City Girl in Mountain Town

Monty and I have arrived in my other hometown- Grand Junction, Colorado. Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad. I remember in my seventh grade geography class everyone feeling a little defeated when we opened our books and saw that Grand Junction wasn’t even marked on the map. It’s grown a lot since then, but it still feels much like the small town it felt like as I grew up here. It’s hard to explain but there is a certain look to Grand Junction. It’s almost distinctly indistinct. But when you wait at the gate in the airport to come here, it becomes slowly evident just where you’re going. Suddenly there are a lot of teva sandals and drawstring cargo Capri pants–on women and men. I’d call the fashion here “Mountain Casual” with a few embellishments here and there. The thing is, it’s a very genuine town. There’s nothing really excessive or fancy about it and that’s how they like it. If Fisher Island is a red Ferrari, Grand Junction is a light tan, mid-sized sedan. A Ford Taurus maybe. I love coming here because while there are new additions every time I arrive, (like The Olive Garden or Lane Bryant) it always feels the same. It has this smell that has never changed–a mix of cut grass and wet clothes in the washer machine. In a word; clean. Even the water has a certain taste to it-also very clean. For comparative purposes, New Orleans water has a particular taste from the tap too- something like garden hose mixed with chlorine and mud. And that is one reason you don’t drink water from the tap in New Orleans. Not unless you’re a real risk taker.

Growing up here I kind of despised the place. I dreamed of big cities with bright lights and tall buildings that stayed open past 10 pm. Cities that had stores like the Gap and Abercrombie and Fitch. In my young mind, what made a city cool and important was whether or not they had tall buildings. Grand Junction has one tall building; Alpine Bank. It’s ten stories. I’ve gathered that most youth have a love/hate relationship with the place they grow up, especially if that place is particularly marketed as “A great place to raise a family.” And Grand Junction is just that. Very little crime. Quality, free public education. Beautiful scenery and four distinct seasons- none of them extreme. No earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes or blizzards. It snows roughly 5 times throughout the winter, just enough to make it a novelty and exciting. I recently heard that Grand Junction made the top 10 list of US cities in which to retire, which may help explain why being a teenager here is less than exciting. But I look at it now with fondness. It may not be the cultural capital of America or boast the best cuisine, but it’s a beautiful, clean place with really good people. By this point in New Orleans, the heat achieves a whole new set of adjectives. In June it’s terrible and unrelenting. In July it’s suffocating and oppressive, unfair even. It will stay that way until late September. So we’re in a mountain town now that actually cools off at night, and it feels good to be back.

Monty and I are staying at my grandmas house. I love staying here because much like the town, it always looks, feels and smells the same when I walk in the door, and there’s some kind of comfort in that. It’s the most organized and clean house and it’s always been that way. Everything has a place and often a label; your toothbrush, playing cards, scrap paper and “hand cream.”

See?

Also nothing is wasted. Nothing. (I’ll expand on that next time) I gave her my word that Monty would stay off of the furniture, so when he pawed at the bed last night with the look on his face like “Are you going to scoot over or am I just going to have to slowly push you off like normal?” I told him “Sorry buddy, not at Grandmas’s house.” He seemed to understand that sentiment because he grunted and then laid down in the hall under the swamp cooler. Oh, that’s another thing. Swamp coolers. The whole goal of keeping a house cool in Louisiana is to keep the moisture out of the air since most days are boasting at least 90% humidity. Here, it’s a desert climate, and you’ll notice large boxes on the tops of all the houses. Those are the swamp coolers. They keep the air cool by actually pumping moisture into it, the exact opposite mechanism of the south. And there’s our science lesson for the day.

On an another note, I’ve basically been crashed every day since arriving here. We flew through Dallas and a huge storm kind of threw flight schedules out of whack resulting in a lot of cancelled flights and a whole lot of angry people. At first I was stressing because I was worried about Monty getting impatient. Then as we sat there I realized, impatience and irritability are much more human traits than dog. Monty had no idea that our flight was leaving hours later than scheduled, or didn’t seem to mind anyway. He laid there like a champ, like this.

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And he brightened the moods of a lot of other delayed and restless passengers. As one lady noted, “He’s therapy for us!” and then she scratched his belly for the next ten minutes. We didn’t end up arriving until midnight that night and overall travel time ended up taking nearly 12 hours. So my body has been angry at me for the last 3 days and I’ve done very little but rest and eat hearty dinners with my large extended family. Today is the first day I haven’t crashed immediately after waking up, so here’s hoping. I went to bed at 8:30 last night. It was still light outside. What a crazy life I lead.

Until next time.

