Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Avett Brothers - You can thank me later.

If you haven't heard the Avett Brothers yet, you need to fix that IMMEDIATELY.  They're definitely in my top five bands eva eva.  So, so, so great.  Seriously.  And look how cute they are!


Their most recent album, "I and Love and You" is just plain amazing. Folk/bluegrass/grunge/pop/punk? Ish? It's fabulous, that's it.  Check out this player to hear their stuff; I recommend "I and Love and You" (the song), "January Wedding" and "Kick Drum Heart" to start off with.  It's hard NOT to dance to them, especially "Kick Drum Heart."  Their lyrics are FANTASTIC (check out the lyrics to "Ill with Want") and they're just so lovable.  Bryan took me to see them earlier this year (or maybe late last year?) and they were so so great live, excellent stage presence and energy.  They actually sang a song that was beautiful I cried; listen to that one as well, it's towards the bottom of the player and it's called "Murder in the City."  Oh whatever, I'll make it even easier to hear them (and see them):

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baby Ella

I think the last picture I posted of my niece, Ella, was right after she was born.  She's quite a lot bigger now, and she's just absolutely adorable!  Check out those chubby legs!!

Ella, Nicole (Ella's mommy, my SIL) and I played in the sunshine while we were temporarily locked out of the house.

I had such a fun time with my niece!
Bryan is so silly.  He taught Ella "Self Defense"
I'm definitely happy to be living close to family; it's cool to see Ella growing up!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Home is Wherever I'm with You

Have you seen this video already??  It was on the Yahoo front page and it's awesome!!!

Card Reader

As my friend Kati noticed (via comment on another entry), I've had the last two days off!  We went to Idaho to spend time with family, and I was planning on posting pictures... but apparently my card reader isn't working!  SUPER lame.  I will try to find my other one, as I have some super cute pictures of my niece, Ella.  Meanwhile...

Here's a camera-phone pic of the Tetons from the Idaho side (as opposed to the Wyoming side, where we live).  I could get used that view, if we decided to settle down on the Idaho side and buy a house.  Could definitely get used to the view... not sure about the super-small town aspect.  But who knows??

I went to Target to get that super cute red polka dot bathing suit but it was sold out.  I thought about buying the red one online, but I settled on the black.  Black matches everything, it's slimming, and it won't make me look like a lobster if I get burned.  Sounds good.


I will most likely always wear it with the halter strap so I don't have to be worried about showing too much of the girls.  I love this suit because it's sexy (Bryan said it was very vintage Americana; I'm hoping that means Betty Page because I love the pinup look) and it's still fairly modest. 

Hopefully I'll have some more exciting pictures up soon!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Future's So Bright I Need to Wear...

::gag:: sorry, choked on the end of that lame joke.

But seriously, I ordered some awesome prescription sunglasses today.  I think they'll be helpful on long road trips when I don't want to wear my contacts; they'll also be nice for normal, daily stuff.  PLUS I got them on so they were only $24 shipped!!

Here they are:

I'm pretty sure they're going to be the coolest ever.  I actually got mine tinted darker than this, so they'll appear black.  The only thing I'm worried about is that the bridge may be a little big, but I don't think it'll be a problem.  Okay, the other thing I'm worried about is size of the lenses... I have not-so-great vision (-4.5 in one eye and -4.25 in the other) and they don't make the thinner lenses into sunglasses.  Hopefully it won't be super coke-bottle-y.  The glasses I have now are the same kind of lenses as the ones I'm ordering, and they're not too bad.

Zenni ships in about two weeks, so it will be a little bit before I actually get to USE my glasses, but I'm definitely excited about them!  I've used Zenni in the past for my green glasses and everything went smoothly. 

my green glasses

Davido (my bruddah) has ordered several pairs from Zenni, and so has my dad.  They do take a while to ship (I think they ship from Asia??) but they're SO much cheaper than Costco, Walmart, Pearl Vision, For Eyes... any of those places.  And you can pick out some SERIOUSLY cute glasses, like these:

I think these are $30

Under $10
Cute, eh??  What a deal!

Give Peace (Tea) a Chance

When Bryan was working at Humboldt State University's bookstore, he often would go to the Depot to get lunch or a snack.  Bry's a big fan of the iced tea, and he loved how Arizona had 23 ounce cans of tea for 99 cents.  He did NOT love that every tea he found but one (Arizona's Black & White Tea) had high fructose corn syrup.  High fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar, and made from, you guess it, corn.  It doesn't TASTE as delicious as sugar, in my opinion, and it has possible health risks associated with it.

Arizona's Black & White Tea... the only Arizona drink without HFCS

One day I was in Winco (I miss Winco's prices soooo bad) and I noticed a big display of iced teas; they looked to be the same size as Arizona tea (23 oz), but said "Peace Tea."  I looked at the ingredients of the Imported Ceylon flavor and saw:  Brewed natural ceylon tea, sugar, citric acid, natural flavors.  Not bad!!  One can of tea was 150 calories, about as much as a can of regular coke, but twice as big.  I brought some home and Bryan LOVED it! 


