Muesli is better than Christmas

I.

I first took notice of muesli when I was young, maybe 10? I was reading Sharon Creech's "Walk Two Moons", and there's a fantastic dinner scene where a picky guest is relegated to eating a dry bowl of muesli. At the time, I had a vague understanding that muesli was like granola, or Kashi, and while I have been a lifelong fan of eating dry cereal, it was clear from the book that dry muesli was not an enjoyable sort of meal. I also formed the association of muesli to long-bearded hippies wearing earth sandals and carrying nature sticks.

II.

While in Bali last year, our hostess recommended a little restaurant just down the beach, saying she absolutely loved their muesli (Bircher-Benner!). We went, we ate, we equally enjoyed. After we got back to the States, I looked up the Bircher-Benner recipe on Wikipedia, noted how it's proportionally opposite to what's mostly eaten today– far more fruit to grains– and carried on with my life. I was having a tremendous love affair with the Maple Frosted Shredded Wheat cereal at Trader Joe's, and there simply wasn't any room in my world for another cereal.

III.

A few months later, we ended up in Europe for 10 weeks. Europe, sadly, does not have a Trader Joe's, and what's more, they are very deficient in shredded wheat, frosted or otherwise (there was plain Nabisco shredded wheat in London, which I ate dry, to everyone's horror). However! London had Weetabix! Having never eaten Weetabix before (I'd read about it in the Babysitter's Club books, when the Australian family that had that son whom Mallory got all super-crushy over moved into the neighborhood), this was a glorious find for me and I dove in head-first.

Then we continued on to Amsterdam, and while perusing the tiny selection of cereals in an Albert Heijn, I decided to shake things up and go with muesli alongside the Weetabix. And then we got to Berlin, where there was no Weetabix (except at one organic earth-happy convenienvce sort of store), so that's when I really, really got into serious bran cereal. And then, for the rest of the trip, we started every single morning with the same breakfast: a bowl of muesli, bran (Noah wasn't as keen on the bran as I was), soymilk (almond when I could find it, which was only once in Sorrento), and yogurt. Every. Single. Morning.

And I never got tired of it. Sometimes we would have it for lunch as well, if we were stuck on a long train ride. There was even one night when we were taking a ferry from Croatia to Italy and ended up having this for lunch, dinner, and breakfast, and IT WAS STILL AMAZING. Other meals occasionally disappointed, but the muesli never let me down.

IV.

Since November, I've been experimenting with different eating habits, and my most recent iteration is vegan, gluten-free, no processed sugars (minimal natural sugars) and minimal grains. I was really hoping to go completely grain-free, but then I found a recipe for gluten-free muesli– and that hope has just completely flown out the window since.

What I ultimately made was a modified recipe, but eating it in the morning is like being back in Europe. Which admittedly was far from a glorious expedition, but nostalgia cleverly elbows out all the negative components and showcases everything else in a radiating golden light. To put it another way, when I eat muesli, I am the happiest pig in the prettiest mud puddle this side of Denton.

It's to the point where I long for mornings, for that shining moment when I get to have my small bowl of muesli. I look forward to it the way kids look forward to Christmas or their birthdays–sometimes, I contemplate going to sleep earlier just to make the morning come faster, thus bringing my muesli time into existence that much sooner.

I know the dangers of nostalgia; I don't deny that many, many parts of that trip were an absolute hell. But the muesli was always perfect, and I like the peaceful memories it invokes. So grains be damned– I plan on making (and eating) this for quite some time.

[Edit: recipe]

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Selected highlights from around the world

London

Oh, everything. Walking down streets and local spots and landmarks that have been in the majority of the literature that's filled my life. Tesco and the Tube. Banoffee pie. Comfortably imagining a life there. Ottolenghi.

Amsterdam

Learning that public sex is legal, but public masturbation is not. Picnic in Vondelpark after Netherlands eliminated Brazil from the World Cup. The adorable canals and architecture. Riding my (rented) bike back alone after a long night of dancing.

Berlin

Painfully amazing organic mango-vanilla yogurt. The Jewish Museum. Loaves of bread that weigh 5 lbs. Chanterelle mushrooms.

Prague

St. Vitus' Cathedral and the Old Town Square: massive, looming, incredible. All the fascinating gargoyles on the Cathedral. Playing with our flat owner's tiny Russian Blue kitten.

