Insight

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I don’t always run downstairs to get my laptop in the middle of the night, tears streaming down my face. But when I do – its because my mind won’t stop racing.

I’ve gained insight on a lot of things recently. On how much social media can damage your health. On how one simple thing can send your life crashing down, and we give it the power to do so.

I don’t find myself swayed by the riptide of life at all times, but sometimes it tips me under – my steady surf suddenly in tremulous exile. My body tumbles in the bubbles, the thick fiberglass knocks me in the back of the head and I come up spitting, gritting and gasping for air, what the hell just happened?

Sometimes you realize that your purpose in a certain meeting is to provide whatever you can. All of yourself, always, until they are pulled from their dark water up to the light and can walk out onto the shoreline feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. That the amount of pain and distress they feel is something that must be jarred from them, lifted, pulled. That they aren’t ready to give you anything, but can only sit as you unwind the suffering from their emotionless bodies. That you can give them your tears, fears and angel hair – and Joni Mitchell will still sing at not knowing love at all. But they knew love, yet they couldn’t give it – not then. They must go out and open their wings again – and your beautiful little dance together was only that. One dance, for a short time, and it’s off to the next partner. One with different shoes, and different moves.

There are people that I have done that for, that I’ve laid down for. Not saying that I’m a saint, I always intended to continue to give them my all – but that the soul purpose of our connection was that, and only that. And it’s an acceptance that is hard, but necessary in knowing that without that meeting, and that experience, and those lessons – you wouldn’t be able to love the way you can now, and neither could they. It happened recently, and for some reason – I feel drained, as if it were one too many. I’m not sad, I’m not depressed, I’m not unwilling to love my life and appreciate every bit of each breath I take. But I feel drained.

I still work towards my career, and spend countless hours reading and writing, studying, planning. I’m excited, thrilled. But it’s all I do, and I wonder if I’m now in need of what I’ve been called upon to do before for other people. I don’t want that. I don’t want to allow for another, who gives me everything they have, who makes me feel the greatest love for myself and others than I’ve ever felt, to have to be swallowed up by an empty hole. Not than I’m empty.

I’m just conflicted. I thought I had something real, and yet – I don’t know. I’ve never been left feeling so uncompleted in a spontaneous meeting, so confused, so unsure of what would or will become of it or anything.

I don’t have time for a relationship. I don’t want a relationship. I can’t handle that right now. I’ve been volcanic lately, unstable, hot and cold, active, inactive. I don’t know what I’m doing, and I can’t decide if that’s a bad sign.

I just wish for light in the dark, that isn’t really dark. I am grateful for the insight I received a month ago. I was pulled out of the dark, and set gently back in the grey area – not quite in the light. I was lost and somehow my footing came back to me, I believed in mascara for a little while, I believed in extreme socializing, and that things are worth it for an individual that seems different. I believed in what I felt. I believed in things happening for a reason, that nothing is coincidence. It was all beautiful, and still is – I still regard it in that way.

And maybe there are people that masquerade this planet as angels, simply greeting you with short, small, whimsical moments that give you hope for another glimpse of that real thing. That was real. It wasn’t imaginary, you didn’t dream it – it was real. I am grateful for the things I’ve learned out of this wingless thing that brought so much back for me when I was completely in the shadow.

There has been so much negativity surrounding everything lately. Like a haze, or a fog. I have begun to ignore this, as I can’t handle it anymore. I have spent countless days wondering what the significance is of saying negative things to others. Everyone protects their own reality, in an attempt to protect themselves – sure – but why propose that this reality has to be everyone’s reality? Why can’t there be more acceptance in things. I have cried my accepting tears of things never turning out the way I wished and hoped they would from my beautiful, memorable, brief brush with something real and true. And now? I can’t wish for hateful things on that person. That isn’t fair. That isn’t just. That isn’t worth it. If we were scarred with all the words that we have ever said, I don’t want to relive the ones I already regret – nor do I want to instill more hatred for a person that doesn’t deserve hate. That came into my life to pull suffering from me, and leave me before I relied on the high. I wanted more, but that wasn’t the hand that I was dealt and I have to accept that.

I can’t wish bad things on someone who taught me to be happy, and showed me what a genuine smile looked like, even though I may feel neglected now. This will fade and I will be left to reminisce with the good things, as all memories tend to allow. A wonderful soul once said to me, “If you take everything at face value, you can never be wrong. If they go back on their word, it lies with them – as you trusted them as anyone should trust another.” And beautiful words those are. I trusted, and I believed, and now I am left with my trust – and that’s ok.

