Friday, December 28, 2007

Fri, Dec. 28, 2007: 70 West and Central City

I wasn't sure where to head today, but knew that I needed to go somewhere. The energy of the land out here is so crazy, and it's been really affecting me since returning from Connecticut. I feel so light and free, and I wish more than I ever have in my life that I had wings so that I could take off and skim over the trees and mountains, sending the snow scattering and spiraling in my wake. It also feels like it moves powerfully, as if anything I take into myself and decide to do, this energy will help it manifest in my life. I'm not sure that it actually works that way, but it's a wonderful feeling to have in my spirit.

I wanted to head up to Winter Park and revisit the drive I took this summer, but I was nervous about the condition of the roads and stuck to I-70 instead. It seemed like the deeper I headed into the mountains (well, foothills really), the less snow was blanketing the ground. The road seemed pretty clear, and the fantastically strong Colorado sunshine wouldn't let any ice claim a home on the pavement. I turned off onto the exit for Central City, having been curious about the Central City Parkway sign that blares yellow and red in your face as you drive on I-70 west. The road rides along a narrow shelf carved into the sides of the mountains - just my style! Lucky for me, it was fairly well plowed and I had no trouble reaching Central City.

Central City is apparently a gambling town, which I didn't realize until I started seeing billboards for the casinos as I traveled the parkway. It is nestled into a beautiful valley of wooded hills and gently rolling meadows, and the town itself is a small configuration of Old West style buildings running alongside narrow, hilly streets. I picked some random roads and drove around the town, and eventually found one that washed me up into the hills as it retreated to the town behind me. Across from an old mill was a small field with a sturdy segment of brick wall standing freely within it, surrounded by tufted clusters of yellowed grasses protruding from the snowdrifts.

I headed back to town and saw a fascinating sign that sparked my imagination: "Oh My God Rd". Okay... any road called Oh My God Road I *need* to see, so I headed in that direction. The thought did cross my mind that perhaps Oh My God Road isn't the safest place to be after a snow storm, but I figured that if the road wasn't well maintained I could always turn around.

Oh My God Road was exactly what its name promised it would be: a one-lane, windy, snow-covered road that twisted itself through a canyon and provided breathtaking views, all the while keeping me alert with both hands on the wheel in case my car decided to skid. This picture was taken looking either west or southwest, and if you look closely you can see the snow forming wispy banners as it blows off the mountain peaks (at least, I can see it in my full-sized version of the picture!).

I can't even begin to describe to you the vivid blue of the sky against the white snow and the deep green of the pine trees. It reminded me of what I call "sapphire sky" in New England in the fall. This picture actually offers a fair estimation of the color, and shows Oh My God Road (the one closest in the foreground, not the one that looks like it goes sharply up the hill, for if that were the case I could never have navigated it).

As I twisted through the canyon, I saw a fair number of abandoned buildings and free-standing walls formerly belonging to structures. I also came across this strange construction, the likes of which I have occasionally seen in my travels across this state. I can't decide if they were used back in the days when mining was the thing to do out here, or if their purpose is merely to intrigue out-of-staters such as yours truly.

So... now it's time to get to the embarrassing part of my adventure, because although I would love to relate my day without it, it would feel like something important was missing. I pulled over at one point during my drive to take a picture of the mountains, and figured that I would be safe leaving my car on the road since I hadn't passed a single person since leaving Central City (perhaps people from Colorado know better than to navigate through a canyon on a snowy road...). I kept my ears open for cars and took some pictures, and everything was fine until I got back into my car and tried to pull onto the road. Apparently I had gone all the way off the road on one side, and two of my tires were flailing around in a snowbank sitting well below the pavement. It took some work, but I finally rocked my way back up onto the road and rejoiced in being safe and warm and not stuck. Oddly, about 2 minutes later I passed the first and only car I would see during my entire drive on Oh My God Road. That was such a strange coincidence - had I been unable to get my car free on my own, I probably would have received help from them.

While it was obviously not a very smart thing to do (even though it was an accident), the feeling I had when I was able to free my car independently was so amazing. I thought I was totally screwed, but I made myself calm down and think of a way to fix the situation, and it worked! Despite the poor decision I made to pull over, I learned a lesson about driving out here and was able to feel that I can rely on myself when I need help. I am grinning as I sit here writing about it, half because of that good, bright feeling, and half because of embarrassment over my poor driving decision. Seriously though, who even makes roads that drop off like 8 inches on the side?!

The moral of this story is: don't pull over into snowbanks to take pictures.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thurs, Dec 27, 2007: Christmas in New England

((Present Day: I'm posting this a bit early, because my computer with this blog's pictures will not be accompanying me on my New England adventures. I plan to leave very early tomorrow morning, and arrive very late the following evening. 1,000 miles a day makes the world seem a lot smaller. Most of my co-workers were very concerned when they learned that I am driving back to Connecticut by myself, and I had to remind them that this will be my 4th and 5th trips driving cross-country, and that I don't handle long drives the way most people seem to...which would be by avoiding them at all costs.

I haven't gone for a long drive for a while now, and am very deeply looking forward to the experience.

With regards to this blog, my hesitation about people out here has lessened considerably since I found a group of friends with whom I feel entirely satisfied and entirely myself. I also just took a moment to think that I'd probably have quite a time finding friends anywhere, not just in Colorado. I chalk that up to the disconnect between what I look like and who I am inside, as well as the truth of who I am inside versus what I choose to express to others. Throw in factors like others' perceptions of me multiplied by their abilities to see beyond the surface, and it just becomes this big, disconnected mess for one to sift through before finding the grains of truth floating around in the rubble. I guess it just takes time to find people who are either insightful enough to see through me but not past me, or patient enough to pursue the grains.))

