Catching Up and Moving Forward.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Wow, I’m really bad at this regular blogging thing… So, as I probably mentioned at the beginning of summer, I’m back in Montana until October. My current goals include finishing this draft of the novel by winter, and figuring out what the hell my plans are with my life. The Mansion community life is not for me, despite my earlier enthusiasm (I think I was excited in that post — I honestly can’t remember and haven’t bothered to look.), and one of the things I need to figure out is if, when I get back there this autumn, I’m going to stick it out until the lease expires, or if I’m going to try and find a graceful way to say “I can’t stand living with some of you” and pack up all my stuff again and find a new storage unit. I also need to figure out what I’m going to do for work in the winter. I could probably come back to the ranch, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea; it feels like asking for burnout again. But if I’m not doing that, the question becomes am I going to stay in Seattle or find somewhere new to go?

I’d planned on using this summer to figure out the answer to those questions, but I haven’t exactly made anything resembling progress on that front. Now I’m running out of time, and the default/easy path is sticking out the lease and staying in Seattle for the winter. There are worse things in the world — this would at least mean I’d be close to my friends again for a while — but I’m not sure that’s the best thing to base my decisions on. On the other hand, trying to be too deliberate with my choices kind of got me into this mess in the first place, soooooo…..

In less indecisive news, I now have an outline for the rest of my novel, meaning the end is (finally) in sight! I need to hammer out some details with the plot and get a timeline of events for each character, and then all that’s left to do is finish writing the draft…and then let beta readers read and comment, and work on the next draft, and start plotting the sequel… a writer’s work is never really done, but there are certain milestones that feel pretty damn major when you get near them, and this is definitely the case now. So that’s pretty cool*.

[*read: sofreakingexcitingomgyay!!!]

I also have a new tattoo, which includes a Hamilton quote, and plans for the next two or three. The next one might be as soon as October, when I’m planning on visiting a certain writer friend in Portland. The friend, and the writing, are significant to the tattoo. It’s going to be amazing. Other than that, and a couple gorgeous hikes, Montana Shakespeare In the Parks, and Music in the Meadows, it’s been a pretty quiet summer. All the drama that always happens around and among seasonal workers (seriously, it is the stuff reality shows are made of.) has managed to not directly involve me this time, for which I’m extremely thankful. The job is relatively easy and repetitive, nothing too demanding, so even after a harder night I can usually be fully recovered for the next shift (mentally, if not physically. The tendonitis resurfaced for a while, but I got it calmed down again without having to involve medical people this time).

I haven’t done any painting yet, despite having brought canvas and brushes and paints. I haven’t worked with either of the tarot decks I brought, or with the OBOD workbooks, or any of the other creative productive projects I’d optimistically packed into my car and dragged along with me. Sometimes I feel like I’m about ready to crawl out of my skin, or find a hole to creep into and hide forever, or cry and not know why, or just run away without a destination, but even if it’s by the skin of my teeth and my ripped off fingernails, I somehow keep holding on. I’m not sure if it means I’ve gotten better at my coping skills for dealing with my¬†depression and anxiety, or if I just haven’t gotten as bad this summer. I’ve still got a long way to go, of course, but it’s nice to think I’m at least starting to get more dependably functional.

So, yeah, that’s pretty much where things are at. Not too much to report, I guess. Mostly just thinking out loud. On the internet. In front of strangers. And friends. And family. And it’s nice that I can do that sometimes, when I need to. It’s nice to have the option, even if I don’t use it as much as I probably should. It’s nice to know that I have friends and family out there who care about me enough to read this. It’s nice to feel like I’m talking to them without having actually talk (thanks for that, Anxiety. And you, Low Self-estimate, don’t think I don’t see you lurking back there, too…). Whatever happens, whatever I decide or put off deciding until it’s decided for me, I know I’ll still have this, and I know having this has gotten me through significantly worse times of my life.

Thank you. I love you. I’m sending you all awkward internet hugs.

Love,

GeGi.

 

 

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Catching Up: A Quick Review of 2015.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

My first non-book-review post of 2016! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written about my own physical life adventures, so I thought I should take a moment today to write a post I’ve been putting off.