I cannot defend someone that may be angry with me. That has left my field due to my silent response to negativity on something that I saw as a great positive in my life, as a step forward. A step in the right direction. I am sorry for my silence, but I refuse to allow it in my life any longer. I can’t put it anywhere. With the things I intend to do with my life, I need support. I need love. And I believe that I have lived through enough experiences that have questioned my idea of love, to deserve that love. As you may doubt me, due to a personal and self proclaimed reality, don’t allow those thoughts to enter my path – for I don’t doubt myself, or what I wish to do with my life. I can’t listen to those thoughts, because I can only fit positive thoughts within my head.

To love lost, self love gained, to all things beautiful and real, to midnight tears, and morning coffee. To rekindling, and new memories. To the one that pulled me out of my nightmare. To the positive ones, and loving ones. Allow yourself to be free of hate even when it may be all you have left to feel. Replace it with understanding, acceptance. Cry it out, let it free from within you – and then let it go. It’s the only way we can make room for those that wish to be a part of this beautiful journey with us. I love you.

-C

To New Adventures

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If you’ve read other posts of mine on here, you know that I have been a little lost in my footing with what I really want to do and where I want to go. What my next step on this little path I’m on should be. Well, I’ve recently figured it out. And I don’t know if this is just me spontaneously wanting to go, or if the time is right, or if the chance of meeting such an amazing person who is soon to make his own home there as well was simply destiny working its magic. I really cant put my finger on which it is. Shit, maybe I just finally know what I want and it took a smack in the face to say to myself, “Oh yeah, I want to do that”. Well I have some news –

Next year, after I graduate and save a little up in the summer, I’m moving to New York. I will probably end up living with 6 people in a one bedroom apartment, and I’ll be broke for a little while, and I probably will hate the cold – but I’m going to have a new adventure. I’m going to have experiences, and get to know people, and live the grimy life of a city dweller for some years. I plan on working at the Bronx Zoo with the Western Lowland Gorillas, doing Psychoneuroimmunology – a study of the mind and body and the effects that stress have on the two. I also am hoping to start writing more, doing conservation journalism, and environmental awareness. Possibly even traveling to do research on the effects of stress in the wild versus stress in captive areas in primates. PTSD, Social Anxiety, Attachment Disorder, and other things relative to that.

I’m still determining how to get my foot in the door, and I think really it just comes down to writing. Trying to get things published, and trying to get funding now to do a few things research wise here in Salt Lake City. I haven’t quite figured out how I will do that, but I’m working on figuring it all out. The idea of it all has just blossomed into something really beautiful, and I can’t wait to go and start doing things. Experiencing all there is to experience in the Big Apple.

Since the recent determination of my next step, I’ve had people – loving, caring people – who are telling me that I should think before I leap. And that I need to sit down and really give it a lot of thought. But the funny thing is – that’s just not who I am. And those of you who definitely know that about me, can laugh at the fact that yes, I also know that. I know that I act blind, and that I do things out of complete spontaneity – and isn’t that great? I fucking love that about myself. I can look back at all the times I was spontaneous and didn’t think something through and just laugh at the fact that I did that. And what is that called? An experience! An adventure! Something to look back on and say, “Yeah. I really DID that.” With no regrets, and no hard feelings.

When I decided, back in 2013, that I was going to move to Los Angeles – I just did it. Right then and there. I found a place in the middle of South Central and moved in. I hated every minute of it. Someone was stabbed on my front lawn, I would hear gunshots and helicopters at night, I was hit on by men with multiple tear drop tattoos crawling down their left and right cheeks. But look at where I am now. I may have not enjoyed LA, but I went out there and tried film acting. I got SAG/AFTRA eligibility in 3 months, I got to have run ins with celebrities that make for hilarious stories, I got to learn how to surf, and enjoy the beach, I got to go to Joshua Tree and camp in the desert – playing music to perfect strangers, I learned how to take care of myself away from the comfort of my parents house. I learned so much by being there for 1 year, and I hope to write a play about it some day. About my experiences there and what it taught me. About rags to never riches but 2 jobs, and how I came home to a flooded room on the one day that it rained in California after years of drought, and I stayed up all night with a hair dryer trying to make sure my new mattress wasn’t ruined. About my first earthquake at 3 in the morning, and I went running into the kitchen where my roommate just laughed at me and told me they happen all the time. I did that. And I don’t regret it one bit.

