“…someday we’ll all start laughing…”

This is from my Myspace “blog”, circa 2007 or ’8.

DSC00076

 

Trekking home from my short hike this morning, I realized my dog was ignorantly enjoying a potentially life-threatening experience.  She bounds through the desert, chasing things, panting with exhaustion, dives into brush, yelps at chollas, etc.  I forget that this is Arizona, home of ridiculous heat, diamondback rattlesnakes, and prickly ground.  And the Valley Fever capital of the world.

Okay, I made that last bit up.  It may very well be the capital, but I don’t know.  There’s just…a lot of Valley Fever incidents in dogs out here.  In fact, my good friend’s neighbor’s puppy just died from it.  (Valley fever is a fungus disease that is transmitted through air, basically.  Dogs are especially susceptible because they’re low to the ground, where fungus spores float around and are breathed into dog’s lungs.  Once in the lungs, the spores turn into multi-cellular spherules that expand and grow and suddenly explode, releasing more spores into the animal’s body.  These new spores turn into spherules, and the sometimes fatal cycle continues… its actually kinda cool how it all works, if not a bit tragic.)

This should have served as a warning to me; do not take your pup hiking in dusty, spore-infected areas!!  There is potential danger! Keep her in the manicured, mowed-grassed back yard where it is safe and she can chase leaves and flowers.

Maybe I’m disillusioned, but that seems to correlate to a lot of human decision-making as well; if this be potentially dangerous, don’t do it.

This freaks me out.  I see 99% of America living their comfortable, clean-cut lives, with their 2.5 children, and their 10% tithe to their fancy evangelical church, and their fifteen cents a day to some charity group…

It horrifies me.  I want to be on the front lines, I want to be experiencing extreme cold and extreme heat.  I want famine and high cliffs.  I want meaningful conversation.  I want to suck the marrow from life and flip the bird to fundamental conventionalists.  I absolutely do not want to play it safe.

None of my heroes sat back and hoped for a comfortable, simple life; Jesus walked all over the place loving people and rebuking the self-righteous.  Rich Mullins made minimum wage, even at his most famous rock-star potential moments, and lived on a reservation in a trailer.  Shawn Mullins ( no relation to Rich) traveled the California coast in a van with his dog and wrote songs about the people he’d meet.  Chris McCandless took off into the back roads of America, and the hauntingly cold wilderness of Alaska.

    And so on and so forth.

Was it all safe?  Not at all, not even for a second.  Was it controversial?  You bet.  Were there times where each of them despaired?  Uh-huh.  Were they afraid?  Very often.  Did they find peace?  I don’t think so, but maybe.  Maybe they found something very like it, though, or at least some understanding.

So no, “I do not chose to be a common (wo)man”.  (-Dan Alfange poem-thing: look it up.)  Truth is out there, you guys; but because its so blatantly presented to us, we have to actually look harder to find it.  Make any sense?  Not really?  I know, huh, that’s the kicker.  And the thing is…what do you do when you find truth?  Theres so much about the quest, but what about the aftermath?  How do you go back to mindless materialism, self-centered consumerism, if you think you’ve got a glimpse into the Absolute??  How do you not live after such epiphany highs?  How do you shut your eyes, ears, and mouth in the name of comfort?  How could I do that?

“Hey sugar, take a walk on the wild side.”  -Lou Reed.

So, though there is an outside chance of my dog breathing spores into her lungs, she totally digs hiking and chasing rabbits.  I can’t deny the dog something so natural and so enjoyed, and I can’t deny my own natural inclinations to be out there.  It simply brings too much joy to pass up.

Its an introspective Saturday here at camp.  I’m resting from the past two days of zest, sorrow and exhilaration.  I’m processing Thursday night at Rage, all of Friday at Magic Mountain, and the death of Kira due to Valley Fever, as seventeen-year-old me so audaciously braced herself for.

