The Recipe for More Than Enough

Musings

I often wonder what my life would be like if I stopped worrying? For starters I would have so much time on my hands that I could probably cure cancer or become a millionaire. Although, I am actually nowhere near science-brained enough to tackle cancer, other than with hippy plants and prayer. So that’s out. And I don’t care great deals about money to make being a millionaire an aim.

I just want to have somewhat fancy breads, cheeses and chocolate in my life, good company, and be able to get Sallie Mae off my back indefinitely. And uh… I mean if God threw an outdoorsy gent in there who happened to have a beard, I certainly wouldn’t complain…

But speaking of fancy breads and good company and the niceness of life and bearded gentleman… I actually have all of that already. Well, technically I don’t have a bearded gentleman per se. But I have a real solid bearded pal who envelops me in great big bear hugs and kisses my forehead from time to time. So it counts.

All of this is to say, I am not secretive about my freakouts. I pretty much always tell people when I am freakin’ out. The ranchers know when I am losing it, because I come over to their cozy hilltop log house and have coffee with them and probably wear them down with my words. And my girlfriends know because I have a brew and do it all over again. And then my sisters pick up the phone while I am driving and I love their sweet voices and I focus on the road, watching intently for deer and cry and then pray I don’t hit a deer for the third time. So yeah… I am not one of those bottle it up girls.

While being back in Wyoming and learning to be a rancher and experiencing some of the most incredible experiences to date involving roping and jam sessions and baby cows and cowboys have left me nothing short of awe-struck, I have had my moments of adjusting. Adjusting to life by myself. Adjusting to the prospect of turning thirty and wondering if I’ve mucked up somewhere along the line because I don’t have a baby or a ring on my left hand or enough money in my savings or checking for Bank of America not to punish me for having so little money.

All that is worry mixed in where a whole lot of splendor could be steeping. And all the worry had been doing was taking away from the simple splendor and God’s grace. I was noting the splendor sure, because I am drawn to that always, but I couldn’t stop the worry though. I said I was stopping and I tried to mean it, but I became overcome with worry again and again and again, until I called my mom one day in an absolute fit of overwrought histrionics and said I was worrying myself ragged and needed an escape.

I had talked to a lovely friend in Sheridan—on the other side of the mountain—who invited me to stay with her and I speculated to my mom about the costs of the miniature road trip. She insisted I go and told me not to worry over any of it. To treat myself to coffees at Andi’s and a sandwich at The Cowboy Cafe and a salad on the porch of The Sheridan Inn. I did all three and I let my breath out. Breath that had been terribly trapped in fits of anxiety deep in my core.

I stayed with my friend in her home that reminded me of my childhood best friends home. It was herbal-y and full of sunshine and twinkle lights and love. Oh my goodness but love was soaked in every molecule and fiber of that place! When my friend set down a cutting board of fancy cheeses, bread and veggies in front of me. When she poured me sun tea she’d had on the porch all day and her husband and I agreed it was good, but if we had a splash of bourbon… bourbon was added to the sun tea and I sighed merciful content. When she told me the story of how she happened to meet her husband on a plane when she had started to question if she’d ever find love again, I thought, okay not only is there love in this place, there is hope.

And I decided right then and there to give up my worry. Or do my very darndest to at least backseat the little brat who had been taking over the wheel of my life as of late. It was so sweet to sip on bourbon sun tea and breathe. And think of meeting someone in a fanciful way that didn’t involve my worried fitful brain and worst-case-scenarios. And later sit on one of the widest and most open porches in the west with a waldorf salad and A Moveable Feast and take pleasure in merely being. Just being alive here. Wasn’t that enough?

Of course it’s enough. Why do I get so gluttonous for more? Green-apple splashed salads on airy porches was enough. Bourbon sun tea with a darling of a girl and her love was enough. Sleeping soundly with the window open and a slight chill was enough. Going to visit my bearded friend because I knew he’d cuddle me—and play Scrabble with me. I was Twain, he was Faulkner, because we make Scrabble aliases. And make me laugh and generally help me to forget all about my incessant worry—for no other reason than because darn it all I needed to be cuddled (and maybe I missed him a wee bit). But that too was enough.

And the more I got to thinking about my life here, it dawned on me that the simple splendors plus the right amount of hope, minus substantial worry would be the recipe for more than enough. Then it’s funny how these things happen but I began to notice even more enoughs. I had so many enoughs overflowing my pockets, I was starting to feel jubilant. Like running through the rain yesterday and pausing thinking, my God do people realize how amazing it is to run in the rain and feel wet grass on their ankles? That got me through my entire day yesterday: wet grass on my ankles, while running to a barn in the rain. More. Than. Enough.

