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.

 

 

Writing! All the writing…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

So, you might have noticed an absence of new posts recently. This is just a quick update to let you know that 1) sorry about that, 2) I will eventually have proper new posts again, even if it’s just the Goodreads Crossovers, and 3) tell you why I haven’t been blogging.

The past two-and-a-bit weeks, I’ve been visiting a friend of mine in Portland. We’re both basically unpublished writers, and we’re both working on our first novels, and have been encouraging each other towards this endeavor for, I think, about the past two years. We keep in touch on Twitter a lot, but getting to hang out in person to bounce ideas of each other and cheer each other on is so much better. While I’ve been here, my friend has finished their first draft, and I went from zero words to around 30k words for my second draft/kind of major rewrite.

It’s been amazing and unreal and so very very productive (for novel writing), but it also means I’ve done very little besides write a ridiculous amount of words every day and then tried to recover from the feeling of my brain starting to ooze out my ears a little. On a really good writing day, I have to recover enough to even form proper sentences and find the correct words when I’m talking out loud, because I’ve used up all the words I have for the day in my writing. Those are the days we pretty much end up sitting around laughing at the cat for an hour or so because the cat is hilarious and we don’t have the energy to do anything requiring more concentration. In fact if I seem a bit silly or rambling right now, it’s because I’ve already written over 2k words for the novel, as well as note for the plot. For comparison, NaNoWrMo says to average just over 1.6k to finish a novel-length in a month. I’ve been averaging well over that for less than two weeks.

The thing is, I don’t know how much longer I’ll have this much free time, and I know I only have a few more days here in Portland with my friend, so I really want to get as much done as possible while I have those advantages. Ideally, I think my goal is that by the end of the year I’d like to have this novel done and have started working on getting it proof-read and edited and looking into publishing. It’s been a long time coming, and I’d really like to see this story out there–at least on a small scale, but who knows?

Anyway, I’m not proof-reading this post or anything, and it’s already about twice as long as I expected, so I’m just going to sign off now and go to bed.

Keep chasing those dreams, friends, and stay safe out there.

Love,

GeGi.

Goodreads Review: Winter.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I reviewed the Lunar Chronicles on my blog back while waiting for Fairest to be released. Now that I’ve read Winter and the series is complete, I’d just like to officially place all of them on my personal THIS SERIES/BOOK IS TOTAL PERFECTION MY FAVORITE FOREVER list. That’s a little hyperbolic, but you get the idea.

I stand by my gushing in the old post, and especially by my saying this series just gets better with each book. Winter had me on the edge of my seat for, well, a lot of the book judging by my progress updates. I still adore my precious OTPs (all of them. I ship them all so hard), and the writing is so accessible and easy and fun, and the characters and dialogue and relationships (friendships included because they are just as precious and perfect and shippable) all sparkle off the page, and the act is tense and nerve-wracking and…

Ahem, anyway. Again, all that comes across very strongly in my progress updates. Along with a lot of shouty-typing. I love this book, I love this series, and I never want to say good-bye to this world. I’m not sure I can coherently say much more than that about it. But that’s what happens when I love something this much: too many feels = diminishing eloquence. Everything becomes gushing and flailing and shouting and hyperbole. So let my shortened review of this final installment of the Lunar Chronicles stand as testimony of just how incredible it is, and how much I think everyone should read all the books in the series.

View all my reviews

Storytelling is a superpower, and other thoughts.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’ve said (written) a lot of positive things on here about fanfiction. I stand by everything I’ve said before, but due to some recent discussions I’ve been seeing on Twitter lately, I wanted to add a little complexity to my position on some of the issues surrounding fanfic.

Storytelling is important. How we tell the story, what we choose to focus on, and what we do with it afterward, all matter very deeply. These things effect people in a very real way, with very real consequences to their lives. This post is going to talk about some topics that you might not want to expose yourself to right now. I talk about them in pretty general terms, but if even hearing (reading) the name of an issue will adversely effect you, please take care of yourself first and not read this post until/unless you’re in a mentally and emotionally safe place to do so.

