Still Alive.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Yes, I am still alive — despite not having updated this blog in how long?

In my last post, I was trying to decide what to do and where to go with my life. Well, I guess I did because by the end of summer I’d told my boss I’d come back for winter! I spend the autumn off-season driving back to Seattle, telling The Mansion folks I’d be moving out, finding a new storage unit, packing up all my stuff again, moving it into the storage unit, and basically being stressed out and worried that I wouldn’t get everything done in time. I also managed to fit in a quick trip to Portland to stay with my writer friend, AND FINISHED MY NOVEL. So, all in all, it was a pretty epic off-season.

Then it was back to Montana. It’s been quite the season, best illustrated by two phrases I’ve been saying a lot this winter: “Never a dull moment.” and “This place runs on Alice In Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass logic.” Despite that, I’ve actually had a pretty good season (helped by the fact my boss made a point to get me a private room for housing). I got some truly magical cross-country skiing in, too, which involves not only gorgeous scenery and great full-body exercise, but is also fantastic for getting perspective and losing stress. I’ve also made a point of attempting a healthier diet, which isn’t always easy in this line of work, but I think it’s been helping with everything else to keep me slightly more level in my moods.

So it’s actually been one of the best seasons I’ve done so far. I think I’m starting to get a handle on my chosen lifestyle or something. Maybe I’m just getting better at life in general. But I’ve told my boss I’ll be sticking around indefinitely — or until something better comes along — and she’s pretty happy about it. I am too; it’s nice to know that after the off-season, I know what to expect from my next job, and I don’t have to even apply for it! The pay and the perks are both pretty good here, it’s hard to imagine someone better than my boss to work for, and personality-wise I’m well suited to my job. I’m basically set until I decide it’s time to shake things up again.

Various other good news:

  • This coming spring off-season, I’ve already bought tickets to visit my family in Hawaii, after far too long apart, and I couldn’t be more excited about it!
  • I’m participating in a NaNo event for the first time (finally), using the April NaNo Camp to work on and hopefully finish the research and editing to my first novel that I’ve been putting off.
  • My writer friend and I are collaborating on a new project together that we’ll be metaphorically unveiling soon, and I’ll post more here about it when we’re ready to share it with the world.
  • I’ve become a full-blow fountain pen convert (not good news for my savings, but fantastic and fun and so pretty and all the other things anyway).

And that’s pretty much it! The past half a year or whatever summarized. I’ll try to post more often than that; at least regularly during off-season travel and anything especially cool or interesting I do during my work seasons. Maybe I’ll aim for once a month updates, with “specials” extra posts for anything else…? We’ll see.

I have a lot of projects going on right now, and unfortunately I’ve let this blog get pretty low on the priorities list. Hopefully that’ll change, because once I actually sit down to write a post I always remember how much I love blog writing! My “voice” here is really different from my novel writing voice — much closer to how my constant inner monologue narrates my thoughts and life — and it’s so much fun to do this kind of writing once in a while as a break from the fiction writer struggle of consistent characters’ voices.

In the meantime, stay safe and stay alive.

–GeGi.

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.

 

 

Goodreads Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I overly relate to Isla’s self-estimate issues like whoa.

I really like that this book broke the love triangle mold of the other two. It’s nice not dealing with that every time, especially when we all know how it’s going to turn out in the end. It’s also good to explore the “after” part once in a while — after you fall in love and finally get together with your crush, what happens next? Of course, that inevitably meant I then spent the next half the book constantly flinching in anticipation of what exactly was going to go horribly wrong to blow up the happy couple. I admit I didn’t quite expect it to happen the way it did, and I was further blindsided by the clear spelling out of exactly was Isla’s insecurities were and how they made her act and why. Which, as I mentioned, was basically like looking in a mirror. So I might be a little bias about how fiercely I now feel about Isla. Just a little.

It was cool returning to Paris and the school, seeing it through someone else’s eyes. As I mentioned in my review of Lola, these books are heavily bias in their descriptions by their very nature; everything on the pages is through the lens of the storyteller’s mind. Getting to know Josh through Isla instead of Anna paints a very different picture of his character, and her familiarity and comfort with Paris, the school, and her classmates creates a very different atmosphere than we get with Anna being the New Girl. It really helps separate each girl as her own person, with her own personality, tastes, friends, and styles. They all have very unique voices, while still being easily accessible (at least to me). One thing I thought was especially cool was the way Josh’s art was used in the narrative to break out of having only Isla’s perspective on events, particularly at the end.

