SIX.

Last night, I went to Gasworks Park and watched the lunar eclipse.

seattle_gasworks_park

With the magical moon above and hundreds of Seattleites milling and huddling about, I thought a lot about today. And about this past yer.

January 21st. Today. Six years since my bad ski accident.

The less I write about personal stuff out loud—the less I share—the more space talking about January 21st takes up. It starts to feel like all I talk about. Which kind of makes me feel weird, but it’s okay. I’m trying to give myself more grace.

Six years ago, I was skiing in Bozeman. I fell. I slid down a steep section. Couldn’t gain control. I hit a tree, with my face. 30 stitches in my face and an airplane ride to Missoula later, they figured out I would be okay.

But it changed me. A lot. And I guess that’s why I find myself talking about it more than would assume.

It also helps me define my years, because I truly saw each year of living differently after the near-death experience.

ONE
The first year after—2013—was the year of surviving. People don’t talk about this enough. Hell, doctors don’t even warn you. Hey, you might have PTSD. Hey, you might have the same kind of brain damage that makes football players murder their girlfriends. Hey, this might mess you up mentally, emotionally, and in physical ways we’ll never talk about. But, hey, be happy for your life. Surviving.

TWO
2014 was straight-up thriving. I’m afraid I may have peaked that year. Award-winning documentaries, film festivals left and right, a 20 in their 20s award, traveling around with loved ones, and just slaying it at work. I felt like I was on a creativity high for a whole year.

THREE
2015 was a lot of change. The changing year. A move to Bozeman for a rad job, an engagement, a new home, a wedding!, a new husband—it was all a lot! A lot of bad happened, but a lot of amazingness happened as well. The year of growth—of change.

FOUR
2016 was a strange stagnation. It was like trying to travel on a stationary bike. At one of those SoulCycle classes. Sometimes it felt productive, but it usually felt pretty dark. Moving, sweating, but not going anywhere. Frustration.

FIVE
2017 sucked. It was a very trying year. We tried our hardest, but everything fell apart. It was trying.

…SIX
And now 2018. January 21st 2018 – January 21st 2019. We moved to Seattle for Evan to finally be an oncology nurse. And from almost the moment we arrived, everyone and everything has been so kind to us. The word that keeps coming up is gracious. From the moment we showed up, we have been shown grace and love. Our home is a home, with ex-nurse landlords who care for us as people. I came to Seattle expecting to write, do stand-up comedy, make lots of radio, and generally piece it together for six months or so.

Not two month in, I accepted a job as a Creative Director at an advertising agency and have been handed the reigns for exciting leadership. I am so grateful.

This transition has been welcoming. Kind.

Friends of friends have turned into tribes of friends.

Family has expanded in size and love. I feel we’ve been shown grace in all things and know better how to give it. It’s love.

I got to make radio I really believed in with people who are just incredible.

Evan and I have been able to find time to truly adventure.

We got to travel around France together.

We got to explore Washington together.

We’ve explored Seattle extensively. (Read: Eat and drink out a lot.) For the first time in five years, one or both of us hasn’t been in school. We’re both done with school! Which means we both have full-time jobs for the first time in a long while. Which means we’ve kind of been spending money like assholes. The next year will be used to reign it in a bit, but…

This year has been our victory lap. It feel less like the thriving year and more like the exhaling year. A gracious exhale. A warm welcome. A strong hug. There is less creating, less projects, more toasts, more meet-ups.

Six. Six years since and an exciting time to be alive.

So going forward this year, I will try to be ask kind as the universe has been to me. As gracious to others—and myself—as I can. That is my resolution that starts today, because today is the beginning of the next chapter for me.

[happy new year.]

the day that didn’t exist.

January 7, 2009 didn’t exist for me. A decade ago, I was on a plane to Sydney, Australia. When you’re running away from a lot of things, you choose the farthest place you can swing.

I left on January 6th and when I arrived in Sydney, it was January 8th.

This girl was bopping around the big city by her lonesome:

me_in_sydney

What a baby! It was also very warm there. Like 110°.

