Hola. So, I spent some time revamping the blog this morning. I like it: it’s pretty, minimalist, yet cozy. It matches my mood. The change was largely spurred on by Caitlin R Kiernan’s blog, which I happened to find this morning and loved. She’s so honest and vulnerable. I’ve come to author-love her over her last couple books and now I think I like her as a person, too.
I’ve been trying to walk away from my blog for FOREVER, but I can’t seem to do it. There’s still a part of me that wants to open my heart a little to the wide world, whoever of it comes searching. The problem is that over the past few years I’ve slowly and steadily lost readers because of, well, lots of reasons. I’ve changed, my readers have changed, we haven’t changed together. The whole blog world has changed. I stopped writing regularly. Mostly, however, I suspect it’s because I stopped being honest about my painful spots. Feeling vulnerable had started to suck.
It still does and I’m not even sure I know how to do it anymore. I have no idea how I come across to people in my writing. It’s weird. I have no idea how I come across to people in general, either! I don’t really fret about it, surprisingly, because I’m more-or-less contented with who I am right now, but I do wonder if I should be fretting a little more. Reediculous, yeah.
Last night Torie’s boyfriend Brian was over. I like Brian so much. He’s one of those rare persons who feel like family the very moment you meet them. He’s a Leo, like me, so we share fellow traits, and that makes things easy. It was great because when I offered him our old 1963 Reader’s Digest Atlas, as we’d recently gotten a “new” 1987 Reader’s Digest Atlas, he was so genuinely excited that he almost jumped to the ceiling, and spent the hour before dinner poring over its pages and reading out little interesting tidbits to entertain us.
(Atlases are a current fascination for me. I’ve resumed my on/off-again passion for reading about Antarctic exploration and am enjoying tracing routes and finding their positions in longitude and latitude, which I’d never really understood before. Gotta keep those little grey cells popping.)
So it was Brian and Torie and Scott and me, and we all worked together to make our chicken, baked sweet potato, brown rice, and stuffed mushroom dinner, which we ate while watching Captain Phillips. That movie was INTENSE. I came away from it with two strong impressions: one, that I love America. I love our cultural earnestness, our gravity and friendliness, and generosity. Our tenacity and confidence. There are things I don’t like about us, of course. But that movie emphasized the things I do, and I just wanted to cry for love last night. I did, a little. We all did.
Two, it reestablished in my mind that Tom Hanks is a bona fide national treasure. I’d forgotten how amazing an actor he is. Wow.
It’s so easy for me to get tucked into my rut and insulated. I have to make an effort to get out of the house, a concerted herculean EFFORT, because I like what I do inside so much. But if I don’t get out, I began to feel increasingly depressed and paralyzed. Go figure, right? Yes, everybody else knows this is true but me, until I’m smack in the middle of it. Well, thankfully, Scott and I decided that we really needed to take a little road trip this past weekend. And Honey. Did I NEED that.
It was quite literally the best day I’ve had in years. From stem to stern, the absolute best. It was bright and sunny and not too terribly cold. We headed southeast because that’s where our heart lies lately: in the desert. It’s winter, so we took the car instead of the motorcycle, and being comfortable really made a difference. We also had room to haul stuff we bought at various thrift stores in Redmond, our destination town, though we meandered for hours on the way there. Our first stop was Crooked River Canyon, which has 300 foot cliffs and signs telling you unequivocally that dogs are not permitted because, and I quote, “Many dogs have died here!” with a drawing of a dog jumping over a cliff. This admonition was printed on actual government signs, including the exclamation point!
The front part of the canyon, near the road, was all fenced off, but when Scott and I walked under the train trestle to the back of it there tweren’t NUTHIN there between us and God. I am not joking. It was spectacular and super scary. We spent a little time exploring the surrounding area as well, since it was too cold for rattlesnakes and we figured here’s our chance, and ah, just roaming felt wonderful on my cramped-up legs. Smelling the juniper was wonderful, the sage… even though neither are at their height this time of year, I could still rub the frostyblue juniper berries between my fingers and keep their fragrance with me. We ate our sandwiches in the fresh air , watching people ignore the signs and walk their dogs along the cliff edge anyway. Sheez.
Our next stop was Smith Rock. I’d never been, though Scott had back in 1976. I can’t even tell you… can’t. It was like church for me. I drank it in, awestruck, feeling energy surge through my body in waves; it was exhilarating. We plan to go back in a month or so and spend the entire day hiking and biking around it. Despite the full parking lot and all the people, it didn’t feel in any way crowded.
I don’t feel crowded in Eastern and Central Oregon. I feel expanded. I can breathe out there.
I’d also been hoping to find a feather that day… and there one was, at my favorite place! I had gone to the car and then turned back to walk to the fence again for one last glimpse of the huge Rock, and as I was heading to the car for the second time, I noticed it on the path right in front of me. I added it to my medicine bundle here at home.
In Redmond, which is only a few miles away from Smith Rock and is where we’re thinking of moving when Scott retires, we went to several awesome thrift stores, none of which were at all affiliated with the pervasive megalithic overpriced Goodwill. I bought a dozen or so kids’ books for $1 and $.50 each. (Gotta stock up!) One thing I love about Redmond is that it seems to be populated by humble, down-to-earth, lower-middle-class to lower-class people. These are the people I feel most comfortable with. People who don’t care what they wear or drive or if their lawns are green. It’s refreshing just to be yourself, without the need for a persona.
We began the drive home as the sun was lowering into the trees, and once it set completely, we listened to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours four times in a row. Scott said that every time he looked over at me, in the dark car, I had a smile on my face. I did… I could feel it there and was powerless to stop it, even if I’d wanted to.
I suppose that’s enough yammering for today. Jess is on his way over, since it’s his day off. I love his visits because he’s such an interesting person, always bursting with new thoughts to share. So I’ll put on a pot of coffee and settle in. It’s cold and gray today anyway, great weather for a cozy conversation with someone I love. May you have a great day, too. xo
*The title refers to the Eastern Oregon desert AND Antarctica, which is also a desert!