September, 2011

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Barns and such

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Well.  My mom said that yesterday’s post made her want to throw herself off a building.

So there’s that.

But on another note, I got some emails from people who were saying that they’ve been there, felt that, got the t-shirt.  Go figure – it seems that loneliness runs in the culture these days.

Thank you, friends (W, C, M, L, H, and G), for your words of solidarity.  We should have a club.  It can be called the Walking Wounded.  Our mascot can be Toad the 3-legged dog.

Greta once heard a sermon in which the pastor (Richard Dahlstrom – holler) compared life to a barn.  You can keep your barn empty, and therefore, very clean and orderly – but that’s not what a barn is meant for.  A barn is made to house LIFE.  And if you invite life into the barn, then you’re bound to have to shovel some shit.

Except I think that Pastor Richard probably didn’t said “shit.”

Guys, I don’t even really say “shit.”  Sometimes the blog flies away from me, and all of a sudden, I’m a cusser.  In real life, I only say cuss words when I stub my toe (often) or Gabe drags the kitchen trash all over the living room (thrice now).

Anyhow, I’ve passed this barn analogy along to a few people, and it seems really pertinent to me all of a sudden.  To invite others in is to welcome the mess.  In a way, it’s what we’re made for.

A few months ago when I was in Nashville, I heard another pastor (Craig Brown – holler again) say that we’re so quick to say that we don’t need Jesus – that is, until we come into contact with other people.  Then, all of a sudden, people are bugging us and letting us down, and we’re failing and disappointing them and becoming the worst versions of ourselves – and without warning, we realize that we need a savior.

I tend to like the idea of being self-sufficient.  I don’t like to need anyone or anything – because what if the needing is met with… nothing?

But luckily, my needing isn’t met with nothing.  There’s grace enough for you, and – miracle of miracles – grace enough for me.

Different

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Oh, sigh.  Le blog.

Sometimes (a lot of times), I come to this space and watch the curser blink – blink – blink, just not knowing what to say.  These posts provide such a tiny glimpse into my reality, it’s hard to attempt to paint an accurate picture of what’s going on.  What you see here is a small window – what I don’t communicate far outweighs what I do.

I’m in a strange season right now.  One might argue that I’ve been in a “strange season” for almost 2 years – or almost 30.  I’ve been waiting for a change in the tides, a shift in the forecast – but it’s nowhere to be seen.  And so I walk and wait, and listen and ask, and hope to God that I feel some wind on my face soon.

But last Friday, I cried for the first time in a long time.  I was there on Greta’s couch, telling her honest words that have been stuffed down inside, finally feeling it so necessary, so vital, to just lay my fears bare.  She listened (something she is so good at), and asked questions (another skill of hers).  And then, she compared my life to a big room, and said that it seems I’ve relegated myself to a very, very small corner – that, having ruled out all other areas as “unsafe,” I’ve retreated to the perimeter.

And it’s true.  My back is to the wall – but at least it can’t get stabbed, right?

I’ve recently found myself stiff-arming friends and community in the name of self-protection.  I didn’t used to be this way – I’ve always been ultra-connected and involved with the people around me – but lately, it just hasn’t felt all that safe to let the walls down.

So I’m safe.  But I’m lonely.

In some ways, my life here in Denver looks very, very different than what I had hoped for.  But I don’t know that that’s anybody’s fault but mine.

In her own words: Kodi’s trip to the Northwest

Monday, September 26th, 2011

A week ago Saturday, Annie opened the front door.  I ran through it.  She had my leash out, so I knew we were going somewhere – but instead of walking around the block one time (as far as I can walk), she lifted me into her car.

I like to ride in the car.  I lean against the backseat, and breathe really hard.  I never know where we’re going, but it’s always exciting.

This time, Annie started driving, and she just didn’t stop.  For almost 14 hours, she drove.  I panted the whole time.  Annie thinks I have dragon breath, but I am not a dragon.  I am a dog.

Sometimes, we would stop at a gas station and Annie would lift me out of the car and tell me to pee.  Sometimes I would and sometimes I wouldn’t.  Annie would talk to me out loud, and say things like, “Toad, you need to pee,” but if I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t, because I am a dog and I do whatever makes sense to me.

