Sunday, October 11, 2015

That's what she said.

One of the daily rewards of my career is the insight into the unfiltered, curious and sometimes socially unaware brains of children. At the most stressful times they let slip a witty remark, an endearing observation, or just about anything inbetween. Unfortunately, I'm usually too deep in whatever task I'm doing to write them down, but here are a few of the gem's I've either taken time to note, or remembered through retellings. 

  • [A Classic from when I worked at High Trails Outdoor Science School]
    Child: "Do you do this for the money, or because you love children?"
    I think I answered honestly, "Neither"
  • After returning from the bathroom where he went to wash the mud off his hands, pre-k kid says: 

"I washed them like Bieber!"
His teacher interjects-- "like a Beaver- he was splashing like a beaver's tail.
Bummer, I wish he washed like Bieber. 

  • Our speech about the rules and guidelines on our Base Camp property concludes with, 
"If you find a creature like a lizard, you're welcome to catch it and hold it, just be respectful of it, and put it back where you found it when you're done."
Second grade kid asks:
"If I find a Bobcat, I can hold it?"
Group leader: "If you catch a Bobcat, YES you can hold it"

  • Me: "Rules of the Van- 1. Always have your seatbelt buckled. 2. No eating in the vans. 3. No screaming.
    Colton the Comedian: Rule 4. No Purple!
    Me: Um, yeah.
    Colton: and NO dark BLUE!
    Me: Um...YEAH!
  •  Me: "What else does a mammal have all over it's body?"
    Child: "MEAT!"
On my last trip, though, a curious high-schooler asked a question that has stayed in my mind for weeks. 

I can't remember the exact words, but the gist was:
What made you choose to work outside? Instead of inside? Where most women work?
I was just so struck by this. Despite the fact that we were standing on the edge of a canyon looking down on a river below, having just hiked a mile to this look-out point, he seemed unfamiliar with this foreign "outside" world. I guess it struck me because his world seemed so binary: Inside = safe, familiar, fun; Outside=scary, dangerous, foreign, boring. I guess I've never thought of the world like that, or if I have, it's the total opposite. Inside= depression, complications, electricity, buzzing, confinement; Outside= simplicity, beauty, calm, discovery. 
The other part of his question struck me equally. He seemed amazed that as a woman I would brave the outdoors. I acknowledged the generalization of his question, but commented with my own sweeping generalization. "Actually, most of the people who work in my organization are women. It seems that where education and the environment are concerned, women (and white women at that) usually fit the bill. There are many men as well (usually white...), but men interested in the environment tend toward different jobs than education, it seems. 

So why am I a woman working outdoors? For the money? or the children? I work outdoors because it's fulfilling. Because I've never seen anyone in this line of work suffer from depression, or feel unfulfilled. Because I can get PAID to summit mountains and kayak, and teach people along the way. Because I can learn every single day (and I'm rewarded for that). Because I get to work with like-minded people, who are optimistic about the future, but concerned as well. Because I get to hang out with other people's children, teach them my values and beliefs in a fun way, and then give them back. Because my job makes me happy, and I would do it even if I didn't get paid (which is sometimes sort of true). 

Sitting in on a sit-up contest. 

I truly wonder what this generation is going to be like, as we transition into an "inside" culture. I overheard a woman telling her friend that this summer, she made her kids go outside for 15 minutes a day. The other mom responded that she kicks them out and locks the doors and they're lucky if they get to come in for dinner. But what are those kids doing? Not playing in the pond by their house, or exploring the deep recesses of woods in the back of the neighborhood. Because the pond is now a parking lot and those words are a home depot. They probably just walked to their friends house where they can sit on the couch playing video games about going outside. 
In a lot of futuristic movies, there are sky-rise apartments and flying cars. Whenever I see these, I wonder if there are any parks to visit...or what the world below looks like. I'm starting to worry that those futuristic scenes aren't so far off. 


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Why me limiting my driving won't save the world (but I'm doing it anyway).

Last October, I set a little goal for myself. I was determined (for economical reasons as much as Environmental) to use only one tank of gas for the whole month. Surprisingly, I met my goal! I have about a 13 gallon tank which takes me a little over 350 miles, and I came in about 50 miles under.
Now-- I have to admit, the main reason for my success was because I was driving a 15-passenger van to Grand Canyon and back as part of my job, and I wasn't home very much...but the success inspired me to continue. In November I bought at least two tanks of gas, running a lot of errands for work, but in December, I made an attempt to ride my bike into town- a whopping 10 miles away.
Until that point, I had only ridden to yoga (4 miles each way), or to the library (4 miles round trip), so taking it to 20 miles in a day was a big jump.
But what did I learn? I was amazed at how easy it was. I was reminded how damn flat most of Albuquerque is (at least compared to some places), and it inspired me to mobilize myself. Each month since then, I challenge myself to only use one tank of gas. I haven't been as successful as the October trip, but I have also been riding my bike a lot more. Another beautiful thing about working part time, is having the time to enjoy the journey, and not be focused on getting to the destination on time. I feel so free while riding my bike (except when I'm worried about being killed by an asshole driver...which is honestly about 50% of the time) -- I get to breathe fresh air and get some exercise, while also seeing things that I normally just blow past.

Also- if you pay attention to hipster environmentalist trends, riding your bike instead of driving is supposed to save the world, right? In theory. I'm sure Exxon isn't hurting from my once a month purchase of gasoline. If I haven't made it clear from my other posts, I strongly believe (and fear) that we are in an environmental crisis. I recognize that deciding to ride my bike around isn't going to solve that. But if everyone rode their bike around, and our infastructure evolved to encourage bicycling, as in European cities, a good trend could catch on. Bicycle traffic in Copenhagen prevents 90,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted annually. [City of Copenhagen] That's huge! And think about how great all those people feel when they get to work all sweaty and buff. That's some true brain food to chew on. 

