A road too long to mention

Well, there are only a couple more days left of our time in El Paso, and then it’s the trek back to Denver. In preparation, I’ve been reading On the Road. I’m glad I waited until now to read it, actually, because his journey in the beginning of the book, from New York to Denver, is very similar to the way Patrick and I drove with our U-Haul when we moved. I can really picture it: I also traveled through Illinois, took a quick stop in North Platte, felt the excitement of getting close when we hit Cheyenne.

Then, when he’s actually in Denver, I could imagine him running around Colfax; I could relate to his friend’s basement apartment and poems about those Denver pigeons.

Of course, there’s still parts I don’t understand at all– like when he casually mentions walking five miles to a friend’s place. I’m just like… How??? Wouldn’t that take a long time?? Was this a normal thing, to walk five miles to meet up with someone? Did they just sit around waiting for however long it takes you? EXPLAIN PLEASE.

Right now I’m sitting in a Starbucks, across from a stranger who is also on a laptop. It’s crowded, needless to say. I just tried to move my foot and I accidentally nudged theirs and I died for a second.

Another thing about On the Road is the way he hops from city to city, job to job. He gives his shirt away to a fellow traveler (and later, gets it back). It reminds me of what I love about movie hit-men: if they lose their coat or their gun, they just find another one laying around and use that. Goals, man. If I could go with the flow even half as much as movie hit-men and Sal Paradise…

Oh, the stranger got up for a second. Time to stretch my legs… Oh lord. Well, at least I’m not the guy who got stuck with just an armchair in a corner.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the road trip, and to getting home and having my own pillow back, and doing some projects. (One of which, I keep joking to Patrick, is going to be the opening credits of an indie film with the song “Rights of Man” playing in the background for absolutely no reason.)

I’ll miss this city, though. El Paso makes me feel so refreshed (*one hundred sun emojis*).

Also, I slept for twelve and a half hours last night… Which I guess might have something to do with it.

Advertisements

Sun City

So this is getting into my second week in El Paso, Texas. And THIS PLACE FREAKIN RULES. First of all, everything is pretty. The sun, the palm and cypress trees, the washed-out colors. Secondly, this city is huge and looks even bigger because you can see right into Juarez from the highway. (And the highway– it’s raised up so you can sweep fast over the city and feel like you’re on Coruscant.)

The only downside is that I’m apparently allergic to the desert (thanks, mountain juniper), so my eyes were red and burning for the first week. I think it might finally be subsiding, though. If I’ve finally found the magic combination of allergy medicine, I’m going to start looking for a tiny house on the outskirts of town, with a little metal fence around the yard and a tall, skinny cypress tree beside it. Seriously, though. If I don’t end up coming back here or somewhere near to visit frequently in the future, be warned: I am not actually me, I am a clone of myself and I am probably plotting destruction.

I really loved the drive down here, too. It was a little over nine hours from Denver; I drove most of the way, but the time seemed to go quickly. Instead of passing cow field after cow field, there were mountains and open spaces and forgotten towns. We also took historic Route 66 for a little while.

 

DSC_0712
Sunset desert in New Mexico

I’ve been spending my time here working on stuff for a writing workshop I’m taking online through my Denver writers’ group by day, and trying to improve my billiards skills by night. Also, Patrick and I went to a scenic view place one evening to climb on rocks and look out at the huge metro area.

DSC_0748
Our first scenic lookout spot
DSC_0757
Nighttime city

We spent Saturday afternoon half walking half sliding hiking down a mountain.

DSC_0799 (2)
Patrick kept putting the camera on rocks and setting the timer

Also, there’s bonus hype because Pope Francis is going to visit Juarez in a couple of weeks (right after we leave, actually) and, if that wasn’t already close enough, people say he might briefly visit El Paso too.

Although I’d say a brief visit won’t be enough– I’m glad I have several more days to enjoy being here.

 

I’m getting rushed back on a whim

Spotify made one of those end-of-the-year things where it shows you what songs, artists, etc you listened to the most… Apparently my top song was “Bluish” by Animal Collective. Which is kind of funny because when I listen to it, it pulls my mind right back to around this time last year. “Bluish” is the sound of getting ready to go out in the cold; smoking a cigar at New Year’s; standing on a balcony downtown; spinning around and around in a kitchen chair.

Looking over my Top of 2015 list now, other moments from the past year pop up fresh in my mind.

