Thursday, November 13, 2014

In other inappropriate news...

Look at the list of words I made for Julian to practice sounding out:

Sean came out and saw it and said, "hot mom?? What're you teaching him??"  I DIED.  Had not even realized.  I was just trying to think of short 'o' words, i swear!

"Come on, Julian. Sound it out--hotttt moooommmm... c'mon, say it!" 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cragging Rights

Well, t'is the season for one of my favorite holidays.  Hallowdays. Hallowed Days. (see what i'm doing?)  I love Halloween. In case you've forgotten, here are some links to remind you of just what it means to me:

 Click here to read about Julian as a toddling zebra.
Or the time I accidentally invented THE BEST cookie recipe of all time.

Or when I wore the best mom-made costumes known to man and fought for my candy, and life.

General Halloween hodgepodge but if you don't click on it, you're going to miss THIS.

And let's not forget about Sean's Titanic. Oh, how I miss those Titanic days. I knew they wouldn't last forever. :(

Now that we are country living, sort of like Diane Keaton in the film Baby Boom, when she suddenly gains custody of a baby and moves from the big city to the country and starts making applesauce to sell because she's trying to adapt and be country-y, I've been trying to immerse myself in what I view as a country living practice, and that is crafting. Decorating. It's new to me.  And I'm going to brag about it here, today.  I'm going to craft brag, or crag. Because it's my right to crag.  

I've learned a lot about myself this fall.  One thing is that I actually succeeded in finding candy corn palatable. I'm pretty proud of myself. And, the people who make non-food stuffs in the candy corn color scheme, its only appropriate form. The candy, at its very best, is good for decoration. It makes so much sense to expand on this disgusting Halloween icon:


Flipping through craft magazines because I guess that's what I do now, I snapped a pic or two of some crafts I thought I might try. Out of the pics, only one idea came into fruition, and I have to say, I'm more than a little pleased with these. And I can't promise to take them down after the hallowday is over.

Oh boy, I love our bugs! Sean and I each painted three, Julian painted four.  Can you guess which are whose?  Here's another thing I learned. I'm not half bad at painting bugs! I surprised myself, actually, and felt pretty proud. And excited.   Sean had this cool black-as-night ink and it was so much fun. And eerily therapeutic, painting bugs. You really should try it.

Julian's are sooo cute. I love watching him draw and paint, something he's never really been remotely interested in until lately (sorta). I have these tubes of paint with fine point tips. I drew the image and he painted and spread it around.

Which one is your favorite? (no really, which?)  His wolf spider is probably the creepiest. Look at that thing! (lower left) Yikes.Turned out better than I could have done. Or is it?? Because look at that fly!! There, I said it. The fly is mine.  I just can't help myself. It's good, right?? C'mon, I worked so hard. I had to make the wings see-through for crying out loud! Ahhh I'm such a craggart.

Here are mine and Sean's close up:

Beetles are so cool.

I didn't even realize the spider i'd selected was a black widow. I just looked up a pic of a spider and saw that one and thought, ooo, that's a good one! Hopefully i don't come face to face with a real or i'm dead meat. Or am I? because now I know. Thanks, crafting!

Another thing I learned more about is my personal style of Halloween decor. Not the cutesy crafter, I lean more toward a little gruesome, morbid, perhaps grotesque? Last year walking through the brownstone neighborhoods, I found myself impressed by gory doorways decorated with blood and weapons. I guess it just reminds me of Jen's Yard of Horrors of my youth, when i'd decorate the yard with dead people/newspaper-stuffed shirts and pants half stuck in the earth, etc. Sigh. Happy times.

In light of that, this next craft turned out so amazingly, you could say i'm delightfully creeped out. Since we now live in a cottage in the woods, and not wanting to buy much of anything for crafts, I got this idea to make skeletons out of sticks. Skeletons are an excellent decoration. But why not take a step further in your crafting and practice your anatomy knowledge too! It's decorating AND learning.  I told Sean and, as prime executor of my ideas, he scouted around and somehow found the perfect limbs and twigs for our skeletal limbs and bones.  We taped the joints together with duct tape and spray painted it all. I couldn't think of anything for a head and, turns out, they didn't really need one. They were eerily anatomically correct, because Sean is a wizard. Here they are, the twins Mr. Bones, who bring me a lot of joy:

 Just two pals, leisurely chatting their life away...

