the unofficial end of summer

If you’ve been paying attention to my Instagram or Twitter feeds for the past few months, you know that I’ve been having one hell of a summer. And even though it’s not quite over yet — the Pacific Northwest is blessed with amazing weather usually through September and sometimes beyond — Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer and I’ve spent the past few days reminiscing all of the adventures and feeling nostalgic for a time in my life that isn’t even over yet. I wrote about it today on The Hooray Collective, so you should take a peek.

And to add an extra little layer of schmoop…

To everyone who’s been a part of my adventures this summer: thank you. Thank you to the ends of the universe, just for being down for the ride. It was hands-down the best summer of my life, and if this is any indication of what’s to come, I’m fucking ready. Let’s do this.

Cheers, idiots.

sunday funday & being present.

Hi, friends.

I know I haven’t been great at keeping things up-to-date around here, but the thing is, I’ve been busy living my life and really, really enjoying it for the first time in a long, long time. I’m happy when I wake up in the morning. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in months. I smile a lot, I dance a lot, I have the kind of energy that only comes from knowing you’re where you’re supposed to be and doing the things you’re supposed to be doing and meeting the people you’re supposed to be meeting.

I’ve stopped living my life for what happens next, always focused on the future or a plan, and started focusing more on what’s happening right now. I’ve been focusing on being present for the past few months and I’ve found that I really fucking like where I am in this moment, and when I’m somewhere different a few moments from now, I’m probably going to really fucking like that, too. And sometimes I like where I am so much that I want to stay, perhaps a little too long, soaking it up and just being there for just a little bit longer.

Today was one of those times.

Over the past several weeks, Doni and I have started a Sunday Funday tradition that we intend to carry through the summer and beyond. Obviously this isn’t a thing that we invented, but it’s a thing that we’re making our own, and so far we’re really loving it. The goal is to gather friends, whether it’s one or two or five, and go do something. Anything. Get out of the house, be social, have an adventure. We’ve spent two Sunday Fundays on the beach at Sauvie Island, soaking up the sun and drinking cheap beer and listening to music and just talking. One of those Sundays we also stopped to pick strawberries on our way back to the city. One Sunday Funday was spent on a sort of impromptu bar crawl, because the weather was crappy so there wasn’t anything to do outside. And today, our Sunday Funday was a hike to Angel’s Rest.

I’ve done this hike before, back in March. It’s about 2.5 miles with roughly 1,500 feet in elevation gained over a steady upward climb to the top, where you climb on top of rocks to get an absolutely breathtaking view of the Columbia River Gorge. It’s not terribly hard, but it’s work, and it’s totally worth it.

Western View

Facing west

Eastern View

Facing east

When we got to the top, we unpacked our Sunday Funday blanket, juice box wine, bag of jerky and string cheese, and settled in to stay for a while. We sat and stared. We climbed to different rocks for a slightly different view. And finally I found one rock that jutted out a little further than the rest, and it was the perfect size for me to perch on and sit and stare at the impossible beauty around me, and to do what I like to call “having church.”

Perched

Gear

 

We watched as the sun went in and out of the cloud cover, appreciating the way the light changed on the mountains and the river. As the sun started to sink lower and we approached the “magic hour” (you know the one, where everything is cast in golden light and looks like it’s made of fairy tales?), I couldn’t stop shouting about how incredible this was, how I never wanted to leave and what a great decision this Sunday Funday was. Maybe the wine helped to facilitate this, but I was definitely also nature-drunk.

Me at the top

At 7:47, I asked if we could wait until 7:50 to pack it up and start the 45 minute hike back down to the car. When 7:50 came, I asked for five more minutes. Then five more. I was the kid negotiating with the parents about when to leave the playground. I couldn’t tear myself away, because I was just so happy sitting on that rock with my legs hanging out over the Gorge, watching the light change and listening to the birds chirping and appreciating how quiet it was getting as everyone else started leaving the lookout. When we finally packed up and started to head back toward the trail, I kept climbing on the rocks. Every time my friends turned around, I was off on another rock, still looking at the different views that each point offered. I couldn’t get enough; I wanted to stay.

But then the hike down started, and that was incredible, too. I loved the way the light came through the trees, and the smell of the wet dirt, and the sound of the creek running through the woods. I loved the wildflowers along the trail and started to appreciate this next part of the adventure almost as much as I appreciated sitting at the top.