Vienna

The open-air market where we were almost charged 70€ for dried fruit because we were stupid enough to patronize the first stall we saw. Lesson learned: always price shop because everyone has the exact same merchandise.

Budapest

Leaving.

Split

Surviving a ridiculously chaotic week of work. Evening walks along the water. The charming family who owned the house where we were boarding and who practically welcomed us as though we were two of their own. Makrovega, the vegan restaurant right around the corner from the house. Vegetarian fake-meat sticks.

Portonovo

Our first meal in Italy: a shared bomboloni, Caprese salad, tiramisu. The mozzarella was so good– so perfect— that tears actually came to my eyes when I took my first bite. We never again had mozz that exquisite. (The sweets also made us roll our eyes at the injustice of the general inaccessibility of Portonovo.)

Florence/Tuscany

BIKE RIDE! I found a shop that rented out road bikes (they call them "race bikes"), so Noah and I rode from Florence to San Gimignano on sprightly little Bianchis, and I was practically singing the whole way. I loved the endless ancient hills and the beautiful countryside landscapes below (and the medieval structures in the distance). Scootering through Chianti and picnicking by a lake and making friends with three butterflies whom I fed green grapes. Driving to Pienza and discovering a love for Pecorino cheese, all ages but in particular fresh.

Napoli

5€ sunglasses. Paying admission to visit the most prestigious museum in all of Europe only to discover half the exhibits (read: all the most interesting ones) were closed. (The pizza was okay.)

Amalfi Coast

Gelateria Primavera in Sorrento, every day. Lemon terraces. Lemons the size of footballs. Eating fresh pasta with an improvised arrabbiata sauce on our last night– the only pasta in my life that's impressed me. Walking through the ruins of Pompeii while listening to Rick Steve's audio guide.

Rome

Watching "Gladiator" after going to the Coliseum. Randomly wandering into a craft beer store that also sold artisan unifloral honeys and sharing our carrots with the owner. The walnut gelato at the owner's restaurant the next night (which he awesomely comped for us). 

Israel

Pita bread and hummous, every day. Float-walking through the Dead Sea. Barbecues and picnics and parks. Broccoli schnitzel. SHAKSHUKA.

Venice

Realizing I kind of prefer the Las Vegas version.

Paris

Again, everything. Fresh bread and pain au chocolat and cheese every morning. Feeling more adept at conversing in French by the hour. Impromptu take-out dinner by the canal. Picnicking in an enormous field at Parc de la Villette and watching "Grease" under the stars with thousands of other Parisians who cheered and laughed at all the right moments and sang along to every song. A boisterous dinner on the last night where we took up half the tables in the back room and constantly passed plates and bottles back and forth.

Brussels

Leonidas chocolate (most notably: "Africa"). Tasting the difference between a 3€ Liege waffle and a 1.50€ one.

When you follow a dream, you’d better do it with a heart overflowing

We'd just arrived back in Italy from a 10-day stay in Israel. We were in Venice, attempting to make reservations to take the overnight sleeper train later in the evening to Paris, when we suddenly found ourselves and our plans– pun only half-heartedly intended– derailed. We were stranded.

In Venice, which shouldn't be so bad. We could have been stranded in the middle of nowhere, where there were only silos and cows and hand-cranked electricity generators or something, instead of a high-profile city filled with good restaurants, hotels, buses, boats, trains, airplanes, and (though somewhat hard to access) wi-fi. It could have been worse. But even though it wasn't worse, it was still bad. Unexpectedly finding yourself stuck somewhere against your will, even if it's only for one night (which it was, for us), even if it ends up bearing positive consequences (which it didn't, for us), is never good.

Also, Venice is fucking *expensive*.

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In which I post news so untimely that I’m writing about it a month later

Did you know that it was National Clean Up A National Park Day on August 23? Probably not, because it wasn't, though that's what Noah and I were telling people on that day because that's what we were doing. The day after we hiked Half Dome in Yosemite, we picked up trash alongside the main road and from the parking lot and hiking trail for Bridalveil Falls.

INTERESTING FACT: the majority of the trash we picked up was Trident gum wrappers, and let me tell you, it got old really quickly. We theorized that either one motherfucker was chain-chewing Trident and strewing the wrappers as s/he wandered about, or that Trident chewers in general are just motherfucking litterbugs. Either way, at least one motherfucker was involved in this populating of Trident wrappers on Yosemite grounds, a sentiment which I openly shared on camera more than once and which resulted in Noah getting reprimanded by the Fiesta marketing people, because apparently my NC-17 mouth was too much for their PG requirements.

