Back

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I’m happy to say I’m back at this. I’m back at writing things down for you to see, to read, to inquire. I am the type that finds a dark cloud over my head when my day isn’t filled with a million things. I am swallowed whole. I am devoured. I am drowned in the pitiful self that sits on the couch eating sunflower seeds,watching Ace of Cakes wondering what the hell I’m doing with myself. I spit on my existence when I do that. And although I don’t see anything wrong with being a homebody, I enjoy my adventures as much as the next Dian Fossey fanatic.

I’ve been doing that for a while. Too long. I became toxic and almost ruined a relationship I really care about. So I started thinking. And then I started reading. A lot. I started reading the Manson Murder case, going into gruesome detail of how and who and what killed Sharon Tate and her friends, The LaBiancas, and Gary Hinman. Why yes it does get hard sleeping after reading that, but its good. It’s really good. Then I started reading something a little more cheery. A little more motivating. You Are A Badass was the book everyone was talking about. Countless friends were opening up that bright yellow cover in front of me ALL THE TIME. I started seeing it everywhere at bookstores. It’s like it was calling to me. I’ve only had one other experience like that with a book and it was “The Dalai Lama’s Cat”. I must say, when your eyes are drawn to it countless times…read it. Because you secretly really really want to, and chances are you’ll love it like I did. “So I smiled like Mona Lisa, and I laid my Visa down…” and I bought the damn thing! I have to say. EXTREMELY MOTIVATING. It makes you want to go out there and do anything and everything you want to in life without thinking of trying to be the logical girl who knows she shouldn’t. It tells you to take chances, to stop doubting your ability that you do something and just do it already!

So photography. Now we all know how much I rave about it but have never really done much about it. I mean, yeah, I take pictures here and there but do I ever sell anything? Do I ever hone my craft? Do I buy the necessary tools to get better and really spend my time wisely rather than seeing what will happen to The Monster in the next episode of Penny Dreadful? (Damn good series by the way) Well, if you think I’ve been just a busy little worker bee you’re wrong…because I’ve been lazy and the answer to all those questions is a big fat bag of NO’s. And I can’t do that anymore! None of us have the time to be lazy. None of us have the time to sit and watch a full season of anything in the middle of the day, and if we do have the time then something is reeeally wrong (unless you like doing that sort of thing. Then do yo thang binge watcher). You Are A Badass showed me that even though I’m not amazing RIGHT NOW doesn’t mean I can’t get amazing. The life I want to live is out there being lived by people and for that I’m insanely jealous of them. But why am I jealous? Why am I selling myself short? I could be doing that! It’s not like I’m not smart. It’s not like I don’t have the drive, or the passion, or the availability. It’s because I’m too lazy. But I tell you what ladies and gents, today starts a new page. A new chapter. A new revolution of what I’m going to achieve with the time I have. I’m going to spend as much effort as I possibly can in becoming a really good photographer. I’m decent now, I think anyway, which is all fine and good but I mean pro. I mean high society type shit. I’m going to do everything in my power to really fine tune this passion of mine and use it for good.

I will go to school in 23 days and start my Anthropology degree at the University of Utah. And with that, my love for animals, my want for a better world and higher awareness for conservation, and my (hopefully) amazing photography skills by the time my degree is done, I am going to set out to make this earth, and our home, a better place. I don’t know about National Geographic (even though I would KILL to be one of their photographers) but maybe some sort of awareness through research, and photography. Some sort of thing that helps the animals that are suffering. I want to work with Gorillas and Orangutans, and shoot photographs of them and maybe show people a different side to things. Not happy photographs, but the ones people find hard to see. The ones that show the most struggle and heartache. Maybe then people will start making things better. Very similar to NatGeo, I suppose. Hell. Maybe I will work for them some day. Who knows, right? To a bright bright future my dear readers! Onward and Upward I say!

-C

Sugar & Spice, Winter & Ice

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There is nothing that I love more than winter in Salt Lake City. There’s something about the snow that brings the entire place to life. Maybe it’s the fact that there are so many winter activities to do here: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing. Or the fact that the log cabins with green roof and window shutters pop out in the white backdrop. Or Sundance and Park City, towns so quaint in the winter time you swore you were in a dated movie. Or is it just the mountains? The peaks all shined and pines all glazed with ice crystals and flakes to remind you that The Grinch is off contemplating his next Christmas to ruin.

Or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t really remember a winter before the ones I had in Utah growing up. I remember one, in Texas, many years ago. A storm dropped a total of 2 inches of snow and the schools were closed for days. Not a car was caught dead driving around our neighborhood. We lived at the top of a hill on both sides, so as soon as the temperature dropped low enough to snow in Texas you knew it was a clean sheet of ice down either hill side. But that didn’t bother the kids. I bundled up as much as I could to join my brother outside sliding on plastic trash can tops down the hill. I lasted maybe 5 minutes before I had to come back inside to take a bath and warm my numb feet again. This happened 3 or so times before my mother decided it was best I didn’t go outside after my brother. I had to have been 5 years old. A classic “Christmas Story” image comes to mind.

That’s really the only memory I had of winter time before Utah. I do remember my first year here though. It snowed 12 feet. I was making crazy tunnels and snowmen, atomic snowballs, ice slides. My childhood dogs, Gretal and Schnitzel, stood a foot off the ground with their Dachshund legs and would plow through the snow one minute, and hop like deer the next. I was out there every single day, yet somehow I wasn’t nearly as cold as before. Despite the altitude, it was bearable. And the schools never closed. Not once. Any time I thought there was a chance, the plows would come rushing through at 5 in the morning and the main streets would all be clear. You’d hear the crunch of salt beneath your shoes wherever you went, and the wind made you bundle up, and the ice forced you to scrape your windshield while you blasted heat from the inside. But Utah made me love the winter time.

Every Christmas would have a light snowfall and everything would be so utterly silent. It was the most peaceful and serene experience. You would walk outside with hot chocolate and hum your breath through your nose to see the steam. You would get snowflakes on your lashes as they floated to the ground. You would hear Robins chirping in the crisp morning air, and smell the pine trees. Every now and then as the sun hit the roof, you would hear the crackle of icicles melting away. Everything about it gives me a sense of security.

I’ve always had this idea of “home”. Somewhere where you feel rooted, and happy, and at peace. Where nothing from the outside world can disturb you. And as this winter is starting to take effect here in Utah, I’m starting to make a mental list of things I need in order to create my “home”. Things I didn’t really notice I needed before. I’m starting to indulge in the cup of hot cocoa daily, even though it warms up outside on occasion and the snow is currently melting revealing a “still fall” looking painting. I’m also turning on the fire place daily, which my dogs have been really taking a like to. As soon as the heat creeps its way out my dogs are instantly snuggled up by it, sleeping the day away. And I hung my wreath up on my door way too soon to be considered a normal human being but I was so excited for the idea of a cold snowy holiday that I just couldn’t help myself.