Famous” was playing pool on a wintry Sunday afternoon with Patrick. I remember wearing his shoes because my feet were too cold on the basement floor and both of us throwing ping-pong balls at each other.
True Affection” was after getting engaged and wondering how to become a better person.
Useful Chamber” was all the hours spent alone in the warehouse at work unpacking boxes. (My work moved in the spring, I moved out of my parent’s house in the summer, a couple weeks ago I moved across the country… I am done)
As Lucerne/The Low” was Poncho’s confirmation week and springtime. Cleaning the house, driving barefoot with the windows down in a hurry.
Lonely Town” was painting the house at Lawnwood. Sometimes it was not-so-lonely, with Dad and Patrick and Luke helping me. (I also think of painting the house whenever I hear the band Cake, because the radio station had a Cake marathon one night when Dad and Patrick and I stayed really late working and then listening to Dad’s crazy stories. “All the Cake you can take until 1 a.m.”)
Baby Just Break” was trying to squeeze all the juice out of summer, enjoying car rides and the feeling of impending freedom.
Downtown” was showing off my one true talent: Memorizing All the Words And Delivering Them With Gusto.
Magnets” was this fall, dancing alone in the living room with the bass turned up and decorating for our epic Halloween party.

There could be so many more. It’s cool to look back at my music and see the different phases I went through, and the way my habits changed with circumstances and the seasons. Also, I like that you never know at the time what music is going to become the soundtrack of this blip of your life. It’s not something you can force, it’s just whatever music is playing in the speakers or in your head when the moments happen.

And I think that my song-phases are the reason I remember the moments, actually. Some people take a lot of pictures. Some people say that smells can conjure scenes with clarity. For me, the same rush back in time can happen with first breathy sigh of “Bluish“.

What a year. Here’s to the last few weeks of 2015.
-Pen

it’s the stone of a home you know

Yesterday was the perfect almost-fall day. Warm but not hot, sunny but not blazing, and just enough people out and about in the late afternoon and evening to make the neighborhood seem alive as Patrick and I took a walk through the parkway. At night it was perfect sitting-out weather, so we sat on the front stoop listening to crickets, frogs, and passing trains.

It feels good to finally be settled in after all the crazy previous weeks. Wedding, honeymoon, getting home and trying to get a working sink and a fridge and stuff like that (all of which Patrick fixed… Speaking of which, he also power-washed the back patio so it’s now usable.
Me: “You’re covered with dirt. You have little flecks all over your face.”
Patrick: “Hmm.”
Me: *goes inside*
A few minutes later…
Patrick: *walks into the kitchen* “Hey. So did you know. If you power-wash the dirt off your legs… It kinda hurts.”).

But now everything is becoming the new normal, finally. It’s even normal to refer to Patrick as my husband, which is funny because it was so hard for me to call him anything when we were engaged. I think it’s because the word fiance sounds dumb, but “husband” (and wife!) sound super cool and legit. This is just a theory, but I mean. It’s obviously true.

I have to say, one thing that is kind of weird about living in my own house is having all my stuff out in the main rooms. I haven’t had other people go through my things this much since I was a kid and had friends over to play with stuffed animals. My books are stacked in the dining room, and a few friends have come over and hunched down, cocked their head sideways to read the spines, and asked me: “Did you actually read all of these?”
I’ve also had my record collection (or lack thereof– I’m working on it) analyzed by one of my friends, which went like this: “…This one looks sad, this one looks– just terrible… Ew, the Beatles… More Beatles?!? Man, I hate the Beatles… Oh, some Rush… Who is this? Nah, too sad… WHAT is it with you and the Beatles?”
However, the Chieftains records I bought for five cents at the library were the unexpected crowd-pleasers, so there you go.

Also we are kind of starting to meet our neighbors. Or, my dad met one and Patrick met one. I think they are too scared to talk to me… or maybe it’s the fact that I always seem to be running out the side door. But not today. This weekend, I am content to chill here mostly, enjoying the sunlight and the sounds and the fact that I’m at home.

the other side of takeout is mildew on rice

I’ve debated whether I should abandon this blog, abandon blogging (um, kinda did… but you know, officially), start a new blog, start a new blog with one specific theme in mind, or…. I don’t even know. I still don’t know. But lately I’ve been super nostalgic for a time before tumblr and pinterest, when my internet experience was so much less image and so much more discussion, or at least reading. To me it seems like now everything is just an endless scroll of pretty things. Aesthetics, inspiration! My poor weary eyes. I don’t even know anymore whether I like something or if it just looks good, you know?

And does any of this translate to real life? And does anyone think up their own stuff anymore? How can you even tell? Does it even matter?

Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy things like Pinterest myself. I’ve found it useful, for sure, to gather ideas and then get them all sorted and categorized and specified. But all the white space and prettiness and perfectly calibrated everything makes me feel like I must need reading glasses– like I’m squinting, or like I’ve been looking in the mirror too long.