I’m going to do the same in New York. I will move there, and shit will happen, and I’ll have good days and bad days and days in between when I feel indifferent about the city. But then I’ll have days where I get to look at the Brooklyn Bridge, and I get to go to Times Square, and maybe even wait outside for an audition at 5 o’clock in the morning, and have coffee with the last bit of money I own – just because I feel like it. And hate the fact that I don’t have a washer and dryer and have to carry all my shit down the street with a stash of quarters that could have bought me something else. I’ll have nights with my friends Mikki, Aaron, and Amanda, and Devin. Merrin, and Andy. And other people I’ve yet to meet. And isn’t that the point?

Someone dear to me once told me, “It’s about the experiences that you make with others that makes life, life.” And it is so true. Yes I can say that things have happened to me on my own that I remember and cherish, but what memories do I really cherish? Thinking back on my favorite days, I have to say that they were spent surrounded by good, loving people. If I had to recreate one day on my death bed to relive – it would be spent surrounded by people that I love, having food and wine together. Laughing and telling stories, and just enjoying being completely vulnerable and in the moment together. No bullshit, no fronts, nothing but our true selves all wrapped up in a room, spending time together. Those moments can be had anywhere, and I’m following them to the city. I am ready to have countless nights of “oh shit rent is coming”. Or lets go explore, or lets cry it out over a bottle of wine that we can barely afford, or lets go out even though we live an hour outside the city and we will have to take the red eye train back home only to get up at 6 am to beat the crowd back in for work.

Doesn’t that all sound exciting? Doesn’t that sound like really living? Maybe one day I’ll have a house. Maybe some day I can settle down somewhere and never leave for years and years. Maybe I can eventually not pour my money into a black hole apartment that I will never see again. But I’m 26, and I don’t have any kids, and I don’t have much to keep me by the mountains, even though this place has been a wonderful place. I want to go explore something else now, enjoy something else now. Find more out about myself that maybe I still have yet to discover. I’m ready to try out a new skin for a while.

In one year, I’ll be off. Wish me luck. And send me money, I’m gonna need it.

-C

Research – Palm Oil Production in Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest producer of Palm Oil on the planet. Out of only 43 countries, it holds this record despite its peripheral status in the current World System. In recent years, the demand for Palm Oil has sky-rocketed, and because of this Indonesia’s Plantations cover over 10 million acres of land that puts our only remaining tropical rainforests and endangered species at even more risk (c.). Conservation efforts and Ecological Modernization Theorists are battling for the protection of the remaining forests and wildlife that encapsulate the Indonesian landscape through policy every day. While the introduction of policy change seems like the obvious answer, conservationists continue to run into the problem of Palm Oil production being the only means that is keeping Indonesia in a significant part of the International Trade across the globe, and one of the only reasons why Indonesia’s economy has excelled in recent years. Within this writing, I intend to bring light and solution to a currently grave and exploitative situation in deforestation, pollution, and attack on endangered species.

“Palm Oil is hard to avoid”(b.). It’s present in a number of products in everyday life such as: toothpaste, soap, and even chocolate by way of a “filler” ingredient. The demand for these Palm Oil containing products grow as population numbers grow, and with the increase in population numbers comes the inevitability for more deforestation, habitat loss, species depletion and overall destruction of the Bornean Forest. The Treadmill of Production turns its wheels ever faster in the growing economy and international trade, but other animals suffer at the cost of human advance. Fewer than 55,000 Bornean Orangutans survive today in the wild due to the deforestation of Indonesia to accommodate Palm Oil Plantations, and most companies purchasing the product have been turning their heads to the inevitable fact that the Treadmill of Production isn’t slowing and the environmental factors aren’t looking to get any better in the future.

As Serge A. Wich states in his article, Distribution and conservation status of the Orangutan on Borneo and Sumatra: how many remain?, “Orangutans are the only great apes found in Asia” (j.). This poses a problem when talking about the deforestation and destruction of the Bornean Forest in Indonesia to accommodate Palm Oil Plantations. Orangutans are already a very fragile species having long waiting periods between births of about 6 to 9 years, and having been targeted as domesticated pets within the illegal pet trade in recent years. When we combine reproduction rates with poaching, Orangutans are likely to be killed or orphaned at a faster rate than they can sustain their population. Current studies are showing that these animals are highly endangered and could be extinct within the next few decades if action isn’t taken immediately. A study conducted in 2007 demonstrated that the species of Orangutan under the most threat has been the p. pygmaeus(o.). This species is one of 2 that can be found in Borneo that is seen at lower elevations in the forest, which means that if more deforestation occurs these animals will be forced to ascend into higher parts of the rainforest. This migration alone could kill them due to scarcity of diet as well as insufficient canopy access among a range of other factors. Currently, their numbers range from a total of around 3,000-4,000 still left in the wild. There are a few protected lands in Indonesia such as the Betung Kerihun National Park, that house protection for these endangered Orangutans, but these parks cannot account for the loss of species outside of their borders.

