What I Get, What I Want to Give

This post is partially inspired by another prompt from Alyssa's blogging challenge. The prompt is "What you hope people receive from you."  I started thinking about it after I discovered I really wanted to write about a positive thing I noticed when planning and embarking on my Tennessee adventure.

In the past when I've brought up my family, I get a lot of confused looks or total shock or what I consider to be blatant lack of understanding.  I used to get mad about it, but these days I've mellowed out: people can't understand everything about each of us, and I should honestly be glad that no one close to me can relate to what it feels like to live under severe emotional and physical abuse for the better part of 18 years.  The thing that really burned me up was that after learning about how my family was, no one understood that I loved them.  Even as recent as three years ago, my best friend of years was selfish enough to try and talk me out of seeing my widower father and partying with her instead.  To me, my adulthood has been ten angsty years of NO ONE UNDERSTANDING.

For better or worse, I'm a pretty open and honest person, so when coworkers and friends found out about going home, they inquired if I was looking forward to it.  I had to be honest and put my fears out there, and I was overwhelmed with the response.  From my own boss, to the Vietnam vet, to the biker kid, to the only other ex-foster kid I know at my work (who incidentally is a boss as well) on up to the HR manager...and everyone not at work, old friends to new friends wished me well and cautioned me to take care of myself.  They looked at me with eyes of pure understanding.  They knew I was excited and scared and they all told me they trusted me to be safe. My own sister, Amanda, was one of those voices.  She was looking out for me before I even got there and she understood that going home was painful and beautiful.  She reassured me.  She knew before I did, that things would go well.  Instead of blindly trying to subdue those feelings and shout about how great it would be.

I was so blown away with this.  I wondered, even after returning, how I had managed to find this amazing support network.  I think it's mostly just a byproduct of me getting older and wiser about who I confide in and look to for advice.  In short, it's finding great people in my life.  I have so many.  I'm so grateful to them.

And this turns to the prompt.  I would love to say I want to be a beacon of patience and virtue to those in my life but if you know me, that's just not true.  I have plenty of Slytherin in me and not an ounce of Hufflepuff, as it were.  And there are things people can seek me out for, like art and creative endeavors, but I really think what I do have to offer, and what I want to offer more than anything, is understanding and empathy.

Not having a family in the picture really opened my eyes to the struggles others go through with their family.  I have friends come to me for advice because they're ashamed of fighting with their parents or their spouse or kids or whatever.  I seem to be the confessional for adulterers, and I'd like to think it's because I just refuse to treat someone badly based on whatever heinous action they've done. (Some things are off limits, but my stomach is stronger than the average person's.)  I know that in my weakest moment, when I was most afraid, the thing that helped wasn't the person praying or the person preaching to me or the person judging me or the person ignoring me.  It was all of those who understood where they could, and listened and empathized where they couldn't.

So, if I can continue to grow and develop and be an understanding friend, then I'll be content with that, as far as the realm of friendship offering goes.  (There are heftier personal and professional goals, but that's another post)


Back to Blogging: Songs that Define My Life (And Why)

Okay, so I had to join this because there were some amazing prompts, thanks Alyssa! 


I used to have such a fit about sharing music but I'm trying to break out of that.  I have been ridiculed for my music for most of my life, and even without that in the way it's just such a personal thing.  However, this prompt was too perfect and easy to not share.  I had to really work on it to make sure these songs were ME and not "me and my relationships" and so on...there are a TON of lyrics out there to describe relationships I've been in, but this was all me, dammit (and though my relationships do teach me, and help me become a better person, I'm still me at the end of it, with or without anyone.)

So, without further ado, here are songs that define my life. Clicking the links will take you to each song. 

Suicide - The Grey OST 
This one comes to mind at the forefront and it's definitely my favorite.  It's also an instrumental so I don't have lyrics to share.  I already have two lines of the poem from the movie on my ribs, placed there specifically at points in my life where I had a choice to live or die.  I try my best not to ever sound like I'm romanticizing suicidal feelings, because there's nothing good about it, but at the same time, this is the mental place where I exist when I stop making myself busy enough to notice.  The song is absolutely beautiful and chilling and honest, just like the movie.

