2014… A BIG year in a SMALL nutshell…

How to begin to address my blog-negligence over the last 10 months?  I could start by stating that I’ve been busy- and it would be true.  Between selling the Imperial house and purchasing our dream off-the-grid home, most daylight hours have been spent toiling away at one thing or another.  I could also point out that “off-the-grid” entails no internet, making time in the blogosphere a bit more difficult to come by.  I could excuse my absence by noting that I’ve been inundated in wedding planning and being a new (puppy) mother.  I could mention the summers’ journeys to which I dedicated what little free time I was able to scare up.

However, these would all be weak excuses.  Truth be told, I’ve not even thought about my blog for months on end.  Perhaps this is a result of all the aforementioned distractions, commitments, endeavors, and excitements.  But I lament my lack of prose, introspection, and reflection during this, one of the most exciting and overwhelming times of my life.  After all, a girl only gets married and buys her first house once (if all goes according to plan).

So let’s see if I can’t touch on some of the major bullet points:

In April, Louis and I purchased an off-the-grid home on 20 acres in Wanship, UT.  The property sits in the Uinta mountains at about 7500ft, and overlooks Rockport Reservoir, and the Weber River.  Our home runs primarily on solar and wind power, with a backup propane generator.  We have a very productive well, and a septic system for sewer.  In the winter, we will heat with a wood burning stove.  The house is a glorified double-wide, but have no misgivings.  Unless that was disclosed, you wouldn’t think it any different than your typical two-story home.  We love it!  We have awesome lake views and the house is very light.  I am enjoying the interior decorating process, although I wish the bankroll was many times bigger.  Unfortunately comfort items are somewhat lower on the priority list than survival necessities, of which there are many.

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We are very much enjoying the pros of country living, including the solitude, beauty and freedom.  We can see very few houses from our perch on the hill, and most of our neighbors are part time up there anyhow.  Basically, we’ve got the place to ourselves, affording us the opportunity to host friends and let loose.

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Our pups love it too!  Which brings me to another exciting life event- on July 23rd we brought home Denali, our new husky/lab princess.  She is a mama’s girl, and has been a great, easy puppy.  She pretty much instantly potty and crate-trained, and she has been very mild-mannered.  I took her on a couple of river trips, and she did great.  She loves hunting with Miley and is almost the same size as her big sister at just 5 months.  She is gonna be a monster. The two of them like to wander far from home, but such is the life of a country dog.

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In addition to enjoying the pros, we are learning how to wrestle the challenges, which have included flatmates of the rodent persuasion, a tired-out old well pump, the intricate nature of solar systems and replacement of the battery bank, myriad deer destroying many attempts at new flora, and winter.  We will have to maintain our own road in and out for out 1500 yards, so we’ve just invested in a plow truck.  We’re hoping that it will serve us well… our ability to access our home depends on it.  Winter is sure to hold a unique set of challenges for us, but we have diligently worked to make ourselves as prepared as possible.  Louis has stacked a pile of wood so high that I can’t imagine ever using it all, but as the cold sets in, I see that it is easy to go right through it.  I love having a fire burn day and night.

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In May, Louis and I traveled to Costa Rica.  Pura vida they say… the pure life.  It is most certainly an enchanted and laid back place.  We rented a car in the capital city San Jose, and then sprinted for Puerto Viejo on the Atlantic Coast.  Navigating and driving proved to be both tricky and entertaining.  Our trek across the SE portion of Costa Rica was scenic and slow.  We loved Puerto Viejo, an Afro-Caribbean influenced town that offered a leisurely pace, beautiful beaches and surfing, delicious fish tacos and pina coladas, reggae music, and our beautiful accommodations at Finca Chica.  We rode bicycles down the boulevard, lazed under tree boughs that touched the tide, dined to our hearts’ delight, and wondered at the abounding wildlife during hikes through the jungle.

