on writing, and not

November 15

Les,

I feel bad for writing after such a long absence. Have I any right to? Or write? Maybe it would help to share that since coming out to my parents, I feel a less urgent need to express myself and sift through gender and sexuality online. I’ve been doing more processing offline, such as contemplating changing my name. The poem I posted today was written in September. I forgot about it until seeing it in my drafts today. Since then, I’ve stopped introducing myself by my first name, outside of work settings.

I write now because I have a 3,000 word essay due tomorrow for my wonderful class but the words are not falling into place. Not for a lack of content, but for too much. The words and feelings are jammed in my heart, throat, and stomach, and so knotted they perhaps do not belong on paper just yet. I’m still trying to make sense of things to even begin writing. But maybe I just need to write a tangly mess.

It’s like this road, and in part caused by it:

The road is becoming overgrown. And I know that much of the debris, such beautiful red and brown debris, is from autumn calling leaves and needles to the ground, but there is more to it than that. This logging road in Mt. Hood National Forest has been blocked to vehicles, which serves the purpose of both preventing motor and recreational vehicles from continuing onward and inhibiting folks from easily shooting firearms at signs, bottles, and ornaments. The bridge sign is actually gone now. Maybe shot too many times. Maybe taken as a keepsake.

The road is also overgrown because people like my family haven’t been walking down it much.

And despite 9 years in the making, I’m having a difficult time saying goodbye to my favorite place in the world, my family’s cabin in Mt. Hood National Forest.

2017 has been a big year, bigger than paper or a blog, and the year our cabin was put on the market.

I don’t have the words out in the open quite yet for loss of place and certain traditions.

the marveling

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One day somebody will catch me

below a brick tower

with my right palm and forehead pressed

against cobweb to rectangles of

flaking red, churned purple caught

mid-roil, crisped sienna

turned mirage of tree above water,

melted chocolate,

char from abandoned fire—

 

Somebody will glance at the wildflower weeds

bunched in a tiny bouquet in my left palm,

a blade of grass tying them together,

and say to me,

It’s time you got serious about your life.

Love, I’ll reply mid-marvel,

What ever made you think I wasn’t?

 

 

Back from Yosemite

February 22

It’s been awhile, Les. A whole two weeks. I’m sorry about that. Plenty has happened, plenty has been on my mind, and sometimes my INFP self just doesn’t feel like sharing. Part of that’s due to dating someone recently. Attraction doesn’t come easily to me, and I struggle to let myself relax and enjoy it without second guessing/fighting everything. But also, and probably more importantly, I’m  wondering what I’m doing with my life postgraduation. I’ve got an abundance of time and don’t know where to direct myself these days. After years of intense drive and ambition, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I may not be cut out for the kind of work I was preparing for. No one else has led me to believe this—just serious, honest personal reflections on my own sensitivities. Recognizing that I’m being opaque tonight, I’ll write more about career stuff in the future.

On a way brighter note, guess what?! My sister Elizabeth and I took a spontaneous (idea hatched 3 weeks ago) trip to Yosemite last week. She picked me up from work Wednesday night and we hit the road, stopping at the first rest stop in California that night after making our way through a blizzard just south of Ashland, then continuing on to the park the next morning. Because we had only two nights in the park (a mere 47 hours!), we made it our mission to get up early both mornings. By 5:40 we were up, by 7 we were on a trail.

Yosemite Highlights:

-On Thursday night, we noticed a rainbow halo around the moon! I’d noticed a similar ring once or twice before, but not rainbow! EarthSky explains what causes these halos.

-WE SAW A BOBCAT. While walking back from Mirror Lake and briefly checking out the backpacker’s campground, a bobcat nonchalantly walked over the ridge towards us before continuing onward. I really have no words to express my level of excitement, but I can tell you that about 10 minutes later when we were on a bridge admiring the blinding sunlit water and Half Dome, I lay down in the road and kicked my feet in the air I was so happy. IMG_3424.jpg-We hiked Yosemite Falls trail and FOLLOWED COUGAR TRACKS for a mile. No, they didn’t seem ultra fresh. Yes, we wondered how safe we were and took a video for our family & friends just in case we didn’t survive the hike. Yes, I was stoked. Yes, I spent considerable time on the 12+ drive home google searching tracks to see if we were correct about the cougar diagnosis. On the way down, I hugged an incense-cedar that had been scratched.

-I hiked that 2700 elevation change/3.5 mile icy trail in running shoes with no traction. Hands-down one of the most foolish decisions of my life—a decision I made rather reluctantly but eagerly (contradictory feelings, I know) because I wanted to be springy on the trail and my beautiful, reliable Danner boots are heavy trail monsters. When the trail became icy just below the upper falls (which started out as water then turned into snow/ice at the bottom!), I realized that I was an idiot—and that Elizabeth was not wearing running shoes like me, but rather trail shoes. With traction. I scoured my bag for anything I could add to my shoes (considered my work lanyard and even Apple headphones) but came up empty-handed. I cursed my poor decision-making and fretted about maybe needing to turn around. Fortunately, that first stairwell was the worst of it. We continued to the top although I avoided going anywhere close to the edge or down the rock steps to the creek. With the help of a stick, I made it down the mountain, falling only 8 times on my butt. Nearly everyone we encountered around the top had hiking boots &/or traction devices such as Yaktrax. I stoically clutched my stick and attempted to stand upright by the side of the trail as they passed. I was determined to let nobody (besides my sister) see me fall and mostly succeeded.

I’ll never knowingly begin a comparable hike in such poor footwear again but that was also the best hike of my life. IMG_3657.jpgUpper Yosemite Falls. Check out that footwear. I was worrying much of the time about the hike down—the descent would be undoubtedly more challenging. It was. I fell several times, and caught myself dozens more, sometimes spinning around my staked stick, but laughter was always present.

What else is there to say tonight, Les? I’m confused about a lot of things, but that’s okay. I just feel so darn grateful to love—that unseen cougar, that bobcat, my partner-in-crime sister, the outdoors, my family, my friends, former classmates and coworkers, the seasons, and more—and be loved, and to be alive. This weekend I was actively excited to live. And the thing is, as amazing as this weekend was, I realized that my life has been so rich and full I cannot quickly pick out other top weekends because I regularly appreciate the moment. I generally don’t catalog experiences, but I’ve been blessed with many wonderful opportunities and experiences. I am lucky, Les.

Decorum

October 30

Dear Leslie,

You and this blog have been on my mind most of the last couple of days. I always fret about what to say, not knowing the how or what or whether to say and I have drafts piled up. But I’m restless with my self-censorship and missing my fellow queer cats and gender rebels in Corvallis. Job applications and interviews have me extra weary of professionalism and decorum. I’m nearly fresh out of fucks to give. The selfie game is not one I generally play but when pigs fly and the mirrors are cracked with the luck I make, I let the occasionally photo also fly. Note the wrist brace, evidence of long persistent pain, and the lipstick, evidence of jonesin’ for a thrill, or don’t.

You put your face on your books. I can put mine on my blog. I usually feel like I have to post at least one photo myself smiling but I’m not feeling that right now.

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***Morning after postscript: I never post non-smiling or goofy selfies. I’m still surprised and impressed this happened…and determined to write frequently enough that these photos are soon buried.***