Hmm, looks like Mr. Bones' ribs (on the right) have gone askew.
Let me tell you, it was really weird how quickly they felt like real skeletons. Posing them and handling them was pretty gross. And when we taped the foot bones to the ankle, Sean couldn't bring himself to clip the toes so I did it. I'm a little nervous to say that it was a little bit satisfying, in a sick, sadistic, torturous kind of way.  h-happy halloween? heh... :/

Hang on, i have some artsy pics of them. Here:

I did purchase some tiny skeleton hands though because, why wouldn't I. Couldn't think of what to do with them until we decided to dangle them from the roof.

One of nature's beauties, just a severed skeleton hand, blowing gently in the breeze.

We painted some glass jars and made little jack-o-jars. Pretty cute:

that guy on the right thinks he's hilarious.

For carving pumpkins, we got two giant pumpkins this year. I was just kinda like, go big or go home. I don't remember the last time I carved a pumpkin. Many years.  First time for Julian which was kind of embarrassing and appalling for all. But we had no place to put them where we lived!

First, some pumpkin love:

Here are the boys, Julian experiencing his very first feel of pumpkin guts, an extraordinary sensation indeed.

Sliming Sean's arms with pumpkin goo, one of the worst things
 you can do to a human.

Julian drew the sketch for the happy guy and then requested a cyclops. Nicely executed, Sean.  My contributions were jagged top that you can't see and the scraping of innards.  I will say, isn't the smell of pumpkin guts so delicious? I LOVE it. Smells like fall, like happy, like childhood.

no caption needed.

We were finally able to participate in the big family party and tradition of apple uglies. We've tried to spread their gospel wherever we could in years past and it was great fun to be there in person this year.  My mom goes all out on the candy, each year with different variations for face-making possibilities and experimentation.

Here are our apple ugly self-portraits:

jen, sean, julian
Everyone was aaaall impressed with my tongue until they heard how I got it.  I'd like to see YOU achieve perfect tongue color and texture without chewing up a couple of gross Razzles. With great art comes great sacrifice, man.

Sean's bonus apple:

Also, check out this dry ice cider! Put it in a clear container, people! Blow your freakin' mind.

So golden! It was magnificent.

Now, as for Julian's costume. I have to say i had some concerns this year. There would be no topping the Titanic, and that's ok. Each Halloween is different. No comparing from year to year. That said, this year's is pret-ty great. Sean is amazing.

Julian wanted to be a dragon. If he'd wanted to be Smaug, I'd have gone as Bilbo Baggins but it didn't really turn out that way and it's ok. But... pretty great dragon, Sean.

He added to an already existing dragon costume, tossing the wings and making his own:

The inside was to be glittery red with black leather on the exterior.

And took the mask, cut it up, and added his own sort of hat on top of it. He hates to crag, but check it:

what the fudge? I don't know how he does it, you guys. Don't ask because I DON'T KNOW.  He is constantly whipping things up with whatever scraps we have lying around.

First white paint, then sparkly red spray paint. made us want to spray paint everything with this stuff.

So cool.

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeen!

Monday, October 20, 2014

City Boy

I wrote this a while back and though we've since moved outta town, it's still relevant. And, i ought to think about it in terms of where we live now which would bring up an entirely different and interesting point of view altogether. But we'll see. Here it is:


Sometimes I get jealous of Julian for having been born and thus far raised in such a cool town.  He is 100% Brooklyn.  The streets are his home. He knows nothing else.  There are goods and bads of everyplace and right now I'm choosing to look at some goods. Here's one benefit of living here.

Sometimes I think about the things I would/could/should teach Julian.  Sometimes I visualize it happening, sometimes it just happens on its own. I step outside myself and say "Ha! So this is what that looks like."   Some things are "bigger" than others.  Some are big, broad, and happen from the very beginning. Like to be kind.  Who are we kind to? Everyone.  But everyone? Yes everyone. Always, kind.  But one thing I feel like I would never really have to teach him is to treat someone the same even though they look different. Because guess what? Here, everyone looks different.  There are all shapes, sizes, hues, people with missing parts, etc.  And maybe one day he'll notice something more and have questions but right now it just seems pointless to me.  These differences don't register with him because we ALL have them. I'm different from that person. That person is different from the next, and so on.  That person is in a wheelchair and that person has blue hair. This person is this race and speaks that language, that one that. People's "differences" aren't differences, they're just another quality one might use to describe them. You know?