I also liked that Isla gave us a good look at the friendships and family relationships around her, too. That’s true to various extents in the other books as well, of course. I just automatically have strong feels about sisters because I have more of a relationship with my own sister than with my brother — no one’s fault, but he’s almost a decade older than me, so he’s just never been around as much in my life. My sister and I fought like mad and resented each other and played together and shared secrets, and then we each grew up and got even closer. So when I read fictional sisters doing that, it totally give me all the feels. Plus, I could relate a bit to Isla’s friendship with Kurt, since so many of my friends are also on that spectrum. Basically, I guess I’m just saying if I were any of the three main girls, I’d probably end up being Isla by default, even if I’d rather have more of Lola’s fashion tastes.

But back to the actual book! I really enjoyed this one. I’ve enjoyed all of them, of course, but obviously I ended up projecting myself all over Isla, so it gets bumped up a little for that.

View all my reviews

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: Catching Up… So Much Catching Up.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Clearly, I overestimated my updating frequency while on the road. This will be the “words” post; later I will do the “photos” post. This is because 1) I’m too lazy to go get the cable for my camera right now; B) It’ll be faster to update those things seperately; Cat) This is my blog and I do what I want.

[Note: thanks to my favorite community Snark Squad for both the unique and fun counting system, and the motto I’ve borrowed at the end of the list.]

Moving on…

When last I left you, I was spending a day relaxing in Colorado with a friend before heading out to the Canyonlands. Thanks to said friend, I took a couple detours when I hit the road again. First, I drove through the Colorado National Monument, occasionally stopping to photograph the stunning views each new corner and turn revealed along the edge of the mesa. Next, I abandoned the freeway again to drive a twisty-turny highway that followed part of the Colorado River — again, every new bend showed landscape even more beautiful than the last. This is about the time I also started noticing a lot of classic cars on the road.

When I reached the town of Moab that afternoon, I soon realized why I was seeing so many classic cars: there was a car show in town for the weekend. Needless to say, the place was super packed and there were no campsites or rooms left anywhere. Clearly, I rock at planning.

Long story short, this is how I ended up spending the weekend camping in the small town of Green River, about an hour north of my intended destination. It actually worked out just fine; I got to test out my camping setup for the first time, while in a place I could get supplies close by, and I even got a free upgrade to sleep in a cabin the second night. It gave me a much-needed day of doing nothing, and I could drive down to Arches National Park and spend some time exploring. That day, I drove to the end of the road in Arches, and hiked out to Landscape Arch, then took the “primitive trail” all the way out through Devil’s Garden to Black Angel and back. It was about seven miles, I think, and completely gorgeous.

On Monday I figured things had probably calmed down a bit back in Moab. I packed up my campsite, and headed south. I ended up renting a pretty nice site in Horse Thief Campground, part of the way up the road towards the Island In the Sky entrance to Canyonlands National Park. It actually worked out much to my advantage — the higher elevation meant cooler temperatures, and being on the edge of the mesa meant there was usually a refreshing breeze. This was all to the good, because the weather had finally cleared up, and it was SUNNY in the desert, and getting hotter every day. Have I mentioned I’m not good at handling the heat? I get pretty tired and cranky very quickly…which makes me think I must have failed a sanity check when I decided a trip to the Southwest would be a great idea. Again, I really got this whole “planning” thing down, right?

Anyway, with my new campsite set up, and no intention of leaving for the rest of the week, I was free to explore the surrounding area at my leisure. I attended a couple very interesting ranger talks at Island In The Sky, took a hike out past the Grand Overlook to the very edge of the mesa, poked around in Arches a bit more, drove out to the Needles Overlook area, saw Newspaper Rock, and drove through the Needles district of Canyonlands. There’s lots of photos, and I totally fell in love with a lot of the areas, but especially towards the end of the week I just couldn’t stop thinking how much I wished my family — and in particular my Mum — were there too, and how much more fun it would have been to be exploring together. I had a lot of wistful remembering about the family camping trips we used to have, and the road trips Mum and I took.

Eventually the time came to move on again. I headed out to New Mexico, by way of Mesa Verde. It was as fascinating as I’d imagined to see the cliff-dwellings there, though I didn’t spend much time in the park. Northern New Mexico reminded me a surprising amount of the Inland Northwest, except everything was smaller (trees, hills, etc). I ended up spending the night in Carson National Park, at a campsite next to a natural amphitheater.