Babbling Brook

Orange Wildflowers

 

But when I was sitting at the top, I wasn’t thinking about what came next. I wasn’t thinking about the hike back down, or my Monday, or the rest of the summer or whatever else I have going on. I was thinking about that exact moment. I was there. I’ve spent a lot of time, especially in the last year, wishing I was somewhere else, so it feels really, really incredibly wonderful to love where I am, and to love it not just in general, but in very specific moments, and to want to stay in those moments for as long as possible. And it doesn’t hurt knowing that there are more incredible moments coming next, too.

Magic Hour

random things.

Because I’m trying to get back in the habit of writing about shit, I’m going to start with some random things.

1. I get irrationally angry when I go for a run and finish what I feel is pretty good distance at a solid pace (for me, that is; I’m no marathoner) only to find out that at some point during the run my Nike+ app stopped tracking my run, and I only get “credit” for a little over a mile or so. Like, irrationally angry. Like, undo-all-the-mood-boosting-benefits-of-going-on-the-run-in-the-first-place angry. I don’t know why I feel like it matters — it’s not like I share those stats with anyone anyway. And it’s not like just because Nike+ doesn’t have a record of it, it didn’t happen. It totally happened. But I’m still angry about it, and I don’t know why.

2. Tonight I’m cooking cabbage for dinner with potatoes, onions and bacon, and it makes me miss my grandparents. While I was living in Virginia, I spent most work days at my grandparents’ house, and this is something we cooked there often. I never knew I liked cabbage until sometime this fall, but the smell of it cooking reminds me of their house growing up and now it’s one of my favorite comfort foods. Not to mention it’s cheap as hell, and since I’m broke as hell, it’s basically perfect. This meal cost me LESS THAN A FUCKING DOLLAR to make, and I’m pretty sure I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow. You can’t beat that.

3. Shortly after I moved into my new place, I snagged a LivingSocial deal to buy a Bluetooth shower speaker for $21. The original price on these things is close to $70, an outrageous sum of money I would never pay for a little speaker that suction-cups to the wall of my shower. But for $21? Amazing. So I bought it, and it took three weeks to show up, but I’ve had it for almost a week now and I’m not sure how I ever felt like I had an adequate shower-singing experience before now. I can play any music from my phone (I usually use Spotify) and the speaker has buttons to allow me to change songs, pause, or even answer the phone. Seriously. If you call me, and I’m in the shower, I MIGHT ANSWER THE PHONE. (Let’s not talk about how weird that is.) I use it anytime I’m in my room — for a speaker that’s four inches in diameter, it’s pretty legit. I’m probably way more excited about this than I should be, but whatever, I don’t care.

———-

That’s all I’ve got for tonight. This was fun.

this is why we can’t have nice things.

The weather was beautiful today — 55 degrees and sunny — and since I moved back to Portland I’m living near the marina and the waterfront park, so I decided to take advantage of the nice day and the convenience of such nice public amenities and take my dog for a stroll along the waterfront.

I put on my Converse, grabbed some sunglasses and the leash with one plastic poop bag tied around the handle and called the dog to the door. He got really excited (like he does) and we went out the door and on our way.

Some of you may not know this about my dog, but my dog really likes to pee on things. I think I’d put it in his top three favorite things to do, peeing on things. Mostly everything, actually. Even when he’s run out of pee, he’s still trying to mark every tree, trash can and park bench we pass, everywhere we go.

On today’s walk, it was much of the same, and then out of nowhere, in the middle of the sidewalk in front of shops and restaurants, he starts to poop. This is not a dog who normally poops on concrete. He will usually find the tiniest patch of grass or dirt available before he will poop on concrete, but this time, he didn’t even do his usual turning-around-seventeen-times-and-twice-in-the-opposite-direction routine before he pooped. He just pooped.

So, like the responsible pet owner that I am, I used the bag that I had tied to the leash to scoop it up and toss it in the trash, and we carried on our walk.

Except, about two minutes later, he suddenly had to poop again.

And this time, I didn’t have a bag.

And of course, this time it was in front of an entire restaurant full of people, watching through the window as I looked around wondering what the hell I was going to use to pick up my dog’s poop since I didn’t have a bag, and I couldn’t just leave it there because ALL THOSE PEOPLE, and they didn’t know that I was responsible enough to bring a bag with me, it’s just that he already pooped once so I used it already and how was I supposed to know he’d have a double dose of poop for this walk and that I should pack extras???

So I used a leaf. I happened to find ONE leaf on the ground and luckily it was large enough to pick up the poop so that I could throw it in a nearby trash can, but meanwhile I felt all of the people in the restaurant and all of the people walking around outside enjoying the nice day staring at me as I tried to keep my dog in check, because he was READY to continue our walk, and I was busy kneeling down to the ground trying to use a leaf to pick up his poop without my fingers touching it and as he pulled on the leash I FELL OVER IN THE DIRT and it was pretty embarrassing and honestly, this is why we can’t have nice things, like walks on the waterfront on a sunny afternoon.