DISGUSTING FACT: we also picked up dog poop, twice. The first time it was like a *pound* of shit in a bag that had split open, and the second time it was a solid log that must have come out of a St. Bernard. Or an elephant. The log, by the way, was hidden under a paper towel, so I jumped down into this stupid crevice thinking I was going to retrieve a paper towel for our growing trash collection, only to jump back and scream once it was revealed what lay beneath.

OH YEAH: the final edit of our trash day is on YouTube:

Speaking of Half Dome, though– did you catch that, before you were mesmerized by my fascinating paragraphs about Trident wrappers and canine excrement? We climbed Half Dome! And let me tell you: a 16.4-mile hike doesn't sound so bad because in all honesty, it isn't. A 16.4-mile hike, however, that consists of climbing uphill for 7.2 miles and then climbing downhill for another 7.2 (meaning there are about 2 miles total of relatively flat ground; I know I'm a girl, but I actually can do math), is really fucking hard. Climbing Half-Dome made me realize that I am either really stubborn or really proud, or both, because about 5 miles into the hike I was totally ready to turn around and go back to the car, but did I? No. I kept going.

And do you know what your reward is, for keeping on? A switchback trail where the steps are about 2 feet wide, and in places, one foot high. And do you know what your reward for conquering the switchbacks is? This:

Or, put another way, this:

Halfdome-close-sunset

That's 400 feet of near-vertical climbing. How near-vertical? So near-vertical that there are steel cables to assist the climbers in hauling themselves up. Even better, a storm was threatening to come in right as we got to the top of the switchbacks, and a woman from the NPS was standing at the base of the summit telling everyone she highly advised against anyone going up the cables because it could rain, making everything fatally slippery (going both up and down), AND even if we DID make it to the top, lightning could strike and kill us there. So we could die going up, die once on top, or die going down. Our choice.

Noah and I, however, decided that since we'd gotten this far, and since we were unlikely to do this hike ever again, we'd take our chances. Death by Half Dome: It's Death, Sure, But At Least It'll Get You Mentioned In Wikipedia.

I'd like to take a moment to share some advice. There's a popular rumor that you'll hear, particularly on the trail, particularly in the form of incentivized encouragement, that the view from the top of Half Dome is unlike any other view, that the view alone makes all the effort exerted throughout the entire hike totally worth it.

After we got to the top of the summit, I have to confess, I was amazed by the view. I was amazed because it looked exactly like the view from the bottom of the summit.

ADVICE: if you're in it purely for the view, save yourself the near-death experience, pat yourself on the back after the switchbacks, and call it a day. Better yet, just search the Internet. Not only has the Internet already done all the climbing for you, but the Internet also took pictures! Go climb 8300 steps on a stair-stepping machine and then look at this picture, and that's basically Half Dome, except better, because then you can reward yourself with an ice cream cone. Much to my disappointment, there weren't ice cream cones of congratulations waiting at the top. Which, to be honest, was my secret motivation for doing the climb. Sure, none of the websites *mentions* an ice cream reward for scaling the summit, but I figured it was just secretly understood by the Half Dome elite that ice cream would be there, because why the hell else would people put themselves through the cables? Certainly not for the view, that's for sure.

So, yeah. We climbed Half Dome and survived (also: the storm didn't come in, which made us really glad we decided to risk it because if we'd listened to the NPS lady and turned around only to not have it start raining, we would have been pretty pissed), and what's more, we made the climb subsisting solely on water and one airplane-snack-pack amount of Fresh & Easy trail mix. 

Come to think of it, Noah might have had something else to eat, but all I remember is the trail mix. We'd just finished the switchbacks and I was a super-sized scratchy pair of cranky pants, and Noah was all, "Hey, you should eat something, you'll feel a lot better", and I was all, "No, leave me alone", and he opened the trail mix packet and started eating some and did the whole "Wow, this trail mix is SOOO DELICIOUS, you should try it! Yum yum!" thing that parents do with their finicky-eater kids, and I was still all "No! Fuck off!", and then he more or less shoved some sunflower seeds and raisins into my mouth and I grudgingly chewed and swallowed, and suddenly I was in a much nicer mood. Noah: Wild Beast Tamer. He's available for birthday parties and bar mitzvahs, people.