The next day I headed into Santa Fe, where I was impressed by the number of people who showed up at the exact time the library was supposed to open, and waited the ten-to-fifteen minutes it took before the librarians actually unlocked the doors. I’ve been using libraries the whole trip for their free wi-fi, their clean bathrooms, and their book-sales. Books and audio-cds have pretty much been the one “souvenir” type things I’ve been getting on this trip — library sales are awesome that way, and super affordable. Plus the audio-cds make long driving days go by much faster.

After the library, I wandered about the streets of Santa Fe for a little while, but after a week of being in one place I was still antsy to hit the road more. I drove through some neighborhoods on my way out of town, and between those two things I saw enough of Santa Fe to make me want to go back someday. It is BEAUTIFUL there, and I adore the architecture style.

After that, I headed down to Fort Sumner to see Billy The Kid’s grave and museum. This is because when I was first planning my trip, I noticed it on a map and mentioned it jokingly to my sister, and she was so excited and jealous it became something I HAD to do. Obviously.

It was actually very cool to be there, and kind of heart-touchingly sad — the headstone is for Billy and two of his ‘pals’ (as it says on the engraving), and all three are buried side-by-side. The “unofficial” museum in Fort Sumner was also worth checking out; they have a lot of historical artifacts from various eras, not just Billy The Kid stuff, but they also have some very cool Billy stuff that you wouldn’t see elsewhere — like his gun, and a photo of him playing croquet with some friends. The video about the Lincoln County War and Billy’s life was really interesting, too. I sent my sister a lot of pictures.

After that, I kept heading south. Destination: Roswell, NM. This was another “for my sister” thing, really. As she texted me at one point, “Aliens and Cowboys – New Mexico sounds perfect for me!” (this statement is entirely accurate). I camped outside of Roswell for a couple nights at Bottomless Lakes State Park — if there were any aliens around, they failed to abduct me or even show up — and wandered through the town a bit. I couldn’t help thinking how much more fun it would be to explore it with my sister. Plus, the weather and the location were conspiring to be very desert-like with the whole hot-and-sunny thing, and I’ve mentioned already what a fan of that I am.

When I moved on, I headed down to Carlsbad Caverns. I spend pretty much the entire day deep underground, which is one of my happy-places. Seriously, every time I’m in a cavern/cave/lava tube, I want to just live there. Without all the other people. Anyway, there was a storm warning in effect that day, so only two parts of the cavern were open in case of flooding. There will be lots of photos from here.

While in the caverns, I ended up conversing with another traveler/seasonal-worker — she was also heading to Colorado for the summer, though to a different place — and we ended up deciding to split a motel room since neither of us felt like camping in the rain. It turned out to be pretty fun, and of course the lure of a real bed and a hot shower (and a hot-tub! And we split a pizza for dinner!) was quite the siren-song to begin with. We went our separate ways in the morning; I headed into Texas.

Now, given that the ENTIRE REGION was apparently covered by this particular storm, I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the most typical of Texas experiences, weather-wise. Anyway, due to the rain and the being spoiled by sleeping a bed again, I spent the night in a motel again, and then the next day, I finally, at long last, reached my ultimate destination/reason/excuse for this whole trip: my twitter friend’s home in Fort Worth, she of the Renaissance Faire and homemade cheesecake temptations.

It was fantastic getting to meet her for the first time, finally getting to put face and voice and mannerisms to the person I’d been friends with for so long. The first night we went to a Girl’s Night at one of her local comic book stores, which was super fun, of course. I got to read through much of her comics collection (with regular updates via twitter to a mutual friend and fellow comic book enthusiast in France). There was, indeed, a cheesecake to be eaten. And, as if all that wasn’t reason enough to visit and have an amazing time, there was the Scarborough Renaissance Festival itself.

I had bought a weekend pass prior to leaving Montana, so that helped take the pressure off of trying to see everything in one day. The weather was pretty cooperative the first day, alternating clouds and sun, and we wandered about and watched performances and poked in various shops. I bought a longbow so I can start practicing my archery again this summer. We ate funnel cake (my first time with that particular treat). I drooled over all the pretty clothes and weapons. We went home exhausted from a full day of fun.