I got the call Thursday evening from Meg that no, it wasn’t early-onset arthritis keeping the dog from playing with the kids anymore, it was a rather nasty case of the aforementioned infection.  Both weeping, we agreed that the best option was euthanasia.  (I get it if you could afford lifelong treatment for your fevered pup, but we here are not made of money.  Magic Mountain was covered by my boss and I ate granola bars I’d sneaked in, as I have a literal three dollars and forty-two cents in my account.  Please don’t tell me how you had the means to treat your dog’s illness.  I don’t want to hear it.  I cannot hear it.)

It is still a surreal and stomach-churning idea that Kira the Wonderdog is gone, and with all the distractions of the last two days I haven’t had much time to wail my friggin’ eyes out. I was, however, crying at the base of a roller coaster yesterday at the time of her appointment.  My camp friends (I was there with twelve of those lovely dorks) bought me iced lemonade and a batman cape and bear-hugged me until I couldn’t breathe.

All I can think about is sixteen-year-old me seeing this wriggling furball at Petsmart and knowing, that’s mine, and of all the haphazard adventures of the last seven years, including the heart-wrenching decision to give her to my friends last Summer.

When I was a kid we had season passes to Six Flags and I never touched a single ride, that’s how terrified I am of roller coasters and heights.  Yesterday, however, I rode every single one we came to and screamed my lungs out for Kira, for the tragedy and humor of life, and helplessness and bliss of it all.

082

I don’t know.  I’m just sad about Kira and overjoyed about my camp friends and those roller coasters.

Less like Billy, more like Jean; Pt. 3

Ah we’re here, part three! We get to sum it all up now.  (Go read part one and two if you haven’t and you’d like to.)

This will be short.  All I want to share is that the more life experience I wrack up, the more I want to be less like Billy and more like Jean.

All of you who actually know me are chuckling to yourselves because you know I am nothing like Jean.  I’m way more Billy Jack than Jean Roberts.

You know how I know this?  When someone dismissed my assertion of Jean’s heroism on Facebook I was like “FIGHT ME IN REAL LIFE!!!1!“.

*face palm*

This is the kind of thing I want to change.  I want to learn to care about things without loosing my mind when no one around me does.  I want to be a consistent in the things I say and the way I behave. I don’t want to be offended by people who don’t share my values.  I want to not be so damned defensive when someone disagrees with my lifestyle.

Because man, when I’m confronted with things I don’t like (say, misogyny or racism or someone telling me cigarettes are for dummies) I get totally rattled and burn bridges with people.  I talk more than I listen, and I dismiss more than I encourage.

I don’t want to be like that.  My favorite thing about Jean Roberts is the way she lets the politicians in town explore the school, and then invites them to see an improv skit the students put on.  She’s inviting and compassionate with the people who need it the most.  I want to be like that.

It’s not that Billy’s bad.  Billy’s awesome. He has a really good heart and he believes in the same things as Jean.  He cares about people, cares about causes, thinks of the big picture and has been through more than he can really share, but he’s impulsive and reactionary.  He gets caught up in the moment, has a grandiose self-image, and like myself, burns bridges.  He is justice while Jean is mercy.

Justice is great, but the causes I find myself fighting for are blatantly self-serving more often than not.  I’m not an activist if I’m only engaging in self-preservation.  And frankly, I’m too often a jerk about things.

I want to be a person who’s safe to be around.

I’m not saying I want to be a pushover.  Jean’s not a pushover.  (In one scene you learn she was marching along with Martin Luther King jr, and she’s the one negotiating a fair trial for Billy as well as bargaining for the school’s safety in exchange for his surrender.  Jean’s a boss ass bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch…)

I’m not going to shy away from the hard issues, but I have plenty of inspiring, tender-heated friends and I’ve choked on enough humble pie to know I need to be softer.  I want to be softer.  I want to be empathetic, and I want to learn how to pray for the redemption of people I view as problematic.

So I guess that’s it, the three-part Billy Jack shindig.  I don’t know how to become more like Jean (and really, Jean reminds me a lot of that one guy from scripture) other than prayer and the practice of extending grace, and while those are two virtues I’m absolutely,undeniably wretched at, I think its worth a try.

coyote

PS Staff Orientation starts in a week. (letsgetweirdletsgetweirdletsgetweird)

currently obsessed

I don’t know how to jump back into writing, so I’m just going to start with little snapshots of things I’m obsessed with lately.  It’s like a happy medium between writing and…not.