Beyond the safety of Betung Kerihun many species, ourselves included, are victims of environmental injustice. Deforestation for Palm Oil doesn’t just mean cutting down trees. Major impacts on global carbon balance are also at stake(m.) yet there are few studies that have brought this to the table for leverage on inhabiting species well-being. Forests provide half of the worlds oxygen by inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen. One tree alone can produce 260 pounds of oxygen, and one acre of trees can diminish around 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year. When taking these major contributions that trees bring to the planet into consideration, it is disheartening to know that so much of our natural oxygen is being literally “cut down” every day for the production of Palm Oil.

Not only is our oxygen being depleted, but the air that still remains is being polluted by forest fires in Indonesia. In 2015 there were an estimated 100,000 fires, some of which were caused by debris during deforestation. Because of these fires, in just a few months time, Indonesia’s emissions each day have surpassed the daily emissions from all of the United States economic activity combined. Some of these fires took place in the tropical peat lands which peaked greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide. “Taken together, the impact of peat fires on global warming may be more than 200 times greater than fires on other lands”(s.). When considering these facts, would it be safe to say that the entire human race, as well as all of Indonesia’s indigenous species, is at the hands of environmental injustice from Palm Oil production alone? What we must consider with this question is that in standard cases of environmental injustice a victim can move, but when thinking of global environmental injustice there is nowhere we can “move” to.

What we must do is regard Indonesia as the highly diverse ecosystem that it is, instead of exploiting it for Palm Oil trade. “The U.S. National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the rain forest. Twenty-five percent of the active ingredients in today’s cancer-fighting drugs come from organisms found in only the rain forest” (t.). With this quote comes a reality that without the surrounding ecosystem that we share this Earth with, our medical advances would be sub par at best. We need the rainforests more than they need us, and each year we continue to cut down trees in Borneo for an oil used mainly as a filler if for any significant purpose at all. There are currently over one hundred pharmaceutical companies, as well as US government branches, that support and conduct plant research for future cures on cancer and AIDS. Forty percent of these plants are found nowhere else on Earth but Indonesia, and with the protection on National Park land we may soon cease to house such a plant or flower to conduct research on.

As previously mentioned, Orangutans are only found in Indonesia but they aren’t the only species that is in threat of going extinct, nor are they the only mammal that is solely found there. The Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Elephant, and the rarest Rhino on earth are also indigenous. There are more than 1500 birds, 430 found nowhere else on Earth, and that number consists of only the currently known species. The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment believes that more than half of the country’s species are still yet to be discovered(u.). With the rapid growth of Palm Oil Plantations and the finite amount of protected land that is being held by National Parks such as Betung Kerihun, it is only a matter of time before these species have left this Earth, never to return. The only way to protect these animals is to protect the land by way of funding ecotourism and creating protective treaties on the animals and forests themselves. By doing this, we can stop further destruction of Indonesia and begin our long process of reversing the damage that has been done.

When thinking of National Parks, ecotourism plays a large role in the protection of the Orangutans and other endangered mammals residing there. Ecotourism is the conservationists approach to tourism by way of funding the environment to gain education. Not only do these parks protect the endangered species therein, but they also bring economic growth and awareness to the surrounding problem of deforestation encapsulating Borneo. There is room for opportunity in the ecotourism market that is currently taking place by way of developing certain policies to improve forest management through conservation and National Parks funding and advocacy. By educating incoming tourists of the threats that befall Indonesia’s indigenous species, conservation efforts are likely to happen. By education, these animals could undergo further protection to secure their future not only in Borneo but across the world. A great example of ecotourism benefiting Indonesia is Dr. Birute Galdikas and her Orangutan Research and Conservation Project (ORCP) which is now called the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI)(q.). Galdikas has brought awareness, education, and conservation to endangered Orangutans by offering tours within the Bornean Forest to better the understanding of the need for these animals on our planet. She currently receives donations from people all around the world with a love for Orangutans and their safety as well as an understanding for the importance of proper ecotourism.