Since moving to Wyoming we've only been able to find Peace Tea at one place; Dornan's, right at the south entrance of Grand Teton National Park.  Bryan now brings it home quite often.  It still has sugar and a fair amount of calories, but I feel better about it, since it doesn't have High Fructose Corn Syrup and it has less sugar than regular soda. (I still would not feed it to a kid, though.) Peace Tea comes in Sweet Lemon, Imported Ceylon (Bryan's favorite), Green Tea, and Razzleberry Tea (my favorite). 

Any other Peace Tea fans out there??

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Singing with Your Eyes Closed

A la "About A Boy"

(YouTube wouldn't let me embed, so I used this website t hat wasn't in English... yeah.  Huh)

I'm trying to get back into my guitar playing.  I used to practice for an hour a day, back in high school.  I've lost at least 60% of what I used to be able to do.  Kinda lame.  My friends Kati and Danny have encouraged me to keep at it, and so I'm meeting up with Danny tomorrow to "jam" (that's what the cool kids say, or so I hear).

I looked up some songs tonight so I could have a few things to fiddle around with, and I found myself singing and playing (with my eyes closed, when I could remember the chords) to not ONLY Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" but to Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time."

Danny is going to be so amazed at how incredibly not-dorky I am.  Seriously.

(How freaking awesome is "About a Boy?"  Haven't seen it??  Rent it IMMEDIATELY, it's one of my favorites.)

(Also:  there are cats outside my apartment and they're apparently mating.  Did you know that cats yell/screetch/freak out when they're mating because the male cat has a BARBED PENIS?????  Seriously.  Google it.  Or don't...)

My Love/Hate Relationship

All latte art courtesy of Tristin Roberts and his family's company, Jitter Bean
Oh coffee... you saucy minx you!  I adore your bittersweet taste, the way you mingle so deliciously with cream and sugar, and how bold you can be on your own.  Alas, you do not love me as I love you.

My love affair with coffee started at a young age; my folks usually drink about 2-3 cups of coffee a day.  When I was little, I would ask for frequent "sips."  I LOVED the taste because they put a bit of cream and sugar in their coffee (my mom more than my dad) and it seemed like a fun, grownup thing.  At my grandparents' house, coffee was something to be had after every meal, pretty much.  They were good Swedes, what can I say?

I first encountered Starbucks at age 14; my folks didn't get their coffee at coffeeshops, they brewed it at home, so Starbucks felt SUPER fancy to me.  My first 'fancy' drink was White Mocha and I remember that first sip as pure bliss.  My best friend, Alaina, and I would rollerblade to Starbucks regularly for Frappuccinos (although, if I remember correctly, she'd get Tazoberry, which is no longer offered... does anyone remember those??  SUPER tasty, I think they were discontinued in 2005ish?).  In 2001, right after I turned 17, I started working at Starbucks while in my junior year of high school.  I gained at least 5 pounds (maybe closer to ten??) after eating tons of pastries, Frappuccinos, and White Mochas.  Daaaaangerous, I tell you!!

In 2002 I left Starbucks for Caribou Coffee, since they offered me a shift supervisor position (and my coworkers were creepy pervs... DEFINITELY could have had them fired under the sexual harassment policies, but I was a fairly shy almost 18 year old who didn't want to cause trouble... weird, right???).  I didn't like Caribou's coffee as much as Starbucks, but I still drank it.  PLUS, Caribou offered "Wild Drinks" which were super sweet and topped with things like crushed Oreos, Snickers, and Andes Mints.  Annnnnd we add on another 5 pounds....

In college I roomed with a Miss Kathy O'Dowd, who also worked at Starbucks and who was also a coffee junkie.  We regularly drank coffee in our cramped dorm rooms, we drank coffee in the university cafeteria, we drank coffee at the university coffeeshop...  Coffee, coffee, coffee.

In the early Spring of 2006, I decided to give up coffee for Lent.  I'd never participated in Lent before as it seemed to be a largely Catholic practice to me, but I thought I'd give it a go.  I was suppppper graceful about it, realllllly.... except that it seemed that denying myself coffee opened me up to sleepiness, headaches, and bouts of bitchiness.  Not so pleasant.  I made it the whole 40 days, however, and kicked the habit.  It really WAS a habit for me, one that became more and more apparent the less and less I drank the stuff.

That summer I moved to Wyoming and roomed with three Mormon girls who did NOT drink coffee because of religious reasons.  I drank it occasionally at work, but we only had either 1. nasty stuff or 2. instant stuff (I know, repetitive, eh??).  When I went back to Chicago, I started drinking a little bit more coffee, but it was pretty rare.  My last semester in university was spent at home on internship, and I was once more surrounded by coffee.  My finance, Bryan, didn't drink coffee, even though he worked at Starbucks (MAN do I know a lot of Starbucks people...) and so I didn't drink much either.

When we moved to California I decided that I'd only drink coffee when Bryan brought it to me from Starbucks, and I generally preferred chais at the time, so I drank very little then as well.  In the last year I've decided to make coffee a tiny part of my life.  Seemed innocent enough... as long as I didn't get addicted, I'd be good, right??