I read an article recently about bike riding in China being at a historic low (can't remember the source, or I'd link it). Because so many countries want to be like America, countries with far less space and far more people are increasing their automobile usage. We need to make biking sexy so the rest of the world catches on.
What's not sexy?
Mostly, we need to convert our minds, our habits and our hearts to renewable energy, such as biking. I feel like I've been reading more and more about our desperation to drill into BLM land, historic sites and national parks to get a few precious drops of oil so we can run our cars a few years longer. Let today be the day we wake up and ride. 
But it's not enough to "put the fun between your legs" as the patch says... we have to invest in this lifestyle with our economy. 89% of Americans believe that transportation investments should support the goals of reducing energy use. (National Association of Realtors and Transportation for America, 2009) If 5% of New Yorkers commuting by private car or taxi switched to biking to work, they could save 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the amount reduced by planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan ( 
Even if we can't transform into biking cities overnight, we should at least begin shifting our brains to the possibilities of living on renewable energy. If you're reading this and you've never rode your bike to work- challenge yourself! At least carpool. 
When I visited Austin last month, I was inspired by the confusing bike lanes that were painted on all the roads. Austin is pushing for 20% of their commuters to switch to bikes, someone told me. Another person complained about the bike-efficiency manager making 90k a year, but who's to judge?! They're clearly making waves of inspiration. I hope it catches on. 
Props to my friend Aaron who took the lemons that life handed him when his car broke down and decided to commit to public transportation, bike riding and carpooling. That's a heroic decision in my eyes. Lets all go be heroes and put the fun between our legs. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Ideas for Getting Over Someone Special-- A Working List

[ x ] Create an angsty/sexy you tube playlist

[ x ] Learn something new

[  ] Take yourself on a date

[ x ] Turn your radio up when your heart falls down

[ x ] Get PR's in your favorite workouts

[ x ] Spend time with somebody that tells you your beautiful

[ x ] Visit family.

[ x ] Post endless selfies on Social Media sites that said person has access to

[  ] Engage in guilty pleasures - like death metal and rocky road ice cream (best enjoyed together)

[  ] Explore a new religion or way of living- and try it out for a while

[ x ] Look through every picture that person has posted on Facebook

[  ] Put on a good movie and work on a craft

[ x ] Re-read a favorite novel 

[  ] Re-read a favorite novel that has nothing to do with love and romance.

[  ] Attempt to illustrate the drama between the butterflies in your stomach and the pit in your heart

[  ] Destroy something that doesn't matter

[  ] Sit on the couch and binge eat m&m's while watching reality TV

[ x ] Perform push ups to failure.

[ x ] Wax poetic on the struggles of getting older and compartmentalizing

[ x ] Watch Leonardo Dicaprio movies on repeat and slow-mo his entry scene. 

[ x ] Chat with old friends about your younger years

[ x ] Travel

[  ] Stare at at a wall and recount every interaction you've had with said person

[ x ] Ask strangers for stories

[ x ] Learn to love yourself

[ x ] Laugh

[ x ] Cry

[ x ] Revisit your favorite place

[ x ] Take photos of something beautiful

[   ] Get a tattoo

Thursday, May 28, 2015


I hadn't been to Texas in the summertime in ages. I've smartly taken the opportunity to spend my summers in drier or cooler climates for the last 5 when I received permission  to hop a flight or two to my soggy state, I jumped at the opportunity.
The first thing I noticed upon stepping from the airport was the warm hug that the air in Texas gives you when you arrive. Driving back from the airport in my Dad's car, surveying the flooding beneath the orange mammatus clouds, I felt a lot of things. Many emotions were swirling through my body the way the tornadoes had swirled through the skies just hours before: Stress melting away from months of hard work, sadness unfolding from unreciprocated intentions, loss from leaving friends and changing relationships, and hope for reconnecting and renewal.

I stood in the backyard amongst a graying orange sky and felt the air against my skin. The crickets were chirping heavily in the dark green grass, and birds still twitted from within the deep green leaves. It felt so familiar and so far removed. Here I am.
I remembered right away how nice it is to have a fan blowing the warm air around. Later on I noticed how much condensation forms on the sides of glasses here, and how quickly ice cubes melt. I quickly remembered the sticky sensation after a shower, and felt the perpetual sweat I had longed for on chilly nights in the desert.
I had forgotten how alive it is here in this Texan tropic. Having lived amongst the fence lizards and road runners for years, with the sky offering the greatest variety in species (in cloud variations), I had forgotten the abundance of life here in Texas. On this short trip, I have explored these environments from the eyes of my cat, counting endless bird calls and being stalked by squirrels. I smelled the rich vanilla scent of a budding magnolia tree, and marveled at the helicopter-like form of a mosquito-like species. I've walked to old favorite hiding spots and surveyed new creeks where there had previously only been rocks.
I went to a bar downtown and achieved my dream of existing in a tank top after the sun set. It felt wrong to not bring a jacket, but it felt so right to drive home with the ac just gently blowing.
I've sat in traffic, identified new condominiums and heard about rent prices skyrocketing. And despite all the emotions I'm pontificating on my travels, I've considered the sustainability of living here.
People have asked me how I can justify living in a desert as an environmentalist. The answer is far from simple, and I think I'll be discovering pieces to it for a long time. What I've remembered from watching the growth of this beautiful city since I've been here is that there are ways to live sustainably in almost every environment. Often they require compromises on certain luxuries, or even what people think are basic rights- like daily showers and access to hot food. But so much can be shifted with a change in mind, I've learned.
As much as I've enjoyed remembering my favorite pieces of this climate, the pleasure I have of my life in Albuquerque has been strengthened. No traffic, bike routes, work that I love. I am so thankul, so so grateful for my present situation.
In feeling the warm embrace of this state, I am filled with so many memories. It is warm here and comforting. And yet, it is stifling. It is strange to sit back in a place that I have spent years moving away from. I have had many thoughts and much reflection time on my visit back home, but most of them reminded me of being a 17 year old angsty and artful teenager. I'm ready to return to my world as a 27 year old and make some new memories.
Everytime I leave Texas I feel a longing to come back. And everytime I return my desires here are less fulfilled. I think it's time to spread my wings from this great state and ride the wind to the next adventure.