I Am The One - Dragon Age OST
Yikes, two soundtracks back to back.  See why I don't share?  But this version is actually a nice acoustic with female vocals, it's not as 'soundtracky'.  I love this song because it's really empowering, in essence it's someone stating what they've been through, then that they'll take responsibility for the problems in the world and save it.  A lot easier in a fantasy setting with dragons.  But hey! This is the same game my bicep tattoo is from.  It obviously means a lot to me.

I have run through the fields of pain and sighs.  I have fought to see the other side.
I am the one who can recount what we've lost.  I am the one who will live on.

Wearing the Inside Out - Pink Floyd 
Pink Floyd's lyrics are literally some of the best poetry ever written.  I mean that! I don't say it lightly.  But despite the beautiful pictures soooooo many of their songs paint, none quite speak to "me" as much as this one does.  And the bonus is that it (kind of) has a happy ending.  As happy as you get with Pink Floyd, anyway....

From morning to night I stayed out of sight.  Didn't recognize what I'd become
No more than alive I'd barely survive.  In a word, overrun
Won't hear a sound from my mouth, I've spent too long On the inside out
My skin is cold To the human touch This bleeding heart's Not beating much
I murmured a vow of silence and now I don't even hear when I think aloud
Extinguished by light I turn on the night, Wear its darkness with an empty smile
I'm creeping back to life, My nervous system all away
I'm wearing the inside out

My Name is Max - Mad Max OST
Okay, and we're back to the instrumentals, haha.  I guess this song and how it fits 'me' is more about the scene and what happens to Max when he helps Furiosa.  But don't worry, I already wrote all about it.  It's cool on a few levels, because I am an EMT, but it's a bigger philosophy I think, about helping others and helping ourselves.  

Well, that's it for me! 


Life Lately // Bloggy Brunch

Better late that never, right? It's been quiet around here but that's because I've been off being busy with my Tennessee trip.  I just recently got back and I'll try to summarize my thoughts here as succinctly as possible, not usually a goal I have with writing, (haha) but I wanted to get the bloggy brunch post up and properly close out October.

To summarize--everything went perfectly.  I was so worried about how I would feel, and how people would treat me, namely my dad and my sister whom I hadn't seen in years.  The past seven or eight years I've tried to visit my dad and he turned me away, and my two other sisters both went on rampages at me, screaming and throwing things.  I was also worried about doing this completely alone, driving across the state and occupying myself for the five feverish days I planned away from my comfort zone.

The colors were perfect.  The flights were short and easy.  My rental car was a total badass (dubbed 'Big Red' by me.)  It wasn't so much of a vacation as a pilgrimage and I'm not exaggerating, things couldn't have gone better on the trip itself.  I even got to make a bouquet, the first one I've ever made, for my mom and visit her grave, which is one of the main reasons I went.

There were some hangups on the way home, but I won't dwell on those.  I'm still basking in the glory of the trip and how wonderful it felt to stay awake laughing with my sister, to driving those mountain roads I grew up on, to tenderly hugging my dad because he had 12 broken ribs, to meeting up with the wonderful people who have stood by me over the years.  There were plenty of tearful breakdowns along the way, but those are just as therapeutic to me as the happy moments.

I'll maybe post more about it, maybe not, but I now have to turn my full attention to my costume and Halloween party, whoops! I left right in the middle of getting all of that ready.


Another Piece

Not since my leaving home post have I dreaded writing something so much, nor needed to write something so much. I don't know why now is the proper time to tell this story, but it is.  It's hard to do, especially considering who might see or read it, but again, now's just the time.  If you don't feel like reading something graphic, consider this your warning.

My mom, Dana, had an older sister named Doris.  Aunt Doris is still one of my favorite people on earth; she was bright and full of life and twice as sarcastic as me.  She was literally the definition of "the cool Aunt."  She had two children, Adam and Tracy.  Tracy died young in a car crash and it changed everyone's lives, even mine, though I was maybe five at the time.

But this story happens before that.  The beginning is actually one of my first memories.  I recall a few at the age of three, and one memory at the age of two, so this was among those.  I was at my Nonna's house and she and my mom and aunt were going out.  They left my cousin to watch me.  I didn't know my cousin very well; he was older than me (somewhere in his teens I believe) and I remember thinking that I would just draw or play on my own, as I usually did.