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From Puerto Viejo, we set off on an overnight trip down the Pacuare River- my first international river.  Having spent the last decade running private trips, paying for and joining a commercial, tourist venture was hard for me, but it was time and money well spent.  A bit cocky and raucous at times, our guide Johnny (be-good) deemed himself a comedian and took plenty of liberties with his story-telling, as any good guide should.  Between intervals of “ALTO PEOPLE” and “GRACIAS PEOPLE” we made our way down an epic, world class IV river without any big hiccups.  The rapids were swelling and beautiful, the riverbed rocky, and the jungle lodge we overnighted at absolutely mesmerizing.  We made some good acquaintances on the trip and enjoyed drinks late into the evening with the guides.

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From the Pacuare, we traveled NW to Arenal- the base camp town to Vulcan Arenal, one of the nation’s most stunning and (until recently) highly-active volcanoes.  There we stayed at Campo de Silencio, a beautiful hot-springs retreat at the base of the volcano.  Our time spent there was relaxed.  On the morning of our last full day, while soaking in the hot springs, Louis proposed.  And just like that, I became and engaged woman in paradise.

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Since then, we have ventured to Vegas for a work trip, to Portland for a wedding, and down to Moab for a Westwater river trip and a wedding, but most of our time has been spent working on projects at the house.  It has been an eventful summer, and I am ready for some of the stillness that comes with winter… and the epic pow thrashing, of course.  My winter commute down to the city will be challenging, but hopefully manageable.  I am steadily planning our wedding and raising our dog children, feeling at times like quite the Holly Homemaker.  It is nice to know that our home and our land are our own, that we have a place in this world to toil and till and make our own.  Undoubtedly a lifetime of work lies ahead of us and my life has been forever changed by the decisions made and set in motion this year.  We can not go back, we can only move forward, and I find comfort in that notion.

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Resolved: TBT to High School Policy Debate

ifyoureadthisexceedinglyfasttothepointthatveryfewifanycanunderstandyoumaystarttoachieveaneffectsomewhatsimilartospreading. BREATH asisitandthinkabouttheageoldtraditionofmakingnewyearsresolutionsiamremindedofthegoodolddaysofhighschooldebate.  thisisbecausemyresolutionlistreadsRESOLVED:withnothingtofollow.  everyyeararesolutionisproposedinthisformatforthepurposeofpolicydebate.  BREATH forthefollowingacademicyearitisforthisresolutionandthisresolutiononlythatdebatersputcountlesshoursintodevelopingcases.  thecasesallaimtoaddresstheresolutionandthedebateroundconsistsofargumentsthatseektoaffirmordisconfirmtheabilityofeachindividualcasetodoasitpurports. BREATH andmostofthishappensinatcompletelyunintelligiblehighspeedsthatrenderthegarbleundiscernablebyjustaboutanylayperson.  andyetwespentcountlesshoursdoingitandlovedalmosteveryminuteofit.  BREATH.  debatersareundeniablyastrangeandrarebreedofindividualsandImissmyregularcommunionwiththem.

RESOLVED: I should relive the glory days of policy debate.

Heaven (briefly) Freezes Over

Over the weekend Lou and I pushed the ensuing winter envelope just a little and took our dirt bikes up to a friend’s cabin at Strawberry Reservoir to get some “shoulder season” riding in.  We were greeted mid-Sunday by gorgeous blue skies, mid 40s temps, and about 6 inches of fresh softening snow.  Eager to take advantage of the limited sunlight, we quickly unloaded our bikes and geared up.  The cold weather rendered our cold-blooded machines rather reluctant to start, but after tender encouragement and tireless kicking, we got both the four-stroke (my baby) and Lou’s 2 stroke running.  This was my first time out riding in wet, snowy conditions, but I found it to be somewhat similar to sand, in that the whole ride is rather like a drunken stumble across a wave-rocked ship deck.  This being the case, we slipped, slithered, slid, and fishtailed our way along the rutted trails and dirt roads all afternoon.

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It was remarkably beautiful out and we thoroughly enjoyed touring around the little neighborhoods and hillsides on the southeast, Soldier Creek section of Strawberry recreation area.  We’ve been pleased to discover that this whole area is very OHV friendly, with a wide network of trails offering something for every skill level.  On a snowy day like Sunday, we stuck to the easier stretches, as the steep climbs posed quite a challenge with the added moisture.

We eventually made our way down to the Soldier Creek marina area which was, of course, all closed up for the winter.  I jumped at the opportunity to take a series of photographs juxtaposing the sunshine with the snow, with the lake with our bikes, all of which seemed to push and pull against one another, while providing such clean contrast.