The next day, we only drove 7 hours.  When we finally stopped, we were in a city called “Portland,” and the first place we went was a guy named Mike’s house.  Mike is very tall.  I hadn’t eaten any food since Friday because long, unexpected car rides stress me out, so Annie microwaved some white rice for me.  I ate it.

On the days that we were in Portland, Annie took me to an office that she worked from.  The first day, I was nervous because I didn’t know where I was, so I threw up on the floor.  It’s okay, though, because the floor was concrete.  Annie cleaned it up very quickly, and I wagged my tail because I felt better.

Forty-five minutes later, on those same concrete floors, I shat.  It was very un-like me, but in the moment, it just seemed like the right thing to do.  A stranger man discovered it, and went and found Annie and told her what I had done.  Annie cleaned it up as fast as she could and kept saying the words “I’m so sorry” to the people in the office.  I just smiled and wagged my tail, so no one could be very mad at me.

Portland was a wonderful city, because everyone there smelled like interesting things like incense and cigarettes, and they would stop on the street to pet me.  Portland really likes 3-legged dogs, and it’s a good thing, because I only have three legs.

A few nights later, Annie lifted me into the car again, and I started panting.  I panted for three hours until we got to a new city: “Seattle.”  I was so excited to arrive in Seattle, because we stayed at my friend Lisa’s house, and she has a backyard, and I love Lisa because she pets me so much and feeds me cottage cheese.  I was so excited to be at Lisa’s house that I ran all around the house, and even though her floors were made of a thing called “hard wood” and I slipped all over the place, nothing could stop me from running and being happy.

My time in Seattle was so nice, because Annie just worked and patted me on the head.  One night, we went to her friend Keith’s house, and it was very scary because Keith had knocked down walls in his house and was building them up again, and there were wires and tools around.  But Keith gave me a bowl of water and Annie a shot of whiskey, and everyone felt better.

On Friday, Annie didn’t work – she took a thing called a “day off.”  On this day, she went on a walk with Greta.  I couldn’t go, because Annie and Greta like to walk very far, and remember, I can only walk once around the block.  I was sad that they left me behind, so I chewed the wood around the back door of Lisa’s house.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

When Annie came back and saw what I had done, she seemed angry and sad and something called “embarrassed.”  She tried to fix the door for Lisa, and she told Lisa that she would pay for it to be fixed for real.  But no matter what she offered, she still felt sad that I had done this.  I didn’t understand why she was sad.  I just looked at her and wagged my tail, because I like Annie, and I’m happy every day and all of the minutes.

On Saturday morning, Annie put all of her things in her car, and lifted me onto the backseat.  We drove on a magnificent roadway called “I-90,” and when we crossed over Lake Washington on our way out of Seattle, I saw a tear roll down Annie’s cheek.  I think that she must love this city very much, and must have been so sad to leave.

We drove to a place called “Spokane,” and I met a baby friend named Eleanor.  I don’t think that I’ve ever had a baby friend before, but I was very nice to this baby.  She was like a person, but very small.  Also in Spokane, I saw a cat and barked as loud as I could and ran after it as fast as I could.  But I only have three legs, so I did not get very far.

The rest of the trip consisted of a lot of driving and Annie trying to learn all of the words to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.”

I met many people on my trip, and everyone who meets me loves me.  But Annie says that she probably does not want to take me on a trip again.  I don’t understand, because I’m so nice and everyone likes me so much.  But Annie said that having me along was a thing called “stressful.”

Maybe it’s because I threw up inside and shat on the floor and destroyed a home.

But I am just a dog, and I do what makes sense to me.

I’m very happy to be back in Colorado.

And I know that Annie still loves me.

A brief interview

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Hey, Annie.
Oh hey there.

What did you not do last night?
I did not attend a… seminar? a workshop?… called “7 Ways to Choke a Man Unconscious.”

What??!?  Who invited you to such a thing?
My friend Mike.  You know him, you love him.

Well, it’s really too bad that you didn’t go.

I know.

What on earth made you pass up such an incredible opportunity?
Well, I had to go running.