(In my defense, I didn't actually whine at all during the hike. But I am a very poor judge of realizing when I need to eat something and taking subsequent action.)

So, in conclusion: HALF DOME

  • Was it worth hiking?: Yeah, sure.
  • Would you do it again?: Ha ha, no. [1]
  • Comments?: It's a geology-fanatic's treasure-trove, so that was really cool. The waterfalls were pretty, but you're not allowed to go over them in a barrel, so they're mostly useless.

[1] Surprisingly, not because it was too hard, but because it's really not worth the effort to do it again when there are so many other equally great (or greater) hikes to do– Angels Landing being one of them.

A hoarse is a hoarse, of coarse, of coarse

Hey! I can't talk. Or, I can talk– that is, my vocal cords are capable of producing sounds that exit past my lips– but I prefer not to, because I get tired of having to repeat myself over and over due to the fact that my voice is half-gone. Sometimes it's only a quarter-gone, and then other times it's fully gone. Apparently it depends on the pitch? And it's frustrating as hell because I know exactly what I'm trying to say.

What I say: Hi, I was just wondering if you had any more of the soy turkey in stock?

What other people hear: Hi, _ was __st __nder___ if __u __d an_ more of the so_ tur___ _n stock?

It's lots of fun.

(It's not fun at all.)

And I guess my general, fully-functioning speaking voice is already pretty hard to understand? My mom complains constantly that: a) I'm too quiet, b) I'm talking too quickly, c) I'm mumbling ("just like your dad!"), or d) all of the above. Even TheNoah tells me I talk too quietly and there are moments where I can tell he's trying very, very hard not to throttle me and instead just asks me, as patiently as he can, to say what I just said again for the 57th time.

Which isn't to say I'm not capable of hollering; my lifetime is riddled with instances of people telling me to use my "indoor voice" (especially in my childhood and in high school). I think the major issue in my finding a happy middle ground is that the acoustics inside of my head are all fucked up. Everything is set to MAX VOL/REVERB, so what sounds to me to be a perfectly audible tone is in fact only a few notches above a whisper. Either that or I just have superior hearing and all you other people have some serious wax buildup problems.

Anyway. I've been traveling! I was in the Bay Area for almost two weeks last month, followed by another week in Seattle; then I was in L.A. for a couple of days, and now I've just gotten back from Denver. So the traveling hasn't exactly been exotic, but it's been a nice break from the peaking Vegas heat (although because my body has acclimated to triple-digit days, whenever I've been in other cities and the temps have been in the 70s-80s and everyone is prancing around saying, "Oh, this weather is so beautiful and perfect!", I'm huddled in a corner and shivering pitifully).

In the Bay Area, the highlight was probably getting to drive myself around everywhere. TheNoah had to take off for Kentucky for a few days to deliver a keynote and speak on some panel for a conference, so I was left to my own devices and was handed the key to the Fanta. Now, I've certainly spent enough time with him up there, zooming through all the crazy freeways between San Jose and Berkeley, but I've always been the passenger, and thus I had no idea how to get anywhere. My entire knowledge of San Francisco locales was based on proximity to either a BART station or Ike's [1].

So, armed with Google Maps, I quickly piled my plate high with some SF city street (and Bay Area freeway) learnin'. I got to experience glorious rush hour traffic AND fog AND night driving/parking (finding a parking spot in the City is a unique adventure all on its own) and remained unscathed, and to be honest I felt like I deserved a goddamned medal for it. I despise City driving, and I've ultimately come to conclude that the reason I didn't absorb any navigational know-how in the hundreds of hours I've racked up sitting next to TheNoah while he drove everywhere is because I would just zone out as much as possible in order to forget the fact that we were driving in the City.

We were in Seattle for a conference, and on the second night there was a sponsored "Casino Night" at the aquarium. Highlight of Seattle? Wandering into the room with the touch tank and proceeding to touch everything in the touch tank, including the anemones and hermit crabs and some weird fancy shrimp and a fish. And then the fish bit me, whereupon I looked for the identification cards so I could find out what the hell had just bitten me, whereupon I read on the backs of all the cards, save for the sea cucumbers and urchins and sea stars: "Please do not touch this animal."

Note: if you are an aquarium and you have a touch tank and you put things in the touch tank, EXPECT THOSE THINGS TO GET TOUCHED.