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We wrapped up the evening enjoying the warm crackle of the wood burning stove, supping on homemade chicken noodle soup, playing Farkle, Uno, Dominos, and Sequence, and sipping on seasonal microbrews.  The cabin continues to provide a healthy combination of thrill-inducing fun, peaceful respite, good company, hearty meals, and a good night’s rest.

We slept late into the morning and rose to discover that our heaven had frozen over in the night.  Fortunately, the cold had already passed, leaving only its beautiful traces behind for us to enjoy.

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By midday all the frost had melted away and our merry band of poodles, labs, and shepherds took us for a walk around the neighborhood.  I took a gander at a couple of cabins for sale, as well as a few lots.  There are some good pieces of land up there, and the more time that we spend visiting our friends, the more convinced we become that Strawberry may be the place for us. Boating in the summer, riding in the Spring/Summer/Fall, snow mobiles in the Winter (mandatory, as the cabins aren’t accessible by road once the snowpack sets in), and fishing, relaxation, beautiful scenery and clean air year round.  All of this less than two hours from our home in the city.  It is a big undertaking, and I wax and wane in my confidence that buying a vacation property is a good move for me at this time, but maybe, just maybe if we spend our time, money and energy wisely, we will end up with our own little slice of heaven not too far down the road.

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A bold, centered headline that is meaty enough to attract some attention

I’ve been self-teaching today.  I’ve also been fortunate enough to have stumbled upon some new realization of purpose.  Life purpose.  In the wake of my lackluster blogging of late, I am setting out anew to tackle long-form and short-form, eloquent and clever, elated and deflated.  I am, at the very core of my stimulus, a writer and problem solver.  Outside of that core, I am a blossoming creative with a certain business savvy.  I enjoy aesthetics and have some innate understanding of the interplay between text, images, objects, and the human mind.  Why do we do what we do?  Why do we buy what we buy?  Trends emerge through our frenetic, multi-tasking, hyper-achieving mob mentality- perhaps these behaviors are, themselves, trends.

I’ve been self-teaching today, as I often do.  My coworkers are astounded to learn, as I give them crash courses on simple softwares such as Publisher, Pixlr, and the like, that a year ago I had never used those programs and that I have never received a moment of training, be it formal or simply peer tips here or there.  I tell them, “I just click on everything to see what it does.  I wade through options– colors, layouts, fonts, shapes, and the like– until my eyes and, by extension, my mind drift across the creation in a natural (yet subtly and very intentionally directed) way.”  Most give me a blank stare, a simple smile, and say something like, “Yeah, I could never do that.”  I encourage them that it really isn’t that complicated, that it just takes time, and that anyone could do it.  But as I come to think about it, and the more I witness my eager “students” attempting to execute on their own, it occurs to me that this ability I have to write, to create, and to understand aesthetics may not be as commonplace and easily achieved as I let on.  This may, in fact, be a place that I excel– my niche.  I hardly mean to discredit any one else’s efforts here, or to say that the niche is mine and mine alone, but instinct cannot be learned.

I’ve been self-teaching today… the subject– copywriting.  Some things I’ve learned.  Brevity infrequently adequately addresses complexity.  Content = credibility and reliability.  Long form is ugly, yet ever effective.  Short form can and should employ the strategies of long form above the fold to increase efficacy.  The point is to keep interest– emotionally, financially, and intellectually– and increase desire to the point of action.  You must tackle at least one objection in short form, and all objections in long form.  Both forms have their merits and weaknesses, their advocates and opponents, their successes and failures.

I’ve been self-teaching today, and have realized that I am currently on the right path.  I am developing a portfolio, the “book.”  I am impressing people, which will provide material for the testimonials and referrals of tomorrow.  I am networking.  I am learning things about myself.  I am tirelessly demonstrating my work ethic, my near-neurotic initiative, and my ability to follow through.  I am spending countless hours working with the raw materials- the colors, the pages, the fonts, the softwares- and gaining experience and confidence through the process.  I wear my chameleon skin proudly.