Essentially, what I think I’m trying to say is, I’m bored.

And weirdly nostalgic for a time when I was running around blithely on the internet, encountering little difficulty in making up blog domains or usernames, reading everything I set eyes on, and writing and creating as if I was the only person to have thought of it. Now half the time I think of making a blog post about something, like, say, a recent album I’ve been listening to and the deep thoughts I’ve been having about it, I can’t. I’ll think, the only people reading this are people I know in real life who do not share said interests, and besides that, everyone who does care already wrote about it and I discover everything too late. And/or, whatever I’m going to say is just plain too long.

Now I sound like an old person– these newfangled blogs! Everything moves too fast! Well, I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe it’s partly what I’ve already been doing: keeping up with the newfangled things I like, and passively acknowledging the rest. But maybe it’s also finding a few internet spots where I actually interact, for once/again.

So, who knows what that means for this blog, if anything. Um. The End?

It’s not like Christmas at all…?

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. This year, I haven’t felt much in the spirit, oddly. It’s been way more busy than usual, and a scramble to get presents for everyone. I am 112% done with shopping forever. (Or until gift cards start burning holes in my pockets. Heh.) Even the Christmas lights I strung up around my bedroom burned out.

The house smells like a restaurant, because Dad’s new obsession is a deep fryer. It also smells a funeral home, because of some huge bouquets we have left over… So like a deep-fried wake.

I’m listening to Sufjan Stevens Christmas music, and I can’t decide if I like it, or if I want to punch a hipster, or if I want to punch a hipster on the shoulder in a friendly way? Either way, it’s not really getting me into the spirit, either.

Maybe it’s because I feel like everything is new this year, and different… A lot of our traditions aren’t the same anymore. And if they’ve changed, it’s because they’ve had to– we’re at different points in life, or at least I am. Working, having other people to see at other gatherings, being in charge of actually putting Christmas stuff together (and all the solo shopping that entails). There’s no snow yet, and not so many decorations this year either. No cookie baking from me. Mom hasn’t played what I consider her “traditional” Christmas music (read: Amy Grant) and I can’t seem to find the same versions of carols I remember from years ago, like the Coventry Carol or Do You Hear What I Hear. I haven’t even watched any Christmas movies! This whole Advent could be summarized with an image of me looking goggle-eyed at a pink candle like “wat”.

I don’t want to be depresso or anything. Actually, an hour ago I was sitting in the basement with Luke, talking and watching him play some kind of battle game on the computer. Every time he got killed in the game a border popped up saying “Season’s Greetings” and framing the dying shot in snowflakes.
Luke: “That was Christmasy.”

I guess I want to get into some new (possibly my own) traditions. But part of me also wants to revive the old ones that everyone left behind. Like Amy Grant music and cream cheese.

Or being forced to go to bed. We’re going to try going to midnight Mass this year, and Mom said, “What if we had all our presents when we got home from Mass?” and my internal monologue at that moment just went “WHAT IS HAPPENING we are supposed to go to bed and set our alarms and Luke will set 9 alarms on his Nintendo and we will try various methods of secretly messaging each other before we inevitably fall asleep MOM WHAT ARE YOU SUGGESTING”.

So next year I want to send Christmas cards (I keep swearing that I will) and maybe make– I don’t know– peppermint bark or something, to give away. And I obviously need to cultivate my own Christmas music collection.

Definitely starting with “Wonderful Christmastime”. The space noises!

all my bones are dolorous with vines

The title is what I keep thinking when I see the native flora lately (Thinking, or singing). I love how everything around here in the summer gets thick and green and any untended patch gets matted with overgrowth and wild grapevines. Actually, a lot of things lately remind me of quotes from either the song “Emily” or T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock poem.

But then there are some things that don’t remind me of quotes but instead inspire me to make my own words about them. And it’s frustrating in a way, because I want to be able to express things in the moment, but it takes time to formulate and I end up staying up late at home just writing it out in different forms. Usually I just make notes in some way or another, but the night of the 5th I actually wrote a poem, all in one sitting, which I haven’t done in a while. It was mostly based on some fireworks I saw/a drive along the highway at night, but it came after a day of seeing so many things I thought were cool or interesting or lovely (and fueled by how in those moments I just kind of babbled something dumb– I wanted to actually say something that made sense). I feel like I’m always grabbing someone’s arm and going “omg omg omg look at that it’s so cool” and they’re like, “Um. That is a brick. But I’m glad you’re so easily entertained.”