She was likely listening to this song:

She was very lonely:

in_my_room_sad

But trying:

jervis_bay_selfie

Trying by adventuring and dancing in kitchens:

in_the_vincents_kitchen

But it was the loneliest I’ve been. It was the darkest time in the brightest heat. And for long I looked back on this time—looked back at this 23-year-old—and felt regret and sadness.

That day didn’t exist. Then I wished this time hadn’t existed. This phase. Sometimes I didn’t want to exist. But without this time, this phase, I wouldn’t have known what it was like to really scrap things together from nothing. I wouldn’t have found a love for the writing I love today. I wouldn’t know know my strength. I wouldn’t know deep parts of me that I wouldn’t have tapped for resources. Now I know the path there and the path back.

I wouldn’t know this woman:

 

[photos by the amazing Catherine Abegg.]

And I kind of like this woman.

And she really likes this song:

I exist. And a lot of who that existence is was formed by the difficult times. Here’s to the huge failures. Here’s to the big swings that are big misses that make waves a decade down the road.

 

[cheers!]

 

things I believe could truly change the world…

#1: Nanette.

This comedy special is life-changing.

Incredible. It touched me at a deep/raw part of myself and I am so thankful.

It’s on Netflix. It’s wonderful. Grab the tissues.

Speaking of Netflix…

#2: Queer Eye.

I was late to the party, BUT I AM HERE NOW AND ADAMANTLY ON-BOARD.

I want my whole family to watch it. I want every friend I have to watch it. I want every office I’ve ever worked in to watch it. I want everyone who went to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (which—did you know?—still has gay-shaming verbiage in their student handbook)

UMHB_Handbook_homosexual

…to watch it. I want basically everyone I know to watch it.

#3: Won’t You Be My Neighbor.

Just watched this tonight and it affected me more than I thought it would. This show was such a huge part of my childhood.

Being loved. Feeling okay in your own skin. Feeling heard. Feeling okay for who you are. Isn’t this what we all want? Thank you, Mr. Rodgers. Thank you.

#4: Music of Your Loving.

We went to Sylvan Esso last night. It was an absolutely incredible show. It was outside and we watched the sunset as we sang and danced along with many new friends. So much dancing. As the last song ended, we were sweaty, smiling, and filled with love. The dance floor mostly cleared, but a gorgeous song by the newly late Richard Swift came on…

My heart burst. Evan and I started slow dancing and trotting and doo-wopping around. Others did, too. Then it was about 50 of us, just having one last dance. Together. Ugh, it was magical. Just dancing like that together. It was one of those forever moments. So special.

It was already on this mix I can’t stop listening to, but now it’s got the coveted last track.

There’s a lot going on out there. Remember to love yourself. Remember to love your neighbor. Dance with them.

[love y’all.]

 

I remember loving you now.

I fell in love with radio and then it faded. Not the signal. That did not fade. The passionate love did. That beginning love. Run around a new city at night hand-in-hand smiling and laughing and kissing love. It ran hard then got tired. Faded. Leaning over, hands on my knees, catching my breath, tired.

Then I heard this. Everyone should listen to this: Ghetto Life 101.

I knew I loved you, radio. It’s still there.

Same goes for Death Cab for Cutie.

That simple video. Those lyrics. That wandery sound you put in my walk around this city I’m sure I’ve ruined.

I remember loving you now.

I never truly loved Anthony Bourdain. But I ache thinking of the depth of darkness that overpowered the love he felt. Because—goddammit—he was loved. And I never loved cooking, but this article makes me feel I should. Maybe it would help certain flavors of lonely.

A placemat in Paris asked us our favorite poem. Poems! Poetry! I forgot about poetry. I used to love you. I read a poem every night. Some mornings. This poem has shaken us both to the core and that day in Paris—and today—it is my favorite.

My Poem About Last Sounds.

Thank you, Prageeta.

Oh, blahgging. What a weird memory. Sitting down. Randomly contributing. Instead of consuming and consuming and consuming and consuming and consuming and contributing and repeating.