And the funny thing is, I could care less about gifts and black Friday specials. I will never understand the insanity people feel when Christmas time is a month away. Yes, I got a few things for the people I care about, but I didn’t take out a bank loan in order to do it. That’s not what it’s about. This will be the first Christmas without my grandfather. And although I don’t believe in prayer, I will be sad to know that no prayer will be said at the dinner table by my own “Santa Clause”. But that only means that this Christmas will mean more by just being with my family. Honestly, there is no gift that I could ever give anyone that could overcome the feeling of love and laughter in the company of family. I would give up every gift I’ve ever been given just to say I got to spend the holiday drinking and being merry with those I hold dear, because what else would you rather be doing?

For Thanksgiving, I was invited to one of my restaurant regular’s houses. And I had a complete blast. And they enjoyed themselves the exact way my family would have and probably did on Thanksgiving day. It was so refreshing to see other people just enjoying company and telling jokes and having a good time together. I think a lot of us have completely lost sight of the idea that really there’s no reason why Christmas time or any holiday should be so stressful. It should be fun, it should be relaxing, it should be that refreshing break you needed.

This year my family isn’t even really getting together on Christmas. We are going to Disneyland instead. Next week. My parents, my brother and I. 66, 61, 30, and 25 – and we are going to Disneyland. Just the four of us. And I can’t think of what I would rather get as a gift than to just go somewhere and spend some intimate time with my parents and brother. There’s no other way I would rather spend the holiday. And at least at Disney, no one will judge our immature behavior as we act as giddy as the next 5 year old girl in front of life sized Disney characters.

After everything. After all of the shit I’ve been through in the past few years. After the mental abuse, and recovering, and discouraging, disheartening, disappointment. After all the friends cut out, and relationships broken, and bullshit dealt with, and my new ability to comfortably say the word NO, I am really at peace with who I am during this holiday. I’ll be 25 in 5 days, and I can’t think of a better version of myself. I can’t think of any other time that I was as truly happy and ready to do anything than right now. I’ve been through so many insane learning experiences lately and I’m as strong as I’ve ever been. ‘Winter is coming’ as GOT fans would say ( which I must confess, I’m on the bandwagon) and I couldn’t be more excited to be here in Salt Lake City enjoying it with truer friends than I could ever account for, a better brother than I should have ever received, and a happier outlook than I’ve ever had. Happy holidays to everyone, and you’ll be hearing from me from Disneyland.

Speak soon, dear readers. XO

-C

 

Lessons To Learn

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Life is such a silly thing. It’s over so quickly. It goes by with the snap of your fingers. Even 80’s are still young these days. My grandfather was 84 when he left my family last week. He came and went and left his mark. I loved him with all my heart. He made me really think about life in a different way. How to cherish someone else with all your heart, make them laugh, make yourself laugh, be boisterous and happy, be loud, be a jokester, be someone that everyone wants to know. That’s who he was, and although he’s gone he left those very special traits to absorb into my own life and make my life just as happy, just as fun.

After his funeral, I was more aware of people who treat life with such disdain and unhappiness. They put up with things that are so unnecessary. They put up with relationships that are complete shit, they hear things from selfish people, they put up with a shitty job, they don’t do what they want, they don’t say no. I see these people everywhere. I hear what they are told, and how they are treated. I’m blown away by how much they go through just to go through it. Why?

This year has been a transformation for me. So many different experiences have shown me how little time we have to deal with others who want to just bring you down and make you unhappy. I was in an abusive relationship once. It almost mentally destroyed me. I was put down, and I put up with it. I was told I was nothing, and I was continuously badgered for years to come, even after we broke up and separated. We lived in different states and he still could call me up and make me feel 2 feet tall again. I put up with something that someone else was too weak to get under control, too insecure, too selfish. He would constantly try to wiggle back in as “friends”. A friend that would make me feel worthless, and that I wasn’t good enough. I finally said enough was enough THIS YEAR. I finally asked myself, “Charlotte…what the HELL are you doing?” I stopped all communication. I walked away. Now that I’ve turned away, I see other people going through the same thing that are just sitting there taking it. Hurting, and wondering what’s wrong with them. Trust me, it took me a long time to realize that what they are saying is not about you, it is a reflection of how they feel about themselves thrust at you in a malicious comment. Get up. Get OUT.

Other people deal with shitty jobs just to pay the bills. I do it right now, but in 2 months that will change. I will no longer deal with the masses of bosses who don’t care about their employees. The ones who only care about money for themselves while you work your ass off for tips because otherwise your paychecks accumulate to 34 hours of $2.12 an hour. Bullshit. Don’t put up with it. Leave. Go be better than that. My grandfather worked on B36 Bombers for the Korean War. He was an engineer. When they tested the atom bomb he said he covered his eyes with his arm, and when the sky lit up he could see his bones through his closed eyes, through his arm. He was a history teacher, he was an FBI agent. He told my once that when he was at a shootout, his partner shot the assailant with a shot gun and his head popped into the air, clean off. Gruesome stories, funny stories. Stories about where he and my grandma Neva spent their honeymoon, to which he replied, “In Neva’s bedroom”. He was such a lover of life, damn I miss him, and I no longer want to put up with things just to put up with them, like he never did. And I’m trying to tell you all to do the same. Right now.

Don’t put up with people telling you rude things, being mean just to be mean, taking your happiness away. I was told something rude today. And I didn’t take it. I called them out. I told them that what they said was rude, and uncalled for, and unnecessary. They don’t have the right to take your happiness away. No one should be able to take your happiness away. No one should be able to remove your smile with a remark, only because they lack common emotions of graciousness and love. These selfish people so absorbed in themselves don’t get to continue on without being stunted. When you hold open the door for someone and they waltz right past you, never acknowledging you, never saying thank you, it drives me crazy. Where did manners go? Saying thank you, you’re welcome, please? Picking up after yourself and not littering?

This year is almost over. Two more months and it’ll be 2016. We’ve made it so far, we are so evolved and intelligent for a species, and yet, we are treating eachother more and more like shit. Like no one matters unless they’re in your group of friends. I went to school with a guy who I saw recently at a coffee shop. We didn’t know eachother well in high school, but I knew of him by his current interests in photography and we had mutual friends. I went up and said hi and that we had gone to high school together and that his photography was really good. And he completely blew me off. He was a total jerk, and basically laughed at the fact that I knew of him and he didn’t know me. He was the definition of asshole. And you know what? It made me realize something. All of these people who think they are so high and mighty, who think they are popular, or wealthy, or successful. Guess what? No one gives a fuck. Honestly. The people outside of your tiny circle of photographers in Utah don’t know you. They don’t know who you are, or your name, or your photography. They don’t give a shit about your house, or your car, or where you went last summer on vacation. No one gives a fuck. Because we are all fighting the sea for ourselves. We are all just trying to make it. We are all running in the same direction towards the top, hoping we grab the hand of a pretty lady or handsome man in the meantime, and spend time with them, and wear a smile on our faces, and make a little money to get by, and make mistakes, and love, and live, and someday die.