*cue the Prufrock references* Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets et cetera.

Some of the things I babbled about were:
-a weird development that was an eerie old-70s-future style, all dark wood. And on a slightly overcast day, too. (I said it seemed like the setting of a creepy suburbs movie, but Oliver said, “No, it’s like a Star Trek episode…” And he proceeded to act out the parts of Kirk and Spock: “Ahh! The geometric shapes!” and stalked around with an imagined phaser.) I actually saw a cloud of bluish smoke breathe from the upper window of one of the houses, and then, obscured by a tree, the shape of a man smoking a pipe and looking out.

-a power plant across the street from all this. You could see the chimney things from the development and then when you crossed the street, the whole thing on the edge of a park dim with locust trees. It loomed over this little beach that we walked along, climbing on a stone wall and stepping over a stream of water that spilled from a gross grate to the lake. Anyway, have you ever seen a building that you think, if this was a story, this building would be alive/sentient/possibly hungry? No? Well, then I guess you haven’t seen this power plant. Some of the high windows were open and I could see scattered bright lightbulbs on, burning with that particular incandescent yellow-orange light. The lights on made it seem like the building  thought it was nighttime but also didn’t sleep.

If at least one of these things don’t make it into a story someday, then I just don’t know.

Yesterday, I was at a baseball game and from up in the stadium facing out I could see across the city and its thick green clotted coat, patched with bridges and train tracks and neighborhoods and big factory-type buildings whose purposes I don’t know. Later we walked through downtown, and drove the side passages beside the river and down the straight stretch of road in the steelyards that lives in perpetual night in my imagination. All of this, I wished I knew how to grab hold of, or inhabit, instead of always looking and looking and maybe grazing it occasionally.

Hey! My half birthday is in a couple of days, I just realized. So, there’s that as reminder that I haven’t only been thinking of poetical stuff. I also think about half birthdays and how much I love blueberry popsicles (eating one right now).

Oh noooooo. I dropped popsicle on my shirt, I kid you not. Well. Typical.

Here comes the feeling you thought you’d forgotten

It’s summer? I feel like one day I woke up and all the leaves were popped out and the sun was shining and my brain just made the adjustment like, “Okay, so that happened.” And now it’s so freakishly normal to resume my favorite lifestyle– the one where I never wear shoes anywhere, only carry them around to places in a half-attempt at being civilized. This summer is weird, though, because I have already been to the beach approximately five times. Despite living here all my life, I’ve rarely been to the beach at all because my dad hates germs and the city.

But now already I’ve gone on a few trips to Edgewater with Oliver to sit on rocks, eat ice cream, and watch sailboats, all as the sun sinks into the lake and we discuss such idyllic topics as trial-by-combat. Also we had a picnic there, which involved a box of wings which we devoured like mad hyenas. And Huntington twice, where we climbed a shale cliff, walked all over, climbed onto a broken chimney that was sunk in the water, waded in a creek, found a ton of beach glass, sort of got a tan, and played volleyball. (I actually hit the ball a few times. Such sporting, wow.) Also while we were there the dogwood trees were shedding their cotton like snow and it was glorious.

The nature on that beach restored me somehow. I think it’s not just the way everything looks, though there is so much there that’s lovely and interesting. But it’s the fact that I could touch everything, all the rocks, the water,the sand, the grass, feel the breeze and the sun, for hours and hours, all day long. I felt like I absorbed everything through my skin. Maybe it’s not the salt water that heals you. Maybe it’s just the beach.

And amazing books. I just read one such book called Annihilation, and then I told the entire plot to Oliver on a car ride, and then to Bug, except Bug got excessive hand motions and me shouting, “NNNOPE! NOPE!” to explain major points. When Eliza got back from work and I was still at their house, Bug mentioned that I had been telling her about a book… Eliza asked, “Oh, what is it?”
Me: *flails and falls to the ground* “AAAAUUUGGGGGHHHHHH”
Eliza: “OK, I don’t actually need to know.”

So, actually a lot more than just beach-combing and book-reading has been going on, but I don’t even know what else to say specifically. Except for one thing that was specifically not mentioned, which is: I got a car today. (!) (?) (!!!!)

It is a Pontiac Grand Am as white as porcelain. It has woofer speakers that make people give me a sideways stare at stop lights. It is almost as old as Poncho. It has shiny chrome wheels and it doesn’t smell like something died inside of it (Yay, bonus). But that’s all I can say about it for now. I’ve only had it for a day, and besides that I am tired of talking cars for the time being. It is exciting, though. And I never thought I’d actually be excited about getting a car.