Currently obsessed with these new friends; currently-obsessed-friends

Currently obsessed with hanging around the farm; currently-obsessed-porch

with red nails, springtime and baby chicks; currently-obsessed-chick

Currently obsessed with this piece of art;

currently-obsessed-garden-girl (visit the whole gallery here)

and dancing; currently-obsessed-dancing (This was at my brother’s going away party.  Kid’s now in Chicago for school.  Its back to myself being the only one of my family still making a home out of Arizona.)

and inspiring artists who wail on the harmonica currently-obsessed-harmonica (brb trying)

(…and crying, because its so frustrating to be terrible at something you love.)

Currently obsessed with this song; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOIF5R78NnA     “…mercy me, oh god, oh ecstasy, oh yeah, right there…”

Currently obsessed with this food; yeast

and, always, green smoothies in recycled jars; currently-obsessed-smoothie

Currently unemployed, getting ready for SXSW next month, half-way through the Mindy Project, twenty-three years old and playing house the best I know how.  Happy New Year, friends.  Hope you’re rocking the universe.

 

Let’s talk about shame, baby.

I’ve been thinking a lot about shame.  More specifically, I’ve been thinking about why certain people feel shame about things that other people don’t think twice about.

Shame and guilt are different psychological phenomena, by the way.  They can arise at the same time, but they’re not the same.  Guilt is more of an awareness of having done wrong, while shame is more of an externally driven awareness of how we look to others, as well as how we seem to ourselves.  Like, I want to impress my vegan friends, so I feel shame when I eat free cookies at work.  I also feel guilt because I know all the facts about milk and egg factories and it is completely atrocious.

What I want to talk about today is why we feel shame and guilt.  I want this, actually, to be more of an open thread than anything.  Why do some of us feel shame about eating, but not sexual escapades?  And vice versa.  Why are some of us convicted about our spending habits but not drug and alcohol abuse?  (Cigarettes and coffee count as drugs, mmkay?)  It’s an interesting topic, for sure, and I’m just wrestling with the annoying ways my convictions fall short of who I actually want to be,  Like, yeah its all good and dandy I feel convicted about wasting time online, but why don’t I feel convicted about being an asshole sometimes?  I’ve always heard you can tell a person’s beliefs from their lifestyle, but I believe so many things.  And apparently what I believe in most in indulgence.  I’m frustrated at myself for holding convictions, up until I’m presented with an opportunity not to.

Some shame is founded and some (most) is not.  So what do you, reader, feel shame about, and why?  And also do you feel like your shame is founded, or is it irrational?  Please comment! Let’s dialogue this beezy.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

I still want to howl.

The first time I read Warsan Shire’s poem, “For Women who are Difficult to Love”, my stomach churned with recognition.

Yes, I thought.  That’s exactly what this is like.

Last night I told my brother, “I’m scared I’m gonna fuck this up.”

See, I’ve been seeing the previously mentioned Nice Boy pretty consistently ever since our first date a week or so ago.   I like him.  I’m pretty sure he likes me.  And I’m scared I’m gonna fuck this up.

I told my brother that I could feel myself trying to be less while I was around this Nice Boy.  Matt asked what I meant, and I tried to explain. 

“I don’t know, I’m just trying to be less…offensive.  I’m less vulgar.”

He nodded and I think he really knew what I meant.  He knows because he’s the same as me.  He feels like the bad one, too.  He knows what it’s like to feel dirty in a room of nice people.  He’s “too intense”, too.    He knows I wasn’t talking about bad words. 

He reminded me that we’re on equal playing fields, we Jesus freaks.  “We’re all died-for.  Grace alone.”

Yeah.  I know.   And yet…

I still feel myself trying to be less than what I am around him.  Look how soft I am.  Look how pretty.

