A Path

The day after Halloween, I tried to find a new walking route: Larkspur Trail.

Driving around, road construction blocked my way to the senior center, where the path supposedly starts. I wound my way to Pilot Butte instead, where the trail ends.

I still couldn’t find it. So, I started wandering around the criss-crossing dirt tracks along the lower part of the butte, until finding an asphalt path to follow.

The grass vibrated in the breeze, like notes coming off a page. I felt sticks and soft Juniper branches and squished dried berries between my fingertips, and I looked into the sky. I saw bark peeling and felt the sun and wind and saw life, and felt it.

I sat on a rock for awhile.

          

I turned around and followed the asphalt path back, coming across a sign near the parking lot “Larkspur Trail.” I found it, although unexpectedly and from the backside. I was where I had wanted to be, and didn’t even know it.

Sometimes we can’t get to the path, until we are coming back from where we started.

It’s as confusing as it feels, until you recognize that this path is exactly where you are supposed to be, whether it is Larkspur Trail or not.

Then it all becomes completely clear.

 

*(See The Head and The Heart, Rivers and Roads)

“An Ocean In Between The Waves”

I have been seeing things, lately.

            

Plucking my eyebrows in the mirror, I look into my eyes. I get really close to the reflection of a blue iris, almost touching it, and notice my pupil adjust. I pause, and connect with love, feeling divine light explode in my chest (I feel it, I am it). When I do this, the black of my pupils expand. They dilate, letting in more light. They dilate, letting in more light. I see a physical response to love in my body. I cry.

I once see the trajectory of jets, of the paths they would take, moments before they actually did. Looking through a window at white-laced streaks across the blue sky, I see their futures open instants before they took them.

A thick and contained drop of water captures my attention. It rests on my car windshield and catches the sun. I see it move across the glass as my car turns. And then, I see the world reflected through it. Through the underside of the water drop, I see the trees pass upside down. I see this water drop’s whole moving world reflected through itself.

Our bodies are 60% water.

          

This is what I have been seeing, lately, when I’m not looking.

Rather than what I usually do, a looking without seeing.

 

We Always Become

I recently discovered that I am the woman of my dreams; that I am my own outcome. What a relief, for me and everyone else involved, too.

I invite you to tally your day and make a list of how you are the man/woman of your dreams. Just today. Only include the things you did, or thought, or noticed – not the things you didn’t. You can forgive those ‘what ifs’ or those ‘should haves’ to simply being human. I promise you. The day could not have gone any other way than how it did.

So, tally up.

Here is how I was the woman of my dreams today:

 

I saw a movie with my mother. We shared popcorn, and a smile.

I wrote a kick-ass cover letter for a job application – straight from the heart.

I sang loudly in my car.*

I cried inside my open heart.

I took a walk along the river and paused: to watch without expecting to see. I bore witness to ducks chortling, and the sky changing.

The kick-ass cover letter I wrote was lost somewhere in Word, and I messed up the online application so I am locked out from applying for a dream job. I acknowledged that I am doing the best that I can. And that I will continue to, trusting that what comes back is exactly what needs to. Thank you.

I have my 12-gauge shotgun (Amelia), my yoga mat, and a pink hand-knit sweater in the backseat of my car.

In meditation, I felt that I am enough, right now. That despite popular opinion, there is nothing else to achieve, because then there would always be more (which is less).

I heard raw guitar, and saw hair dance, at my first metal show. I danced, and stomped (I’m not sure that is metal-dancing-etiquette), and felt soul. I felt how we are still one.

 

Bow-bom-wow.

 

This moment is the outcome. How full and how perfect –

 

yes, and thank you.

 

 

*(See Gaslight Anthem, 1,000 Years; or really the entire Get Hurt album)

‘About Today’

Today you were far away.

The evening was warm. Weathermen threatened thunder and storms, but the sky was partly cloudy and let the sun through for the show.

The National was playing at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, in Bend. I gathered with friends to drink wine and beer and whisky, and listen to the voice that melts us.

What could I say.

Honkers flew above the stage. The sun set in pinks and the night slowly poured over.

Tonight you just close your eyes.

