Open Letter to the Haters

Oh hai.

(Forewarning; if you’re not a Christian or at least have some semblance of faith in your life, a lot of this may not make any sense.  Feel free to skip this post and read, here, about hangovers instead.)

(Also forewarning; this is me at my least gracious.  This is my Ugly.  This is my heart on Anger.)

cigarette

This, friends, is a mildly immature way I’m deciding to express myself regarding an interaction I had this week.  Back story; I used to know this one friend really well.  We didn’t get along at first, and in fact had a frank conversation once in which we told each other, “I do not like you and do not want to be your friend”.  We became buds again later, and then she got married and moved away and I did My Life sort of things around here.  We are very different people.  She has always wanted to get married and have babies and I have always wanted to road trip and travel and walk around cities at night.  Neither of us is doing life incorrectly; we’re just different.

However, this long-distance friend of mine decided it was her place to tell me she’s concerned for my lifestyle and thinks it’s in my best interest to do things different than I am (specifically, to not go to camp and instead take on this unpaid internship role here…a role I would have to Missionary-style raise support for) (There is nothing wrong with missionaries raising support, its just not something I’m comfortable with for myself at this point in my life.)   We got into a somewhat heated talk the other night where admittedly, I became more offended than I should have.

What offended me the most was when she had the audacity to tell me she wants me “to actually know Jesus”.  Actually.

~

Once upon a time I was hanging out in the forest with a few thousand hippies (as you do) and this one Charismatic Christian boy was skipping around looking at flowers and pulling demons out of people’s eyes.  I kid you not, he was putting his two fingers and thumb against people’s eyelids and pulling out invisible demons like strings.

I wouldn’t let him touch me.  I was like, ‘nah brah, I’m cool. Exorcise someone else.”

He asked if I would please help him with the demons in his own eyes, and I told him I wasn’t qualified to give him that kind of help.  He asked why not, so I went all sola scriptura on his ass and refused to play Exorcism with him.

He knelt real close to my face, squinting at each of my eyes, and then said this:

“I don’t see the Holy Spirit in you.”

A lot of my problem with the Charismatic church stems from this experience.  I shrugged off his stupidity then, but reflecting on it later, (when I noticed a friend of mine slipping into the touchy-feely uber spiritual realm that poses as Pentecost-inspired faith) I realized I was furious at the church for allowing that kind of false-prophet spirituality.  We just allow it because, hey, every family has their crazies, right? 

I digress, but yeah, let’s talk about the harmful aspects of the Charismatic church sometime. 

~

Just as that wanna-be-prophet in the forest had no right (and no true ground to stand on) in telling me I didn’t have the Holy Spirit in me, my friend the other night had no right to “speak truth into my life”, which is Christianeze for “tell you what to do”. 

She is not a part of my life.  She sees my social media posts and maybe gets a quick summary of what things are like over here.  She doesn’t have the right to say how I should be doing things; she isn’t here.

So dear Haters,

You charismatic piece of shit in the forest, and you uptight conservative, you do not have the right to speak into my life.  It is not your place.  You do not know my relationship with Christ, you do not know my faith.  You are part of a very American notion of Christianity; you with your dread locks and crystals, and you with your matching dishware.  You do not know what its like to do life down here on the ground with the artists, the undocumented immigrants, the homeless and the activists.  You don’t know how I pray.  You don’t know what I read.  Just because I’m not posting “how-to-Christian” articles on Facebook every other day, does not mean I do not fall on my knees in adoration and dependence on my savior to redeem my tiny existence and my broken heart.  I cannot hear your pro-life rant over the sound of you not adopting any of these hungry kids I see every day.  I cannot hear your admonishment that life is sacred over the sound of you supporting factory farming, which wrecks this world you believe God created for His pleasure, and destroys the creatures you believe He made up as an expression of Himself. 

You are loud.  You do not listen.  You are insecure enough to need so badly to be right that you are blind to your ignorance.  I don’t care, dreadlocked hippie in the forest, that you think you can prophesy; you didn’t help me carry that kitchen tent up the hill out of the forest when our week at Rainbow was up.  I cannot hear your profession of love for Christ when you make fun of that girl on acid who can’t find her way back to her tent.  I cannot understand you anyway, since you’ve misinterpreted the bible and think you’re actually speaking in tongues.

Hater, you do not know my life.  You do not know that on that very night we talked and you “spoke truth” about how damaging my lifestyle is, that I was hit up by three different men to go “hang out” and I chose instead to Skype with my little sister.  My lifestyle?  You do not know my lifestyle.  You have no place to say shit about my lifestyle.  You are unwelcome here.