Melancholy is an inoperable tumor, and even when dormant it’s still in the back of my head.  I can still taste it on the back of my tongue.  I’m constantly shifty-eyed, swallowing, knowing it could seep out at any moment.  I don’t trust emotional health, like a cancer patient doesn’t trust remission.  I remember hitting my walls in anger at seventeen, and I remember screaming with my car windows rolled up this summer. I’m still reeling from this past year, and I’m still mourning innocence.  I’m still infuriated that people are raped, that friends die, that I’ve done reprehensible things, that there are children not being adopted, that animals are tortured, that people are mean.

I still want to howl.

I’m trying to be less angry, less sad, less opinionated, less cynical, less doubtful, less restless.

But I am angry.  I’m sad, I’m opinionated, I’m cynical and I’m doubtful.  I’m so restless.  I believe in offensive things.  I’m tired of saying things like, “I’m not ugly”, and “I’m not stupid.”

Fuck it.

I’m beautiful.  I’m intelligent.

And I still want to howl.

Why I’m not going to Burning Man

When I started mentally drafting this post, it sounded a lot like a defense.  “Lady’s and gentleman of the jury, let me explain.”  It read like a persuasive rather than informative and (hopefully) encouraging speech.  Gross.  Why do I feel like I’ve got to defend myself?

Then I got annoyed at myself and decided I wouldn’t write it at all.  Eph you, fake audience, you don’t get an explanation.

Then I got annoyed again and realized this was an actual thing that needed to be addressed.  Mostly I want to address the fake audience we’ve all got, and the image we try and project.  I know you do it too.  I’m not that unique.

So here it is; why I turned down a free ticket to Burning Man this year.

It all started when I was homeless after camp and a friend of a friend let me move in.  Mollie lives in Phoenix (so I do too) and does theater-y stuff.  She’s friends with e’erybody, and while I peaced out for California to go on a #postcampportland road-trip with Camp friends, Mollie’s friend offered her a free ticket to Burning Man.  Mollie’s a real adult with a real job and things, so she declined, but gave this friend of hers my phone number and convinced him that not only am I totally un-psycho-y, but that he should give that free ticket to me.

So there I was, somewhere in Napa Valley with a belly full of wine, and I recieved a text offering me the ticket and the ride and a bunch of new friends.

To BURNING MAN.

Naturally I said yes.  My method is to agree to All The Things first, and then think them over.  We all stumbled to bed and the next morning, my camp friend and I headed back down the 5 toward Los Angeles. We debriefed our weird week of driving and camping and discussed the foreseeable future.

The more we talked about Burning Man, the more anxiety I felt about it.  For those of you unfamiliar, Burning Man is a week-long festival sort of thing in Nevada.  Lots of nakedness, lots of drugs, lots of “art”.  Then they burn a giant man.  Its supposed to be this spiritual thing and its really popular.  It used to be free but now tickets range from a couple hundred to (I fuck with you not) six-hundred dollars.

Its many people’s dream to attend, but for some reason (the price?!?!) I’ve never actually cared to go.  I’ve never had this burning (har har har) desire to experience it, and especially after my physically and mentally exhausting two months at Summer Camp, followed by being a bridesmaid for my old roommate, and then this weird West Coast Roadtrip, I’m just tired.  I’m homesick.  I want to buy a bike, get a job, start writing for my newspaper again, frequent my coffee shops, run around with my real friends, and not live out of a backpack for a while.  Plus I’ve already played around in Slab City and at the Rainbow Gathering, both of which aren’t total sell-outs yet.  (Want some ice for that wicked burn, Coachella?)

The problem is, this was free.  And what a way to cap off the summer!  And how envious, on a scale of envious to super envious, would this make everyone?! And how consistent with my wanderlusting, constantly curious, random and hyperactive lifestlye!

I tried to find the source my my decision-making anxiety and this is what I found; going to Burning Man upholds the image I project to my fake audience…but I didn’t actually want to go to Burning Man.

*gasp*

Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely am fairly adventurous.  I like spontanaiety and I like new places and people.  I genuinely like Kerouac.

But here I go defending myself.

The painful truth is that I want you all to think I’m this carefree Dharma Bum, endlessly adventuring and having a ball everywhere I go.  I want you to think I’m beautiful and fun-loving and never tired.  “Eyes incapable of anything but wonder…” just running around the world digging everything.