Denver was incredible. The last time I'd been there was ages ago when I was a little kid, so I didn't remember anything about anywhere. Downtown was fantastic– the hipster congregation in the Tattered Cover bookstore [2] (where TheNoah managed to rescue me from this crazy creepy guy even though TheNoah was in Oakland at the time), the snob appeal of Larimer Square, the fact that there is nothing writer-ish (or squarish, for that matter) whatsoever about Writer's Square, the grandeur of the Performing Arts Center, the bear outside of the convention center, the gondolas that go up and down Cherry Creek… and everything was walkable! My first night there, I met up with (the one, the only) Devin Reams, who generously gave me a thorough wandering tour of downtown Denver, and I think we covered 2-3 miles easily.

The funny thing about downtown Denver was how much it reminded me of downtown D.C. No "instant home" feeling, but I was certainly very pleased to be there. I think I just like walking cities. 

This is no proper way to end a post, but for lack of a better wrap-up, my favorite quote from the weekend in L.A., when a group of us was having dinner at a Thai restaurant:

"That's not a drunken noodle, that's a shitfaced noodle."

I am nothing if not an exemplary citizen of class.

[1] Fact: during the time when TheNoah and I thought we would move into the City together, one of the things I took into consideration while looking through apartment listings was how close the place was to Ike's.

[2] Interesting story: I visited Denver multiple times as a kid, but the only lasting memories I have of those trips that aren't based purely on photographic documentation are a trip to the Museum of Natural History and Science and a trip to some bookstore that had massive bookshelves on a staircase landing and green carpet (and where this book was purchased for me as a gift). Upon arrival into downtown Denver, I went looking for a place with wi-fi so I could work and ended up, upon Devin's recommendation, heading into TC. Where I eventually found myself marveling at the staircase. Which had a landing. On which there were bookcases, massive and wooden. And, oh, the carpet is green. A quick phone call to my mother confirmed that this was indeed the bookstore of my memory– craziness, no?

And speaking of PB, antibiotics > salmonella, right?

The thing about being on antibiotics is you suddenly feel invincible.
Which I'm sure from a medical standpoint holds no legitimacy
whatsoever, but come on. Antibiotics! Antibiotics are to infectious
illnesses as OxiClean is to stains– what *can't* this stuff eliminate?

So
on the one hand, me being on antibiotics is a great thing because being
sick for three weeks straight, uh, sucked (to put it mildly).

On
the other hand, this self-inflated delusion of protection is bound to
get me in trouble. Hey! Who's down for a road trip to Rosarito for a
tall glass of lukewarm tap water?

*****

In other news, I
was in Solvang for a wedding on Saturday. Cute town. We didn't have
enough time to patronize any of the countless wine bars (etc.) that
lined the main road, which I was perfectly fine with, being as I don't
like wine. Also, Solvang doesn't seem to be too hip with this crazy
hippie bleeding-heart liberal neo-paganistic nude camp lifestyle that I
call vegetarianism (though there is a Subway)… so aside from the
quaint loveliness of its rural surroundings (and its proximity to my first hometown),
I'm not too sure that Solvang holds much appeal for me (whereas Solvang
is one of his favorite places of all time). Though they do have
bakeries, everwhere, and no ma'am I am not opposed to Danish bakeries.
Remarkably, however, I managed to not step foot inside a single one
while we were there (my heart said yes, my ass said no), but all the
same: there's hope for Solvang and me. We'll go back one day, and he
can indulge himself to excess on wine and I can indulge myself to
near-excess on danish, and we'll leave town both singing the praises of
and bemoaning Solvang's plenitude of vice-friendly offerings, and oh,
won't it be grand.

*****

Speaking of food: The Grilled Cheese Invitational (2/21 in SF, 3/14 in
Austin, 4/25 in LA). Wondering if there's such a thing as a PBJ
Invitational?

I only had one burrito while I was there and it was pretty much an avocado burrito. And there were no llama rides.