Now that I’ve reentered the blogosphere with a loud toot of my own horn, I will finish with a call to action.  To myself, and everyone.  When you identify your talents, it is a great squandering and crime not to pursue them.  It may not be the path of least resistance, and it may interrupt the flow.  Even though I am a self-proclaimed drifter, I have no qualms recognizing when its time to put the sticks in the water and row.

Rounding Out the Redneck Trifecta

The particular redneck trifecta I refer to here… distinct from others such as NASCAR, rasslin, and Walmart, or incest, bestiality, and moonshine… celebrates a few of our most American holidays- Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.  Commonly accompanied by beer drinking, off roading, firework and gun shooting, rootin’ tootin’ good time havin rabble rousers, these holidays embody the very essence of what it means to be a redneck.  And what a helluva time we have.

This year to take advantage of the long holiday weekend, which coincided with my little sister’s birthday, I planned an extravaganza set in one of my favorite locales… Southern Utah.  However, instead of frequenting my usual digs: the quiet canyons, ravines, rivers, plateaus, mesas, and other mysterious places of the wilderness, we had a slightly different spot in our sights.  Sand Hollow State Park, a reservoir popular for its warm water and extensive OHV dunes and trails.  Red neck trifecta indeed…

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We packed up our dirt bikes, banshee, and boat in the week leading up to Labor Day weekend (as it turns out, toys require a lot of prep work), and the anticipation built up with each passing day.  Our initial crew of 25-30 quickly diminished to 12 as the date approached… work commitments, rainy forecasts, financial shortcomings, and general laziness all played a roll in weeding out the weak.

On Friday afternoon we rushed home from work and assembled the SLC crew… two trucks, two trailers, 7 people, and a dog.  My Cali sister, her boyfriend, and my SLC sister’s boyfriend who also lives in Cali, all converged with us just off of I-15 at our destination.  Another pair from Kamas met us there.

The first of the crew, the two trucks from SLC, arrived late into the evening at Sand Hollow, welcomed by somewhat ominous beginnings- a barred gate with a sign reading in bold fonts, “Park Hours: 6 am – 10 pm.”  Now I’ve done my fair amount of camping, and fairly infrequently do campgrounds actually close and lock their gates after hours.  There is generally a protocol of sorts, requesting self-registration and payment by drop box, or something of the sort.  Since we had prepaid, and the confirmation emails I received neglected to mention any sort of lock up hours, this was a wholly unanticipated hitch.

I’d had the presence of mind to at least spend a bit of time familiarizing myself with the area on Google Maps, and had located our campsite by aerial photo, so using my recently acquired and ever-helpful Smartphone I guided our mini-caravan around the park on a frontage road that skirts the perimeter.  We arrived at the point which was immediately outside of the Sandpit campground, and pulled over to do some scouting.  As it turned out, our site was only 150 or so yards over a barbed wire fence, so we set to work hiking our gear in on foot, in the dark.  After an hour or so we were settled in and happily drinking by the fireside.  We enjoyed our newly assembled company and libations late into the morning, with various arrivals of the Cali folks rendered us a welcoming party at times.  Upon the commencement of park hours at 6 am, Derek and I got up (rather, I never went down), and shuttled all the vehicles and trailers into the state park and to our site.

This was the only hang up we had for most of the trip.  We enjoyed long days of heat, humidity, and sunshine, riding bikes, boating, playing field games, and eating like camping kings and queens.  Despite the previous weeks’ flash floods and foreboding forecast, most of the impending rain storms went this way or that, narrowly missing us and instead gracing us with gorgeous sunshine, fluffy clouds, light breezes, and rainbows.  The one storm that did hit did so at night, and lured everyone into early bed for some much needed mid-trip rest.

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If it hadn’t been for one minor detail, this trip would’ve gone down as gloriously playful and one to repeat for years to come.  That was before… dun dun dun… the DUI.  Not my DUI, mind you.  Louie and I are very responsible, and never drive the boat nor the bikes if we’ve been drinking.  It’s dangerous, it’s not worth the risk, and on a weekend like Labor Day in a fishbowl like Sand Hollow, it’s asking for trouble.  As it usually goes, a friend of a friend blundered his way into a holding cell in Hurricane UT and got our dirt bike hauled off to impound.