Its this totally one-dimensional idea I’m safe hiding behind.  If they think I’m a gypsy, they won’t question me.

Gross.

Because friends, people are all kinds of dimensions.  You are not a description, you’re a human being.  Sometimes you may like to hop in a van with strangers (see west coast roadtrip to the Rainbow Gathering, circa 2011) and sometimes you want to watch New Girl re-runs all day.

I don’t know why I pressure myself to be so easilly defined.  People mentally categorize everything because it makes processing them easier.  If I were to describe myself to you, I’d hand you some adjectives and you could file them away.  When I cross your mind you could quickly pull out my binder and see “vegan” and “writer”, along with a paragraph or two on “chronic depression” or “logical theism.”  There might be a whole page dedicated to “wanderlust”.

But those are just neat little adjectives and they’re one-dimensional, the way that we are not.  There’s more than two sides to a story, and there’s more to a person than the About Me description would have you believe.

I don’t want to categorize people like that.  I am consistently surprised by people wrecking my simplified judgments of them, and I’m learning not to put anyone in boxes anymore.  I want to extend that same curiosity and authenticity to myself.

All this to say, I’m not going to Burning Man.  I’m going back to Arizona.   Here’s to busting out of the box.  Here’s to not being impressive.

jess1 <tired selfie on the train.

(Last week I bussed from Phoenix to LA, caught a cab to Union Square, and was quite pleased with myself on the train toward my dad’s house.  Two days later three friends and I drove to Portland, camping in Big Sur and spots like it along the way.  Sometimes life is really good.)

 

Starting

letter^found a camper’s letter to another camper this afternoon.  Totes adorbs.

You know what I’m good at?  Walking into a pre-established environment, being a newbie, and learning the ropes.  I don’t like too much responsibility.  I like jobs like restaurant gigs because my presence isn’t the most crucial thing.  Being a manager would terrify me.  I like helping out at the garden downtown, but truly being in charge of those chickens and plants would drive my anxiety up the wall.  This tendency even creeps up in dating; as soon as someone starts counting on me, peace out.  If I could be a hermit and have no one depend on me, I’d be content.

But not really.

And there comes a time when you’ve gotta get over your commitaphobe, can’t-fence-me-in mentality.  You’ve got to actually do things that matter, take on responsibility, and start doing those things you secretly have wanted to do for years.

Enter, this summer camp.  Stage left.

Here, I’m the garden coordinator.  I’m in charge of mapping out the greenhouse (which Drew, the program director, and I did this afternoon), working within the budget for supplies and plants, and coming up with lesson plans that will not only entertain kids, but hopefully instil in them a sense of responsibility for the earth.  There’s no compost bin here; I’ve got to start that, and Drew and I are building it tomorrow.

Not going to lie, starting something is super overwhelming for me.  I choke at the idea of failure and disappointing anyone.  I’m sort’ve terrified that there aren’t pre-packaged lesson plans and an already working greenhouse for me to mesh into.

The good news is, I’m sick of being transient and undependable.  I want to be part of something that matters.  I want other people to care about animal husbandry and sustainable food systems, so why hang out on the sidelines hoping someone pulls me out there with them?  I want to teach people things that matter, so I’ve got to go learn those things.

Here’s to learning new things (like how to build a compost bin, cool down the summer greenhouse, and writing up seven weeks of lesson plans) and bringing what you’ve learned to everyone else.

Check out the start of our compost; egg shell, two coffee filters with grinds, two banana peels, a mushroom that fell on the floor, and grapefruit peels.

compost2

To come;

pretty things aren’t always good things.  (see; poison oak)

pretty-poison

How to build a compost bin from a trash bin.

compost-bin

And what to do with a greenhouse in California summers.

greenhouse2

Bemused gratitude

Remember when I was like, “oh WWOOF, you’re so fly, I’m gonna do you forever!”?

