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!]

 

where i’ve been for the last week…

Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River was [hands down] one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Words trying to spell out the laughs, scares, beauty, realizations, breathlessness… would fall short.

So, in hopes, here are some photos to explain…

[in almost completely random order…]

[a week for the books.
a time to always remember.
remind myself of.
self-support.
group-support.
the importance of love.
living.
laughing.
dancing.
living.
exploring.
being.
seeing.
loving.
love.]

[photos from the arty and amazing evan smith, finn’s facebook and maybe maybe myself.]

be hope.

Hey American Friends…

How’s it going?  I hope you’re paying attention… because there’s a lot going on…

Tomorrow, President Obama is giving his State of the Union Address.  I’m sure you’ve heard about this and I hope you intend on watching.

A lot of talk about our economy.  Where are the jobs?  And then Health Care Clusterf*ck 2009/10 and National Debt Ridiculousness, etc… etc.

Over a year ago, I gathered with the Teton County Democrats and other Obama supporters to watch the election at a local coffee shop.  The excitement of Obama winning was overwhelming.  People crying tears of joy, friends hugging, hope… HOPE.  True hope is something amazing… a form of love, I believe… and we all had it.  It inspired us.

Tomorrow I join the Teton Democrats again to talk about a year with President Obama and watch his address.  There’s a different feeling in the air, for sure, but is our hope gone?  I hope not.

There are things that are not good in our world, our country, our county, ourselves… but I challenge us to [get ready for the cliché] be the change we want to see.

Get involved.  Be hope.

I’ve thought a lot about this lately.  What is important?  What are the good things I want to be hope for?

1.  People.  Loved ones and my loved ones’ loved ones and others’ loved ones.   People.

2.  Our Earth.  The beauty of it.  The abundance of it.

3.  The things that enhance our world and make community.  Love.

I don’t know where that should go, what that should mean… but it’s time to get involved.

•  Help people.  Help Haiti.  Holy Hell.  It’s a tragedy.  It’s a disaster.  Families gone.  Homes gone.  The things that are too precious to think about ever leaving us… Gone.  And we need to continue giving when the cameras turn off, the reporters are gone.  Give. Help.

•  Pay attention to the world you love.  Help it.  Reduce.  Reuse.  Recycle.  Be proactive.  Love what we’ve been given.  A stranger commented this on my last post: http://veganvideo.org/ Awakening.  Changing.  [i mean… don’t get me wrong… i love cheese as much as (okay, more than) the next guy… so, this is a whole different topic of discussion…]  But pay attention to what you eat.  Maybe you don’t change anything… but pay attention.

•  And then there’s this gorgeous world of love and dancing and smiling and crying from beauty.  [my favorite.]  Get passionate about it.  Volunteer love.  Anywhere.  What you have a heart for, help it.  Get together with others and glorify what is good.  Whether that’s art, music, climbing, skiing, faith, yoga, food, laughter, building, learning, giving, political optimism… it matters not… it just matters that the heart, the beauty, the hope remains in this wonderful, wonderful place.

I know those things aren’t really political… I digressed… I am Distracto… but you should watch the State of the Union Address.  Pay attention.

[sorry if this was lecturey… did not mean to be too lecturey.  i just got real excited about things… about the good that could be… in the world, in the states, in myself.  you know i’m not good at things… things like following through, staying focused, doing more than saying… so, i’m saying to myself as much as to all three of you who read my blahg.  so so so much love.  tons and tons.]

presidential crowd pleasers.

Talking to clients about American Presidents might be my new favorite thing.

[must remind that i work with adults with mental disabilities.]

Sometimes clients will catch staff talking about politics and want to give their two cents.  A conversation recently turned to the subject of “Favorite President of All Time” and Sandy, a client, wanted to discuss.

– Who’s your favorite president, Sandy?

– Ummm… I think mine would have to be Hammerhead Lincoln.

Oh man.

YES.

Who’s favorite president ISN’T Hammerhead Lincoln?

President Hammerhead Lincoln.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better…

– I like the one we have now.

– Oh yeah, Lou Ann?  Who’s that?

– La Bamba… the black one.

Oh my goodness…

President Barack La Bamba.

I don’t even know what to say.  Too Awesome.

i am done.

It was a hard year.  The hardest yet.

Last fall.  Leaving Yosemite in a blur to try and soften the blows of a family emergency and my sister’s divorce.  The darkness of that.

Fresno.  The tears of family, the delicacy of a two year old in question in your arms.  Hard. The frustration of uncertainty.

The pain of an uncertain love.  Being embarrassed by the pain and hopes of it all.  Dark.  Pain.

Twelve job applications.  No employment.  Lost.  Losing.  No direction.

Jackson.  Laying in bed, not able to get up, can’t see clearly.  Physical pain like I’ve never known.  Waking up in the middle of the night sweating, shaking, freezing, crying, confused.

Five minutes to get up.  Ten to get out the door and into my car.