He hadn’t been drinking much (something that is quite beside the point as far as law enforcement officials are concerned), but he rode of for a late afternoon ride just as we returned from the lake.  Painfully coincidentally, Louis even pulled him over on his way out to double check that he was good to ride, and hadn’t been drinking.  After giving the A OK, he sped off into the distance, for never to return (OK, waxing a bit poetic here… he returned).  Long story short, he was driving too fast, stopped to take a picture, got approached by DNR, was breathalized and detained for a 0.12, was hauled off to the local drunk tank, got our bike loaded up on a flat bad and towed away, and all this in the course of about 30 minutes.

The aftermath of this all, I will have you know, really sucked and will continue to suck for the folks involved.  The DUIee was bailed out a few hours later and came back to try and enjoy what was left of his camping trip.  The dirt bike had a longer detainment.  Because this happened on a Sunday, and Monday was a holiday (recall, Labor Day), the bike had to stay in jail until Tuesday when the DMV opened and we could obtain a letter of release (after paying an extortionate $650 in DUI and towing fines).   Furthermore, as we were the lucky registered owners of the bike, it was us, not the DUIee, who got to call our bosses and take an unexpected extended vacation to bail our baby out.  Lesson learned: sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes it eats you.

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So a few of us “lucky ones” stayed another day and made the most of it.  What else can you do?  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  And now we are all home, bike included, back at the grind, slightly sunburned and totally exhausted.  The unfortunately DUIee will have a slough of legal proceedings and fines to come, but such is the risk you take drinking and driving.

So it comes full circle.  After hoppin barbed wire fences, boating for days, rallying dirt bikes from sun up to sun down, sippin’ on cervezas like they’re water, joking round the fireside, camping in the dirt and sweat and mud, and closing it all out with a trip to the drunk tank, I would say that we truly have rounded out the redneck trifecta of 2013 in high fashion.  Hope to see you there next time!

Everything is coming up Millhouse

Lou and I are Westward bound this evening.  We aim to make a quick late night stop in Las Vegas before continuing on to Los Angeles, and ultimately Dana Point, where we will indulge in perfect 70 degree weather, reunite with my college beauties, and generally surf, sail, eat and drink the days of vacation all too quickly away.  Work is most tedious at this point and the final hour may very well be never ending.Image

I shouldn’t complain too much, as my office has launched an impromptu early birthday celebration, since I will be gallivanting around California on the actual date of my birth.  Upon my 8 am arrival, I was met at my cubicle by banners, balloons, streamers, and wine.  I was also taken to lunch and gifted a lovely hand cream and some money for the road.  But be all that as it may, I still can’t wait to blow this joint and hit the pavement.

A few weeks ago I ordered an inflatable kayak (ducky) from REI online.  Unfortunately the stores have stopped stocking the one of my choice, so I had to backorder.  A week ago I found out that the item was slowly making its way, via restock truck, to my local REI store.  ETA- August 12th.  What a great birthday gift to myself!!  But wait, I wanted to take it with me to Cali.  I’ve done my best to track the boat over the last few days, and am pleased to report that it has been delivered early (yes, EARLY), and is ready for me to pick up on my way out of town.  Now that is one lucky duck.

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So far, everything is coming up Millhouse.  Which brings me to my current musing.  I have, until this point in my life, resisted playing craps, because I feel as though I carry some element of bad luck when it comes to gambling.  I’ve tried my hand at black jack in Wendover from time to time, and come home with empty pockets every time.  Louis keeps insisting that I give craps a try, but I am deeply afraid that I will be the roller at the table who turns the tides for everyone.  However, granted my lucky streak of late, paired with beginner’s luck, and impending birthday luck, I think tonight might just be my night.  We won’t be there long (unless of course the dice just keep rolling), but I hope to scare up a small fortune during our wee-hours-of-the-morning date with the Vegas casinos.  Wish me luck…

Inferiority complex

Admittedly, thus far my blogging attempts have been somewhat lackluster. Twice or thrice I’ve done some drafting, just to ultimately crumple the pages of scattered thoughts and toss them into the virtual wastebasket. I’m not sure what it is… writer’s block (unlikely, as I can rattle off pages and pages in letters, journals, etc), resistance to the technological wave that blogging perpetually surfs (I feel as though I am always struggling to paddle out and never quite catching the wave as it barrels me over), or just a general inferiority complex (I don’t tend toward self-deprecation and I believe those who know me would affirm that I am not really lacking in the self confidence/ ego department). But let’s face it- the blog world is already clogged with the myriad musings of masters, musicians, maniacs, and mere mortals- where do I fit in?

