The Love Post

Little Cottonwood Canyon on spring evenings, when the final traces of sun illuminate the granite, the cool air smells like earth and we are all alone.

Arnie asleep in Brad’s arms, sighing and dreaming and stretching his paws.

Wedding anniversaries spent surfing in Mexico.

Summer road trips to California, for surfing and running and swimming and catching up with friends and people watching and thrift store shopping and emigration market eating and teaching the boys to ride big waves.

The recent discovery of an Indian restaurant in my neighborhood.

Board shorts.

An open back door, a green back yard, my dogs snoozing in the grass, daylight till 9:00 pm.


Hardwood Burns Slowly

I love my home, perched between Big and Little Cottonwood, with its shady yard and vegetable garden and birdfeeders and Paolo Soleri bells, which are so sweet and soothing that I always wake up smiling on breezy mornings. Waking up in Boulder this weekend, the first thing I noticed was the absence of their song, though I'm so used to them here at home that I don't even notice them anymore.

Interesting. Even the best things grow routine or boring. We stop paying attention to - or find fault in - what we once found so breathtaking.

And eventually, while we sit still looking out, we become such a part of our surroundings that we become our surroundings, the way temples have become banyan trees, and vice versa, in the jungles of Thailand and Cambodia.

So even though - as I said - I love my home and husband and this community, the stasis and finality of here seems to oppose my nature. I almost always feel like I should be elsewhere, traveling or exploring new places, new people, new opportunities. I'm not good at settling, even when the place and people and opportunities I'm "settling" for are so wonderful, are so sacred.

But some dear friends of mine just went to Vietnam for a few weeks, and before they left, I suggested sites and inns and restaurants and, well, Thailand, because I like it better, and as I talked, I thought about some of the things I've been lucky enough to experience: fabric shops in hard-to-find alleys and stooped old women who run guest houses and tend terraced gardens in the Himalayas and the way the centuries-old pubs in Gammla Stan stay open all night, even for a group of kids nursing Carlsbergs and being way too loud.

For years, I focused on going climbing as frequently as possible. That meant making it happen after work and on weekends, leaving little time for much else. Now that I've backed off a bit, I have more time to think. I feel like I'm finding my direction by remembering where I've been, and while that might seem like I'm navigating by way of the rearview mirror, I just can't fight this nostalgia; it's like I lost my way somewhere back there and am retracing my steps until I figure everything out.

Some friends and I went out for sushi in Boulder on Saturday night, and as we cracked each other up with stories about our lives now - so different than when we all lived in the same small mountain town five years ago - we watched a group of kids at a nearby table celebrate the 21st birthday of one of their own.

To me, they looked no older than 16, and I couldn't believe the waitresses weren't running their ids under black lights. "How can they be of age?" I thought, as we watched them tie on paper Samurai headbands - the Japanese equivalent of lobster bibs, I suppose. Then I realized that my context was off; I was still thinking of myself as 21 - young and rowdy and fighting for the spotlight - when, actually, I'm a decade beyond.

Maybe that's what this is all about. I don't know. Usually I just keep writing until I run across some sort of resolution; I never force it, I just seem to find one. Tonight, though, I'm writing in waves, taking breaks to play with Arnie and read the new issue of Surfer .

This month's "Last Wave" essay deals with the author's uncertainty about traveling to a spot in Baja based on the violence that area has experienced lately. He suggests that these world changes - unimaginable a few years ago - will affect surfing, will change how people can access and experience it. I paid close attention to the article, because Brad and I have spent time in that very place. When I think now about how safe we felt there, about how we - or at least I - felt then like I was in a haven of good energy and possibility, I'm almost embarrassed by my lack of foresight, by my inability to predict the warzone the place would become.

But maybe that's just it. Maybe, as we age and as the world changes in once unimaginable ways, we need to remember what it was like before, what we were like before. Maybe that's what gets us back on track and makes things better.

Good night, all.


They Know Too Much

Those hawk-eyed soothsayers over at Stuff White People Like are really starting to annoy me. I like to think of myself as a little avant-garde, a little outrageous, but the culture vultures have cut me down to average yet again.

Back when I thought I was cool because I still listened to the Roots, I stumbled - dismayed – upon this site, and since then, I haven't been able to tear myself away.

Damn them and their intimate knowledge of my tendencies.

Bangs? Check.

Mad Men? Love it.

Scarves? I'm not exaggerating when I say I wear one every day. Every Day. Today it’s white and orange gingham, yesterday it was white silk with bold chartreuse streaks, tomorrow it’ll be purple Pashmina, Friday something big and wrappy to wear on the plane. Dammit.

Moleskine "legendary notebooks"? Actually, I hate those pretentious little books. Carrying one is like wearing a sign that says, "I'm a sucker who hates my money and fancies my every thought so important that its needs writing down.”

Taking a year off? HA! They're wrong again! I didn't take one year off - I took three!

Coffee? Come on, EVERYBODY likes coffee. Just look at the Turks!

Facebook? Over 600 friends!

Self-aware hiphop references? Ok, this I do not do.

Grammar? Don’t get me started.

Free healthcare? If I had a nickel for every time I’ve proposed socialism, I’d be rich enough to buy non-generic meds.

