Currently - Life Catch Up // Bloggy Brunch

I always hate writing these because they feel like they don't have a point, and yet "currently" or catchup posts are my absolute favorite things to read from others.  I have no idea what my problem is.  Haha.  Anyway, here's what's going on in my life since...what, January?  I've been sporadic since then.

Looking forward to: Work has been its usual good self, nothing to report there.  I change schedules starting in May so that Allyn and I can be on the same days on and off and it's going to be incredible.  We've only been waiting FOREVER for this.  I feel like what anxiety and annoyance I have about work will be wiped away.  I'm trying to stay realistic about that because a truck driver will always burst in and call me a retard (no, that really happened last week) no matter whose shift I'm on.  But it'll be a change of coworkers and schedule off work.

I'm also looking forward to spring, and car shows!  I fully intend to hit up a ton of them this year, as well as write more articles for Hot Rod Time.  I always struggle on wondering if what I have to say is interesting (see: this blog post) and I end up not writing anything.  TIME TO JUST LET IT GO.  I was bummed out when I realized we would be missing arguably the two coolest car events I could attend--Viva Las Vegas, and Wasteland Weekend.  But they're annual events, so it just gives me time to work on my figure for the first, and my costume for the second, right?

Reminiscing: Allyn and I had a precious one day off work in February (or was it January? idk) and we went on a sort of 'tour' for ghost towns all over Tooele County.  We hit up Ophir, Mercur's cemetery--the creepiest place I have e v e r been, and I've been in medieval Swedish cemeteries and Viking burial mounds-- Eureka, and the Tintic Standard Reduction Mill.  It was the PERFECT day except I was still suffering morning sickness and had to scream at Allyn to get the f away from me so I could go be sick in some bushes.   Twice.....  Anyway, a great day all around, and good follow up to our visit to the Home of Truth in January.  It's so great to have a partner who supports and shares my morbid fascination with rotting societal remains. And when we get our schedules aligned, not only will we see each other, but we can go exploring more!

Obsessing over:  So many things.  First that comes to mind is Bates Motel.  This show has hit it out of the park since season 1, and though I'm not a "tv aficionado" I pride myself on my taste in stories.  And damn was this ever a crazy story.  The last season in particular, this season, has been on point every single moment.  They're not going the True Blood way, where they ruin every single positive plot and run the thing into the ground.  Bates is ending after this season and I think I may be the saddest person on the planet because of it.  I'm also totally obsessed with the footage from Rammstein: Paris, and caaaaaaaan't waaaaaaaaait to own it.  In the meantime I may see if I can use the footage to paint a few Till studies, i.e., the subject I enjoy painting most of all.

he's just so...so...photogenic and all

Planning:  Hard to believe, but, another Tennessee trip!  I have been stressed over ticket prices and whether or not Allyn and I would get ANY damn time off together in our lives, but we jumped the gun and got some great tickets.  I very, VERY rarely travel with others.  Allyn, minus a trip to a ballpark, has been in the West his entire life, so we are both excited at a "new" experience for both of us.  I have come to understand through planning trips the last decade that I am like the wise old sage of travel.  That's super weird considering I'm a cranky shut-in who likes her cat and Till Lindemann.  But it's nice to plan trips, and I find myself "in my element" when I am booking tickets, looking at itineraries, comparing activities and all of that.  I think I will just always have a bit of traveler in me despite the homebody-ness.  I'm happy with it.

Frustrations:  Honestly, food?  I had this great plan of getting back to LCHF and finishing off the massive weight loss I had, and then BOOM nope! I couldn't stand the sight of a vegetable for a good 2 months, and now my excuse is more "cravings" and "convenience" than anything else.  I live with two men, and one of them won't eat practically anything I touch because I use white-people flavors.  I like cooking big extravagant meals, but there's always waste, and I always get frustrated and decide to never do it again when it feels like I am the only one stuffing down the healthy food while everybody else runs out to get hamburgers and Panda Express.  But I really need to get it under control.