And when I would wake up and frantically search the bed for my worry, like uh-oh, you’ve had your fun, now girl get back to the business of bluesy terror over your life, I would calmly and rationally tell my brain: All those worries you worry over, welp, turns out majority of them cannot be solved in this instant before coffee, so uh… Worry, maybe you had best just skedaddle for today. And probably tomorrow while you’re at it. Because I am doing my best here. 

So here I sit. It is snowing and I am going to make sweet potato biscuits and cookies. I am tucked in at the rancher’s beautiful window-lit home for the day. And later, when the ranchers return, we are having kiwi margaritas. Yeah let that sink in, a kiwi… margarita. I don’t know, man, but bourbon sun tea and kiwi margaritas in the same week… I gotta say, that’s a whole lotta splendor goin’ on. And if you’re reading between the lines right, there’s not a whole lotta room for worry in between bourbon sun tea and a kiwi margarita. At least from what I understand about life.

 

Some Version of Camping

Musings

_DSC1136
About a week ago, after a six day work week of ten hour days spent hustling between tables and scraping leftover bites of pancake into the trash, it was imperative that Kirst and I escaped the lodge for a bit. And truly escaped, meaning no day spent off catching up on cleaning, or paying bills or driving two hours down the mountain to go linger in coffee houses. No, none of that. We were going to instead be one with Mother Nature. We were going camping. Or as my good friend Francis would say, campin’.

We left our trailer in the early afternoon as I wanted to spend an unhurried morning lazily flipping through one of the 12 books on Hemingway I picked up from the library. As I readied the car and looked at the directions drawn out for me by a forest ranger for our designated nature adventure, I spotted Kirst coming in and out of our laundry room—which really doubles as one giant dressing room—with multiple bags. The route we needed to take was what the term “off-road” was coined for. We would need to cross a river that had washed out the road and then go straight up into the mountain, over various rocks and potholes big enough to be considered small gorges. I watched as Kirst loaded clothing piece after clothing piece and bag after bag into the living room.

“Do you want me to pack body wash?” she asked in passing.

“Why on earth would we need body wash for one night of camping?” I asked.

“I don’t know…” she said as she stuffed more clothes into her already heaping bag.

“Kirst, where do you think we’re going? Paris? Why are you packing so many outfits? We are coming back tomorrow.”

She disregarded me as she loaded up another bag with paints and books.

“You do realize we have to carry all this stuff across the river if my car can’t make it across.”

“Oh really?” she looked surprised that any work would be involved in this camping trip.

“We also have to carry the tent, the air mattress, the cooler, the food bag, the fire wood, the blankets, the pillows, the hammocks…”

“Oh…” she seemed contemplative over this information but still unwilling to downsize on any of her “essentials.”

We were going to have to cross the river in the car. Or camp elsewhere. Or I would simply have to accept that camping with Kirst meant some version of glamping where she put on her white wedge sandals for the ride to look the part of fashionable summer gal.

At this point I should note that my tire had all but disintegrated a few nights prior and my good pals had to put the spare on… which was still on. I meant it when I said no errands and no runs to town on my day off, even for tire repair. Which left us with the question of do we ford a river in a somewhat sissy SUV with a spare on to get to Calvin Lake to camp?

Well ya know that joke, Why did the chicken cross the road… To get to the other side. I think the chicken must have worked a whole bunch of overtime, waiting tables at a mountain lodge and had this one beautiful coveted day off a week and he had heard of this pristine lake on the other side of a road that had been flooded and so naturally he was getting to that other side. My only confusion is why this is considered a joke. This is no joke, man. I totally get why that chicken was willing to get plowed down by a vehicle to see what was over yonder. I was willing to risk getting stuck in a river, on a mountain, with no cell service, just for a glimmer of what I knew was tucked into the Big Horns.

When we arrived at said river and the sign that said Road Closed, I hesitated for a moment staring at the water. It didn’t look too deep or fast flowing. Though my SUV is a baby brat, she does have one thing going for her and that is height. I asked Kirst her thoughts and she told me to just gun it. And so I did. I fucking forded a river. In my girly SUV. With the spare on. That’s exactly how Lewis and Clark would’ve handled that slight dilemma too.

Okay, so for making it across the river, my vehicle could not make it up the next road which was straight incline combined with jagged grooves of dirt and rock. I tried going up anyway and made it about halfway before having to reverse all the way back down.