David Sedaris, Not Having a TV, Arrested Development, Dogs, Juno, Living By The Water (I don’t, but I’d love to)…the list goes on and on.

But really, that's ok, because it's that transparency that enables you (and strangers who run an eerily accurate website) to know me so well, and to know how to help me out of a blue time.

Thank you for your insightful comments, phone calls and emails after my sad post a week or so ago. Such a tremendous outpouring of love—I feel so lucky.

And just like that, everything feels ok again. As soon as I took an honest look at what makes me happy (now - what makes me happy now, not what made me happy 5 years ago or 3 years ago or last year), all the stress—of climbing or not climbing, of skiing or not skiing—melted away. Instead of feeling directionless and overwhelmed, I was able to approach the world with some perspective.

So where do I go from here? I probably won’t revisit the therapist I saw a couple weeks ago, the woman who, after listening to me for a while, asked, “Why don’t you and your husband take up snowshoeing*? That might be a nice way to spend time together in the winter!”

I stared at her, unable to speak, because she just didn’t get it, and with 45 minutes left in my session – a fucking eternity – I suddenly felt exhausted. I missed the therapist I saw in college, Patti, who knew how to say, “try something new” without making me want to scratch my eyeballs out.

The thing is, though, I’ve been trying new things my whole life, preferring the novelty of change to the head-down-dedication of perfecting one sport or hobby. Yes, that spontaneity has allowed me to do myriad wonderful things, but I often wonder where I’d be if I'd ever truly stuck to something.

Oh. Wait ...

There's Arnie, all sprawled out with his paw flung across my foot.

I stuck to him.

When I got him five years ago, my life was at its most frenetic. I was barely hanging on financially and my emotions were completely unmanageable. So, naturally, because I couldn't deal with myself, I decided to throw another living thing into the mix. (WTF?)

But somehow - even with my roommate admonishing me for being so irresponsible - I knew it would work. I could fail myself - continually - without it mattering enough to change my behavior, but after smacking eyes on Arnie for the first time, I knew I could never, ever fail the fuzzy golden baby animal who was depending on me for food and love and shelter and walks and pets and companionship. He deserved all the compassion in the world, and in caring for him, I started to address the matters in my own life.

Hm. I never thought about that before. No wonder I love Arnie so much.

No wonder I didn't meet Brad until after I got Arnie. I wasn't ready to meet him any sooner.

Obviously, I have bad memories of high school. I had a lovely childhood, so it goes without saying that I spent my teen years looking for an enemy to battle, finding no one but myself, and taking it out on my parents.

I grew up with the sense of entitlement that comes from living in a house where the TV is turned off for dinner and my main chores were finishing my homework, writing thank you notes and practicing the piano. Chores finished, I spent most Friday and Saturday nights like the rest of my suburban American generation - at the local mall.

Juggling Aunt Annie’s pretzels and sugar-free lemonades, my friends and I trolled the sale racks at The Gap and pretended to ignore any classmates we saw. It's mostly a blur now, the drama and dialogue that seemed so paramount, the standing around that I used to beg an extra hour of curfew for. But one moment remains clear. My friend Janice and I were looking at purses at Kauffmanns, a regional department store now part of the Macy's family. Rather than fawning over the Liz Clairborne "Triangle Bag," which most of our peers paraded up and down the halls at school, Janice pointed to a locked glass case that held what looked to me like boring but expensive "Mom" purses.

"Someday I'm going to buy myself a Coach bag," she said.

I know, I know. These are the words of spoiled brats and little girls with no ambition. But Janice didn't say, "I want that," or "My dad is buying me that bag," or even, "I'm going to ask my parents for one of those." She said that she was going to buy one for herself, and that's what stuck with me, even after 15 years and numerous fancy bags (though no Coach...still not my style).

Figuring it out for yourself, whatever it is, matters.

Yes, plenty of people told me that I was on a path of destruction, but until I saw for myself how my actions could negatively affect little Arnie, I ignored all the static and ground noise and continued digging my own grave. Just as Janice, whose parents probably would have given her a Coach bag for her birthday or graduation or whatever, realized that earning it on her own would make carrying it feel all the better.

Just like my figuring out, over these past few weeks, what my priorities are right now, validates them - makes them mine.

* Snowshoeing? Just, NO.


It's weird now.

I know I've said this before, but it feels a bit like the wheels are coming off the bus. Today, the Earthquake in Italy. Yesterday a huge avalanche in-bounds at Brighton ski resort. On Saturday, a man in Pittsburgh mowed down three cops because he was afraid Barack Obama was going to take his guns away. On Friday (or what it Thursday?), the shooting spree and hostage situation in Binghamton.

Destruction and despair everywhere, it seems, which makes me think of William Stafford's beautiful Yes:

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

And oh, he's so right. A wonderful weekend with Brad and the boys, Arnie warming my feet right now. Food growing outside, the sun still above the mountains even though it's nearly eight o'clock.

There's so much to be thankful for.


This One's for Anonymous

It's nice to know that the dynamic duo of Beeker and Animal have another fan.

I promise a real post next, but for now, one of my favorites:


Don't Be Nervous

They won't all be depressing rants and raves from now on. I promise.

Tonight, for example, a classic Muppet video - reminds me of the old days of TWR, back when it was all furry animals and funny videos.

And now, Master of Muppets.