Remember when I crisis-ed in California for a week last month?  Ok, well, whilst in Cali, I joined WWOOF USA and planned* on taking the Amtrak all over this country, working on farms and learning what everyone’s growing all over the place.  (Because seriously, how incredible would that be?!?!?!)  I browsed some farms online, got pretty stoked, and came across a listing for a garden coordinator at a summer camp in Southern California.  I clicked, and the job description went something like this;

“Jess Moran Jess Moran Jess Moran JESS MORAN…”

Flash forward to right now, as I take a break from creating lesson plans and packing up all the clothes I’ll need for two months of garden-coordinating.  Tomorrow Dad will drive me and my trusty blue backpack to Camp, and I’ll get to work.

I feel like my life is characterized by being completely unqualified and unworthy of Awesomes, and getting to experience them anyway.  Like, yeah I know some things about gardening, and sure I can take care of animals, and ok, I’ve worked with kids for like ever, but really?  Really?  I get a greenhouse, a bunch of animals, and am in charge of teaching kids how to grow things for seven weeks?!?!?  What is this?  Plus, all my experience in the aforementioned fields came very similarly as this one; I was totally unprepared and undeserving of the opportunity.

For instance, running adventure camps in Australia.  Boom, that looks great on a resume.  But remember how I got that position?  How I randomly met a guy who worked for an adventure camp company, and they needed volunteers and I just happened to be around?  I got to spend two weeks camping, hiking, being a leader to all these high school kids, by coincidence.  What is this?

And now I get to cite that on my resume.  Who would’ve thought?

I’m kind’ve walking around in bemused gratitude, out here in So Cal.  Tomorrow dad’s driving me down to camp, where I get a brand new greenhouse to work with as well as pigs, chickens, bunnies, goats, and an alpaca.  (pinch me.)  I’m spending a week getting things mapped out and situated (where to plant what, etc.) before the other staff leaders roll in.   Then its orientation, and our first campers are dropped off on the seventeenth.

My role is to teach them how to grow things and care for animals, and why both endeavors are important,

Basically, I accidentally landed my dream job.

I don’t know, I’m just pretty stoked about all of this.  I couldn’t have created a better opportunity to learn and grow if I’d tried.

This is going to be a fun little stint, so stay tuned for tons of garden tips, camp counselor laments and rejoices, and tons of #nofilter pictures of the place.  Also I’m determined to teach the pigs tricks, like dogs.  I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Farm hat

*oh we don’t actually plan things around here.

wild with hope

I just got home, and en route I was thinking about my fancy new iPhone and the things I’ve been posting.  Social media in general, really.   From these pictures, from my statuses and what I’m tagged in, you’d assume I just walk around having the time of my life.  Being out of work the last two weeks looks awesome.  There’s been Tempe Town Lake girl-talks, water-fall jumping, margaritas (Morangaritas!!!!!) and general goofing off with my family.

lake-girl-talk We jumped off that suckaDad and Auntie Lisa

And that’s all true, but what’s also true are the things I don’t post, and the things you don’t post, either.

For instance, the hanging out with my family?  What you don’t see is that my auntie quit her job last year because the stress and anxiety of it was wrecking her life.  She was able to spend time with us this weekend because she doesn’t have a job right now.  That party I held two weeks ago, where all my old middle school buddies came over and drank wine and cracked each other up?  And we posted this picture?

cheetahs-b-day

Man, we got together like that because the hero of our teenhood was murdered last September and we needed comforting on her birthday.  And the silly hashtag “14hoursofChris”?  All those goofy pictures you like of my brother?

"This is the bus we take to church, Jess."

Yeah, those fourteen hours were the day-pass out of rehab he earned.  The boy is in rehab.

I post such pretty pictures of the urban garden I work at, and you like them, but what you don’t see is that I need that farm a hell of a lot more than it needs me.  You don’t see that the farm is restorative for me, a sanctuary for me.  The more scrapes from weeding I come home with, the more at peace my anxious heart feels.  You read my dad’s blog and like his business advice, but you don’t see him walking up to the aforementioned farm and his tears welling up when he saw me by the pool, playing lifeguard.

playing lifeguard

Those misty eyes are because he knows the wreckage behind the pictures, and he felt it too; that the farm is a safe, hopeful place.

And Spaghetti-Swing Tuesdays?  Friends, there have been nights we don’t even leave my house, we’re too engrossed in tearful confessions of our souls.