When the adults left, Adam told me that we were going to play house.  Everything after that statement is still crystal clear in my mind, from the beginning (which was him instructing me to lay on the couch because that's what mommys and daddys do) all the way to the end.  I remember thinking during this that I didn't like it, it was wrong and bad and it hurt, but I don't think I argued or even spoke.  And afterward, the adults came back and nothing was said.

Until I got home.  I was never close to my mother, even at that young age.  She was a stranger to me and we simply didn't talk (not that a three year old has anything especially important to say I guess) but I remember thinking to my little self, 'I need to tell her what happened.'  I took my opportunity when she was in the bedroom sitting on the bed folding clothes.  I climbed up and the memory is so clear, I can even remember feeling embarrassed because it felt like I did something wrong, and because she was not someone I trusted or felt I could talk to.  I told her about the incident and I remember that she just looked at me in shocked silence for a few minutes before saying, "Don't tell your dad about this."

"Why not?" It was not anywhere near the comment that I had expected, even though I wasn't aware as a three year old that there was any appropriate answer.

"Because," and, since my dad was in the other room, she lowered her voice, "He'll kill Adam."

Instead of putting my mind at ease, I remember feeling my heart speed up at that.  It was one of those moments where your blood turns to ice in your veins and you just feel cold and frozen.

I never told anyone else about the incident, and it wasn't mentioned again until I was about fourteen.


At least, I was kept away from Adam after that.  We did spend time with Doris and Nonna, but much less of it was unsupervised and he was never a babysitter again.  My aunt married a guy named Jerry who had two sons, and the older was in my age range.  Every time we were at my aunt's, he would find some sinister way to "play" hide and seek or video games or something else, and it always turned into a field day for him to put his hands on me.  On my breasts or between my legs, and I always just silently wormed away and did my best to make sure Ariel, my little sister, was never alone with him.  I never told anyone about it.  She was my concern and I just silently endured the son's touching.  That's what I thought I was supposed to do.

When I was fourteen, my parents had a huge falling out with my Nonna and Aunt Doris.  It was mostly my dad's fault (he loves being angry and flipping out on people) and culminated in my dad pointing a gun at their faces and forcing them off the property.  Doris went to the police about this and they basically shrugged and informed her that my dad had 'paid off' the cops in the area.  (I heard about this years later from her.)  I was at school when all this happened, and remember coming home to mom sitting on the front porch with the phone, in the middle of a venomous conversation with Doris on the other end of the line.  Like I pretty much always did at home I felt completely uneasy, and backed away without listening too closely to what they were saying.

But my suspicion about the conversation turned out to be true.  My mom was still outraged afterward at her sister's behavior and while she was angrily smoking a cigarette outside, she told me face to face, "I told her about what Adam did to you."

I was furious.  "Why tell her now? What's the point? What did it have to do with anything?!"  I felt like at the very least, the only good my mom had done up until then is keep something very shameful to me private, and now she'd went and broken that pact.  My mom was confused by my anger and shrugged dismissively, and I ended up storming away.  I don't know to this day if she ever told my dad or if he found out after that conversation.  If it was possible to bring up to Doris during a stupid petty fight, why couldn't she take me to a doctor to make sure I was okay? Or a therapist?


After years of being estranged I finally found Doris again years later, with the power of the internet.  She was still living in Georgia and I spent some time with her, and actually lived with her for maybe a month in 2011.  When I arrived I hadn't realized how sick Doris was; she had diabetes, was missing a kidney, and had congestive heart failure.  She was pretty much bedridden to a chair in the living room, and this is where I spent most of my time reconnecting with one of the only positive female role models in my life.

We talked about my mom and dad.  We talked a bit about religion (she is the only member of my family to know of my atheism and fully accept me regardless) and my hobbies and interests.  When she found out I was writing a sci-fi book she promised she'd read it despite hating the genre.  We discussed my future wedding.  I was always hesitant and waiting for that conversation to come up.  Finally one day, it did.  We were actually in her vehicle, and she turned to look back at me from the passenger side.  "I've been meaning to talk to you about something your mom told me."