I'm also having a lot of frustration with the whole "intrusiveness" of making a life and all that.  I am not one to lay everything on the table anyway, but now I get "how are you feeling" a good thirty times a day.  What if I say I feel like I want to run into traffic and jump off a bridge? Do people even listen?  It's just like a "check-in" button that means nothing.  Then when I complain about symptoms or feeling like a whale or whatever problem I'm having, they shut it down.  It's like that twitter post:

But like everything else, the appropriate response is to just ignore and forget about it, over and over again.  I truly don't think that people mean badly with it, but it adds to the exhaustion.  I prefer to be treated like a normal adult, same as I've always preferred, and I'm thankful for those who have the ability to see that.  I've just never wanted to run away and build a cabin in the woods more than I do now.

Which leads up to the last part of this post:

Thinking about:  I have wanted to make the jump back into school for geology or chemistry for awhile now, and couldn't really find the motivation or more specific niche within those communities.  Now I'm remembering how great it was to grow up in a forest, surrounded by nature, and what a magical childhood I had (minus the beatings and screamings you know) and how I definitely don't want to raise a family in suburbia.  I somehow came across the idea that working in Forestry was a good idea.  I would even consider wildland firefighting, (heavily!) but with a degree I could do so much more.  Fish and wildlife, parks, environmental science, and naturally move to areas in close proximity to nature for whatever work.  I could even keep up my credentials with fire and rescue, and work to make people+nature safer, which is a passion of mine. Kind of sounds like paradise, and also kind of sounds like I'll be going back to school soon.


The Time I Dodged Being Used in Child Porn

Note:  My story is unfortunately not atypical for a youth in foster care.  Rape, abuse, neglect and emotional harm are all rampant in the system.  If you'd like to help please don't hesitate to search for your local foster care groups -- even if you can't parent, you can still volunteer, become a CASA, or otherwise make a difference.

It's funny how the past fragments sometimes.  Mostly I just have two big bundles of my shitty childhood.  There's "home" and "foster care."  Foster care consisted of home after home after home, and subsequent disappointments (of mine and my foster parents'...) it really just blurs into one miserable lump until something comes into my consciousness that demands attention.  That's usually when my therapist learns about it, I get to revisit it and process it, and occasionally rant about it here because that's how I do.  When it's time to share, well, it's time to share.

The foster care system just about breaks its neck getting parents and kids reunited, even though logic would dictate that isn't always a reasonable or good thing.  Some families suck.  If "reunification with bio parents" (I remember all the shitty legal terms) isn't possible, sometimes an alternative in the State's eyes is a permanent guardian in the child's family--think aunt, uncle, grandparent.  The theory here again is that family=better than strangers.  I might even argue for that one, but on a case by case basis.  Sorry, but blood does not guarantee safety, as I unfortunately learned when I was sixteen.


Better than Positivity

I've made it no secret that I detest the syrupy all-positive narrative that infests everything on social media.  Probably the biggest reason I never dove head-first into that "make money with your blog" thing isn't because I don't care to write, I do, or that I don't see it as a good investment, I do, but nobody wants to hear negative things or failures or venting or ranting or anger.  Not just the blogosphere, but even micro-blogging sites (Instagram, Snapchat) and our personal accounts are de facto "not allowed" to say "this shit's terrible!"

I don't mean to say that I scroll through the news looking at horror stories, that's just as bad.  I long to read and see and hear about and talk about, and live, something that's better than positivity--perseverance.  There's a million things I could even say about it right now, but I'm trying to stay on topic here.  Day to day people and relationships are so much different than the curated posts and photos.  I hear and see struggles and the people in my life impress me with their resilience, maturity, and perseverance.  That's so much better, so refreshing, and it teaches me so much more than "derr, sit down and write five happy things about today!"  Lay off.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my favorite passage about this...at least, that's how I interpret it.  Why people persevere and keep going.  The true answer? No reason.  A million reasons.

“The garden is one of the two great metaphors for humanity.
The garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things.  The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe.  It’s part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food.

It’s a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, 
this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses.
It’s about winning; about providing society with superior things; and about proving that you have taste, and good values, and you work hard.

And what a wonderful relief, every so often, to know who the enemy is.  Because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time.

And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth, and growth, and beauty, and danger, and triumph.
And then everything dies anyway, right?
But you just keep doing it.”


2017 Haircut!

I cut my hair!