These things. These people that try to dampen us. These situations that bring us down, these memories that keep us humble. Everything happens to every single one of us. So why the hostility? Why the rudeness? Why are we so mean to eachother? Why can’t we all just help eachother to the top and not step on eachother along the way? Because one day, we are all going to perish and we are all going to realize at that moment as we close our eyes and cease to be that we are all made of the same material. Our hearts beat, our lungs inflate, our veins pulse, and we are all just bags of bones parading the planet together. So stop being so goddamn rude to eachother and start making yourself happy. Because honestly, if we can be gracious and delicate with everyone’s life around us then in turn they will do the same and this life will be a much more pleasant one. But it all starts with stopping the things that cause you harm and focusing on the things that make you feel good to be alive. Because it’s a miracle that we are.

-C

Be The Mold, Be The Mushroom

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My mind has changed so drastically in the past 2 years that I really can’t fathom how I got here. Currently I listen to a lecture by Jane Goodall on hope for the future with deforestation, climate change, animal conservation, and cleaning up this planet that we call home. And when I think about how my mind worked 2 years ago when I was just graduating college with a BFA I am blown away to the differences that encapsulate it now. I was so young, naïve, and unaffected by politics and environmental awareness. I still picked up trash and recycled but I never really felt a deep fire for cleaning up the planet. I was just doing what I knew was the right thing to do. I would take scissors to plastic can holders because I knew it could hurt marine life. I didn’t act lazy when it came to picking up after myself. I tried to keep things pretty for the animals that lived close by.

All I can think about is working with animals. I want to share my time with them more than anything, and I’ll do anything to have a chance at that. Next summer when I volunteer at BLES (Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary) I plan to begin my journey to giving my time, knowledge, and love to wildlife. Jane Goodall’s lecture proved that point for me today and it was so profound and perfect. She spoke of our world seeking this material happiness, but then feeling depression when the winter months set in and we aren’t able to feel the sunlight on our faces. No car, or house, or technology can change the fact that we grew from animals that made their homes in the wild, and although our intellect is far more advanced now we all need the sunlight, nature, flowers, and trees to rest our minds at times. I’m starting to wonder if living in Los Angeles away from so much natural beauty was the force that awakened my yearning for it and in turn making me realize that I wanted to be out there living in it, working in it. Wanting to be a Wildlife Biologist. Wanting to follow in Jane Goodall’s footsteps and really put my life to good use as a Primatologist.

Watching her speak and intently listening to what she had to say about taking action on saving our planet and everything on it was very inspiring to want to make a difference. It made me confident that I have a lot of passion on the issue. Something I’ve slowly acquired over these years in my 20s. I can’t imagine doing anything else now, which is so interesting because before now I was dead set on doing Theatre for the rest of my life, but I can’t find the passion in it anymore like I can for animals. I’ve always loved animals, and I continuously want to surround myself with them. Friends and family can attest to that, as I believe I am happiest in such cases.

If I had a choice to go back in time and change things though, I don’t know what I would have to do differently. I guess I was just young. That’s really the only thing I can think of that makes sense on the path I was taking at the time. I was brash and severely opinionated. I didn’t want people to tell me theatre wasn’t a plausible option for a future. I didn’t want to hear the bad with the good. I didn’t want to stray from what I knew to be comfortable and safe. I suppose a plethora of things changed my stubborn hard-headedness. I began to realize that although I loved theatre I had nothing to show for it besides that. Which is ok for a time. But when bills start to come and I get closer to having to pay for insurance, and car payments, and loans I start to realize that just having a passion for it isn’t enough. In this modern time it has to include money. Everything has to include money. I would get auditions in Los Angeles that didn’t provide pay, we had to buy our own meals, travel costs were on us and I would turn it down. I wouldn’t go because I couldn’t afford to. And how are we supposed to for that matter? All of these people told me that you have to go through with all of that to get to the places you want. You have to sign up for $500 classes just because the name of the teacher looks good on a resume. But that still doesn’t solidify your guest star booking in a major motion picture. There’s so many things that they shove under the rug, and I don’t like that.

I started to ache to be away from the city. I missed the crickets at night, I missed the birds singing in the morning, I missed actually seeing the sky and not all the exhaust from last nights rush hour. That’s when my “severely opinionated” mind started to ease up and think back to what people told me. It’s hard. It’s hard to be creative these days. Its hard to be a writer, a poet, a trumpet player, an actress. Unless you want to literally live on the street or in your car to do it. Theatre was important to me, but not enough to starve myself over. Not enough to pay for a class and skip out on groceries for the month. Not enough to sleep my way to the top. So once I took my blinders off and looked around at things outside of the stage I realized we create such a major problem for ourselves here. I quote Jane Goodall in saying, “How is it possible that the most intellectual creature that has ever walked on planet earth is destroying its only home?”

I’ve learned to enjoy the simple things more frequently, and ones that don’t involve killing the planet around us. My brother and I were in Barnes & Noble dancing to an Irish song on the radio. We were laughing at how funny our dances were, and how ridiculous we were being in public. An older woman looked at us and said, “What you’re doing is good. You’re laughing, you’re enjoying yourself. That means you’re having a good day”. That had an impact on me. It was so true. We were just living in the moment and we were enjoying ourselves. But how many people out there are just living for their paycheck, or for their house, or their car, or their new suit? Who is caring about the trees that have just been cut down, or the animals that have lost their homes, or the elephants that were killed for their tusks? There’s activists, and there’s businessmen. “You’re the cattle, or the butcher”. And what that lady told to me today, that is the solution. We need to live more in the moment. Enjoy the earth around us. Give our love to the animals that we grew from.

I don’t know where I’ll be in the next year. School, yes. But I want to live in the moment with animals in the meantime too and let them know that I am not the businessman. I am the activist. And that could be anywhere. That could be back in Thailand again, or in Florida at the Great Ape Sanctuary. Nevertheless, I am continuing to grow as a person where ever I am. Living in the moment. Showing love and compassion to all living things. I am continuing to change my opinions to ones that actually matter. To saving our planet. To saving animals. To saving us.

Be the mushroom in the grass. Be the one that’s different with me, and we’ll mold this place anew.

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Out Dated

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When did the world decide to starting treating dating and relationships like a joke? I don’t understand this. Am I just different? Do I think too differently? Am I the only one who dates one person at a time and treats them with respect? All of these people around me treat it like it’s just something to pass the time. Like it’s a hobby. “Oh yeah, I date in my spare time,” kind of deal. But when did this start…or has it always been this way and I’m just now noticing it?