Had you been walking with me through the last two years of my life, your words would carry more weight.  As it stands, they weigh nothing.  They do not count if you are not in the here and now with me, just like I cannot tell you how to raise your baby or how you should treat the people in your life.

I do life in a very organic way with five women who have got the “speaking truth” thing covered.  They hold me accountable.  I have friends to tell me when I’m out of line.  I have friends to tell me they love me, to go on bike rides with me, to pray with me, to drink coffee and bake cookies with me.  How about instead of taking it upon your holier-than-though self to preach at me, you ask me what I’m reading these days.  How about you ask why I love the things I love and why I hate the things I hate?  How about you ask how the grieving of my murdered best friend is going?  How about you ask how my heart is doing after that particularly awful break up?  How about you send me something funny to make me laugh, to ease past these walls, instead of trying to barge in with you bible and your super clean way of viewing the world?  Do not tell me you care about me.  If you care about it, it is an an abstract memory of a past friendship.  You do not know me now.

I know you are reading this too.  I hope my anger translates.  I hope you stop following this blog, my instagram, and get off my facebook.  I was told by one mentor to block you.  She was appalled at your completely out-of-line reprimanding and your condescending tone (“I say this out of looooooove”).

Just like that ridiculous kid in the forest, your words bare no weight, carry no truth, and have been dismissed.  I know Jesus.  I know service.  I know dependence. I know anger toward those with their loud prayers and their beautiful robes.  My faith walks and talks a little differently than yours, but it is a faith grounded in Scripture.

You want me to actually know Jesus?  Puh-lease.  Get up out of my grill, yo.

This, on repeat.

P.S. another mentor was like, “she needs grace right now! She’ll get less shitty as time goes on!” but I’m blatantly ignoring that mentor right now.  I’ll probably delete this later, gator, but right now this is just going to be a thing.

All tie-dye everything.

I just re-interviewed and was re-hired as the Ranch and Garden Coordinator at that summer camp I escaped to last year.  I AM SO EXCITED.

I almost wasn’t going to go back on account of how ridiculous everything got toward the end there, but along with all that weirdness came really beautiful moments and this letter from one of my boys;

camp-4

And as anyone who’s ever worked at a summer camp  knows (or in youth ministry, or with kids in any capacity really) there’s a kind of addictive allure to how incredibly crazy it all is.  The mental and physical exhaustion, the inability to hide anything from anyone, the affirmation from a dozen little kids thinking you’re the absolute coolest thing ever (even if they secretly think you’re also insane), etc.

I want to fast-forward the next three months (except for my Austin trip…don’t fast-forward me through that) and get back to the absurd camp-counselor lifestyle.

In lieu of this news, here’s my list of goals for camp this year.

1. Keep my room tidy.  (seriously, my bedroom was a fire hazard.)

2. Incorporate more garden-to-table cooking with my campers.

3. Make better friendship bracelets, i.e be a better friend. camp-7

4. Write a quick update/ keep you posted on ridiculous anecdotes every week.

5. Be awesome at harmonica by then and jam on that amazing dining hall porch.

6. Don’t get totally side-tracked by cute Israeli boys. camp-matan

7. Learn how to dive dive off the actual diving board.  (gulp)

8. Get up in front of all those campers during Fire Circle and lead a camp song (ohmyGOD gulp)

9. Uphold counselor traditions like the drive-less drive-in on the field, and starfish pins, etc. as well as begin a new one involving cooking and eating together without those pesky kids around.

camp-2

All tie-dye, everything.

camp-1

10. Spend time with my little California sister on the weekends.  (seriously, future Jess, LEAVE CAMP ON THE WEEKENDS.  FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, LEAVE CAMP ON THE WEEKENDS.)

(…9 and 10 seem incompatible, so sacrifices will have to be made in some areas.)

11. Get better at Finger-Jousting, Thumbs, Birdman, Darts, Ninja, Tonga, Elbows, Bones…all those campy games.

12. Most importantly, uphold the Weirdness of Ranch. camp-6

In all seriousness, I’m grateful to be wanted back at camp.  It feels validating to be asked to return, to have the camp director’s trust that I’ll do a good job and that I’m not too shabby of a person to be leading a bunch of kids.  I really do believe in all this gardening-as-healing stuff and hope to inspire compassion and a sense of camaraderie among my campers.

Also I want another letter to frame.

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.

