Nine Year Anniversary

Conference weekend, (aka "Mormon superbowl weekend") has come and gone again, which means I have now been (mostly) in Utah for nine years.  It hasn't been extremely constant, I've come and gone, sometimes to very far places, but I always come back here.  It is my home, and I feel so proud and privileged when I get to say that word.  I don't have family here, I don't have the childhood experiences a lot of my friends have, but as an adult I still have this wonderful place to feel safe.

And when I feel safe, I get to go do things that are completely out of my comfort zone.  This weekend, that consisted of doing the thing I've wanted to do for years and actually put one pinky toe into the pinup world, and go to a car show.  I think everyone who knows me knows my affinity for the Atomic Age (let's not lie, that's Fallout's fault pretty exclusively) but I never had any idea where to go or how to get started.  Back in April one of my sergeants made a comment to me when I wore my hair in a bun with a flower, "You should do pin-up modeling.  You have the face and body for it."  I was shocked and thought it was a sweet and extremely inaccurate comment, until I talked to a few other coworkers and they all vehemently agreed.  So, with that kind of support, what else is there to do?

Then I somehow miraculously found Lacey Chiffon, who lives in my area, and she was right in the middle of making a brand-spanking-new pinup girls group, the Beehive Betties.  A few emails later and I was scheduled to go to my first event!  It was a blast, the girls were absolutely sweet and gorgeous, it was all-around wonderful.  Despite my horrific social skills and uncertainty in front of a camera and strangers (and strangers with cameras) I think everything went great and I learned a ton, plus I got to see all of the pinup culture I've been quietly involved with on my own for years.  My only question was, why didn't I do this sooner?

Before I show off photos, I have to again thank my amazing support system.  I wanted to take pictures of the two bouquets I received since I've been in a big lonely slump at work.  I know people say that flowers are redundant, but to me they are everything--they make a world of difference.  One was delivered to my work and I insisted on carrying it around like it was a baby.  Some girls really like flowers, okay? What do you want from me.  Anyway, look at these flowers.  Tell me they wouldn't brighten your life.

Derik: "This lighting makes you look like you're in a soap opera."
Me:  "...the lens is dirty."
Derik:  "...oh."

Then my cat had to wander into the picture to remind me that he makes me happiest.  But he knows I know this, he's just pompous.

I love you guys, you know who you are.  <3  And now, onto the show!!


This is not a sultry face.  This is my "why is my burger not out here yet?" face.  

Ghost Rider!!! My dad would be so proud of me right now.

This was when I broke character for a super authentic smile.  Makes me happy.

East Canyon and Echo, Utah

This weekend I de-stressed by taking my BFF Chelsey to my favorite "thinking" drive: East Canyon, a winding path through the Wasatch mountains, and then to Echo, an old boom town from the days of the Transcontinental Railroad.  We did keep going west and ended up making a beer run in Evanston, Wyoming, but that's not featured here.  I just wanted to show some of the pretty pictures from the day.  This drive means a lot to me, and I even wrote about it the first time I drove through years ago.

I had seen this old dilapidated structure I assumed to be a barn every time I drove past, but never stopped; this visit I made the executive decision to get out and take a look.  I wandered up to it feeling very 'at home', since buildings like this are plentiful where I come from, and when I got close enough I realized, this wasn't a barn or a shed.  I saw the stove inside, I saw the chimney crumbling through the cracks.  It had been a house.

This made me really sad and I am not even sure why.  I guess I saw my own house in it somewhere (the house where I grew up, that is.)  I just got the overpowering feeling of home and I saw all of the neglect and age and wear, and I suppose a large part of me relates.  It sounds silly, but that's the emotion I got.

Anyway, then it was back to Echo, the creepy, sleepy little town with a cemetery full of children and a lot of old, unused buildings.  Echo is one of those places that makes you happy to return to the city and civilization.

