10th Utah Anniversary

I will never properly express what this place means to me and how moving here has made me grow into a better person; Utah truly is my home.  I thought it would be nice to show ten photos to commemorate the recent ten year anniversary of moving home.  I tried to keep the criteria simple: photos of Utah, taken in Utah, with the focus on a specific time, memory, or place (as opposed to just photos of me doing stuff.)

But first!  I was at work for my anniversary and some amazing things happened.  Firstly, I remembered it was my anniversary and eagerly started babbling it to everybody--like I said, it's a big deal.  Tennessee, one of our foremen, brought me a cupcake!  I was over the moon about it because duh sugar, but then I got an email from BEMS of Utah saying that my EMT certification had just been processed!  I successfully made the deadline and am now an EMT for another four years.  Now after telling Toby, I was reduced to a giggling pile of trash and gifted EMT stickers.  I thought the day couldn't get any better.

If you know me at all you know I love the Great Salt Lake more than just about any place on earth.  One reason I love my job so much is because I get to see it every day, and it's not just any job that drives you past the lake.  What do you think I saw on the way home? This rainbow was right over the water.

So thanks, Utah, it's been a fantastic decade for me too!  Here is to many more years together.

Onto the anniversary photos!  
(A note, these aren't in any chronological order at all, just taken over the years)

1.  Cherry Blossoms at Temple Square
My first few hours in Utah were spent wandering around Temple Square trying to figure out what the hell all those people were doing and why they were wearing cap sleeved shirts (it was Conference weekend, aka the Mormon superbowl.)  I have associated the Temple with personal freedom ever since and love visiting. 

2. Anonymous Student Letter
In 2009, when I went to Sweden for the first time, my class very thoughtfully put together a large bag of letters and drawings for me to read on the plane.  The only bad part of this was that I had no idea who drew or wrote what unless they wrote their names on it (most of them did.)  This was one very painstakingly written note that had no author credit.  I hold it very dear to my heart, just like I still do my class and students and the experience of teaching.

3.  Utah Sunset
This one was taken on a trail near Suicide Rock, a place maybe five minutes from the apartment I lived in for years.  I have seen the most gorgeous and breathtaking sunsets on earth from that apartment.  This was just one of many.

4.  Night Ride Across Echo Canyon
I wrote a blog entry about this magical place when I first discovered it, and it's a favorite to this day.  I went on a drive one night, upset and angsty as I do, but this time I went farther than I ever had and found Echo Canyon.  I got out of the car and parked here; you can't see it, but behind the streetlight is a sheer red rock wall that goes up a cliffside.  The canyon makes the train echo and echo and echo and when I heard it, it boomed around and around louder and louder and made sounds like the mountain was going to fall on my head.  I was enthralled and scared and I loved every second of feeling like a lonesome adventurer.  For whatever reason, at that moment everything was right with me and I found peace and calm. I captured the magical moment on my crappy old phone and will always remember this photo and that memory.

5.  Snowstorm in Emigration Canyon
This was taken on my mom's birthday after she passed away.  I obviously wasn't doing so well and again, went on a drive to clear my head.  Her birthday is in March.  I hadn't been back in the states a month by this time, and was completely out of my element driving in the mountains.  At the peak of the mountain, a snowstorm let out in full fury and I had to pull the car over and just stare at it.  I felt like my mom was up there on the mountain with me.  I remember sitting in the car waiting for the snow to calm and crying like a baby, so glad to be back in Utah from Sweden.

6.  Summer in East Canyon
There's a canyon theme here, I'm noticing! Haha!  Not much to say about this one.  Beautiful place, beautiful day.

7.  Temple of the Birds, Saltair Site
I was able to visit the electrical station dubbed 'temple of the birds' by the locals, as well as the old Saltair passenger train, before they were removed by the asshole state of Utah for no fucking good reason whatsoever other than disliking history.  I'm passionate about Saltair and will always remember the one time I got to walk in a bit of her past.  I carry that with me every time I visit the now almost empty site.

8.  Big Cottonwood Canyon, aka Skyrim
This photo highlights the rare and beautiful Utah spring.  Coming from Tennessee, which gets a ton of rain, I missed my foggy mornings and grey skies.  Utah delivers when I need it to.  I've always thought those east mountains look just like something out of Skyrim.