 

drying out

Lately I’m reevaluating.  I’m trying to do the right thing.  I even squeeze my toothpaste from the bottom of the tube.cold

The end of the year is coming up, and two years ago I began doing Guillebeau’s year-end-review.  (Er, I did it two years ago and meant to last year, but things got weird.)

2013 has been an absolute clusterfuck of a year.  I’m not gonna write it a letter and I’m not going to pretend I’m cool with all the things that went on.  I do, however, want to pen this kind of open letter to my drinking buddies.

Not even my drinking buddies really, but my lifestyle this last little bit.

See, in the last month or so I’ve been doing this thing where I try to go out like normal with my friends, and mid-way through the night I get all claustrophobic and detached.  I start feeling hopeless, trapped, and isolated from my peers inches away from me.  This happens and I call a cab and go home.

This habit of “yeah lets go out!” and then “psyche! I’ma go home” is getting pricey and I’m sure all my friends are tired of my flakiness.  I want to explain.  It’s not you, drinking buddies, it’s me.

I’ve been half-assing two lifestyles for a while now, and it’s getting exhausting.  I’ve halfway done church and I’ve sort’ve done night life.  I’ve played with spirituality the way I’ve played with alcoholism.  I smoke cigarettes like I hear scripture; I don’t take it all in.  I don’t totally inhale every time.

I’m just tired and bored with it all lately.  I can’t handle the dissonance. I’m anxious and unhappy.

Last night at Lost Leaf I was with a friend of mine and two guys we’re buds with.  The boys were talking, doing their own thing, and my friend and I talked about how we’re over this lifestyle.  How its not healthy, how its opposed to who we want to be and what we want to do (she wants to go drive around the country, slack-line everywhere, etc. and I want to travel, invest in community, grow food, etc.).  She, like me, wants something other, and we admitted that first we want to wallow.  We just looked at each other, knowing the way we were doing things was self-destructive and not worth it.

~

I wish I could articulate what it’s like to want self-destruction.  I don’t know if it’s because we want to be rescued, or if it’s just because we don’t like ourselves, or we’re scared of moving forward.  It’s probably all of the above.  We hate the way we’re living but change is terrifying.  We know it’ll be worth it to get better, but do we even want to get better?  We’ll lose friends if we get better.

~

I don’t read the bible anymore, but I remember hearing a pastor talk about that time Jesus sees the man at the well who’d been ill his entire life.  Jesus sees this guy lying there and asks him, “Do you want to get well?”  Which seems like a dick question at first because no shit, Jesus, of course sick people want to get better.  The pastor though, emphasized that the man had been ill forever, had gotten used to it and probably wasn’t expecting much else.  And isn’t that so how you and I live sometimes?  We’re just used to being unwell, of being less than what we could be, and when presented with the opportunity to get well we’re like deer in the headlights.  “Wait…now?  You want me to get well now?  Can I sleep on it?”

That always stuck with me and I think about it whenever friends talk about hating their lifestyles and wanting to be mentally “healthy” again.  Do you really want that?  Do you really want to get well?

For me the hardest part of “getting healthy” is that I never want anyone to think I’m rejecting them. I would hate to seem exclusive.  I’m no better than anyone; I don’t deserve better.  And it’s not even necessarily “better” that I want; it’s just something different.  I can see their scoffing at this, as if I’m a sell-out.  As if I chickened out of this vampire lifestyle.

I guess I am chickening out.  Maybe I was bluffing the whole time.

I’m just so uncomfortable in my own skin.  Half-assing two lifestyles means you’re not in any group.  You don’t belong with any sub-culture and you’re just watching them, lonely.  I keep calling Lyft and leaving my drink with a friend after looking around me and realizing I don’t want this anymore.

You don’t understand, do you, that this is actually very hard for me. It’s actually heart-wrenching, because I’ve had some good times.  There has been camaraderie and support and affection.  I’ve learned some great things and loved some lovely people.  And checking out of this lifestyle really just feels like losing a friend.

I don’t handle loss well.

But I just can’t keep doing this.  It isn’t what I really want.  I don’t want the grime anymore.  There was a time I did, but I’m over it.  I can’t keep seeking their jaded approval; I can’t keep trying to show that I’m not that reprehensible clean middle class.

I wanna be ok in my skin again.  I wanna have friends who love me.  I can’t live up to my own reputation anymore.  I can’t be funny or pretty or fucked up or whatever I was trying to be before.  There is nothing romantic about living a life you’ve gotta settle for.  I don’t want to hook up with that hot guy over there; I want to be in love.  I don’t want to buy another pack of cigarettes; I want to buy a plane ticket to Peru.  I don’t want to be sad anymore.sunflower-at-hope-house

I’m so over 2013.