That’s not a very good excuse.

YOU’RE TELLING ME.

I hope you at least made it a good run.
I ran 4.8 miles – I’m starting to train for another half-marathon.

Which one?
I’m signed up for the Seattle Half, which is happening the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Wonderful.
Yep.

[silence]

So… what else did you do this weekend?
Well, I drove very far – 1,300 miles.

That is insanity.
Maybe.

Did you have company?
Yes – my mom was with me on Saturday.  And the Toad was with me the whole time.  Still is, in fact.

Where are you?
I’m in Portland.

With the Toad?
Yes.  She’s a good travel buddy.

I still can’t believe you didn’t go to the choking class.
You and me both.

Recent reality

Friday, September 16th, 2011

When returning my dad’s rental car late last night, I emptied it of the detritus I had collected, and walked into the office to drop off the keys carrying 8 metal poles, a dish full of dog food, a house plant, and a box of Corn Flakes.  And as I walked across the parking lot to Becca’s waiting Subaru, I dropped the box of Corn Flakes and didn’t bother to pick it up.

That is a very vague (and probably puzzling) vignette from my recent reality.

I’m ready for the weekend, and all of the changes that next week will hold.  Stay tuned.

An email received from Miranda last night

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

AP,

Did you know that when you Google image search “cross clip art for kids” a picture of you comes up?

Turns out.

Love,
Mw

– – – – – – – –

[She is so not lying.]

Such an amazing book

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

“I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly.  That is what the scar makers want us to think.  But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them.  We must see all scars as beauty.  Okay?  This will be our secret.  Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying.  A scar means, I survived.

In a few breaths’ time I will speak some sad words to you.  But you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now.  Sad words are just another beauty.  A sad story means, this storyteller is alive.  The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.”

-Chris Cleave, Little Bee

– – – – – – – –

If you haven’t read this book, you need to remedy this ASAP.

Real life lessons I’ve learned in the mountains

Monday, September 12th, 2011

On Saturday, I climbed Mt. Massive, which was my 24th 14er, and my 10th of the summer (which checks #4 off my list of goals for 2011).  Saturday also marked the 4-year anniversary of my move from Seattle – which, in some ways, was the initial leap into really big adventure that’s still unfolding.  Needless to say, the two things danced around in my head all day – life in the mountains, and life in general.

There are a lot of ways in which mountain climbing can be compared to life – but how to convey this without sounding cheesy like a Miley Cyrus song?  (Although… sigh.  You know I love that Miley Cyrus song.)

Well, here.  Let’s try it this way.

– – – – – – – –

On the trail on Saturday, I passed a man who, impressed by my speed, told me I had “an engine” in me.  I grinned so big.  For a girl who has never been good at sports, who could never serve the volleyball over the net, who never scored a goal, can I just tell you how good it is to have found an activity that my body takes to naturally?  Hiking just fits – I’m really fast (faster than a lot of MEN), my body cooperates, and it brings me a lot of joy.

Real life lesson:
Find the things that come naturally, and that bring you a lot of joy, and do those.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try new things, or work hard at something that might be a stretch (or even a strain) – but pay attention to what it is that works for you.  Sometimes, it’s something that was obvious from a very early age.  Other times, you stumble upon it accidentally.  Whatever it is – music, running, writing, painting, cooking, traveling – foster it, protect it, make time for it, and then allow yourself to experience the joy.

– – – – – – – –

People die on 14ers every year, often when struck by lightning.  When climbing Mt. Yale a few weeks ago, the seemingly benign clouds above broke into a lightning storm right overhead – bolts of lightning overlapped by cracks of thunder that reverberated across the entire sky.  I’ve never prayed so urgently or run so frantically as in that moment – I bombed down the ridge toward treeline as fast as I could, projecting ahead to my own funeral and wondering how my family would find the password to my blog in order to post the bad news for you all to read.

After that, I was afraid to climb again.  That lightning had scared me on such a primal level, and when my alarm went off on Saturday morning, I was tempted to turn it off and stay safe and comfortable in my bed.