Thanks, Texas. <3

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Een beetje lichtheid

I realize that I often unload a lot of my deep, and heavier thoughts. I make mention of the joys in my life, but it's usually as evidence for a dogmatic shift I'm hoping to influence you into. Today however, I wanted to share something light, maybe inspiring, but very beautiful.
Today was a big day. I cried great tears of joy today, and all for something relatively simple.
Ever since finding the quote by Albert Camus:
vivre et de créer au point de larmes
 Which translates to "Live and Create to the point of tears" I have tried to embody that sentence. Whether I'm taking a walk, having a conversation, or eating a sandwich, if I live to the point of tears, I am fully aware of the incredible energy around me. And many times, by living on the verge of tears, your levvy fills up, and a sweet warm drop of internal emotion spills down your cheek. And you feel totally human...and beautiful.
Today was one of those days.
I woke up at 4:45 to get some things in order before I had to commute out of town for a gig. I even got a quick workout in and made a delicious carob/banana/strawberry/cherry/oat smoothie. When I arrived at our base camp 100+ miles later, the first thing I noticed was the sweet, damp smell of the pines. To me that smell is congruous to the smell of walking into your house on thanksgiving smelling mom's mashed potatoes in the oven. She doesn't always make that treat, but when she does you know that smell. 

Soon after the smell got familiar to my nose, we began our activity leading a group of teachers through some culminating processing of their two years in Teach for America. While walking down the trail from that activity to our next, a reading that my co-worker had picked out called The Other Way to Listen, I saw a little bug crawling up the grass. I stopped in my tracks. It looked like a cicada. I had only ever heard them, or found them dead at the end of the summer, but this one was low to the ground and must have recently emerged. I stooped and picked it up, feeling it's little climbing claws hold onto my finger. I carried it down the trail a little ways, then stopped in awe, noting that one of it's wings hadn't quite finished developing since it emerged from it's molt, and wondering if it could fly, much less make that infamous clicking sound with its wings.

One of the things that has amused me so much about these desert cicadas is their small size, and the considerable difference in sound they make compared to the Cicadas of central America, and especially the 13 and 17 year cicadas of the East.
After admiring him for a bit, he flew off, much to my amazement, about 15 feet above my head. I signed, expressing to my coworker how I had always wanted to see a live one, and we settled in for our reading...but the true sounds of nature had yet to be revealed.
Less than an hour later, feeling the sweat build in the places that sweat does, I found myself walking back through the trails to grab something. I noted the warmth of the day- reflecting that even 5 days ago when I was out here, there was still a sort of crispness of winter. Spring had finally emerged. I saw an Indian Paintbrush blooming, and heard crickets. Lizards were growing in abundance from my last visit, as were the hummingbirds. I have worked at this base camp for 3 years, but I always come into the lush life that is the warm season, I never to get to see the change as starkly as I did today.
On my way back from the mess hall, I noticed another little creature climbing up a blade of grass. This one, however, was bright orange. As I let him crawl onto my finger I discovered that his exoskeleton was soft, almost fuzzy. He must have emerged within the hour (I assume) from his subterranean home, and begun his journey up. Despite his age, he definitely had a strong instinct to climb. I moved him to a nearby tree and I saw another one. Throughout this moment it really hit me-- not only was I to see and touch a cicada today, but I was seeing them emerge from their molt, a true symbol of metamorphosis. I snapped some shots- of the insects, and of me crying about it..and carried on.
Bright orange cicada?
Bright green cicada?!

The greatness of the day wasn't over, however. Later I got to return a soggy baby rabbit to its hole after it had been chewed on by a friendly dog. I'm not sure if the rabbit will survive, which is unfortunate...but there isn't a shortage of them around. I have been hoping to catch a rabbit around here for years as well, and I got to feel the soft (wet)ness of its fur, and the way it trembled with newness.
And yet, day of curiosity and crossing things off my Base Camp bucketlist wasn't complete.
Our final activity took place under some towering Ponderosa pines. These are the same pines from which we've heard a friendly owl for the last few weeks. On Tuesday I tried to find his/her nest, but only found the owl, and it flew away as I got near. Today, however, while inspecting the tree more thoroughly from different angles, I was able to make out very clearly its nest, and then I set out to achieve another goal- to find an owl pellet to dissect. I walked around the base of the tree that I had checked just days before, and there among the pine needles was a little round gray ball of lint, with a tiny bone sticking out. Success.

These may seem like pretty petty experiences...especially to evoke such strong emotions. But it goes back to Camus. I live each day looking for beauty, and therefore I find it. Sometimes it's in the faces of the men standing with signs on the side of the road. Sometimes it's in the shape of a cloud, or a gesture of another human. But increasingly often, it's the sights and sounds of the world around us. The world we don't often get to hear.
If you haven't read The Other Way to Listen, click the link- the full PDF is there. We can all listen. The first step is wanting to. The next step is working toward it. But I promise the rewards are astounding.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sharing is Caring

Riding  downtown with one of my friends last week, I was struck by something she did. She reached under the radio for a chapstick, used it, and then offered it to me. I wondered if my lips looked chapped, but thought to another event. Earlier at her house, she had offered me half of her banana, and pushed over a jar of almond butter to dip it in. Although things like chapstick and bananas are seen to me as personal items, she clearly has a communal way of thinking. These were not forced or unusual exercises, but rather a continued practice in her habits of sharing.
I guess what stuck me about these actions is that I've been really critical about my hesitation to share lately. Sometimes I'll wait until a time I can eat a snack privately, to avoid giving nibbles to others. Or if I'm really trying to be polite, will offer someone to taste my meal, then hope that they'll take a small bite, or offer them a minimal portion. And then there are a few of my peers, that will reach for food without asking, or puppy-dog-eye me until I feel obligated to give them something. I suppose it's because of my experience with those people that I'm hesitant with others. But that's not a reasonable excuse. Why am I so sheltering of my food, my chapstick, and my stuff, when friends of mine, or even aquaintences are so willing to share? If I dream of living in a society where there are tool libraries and food forests that are open to everyone, then I need to change my habits of sharing, and learn from my friends.
I suppose there's a greater issue at play, and it's not a subtle force. Although I appreciate communalism in theory, I have been raised in a society of capitalists. I have been told all my life that the harder I work, the more I can achieve, and therefore receive. Only once I got to college did I start considering the effects of privilege (so well explained in this video) on my realities, but even then didn't start sharing the way my friends do now.