Why I’m glad my sister’s on Tumblr

I’m so glad my little sister is on Tumblr.

That sentence reads sarcastically, but it’s not meant to.  I’m totally genuine here.

The girl had been telling me to get on Tumblr and create a “blog” for about a year, and I resisted.  I wasn’t into it because A. that is not a blog, kiddo. B. because I waste my time all the time with other things.  I finally relented because if you’re not going to compromise for your family, who are you going to compromise for??  <insert Breaking Bad gif>

Anyway, I got on Tumblr and followed my little sister, and immediately renounced the whole thing as “the worst ever”, a waste of time and totally dumb.  She was offended at my insistence that her virtual friends were not her friends, and that all this tumblr  stuff was inferior to real life.   She whatever-ed me and carried on, and I checked in on her “blog” every couple of days.

Here’s the thing, my sister and I are totally different people.  When I was a kid my hair was straight and blonde.  Hers was curly and brunette.  When she was thirteen she was collecting Schleich pieces.  When I was fourteen I was lying about my age to a nineteen-year-old cowboy at the ranch next door.

I am a fairly morose bastard, but my baby sister takes introversion to another level.  Maybe the seven years I’ve got on her just had me in a different culture, and allowed me to express myself a little louder than she was able to.  (Our upbringing is a bit skewed in my favor, in that I had all my siblings and both parents at home, and she’s been toted around without her brothers and I since our parents split up.  The ground’s always been shifting under her.)

She’s a trip to get to know as she gets older, as she’s the most perceptive person I’ve ever met.  Nothing gets passed her.

She’s also one of the most non-judgmental, understanding people I’ve ever met, at least when it comes to her inner circle.  (I’m in that inner circle.)  I remember once crawling into bed beside her after a, erm,  pg 13 evening with a boy, and her wrapping her little arms around me.  She smiled at my alcohol breath when I whispered, “I’m sorry I’m not a good role model right now,” and then she said, “that’s ok.  You’re young.”

She’s quietly watched my family unravel.  She was playing with her toys in the corner while our mother raged at our father, while our father became a shell of the hero he’d been.  She’s watched my little brother abuse drugs, watched our older brother go haywire and hitch-hike around the country, saw me get all skeletal in high school.  She’s curled up beside me and my alcohol breath when she’s come to visit me.

Most importantly, she has her own demons.shine-on<circa 2007, AKA shittiest year of life.

These days the fifteen-year-old attends a performing arts school in downtown Los Angeles and she’s got this little Tumblr blog going.  The more I started watching what she’s reblogged, the more insight I get into the things she cares about.

You know what she’s into?  The underdog.  She loves the misunderstood, the mis-represented.  Between the fandoms and memes my baby sister reblogs suicide prevention posts.  She advocates for equal marriage rights and against rape culture.  In the virtual world, my baby sister can be vulnerable about her loneliness and her social anxiety.  She can speak up for those who’ve been shut up, and people can speak up for her when she’s too nervous to defend herself.  She’s got allies in her followers and a sense of camaraderie with those who share the same Sherlock fantasies.   Those friends are real friends.

I write a lot about seeking community, and I’m learning that everyone is grasping for it in different places and in different ways.  I shamble into Lost Leaf and she turns on her computer.  We’ve got imperfect ways of finding these communities, sure, but we’re finding them.

I admire that girl/woman for her resilience.  Kid’s been through some shit.   I’m more than proud of her; I’m learning from her.  She’s naturally compassionate and I’m naturally an asshole.

You’ll never see my sister mock someone for their beliefs, for their sadness, for their lifestyle.  She wants people to love and be loved and derive humor from our shared experience of being human.   She’s a badass.silhouette

So yeah girl.  Express yourself.  Reblog the shit out of every Supernatural gif.  Flip the bird at body-shaming, slut-shaming, gender roles and being cool.  Promote marriage equality, hilarious ANYTHING, Disney weirdness and suicide prevention.  I love seeing what you’re into.  I love learning about your heart through what you post.  You’re so friggin’ cool.

Definitely the best of all four of us.

(*brb getting emotional in a coffee shop)

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.

Things I’m not ashamed of.

An interesting thing happened last week.  So interesting I’ve basically told all the people closest to me, and I’m going to tell you now.

Here it is.  Ready?