I have always treated dating someone very seriously. Some people call it too intense. Some people say I need to just have fun or take it for what it is. But no, I won’t “just have fun” or “take it for what it is”. What is it supposed to be? Is fun just sex these days? That’s what “taking it for what it is” means? Someone who doesn’t like you but just wants to get laid? What a load of shit. No thank you. I take dating very seriously and here’s why. One of my biggest pet peeves is having my time wasted. So why would I waste someone else’s time that I may or may not sincerely appreciate in my life? I wouldn’t. So when I date someone, I am with them fully. No bullshit. No games. Nothing other than me appreciating the person that is spending their precious time with me, because time on this earth is very important and precious. I don’t expect that person to give me 100% of their time, as everyone has their own life and their own prospects. But when they spend some of their time with me, why would I repay them by treating them like shit and not respecting that fact? I wouldn’t.

That’s another thing. When did respect go out the window? I can only name 2 relationships of mine that genuinely respected me as a person. That actually treated me well and didn’t spit lies and deceit out of their mouth. Was I just daft and didn’t see it to begin with? Or did it change the minute the cat and mouse game was over? Either way it disintegrates with time and it shouldn’t. People stop respecting the ones that have feelings for them. Why has that become ok in this generation? I hear stories about a girl’s sex life gossiped between two coworkers during a shift. I hear girls flaunting the fact that they cheated on their significant others during the weekend. I hear stories about poor unsuspecting victims not knowing what’s happening outside their blinded eyes. I’ve been at the hands of this “disrespecting disease”. I know how it feels to be cheated. I remember the taste in my mouth the minute all the lies surfaced. I’ve cried through nights, I’ve shivered in shock. I know what being broken feels like. It’s like no one has heard the saying “treat others the way you want to be treated”. Maybe I was raised differently? I’m not entirely sure what it is. I just know that I have and will never disrespect someone like that. I will not cheat. I will not lie. I will not treat your time with anything but appreciation.

All I hear about is how normal “open” relationships are these days. Why is that so popular? Why is that ok? If someone wants to date you then they want to date you. If someone wants to date you and 3 other people then they don’t really care about you that much. No man or woman who wants to date multiple people really cares about you. Otherwise they would just date you and you alone. If I was with someone, dating someone, and I was attracted to another man, the person I’m with obviously isn’t for me…or else I would be happy with just dating that person. Why would you be ok with dating someone who’s unsure as to whether they want to be with you or with the 2 other people they took out last weekend? What? I’m confused. Maybe it’s a vicious circle. These people don’t respect themselves so they just accept the fact that the guy/girl they’re interested in isn’t completely into them? I don’t know. I don’t GET IT. Are there that many people that respect themselves so little that this open relationship idea has come to be accepted now?

Another thing I don’t understand: constantly going from one person to another. Why is everyone so obsessed with relationship hopping? If someone hurt you, take a BREAK. That’s what I did. For a year. And then some. I got hurt. I was betrayed, and it was emotionally and physically painful. I was devastated. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t do anything. And I knew I wasn’t ready to be with anyone at all. So I wasn’t with anyone. I was single for a long time. I healed first. I took a break. And now I’m seeing others jump around before they can heal and then get confused when it doesn’t work out. Because you don’t even know who you are right now. You’re lost. You have unraveled. You’ve spiraled out of control and all the things you think you liked you don’t know if you do anymore, and all the feelings you feel are jaded and confused. You don’t know you. And you have to find you before you can include her or him with you. It all keeps coming back to respect. Have the respect for yourself to get to know you again. Take the time to make yourself happy again. And happy on your own. Not happy with someone else. No one can grant you happiness. Only you have the power to do so.

Maybe I’m just not built to date in this modern world with texting and Tinder. I hate all of it. I wish it was much more simple. I wish it was one person dating one person and it wasn’t all about sex. I wish there was more to it than that. I wish that people respected others and didn’t give them bullshit stories, or string them along just for fun. Or even let people go when they need to be let go. Let people heal. Let people be happy. I wish people respected themselves more and didn’t put up with so much shit. That way these self-centered and conceited people could see that if they keep up their bad work they aren’t going to get what they’re after. I may not find anybody, and that’s ok, because at least I won’t put up with someone telling me they can’t commit to just me or that they’re dating someone else but still feel close to me or that they expect me to wait for them to figure their shit out and then I’ll be lucky enough to have them. Forget that.

I am worth more. I don’t want to be someone’s second choice. I don’t want to be told I should do this and do that because then I can have him. He should feel lucky to have me. I am something to be cherished. I deserve to be treated with respect. I deserve to be loved the first time. Not after this, after that, now I can love you, wait now I can love you, now I’m ready, now I can be better, now give me a chance. No. The first time. No mess ups. No “I took it for granted”. I should be treated well from the beginning. I think that’s safe and fair to ask for. Don’t you? Don’t you want to be the one someone fawns over? Falls head over heels over? I do. And I don’t want to settle for something that isn’t that. So yeah, I’m completely out dated when it comes to being dated. But I don’t care. I will wait to be out dated by all the previous times I’ve been dated. Someone will out date the others and then it won’t matter anymore. But until then, I’m not going to deal with all of this “open relationship”, “third chance”, “fourth chance”, “I should have been better”, “I’ll do it right this time”. Do it right, right now. Because I shouldn’t have to ask for more, and love is not something that should have to be done over and over again to get it right. Just get it right. And be out dated with me. No more disrespect. No more multiple men/women in your queue. Respect yourself. Get respect. Be. Out. Dated.

-C

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Autumn

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There’s nothing I love more than fall. The leaves that crinkle and transform into vibrant colors of yellow, orange, and red, the crisp air, the light breezes, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin, the chance to bundle up. There’s nothing better to me.

It’s like I get rejuvenated during this time of year. I wait for this moment to come back around and I’m a bit of a bummer before Autumn and then I pop back into life and really want to be out in the chilly atmosphere. It makes me so happy, beyond happy. This is the time of year when nothing can dampen my mood. When I get that crazy outdoor itch that makes me want to go get lost in some aspen trees. That makes me want to decorate the house in gourds and spider webs. That makes me want to buy giant scarves to wrap around myself.

I’m not sure when this obsession of fall came to be. Growing up every kid loves the summer, and I was no exception to this. Summer is when you don’t have to deal with school anymore, and the family gets to take a vacation together somewhere new. You get to have tan skin (mine was mostly burned) and go swimming, eat watermelon, watch fireworks. You get to just relax and enjoy things. I loved summer growing up, and yes, of course that was my ultimate favorite.