Oh no you don't. You're about to go, "and?" Don't you dare.

I'm going to sound incredibly vain and Leo-esque for a moment; my hair has been my life's prize possession, I'm talking about my entire childhood and all adult years. I have no idea where this started, but I imagine it was my dad; he had really long hair, and there was no discussion of whether or not we (including my mother, sister, and me) kept our hair long. We just did it because he demanded it. In fact, both my mother and myself were privy to a secret haircut, courtesy of my aunt and grandmother, and both times my dad freaked the everloving hell out when we came home with chopped locks.

I have no idea where his Puritan lady-hair ideals came from, because I'm pretty sure that Satan himself is more religious than my dad. I never figured it out, but didn't argue because I loved having long hair. I have always been into fairy tales and warrior princesses, before I even read about Eowyn. I kept it long in foster care, cut it off for graduation, HATED it, and waited years to cut it again. HATED it. I cried as soon as I was a safe distance from the barber's chair both times.

So in my early 20's I dedicated myself to long hair, happily. I didn't look back and no amount of the "it's just hair, it grows" comments lessened my fear of scissors. Truly I was a female Samson! I can't stress enough that I would probably bargain my soul and anyone else's soul (except my cats) if it meant choosing soul, or my long hair. It would be like suggesting to someone that they take out their eyeballs and just go blind. Nope.  And the strangest part is that since I periodically trim the extra-extra-EXTRA dead ends, my hair actually got shorter!  It was getting trimmed faster than I could grow it.  That's very discouraging for any long-haired wisher.

Anyway, how did this change of heart happen? It just did one day. I was just so tired of mixing colors or spending time on styles, and most of all, I was tired of the big dead weight of damaged hair trailing down my back. It only looked good if I put ten conditioners and treatments and glosses in, and then styled it after blowdrying it.  I think that hair is a testament to the crappiness I dealt with over the past few years, and honestly it just reminded me of all the struggling I endured from 2011-2016.  What a mess.  Back to the maintenance-- if you know me, you know I like to roll out of bed and go, so this product+styling+management+money+time drain was obviously not my style--if I'm going to have long hair, it needs to be healthy enough to look good with a simple brushing.

I finally accepted that it didn't anymore. And instead of some big cataclysmic moment where I sobbed dramatically or wrote a love letter to my hair and begged it to work with me, I just woke up and thought, "I'm cutting this shit off." Haha! Who even am I? That is SO not like me, I'm even still weirded out by the origin of the decision. Every time I try to bring some deeper rationalization into it, there's nothing. It was just a random decision made on a random day. Not only was it a random split decision, but I actually stuck with it!

I made the appointment at Array Salon, the literal only place I will trust my hair in anyone's hands, and then fretted the entire next week, trying to convince myself to wait for the appointment and not pull a Mulan and whack it off with a katana in the middle of the night. Luckily, there was no katana within reach. I wanted my hair gone, but I wanted to still look decent and adult. So it was important to get it done right.

I had no idea how right! Tonni is an amaaaaazing stylist and colorist. She basically finished all my sentences when I explained what I was going for. There were several times I just said, "Do what you want" because at that point I was ready to go full-blown Furiosa. Instead, I got the blond with some red in--exactly what I wanted-- because my skin-tone is definitely not suited to that grey-ash blond everyone's sporting (looks great, just not on me!) and I wanted more of a golden than a grey. I got the perfect length and I LOVE everything from styling my hair, to coordinating makeup and wearing cute outfits. Even my earrings look cuter now!

I keep waiting to suddenly wake up and miss my hair and cry, or feel "not like myself" since my identity and self-image was so strongly tied to long, red hair.  But I don't feel different.  I still feel like Alex, just Alex without a foot of raggedy carpet on the back of her head.  I guess it's a midlife crisis/almost 30 thing, but I'm totally fine with that too.

So, if you're in the Salt Lake area and in need of a stylist, THIS IS ME TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO.  Also, if you're on the fence about cutting off your hair, all I can say is, you'll know when you truly want it gone.  I hesitated years ago, cut it anyway, and spent years regretting it.  This was much different.  Of course, I also got excited about a new vacuum last week, so maybe I'm just getting old.