A nice boy asked me out.

Whhhhaaaaatt???!?11?!

Jokes aside, this sort of thing doesn’t happen to me often (i.e. ever).   I’m not the “nice boy” type.  (I told my brother this once, a sort’ve smirking, “Christian boys don’t like me”, and he said, “Jess, you don’t want them to like you.”)

Anyway, this friend of a friend recognized me at work, asked where I’d been (not at church, Nice Boy…) and then added me on Facebook.  I was like “HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM” but I also was super giddy.

He asked me to drinks this past Friday night, and leading up to it I had this weird experience where I kept thinking of all the things I want to defend about myself and then realizing I’m not actually sorry for them.  I just wanted to clean up a little, make myself and my lifestyle more presentable, and then evoke someone’s curiosity.  Here I am though, this totally messy person with incomplete ideals and questionable coping methods.

I was reading the label of a Nawgan bottle the other day and became totally infuriated by its claim that they “ditched the calories” so you can drink it without guilt.   Excuse me, Nawgan, but are you implying that we ought to feel guilt when we do consume calories?  What?  I wanted to die as a teenager when I ate more than six hundred calories a day, and its been too long and difficult of a road healing from all that for me to ever support a business that embraces this food/guilt association.  I threw the bottle away, brewed coffee instead, and realized that no, I do not feel shame when I eat.  I started thinking of all the other things I wanted to defend besides my body, and realized they don’t need my defense either.

That I never had braces I’m not going to apologize for, because it never needs a defense.

And for the things in my life that do require a defense, I’m simply not qualified to give it.

I’m not unapologetic because I don’t care.  Quite the contrary.  Its not that I’m excusing it all. I just know I’m not even capable of pardoning my behavior, my broken heart, or anything.

When Christians talk about resting in the idea that God’s already taken the weight of a person’s sin upon Himself, I don’t imagine it as the kind of rest you skip into.  Its more like when you’re exhausted from working all day, having gone out drinking the night before, and you come home to your tiny studio apartment and the only thing your blurry eyes can make out is your bed.  Its the kind of rest where you’re so tired you don’t even wipe off your mascara, or take off your bra; you just collapse into bed and pull the covers over your ears. Its the only option you’ve got; you’d fall asleep at the bar if you went out again.

That sleep, that empty-handed, totally desperate sleep, is more along the lines of what resting in God’s hands feels like.

I just know I can’t defend it; its not in my hands to defend what needs defending.  And what doesn’t need defending, I’m not going to bother with anymore.

eatmorekale <Not sorry about being vegan.

train-wreck <Not ashamed of being a train wreck.

desolation-aint-so-bad <Not ashamed of resonating with Jack Kerouac.

japhy-and-toes< Not ashamed of loving a rat, or of my broken toe nail.  (Flip flopped feet don’t belong in the horse arena, kids.)

Grace is a good thing.  Our God is a good one.  This life is drawing us closer to Him, by whatever nerve-wracking and heart-wrenching means necessary.

P.S. the date went well.

So. Damn. Local.

I hadn’t realized what living locally and seasonally would mean until tonight.  I’ve always seen those bumper stickers or signs that say “live local, shop local” and the like, and have always found that a nice sentiment.  Yeah, live off what’s near you.  Carbon footprints and all that jazz.

When sentiment becomes necessity, however, its an entirely different game.

Let’s take my life in downtown Phoenix.  I bike to work, to the farm, to the Duce, to the market, etc.  I could take a bus somewhere but Phoenix is a total newb when it comes to public transport.  Things are not awesome on busses.  I have a sweet bicycle though and it gets me everywhere I need to go.

Except not really.  The nearest Safeway is three miles away, and have you ever carried your week’s worth of groceries on a road bike for three miles?  Its not impossible, but its a pain.

This is fine though; I get half off at my restaurant.  (I keep wanting to leave the serving industry…but my god, how will I eat food?!?)  The problem is my work doesn’t offer kale smoothies, and I am secretly a diva in rags who needs her kale.

Actually, this all brings to reality an interesting form of class-ism.  My friend’s Facebook status today mentioned this actual quote from an actual food blog; “If eating healthy is important to you, it’s simple – you’ll just make it a priority”.