9.  EMT Certification day
This was another one of those magical days where the universe was like "hey bitch, look what I got for you."  I had been working for Santa for a week or so and got a promotion to assistant manager.  The fog of depression was lifting, I found out I was moving to Sweden, and on the day when I could just walk on clouds, I got home and found this package in the mail.  I instantly broke down into tears.  When accomplishment is tangible and actually in your lap, it feels so special.  An amazing end to a very rough phase of my adult life.

10.  Silver Lake, Then and Now
I take so many fucking pictures at Silver Lake I had to make damn sure that this wasn't just a Silver Lake album--it easily could've been! But I broke my whole not showing me in the photos thing for this finale...this picture definitely tells quite the tale to me.  I used to hate the Alex on the left.  Depressed and exhausted and chronically hopping around from place to place and thing to thing.  I was in the middle of EMT school at the time and had no idea what to expect from it, or myself.  I was just hanging on to the pieces of my complicated life and soon things would improve.  The photo on the right is after living abroad, seeking treatment for PTSD, working as an EMT, losing sixty pounds, and learning how to curl my damned hair.  I love that Utah is in the background, in two completely different seasons, and still utterly magnificent and breathtaking.  That's Utah; it's been there for me the whole time.  Season after season.


A Call Was Sounding

"Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest."  

There are a great many times I articulate myself here on this blog, but there are also a great many times in my life that things happen I don't know how to articulate (or if they even can be.)  This is one of those times of the latter--whatever I say wouldn't make sense, and so it's just going to be a useless babble.

Something amazing happened this weekend.  I did something good and for myself and I can't begin to explain how happy I am.  DO YOU HEAR THAT, WORLD? I SAID I'M HAPPY FOR ONCE.  I have basically always used the word 'doleful' to describe myself and I'm sure I still have plenty of misery to muster up for everyone so don't get too excited, but something has changed.  I feel more like myself than I have, maybe in my life.

Enough blabbing.



Life Lately: September

I was going to be neat and condense everything I've done into several posts, but ain't nobody got time for that.  Instead of writing about the individual events I'm going to talk about everything that's gone on, and my feelings on it.  Cause this is a blog dammit.  READ MY DISORGANIZED THOUGHTS AND ENJOY

Fall is hard.  No matter how much I love Halloween (ALL THE LOVE) or cooler weather or changing leaves or god forbid I don't include fucking pumpkin spice or someone will stroke out--and I love all these things--I get down.  I feel old.  I feel ready for death and I have felt that way ever since I was twelve.  I told my dad I didn't like autumn because it made me feel like I was supposed to die and he gave me a hilariously disturbed look.  Seasonal affective disorder is real, and it grabs me by the metaphorical scrotum this time of year.

One of the things that's been so important for me in therapy is really sitting down frequently and having that heart to heart "but you're here now and here is mostly all right" talk.  It's something I have to do more often when, like now, I'm having nightmares or get triggered by some asinine thing I completely and utterly forget the present, every single bit of it.  When the present is crappy, therefore, I have an even harder time pulling myself up.  And the present has been pretty damn crappy!  Flemith's surgery started a landslide of bad events that would normally cause me to just roll over and give up.  I won't go into them here, but just trust me....bad.

I kept scheduling activities in the hopes that things would change and I would feel some of that "but you're here now."  Despite all the inner turmoil, personal illness, exhaustion, and feeling like I'm pushing a stone pointlessly up a hill, some amazingly sweet touches have taken place this month.

-A coworker sent me a photo of wild Utah mustangs (he knows I love them and want to see them)
-A friend came and made breakfast for me, Derik, and Nicky: Elk sausage, egg, and hashbrowns!
-I went to Oktoberfest and had a BLAST!  I even danced.
-Flemith has continued to grow and thrive and be the sweetest cat on earth
-I taught EMT class for my coworkers (more on that below)
-a coworker who knows how obsessed with Mad Max I am, gave me his paracord bracelet
-I went to the Utah State Fair and rode the rides and ate gross food and took a moonlit car drive
-I was in the Utah Urban Arts Festival pin up contest!

EMS Instruction
This is arguably the most important to me and I wanted to talk a bit more about it.  So a few weeks ago the EMT training schedule went up and I got excited because duh I'm a loser.  Leonard, our trainer, picked up on my enthusiasm and asked if I would be interested in teaching a portion.  I jumped on that like a dog all over a steak.  Leonard knew that I had my CPR for Healthcare Providers instructor's certification and that I had taught in the past.  What he didn't know is that I am rabid when it comes to the combination of teaching and EMS--they are my two passions in my professional life.