The next day, the weather was less cooperative, alternating darker clouds with occasional downpours. There were far fewer patrons to the faire, which meant a lot of personal attention from everyone working and trying to sell stuff. But it also meant we always got great seats to the shows! I bought a leather wrist cuff, and we split a turkey leg (which was rumored to actually be an emu leg) for lunch. The shows were great, but ultimately the faire ended up closing an hour or two early due to possible tornado/severe downpour warnings. Despite that, I still have a great day, and was marginally less exhausted (though I did end up falling asleep in the car).

I took an extra day in Fort Worth to just recover and regroup, before heading out early yesterday. I decided I was ready to call it good on the camping front, and on the driving-every-day front, so I spent the entire day on the road to make it all the way up to a great-sounding hostel in Fort Collins, CO for my last days of freedom before I go back to work.

At this point in my tale, I have to pause to give a shout-out to K/Cathy and Trevor, a couple of very kind random strangers I met at a random Rest Stop. The reason for this is because I had an extremely embarrassing and panic-inducing “oh shit” moment, where I locked my keys in my car. After the first wave of denial (“No way did I just do that”) and freaking out (“I’ll break into it somehow!”), I got my rational brain back in gear and flagged down passing said random strangers to ask if I could use their phone. Never have I been happier to have good triple-A coverage. C/Kathy and Trevor not only let me use their phone, but invited me to wait with them in their RV. They even fed me, and were totally cool about having a total stranger hanging out with them for the hour-long wait.

Anyway, my car finally got unlocked (for free! Sort of. Yay for having coverage, anyway.), and I got back on the road. I arrived at the hostel late last night, and immediately went to bed after that far-too-long drive. By the way, this particular hostel has tempur-pedic mattresses on their beds, and tropical-plant-filled covered courtyard in the middle of the house, and waffles for breakfast, and wi-fi everywhere. So I’ll be spending the next couple days here.

On Friday I’ll head out for my last three hours on the road, to go back to my summer guest ranch and begin pre-season work. It’ll be nice to have some money coming in again — though amazingly, I think I’ve managed to stay under-budget this trip! — , and to finally unpack and organize all the stuff in my car, but I’m wondering how hard it’ll be to adjust to staying in one place for months. This road trip has been, at the heart, some real fantasy-fulfillment for me; the ultimate dream of being able to just jump in the car and take off whenever I feel like it, to where-ever I feel like, never having to backtrack or be anywhere at a certain time, never having to stop when I still feel like driving, never having to be answerable to other people…

On the other hand, transient life can wear you down after a while. Taking a break from it, like with most things, will give it meaning and a specialness when I start traveling again. And a guest ranch really isn’t that bad of a place to spend a summer, after all.

Safe travels, everyone.

Love,

GeGi.

Trip Log: Mixed Feels.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Portland was awesome! I didn’t actually do all that much apart from hang out with my friend and wander around the neighborhood, but if you’re with the right company, just that much can be the best thing ever. I also accidentally-on-purpose bought a bag FULL of books and audiotapes… but they were very affordable, so there’s that! There’s some pictures from my time there on my Twitter account if you want to check them out.

From one end of Oregon to the other, I headed down to Grant’s Pass for the weekend, to spend a little time with my brother. I’m still sorting through my feels a bit after seeing him; obviously it was fantastic to get to hang out after so long apart, but it was also slightly awkward to see how much has changed with him that I hadn’t been aware of. We’re both horrible at staying in touch with one another, which is part of the problem, but it’s more than that, too. He’ll always be my brother, of course, and there’s still all the shared history between us from growing up, but he feels like a stranger, too, and one I probably wouldn’t get to know if we were just meeting. It’s sad; I hate to see someone I love turn into that, to lose some of that spark that made them one of my first idols. But I’ve grown up enough myself to see him in a different light, to see what kind of person he really is now. It hurts, but it’s also part of letting go of past fantasies and becoming my own person.

I’m also reeling a bit from something he said to me; both what he said and the fact he said it in the first place. I had just told him about some of what had happened to me in my last relationship — the horrible things that were done towards me, the things said and repeated to me, the betrayals and manipulations. For some reason, my brother felt that would be a good time to mention that part of why he hadn’t been in touch with me for those seven years — other than the previously agreed story that we were both just really bad at keeping in touch — was because his ex-wife (who I’d always been friendly with, had hung out with back in Idaho, and with whom I’d had a lot of friends in common), had apparently told him repeatedly I was spoiled, and that she didn’t want me staying in her house if I came to visit.