WRONG!!! Apparently my body doesn't LIKE coffee anymore, because when I drink more than a few sips, I get a nasty stomach ache, nausea, and occasionally an ache in my back.  Crazy, right??  I thought maybe this was caused by drinking coffee that was too dark, so I started to add more cream and sugar to my coffee.  That seemed to work a little bit, but now even THAT isn't working!  I read online that this can be a sensitivity to the oils and the acidity in the coffee, and not so much the caffeine.  The website recommended cream in your coffee, as well as eating something with your coffee.  This works occasionally, but more often than not, I drink my 1.5 cups of coffee in my cute little "J" mug and then the tummy starts getting angry within a half hour.  It's the saddest thing.

Taj Mahal
During those two years I didn't drink coffee, I drank a lot of black or green tea.  I know I can go back to that, but it certainly doesn't have the same KICK as coffee does, and it doesn't do as good of a job waking me up at my 7am work days.  But I have a feeling I may have to stop the coffee entirely.

Like I said, it's the saddest thing.

Does anyone else have this problem with coffee??  It's not like I get the jitters or anything, just the tummy ache and the occasional urge to throw up.  It's seriously gross.  And... sad.

(Pssssst.... If you're in HumCo or plan on visiting Nor Cal anytime soon, Jitter Bean is the tastiest!!!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Retail Therapy

Last night we went to a friend's place and I sort of got lectured on something that wasn't his business AT ALL.  I kept quiet because I didn't want to cause a fight (I know, weird for me...).  I let it go at the apartment but when we got in car, Bryan realized that I was crying.  I was really upset about the whole thing because it meant that: 1. Bryan had complained about me to his friends, 2. this dude who was NOT MARRIED thought he could dispense marital advice to me and 3. Bryan was too busy playing video games to realize I was upset and being lectured to.  1. I understand... because that's the nature of the beast, isn't it?  We talk to our friend about what is going on in our lives.  I do that with my girlfriends.  Bryan said that he had been talking to his MARRIED friend about it, and either this other dude was around at the time, or Bryan's married friend must have mentioned it.  Okay, I get it.  But I had a HUGE problem with the fact that these guys seem to think of me as a wife who orders her husband around, forces him to do ANYTHING, and is overbearing.  The fact of the matter is, our marriage works best when we act as individuals who happen to be married.  Bryan doesn't really ask permission to hang out with the guys, and I don't ask permission to hang out with my girls (if I had any around).  We let the other know we've got plans "unless you had something in mind."  Bryan spent $300 getting his mountain bike fixed earlier this month, and he asked permission for that, since it was coming out of our budget.  I consented because 1. I have a hard time saying no to Bryan (I know, wink wink, nudge nudge) and 2. I know how happy mountain biking makes him.  He then asked to spend ANOTHER big chunk of cash on fishing equipment, since he's now into fly fishing (my husband LOVES outdoor hobbies); he said he'd work his next two days off to pay for it.  Since it's not coming out of the budget since he's working more, I said okay.  I am not an overbearing wife.  I do not make chore lists because I know he'd react poorly to them (as would I).  I do not tell him what to eat, what to buy, etc.  I even brought over homemade strawberry crisp to our friends... didn't realize I was providing the dessert for the lecture.

So at the end of all this, I feel sad and humiliated, and like these guys don't realize what a FRICKIN' AWESOME WIFE I am.  I've worked at least 40 hours a week since the beginning of our marriage so Bryan could finish school.  I've done every single load of dishes this month because Bryan has been working long days.  I deserve a FRICKIN' MEDAL.

So I'm going through this crappy cry session, and Bryan is trying to console me, and I know it's not his fault.  But I'm still sad, humiliated, and angry at his friends.  Bryan hugs me and kisses me and tells me that he loves me, and that he knows how hard I work.  I take a shower, tell him I love him too, and go to bed.

This morning (hahaha... just barely still morning) I wake up and turn on the computer, and I see an gift certificate there.  We'd gotten it as one of our credit card reward things, and I sort of assumed Bryan would use it (since I tend to spend money on clothes and crafts).  It says "To:  A very forgiving wife," and then "Thanks for everything you have done, working hard and doing so much around the apartment.  Get something fun on Amazon.  Love, Bryan."

And as silly as that seems... that $25 gift certificate that we already HAD with that sweet message makes me realize how much my husband DOES notice my hard work.  I wish his friends (well, our friends... they're mine too) realized that I could never force Bryan to do anything; he's too stubborn (we have that in common).  Either way, I know Bryan sees how hurt I was yesterday, and this little thing was his way of saying, "I know you work hard, and I love you.  My friends can be idiots, but I don't think of you in that way."

So I spent the next hour and a half on Amazon, trying to figure out the best deals I could get for $25.  I came up with the following:

ALO Puffer Vest, ALO 1/4 Zip Fleece, ALO Technical Jacket (water-resistant).  All from the same company, marked down because they are all 2 sizes too small.  So I bought them all in XL and I'm crossing my fingers they fit. I figured if they're all grey or black, they'll match, and be easy to see in the snow.  That makes sense, right?  So much snow.... ::shudder::

After a little retail therapy, I'm feeling a bit better.  I am still having an emo day, but my husband's kind note and a little shopping helped.  A good deal is always good for the soul, isn't it?  Or is that just me??


So I figured out how to make "Pages" on Blogger.  If you're new to this blog, and just want a quick rundown on my marriage/beliefs/family, you can click one of those fancy little tabs at the top of the page and get a basic idea what's up.  Click on them, please.  It took me way too long to figure out how to do that.  Waaaayyy too long.


