I'll get back to this

Everything good in life

Arrival, employment, and shooting shit

Sooooo, I got back quite a while ago. Quiiiite a while. Delayed posting, cause I’m lazy. From Utah, I drove over to Canyonlands National Park and backpacked there. Dehydration set in. I swear, I brought plenty of water. Also: I clearly need to start backpacking with a map and a compass.

If you haven’t realized, I’m quite a dumbass at times. Foolhardy is perhaps a kinder word.

It’s been really nice being back. Got to catch up with old friends, which is always excellent. My parents are awesome, though  they frequently drive me nuts (and I’m sure I do the same to them). Family is ridiculous. It’s such a strong bond.

I guess I’ll quickly summarize what I’ve been up to the past three weeks or so.

  • Quite a lot of fishing. Mostly at Pikeview, once at Quail Lake (damn those Carp), and ooonce at one of the Catamounts. I can never remember which one.
  • Not much catching of the fish.
  • New temporary job at Mile High Youth Corps (til November 7th). I work in the fire mitigation crew. I pick up lots of trees. Chainsaws are everywhere. Super tough work, but it’s exactly as badass as it sounds. No clue what to do next, but suggestions will be thought-upon. I like that hyphen. It’s staying.
  • I went to a Zen meeting once. It was cool. I couldn’t understand shit. But uhh, twenty minutes passes fast when you have your eyes closed.
  • Helped brew a batch of Seven Wolves IPA at Great Storm Brewing.
  • Traded in a bunch of old books for some new ones: one on container gardening, a memoir of time spent at a Zen temple, a story of hiking the appalachian trail, chinese hermits, a book on sushi.
  • Found a couple of sweet coffee shops right by where I live. Kawa Coffee and Stir, here’s looking at you.
  • Watched LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, the extended edition.
  • Shot a .50 cal sniper, and a grenade launcher.
  • Went to Boulder, hiked, and visited a distillery (303? Potato Whiskey?!?!?) and Avery Brewing while there. Gawked as people lit joints in public. WHAAAAT.
  • Hiked not nearly enough.
  • Started weightlifting the day after I arrived here. And it is beautiful.
  • Made my own granola/pickles/stuff
  • Ate at Chipotle and Qdoba’s (ha, motherfuckers)
  • Drank some Colorado beer around the firepit in the backyard
  • Crashed a party at Bristol

Well, thaaaat’s most of it. It’s been real fun. I like it here.

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Returning

So, I’m still headin back down from Idaho. Spent a night over at Two Medicine campground in Glacier National Park, which has a nice symmetry, since the first place I camped heading up to Idaho was Medicine Bow National Forest. Hiked to the top of a mountain by the Two Medicine campground, met a couple of really nice rangers who worked at the station and were helping me with my backcountry pass. Planned to backpack by myself into the southwest corner of the park, spending a night at the Ole Creek Campground, then hiking to the Park Creek Campground (I think), and then hiking out. Two days, three nights.

I was told that area of the park was among the most isolated, but the trail should be okay. I asked if there were bears about (Glacier is known for it’s Grizzlies and Black bears). Set out early the next morning from the Two Medicine campground, got my backcountry permits, and drove about 45 minutes west to the trailhead. Buckled on my pack, fretted a bit, and left. The trees hung in close, and everything was real green, the kind I’m still not used to, growing up in a drought-stricken Colorado. Hiked right back to the parking lot. Realized I had taken the stock (as in livestock) trail. Dumbass. Hiked in again. This time for real. Crossed the bridge, hung a right and went uphill. Was making good time, I figured. Must be at least a mile in, six to go.

Hucks. Huckleberries everywhere. Started getting nervous. Bears sure like berries. Kept clapping and yelling. Seemed to be okay. Bit more. Something behind that tree. I stopped. Bear. It looked right at me, body tense as wire.  Brown ring around it’s muzzle. Ten feet away, if that.  I fumbled far too long with the bear spray, held it out and stepped off the trail. Fully aware that a tiny canister stood between us, should things get bad. Spoke real quiet. “It’s okay.” Crashed through the underbrush. Not making eye contact with a bear is harder than they tell you. Saw it climb off the tree. Circled and got back on the trail, clapped and yelled with more enthusiasm now. Seemed okay.