Indonesia has slowly inclined each year in its ecotourism market. With that in mind, why would the continuing of deforestation be in any way beneficial to that incline? Koh and Wilcove, in their article, “Oil Palm Agriculture and Tropical Biodiversity”, state that 3,017,000 hectares were deforested for Palm Oil Plantations between 1990 and 2005. Under the control of this much land for Plantation use, the surrounding species diversity plummets for not only Orangutans but also for indigenous birds and butterflies by about 83%(c.). By hurting the wildlife that bring Indonesia it’s uniquity, the ecotourism market falters. When national parks fail to house any wildlife that makes a national park worthwhile to see in the first place, tourists will find entertainment elsewhere. If Indonesia found less invasive ways to continue their production of Palm Oil without deforestation by implementing rules and policies on Palm Oil farming, I believe they could find a balance in the incoming wealth of both industries.

“The lowland rainforests are expected to become extinct within the next decade” (h.). With growing global demands for Palm Oil, Indonesia is currently incorporating policy changes in order to improve their sustainability as well as continue to grow their economy without destroying their entire surrounding rainforest. Not only do they plan to continue their production of Palm Oil in the years to come, the Indonesian Government intends to double it by the year 2020. With this increase, there is need for immediate change. In 2015, a two-day meeting was held with multinational companies about the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil standard or ISPO in order to discuss protecting the forests. The Government realizes that practical means of change need to be implemented now before the production rate increases. They plan to find a “balance between environmental protection and economic growth” (r.) in order to continue the improvement on the well-being of their people, as well as to provide better care for the inhabiting endangered species living in the forests in the upcoming years.

Along with the ISPO, Indonesia has recently teamed with the United States to create the Indonesian Climate Change Center “to specifically address issues like peat land draining by funding research intended to inform better forestry policy”(w.). The U.S. has funded $6.9 million to the center in hopes of reducing its Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the near future and provided the U.S. Forest Service to bring educated answers to effectively adapt to climate change. We supplied $58 million in USAID to help the management of forests, and clean energy as well as a signed agreement to improve the air quality, a slogan of “Breathe Easy, Jakarta” showing our obvious want for improvement(x.). This combined effort internationally will boost the morale for the Indonesian government to continue to partner with us on environmental sustainability and ecological modernization which will in turn keep Indonesia’s forests alive.

Policy change in the near future is encouraging, but what regulations were already in place for the endangered species and plantations there in the past? In 2011, a 2-year forest moratorium was signed to “temporarily stop the granting of new permits to clear rain forests and peat lands in the country”(v.). This moratorium was extended for 2 more years in 2013, and again in 2015, which has helped in limiting the expansion of the current Palm Plantations further into the forest. Plantations have still spilled onto land that was supposed to be protected, but it has helped slow the process of unwanted deforestation. By adhering to this moratorium, Indonesia has caught the eye of buyers that are interested in sustainable options of obtaining Palm Oil which is a step in the right direction. Another force of action towards Indonesia’s environmental health is international companies wanting to buy from Plantations producing “deforestation free” Palm Oil. Around 188 companies that purchase Palm Oil internationally have moved over to this model of change. The only problem is keeping these policies in full effect without loopholes and without corruption. This is hard to do when big money is involved, especially money that has improved Indonesia’s economy single-handedly. While it is hard to implement without altercations, these policy changes alone are on the road to success for future sustainability and ecological modernization.

Conservationists are the fuel for ecological modernization and sustainability in places like Indonesia. They have provided awareness, volunteer work, and education for ecotourism and environmental sanctuary for decades. Dr. Birute Galdikas, as I referenced earlier, is only one of the many that are fighting every day for endangered species consciousness and environmental longevity. If the Indonesian Government continues on its road toward sustainability, and if the lush ecosystem continues to be a point of interest to others around the world, there is a chance for success. The World Wildlife Fund, better known as WWF, is currently trying to “promote responsible forestry”(y.). They have created a network that works with companies in more than 30 countries with this responsible foresting idea. The network is called the GFTN, or Global Forest & Trade Network, and has been a great marker in our attempt towards more sustainable products. Conservation International, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Fund, and countless other programs are all working to save the remaining forests and wildlife that we have left.

How can you make a difference with the current struggle between Palm Oil, deforestation, and endangered species? There are quite a few options to help give animals a voice as well as show your advocacy towards preventing further deforestation. WWF is a great option for donating and adopting endangered species. By donating, your funds are spread to anywhere that needs attention whether it be deforestation or simply helping to maintain sanctuary facilities and the like. By adopting, you can send money for a specific animal in need. This way, you are directly helping an animal that you personally feel you cherish in the wild. You also are educated by that particular animal, as organizations receiving donations from you will send newsletters each month to update and thank you on your needed support. If your personal interest, like mine, lies with the Orangutans, I recommend contributing to Dr. Birute Galdikas’ Orangutan Foundation International. You can volunteer, donate, or go on an Orangutan Eco Tour where you will can be educated about how important and at risk their natural habitat really is.