He identifies ways people are different but there's no fear or feeling of discomfort.  It's not really about being different from him, but from each other, from one individual to the next.  The man in the wheelchair who wheels in a particular intersection and window-handles for money-- "Watch out for the wheelchair guy!"  Because you know what? That guy in the wheelchair is hard to see! And that's it.  Sure, we could make up our own sort of set of parameters as to what's unusual or not. "Well, that is unusual from ME, but there are lots of people like that."

I feel like if i were to try to teach him a lesson on treating specific people with specific "differences" with kindness and respect, it would sort of backfire. It would introduce to him the idea, as never before did it even cross his mind, that one might treat someone differently because of it.

Recently a friend wrote an article titled Boys Can Be Pretty, Too about gender roles and whether or not to encourage a child's interest in things (colors, activities) that are typically categorized as "girl things."  I thought about it for a while and sort of came up to the conclusion that yeah, there might be potential for teasing.  But a) there are no set lines around here how a person ought to present him/herself.  As far as physical appearance.  I see lots of little kids with nail polish, boys and girls. Heck, i bought pink pajamas with butterflies for Julian because i liked them better than the sports stuff and the options were low.  I gave him red sandals because who doesn't like red?? even though lots of people thought he was a girl because of it. Who cares?   Though, he was a baby. If he were older and being teased I may be singing a different tune. But also,  B) There might be potential for teasing but that's always going to be the case. At some point we'll probably be teased about something or other. Because guess what, kids are kids.  When we're small, we tease. We try not to, and we learn at different rates than others, but that's sort of what kids do. So if it's not about nail polish or pink shoes, it's about this or that.  And guess what else? It's not just kids who tease. Look around, it's still happening as adults. In your face, everybody! You smell bad, too! Yeah, that's right!

Not that i want to say, whatever, send your kid into the world in whatever and if he gets teased, then fine! It's life!  Because that's sad.   I remember when my squirt of a nephew, now 22, was small and had some issue with his foot and needed to wear socks with his sandals and got teased.  First of all, socks with sandals is completely fine! From a style standpoint. Then again, i've sort of always marched to the beat of a different fashion drum. (see blog post about wearing warm-up pants and slippers to school. I'd post a link but i can't find it. I've looked everywhere)  But secondly, I got mad--real mad, when i found out he was being teased. Wanted to punch those kids' lights out mad. So I don't promote being teased in order to experience real life lessons.  But my heart also breaks at the thought of stifling oneself out of fear.

When I was on the basketball team in 9th grade (street cred), for some kind of end-of-year banquet the captain and maybe co-captain wrote up certificates or awards for everyone. They thought of clever names or nicknames or who knows what.  I remember mine-- it was "twinkle toes,"  because apparently they were amused by the way i ran, which i guess is sort of on my toes.  I wasn't really sure. Because i wasn't even aware of it.  I've since realized that I do kind of run on my toes. I was just practicing running with a friend a few weeks ago to exhibit my toe-to-heel running and how heel-to-toe running feels so impossibly awkward, i could never do it. If that is, indeed, the correct way to run (dubious).  She then explained that she runs (she's an actual runner) more flat on her feet.  Anyway, we practiced a bit in the street and I remembered this "award" and how it took me kind of a long time to realize that they probably had been making fun of me about it and I had no idea-- ha ha.  Oh man, isn't ignorance bliss? But when I realized that, i was hurt for about .2 seconds, and then no more because again: who cares.  And I'm proud of my run. Real proud.

Other than that, I had it easy I guess, as far as being teased goes. Because i know it can be a hellish experience for kids growing up. But I'm such a promoter of being who you are and loving it, forget others, that i can't quite give up that fight.  But again, maybe if i'd grown up being teased I'd be singing a different tune.  I would hope to one day change my tune and it's the tune i currently sing (whistle?) but, yeah.

This same friend who practiced running with me said something I love and will think about often. I paraphrase, but it was something like "I live under the delusion that nobody is saying anything bad about me, ever."    What a great way to live!  Even if it's happening, wouldn't that be so freeing to just pretend it isn't? Because you won't be affected by it if it is and you won't garner assumptions that ill-affect the way you view others. If you assume someone thinks bad things about you, doesn't that affect the way you behave toward them?  It's an interesting question, but a school of thought I absolutely sign up for.  Take everything at face value. Allow people to start over, even if there's nothing to start over from.  Give ample benefit of the doubt. Prove your worth by your actions and real life interactions, exhibiting things that really matter.