Went farther, the same type of terrain. …I don’t want to this this. I want to leave. I knew the odds of scaring another one were good, and that I was lucky the first one took it well. Bear scat, less than a few hours old, full of berry seeds. They weren’t eating anything but berries, but fear is hard to reason with when you’re by yourself. I decided to step off the trail and walk down the creek, rather than risk seeing the bear again (would it consider that aggressive?). The creek would lead to the bridge, which I could leave by.

I knew my odds of spooking a bear on the creek were pretty good, since the water covers up a lot of the sound you make, but I didn’t want to gamble on meeting the bear again. There were lots of things I could have done, in retrospect: continued on, waited a while on the trail before turning around, or better yet, turned back when I saw the first bear (but in my defense, I hoped that the terrain would change, and the berries would disappear).

The creek carried its own odds. I would be far more likely to hurt myself walking down. The creek I was following could have been a different one than the only one on the map (not likely, but would have been disastrous). I hiked about an hour (maybe way more, maybe way less, I honestly don’t know) in, and the hike out in the creek took about five. Resignation didn’t come quickly, but it came. I grew tired.

My shoulders rounded. I had closer calls than I would have liked. Scrapes, bruises, swelling. Hope kind of dribbled out, hard to prevent it from leaving when the next step could be injurious. It shifted mostly when I stopped yelling “Hey” with every other footstep, and started yelling “Hello,” hoping more that I’d attract another hiker (unlikely) than that I’d warn any bears that I was coming. Next would have been “Help,” but I found the bridge before that. Learned something.

Tom and Lefty

Today, I tried and failed to replace a little part on my car. Rust is not my friend. I’ll have to bite the bullet and send it to the shop.

More notably, I met a bicyclist named Tom who was touring the country on his bike. Tom is about 60, tall, fit (biking six hours a day does that), with close cut white hair and glasses. I saw him by the intersection on the highway, then a few minutes later by the Starbucks that I was about to enter (I caved on the Starbucks, okay?).

Tom was from Austin, Texas, and had been biking across the country for the last three years. He kept a few sheets of  3×5 paper that neatly listed all the places he had been in the last year. Tom was a kindred soul—an English major—and was rereading Anna Karenina.

Tom had been in an accident about six weeks back where a car had hit the trailer behind his bike. The driver had been texting, and hit Tom while while he was biking on the shoulder. He was suing the driver for five thousand (which seemed really reasonable to me).

We discussed sleeping bags, thermarests, farming methods, food, books, and his ingenious bathing technique which only used three cups of water. To my delight, he explained how he secretly lived in a storage unit for three years, while he worked the night shift at a convenience store.

I explained being deaf. Hard of hearing. Whatever it is I call myself. He understood the strange “in-between” that the Hard of hearing person occupies.

Our conversation gradually turned to me listening to Tom—at times impatiently so, though I think this is more of a strike against me, than him, because biking around the country doesn’t seem like it affords much socializing (and Tom seemed like the kind of person who spends a lot of time by himself).

We talked for a couple of hours, it seemed. Finding someone who “gets you” does that. When the conversation was winding down, Tom abruptly stood up and held out his hand and we said goodbye. Meeting a friend who you’ll never see again is bittersweet.

Lefty, I should tell you guys about Lefty.

A Call to Keys

After the last post, I got a bunch of questions, as though I actually knew something. Well, I don’t, and that’s alright. 

Of course I’m flattered. That’s a lot of —if not all—of the reason why I… do stuff. Write, talk, whatever. That little moment of acknowledgement by another person. We’ll never quite understand each other, though, and we’ll always assume the answers lie in someone else. But it’s okay to not be understood, and not to know the answers. 

So uhh, I’m in a caffeinated daze (cold-brew’ll do that) and trying to make sense of things. But aren’t we all. Problems and solutions. Hell, I’m not gonna solve shit. But I’ll keep trying. I think the secret is to keep trying, but to not be tied to my own success or failure. Just to try. Try.

I like to find something to be grateful for. Both easier and harder than you would think.

Spent an absurdly frustrating hour trying to talk to my parents who just got back from a long trip across London, Paris, and New York. I love imagining them walking confused and amazed through Europe, because they’ve been wanting to visit for the longest time.