The irrelevance of this sentence and the dozens before is refreshing. I remember I love you now.

But it wouldn’t be a true blahg post without…

regal_swazetitties

Y’all like my new pillows?

Ahh, there she is… in those horrid Photo Booth selfies.

[there she is.]

FIVE.

It has been five years since my ski accident. My new new year. Where the newness of the year starts for me. My beginning. My years. Defined at the end of January 21st.

As a woman who is all about reflection, I can’t help but defining these years.

2013: The Year of Survival.

2014: The Year of Thriving.

2015: The Year of Change.

2016: The Year of Stagnation.

And I truly believed those things at the end of that last year. I believed I would create—get out of this rut. I tried. But a week after January 21st, 2017, my sister called and asked if she and her one-year-old daughter could move in with us. We said yes. She wavered. She pushed it back. We tried every second of every day for weeks to help her get on that plane. She finally did.

It was a surreal couple months. There was more joy in our home than I could have ever imagined. I also saw darkness in my sister—and in this world—that was deep. It’s like I had seen this darkness through a crack in the door before, but at this time, I opened the door and stepped into the room. In there, in that darkness, I was shocked and scared when I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. Deep darkness that shook in my chest.

Even though the darkness was deep, the hope was bright. I’d see a flash of hope light up the room of darkness and cling to it. More of this in the future! I yelled, as we placed all our chips on the flashes of light.

I tried to be the best support system. I tried to be caring and stern, without being a mom. I tried to be a good sister, without being too controlling. I tried to be a good wife, without sacrificing too much of our life. I tried to be a chauffeur/babysitter/cook, without being bitter.

Evan tried to be a strong male influence, without being a dad. Evan tried to be present, without letting his nursing school work suffer.

My sister tried to stay clean, without going crazy. My sister tried to find work, while finding childcare. My sister tried to be a good mom. My sister tried so hard.

My niece tried to communicate, even though she couldn’t talk. My niece tried to grow, something she desperately needed to do. My niece tried to get our attention at every turn, a learned-necessity.

We all tried. It was trying. We tried.

5744519680_IMG_4204

My sister left us and relapsed. She did not come back to the home we made with her. She didn’t even call us to tell us she wasn’t coming home. This sequence was filled with more crying than I thought was humanly possible. In helpless ways I didn’t know were possible. When you cry on the floor, because you can’t stand. You can’t move. But you can’t stop crying. For days.

I miss them almost every day. I’m trying to not.

Then it was April. We quickly had two funerals in a month. Evan’s grandmother and an old boss and mentor of mine, who was not old at all.

In May, I took a beach vacation with a friend who was just as sad. We didn’t even try to pretend we weren’t sad. It was perfect.

Later in May, my brother reached out to me, trying to make sense of his world, his life. We flew him out to Bozeman for a few days to make sure he was okay and safe. This meant we finally had to move one sibling’s things out of our guestroom, so that the other could move in. He left before we wanted him to.

In June, I ran and Evan studied.

In July, the company I work for desperately tried and tried for new accounts, new clients. Pitching. Late nights. Creating. We tried. With no success. Exhausting. Defeating. “Close second.” Throughout the year, we went from 12 to six employees. It’s a hard thing to see all of those friends leave and to keep trying.

In August, Evan graduated after 14 hours of vomiting. For the occasion, I—with the help of many friends—made Evan a rap lip-synch video.

Then we took off on a bike tour that was amazing, albeit much too hard for me.

I finished the bike tour with a double ear-infection, which may or may not have contributed to the months of vertigo. Trying to stay upright. A trying year, for sure.

The next four months, the end of the year, was just Evan and myself trying and trying. Tests. Jobs. Programs. Residencies. Fellowships. Submissions. Our relationship. Somehow we kept trying, after rejections galore. We stopped for a bit. We had to. To rest.

2017: The Trying Year.

And it just occurred to me that for a lot of couples, “trying” means “trying to get pregnant.” That was definitely not the case for us this year. Trying real hard for the opposite—in fact. Though I did have a friend ask…

– Did seeing Evan with your niece make you feel any better about having children with him?