The Inner Child

Part of healing from ongoing childhood trauma is accepting that a part of oneself is, and probably always will be, a damaged child.  I never really considered this until a long way into therapy.  I knew I had a "kid voice" and I had a lot of painful memories concerning my childhood, but the truth is that there are more than just sad thoughts and memories floating around there--an actual undeveloped, whole persona exists that is trapped in a past it can't leave.

Because there is no resolution from that.  My childhood self is waiting to be repaired.  That would require my mom to come back to life, firstly, and secondly, for both of my parents to backtrack or repair all the damage--it would mean giving me a safe, nurturing environment where I would know for certain that even if I messed up, I was loved.  I wasn't going to be hurt, or beaten, or starved or whatever.  I'll never get anything remotely similar to that.

Instead, the option I get is to let myself grieve.  It always annoys me when people ignorantly (though usually with good intentions) try to sweep whatever negative story I've told under the rug.  "Oh, but it made you who you are!  Would you really go back and change it?"  Uh, yeah, asshole, I would.  Not getting a broom broken over my legs, not sleeping by cockroaches and rats, not watching my dad throw every book I owned into the fireplace?  Not being called fat, horse faced, acne-covered and ugly by both parents?  Not having my house broken into by a police officer because I was left alone in my crib for days on end for a "party" that my parents left for?  Yeah, sign me up for going back and changing that.  Who in the hell says something like that?  How do you know it made me who I am?  I could have been given a better chance and still been "myself."  I don't think what defines me is a long string of depressing abusive events, if that's what defines me then holy shit, I suck!  I don't even think surviving it defines me.  There's a whole lot of me and I'd like to believe it's more complex than "abused kid."

Anyway, before this goes full rant--I just have to make it known that I have a damaged child and I carry her with me, wherever I go.  I remember as a teacher, going about my day and enjoying the time with my students, and then feeling a pang of sadness I didn't understand when Mom or Dad would come, button up their coat lovingly, listen patiently to what had transpired in the day, ask me with great reverence of how their little one did...What was wrong with me?  Why did this make me sad?  I should be happy that these kids are getting proper nurturing relationships with a parent, right?  It's that little girl that hangs out with me, though.  As much love as I want to give myself, I'm not my parent (does that make sense?)  As much as I know and understand that as a kid, I didn't deserve any of that, it will never satisfy the grief of loss.

So what do we do with our inner damaged children?  I have no idea.  I do whatever whims come to me.  It's strange how now at almost 30 years old, I still marvel at things like a warm shower.  I still quietly thank myself for uninterrupted painting time--something I craved as a kid.  I still feel a surge of independence when I can buy whatever food I want, even if it's something dumb like mac and cheese.  I still get nervous about any sort of trust for an authority figure, even though half the time I'm older than my supervisors.  Every time I try to get involved as a foster parent, the enraged, violent protective part of me completely takes over and wants to choke every smug social worker and self-righteous foster parent who dares tell me about "what to expect" and how "rewarding" the "experience" is.

I have no answers about how to appease a broken part of oneself.  And I don't even necessarily think appeasement is the right choice.  It's more of that bullshit put-a-positive-spin-on-shit mentality that is prevalent.  It was horrible, I as a child endured something horrible, the only resolution that would potentially satisfy this child is one that isn't going to happen, and understanding that does very little to bring me, or any part of me, peace.  Luckily, many other things in my life do bring me peace...my cat, my relationships and friends and loved ones, my art, nature, my work, the happy memories I do have from my childhood, and tons more things that I am forgetting.


Spring Goals

So, I totally failed on monthly goals, whoooooooooops!

There are plenty of good reasons why, including the fact that at the moment I am extremely sick--I've already had one *deeply* unpleasant ER visit this week (catheters are the devil) and I'd like to avoid another but we'll see how the pain goes after I get off my 12 hour shift.

Anyway, since I failed so hard at monthly goals and I just spent the past two days in my pajamas, discussing with Derik and Allyn about what needs to be done in the house "before spring comes" I had the brilliant idea to make a Spring Goals list.  I know I'm not the only one who has had a bumpy 2017 so far and is itching for the green and sunlight and all those amazing things.