So when you are a goatless, fiddleless gypsy and you are trying to get to a certain city in Texas which shall remain henceforth unnamed, you get there by 1) flying into an airport 75 miles away, 2) walking up and down and over and across said airport, which is currently under reconstruction or renovation or something of that nature, in order to find out how to catch the bus which will take you to another bus which will take you to another bus which will take you to your final destination, 3) catching said first bus only to find the second bus isn’t leaving for another half-hour, which happens to be precisely when the third bus will be departing, then 4) being picked up by an extremely chill and be-tattooed friend of a friend who just happened to be driving anyway from where you are to where you need to be and is welcome for the company. (He will ask you, after stopping to get gas, if you smoke, and you will say no, and he will ask if you mind if he does, and you will say no, and then he’ll get out his lighter and you will realize that there was a preposition missing in that question and your hair will smell all skunky for the rest of the evening.)

Upon arrival at your friend’s house, you will wait for him in the backyard where your legs (and other accessible body parts) will be enthusiastically… er… greeted by a hyperactive sweetheart of a 7-month-old dog. Your friend will finally arrive and interrupt the canine’s arduous affections, you will go inside and deposit your bags, and then you will be whisked off to downtown to hang out with people at a rooftop bar. After closing out the bar (I’m still amused by this concept of "last call") and getting your first taste of local taqueria wares, you will, upon trekking back to the car, be exposed to the fine art-slash-sport of bush-diving. Back at the house, regardless of it being something like 4 a.m., your friend will turn into a hybrid Katie Couric/Tom Brokaw/Dr. Phil and start asking you a random assortment of questions while you’re trying to fall asleep, and you, for incomprehensible reasons, will actually answer them, and he will end up being too drunk and too exhausted to actually remember anything you tell him, so, you know, that’s two hours well-spent.

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Four weeks was two weeks more than necessary to make me miss airports and planes

"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle will still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don’t improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable."

John Steinbeck, "Travels with Charley in Search of America" (1962)

Though the District still sleeps alone tonight

It was another day spent in airports. No weathers in Chicago, but there was a mechanical that resulted in over an hour’s delay and three gate changes (on the way to one of which I almost blacked out and probably would have had the man walking next to me not noticed something was up at my first wobble and steadied me until I was okay) for a flight I ended up not even being able to get on.

Finally made it out of Chicago on the second-to-last flight, landed in Vegas around 9 p.m. and promptly dissolved into tears again. I’d been wrapped in that missing and lonely feeling the entire flight back and that combined with the sudden delirious joy and relief of finally, oh finally being home– well, apparently it was too much.

And then I came home, home to my house, and the cat was missing.

This has happened once before, months ago: I was in the backyard replanting seedlings and she was out with me, and the next thing I knew, I looked up to find her gone. She’d slipped out through the gate, and I spent the next six hours alternately keeping vigil either at the window overlooking the front porch or on the balcony and running through the neighborhood streets, quietly but desperately calling for her. Six hours of making deals with God and the devil later, I found her at daybreak when I went back out on the balcony and called her, and she darted out from under a truck across the street.

It only took a half-hour this time to find her, but given the state I’ve been in these last two days, it may as well have been a lifetime. And I know it seems absurd, that so much of me could be wrapped up in a cat, but it is. I’ve just poured that much love into her for enough time that she is the heart of my heart.

All the same. I’m home, at last. I’m home and she’s home and tomorrow I start cleaning up the mess that my unanticipated absence -slash- greatly delayed return has created. I’m still listening to Owl City– "Maybe I’m Dreaming" has been keeping me company since last Thursday, and the more I listen to it, the fewer comparisons I make of it to The Postal Service (which is a good thing).

Lost in a silent ballet
I’m dreaming you’re out in the blue and I am right beside you
Awake to take in the view

Late nights and early parades
Still photos and noisy arcades
My darling, we’re both on the wing; look down and keep on singing
And we can go anywhere

It’s funny; I always expected "Give Up" to be my D.C. album, but instead, it’s turning out to be this one. But then, nothing tied to D.C. has been what I ever expected, so really, where’s the surprise? Quite.

Broken hearts can only end in irrational self-imposed ultimatums

I won’t go into the details because 1) I’m writing this on a phone and as nice as qwerty keypads are, I still don’t enjoy writing lengthy missives from them, and 2) I can’t handle the details right now, anymore. I’ve spent the entire morning– we’re talking the last seven hours, what with time zones– in tears. For once I’m grateful for the existence of Starbucks because I’ve been taking stashes upon stashes  of napkins from their kiosks.