Palm Oil is a destructive product, and it is putting so much at risk by producing it. It has very little purpose and yet is used in so many products. We have put so much of our ecosystem, and our health, at risk for something that was only a recently highly consumed product. By destroying the forests, we could lose: our advances in medicine by way of killing rare flowers, years of health by the Greenhouse Gas emissions, large quantities of our only producing oxygen emitters, one of the greatest visual beauties in the world, countless rare species that are only found in that particular part of the world, and our chance to ever restore our slowly depleting natural environment. It takes generations for a forest to reweave its intricate web of life. If we aren’t careful, one more tree could cause such a ripple effect of devastating consequences that there will be no hope for regrowth. As I have mentioned, there are countless species still unidentified in Indonesia. How do we know that we haven’t already forced species to extinction that we didn’t even know we had? The time is now for change. We have to act, and act quickly before the corporate machine sucks the planet dry. Through a sustainable approach and environmental policy change, I believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. “Only when the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, will we realize that we cannot eat money”.

-C

Holocene

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Relationships are hard. To the ones that know what they’re doing, they may not feel the same way. But you are the lucky ones, and for the rest of us – it’s a struggle. A wise woman told me, “You have a hard time accepting failure when it comes to a relationship.” It’s true. I do. I don’t know if its because I feel like I could do better, or just because I don’t understand why it can’t work out.

David Foster Wallace says in his book, Infinite Jest, that “Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it”. Nothing speaks truer to me than those words. I try so hard to keep something that may not be good for me, not because I fear being alone – but because I fear failure. I’ve failed before in other things, and it doesn’t strike me as personally as some guy. Another human being that wants to spend a little time with me and then, depart at some point knowing that we aren’t made for each other.

Failure in a relationship just absolutely destroys me, and in the end I stand there wondering what in the hell just happened to all of these things that I really enjoyed about myself? And my independence? And my sanity? Where did I run off to this time? And to be honest, it’s really hard to write this right now. To stand here stripped, barren, dry, with yesterday’s words hanging on me like the plague. That black death of a sentence that I said, in the heat of the moment, when I realized that things will never ever be what I “want” them to be. Which is happy and successful with that person. But upon reflection I realize that nothing can fix that. I can’t fix that. I will never fix that. And that is the part that hurts me the most. That I called someone something terrible, because I was angry – and maybe they care. Maybe they don’t. But that it doesn’t even MATTER. It just didn’t work out, and that isn’t my fault nor is it his.

I re-read some old journal entries of mine. The few and far between dates, of when things were probably so good that I was too caught up in the moment to jot it down. Even at the beginning, there were arguments and misunderstandings. It’s not supposed to be like that right at the start. Not at all. And I don’t know why I don’t remember them, maybe I blocked them out or maybe I just didn’t think they were that significant. But it brought me to another point of myself. I forgive to a fault.

Not saying that it doesn’t “take 2 to tango” or that only one person left the relationship a mess, we both did, but there are things that I forgive just for the sake of not letting it poison me. I can’t decide if that is a good, or a bad thing, but it gets me in trouble a lot. I find myself being shit on more often than not due to the fact that I can be kind of a pushover. And people will tell me that I need to put my foot down, because otherwise others will lose respect for me. But why would they lose respect for me just by deciding that there are too many things happening in life to hold some grudge about what someone said when they were angry, I literally JUST did that yesterday. I do it all the time.

I don’t think I’ve ever lost the respect for someone when they decided to do something just because they damn-well wanted to. That’s none of my business. If they ask for my advice, I give it. If they do the opposite, so the fuck what? It’s their decision and I have no say in it. I have no further assistance to offer than my own two cents and after that, the final step is up to that person. I just don’t understand why I can’t be soft? I take things personally, I’m a crier, I forgive when I think there are bigger things to worry about, I say I’m sorry first, I am a vulnerable little ball, and I’m completely ok with that. I don’t see anything wrong with that besides the fact that maybe people take advantage of it and walk all over me.