I braced myself.  I'd already made the decision to lie about it.  I'm not sure why; I think I wanted to spare Doris any pain.  She would either think I was lying, or learn that her son was..well, pretty monstrous.  She had already lost her other kid and I had no intention of being the center of more family drama.

"Your mom said, and we never could figure out if it was true...did Trampus molest you when you were little and he was living there?"

This caught me completely off guard.  Trampus was my older half-brother, my dad's son from a previous marriage.  I  remembered him faintly in those scattered hazy memories before age five.  He had indeed lived with us for a few months, and then suddenly one day he was gone.  I assumed he had just went to live with his mom.  Nothing was ever said about it.  I remember stuttering stupidly something about not remembering it.   And I actually asked my older sister Susan about this a few months later.

"Yeah, we were never sure if that was something you said as a kid or if Dana was just jealous of Trampus and wanted him gone.  She never liked him.  But he would never do that.  Dad never argued or saw anything happen, it was just Dana's word."

Indeed, I don't remember anything ever happening between my older brother and I--actually, he acted just as annoyed at a little excited giggling sister as you'd expect for a teenage boy.  But the whole situation opened up a whole new sickening set of options.  Had something happened with him and my brain just blocked it out?  What if my mom did lie about it to get him out of the house?  Did she use the situation with Adam, which I do vividly remember, as inspiration for the lie?

I felt a lot of anger toward this entire incident, which was kept from me my entire life until this point, and I was 25 years old--so, not that long ago.  I just assumed that Trampus left, and never knew I supposedly had anything to do with it.  And I still awaited Doris's question about Adam, which did come.  I played ignorant and lied through my teeth.  She seemed relieved, and confused about why my mom would even bring something like that up out of nowhere years after it happened.  During her ruminations she mentioned her ex-husband, Jerry (father of the step-cousin who also liked to grope me anytime he could.)  She said one of their biggest marital fights occurred after Jerry supposedly opened the basement door to find Adam masturbating to a photo of Doris.  Jerry swore the incident happened, but Doris refused to believe it, and instead turned on her husband.

And of course, during the time I stayed with my aunt, her son was in and out.  We had a few tense and awkward hello's and didn't speak much.  He was just like I remembered him and I suppose a part of me was still revolted and shocked about what happened so many years before.  I avoided him at all costs and once Doris had passed away, I never spoke to him again.

The whole situation, in retrospect, just makes me sad.  It's not like we didn't have enough drama, or me enough trauma as a kid, to throw in a random incest encounter.  And nothing makes me feel dirtier, especially knowing that I come from the south and I can't reluctantly mention it without some jackass making a joke about "fucking your cousins."  Thanks, yeah.  It may or may not have had some medical effects on me as well, but I can say obviously it had emotional impact.  What's worse, this isn't even the only time a family member sexually assaulted me--the other situation happened when I was in foster care, and it was an uncle by marriage, which didn't make it any less bizarre and awful.

And this isn't really something I've even touched on in therapy.  I'm sure it will come to that point eventually, but it doesn't affect me the way it has in the past.  Not something you'll hear me complain about.  I wish that everything had been different and I am at peace with feeling ashamed.  I hate how these assault survivor groups scream in your face pointlessly DON'T FEEL SHAME!!! as though it's my fault that I'm feeling improper feelings.  And I'm not.  Shame is a mind's way of regulating its actions, and it's not an action I'd ever like to repeat, so, shame it is.  Shame is also one of our older emotions, and I am at peace with feeling something so biologically primal and appropriate, especially considering I was far too young to reason myself out of it.  Maybe one day it will go away, but I'm not going to bust my ass trying to feel something that isn't true or change my perception on something that wasn't my fault.

I don't know why I'm even sharing this story.  I do think it's important for people who have gone through this to know they aren't alone, and it honestly sickens me how many people, upon hearing my (two sentence description) of the event have similar tales.  Either from a family member, or a total stranger.  I wish it didn't have to be that way.  I would rather feel alone and be the only sufferer than find common ground.  But if I had felt more comfortable telling others, things might have gone differently.  I believe in every case the truth should come out to protect potential other victims, as well as bring the abuser to justice, and acknowledge and support the survivor.  But that wasn't the case in my circumstance.  It's felt like for almost twenty seven years, I'm the only one who knows the truth.