To undergo a thorough analysis, I first set out to ensure my understanding of “inferiority complex” and to try to ascertain whether it could be this disposition that has plagued my online writing efforts. I ran a simple Google search on the topic. This actually proved to be a worth while meandering, as it provided both food for thought, and word count for blog. According to Wikipedia, an inferiority complex is ” a lack of self-worth, a doubt and uncertainty, and feeling of not measuring up to society’s standards. It is often subconscious, and is thought to drive afflicted individuals to overcompensate, resulting either in spectacular achievement or extreme antisocial behavior.”

The longer I reflected upon this notion, the more it struck me that perhaps, just perhaps, I am thwarted by a “doubt and uncertainty” characteristic of this subconscious feeling. This was initially frustrating as I tried to grapple with my inadequacies as a writer, a reader, an analyst, A HUMAN BEING. It was somewhat reassuring to note that suffering from this dread complex could actually “drive afflicted individuals to overcompensate, resulting in spectacular achievement” (notice the omission of the alternative result here). But how to properly capitalize upon this chance of greatness?

It was then that I had something of a triumphant “Ahha!” moment. I referred back to my Google search, and sure enough, the second hit on that luminous screen lie waiting to solve all of my problems- “How to Avoid Developing an Inferiority Complex: 8 Steps.” I eagerly clicked forward through a slough of targeted ads (despite working in the online marketing industry, it still blows my mind how every site markets to me personally- the credit card I looked into last week, that cute rocker girl bikini I don’t need, “home loans start here”). After much ado, I finally arrived and now bring to you… THE STEPS!

1) Look carefully for any hidden agendas.

2) Be aware of criticism that involves circumstances that you cannot change.

3) Create an invisible wall around you in order to protect the sanctity of your being.

4) Be open to constructive criticism.

5) Work closely with people who make you feel good about yourself.

6) Love yourself enough, but not to the point of arrogance.

7) Maintain a neutral stance by staying focused and keeping calm.

8) Refrain from or avoid bitterness and anger.

As soon as I finished reading, I closed my eyes and took a moment to allow the words to envelop me and to penetrate deep into my core. Sort of an anger management “goose frabba” kind of deal. I slowly opened my eyes, not sure what I expected, but knowing that I had just taken the first step toward a dramatically changed future. And then… NOTHING!

Ok ok, not nothing. But no grand mental overhaul resulting in a wealth of material yearning to use me as a vessel by which to breach the world. Google had let me down. Yeah, those are great pieces of life advice. Yeah, I could probably implement those pointers. But hell, some of the best stuff of writing goes against some of the principles outlined there. “Maintain a neutral stance” “Refrain from bitterness” I mean, if writers adopted just those two, I promise the juicy, intriguing literature that most drives us aspiring writers would be a lot more banal. And then there is this bit about a “sanctimonious invisible wall,” or did I misread that? But really, it is getting down to the nitty gritty, rubbing elbows with strangers, and sometimes even dancing with the devil that offers fresh perspectives and strong writing material. If we were never vulnerable, never open, never angry, never unsettled, never arrogant, never unabashedly rushing into the milieu of daily life, would we really be that interesting? Would we be impassioned? Would we be unique? We would continue to exist?

I was pacified and troubled by these rules all at the same time. While I genuinely value the sentiment they seek to impart, I felt compelled to devise my own list on becoming an inspired writer as something of an antithesis to these steps for overcoming an inferiority complex.

1) Hide agendas all over your house- you never know when you might stumble across one and Voila- it’s off to the races.

2) Never accept that you cannot change circumstances- challenge reality.

3) Create an invisible wall around a crowd and seek to try and convince others that it is real. Encourage others to explore diversity and dimensions.

4) Be open to constructive criticism and dish it out to those you respect.