I've gotten off track here (what? On Jen's Log?? Nooo. ) but that's fine. I like the turn its taken.  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Utah is...

Well here we are, all of us in Utah.  Julian and I have been here for two months, Sean about 3 1/2 weeks.  I put together a short list of my newly acquired Utah experiences so let's have it, shall we.

Utah Is...

1. A spa retreat.  That was a common phrased i used to describe to people how I felt when we first arrived. Immediately i began to notice that I could breathe, really breathe, for the first time in a long time. And it felt good, real good.  We spent a long time at my parents' house living a community household lifestyle which, i have to say, was rather marvelous. Julian and I did yoga in the backyard and basically just writhed around in the luxurious grass at every possible moment. I think a major element of my childhood and the memories and feelings I associate to it have to do with the grass in the summertime. Bit by bit my memories have begun coming back to me and I'm loving it. I'm just soaking it all in.  Also at the house, we picked apricots and ate from my parents' garden. I can't tell you how nice it is to harvest the fruits of someone else's labors. Because I'm pretty sure I will never in my life have a garden like that.   Picking tomatoes was my favorite. It became a treasure hunt since the plants turned into giant tomato beasts, sprawling all over the place, vines so thick i had to lift them up and have a keen eye to spot the goods.  But also there were cucumbers, squash, peppers, beans, carrots, and others i don't even know the name of, or how to cook with.  I marveled at this. For a good while I sat in a stupor at the fact that people just... go out back and pick stuff.. and then bring it in... and eat it. They just eat it. "Oh I want to make a salad so I'll just go in the backyard and get ALL the stuff for it."   
This is me: 

2. Huge sky. Just big wide open expanse of sky. As far as the eyes can see, until it smacks into the gigantic mountains, that is.   But it's just so BIG.  And the sunsets are as spectacular as I remember. I used to climb up onto the roof of my house and take pictures of them and i forgot how amazing they are. Just brilliant. Mind blowing, really.  Can't believe people live here and are like, yeah yeah, it's a sunset.  I spend as much time outside as i can and just soak, soak it in. Sometimes I just gaze and shake my head, I'm just overcome.  The view is amazing, a shock to me, and I hope to never get over it. 

3. Cheap.  Julian took swimming lessons from a swimmer girl, one on one for like $60.  In NY this would have been 3 times as expensive with someone weird or mean and it would also be impossible because i can't actually see this happening, unless we hired an ex-olympic swimmer, swim teacher to celebrity children and not for 4 more years since we'd have to be wait-listed. One on one?? Absurd!  

4. Sprawling.  I keep getting lost.  In my own hometown. It all looks the same and the streets are just 400E. 300E.  It makes sense but it all means nothing to me.  I need landmarks-- beacons! Guides!  But it's ok because i eventually find my way and am learning the lay of the land, and also there's GPS. 

5. Friendly.  We drove through the drive-thru (-- prob a better way to say that) of Chik-fil-a and i about died at the whole experience. They have these teenage gems standing outside ready to take orders. They learn your name at the first stop and then they enter in your order so that the next kid who's around the corner has received it by the time you come around and he's like, "Hello, Jennifer..." and you give him your money. Then you pick up food at the 3rd stop, someone at the window, and by that time they're like, "Here you go, Jen! Have a great day with Julian and hope you're adjusting to the move! Let me know if you need anything! Here are your nuggets"  *hug*       Seriously. It was just like that. 

6.  Quiet. Quiet as the far side of the moon.  The din of the city had begun to seep deep into my brain and it became stuck, and almost deafening in its irritatingly constant presence.  I have to remind you, and myself, that I still do truly love the city, but there was a breaking point and that was the state of things when we left.  I am naturally a contemplative person. I love my introspection. I could sit and think my thoughts until the cows came home and then went back out again and feel like I had a most productive day.  And here I can hear them. They've replaced all the city noise and they're calmer, clearer, less agitated at having to compete all the time, trying to be noticed. The quiet is so loud and marked that it feels like a person,  one I love and want to wrap my arms around. And like a cat in the sunshine, I bask. I bask in the quiet.