The heart broke open, as it often does on a daily basis. The singer hunched over the microphone after swigging from a bottle. A light glinted off his glasses, broken strings of a violin bow swayed in the breeze, strangers moved together: today.

Hey, are you awake

Yeah I’m right here

Well, can I ask you about today?

 

 

(See About Today, The National)

 

A Holiday Playlist

Confession: I’m not a huge holiday person. Dressing up as Dorothy this year, purely because it is my first Halloween in Kansas, on October 31 I usually sport a “This is my Costume” t-shirt and call it good.

This is the first year I live in a house with a residential neighborhood, so the first time I had to rush to the store to purchase forgotten candy for the costumed kids that will be knocking (good stuff, like peanut butter cups because I was excited to get those). Then comes Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. Then New Years. Then Valentine’s Day and Easter and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and my birthday and Fourth of July and Flag Day.

Each is a way to express yourself, eat through love, show appreciation, mark time in a way that all blurs together.

To help us remember that every day is a celebration. And a gift.

 

Music on my Holiday playlist so far (2080, Yeasayer; Halloween Head, Ryan Adams; The General Specific, Band of Horses; Beautiful Day, U2; Gonna Make You Love Me, Ryan Adams; The Deaf Girl’s Song, Cloud Cult)

Hello Goodbye

A skip. A jump. A catch. The elongated hug as she wraps her legs around his torso, the blue snowflakes on her knitted sweater distorting in as she clings to him. Eventually releasing her, the veins in his arm strain as he holds a bag in one hand and blond woman in his other hand. Reflexively he dares not drop his bag – or her.

Everyone has watched the airport greeting-farewell. Clinging hugs or awkward pats, it is hello and goodbye, releasing and holding, separating and connecting.

It is the same thing. It is the same love. It is the same hug. When she wraps her body around his in goodbye, the snowflakes would have stretched the same way. A hello, and a goodbye.

 

Knuckleheads

Roger Clyne, with pointed boots and a mouth that hung seductively from a microphone, performed last week with the Peacemakers in Kansas City at the outdoor, industrial, adult Disneyland music venue that is Knuckleheads.

His voice dripped lyrics as a train visibly and intimately rumbled around the corner. At the venue, the neon sign was bright, the tin corrugated, the wood knotty, the beer cold.

I accompanied a few seasoned pros for my introduction to the band. Fortunately, the driver knew exactly where to stop on the return trip to Topeka. A WAFFLE HOUSE with three employees smoking on the curb as we pulled in at 1 am.

We sauntered up to the counter and sat on swivel stools, the only customers in the restaurant.

I ordered two waffles stacked for $4.04, with a side of bacon on top. The server magically unloaded peanut butter and chocolate chips to complement the waffles. The chips easily melted into the syrup.

I cleaned my plate (as you will unfortunately witness).

In honor of the man who bought DinnerBreakfast for us all, this is for you:

(It’s a series of waffle pictures with chosen lyrics relaying a story. The lyrics are from Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers songs performed that night)

I have no notion where I’m bound

I used to be sly

Clouds tumble over themselves in the sky

Yeah the good guys and the bad guys they never work past noon

It’s givin’ my heart a little elbow room

God bless the fools, for screwing up all the rules

You know I’d do it all again

Sports! *Jazz Hands*

Anything Could Happen, Any Given Sunday

“Simmer down,” an equally rowdy table shouted to us across a sea of green and yellow. At the local sports bar in Bend, Oregon, I sat quietly at times, and not so quietly at times, proudly sporting my new purple Kansas State t-shirt.

I was one Wildcat in a flock of Ducks. It was time for a fiesta.

On the first play, with not even 20 seconds having passed in the first quarter, Oregon received the ball with the Duck-like speed and efficiency, running down the field into the inzone. People in the bar stood and cheered and clapped. I sat there with a gaping mouth, in shock, stuck to my seat and holding my cold beer. But, I still felt easy and full of hope.

Because that is part of sports: faith. As an enduring Beaver fan, I am well aware of the concepts of loyalty and trust and love. I understand those sporting emotions much better than the penalty for a personal foul, or what third down conversion means, or that the correct term is endzone, and not inzone.