Molly's gone, Bryan's working, and I just feel like spending my days in this field, but don't want to go alone.  I know there is at least one person I could call up, but I guess I'm just feeling pretty emo today.  I slept in until 11:30 (because I can), and it's almost one and I have done... nothing.  I think if I can make myself go to the thrift store and maybe go on a run today, I'll feel a little accomplished.  I keep telling myself "you need to make YEAR ROUND friends in Jackson" but I'm not sure how to do that, since most of the gals I work with are only here for the summer.  Guess I'll have to learn how to branch out some time, right?  Looks like Bryan and I will start looking at churches come Fall (we're taking the Spring/Summer off) and maybe I'll meet people then.  Until that time... woooosaaaahhhh (as Bryan would say).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Divine

 A planetary nebula designated NGC 2818, photographed by the Hubble Telescope. By NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) via Christianity Today

I was talking to a couple of college friends yesterday.  We all went to the same Christian university, but now have very different beliefs.  These two friends would probably consider themselves at the most agnostic, or possibly atheist.

I will admit that my beliefs have changed drastically over the past 15 years.  When I was younger, I ascribed to a more literal translation of the Bible.  This has changed in many ways, although I still read my Bible and use it as my primary source of Truth.

Some things have changed though, and I'm pretty sure they've changed for the better.  I'm a lot more open about differing viewpoints, and I feel that I have a better understanding of other people.  I do not want to be group with the fundamentalists, the right-wing Christians, or the 'evangelical movement' (although the evangelical movement has a lot of really good things going for it, there are plenty of bad apples that make the whole thing stink to a lot of people).

I think the really interesting part of our conversation last night was that these two friends of mine differed so greatly in their beliefs, and they enjoyed challenging mine.  I welcome a challenge, so I was okay with it.

The thing that most struck me about our conversation (besides the fact that one of these guys was high and had a hard time putting his thoughts in actual words) was that they were ready to write off any idea of the Divine, any Being, any Creator, any spiritual experience that one had as a part of his psyche that he is just not conscious of.  For instance, if I pray and feel that I've gotten some comfort or joy from it, or an answer to a question, it is because I have calmed myself down, assessed my situation and accepted it (or learned from it), and if I have received an answer it is because my subconscious gave it to me.

I do understand that this happens sometimes, but it seems to be leaving a whole lot out.  When they asked me why I still believe in God (assuming that I am a fairly intellectual, logical person) the reasons I could give seemed strange, or like they could be reasoned away.  The reasons they could only explain as my 'subconscious' were the hardest to explain.  The conclusion that I gave was simply this:  I have experienced enough in my life that, while understanding myself fairly well, I could only attribute some things to an external Something.  I have felt peace come in difficult times when I know myself to spiral in anxiety, and not find sudden calm.  In very dark times I have cried out to a Someone that is more than I can imagine, and I have felt love and comfort. 

The beliefs that have less to do with my personal experiences and more to do with the way I understand the world and the possibility of God are in a way easier to explain, but harder for other people to understand.  I almost want to try to explain these things here, but I'm not sure how it would translate when written.  I feel that my spiritual believes are both known and felt and believes, but hard to quantify.

At the end I quoted this poem of Rumi:

"If you haven't any knowledge and only opinions, have good opinions about God. This is the way. If you can only crawl, crawl to Him. If you cannot pray sincerely, offer your dry, hypocritical, agnostic prayer; for God in His mercy accepts bad coin. If you have a hundred doubts of God, make them into ninety doubts. This is the way. O, Seeker! Though you have broken your vows a hundred times, come again! Come again! For God has said, 'Though you are on high or in the pit consider me, for I am the Way.'" - Rumi (emphasis mine)

What about you?  Do you identify yourself as a member of a religion?  Do you use labels, or do you prefer "spiritual?"  Do you consider yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, agnostic, Humanist, atheist?  What makes you believe or disbelieve?  Do you feel like you can accurately articulate your beliefs, or are they same that defy explanation?  What does Truth mean to you?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Space Saver

Via DesignMom and PleaseHello.

Dress to Impress... Express... Depress?

My friend Molly and I were chatting the other day about our husbands, and the subject turned to what they choose to wear.  Molly mentioned she wished her husband would try to dress up a bit occasionally - nothing fancy, just something other than holey jeans and a t-shirt with some sort of logo on it.

I laughed at her.  "Some dudes are just like that," I said.  She mentioned how he used to dress a bit more preppy.  "Uh huh," I said.  And then I explained to her what Bryan wears.

Before I show you PROOF of the doofy ways my husband occasionally dresses, I SHOULD stress that he cleans up GREAT, and that he rocks his Gap slacks and a dress shirt quite often.  It seems to be the summer that he has some problems with...  I would say it's a 50/50 chance that he's looking well put together, which really isn't all that bad.  Except when he's NOT put together, it looks like this:

Excuse the crappy cell phone picture. 

When I took this pic, my husband said something along the lines of "don't put this on Facebook" and possibly something like "don't blog about this, okay??"  But, he wore this all day, to WORK.  I'm pretty sure that means he forfeits the right to be teased in a public setting.  Because I KNOW at least one woman looked at him during the day and thought, "Oh honey.  What's with the outfit?"