I think I must contain my enthusiasm as well as a toddler because Toby, my boss, stopped to talk to me about it before the class and he asked if I'd be interested in getting certified to teach.  In other words, a bona-fide Utah State EMS Trainer.  YESPLEASE.  Again, I didn't hold back my intent.  I can't be subtle about this.  Despite being dog tired I completed my portion of the training and it went really well.  I loved it.  I feel so valued and so impassioned when people believe in me this much.  Not only is this the best job I've ever had, but Toby is the best boss I've ever had, and I can't lie, seeing him give me a thumbs up after I finished my class was basically the best thing in the world.

Pinup Contest!
So I entered my very first actual real onstage arguably legit pinup contest!  I've done a few hither and thither that weren't...well, onstage, but this one was! I had to enter and become a finalist (which I already had for another show, but it got rained out) and then had to do my walk and answer questions and pose and the whole nine yards.  I have to say, it was everything I hoped! I met some fantastic girls and got to pamper myself and look all perdy.  Best of all a few people showed up to cheer me on and a few who couldn't, texted me and called me to wish me luck.  I didn't win, but I honestly don't even mind.  The girls who did win deserved to, everybody was dressed to the nines and looked freaking amazing.  I even got to nerd out for a minute and give my 30 second spiel about how important the atomic age is and how I got into pinup thanks to the country's history with nuclear energy and its appeal to me....it was an easier lecture than Fallout....

So here we are with a few weeks left in September.  I have an impromptu camping trip coming up in a few days that I'm really excited about, because after the pomp and circumstance of a pageant, I really need to be makeup free and grungy, eating hot dogs from a stick over the fire.  I'm also going to take this opportunity to tell as many skinwalker stories as I can.

I also booked my ticket to go home in October, and that's in the back of my mind for now.  I have more to look forward to, it seems, but these small and simple gestures of kindness from people in my life have so far gotten me through a mostly pain-free September.


Birthday Playlist // Bloggy Brunch!

I try, every year, to put together a playlist at my birthday that I feel reflects who I am in that year.  This year I was really surprised at how many of these don't have lyrics.  I usually enjoy lyrics that pertain to me (conceited, don't care, it's my birthday) but so many that spoke to me are completely instrumental.  I'm going with it and taking it as a sign that I need to talk less and listen more.

A lot of the themes with these songs are life and death--okay mostly death-- though there are a few personal relationships of my 28th year thrown in there ('Dollhouse' and 'Black Sun' for the bad, 'Perfect Day' and 'Tell Me Now' for the good!)  At first I thought the life and death theme was just me and my morbid tendencies, but after I found Helvegen and started thinking about Odin a bit I've begun to believe that I'm yearning for a death of certain things and a rebirth of others.

If you're not familiar with Norse mythology, Odin, on his eternal quest for knowledge and wisdom, sacrificed himself by hanging himself from Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life that holds all the nine kingdoms within its branches (and for good measure he speared himself too.)  The interesting part is that he states in the Hávamál, written in his own words, that he was "given to Odin, myself for myself."  Odin was the Allfather, a powerful immortal, so this is really fascinating to me.  He found himself a suitable sacrifice, and in so doing, gained the unparalleled magic and wisdom of the runes.

I really like not only his tooth there, because he hung from a tree with a spear wound with no food and water and commanded the other gods to leave him, which is pretty badass, but he saw himself as important enough to sacrifice for unheard of wisdom, he didn't mind giving up and going without for the promise of something better.  In the end, he believed gaining new knowledge and bettering his own wisdom and thus self, was the most important endeavor. It's comforting for me to find a parable like this and I plan on giving it a lot of thought over the next while.

I wanted to post so many lyrics but the snippets don't really do the songs any justification.  Instead I'll leave a bit here from Helvegen, arguably the best and most appropriate song for my oncoming 29th year, and it's a song for warriors going to Hel, so that's comforting right?

Alt veit eg Odin
kvar du auge løynde
Årle ell i dagars hellenn 
veit ravnen om eg fell 
Når du ved Helgrindi står
og når du laus deg må riva
skal eg fylgje deg
over Gjallarbrui med min song

I know it all, Odin
Where you hid your eye
Early or the day's end
The raven knows when I fall
When you stand by the Gate of Death
And you have to tear yourself free
I shall follow you
Over the Resounding Bridge with my song