Isn't sharing one of the first things we learn in kindergarten? How is it then so easily forgotten as we work toward the American dream. Where in the American dream does it ask us to share, to give back, to build community and contribute. Capitalism is an every-man-for-itself sort of system that doesn't work well in a kindergarten classroom. Why not? Because of limited resources. Just as our earth only has a finite amount of coal, a classroom only has a certain set of markers, or only one Goodnight Moon book. If Josh and Julie and Jamie all want to read the book, they're instructed to Share. But when Josh and Julie and Jamie are land developers all wanting to repurpose a plot of land with a beautiful little pond, the spoils go to the one with the most money, the loudest mouth and the deepest connections. 

Can you imagine a world where our kindergarten emphasis on sharing extended to the finite resources that we're currently exploiting? Like many changes I dream up on my blog, we won't shift to a sharing society overnight, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. I challenge you to share something. Share a meal with a stranger, or an old friend. Share a jacket with a homeless man. Share your sewing machine with a neighbor. I guarantee you'll feel great. I know, cause I've started sharing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Shift (Part 2- Investing in new Opportunities)

The world must have felt my mental shift, because the day after my revelation while watching Merchant's of Doubt, I was invited and inspired by many opportunities that are in line with my new ambitions at the Sustainability Salon hosted by TedxAbq,

Leila Salim of ABQOldSchool invited me to DIY in a way I had participated in but hadn't identified- Do it Together. By taking on building challenges and craft projects with others, you not only have the potential to have more fun, you can get a lot more done and grow community. Her local organization boasts classes taught in traditional, frugal and sustainable living. She attributed her involvement in this share-space to her upbringing in the desert, similar to the desert that her Palestinian father had grown up in. She said that sharing is part of their culture in Palestine. While I recognize it’s not a routine part of mine, I’m making a point to change that, as you’ll read in a later blog. 
Her talk was hopeful, and totally in line with my goals. She even took an idea right out of my head: “What if in addition to libraries where you can check out books, there are places where you can take and return seeds, and sewing machines”. Her talk ended with a simple challenge—What can YOU offer to your community? What can you contribute? Yoga classes? Fresh-baked brownies? The service of fixing a broken toaster? Imagine if each one of us decided how we could contribute and then offered that, free of charge, to our community. Or had a more complicated Time Exchange system that revolves around the same idea.

Another local speaker, a woman I had worked with in other environmental capacities, spoke about her work on the Desert Teaching Garden—yet another place where I can build community and learn new skills. While describing the layout of the garden, she mentioned food forests- a phrase I’ve been hearing with increasing frequency. Just last night, in fact, while talking to a friend in school for landscape architecture, I was expressing my dreams that all parks be like the one I live in- abundant with edible trees (nuts, berries, fruits)—when he explained some of the work he’s doing, and some of the places around town that do have fruiting trees in their design. I said I’d be surprised if there isn’t a website for “crop mobbing” as he called it, where people can identify where and what is growing and then go collect it. (Indeed there is- check out I have a feeling that in 10 or 20 years, we’ll be desperately relying on these crops, and seeing the atrocity of planting “ornamental” crops that are “messless” because they’re useless.  

Between speakers we watched a relevant Ted Video that I hope you all will watch, by Ron Finley. 

Finley had some great quotes about utilizing the space around him to grow food. 
“Gardening is my graffiti,” he admitted, adding later “growing yo’ own food’s like printin’ yo own $$!”
A few other opportunities that will prove to transform the numbers in my bank account into valid and wholesome life experiences are teaching and taking drum lessons (from my new favorite drummer!)
A fellow educator and very inspiring friend of mine mentioned that 2015 is the international Year of Soils. As an environmentalist, soil, just as climate, water and botany, greatly interests me. But because there are so many interconnected aspects of the environment, I have struggled with chosing a focus to learn more in depth. With UN's focus on soil and the resources offered, I can definitely learn more about this often overlooked area of critical importance, while teaching my students.

And finally, I acted on my birthday impulse to buy some drum lessons. I have been considering expanding my very minimal musical repertoire for months now, but it wasn’t until I learned that the drummer of my new favorite local band does lessons did I take action. Learning to drum may not help save the world, or seem very useful in a post-apocalyptic situation. But you never know until you try. And trying is the new theme of my year. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Shift (part 1- reframing the mind)

In the recent months I have had a number of dialogues regarding our pending environmental crisis. I had a humbling conversation with one co-worker about the difficulty of engaging in ‘business as usual’ practices when what I really feel like doing is laying down in front of a fracking truck, or crawling under a rock. I had a conversation with another coworker who asked if I believe that humans are the cause of our impending crisis. Of the incredible educators I work with, she was not the one I expected to cast doubts upon the climate crisis. Yet she had heard from her climate denying brother that there are normal swings in temperature change, and hoped that we’re in the middle of a natural shift. I also attended a book club in which four white women who work in environmental education expressed their frustrations with climate inaction, and shared stories of their increasingly sustainable habits (I was one of those women). 
6,000 members of Deutschland create a 7.5km chain near a coal pit-mine.
With these conversations reverberating in my brain, I've noticed a lot of talk about climate change recently, and none of it makes me feel comfortable. Almost every doom and gloom documentary I've seen or read recently have the same format. 98% doom forecasting evidenced by political stalling and an overall aversion to change and 2% vague concluding  scenarios that seem extremely unlikely given the basis of the documentary.  

