Sunday, September 27, 2009

Summer of Everything. Plus.

Oh this summer. It was one of the fullest summers of my entire life. Five weddings, twelve states, 20+ hours in the car with me Mum, 14+ hours in a giant vehicle with the whole family, ten flights, and one missed flight resulting in one fancy hotel. And that doesn't even include all the people. There was a beautiful college reunion in New York where I saw some of my most favorite people in life, an insane wedding in Montana where 50 Arabs descended hard upon a small ski town, a quiet weekend in North Carolina with my oldest friend in life, a couple of county fairs along the way with my wonderful non-Emil-brother, and plenty of time in the good old Wisconnie. My oh my. I don't think much more could have fit inside this momentous summer. In fact, I probably should have broken it down into smaller blog entries with less pictures, but, waa waa! I guess it's all or nothing with me these days...

One of my first trips was to the exotic and remote land of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. Mt. Horeb, as some of you may know, is the troll capital of the world. Oh yes it is! My lovely friend Lacy and I took a little day trip to see these mysterious trolls, and even stopped for some beers on the way. Here's the new location of the New Glarus Brewery, home of the legendary Spotted Cow. Who all loves beer??

Trolls love to cuddle...

...and they love high fives.

And, of course, there was North Carolina (come on and raise up). My dear, wonderful Gina, who I've known since third grade, and her hubby Patrick spent the weekend showing me an absolutely beautiful time. There are few people in my life with whom I feel as comfortable as I do with these two. Whether we were lounging around the house with the dog, walking to the farmers market, or classing it up at wineries, it was an amazing, relaxing, hilarious time. Oh, and also, we ate like kings...damn hell ass KINGS! you understand the hilarity:

Coincidentally, I recently came across a blog where the most recent entry highlights the food of North Carolina! Check it out! Tell your friends!

The second wedding of the year was Mark and Alexa's on Long Island. Mark and Alexa are Beloit people, which means....AWESOMENESS!!! Seriously, I met the best people ever in Beloit. It was so full of kindness and creativity and damn weirdos. And a bunch of them were at the wedding. To begin, here are the geniuses who got married:

And here are the geniuses who were the groomsmen. And one genius who thought to put Jaigermeister in a flask.

That's just Andy and I. Very sexy times.

Sarah and Jenny, two of my favorite bandos ever in life.

And the whole Beloit gang. Look for us in the next Beloit Magazine! YOW!

It was such a beautiful wedding. I cried pretty hard during the ceremony, but discovered a new makeup tip: I only did my upper eyeliner before the ceremony. Afterwards, and before the party, I did my bottom eyeliner and mascara. Genius!!!

Okay, so then there was Montana. Oh Montana! I can honestly say that I fell in love. Seriously. I've always talked about how much I love the Midwest and the flat, open landscapes of Wisconsin and Illinois. And, don't get me wrong, that love is still there. But you know what? Those mountains...I'd forgotten about those mountains. I flashed back to my times in Colorado, driving as far up a mountain as we could go just to look back down to where we were. And the softer, rolling mountains in Ireland where I spent much of my childhood, climbing for days and pretending I was in The Sound of Music. It all came back in Montana.

I saw some of the most beautiful things ever in my life, and got to be with some of the best people I know. And I'm lucky enough to be related to all 8 zillion of them! Or sort of related...I don't know, everybody is either a cousin or an auntie 'round these parts. Totally out of order, here's a glimpse into the exceptional things that have made me feel eternally grateful for my life and what I get to do:

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We hiked for forever, it seemed, all the while not knowing what we would soon be experiencing. When this view appeared in front of us, I had to catch my breath. Unbelievable.
At a break in our hike up one of the Grand Tetons. Yeah, I said Teton. My father has always had an interest in napping on rocks in public places, and my sister and I followed his lead. This is called Inspiration Point.
My beautiful family.
Some of the hydrothermal land in Yellowstone: the Fountain Paint Pots. I've never before seen colors like this in nature.
We saw a bear on our very first night! This guy hung out on the hill for awhile before crossing the road right in front of our car. My father kept telling us how lucky we were.
Another view of the Grand Tetons. As you can see, I just couldn't get enough of them. I keep imagining how cold that water is, and how fresh the air felt.
Oh. This is just Sara and I demonstrating how a yeti walks. You know. No big deal.
Do you know that buffalo are adorable? I've only seen them from afar, in the Badlands, but this guy walked right alongside our car. His front legs made him look like he was wearing bell bottoms.
We also went whitewater rafting. This is my sister, four of my cousins, and I in a raft. Missing pictures in this series include: the groom falling in the water, the bride falling in the water, our boat (mainly my cousin Laith) saving a young girl who'd fallen in and tumbled down the rapids, and my mother, several aunts, and several uncles wearing wetsuits. By special request only.

Returning to Wisconnie was no easy feat after that phenomenal trip, but the Dodge County Fair made it better. And my honorary little brother, Alex. Oh, and...STYX. Yes, I've seen Styx four times now, and it gets better and better every time. And the carnival atmosphere definitely helps...

And what would a summer in Wisconnie be without some sort of outdoor activity? Strawberry picking! My friend Jess invited me to go with her and a couple of other people to toil in the fields all day, i.e. pick strawberries and visit a donkey. Effing stellar, Jess. Nice job.
Come on now! Donkeys are so cute!

And last, but absolutely in no way least, one of my favorite pieces of Wisconsin came back to me, after having started her own journey in Austin a couple of years ago. My friend Tara is one of the most beautiful, strong, supportive, and (please pardon the Tyra reference) fiercest women I know. Spending a bit of time with her was the cherry on top of my sundae. No, the cheese on my sandwich. Okay...the appetizers of the entire meal. Basically, she's the greatest. Here we are being totally great.

And so...that's my summer. I actually just let out a giant breath. Let me know if you want to see anymore pictures or hear anymore stories. I'm hoping that the writer's block stays away so I can tell you all more about all of this, and more of whatever happens in the near future. Hopefully more things like this. For now though, I'm so glad to share these tiny bits of loveliness with you all. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blocks and Blanks

I look at my blog "Edit Posts" page and there are seven unfinished drafts in there from the last two months. Seven! I have had writer's block up the wazoo. See? I'm so blocked that I have to resort to words like "wazoo." Ugh.

Anyhow, thanks to a lovely woman named Miriam and her Contemplative Writing class I've been attending, I've finally been able to write a couple of things. Today's assignment made me struggle so much - she gave us a bunch of blanks (i.e. "I regret ___," "I dream of ___," "When I was 8 years old ___," etc). The first 18 of the 20 minutes we wrote felt like pulling teeth. Tough stuff - boundary issues, discomfort -you know. I sort of hated it. But finally, in the last couple of minutes, all this stuff poured out of me, and then one of my awesome classmates said that I should put it on my blog. So...thanks class, and thanks Miriam! First finished piece in 65 days...

I used "I remember___"

I remember an uninspired life. Sitting in dark apartments for hours - laying on couches or beds, eating so much and letting it all sit in my body. Wasting hours and hours on television. And waiting on other people when I already had my shit together.

I remember not caring about much of anything. The biggest challenge of the day was whether I could get through a day of work with this bad a hangover.

And I remember devoting my precious life to somebody else, to too many somebody elses. And leaving myself alone and wondering where I went. And it is what made me realize what I really have to do - for me. I have to do this for me. Because there's no one else I'd rather be in charge of.

And so...

I remember the heartache and pain that led me to joy and inspiration. I remember the suffering that led me to a new, bright, and joyful life. I remember that I've learned to grow up and out and away from the darker parts of life. Like in the book The Prophet - the joy can only be as high as the sorrow was low.

I will continue to remember, experience, and live the highest and most gigantic joys that this world has ever heard of.

Thanks for reading, dudes. And thank you for patience and and clarity and light. Yes, you.