The discussions that sparked my own thoughts into wanting to write this post was about toxic shipping in fandom and fanfics. The release of Jessica Jones on Netflix is starting lots of very awesome powerful dialogue due to the incredible handling of PTSD, abuse, rape, misogyny, and other relevant topics for today’s culture. It’s also brought out some less awesome behavior with those people who seem to see romantic tragedy where others see abuse, manipulation, and rape. These are people who ship Kilgrave/Jessica Jones, ignoring all evidence that that’s about the most sickening and unhealthy thing they could possible do. That’s not even touching on the fact that shipping an abusive one-sided relationship is triggering for survivors of such, and also the fact that it’s showing support and/or excusing that kind of behavior in the real world.

The things we create in fiction don’t live in a vacuum, safe and away from all “real world” consequences. It doesn’t matter if we’re creating TV shows, best-selling YA fiction, or internet-only fanfic. All it takes is other people, even just one other person, seeing it. The moment that happens, it’s effecting the real world. It has become part of the world, released into the wild to spawn and grown and change in someone’s mind, becoming part of their thoughts and ideas. So us storytellers must, MUST, be responsible about what we say. But we also have to let go after it’s out there. The time for us to make sure we’re getting it as right as we can is while we’re creating it. After that, it’s too late. It’s already out there, and we don’t get a second change to fix our mistakes.

So when the story is about an abusive relationship, it needs to be called out on being an abusive relationship IN THE NARRATIVE. This is something Jessica Jones did. My skin crawled seeing Kilgrave, despite how much I adore David Tennant. They never shrank away from the fact he was a horrible awful person, even when they gave him complexity and backstory and explanations (and please note: these were NEVER framed as excuses except by Kilgrave). Not all narratives do this; in fact, very few of them do at all. They turn abusers into someone misunderstood, broken but fixable through love and sacrifice. That’s the lessons learned by people who ship Kilgrave/Jessica, because like Kilgrave, they learned about love by seeing it in movies and TV shows. That kind of narrative about love not how the real world works, and survivors of abusive relationships know it.

People who buy into the toxic narrative and defend it are hurting the survivors. They’re also hurting themselves and anyone else who listens to that narrative, because it makes it easier for the myth to perpetuate. They’re giving confusion and uncertainty to people who won’t always recognize abuse because it’s been dressed up as romance. They’re giving excuses and justification to those who will use romanticized abuse to get what they want from other people, consciously or not. They’re supporting a culture that doesn’t acknowledge rape, abuse, misogynist, violence against women. They’re supporting a culture that can’t tell the difference between what’s okay and what isn’t. They’re supporting a culture that devalues the abused and their experiences.

I’m not saying the people who ship these things are bad, necessarily. They might be. I don’t know, because I don’t know them at all. All I can tell is that they’re certainly misinformed and in desperate need of some feminist education. I’m sure a lot of them would disagree with me and call me a lot of horrible things if they read this. I’m sure a lot of them wouldn’t even realize the irony of doing that, how it would in fact prove my point better than my own words can. This happens all the time, both on the internet and in the “real world”. Despite all progress, we’re still living in a toxic culture, one where just telling the truth about it on the internet can, and often does, lead to death threats, rape threats, and verbal abuse.

Which is why storytelling is so desperately important. The real world hurts, and a lot of us use escapism to survive it — I certainly do. The thing is, it isn’t really escapism. It’s just a different way to change and explore the very same narrative we’re living in day after day. The way that narrative is framed will either make our wounds bleed more, or help them to heal. If someone is telling a story with toxic relationships, framing them as tragic romance is adding to the very thing that’s hurting us in the first place. But framing them with in-your-face honest realism, showing just how bad and awful and insidious they are, makes them become something we can then point to and say, “See, this is what’s really going on. This is what it feels like to be stalked and manipulated and trapped and then survive. It’s not romantic. It’s not something you get over by the next episode. It’s scary as hell, and it changes you for life. It doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you strong. It’s awful, and it’s happening every day. But we can still fight back.”