I have no idea how to take this news. I’m still wrapping my head around the pending divorce in the first place — something I only found out about a few months ago. I understand he’s in a bad place right now, and I have sympathy for him. But that’s for him to deal with, and I have to take care of my own problems. To hear this story about someone I thought of as my sister-in-law and family, and not only that, but to hear it from my brother, and knowing that he was thoughtless enough about my own well-being to tell me in the first place… it’s a lot to take in and recover from. I’ve been hurt and accused of a lot of nasty things through the years, and am constantly dealing with the damage that’s done to my self-esteem and self-image. I hadn’t expected the newest blow in that direction to come from the mouth of my brother. He and Mum were pretty much the only close family I have who’d never said hurtful things to me. I can tell myself my brother didn’t mean to hurt me by telling me that, but it’s a hurtful thing to say and there was no reason I needed to know. Intentions aside, it was a hurtful act.

And now I’m trying not to cry in public, as I write this using a cafe’s internet. I’ll be hitting the road again soon, and what a relief it is to know I can be on my own for a while now. The people we surround ourselves with are so important to choice wisely. It’s not always obvious what’s going to be a good choice. Solitude is a lot easier and safer sometimes. Plus my twitter-friends. My twitter-friends are the best.

Love to you all,

GeGi.

PS: I’m not going to have regular internet access for the next week or two, just so you’re all warned. Those who have my phone number, feel free to try texting. Everyone else, please be patient for my replies. <3, GG.

Travel Log: First Leg.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Today I basically woke up inside a cloud. With me inside this cloud is the city of Portland, OR.

View from the bedroom/living room window.

View from the bedroom/living room window.

After my adventures in Montana, I took the scenic route back into my old home-state of Idaho, driving on a two-lane highway winding alongside and back and forth over the Clark Fork river. I added several hours to my trip, but it was worth it for the beautiful scenery, the more relaxing experience, and the avoidance of a monotonous freeway.

I took a break from the road in Sandpoint, ID; the next largest town to where I grew up. I walked around a bit, seeing familiar sights and noticing changes from the last time I was there. It’s the first time I’ve been back since I moved out on my own, seven or eight years ago (I think… It might have been longer).

Back in the southern reaches of my old stomping grounds.

Back in the southern reaches of my old stomping grounds.

From here I continued on the more scenic highway until I got to Spokane, WA, where I finally relented to the necessities of time and got on the freeway to cross Washington. I headed towards Tacoma, and made it to my aunt and uncle’s house in time for dinner!

First order of business the next day — after tea, breakfast, and visiting, of course — was swinging by my storage unit to drop off as much as I could reasonably part with for the next year. After that, I took my car in to get a pre-road trip check-up, and then I was free to just relax and have fun the rest of my visit!

It was awesome getting to hang out with some of the family again; I went to a couple yoga classes with my aunt, went out to dinner with two of my cousins, hung out in the incredible apartment one of them just moved into (and meet her cat!), got treated to lunch by another uncle… I love my Washington-based relations, and it’s always a good time when we get together.

In the middle of my Tacoma stay, I took a quick trip up to Seattle and Bellevue to visit a few more friends. In Seattle, we went out for dinner at Some Random Bar (one of my favorite places — check it out the next time you’re there. Seriously.), and hung out afterwards watching a favorite show back at their home. In Bellevue, we test-ran a tabletop RPG one of the household has created, and had a total blast. That’s got to be one of the funnest gaming experiences I’ve had, and I absolutely want to play again!

After a short week in Washington, it was time to move on. I drove to Portland, OR yesterday, and am now enjoying the hospitality of a fellow unschooler and twitter-friend! Last night we listened to Welcome to Night Vale (the feral dogs episode), watched some Classic Doctor Who (Tom Baker era, “The Brain of Morbius”), and watched the first episode of Galavant. Much geeky fun was had by all (obviously!).

I’ll be here for a couple days, hanging out and exploring Portland. On Friday I’ll be taking off again, driving through Oregon, and meeting up with my brother for the first time since we were all last in Idaho. I’m so excited to visit him! I’ll be spending a long weekend at his place before I venture on into Territory Unknown…

I’ll keep you posted.

Love,

GeGi.