Spring Goals 2017

Put screens on all the windows.  I hate not opening the windows because the cats get out (and bugs get in.)  We had screens on some of them, but they're in poor condition.  I want to re-screen them and air out this cavern (haha)
Buy Tennessee tickets.  Yes, due to reasons which I'll explain later, I'm going to Tennessee again in April, SO, I need to get on buying those tickets pretty soon.
Get Kitty to the vet.  It's been awhile, and he's our old guy.  Midna and Flemith will follow soon!
Steam clean the carpets.  Just one of those spring cleaning things.  I feel like I should almost buy one.
Try a float pod session.  I've always wanted to, just haven't made the time! I think it would be really cool and I'm excited to try it.
Till the garden, and buy soil for the window garden.  Gah, it's almost that time already.  I am really excited to try gardening attempt number two, and this time I will be making a garden in the empty bed by my window.
Clean the entire yard and kennel out.  I really want to put chickens in this perfect spot (it was the previous owner's dog kennel) but I have to convince Derik first.....either way, the area is badly in need of cleaning.  Leaves, debris, junk...the old tenants were kind of slobs.
Make pickled eggs.  Self explanatory.  I love pickled eggs.  Pickled eggs love me.
Go to 3 (or more) different farmer's markets.  I keep going to just one, and getting disappointed in the variety.  I need to find some good jams, some good natural skincare products, and BOILED FREAKING PEANUTS so it's time to spread my farmer's market wings and drag my ass around Salt Lake until I see what I'm missing.

That's about it for my "musts"...there are many, many more things to do in the coming months, and I'm excited for all of them.  However, I'm also sick, and overworked and very tired, so I've learned in my ripe old age that I've got to slow the hell down and give myself time to sleep and recover when I'm not at work.  My adrenal glands are probably comparable to old dried up rocks at this point, so while I have other things I want to do (BBQs, car shows, hiking) I'll just keep that on my "when I have the energy" list.

And now for the linkup!


A Valentine's Memory

I haven't had very much important to share lately, plus I've been really sick.  However I got one of those random 'memory' things that popped up on my Facebook and I loved the story so much, I wanted to memorialize it further by putting it here on my internet space.  I absolutely love Valentine's Day, it was my parents anniversary.  

(The only redeeming quality of Fallout 4 was Nick Valentine...) 

Enjoy!  And don't forget to link up for Bloggy Brunch!

"I was a poor kid (duh.) Back in my day we used to buy our classmates Valentines. If you were rich, you got to hand out the kind that had suckers attached, or smarties, or some other little doodad. If you were me, you got off-brand (aka not Looney Tunes, Space Jam, Animaniacs, or Lisa Frank--god I miss the 90's) Valentine's with barely enough stickers to fold onto the cardboard.

One year my mom hadn't bought them and we were counting down the days. I was really stressed out and as a last resort started cutting up pieces of notebook paper and drawing personalized Valentine's. I drew something different for each classmate, something relevant to them (one girl was close to her sister, so I drew her with her sister, one boy had just bought a playstation that he never shut up about, so I drew that on his) I had no fancy crafts or tools, just pencils and notebook paper. Lo and behold Mom pulled through with her Dollar General Valentine's the night before and I almost scrapped my hand drawn ones, because they looked even cheaper and poorer than off-brand hearts and bears. I decided to fold up the personalized notes inside each Valentine and prepared to be ridiculed.

And imagine my surprise when the next day, my Valentine's were the biggest hits with EVERYONE. Even the asshole kids who usually picked on me or called me ugly. They were really impressed, and I kind of sat in a ball in the corner and stared stupidly while everyone got out of their cliques for five minutes and looked at each other's drawings. I mean, I spent considerable time on them but they weren't THAT good. I was shocked. Of course there was one for my teacher as well, and she praised me in front of the whole class and said it meant a lot to everyone, and she reiterated to the class to each thank me. And though my brain was melting from embarrassment at the time, I am pretty sure every single classmate said a genuine thanks.

There's no real moral to the story, other than sometimes people will surprise you, and I think that all of us want to feel special in some way; it's nice to do a little extra here and there. Also, being open and caring like that is terrifying. I think I was 2 seconds from a heart attack that entire day."