It was in the theatre for one of these documentaries that  I experienced a shift in my attitude toward climate change.  I've been reading so much about how we have to act now, time is limited and that we’re dangerously close to a point of no return, and yet… we’re still so far behind. We’re debating the cause rather than investing in solutions. We’re denying evidence provided by people who devote their life to finding answers and instead listening to white men in shiny suits tell us what we want to hear. I've been acknowledged for my “unbridled optimism” in many settings- whether at work or around friends, but the fate of the Earth is one scenario where I can’t realistically see the glass half full. I see deforestation, greed, pollution, globalization and overpopulation. And being stepped on by all those things are a little team of whole-hearted environmentalists being called “watermelons” –green on the outside, red on the inside.

I’m consistently frustrated to see groups of healthy, empowered communities taking action against corporate greed getting combated by overweight men with self-appointed authority. What are these WASPs trying to protect? Chemically-laden frappacinos? Petroleum-dependent automobiles? The “freedom” to purchase a phone that is designed to wear out in less than two years? Surely these things are worth fighting for…or else we’d all be growing organic vegetables in our yard, walking our kids to school and sharing stories under the stars instead of sitting on the couch staring at our electric light box. How dare these hippy environmentalists try to make us convert to using renewable resources!

Satire aside, I decided right there, while watching Merchants of Doubt that it’s about time for us environmentalists to shift our attitude toward climate change. No, I don’t think we should throw in the towel and use up all the resources we can before we annihilate ourselves. I think we should start preparing for impending disaster.
Google Search: Environmental Apocalypse

What I've concluded from This Changes Everything and Merchants of Doubt is that people like me are reading these things and thinking, “hell yeah!” but those deniers they highlight are just getting stronger. In both pieces, they bring up the fact that people don’t want to feel that their ideals are being threatened, or be regulated by the government. The more I thought about that last one, I started to think of it like managing traffic. In a small town, you can have stop signs to regulate traffic flow. As an area gets more congested, just as our earth is getting more damaged, imbalanced and polluted, you have to put in traffic lights. Everyone is taught what a traffic light means, and everyone is expected to follow the rules. You don’t have to, but you will risk getting a ticket, or worse…injuring yourself or someone innocent. These are basic regulations put in place to keep us all safe, even though following traffic lights may make us feel like lab rats. If we chose not to abide by traffic lights, a huge accident could occur, and that’s when fire departments, police departments and the like have to come in. Similarly, if we continue to neglect the damage we’re doing…we’re all going to be living in FEMA camps and eating bland fortified foods. All because we’re standing on the street arguing whether or not to put in a traffic light.

I have often contemplated where to focus my energies toward our Earth. Is it really going to make a difference for me to bring my own water bottles, conserve energy around the house and bike around town, if millions of other people aren't doing that. Should I invest in educating those millions? (Well, that’s what I’m trying to do with this blog, and being an environmental educator, but as I’ve probably mentioned before, it’s a depressingly slow endeavor). What’s the use when there are still losing swaths of forests the size of Panama annually, and influencing extinction rates 1,000 fold. But there’s another idea. Something I’ve thought before but haven’t been inspired to act upon until now. I can invest in learning as much as I can about how to survive without these systems we have become dependent upon, like electricity, and coal, and gasoline.

I walked out of the theatre with a new sense of importance, and a slight sense of guilt. I had previously made a goal to have at least an annual salary worth of money in the bank by the end of the year—a goal that I’m quite close to reaching. But what use is that money if we don’t have those systems? I’ve hesitated because of the ‘post-acopolyptic crazy’ feel of it, but my big revelation is that by spending that money on learning to grow food, to utilize invasive, and use a weapon, and play drums (you never know), I’m not only building skills for a potential apocalypse, I’m building my community and myself.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Doom and Gloom

Happy Earth Day!
[March 25th]
Yesterday morning I was crunching through a geologically diverse stream bed, likening the temperature and vast openness to Big Bend, and feeling the sun shine down on my non-sunscreened face. Although I was finding pleasure in this simple scouting hike for work, and was joined by good company, my co-worker Aaron, my heart was heavy and my head was starting to buzz.
Earlier in the hike, as we encountered our 4th fork in the trail, I started to imagine, as I often do, a situation in which this would be my every day life. I imagined a time in the not-too-distant future when disease has wiped out vast numbers of populations, electricity has failed us and our reliance on computers for everything from pumping wells to dispensing money has proven a poor survival tactic.
But now, on our journey back to my fuel-consuming car, we share information from books we read about pending societal collapse, the potential of our species demise, the point at which there is no return and if we’ve past it, and how to encounter the world with a “business as usual” tone when all you want to do is go find a little tract of land and farm the hell out of it and stock it up for the next 20 years.
While we acknowledged the privilege we have to be aware of such problems, we contemplated how to move forward. Fortunately, individuals are rarely charged with tackling the world’s problems on their own (except in the movies: You are the chosen one…). Although it is discouraging to me how many people are living “business as usual” lives, which isn’t just not helping but actually increasing the detriments to our world…there are a lot of people who are doing really cool things

I often write these blogs through the ‘business as usual’ lens, providing ideas for what we can do if our world were somehow to stay in this cracked state without ever getting broken. I’m inspired by articles I read, and meetings I go to of empowered, enthusiastic young people and then I see little flaws in our society that seem feasible for one person to change, and I want to write about them, and inspire others to change as well. I was recently acknowledged for my “boundless optimism” because that’s all you can have in a situation as grim as ours.

While I think it’s important that we educate people to turn off the water when they brush their teeth, and turn off the lights when they leave a room, and take public transportation or a bike instead of a car, I also sincerely believe that our world requires a radical revolution if we’re going to survive. (As Thom Hartmann says in his book, The Crash of 2016) 
Especially if we want business as usual to look anything like what we currently recognize.