12-21 through 12-27

I have 2 weeks off from work, and decided to spend one week back in Connecticut visiting family and friends, and one out here in my new home doing what it is I do here. My head is filled with thoughts and is churning them at a furious rate, so I'm going to do this blog a bit differently. Pictures come first, thoughts second. (I have also been up since 3:45 this morning, so I'm guessing this won't be my best work...).

I left sunny Colorado on a Friday (which I took off from work... then later learned that's totally taboo), and took this picture from the airplane to show my family that Colorado really is completely flat until all of a sudden the mountains stick up.

I was greeted by gloomy New England winter weater:

and (if you compare it to the tree we have at our house here) a REAL Christmas Tree!

I got to see some of my friends from high school, Becky, Chris, and Nora, and of course my family. Hmm, what to talk about first. How about my ex, who contacted me shortly before I left for the holidays, telling me how sorry he is for the way he treated me and telling me that he'd like to become friends again if I'd be willing. After exchanging emails back and forth for a while, I finally told him to go away. There was a time in my life when I had amazing feelings for him, but that time passed when he yanked the rug out from under me and didn't even watch to see if I fell, let alone hold out a hand or catch me. So that's that.

Another thing I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about is a conversation that I had with Becky and Chris about the atmosphere out here in Colorado. This conversation was fantastic for me because I have been thinking some things about life out here, but have not been able to firm up the thoughts enough to put words to them. I think that maybe because they have each other, as well as the friends with whom they traveled when they came out here, perhaps it's been easier for them to figure out what the different feeling is because they could bounce their thoughts off each other. Out here, people are obsessed with all things new, and old things seem to just get plowed under to make way for something shiny and plastic. This seems to be the case with music, art, construction... you can even see it in the way the city is expanding, with the neighborhoods that are so planned, they pave the roads before the houses go up. I don't know if I just haven't found that niche out here that appreciates old things and old ways, or if it doesn't exist at all.

They explained that New England seems to have more room within society for different types of people. People are no less accepting of others out there versus here, but perhaps they are more tolerant. Out here in Colorado, most people that I have met are pretty much the same, and deep, meaningful connections seem to be few and far between.

I miss the country. I miss having a big backyard and trees. It was so amazing to drive around and see all the trees back in Connecticut - and even in Rhode Island, where I used to think the trees looked so puny, stunted by the ocean winds. But when I was there during this visit, I couldn't take my eyes off them. The pines out here in the mountains are nice, but they can't hold a candle to the diversity of trees in New England.

So now I'm freaking out again, about not belonging here, and not wanting to belong here. I don't want to turn into one of these people who is like, "Hey! I'm from Colorado! I like hiking and skiing." ... and that's all they have to say. I may withold my thoughts at times, but they're always there, flying around in my head. Do I belong here? Am I wasting my time living somewhere I'm not meant to be? I have no idea! And it scares me to death. I don't like uncertainty in my life, not like this. But, now that I know some words to put to the feelings I have been having about my experience out here, do I *want* to fit in here? I'm having a hard time with that.

And finally, couples. They are everywhere. Seeing my sister and her husband, my parents, Becky and Chris, couples reuniting at the airport or traveling together, made me ache for what I am missing. I absolutely love having a relationship and a best friend to love and share thoughts and adventures with, and it hurts to see other people having what I want and me being nowhere close to having it. On the plane back home today, it occurred to me that perhaps part of the reason I want a relationship so much right now is that it would help me decide what to do with myself and where to live. It would relieve me of that pressure, because there would be someone else to decide with. That is obviously not the only reason, but I think it's part of the equation. I don't understand what I'm so afraid of. The energy of the land out here feels so good, and it's such a beautiful place, but I'm not a city girl, and I very much miss trees and streams and rivers.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sun, Dec. 16, 2007: Monaco Christmas

Well hello to everyone! I haven't written anything for a while, because I guess I haven't been up to much out of the ordinary - although having an "ordinary" for out here is pretty bizarre.

I'm in a strange state of mind right now. Yesterday, for the first time since we stopped talking back in July, my ex randomly decided to contact me. Thoughts are spinning in my head and everything about me feels weighted down by those little lead weights that you attach to your fishing line: there are some hanging from my eyelids, my shoulders, my heart and my stomach, and my feet. So yeah... strange day.

And right in the heart of this day resides the activity of Christmas tree (Yule tree!) decorating, which actually did end up being pretty fun. My roommate Travis and I were the only ones home, so we didn't have to deal with the chaos of 11 people trying to decorate the tree. The tree itself is somewhat hilarious, since it's kind of scrawny. It looks really cute though. :) My roommates went out to the woods last weekend and cut it down. Here's the best we could do with the limited amount of branches we had to work with:

To those of you who will be in CT, I'll see you soon! To those I won't see, I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday. :)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mon, Dec. 3, 2007: 55 Degrees of Poverty

((Present Day: Quick note on my previous post: one of my friends commented on my myspace page that I should make sure I'm stuck for 3 days with someone I don't mind arguing with, because it's going to happen. Good point! Update: Looking for someone who is capable of arguing and still being respectful. I have deez skillz, do you?

Also, with regards to the post below... yup, still broke)).

* * * *

I am broke. I am so pov that I can't buy gas for my car, things to eat for lunch, and last week had to dig through my change jar to buy milk and cereal for breakfast. There are many reasons why I am broke, the primary ones being my insatiable desire to do fun things that usually cost money as well as my inspirational lack of motivation to find a second job. While being broke feels like crap, I view this as a temporary condition which makes it somewhat easier to bear. Yes, I'm hungry and feel like a crazed caged animal because I don't have enough gas to go on road trips, but I know that in January when my loans come through I'll be ok again - and perhaps a bit more conservative in my spending (and/or break down and get a second job...).