Now it's here, and I can feel a bit more at peace about it.


A to Z of Me // Bloggy Brunch

I saw this super cute post idea over on Jemma's blog and had to try it out.  Thanks Jemma!  (This isn't a confessions post but I'm going to link up with Nadine)

The A-Z of yours truly!

A  -  Alex.  I get so sick of "Why do you go by Alex?" (My name is Patricia Alexandra) UM... BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT MY PARENTS CALLED ME!  It was their decision.  I was always Alex.  There's no rule against calling someone their middle name.  Rant over.

B -  Boring.  I consider myself a pretty boring person.  I like quiet, simple things, and I'm pretty happy with that. I definitely do live an adventurous life, but adventures can be small too!

C - Cat.  I am a cat.  (Both personality wise and according to the zodiac...) but my favorite creature in the world is my cat.

D - Dress up.  I like pinup for several reasons, but one is because day to day I feel pretty 'meh' and pinup takes you from 'meh' to BOOM!  I clean up pretty good once you get the dirt off me.

E - Eowyn.  A close friend compared me to her many years ago and after giving it, and myself, a lot of thought over the years, I'd say I come pretty damned close to being a redheaded version of her.  Capable leader, fierce warrior, kindhearted diplomat and matriarch...yes, I'll lead Rohan now thank you.

F - Friend.  I think that I have the potential to be a very supportive friend and it's one area where I've never had doubts about myself.  In recent years this has strengthened due to my resolve to work on it.  I can't be a good daughter, or a good mother, or a good sister, so I can be a damn good friend.

G - Gryningen.  My favorite Swedish word! (It means dawn) I first heard it in a wonderful little song which states "shadows can disappear, and dandelions turn up their seeds to grow up at dawn"

H - Hair.  True to whatever the Leo stereotype is, I obsess over, take care of, love my hair.  I would never cut it.

I - Insanity.  I think it runs in my family.  No...no, I'm pretty damned sure it does.

J - Jou.  Ik hou van jou. (Voor iemand speciaal) ;)

K - Kitty.  My first cat, my first love.  He is a wonderful companion and friend.

L - Loner.  Always me.  Always has been, always will be.  I am just a lonely person.

M - Mom.  Losing my mom changed me in ways I didn't think I could even be changed.  And it actually made me a better person, and I will always lament that it took something so drastic to put me on a different path and mindset.

N - Norma Bates, as played by Vera Farmiga--AMAZING!!!!! That whole show is my favorite.  It is probably the best thing on TV.

O - Odin.  I've come, in recent weeks, to really take inspiration from this insanely awesome figure.  He killed himself to gain ultimate knowledge, he has two ravens and I mean come on, who doesn't want two ravens?  Stories about Odin either inspire me or crack me up (or both) so you can't go wrong with that kind of role model.

P - Piano.  Not many people know it but I can carry quite a few tunes on the piano.  If only I had one here with me.

Q - Quiche.  Because this meme cracks me up so hard.

R - Resident Evil 4 - AMAZING game, gorgeous atmosphere and visuals, best characters (minus Ashley....) just wow, what an experience for a new gamer!  And still probably the scariest game I've ever played.

S - Spock.  My first idol, the one who taught me about logic and reasoning and how to be calm and intelligent so that you can help any situation!  Also, killer eyebrows.

T - Teaching.  It means SO much to me. And I'm good at it!  I love especially teaching art, and EMS related topics.

U - Underwear.  99.999999999999% of the time I go commando.  TMI, sorry!

V - Vegas.  A city I'd contemplate moving to if I ever needed to get away.  I do love it there.

W - Worley.  I am so proud of my last name (even though it isn't the original last name of my paternal line) and I never intend to give it up, even if Till married me!  I wouldn't even hyphenate.

X - Haha.  Uhhh. I have never watched XXX!!! Even though, speaking of Rammstein.....Till's in it.