2015 was really hard. I started out last year having really high hopes. I was living and working in a beautiful snow-covered Rocky Mountains winter wonderland, learning and loving to cross-country ski, and having a job I pretty much enjoyed. All that fell apart pretty quick; the snow melted early, I stopped having the time and energy to ski, my housemates were mostly various kinds of awful, and I worked with half of them on a daily basis. I tried to make the best of it, but depression hits pretty thoroughly sometimes, and I spent the rest of the time basically gritting my teeth and waiting to escape at the end of the season. It sucked, because I wanted so hard to be able to appreciate the amazing place I happened to live it at the time, but all I wanted to do was hide until I could run away.

My spring road trip has been, eventually, fully detailed in the blog, as have parts of the following summer drama in Colorado. Suffice it to say, summer was basically a repeat of winter, but with added “fun” of getting injured in my right shoulder and unable to work the majority of my time on the ranch. Cue depression and alienation, with the side bonus of lost wages and extra paperwork.

I clung to plans of escape when the season was over, and left as soon as I could, leaving the ranch for the final time in the early dawn light and not looking back. Shortly after my return to the Northwest Coast, the region I’d been daydreaming about with nostalgic feelings of being as close to home as I can get these days, Mum came over from Hawaii to visit.

As glad as I was to escape the people and politics of the Mid-West, seeing my Mum was incomparably better. I played the driver, and took Mum up and down the northern part of the Washington coastal region while we visited her parents. We got to spend the last few days together, just the two of us, and getting to spend all that time with Mum…well, my heart is aching and I’m getting an about-to-cry feeling again just thinking about it, I miss her so much. If I could stand the bugs and the weather and the job market and the housing issue and all the rest of the stuff that comes from living in one of the poorest parts of the jungle side of an island in the middle of the biggest ocean, well, I won’t hesitate to be closer to my Mum. My sister is pretty astonishingly lucky that she managed to make it work.

Anyway. Mum left and according to my plan I should have started immediately to figure out the details of moving to Portland. I didn’t. I tried, but my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to be in Portland eventually, but over the course of about a week I realized what I need to do first was give myself time and permission to just STOP for a while. Stop running from one thing to the next, stop pushing myself to keep going so I can’t feel how burnt out I’m getting, stop trying to fake being okay so hard. I needed time to wallow, to hurt, to distract myself, to be lazy and indulgent, to get to do all those things in a place where I was safe and not judged for it. I needed to let myself let go of the past year so I could finally start to process and heal from all of it. I needed to do those things before I could have my fresh start.

So now it’s 2016. I just left Seattle finally, and am staying with an Aunt and Uncle in Tacoma while I gear myself back up to really actually for-sure-this-time start to act on my plans for Portland. I’m less hurt emotionally than I was before I took time off from being a “responsible adult”. I still feel the wounds of the past year, still have the new battle-scars, the aches and wariness, the depression and lingering suspicion. But I also feel more confident, more self-possessed, more¬†me. It’s not perfect, but then, life never is perfect. The trick is to learn how to embrace the messy bits and make them into a new kind of perfect. Not the all-encompassing kind; the quiet contented kind that creeps in during the little moments.

I’m typing this upstairs in the guest bedroom, warm orange-red walls reflecting the soft yellow glow of the overhead light down onto the desk. Outside it’s overcast and has started to rain enough to hear it through the window and on the roof. This morning I woke to the smell of baking bread. Right now I can hear the rain, and muffled traffic, and the music I’m playing very quietly, and voices from whatever my aunt is listening to downstairs. The house has a faint and constant scent of incense and essential oils that’s saturated into the walls and the paint and the rugs over the years. There’s nothing big or flashing about this moment. But when I stop to notice it, I feel a sense contentment and home-y-ness that’s as close to perfection as I ever really need out of life.

Now I just need to figure out how to create and support this for myself in Portland…

Wish me luck, my friends, as I wish you luck in finding your own kind of perfect in the New Year.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Destination, eventually.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

The end is in sight! Last post was pretty much it for photos, as I said, but clearly the trip doesn’t finish with my driving off into the sunrise on my way to Texas, since I’m currently in Colorado. So, despite not having pictures, I’m still going to complete the story.

After spending the day in Carlsbad and the night in a motel room, I headed off towards Fort Worth. I had two days to get there, but decided that one night in an actual bed wasn’t nearly enough, so I found a cheap motel to spend the night on my own, which was just as luxurious as it sounds after weeks of car-camping in the desert.