In general, I really like Bryan's taste in clothes.  I even admire the occasional mixed-pattern combo he manages to pull off, as sometimes it really does look pretty cool.  I admire how he can throw on a pair of casual slacks, a tee shirt and a button up with the sleeves rolled up - and he'll look awesome.  Very casual chic.  But then the above happens, and I just shake my head.

Molly, it's not just your husband.  I think it's a worldwide phenomenon.  For every time my dad came in my room holding up three ties and none was a good match.... For every time my husband mixes not only color families but patterns...  For every time a man wears a PBR shirt without it being ironic...  I understand your pain, women.  I understand.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Three years ago yesterday, Bryan and I got married!!  Woohoo!

Because I am lazy, I am pretty much just reposting the same stuff that I posted last year.  Whatevs.  Because I love you all (even those who didn't comment on my Readers post), I will add some more recent pictures as well.  Click on the pictures to make 'em bigger... apparently I didn't post big pictures a year ago.  So.  Yeah.

You're welcome.

Anyways. Here's from then until now, a brief overview of my baby and me.

You can say "awwwww" now. It's okay.

In the beginning.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sad Panda Face

Molly leaves on Sunday and I'm already totally sad.  She's my Besty Westy and I am very bummed to see her go.  We've had SO much fun over the last month.  I'm still pulling for her and R to get back together and try to make it work.  I want them to be happy together and be my Jackson friends.  We'll see.  For now, I'm thankful for all of the fun times we've had!  God has been so good putting us in each other's lives right when we really needed it. 

Monday, July 12, 2010


I know I have several regular readers, but only a couple people regularly leave comments.  So I thought I'd ask the following, if you're so willing:

How old are you?
Where are you from?
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
How did you stumble upon Like the Dawn?
What do you like about this blog?
What would you like to see more of?  Less of?
Bonus round: leave a "would you rather" question for me to answer (I LOVE would you rathers...)

Anyone who leaves a comment, I'll visit your blog/site and leave you a comment!!  I'm happy to have regular readers, I just want to know who you are!



Sunday, July 11, 2010


Wanted:  Merona Women's Polka-Dot Print Bandeau Shirred One Piece Swimsuit - Red/White, size Large
Last seen on:  OMGmom's blog.  I'm not tiny like her but I still want this and am assuming I'll look AWESOME in it because I will cry if I do not.


I would pretty much only wear it with straps so I wasn't pulling it up all the time... unless I was just laying out, getting sun.  SO CUTE.  And at $35, it doesn't break the bank... but I'm still too cheap, I think.  And it's super popular, so it probably won't go on sale...

Do I just go for it!?  Or do I attempt to practice restraint?  Do I try to convince Bryan that a red polka-dot bathing suit is acceptable to buy since it's our 3 year anniversary on Wednesday and Jessica wants to feel cute?!?  And WHY do I feel the need to buy a new swimsuit every year!?!

For all you design people...

Or for people who have worked with a terrible designer (the company I work for is dealing with this now... It's ridiculous).

This is hilarious.

Seriously.  I read it on my phone last night while in bed (I wasn't really sleepy yet but wanted to cuddle) and I'm surprised I didn't wake Bryan up with my silent, shaking laughter.  It was HILARIOUS.  The first poster he makes is my favorite.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I just peed my pants a little bit.

Want to read something TERRIFYING??  I'm hoping this guy is just a quack, because this is just absolutely insanely scary.

BP Oil Spill Brings On The End of the World.

Please just be a crazy guy please just be a crazy guy please just be a crazy guy...

EDIT:  This guy thinks the guy above is one taco short of a combo platter.  (Thanks Stac!)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Don't Read This, Dad

Yeah you heard me.  Don't read this.

I'm considering getting a tattoo.  This will NOT please my dear father.  I would wait at least a year before I actually GOT it, though.  Pretty sure.

I think I want a feather on my foot.  I wanted it on the inside of my foot, right at the arch, but apparently that wears off a lot.

Something along these lines:

A feather.  HOT. 

You can go back to reading my blog, Dad.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Backpacking Trip

Oh yeah!  I didn't die on my backpacking trip.  We hiked/camped in the Palisades in Swan Valley, Idaho.  The trip was about 15 miles in all, and I kicked butt.  Didn't slow anyone down, didn't have problems with my pack (once Bryan situated it correctly so it didn't hurt) and didn't get hurt.  Success!

Second day of hiking; this is right after camping at Lower Palisade Lake.  I was so exciting there was an 'outhouse' close to our site!!  In reality, it was a toilet seat on a platform over the ground with walls on two sides; it was still nice to have two walls!  It afforded a TINY bit of privacy for pooping.

We saw a LOT of moose.

Upper Palisades Lake is reaaaalllly beautiful.  Bryan caught two fish!  And then released them back in the water.

We found this skull hanging on a tree branch at our campsite.  The previous camp site had a elk jaw bone.  Kinda weird and kinda cool.

The next outhouse had three walls and a door!  Woohoo!!!  Still just a hole above the ground but whatevs.

The last day hike back - 7.5 miles both ways.  The last mile of the hike was HARD but everyone says that's just how it goes; you're ready to go home, you're tired, you're starting to chafe, and you just want to be done!