On The Road Again…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’m writing this from a cafe several towns away from the Montana ranch. My season there has ended, and I spent Easter packing the last of my things into my VERY full car, and taking a scenic highway route that added about two hours (compared to the freeway route) to the first leg of my month-long trip. The extra time and mileage was worth it; it was beautiful, for one thing, and for another it gave me time to really put some mental space between me and work.

Since I last wrote here, some interesting things happened at work. It happened one morning when I walking into the housekeeping building, and discovered the two co-workers who had been scheduled to open were not there, with no sign that they had ever been there since I’d left the night before. I called the boss, who sent me to wake them up. When I checked their rooms, it was obvious they had both packed up and taken off in the middle of the night, leaving us short-staffed by half our crew. Oh, and this was the weekend our VIPs (the owners of the ranch and a bunch of their friends, plus a few others) were showing up.

After some mad scrambling and last-minute rescheduling, we actually pulled off a very successful weekend for our veeps (fortunately they were really low-key and low maintenance). By the time the dust settled, the three of us who were left (me, the boss, and the boss’s assistant manager) realized that pretty much all the tension and drama we’d been experiencing all season had gone with the two who ran off. Ditto for the tension, drama, and dirty dishes back at the shared housing.

Needless to say, the season ended strong. We all felt more relaxed and mellow, and had a lot more fun. We finished our Deep Cleans of the cabins with a day to spare, while working about four hour days. My end-of-season review with the boss was the best I’ve ever received from anyone — to the point where I’m actually considering returning next winter. And my remaining co-worker and I were getting along so well by the end of it we even went out for lunch together on our last day!

Now my road trip begins; first stop is visiting the family I stayed with on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and hanging out with one of my internet friends. Next, if it works out (I need to make a call and find out if I have a place to spend the night), I’ll be visiting my old hometown in Idaho, which I haven’t seen in seven or eight years. Then on to Tacoma to stay with an Aunt and Uncle, and more visiting of friends (a common theme of this trip). After a short week there, I’ll head south to Portland (another friend), then Grant’s Pass (my brother, who I haven’t seen since we left our old hometown). After that, there’s just a few more confirmed stops (an old friend in Utah, another in Colorado, the one in Texas), which I’ve mentioned in a previous post. It’s going to epic.

I’ll try to post at least semi-regularly throughout my trip. My new replacement laptop/tablet should help with that — it’s smallish, easy to use, has a great battery life, and connects with my phone. And of course I’ll be on Twitter most days, too, at least a little bit. If nothing else, writing a blog post gives me a great excuse to hang out at local cafes for hours, which is totally one of my favorite things to do in a new town!

I’m also going to try and write more on my sci-fi novel. I’ve been taking a break from it, because my old laptop had a bit of an accident which shorted out the keyboard (hence the new replacement), and using an on-screen keyboard when it isn’t a touchscreen is a MAJOR pain and very time-consuming. Obviously, I could have kept writing with pen-and-paper, but my writing style — my “voice” — changes with different mediums, and I wanted to maintain consistence. A forced break can be good, though; I’ll be seeing the plot and characters with fresh eyes and a replenished well of ideas.

Adventures await…

Stay safe out there, friends, and happy travels on your journeys — even if it’s only your journey through Life.

Love,

GeGi.

 

Not the usual kind of post…

[WARNING: this post talks about my struggles with triggering subjects, including but not limited to depression, self-esteem, cutting, suicide, and bad relationships. Only read if you feel such subjects aren’t going to be harmful to yourself. Your own health and care and safety are far more important than whatever rambling words I’ve typed.]

Dear Cyber-Friends,

On the surface, I have a pretty awesome life; I’ve never had debt, I have decent jobs, I now have a good car, I pretty much always have somewhere to live and food to eat, I have friends and family who love me and support me when I ask for it, I have a computer and a smart phone and books and movies and an ipod full of music… There’s a lot of obvious comforts and benefits in my life. Not to mention things like being unattached to any location so I can travel whenever I want (jobs allowing) which a lot of people seem to find quite enviable, and having the ability and privilege to be independent, and apparently having some talent at artistic things like writing and painting.

On the flip side, I’ve also struggled with things like having a short and violent temper, having untreated depression, thinking I’m worthless and invisible, self-harming, finding meaning and direction in life, coping with the unexpected death of someone I grew up with as a teenager, isolating behavior, social anxiety, introversion, extreme trust issues, a history of bad and borderline abusive romantic relationships… A lot of those things are connected, and pretty much all of them have been/are being handled on my own — without the help of trained professionals or medication, or even much discussion with said friends and family.