The next day, I finally arrived at my friend’s, and could actually and completely relax for a while. It was super fun, of course; I got to go to a geek girl meet-up at a comic book store, read stacks of comics, eat real food, visit with new friends, have internet without finding a library first (shout-out to the awesomeness of libraries having free wi-fi, fyi), and to top it all off, spend the weekend going to Scarborough Renaissance Festival! I had a fantastic time, saw wonderful performances, buy cool stuff, eat faire food, the whole nine. It was perfect.

But all too soon, it was time to head out again so I wouldn’t be late to my summer job. I considered more road-trip camping, but spending a long weekend sleeping on a comfy couch ruined me, and I decided to spend a loooooong day of driving to go straight to Fort Collins, CO, where I booked a bed at an international hostel for a couple days.

On the way, I accidentally locked my keys in the car at a rest stop and was rescued by a very sweet old couple in a huge camper van. Thank goodness for my AAA membership and the kindness of strangers taking pity on a very freaked out panicking young woman. (That’s all I have to say about that. It was highly embarrassing.)

Eventually I made it safely to the hostel, which was in a fabulous building literally built around a huge plant-filled conservatory. Apparently had been designed and owned as a private home for a photographer who liked a natural-light studio. Now it’s owned by a mother-daughter duo who are very welcoming and nice, and have lots of coffee and waffles in the morning for their guests.

I got to explore Fort Collins a bit, which was really fun, and stock up on various supplies I’d need for the upcoming summer — like my very first pair of actually grown-up cowboy boots! (I had a pair I wore a lot as a kid, but never as an adult until now.) Eventually the day arrived to get to the ranch, and I headed out yet again. I took a detour to drive through part of Rocky Mountain National Park (totally gorgeous, but at that point still snowed in at the top), and then at long last I started reaching familiar places from my previous summer on the ranch.

The time had come to stop moving for a while and actually settle in for a few months of work.

One last photo, of my area of the shared bedroom:

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And that, my friends, brings this tale of travel to an end. I hope you all enjoyed the photos and stories.

Until next time,

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Carlsbad Caverns.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Remember what I said that other day about this is mostly just lots and lots of photos and sorry to your internet connection? Yeah, I’m doing that again… But first, more story! Please see last post if you want the actual words I had to say about leading up to Carlsbad Caverns. Also, I managed to get it down to about 40 photos instead of 60, so I’m just going to be ridiculous and post them all at once right now.

When I got there, a huge storm was on the way, and there were only a few parts of the cavern system still open due to a concern about possible flooding. I went on the self-guided loop first, then a paid-for ranger-guided loop (the ranger was this awesome hilarious old guy with all kinds of stories about the caves — very fun, and totally worth it). On that hike, I met another fellow traveler — a girl around my age or younger, who was also living out of her car while on her way to a ranch job for the summer, in a different part of Colorado from “my” ranch.

She and I talked during the and after the guided hike, and then I joined her for a second (for me, first for her) round of the self-guided hike, still talking. At that point, we both decided neither of us wanted to camp in the rainstorm outside, so we agreed to split the cost of a motel room (and later, split the cost of a pizza for dinner). Best decision ever; it felt so amazing to sleep in a real bed, have a hot shower, even soak in a hot tub for a bit. The next day, she headed north and I headed east to Texas…

But before the story continues, here’s the last batch of photos from my Spring Road Trip. Most of these were taken without flash because my camera is kind of awesome for being so affordable. Interestingly, using the ambient light from the various low-lights the park service installed throughout the caves had the effect of making the place look like some kind of underwater coral/ice palace. To my eyes while I was there, I didn’t see nearly as much colors in the rocks. To the camera, however… it was extra magical. (oh yeah, and there was actually a place call the Bottomless Pit…)

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I hope you managed to get through all those! Obviously it’s way better in person. I’m so in love with this place. I literally spend most of the day there, deep underground, and was probably the happiest I’d been in days.

Next time, more words! More story! But no more photos, because I’d gotten lazy and had basically stopped taking them.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Photo Album, part nine.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I promised more words and fewer photos this time, and I meant it.

At this point in my trip, I had been camping outside Island In The Sky district for nearly a week. I was actually starting to get a little burnt out on this part of my trip, mostly because I’d reached a place where everything was reminding me of my family and how much fun we’d had doing family vacation road trips like this, and how much I wanted to share this experience with them by having them there, and how much better everything would be if they were with me.

In short, I was ready to move on to something new and distracting.

