July, 2013

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Kodiak “Toad” Parsons – 2001-2013

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Less than two weeks after taking her to Kansas City, my mom called to let me know that Toad had taken an abrupt turn for the worst. She was in a lot of pain, and the X-rays showed that she had no discs left in her neck. Severe arthritis was taking over. Her back legs were buckling. And thanks to my friend Mark and his heroic buddy pass provision, I got on a last-minute flight.

Last night, we said goodbye to my sweetest friend. She was the happiest little dog, social and affectionate, funny and cute, and so much braver than me. I’m so grateful to have had 2 years of 3-legged adventures with her, and especially relieved that I could be with her in her final moments – moments that were heartbreaking but somehow peaceful. Although in pain, she was attentive, ears laid back, tail wagging until the very end.

Toad’s life made a difference to mine. She forced me to not be the center of my universe – which, let’s be honest, is hard to do. She was companionship. She was unconditional love. I felt better when she was around – which is why I took her with me everywhere I could: work, parties, counseling (yes, I took her with me to counseling). She made people stop on the street, charming everyone she came across. She loved cheese and rotisserie chicken. She hated having her picture taken and getting her feet wet.

Most of all, she loved people, and I’m pretty sure it’s okay for me to say that she loved me the most, followed by my family and then probably Graham Stoner. I know that so many of you loved her, and for those who never met her, I wish you could have. She was one of a kind.

I’ll miss you more than I can say, Toady – good girl.

Yesterday at work

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Within context, it was obvious that a co-worker-who-shall-not-be-named was attempting to conjure the “If a tree falls in the forest and no one sees it, did it really happen?” idea. It didn’t go as planned.

Her:
“You know what they say: if the wind blows, does anyone even see it?”

Me:
JOY.

I got new jeans

Friday, July 19th, 2013

I used to be a lot more flamboyant. Case in point:

That was just before my 25th birthday. I was young and free (and possibly tipsy) and saw absolutely no issue with striking a pose for a booty shot, because I’m sorry, those jeans got the job DONE.

I’m about to be 31, and while there’s no way you’d ever catch me posing for a picture like that anymore (because these days I’m practically a librarian), I wore those exact same jeans yesterday. It’s been more than 6 years, and I’m still wearing them. Granted, they’ve blessedly stretched with me, as my derriere extraordinaire isn’t exactly what it once was – because while the good news is you don’t stay 25 forever, the bad news is neither does your butt.

But they still fit – and this, my friends, is a victory.

However, they’re threadbare, and I’m one panicked lunge away from disaster. So last night, in a fit of low self-esteem, I booked a haircut, shopped for makeup at Sephora, and bought a new pair of jeans at Nordstrom.

Don’t tell me a new pair of Hot Jeans won’t make me feel better about life.

My old pair have been demoted to “Second Favorite Jeans,” and I’ll reserve them for special occasions – like when I do karaoke in small towns. But for everything else, you’ll see me wearing my new jeans.

:::::

I have a lot swirling around in my mind and my heart these days. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, and I’m processing through a lot of tough stuff. Some days, I feel like the very worst version of myself – and while I like you a whole lot, the internet probably isn’t the place to talk about these things.

So please accept a post about my jeans for today, and have a great weekend. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, like pose for booty shots. Unless you’re 25. Then go for it. You’ll want that picture later.

Summer camp

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Today is a very sad day, one I’ve been dreading for a long time. I’m saying goodbye to Toad, and sending her to Kansas City to stay with my mom for a bit.

I’m calling it “summer camp” because to think of it as anything else breaks my heart. I know that it’s for good reason – I’m out of town every single weekend for the rest of the summer, not to mention an 8-day work trip in August, and while I have a few good dog sitters, I don’t have THAT many good dog sitters. I know that Toad being with my mom will be the best thing for her – she’ll have consistency and air conditioning and people to rub her belly. I know that Labor Day will be here before I know it, and I’ll be driving out to Kansas City to bring her home.