He's adorable, but he's a terror.

He’s adorable, but he’s a terror.

new year.

A week or so ago, I wrote a sort of recap of 2013 (good, bad, lessons learned, what comes next, that sort of thing) that I was planning to publish as my “New Year” post. But instead, for now, this seems more appropriate.

The whole concept of New Year’s Eve and resolutions and “clean slates” has always confused me. I guess I’ve never understood why people put so much pressure on it, or look forward to the end of a “bad year,” as if a new date on the calendar is going to suddenly make everything okay. If you need to make big (or little) changes in your life, make them — why wait for a new year? The only thing that really changes is the bucket we use to classify the good and bad things that happen, right? We don’t actually get a reset.

And yet recently I was talking to Terra about how much we’re both looking forward to the end of 2013, even though for both of us, 2014 is looking to be plenty full of its own challenges, and a lot of the same problems carry over. It’s not like they go away when the date changes. But then I realized that maybe it’s really just about moving on from everything that happened this year, all the mistakes and the tears and the hard lessons and the tough conversations and the heartache — and I don’t mean moving on as in forgetting about it, but moving on as in trying not to dwell on it, or in it, curled up in that space that has somehow become cozy despite being the worst possible place — even if what’s ahead isn’t going to be any easier. Even if next year I’m still going to have to face the fallout, cry more tears, have more tough conversations and deal with more heartache and work on rebuilding, which is both a life-saver and a grueling challenge.

Maybe it’s a gentle reminder that time marches forward anyway, and we should probably march with it. Maybe, in spite of everything, it’s about moving forward anyway, so that maybe after the next hard thing, there will be something better behind it.

I guess we call that hope.

And if a new year isn’t about actual clean slates or fresh starts, and problems and pain don’t really go away, then maybe what it’s really supposed to be about is hope.

sunshine on cannon beach, oregon

in which i openly cry & write about my feelings — unapologetically, for once.

I’m back from another trip to Portland. This trip was just as emotional as the last one, but in a lot of ways I’m more at peace now than I was then. Everything is coming more and more into focus, and I know that I can only do so much.

I’m still processing all the feels from my trip — facing some hard truths, working up the courage to make some tough decisions, having the patience to get from here to the next part. It’s hard coming back here and settling into a routine again, just like it was last time, and the new routine is different from the one I left, just like it was last time. That’s difficult.

But that’s not why I’m here tonight.

Tonight, I’m hurting.

My heart aches for someone we lost this week, for his family and friends. He was a close friend of someone who is very important to me, and even though I wasn’t as close to him, I still always hoped for the best for him. I know that he struggled for a long time, with grief, depression and addiction, but I had spent enough time around him to know that underneath all of that, underneath all of the sarcasm and cynicism, there was a genuinely good guy who was capable of some really great things. And I was pulling for him; I really was. I hoped that he would turn out okay, and he seemed like he was on a path that would get him there.

I saw him very briefly while I was in Portland. First thing on a Sunday morning, I was getting dressed, doing my hair and makeup to leave for the day, and I almost didn’t go say “hello” because I wasn’t “presentable.” But from the kitchen, when I hesitated after being asked if I wanted to come out and say hi, he said, “YOU BETTER SAY YES.” So I did, and I hugged him and asked how he was doing, and he said he was doing well. It was a really solid hug.

For a few days after that, I kept thinking I’d send him a Facebook message, just to tell him how good it was to see him. Because it really was — he looked good and he seemed happy, and I wanted to tell him that. But every time I went to do that, he wasn’t online. I should have sent the message anyway.

On Monday, he was gone.

And even though we weren’t super close, I’m so sad. It breaks my heart that he was so close, doing so much better, and then suddenly he wasn’t.

I’m not writing any of this so that anyone will feel sorry for me. Yes, I’m having a hard time, for a lot of reasons, but that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about me.

This is about something I’ve learned recently. I know it’s a lesson that everyone tries to teach everyone, but it’s a really valuable one that bears repeating, over and over and over again.

When you get the chance to hug someone, fucking do it. When you care about someone, tell them. Don’t wait for the right time. Don’t think you have to know what it means. I’ve learned from a lot of circumstances in my life in the past year that nothing good will come from waiting. You never know when you’ll lose the chance, or when it might be too late for it to matter.

I have a lot of regrets — things I should have said sooner than I said them, things I shouldn’t have run from — and I don’t know how long it will take for me to get past those. But I’m really fucking glad I went and got that hug.

rest in peace, brett.