So, during this time of being broke, I of course did what any rational person would do and joined a gym. I mean, why not? I still need things to do, ways to meet people, and my body has been crying out for me to use and (gently) abuse it. I picked a place that I drive past every day on the way to and from work, and was really excited to learn that a ton of classes are taught there, including yoga and tai chi. What made me even *more* excited was discovering that belly dance is taught there too! It's perfect - every class that I wanted to take is in one place, and it's much less expensive to pay the monthly membership fee than separate class fees. *Plus* the belly dance class performs once a month!! I love dancing in front of people; I enter this state of movement and energy and music, and can get to the point where I forget that anyone's watching me and nothing exists but that wonderful state. I can't wait until I've been in the class for a while and can join them in performances.

There was some snow on the ground out here around Thanksgiving, but today the sun and 55 degree air sucked the last of it up. What version of the universe am I living in that it's 55 degrees in December? It doesn't look like it's supposed to be very cold for a while either, which is so strange. When I drive to work, I find myself looking with longing at the snow-covered mountain peaks in the distance, missing the cold and the smell and sharp feeling that come with winter air... which is really, really weird because I can't stand being cold. I'm not sure what it is, but seeing the snow around here lately (the little bit that we've gotten) makes something inside of me wake up. It's a little bud of myself, like an imp or a child, that feels new and fresh and exciting. I don't know why the snow is the only thing that brings her out, but I do know that it's the most effective implement I've encountered thus far for cutting through the fog of depression that has made its home in my head ever since my move. The snow makes me feel so alive... the saddest thing about the state of mind I've been in is that you don't even realize how bad you feel until it breaks for just a moment, and like a sunbeam slicing through a cloud, your heart and mind suddenly clear and you think, "Oh my god, I don't even know where I've been". And then the sunbeam gets swallowed back up and you go back to living in gray clouds. This is somewhere that I need to go inside of myself in order to end up where I need to be on the other side, but in the mean time it's been a very difficult journey. The good news is that as time passes, the sunbeams grow stronger and visit more frequently. I fully believe that they are always there, even when hidden behind the clouds, and that this storm needs to pass through me in order to help me get to where I need to be. There are no flowers without rain, and rain can't happen without rain clouds.

One of my co-workers asked me today if I miss Connecticut. I'm honestly not sure. I know that I miss my family and friends, and I do miss trees and the density of growth and moisture in the forests, but this sunny mountainous wonderland I've landed myself in is so interesting and stimulating, I'm not sure it's given me a second to miss Connecticut. I think it'll hit me when I head home; perhaps not this trip since the trees will be bare and the weather probably wet and cold, but when I return in the summer I expect my heart will ache.

I think I've convinced one of my roommates to head to Brushwood with me for some of the festivals this summer. Waking up every day to the sight of tree branches twisting into shadow puppets on the roof of my tent, dancing to ancient drum beats on soft sand beside a bonfire every night, people who smile and love you before you even open your mouth: heaven. I will be there. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fri, Nov. 23, 2007: Adventures Worth Sharing

The other day, I was talking to a friend who asked me if I have had any adventures worth sharing lately. This made me wonder, what makes an adventure worth sharing? Who defines whether or not an experience is worthy? If someone uses their breath to tell a story, does that make it worth telling?

Maybe not. My stories are interesting to me, but perhaps that's just because they are my experiences. Lately they haven't been riddled with the drama and pain like they were when I first moved out here. I like the stories about everyday life better – maybe because they're easier for me to live. My adventures lately consist of roaming around the city and discovering new places and people, starting up yoga classes and searching for artistic outlets, and the endless debate in my head when I find myself in the middle of an evening with no plans. Maybe these adventures aren't as entertaining, but I like them much better.

Adventures come in all shapes and sizes, from entertaining yourself in line at the grocery store to moving across the country. Perhaps it just takes a little more imagination to see the adventures in the little things. Or, perhaps I am the only strange person who thinks that the thoughts in people's heads are interesting. But I don't think that's the case. In the words of Ani DiFranco, "Somebody's gotta be interested in how I feel, just cause I'm here, and I'm real". You said it!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sun, Nov. 18, 2007: Monaco Thanksgiving

This Sunday we held a Thanksgiving dinner for our household, since a bunch of people are going home for the holiday (myself not included. -_- ). So I figured I'd take the opportunity to introduce some of my roommates!

Here are Max and Jack, displaying the fantastic pie that will start the trend of No Baking Soda baking.

And here is everyone, seated around our dining room table. Well not quite everyone, I'm missing since I'm taking the picture (obviously), one roommate who scoffed at the idea of eating Thanksgiving dinner with us, one roommate who was in a Best Cashier contest at work, and a Brazillian man who loved Max! And I think that's everybody... it's hard to keep track around here!

These people are, in order from left to right: Evelyn our landlady, Travis from Reno, Jack from Maryland, Bill who has traveled the world to climb mountains, Max from New Orleans, Troy from Kentucky who has the same car as me which is very confusing, and Tommy who is Evelyn's significant other.

While setting the table, I discovered that you can see the most beautiful sunsets from the bowed windows in this room. There is even a smooth stone ledge that you can sit on. I think now that this new place of beauty has been discovered, I'll have to visit it often for winter sunset viewing in this cozy house.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sat, Nov. 17, 2007: Synchronicity

((Present Day: In the past few weeks, I have been presented with more coincidences than I have in quite some time. One perfect example of this is a text message I received from a friend this morning asking me if I wanted to go hiking in Matthew Winters Park. Of course I said yes... I was planning on going there today anyway. :)

Regarding my question of where my "beginning" lies, I now like the idea that it is in the dreams kept in the center of my heart. Maybe it's not the beginning of the place where I felt I lost my chain of coincidences, but it is the beginning of me. And after all, that's where my existence and experiences come from; it's where the chain begins.))

