random personal

It is the last night in my apartment. I’ve been in a sleeping bag for two nights now, which I should get used to: I leave for the Appalachian Trail in 11 days. It’s always a bit odd for me to leave a place. I always have to say “goodbye” to the space I’ve called my own for months on end – right before the moving truck pulls out, or my parents’ car, or the boyfriend with the UHaul. I take a few moments just for me, thank the space for hosting me so well, and shut the door.

This time, I’m shutting the door on something much more major. My life is about to change in a very real way, and in ways I can’t even imagine yet. I’m going “off the grid” – or, as off the grid as one can be in our age of cell phones and iPads and data plans. According to my insurance, it would be easier for me to go abroad than to stay in the country while I hike. I can’t get any prescriptions in advance – no way no how – though I explained to them at least three times I would  be without access to a pharmacy for 6 months. Someone had even told me they could do 3 months, but never entered it into the system. I pleaded, the pharmacist pleaded: no exceptions. This makes things a bit more interesting.

Today was my last day in the office, too. I take a leave of absence for the next 7 months. It was very weird. I made my goodbye rounds after a lunch out. It reminded me a little bit of leaving camp: I know I’ll be back, but I work with some really great people, and I’ll miss them. There was not much left to say, really. It’s been said, variously, at different times and places.

“Good luck, have fun, be safe.”

“Yes, I will.”

On to my big adventure.

With that comes the leave of absence from this blog, too. I’m already trying to keep up with 2 other Appalachian Trail (AT)-related blogs. And besides, all of life’s tomatoes for the next several months will hit me while I’m on the Trail.

My main blog while I’m hiking is here.

I’m also contributing to Appalachian Trials.

Au revoir. I leave you with this quote:

It starts as an uneasy sleep, a deep restlessness. That’s how it began for me. Perhaps for you, too.

Underneath the slick, secure, same surfaces of daily life, “things” begin to stir. Soft whispers are heard, faintly, in the heart; a restlessness moves in the solar plexus. These stirrings, easy to ignore at first, remain as tenderly persistent as a plant pushing through asphalt. The restlessness seems like the enemy within, threatening to blow up the status quo.

And, of course, it will. That’s the news I want to convey.

But it is no enemy. It is, in fact, the very best friend you have.

– The Ordinary Adventurer, by Jan Leitschuh.

This breakup has me thrown
2 weeks? 3?
It feels like an eternity.
It’s hitting me all over
Tears have mostly dried,
and now I’m only yearning
if I’ll ever get over you.

I know, I know:
Time heals all wounds,
but what can I do
when the only one I want
is you?
People ask me why
and I answer,
“It was mutual,” twisting.
Because I’ve lost it
Because we could fix it
if things were different
if we weren’t long-distance
Because I don’t know anymore
Because all I want
is you
is you
is you
is you

– 1 –

It would be easier to be angry
but I’m not
It would also be easier to eat
but I’m not
so I’m
And this is the cycle
at least for awhile

– 2 –

You know what your problem is?
I said
so I wouldn’t cry
He looked at me
a pained look on his face.
You’re too good
I said.
I barely got a smile
before he threw it back at me
You’re the better one
he said.
So we sat there
complimenting each other
in the middle
of our breakup

– 3 –

In mind over matter
is matter heart?
Because I think matter
There is the mind
and Things That Matter
and Heart
where is Heart?

– 4 –

The person I would vent to
The person I would laugh with
I would send that funny link to
I would explain my thoughts to

We will heal
but for now
I’ve lost
my best friend

Due to things
we could probably fix
if circumstances were

– 5 –

My friend said
To put the wallowing on steroids
And heal before my hike


I’m writing bad poetry


But also
I got compliments on my prose
regarding the breakup –
Prose –
Not Poetry.
Bad, Poetry.


[Edit: Last night can now probably be known as “sobbing night”]. In honor:

I jump
each time there’s a new text
anytime my inbox count
adds a number
Hoping it will be you
And cringing if it is
Because I am not ready
Except, I am:
This is always the worst part
We shouldn’t talk
but I want to
I want to

I want to tell you about my day
I want to send you silly pictures
I want to throw my arms around you
and never let go.

But I can’t.

We broke up. I’d say it was fairly mutual, though he brought  it up (and I don’t think I would have). I get upset whenever I have to tell people (and so I’ve not told that many). Each time, I harp on it being “better, and worse.” Of the now 3 breakups I’ve had, it was the best. And it was also more painful. We’re both very fond of each other, we both think the other is a great, capable person. We like spending time together. And we were both very sorry it couldn’t work out. We are, for now, incompatible. I could argue it was long distance, I could argue it was shit timing: I’m leaving for the Appalachian Trail soon (and I’m likely to change), he’s in that post-college what’s-next phase. But really, for now, we just don’t work.