It took me aback. I had never questioned how incredible of a father Evan will be, so I was not surprised when he was incredible with our niece. Not surprised, but still smitten. I didn’t need to “feel better” about Evan before we have kids. I need to feel better about this world and my world.

our_art

Though this year was trying, there were so many highlights.

• I keep saying, “This year sucked, but at least I saw Hamilton.” I SAW HAMILTON!!

• This really was one of the coolest moments of my life.

• I fought vertigo to go conquer the hardest race I’ve ever done in my life and have an incredible weekend in the mountains with amazing friends.

Al-Anon. Honestly, this resource saved me. I don’t wanna speak for Evan, but I believe it helped him this year. I highly recommend finding a meeting if you have a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism or addiction.

• I learned how to fly-fish, which I find more joy in than I could imagine.

• I stood on stage and told a story. A rush. A joy. (no video or audio… just a moment marked in the moment.)

• And then MARFA! Learning how to make radio! What a perfect week. It was incredible. That one was a win.

And as much as I’ve bagged on this last year, the relationships that were strengthened and made are something I treasure. Though it ended badly, I had a sister for the first time in over a decade. I had her. Here. And we were friends. I had a niece that was plopped in my bed many mornings who tried to steal my teddy bear. Those laughs and that time would’ve never been there without the risk we took.

I am closer with my brother now. This year made that happen.

I got so much amazing quality time with my dear friend Allison this year and we loved it so much that she moved herself to Bozeman and moved in with us!

I made a good handful of friends. That’s HUGE. I got closer to so many friends. And I got to see so many loved ones this year.

Evan and I have never been closer—for better or worse. We’re in this together.

I am grateful.

It has been trying. And we have been trying. I have been trying.

On to the next year. Good riddance to this one. Let’s go. Let’s dance while we go.

[onward.]

you’re a free girl now.

I think we’re all doing all of this for those times in life where everything clicks. Things feel right. There’s excitement. And growing. And laughing. And margaritas. And stars. And art. And joy. And creating.

And these clicks don’t happen often—making them all the more moving. A click that snaps and shifts everything inside quickly into place.

That was last week for me in Marfa at the Transom Traveling Workshop.

rache_running_prada_marfa

how I felt. how I feel. // Prada Marfa

We made radio. Ten of us from all over the country—and world! one of us from Australia!—traveled to the high desert of West Texas to tell stories via radio.

I took a gamble and got an AirBNB with two people from the program—you know, strangers. My gamble paid off handsomely. We stayed in this beautiful, art-filled home. We drank wine together. Read together out on the back porch in the mornings. (Well, until it snowed.) We all stayed up way too late, questioning why our pieces weren’t working and—in turn—what we were doing with our lives. It was real. It was awesome. And I got to wake up to this couple every morning…

marfa_art_friends

The first night, we all took a walk down a long dirt road to watch a supermoon rise. It was a telling force. All of us strangers, walking and watching together.

blurry_friends_waiting_for_supermoon

windmill_marfa

We hit the ground running. Listening to amazing radio. Laughing as we figured out we basically all had the same sense of humor and were all falling fast in love with each other. Learning how to use gear, programs, and each other’s sage expertise.

Between our marathon radio-making sessions at our home-base of Marfa Public Radio, we found little snippets of time to explore Marfa.

marfa_public_radiopure_joy_marfamarfa_amazing_handcock_brothersmarfa_dumpstercapri_marfa

The funny montage of photos does it no justice. It was a town alive. A time alive.

Most nights were spent in the radio station, drinking wine out of coffee cups and writing and editing. Then we’d all call it and go to a bar for a margarita and some tacos.

The best night was when all of us went out to an incredible restaurant called Stellina together. They had incredible food and one of my favorite wines. We all unwound. We all laughed. We shared stories and guessed ages. Then Emilio Estevez came in with some friends and we all geeked out about a celebrity sighting in Marfa—which made us giggle a lot more. Going home that night, we pulled up to our home to see a creature circling our AirBNB. This HUGE hog-like javelina was very interested in the prickly pears on all the cacti in our yard. We screamed as we ran to the door and then would open doors around to hear the javelina snorting and snarfing down prickly pears. It was the most Marfa night.