Kirst and I decided to find a camping spot in the nearby woods and mountaintops and then hike up to the lake instead. While setting up our hammocks I went to retrieve rope from the car and felt a presence near me. I lifted my eyes to see a moose staring back at me from about 100 yards away where the grass dipped into a creek.

My heart stopped and I quickly ducked down so he wouldn’t see me. Kirst who was off to my left, tucked into the forest was oblivious. I loudly whispered, “Kirst!” several times until she looked at me and I motioned her over while pointing with big eyes at our visitor who now had dipped his head into the creek. Kirst came over and together we stood on the inside ledge of the car leaning over for a good look.

From time to time the moose lifted his head up, met our eyes, and then dipped back down to munch on grass and gulp water. We were giddy as we repeatedly looked at each other, then looked at him. Well as long as he stayed where he was and we had a ton of steel between the two of us as protection in case he decided to charge.

After hiking up our appetite on the way to see Calvin Lake, we discussed food on the way back down and how I forgot to pack the marshmallows while Kirst was busy packing multiple outfit changes.

“Is there anything else we could roast?” she asked as she navigated her way back down the trail. I followed behind taking photos.

“No,” I said.

“Well I am going to roast your fingers then,” she quipped. I smiled, delighted by her response. “Or we could roast some ants or cockroaches. You know some people do that… Actually I couldn’t be one of those wilderness survival people. I love the wilderness but if I was in that situation, I’d just let wilderness take me down.” I laughed as I watched her touch tree branches and observe Mother Nature.

We got nestled back in our tent just as it began to rain. We devoured our snacks. Now this is where maybe I didn’t get the memo on appropriate camping snacks as instead of buying some ballpark franks and mallows, I had packed proscuitto, goat cheese, hummus, pita crackers, veggies and dark chocolates. Errrr and maybe some mint oreos for extra chocolate measure. Oh and Leinenkugels. Lots and lots o’ Leinenkugels.

We lounged and read and napped and hammocked in the breezy Wyoming high country. We awoke to a clear sky and snorts from a nearby animal. I froze thinking the moose was back and surely would trample the tent with us in it. I peaked out and saw a deer meandering past.

I unzipped the tent and went to make the fire.

We sat beside it basking til dusk and then went back into the warmth of the tent to play Scrabble and await the midnight sky and the star show that would ensue. When we unzipped again, the sight before us was nothing short of Godly in its overwhelming perfection. We oohed and ahhed and shivered and took turns peeing one last time behind the car.

As soon as we were back in the tent we heard nearby snorts again and froze, looking at each other in girlish irrational fear. We each located the large and imposing knives Francis had sent with us. We told ourselves it was just deer and put one knife on either side of the bed and hunkered down in cozy abandon.

I awoke several times in the night shivering in the frigid mountain air, clinging to Kirst for warmth and more warmth, twining my legs around her, to acquire all of her body heat. I borderline wanted her to just lie on top of me, maybe even my head so I could get some relief from the chill, but I dozed in and out clinging to her, breathing hot huffs on myself to perhaps warm my nose.

Even though every time I camp, it ends up being the worst nights sleep of my life: I wake up on a rock, with a dewy tent on my face, my back is stiff, or I am chilled to my very marrow, it seems entirely worth it for the endless stretches in nature, free from Facebook or work concerns and then those happy run-ins with moose and abandoned fishing poles on mountain lakes.

Honestly, if you haven’t camped, or glamped as Kirst and I would do it—with tall wedge sandals and prosciutto—well then, you are missing something truly grand. Even if you have to sleep with a knife under your bed and your sister on top of you.

_DSC1100 _DSC1105 _DSC1113 _DSC1115 _DSC1118 _DSC1121 _DSC1131 _DSC1142 _DSC1143 _DSC1146 _DSC1149

What Tinder Taught Me

Musings

Tinder does not have the most pristine reputation. At least in my humble opinion and many of those that I have asked. It seems rather notorious for being a hook-up site. Hence why I had never had any desire whatsoever to go on it, as that is so far from being my style it might as well be khaki pants—insert deep body shudders here.

However, for the sake of argument, a friend of mine who was having seeming success on this site encouraged me to try and see before making a judgement call. I still wasn’t convinced so I talked to my sister. All voices of reason come from two sets of people: my sisters or my besties. If they give me the go-ahead, I will usually go ahead.

My sis said go ahead. Give it a whirl. And she pointed out, if it was ridiculous, I could always write about it. Brilliantly said, little Kia. So that is what I did. I tried Tinder for one week. Fine I made it four days, deleted it, but not before getting one date, tried it again for one more day and then promptly deleted it again. So five days.