Wilderness- views of Zuni mountains from El Malpais BLM land

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I have a lot of half written posts that I haven't worked the kinks out of enough to post. 
In the mean time, here's a quickie based on a poem I wrote while eating a sugar free vegan ice cream on a stick. 
Guilt is the package unwrapping and the lights turning on. 
The fourth meal of the day and grocery bags in the trash can. 
It is not filling up metal water bottles found in trash cans, putting on extra layers to avoid turning up the heat or a vegetarian meal with family. 
What we leave behind. 

As an American Environmentalist...I feel a lot of guilt. My counselor in college told me to let it go, that it wasn't healthy, so I transformed it into some other description of the same feeling. But I can't help but feel guilt as I drive my car to a meeting, or buy something new, made from fossil fuels, while I'm carrying around a book that begs for a change in our ways of living. 
But two lines into the poem I found a little hope. I thought of the things that I used to feel guilty about- around the time when my counselor shunned my behavior. Through continued education of the invaluable systems of our Earth, I have been motivated to stop eating meat, and animal products, to reduce my carbon footprint, bike whenever I can, and stop buying water bottles (8 years without purchasing a bottle of water!). 
At a book club tonight where we discussed the strangely contrasting This Changes Everything  and Beyond Ecophobia, I confessed my inner battles with living life among our society as sustainable as possible, and retreating to an ecovillage with a truly tiny impact. I guess like so many others, all I can do is take one day at a time, and continue living out each moment to the extend of my beliefs. 
Today I made a vow to stop using plastic wrap. All I can be is best me. 

Beauty is around us. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We call it Mellow Yellow

Why I don’t flush when I pee in public, how it’s affected me, and what I think you should do about it.

I found myself standing in a bathroom stall yesterday, just staring at the door, waiting for the woman washing her hands to leave so I could exit the stall. It wasn't a cramped bathroom or anything, quite the opposite-- it was in luxurious hotel where there was a conference going on. The reason I stayed in the stall was that despite how much I have rehearsed my rebuttal, I try to avoid conflict, and I expected this random stranger to react in a way that I have seen so many others do- by giving me a weird look when I walk out without flushing.
The tagline for this post could be #firstworldproblems because I can guarantee you that there are very few countries where a post like this would be relevant. But of course, we're in America, where social norms and cultural opinions dictate our use of things that actually matter- like water.
The reason that no one is blogging about the embarrassment of not flushing in India is because they have bigger problems in India, such as a lack of clean, accessible water for the majority of their population.


So flash back to America, where we are also facing drought conditions and water shortages in many states. Where people are being told what days they can take showers and what plants they can water, and yet people in those same states and cities think its necessary to flush the toilet anytime something is added to it.
I understand it's not their fault. Most people don't wake up with the intention of wasting precious resources for fun. (Except for capitalists...) It's habit. It's what we've been told is sanitary, healthy, and proper. Which is ironic, because urine itself is quite sanitary. When researching for this blog, I saw a lot of message boards where people refused to flush due to worries of "splatter." But one helpful responder on reminded us that there is likely more bacteria in the water of a toilet than can grow when there is urine in there, no matter who's it is.

Why all this fuss about toilets, and not 'turning off the water when you brush your teeth'? (Side story: I used to HATE when students would site this as the one thing they're going to do to save the world. 'Come on, kids, think outside the box, we NEED you' I would think every week when one of them would say that. And then I saw kids brush their teeth. Good god, you'd think that water was an abundant resource, the way they let it flow out of the faucet like they were trying to fill up a bathtub... all while they were chatting with their friends with a toothbrush in their mouth. So now I feel that if every person DID turn off the water when the brush their teeth, it would make a significant impact). Most toilets use 3-7 gallons of water per flush. Is my pee really worthy of 10 times the amount of water I'm going to drink in a day, just to make it non-visible. It would be one thing if those 5 gallons turned it into fertilizer or something, but it doesn't even make it go "away", all that water just transports it to a place where it has to be processed, likely with more water.

Despite my adamant values, and undterstanding of the statistics, I too am adjusting to silence the societal norms that dictate habitual flushing. I couldn't get myself to let it mellow at my grandmother's house over Christmas, even though I knew someone would be along shortly to use the loo. As much as I'm armed with stats and figures about water being wasted per flush-- I was worried about the stigma of not following polite rules. But my hope for writing this is to get it out on the table. That even with "low flow" toilets that only use 1.6 gallons of water per flush- that's still 1.6 gallons of water PER FLUSH. So you drink a liter, pee 750ml, and then use a gallon to flush it. That's almost as bad as drinking that liter from a water bottle that took 1.85 gallons to create.

I challenge you to not flush the next time you go to the bathroom. If you get a dirty look- engage in conversation. Afterall, only half of our population even have this problem. Men get to pee in a funnel that automatically makes it disappear without ANY water, or with very minimal resources. Why to women have to be faced with wasting water or being improper. And then there's the whole topic of TP...

PS. Want more? When googling "is it unsanitary...". "Is it unsanitary not to flush" was third down on the list. It seems that most people are downright unconvinced in the importance of not flushing. Maybe someday we'll live in a world where women have urinals, too. Or even better, we'll all "go to the trees" like I get to do in the summer. The only downsize of that is some very highly nitrogonized soil.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Volunteering is better than watching TV

Something hit me the other day as I was driving back from one of the most effective and fun trainings I've ever attended. This was a training for a program I had signed up to volunteer for. I spent 8 hours of my Saturday learning more about how to volunteer, but it didn't feel like work. It felt even more rejuvenating than if I had spent even a quarter of that time "relaxing" in front of a screen, giving my brain a break.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 25% of the US population volunteers their time each year.  (Interestingly, most of them are between 35 and 44 years of age, white, with a bachelors degree, and employed). The program that I'm currently involved in asks for 8 hours of our time a month. 8 hours! And in exchange, we could save someone's live. I actually heard a young person say that they learned they could be happy because of the activities she had been doing with her mentor- a woman who volunteered her time. That young woman is completely reanalyzing her life because of 8 hours that one woman puts in (although I'm sure she puts in more than that, just because she wants to).