Life Lately // Bloggy Brunch

I feel like it's been forever since I've just sat down and written.  I try not to do it, because then instead of a clearly written post with some legitimate points and goals, you get essentially a long-winded Facebook status and who wants that? Nobody.  I do have a post to write about visiting the Home of Truth, so maybe I will work on that next time.

Other than that, I haven't had so much to say.  In this hilariously politically charged month, I've been so disgusted with social media (and everything really) that I've kept it all to a minimum, and my mouth shut.  I'm neither the person to wallow in misery and write out my fears about the world on my blog, though I have them--I always have them--and I'm not the person to take a political soap box and preach about my point of view.  Maybe in the past, but I'm too old now.

So I just observe, and stay quiet, and wait for spring.

I am done with winter.  After the crash that happened on Christmas, I pretty much got the wind knocked out of me and though I'm not going to complain about how great the snow is, I am terrified of it.  I have flashbacks of that night.  I still cry and feel like I failed a man and his family, I think about everything often and it's not something I can discuss or process or handle.  I know I should see my therapist, but honestly I've been too exhausted.  I haven't been taking care of myself beyond the basics.

Some days I feel like I'm slipping into depression, because I get a taste of it--those of you who suffer will understand.   You're going around being all melancholy and then it hits you like a train, and paralyzes you.  It's like instant drowning, and all you can do is say, "whoa, okay, time to tread water? What's happening?" For whatever reason, these 'waves' have all been extremely short-lived and leave me sitting here thankful that it's over...for the moment.

What else am I missing?  I'm tired.  I'm sad.  I'm done with winter, and I want it to be spring.  I HAD a lot of fun activities planned for the summer, but my coworker decided he doesn't want to change his schedule because of some class he's taking, so that kind of put a wrench in every single thing that I wanted to do in spring/summer.  I do still have things to look forward to, and if I were less cranky I probably could put a positive spin on it, but that's not my strong suit.

See?  Who wants to read this drivel?  ON ANOTHER NOTE---BATES MOTEL'S FINAL SEASON!!!!  This show is utterly amazing and captivating.  Some stellar acting.  Magnificent writing.  Everything that my tacky, obnoxious shows get wrong (American Horror Story, Vampire Diaries....) Bates Motel gets right, and THEN some.  It's the only show I don't watch spoilers for, because I want the full element of surprise.  Anyway, the final season starts in February and I've been watching the older seasons...this will make the third time, haha....so that Allyn can get caught up with me and Derik and we can bask in the glory of Norman Bates' insanity together.



What I'm Painting: The Great Saltair

To anyone who knows me, it's no secret that I LOVE Saltair.  Hell, I literally have a shrine to it in my bedroom, complete with huge poster, and artifacts I've fished up from the old site.  I can sit and rattle off any obscure fact you want to know about it (Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their plane over it! A swimmer got arrested for showing her legs at the beach once--this was while it was owned by the LDS church of course...and so on)  I am always down for a visit to the old pilings to anyone I can convince to be dragged along the beach, and the site even gets a name spot in my sidebar, not to mention a spot on my Ten Years in Utah photo list.

But what was it, for those that don't know?  At the turn of the century the Great Salt Lake was considered a marvelous place for recreation.  It probably would be if we'd stop dumping shit into it and ruining it, but I digress--resorts popped up all along the shoreline during the late 19th century.  Saltair was not the lake's first resort, but it was by far her most magnificent.

If you'd like to know the complete resort history (it's a fascinating one, but of course I'm biased) the Bonneville Mariner has a great read about the ghost resort, as well as a great Utah blog in general.  To go into Saltair history here would be another ten entries, in fact with as much as I go on about it, maybe twenty, so let's turn this into an art post instead of a history lesson.

I had intended to paint this for over a year, and I'm not sure what made me finally sit down and do it.  I have been suffering from art block for honestly, four or five years.  When I got out the canvas I had just found out some important personal news (don't worry, I'll share some other time) and I think I wanted that escape, or to put my feelings in paint again.  Whatever the case, it feels like it worked and I actually enjoyed both the process for this as well as the end product.  And that NEVER happens.

My apologies for the rutabaga photo quality.  I get so into painting that I don't like to interrupt myself and take high quality pictures, so low-light phone photos it is...for now.  