* * * *

Ever since returning to my hometown after living at Brushwood, my life seems like it was locked into an incredibly strong current of coincidences. It seems that I met the right people at the right time and had experiences in such a way as to raise me along the crest of this massive wave which swept across the country and crashed upon Colorado, washing me into this room in Denver. And now I find myself like jetsam tossed onto an empty beach: what happened to the current? Where's the water? Where is the random person taking a stroll on the beach that day who sees the top of my head peeking out of the sand and takes the time to dig me out, starting the flow again?

It's as if I was crossing a vast canyon along a set of monkey bars suspended above it, and I now find myself dangling from the last bar thinking, "Where the hell did they all go?" They just... disappeared.

In one of my all-time favorite movies, The Princess Bride, Inigo states that he was told by Vincini to "go back to the beginning" if things fell through. This phrase was in my head all day and I paid it little attention, until mid-afternoon when its importance hit me. What is my beginning? Am I supposed to return to wherever this flow was lost to pick it up again? Maybe if I retrace my steps, I'll discover that I missed a turn in the monkey bars, and if I take it perhaps it will help me to move forward again.

For once in my life, moving forward doesn't mean trying to find a guy to be with. Moving forward means making friends, trying new things, making a point to have things I know I love to do in my life. Maybe there is a guy somewhere on the beach to come and pick me up, maybe it's a new best friend, maybe it's nobody and I need to dig myself up and take a walk to discover a volleyball game in progress just beyond the slump in the sand where I was buried.

So, as I like to do when I have something on my mind, I hopped in my car and headed toward the mountains. While driving, I wondered where I can find my beginning. Does this mean where I was born? Where I met my ex? The first places I visited in Colorado? That would be his house, and since I have no desire to be creepy and stalker-esque I voted against that. What about the first place we traveled out here... Vail? So I headed to Vail.

It was twilight when I arrived, and I was surprised to find only a little bit of snow on the mountains.

The little town looked so warm with its shop lights on and Christmas lights adorning the buildings. I wandered around the streets for a while, surprised by how empty they were. I guess there isn't much of a reason to go to Vail unless you're skiing or hiking, and the snow conditions and time of day seemed to work against both.

On my way out of town, I crossed a covered footbridge which ran over a small stream. Mmm water. The mountains are this solid, hard, unmoving mass that just sort of sits there on the earth. But water, it has life. It moves and twists and bubbles, and sometimes sits patiently in a pool while insects fracture its surface, waiting for the sun or the earth to absorb it once again. When I think of the ocean in comparison to the stillness of these mountains, it seems like a dynamic living organism. I stood there with my chin on my hands, resting on the edge of the bridge, and watched the water as if hypnotized. Behind me passed groups of people speaking many languages, few which were English. It felt so good to breathe the fresh air, bundled up in my coat and scarf, my ears filled with the beautiful living sound of water passing beneath me.

There was no epiphany, I'm still just as buried in the sand or dangling at the end of the monkey bars as I was yesterday. I still don't know where to find the flow, or if I am still in it and am unable to recognize that fact.

My sister told me that I should act like a dog, so wrapped up in happiness of the present moment that nothing else matters. There is something to that... that, and thinking less. Think less, act more, and don't care about anything except what's going on in front of my face. Maybe there hasn't been enough of that since I arrived out here.

So let me re-frame this scene: I am buried in the sand up to my neck, but my head is free and alert and half warmed by the sun, half shaded by a kind palm tree. The ocean is a distant glint on the horizon, but if I listen closely I can almost hear it as it throws its tiny waves toward me. Much closer water sounds eminate from what must be a nearby stream or small waterfall, there is plenty of wood lying around to make a shelter, and I have confidence that there will be recognizible food sources.

It seems I have everything I need, I just have to dig myself out and take advantage of it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Weds, Nov. 14, 2007: Feist-y

((Present Day: This little piece of my blog sums up a happy time for me. Ever since my turning point at One Tree, things just kept getting better and better.

I recently came across a quote by C.S. Lewis that really struck a chord with me: "Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." This blog probably won't change anybody's life, or alter the course of a river, or even flutter a butterfly's wing in China: but it was never meant to. It's just a way for me to tell my story, and concerning myself about whether people find it ordinary or extraordinary isn't my purpose. My purpose is to tell my truth, to share the world the way I have experienced it, to share the beauty of the things I have encountered in this place. In doing that, I have come to realize that my experiences are unique even among other travelers; people may look at the same thing or share the same moment but come away from it with different thoughts. The way that we perceive our world is determined by the qualities that exist within us. Realizing that I am unique, and that I like the way I see the world, has made loving myself something I do now without thinking, without questioning. It's become a constant in my life, and one I have been seeking for all of my days. Maybe it has yet to grow into something even more beautiful, but right now I'm just proud of the fact that it exists as a characteristic within me.

It's snowing outside my living room window right now, and the entire valley is covered with a gray-white fog. I can barely see the hill with the "G" painted on it, but it's beautiful all the same. The wind is dancing with the snowflakes, and the edges of the buildings below me are softened by a dusting of powder. Snow has an incredible capacity for bringing beauty to everything it touches. I think that's because it covers up the harshness of our modern world and turns everything into soft indistinguishable pieces of nature. I have yet to find anything that's immune to its influence. ))

* * * *

Tonight I headed to the Ogden Theater to see Feist with one of my roommates. As I was watching her capers up on stage (that would be Feist, not my roommate), I realized I was surprised by how confident and comfortable she seemed. Based on her music, I'd assumed that she would be somewhat awkward and shy. I thought to myself that I liked her much better when I thought she was awkward, the reason being that I can relate to that.

Then all of a sudden, as I took my eyes off her and felt her beautiful music entwining me in its presence, I realized that I was disappointed by real-life Feist because I am jealous of her. I'm jealous that she has the bravery to wear her heart on her sleeve, painted in her own words, and shares her emotions with the world, unashamed. And she is definitely not shallow; her music goes deep. To be brave enough to communicate what lies deep in her heart, to overcome the fear that making yourself emotionally vulnerable sparks within you, that is what I envy in her.