Car

Oh yeah, that reminds me– I have developed a serious love for gifs. Among other things… It’s like I just discovered the internet. It used to be just a few websites to me, and now it’s a whole big thing and greatly amusing.

Anyway, I guess that’s all for now. But I’m sure there will be no shortage of new adventures to tell in the near future.

Re-loo, Re-loo

Guys. I KNOW it has been approximately 800 years since I’ve posted anything here, but I am going to ignore that fact and instead of telling you what I’ve been doing lately, I present one of my Projects With Bug. This particular one occurred last week when the weather decided to not be kill-yourself freezing and was only face-numbingly cold. It was the first day of spring, actually! First we went to a little place called Coe Lake and walked all the way around it through wind and woods. Bug, who has more knowledge of the place than I, set out for the most interesting trees for posing in.

DSC_0161

Then it was on to deeper parts of the woods, along the way noting  a seagull skull, which prompted Bug to ask why the likelihood of finding dead things goes up whenever I’m around…  My theory is that there are just a lot of dead things in the woods, and if you are always peering intensely at the ground– as I do, in my search for feathers, antlers, cool sticks et cetera– you are going to see some.(Except, despite my recent, obsessive best efforts, I haven’t been able to find a single shed antler… *claws the walls* WILL OUTSIDE PLEASE BE CLEMENT I NEED TO LOOK MORE)

Anyway, we found a bunch of cool fallen trees and climbed on them.

DSC_0181

 

DSC_8479

Then we ventured onward into town, and around to the criscross bridges hidden behind some of the buildings.

DSC_0198

On our way out of there, Bug found another interesting tree, but had some trouble climbing into it…

DSC_0200

DSC_0206
She eventually succeeded.

Also, we both became simultaneously taken with the brick wall across the street. Bug understands me, man.

DSC_8638

The last bit of our tour involved the stone steps where we avoided the stares of college kids and chilled out under the pines.

DSC_0224

DSC_0215

On our way back, we plotted out some hopes for future, hopefully warm-weather adventures… Islands of ruins and broken glass and geodes, days around the lake, and of course, ever more time spent tromping through field and forest. I. Cannot. Wait.

Obligatory Driving-Related Quote

I was going to call this post “The plague of the greasy black engines has gone East” but I figured that was too unrelated/too long (or maybe life is too short to harbor as many Joanna Newsom quotes as one might wish to use). But that is how I feel when I think of the fact that: yep, I finally got my license. Hip hip hooray, or whatever. Everyone is pretty happy about it, including myself. I was one check-mark away from failing that cone stuff but HA HA NOPE I WIN.

Mom wanted to be tagged about driving, since she was the one who had to endure the torture of teaching me the cones. However, after going to the store with her the other night, I have an even better thing to tag her for.

So I decided to be super nice and accompany Mom to the store… I somewhat dragged my feet, and then dragged a cart, and then rode the back of the cart like you’re not supposed to but everyone does. I stood in an aisle of pillows and contemplated lying down in a basket of them and having a nap while Mom debated for the rest of eternity about which one to buy. Then the groceries… Mom kneeling to peer at the bottom shelf while I lolled over the handle of my cart and made bored commentary for my own amusement and that of nearby shoppers.
Mom: “They only have strawberry lemonade and not pink lemonade!”
Me: “Well, that’s awkward.”
Mom: “I know, right?!”
I laughed, and so did the random lady passing by our predicament.

What is it about this particular store– the Target up the street from my house– that engenders interactions with strangers? And I don’t mean talking to the cashier or something. I mean I always seem to have some kind of encounter within those aisles. Like the time I wore my hat (a gray hat with a brown feather in the band) there and found myself mired in the cereals alongside a pair of hipsters who gave me scoffing sideways looks.

Speaking of which. Just now I was sitting at the table listening to my music play through the pair of computer speakers that have somehow become an intrinsic part of our house, and Dodge teased me about being a hipster (Me: “This band is actually well known though. They’re popular.” Dodge: “With hipsters.” “But they get played on the radio.” “The hipster station on the radio.” ….”You just rage quit this conversation,” he said as I finally gave up). Then Dad sat down and took off his knit hat.
Me: “What the heck is with your hair?” It was laying flat and combed back, and in its need-of-cutting state… “You look like Benjamin Franklin.”
Dodge: laughter
Me: laughter
Dad: “I’ve been wearing a hat all day!” (scowl) “And I’ll wear it all night too.” (mutters) “Kids.” He put the hat back on and went into the living room to sulk.
Dodge: *high-fives me*

Yeah I know, I’m practically a comedian. Anyway, I’m off to work.