I think a lot of the reason I’ve never gotten help or even opened up all that much about the internal things I deal with is due to those trust issues and that self-image of not being worth someone else’s care/time/attention. Everyone has shit in their life they deal with. My suicidal moments haven’t played out to actual action and my moments self-destructive behavior has been contained enough not to interfere beyond my own mind and body, so to the slightly damaged logic of my meaner side equals all that to being not bad off enough to bother anyone else with my own issues. Besides which, talking about my less-than-happy bits means being vulnerable and trusting not to use that to hurt me, and so far the track record on that working out in my favor has been spotty.

Even typing this post is hard to do, and the thought of actually publishing it terrifies me because then I’ll be admitting how broken I feel inside sometimes. I work hard to keep it hidden from everyone, and I honestly don’t think I could even tell you why or how I became convinced at such a bone-deep level that I had to pretend to be perfect, but for some reason I hold myself to an impossibly high standard. Exposing the parts of me that don’t live up to it, no matter how much I know those who love me already know about them, is one of the hardest things I could possibly do. I want to delete this whole post, but for some reason being honest right now feels really important and necessary. Which means I probably won’t be reading this over again before I post — something I usually do to make my typical long run-on sentences broken down into coherent thoughts — so if this post is a bit of a rambling mess, that’s why. Welcome to how my brain composes writing.

I don’t know what point I’m trying to make here. Maybe I just wanted to use my little corner of the internet to confess that I haven’t been feeling very stable lately. I’ve been using physical exhaustion (cross-country skiing) as a way to cope — I push myself beyond what I think I can do so I end up too tired at the end to feel anything but the “high” of exercise, while also satisfying the part of me that demands self-punishment by doing something a little more constructive than cutting. It helps to purge the build-up of frustration and anger and depression which cause my short temper, and allows me time and reason to be outside, which helps build a sense of contentment.

But the holidays are here at the ranch, which means I haven’t had that outlet all week, and probably won’t get it again for another week. I haven’t been dealing with it well, which is to say I’ve been cutting and drinking and isolating myself and listening to angry music and crying. Not to mention getting progressively more annoyed, frustrated, and generally pissed off with basically everything, but especially the people who already take more energy to deal with. I simply don’t have the energy to spare for dealing with them right now, because I’m using it all to keep myself alive and get through this period. I cling to the knowledge that my emotions tend to cycle, so every darker time like this is always book-ended with brighter times. It helps. It helps me survive it, anyway. It doesn’t really help make it any better to go through.

I have a really hard time letting anyone see me when I’m like this. I get very edgy knowing people are around, and I just want to feel safe — which for me means being alone, or at least anonymous. The last thing in the world I want is people being physically around me, people I don’t know very well questioning me, or generally interacting with others physically or verbally. So I spend a lot of time with headphones on, and I spend a lot of time on the internet. Internet friends are, at the very least, a welcome distraction. Sometimes they even help me feel better, if only for a brief bright moment.

Family is tricky, because I don’t want them to worry about me, so I don’t want them to know how screwed up I feel. When I was a teenager and wanted to kill myself, I didn’t because I decided I would wait until my parents and siblings had died, so I wouldn’t be hurting them. Since I felt dead already and just wanted to stop existing, it seemed like the least I could do to simply hold on long enough not to cause those who would miss me any extra pain. Even now, in my darker moments, I wonder if anyone would really notice or care if I were simply gone. I know my Mum would, and probably my Dad and sister and even my brother, and maybe a few others, but I have a hard time understanding why anyone loves or cares about me, the real me, so it’s difficult to convince myself I matter.

Being alone is easier to deal with — even when I feel lonely and isolated — than trying to understand and deal with people caring about me. I just can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that I might be important to someone else. I mean, I’m important to me because I have to be, but I honestly can’t figure out what there is about me that would make anyone else care. If you’re not immediate family, telling me you love me and being serious about it is a sure-fire way to make me at the very least confused, if not actually freaked out and running. Partly because of bad past experiences, but partly just because if you think that I’m worth loving there’s clearly either something wrong with you or you just have no idea who I really am, and either way isn’t promising. Much better to just avoid all that and be on my own, where I can be as crazy as I need to be without fear of judgement or of causing pain.

