Love in the Thin Air

Last weekend, I spent three perfect days in Telluride for a close friend’s wedding at Schmid Ranch near Mount Wilson. The golden aspens stretching up to the wild and unpredictable sky, snow covered mountains surrounding the valley the ranch was nestled into, a dozen of my beautiful friends in attendance all so excited for the bride, and my handsome date, a wonderful man I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life for four months now.

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Who Are You When You Travel?

When I was growing up, I lived on a small street in a rural area where having friends over to sit in the garage and drink was the main Saturday attraction. In all houses, that is, except mine. My parents didn’t drink and they weren’t particularly social, at least not in the kind of way where friends drop in and hang out without any specific invitation or plan. I’d listen on summer nights, through my open bedroom window, to the laughter and chatter going on across the street and wonder why our house wasn’t filled with people too. I swore that when I had my own place, my door would always be open and friends would come and go constantly.

That’s not remotely the kind of person I turned out to be. I’m every bit as inflexible with my time and protective of my personal space as my parents were. It drives me crazy when people stop by unannounced. Even the UPS man. I ignore invitations to go out if they come less than eight hours before the start time because that’s not enough time for me to prepare and accomplish everything I planned to that day. I don’t send read receipts on my iPhone because I don’t want people knowing whether I’m looking at my phone and therefore, presumably, available to talk or text. I always opt for “Entire home/apt” when using AirBnB because I certainly don’t want to be in the house with the owner, having to make chit chat. And communal tables at a restaurant? Whoever came up with this terrible idea should be hanged. Continue reading →

But Is That Butts or Butts?

English has no shortage of homonyms that can easily cause confusion for someone trying to learn this language. But they can almost as easily cause confusion among native speakers as well.

On our way into mountains last Sunday to hike Grays and Torreys peaks, my two girlfriends and I saw a sign on I-70 just like this one.

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All three of us had the same thought – we need to bring the car from 75 mph to a complete stop in the middle of the highway and get out of the car right now to see what we are missing! Surely if CDOT felt the need to tell us (in such a cheeky way) that we should remain in the vehicle, something important and exciting must be happening along the roadside. And then 20 seconds later, we non-smokers realized we had all misunderstood which “butt” the sign meant. Continue reading →

But…Puerto Rico?

I did a thing over the long Fourth of July weekend; I set foot in the only one of the 50 states I hadn’t yet. Idaho!

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When my company sent me to Portland, Oregon for a conference earlier this year, I realized that only Idaho remained and I needed to seize the opportunity. Aside from the bizarre pleasure of conquering some arbitrary political boundaries, I was further motivated to make the trip because I had just finished a year long freelance project helping the lovely Deb Glaser develop her online course for reading teachers (it’s really cool – check it out!). Deb lives in Boise and we had never met in all that time. I thought I should pop on up and say hi. Continue reading →

Happy Solstice!

My favorite day of the year has arrived. The sun is with us for a glorious 14 hours and 59 minutes today,  which is about 40 minutes fewer than it would be if those pesky mountains weren’t in the way. Or about 4 hours fewer than if I were in Homer, Alaska, as I was around this time 2 years ago. But it’s 2 hours longer than if I were in Managua, Nicaragua, as I was around this time 9 years ago. I think a lot about how much sunshine I can absorb in my lifetime.

In any case, I love this day. I celebrated by actually showing up at work before 9 AM. No, not really. Well, I did, and that was a miracle, but not the celebration. I spent this perfect morning in the park with my 60 pound lap dog.

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Flash Fiction: A Jamaican Proposal

Sun on a dirt path, rutted by large tractor wheels, bronzes our bare arms. We are the only tourists in the jitney to the waterfall at this early hour. When we arrive, our guide, Clive, greets us and we ascend to the first cascade. Under Clive’s direction, we pose beneath the plummeting water, on the slippery rocks, in the churning whirlpools, further apart, closer together, until, shivering, I hoist myself out of the cold and stand alongside him on the wooden deck in a patch of sun.

My longtime, long-distance friend is turning 40 this year and I watch her float to the far side of the pool. Away from the falls, beneath the rock overhang, white water turns clear. Through the surface, I can see the telltale signs of the age she is approaching. Her torso is rounder than when we met last, her thighs dimpled, the backs of her arms adding new heft to her upper body. Continue reading →

Jen Climbs a 14er, a Tragicomedy

Of the many ways in which my body has started falling apart as I enter middle age, the knee pain I recently acquired has been the most unexpected. I’m not a runner, nor am I terribly athletic or active in any way, so it’s not as if my knees have taken a pounding over the last 37 years. But I have had a lifelong habit of sitting on my feet, so maybe I shouldn’t have been all that surprised when last November it started taking me several minutes to fully stretch my legs out again after I had been curled up. Or when in December I found I was no longer able to fully tuck my right leg under me without piercing pain. Or when in January, some parts of the bones started sticking out awkwardly from my knee cap.

Luckily, a simple knee brace from the drugstore and intense vigilance to my posture while seated made these problems a thing of the past by spring. And so two weeks ago I thought that climbing a 14er, something I haven’t done in over five years, would be a good idea. You may think the hard part is going uphill for three hours gulping at the oxygen-deprived air, certain you can’t possibly force yourself to engage your thigh muscle to bring your foot up one more time, but you’d be mistaken. Downhill is the real torture, especially on your knees. Gravity pulls you down, faster and faster, forcing you to keep going, making your feet move so quickly that you don’t even know if your next step will be on a loose pile of rocks that will go flying out from under you or on a solid chunk of unyielding granite that slams all your body weight into your already wasted knees. Most often it’s the latter, over and over and over. As many times as I had to stop to fill my lungs on the way up, I had to stop to massage and stretch out my knees on the way down. Continue reading →

Lima

I have a friend from Lima. A mutual acquaintance introduced us because I was looking for a tutor to work with me on my spoken Spanish when I was applying for a special appointment in South America with the State Department. She is personable, well-educated, fun, and we clearly had a lot of common interests, and I knew after our first meeting that I wanted to be her friend. So, I invited her to my first birthday party as a single gal, some six months after I left my ex-husband. This was probably not the smartest move if I wanted her to be interested in me as an intelligent, considerate, and valuable friend because I was a bit of a wild child in my newfound freedom and I may have been obscenely drunk by 5:30PM at a party that went until 2 or 3AM. I won’t go into all the sensational details, but let’s just say that four years later, my friends are still talking about how epic that party was. Continue reading →

Haiku October 24-26, 2014

Spin me round again

Liquor-addled brains delight

Let’s be this, always

From a series of haiku I wrote from April 2014 – April 2015 to celebrate the ways that my partner and I were able to enjoy our time together each weekend. I’m publishing only the ones that I believe can be appreciated by someone who wasn’t there with us. I did my damnedest to adhere to the traditional rules of haiku, but always including a subtle reference to the season sure is tricky at times!