There was another conversation happening a few days ago. It was about how J.K. Rowling was continuing to tell people the right and wrong ways to interpret her characters. These people were talking about how hurtful it was for an author to do that. They had bonded with the people in these stories because the characters resonated with real life experiences and people. The characters were real to them, like all our favorite fiction characters are real to us. They had claimed them, had written and read fanfiction about them, had created their own narrative and framing about them, both by using what was in the text and by going beyond it. These people were offended and outraged at the author telling them they were wrong in their own interpretations.

So how are those people different from the people shipping Kilgrave/Jessica Jones?

They’re different for a very simple reason: the framing and narrative created by toxic shipping is ADDING to a toxic culture. But these outraged fans are creating interpretations to DISMANTLE toxic culture. They’re creating narrative to add POC, to add queer relationships, to call out abusers, and other important issues that were overlooked or deemed unimportant in the original text. No work of fiction is perfect, even Harry Potter, and it can certainly be hard to tackling every issue at once. So these people are taking something they love, something profoundly important to our generation, a touchstone of our culture, and they’re adding this framing to it. They’re doing it because they love it, and because they have the real life experiences and knowledge to understand where the failings and shortcomings are, and they have the passion to try and fix them. This is something I love and adore about fandom, by the way.

J.K. Rowling coming along and telling them that no, those things are wrong, is hugely upsetting. Harry Potter and co are her creations, but as soon as she published the stories, their names and experience became ours, too. They’re part of everyone who reads the books or watches the movies or listens to the audiotapes. They’re part of our culture, a lexicon in our ongoing dialogue about the world. She doesn’t get to invalidate that by telling us we’re doing it wrong. She can and does try, but it doesn’t mean we have to listen to it. She had her chance to tell that story, and now it’s our turn. Which means the responsibility in how the story is framed falls to us, too.

A storyteller gets one shot to get it right. And, regardless of if they do or not, everyone who received that story then gets their own shot to get it right. And on, and on, and on. Stories never really die or go away. They keep mutating, traveling, forming and breaking apart and reforming, over and over and over. Stories are alive, even the ones pinned down with print or film or tape. They’re alive in our minds, as soon as we read them or watch them or listen to them. They never leave us, and they never stop changing our thoughts and feelings and actions. They get passed on, warping themselves through the lens of our perceptions and experiences, and again through those same things of the ones who receive it from us.

How we tell the stories is so important. They can literally change the world for someone, for good or bad. The moment we’ve told the story, we’ve lost the chance to tell it better. So we’d better get it the best we can the first time, because that’s all we get, and with that one chance we can heal or break someone else. It’s scary and huge and real, and it’s powerful and beautiful and magic. Storytelling is the ultimate superpower. It doesn’t matter if you think you have an audience or not. Chances are, someone somewhere is still listening. You’re touching their life. So you can either add to the toxic culture that’s probably already hurting them, or you can use that superpower to help create dialogue to dismantle it, and let them know they’re not alone.

We all have our own experiences, our own truths and struggles and wounds and insights. Storytelling is how we can share those things, finding the common ground with others and opening the eyes and minds of those who never realized what life was like for us. It’s a chance create understanding, compassion, empathy, outrage, revelation, and a myriad of other things that are extremely hard to pass on without the wonder that is storytelling. Storytelling is how we learn about other people, it’s how we can grow to understand the world, how we remember the past, and how we can shape the future.

That’s one reason why I think fanfiction is so important. Not everyone has the same experiences (obviously), so when someone can take a beloved narrative like the Harry Potter books and flesh it out even more by drawing on their own unique view, that adds to both the story as a whole, and to my own views of other people. I can become a little more aware of other peoples’ realities in the real world, and the world of Harry Potter gets a little closer to being complete because more than one voice is adding to it. The more voices and the more diversity gets added to it, the better it gets at breaking down toxic culture for more people. No one is going to get things 100% right, but the more people who add to it, the better the chances get for the overlap to make up the difference. Not to mention how cathartic it can be to add to that narrative and framing yourself, which is exactly what I experienced the first time I venture into writing fanfic as an angsty teen.