Several hours later, I was once again above treeline, watching the sky with such trepidation, thinking that the puffy clouds might unify and create the lightning that would be the death of me.  But they never did.  I made it to the summit, and then all the way back down to my car, and the entire day had been beautiful.

Real life lesson:
Learn the difference between the threats in your life.  Know when a situation is dangerous, when you should run for dear life.  Then again, know when it’s not worth your fear, because before you know it, the danger could simply burn off into blue sky, and you might as well enjoy your day.

– – – – – – – –

This summer, I had a hard time finding people to come climbing with me.  For some reason, no one wants to wake up at 4am on a Saturday only to drive 3 hours, hike 14 miles, gain and then lose 4,000 feet of elevation, stumble back to the Subaru, and then drive back to Denver in a silent daze.  I can’t imagine why.

As a result, 7 of my 10 14ers this summer were climbed by myself.

I’m not stupid about it – the peaks I’ve been climbing haven’t been super technical, and I plan my climbs to fall on days when there are sure to be others on the mountain.  I tell people where I’m going, and when I should be back – lest I wind up needing to cut off my own arm with a dull blade.  And sometimes, I make friends on the trail – kindred souls who also find the sacrifices worth it.

Real life lesson:
We live in a culture of safety and comfort.  The trail toward beauty and adventure and risk isn’t terribly popular, and thus, traveling companions may be scarce.  This is okay.  Certain paths can be walked alone.

But even in the midst of solitude, don’t disconnect from the people who love you most.  And don’t close yourself off to the unexpected friends you might meet along the way.

– – – – – – – –

You can hold it.  There is no reason to pee in the woods.
The sun burns.  Wear sunscreen.
Keep going.  Those miles aren’t going to walk themselves.

Real life lesson:
Those just kind of translate over.

– – – – – – – –

It’s been a great summer in the mountains.

And it’s been a great adventure I’ve been living.

Take a chance.  Wake up early.  Drive an unmarked road.  Work hard, and don’t quit.  You just might find yourself in the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.

American Basin - Lake City, CO

Friday flickers

Friday, September 9th, 2011

So.  It’s Friday again.  And not a moment too soon.

I’m making this soup for dinner tonight.  After Mom’s gift of the entire pantry, I have every single ingredient on hand.

I started training for the Seattle Half-Marathon, which is happening the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  It feels good to be running again.

I had stopped buying bread altogether, but then I rediscovered sourdough.

Do I know anyone in Montana?  I can’t remember.

Last night, Becca and I asked Toad which of our rooms she wanted to sleep in.  She stood in the hallway, looked back and forth between our bedrooms, and then hopped into mine.

I slept under my down comforter last night.  It’s that chilly now.

I want my hair to be long and glam.  The next minute, I want it to be short and sassy.  In the meantime, it’s probably just in a ponytail because I probably haven’t taken the time to style it in days.

I’m starting a new book, “Little Bee.”  I got it at McKay’s used bookstore in Nashville for $2.  I wish I could find a great used bookstore in Denver.

Not too long ago, a boy made me count how many dresses I had in my closet – and there were more than 40.  I got rid of a bunch.  But now, I need a cocktail dress, and nothing I own is right for the occasion.  Again – yes, I know.

OMG, Jonathan Taylor Thomas is 30.

Cheer up and smile

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Yesterday, I was a total crankpot.  Everything was wrong.  Everything was complicated.  Everything was making me nervous and anxious and angry and tearful.

During my break, I took myself on a walk around the lake, feeling the clouds hang low to the earth.  I tried to breathe in the cool air – the first traces of fall – but with each breath I took in, the bad things built up more and more inside.

Just when my throat was getting tight and my eyes were getting full, a friend called.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m out on a walk and trying… not… to… cry…” I sputtered.

He laughed, because he is a boy and that is what boys sometimes do, but when you’re a girl you don’t really mind – because you know that he’s a boy, and you know he isn’t being mean.

Then he asked me why I was almost crying, and I erupted with all of the reasons.

He laughed a little bit more, and then offered very logical advice (boys are good at that, even when it feels kind of annoying), and by the time my break was over, my tears had passed and I was ready to get back to work.

Today is a new day.  I’m going to treat it as such.