Still, I’m having trouble stomping down that accusatory voice telling me I’m abandoning her in the name of convenience.

She’s been mine for two years – two very complicated, constantly changing, fragile years for this little dog – and I’ve taken the responsibility really seriously, maybe even to a fault. I pay really close attention to Toad. I watch her to make sure she isn’t in pain. I take her with me everywhere I can because she hates to be alone. And now I’m just… sending her away?

But given that there’s no good reason for me to be concerned about her living at my mom’s house (i.e. the lap of luxury), it makes me think that my anxiety over the whole thing is actually related to something else. It’s probably more selfish.

I’m just going to miss her.

She’s been my near-constant companion, a listening ear, the one who wakes me up in the morning because she’s hungry and then won’t eat her food unless I put cheese on it. She sits on the front porch without a leash and doesn’t run away. When I talk, she looks attentively at my face, even though her brain is very small.

And on nights like last night, when the rain came pouring down and flooded my kitchen once again, and I was standing in the backyard drenched to the bone, frantically trying to figure out how to stop the water from pouring in, and having no luck, came back inside in waterlogged sneakers, threw towels all over the floor, caught what I could in bowls and pans, and thought about posting about it on Facebook just because I need someone to see me – there was Toad. Watching my every move. Witnessing my life. Reminding me that I’m not alone.

She has a fresh shave, and a little bag packed with her few things: her dog dishes, Zuke’s treats, heartworm pills, and the leash she never needs. She’s ready.

If only I could say the same for me.

The best kind of busy

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

I don’t write a ton about my day-to-day goings on at work, but trust me when I say they are many, and they are crazy. My to-do list never ends, and my schedule never stops. I know I’m not alone when I say this, but still: I am busy all the time.

Luckily, I like a lot of my projects, and none more so than THIS.

LARABAR Simple Singer-Songwriter Contest

[It’s okay, I’ll wait. Check out the link and then come back.]

Okay. Is this right in my wheelhouse or what?

First of all, if you don’t know who Gregory Alan Isakov is, you need to change that right now. He’s an amazing talent, and a great guy, to boot. He has a new record out called “The Weatherman,” and it’s all I see people talking about in my Facebook newsfeed this week. It’s really, really good – and I’m lucky enough to be joining him for 3 tour dates in August when the LÄRABAR contest winners perform during his shows.

Do you want in on this? Here are a few ways you can be involved:

1)      If you’re a singer-songwriter (and I know a lot of you are!), enter the contest. We want to hear your songs – and if you win, you’ll be hanging out with me in California next month (the real prize, let’s be honest).

2)      If you’re not a singer-songwriter, pass the contest along to anyone you know who is.

3)      If you live in California, get tickets to GAI’s San Diego, Santa Barbara, or San Francisco show – and let me know you’ll be there, because I’d like to hug you. I’ll probably be at the Los Angeles show, too.

4)      If you live anywhere else in the US or Canada, go see GAI. He’s touring all over this summer, and you’ll love him.

I’m busy. But this project is the best kind of busy. In the midst of the stress and the chaos, I feel really lucky to have the chance to work on something fun, something that makes me happy.

Re-entry

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Today I re-enter real life after a 9-day vacation – and oh, the pain.

I mean that figuratively, of course – but also literally. My body hurts. I climbed three 14ers last week, and I’m all scabs and bruises today. On a steep slope a week ago Sunday, a rock the size of a bowling ball dislodged above me and somehow rolled into my left knee, leaving only a small bloody mark but a deep bruise. Today, I’m left with a dilemma: I need to stretch my quad, but to do so would require bending my knee, which tears the scab.

We all face choices.

Anyway, this past Saturday I climbed Mt. Columbia. And it’s a good thing this 14er was my 34th and not my 1st – because had it been my 1st, I would never have climbed a mountain again. It was that horrible.