7. Easy.  So easy. Easy like I knew it would but a still shock at how easy it is. And it's turning out to be exactly what I feared and hoped.  Which was an easier life in some areas, areas I felt like I was putting too much stupid effort and thought and sweat into but also a life of too much ease so I didn't have to get off my rear as much. Basically it comes down to I need to figure out a way to exercise without doing things I loathe.  Before, it was automatic with the city life. I did it because i had to. Still i was aware that was how i was getting my exercise and therefore i had some appreciation.  So now I'm doing a few things:

a) I aim to fully appreciate this new easy life and to acknowledge its ease by remembering the old life. To never forget.  To appreciate the opposition living the other life has provided.  To say OH how nice that i can just drive up to this place and park nearby. Isn't it wonderful? Isn't life wonderful?

b) to still be active.  this means a few things. maybe stupid things like carrying groceries to the car instead of pushing them. but also to get out more and figure out a way to explore this beautiful land.  I have been using my beloved amish scooter and sometimes take it to pick Julian up from school.  This is something that's completely unnecessary and also strange, as NO ONE is on the sidewalks around here. I could also easily take the car and suffer very little for it (i.e. traffic or parking problems).  But I l-o-v-e my scooter and Julian loves it too. We chat when we ride, I work my tail off hoofing it up that hill, and it also makes me feel like a little bit of Bklyn has seeped into my life, which is great. It's seriously lacking that important authentic bklyn element called necessity, but still.  I like it. I'll take it.
One could argue that you belong to a place because you start there and it forms who you are. But I don't know. I think it's a conscious decision. There must be some embracing involved.   After a few years of living in NY I remember my mom telling me "Jennifer, remember your roots."  I asked her if she thought I wasn't and she said no, but felt the need to tell me anyway.  I thought about it and my reaction was basically like, yeah yeah, I {heart} NY!   But here I am, starting over, and these are just a few things that I am discovering about Utah right now.  I should say "re-discovering" since I grew up here but I cannot, because I just didn't realize it back then.  There were things I appreciated because they appealed to me particularly (the sky, etc) but now that I've been away for over a decade and have returned, seeing all the beauty it has, partly because i've lived in a place that is such a stark contrast, and also having decided to deliberately choose Utah, I feel like a Utahn for the first time.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Road Trip, USA

It was on a Thursday that I flew from Utah to New York with a short layover in Denver. I was surprised when I went to the counter to check in.  I opened my backpack to pull out my ID and felt a sudden jolt as I passed him my New York state license.  This could be the last time in a long time that i'll go back.  When I had left, I left and never looked back.  But then I bought some last minute tickets to go back, I turned around to face New York and I felt the feelings I thought I ought to in the first place. The last time I'll be going back to New York, my heretofore home, my pride.  I put the ID in the front pocket next to my subway card holder which is a little plastic thing with a picture of Starry Night, that I had bought at the MoMa store in SoHo. Wow, let's see how many more portmanteaux I can include in a sentence. I'll try again:

After seeing a film in TriBeCa, I could have gone to a MoMa store in BoCoCa but there isn't one, so I went to SoHo, instead of NoHo (less cool), somewhat near NoLita which I'm surprised is a place since Little Italy is the size of my thumb.  I can't think of anymore. Anyone out there want to add to?

And when I saw my Starry Night cardholder, like the penny in Somewhere In Time, something that was now completely irrelevant to my current life, it sent a jolt in me and launched me back to another place, another time. But unlike the penny itself, for i am not sure i can ever let go of this thing. It will remain in the pocket of my bag, an object out of place and time.  So with that, and with the walking to a terminal going back to someplace for the last time, i felt the waves of emotion, I felt, a little too late. Delayed, maybe. But I'm glad I felt them at all.

I landed at LGA, took a cab to Sean and we set off in the car, the black honda or Black Taxi, as Julian has named it, headed West (somewhat due), where the skies are blue.

The road trip was difficult because I'm now at the age where sitting is hard. But I also really loved it. I loved getting an idea of how frigging huge these states are and thus, this country, and I could sort of put together in my mind a general lay of the land, which I love. We drove for 4 days and a few hours and I counted 11 states. I did not keep a log of any kind since I had to drive or stare out the window to take car pics and writing in the car brings the promise of puke.  So i'll do the best I can. A tribute to each state, with a desire that I could have seen more. One day I will do it.

Dear New York,

How could I say goodbye? After a delightful dinner sitting on stools in a French bistro in an open window eating salmon and mussels, and watching New Yorkers, my people, walk by, you made it hard. But then you made it easy when we sat for over an hour in traffic to go about 500 yards. This is not an exaggeration. Apparently all 8 million people were trying to get to the Holland Tunnel that night (silly us).  I will say, though, I felt very much at home driving there cutting people off in a friendly way instead of a totally unnecessary and therefore rude way, as in Utah (sorry).
I can't say goodbye. So instead I'll say, see you around, maybe.

farewell mussels

Sitting outside Sean's work, watching everyone pass by and wanting to give them a big hug.