Back at the car, full of satisfaction and hurting a bit...  We got some delicious peanut butter chocolate fudge shakes on the way back to Jackson, though; that helped.

All in all my first backpacking trip was a complete success, and I can't wait to do another one soon!!

Pale Blue Dot

My friend Danny recently posted this on his Facebook:
The entirety of human history will never compare to the majesty and importance of the existence of a single star. The only reason we live and breath and see is because of the beautiful bright burning entity we call the sun and we think our lives are so important and significant. Maybe just another case of drunk philosophy or maybe I'm right and we mean nothing.
Well, yeah, he may have been drunk.  A few beers and an Irish Car Bomb will do that to you, I guess. But that doesn't mean that this isn't an incredibly significant statement.  It reminded me of this lecture given by Carl Sagan in 1994.  Below you can hear the lecture; I've included the transcription as well.

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.   source
I first read this lecture my junior year of college, and I was struck with two immediate and opposing realities:  we mean nothing, and we mean everything.

Our lives are but a little burst of energy in a vast continuum; we are born, we live, and we die in a blink of an eye in relation to this universe.  The light we see from stars has been said to be billions of years old.  So far we have not found intelligent life on any other planet, but we can only physically study the stars and planets in our solar system.  Our solar system is just a spec when seen against the backdrop of the universe.  It would appear that we are nothing in relation to the cosmos.  I certainly feel like a mote of dust when compared to these wonders:

This nebula, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina,
contains a central cluster of huge, hot stars, called NGC 3603.

This composite image shows N49, the aftermath of a supernova explosion
in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova noted by Earth-bound chroniclers in 1054 A.D., 
is filled with mysterious filaments that are are not only tremendously complex, but appear
to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected
from a free explosion.  The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula's very center
lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of a small town. 
The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second.
These pictures and their descriptions leave me feeling so very insignificant.  We mean nothing.  But once again, the dichotomy:  we mean nothing, and we mean everything.

If we are the only intelligent life in our galaxy, and possibly the surrounding galaxies, than every thing we do reverberates into the cosmos and affects change.  I do believe that there could very well be intelligent life in other galaxies; the increasing size of our universe makes it seem very probable.  Whether or not there is extraterrestrial life, we only know of the life on our planet, that Pale Blue Dot that seems so insignificant.  But if we are the only known life, then we are the only known intelligence that can create morals, governments, scientific theories, families, genocide, novels, computers, poetry, war, and the idea of true love.  Creativity lies within us, the insignificant.  The power to do good and extinguish hate lies within us.  All the good things and all the bad things lie within us, the insignificant; this makes everything we do entirely significant as we are the only ones in the galaxy (possibly the universe??) doing ANYTHING with the power of critical thinking (whether or not that thinking is used).  

So I think my friend Danny is right; we mean nothing.  But he's also wrong; we mean everything.  This is the dichotomy in which we live and breathe and have our being.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jackson, Wyoming, OR "The Black Hole"

And I don't mean that in a bad way AT ALL.  Jackson Hole (which refers to the valley, not just the town of Jackson) is a small town but appears to be big enough to have a strong gravitational field.  Once people live there for a summer, they just can't leave.  Unless they do.  In which case, many return.  So perhaps the black hole analogy is flawed.

Out of the 10 or so people we spent the most time with in 2006, Cody, Kendra, Greg, Sarah, and Arne are back.  And my friend Ricky, who carpooled with me out here Illinois in '06, still lives here.  And a lot more of that group visits.  Apparently Jackson is just toooo sexy to stay away from for very long.

I didn't KNOW that Sarah was living here until I was grocery shopping last night and heard someone yell "Jessica!!"  And there was Sarah!!  She and her husband Arne are living in a tent (!!!!!) at the KOA this summer.  I could NOT do that, no thanks.  Love camping, but not in any sort of permanent capacity.

Oh, in case I haven't mentioned this before, some quick trivia:  I lived with 3 other girls that summer, and out of the four of us, 3 got married to guys they met that summer WITHIN A YEAR!  Other people who met their spouse and got married within a year or two of Jackson Summer 2006:  Cody & Kendra, Laina & Kody, Jana & Kyle, Caitlin & Andrew.

Apparently there was something in the water.

Now I just hope we can find real jobs for the winter.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thoughts on Patriotism

This Fourth of July I will be backpacking in Idaho, not watching fireworks.  The backpacking part is cool, the no fireworks is sort of a bummer.  On most 4ths, I find myself wearing red, white, and blue, and thinking about sparklers (yes, I love them with passion; no, they aren't really all that exciting).  This morning I was cold and threw on a cami and a sweater.  I was still too cold so I threw on a hoodie.  I am now wearing black, grey and grey.  Call it camo?

I've never been that huge on patriotism, to be honest.  In the past I've gone with the whole "well if our country really helped the poor and the marginalized, if civil rights were really given to minorities, if we opened up our boarders more... then I would be patriotic."  I'd mention the inscription on the Statue of Liberty:
"'Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'"
And I would wonder why people can draw imaginary lines across continents and use such lines to dictate wealth or poverty, freedom or oppression, life or death.  I still ask these questions; however, more and more I realize that I just may not be the patriotic type.  Maybe I'm just missing that piece.