And sometimes I get spikes and lash back, like I did yesterday. But then I always feel bad, and want to reconcile and make things ok. Say how much I actually do care, and that I was just doing what everyone was telling me to do because I know it’s probably the right decision. I don’t walk when I should, and I don’t put my foot down when I should, and I try and try and try. And it’s a problem, because to be honest – it hurts. But I don’t think I would prefer being cold. I don’t think I would like myself any other way, other than this stupid fumbling crumbling little soul that falls for people really quickly and cries when it’s over.

So here I am. I wrote the last little chapter of yesterday’s book, sealed up the binding and put in on the shelf to draw out something clean and unwritten. And you look at it, and then look back up at the book you just closed. The one with all the pictures in it. Of happy things, and memories, and clouds, and not so good times, and maybe some things that you aren’t entirely proud of saying, and maybe things that make you smile to think about. And you look at your blank pages on your lap and think, “now what”. So I’m currently in my limbo of “now what” wondering if I need to take what happened to fix some things about myself. If I’m too impatient, or too soft, or a pushover that shouldn’t put up with anything. Or if I should just continue to be this person, that I kind of like, but at the same time have been hurt so much that I don’t know if I can keep doing this over and over and over again until that one person is right.

And so, I’m genuinely at a loss here. Vulnerable, kind of melancholy, but still happy to be alive and well. And that’s life sometimes isn’t it? I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe that “HE has something special in the works for me”. I think its a decision that we choose to make, whether or not we want to be with that person and try and make it work or whether we want to simply hold out for something better. What we choose contributes to the happiness we are constantly trying to achieve.

Happiness isn’t something achievable though. It’s a mindset. And I am happy, regardless of the situation, I’m happy that it happened. I’m happy I got a year with that person. And I’m happy there were some really good memories, and that we got to say “I love you”. Happiness is something that feels nostalgic, but it’s right there in the moment. It’s seeing things for the loss and the beauty at the same time. It’s accepting that life isn’t smooth, its really really bumpy. And pouring that all into one cup and really looking at it, with your two perfect eyes, and just being happy to be drowning in it all.

-C

Getaway Gains

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There are a lot of things that I consider life-altering.

Travel is an exceptionally life-altering experience, it takes away the edge of things. I’m not sure if it should be classified as something that helps you run from your problems, or something that helps you make decisions. I’ve found lately it can be both. Some things get presented in a different way while you have time to relax, and think it over. Sometimes it’s the decision that has been the hardest to make, or the one that you didn’t want to make that you now feel settled with in concluding the idea of it.

Other times you run, and don’t let it enter your mind until you return. And then BAM, it hits you like a head on car wreck the minute you see the familiar landscape. Can’t run forever, can you?

I find it interesting how much heartache a human goes through in their life. Losing a friend, unexpectedly. Worrying about the backwards notions the doctor makes, but tells you not to worry about it. The rejection that haunts every single one of us. Day and night. What will they say if you pour your heart out? Is it worth it? Why even dwell? In a year from now things will be so different that this “thing” that’s got you so wound up will be a fragment of the life you lead now. And yet, it still gets to us. And we have to get out. We have to just pick up and get the fuck away from it all to clear our head.

“Clearing your head.” What a euphemism the phrase. Clearing. Are you really? Are you honestly brain gardening or are you still constantly replaying that scratched record. Your absolute favorite part of the song and it just keeps skipping, skipping, skipping, until the memory doesn’t even seem real anymore. Did you dream it? Will it ever make you feel again the way it made you feel when you lived it in real time? Probably not, but you replay it anyway. Hoping to recollect the emotions and the way it made your heart pitter patter.

And just seeing things in a different way. Unplugged. Tilting your head up at the stars, rather than down at your screen. Who knew there were so many when all the lights are turned off? Or the scenery that you drive to see, and breathe in deeply as if clean air really has a scent. Let those pupils dilate to take it all in. And you try to remember it forever. But we remember people better: inside jokes, things that made you laugh, personable situations with a stranger in the power bar section of the grocery store, the douche with the guitar that can’t write a lyric with a gun to his head. But he thinks his song is really good. What the hell is a “guitar-lele”?

Why do we remember things better with people in them? The feeling of that sun roof, and the song, and the sights all blended together to put a smile on your face. But if you were all alone, you’re left with that damn record again. You replay things, you talk to yourself, you THINK. With others in the mix, it’s organic, it helps you forget the things you wanted to leave way back there hundreds of miles away. The problems that take a 7 hour train ride to return to.

And it’s amazing, and you feel so good being away that you don’t really want to go back to all the shit. But you have to. You’re an adult after all. Bills need money to pay for them, money must be made. So you greet your problems hoping the euphoria of your getaway will help. Fat. Chance. No. Way. They don’t smile at your sunburn, they slap it.

