Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh The Places You'll Go

Today has been quite an emotional day. Period. So here is how I will choose to cope: Last night I sat and wrote out a giant list of places I want to go. I broke the list up into 3 categories: 1) state side adventures, 2) international adventures, and 3) Oregon adventures. Though each list averages about 10 places, I will share the top three that I listed from each category last night. Enjoy.

State side:

Moab, Utah

Sedona, Arizona

St. Paul, Minnesota






Climb Smith Rock

Hike South Sister

Relax in Ashland

Monday, September 27, 2010

East & West That Highway Roam...

Last night I decided to go back and pick up some more crap (I thought I got it all the first time!) from the Pink House. Oddly enough, I found myself with a car filled with hiking gear, climbing gear, my bike, backpacks, snow skis, poles, boots, a tv, a wii, and a mattress topper. Why yes, I DO drive an Elantra! Those years of playing Tetris really paid off!

Though as I brought all this gear back to my room at my parents, I realized that I was putting all my gear to shame. I literally stood there, hands on my hips, and sighed with discouragement. Something has to change.

I made a list at the beginning of the summer of all these different things I wanted to do by Septembers end. I got a lot of them checked off, but there were still a few that went unanswered. Kayaking, Climbing lessons at Smith Rock, Road Trip to Moab, Ceramics class, etc. I guess I didn't realize that I was lying to myself, because when I glanced over the list I INSTANTLY blamed these unanswered adventures on lack of funds and lack of friends with funds. Uhhhh hm. I have an excellent job, with a decent salary, so scratch that excuse. And as for friends to go with me--who needs em? Whats wrong with going out by yourself?

I think there is a lot of pressure to explore while using the "buddy system". This is garbage. One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is go on a hike by myself with a good book and literally get lost. For some reason, I need to keep this hobby a secret because hiking alone is "dangerous"--yea, so is driving.

Here is a usual breakdown of how the conversation goes:
Them: "What did you do this weekend"
Me: "I went hiking!"
Them: "With who?"
Me: "Oh, no-one, I just went by myself"
[And my god ladies and gents, the expression on most peoples faces make it seem like I just told them I spent the whole weekend working at the whore house]
The next line they ALWAYS say with shame is: "You really shouldn't hike alone."

What is so wrong with being alone? This societal need to take part in the buddy system all the time is really holding me back. I didn't touch my snow skis ONCE last season!! Why? Cause I had no one to go with. Looking back I realize what an idiotic response this really is. I don't ski the back hills, double black diamond runs. There is always usually one person around me in case I decide to accidentally ski into a ditch.

Why do I do this? Why do I wait for others to join me in my adventures? My new personal goal is to get out of this buddy system rut. I will always ask if people want to join me in an adventure, but never again will I not do something because I will have to do it alone. I also vow to stop creating excuses. For example: I am an active person, therefore it is time for me to get a car to match my personality. I can't rely on others with 4-Wheel drive to get up to the mountain when it is snowing. It's time for me to get a car with 4-Wheel drive so that I can take my adventures into my own hands.

So here is where I will leave this rant. Two quotes:
1) Found this on the side of my NF Hiking bag "NEVER STOP EXPLORING"
2)Famous Bukowski quote" "You have to die a few times before you can really live." Damnit I have died enough, I am ready to live!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When I Grow Up....

As kids, when we were always asked "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I went through an assortment of answers that ranged from Organ Tuner (not like a doctor who works with organs. No no no. More like the piano thing that was at church), Cheerleader, Dolphin Trainer, Mad Scientist, etc (Lord only knows how I actually wound up graduating college, let alone come out with a job with aspirations like that...) Unlike my peers though, I never ever ever ever wanted to be the President.

While driving today an interesting commentary came on NPR about culture and Presidency. This all came about because of NPR's Question Of The Day which was about the Senate repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. Here is the quick break down of the issue: Each year, Congress approves a bill that spells out the national defense policy. But this year, the National Defense Authorization Act is being held up. Senate Republicans object to one provision -- the one that would allow the Pentagon to end the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy. It keeps gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

I am not going to sit here and waste your time and tell you my thoughts on the issue, but instead what I will do is point out some cultural trends that have ensued with Presidents and gay marriage in the last 10 years. In the 90's, gay marriage was still very taboo subject matter, and around 1996 churches loved the matter because they knew that they would always win when it came to marriage. Politicians fell silent on the matter; but then again, that's what every one did. Being homosexual was an underground phenomena. In 1993 John McCain said that gay issue matters would go away in a couple of years, and that they weren't a big deal.