But the short version is, these past two months, I’ve been struggling with the idea of giving up dance, and the thought alone of walking away from this absolutely breaks my heart. Last weekend, I came so close to closing that door and locking it for good that I spent an hour at SFO sobbing either in solitary corners at the gates or in the bathrooms. The reasons I have for giving it up are both valid and not-quite-valid, but either way, they are reasons and they are mine and their mere existence hurts me more than I can put into words.

Very closely related to, or even tied to, this is my recently developed relationship with Washington D.C. I’ve written a little, or maybe a lot depending on what you’ve been reading, about how in love with D.C. I’ve been since the first moment I ever landed at Reagan National back in August. About how conflicted I’ve been over the sense of home that D.C. provides me when I already have a home, a happy home with a thriving home life, back in Vegas.

Again, I won’t detail pages of backstory, but the culmination is: I can’t get home today. And it could very well be an isolated crisis– I’ve gotten home with no issues all the other times– but as of this very moment, I’m stranded in Chicago thanks to weathers and mechanicals and canceled flights that have created a sudden and enormous flux of people trying to go west. I can’t even get to a city in my own time zone. It’s far from ideal, not being home today, possibly not being able to get home tomorrow (there are literally multiple hundreds of other stranded people also trying to get west on flights that are oversold to begin with), but it’s survivable– but this isn’t something I can chance happening again. So on top of being heartbroken this morning over leaving D.C. and probably not being able to go back there until November, if even then, now I’m suddenly facing the question of whether this is worth it, worth the consequences of not being home in time should I get stuck on the other side of the country again.

I love D.C. I never meant to, didn’t expect to; but what’s maybe even more surprising is that D.C. loves me back. I feel it every minute I’m there. It’s not a perfect city, but I’m not a perfect person, and I’ve said all along that I love Las Vegas for *its* imperfections anyway. Vegas loves me, too, but Vegas was a home that gradually and inconspicuously grew to be such for me, whereas with D.C., the recognition was startling and instantaneous. But the point is, there’s love and a sense of home in D.C. And the reason I’m making this point is because I want to clarify what it is I would be losing if I decided to stop making trips out there.

I’m attached enough as it is, and it’s only been three weekends total. On Saturday, I was thinking about all the parts of D.C. I still want to see and explore, all the surrounding areas I still want to visit, and the number of weekends it would take to do all those things is soberingly– not impossible, but certainly impractical. The more time I spend in D.C., the deeper my attachments to it grow, and the more I hate having to leave. And I just keep thinking, love isn’t supposed to be this hard. Yes, love is about work and compromise and sacrifice, but it shouldn’t be *this* hard. And I don’t believe in the idea of "one" love, one real and true and great love, so it’s not like I can make that excuse to myself, that I’m meant to be in D.C., that I will never find another place that appeals to and embraces me the way D.C. does. On top of which, if I’m going to go the "meant to be" route and throw in flighty ideas of fate and predestination, wouldn’t there be an argument to be made along the lines of, if it’s meant to be, in two years when I’m done with my civil program, D.C. will still be around, will still welcome me with open arms? Or in two years, the dance scene will still be going strong and I’ll fall back into it like I never left. If it’s meant to be.

Except even then. Even in two years. I can’t leave Vegas. How can I leave? My life is there. I wanted a career there. I wanted to fix it, to save it. How could I abandon that desert, that place that has forgiven me time and time again all my failures and flaws and infidelities? I don’t enjoy not being there. Despite the happiness and fulfillment bracketed within the various destinations for which I’ve left Vegas weekend after weekend these past two months, I don’t enjoy leaving home.

I don’t know what I’ll end up deciding. I have four weeks to really think about things, to think about what I’m willing to sacrifice and to make charts and graphs detailing cost-benefit equations. Four weeks to think about the possible directions my life will go after my birthday passes at the end of December. Though of course all I really want is to make a decision now and be done with it– only, I know I would choose to give up. No more, I don’t want to go through this struggle anymore, I don’t want to feel this ache of missing and wanting anymore. I’d rather have nothing, have a peaceful life of calm neutrality. I spent ten years of my life– if not more– stuck on the roller coaster ride of following and living with wild and unmetered passion, experiencing the most thrilling of summits only to be hanging on for dear life through the plunges that inevitably followed. I’ve had more or less three years of peace since having lost that kind of passion, and admittedly, I’ve missed the euphoric moments, but my god, I’ve not missed the price at which they came one bit.

It all boils down to, is it worth the fight? And more importantly: do I even have the strength to keep fighting for it?