Stories From Home, Vol. 1

Something great happened today.  I was visiting Wheeler Farm here in Salt Lake City (an old farmstead/park complete with farm animals and a river through the middle) with some friends, and somehow the conversation turned to a short storytelling session where I shared a few of the more absurd memories from my youth, while the kids ran around and played in the creek.

 (I seriously love these guys!!)

I've always loved Wheeler Farm because it does remind me of home.  Working on the garden, being surrounded by forest, the isolation, the horses, the's my little piece of Tennessee in Utah.  What's more, my friends know my past, so when I was explaining things like my Dad warning me to "not go fallin' around in a well somewhere" they weren't shocked, but they were laughing hysterically.  I ended one story with "Man, I should write a book," and they agreed.

The thing is, I've been told that many times when it comes to my adverse childhood experience, but never anything positive.  It struck me there sitting in the shade...maybe I should write about the good moments.  They're still very strange and fantastical stories, but for their strangeness, they're still heartwarming, or at least humorous.  With what I'm going through right now, I will take heartwarming and humorous.  So, I'll start today with re-telling two of the tales I told earlier this sunny afternoon.

The Bear Trap

I was not encouraged to ever be in my house as a child.  Ever.  And barring the fact that there were a few toys and snacks within it, I wasn't really happy to be in it much, so most of my "free time" was spent exploring the mountains.  I ran into some strange things out there, and I don't think my parents have any clue just how far I was miles and miles each day.  Anyway, this afternoon I was doing my thing and surf-sliding down a very steep mountain.

My dad was always adamant that I watch what the hell I was doing, mostly for the unmarked underground wells that existed all over the Appalachians where we lived.  I had enough fear for them considering the neighbor boy, slightly younger than me, fell in one and drowned when I was four years old.  So as I slid down the slippery pine-needles and leaves, I watched the slope with an eagle eye, scouring the horizon for deadly wells.... when I saw an old bear trap directly in my path.

I recognized it as my dad's; it wasn't the "full size" bear traps, but slightly smaller.  I have no idea what he was trying to catch, but the point here is that the trap was open and I was careening toward it.  I immediately stood from my crouched slide, and when my feet hit the open trap it stayed opened.  It was rusted open.  Lucky me? But then I looked up, still sliding forward, and met eyes with a rotted rope, and hanging from the end of it, a gnarled chicken foot and leg.

My dad had used one of his roosters for bait, hanging above the trap, and over the months (year?) the carcass rotted, leaving the one leg and a bunch of matted feathers and meat to drip slowly down onto the trap.  My brain realized all this in the span of about .5 seconds before I screeched and the thing thwacked me right in the face, dead chicken just exploding everywhere and going in every single opening in my skull.  It was the most disgusting thing I've ever encountered with my face, and it encountered aaaaallllllll of my face.  The meat was soggy and just kind of made a plegh sound as it smacked me, like even it was disgusted at what just happened.  Later when I told my Mom about the incident she laughed so hard she doubled over and I just stood there unimpressed, but I have to admit, if I had been in her shoes I would have probably done the same thing.

tl;dr, I got hit in the face with a dead chicken, while trying to avoid a rusted trap.

 Midnight Surprise

I woke up one night, about six or seven years old, to my dad very excitedly telling me to get out of bed (the couch) and come outside.  My dad is never excited about anything, so I remember tripping over my nightgown and stumbling out into the moonlit night.  He was dressed in camouflage and his truck was parked in the front of the house, and several of his louder, more rowdy friends were with him.

My dad's friends were a strange bunch, all convicts or hunters/hillbillies, with hearts of gold toward me, whom they considered to be the prodigy of the forest.  They all smiled and called to me, standing at the tailgate of the truck, and I remembered thinking from everyone's giddy level of enchantment that they must have gotten me a present!  My child logic was not wise, considering I 1) never got presents and 2) a bunch of grown men waking up a six year old at midnight and calling her outside was a sinister beginning to a present.