I’ve also never dated anyone I was friends with before, and still hoped to be friends with after. He brightens a room by being in it, and I really was happy most of the time. So it was better, and worse. It was better when I got sick – as I do after breakups – and he held my hair and brought me a cup of water, and worse because it was a bit humiliating. When I told him that, he looked surprised. I’ve been through more breakups, and they were much worse. “We’re friends,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I?” I guess there’s not actually a good response to that. It was better when he made breakfast, like he usually does, like things were…and it was worse because it was another reminder. Both of us not being together, and of him being so sweet. God, he was so sweet. With what felt like very little regard for his own feelings, he was all about making sure I was comfortable. He offered to drive the 10 hours home that night, though it was nearing midnight. Before this happened, we’d actually had a very fun weekend. Outdoors film festival, getting him into a TV show I like, a roller derby, a sideshow with all kinds of freakish acts, an improv show.

After breakfast, we talked, barely, haltingly. Reminiscent of the night before – those awkward long pauses when no one knows what to say but sometimes saying something is better than not, because what other chance do you have? And when the things that come out aren’t “you should have” and “well why didn’t you,” but “You’re a really good, capable person” and “I’m so sorry we couldn’t work,” you know it’s a special one. This makes it better, and worse.

This post is becoming hard to write, so I’ll close here. With time, I hope we can be friends. It’s just a big heartache right now, knowing how great he is, how highly we regard each other, and knowing we just aren’t working.

As I write this, one of our family dogs is being put down. I will not be there.

Buddy was fifteen years old. For a small dog especially, he’s had a long, long life. He is the second dog we have lost now. It is a gut-wrenching decision no matter what – is it fair? is he happy? are we only making him hang on for us? He brought us such joy. He was welcomed into the first house I ever lived in, which is four houses ago now. And he’s been through a lot with us.

When he was young, he was the local soccer prince – and he acted like it, too. He’d mess with his older brother, Oscar, until Oscar had to make clear who was in charge. I’ll never forget watching them play, and all of a sudden Buddy is on his back and Oscar has his paw resting lightly on his younger brother’s stomach. But they always looked out for each other. They started the family phrase “the dogs are going off,” to mean they were barking together at something or other, whether at a guest or a squirrel never really mattered.

I remember when Buddy pranced. He did, he pranced everywhere. His front legs would go out straight as he walked around (usually with a toy in his mouth) – a true prince. Like so many dogs, he could sense when I was sad and would then tolerate being held. He always knew when I was leaving again, to college or boarding school or camp, and would stay with me all day before I left.

We will miss him terribly. I wish I could give him one last hug, I wish I was there. When Oscar’s time came, we were all together.

Still, I’m reminded of that story that goes around. I didn’t see it until months or more after Oscar died. The gist is that a family makes the decision to put the family dog down. The parents debate bringing their 6 year-old to the vet with them, and ultimately explain and bring him along. As they stand there after, crying and holding each other and lamenting the short lives of dogs and other pets (I know the scene well by now), their 6 year-old surprises them by saying, “I know why.” They turn to him, and he continues, “People are put on the earth to learn to love each other and be nice, right?” They nod. “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

It is a painful night, to be sure. But I try to take comfort in all of the good things, and in that story. Buddy, we miss you so much.

I am petrified of the dentist.

Yes, I’m in my mid-twenties, yes, I’m planning to go hike alone in the woods for six months, yes, I rode horses and sang in public and fell down the stairs when I was little and kicked them instead of crying.

But one of my biggest fears is the dentist. Which is a little odd, because I am the most self-conscious about my teeth and smile. The dentist ought to be my best friend. If only my teeth were better, and healthier. But despite my teeth being my biggest area of body image concern, I don’t take very good care of them.

Actually, last week was the first time I even used my own dental insurance, which I’ve had for three years now. So it had been longer than that since my last visit. I’m not good at sticking with habits. I go through phases of flossing every day with care, and just as suddenly, I stop. I crawl into bed and don’t get out to brush some nights. So forget about flossing.

So one day, with a lot of support from my boyfriend and a stroke of courage, I went into the dentist office I’d walked by several times on my way to work. I stood waiting for the couple in front of me to finish, wishing for a paper bag to breathe into. I told you, I am petrified to point of unreasonableness. I forced myself to be this “adult” word I hear so much about, and stayed. With wringing hands, I walked to the counter.