I’m a storyteller myself. Not just in this blog, either. I recently finished a first draft of a novel I hope to actually publish in the next year or so, and I’ve started on a sequel already. I’ve been world-building fantasy and sci-fi worlds for stories since I was about twelve or so, and do it by playing Let’s Pretend for as long as I can remember. Saying I love it is kind of a “does not compute” understatement moment for me, because it’s just part of who I am. It’s not something I’m passionate about, because it’s synonymous with passion for me. I breath, I blink, my heart beats, I create people and worlds and scenarios in my head. It just is. Obviously, thinking about getting to share one of those worlds and some of those characters is exciting and cool. But you know what the thing I’m most excited about is? It’s seeing what other people will do with them.

I want to see my own stories get out there, because I want to see how they grow and change with each new interpretation. I want to see what other stories get told with these characters who are real to me, because that means they’re real enough to someone else to inspire those other stories. I want to see what will happen when someone else uses them to tell personal stories, uses them to explore other issues, uses them fulfill other dreams and hopes. I want to see how someone else thinks the story should end. I want those things because seeing them will make me a better storyteller, and a better person. Those are the things that will help me understand someone else, and help me to understand the world and the cultures and all those other things I’m not going to experience as myself. I don’t know what it’s like to live the world as someone else, but using stories like this helps me get closer to that. Especially if they’re using the power of storytelling for good.

Stay strong, cyber-friends, and keep telling stories that help to heal and dismantle those toxic cultures.

Love,

GeGi.

Talking about: @shipitmovie and fandom.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Today I want to talk about a script I just read. Let’s back up just a bit first before I get into it, though.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll have seen posts about various fandoms, how canon treats fan ships, queerness, sexuality and gender, etc. I’ve even talked about how fanfic is so very important, and why. I might not always be the most eloquent on a subject, but it’s probably pretty clear that these things are important to me, that I’m passionate about them, and that I like to gently educate and explain them to others.

I haven’t been doing that lately, though. Lately, I’ve either not been blogging at all, or I’ve been blogging about my travels — which, fair enough, that’s what I started this blog for in the first place. Hence the name, and all. Blogging about my travels is fun, and it’s a good way to share parts of my non-cyber life with everyone, but I’m realizing how much I miss the other kinds of blogging I do. I miss geeking out about stuff that excites me, and I miss talking through a subject to myself in an attempt to make it accessible and interesting and informative to all of you. I’m going to try to do that kind of blogging more often; we’ll see if that actually happens.

It’s going to happen today at least, though. Like I say, I just read this script that I want to talk about to everyone. It’s called Ship It, and it’s written by an amazing person called Britta Lundin, a filmmaker and writer based in L.A. I’ve been following Britta on Twitter for a while now, not knowing any of this.

I followed Britta at first because I was following anyone who had interesting or feelsy things to say about Destiel and the Destiel corner of the Supernatural fandom. I’ve mentioned the Destiel fandom before on my blog; it’s the shipping of Dean and Cas, and it’s what made me start watching Supernatural in the first place. I heard and found so much that was so compelling about it online, that it made me curious about the canon (the actual show).

Even before that, back in the days of angsty teenhood with dial-up internet in Backwoods, North Idaho, I was emotionally invested in fanfic and shipping. At that time it mostly revolved around Harry Potter fics, from what I can remember. Oh, and Lord of the Rings, whose corners of fandom were my first real interactions and friendships with other fans. There were a few others, but that’s what I remember most: going through pages and pages of HP on fanfic sites, even writing some myself, and late night chat rooms with LotR fans who shared their fics with me.

I’d stopping being around fandom for years since then, but then I had a conversation with my cousin about Supernatural (she was watching it, and telling me about it), and then I started looking it up, and I found rediscovering the wonderful things that exist down that particular internet rabbit hole. Not just Supernatural, either, of course. There’s numerous fandoms and ships out there, something for everyone, and it’s that the point? The magic of fandom is that we don’t have to stick to canon; we can create new things that speak to us using an already establish language, if you will. We all know the origin, so we can take each other on journeys into unexplored territories or deeper into familiar ground. But I digress, and I’ve also talked about all this before.

The point is, it was the fandom and a slash ship that seemingly only exists in canon as queerbaiting that got me to start watching a show. It doesn’t really matter what show that was, because it’s a formula that’s repeated over and over on TV right now, and has been for years.