But before I did that, there was one overlook in Island In The Sky that I hadn’t been to yet:

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I have to admit, seeing this really made me want to be on that river, having an Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire experience of my own…

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Finally I headed out for good. I was so glad to be on the road again, that I very nearly didn’t want to stop for anything. However, I knew I couldn’t just pass somewhere as incredible as Mesa Verde without at least a peek at the famous cliff-dwellings.

There’s just one photo I really want to share of that; mostly it’s a you-gotta-be-there kind of place. There’s so many sites with so much information — honestly I just kept thinking of how much my Mum needed to come there.

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I continued on to New Mexico, camping overnight before reaching Santa Fe, heading down to see Billy The Kid’s grave, and finally stopping for a couple days in Roswell. Those last two were primarily to make my sister envious; in her words — Billy the Kid and aliens = so her. Someday, she and I will have to road trip in New Mexico together.

I had pretty much stopped taking photos for this part of the trip. I was getting exhausted, honestly, and I just wanted to take a break. I was putting in long days of driving broken up with days of doing pretty much nothing. I was focused on the goal of this entire trip: reaching Fort Worth in time to meet up and stay with a Twitter-Friend, and go to a Renaissance Festival with her. Not doing a lot of exploring of the places I was passing through meant I was actually ahead of schedule and had a few extra days before I had to be there — hence my last-minute addition of Roswell, and Carlsbad Caverns, to my trip plans.

I had grown up in a place that lacked natural cavern systems, but I had read about them and dreamed about exploring them since I was a little kid, and one of my favorite things about living in Hawaii was getting to explore lava tubes. I love being underground, in caves and caverns. When I get in them, I want to never leave. There’s something so peaceful and reassuring and exciting and right about being surrounded by total darkness and utter quiet stillness. I feel safe there, embraced and welcomed by earth. I never get claustrophobia or even a little bit nervous or scare, even when I’m squeezing through a tiny space in a lava tube or in complete pitch black. It’s probably weird, but I always feel totally fine when I’m underground.

All that said, when I checked out my road map and figured out timing, I realized I had plenty of time to take a detour to Carlsbad. Obviously, there was NO. WAY. I was going to miss this chance. A day exploring a famous huge cavern system? That sounded like a perfect way to relax and recover, something just for me.

Next Time on Geek Girl Travels, see part one of the approximately 60 photos of being in caves that I’ve narrowed down from probably over a hundred I took.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Photo Album, part eight.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Here are the over-twenty photos of my quick drive through Needles District, Canyonlands National Park. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I hope you have a fast internet connection. I also hope you really like Utah landscape pictures, because that’s literally all I got for you this post.)

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Someday, I’ll come back here and explore more. Possibly by hot air balloon and/or river rafting.

Next post I’ll have more words and fewer photos. Promise.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Photo Album, part seven.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’m getting this post ready ahead of time to publish later, so I can try and actually meet my goal of finishing the trip photos before I take my next trip…

As promised in the last post, the next day I drove down to Needles Overlook. This isn’t actually in the Canyonlands Park itself; the Needles district is beautiful but mostly only accessible for back-country desert hiking or river rafting. Needles Overlook, which is on BLM land, gives you a chance to see the amazing landscape from a distance and a nice high vantage point. Unfortunately, zoom = pretty hazy here, but you can get an idea still.

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It was also a good place for a couple people to launch their quadcopter, presumably getting some incredible footage of the National Park.

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And, of course, I made another lizard friend. Because it’s me, and it’s a desert, and OBVIOUSLY. Handsome fellow, wasn’t he?

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After that, I headed back down the dirt road to the highway, and towards the entrance of Canyonlands Needle District. On the way there, I stopped at extremely interesting Newspaper Rock Archaeological Site.

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It was especially entertaining to listen to various silly-just-for-fun theories that the other tourists were coming up with as to what the different petroglyphs meant.

After that, I finally headed into Needles District proper. There’s just little bit that you can get to via paved road, so it was a quick trip as I didn’t feel like hiking in the hot desert of lower elevation (big surprise, I’m sure, to those who are familiar with my utter dislike of getting overheated). But there were a lot of pull-out points where I could hop out of the car and take a ridiculous amount of photos… which, since selecting photos to post is the longest hardest part of this process and therefore in the name of being productive and expedient means I’m going to post ALL of them, I’ll be posting as a separate entry on the blog.

Until next time!

Love,

GeGi.