“Hi,” I coughed out. “I need to make an appointment.”

“Okay, have you been here before?”

“No, I…I…I haven’t been to a dentist in a very long time. I’m terrified. But I need to fix my teeth.”

Actually, this all made me so nervous that this post is likely the first my parents are hearing about it at all, and I am very close with my parents.

My first appointment actually went really well. I like my new dentist a lot. Bedside manner was great, and he actually recognized me from the building I used to live in (apparently he lived there too, still does). I told him I was nervous, he told me not to be. He talked about things besides my teeth, then eased into my issues. He does this – he talks about small details, then your teeth, then back to not-teeth. He and his tech are a great team. He cleaned my teeth himself that time, and it barely hurt (I am used to bleeding, terrible pain and techs on seemingly bad days – oops, got your gum). Except for those wing things for the X-rays. I have never done well with those. They had to go down a size, since I couldn’t close my mouth down on the first ones.

This week consisted of not one but two appointments to fill cavities. I had a lot. I had more than even I expected. So Monday, they numbed the right side of my face and drilled away for a good long while. Today, they numbed the left side of my face and drilled away for a bit longer. Pretty much my jaw has been in some form of pain all week. My right side is still sensitive, so I bought Sensodyne and yogurt tonight.

This post was going to be better. Something about thanking dentists. How bedside manner can make such a difference. How at ease I was compared to what I recall. Blessings on anyone who actually wants to be a dentist. I suppose I should have written it last week, as this week has been an utter week from hell. I think it’s been like that for a lot of people. Pre-holiday stresses? Travel? Work? You name it.

I get to see family in less than 24 hours. And my boyfriend. I won’t have as much time off as I’d hoped (and am at a pretty low point mentally for that), but I will get to see them. And that’s all I’ve got to hold on to now. Let shit-hell-week be over.

Anyway. Face your fears. Go to the dentist. Don’t ever, ever put it off for this long if you can afford the visits. It will be worse for you the longer you’re in denial. Trust me. I know.

10 days ago, in a rather silly mood, I gave you a peek into the world of National Novel Month 2013 and roughly what’s in store for me. Much has changed since then, including the major points of my plot. My muse is much happier now, even if it’s taking a turn into fantasy, something I never thought I’d do.

But that is actually nothing compared to my excitement over this:

My dad is going to do NaNoWriMo with me this year!

Repeat: my dad is going to do NaNoWriMo with me this year!

I can’t even – I’m so excited! SO EXCITED, I tell you. This is awesome because, well, dad. But also, he is an incredible writer. He is king of his industry, and is editor and co-owner of a monthly magazine which is rocking the competition like whoa. I’ve done NaNo for two years; this will be my third attempt (and hopefully second win!). His plan is to do lots of flash fiction pieces to total 50,000 words throughout November. Dad who beat up cancer last year and threw a party.


Okay, also my plot. You remember that whole thing about ghost lessons? Yeah, that’s still there but majorly in the background. Here is my (evidently fantasy) plot as of now: In the 17th century, Richard was in love with Cassandra Hart, but despite everything he did for her, she never loved him back. She married Francis instead, and this made him angry. He appeared at their wedding, threatening they would rue the day etc., before taking a blade and stabbing himself through the heart. He stayed on earth as a ghost, and then underwent the requirements for becoming a Voleruh and took on the name Reshkhi. Voleruhs are evil creatures of the undead that steal ghost’s souls. Reshkhi has hunted the Hart family for centuries, with the desire to rip out the female Harts’ souls. Thanks to protection left by Cassandra, Jillian’s and Lea’s ancestor, he was unable to destroy them. Now, the youngest Hart, Jillian, has died at age 17, and her mother, Lea, has been trying to protect her from Reshkhi. Lea died one year ago, and when she did, the protection was broken. Now, Reshkhi is determined to take the soul of Lea’s daughter, Jillian.

* For the record, I’m aware of the “isn’t a ghost a soul?” issue and my comeback is: ghost = spirit; soul = soul. So hah.

It’s a work in progress. I had to create a creature – a Voleruh – which seemed to put me firmly in the fantastic. Which is SO weird. But whatever, let’s run with it, right? Don’t confuse my startled-ness with disliking fantasy; on the contrary it’s one of my favorite genres to read. But it’s also a lot of work and I admit I’m pretty nervous. Still, it’s an easier switch, as I’m not building worlds or races or languages a la Tolkien.

None of that is really important.

My dad is doing NaNoWriMo with me!

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