I was born in Canada, and spent almost the first four years of my life there; we still have very close friends who live in "America's Hat" and I'm hoping to visit in the next year or so.  The last time I was in Canada I was 17 years old.  So it's been a while, I guess.

On the other hand, my folks don't seem overly-patriotic either, and my brother is a very proud supporter of the True North, Strong and Free.  So maybe my upbringing has something to do with it.

I was 17 years old the last time I said the Pledge of Allegiance.  A boy in my Psychology class didn't say the Pledge along with the rest of us; this made me curious, so I asked his reasons.  "I don't feel comfortable pledging my allegiance to anything but my God."  That made sense to me.  Over the years I've repeated that sentiment, and recently I was told that the Pledge is only REALLY a 'pledge of allegiance' if it is placing itself UNDER GOD.  That made sense in one way, and I was fairly impressed with this person's reasoning, until I started to ask myself, "how do we KNOW if a nation is placing itself UNDER GOD?"  It would seem to me that our country isn't, as we still have such a disparity between the rich and the poor, and we have so many who go hungry every day while some could afford to feed whole cities on a regular basis.  I was told by another person that this "nation placing itself Under God" view, too, was the wrong interpretation.  "No, it's not the country that's 'under God'; you are pledging your allegiance to your country UNDER your allegiance to God."  That seemed even MORE far-fetched to me, so I just haven't said the pledge.  Not that big of a loss. 

When I asked my husband if he considered himself patriotic, he responded, "To an extent."  I asked him what that meant, and he said, "probably not as much as people would want me to be."  He mentioned that he didn't think that America was necessarily superior to other countries, and I would agree.  Our country should be judged on how we treat the most marginalized, the poorest, the lowliest.

And yet.  At times I do feel the pride, I do feel that love of country stirring.  Most of the time it seems to be when I am out in nature, which is the same time I feel a great love for God and this world and all things.  So I think it's a good thing that I'll be out in Idaho, traipsing through a forest, enjoying the beauty this country has to offer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Plugged In

I have a very hard time 'doing nothing.'  While waiting for a video to load, I want to text someone, check facebook, or crochet.  I check my phone at least twice an hour on average for texts, I check Facebook multiple times a day, I check multiple times a day, I text a lot of my friends... I have a hard time being away from technology and the internet in general.  It's not JUST technology though.  I crochet while watching television because watching television is simply not enough for me.  For a while, I would watch a tv show, use the stair-stepper and PLAY MARIO GALAXY ON WII at the SAME TIME.  Glad I stopped that; it was a bit much.  :-)

I have SUCH a hard time just being.  It seems maddening to me.  I am not good at prayer or meditation.  My thoughts race and I make lists.  I'm sure this multi-tasking behavior is good for my goals/achievements, but I'm sure it is NOT good for my psyche.  Bryan likes to remind me that studies show that people who multi-task don't necessarily get more done, they just do a lot of things inefficiently.  That's possible.  

I have been trying to spend more time doing very little.  Even when I go on runs, it's very difficult for me NOT to listen to music.  The other day I hiked High School Butte without my iPod or a cell phone, and it was actually very fun!  I should try to do one thing at a time more often.

I don't think it's just me.  I think our culture, and women in particular, push "multi-tasking" as a virtue.  It's not necessarily so.  I have a hard time "slowing down" and I often think of things that need to get done, things I could be doing, and so on and so on and so forth.  My brain rarely gets a break; even when I sleep, I tend to have many, many dreams that I remember the next morning.

Tomorrow after work we leave for a backpacking trip, the first REAL backpacking I've ever done.  I won't have a computer, and I know I probably won't be able to use the internet on my cell (at least I shouldn't).  I think it will be a good exercise in simplicity and quiet.  I'm a bit nervous about the 50+ pound pack, especially since my back and shoulders hurt already...  But it will be good.

Am I the only one who feels drawn to multi-tasking?  Who could honestly say, "yep, addicting to multi-tasking, right here."  Or is this a HUGE problem for a lot of people?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Well Hello There

Well hello there, Ms. Moose!

Well hello there, Mr. Slightly-Creepy Midget Cowboy

Well, hello there.

It doesn't really get easier...

But it can get better.

Sorry I have been such a bad blogger this week.  I am back to my regular work routine and my mind has been quite preoccupied as of late.  I've been spending a lot of my free time with my fabulous new friend M, who I've technically sort of known since 2005, but really only "met" and became friends with 2 weeks ago.  I've been thinking about her and her situation a lot recently, and I'm pretty sure she'd be okay with me mentioning her on my blog here because she's a very honest and transparent person.  This is going to be a fairly long yet honest and personal post; it may not even be that interesting to many of you, and that's okay.  I included some pictures to make it more interesting.

M is married to R, who is a friend of mine from university.  I also happened to have dated R for about 4 months my junior year of college.  M went to the same university, so there were occasional awkward, "oh man we're totally hanging out in front of your ex-girlfriend/future wife" moments, but M is a cool enough person to not think that I'm a jerk or whatever.  Because she's awesome.