 

 

 

 

 

After that first play in the Fiesta Bowl, the Colts fan next to me found statistics from the 2007 Superbowl. The Bears pulled the same touchdown-on-the-first-play move against the Colts six years ago, but the fan informed me that Indianapolis came back to win the game 29-17. She was providing proof that anything could happen.

In the end, the Ducks won (32-17), but I was proud to be Wildcat that day. The table I was sitting with, comprising of two friends and one stranger, were all clapping for Kansas State by the end of the game.

A football game, a basketball game, a baseball game – sports are proof that anything can happen, that faith can be freeing, that loyalty can be enough. It is a way for us to believe, and see, that possibilities are everywhere.

(See Anything Could Happen, Ellie Goulding)

The Cracker Barrel-ing Experience

Kansas has been an experience of firsts: first NFL game, first time watching Space Balls, first gun show, first country fried steak (CFS), and first time at a restaurant that has the word Cracker in it.

Fascinated by the name, and the common expressions of comfort that glide over people’s faces when I reference the Cracker Barrel restaurant in conversations, I simply could not miss the opportunity for this “first” experience.

It did not disappoint.

I devoured my first CFS and all the sides: mashed potatoes, carrots, hash brown casserole, biscuits, cornbread. All concern about ordering that much food – especially when the waitress kept forcing me to make so many decisions – dissipated after dinner as I stared at my clean plate. It was worth every bite.

The southern-comfort-style restaurant chain sealed my quest of CFS exploration during my time in Kansas – wondering if there was another CFS that could equal that self-revelatory experience of the first.

The search continued at Weller’s – one of Topeka’s many sports bars. Here I began to notice the back of my elbows rubbed raw from spending so much time laughing and resting on the beer-filmed tables. Dinner appeared with broccoli covered in Velveeta, the highlight of the meal, but the steak was thicker, fattier, and slightly too unpredictable.

We returned to Cracker Barrel for breakfast – replacing the hash brown casserole with creamy grits. The CFS was good, but still did not compare to that first experience. The intruding presence of the egg added a layer of guilt since I wasn’t eating all of it, so that may have also compromised meal’s integrity.

But then, unexpectedly, something blew our hypothesis apart. We thought that humanity often searches to return and recreate the feelings associated with “first time” events: first beer, first drag, first kiss, first chicken fried steak.

At Blind Tiger, Topeka’s microbrewery, I found the CFS that was meant to complete that part of my soul that was gaping open and yearning for the perfect CFS. The homemade breading melted in my mouth, covering an honest and thick steak.

That was the CFS that was right for me. The Cracker Barrel experience, though, will always remain so dear in my heart – it was the first impression, the first taste, the first foray, the first experience. Without that first chicken fried steak, I could never have known what was possible, I could never have found the one that was meant to be.

(See Chicken Fried, Zac Brown Band)

Summer Beers

It has been two years since your death. Two years since I got the voice mail on my phone. Two years since I pulled over at a McDonald’s after surpassing a snowy mountain road. To sit. To cry. To uncomprehend what happened.

Tonight, I watched the sun set over your hometown mountains. I felt love – easy, pure, true love that comes from an unforeseen force. It is the same love I felt at your memorial at Kam III in Maui. When we all paddled out and circled the ocean. When we cracked Busch Lights in your honor. When we held each other and watched the pictured memories float by on a screen. When we forgave each other, and when we loved each other through your heart.

Dropping down into Fort Collins today, into your roots, tears sucked my breath as the radio stations picked songs that meant everything. Our first connection made over Summer Beers discussing Western mountain homes, staying up all night to witness a Hawaiian sunrise in the seamless ocean, capturing moments of laughter in a group of sun-wielding friends, and, of course, always, with love reigning down.

Your life taught me love. And your death taught me what it means to love.

Mahalo you, my friend. Mahalo you.

I miss you dearly.

(See Led Zeppelin, When the Levee Breaks; The Who, Love Reign O’er Me; Ke$ha Feat, Die Young; The Fray, How to Save a Life)