And though it all may seem bleak and sad, what I’m saying, it’s just life and you have to laugh at how it makes you fall flat on your face sometimes. It makes you swallow your pride and say, “well shit you’re right life. You got me on that one.” It makes you learn, even though you think you’re good the way you are, without that thing you wanted to just sweep under the rug.

So you suck it up, buttercup. And you make those decisions in the end. And you don’t feel great, but there’s always another getaway that you can take. Just not right now. That’s the part that really gets you, every time. You come back and make your bed, and then you want to sell that bed and get back in the car. But not until you feel secure in the road you chose. Because otherwise you’ll get lost.

That’s the boat I’m in folks. Or car, or train, or whatever. But I’m gaining life experience, leveling up at this game. And yeah, to be honest, it sucks sometimes. But it just means that those little things that get presented to you must be cherished. The feelings you feel in the moment must be documented, and really lived. Because it could end in an instant. Your life can change all at once, which is usually how it goes. You could get that reality check that things aren’t going to continue, or that life is short, or that the thing you’ve been ignoring could bite you in the ass. It happens, that’s life. You have to laugh at the curveballs. But don’t ever think it’s all for nothing.

There’s a lesson in it all. Just listen to it, and don’t talk back. Just listen.

-C

Thistle

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Every Tuesday, my boyfriend and I try and hang out together, but we decided that we were tired of doing the same old mundane things. Wake up, get lunch, run a few errands, “hey, lets go walk around IKEA” sounds a whole lot like us, and we were about to lose it. So we decided to maybe do something new for our day off, do a little research, and see what we find. So I looked online and found this ghost town in Thistle, Utah named appropriately and more obviously as “Thistle Ghost Town”. It was about an hour’s drive from where we live, but the scenery was nice. A little winding through the mountains and we were upon it.

Now, when you think of a ghost town you think of a classic western film with tumbleweeds and horses, a John Wayne wannabe chewing wheat in the distance, “The Good The Bad and The Ugly” whistle tune playing as you walk up the dusty road to a long forgotten town of saloons and shops and railroad stops. Right? Classic ghost town, amiright? Yeah, no. Thistle was…it just…let me put it this way, we almost drove past the damn thing.

Now let me give you a little history before we go into detail on this shy-under-a-disappointment “Thistle Ghost Town”. There was a massive landslide back in April of 1983 that basically demolished most of the little town. Hence, the still flooded house you see in the picture above. There was no way to salvage anything so naturally everyone just packed up and left. So when I read this, out loud to the man sitting on my left, we thought, “Oh cool, so it’ll be kinda warped and old and you can still see everything. Great, high five, let’s check it out.”

So we drove up there, and turned around the bend and *zoom*, “Wait..what? Was that..? Turn around”. One house on the right, two on the left. Where is everything else? Where are the spurs on my boots? What is going on here?! This place was rated highly by…some random website and I want answers! It wasn’t terrible. I’m being overly “eh” about it, but it was just a wee bit of a let down. An hour’s drive for three standing structures weren’t exactly our idea of cool, and definitely wasn’t worthy of a high five. We got out of the car and tried to get a little closer look, at least make something of our day in the five star town of “Thistle” and then we basically just drove right back home. We did see a few more scattered structures here and there for a block, but they were further up the mountain or into the pasture. Nothing that we were able to really get to, and half of it was graffiti galore anyway. Brody loved Chris back in 2011, so that’s nice. And Jim’s birthday is coming up, I know – cause he wrote it down 3 times all over the structure. Cool guy, that Jim. Sigh, I suppose you don’t really have those old classic ghost towns anymore. My dreams are shattered. Where can I quench my thirst of old saloon doors and dusty bottles besides Thunder Mountain at Disneyland? Is there such a place? Supposedly there are quite a few ghost towns in the state of Utah. If they are anything like Thistle though…I think I’ll just watch a Quentin Tarantino movie and save myself the let down.

I did get a few good pictures, so the trip wasn’t all for not. At least I can quench my thirst of wanting to be like Vivian Maier day and night. If you don’t know who she is I highly recommend you check out the film “Finding Vivian Maier” or just wait for me to write a blog post about, because it will inevitably happen. She’s the reason I bought myself a Rolleiflex Twin Lens TLR camera but anyway, I digress. A couple pictures of half sunken houses can still get me somewhere, right? Ah…Thistle, you old shithouse. Thanks for the aesthetics. They were…mesmerizing.

-C

P.S. Happy early birthday, Jim-bo