Seeing her up on stage, presenting herself with calm and confidence, made me realize how far I still have to go. It's strange, but she really reminded me of a direction in which I'd like to grow - towards confidently communicating my emotions. This realization is completely in sync with some things that I have learned about myself through astrology lately, namely that being able to confidently (Leo north node) express my emotions (Gemini/Cancer cusp Sun sign) is exactly where I need to go. Although it hurt to feel jealous of her, I'm really glad that I had that feeling so that this could finally hit home for me.

Apparently there have been 1,000 views of my blog - woot! Some sort of anniversary party is in order or something.

I stopped counting for a while, but I have been in Denver for almost exacly 4 months now. I have also been single for 4 months, which is almost a record for me since I started dating at 19. I've spent the past 4 months wishing that time would pass quickly, to move me away from all of the sadness that accompanied my move. Now I am at a point where I'd like it to stop moving for just one minute so that I could wrap my head around this crazy place. I'm scared of life moving so quickly, of looking back and thinking, "where did it go?" It's right here, and I think I'm finally ready to start living in the present again.

As a side note, I have been laughing all day today. I'm not really sure why, but it's a REAL laugh, not whatever has been coming out of my mouth for months now. It's the laugh that you feel in your stomach and bounds up to leap off your tongue. I mentioned to my roommates that my laugh has returned, and one of them said that a couple of my roommates were talking about my laugh once, and concluded that the "essence" was missing from it. I couldn't even feel self-conscious about them talking about me, because they were completely right. There have been a lot of things missing from me, and a lot more that are still inside of me but misaligned or disconnected. I think that things are starting to fall back into place. I'm definitely not out of the woods, but today is the first time that I have seen the light beyond the edge of the trees, and it was beautiful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sun, Nov. 11, 2007: Another Peaceful Week

I haven't been up to a whole lot of note-worthy nonsense lately. :) Just hanging out with friends, relaxing, and doing a lot of thinking, which is not very unusual for me.

On Friday night, I went out with friends to see a band play in Evergreen, one of my favorite areas out here and somewhere I can see myself living if I stay in Colorado. The drummer of the band (who played fantastic funky percussion and made my heart cry for the sweeping symphony of drums at the bonfires of Brushwood) is my friend's boyfriend's uncle. It was her first time meeting some of his family, which was pretty neat to experience. My brain said to me, "See? There are some guys out there who actually want a girl to be part of his life, not just an accessory."

Today my roommates and I had a giant leaf-raking party. While raking leaves is definitely not one of my favorite chores, I have to admit it's not too bad once you've had a couple of drinks. My life is sort of hilarious right now; sometimes I feel like I'm in college again. There was jumping in leaf piles (obviously), assaulting each other with stuffed-to-the-brim contractor's bags full of leaves, tackling my roommate who tried to trip me and tickling him till he couldn't breathe, and leaning back into the full bags of leaves with drinks in our hands, lazily mulling over the possibility that the roommates climbing trees would need us to call an ambulance. There are times when I wish that I had more space and more privacy here, but days like this make me so happy that I chose to live in this house.

To my friends in CT, I'll be home from the 21st to the 27th of December for Christmas (Yule for me) - hopefully I'll see you then!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sun, Nov. 4, 2007: Tea, Frisbee, and Sunbeams

This weekend was wonderful, because it was the first weekend I've had since I got out here that I wasn't trying to fill; it filled itself naturally. It wasn't dramatic and I didn't experience a million road trip epiphanies like I usually do. My days have been peaceful and warm (both in heart and in temperature), and thoughtful as well since that introspective, analytical part of me never wholly shuts down unless I'm sleeping or meditating.

Here is a picture of one of my favorite neighborhoods in this city, and where I currently hope to live next year, providing I am able to continue living here.

Something deep inside of me is purring like a kitten because of this weekend. Among other things I went out to dinner with my friends from Connecticut, went to a fantastic bar with my roommate, lazed around with a book at a coffee shop the next morning sipping tea under a sun that was deliciously strong, twined myself up pretzel-style on the surprisingly cool grass, sunbeams playing on my shoulders, and watched some Frisbee, and went out to dinner with friends again.

How awesome and normal does that sound?! Perfect to me. I'm finally starting to settle in and it feels soooooo good.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sun, Oct. 28, 2007: One Tree

((Present Day: I love this little blog for its shortness, sweetness, and the turning point for me that it represented. As I mentioned in my very first post on this page, I originally planned to move to Colorado for a relationship I was in with a guy I met online. It ended up not working out right before I moved, but my momentum was already carrying me with such power towards the West that I'm not sure what would have happened to me had I tried to resist it. I spent the first few months of my life out here weighted down by a very deep depression, and looking back on this beautiful day shows me what a turning point it was for me. The bands around my chest and the depression finally released me; I was finally ready to just let go and be.))

* * * *

Since I arrived in Colorado, I've been yearning for a place where I could sit outside and feel safe and just deflate. Today I found it. I folded myself into the thick, tangled roots of a tall pine tree overlooking a meadow and leaned back onto the trunk of the tree, letting my mind wander. Time meant nothing more than watching the shadow of the tree overcome the grass stalks in its wake, while others behind it were released into the sunlight.

I spent some time thinking about my Saturn return, the freedoms that I exercise, and the restrictions with which I bind myself. I thought of these things until a woman walked off the trail and stood with her dog near where I was sitting. She practiced the commands "go" and "come" with the dog, and as it leaped through the dry, yellow grass I closed my eyes and listened. The crunching stalks sounded like the rustle of tissue paper. I heard her children talking and laughing on the path beyond the tree. And I smiled, because I finally deflated, and now I get to choose what I wish to fill myself back up with.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sat, Oct. 27, 2007: My Two Middle Fingers

((Present Day: I talk about my Saturn return again in this blog... once again it's not really Saturn but Pluto that's influencing my life and has been since December 2006. I want to post more about this... see next post. :)

I'm still considering the second tattoo on my right shoulder too, which is funny looking back on this because I'm getting closer to doing it. The fact that I've had the idea for a year already and still like it is a good sign. I'm picturing 2 blue birds, flying upwards and away from me into the sky because it is free and beautiful.))