Rule #1 of road trips: All pictures taken MUST be from inside the car.  Even if you're outside and want to snap a pic of something, go back in your car and take it there. You're on a ROAD TRIP. 

Dear New Jersey,
I don't remember anything about you other than what I've always felt was true: the closer to the city
 you are, the uglier your experience, but outside of that you get so much more pleasant and then it's over. You're done, because you're small.  It was nighttime, in your defense, but we had to rush to get to the next one...(hugs)

Day One

Dear Pennsylvania,

AKA Best State In The Union.  BSITU (Impromptu Acronym, a game I sometimes like to play, to see if anything good results. I give that one a C).  I love you, I love you, I loooove yoooou. I am convinced that Pennsylvania really is the best state of all the states. It has it all: lush, green rolling hills. Insanely beautiful farmlands. Proximity to cities and cool places, including PHILLY (holla!).  And of course, the Amish, last but never, ever least.  We were so torn, being on a time crunch but wanting to pause and see some sights.  After a delicious country lunch at White Horse Inn, where the outdoor barbecue stretched as far as the eyes could see, we drove through Bird In Hand and also Intercourse, of course. Along the way we saw my dream scooter:


Apparently, though I shouldn't be surprised, the scooter I've been dreaming about of late is an Amish scooter. This is how peeps get around and I immediately became more obsessed than I already was. "Excuse me, sir! Whereabouts did you acquire thine amazing scooter there??" i so wanted to shout out the window. But I did not.  Instead we stopped at a Mennonite yard sale where I found and purchased THIS gem:

Aaaghhh! A Mennonite dress! What's that? You want to see it ON me? Weeell, ok, twist my arm.

What? Oh, you wanted to see it WITH the apron and head scarf? Fine, i am willing to oblige:

(Sorry for breaking rule #1.)

Ha HA! Isn't it great? The apron is hard to see and i'm still trying to figure out the ins and outs of the dress but I have to say, I kind of love it. AND, as even more luck would have it, I spotted my dream scooter again at this yardsale. I asked the woman about it and she told me i could find them at the Esh General Store like 5 feet away.  So we stopped by and LO AND FREAKIN' BEHOLD:

I found it. It's yellow with a basket and I FOUND IT.  Do you know what it's like to come face to face with your dream?? And then purchase it? And have it shipped to you?? And I am officially two steps closer to my dream of becoming Amish.  Here are some more shots of us trying to catch a pic of the cute people perusing the wares. 

I sat here just now for a good length of time before realizing what this next pic was:
The pennsylvania barbecue. 

What a beautiful place. I wonder how pretty my laundry would look were i to hang it out to dry. Maybe I'll do it and then instagram it for everyone, hashtag amishlife. That reminds me, one thing we did while in PA was try to find as many songs about the state as we could and sing along with them. This short list included:

1. Weird Al's Amish Paradise
2. Fresh Prince of Bel Aire (obvs)
3. Bruce Springsteen's super boring Philadelphia from the movie Philadelphia. That song was easy to sing along with. You just have to barely open your mouth and growl the words. Pretend you're singing while sleeping, and a little upset.

In Pennsylvania there are many rolling hills that they just cut tunnels through for roads. I'm including this pic because it's bright and blurry and a good car pic: opposed to a bad car pic. Hey guys, we saw an Amish horse and buggy! Check it: 

Goodbye, Pennsylvania. Hello, West Virginia!

Day Two

Goodbye, West Virginia, hello Ohio!

We stayed overnight in Wheeling, W. VA just so we could hit the state on our route. We stopped at an Applebees for a late night dinner and had to sit at the bar for a while as we waited for our food. I have to say, it was most entertaining and I have resolved to sit at the bar more often. I felt like I was an anthropological spy, just sitting and listening to the conversations and interactions of the West Virginians. 

Ohio was quick and kind of nondescript. But my favorite activity was as we were chatting about accents. Sean, being from the state, tried to explain what a Southern Ohio/Appalachian accent was and failed to describe so I looked it up on Youtube and found all sorts of things. You should really check them out-- they're Accent Tags for various states/regions. Sooo interesting! Here's the one I listened to and quite enjoyed:

"pry go up to the bar" is when Sean crumpled and died in his seat. SO GOOD.