The top 2,000 feet is nothing but scree, a mixture of countless small loose rocks and slippery dirt that has only one goal: move down the mountain. To step is to dislodge it, leaving a climber feel like she’s in Indiana Jones, or a video game, or at least an episode of “Wipeout” – no matter what, you have to keep your feet moving. To stop is to slide. So I spent hours – HOURS – plodding straight up the mountain, and when the earth would start to give way beneath my feet, I’d run (fine, awkwardly scamper) to not be taken down with it.

The descent was even worse, so I decided to try to just ride the landslides down like I was skiing: SCREEING, I thought, proud of myself for being so clever.

Come to find out, the Internet already coined the term. The Internet always wins.

I have never cussed so much in my life – all the worst words, the ones that would convince you to never let me hold your babies again. I’d slide a bit, first cautiously, then out of control, causing one landslide after another, making me thankful that no one was below me. When I’d finally grind to a stop, pebbles in my boots and body shaking, I’d feel like screaming. I mean SCREEMING.

Thankfully, Mt. Columbia is over. Not so thankfully, vacation is too.

Keep your chin up out there today, people. Mondays can’t last forever, and neither can scabs. Words to live by.

Self-arresting

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Yesterday, in the process of climbing Wilson Peak, I slipped on a steep snowfield and had to self-arrest. Now before you go thinking that I’m a badass who almost died, I should say that while I could have slid a good deal further than I did, even if I had hit the rocks below, I would have been okay; it wasn’t a lethal slope. But whatever the case, it’s shocking when the ground crumbles from beneath your feet and you suddenly find yourself in a free fall.

When I slipped, I immediately rolled onto my stomach and dug my fingers and toes into the snow. I had just about stopped myself when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dan Clader flying through the air to tackle me (if you know Dan Clader, I’m sure you can picture this). To help stop my descent, he wound up straddling and half-sitting on me, which was one of the more horrifying/hilarious moments of my life – and while my first reaction was pissy annoyance that I had slipped at all, I wound up laughing hysterically, belly to the snow, with bloody knees and frozen fingers and no power to do much about it.

We eventually got off of the slope and finished the climb; I’ve now summited 32 of the 54 14ers, and am going for my 33rd tomorrow.

But today has been a rest day, and I’ve spent it in my hometown of Montrose, Colorado. I haven’t lived here in 13 years, my parents haven’t in 10, and I haven’t even visited for 2.5. While some things remain the same (this is the only place I’ve ever been where rather than digging out the old tree stump, people hire a chainsaw artist to carve it into a vicious, soaring eagle or three bear cubs in a totem pole: instant lawn art), so much of the town has changed. It sprawls out in every direction for miles further than I remember the boundaries to be. I know basically no one. Our old house has been painted so drastically differently, I barely recognize it. There are new businesses and new restaurants, while the storefronts for some shops I remember sit vacant.

And when I think about the life I used to have, the life my family used to have, all of a sudden I find myself in a free fall.

It’s so different. Everything is so different than it used to be, relationships and location and home. The familiar parts of this town are a palpable reminder of what my family has lost. The future looks nothing like what I envisioned as a child growing up in Montrose, and on my worst days (the past few days being some of the very worst), I feel like our inevitable fate is to tumble down the slippery slope and crash against the boulders of Rock Bottom.

We tend to think of “hope” as a positive feeling, one of potential and possibility and the anticipation that tomorrow will be better than today. But I’m realizing that hope is actually a painful emotion – because by its very definition, the thing we are longing for is not.

If it was, there would be no need for hope at all.

Hope is hard work. It’s an acknowledgement that things are not the way we wish they were – and yet, that it might not always feel this way. It’s a willingness to carry the uncomfortable weight of imperfection. It’s anticipation with no guarantee.

Maybe more than anything, it’s simply a decision against resignation.

So I dig in my fingers, dig in my toes, and self-arrest before hitting the bottom. There is so much more ahead, and I want to know what it is – because what if it’s worth seeing?