5) Work closely with everyone and feel good knowing that you can work with anyone. Enjoy the strengths and weaknesses of each individual as a part of the collective. Then work closely with no one and enjoy your individual strengths and weaknesses apart from the collective.

6) Love yourself and never stop. Be arrogant at times, and humble at others, and never stray too far to either side for too long.

7) Avoid neutrality: be opinionated, be impassioned, be mad. As Kerouac said, ” the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn burn burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

8) Refrain from holding resentment and grudges enduringly, be slow to anger and quick to forgiveness, but keep your dukes up and be ready to go 13 rounds if ya gotta.

And with that, I’m spent. I have no idea where this was going, nor do I fully endorse the philosophy outlined above. But I did it… I sat down and pulled together enough piecemeal thoughts to call it a post. And that seems like a feat today. I identify with Virginia Wolfe as she explained the process of writing, “Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday.” How do we ever start to approach the enormously overwhelming task of encapsulating that, or even just a sliver of that, into words? I will close with some

words shared in an email by my friend Jesse (who is, to me, one of the brilliant minds of our times- expect great things),

I’m never in the right state of mind to write. a little too cold. my leg itches. my temperament is a little chilly. my thoughts are a thick mud in which I lose my boot. I’ve had one too many. (one too few?)

nor is it ever the right time to call anyone. they’re eating dinner, surely. and when they call back, I’ll be eating dinner, surely. (“surely!”) perpetual dinner-eating.

with writing, we expect authors to have fixed on paper only the words most deserving of our time (the reader’s). the author has had ample time to walk aimlessly, to consider subject A, B, & C, the peacock, the crane, and the heron. to debate internally the merits of said subjects and their relation to the reader, and the various angles of attack. from land and sea and air. pursuing the game for many miles, we expect a familiarity that would prove insightful to us, and a directness that would avoid the aforementioned wanderings (the author’s labor).

pity the poor author who cannot focus on his target! who squints and sketches and jogs hurriedly towards mirages! and upon reading the featureless dunes, crumples his paper, and scatters his words in the sand.

I suppose letter writing is a uniquely amorphous task, given that the intent is to fix oneself to the page. a bird for a subject would be a kind departure from this “bloodletting”. But scattered words aren’t lost. A beachcomber somewhere surely discovers some poetry!

Mortgage rates on the rise… what should I do?

In case you haven’t heard, mortgage rates are on a precipitous rise.  In just the last couple of weeks they have gone up a whole percentage point.  This is discouraging news for me, since I have been on the fence about making a home/cabin purchase for the last half a year.  I get the sense that I should just go for it before they climb any higher, but I’m just not quite sure whether I’m ready to commit myself to a mortgage (and by extension a career) and “settle” down.

A few thing to consider:

First, I live with my boyfriend, who co-owns his house, so I am not in immediate and pressing need of domicile.  Of course, we live at his house with a slough of other people, including his upstairs roommate Nate, 2 of Nate’s sisters who live in a mother-in-law on the back, the son and boyfriend of one of aforementioned sisters, and occasionally the step-dad of all the related cohabitants.  Needless to say, never a dull (or quiet) moment around the house. We do have our own space, as we live in the basement, which affords us some privacy and cleanliness.  However, no separation of floors and walls blocks out the bawling and squalling of a worked up three year old.

Second, because he owns a centrally-located place in the city, I am less inclined to shop in Salt Lake.  We want a getaway- a nice place close enough that we can live there at least 30% of the time, but far enough that we get a sense of space, beauty, remoteness, vacation, etc.  Fortunately, UT provides many areas for retreat, from mountains to deserts to lakes to canyons to rivers to salt flats (OK, maybe the salt flats aren’t all too hospitable).  My boyfriend works in Park City, so we are interested in looking for a cabin in that direction, ie the Wasatch mountains.  This would enable him to commute to work from either the house or the cabin.

Third, while this location enables HIM the ability to commute from either locale with relative ease, for me the haul back and forth between the city would be long and heavy on fuel consumption.  So that leaves me with the need to have some flexibility in my ability to work from home.  I spend a lot of time on the computer in the office, so this is definitely doable, but it depends how amenable to the idea the boss lady would be… and I suspect she might be resistant.  However, I think that she would be willing to consider a reasonable arrangement.