At the Emergency Care…

– You have a horribly bad kidney infection.  We don’t even know how you got here by yourself.

– [trying not to cry and focus on the face of my doctor or nurse.]

– You could either just take the antibiotic for $4 or the shot for $170.  We highly recommend the shot.  You need to get something in your system now.

– [trying not to cry.] I just can’t afford the shot.  I’ll have to just take the pill.  I’m sorry.

– …We’ll be right back.

They leave the room for about five minutes and then return…

– Well, you’re in luck.  Usually the shot is $170, but today it’s on special for $25.  Would you like it?

– [crying.] Yes, thank you so, so much.

Georgetown.  Home.  Defeated.  In every single area of my life.  Not winning at anything.

Australia.  Australia?  Australia.

The. Family. From. Hell.  I kept searching for hidden cameras.  Not from the family, but from some kind of cable TV show.  This had to be a joke.

Lonely.  The loneliest.  Missing everything.  Everyone.

Crying.  Daily.

New family.

Lonelier.  How?

Mother/boss lost her job.  Fired.  What?  One week’s notice?  Whatever, screw you.  Middle finger to this place; I want to go home.

Beat down.  Defeated.  Desperate for living of any kind.

The darkest time.  Family, love, friends… All torn down, failed.  My own doing.  My responsibility for my darkness.  Powerful.  My responsibility for darkness in general.  Crushing.  Suffocating.  Ready to be done.  Making the decision that there is nothing to live for, nothing in myself that I want to look at… but the belief that maybe [some day] there will be something there again… and having to desperately grasp on to that.

Jackson.  Home.  Friends.  Calling it quits [again] on a love that cannot be willed into working.  Tears… always.  Empty.

Too many jobs.  Worn down.  Good thing?  Yes.

Throwing up.  All night.  Why?  Because this is a bad year.

Finding joy.  Finding light.  Getting excited?  Whoa… slow down.

Ear ache.  Ear infection.  What am I, nine years old?

More sickness.  Scared.

I was ready for it to all be over.  But this time it was different than that way I wanted it to all be over that last week in Sydney.  I’m calling it my bad year… hopefully my worst… and I’m moving on.  But there had to be something to symbolize the end.  Something big.

So I ran a marathon.  In Fresno.  Where this all began.

marathon.

the finish.

I hardly told anyone.  I didn’t tell my closest friends.  This had to be something I did by myself.  For myself.

It was hard.  Rightfully so.

I had a mix of songs throughout the year to listen to.  The songs started in Yosemite and ended with two weeks ago.  It was powerful.  You’re laughing at me, but I don’t care.

A mile for every two weeks.  Running.  Reflecting.  Hurting.

Mile 6, thinking, “Really?  I have TWENTY more miles?  What the hell am I doing?”

Mile 17, the stitch.  My right side, all the way down.  Thinking, “Oh god.  Please let this stop.  I’m never going to make it.”

Mile 20, my ankle failing me.  Thinking, “I want to cry.  I can’t.  I have to keep going.  I want this to be over.”

Men older than my dead grandfather passing me.  Women in metallic wigs passing me.  Me thinking, “Well, this is just embarrassing.”

Finishing.  Time: 4:57.  Slow.  I could care less.

My family there.  Cheering me on.  My sister, my biggest fan.  Yelling so loud, smiling so big.  So proud.  On both ends.

I’ve never been happier.

Finished.

I am done.

I’m glad to be back.

Thank you for everything.

All of you.

enjoy yourself while you can.

A couple things from the girl on Vicodin*…

I first saw this short film in Sydney… at the Banff Film Festival.  It was so incredible for me to watch it, to be there.  Sydney was rough.  Having something like that film festival to bring me back to familiarity was huge.  I felt so close to loved ones… for no other reason than sitting in a theater and watching films that they, too, might have watched in a theater with other loves of mine.

And this song… gosh, this song.  “Cold, Cold” by Stephanie’s Id.  [i think that’s the name of the group…]  It’s a great song… I can’t get enough.  And it’s cold [effing cold] here in Jackson… so it applies?  Right?  Whatever, it’s awesome.

haha... ha... ha?

haha... ha... ha?

…Oh.  Yeah, that’s a little true.

*So, I woke up a couple nights ago with a horrid sore throat.  That then traveled to my ear and gave me the worst earache I’ve had since I was 11.  When I went to the doctor, he prescribed, “Something to help with your earache, something to help you sleep.  It’s a painkiller called ‘Vicodin'”.  Whoa!  Yeah, I know what Vicodin is!  And he gave me kinda a lot…

I thought it was overkill.  But now I sit here, as the Vicodin is wearing off, and the pain in my ear is taking over the right side of my face again.  I’m staring at my bottle of Vicodin and my bottle of Ibuprofen, wishing I could take one more day off work and frolic through the fields with my love, Vicodin.  Instead of settle for Ibuprofen… like I’m gonna.