* * * *

Lately I have been proffering my two middle fingers with great satisfaction: one for the very painful life circumstances which lead to my move to Colorado, the second for Saturn and his return. And if this isn't his return, I'm going to need a 3rd for when it actually arrives. The circumstances of my move belong to my left finger, and Saturn to my right.

I realize it's not exactly a testament to the great insight I have gained as a result of my move to be throwing my fingers around whenever I get a chance (and honestly, what insight is that? Don't date someone who lives across the country? It's expensive to live on your own? I mean, not rocket science here folks...). That all means nothing to me when the glimmer of a smile comes into my eyes and the rest of my fingers fold inward toward my palm, my middle finger directed at whatever it is that offended me. Always objects, never people (and no, I don't do this in public or in my car where someone'll think it's directed at them). Sometimes it feels really good to send out an old fashioned "F YOU!" thought package toward the appropriate party.

I'm sad tonight, having already messed things up with a guy I've gone out with a few times. (A friend said not to date the first guy I met, but I didn't... he was like the 3rd who expressed interest in me...). I figured it would be fun and why not, right? Wrong. I used to be really proud of being a Gemini-Cancer, I like to think that I was born on my birthday on purpose so that I could be a Solstice baby. I recently learned, however, that Gemini-Cancer's "raison d'etre" is to find love. It is what we are wired for. Greeeat, because I'm obviously really good at this.

So I have decided to reassign my two middle fingers. Forget about what happened to bring me out here; it's done and in the past. Forget about Saturn; he's going to keep screwing with my life whether I like it or not so I'd better learn to just deal. Now I have a special new use for them: dating!

I think I'd like to take my left one for myself, to remind myself of the lessons that I've learned and those that I know I have yet to learn. Flashing it in my face will likely provide a glimpse of the bright 16-ray sun tattoo on my wrist, my permanent reminder to myself that life is beautiful, that energy is everywhere in nature, and that all I have to do is connect with that to feel electrified. My other finger, wrist unadorned, I will offer to dating. Not to specific members of the less fair sex (unless he is especially deserving...) because we are all human, living in our own versions of reality. But to dating, the greater collective concept. (Umm... to be honest, one for the guy too but only in my head, the reason being that he neglected to see my awesomeness shining through). The idea of taking someone out for a test drive... my heart isn't wired for that. Obviously people need to be taken out for a test drive, otherwise you'd just give someone a once-over and propose or dismiss him. But dating just doesn't fit with me, the whole square peg in a round hole thing.

To those men who are just not a good fit for me, all I have is a wry smile and a shoulder shrug. I'm thinking of getting a tattoo on my right shoulder, so perhaps I'll have a pretty picture to give you too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weds, Oct 17 to Sat, Oct 20, 2007: The Grand Tetons

((Present Day: Looking back on this blog breaks my heart a little. Most of the time, I am perfectly content wandering around on my own, taking in the world one small piece at a time. Traveling long distances in my own company often brings me peace and contentment and at times, if I'm lucky, a bit of insight into myself, others, and the world. This trip was different in that I spent most of it actively longing to share my time with someone else. Perhaps it was the stunning beauty of the landscape, or the glowing lights of downtown Jackson reflecting from lightly falling snowflakes, but something about the experience made me crave the presence of someone special.

As is my style, I didn't write about those sorts of things at the time, but looking back I can't ignore such an important piece that I left out of my words. Thinking about it right now kind of makes me want to cry, so I'm going to let it be what it is for now. Though I was saddened by my longing to share my trip, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world. These 4 days were an important part of shaping the changes that I have gone through since moving out here, and have become part of who I am. I love this place and time for what it was: beautiful and moving, powerful and raw, insightful and surprising.))

* * * *

"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart is going to cave in." - American Beauty

I think for this blog I'm going to talk less and show pictures more (maybe...). While I was on my trip, I spent a lot of time writing about things that I am going through, things I am learning, things I am thinking about.... I think that I'm sort of "written out" about this trip. :)

My school was on fall break this week, so I headed to the Grand Tetons! I checked out the weather before I booked my trip and it looked like it was going to be snowy which, although I generally dislike being cold, didn't seem to bother me much. I packed like I was heading to Alaska and was on my way.

Day 1: October 17th:

I don't understand why people say that Wyoming is boring - I can't speak to the eastern half of the state, but the western half is so, so beautiful. I love the land because it surprises you at every turn and the crest of every hill. It has dimensions and layers the likes of which I have never seen before in my life. The irony of me being told that Wyoming is boring is that the people who tell me this are from Colorado. I have to say that eastern Colorado is hands-down the most uninteresting thing that I have seen in my life, surpassing even a blank white wall. I think that I like Wyoming because it reminds me of me - it's never what it seems and there's so much more to it than what you can see with a glance.

Here is some of Wyoming on my drive to Jackson:This is called the Table Butte (I think it's the little random one sticking up by itself):I turned up 191 and headed right into a snowstorm, which was neat but also sad since it blocked out the scenery. The clouds looked thick and I had no idea when they would end; they disappeared far sooner than I'd expected and I was given a breathtaking view of the mountains (which are hard to see in this picture since they blend in with the clouds):When I arrived in Jackson, I took a short drive into the park to see if I could catch an evening glimpse of the Tetons. There were thick gray clouds surrounding the valley through which I drove, blocking out my view. I headed back to wander around town for a while, hoping that the next day would prove to be more scenic.