There is a brokenness in this world I can’t come to terms with.  There is a brokenness in myself I can’t come to terms with.  I mean, I’m unemployed right now because of it.  I got testy with someone this weekend actually about the nature of his joking and kind’ve told him to cut it out.  He obliged, but also asked how the view form my high-horse was.  I laughed.  “Oh, they don’t even let me near that horse these days.”

I just wanted, ehem, to be square with you.  I know you’re aware of how cool you make your life out to look on Facebook and Instagram and all of that, and that behind those pretty things you post you’re a mess as well.  And you’re probably lying awake at night, too, feeling like a phony.  I bet you’ve had your fair-share of rage at the weight of this messy world and your messy heart.  I bet you’ve shaken your fist at the stars too.

…And I bet you’ve been as astounded as I am at the common grace you experience.  Betcha receive unexpected encouragement sometimes or fall into charmed friendships you don’t deserve, and you’re floored by all this goodness.  I’ll bet you take those gems and cling to them, and you take pictures of them and post them and look at them later and reflect on how lovely your life really is.

You take those fourteen hour day-passes and run wild with them.

…I guess I’m not ashamed of posting such happy pictures, in that case.  And I’m glad you post your happy pictures too.

we'z real cool

“In  that place where morning gathers you can look sometimes forever till you see

That time may never know, time may never know

How the lord takes by its corners this whole world and shakes us forward and shakes us free

To run wild with the hope run wild with the hope.

The hope that this thirst will not last long…”

-Rich Mullins

Aint it a blessing

to do what you wanna do?

hey guys.  Hai.  Guise.  Guess what?  I’m a big-shot published-for-pay writer now.  Officially.

Dig this.

^That got me money.

100_1849(~This is my lovely dog in my lovely backyard (weedsarebeautiful).  This is how my days begin; coffee and journals and loving my dog.)

On a serious note, this marks an incredibly significant moment for me.  All I really want to do with my life is write things down, and it would sure be nice to make a living doing so.  This is the first article I’ve ever been paid for, and it feels more like walls have been blown to pieces than a door opened.  I’m actually trying to figure out a better metaphor, but until I do, hang on to that one.

What do you really want to do with your life?  Your wild and precious life?  How are you going to get there?

For me, this all started because I was a waitress as a soul-destroying restaurant in Scottsdale and happened to serve pancakes to a bunch of editors.  I leaned over their shoulders at the newspaper they were discussing and blurted out, “oh hey.  I write things.  Want me to write things for you?”

Or something along those lines.

They humored me, and gave me a couple topics.  I wrote them, they edited them, then published them.  I messed up BAD on one article, misquoting a source and mis-typing the phone number to his business, and learned that failure isn’t actually the worst thing ever.  When I came back from Oz they had me tell people about it, and Congressman David Schweikert wrote me a letter saying he was all about my Aussie articles.

letter

Then CST decided they would pay me, and here we are.

So what now?  What  now is I will walk on air to the soul-enriching restaurant I now work at, I will serve people vegetables and grin from ear to ear, and when I come home I will write more things and then go swing dancing.

Oh life.  You’re so wild.

Do you want advice?  On how to do the same thing?  What I’ve learned so far (and I have so much to learn its embarrassing) is that you can over-think yourself into a coma.  Writer’s block is really just laziness.  I’ve also learned that because this is the most important thing to me, I’ll procrastinate and despair and freak the hell out every time I need to write something.

And I quote (from an email to my dad, aka Sanity in a Skype-Session)

“Hey, I’ve got a deadline
and I’m going crazy
so grab your cell phone
AND FUCKING CALL ME”

Its hilarious in hindsight, but in the moment I was 100% positive I would never be able to finish the article (which was like a hundred words…come ON Jess).  People, don’t over-think it.  Just write it.  Tell those editors you’re serving pancakes to that you like writing things down.  Go to Australia, just for kicks.  Sign a lease.  Just do things and more things will happen.

Boom.

On another note, we’re throwing a birthday bash for Cheetah on the 28th, and if you’re one of the ones who’ve googled her name and found this blog, send me a message about coming to the party and celebrate her with us.