Damn that was good coffee, but it got watery towards the end. Melted ice. Served out of a giant coffee-mug building by the side of the road, small asian proprietor that has the nicest smile and some crooked teeth. The coffee kind of shakes you alive, drink enough of it and you begin to levitate somewhere above your own thoughts.

I’m alive. That’s good. Life is the hardest thing we’ll ever do. Ah.

But isn’t that difficulty the beauty of it? I covered it a bit in the last post. But what’s good without a little work?

I’m starting to realize how much I love good food. There’s a passion there, and I wonder if it’s pointing the way for me. Coffee and Beer are both eternal wells of happiness for me–the kind of gratitude that you shake your head at and are glad you don’t have to explain it to anyone.

What are you passionate about? What are you thankful for? I am thankful for you. And for me too.

 

Sandpoint, Idaho

I don’t want to summarize the time I’ve spent up here yet. I’d like to write a neatly polished draft out first, but in the meantime I (my ego, mostly) will recount a bit. Kind of sieve through my ramblings and to crow my accomplishments.

Now I’m sitting at the library playing Runescape and writing. It’s painfully hot outside, and the lake is close by. My arms are weirdly brown and freckled, they look damaged and dark. I’ve never seen them like this before. I’m probably 20 (closer to 30?) pounds lighter than when I started out. Food is quite the luxury and the necessity. For about a month (more? less?), I had to live off of about a dollar or two a day.

Vegetables were a brilliant revelation for me this summer. Learning how good they were, and how absurd it seemed that we’re able to grow our own food. Steamed beets! Salads! Ramen with all the vegetables I can fit inside it. Kale, that beautiful bushy plant. Chard, hallucinogenic and reminds me of Avatar, the movie.

It bothers me that I’m not outside on (in) the lake or some creek. Spend time outside, or do what I enjoy? I enjoy both. Jarring conflict has been the norm, this summer. I hate the city. But goddammit, shops shouldn’t close at 4 on a Saturday! (But would I be willing to pay this price for the stars that come out at night here? They’re something).

I think I’ve showered maybe once the entire time I’ve been here. You have to pay for your showers, and I couldn’t afford it for the longest time. Now I don’t, out of habit, and because the dips in creeks and Lake Pend Oreille are their own brisk payment.

Picking berries while playing disc golf, alone. Returning to reading, finally! Cookbooks, all those stupid words like sustainability and permaculture, that stand for good things. Fishing. I still can’t hold a fish calmly, and flinch when they flop out of my hand. Damn you, fish, I just want to get the hook out. (Apparently fish can feel pain, and I haven’t been fishing since). Chickens and fish, they share the same gaze. just this terrifying stare that contains nothing, but you’re sure they know absolutely everything about your guilt.

Loneliness is another monster I grapple with here. But then again, we all do, everyday. Always that gulf of understanding. This is the loneliest I’ve been in a while. But it brings its own gifts. Just like every difficulty does.

So while this summer may have been the hardest I’ve been through, I am thankful. I am very thankful.

I came to learn how to farm, but I learned instead that I’m not quite suited to farming. I learned that dumpster diving is productive in a different way than I expected. I learned that I was very fortunate in DC, and had two wonderful bosses and a cadre of amazing friends. I learned that washing dishes is a quick way to trade cash for unhappiness. But those midnight drives back to the farm (Greentree Naturals, by the way) are amazing. Keep the window open and don’t ever stop driving.

Legacy

A fucking mountain of balls, cheese ones, towered before me. This would be my legacy, a clarion call throughout the generations to what is noble, and what is right. I would eat to save my soul.

At the foot of the mountain, underneath a skeletal tree stood a man with cloven feet. He disappeared whenever I looked away, and had a face that I could not remember, even while staring straight at him.

His hooves were dusted with powdered cheese, and horny with miles. My stomach quailed at the pile of cheese-balls. Ignoring the silent man, I approached the mountain and gathered an armful of cheese-balls. So it begins.

I was eating to regain my soul, which I lost in an ill-fated nerf war. Battle leaves scars that aren’t always visible. He had won the war, and in doing so, claimed my soul. Flashbacks of the pillow fort he kicked through and the close-range nerfcution he executed still woke me every night. Even years later, my right areolae was residually tender from the near-lethal muzzle velocity of a nerf dart. 