Day 2: October 18th:

Today was partly cloudy, and the mountains coyly shrugged their shoulders into the veil of clouds preventing me from seeing them for what they were. They looked much more interesting in real life than they do in my pictures; I could see their outlines through the clouds and they slowly faded as they rose from the earth. I think most of my pictures make it look as if the view of the peaks cuts off where the clouds begin.

Here are some of my first beautiful views of the mountains:Although the leaves had fallen from most of the aspen and cottonwood trees, there were still plenty of beautiful fall colors to see:I headed up to Yellowstone and was greeted by the sight of thick white smoke rising up from the trees as I entered the park. I wondered if it was a forest fire, until I realized that it was probably a geiser or hot spring.

There was a family from Colorado stopped at one of the same turnoffs as me, taking pictures of this river. One of the daughters said to me, "This is such a big river!" I smiled on the inside and the outside, because compared to the rivers in Colorado this one really was huge! Compared to the rivers in Connecticut though, this one was very small. Of course, I had to see Old Faithful. It was really cold in Yellowstone, luckily I only had to wait about 5 minutes for it to erupt:This place is called the Black Sand Flats and is near Old Faithful. It was this weird mess of hot poisonous water pools and dead trees:Here is some exotic Yellowstone wildlife hanging out in the Black Sand Flats:I have no idea what this area is called, but it's near the big lake in the southern part of the park. It's another cluster of steamy vibrantly-colored pools.I drove around the lake, which boasted a view of snow-capped mountains all along its perimeter. I reached a road that headed down toward the water and took it, driving all the way into... a herd of buffalo. It was so cool! There were old ones and babies and everything in between, barely looking up at the sound of my car. It was amazing to be so close to them and I sat for a while just watching them wander around.Here is a view of the mountains around the lake:Driving back toward the Grand Tetons from the north, I probably had my best views of them all day. ((and quite possibly the best picture I've ever taken...))
On my way back to Jackson, I saw a beautiful elk grazing in a field by himself:I saw a ton of neat wildlife on this day: buffalo and elk herds, trumpeter swans, some flock of birds that looked like loons, exotic black crows, a coyote, an eagle... and I think that's all.

Day 3: October 19th:

This morning I got up early to see if I could catch the sunrise. A consultation with informed me that it was probably snowing, but I figured I'd give it a shot anyways.

When I reached the mountains, I learned that it was indeed snowing and the visibility was terrible. I turned around and headed back toward Jackson and met a herd of Elk crossing the road:Deciding that the mountains were a lost cause today, I took a drive into Idaho instead! It was so beautiful...

Day 4: October 20th:

I had to leave today, and I really didn't want to go. This place is so beautiful and it felt so good to be there. I woke up and it was drizzling in Jackson, which meant it was snowing in the mountains:I figured I'd take a different route home than the one I'd used to arrive. Please note that the road heading east out of the park toward Dubois goes over the mountains and is very difficult to navigate during a big snow storm. Let's just say I was very relieved to make it out alive.

This picture was taken near Dubois, and made me sad to think of the mountains that were surrounding the area that I couldn't see since they were buried in the clouds:I'd love to go to this area again, and when I do I'm going to take this route in. The mountains were folding so beautifully behind me, I can only imagine how they would look unfolding before me.

I drove through the Wind River Indian Reservation, which had some very neat land formations:I had a slight glimpse of the toes of the mountains sticking out from the clouds, their blue-black slopes dotted with patches of snow.I want to see it all in the sun! My trip was beautiful as it was, but I'd definately like to see the mountains when they're not hiding from me. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tues, Oct. 16, 2007: Musings

A friend once commented to me that I need to get away from guys who "hide" me. I don't know how she knew that. I never knew that, but I've been thinking about it lately and it's so true. What is it about me that makes guys want to hide me? The fangs? Green skin? So superficial.

I was talking to one of my friends from high school about it last night while we were watching the Rockies game. I asked her if it's normal to never meet the friends of the guy you are dating. She looked at me like I had 2 heads before saying no. So now I know I'm not crazy. She said that her boyfriend invites her to go out with him and his friends all the time - so cool!

I think half the issue is that I've never spent much time talking to people before about the guys I've dated and the things they do and the way they treat me. I think that if I did, many relationships would have been cut off before they could do their damage.

I don't understand why finding love is so easy for some people, and so hard for others (like me). What is it about people that makes this the way of things? Am I missing out on some important piece of information here? Someone please fill me in!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mon, Oct. 15, 2007: So this one time at this bar...

... I was watching a Rockies game. On purpose. As in, I called my friend and said, "Hey, want to watch the Rockies game with me?" As I sat in the middle of a drunken cheering crowd, I was struck by the realization that it's really fun to watch sports with a group of excited people. Then I asked myself, "Who are you, and what have you done with Kristine?"

When I was a kid, I used to love watching sports with my father. Football was my favorite. I remember that the 49ers were my favorite team. My dad would drink a beer and usually fall asleep, and I would sit and watch the entire game and then fill him in when he woke up.

Everyone in the bar started cheering when they won, and as we headed outside we could hear fireworks being set off somewhere nearby. I'm still hoping that Boston will win so they end up playing the Rockies.

On a more sober note, when we were walking to the bar we heard a woman screaming about a block in front of us and saw a man run away with something trailing from his hands. I started grinning because I thought that 2 friends were having fun playing games with each other. Then my friend said "Um... did that guy just steal her purse?" By the time we reached the woman who had been robbed she was surrounded by like 5 people and they were already calling the police. She told us that she was ok and we headed down to the bar, but we were both weirded out. The city gives me somewhat of a sense of security, having people around you all the time. You'd never think that someone would do something like that with so many people around, at least I didn't.

We saw her at the bar shortly after we arrived and she was talking to her group of friends and seemed ok, or was at least putting on a good face. I realized that what happened to her could have easily happened to me - about 5 minutes before I'd been standing on the same corner where it happened, on my phone asking my friend which intersection she lives on for the 100th time.