M and R got married in November of 2008 and had a rough first year of marriage that resulted in R leaving to move back to Jackson in August of 2009.  M is out here in Jackson for a month to reevaluate her relationship with R; they're trying to see if they can make it work, or if it's just a lost cause.  I want what's best for them both, of course, and what will make them happy.  That said, I feel strongly that if they can make it through this, and learn to love each other again, and learn to be with one another, that they will look back at this time and think "wow, that was a shitty, shitty time, but look how far we've come!"  I want them to stay together because they are both close to my heart and I know they do love one another. 

I've been able to talk a lot with M but not at all with R, since we sort of stopped being friends not too long after we dated, which is also sort of shitty because he is a very decent guy.  I haven't always given him a lot of credit, and he's not always deserved a lot of credit, but all in all, he is a good human being and I want what's best for him.

So this is what has been on my mind recently.  I've been praying for them and trying to send good thoughts their way.  One quote that came to mind recently was that of Rainer Maria Rilke, who said "A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them - they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship," (emphasis added).  That said, I know that R. was still in love with M when we were dating, and I know he fought for her after we broke up and he realized how much he cared about her.  I know he loved her when he married her, and I still believe that he loves her.  It can be hard to trust someone who just packs up and leaves, however, no matter what their reasons, or if they thought they had no other way out.

It has been very interesting and illuminating to spend time with M and to think about my past friendship with R.  It brought me back to college, and being 21 years old, which really wasn't all that long ago.  I do feel like I have changed quite a lot since then, in mostly good ways.  I went back last night and read through my old livejournal, looking over entries I wrote at that time, and trying to get back into that frame of mind.  I realize that the above Rilke quote holds true for me as well - I may have changed in some ways, but all in all, I am the same girl.  I wrote a lot more when I was 21; mainly poetry.  I haven't felt that urge the past few years, excluding a song I am currently working on that's been bouncing around in my brain.  I picked up my guitar for the first real time in years last week, and maybe that song will actually flesh itself out soon.

At 21 I had broken up with a boyfriend of almost 2 and a half years just 6 months before; he had been sort of an ass, and I was happy to be rid of him.  You can ask me why I stayed with him that long, and my only real excuse is that I was weak.  It took me a long time to learn to trust men, and it's something I still have to work on at times.  At 21 I had just changed my major to social work, and I was usually found out with friends instead of at home, studying.

Some friends from my birthday weekend in Michigan.  Taken by Monica

Here is something that I wrote just after my 21st birthday weekend with friends in Michigan:

We left a graveyard of bones on the beach that day.
Blasted bottle rockets, red sticks jutting out of sand.
Brightly colored paper littered with warning–
we saw them as fallen comrades, brothers in arms,
dazzling in their short-lived glory.

The wind was so fast and it battered at the lighters
held within soft blazers as we huddled out the cold.
A spark and it was running towards the powder
a spark and we were running towards the water
a spark and we counted onetwothree and flung it upwards
to heaven.

The fire was burning and we watched the embers jump to blankets.
We held bottles and held each other up,
falling in the sand under dizzying lightness and cold and euphoria.
And to the darkness we fled, clothes pealing, voices reeling, conscience fleeting.
Hold me up under the weight of it all.

I could be 21 for the rest of my life,
laying in the sand and watching stars stroke the galaxy,
breathing only when necessary.

Bottle Rocket picture taken by a friend that same night - wish I could remember who.  Blake?  Maybe?

Life doesn't get easier, but it can get better.  21 was a definite growing year for me; it was the year I dated R, the year I changed majors, the year I moved to Wyoming for a summer, the year I decided to grow up (yes, for me it had to be an intentional choice).  I started to learn how to pay bills, how to cook, and who to spend time with; I learned to make friends in a town where I only knew 2 other people (both who I spend only a fraction of my time with) and I washed my clothes in our kitchen sink and hung them to dry because I was too cheap/poor/lazy to go to the laundromat.  My 21st summer was the summer I met Bryan, and we started to date and got engaged not too long after that.  My 21st year was one of the most fundamentally pivotal years in my life.

The horses behind my old apartment.

That was 4 and a half years ago.  In some ways, everything feels different.  In other ways, we're fighting the same battles we did then, just with higher stakes.

"A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them - they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship," - Rilke.

How much do we really change, and how much do we just adjust?  On June 14, 2001, when I was 16 years old, I wrote this:
"When I grow up and get married, I'm going to go camping with my husband, lay outside at night, dance around the fire, sing songs and play guitar around the campfire, look at the stars, sleep, be close outside at night alone and alive. and it will be perfect."
On Sunday I am going on my first backpacking trip with my husband and some friends.  I love hiking and I love camping, but I've never actually hiked with all my gear on my back and set up camp.  We'll be gone for 3 days and 2 nights.  I won't bring my guitar, because 50 lbs of gear on my back is enough, thanks.  But other than that, I'm very very similar to the girl I was 9 years ago.  Maybe a little wiser, but there are more similarities than there are differences.

 Camping one of the last weeks of junior year, 2001

I know M and R have changed, but at their core they are the same people that fell in love in high school and fell back in love at the end of college.  I strongly believe that they will fall back in love if they let themselves; some things, including religious beliefs and lifestyles, may have changed, but the soul/spirit/nature of a person doesn't change all that much.  I hope and pray they will recognize that soul/spirit/nature in one another again; I do not think their story is finished.