Our last night in Marfa, we had a listening party. I was blown away by everyone’s radio. Wow. What a magic thing that happened in that one week.

Then it was back on the road—back to Georgetown—the next day. I reflected on the drive. Feeling the click. I heard this song on the radio twice. I had never really even listened to this song. Then twice!

Time with family—Evan included!—was so refreshing, too. Christmas time. Family time. Love.

On the way back to Bozeman, we had a long layover in Salt Lake City. The show—my first radio story ever!—was going to be playing live on Marfa Public Radio. So Evan and I stopped into a quiet wine bar and both plugged our earbuds in and streamed it on our phones. Listening. Excited.

listening_in_the_slc_airport

dorks. happy dorks. // SLC Airport

It was perfect. Running around, making it work. It made me happier than I thought it would—listening to our Marfa stories with Evan in an airport bar. I loved it. I would watch him react to colleagues stories and be the Lil John of public radio. Saying, “I love that!” “Yeah!” “Isn’t that the best?” “Right?!” So proud.

We then left the airport and went to some SLC faves—Red Iguana and Bar X—to celebrate it all. The clicking.

It’s been a good trip. It was a good click.

Listen here: http://marfapublicradio.org/blog/west-texas-talk/stories-from-the-transom-traveling-workshop-part-two/

[hey baby.]

 

my favorite laugh.

When Evan finished his first semester of—official—nursing school, I did a little celebratory dance for the occasion.

And—of course—I watched the video over and over, because I’m addicted to that laugh. The beginning of this journey feels like so. long. ago. Because it’s been a really long journey—this whole Evan-in-Nursing-School thing. He has worked nights at a local restaurant to make it all work financially. He has pulled multiple all-nighter to study, write, and make it all work academically. He has been there for me as a husband, friend, and teammate. I’m amazed and impressed. And SO PROUD.

So for the end of his LAST semester in nursing school, I had an idea. On a trip with Allison, I told her about my idea to lip-synch a mutually beloved Drake song for Evan. Her response: “Well, obviously, I should do the Nicki Minaj part.” [this—and many more reasons—is why I love her so.] So we proceeded to have a weekend in Jackson where I relived my best middle school sleepovers and recorded MANY music videos. [the best. the funniest.]

So we went for it. And then we thought, “Maybe this would be even MORE fun if we asked some of Evan’s friends to participate.”

Evan was officially done with classes on Thursday and we were both just so ecstatic. Ev had to work Friday night, so I set it all up. I wrote on our chalkboard, “YOU DID IT!” I left him a card…

omg_youre_done_2

…with a bottle of whisky. The card included the reference, “I want some whisky!” which was from the night Evan found out he was accepted to Montana State University’s accelerated nursing program. A bookend bottle of whisky. [note: that post ALSO includes a strong Drake reference.]

I tried to stay up and wait for Evan, surprise him with all this love and then surprise him with this video I had waiting.

But I fell asleep on the couch. And could not be awoken. It was a long day!

So the next morning, I was shakey and excited and nervous and just wanted to show Evan this video. This ah-mazing video that our friends made so incredible.

So we were drinking coffee and I said to Evan, “Ohhh noooo… shit! I just got some bad feedback on a video I’ve been working on for FIB.” [lies.] [also, FIB = First Interstate Bank… a regular client.]

He was bummed for me. [gotta love him.] I asked if he’d watch the video with me and tell me what he thought of it. He stopped working on bikes to gladly watch. I set up my computer to secretly record on the coffee table [black tape over the Photobooth light, brightness turned alllll the way down so the screen is black… you’re welcome].

Oh my goodness. That laugh. So much of that laugh. Worth all the late nights. All the hard weeks. All the shitty months. All the alone togetherness. All the tears. Worth it.

I love it. I love him. I love this laugh. I love this video. Don’t even try to make me stop watching it thousands of times over.

[and all I can say is…]