On a totally different note, I found on Statistic Brain that the average American will spend 9 years of their life watching TV. 49% of American's say that they watch too much TV. Why? Certainly they make it super appealing, trendy even, to catch the latest. It's hard to tear away once it's on. Even very down to earth tree hugger people I know can get caught up in a conversation about Orange is the New Black or Game of Thrones.  

So here's my proposal... turn off the TV, and volunteer. When your 90 year old bones are starting to slow you down, you'll look back and think that you spent 10% of your life sitting in front of an electronic square. For what? Did Top Chef inspire your culinary side to start eating better? Did Amazing Race teach you about alt he places you should go visit? What are you gaining by watching 5 hours of TV a week?
For just 3 hours more in a month you can change a life.

Have I convinced you yet? I know that volunteering isn't always an ideal situation. I have volunteered for a LARGE gamut of events and programs in the last few years, and very rarely have I felt my skills being really utilized. I had many experience where I would show up to volunteer only to carry a shovel a couple of yards and chat with someone, or spend half of my time being shuffled from one station to another, not actually getting to excel in one thing. But going through that experience was helpful in it's own. I learned what types of programs I like, and what type of people I am successful at volunteering with.

I would recommend going to a place that you already like to spend time- like the Library, a museum or a bike shop. As much as we think of volunteering as free services, it's rarely ever free. I've received so many goodies as a volunteer- from fantastic (and not so yummy) food, to bike lights, t-shirts and many wonderful memories.

Ready to act? Check out, or head down to your local food shelter. Some co-ops will give incentives such as discount cards in exchange for some hours worked. Commit to one day a month at first, and try more if you can. The rewards are endless.
But what about my TV?

Pick your favorite show, one that you're really going to get something out of, and spend the rest of the time doing something real for yourself- like a self pedicure, learning a new instrument or writing a letter to a long lost friend, or spending time helping others.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Twenty Seven: Transisition to Adulthood

Cereal lover from age...4?
There comes a time in every? Woman’s life when she buys a leather belt and some blue jeans, and hitches them up a little higher than she’s always worn them, and decides she’s going to start acting like an adult. If not in every woman’s life, than it at least happened in mine. Today I turn twenty seven, and this is the year, I've decided (and realized), that I am an official adult.
Many of my friends and peers have passed this threshold well before me, leaping across with mortgages or babies as their vaulting pole. But I've been dragging my feet in a sort of young-adult-hood mentality for several years since graduating college, despite the fact that I thought that receiving that degree would automatically enter me into adulthood. I considered myself a real live adult for a few years….but it wasn't until a few months ago, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and did a double-take, wondering who that woman was looking back at me, that I realized the true transition was about to take it's form. 
While others my age have been breeding babies, and taking regular 40-hour-week jobs, I knew I had a lot more self-discovery before I could settle down into something like that. I had places to visit, people to interact with, and adventures to embark upon. Not that going on such adventures prohibits adulthood, but doing so with an acceptance of the possibility of failure, a habit of making selfish decisions,  and the knowledge that you can always move back home doesn't necessarily build the pillars of independence. … (This link explains my hesitations)
The best Texas gittup I've ever owned. 

Maybe adulthood is about responsibilities, or about compromising the things you love with the people you love. I often think about the irony of my 12-year-old self looking forward to the ‘freedoms’ of adulthood, only to look back now at the relative freedoms of being driven places and have everything paid for and planned out by someone else. Still, being an adult isn't about having bills to pay…or not having fun. It’s about being the me I always wanted to grow up to be. And this is the year I'm starting to feel like a real 'Grown-up'.

For the past 5 years or so, I've spent my birthdays reflecting… I actually spend a lot of time reflecting. Reflecting on my current actions and habits, and what I hope to do differently in the future. I would binge on cake at a party and think, “I won’t do this next time/in the future”. Or I would  go to a party that I didn't really feel like going to, just because I felt like I should, and then wish I was at home reading. But this is the year I'm taking control. There is no next time. There is only right now. And I'm going to own that.

Egads! 10 years ago. 
Happy birfday to me. :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fight the Man! Or the label. or the advertisement. Or at least go down kicking and screaming.

Ever since I was young I rebelled.
 I don’t know if it was something genetic that made me want to cut my hair, wear big baggy shirts and avoid anything pink, or if it was the big poster I had on my wall that said “Dare to be different” and showed a rainbow spotted, boa-wearing Dalmatian among a bunch of boring (but still cute) black and white Dalmatians.
Regardless of where it came from, I have held onto this rebellion throughout my childhood, adolescence and teenage years and into my adulthood…and I think it’s done me some good. As I’ve started to sink into a more stable lifestyle, I’ve begun to take notice of things that advertisements and pop-culture seem to be force feeding us. But these are things that I’ve long avoided or not listened to, and as a result been more connected, inspired by and in touch with my environment. Here’s some examples of things I ignore:
-Expiration dates-
Ever since my first dumpster diving experience in college, I’ve been willing to dig into things that are well past their expiration date. I’ll admit, I was pretty hesitant that first night, looking at the pile of goodies we had just rescued from metal chambers of festering goo in big as they were laid out on my friend’s dorm room kitchen table. But then we cooked it into a great feast, and enjoyed not having to pay for any of it, and it was great! Since then I have eaten my fair share of long past expired stuff. Usually my rule is that as long as it looks like it should and tastes like it should, I’ll eat it. Now, I’ve admittedly eaten my fair share of things that didn’t taste like they should, but weren’t quite bad enough to get rid of…and you know what? I’m still here. I haven’t had food poisoning since two years before I first dumpster dived.
And my immune system has lived up to the many tests I put it through. Years ago, I left some takeout food on the counter all night only to find it in the morning. “Should we throw it away?” I asked my fiancé hesitantly. I knew that sitting out at higher than room temperature in our Texas home would be the perfect place for bacteria to breed, but I didn't want to throw away at least another meal's worth of a delicious meal we didn’t have to cook ourselves. “Naw!” we decided. “We’ve eaten enough funky stuff. If that didn’t hurt us, this won’t.” We were right. I don’t know how much science there is behind the idea that the more funky things you eat, the better your immune system…but there certainly lies some truth.