So...ever have an idea of a painting and the end result is NOTHING like what you pictured? Yeah...that's what happened here.  I was supposed to do a classic Utah fiery sunset...but the colors didn't seem right.  So I went with way more black and blue than I originally thought.  I also wanted to thin the paint (it's acrylic) with gel medium, but when I got the gel medium out of my car it was frozen solid.  Whoops.  I am way too impatient for thawing, so instead I reached for a nearby spray bottle of what I thought was water.  This worked out great, because it wasn't water, it was alcohol, which seems to be much better on thinning acrylic paint than water itself.  THE MORE YOU KNOW.

Don't ask why I have spray bottles of things I don't know the contents of.  It's a boring story involving cleaning microfiber.

So the base kind of painted itself.  I had no idea where it was going or what I was doing, which is nice.  Once I had this done, I started on the structure.  I used an old postcard I got at the gift shop as a reference.  My goal here was not to create a solid structure--I wanted a "ghost" Saltair that looked as though it had just appeared by moonlight on the now-barren beach, so the first layer was a very pale turquoisey glitter paint (again, SO not where I originally intended to go, but the gel medium was still frozen...) and once I started on the layout it was like painting a familiar face.

It's going to sound super cliche but it's true nonetheless-it felt like I had actually been to Saltair and was painting from memory, rather than the little postcard.  Many, many times during the intricate architectural work I would "go for it" and then look at the reference after, only to see that I had already matched the building...where the windows went, where the ledges were, the positioning of the stairs and latticework.  It was actually kind of unnerving, but then again I have dreams about visiting this place often, and I constantly stare at photos of it, so it's probably burned into a part of my brain that can access minutia anytime.

Since my painting didn't look anything like the mental picture I'd laid out, I did pretty much everything on instinct and what "felt" right.  It seemed a good idea to have one part a bit more "faded in" and realistic and have another part of the resort very dreamy and cloudy, like it was shimmering in and out of reality, as ghosts do.  I can't decide if the structured, detailed side or the more abstract, chaotic side is my favorite. I stare at them both!  My ephemeral ghost resort.

After that it was just detailing, adding in the fog, and ta-da!  One sidenote--the little spikes/pilings/things sticking up at the bottom is a depiction of how the site actually looks now.  There's nothing left but a few stalwart wooden pilings and some twisted metal (and all of the bits of junk I've stolen from the beach) I guess I wanted a reminder of the 'reality' of the resort as well.

Again, sorry for the poor photo quality, but dammit Jim I'm a painter, not a photographer!

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of the process.  If paintings are children, then giving birth to this one was the most painless, enjoyable time I've had in awhile! I wish they could all be that way.  Thanks for checking out my favorite place that doesn't exist anymore.

Here's a better lighting quality photo, with my feet included.  Flemith is also hanging around, he got curious about halfway through and decided he was going to watch me from the back of the canvas.  He was not impressed with the painting.


January Monthly Goals // Bloggy Brunch

Let this count as my 2017 introduction post!  As such, I thought it might be helpful, to, well, introduce myself.  To avoid the risk of regurgitating my about page or my sidebar, I'll try to mix this up a bit.

To start, I'm one of those people who is quiet unless she knows something for sure, and then turns into real life Hermione Granger.  If I don't know my ins and outs of a subject I'm a great listener and learner (provided I give a shit about the topic) but the minute the topic goes to my expertise(s), you can't get me to shut up.  Some of the things I'm a good listener for are chemistry, history, mechanics, and space.  My Hermione topics are anything art related, English/literature related, body language related, and EMS as a whole.  My boss says I'm also really good at mundane, over-articulated paperwork, Thanks Toby!

I often get told I have a bold or strong personality even though I admittedly try to hide this.  I will remain uncomfortably silent until it's absolutely necessary to talk, and I guess the talking that I do ruins my air of mystery and reverence.  It's one thing I don't like about myself so much, because what other people endearingly call "character", I call "brashness" and "over-emotional."  Basically one day if I reach my final form I'd like to be Mr. Spock--rational and calm and cool with great capacity for both thought and emotion.  But it'll never happen.  People also tend to think I'm an extrovert because I can carry a conversation, entertain a room, "liven up" and so on, but most of them never quite understand that if I could literally run away to the mountains and live on tree bark and wear a moss womankini, I absolutely 100% would, but the ski resorts would totally kick me out after the first Mormon sighting of my nipples.  But my point is, I'm actually an introvert and prefer solitude.