Health, Happiness, Mountain Towns

15 Fights Every Couple Has

1. The “You Spend Too Much Time With Your Friends and Not Enough Time With Me” Fight. It’s not that I hate your friends, I just think they’re stupid and don’t really want them around. 

2. The “You’re Terrible With Money” Fight. Did we really need these $20,000 life-size Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots?

Yes, yes we did.

3. The “I’m Allowed to Talk Shit About My Family but YOU BETTER NOT” Fight. Excuse me, nobody calls my sister a slut but me.

4. The “You Drink Too Much/Smoke Too Much/Work Too Much/Play Video Games Too Much/Sleep Too Much” Fight. You do all the wrong stuff, too too much.

5. The “ANYTHING Regarding Facebook” Fight.

Who’s that slut who wrote on your wall?

Why haven’t you changed your relationship status?

Why aren’t I in your profile picture?

Why are you still friends with that person?

Why won’t your dad accept my friend request?

Who is Brittny and why did she poke you 2 years ago? Defriend her. NOW. 

6. The “You’re Always Tired When It’s Time for Sex But Wide Awake When the Kardashians Come On” Fight. Come on, you know you love Scott.

Nuff said.

7. The “You Give Terrible Presents” Fight.  Awesome. Another candle. Thanks babe. 

8. The Failure to Agree on a Show You Both Like So You End Up Watching Stuff Neither of You Really Likes Fight. Oh look, No Reservations is on again. 

9. The “I Shouldn’t Have to Ask You To” Fight. Because you should be able to read my mind by now. 

10. The “You Have Terrible Phone Etiquette” Fight. There’s this thing. Called a phone. Try it out…

11. The “If You Like It You Better Put a Ring On It” Fight. Because nothing sets the mood for an engagement like the threat of a breakup. Or physical harm. 

Whoa Oh Oh Uh Oh Oh Oh

12. The “I Was Lying When I Told You I Didn’t Want Anything for My Birthday and You Should Have Known That” Fight. You could have at least gotten me a card. God. 

13. The “You’re Nicer to the Dog Than You Are To Me” Fight. Well he’s a better listener!

Tell me. Everything.

14. The “I Went Through All Your Shit and Found Something That Makes Me Not Trust You Anymore” Fight.  You never told me you ran track in high school.

15. The “If I Didn’t Pick Up After You, Our Apartment Would End Up on Hoarders” Fight.  Why do you put your clothes next to the laundry hamper?

Health, Happiness, Coupledom

Sick and the City

I discovered the cure for insomnia–it’s waking up!  So here I am. Totally tired, but unable to sleep. Go figure.

I’m writing from the luxury of an aerobed in the living room with New York City rain slanting down our windows. There’s something about New York that makes me feel connected–which is funny because it’s a large city of strangers who don’t know or care about me, but on a walk outside I feel like an absolutely intrinsic participant in life and that things are as they should be. Even inside an apartment, on the third floor, behind shades..the pulse beats in. I like watching people walk down the sidewalks, enthralled with their busy lives. I like seeing every breed of dog and owner pass in front of our building. And I like seeing a light go off in one room and on in another. No one seems to notice me at the window, but I smile at them if they do.

It’s funny how at home I feel in NYC. And I sortof cheated at New York. I lived and worked here for two summers and spent a few months here last year when I was sick and jobless. My first job was an unpaid internship at GLASS Magazine in Brooklyn. It was unpaid, so my brother let me stay with him for free, and he gave me the bed. The next summer I came back and served drinks to tourists and New Yorkers on a sailboat called The Shearwater that toured the Hudson River. That job seems way too cool for me to ever have had, but my brothers friend got me the gig and I took it. That job paid but Nick let me live rent free anyway. I say I cheated at New York because as most New Yorkers will tell you, it’s a hard city to sustain in. Not just financially or career wise. It can be a dark city too; isolated, unapologetic and relentless. Most people here have gone through some sort of struggle tied to the city in order to get where they are. I on the other hand never really had a struggle to overcome here, because Nick did that for the both of us. He moved, worked hard, met cool people, found all the best spots, and then just sort of shared them with me when I came. In that way, New York has always been glamorous to me. It’s the New York in the movies. All my attachments here were temporary and I never owed anything to it–except those $600 in parking tickets I accrued that one summer. Shit, I still need to pay those.

I’ve spent the last week making art, listening to music, and wondering what’s in store next. I’ve started to become a lot more comfortable with the uncertainty of my life. There is no plan. There is no “mine.” And there’s not much money or organization. I don’t even unpack my suitcase when I go home anymore. But that’s something I think I needed to go through. There are no certainties in life. Even the most promising plans aren’t resilient to fairness or the universe. As much as I used to think there was, I see now there are no rules, and no fair or unfair. There just is and I just am.