Then I started going to college in the quaint little town of Tahlequah. Fall is absolutely beautiful there. Not only do you get the wonderful backdrop of that “Old Town” vibe with rusted doors and broken brick, but you have the campus that can’t deny it’s staggering beauty. You have the babbling river. You have the benefit of cliffs and forests around you, and when those leaves start changing color it brings life to the town. There was nothing better than walking down the street with a cup of hot chocolate, bundled in jackets and scarves, listening to live music at the fall art show. I miss the times when that was available to me. I miss walking along the campus with leaves everywhere. I suppose it gave me the “Salem” feel. Red brick and white wood, black window frames and yellow leaves. It gave me the feeling of Hocus Pocus, and that’s my favorite feeling.

I’ve always loved Halloween. Even now I plan for it every year. It’s the only holiday I really want to decorate for. My parents got me into this. When I lived in Texas as a little girl the neighborhood was so decorated for Halloween. We, of course, were the house no one wanted to walk up to because it was “so decorated”. There were tomb stones in the front yard, skeletons hanging from the trees, music from the garage, lights in the windows with ghosts floating behind them, and my mother sitting in a rocking chair in her witch costume awaiting the children to come up for treats. It was so much fun getting ready for that. I still love it. Even though now there are no “trick or treat”ers, just binge drinking parties. No one wants to decorate, no one wants to put thought into their costume. It’s become a skank fest. It makes me so sad! Even carving pumpkins has become a bust! And that, my sweet souls, is the best smell in the entire world. My absolute favorite smell is none other than the scent of burning jack-o-lanterns on all hallows eve.

Living in Utah also had its perks during the fall season. It was the time my family took drives in the mountains. Going up to Sundance for brunch and their annual art show. Or walking around Park City to all the interesting shops there. Or the Oktoberfest up at Snowbird Ski Resort where there’s music, beer, rock climbing, vendors galore and their infamous “Alpine Slide”. This is the time of year my family really got out to do things. Because the weather was so nice, because the leaves were so pretty, because all the mountain resorts were preparing to open for the winter season. I always get this funny nostalgic feeling during this time. It reminds me of my mother’s friend Jeanette that used to come visit us and do crafts in the kitchen all day. It reminds me of Bear Creek Chicken Noodle Soup. It gives me this interesting fuzzy feeling that I can’t help but ignore, and can’t help but love. Maybe it’s the bit of childhood that I always seem to have significant detailed memories with. I don’t know what it is. All I know is I love this feeling so much and it visits me every year during this time.

My family is coming to visit next week, and I can guarantee we’ll do all the things I loved most about fall and it makes me burst with excitement. For some reason it’s not the same without the whole family together. And we haven’t been together, in Utah, during fall in 6 years. I can’t wait to reminisce with all the lovely memories that used to be traditions of my family when we all lived here in Salt Lake City, together. I’m lucky to have such wonderful memories with my family. And we are lucky to have this chance to make new ones with the old traditions of our.

Fall, you are wonderful and I hope you stay a while. And dear readers, prepare for picture overload in the next week as I’ll be up in the mountains taking millions of pictures of Aspens and Pines. Cheers with a mug of cocoa to the next month ahead of us. And to the leaves and pumpkins and early sunsets.

-C

Concept of Time

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“Spirits have no concept of time”, said the medium I saw yesterday. It was a very interesting experience. I have to admit at the beginning I was very skeptical, and didn’t know if I could trust a woman who would take your money in exchange for sharing her “gift” she claimed to have. That being said, I was also curious to what she might predict.

I’ve always been a believer in ghosts and spirits. As a young girl of 7 my family and I moved to a house near the mountains where I had a lot of eerie experiences and encounters with things not of this world. The moment we moved in you could feel that something wasn’t right. (The fist holes in the wall covered with painted paper plates should have been the first sign of serious negative energy confined in the house.) The hair on your neck would always stand up, and you constantly felt as if you were being watched. The moment my mother turned out my lights at night my curtains would form themselves into demonic faces, and I would stare at them until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. Then my sleep would be filled with nightmare upon nightmare and I never realized how truly morbid and graphic they were for such a young girl until I recalled them again at an older age. Dreams that a man with red eyes would come out of the garage and kill each member of my family, leaving me for last. Dreams where my father was barbequing the neighbors for dinner. Dreams where my brother would be torturing our entire family on spikes in the basement.

The basement was the worst part. It wasn’t completed like the rest of the house, so the floors were still cemented, and the wooden pillars that held up the rest of the house were bare. The moment you walked down the stairs (always with the lights on, I could never bring myself to go down the stairs into the pitch black) you were greeted with intense cold, odors and a pillar with the letters H-E-L-P deeply carved into it. That was where my nightmares constantly took me. To the dark and eerie basement. Come to think of it, every single nightmare I had living in that house, took place in that house. Not a good sign I don’t think.

After waking up in a cold sweat at 3:15am every morning (supposedly this is the time when all spirits are most active. “The Witching Hour.” There are millions of theories, stories, scenarios where people experience most spiritual activity at this time. Take the house of Amityville, for example.) I would stare through my dark room at the light pouring in from underneath my door and I would make sure there wasn’t going to be any type of dark figure standing behind the wooden block. After I finally got up the courage to open the door to the world unknown outside of it I would walk into the middle of the hall and in a very “The Shining” type of way I would stare down the hallway into the dark abyss. When the staring was done (I never really knew how long I would stand there each night, but I remember one morning the sun started coming up and birds started chirping. Needless to say, I had been standing there for hours.) I would run as fast as I could to my parents room and crawl into bed with them. But I didn’t feel safe with them either, I would look up to their ceiling and see floating heads with horrific faces staring back at me. Almost as if each had been beheaded. The lasting looks of fear and pain before the head left their bodies.

The house never felt right, and I saw and felt wicked things there. After we moved, I thought that I was away from the negative feelings but it never quite stopped there. There were instances when I felt things, when objects would move on their own. One night when I was at a friend’s house in college (Megan and Sam, you’ll remember this one) a door that was locked simply unlocked itself and flung open, and other times you could feel someone pushing past you in the stairwell, or hear footsteps rushing up behind you. And when a friend’s stepfather passed away there were pictures where he was found that had weird shadowy faces on them resembling the man, glasses and all. I’ve always felt I was susceptible to these energies.

Speaking of the man with glasses, his name was Trey and the medium I saw yesterday was very sure it was him speaking to me. She described him with a “T” name, someone who died in a very unexpected way due to alcohol. I knew it was him right away. He told me all different kinds of things. That I shouldn’t be scared to move, that going back to school is a good thing, that I shouldn’t blame myself for the hurt that his son caused me, that my family was relieved when I left him behind. This medium relayed all of these things to me without me muttering a single word to her about my past, present or future. I must admit that what she said was accurate, as skeptical as I was, but then again why wouldn’t it be? Why did I have such a hard time believing that someone could actually connect with that world when I felt and experienced so many things on my own? I supposed I just never thought it could be so clear and straight forward, but if she was telling me the truth about these things (which I don’t know how she would know any of the information she relayed to me otherwise) how could I not trust her?