One of my favorite things about this whole move is the way it's shaken me out of my habits and patterns. It's like someone took a cup full of gemstones that had been swirling around inside and dumped them onto a table. And now I can look at them and say, "I don't want that in my life, let's work on that" and "Hey I never did much with this one, I should try and see what it's like". I'm learning so much weird stuff about myself that I'm almost afraid of what I'm going to learn next.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my Fall Break. I was thinking I'd like to go to California to see the ocean and drive through the redwoods, but the thought of being away for that long kind of made me sad - which is awesome, because I believe the sadness came from the realization that I would miss everyone here if I was gone that long. I'm thinking now that I might take a trip up to the Tetons. Who knows. It would still be nice to have someone to travel with, but I like road trips and adventures so much that they're good even alone. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sun, Oct. 14, 2007: Evergreen and Morrison

This morning I woke up to a cold, rainy day in Denver and asked myself, "What *exactly* is wrong with you that you have been missing fall in New England?" I've been so busy thinking about the leaves and apples and smells of fall that I forgot about the worst part - those cold, rainy days when it's not cold enough to turn on the heat or start a fire so you never really get warm. I used to think that my parents were really bad about not turning on the heat, but when I came home from my drive today I discovered that it is 54 degrees upstairs (where my room is). 54 degrees is not an acceptable house temperature! I'm sitting closed in my small bedroom with my space heater on full blast - a purchase that I made after discovering my landlady's reluctance to spend money on anything, including heat.

I went for a drive through the Evergreen area which has become my random short road trip place I think. It's easy to access and reminds me of northern New England, Vermont specifically. As I drove into the hills, the rain turned into snow and the resemblance to Vermont was strengthened. I passed a house that I was told is called the Jetsons' house. Like many of the homes in the hills outside of Denver, it has a lovely view of the mountains traversed by I-70. After crossing through the Evergreen area, I reached a town called Conifer which has a beautiful lake near its center. By this time the snow had abated somewhat and I walked around the area enjoying the sight of yellow leaves against the snow.As I was walking around, I heard the screech of a hawk (or maybe an eagle... I have no idea what those sound like) and turned to find it sitting in a tree eyeing me. I'm not sure if it thought I looked delicious or was annoyed by me, probably the latter. The mountains were very foggy and half-engulfed by clouds on my drive back down into the plains. I think that's part of what made it feel like Vermont - because the clouds were blocking out the larger mountain peaks, I could only see the round foothills that were closest to me.Not wanting to head home, I turned off towards Morrison and stopped by a park with an amazing view of Red Rocks. The dark colored speck just to the left of the rock formations is a lark bunting, the state bird of Colorado.My last picture of the day was taken facing east-ish towards Denver and the sprawl I love so much... and by "love" I mean "dislike". I like this picture because it shows what I have been talking about with regards to housing out here - all these houses are packed so tightly together and then all of a sudden it just ends and there's nothing but open space.So strange! While having a cold and rainy day has been an interesting change of pace, it makes me realize how nice the dry, sunny weather really is. Today was a wake-up call for me, rousing me from my nostalgic New England daydreams and reminding me how much I dislike being cold and wet!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thurs, Oct. 11, 2007: Pumpkin Party!

Last night two friends from my hometown and I got together to have a pumpkin carving party! Although our hostess declared that she didn't miss fall in New England and was enjoying it out here, she still volunteered to have the two of us over to make a disaster out of her kitchen.

Here are our pumpkins! Mine is the one in the middle with the ghosts coming out of the cauldron:

Being an adult is weird. Or maybe it's weirder that I'm 27 and don't think of myself as an adult. It was funny having dinner together and then doing something goofy like carving pumpkins. :)

I really love my friends from my hometown. If any of you are reading this, I'm so glad that I was able to grow up with you. Was there something in the water that made everyone into awesome people?

My school is on Fall Break next week, I'm really hoping to be inspired by somewhere on the map so I can take advantage of my string of work-free days. Can someone in New England say hi to beautiful fiery sugar maples for me?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sat, Oct. 6, 2007: Octoberfest and the Denver Zoo

Last night I went to the Octoberfest with one of my roommates and some of his friends. It was a giant beer festival that was held on Larimer Street and consisted of 2 giant stages, a ton of booths, a mechanical bull, and a ton of really rowdy people. It took place in the middle of the road which was really strange... the traffic lights kept changing even though no traffic was allowed through, and a couple of times I caught myself wanting to stop when the red light came on.

The most notable part of the night for me was when the group of us were dancing in the street to the music coming from the bar we were approaching. As soon as we arrived in front of the bar,with no communication at all, the group of us simultaneously stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and started dancing (to give you some idea of the effect of this, there were like 12 of us). The people on the patio of the bar caught on to our dance party and started dancing with us. I have never, ever had such a random music video moment in my life - it couldn't have been better if we had planned it.

Today I went to the Denver Zoo, because it was free for employees at my school! One of my co-workers and I met up and wandered around together. It was a pretty neat zoo, and I saw some animals that I've never seen before. The strangest thing about it was the sight of apartment and office buildings in the background as I was looking at these exotic animals. Here are some that I saw!

The funniest part of the day involved the birds. We went to this large caged-in area that you could enter to see some tropical birds. I told my co-worker, that I was going to get pooped on and I knew that it was true. We walked around with the birds for a while and someone gave us two little cups with nectar in them that you could feed the birds from. I was feeding a bird and he was squawking the whole time he was eating. I decided after a bit that he'd had enough and started feeding another bird below him. The bird I stopped feeding was so mad at me! He started screaming at the top of his air sacs at me, and moved over on the branch so that I was right below him before he pooped. Luckily it only landed on my arm.

So that's my day at the zoo. :)