I always have this fear that when I sit down to write or draw that what I create will be terrible. I guess the fear is that if I create something terrible, then I haven’t succeeded with the purpose, and then I’ll be cursed and everything I create from then on will be crap. But I see now that not only is that fear irrational, it’s useless. I know this sounds a lot like an after school special, but the real failure is never sitting down, and never giving voice to the things that move you. When I was here last spring I was strongly considering doing stand-up comedy at a comedy club run by my friend Mark. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, at least once. Because the thing is, if I bomb, then I’ve got this great story: I did stand up comedy  in NYC when I was 27 and got booed off the stage. WINNER. And if I succeed, then I’ve made real New Yorkers laugh–and that’s a hell of a story too. I was speaking with my mom about it and admitted I was nervous to try and she said “What’s the worst that can happen? You get on stage and no one laughs?” “Uh, right. Yeah. Exactly that.” That was the worst that could happen, and that scenario is kind of a nightmare. But I think going for it is a success in itself. The very act of braving the audience and swallowing the risk of humiliation is half art in itself. One day New York..I’ll tell you jokes one day.

Anyway, I’ve decided I’m just going to keep trying things. I’ll keep drawing even though I’m not very good and I’ll keep writing even though I don’t really know where it’s going. There have been few certainties in my young life so far. But I do know that every person I look up to has continued and persevered  even when they didn’t quite know where they were going. They took risks and they didn’t always play it safe. So I’m going to keep creating. Even when I’m tired, even when I fail, even when I have no idea what in God’s name I’m doing, I’ll just keep going. And hopefully along the way, it will happen one day. Whatever it is I’m looking for, I’ll find it. Something tells me I’m close. Or maybe it’s just begun. Either way- like the struggles and people and persistence of  NYC, I won’t spend so much dissecting everything–I’ll embrace change as it comes and forgive all the plans I had. There’s just no other way to do it.

Here’s the most recent drawing. It’s titled: “As You Can See, I Don’t Have a Job” 8.5 x 11. I’ll post the rest tomorrow.

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Health and Happiness and 

10 Things to Avoid (and Embrace) When You’re Depressed.

10 Things to Avoid…

1. F

2. A

3. C

4. E

5. B

6. O

7. O

8. K

9. Ok 8 things.

10. Oh yeah, and Wal-Mart.

Here is the truth; you’re not missing out on anything if you don’t get on Facebook today. I’ll fill you in: Someone got engaged. Someone had a baby. Someone is angry at Obama. Someone cooked spaghetti. And someone is hung-over after going out big last night. But if you spend the day on Facebook, you’re missing out on all the rest. You know, like on life. So now here’s 10 things you can do instead of get on Facebook, that might actually make you feel better.

1. Forgive somebody. There is probably someone or something from your past that needs to be let go of, moved on from, and it might even be you. Letting go of things in the past opens up room for good stuff in the future. Go!

2. Appreciate who and what ya got. Having a gratitude journal sounds super cheesy I know, but once you start writing down everything you’re thankful for everyday, you’ll see very subtly your whole perception change for the better.

3. Create. Make art! Or a sweater! Or music.Or dinner! You’ll be surprised at what you end up making. And have someone in mind when you create. The best gifts are home-made.

I made you this sweater for your dog!

4.Exercise. Even if it’s just a walk outside or 15 minutes of yoga… exercise releases serotonin and adds years to your life. Imagine if you did 10 sit-ups/push-ups for every 10 minutes you spent on Facebook. Everyone would be all muscley and stuff.

5. Bake a cake for someone. Anyone. Just because you love em. It’ll make their day! Let us eat cake.

Because You’re You and I’m Me

6.Organize your closet, dresser, room, or junk drawer. Cleaning things out just feels good, it’s free, and the end result will make you breathe easier.

Aaah.

7. Occupy Wal-Street. Just kidding. Couldn’t think of a good O verb. Uh, organize your second closet!

8. Kidnap someone and bring them on an awesome adventure. Dont actually blindfold them and throw them in the backseat of your car or anything..just bring them to lunch or something. And then maybe antiquing.

9. Read a book. Remember books? Instead of getting lost in an anonymous persons wedding album on Facebook, (ahem, yeah that’s me) get lost  in a book. It’s such an awesome feeling. And you don’t feel like a creeper by the end.

10. Write and send a letter. Not an email, not a text. A real letter, written in your own special handwriting. Old school mail dude, it’s the best! (May take 2 weeks to arrive though. The post office has had a rough year.)

Health, Happiness, Lifebook. (See what I did there?)