Also, if you're a linguistical nerd like me, check out this video of the Appalachian accent/language. Fascinating.

Something I loved was just seeing signs for places I knew but had never really been close to. "South for Memphis."  Tennessee! Fun! Exciting! I love visualizing myself on a giant map of the U.S. Knowing I was close to them, getting some kind of idea in my head, a mental map, of just how big these states were by crossing them entirely in a day, gives me a weird geography high. And I hadn't realized that we were brushing the top of the Bible Belt. Notice that big cross in the above picture. We saw a few more of them, including many, many signs about Jesus, God, and abortion.   Here's another big cross:

We stopped for a short visit at my brother's house in IN which allowed us to unfold our accordion bodies out of the car and see cute kids and chat a bit. I meant to take a pic but I did not so you'll just have to use your imagination.  I will say though, as we stepped out into the cloud of humidity, i think i physically recoiled. Too soon, humidity. Too soon. 

Day Three

Dear Missouri, 

I thought you were pretty pleasant. We saw the arch from the car as we passed St. Lou and I had a pretty fun time driving over rolling hills. Up, down, up, down--wheeee!

Lots of car-sitting. And seeing so much lovely scenery and not being able to actually capture a lick of it. I don't even know if those two pics are from this place. It all kind of blurred together in the middle there. 

And then it got flat.  Real flat. But I'll be darned,  Kansas, if you aren't just the sleeper darling of the Midwest. I thought it was just lovely. I loved all the farms and crops and marveled at the flatness. Getting out and looking around was a little unsettling but I loved seeing it as we drove through. I hear stories of people feeling claustrophobic in mountainous areas and agoraphobic in open spaces. My mom said she almost had a panic attack driving through flat land one time and had to focus on a single tree in the distance and she was ok. Crazy, right?  Along the way I had this pleasant text chat with my dad. He asked where we were:

...blindfold test for when we get home, i mean (gotta clarify my jokes.)  By the way, the storm of which I spoke was CUH-RAZY.  The previous evening we got stuck in a scary scary lightning, rain, and wind storm. Maybe there was a tornado?? Who knows?? It was a storm not quite like one I'd ever known and the sprawling lightning, constantly spidering across the sky at such a rapid rate scared me out of my wits.  We pulled off into the weirdest town--i don't even know if it was real. I was like, are we on a movie set? Is this real life? I sent these pics to my sister:

News and Times?? that cannot be real.

 "Insurance Store"???

I could not make sense of this town. To make matters creepier, a creepy slow train then rolled by, which just about did it for me and we moved to a gas station to wait it out and I tried and failed to get any decent lightning pics, but here you go. I also sent these to my sister, from the car:





We spent the night in KS. As we pulled up to the Super8, I tried one more time:

And these are the memories of that motel room I'll treasure always:

1. this note

(heh heh--*punch self in arm*

2. this wall...hanging? mural? I'd say hanging but the picture was flush with the wall 
like it was glued on with rubber cement and then a frame slapped on. what?

Whatever the case, I felt better knowing i was sleeping afoot a ribbony waterfall crashing onto some rocks. 

Day Four

The next day we were feeling anxious since we had 16 hours to go and it was our last day of driving. So we set out at 8:00 and ripped through the rest of KS.

 pretty sure this is the exact pic i sent in the text to my dad. if you noticed this, you get 10 pts.

I sent a text to my mom saying, "Mom, I think for windmills, KS beats ID."  She was not pleased.  Just kidding, she never replied. In fact, that text may remain unread to this day.  But look at all of them windmills!

At this point we were just kind of in a daze. Having lost all concept of the passage of time and location, as well as the feeling in our legs, we set off.  I sent my friend a Labor Day text and told her my butt was working hard enough for us all.

We finally crossed into Colorado and it didn't feel so different. It's really flat out there on the east side, you guys.  Flat, flat, dry.  We passed some towns that were so small and just sort of petered off. Like a few scattered houses and then one little house out on the end and then nothing else. It kind of depressed me, to be honest. And then we passed some strange rodeo ghost town (or looked that way) and then as we read about the state a few miles later, Sean shouted out that that town we'd passed, Dear Trail, was the home of the VERY FIRST RODEO in the WORLD. So, that was sort of exciting. 'ish.  All of this really made me think about what it was like to live in these tiny tiny towns. How do you get people to come to your town?? What are your attractions? And how do you keep a town viable? You have to have shops-- insurance stores, and news and times. And the people to run them. How do you do it? It sounds so hard to me, trying to keep a small town alive.

airstream classic. jealous.

