Monday, June 27, 2011

Where the heart is...

It'll be no secret to anyone who's remotely read this blog or anything else I've written that I found home about three or four years ago, when I left my old home in Illinois, packed everything up in the back of my Jeep, and moved to New Mexico, which I feel like was where I found my true home.

I think everywhere you live gets a piece of your heart, and right now, my heart is aching a little more than it usually does for NM.  The Las Conchas fire has gone from 6000 acres when it started yesterday to 43000 acres today.  They've evacuated Los Alamos, including the hospital. This is the same area that in 2000 had another huge fire, 47k acres burned up, plenty of homes and structures destroyed. It's ten and some change years later, and again, people are in danger.  This is the same town that I sometimes HATED because it was so WEIRD and so EXPENSIVE and it was SO HARD to be so far away from home and trying to make my way.  Sometimes I felt so alone.  But it's where I got a new start.  It's where I'd run to the overlook, sometimes to cry and feel like I'd failed and made a huge mistake, sometimes to sketch, sometimes to try and capture the amazing sunsets through a camera lens...sometimes just to think.  It's the place that gave me some of the coolest jobs and random opportunities that I've had.  There is NOTHING I liked more than the morning break when I was working at Ruby K's bagel cafe.  I'd take my cup of coffee out with me while the dough for the day's bread was in the mixer, after the bagels were done, and take a cherry turnover, and I'd sit on the steps of the Parasol restaurant in our same complex, facing the mountains and watch the sun rise.  As much as I'm against morning...the sunrise over the mountains will change all that.

When I really took a moment to breathe it all in, no matter how awful my day was, or what kinds of things I was facing, all I could really feel was blessed. Lucky to be able to live somewhere like this.  It's a gorgeous, amazing, wild place.

And as much as I say I was lonely there, there were special people there.  Ruby and Kelly who gave me a shot baking, something I never thought I'd get a chance to do professionally. My buddy Jeremiah, the baker I apprenticed under.  The produce guy who was always so kind to me and made it a point to talk to me on lunches up in the employee area, who I later found out was an AMAZING poet...when he came to read what he'd written at the cafe one evening.  Marilyn, who was nice to me from the get-go, and who gave me a second job I desperately needed, but also a sort of mother figure in town.   The next door neighbor, a man who showed great care and love for all the things he put his hands to. He had the craziest garden for someone who lives in the high desert, and he used to water it like, three times a day. It showed.  I'm pretty sure it seems crazy, trying to keep something like that alive, but he was SO. faithful to it.  And then one day when I stumbled over to his house, one big mess of wet hair in the snow, barely able to stand because (unknown to me) I was in the midst of a massive, really dangerous kidney infection, he dropped everything and drove my Jeep up the mesa (30 minute drive) in the snow, to get me to the emergency room. He held my hand and said a prayer and talked to me and told me it was gonna be ok.  And honestly? I didn't know what was happening. He may have saved my life.  I may not have been able to make the drive,  I know I wouldn't have. And I may not have known it was that serious and just waited.  It's hard to thank someone properly for that.

Some of these people live in White Rock, which has not yet been evacuated (at least not last I checked) and some live right in Los Alamos.  But they're facing the same things.

And this is what they're facing again. This picture was taken 6 years after the fire, still scorched earth at the top of the peaks.  Still recovering.

But tonight, these people are being evacuated from their homes, their businesses are standing in the path of a huge fire.  They've been called and told to get what they can get and leave. Make sure you bring what you can't live without, plan for not being able to come back.  Bring your most precious belongings.  Nobody knows what's going to happen next.  I so very much pray for rain for them, so that the fire can stop, so that the town doesn't have to face the losses it did ten years ago. But at this point all that's left is to wait and see.

And yeah, I didn't live there for long, and it was a battle the WHOLE time I lived there. But there are people and places I love, things I needed to learn that that place taught me.  People that cared about some random girl from IL.
Well, this random girl from Illinois has a piece of her heart back in Los Alamos, too.

I hope everyone gets out safely, and all I can think of is that I wish it would pour down rain.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What I learned...

So today, I "learned" some things.
I say "learned" because I am certain I already knew them at one point or another, but every so often, we need to re-learn, and be reminded of the things that really make a difference. I keep thinking about whether or not I'm going to say something here, but I guess I've been trying a little different, a little more open here than what I was. Non sum qualis eram, I guess?

So today I saw the things people learned from their fathers on Twitter, of all places. 
And at first it made me pretty sad.  But there were lots of things going on today, lots of family was around, and we were exhausted from a full weekend that was for the most part full of love and happiness.

And tonight, I was alone. It wasn't exactly the plan, but I do tend to like to have some time alone to sort things out when they're hard.  So it wasn't all bad, though some of it was. 
I was driving home from the grocery store, trying to beat a storm when I thought about it again.

Things I've Learned From My Father.

I *do* have something to say here. Because just like teaching doesn't have to happen in a classroom or come from a teacher...just because he's gone does not mean I didn't learn things from him, through his writings, through the things I know about him, from the experiences people I love had with him. Pretty important things. 

So here it is. Here's my list. 
My father taught me to dream, because he dreamed first, and he dreamed big, from business ideas to houses he would build in the mountains some day. 