If I Was a Horse, They’d Shoot Me

Maybe that title is a little extreme, but sometimes when I’m counting out my pills in the morning and filling up my coffee mug for the third time, I wonder about my existence. Not in the depressing suicidal way, but more in terms of how such a weak physical specimen as myself has made it this far, it being survival of the fittest and all. I’m far from fit, but I guess I am surviving. But when I see people on facebook climbing mountains and shit I think crap, I can’t even stand the thought of standing in line without needing to faint. What am I doing here?! Then I get off facebook because I’m really starting to believe it is the demise of human beings. I think I’ll post that thought on facebook.

After visiting with the doc in Miami and changing around a few doses of things, we agreed upon my next round of treatment; which is two anti-biotics for the next two years. Woo! Yeah! Apparently, all my liminess isn’t gone, and the 6 month run on those overly priced horse pills didn’t do the trick. SO. Round two. To be honest, I’m fine with this decision. I mean, my pill bag has just enough room for two more bottles, so I’m cool with it spatially. I could look at it and be like waahhh two years of more pills. Or I could look at it as; In two years from now I presume I’ll be alive anyway, so would I like to be full or free of lyme disease? It’s my patriotic duty to choose freedom. And anti-biotics. So here’s to more pills! We’re waiting on the blood work still to finalize decisions but it’s looking like I’m in it for the long haul. Which is fine because, you know, I have the time.

So I’ve been reading A New Earth and it’s really awesome even though I’ve read it before. I think it’s one of those books you could continue to read your whole life and never fall short of gaining incredible meaning. The only other book that has done that for me is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I love that book.

Aaah Childhood.

So anyway there’s this part in A New Earth where Tolle is talking about human evolution. It reminded me of my first day of my college anthropology class. The teacher brought up evolution and began to talk about the timeline for the semester and then started to give his personal viewpoint on evolution so the class would have a clear direction. Then he asked if there were any questions and a student raised his hand and asked “But if evolution exists, then why have humans stopped evolving?” The teacher smiled big and shouted “Great Question and THANK YOU for asking!” (This was his enthusiastic response to any question a student decided to ask during class.) Then he put his hands together under his chin and answered with “That’s the good news. We haven’t!” He went on to explain that evolution are adapted changes made over a long period of time, and that if we compared modern humans with our counterparts 10,000 years ago, there would be numerous differences. I at least know that in terms of communication even in the last ten years there have been an incredible amount of changes that will forever change the ways humans interact with one another. I’d love to show a caveman Facebook.

Wait why don’t I just actually poke her?

Anyway, back to the book. Soo Tolle is talking about humans and how we’ve evolved and that one of the biggest fundamental differences between human beings and the rest of the animal world is that we are conscious of our consciousness. This kind of awareness is what drives the fundamental questions like “Who Am I?” and “What Is My Purpose Here?” Although these are the kinds of questions that can be terrifying or seemingly impossible to answer, they are what make us uniquely human and for that they should be celebrated! And pursued, too. What he also says is that “The next step in human evolution (enlightenment) is not inevitable, but for the first time in the history of our planet, it can be a conscious choice.” Cool dude!

Along those same lines, I watched a lecture that Deepak Chopra gave a few days ago, and much of what he spoke about correlated with this very concept. (Synchronicity, Yeah!) He talked about the mind, the body, and the soul, but he began by expounding on the intelligence of our human bodies independent of our human minds. For example, our bodies are made up of 100 trillion cells, which is more than all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Each cell is performing roughly 100,000 activities every second and every cell instantly knows what the other cells are doing and correlates its activities respectively. This is how we are capable of thinking, talking, digesting food, playing piano, killing germs and removing toxins all at the same time. “This is the inner intelligence inside of you that mirrors the wisdom of the Universe,” he says. It was cool to hear him speak about this because so many times I’ve laid in bed with my hand on my heart, listening and feeling my heartbeat and thinking “Who’s making it beat?” I guess the answer wasn’t a who, but a what. Or a who-what.

Then he broke down human intelligence into four levels. He said that the highest form of human intelligence is State of Being. He describes this as the ability to observe yourself without judging yourself. The Second highest form is Feeling- our ability to feel compassion, joy, empathy. The 3rd highest form is Reflective Thinking- Who Am I? What Do I want? What will my contribution be? What inspires me? And the 4th highest form is Doing- the ability to create happiness. He also provided a pretty simple but profound definition of the soul- the space between your thoughts. Think about it.

Anyway seeing as how sometimes I’m a worthless physical specimen that doesn’t “do” a whole lot, I liked how doing was last on the list. :) But it was his last thought that was most reassuring to me, since it had been a very sick week and I was feeling a lot like a horse needing to be shot. “The next state of evolution is consciousness. It will be survival of the wisest, not the fittest.”

Health, Happiness, Horses.