Big chances to the outer life are good — for a while I can cruse on the excitement and newness, which gives me the extra energy to be social and optimistic. But it’s not really my natural resting state, so to speak, so eventually I revert back to introvert and depression, unless I put a lot of effort and awareness into self-care. The moment I let that awareness slip into laziness, all the issues I’ve pushed back pounce again, and it’s back to fighting to survive long enough to regain equilibrium, while expanding all extra energy into not letting the mask of strength slip enough to let those around me see how much I’m hurting. I think half the reason I’m being a nomad with seasonal jobs is so I know I’m only committing to a few months at a time before the next new thing. Having an end date in sight gives me sometime to aim for when things get dark.

I’d been talking about doing a Europe trip with a couple of the roommates here at the ranch once the season ends. I’ve been rethinking that plan this last week; I feel like I’d rather spend the majority of my time between seasonal jobs doing something on my own, being away from the constant interaction this lifestyle demands. It would help me recover enough to get through another season, and maybe I could even save up enough money to do a bigger trip later. Also, I’ve been feeling a strong urge to make going to the parts of Europe I’m drawn to into a sole trip, with more of a personal pilgrimage focus than just tramping around with a couple people half a decade younger than me.

The idea of traveling on my own is very soothing to that part of me that feels constantly on edge when I’m around people. Thinking about it brings a feeling of calm to the constant agitation, which seems like a pretty good sign that it’s a good call. I haven’t talked to the roommates about my possible change of heart about the plan yet, because I’m still not sure which way I’m gonna end up going on it. I’m not sure what I’ll decide to do this spring. I have a job interview for next summer already, though.

The whole point of the way I’m trying to live right now is to have freedom. I want to live life on my own terms as much as is very possible for anyone. I’ve always been pretty fiercely independent, even at my most co-dependent, and I’ve finally gotten over my own fears enough to act on it. I don’t want to start compromising that just yet, so right now I think that means traveling solo between jobs, and doing my own thing during jobs. I don’t hold on to other people well, so I lose touch as soon as I leave, and I think I’m actually pretty happy with that. I’m not a social creature. I think I want to just drift through the lives around me, and not hold on. I want to be free that way.

There’s more I could say, but this seems like a good stopping place. I’m only going to get less coherent as it gets later, for one thing. And I feel like I’ve lost the plot somewhat of what I was trying to say — which I’m not even sure what that was in the first place, so…

Anyway.

Take care of yourself. It’s the kindest act you can do.

I love you all.

GeGi.

Not a DYI post…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I said I would be returning to the DYI Friday posts for a while, but I’ve moved on. I’m no longer interested in writing them up. Someday they may make a comeback. This is not that day.

Instead, today you will get a short update about, well, basically everything I’ve been up to that isn’t this blog.

I’m writing this post Thursday night. Friday morning, my Dad and Brother-in-law will be slaughtering the other breeding sow. Mum and I are planning to be gone when it happens; she knows she can’t handle being around it, and I don’t feel like finding out. Handling the meat doesn’t bother me, but watching the pig die might. So I’ll be helping with the butchering again instead, in a few days.

Everything is pretty much full-steam-ahead. Farm life ticks on as usual, only doubly so since my parents have a new piece of land to start clearing. Family life is a constant stream of activity now that our lives are ruled by a three-year-old. Work life continues on, with occasional side jobs that take up more of my time and help boost my income/saving. And I continue to research for my future adventures in the summer…which currently involves a lot of reading books from the library and a little of bookmarking many many websites which I will then have to comb through, and taking lots of picture-notes which I will then have to organize and follow up on, and… You get the idea.

Lately I’ve been feeling very tired and stressed out a lot. I’m not sure why exactly, other than getting worn out from ALL THE THINGS and scraping along without actually getting away from it to recharge at any point. I just started trying to exercise regularly again, so perhaps that will help. Hopefully I will making time to start writing more pages of my novel again, too.

On the plus side, it’s awesome being around my sister again!

Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll talk to you all again on Tuesday. Hopefully I will have more to say… Feel free to suggest future topics in the comments!

Love,

GeGi.

PS: Rather than a random picture, I’m going to leave you all with this excellent advice below.

how to care for your introvert

(Yes, I’m an introvert — it is why I internet. And yes, I agree with this advice, though please remember that every introvert has unique needs and wants, and it is best to tailor their care to suit them, and also remember that we are perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves.)

L,

GG.