Y - Yesterday.  We had a joke with Carl, who pronounced y's like j's in true Swedish spirit, that we sang "Jesterday".  He got so mad one day that he ranted in Swedish all the way to the bus stop or wherever we were rambling to.  Oh man.

Z - Zelda, my first and biggest video game influence.  Ocarina of Time will always be the top most perfect game ever made, and it pains me to say that something beats out RE4!!!

And now, time for the linkup!


Black and Orange Velvet

“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats. Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel.... Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet."

I consider myself pretty predictable, which might surprise some people considering my life choices.  But in the ongoing day-to-day of my life, it's pretty boring and simple.  That includes the places I adventure to; I sure do set off on grand trips sometimes and seek out things that are new to me, but more often I haunt the same old areas because they are familiar and I prefer that.

I like the feeling of visiting a place that is my friend.  Silver Lake is definitely one of my best friends, and even though it's fun to realize I have only scratched the surface of the area after being in this state ten years, nothing feels quite as good as that simple same road, up Big Cottonwood, and around the lake.  No matter the weather I can walk it and there are so many options under the mountain, so many trails for whatever mood I'm in.

Recently I've come to feel the same way about my camera.  At first it was just really confusing, and then less confusing, and now it's familiar to me in a way I didn't think I'd feel.  I definitely don't consider myself a photographer, but I have absolutely found joy in taking photos that supplements the other creative things I do to dam up the crazy and release it on a pressure valve so that there isn't a nuclear meltdown or Hurricane Patricia 2.0.  It feels familiar and good to go out and photograph this gorgeous place, or any other place or event.

So, no matter how many times I walk Silver Lake, I feel happy and like I'm with a friend, and now I have another.  I don't know how to thank you, Tobias...but...thank you!


October Monthly Goals // Bloggy Brunch

Another month over, 85 sleeps til Christmas---but let's talk about the present! (And very recent past)
One of the most popular months of the year, because it's awesome.   Hi October!

Busy September

I didn't blog very much in September, but what I did say, I feel, was very relevant: speaking out about aging out of foster care, and sharing some gorgeous moments I've had.  I went to Oktoberfest, participated in my first 'real' pinup contest, and had one of my biggest moments of growth surrounded by my favorite mountains.  I feel so good about this past month because I accomplished a lot of milestones, both personal and professional.

Busier October

This month is going to be...well, something.  The way our work schedule pans out is that if one person takes vacation, their relief covers for the duration of the vacation, plus their own shifts.  This means on average, nine or ten days of straight work with no days off.  They are all 12 hour shifts, an hour away from where I live.  The general consensus is that I'll be dead by the time I'm done.  Immediately after this stint, I'm boarding a flight to Tennessee for another five.  After that, I come back home and host a Halloween party, and the month will be over.


Recertify!  PASS Done! I am over the mooooon about how supportive everyone has been!
Go to physical therapy  FAIL  Well, I did get the referral, so I'm halfway there...
Get the goddamn xray done. PASS 
Get my uniforms FAIL Not my fault.  Don't ever use Skaggs and expect prompt service...
Send out thank you cards and repayments for Flemith's surgery FAIL I am so upset this hasn't happened...and I'm hoping I can use my 120 hour 'workweek' to get some leeway done.
Enter another pinup contest  PASS I had soooo much fun.
Go to the State Fair PASS Again--I had a blast! Sort of a bittersweet goodbye, though....
Start a new blog series  FAIL  Whoops haha, that totally didn't happen.
Take more outfit photos FAIL  Yeahhhh I barely wore clothes when I was home. HA!

4/4, not too shabby.  Here's what I've put together for October.

Survive Tennessee  Sounds hilarious, unless you know my story...
Keep on top of checking account  With going out of town I want to really keep an eye on money.
Plan a good party  How? No idea.  I'll figure it out.
Get thank you's sent out before Tennessee  No better thing to do at work when it's quiet!
Go to another pinup contest  I must be insane to take this on considering my schedule.
Give Charity her present  I failed to make it to her party (thanks work) so...late gift it is.
Flemeth's neutering  Oh, it's scheduled for Tuesday and I'm so nervous :'(

Bloggy Brunch

And now, time for the linkup!  I kind of failed at this horrifically last month, but we'll see if I can hold it together for October.


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.