Fourth, the cabin vision is a serious undertaking.  I want to buy a turn key fixer upper on a good lot, and go from there.  I’ve even found some great potential locations.  The caveat to all of this is that I’ve never done much home repair, not too mention extensive remodeling.  It sounds challenging, and potentially very expensive, especially when taking into consideration materials and a remote location.  My boyfriend works manual labor, and has operated plenty of big machines, built foundations, done some demolitions, etc, which makes him something of a self-proclaimed guru in building projects, but we both work full time, so taking on the renovations ourselves will be very time consuming.  I’m OK with working on things slowly, but feel overwhelmed with trying to develop and execute a plan of action in a time and cost efficient way, while maintained high quality materials and workmanship.  My worst nightmare is to spend a ton of time and money and end up with a junker.

Fifth,  I think that getting a cabin, like the one I’m interested in on Strawberry Reservoir, will be a great investment over time.  The population of UT is steadily growing.  Business regulations and taxes are relatively lenient here, so lots of big corporations have committed to or are considering moving their headquarters and main operations to UT.  This has lead to staggering projections for future growth.  I anticipate that as more and more folks move to SLC and the surrounding suburbs, especially professionals with a reasonable amount of expendable cash, vacations homes within a couple of hours of the city will increase exponentially in value.  I could be wrong, as there is a critical mass number and limited water resources (two factors that will certainly come into play at some point), but I think that I am making a wise investment if I pick up a fixer upper on a reasonably priced acre or two in a popular area and slowly make improvements to the property.

So, that is my dilemma.  If rates were no object, I would continue to sit and stew on the idea until I feel totally convicted one way or the other (maybe that is unrealistic and would never happen).  However, rates are in aggressive motion and I’ve got a bee in my bonnet bugging me to get my own little slice of paradise where I can learn, build, grow, live, love, dream, and RELAX!

‘Cuz I hear that blondes have more fun

Que tal amigos?  On Friday, June 21st, I will be departing SLC and heading south to the sunny (and all too likely god awful hot) beaches of Cancun.  Yes I know that many folks opt to go in December for a reason… but the birthday we are celebrating is in June, so there you have it… we are more or less equator bound in one of the hottest months of the year.  Thank the lord for swim up bars and cabanas, right?  I don’t plan to leave the pool all too often.

Anyhow, In celebration of my upcoming beach advent, and to welcome summer in proper fashion, I felt a change was in order.  After scrutinizing my mid-length layers gone shaggy dog, the necessity of at least a trim became apparent, and this served as my jumping off point.

A few confessionals to note:

1) I’ve always wanted to give “going blonde” a shot ‘cuz I hear that blondes have more fun.

2) As a natural dark brunette, the fear of the stark change has always won out and I have previously made it as far as the salon chair before  “refining” my color aspirations to subtle highlights/lowlights.

3) I didn’t color my hair from age 15-24 because I’ve been quite tentative about the the whole process, including the potential hair damage.

4) My last really drastic hair color experiment was a bright blue bout when I was 14.  Tweens truly do make the most questionable of decisions.

5) My man likes blondies, and I like to turn him on, so that served as a little added motivation.

With all that in mind, I set off to Mid City Salon, equipped with a slough of pics of naturally brunette gone platinum blonde beauties such as Mary Kate Olsen, Victoria Beckham, Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively.  I met with Kim, my stylist, and let her in on the plan.  She took one look at my current shade, and informed me that the platinum of all my models wouldn’t be happening today.  “These things take time and process, but we will go as light as we can.”  Not the most encouraging words, as all the sudden my dream of platinum had morphed into a yet to be determined mystery shade of something, but I was determined to see the plan through, even if it had changed.  And so… the journey began.

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And so, I set forth on this next phase of my life as a blonde.  I love it, and so far it has, indeed, been fun.  Shocking, but fun.   Always hard to gauge genuine approval, but I think that my new look has been generally well-received, even by my family, who were all four-square against it.  I mean, everyone’s eyes get really big when they first see me (if they even recognize me), but they are quick to recover from the initial shock.  My BF loves it, and I love that.

Now I must learn to embrace my life of blonde hair maintenance.  Wish me luck…