Excuse me?  My friend, and the rest of us, were more than a little peeved.  Whoever this ignoramus is obviously has never lived in a food desert like downtown Phoenix, worked some unglamorous minimal wage gig, whilst supporting family and maybe friends. Tell a downtown Phoenix mother she ought to feed her kids more organic veggies and you deserve the raised eyebrows and pursed lips you’ll receive in response.  The problem isn’t a lack of knowledge, the problem is a lack of accessibility.  And why buy a head of lettuce for a dollar when you can buy a more filling, and ready to eat burger for less?  We could change this too, if the US stopped subsidizing the hormone-injected meat industry and turned their wallets toward the vegetable farmers.  (God I should be president. Obvs.)

-end rant-

(…for the time being…)

Today I deposited my second paycheck from this new job, noted I could officially pay my bills for the month, and booked it for the nearby market.  All the local! All the organic! All the seasonal!

Here’s where the implications of eating locally hit.  This tiny market had a ridiculous plethora of kale, but no celery.  All out of spinach, too.  And no chard?  Frick.

Two separate kales in hand, I headed home, determined to still be my greeny old self and make this all work.  I’d bought (for $15) kale, more kale, four apples, three lemons, two broccoli florets, an onion, a carrot and a zucchini.  I came home and made a green smoothie, then butter-knife sliced my veggies and sauteed them in olive oil.

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I texted a friend to let her know what a badass I am.

“I’m so freaking local and organic.  Also I cut this meal with a butter knife.”

I really was gleaming a bit.  I think its going to be a challenge to live within my means, especially my location boundaries.  I don’t have a cuisine art set to slice and dice my food, so I’m going to have to get creative.  (I may or may not have bitten little pieces of apple to toss into my smoothie…because what else are these fangs for?)  I am going to learn whats really in season, based on what my local growers bring to this market. More than anything this is exciting.

One tongue-in-cheek funny about the food desert that is Downtown Phoenix (and cities like it), to end this: What the hell am I supposed to feed my rat, Japhy?  There isn’t a pet store anywhere near me.  You wanna know what this punk’s been eating?

Organic, locally grown broccoli, organic quinoa, and house-made trail mix from my work.

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Sometimes things are ridiculous.

Love it or Leave it.

It’s been exactly one month since my last post.  I apologize for that.  I’m going to get on a disciplined writing schedule (tomorrow…or next week) and actually post things of value.  Right now though, let me tell you about this season.

I’ve moved into a studio apartment in downtown Phoenix, I’ve got a new job, I’m writing for CST again, there’s cool stuff happening at Hope House Farms.  I haven’t danced at the Duce yet, but that’ll come.

I’ve been in this apartment for sixteen days.  I have a new baby pet rat named Japhy and I signed this lease all on my own.

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You know how I like fresh starts.  I like this one especially.

I showed up at the farm last Saturday and Johnny grinned.  “You finally made it downtown.  Welcome to the neighborhood.”

Downtown Phoenix has a crooked smile and dirt under its fingernails.  You can see its rib cage and it needs a haircut.

But its slitted eyes are bright with hope.  Phoenix plays guitar and paints murals and eats locally grown produce.  It speaks Spanish.

 Phoenix seems to hold up its arms with a smirk.  Yeah, we’ve got a messy past, and yeah, it gets real hot.  What of it?  Love me or leave me.

A lot of us love it.

I love this little tongue-in-cheek city for its inhabitants and their gritty camaraderie.  I love that it’s not as frat-y as Tempe feels, not as phony as Scottsdale or as ‘merican as Cave Creek.  I like our murals, are locally brewed coffee, our defiant little patio gardens.  I like that we’re a city built on a grid, and then comes Grand Avenue slicing through the whole thing because fuck you, that’s why.   There’s a little desolation, and there’s a little hope.  The place buzzes with potential energy.  I like the sirens, the grime, the farmers markets everywhere, the food trucks, the Spanish music from across the street, the bold colors against the dilapidated brick and pavement.  There are palm trees everywhere, which seems like a joke.  It’s an island paradise, get it guys?  Get it?

I’ve wanted to live downtown since my friend Meg brought me to Nami to recover from my 21st birthday initiation.  I felt the energy, nodded acknowledgement at strangers, and fell under this place’s spell.

Arizona is the kind of desert that gets under your skin and seeps into your bones.  Arizona has an attitude; we don’t care about daylight savings time, we’re super arrogant about our sunsets (they are the best ever in all the world) and we walk around with weapons just ‘cuz.  This is the wild west, kiddo, and downtown puts a twist on this state of mind with a more progressive lifestyle.

It’s just a little city and there are others with more to offer, I’m sure.  But this is my city.  This is my home and my desert, and I love it, so I’m not leaving it.  I just got here, anyway.

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