Desperation leads a man to strange decisions and even stranger pussy. Tonight, however, was involved more of the former than the latter. I turned to the stranger and addressed him, my lips slightly orange with cheese powder, 

“You only fire nerf guns at arm’s length, at least. You have to warn if you’re firing closer.”

“I’ve never heard of that rule.”

“Liar.”

“But of course, I am Luicifer. Liar of liars.”

“How can I trust your word?”

“I see no choice in the matter. Your soul, or not.”

“Once I finish these fucking cheese balls I’m going to shoot both your nipples with a nerf dart. Then I’m gonna throw the fucking gun at your fucking nuts.”I finished the first armful.

The orange mountain glowed in the twilight. I was Sir Edmund Hillary, or Shackleton, or some other explorer with a chick’s name. I would conquer this mountain. But first, a nap.

 

Wassup

Soooooooooooooo, I hate when you have to pause a song in the middle of it. I’m at my laptop and some water in the microwave is ready. Life is difficult.

I remember meeting this singer for GEMS, who used to be in the band Birdlips (in one of the only concerts I’ve been to) and he was genuinely a nice dude. He listened to me complain about my bullshit freshman-year problems, and genuinely empathized with me. He even gave me a free signed poster, which ended up ruined when a roommate (or I) spilled something on it.

The guy—Clifford Usher—is some kind of hero to me, even though I haven’t even followed his band(s). It just seems incredible that a person would do that for someone they don’t even know. I admire the guy for what he did, and he’s turned into some kind of distantly-remembered idol of mine.

I read about this book, Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in 12 Fish by Richard Flanagan. I must have it. I don’t even know why. I’ll force myself to see if I can get it from the library first. STAY CALM, GRIFFIN. STOP SPENDING MONEY YOU DON’T NEED TO SPEND.

I’m not a frivolous person when it comes to spending, but I have to pay a lot of money for food (try to gain weight on less than 50 bucks a week, in DC) and rent. So I’ve always been tight when it comes to spending money elsewhere. I think this is a good habit to develop, since I try to minimize my possessions. I used to keep everything, but I think I’m better off with as few things as possible, even though it’s slightly more difficult.

I feel like I’ve been coming off as pretentious and preachy lately. Goddamn. Like, I really wanted to use the word “sermonizing” instead of preachy, but that’s even preachier, which isn’t peachy.

I just exhaled and my breath smells like flowers. Flowers with that late spring sweetness.

I accidentally went on a three hour walk today. It was pretty cold outside. But on the upside, I did get some genmaicha (basically ghetto green tea with toasted rice) and some green tea.

Stuck to the two meal plan today, as well. Eating 2-3 lbs of food in one sitting is hard. Possible, though.

Been feeling a bit lonely lately. Worried that acknowledging it will make me feel even lonelier. Shit. Actually, I’m sure I’ll live. Just need to see a couple of friends, and I’ll be alright.

How are you guys doing?

Splitting headache

Jesus, what a headache.

Had a pretty good workout today, despite not eating almost all day. I guess that’s an anorexic habit that’ll always stick with me.

Then I had a huge dinner of about 1 and 3/4 lbs of ground turkey and a little less than 2 cups of rice. Couldn’t finish the last 1/4 lb of turkey and rice to round it up to 2 lbs of turkey and 2 cups of rice. Probably would have thrown the dinner up, if I had. I like the idea of having two huge meals. Whole lot less cooking and stress, and I’d be totally okay with that.

So, I’m gonna put the workout I had today down here, before I forget. 

  • Incline bench 5×5, 3×5 @ 143, 2×5@133
  • Fronts 220 5×5 (owch)
  • Close grips 174 3×5 
  • #60 2×12 pullovers + #25 2×12 incline db flies

Decent, considering I’m just coming off the flu and a couple weeks of unsteady lifting.

Helped coach a friend through some squats. She wore yoga pants, and I felt helpless in their presence.

I wasn’t gonna write today but, I lied.

I finished Her, and it was fantastic. Joaquin Phoenix can act like a motherfucker. The movie was great all around. Watch it.

Listened to Sun Kil Moon’s new album. Pretty cool. Bonnie Prince Billy now. I still don’t get him.

I’m not trying to name drop or be elite. OR even be an apologist. Can’t write P.C. content these days, so fuck you guys.