She made me really question the idea of reality. Supposedly there have been things relayed to her about this other dimension. That there’s not really a heaven or hell, but that every spirit is there in this thin layered dimension on top of ours. The murderers, the cheats, the religious, the just. Everyone is there. I found this very interesting. So many people spend their whole life trying to be this perfect image for a God or holy being, and after all of that could you imagine just joining the serial killers on the other side? I don’t know if I believed that or not but why would she be lying? She also said that trees and plants look like that of Avatar…the movie Avatar…Yeah I don’t know guys. It’s all what you want to believe is true or not I suppose. All I know is I studied medium work after seeing the photographs of blurred and shadowy Trey, and the lady had the same ideas and thoughts as the ones I read about.

I do believe that the layers of reality and spirit are thin, and that spirits watch over us all the time and are constantly trying to communicate. That has to be the case as energy cannot be destroyed. And we, my dear readers, are full of energy. Otherwise how could I begin to explain the odd and bizarre things that happened to me as a young girl and young adult? How could my blood run cold like that in pure fear? I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I don’t believe in God. I don’t need to pray in order to be at peace with the decisions I make. I don’t need help solving problems that I’ve created. I do believe that once I die I’ll be right there living, just in a step away from reality. A step away from breathing into this blurred world that sits on top of the one we live now. People can think my idea of the spirit world is crazy, but so is a whale that swallows a man for days only to spit him out when he decides to be submissive to God…So, I think I’ll stick with my split dimension story. Sorry to offend.

So as skeptical as I was with this woman, she had a lot of insane accuracy to things that have happened or will happen in my life. Things that she couldn’t have known. And maybe she wasn’t speaking to Trey, or even saw or felt any spirit for that matter, but I must say that she made me really believe that spirits are right here walking beside us. She reminded me of all of the things I’ve experienced myself and they all came rushing back to me. The memories slapped me in the face, and I have to say I got a little emotional about it. I almost forgot all of those things that I grew up experiencing. So many people I’ve told about the medium and the things I grew up with just roll their eyes at me and tell me I only believed it because I’m a sucker, but I don’t think I would be convinced that easily had it not gone any other way. I’m a sucker for believing there’s some truth in the idea of energies affecting and manipulating the world around us.

In the presence of a medium the concept of time is meaningless, and the spirits will speak. But…maybe I’m just crazy.

-C

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Documenter

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I was always in love with cameras. Ever since I was in keds and ribbons I always wanted to take pictures of everything. I had disposable cameras that I would fill up with nonsense. I purchased a plastic fisheye camera for $20 in my kid years and exposed the film to pictures that I thought were artistic. A picture of a tree wrapped in “caution” tape through a fisheye lens? Oh hell yeah, that’s art right there.

I took classes devoted to photography in high school. Studios with lights and a dark room to develop your black and white film in. I had drawers filled with Kodiak packets of developed photos of nothing, but boy could I link a memory to them. I loved it all and you could tell.

And then one day I stopped. I put my camera in its old case I bought from a pawn shop and sat it on my shelf. I didn’t touch photography unless I was overseas, where for a brief moment I got creative again. Something about those otherworldly aesthetics, I suppose, made taking pictures exciting again. It was something that I felt needed to be documented. A country outside of my everyday life? Of course I should take pictures of what I see, and I filled up my camera with snaps by the hundreds. Why did I continue to put it away when I returned home, then? I would get a tickle in my fingers when I held the camera in my hands in another country, so why stop there? Was it just the euphoric feeling of traveling? Is that what brought on the need for that strap around my neck and the weight of a “Documenter”?

I thought that it maybe had something to do with it. Hell, I love to travel and would do anything to do so. So maybe I just like taking pictures of things I may never see again. But, along with that, it also had a lot to do with me not thinking I was really any good. I either didn’t think I was that great at photography, or that someone else was always better. I would take these wonderfully sharp black and white studio portraits or perfectly tourist-free shots of monuments and I would be so happy with my work. But then I would see another that I liked, one that wasn’t mine, and I would feel as if mine could never top that. I felt mediocre.

Why did I do that to myself? Who the hell knows. I’m foolish like that. I think that other people’s work is really well done and I put a shadow on my own that someone else may feel that same way about. So I shut out photography and just stuck with what I knew: Theatre. But I really do love photography. And I always want to be out there taking pictures, documenting things, seeing it all. I want to get better at it. I really want to try and use it in my someday career of Wildlife Biology. I want to be able to photograph the animals I work with, capture their expressions, show the world they still matter.

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And now, I’m told I’m good. Which, for those who know me too well with my hobbies, I never can think so. It cripples me. I’m not sure why that is, but it definitely gives me the drive I need to keep working at it until I’m satisfied. I definitely want to keep up my practice. I want to be able to take the types of photos I remember looking at in National Geographic magazines growing up. Something that can tell a story simply by looking at it. I’ve started small with landscapes and I’m slowly climbing the ladder again to something more. I want to make people feel a certain way with my photos. To look at them and recall a memory that they may have forgotten, or to feel something that they haven’t felt in a while.

I’ve been asked to take pictures of other’s life experiences. Baby photos, Headshots, etc. People actually want me to take pictures for them, which is something new for me, and I’m getting happier and happier to do it. I’m starting to gain that confidence that maybe I am a little better than I led myself to believe. I am actually starting to like some of the pictures that I take to the point where I want to put them somewhere. I want to take the time to edit them and make them look nice. I want to create that work of art through a photograph, and I have others to thank for that.

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If it weren’t for people telling me that they want me to keep writing and taking photographs, I assume this sudden likeness for it would dissolve away again like it has before and my mind would wander to a different hobby to fill up my free time. But with people telling me they love what they are reading, or love the pictures they are seeing has given me a new type of respect for myself. Not saying I didn’t have any already, but I really just started taking pictures and blogging because I enjoyed doing it myself. It was just an excuse to talk to myself and get my thoughts out of my head a lot faster than writing them on paper before I forgot what I was saying.

Now I look forward to going somewhere with my camera, but not just for my own enjoyment. For yours too. For my readers. It’s not just an effort to capture something that I may never see again, but it’s also a chance to practice a hobby that I’ve really grown to love. It’s a chance for me to think about the next experience I want to write about. To make sure I get that perfect shot that goes so well with a story I want to tell to you. To let you in on what I’m doing and what I’m feeling. It all comes back to this little bit of internet space that I can call my own.

So thanks for the support that you’ve all shown me. It’s helped me develop my love for writing and photography that much more, and I don’t plan on setting my camera on a shelf for dust anymore. I want to keep going, and I hope I won’t feel the discouragement I once felt. From here on out I will only continue to work harder and get better.

To the perfect photograph and most welcoming story.

-C

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Natural Selection

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Alright, ya’ll, here’s the deal. We have GOT to stop assuming that everything on this earth is ours for the taking. Knock it off. Time out. Go to your room.