So my dad told me to go and look in the back of the truck.  I traipsed up the hill, excited, as he went ahead of me and around the back.  He looked to be holding something in the bed, but I had no clue what it might be.  The men parted around me as I rounded the edge of the corner and A FUCKING BEAR LUNGED AT ME, ROARING.

I screamed and about three seconds later heard the uproarious laughter of the hunters; my dad had killed a black bear that night while I slept, and brought it home on the truck bed.  This thing's face was inches away from mine, his mouth open, blood dripping out.  I remember seeing the gleaming white fangs in the light of the moon, and the black fur. My dad had made the roaring sound and thrown the body towards me as a joke.  Ha, ha. Hilarious.

After my lip stopped quivering, I asked if I could pet the bear, and my dad let me.  I have to marvel at kid Alex, what a resilient little thing.  I was always sad to see a dead animal like that, but these animals were our survival.  That bear meant good meat for months ahead.  I knew that from a very young age, so I petted it and told it thank you, and then went back to bed.  Normal night for the Worleys.

tl;dr; my dad uses an actual bear to scare the shit out of me in the middle of the night

World Suicide Prevention Day

I wanted to write something meaningful considering the date, but I feel exhausted writing about this topic in general.  I am a pretty doleful person as it goes and I know people get tired of that, but the subject does need talking about--the stigma, the misconceptions, the neglect, the survivor guilt--these are all things that we need dialogues on, and what better time than today? So let's get real for a minute.

How to Help

I know it's been said many times in many ways, but the most important thing to do when a person in your life is feeling suicidal is to take them seriously.  Don't let it go.  Don't ignore them. Listen.  It sounds simple, but it cannot be overstated.  When I talked to my friends about feeling suicidal they had no idea what the "right thing to say" was...I could tell they were worried.  In my experience it's not what you say, it's the being there that will make the difference.  Just keeping a dialogue open, asking questions.  You're not going to convince someone else to live or find their reason for living in a conversation or ten thousand conversations.  What you can do is be there to talk to them.

And they might not want to talk.  Again, there's no perfect way to handle this.  There is no guaranteed protocol.  Your best bet is simply awareness and persistence, and though that sounds a bit like going to a fight without any weapons, it can save a life.  It did save mine, twice.

Understanding Suicide

Don't worry about making the person feel better, or "curing" whatever they have.  There are mental scars we can get as humans that cause just as much suffering as any biological disease.  Suicide, as unglamorous as it is, is more of a will to be rid of that pain than anything dramatic.  I know for me at least, I felt that pain and I felt like I was a burden to people who cared because of it and how it affected my life.  So the idea of ending the struggle was very appealing.  I say this so that you can keep it all in mind when talking to someone about their mental state and suicidal thoughts.  This isn't something that a yoga class or a church session or a good book or the correct inspirational quote will fix.  So don't focus on that aspect of it.  Just acknowledge their pain the way you would any other loved one suffering any other kind of pain.

For Survivors

There are a lot of support networks out there for those who have suffered a loss from suicide; I can't speak too much about how to heal from that, but I might be able to offer insight as someone who has been there contemplating it.  It is definitely not anyone's fault--again, these are mental scars and it's a pain so severe it consumes you.  I figure many of those who choose suicide feel as I did, that they were a burden or that their loved ones either wouldn't care or would move on quickly.  It's something I believed wholly, and I can't say why.  So in trying to figure out your pain, I hope that at least makes some sense.  And if you haven't yet, please find a support group or therapist to help deal with your loss.

I have to interject here and thank the amazing people in my life for what they've done over the past few months.  I would not be alive without their support and the reason I continue to stumble around every day trying to find some kind of footing in life is because of them.   Things are not perfect with my mental health--far from it, but suicide has been removed from my mind as an option because of those loving hearts who want to keep me around. You can be that for someone.

The following photos were all taken after my experiences, which were so, so recent.  To think of never having these moments seems strange now.  I consider them trophies, successes.