I'm going to show you a bunch of boring Kansas/Colorado-- I'm going to call it Kansorado-- pics because you won't get the full experience without them. It's about the journey.

I'll now include a text chat with my sister Ashley. I would sometimes send pics to her to pass along to Julian.  Keep in mind, we had crossed well over into loopy land here so i'm not at my best here.  And because I know you wanted to see them one more time, some of those pics are included in the text:

like i said, not my best. can anyone think of anything better?

As we crossed the border, my thoughts turned into desperately hoping/needing to see some mountains that we were told exist in Colorado, but it had felt like so long since we'd seen anything of the sort, we weren't sure they were really there, especially since they were nowhere to be seen.  I mean, weren't they supposed to be big?? C'mon. I constantly scanned the horizon in earnest, thinking I saw them in the distance but it was just a rocky mirage. (band name?)

When our spirits were drooping, we stopped for gas and my third Wendy's salad in too short a time. Luckily there was also a weird gift shop that brought back some cheer to our hearts and blood to our lower extremities.

This may be the location of the single greatest moment of our road trip, if not my life.  We were standing in line at the Wendy's with two men behind us, conversating at length about how many times they'd been to jail and for what.  Counting all the times, making a list, naming them.  Ohhh my lands. It was marvelous. Sean and I just stood there, paralyzed with delight and i whispered to him,

"just remember it. turn on your mental recorder and choose to remember at least one thing really well."  

He actually tried to record with his phone but by the time he got it going they had gotten stuck on some other less interesting topic.  But one guy said something like this:

"Ah man, i been to jail so many times. the last time was like two weeks ago. i had gotten out on parole and i was working at the [some place] and it was late so i just slept in my car. I forgot to call my parole officer and he called me the next day and said, 'where were you? you have to call me' and i said, 'i was tired so i slept in my car!' and i had to go back to jail for a few days."  *laughter*

He had been in a lot but the details are now, sadly, sketchy. His friend, if you wanted to know, hadn't been to jail in four years--high five! But boy if that wasn't just a gem of an overhear.

After buying some knick knacks including postcards of these alleged Rockies, and country greeting cards, we set off again.  This would be the second to last time of getting out of the car before home.

Praise the heavens when we finally saw the shadowy silhouette of the mountains! So amazing to traverse so many different kinds of land and topography. It only adds to my mental map, and therefore, happiness. Now it was a relief map.

Turns out the I-70 goes right. through. the. mountains. And by "through" I should say "up and down" like a terrifying car-coaster, but maintaining a flatlands speed limit.  It was exciting but seriously scary! Uuuuup up up up up---c'mon, little car--- then dooooown doown dow--aaahhh we're all gonna die!  We passed by many a runaway truck ramp which is a safety road for trucks that lose control--yay? that makes me feel safer? look how high that ramp goes.

I stole that one from the internet but I'm pretty sure that's from our route. I had never seen this before. And all along the way were signs of encouragement for the truckers:  "hang in there, trucks! 4 more miles."  for real.

I didn't get too many pics of this since my white-knuckled fingers were too busy gripping the wheel and wiping brow sweat, but here are two:

After a while our eyes began to play tricks on us. We seriously couldn't tell if we were going up or down, just by looking. We had to go by how the car was driving, if it was trying.  Isn't that weird?? Sean brought it up and i was like, "pfff, we're going down, duh."  and then realized we were climbing. But it looked like we were descending!  Crazy stuff. I think there's something strange about those mountains and all the cute cozy towns tucked right inside.  I compared those towns to the sad, randomly placed towns in the flat areas where they just end and there's nothing else. I think i like a cozy surrounding.

We finally made it out alive and said faretheewell to CO and the plateaux:

Eager to make it home, we pressed on and on, with one more stop where our destination was to the right, and Arches National Park to the left. Once again, tempted to turn to explore an unknown land, we wistfully turned the other way and we made the painful last stretch home.  It was kind of awful and we were out of our minds with fatigue, car delirium, and physical discomfort.  We watched/listened to many episodes of Parks and Rec or 30 Rock and that kept us going until we pulled in, at 11:30pm, and Sean officially became a Utahn.  Welcome, my friend.