I recently read an article by another writer (Keith R. Crowley, wildlife photographer) on wordpress.com discussing the hiker by the name of Lance Crosby who was killed by a bear this past week in Yellowstone Park. He reiterates in his article that the hiker went off trail, ended up getting mauled by a bear and was a bit…well…eaten as well, unfortunately. The bear, who goes by the name of Blaze by the officials at the park, had been exposed to other humans around her and her 2 cubs in the past and did nothing. No one can really know what happened this time around as the man killed was hiking alone.

Now that you know the facts, I’ll begin my severely opinionated response.

Ok, so I understand that the family of this man is probably very upset. If it were me or any of my family members I would definitely be in the same boat. My father half eaten and buried for future meals by a wild bear?! I couldn’t imagine how I would feel. But, I also have to consider one important word in that sentence. Wild. That bear was wild. It is a wild animal, which means it cannot be taken lightly, it could kill you, it only lives primarily on instinct. There’s no way you can know what it’s thinking, when it’s last meal was, how threatened it felt at the time, what it could have been doing to protect its cubs. There can be absolutely no way of knowing what was going on in that bear’s head. Any wild animal has a right to be so.

It would be no different if I had been bitten by a shark when I was surfing in Venice Beach, California. We are in their territory, their home, it does not belong to us and never did. Nor will it ever belong to us. Some people are with me on this, but others feel that as long as we put up a big fence and make a big pretty sign we can call anything ours with the help from government cash-flow. No. Nuh uh.

Please tell me we have more intelligence than to suggest that we rule this planet. I don’t know where we got this idea that we can pretend we own something that was generous enough to give us a chance, the most miniscule 1 in a million chance of survival, to even begin to live on this planet. People, Government, Country, Homo Sapiens: Grow the fuck up. Learn to have a little bit of gratitude for things that were presented for us to appreciate, not claim for our own.

If I describe a scenario to you the whole story about the hiker will seem so fickle and unnecessary. Let’s say you’re in your house with your two young children. You’re minding your business, you feel safe in the comfort of your home. Then a man, whom you’ve never seen before, walks into your home unannounced. How would you feel? Would you feel threatened? Yes. And you would immediately think of your and your children’s safety. Boom, you grab for your gun (as almost every person in our sad country has one these days) and you kill him. Self defense, intruder on personal property, case dismissed. Now lets look at it this way. So you shoot the man, and then the authorities think you shouldn’t have shot him so they kill you and put your kids in foster care. Uh, what? Yeah that would never happen.

Now lets talk about the “being eaten” part. A lot of people know that once an animal gets a taste for human flesh it will begin to hunt for them. There are instances where people believe this to be true with dogs and dog bites, sharks and shark bites, etc. I understand where the officials were coming from when they decided that the bear could no longer live in that area as there are frequent cars and hikers in Yellowstone. But, lets take this bit of information and use it. Our population is growing rapidly, and animals have nowhere to go. We build a city and expect the animals to know that they’re not welcome here, and that they should retreat into something less scary to them. Less threatening. But if we continue to expand our city, where the hell do these people expect all the animals to go? Any animal that strays into “our” city is killed on the spot, but why? We evolved from animals. Australopithecus Africanus, Homo Habilis, Pithecanthropus Erectus, “Lucy”. We grew to be the species we are after the animals have already been here, and then we build all this SHIT and kick animals out. Like we own this place. Take the mountain lion that was shot to death in Omaha, Nebraska. The mountain lion had a broken leg and was literally lying down, not moving, when the police opened fire and killed the animal. They shot the animal 16 times. 16. Times. They claim that tranquilizing it wasn’t an option because they would have had no idea how the animal would react. Right, so you prepare in advance for possibilities on how the animal would react. You put up a road block, you move people away from the threat, you take the necessary precautions. Hell, I’ve seen construction workers with beer guts and orange cones do a better job redirecting people than these cops with guns and their “expert” consulting.

PEOPLE. Our population is growing, to our unfortunate downfall, and we cannot keep pushing the animals out. They were here first. The bear in that park tasted human flesh. Why do we not study this? Why do we not try to find a way to work with the animal and figure out why it acted that way? Animals do crazy things when they’re starving to death. Take the Polar Bear filmed by Planet Earth’s amazing film crew, for instance. In the last hope of finding food he attacked a full grown Walrus only to gain substantial tusk stab wounds and no meal. He died from starvation and injury. Was there enough food for her in Yellowstone Park or was the Bear reacting the same way the Polar Bear did? Was it cause and effect? When was the last time she had eaten? Could we have started a sort of study to deter the animal from eating human flesh again, and retrain the animal to return to its normal diet and eating habits? (I know it’s a wild animal, but we work with wild animals to do certain things such as mate and relocate to help their species population without exposing them to [too much if any] human contact.) There are so many other options that could have been taken into consideration. But instead of weighing these options, and possibly figuring out if the food sources in Yellowstone need to be evaluated, the bear was killed leaving two orphaned cubs. (I take into consideration that no conservationist really wanted to kill Blaze. I only wish they could have thought against the normal protocol. With our cities expanding, we can’t just keep killing an animal that may act out of “regulation”. We are destroying habitats left and right and need to begin a process that could prevent further things like this, or at least a study to possibly influence the animal to no longer consider human flesh as a dietary option.)

The cubs are now to be raised in captivity. We orphaned these cubs and now we are putting them in a zoo for the rest of their life. WHY?! Raise them at a wildlife refugee center and release them into the wild when they’re old enough. We have the ability to do this. Monitor them, make sure they are ok to live in the wild. We are such hypocrites. We get so upset when the Congolese Rebels shoot the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga leaving their infants without mothers to be raised in captivity. We lost our shit when Walter Palmer left Cecil’s cubs to fend for themselves. But as soon as a bear in the wild kills a man on our turf: Oh yes, foster the children. We are seriously the biggest pieces of shit on this planet. I quote Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain, “Every piece of this is Man’s bullshit. They call this war “a cloud over the land” but they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say “Shit, it’s rainin’!”

We have saved so many lives since medicine has sky rocketed and I’m not bashing the lives we have saved, it’s a miracle that we are lucky enough to breathe through an experience that could have killed you, but Natural Selection is plummeting. Why do you think we get so tense when a disease starts killing off hoards of people? Because Natural Selection has to be maintained, and we get scared of that reality check that we are not invincible. We do not own this planet. Mother natured does. And she will tell us so when a disease mutates and takes hold of our lives. We need to realize that we are not immortal. We can’t keep pretending that we are. Natural selection needs to happen in order to keep our species sharp. It happens to animals in the wild. Species’ are maintained by the demand of food and the necessity of male mating/territorial habits. The old and weak and the overpopulated young are usually moderated by hunting. We need to be hunted, as gruesome as that sounds it’s true. We cannot keep taking over this planet. It will just become a wasteland.