Mind you, politicians are out to win. Period. They will do and say whatever they need to in order to get elected and they effectively do this by adapting to the culture of the time. 10 years ago, gay people were a mystery to the masses; they were a fascinating group of outcasts. Now days with shows such as Will and Grace and icons like Ellen DeGeneres, homosexuals are a very common place part of society. I thank the media for this. And as much as I believe that our corporately owned media is corrupt and horrible, I will praise them for bringing gays to the mainstream.

Here is what I am getting at here (yes, this all has a point). In Washington, political leaders are not really in fact leaders at all. They are actually followers. They always follow the culture. They are just now catching up with the fact that gay issues are no longer that big of a deal. With that said, I foresee a more Partisan House and Senate in the years to come. American culture has shifted, and I hope to see that with time, Washington will recognize that gay matters are NOT fiscal issues, social issues, or really issues whatsoever.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Drivin' Along In My Undies

Eh, Eh--Can't say that title didn't get your attention!

There are some things that just happen. They are so organic, and so unplanned. These are the things of life. Situations that literally just fall into your hands. (Man, doesn't this just sum up my last six weeks ha) It's how I met Jared, it's how I met Matt, and today, it's how I met Marta.

This story is quite simple. I rushed out of work today remembering that I had to get to my blood drive appointment by 5:15. Sure enough I rolled in at 5:14, parked my car,and grabbed my purse, which bumped into my Dutch Bros cup, sending melted-ice-once-red bull-water flying. A little perturbed I grabbed my cup and a to-go bag from Big Town, and marched towards the back of the building to the dumpster. And there she was, dressed in a brown cloth, her hair nappy and braided. She was startled when she saw me, but I struck up a conversation with her as if I had known her for years. "Hey man, how are you today? Aren't you loving this weather! My name is Melissa." It was that easy.

Her name was Marta. She was gorgeous, she appeared to be from a Latino decent, but I can't honestly say that I cared enough to ask. She was young, when I asked her her age, she shrugged and answered "28? 29? I don't know", and I loved the fact that it wasn't a big deal to her. Marta and I literally sat in the back alley of the Red Cross and talked for at least an hour [side note: Yes, I did make a commitment to the Red Cross for a blood donation, so I ran inside....late....and asked if I could reschedule for tomorrow. Of course, they said yes. I thanked them and ran back out behind the building to pick up our conversation where we left off]. We talked about everything. But here was the beautiful thing about it--I never asked why she was on the streets, dressed in a sheet, and chillin' next to a dumpster. That wasn't what I cared about, I cared about her story, and how she defined herself; here is the crazy thing, when she was telling me her story, she never brought up why she was on the streets either.

I feel that society forgets that those who live on the streets are people with stories, beliefs, ideas, passions, etc. For some reason they just get scoffed at, and in turn, people love to create their story for them. "Oh she's a drug addict", or "oh her parents threw her out". Uhm...Did they tell you that? No? Oh okay--Then don't stereotype. "Homeless" to me is not a turn off, in fact, its quite the contrary. Why? Because homeless people often have outstanding stories. [other side note: I recognize that maybe these stories that she told me are false. I don't mind. If this is the story that she wanted to tell me, then it must be a story that she wanted me to hear. I wasn't there to judge Marta, I was there to learn from her.] Homeless people such as Marta live outside of society, therefore they get don't really get wrapped up in the conformity nonsense that the rest of us do. So jealous.

Nevertheless, Marta told me the story of her childhood on the Oregon coast. Her sisters raised her, and they always had; she never met her parents. She has a daughter, who's name I can not remember for the life of me. Her daughter was not with her during our conversation, she didn't mention where she was, so I didn't either. Her face lit up when she told me about her daughters most recent third birthday. She told me about how they went to the park and played in the fountain, and how her daughter laughed, and laughed that day. You could see Martas eyes get whiter and her smile get wider. She didn't need to tell me that her daughter was her life, it was clear.