I LOVE MY CAT.  I actually have three cats, which make appearances on Instagram, but the older two are shared between my roommate and I, and prefer to be left alone (traumatized shelter cats.)  I got my little Flemith to help me with depression and wow, he changed my life.  Now my little blueberry cream cheese muffin is a huge gigantic fluffbag, and he's independent and feisty instead of loving and tiny, but we still have a bond.  The type of bond where he absolutely has to watch me pee, and escorts me from room to room, and I kiss him until I accidentally drool on him.

January Goals
2017 is going to be a year unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I already know this and will talk about it in the days to come, but mostly I'm just trying to get through the months with my brain intact, so we'll see how it goes.  Fresh start! Woo.

-Finish some paintings. Pretty self explanatory, haha.
-Blog about my Saltair painting.  I posted it on my Instagram if you're curious.
-Create a budget for the year.  I have no idea where to begin with this, but my god I'm going to be 30, it's time...
-Set up my fancy ass new bathroom scale, and watch the number on it not go up this month. Self explanatory, haha.
-Visit Moab, and have a great time!  Room reserved!  Activities planned!  Mini-cation!
-Find and photograph Newspaper Rock and Home of Truth.  An hour south of Moab is the famous petroglyph wall, Newspaper Rock, and an abandoned cult location, called the Home of Truth.  I am super into exploring/photographing abandoned areas and hope I can sneak some photos in of this crazy place.  The story's too long to put here but click the link if you want to read some crazy cult practices. 
-Throw Allyn a birthday party THAT WILL ROCK INTENSELY.  I've got some ideas.
-Schedule a doctor appointment.  What a fun time of year!  Extreme winter!  Sick people!
-Continue therapy and physical therapy.
-Unveil my secret online side project.  This may not be done in time for the end of the month but IMMA TRY!

And that about concludes it!  Linking up with Autumn and Angie. Onward to the bloggy brunch!


Just Another Path

Before we get into 2017 there's something else I have to talk about here.

I had already wrapped up 2016 mentally.  I, like everyone else, was going about my business celebrating the holidays (by that I mean working) and enjoying opening presents and snow and so on. I was driving into work on Christmas morning, December 25, just after midnight.  It was the first huge snowstorm of the season and our plant road was covered in ice and snow.

I was almost to work and my 60 mile drive was behind me--I was relieved, and relaxed knowing that I would soon be on duty and able to relieve my coworker.  But I got hailed before I made it; one of our coworkers had an accident.  I was the first EMT to respond, and our ambulance and other EMTs arrived afterward.

My coworker did not survive the accident.  I was affected deeply, as were the other people on scene.  I don't remember much of the following week.  His family and loved ones were heavily on my mind, and Christmas isn't easy to begin with (probably for anyone?)

I have seen death before, but this incident really left me feeling deflated and helpless.  I became an EMT to help people.  As others have said after this, not every situation is a win.  And even though I was originally the only EMT there, the man had his friends and coworkers nearby, talking to him and encouraging him, as I did, that he wasn't alone.  When the other EMTs showed up, we were a seamless team that transitioned into first a two man, then three, then four man team to do our job.

It's true, sometimes you just can't win.  It's horrible, and I keep thinking of Gandalf's words: "Death is just another path, one that we all must take."  As someone who actively chose to help people in emergency situations, it shouldn't be surprising (and wasn't, to anyone) that I was and am, very sad for this loss of life.

There were probably a lot of reasons I was more affected than normal, but after a very heavy Christmas and New Year's Day, I felt that sensation that anyone familiar with death feels.  Life is so fragile.  It's never guaranteed.  It's so precious.  We are all finite.  And for the first time since I became an EMT I questioned my decision.  I will continue to do my job, but I definitely have a hole in my heart.  And I will take that, and my reminder to treat life as the ephemeral, strange thing it is, more reverently this year.