See, this whole queerbaiting-the-fandom-to-create-interest-without-committing-to-queerness thing is just plain wrong. Yes, it does get people to watch and keep watching the show. But then they stop watching it after a while. They get sick of being yanked around by the creators, actors, or show itself. They get sick of being bullied by the other kind of fans, the mean and entitled ones. They find shows with real actual representation instead, which is what they were looking for in the first place. But they keep the friendships, in the end. They keep the parts they love, which are usually all fandom-based, and ditch the bits that just hurt them over and over, which is usual the canon (and the fans who are actually bullies more than fans).

Enter this script I keep mentioned, for a movie trying to get made, called Ship It.

Ship It is about a teenage girl from a small town, a huge fan of a first-season CW show and a fanfic slash writer. She doesn’t have friends because she doesn’t have common ground or interests with the other more “typical” kids around. But online, she’s hugely popular because she writes really good fic. Raise your hand if you can already relate to her… *raises my own hand*.

She goes to a convention for her favorite show, and as the last person to ask a question, she asks the one all slash-shippers want to know the answer to: will the two super-hot leads with explosive on-screen chemistry and compelling story arcs finally kiss already? The answer gets badly fumbled, which instantly leads to bad PR online because, well, online fandom is everything these days. This is a first-season show, after all, and they’re trying to get renewed. They can’t afford their fandom’s wrath or scorn.

This leads to her getting invited along the rest of the con tour to help with their online PR, despite the fact that the show creator doesn’t want her there and one of the lead actors is dismissive of both her and the rest of the fan base. Events transpire from there, including a budding relationship for our heroine with another fan and fanartist of the show.

What unfolds is a relatively simple plot with a deeply resonant and compelling emotional journey for not only our heroine, but also the resistant lead actor. It’s a tale of self-discovery with gentle and not-so-gentle help from others. It touches on a lot of issues, both lightly and more in-depth, with the care and understanding of someone who is actually part of that world and who gets it, because of course, that’s exactly what’s happening. It’s truly a movie about fandom, by someone actually in fandom, and it’s a movie for everyone, not just fans. It’s about people.

Because that’s what fandom is: it’s people. People who are passionate, people who are creative, people who share common loves and dreams and hopes and joys. People who are inspired by something, and who inspire others in return. It’s a vast and wondrous thing, when we let it. It can also be vicious and mean and awful, because people can be like that sometimes, when we get focused on the bad, on the fears, on the power-trips. But the differences and the common ground can both be cause for growth. It can inspire us to be better, do better, act better. It can teach us compassion, and can open our minds to the realities of other people. It can spark a creative spirit onto new and exciting heights. It can imagine a way to make the world better.

And yes, I may have gotten a little off-topic there, but that’s kind of my point. There’s so much potential in every form of media we consume, that there’s no way all of it can be explored by one person or even a team of people. When something we create gets shared with the world, it becomes exponentially bigger, with each possible path being explored leading to another maze of paths and even more potential. The explosive creative energy fandom generates is because people are all storytellers in our own ways, and we latch on to the things we feel passionate about.

Ship It makes me feel passionate. It does because I hear it speaking to me when I read it. It’s a story that badly needs to be out there, to get hear, to inspire others. It’s a story of what might be possible, in some way, some how. It’s a story of the hope in many fans’ hearts, that someday, someone with the power to make a difference will actually listen to us as we explain over and over how to do it better. It’s a story of fan’s journey, and an actor’s journey, but really it’s the story of fandom itself, as it evolves into the amazing and beautiful creative thing I love so much. It’s a personal story, speaking straight to each and every one of us.

Oh, and there’s lots of slash. And non-binary representation, which, if you know me at all, you know I fucking adore that.

If you want to know more about the awesomeness that is Ship It, check out and follow @shipitmovie and shipitmovie.tumblr.com. If you write to Britta (email on tumblr), you can even get to read the script yourself! And please make sure to spread the word about this hopefully-soon-to-be-made film; Britta is trying to make sure finances know just how much interest there is out there about this project, and I’m betting there’s a lot of us who’d love to see and support it.

Much love, and stay creative!

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.