Got the two straight razors, too. They’re in decent shape. Can’t wait til I sharpen em up. I’m still keeping the beard, though.

Looked up a couple of forest ranger jobs. They look awesome. Will investigate further.

That’s all for tonight. Peace.

Transition

I’m in a strange mood. I don’t treat people as well as I should.

This isn’t a blinding realization, or anything. Just a gentle tut-tutting of a reminder.

I feel guilt about my mistreatment occasionally. Lately, more often than not. I had a (text) conversation where I realized what an ass I was making of myself. I’m grateful the other person told me to fuck off—but they didn’t use terms as point-blank.

It’s weird how it feels like a subtle issue, but I think it’s an important one. I truly think I’m not a terrible person towards other, but I think I’ve kind of let myself slip a couple of rungs down in exchange for my own gratification.

I know I’m motivated by desire (who isn’t), but I think I forget that people are people. (Italics is a writer’s crutch, isn’t it?). I feel as though I steamroll over the people who let me get my way.

I don’t have an idea how to genuinely fix self-motivated behavior. Obviously, I can improve. But it’s just not possible to not have a conversation that isn’t about me, or to do something that isn’t for me in some way. Selfless behavior seems like a kind of fiction. I don’t know. Maybe a parent, or a person in love knows selflessness, but it doesn’t just generate on its own. Unselfish behavior is begotten with selfish behavior.

Love is fantastic. I believe in it, and in all its different varieties. I think I’ve neglected my love towards people, though.

It’s incredible how every person has a brilliant life that only they will know. It’s so weird. I love how unimportant it makes me feel, because I’m not. Not at all, and that’s a happy thought.

Two of my favorite phrases are “I don’t know,” and “what if.” I think they both say a lot about me.

 I’m about halfway through Her, which is fantastic so far. Just felt the urge to write, and I’m trying to support the impulse, rather than suppress it.
I still haven’t started meditating, dammit.
I have an amazing family and great friends, all of whom I don’t appreciate nearly enough. Love you guys.
LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great (Don’t usually listen to LCD much, but this song was awesome today)

I Don’t Want To Write Anything, But I Kinda Do

(I realize this is a terribly slow first couple of paragraphs, but bear with me)

So, I need to fill my life with more hobbies.

A while back I felt like I was either lifting weights, in front of a plate of food, or sharpening knives.  My hobbies are notoriously short-lived, though. I’ll usually stick with something until I’ve displayed a degree of proficiency, then suddenly become interested in something else.

Hobbies of mine that I can remember:

  • Footbag (I even sewed my own)
  • Devil Sticks (wow, that was short-lived)
  • Making stuff (knitting, shirts, etc)
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Running
  • Movies
  • Beer!
  • Your momma
  • Knives
  • Weightlifting

I’d like to start meditating. But hopefully that won’t wind up as a short-lived hobby. Buddhism is pretty cool, but I feel like I’m jumping on the bandwagon when I say that.

I’ve always wanted to be a monk while growing up. I have a strong memory of telling my parents that I’d always wanted to be a monk at a truck-stop Wendy’s in Wyoming, over a baconator. I also remember being extremely disappointed by the baconator. Fast-food bacon just isn’t good bacon.

I always wanted the most meaningful life I could have, and my desire to be a monk was based off the belief that a life dedicated to faith (not necessarily religion, but to place something above myself) would  be the best, and purest life possible.

Perhaps it’s because I started off believing humans to be base, that I wanted to be the opposite. I don’t think I believe that as much anymore. I think every person tries to be the best they can be, but good decisions are relative.

I think humanity is amazing. I’m dissappointed that we’re plagued with the same issues over and over, but I think that’s intrinsic in our behavior, as to be human implies imperfection and a self-centered existence.

Growing up, I admired asceticism (yes, strangely enough, even as a younger child). The idea of denying myself temporary pleasure for a greater spiritual realization seemed to be a no-brainer (it still does).

I still wonder what it’d be like if I were a monk. But I also think I may (probably) have built up some false ideal in my mind. I realize that spiritual fulfillment is hard work. It seems to be worth the work, though.

I’m not sure where I lie in relation to these spiritual questions of mine right now. But I can’t see myself going through life and ignoring a huge part of myself.

This whole album (Screamadelica) kicks ass. Check it out if you have the time.

Primal Scream’s Loaded