Marta and I yakked at each other as if we were old high school friends just catching up, but the time came for me to leave. Marta is my size, maybe a bit wider in the hips from child birth, but over all the same stature, and here she was in a sheet. I literally asked her if she would take my clothes and wear them. She turned red in the face and shook her head no. I made some comment about how "I knew it wasn't the cutest outfit, and I would have planned ahead had I known better" and Marta's eyes filled with tears. She looked at me, and I will never forget what she said, but she said "Melissa, why are you being so nice to me?" The question totally confused me and threw me off guard. I said "Marta. I like you, and I want you to have my clothes. It's a gift, I will be fine." She looked around, nervous for who would see the clothing exchange, while silently nodding her head in agreement.

And ladies and gents, as I stood there in my boy short underwear, sports bra, and dress flats, looking back at Marta who was totally rocking my clothes, I too began to cry. We didn't say much after that. She hugged me, kissed my head, asked me if she looked alright while she pulled self consciously her new clothes [which fit her great by the way!], and slowly folded up her sheet. I smiled at her, walked proudly to my car in my underwear mind you, jumped in, and hit the road for home. And man, it felt so surreal. But then I would look down at my naked legs and smile cause they totally proved that that last 2 hours had in fact happened.

Most people never get to really give someone the clothes off their backs. It is more or less a figure of speech. But for me, it was exactly what I did. Meeting Marta was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I feel that this post doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how uplifting and incredible the experience was. I hope to see Marta again someday, maybe even meet her daughter, but for now, I will be content just knowing that we both impacted each others' lives for the better.

Marta, you rock.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some People

Some people come into your life to rock your world, break your norms, test your knowledge, and inspire you.

Some people recognize your strengths and abilities more than you might ever be able to see in yourself. They push you, they make you crazy, they ride your ass until you follow through. But when you do follow through they just simply smile; they smile because they see your inward sense of pride that is all encompassing. They see the pay-off of when you finally put yourself out there and leap into the scary or unknown. They know all along that you will be safe.

Some people just don't get it. And they wont ever, and thats okay, because you will always have those few people in your life who do get it. They are the ones that you call on when you feel completely alone and intolerant of the idiots in the world. They are your mental match, your intellectual partner, your confidant in questioning. These people are the glue to your sanity; they just get it, no explanation needed. Better yet, because they 'just get it' you are able to discuss, pursue, and expand your knowledge on the subject at hand. It is this that makes them your truest of matches; without discussion, and the passion to learn more, you merely have physical company, and physical company may fill your void, but it will never inspire you the way that someones intellect can.

Some people are more accepting of your flaws than you could ever be. Some people recognize your beauty and the strengths and are able to accept your flaws and move along with your friendship. Often there may be judgment, that is to be expected, but it never hinders their overall view of you. Some changes may ensue but these people will still stand by you, and most importantly, still respect you. Once this occurs you fall silent with respect, and are truly humbled by their yield.

I have gone through a lot lately. I have been through the normal roller coaster of young-adulthood, college, and dating turmoil. I have lost a lot of friends along the way. But man alive, have I met some incredible people, and these are the people get me out of bed in the morning excited about the day. These are the people who not only listen to my crazy ideas, but also discuss them with me, help me brainstorm, and even stand by me as I turn my thoughts into actions. I suppose this post is my tribute to them.

Amanda, Jared, Lisa, Sara, Travis--You are all incredible, and truly beautiful people.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thank you Steinbeck

"Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite… A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then—the glory—so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quantity and number of his glories.

In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics,and
even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world,tension toward a breaking point,and men are unhappy and confused.

At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of
extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man… It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most
valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual…. If the glory can be killed, we are lost"

-John Steinbeck, East of Eden.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How Sweet It Is

This weekend was a weekend filled with wonder! It was the season opener for the Oregon Ducks, and so I got to return to the motherland, Autzen Stadium, and be reunited with my 59,565 best friends as we took the win. I am so fortunate to be able to have season tickets and very grateful to spend that time with my dad. He rocks.

I was also able to spend my Sunday hiking around Crater Lake with two of my girlfriends. We sang, we laughed, we hiked, we dipped our toes into the lake, we explored, WE CONQUERED. It was a fantastic fantastic fantastic day.

Life is truly, beautiful.