For the sake of investigative journalism I definitely didn’t give it enough time, I will admit that. However, for the sake of my spirit, the run-ins with the skeevy and the mean-spirited, five days was more than enough for this girl. And more than enough to make up my mind that my guy is most definitely not on Tinder.

Here is what I found:

There are a handful of nice guys on there, to be fair. Sure I met one guy who is absolutely hilarious and likes bacon even more than I do. We still chat, and he feels like someone who could easily be my friend.

Then there was my date. Also a nice guy who was the first to ask to read my writing as my profile boldly stated: I am a writer who likes to pen painfully awkward tales, usually from my youth. He got major points for not only asking about my writing but then going ahead and reading it and being impressed by it. This earned him a date. His attempt to take me to Zingerman’s Delicatessen after driving an hour to meet me earned him a kiss. Why am I not dating this guy? Well to be fair, I could have easily went on a few more dates with him as I found him enjoyable, attractive and intelligent, however, despite him asking me on a second date, he did proceed to slowly stop texting me before one could ever commence. This is for the best though, as we were of far differing minds when it came to my main man, God and so it never would’ve worked anyway. Also I am moving to the West in two months. And lastly, I am so comfortable with what I bring to the table that any man who loses interest barely registers on my radar, as I am supremely glad to be me and whoever I end up with should be glad too, as he’s partnering up with a delightful weirdo who will be loyal to him for life.

Now besides these two fellas there was a smattering of other decently nice guys, but nothing that went far. But here is where I am sorry to introduce the bad guys.

Like the ones who thought starting a conversation with me by insulting me was a good idea. I had one guy make a snarky remark about my liking craft beer and how cliché that was. Pass. The hipsters don’t have a monopoly on good taste.

Then another who ripped into me for liking God. I also noted that I liked God a great deal in my profile. This guy went on a several sentence long rant (before I could delete him of course) saying I was a grown adult woman who believed in fairy tales, boogeymen and must be pretentious because what about Buddhism and Islam? Uhhhhhh. I shouldn’t have dignified his hideousness or his absolute nonsense with a response, but I couldn’t help myself and replied with, Whoa dude, I have barely finished my morning cup of coffee. No need for the attack. I believe in God. You are entitled to your beliefs as am I. Also how are you getting that I am anti-Buddhism or any other religion simply because I said I believe in God?

Even though I thought this was calm and sage considering I was already shaking, this only upset him further, to which he went on more ranting tirades, like the mere thought of someone believing in God was the most offensive thing he’d ever heard. Yowza. I honestly feel bad for this guy’s angry existence. And I know I should’ve taken the calm, christianly approach and said something cheeky like I’m sorry you feel that way; I will pray for you. Or even, God still loves you even though you’re a flaming asshole. But I chose the quickest exit strategy which simply was, see ya asshole and unmatched him immediately.

This isn’t even to speak of the men who had messaged me to clarify where I stood on the sex thing. Oy vey. My friend who insists Tinder isn’t a hook-up site defends these guys as non-perverts because they aren’t trapping girls into sex, contrarily they are being forthright in what they want. So I suppose in fairness and non-judgement, yes, these men are entitled to their sexcapades. It just isn’t something I am into or even love coming face to face with. It kind of makes me sad for humanity. I don’t see why I would ever have sex with someone casually without him then wanting to spoon me all night long, take me to brunch the next morning and then play a rousing game of Scrabble for good measure. One night stands don’t allow for that and that seriously bums me out, man. If you’re getting my body, you really better be all kinds of interested in my brain and my soul.

And I am not so doe-eyed that I believe the world doesn’t have people in it who are interested in straight sex or making people feel bad about God. Man, we have freaking ISIS about and they are scary and mean-spirited as shit. So I get it. But I like the world when it’s better than that and I also like being surrounded by people who want to be better than that. Yeah, most people want to be better than ISIS, duh. But the fact remains that in my daily life I feel surrounded by all sorts of beauty, kindness and love.

It was very 50/50 on Tinder. And I don’t want to willingly put myself in any place where people make me feel the polar opposite of goodness. My mom has this phrase for when my sisters and I would bemoan not finding a good man. And she’d ask where we were looking, (hinting that if we were looking in bars and not her constant suggestion of the hardware store then…) replying with, “well you’re not going to find strawberries in an onion patch.”

And my friends, I feel like Tinder is a giant onion patch.

I am looking for a guy who loves God a whole bunch, has a sense of humor in that he enjoys being a delightful weirdo as much as I do and likes the written word a great deal, because, well, that’s important to me. The rest can be dealt with in time, like my propensity to want to run to the mountains or the sea at any given moment or whether we have five babies or six. Actually, we’ll definitely have six as I like even numbers when it comes to children.