Wise up people. It’s time to start realizing that just because we are at the top of the food chain doesn’t mean that something can’t deteriorate our existence just as easily as we took it from that bear in Yellowstone. I hope that my pursuit in a Wildlife Biology and Pre Veterinary Science degree next year will help all living things have a chance, because I’m sick of the disgusting clout we continue to think we have. It’s time to change that mentality. It’s time to treat everything with equal respect.

-C

Personality Surgery

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I have recently realized how beneficial leaving the nest has been for me. My parents were always very supportive and for that I am most grateful. I also wish they would have told me how much of a fuck up I was, pardon for being brash, but I guess that doesn’t really describe the term supportive. They put up with my constant Sagittarius spontaneity of “I want to be an actress”, “I want to be on Broadway”, “I want to do film”, “I want to play piano”. I’m still that way. Hell, I’m looking in to getting my pilot’s license next summer, and they just accept it I suppose. Lord knows, it’s not a family trait I picked up. I just picked it up.

I went to college for Theatre, got a bachelors in Fine Arts, and I loved that degree don’t get me wrong. But did I pick it because it was easy and I knew how to do it? Or did I genuinely want to do it? Did I pursue on the wave of being significantly lazy? Knowing full well that I’m just good at memorizing and I can study plays well. I honestly don’t know. I do enjoy stage acting, and I feel a tingling in my toes whenever I get that first lights out before walking onstage as Carol from Black Comedy, the completely neurotic and OCD British girlfriend of a hopelessly “doesn’t have his shit together” artist. Or Grete from Sight Unseen, the German reporter only flirting to lure an unsuspecting victim to admit his sham career and fickle friends. I enjoy being those people. I enjoy speaking as they speak. Playing up the Chameleon Complex. But did I need a degree in it? Did I know full well that the only career choice if not the tiniest percentage of actually becoming an acclaimed star would be teaching other hopeful doe-eyed youngsters with dreams of “bright lights, big city”?

That’s why I need to go back to school to do something else…because I don’t want to be a teacher. I loved my teachers. Passionate, creative, loving as they were did I love my teachers. But please don’t make me be a teacher.

Then there’s my minor. Music with an emphasis on Vocal Performance. Yes. Another degree that may or may not have been totally worthless had I taught vocal lessons, or somehow made it on Broadway. I love Broadway. I see shows at beautifully decorated Theaters and I admit I have enough confidence in my singing that I think I could be up there belting the ending ballad sung by Colleen Sexton, Linda Eder or Sutton Foster and woo a crowd too, even though all three of those ladies are the most talented Broadways singers I have had the privilege of listening to. I think I’m good. Still, with that being said, The Voice has yet to think I’m good enough after 2 attempts at a poorly written pop song belted by yours truly.

College was fun, but my parents were still only an hour away. I could drive home for the weekends and have a free home cooked meal that wasn’t Ramen or Hamburger Helper. So I moved to LA. I tested the waters in Film. I liked the set life, what little I saw of it in a year anyway. And again, leaving the nest was hard but my parents were supportive and I learned a lot about myself in the process of living on my own. I met horrible people. Seriously dreadful souls. And I met some of the kindest and gentlest people that have ever made my life more content. Photographers, Singers, Meditators, Band Mates, Garden Keepers. The Andersons. The Andersons.

The Andersons were my home away from home. They were my other mother/other father. They fed me home cooked meals and showed me that good people can be found in the corners of a dirty, sticky-fingered city. Some seriously wonderful people. In reminiscing with memories of this family I think of their daughter, Jenny, who loved nothing more than traveling around California. I wish I had been more equipped with funding to join her in road tripping to Ojai, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Oakland. Her father and her also took a cross-country trip to Oregon, New Orleans, South Carolina, and quaint places in between. They opened my eyes to how much I longed to travel. Trips to Joshua Tree and random mountainous hikes, and after-work sunset surfing excursions. There is honestly nothing more calming than sitting on a surfboard, bobbing in the ocean, watching the sun go down (despite my incessant fear of a shark attack). There may or may not have been a relaxing substance, ground and wrapped, lit and smoked included in any sunset on the beach…after all, it was California. No better place for free spirits than the sandy beaches of Venice.

Of all the bad experiences I had in Los Angeles living in South Central and Mid City: hearing gun shots every night, getting bitten by a dog, coming home to my bed soaking wet from a hole in the ceiling after a full day of rain, having my newly purchased scooter break down in the middle of the road, race wars with helicopter lights, working two jobs every single day and the god awful traffic…there were some good things too. There were things I never would have learned about myself had I not moved there. I got to try new things, I got to see City & Colour and Ray LaMontagne in concert, and hear new and interesting music. I got to be in a band and play live shows. I got to meet countless Celebrities, shake their hands and tell them how thankful we all are for their entertainment, even embarrass myself in front of a few (Chris Hemsworth, Tim Meadows, Ron Howard, Jonah Hill – I am so sorry, you guys…). I got to learn how to budget my money beyond measure, and I learned what truly being alone feels like. Having holidays come and go with no one to celebrate them with. I am honestly so thankful that I was able to move there with the support from my parents and now I can truly look anyone in the eye and tell you exactly who I am, exactly what I want, and exactly how I feel.

I want to travel more. I want to be outdoorsy. I want to own a beehive. I want to be a pilot. I want to be a photographer. I want to be a videographer. I want to be a wildlife biologist. I want to be a blogger. And all of these things I plan on doing and know I will do them, because after living in LA I know that I am strong enough and smart enough to figure anything out on my own, as well as with a handful of support from the amazing people I know and will meet along the way. There’s no one in the world better than my parents who have put up with my ridiculous “backs and forths” but I’m happy they’ve helped me discover who I’ve grown to be. I think the whole family knew I would wind up being a whole lot like my mother, which I’m very happy to say…I see the resemblances. But, I’m not sure where I got this newfound explorer mentality. Perhaps it was all those times as a child I was lucky enough to see the world a bit. Anywhere from learning to drive a stick shift in Moab, asking a stranger what all those beads were for on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, wasting my time texting a boy in Hawaii all the way to seeing King Lear by the RSC in England, learning to play a Didgeridoo in Australia, and thinking I had a rain jacket but turns out it wasn’t in the pouring rain in Italy. I’m a lucky girl to have parents that want to get out and GO somewhere. I just know from now on I’m really going to take it all in with new eyes and a bright heart. Because now I have people to tell my stories to thanks to you readers, and I have pictures to take thanks to this documentarian itch I’ve been scratching.

So I’m embracing this new “Grown-Up” Personality Surgery, if there is such a thing, that I’m experiencing these days. I hope I prove the expectations of myself well. To more exploring, and a special thanks to The Andersons and of course Mom & Pop Brickwood-Figgins.

-C

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