My father taught me to start making those things happen even if they seem impossible, because even though he never got to build that house, the plans are all there. I could build that house someday, because he didn't just sit on the dream, he took steps to make it a reality.

My father taught me to love the mountains and nature, because of the way he loved them, and because of the way he wrote about them, so much so that when I finally got out and experienced them, I felt like I was home again, and like I knew him better just for being out there.  And I fell in love then and there too.

My father taught me the beauty of writing. Because words are all I have of his...the ones he wrote, most of all, but the ones he said to others and others say about him. , but I do have words, and there can be such power in them. He wrote beautifully and wholeheartedly, and that's always my goal when I write. 

My father taught me to have a big heart. Because I have heard stories of his generosity, his love of people to even his own detriment and his kindness. 

And finally? And most importantly. My father taught me what love should be. Because he left me with a gift he didn't even know would be so necessary-a way for me to never be able to lose sight of his love for me.  I don't think I even realized its power until years later. 
Because I have a special way of knowing I'm loved that no one can come close to. And when I really get to thinking about that, it makes me feel amazing. It makes me feel hope, because that kind of love is out there, because it can last beyond even a person's life. It makes me aspire to that sort of love. It helps me remember not to settle for something less than that. 

So maybe it's not the way I wanted to learn these things.
But what's more important is that I know these things, and it's because of him. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The diamond in the rough

I'm having Aladdin flashbacks due to what I titled this entry, but oh well. I'll make it out of the Cave of Wonders and back into...well, here.
So speaking of caves I've been in, my computer was sans a power cable since Memorial Day. Hence no writing. And of course, when you suddenly don't have a blog to post to, you want to post a million things and the writing comes out of you like an exhalation.

Memorial Day was fantastic. This is pretty much a picture of the perfect day.

I had decided earlier on in the week that I wanted to go do something just for me, in lieu of the picnic I usually hold. This came about because I didn't really have the time to plan a picnic in the midst of starting a new job and all of that- was too tired, too information overloaded, too off my game.  I've since recovered from the freaky life change freakout that my body and mind tend to go through, and I think that this weekend was a good reason why.

I may not hold much love for Illinois in general or even the suburbs, with Libertyville being the exception, of course, but Chicago? There's no place like it. It's a big glittery gem.  It's interesting, it's diverse, it's huge....the lakefront stretches out in front of you if you want to enjoy the beach, there's soft green grass and trees to hang out under, fancy restaurants and hotels if that's your, shows, culture and craziness. You want it, it's probably somewhere here.

I started the day off with my friend Erin, taking pictures and hanging out here at Olive Park. We had a nice lunch inside to get out of the heat and the crowds at an Irish pub called D4. The food was fantastic and the shandy was just right for the summer sun. After she had to leave for another event, I went back here and spent an hour plus in the shade of a beautiful set of trees reading my magazine, people-watching, and napping.  Read an awesome story about a man in the area who started to make violins and researched all the science behind the sound. Exactly the right story for me in exactly the right place.

I was feeling amazing so I continued my day.  I originally was going to skip by Navy Pier altogether but it was so hot I had to stop in for water. This led me to wander around some, even though it was crowded, just to get some AC and some hydration.  This also led me to the Billy Goat Tavern's Navy Pier location, because a long time ago on another fantastic Chicago trip, I'd had a drink called a Horny Goat that was awesome and I was feeling nostalgic. While I sat there, I watched a few men in pirate costumes climb the mast of a tall ship.  And I thought to myself...."I keep wanting to do these things...why not just go for it?"

I've been pushing myself to do that more often, if I have the means. It started with the audition I did for an improv comedy group. That was at the encouragement of my good friend Ezra one night after seeing the troupe. I'm not sure what made him so convincing that night but he just said "Look, no matter what happens, you won't regret trying. You said you always wanted to do something like that"
Well Ezra, it stuck. And the audition was fun, and though I didn't make it in, I did feel like I had some talent in that area (confirmed by the troupe) and could possibly work on it and do it in the future. And it inspired me to stop stopping before I start. (and to write with terrifying grammar!) It could be something little, like trying a new dish (today I tried tiger cries at a thai place by work) or something bigger, like the audition or this boat trip.  And being alone doesn't excuse not trying.  I'm an independent person, and I like exploration alone and with people.  I figure if I try it and like it, I can suggest it to someone else that I want to go with. I love watching people experience something awesome for the first time anyway.

Some ship shots to inspire you:

This guy was awesome. I believe his name was Jeff. He loves his job, and loves sailing. We talked some about sailing when he found out I'd done sailboat crew for a year or two out of Winthrop. He's sweet, and cute.  :)  Definitely not sad he was on fore deck.

Honestly? With the beautiful lakefront paths, the boating opportunities, the wonderful parks, free concerts, restaurants and museums....fantastic architecture? You just can't beat Chicago. I may hate the suburban life, IL politics, construction, humidity, and too many other things to start a list here, but I do NOT hate Chicago. Chicago is a treasure. No matter what other cities I've been to, no matter how much I love NM, and even though ABQ and Santa Fe are decent for quick city fixes...second city nothing.

It sparkles. And what could be wrong with that? :) Especially for a magpie like myself.

Each time I roam, Chicago is...calling me home...Chicago is....

One town that won't let you's MY kind of town.