So what Tinder really taught me: I have everything I need in life right this very minute and I don’t feel one bit deprived if that doesn’t include a boyfriend.

I have God, hope for the West, really tasty sweet potatoes and chocolate, the best family a girl could dream of, Perrault children that melt my heart and hold their arms out to me when they see me, books, fine wine, craft beer, fancy coffee, Moon River on record, Hemingway, friends that like me and my wit, a world where the Northern Lights, Lake Superior and beards exist and a heartbeat. If this is what I have, well I have all I could need and then-some. So thanks God. And thank you Tinder. I couldn’t possibly have appreciated how good I have it, if you didn’t show me exactly what I am not looking for.

The Kind of Girl I Wish I Was

Musings

There is the kind of girl I wish I was and the kind of girl I actually am.

I wish I was the kind of girl who read The New Yorker. What I read is a lot of Martha Stewart Living. And Archie Comics. And Sedaris. I never pick up a newspaper unless the picture on the front is of a far off place, and doesn’t include guns. If I do pick up a newspaper, I immediately find the section with the far off places or the columnists who don’t write about politics. The rest of the paper I save to use as window cleaner as it smears less than paper towel.

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked NPR. I will not listen to a single bit of talk on the radio, including a commercial… even if I am in my driveway. I will still persistently channel surf until I find music. Any form of talk radio, or radio host having a conversation on air instantly brings to mind ways in which I would like to off myself rather than be listening to talking on a radio while trapped in a car. Talk radio of any kind, about terrorists, mayoral candidates or even dating makes me so panicked and agitated that I nearly break out in hives and then promptly inform/threaten the driver of the car that I may die from having to listen to speculations of ebola taking over the U.S. Or has it already? I wouldn’t know. I don’t read the news or listen to NPR.

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked Words with Friends. Except I actually don’t, as Words with Friends is Scrabble’s ugly step-sister and why would I play Words with Friends with you when I have about ten copies of Scrabble sitting here in my home waiting to be played accompanied by a cup of Joe and my notorious bad temper if I lose?

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked getting up super early in the morning to do productive things before work, i.e. make my lunch, eat breakfast, maybe work out, put on mascara, go and sip coffee near the lake, really be wild and crazy and not wear my hair in a bun… But every morning I hit snooze for anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour and then am shocked that I have to leave my bed. Then I spend an inordinately long time sitting and pouting that I have to be up before I’m ready. Once I finally realize I have all of ten minutes to get dressed, do my hair, mascara, eat breakfast, pack a lunch and get to work on time, I am a crazed lunatic trying to squeeze in time to put on my favorite rings and find extra bobby pins and throw a can of tuna—and wait a can opener—in my bag before running out the door, where I still waste more time hooking up my iPod for my seven minute drive to work so I can listen to my latest download on repeat to set my mood for the day. And then no matter what good intentions I had about being put together, having breakfast or lunch, or being on time, I still am somewhat disheveled, eat cough drops for breakfast, and am never on time while trying not to cringe or explain that I didn’t oversleep per se, I just can’t believe where the time goes in the morning.

I wish I was the kind of girl who gave non-bearded men a chance. Oh wait, no I don’t. If loving beards is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. *Fellas: Grow a beard. Buy a flannel. Oh and know your way around a forest or a power tool. I mean honestly, it’s not asking a lot.

I wish I was the kind of girl who knew a thing about how to do my makeup or my hair. I also wish I cared about either of these even one iota. Instead I am the kind of girl who finds the store Ulta to be more intimidating than a trip to the dentist. The likelihood of my paying $18 for anything that is going to be smeared onto my face to supposedly give me a sun-kissed glow is the same likelihood that I would pay $18 for a toothpick. It’s never going to happen.

I wish I was the kind of girl who didn’t eat dessert for breakfast. Who could go a day without fantasies of living in tree houses, riding the rails of Russia, or lumberjacks sweeping me off my feet by insisting I own a sled dog team. But I am just not that kind of girl, nor will I ever be. I won’t be the kind of girl who works out before work, or learns to do my makeup or even plans that well for breakfast but instead plans my Trans-Siberian Railroad getaway.

I guess there is just no use in trying to change what God so intricately put together: A somewhat disheveled, morning loathing, news avoiding, non NPR supporting dreamer and poor-planner with a beard fetish and a sweet tooth. Hey there are worse things to be right?  Like ISIS. See! I am not completely out of the loop.