring touch of a stranger would be so comforting, but it saved me.

We landed in Missoula. As they opened the plane door, the cold consumed me again. When they lowered me down and started rolling me to the ambulance, there they were. In the same exact place, the same exact pattern, like they had waited to make sure I arrived safely, the stars were there. And I realized that this was the same sky, these were the same stars, that shine on everything, everyone that I love. Everything can look up at these stars and find the encouragement of love, hope, and beauty.

This huge world filled with so much that I love, so much that I don’t even know yet, can all be united under this gorgeous blanket of stars. As they put me in the ambulance, my third ride of the day, I realized I want to be a part of that world.

Something I’ve never had to worry about wanting before, something I’ve never had to question, something I’ve had the privilege of being a given, suddenly became a question. And I answered with a feverishly adamant, “YES.” I want to be in this world.

I want to be here.

real life flourished.

I can’t let 2012 slip into the memories without genuinely declaring it the best year yet. The blahg took a hit, I know I didn’t give you much here, but real life flourished.

I got to…

ski in Missoula with friends old and new.

• celebrate my amazing manfriend with many Missoula friends at the 2nd Annual Eye Patch Olympics.

• race my first triathlon.

• be a part of the most. fun. bachelorette. party ever.

• get in a REAL LIFE Mario Kart battle… like in an actual golf cart.

• spend quality time with my family in Texas and watch my baby bro graduate.

officiate the wedding of two of my favorite people at the most amazing lake house after days of water tubing, trail runs, and laughing.

• dance the night away with fabulouses during Chicago’s Gay Pride week.

• TRAVEL ITALY, GREECE, AND LONDON WITH MY BEST FRIEND IN THE WORLD. [gosh, i still can’t get over how amazing it was.]

• Cycle the beautiful hills of northern Italy.

• drink the night away in a small, dark, Irish pub with old community radio friends.

start a graduate program that I absolutely love.

• dance and sing my heart out at a Macklemore concert in Missoula with one of my favorite friends and my bearded manfriend.

• surprise a dear lovely down in Texas for his 30th birthday/engagement party.

• and much, much more.

All the smiles and toasts and love and dancing and adventures. 2012. Ugh. I loved it.

I also had some of the hardest times. There was so much that 2012 taught me. About love. About family. About leadership. About being brave. About pushing myself. About pushing others. About people. About myself.

The feeling of gratefulness washes over me when I think of how much I’ve learned this year. I definitely feel older, maybe even wiser.

With newness, comes resolution. To be better. To be brighter. I’m very much in love with this project: To Resolve

[print by Aaron Eiland. found from Ashely.]

There are plenty resolutions that I’ve made for myself this year, but one that I want more than most is to find a mentor. I feel silly saying that, but I really do. Someone to bounce ideas off of, give me advice, live up to. I have so many people I look up to in life, but I want an official mentor. Like a Liz/Jack from 30 Rock relationship.

I’ve learned a lot about leadership this year. To be a good leader, it doesn’t mean you have the most power or even the most knowledge. To be a good leader means encouraging those around you to be their best, try their hardest, create their dreams. I strive to constantly do that and I respect the hell out of people leading like that.

I want to find someone who’s down the road doing what they love, raising a family, confidently moving forward, creating beautiful things in life, kicking ass at life, and encouraging those all around them. Mentor Me. Help make 2013 even better than 2012.

[now accepting applications.]

fox in the snow, diamond in the sky.

The death plague that I’ve contracted from Jackson has given me pause with opportunity to document how wonderful the trip was. I didn’t get to spend time with all my favorite lovelies, but I did get to soak up some supreme mountain time.

[no energy for captions or correct spacing. just good times galore.]

-2glorywithanna newyearsloveliesnewyearsringingin skiingladiescompilationskiday misscolleenyancey   christmastreepie slitdrumbyev annaandsessi   skateskiingfoxinthesnow

hipsterevan friends cuties

[love it here.]

and there was a lot of interpretive rocking hard to this song [not sorry]: