the patient recounts her dream

Standard

Two cold snaps in New Orleans and I am already disappointed I’m not getting a full Fall. Does anyone else associate the overwhelming influence of weather to a person’s mood? I wonder only because I spent most of the summer melting into a puddle inside of the koi pond house. The outdoors looked enticing, until I stepped out onto the deck to let Layla out — even she has been less than thrilled to spend time in the sunshine. On top of blistering light, heat so pooling you could drown in douses you. A day’s gorgeousness is only alluring on the surface; we are kept inwards, indoors during summer days to avoid exhaustion. And I want to feel alive.

20170923_102601

21992709_10212383723727246_5826292000734438867_o

The recent trip Neil and I took to Colorado changed my mind about the way I am rooted. I have always strongly believed that I am devoutly Louisiana in a subtly obnoxious way, unwilling to give up the peculiar looks one receives when you say, “I’m from Louisiana.” Y’all know, we’re special. If you’ve ever crossed Henderson Swamp with me, you’ve been asked, “Is there anything more gorgeous than the swamp?” because I truly think it’s a masterpiece of wonder. Such weighted darkness lives in the swamp, so the contrast of the crisp, chilling Rockies pierces me, steadily present.; as if my soul reached the correct temperature. I still feel the cool air, lingering at the back of my throat. I’ve been telling myself for two weeks now that I’m not dealing with the normal sinus infection you get when you’ve been in a foreign climate, that instead it is delicious leftover mountain air refusing to diffuse in my lungs. This thought has made me sad, haunted my dreams; I don’t think I have ever fallen so hard for a place, I can’t get the feel out of my mind.

 

Louisiana friends that migrated northwest for longer than the winter: I get it. Colorado is a magical, sun-kissed, heaven-on-earth  state and I am currently trying to figure when/how I will be able to have a small piece of it. It’s all I can think of!

When I was a kid, my parents brought me to Alaska, Maine, and all over Canada. Did I love those trips? Absolutely. Seeing a glacier as a twelve year old is definitely the dopest thing anyone in your class did all summer. Unless they got to lick the glacier, that would be different. Do I remember instantly falling in love with these places? No. Winding up and down the side of the Rocky Mountains, which seemed to be continuously growing larger as we drove…well, that is something to fall in love with, to be humbled by. — AND FEAR!!! I screamed for at least an hour going up, louder after I saw the runaway truck ramps. –Neil will tell you that the second we took off on our six hour road trip from Denver to Telluride  all I could talk about was how immediately overwhelmed with inspiration I was. I sat in vocalized awe at the size of these massive, ever stretching mountains. The popping of my ears didn’t even bother me, my eyes were too busy to be bothered.

My previous encounters with Colorado-type terrain consisted of appreciating from afar, and I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve seen some beautiful places. I purposefully got lost in the Muir Woods once, a stunt my parents did not appreciate. The tour we were on wasn’t spending long enough in each area, which meant I was missing the opportunity to take an obscene amount of crappy photos (I was an avid disposable camera photographer). As soon as I heard we were loading up, I ran back to my favorite place for just one more picture, a little further than I remembered. “THE BUS IS LEAVING WITHOUT US TIFFANYJO,” my dad hollered at me as a ranger walked toward me. “IT’S A STUMP!” I could hear his frustration, I could see the ranger’s slight amusement, but was busy snapping pictures, winding as fast as I could. I needed to document this tree, dammit! This particular topiary had died, it’s stump indicating long life among beautiful friends; it devastated me. Though I honestly do not remember noticing in the Redwoods how the fresh air affected my breath and my brain, I remember feeling surrounded by friends in that moment too. I had several beautiful, refreshing, and daringly connective moments with the Pacific Ocean the handful of times we went out to whale watch while visiting British Colombia, that was life changing, yes. But never, in my adult travel experience, have I felt so nearly unhesitatingly changed.

Even on the 13,500 ft., 4 star, wildly vertical Wasatch Trail, I noticed a difference in the way I was fighting for my breath, the way I was thinking about it and physically doing it. Was I cursing Neil out in my head for encouraging a group of mostly new hikers on such an advanced trail? Yes. We endured forty-four switchbacks on shaky legs and empty stomachs. Had we taken that exact same hike under Louisiana climate conditions…..well lets just say it would have taken a considerably longer and we would have all been naked from heat and humidity by the end of it. Colorado was kinder to us. We stopped for breaks every thirty minutes or so,  all willing to kept going. We would be lined up on the trail, looking forward and back at each other after someone asked, “How much further?” No-one wanted to say, “I’ve seen enough, lets turn around,” because IT WAS SO FCKING PRETTY, honestly bordering ostentatious beauty.

Thirteen miles and six hours later, we were all exhausted but so so happy. We each milled about the mountainside house, quietly reflecting on the day as we prepared dinner. What we ate, I can’t remember; I was distracted with the reel. I thought of the gold confetti that fell on us most of the way before we encountered our first patches of snow; of Layla eager to meet other dogs on Bear Creek Trail and at the rock garden; of specifically the rock garden and the reminder that so many others have walked this trail before us, for no other reason than to be close to nature, to bathe in the freedom she gives.

I spent our entire first day hiking feeling as though floating up and down mountains in someone else’s dream, only able to muster enough focus to keep from tripping constantly. Ever little leaf called to me, the snow glimmered. I wanted to touch everything. Us Louisiana kids packed for temperatures around 56*-64* and we were definitely met with winter temps, so for my rickety knees to work properly, I had to keep moving. We crossed a ramshackle mining bridge to get to the “top of the waterfall” and felt every inch of our lives possibly being risked; Neil would randomly say, “THE WATERFALL! It’s worth it,” when he could feel us all dying. I didn’t know there was a possibility that we might actually slip and fall to our death (though what a place to be buried). That night ended up being the most magical sleep of my life.

 

 

Cornet Creek Falls was absolutely the most fun hike because it was so involved (at least for me) and I was ready for it. The day of rest we took in between Wasatch and Cornet was crucial for me, and for Layla, to be able to enjoy the rest of the trip. Elevation punched me in the face in the best way!  When we got to Cornet’s water fall, I went crazy wild woman and just started climbing up the rocks as fast as I could. I felt wild, totally inspired by the wild that surrounded me. I still can’t find words supportive enough to label the sensation of climbing feeling totally natural, of sliding on your bare palms and feet to just keep from seriously scuffing something up. I was a tomboy growing up, a climber…but I never dreamed at nearly 30 I’d want to climb EVERY fourteener before forty. Red dirt was flinging everywhere, I think Layla’s paws will always have a little red in them now. After playing for about an hour at the fall, we made our descent back down the trail, taking time to swing on trees and roam a bit. Neil and Zach wanted to climb a little higher than I did in an area just off the trail, but we stopped where there wasn’t much room to really rest, so I had to wedge myself in to the safest spot I could manage, and wait. It was a misty meditation, regardless of how nervous I was to be potentially, literally flying solo. Heavier rocks eventually started tumbling down and I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO ROLL MY EYES. I had to press as far back as possible (without losing my footing and my hold on Layla) and hope that the boys weren’t about to get tangled in the trees bending around me. The real challenge came on this day when the rain arrived; we were thankful it wasn’t heavy rain but it was plenty cold which oddly motivated us to move faster on the way down! I immediately took a nap when we got home, and woke up to real, fresh, fluffy, falling snow. SNOW THAT STICKS! My mind was blown. 234567890th time in less than a week — was I dead and just reeling? No, this was tangible.

We finished up our trip with what seemed like a leisurely walk to Bridal Veils Falls, a truly breath taking experience at a pace that felt like a lazy river in summer.

 

Layla often led the way on our hikes, excited by each step and smell and challenge by her favorite element. It was amusing to see the retriever that normally wants to lay around all afternoon practically sprint up these trails. She pushed herself yet seemed content no matter how long we adventured.  We encountered quite a few animals, though none as majestic as the giant elk that showed up in the DRIVE WAY after an afternoon house nap. Her spirit is not the same in Louisiana, and I absolutely feel her on it. Sometimes when she’s asleep and looks like she’s dreaming, I wonder if she’s dreaming of the next mountain or set of squirrels.

20170926_182007

ya know…just talking a walk.

The continuous, perpetual summer of the south removes the presence of change, therefore, we remain the same. I will never not be completely fascinated from this experience forward with the way my surroundings moved me. Louisiana motivates you to either get where you’re going in a hurry, as to avoid a sweaty, sticky mess, or to embrace the heat and move slowly, never feeling completely dry. To be brief, this year has been a whirlwind of movement, and while I’ve had quiet moments, I haven’t spent much time mentally celebrating the beauty that’s unfolding. My spirit set its wild self loose among the Rockies and will be, from here on out, totally unsatisfied with stones unturned.

The spirit can plant roots anywhere (this we know) and while I have blushed and  inwardly rolled my eyes at those that have called me “free spirited,” I think the definition is clearer now, though I still feel the term is often too blanketed. “Wanderlust” is okay, but I don’t immediately picture myself twirling in a field or ascending a mountain. — I think of Paul Rudd’s epic pep-talk in one of the funniest movies Jennifer Aniston ever pulled off. — I’m not bohemian enough to claim anything other than righteously curious and uncontrollably fascinated by the natural world around me. My continuous thought throughout the trip, a moment that pinches me just the way the cold Telluride morning would, is with me as I recount the moments now: I can climb a little longer.

And so can you.

Be affected by the world around you. Allow yourself celebration, healing, experience. YOU ARE WORTH YOUR DREAMS.

21994444_10212397938882616_3296977635904797539_o

I want to take this hammock all over the world with you Neil!!! Let’s see everything together. ❤

Here’s a song from an album I heard in my head while hiking through the Rockies:: Lit Me Up
Advertisements

for others.

Standard

I’m sitting here, watching Layla chew on an ice-cube while thinking to myself, “how am I to going to get back out there?” I am happier than I’ve ever been, but I have been in a “doing-stuff” funk. Neil pretty much has to dangle a latte in front of me to get me out of our perfect koi-pond house. I haven’t done yoga every day since I moved; if I’m being honest, I’m at twice a week at best and that’s not my best. I haven’t read much. I haven’t written a thing in months. All this inaction seems level considering all I did for months was read and respond and write and move my body. In my mind, it’s much bigger than “I’m just taking a break,” which is what I mentally chalk it up to for fear of going crazy. This idea of a “break” has literally taken the shape and attitude of “I don’t know what I want to do,” a frightening thing for a person like me…which is why I’m sitting here, forcing out the words over cold brew.

Summer always seems to fly by, leaving a wake of enlightened newness and curious uncertainty behind it. Before the frying Louisiana heat hit, I was in an academic vortex swirling my way towards graduation and a summer that was full of promise. I’m not saying that I was disappointed in the season by any means. I think if anything, I was overwhelmed by it. Life turned in to a full-on heightened emotion marathon and once it slowed down, it left me feeling empty, reeling on the high. I finished college, completed the first of many yoga certifications, moved back to New Orleans, and most importantly, GOT ENGAGED TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE! To say it was a lively summer would be an understatement, and to try to express my happiness with just words is honestly what’s been keeping this laptop at arm’s length. I feel like I can’t do any of these feelings justice.

But I’m here to try.

Graduating college is something I still can’t comprehend. I know it’s a common, every day occurrence, a totally ordinary something, but I feel so empowered by proving myself wrong so many times. Most of you reading this finished your undergrad in four years, give or take a semester or two. A handful of you were amazingly lucky to have college completely paid for by either scholarships, grants, parents, or grandparents; maybe you’re reading this, silently thanking your aunt or uncle for squirreling away $20 here and there so you could have gas money to commute. Maybe (hopefully) you’re still working towards your higher ed goals. (It is so worth it.) My personal college journey — financially and physically — was long and wild and I’ll certainly spare the details about all of that. Suffice it to say, it’s done and  I can’t believe I did it. It was the one thing my father asked that I start and finish, and even though it took over a decade of major ups and downs, I DID IT.  I actually removed this looming obstacle completely out of my way. I started to type “all on my own,” but that wouldn’t be the truth. While I did do all of the studying, cramming, testing and etc etc, I did NONE of this solo. I have had the most incredible support system over the last two years and it really changed the game for me.

I’m not sure how I managed to gloss over the fact that last year that I passed BOTH math classes required for my curriculum, but I did, and with a grade that didn’t kill my grade point average. (Seriously, how did I not write about passing math?) This was such a huge personal victory for me because mathematics has always been the thing standing in between me and undergraduate freedom. I know I’m not alone and if you’re reading this and suck at math too….PLEASE KEEP GOING. Listen to classical music and make up stupid songs to remember the formulas and BELIEVE IN YOUR MIND because it absolutely has the capacity to do whatever you want it to do. I absolutely knew in my heart and soul that I would have to set my dreams aside and find something else to study, because wrapping up college couldn’t happen without passing scores in Contemporary Math and Finite Mathematics. And I was wrong.

Fortunately for me, I had the squad of dreams in my life, and they weren’t willing to accept my defeat. They pushed me. They cheered me on. They listened to me cry, laugh hysterically at my failures (because without a sense of humor, what are we?), and loudly rejoiced with me when I succeeded.

They were for me, and these expressions of humanity will resonate with me for the rest of my life.

While I do love a good list, I’m afraid it’s impossible for me to “tag” everyone, but a LARGE thank-you must go out to those sweet, generous souls in Alexandria; y’all got me through the best and worst of it. It was hard for me to willingly swallow the bitter pill that was moving home, but I desperately needed to reorganize and reshape my life. “Relinquish control to gain it,” right?

On this soul-makeover journey I was fed, housed, listened to, hugged, praised, constructively criticized, and L O V E D. Through the good, the bad, the early mornings, the long nights, I was supported and uplifted over and over and over. I was caffeinated, stretched, enlightened, frustrated, and completely humbled at the ability of the people in my life to push me onward, even during times of emotional stress of their own. I am so beyond blessed (what a trite word for such an uplifted feeling) to have had two years with such a specific, growing experience, with so many beautiful souls who spend their lives being for others. The brilliant part? Most don’t even know they’re doing that.

I think there were three weeks in between finishing college and starting yoga school; not much of a gap when you’re busy getting ENGAGED!!! and celebrating with family, while also packing up to move to a new city as soon as the next thing is done. I didn’t have much time to process or decompress or whatever it is you do after you finish a lengthy academic journey. (Does it ever really end though?) I thought maybe I’d use my time in Ft. Worth, TX at Free Life People School of Yoga to do that. Decompression was not in the curriculum.

My soul has been so ignited and stirred by the things I observed and learned during the sixteen days I spent in school. I can imagine it’s why I’ve had such a hard time with my “break” from “normal” life, and I’m sure it’s why I managed to get behind this screen today. You see, during my studies at FLP we talked about/practiced how to actively take the seat of the observer and notice all. I think for the last month, during my state of inactivity, I have simply chosen to see. Perhaps, this morning was the morning it took seeing it for nearly the 40th time to say “okay, enough,” and I showed up for myself. Finally.

I didn’t feel the need to decompress at FLP because we spent our days in mindful movement and openness. I wish I could make that sound less flowery, but that’s how I feel about it and I very seriously doubt anyone in my class would disagree. While there were challenging days — and I mean days so physically and emotionally challenging we were all looking at each other like “She wants us to do what?!” — there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t willing to show up….because everyone else was showing up for me. 

We spent at least half of our day, every day, teaching  in small groups, offering feedback, coaching each other, leaning in and on one another. I will be the first to admit: there were moments I didn’t want to do it. We would rotate one person observing, one (or multiple) practicing, one teaching. There were moments when I didn’t think I could keep going. I was making excuses in my head about dehydration, my knees hurting, feeling hungry, and so on. I would feel an overwhelming urge to find a bottle of wine, crack it open right on my mat, and say, “TO HELL WITH THIS!” But I didn’t. I would do my best to survey the room and notice. And what did I see? Everyone, moving, sweating, and breathing…for someone else. 

I won’t forget teaching my last class with my small group; Gwen was my assist, Katie was practicing for me. The day started with a REALLY tough practice 9am, so by the time 430pm rolled around on day sixteen, our brains and bodies were worn out. But Katie practiced her heart out for me. Gwen gave magical, delicious assists, and I somehow managed to find energy in my mind, body, and voice to deliver an honest class. We were all able to withstand and move through the soreness and mental exhaustion because someone had done the same for us.

Though I feel that I’m not doing my experience justice, I feel like I need to save some of that good, magical stuff for just me, to give my blissed-out state longevity and not diminish the entire thing by TRYING to convey what’s in my mind. What you should know, is whole idea of “being for others” was my biggest take away from school, though there were so many things that cracked my thought process wide open, forever changing the way I think and feel. I can’t even think about moving my body in the same way. I have felt myself gently soul-searching during my whirlwind summer and know that the only thing I need to focus on is serving others in any capacity I can, and the rest is sure to follow.  

 

 

Here’s a little something we practiced at school that I’ve continued::

 

DUDE! I have missed my writing!! That felt so good! If y’all have any questions about yoga school, college, or whatever, please find me on social accounts or leave me a comment!  I’d love to hear from you!

man’s first winter.

Standard

first and foremost, I’d like to say: I AM SO HAPPY FOR SPRING! however, if summer is half as warm as this season has been so far, Louisiana will come the US National Nudist Colony. It’s so hot!!!

Now on to more serious things.

I’ve been bitten by the writing bug…finally. The end of this college chapter is requiring a deal from my brain and I feel like the only thing to do is keep the words flowing in order to avoid gridlock.

I recently connected with a short story by Jack London , a writer I wasn’t necessarily fond of until I was required to read this: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

This is beyond an excellent read, and most certainly worth your time. If you’ve got thirty minutes to spend looking around on Facebook, you can read London’s sixteen page creation.

I was so inspired by London’s words, I had to write my own. I didn’t complete all of my thoughts, which is normal. I stew on stories like this, can’t shake them. The blog I wrote about muses the other day was so obviously about Edna Pontellier, though I didn’t notice that then. While I was technically inspired by the grade I was hoping to get, I’m sincere in my feelings towards this story. I understand not being able to invest in long, American tales about outdoor labor and oil and shady politics and porch talk; those stories are important as well, but it takes a certain momentum and desire; they are terribly dry sometimes, I know. This story is not that. You will become so engrossed by the man’s journey and absolutely commit to following through to the resolution.

My essay is below. If you haven’t read the story, these words will mean nothing as my thoughts are not a summary. I offer a little support from the text and a few articles. I wouldn’t mind taking these ideas a little further, so if you’ve got questions or comments, feel free to post below.

Enjoy either over coffee. Or whiskey. Or both.

 

 

Man’s First Winter

Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” though bitterly cold and hard to read in parts, is an inspiring moment in American literature as far as the words “humanity” and “triumph” are concerned. As humans, we all endure a “first winter,” an awakening of sorts. It often feels like a season of sheer bewilderment and uncertainty, though we endure these things over various landscapes and under unimaginable circumstances. Is it a classic, “man’s search for meaning?” I wouldn’t go that far; our protagonist seems too far removed from any depth of emotion for that. It is, however, a snowy explication of fortitude, and is particularly raw in description; a true tale of perseverance, a relentless, icy test of endurance. London personifies how far we can push the mind and the body, how to make the two work in conjunction in the most bleak of circumstances, and how to accept defeat with grace and “death with dignity” (London, 638). The struggle – and failure – to provide one of man’s most basic needs leaves the protagonist literally fearing for his life; what he does with the fear is the lesson to be learned.

The best way to find London’s intention for the story is to explore the text carefully, with caution, step by step. This is a story of intention and carefulness, though our protagonist may not hold up to our method. “The trouble with him was that he was not able to imagine. He was quick and ready in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in their meanings” (London, 629). This is a troubling thought considering that hiking the Yukon in such conditions as “fifty degrees below zero,” was not ideal. Imagination is required to assess and carry out thought, to put “the thing” in action. Was this man prepared? London seems to believe so, though he portrays the man in a gently flippant way from the beginning of the story to the attempt to build the third fire. He says several times that, “a thought never entered his head” (London, 629). It’s hard to decide under these tones if the man was actually prepared, or passing off his flippant attitude as confidence; those are very different things with very different circumstances in “80 degrees of frost” (London, 629).

The man seems to subconsciously and continually,survey the knowledge obtained by his person, and justify his actions because by his own estimation, he’s mentally and physically prepared for his journey towards the camp. “He paused to breath at the top. He excused the act to himself by looking at his watch” (London, 628).Why is it necessary to justify his breath, excuse the action? If London’s intention was to weaken the character, reducing the audience’s faith in the man before the outset of the journey, that’s the seed that was planted. “And to get his feet wet in such a temperature meant trouble and danger” (London, 631). London exploits arctic doom and the fear of freezing before the man has reached mid-day. I can’t help but immediately assume the worst is upon this man from the beginning due to lines likes this and others, though by the end, I am fully aware and in support of what kind of decision he has to make. It is so raw, human in a way I think other writers find troubling; London remains accurate regardless of difficulty.

It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailness as a creature of temperature, and upon man’s frailty in general, able to only live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man’s place in the universe” (London, 629).

This excerpt is a blatant example of the man’s ego, and obvious lack of imagination. One might think of or survey their days as they walk such tumultuous earth. That was no nature-walk or a stroll in the woods for pleasure; his journey was out of need to meet and make connection with other humans. He seems to border on cheekiness with his soft dismissals and overconfidence in the harsh Yukon conditions. The Yukon is located directly in the middle of Alaska, British Columbia and Northwest Territories in Canada; in plain terms, this means it is frigid outside. I spent a few summers in Canada in high school and the days were pleasant when the sun was out, but the evenings – especially on the water – were freezing. I cannot imagine staying any further north for an extended period of time, let alone meander, then wander, about in the Yukon. The mere thought is chilling.

The body deserves a moment of speculation here, as it reacts to the cold in a specific way. In a BBC article, “What Effect does the Extreme Cold Have on the Human Body?” Stephen Dawling explains that, “The human body is not designed for polar cold – most of us live in temperate and tropical climes, where the mercury rarely dips below freezing. There are populations that have adapted to polar extremes – like the Inuit in Arctic Canada and tribes like the Nenets in the north of Russia – but the vast majority of Homo sapiens has no experience of living in such sub-zero temperatures.” Without getting overly scientific, Dawling reiterates the instinctual notion that human bodies are not meant or designed for freezing temperatures. This man was on a journey in a country unknown for the first time. No matter how mentally prepared he was, it was no match for what the Yukon had in store. London doesn’t even bother equipping this man with proper attire; mittens are surely tossed out when considering what other sturdy, weather-bearing garments the man wore and carried.

Lois Josephs’ article Man’s Relationship to Nature: A Sub-theme in American Literature, offers a blanketed introduction to the sub-theme, “man’s relationship to external nature, unifies ideas and encourages critical thinking” (Josephs, 180). This seems in clear opposition with the man in London’s story, but there is absolute truth in her reflection. If a man possesses no imagination, it’s hard to believe he is in possession of critical thinking skills. Joseph reminds us that Henry David Thoreau, “suggests that we learn from nature,”(Josephs, 181) and I agree, though Josephs finds this notion, “impractical.” I don’t believe observation and note of nature leads to anything but further understanding of what we innately possess. Yes, we are human and bound by social construction; however, at our innermost core, we possess instinct. Our protagonist follows his instinct as long as he possibly can, until eventually allowing his mind to be consumed by a force greater than his own power: nature – the experience of a lifetime, man’s first winter. The awakening, as previously mentioned, is the line that’s drawn between instinct and knowledge, the difference, being nature.

Natural elements that drive the man’s experience in the story are his possession of and connection to the husky, the rigid, unforgiving elements of the Yukon (previously mentioned,) and the excursion to build – and maintain – fire. To begin with, we must observe the man’s inability to maintain the fire he builds. It would have been nearly comical had London not emphasized how dire the situation was. This frozen man attempts to build three fires, essentially failing all three times as none of the fires eventually save him. The element of fire reigns supreme here as it is the thing he needs most while simultaneously being the thing that will ultimately kill him; there is no chance of survival without a flame to keep him warm.

The dog represents nature in working companionship. This “big native husky,” (London, 630) is figuratively said to be “man’s best friend,” but London doesn’t necessarily depict it that way. The dog has far more realistic reactions and views to the bone-cold weather, as it is naturally efficiently equipped to bear it. “To permit the ice to remain would mean sore feet. It did not this. It merely obeyed the mysterious prompting that arose from the deep crypts of its being.” Once again, man versus nature, instinct versus knowledge; the native dog knew how to handle cold to this degree, and possessed the mental capacity to understand that over thinking action would be a waste. It appears that the dog carries a deal of sympathy for its master, and is truly distraught after his death. However, the it demonstrates it’s allegiance to it’s true master, nature, when it departs from the man’s body and, “trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food-providers and fire-providers” (London, 639).

In my mind, the dog finds the boys’ camp alone, signally the man’s fate to the other men, who survived their trek to the camp, by nothing other than luck. “The man drowsed off into what seemed to him the most comfortable and satisfying sleep he had ever known.” He becomes a legend of the Yukon, the kind the old-timer from Sulphur Creek recalls from time to time, heeding other, similar men of no imagination of singular thought of survival, “be mindful, winter is upon you.”

Works Cited

Dawling, Stephen. “BBC – Future – What effect does extreme cold have on the human body?” BBC News. BBC, 7 Jan. 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.

Hudson, John C., ed. GOODE’S World Atlas. 20th ed. N.p.: Rand McNally & Company, 2000. Print.

Josephs, Lois. “Man’s Relationship to Nature: A Sub-Theme in American Literature.”The English Journal, vol. 51, No. 3, 1962, pp. 180–183., http://www.jstor.org/stable/810294.

London, Jack. The Norton anthology of American literature. “To Build a Fire.” New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. Print. 628-639.

to name a muse.

Standard
What is a muse? To most, and to me (for the most part) it is a person or thing or whatever is in the noun’s position that inspires; the things that draws or spurs or ignites the senses and sends the body and brain in to familiar nostalgia. As an artist of the pen, I think I enjoy writing about things I’ve seen in my mind a time or two, but never in real life — until I make the observation or correlation and then WHAMMO! Deja vu! then it’s all I can do to sit down and write. I’m not sure what got me thinking about what or who my muses are; perhaps the paper I have due can be blamed for this evening’s inspiration, though I’m not sure. It could be the blurb I’m writing about JG’s book, or notes I’m making for a novel I hope to write after graduation. It’s 100% possible I could be annoyed that each year on Neil’s birthday I hope to write him the best thing I’ve ever written and I’m stuck working on a paper about Jack London (though I don’t think Neil will mind — he’s gonna love this paper.) It could just be the blatant emotion I feel when I think about the fact: when I need inspiration, all I need do is look up.
Am I supposed to reveal my muse? I feel like that’s lifting the veil too high, but tonight….I’ll vaguely indulge. Y’all, I am surrounded by them. My bonds in life, my friendships, the people I randomly happen to share everyday-life with blow my fcking mind sometimes. I have been so gifted with wonderful, wild spirits, creative, passionate geniuses, and soft, genuine souls. I am often bewildered and frustrated with what took so long? Shouldn’t these things just exist? We’re responsible for the manifestation of our own happiness, right? So why is it SO hard to find the peoples/places/things that inspire you?

Because we are guarded.
Because we are confined.
And we are often too busy to notice.

I have been fortunate in the past few years to dedicate time to explore things that are most innately important to me: passion and peace, and the journey to organically find those things. I’m not sure when we lose our will to do that, but it crushes me to think some people live their entire life without knowing either. I didn’t get here by accident, to this place of complete wonderstruck; I was quietly led by the people that inspire me, the people that impress a certain envie upon my soul. I am lucky enough to share my life with more than a handful and I am so beyond curious as to how I got to this wonderful, never-boring place with all of these amazing characters. (I’m sorry, but you’re all going in to one book or another — y’all know that, right?!)
This post should serve no other purpose than to be inspired to ask yourself, ” who (or what [insert noun]) is my muse?” If you can’t think of a thing, get out there and open up. Let the guard down and look away from what’s consuming you….be inspired.

The Everlasting Muse

ignorance is not bliss.

Standard

Disclaimer:: I guess what I had to do to start writing this “blog I’ve been working on,” in a coherent, eloquent way, was to get angry. Apologies ahead of time if you read this and find it offensive; you may want to skip it all together if you voted Trump or don’t believe women to be equal to men.

 

I just saw this post on social media and I nearly vomited in my mouth:: 16123159_238817179895045_253878076667068416_n

To say I’m appalled would be a lie…I’m mortified to know that some people think this way. People are individual of other people. A woman’s anatomy differs from a man’s, and I truly believe that to be our only difference. I don’t think our skin color, religious affiliation, sex or etc defines who we are. We do.

SO. MANY. WOMEN. and men and children showed up to march in unity on Saturday, January 21st, and I was not among them. I have been in a world of my own, pretending that my rights as a woman will stay intact for the next four years. That I wont’ have to worry what kind of world my kids grow up in. That’s not reality. I felt more than shame about it this morning, while reading through articles and skimming the news. I was consumed with the thought that I’d missed my opportunity to take part in a movement that is so pressing, so important to who I am as a person. I feel like I have no right speaking about an event I didn’t participate in, but I am a woman and my heart was certainly there.

I am upset, enraged, and genuinely hurt because I, like many others, feel zero support from our leaders and legislation. I am here to get some of this off my chest, so if you’re not interested, here’s your second opportunity to click the X at the top of your screen. I implore you to stay, comment, share and so forth because that’s how change happens.

I shared this awesome, heartfelt blog on Facebook after nearly reaching tears at its words. Reading the lines made me so proud to be part of this world, even with all of the ugly in it. Then the comments starting pouring in and it became clear to me by 2pm that I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning, you know I have things to say on just about anything.

I’ve been drafting a eulogy of sorts since I found out Trump was running for POTUS; originally intended to be satirical, entertaining, and semi light-hearted because I never, not in one million years, thought that man would win.I re-read my notes now and feel an overwhelming sense of grave correctness.

I remember thinking to myself, when reality TV became a big deal, that these people have incredible, fake power because of their platform. I was young and dumb and didn’t realize that the scripted, dramatized, “realistic,” platform he was standing on then — being overly tanned and screaming “YOU’RE FIRED”– would eventually win him the US Presidency. Now all we hear is, “that’s fake news,” or my favorite, “we have alternate facts.” I just watched Anderson Cooper debate with Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about some damn BuzzFeed article. ARE. YOU. KIDDING?

Cooper vs. Conway

I am blinded by how openly misogynistic he is, even more so by his flippant attitude towards every person who seems to differ from him. I’m not sure why, but he’s made it a point to hand select the worst cabinet of inexperienced billionaires in the world. <— that statement is more directly about the Secretary of Education that anyone else, really. I can’t get started on my gripes with the Department of Education, I’ll give myself two migraines.

a little info on Betsy. <–incase you were curious.

I suppose I should get to my point.

To me, the things happening in Washington D.C. are truly horrifying; like we’re taking a play right from the House of Cards script or some obscene Hollywood farce. Isn’t a President supposed to listen to his people? Trump is operating in direct defiance of, “Make America Great Again,” his own slogan. Women’s rights are being threatened. The LGBT community is being berated. The education system is in jeopardy. Health care is questionable. Though I am not as thoroughly researched as some of you reading this may be, I can say that the above issues are enough for me to feel fed up with living in a country that promises the best and gives nearly nothing. I know we should write, call, knock on doors, sign petitions, write petitions…get moving. But what happens when there’s no follow through? What happens when we’re shouting just as loud and as fast as we can, only to be silenced with no promise of an answer?

I understand that as an American woman, I have a considerable amount of liberty in comparison to women in other countries. However, the seeming impending decline of women’s’ rights we are facing is menacing at the very least. We are supposed to be the leading example, not the epic failure. The bra-burners of the 60’s didn’t fight with grit in their teeth for nothing. Right?

In a social media sparring round, over the aforementioned blog, the leading commentator began with, “My generation fought the womens’ rights battle and we won.” Grammatical error aside,  I thought, “Awesome, okay. Here is a woman with experience and insight and is no doubt going to show more support for a movement that needs nothing but.” Wrong.

Though she did make some valid points (I’m paraphrasing) :: We should be doing instead of complaining. We should be speaking up instead of staying silent. We should be writing, singing, screaming, and so on…I wish we all had the power to be heard. However, as it stands now, at the end of the day, there’s a cabinet full of men ready to take what former trailblazers worked for. Bras burned for nothing. Innocents beaten for no reason. Uncontrolled emotional chaos. I seriously can’t believe I’m writing about any of this…it seems like the twilight-zone. I think about the First and Second Wave Feminists and I shudder; their thoughts could probably blow DC to smithereens. I am happy to live in what is referred to as Third Wave Feminism, though I have no shred of doubt this particular time in history will have a completely different label by the time its all over. Trump’s threats and attitude towards women’s rights (among a long list of other things) absolutely goes beyond the technicality of law…this movement is dealing with emotion, morality and dare I say it…humanity. There seems to be many humans out there with nothing left but a jaded bitterness on the tongue. Hate is not a remedy for peace. Bigotry is not a remedy for understanding. Ignorance is not bliss.

During the lite inquisition I’ve endured for the last few hours (procrastination at it’s finest) the question was posed: well, what’s your solution? She followed her question up with a motherly “complaining without action is just whining,” to which I rolled my eyes at. If I wanted to complain, I certainly wouldn’t take to Facebook. I would just bore my blog audience with an alphabetized list and move the hell on.

Here’s how I answered::

I have no fcking idea what we should do. I think we should have left Trump at his desk in the middle of Manhattan and let someone else do the job. Am I responsible for the solution? Sure, we all are. That’s why the march happened. That’s why the movement will continue. That’s why the term “feminism” is exploding all over again. That’s why I’m engaging in this obnoxious FB debate with you. I am doing what I can with what I have, yet you say it’s not a solution. Voicing my opinion sounds like a solution to me.

Y’all I will take this honest, sincere moment to display the weakness I absolutely feel in this situation. I feel so helpless and quiet and just generally unheard in a group at any given time, but especially in our here and now. If I deliver any message at all during this less than eloquent rant, it’s this: These are not just “women’s rights” issues, these are human issues. We will continue to face these jarring, momumental moments unless we keep standing together to find a solution. It’s our time. HAVE A VOICE. Keep marching. Keep singing. Keep writing. It is the duty of our nation’s leaders and legislation to hear us, to actualize our needs and feelings, and to take action. We MUST keep holding them accountable. The people we elect in to these offices have to share our values, desires and will to move forward, or nothing changes.

In order to hold these people up, we have to let our demands be known, in addition to providing reasonable, positive solutions. I’ve made a list of my personal wants, with personal ideas on how these problems can be solved. I have listed my main three grievances because I’m sure you’d like to get to the end of this post.

Issue #1: Reproductive rights need improvement, not dissolution.

Solution: Do not shut down funding for Planned Parenthood. So much more than abortion happens there, the doors must stay open. The threat of “punishment” for anyone seeking an abortion is positively antiquated, so eliminate that term all together. Maybe add more real life women in on these discussions, to help with creating the laws.  We live in a world where women are drugged, beaten, raped, and left for dead. Some of you are rolling your eyes, thinking, “nothing has changed, it’s always been that way. I was raped, beaten, drugged, etc” and that is the attitude of complacency I am advocating against. We have the power to change, to be better, to provide our people with more. It shouldn’t be a debate, it should be fact.

Issue #2: Equal pay for women and men should be the standard, not an exception.

Solution: Equal playing field from jump street. Standard qualifications for men and women alike, be that degree or what have you; those requirements need to be the same across the board and communicated to future and present employees. None of this “if your performance is up to snuff” or whatever…equal for the dude who is always five minutes late and the girl who is always early.

Issue #3: Affordable health care should be within reach for every income level in our country.

Solution: This is easy, a no-brainer honestly. Standard health care for each and every person regardless of class or color or whatever stupid stipulation that is in place now. Limit the hoop jumping and circus that is healthcare and help out the doctors and nurses and insurance companies — I feel like this may make me sound unintelligent, but if the healthcare is affordable, and people can afford to have insurance, doesn’t that mean the insurance companies do well too? Call me crazy, but I think that works.

 

I could go on, but these are the main headaches that touch my life and many of the women, men, and children I love. I’m really sick of us just standing around with our thumbs up our asses. Missing the march was enough to make me realize, missing the mark is no longer a standard I’m willing to accept from my country. You shouldn’t either.

If this entire post is blind-siding you, here’s a concise run down on Trump’s plans for Women’s Rights check out what Time had to offer.(if you can call them plans) It is very, very non-committal and doesn’t quite do gravity of the situation justice, though it is factual.

 

29: purposefully defiant

Standard

you know, I  was a little more than disappointed when I realized my birthday was going to be on a Wednesday this year…until I realized that basically gave me the weekend before AND after to celebrate because it’s directly in the middle of those two things. I have debated about what to do and where to go because I always make a big deal out of my birthday, but this year? Nothing. Not a shred of interest in planning. I couldn’t land on a specific taste bud or wish or thought. I knew I wanted to blast Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj all day while driving to and from things, but that was it. Normally, I could honestly care less about any other holiday or break or whatever — I just want to celebrate the hell out of my birthday; every year, always have, always will. This year was different; I felt…underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it’s the idea of rounding the corner to thirty that’s scaring me or if I just don’t care about a number that seems so lame…either way, I didn’t really give a fck about my birthday until everyone else did. That’s never happened. I have people in my life that give a shit about me. ……..weird. right?  I seriously hope some of you are out there experiencing some amazing friendships and love BECAUSE IT EXISTS, Y’ALL. I could expound, but we’d be here until I turn thirty.

I have hit the stride in my life where the people who don’t want to be around aren’t and the people that give a shit are. I heard from all of the major players today before 10am; I’d say that’s pretty good for a bunch of millennials that don’t have normal working hours, most with children, most still in school and balancing a millennial’s worth of work. I am beyond impressed with where my friends are and what we’re doing and accomplishing for a generation that seems so lost to the rest of society. Yeah, it’s hard. It’s ridiculous, it’s a circus; it’s far too emotional and involved than it should be, but that’s the way the cards fell. We’re the Jetsons; we’re creating everything and displaying everything and gathering humble credit by the heap. Sometimes we make it purposefully difficult for ourselves, but that’s everyone I think. For the push, for the drive, or just out of sheer laziness. I’m closer to thirty and honestly no better than the rest of the world at making decisions or choices. I keep thinking that I’ll hit thirty next year and just know what the hell I’m doing; those that I know over thirty hear that and laugh. “We make it up as we go,” a friend says in a reassuring voice, and I know it’s true.

twenty-eight led me to doing more and seeing more and waking the fck up….way more than I thought. I taught 115 (maybe more, maybe less) yoga classes. I traveled to several places in the US and visited Mexico; put on more miles than since my father was alive. I tried new foods, read new authors, explored new religions, and music and ideas. I discovered this whole new me I didn’t know was there, but felt familiar once I found her. I am a more open version of myself; less judgmental, more rational, understanding and willing to forgive. It’s a hard thing to know you don’t want to forgive a person, or situation or moment…but once you do. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. Wowzers. The introspection is ridiculous and the clarity is unparalleled. Seriously. Approach thirty and get over yourself. It’s amazing.

entering year twenty-nine has made me realize a number of things. I made this list as I laid in bed with my best friend last night (I slept on a giant, fluffy, pink unicorn after laughing my ass off about nothing at all.) I was fearful I might not remember by morning, and I may still be leaving some things out, though these are more observations than anything else::

  1. [most] my tattoos are ten years old. they have been on me and part of my body for an entire decade. I remember walking in to the old location of Speakeasy (a place that does not even exist any more) and thinking, “Okay. One down, 100 to go.” While I don’t plan on have 100 tattoos…I don’t regret them yet. I think they make me unique and I like the idea of maybe one day having to be identified by the treble/bass clef on my right rib cage.
  2. I cannot handle a hangover. Though it does not keep me from testing my limits every now and then. (Last Thursday night was proof, though worth it. Laughter always is. Laugh hard, deal with the hangover, keep going.)
  3. when I am tired, that’s the end. there’s no going back, no second wind, no hope. I am a lost cause to the room I am left in and lets hope there a blanket and a contact case with solution in it.
  4.  i constantly miss my father. the ten-year anniversary of his passing sifted right before my eyes this year and all i could do was blink to acknowledge it. it can’t possibly have been this long. how fast does time pass? is there a way to measure grief? i can’t possibly be continuing on without my best friend, but that’s what I’ve been doing because that’s what he taught me to do; I’ll do it for ten years more, I suppose.
  5. I am finally able to find the humor in abysmal situations. I feel like I could elaborate on this, but if you know me, or if you’re over 25, you know what I mean.

twenty-nine years has really gone too fast. ten years since my dad passed, nearly eleven years since highschool, still in college, no kids, no husband. But I am whole. I am learning, growing, connecting, disconnecting, reflecting, and moving forward. Social formalities seem to allude me.

I know it’s normal to make New Year’s resolutions, but I always wait until my birthday to commit to things. There’s something about being a January baby that just makes your commitment to the happenings of the new year more connected and final. I am aware that everyone has 364 days between their birthdays, but I feel like it’s much more refreshing in January. (and how appropriate for the most OCD star sign, the Capricorn.) This year, I have promised myself to be  better to my mind and my body; to make selections on what I do, drink, eat and etc. that will have only positive effects. I have committed to being purposefully defiant. It’s in my nature to go against the grain, to feel and empathize with minorities, to always be way outside the box and color outside the lines. This year, I’m following the rules to get where I need to be; I’m defying myself — in the sense that I’m reinventing/reshaping what once was — and isn’t that refreshing?  It isn’t always easy for me to say “yes” to what is expected, but sometimes, it’s necessary. I’m following along certain paths to make my dreams easier to reach, and I feel confident certainty is the most adult gift I could ever give myself during this pivotal year. “Thirty, flirty, and thriving,” doesn’t happen over night. I cannot disappoint Jenna.

As I close my eyes to sleep tonight, I am fully aware that:: I am focused, loved, happy, driven, subtly eccentric, and smart. I’m a weirdo, I’m wired backwards..and I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Happy new year and happy birthday to me. May the rest of this twenty-ninth year be full of discovery, travels, and nothing but daily celebration of breath and life.

 

 

EDIT:: I would like to make a note that after I posted this, WordPress notified me that this was my 100th blog. I believe in coincidence and milestone. happy birthday, indeed.

sleep inside of this machine

Standard

my friend Kevin recently shared this most accurate article on Brand New’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, a record that at nearly twenty-nine years of age, I still can’t shake. you can read the article here.

Ryan Bassil’s words penetrated my thoughts and set my wheels turning. I’m pretty thankful for that considering I’ve had plenty to say and no real inspiration to say it. I vividly remember purchasing the CD a few months after my dad passed away; I would sit in my car for hours, looping that record until my ears couldn’t bear the weight of the words. I’d fall to sleep with “Jesus/Jesus Christ” on repeat and wake up to “Welcome to Bangkok.” I really couldn’t get enough no matter how much it hurt me to listen to it. The entire thing blends, echos and separates so much love, loss and pain. It’s still hard for me to listen to it (but I do.)

This notion got me thinking: what else do we cling to in this way? My initial response to Kevin was the idea that I connected to and rejected the record every time I listened to it, and it’s true. But why? What else do we treat this way?

I’ve spent the better part of this Brand New morning talking over coffee with friends,  in seemingly distant reflection, and it may have just served me more than I realized. That tends to happen when we aren’t really paying attention. Personal reflection is luxury I don’t often take these days because I’m never quite sure what I’m going to find there. Maybe that’s why I’ve avoided my voice here for so long because I’m not sure what will come out. Today, I’d like to sing.

In regards to the record, and the time it landed in my hands, I’d surpassed “teenage angst” and launched full-fledged in to “mad at the world.” Brand New’s 2003 record, Deja Entendu was really what fueled all of my wildly out of control emotions all through high school; there’s just something about listening to that kind of poetry. It’s inspired me to write similarly nearly every time I sit down to write.

I’m not sure if those sort of innate things ever go away, but perhaps, change shape and intention. I’m still slightly angry at the world, especially now with all of the extra hate and violence and general heartlessness, but my will to do something about it has stemmed and blossomed.

Bringing back focus to my actual point with this random ramble: Do songs ever leave us? Does anyone else believe that they shape who we are? The way we communicate? Let me hear your thoughts; mine are everywhere.