I can’t tell you how many people question my protein consumption when I tell them that I’m vegetarian or vegan. I guess this gets a lot deeper into full on diets, than just one aspect of eating, but it usually stems from protein. I’m an active adult. I work out with weights or bodyweight exercises 5-6 times a week. But I don’t crave a juicy steak after a long stint at the gym (I don’t think I’ve ever had steak actually). I don’t need to add 4 spoonfuls of some processed powder to my smoothies to feel satiated in the morning, or to put on muscle. (Which I think is in part due to my genetics). Part of this is because, although getting tone and lookin' hot is in my daily workout goals- I'm not trying to become a tan, oiled body builder with muscles on my muscles. All these magazines touting protein are for people who wanna get huge, and therefore put scoops of "whey protein isolate" into any beverage they consume. I just want to be a healthy adult. Therefore, I don't believe it's necessary to eat one fraction of a food that might be good for me (protein isolate, ie. isolated protein, ie. protein without all of the other things that help it digest and process in your body). I get plenty of protein because I eat REAL good.  There’s protein in broccoli, and in rice, and in wheat, and in beans, and in nuts and in SO many of the things I eat, that no… I don’t need to supplement my diet…because I’m not one of those vegan that just eats potato chips and granola bars. And as Amil so beautifully explained- I don’t believe my body would benefit from eating a piece of flesh that has been decaying since it was slaughtered. Pass the broccoli.

Super simple homemade protein bars

I had a very awkward encounter with a curious young girl last summer where I work. We have open stall showers, as we have for decades, and we believe that it’s a great educational tool to get girls more comfortable with their bodies. However, I didn’t expect to be the educational tool one afternoon when a young girl stared at me while I showered, questioning certain, uh… choices I’ve made, and clearly appreciating having a real live example of what a woman looks like. Ever the educator, I answered her inquiries to the best of my ability, hoping she would at least look away as I dried off (She didn't. She still stared, unblinking. Awkward).
Her biggest curiosity was why I don’t shave my armpits, or my legs, to which I responded, “why would I?” I’m not a swimmer, so I don’t need to shave to go faster. I can’t even think of another reason why it would be logical to shave. Maybe really bad b/o? Or being really sensitive to hair? (But I would think shaving would be worse). Women simply think it’s necessary to shave their armpits and legs because in 1915 the first sleeveless dress became popular, and in the '20's razor companies startedadvertising for shaved arms and targeting razors for women.. Men and women bought into it and ta-da- more and more money went to the razor industry. I haven’t bought a razor in at least 5 years (even the straight razor I gave my fiancé was a hand-me-down of sorts) and I certainly haven’t used one in as long. The idea of shaving is just as bizarre to me now as not shaving probably is to many of my readers. 

I always liked the idea behind not shaving, but wasn't motivated to actually stop until my college friend Harley started flaunting the cutest little arm pit fuzz.

What societal ideals do you ignore? Whether proudly or in shame... we all do things our own way, at least a little bit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

You still have made a choice (TextNow Review)

About a month ago I posted a very gripping tale about cell phones and phone services and now I’m here to follow up! The program I ended up with is called TextNow which boasts some of the cheapest full service (1 G data, ample minutes and unlimited texting) I could find. They also enable you to get pretty nice phones for pretty cheap, and they don’t have contracts, so weird unstable people like me don’t have to make up their minds long term.
I’ve officially had TextNow for a month, and to be honest, I’m still figuring out a lot on the phone. I have however determined some clear pros and cons.
Got a great phone, with a case for $100. My one pre-req. was that the phone be refurbished, but it didn’t seem like a pre-owned phone. It came in a fancy box with charger and case, and some get started manuals. I like the Samsung style, and how customizable everything is(once I figured it all out).
Customer Service in English: They seem very committed to customer service. All of the people I’ve spoken with are native English-speakers, and when you e-mail them a question, they answer when they can (which may take a day or two) and then follow up to make sure your problem is solved. . Certain things can take a while, but that’s because their customer service hours are reasonable hours to ask a human to work in customer service, so if you ask a question on a weekend it could take a day to get back to you.
Cheap!: I’m currently on the $27/month plan, which is the cheapest plan I could find for what I wanted (1g of data, 1250 roll over minutes, unlimited texting). By the time of my bill I had only used 856 gigs and 160 minutes, so I’m thinking about downgrading, especially in my busy/remote months. It’s nice to have a phone service that makes it so easy to fluctuate between prices and services. The lower plan is only $18.00 a month…but it’s set up for people who have wifi in their homes and offices and don’t really use data much. Although I don’t have wifi in my home or office, I think I can get away with the cheaper service, especially when I’m out on the road so much.

Poor Service: I have been trying to argue this as a positive thing (I’ve already been able to use the excuse, “Sorry I didn’t take your call, boss, I have really poor service” but I’m worried that will wear out soon). Whether inside my concrete bunker of a house, or outside on the street, I rarely get more than 3 or 4 bars (I think it goes up to 6).  Part of the dysfunction could be that I’m still figuring out how to use a smart phone… but I definitely have a less reliable call experience, and searching the internet seems to be variable on how close to the window I’m standing or which direction I’m facing.
Text message fail: Unless I have a certain amount of service (2 or 3 bars maybe), text messages don’t send through the TextNow service, which is the only service that I have to send text messages. It bugs me that it doesn’t tell me when a message doesn’t send… It just casually pops up a little error message and then I notice an hour or a day later when I wonder why the person hasn’t responded, and the question or comment is irrelevant. I’m not sure how to remedy this, but I’ll keep playing with it, or get used to it, for as long as I have this service.
Missing Voicemails? As I was typing this I was informed that someone who showed a missed call on my phone, had actually left me a message, but no where does my phone say that. This is the second time that's happened, so I submitted some feedback to Textnow. Honestly, it might be a game changer. It's one thing to miss calls or drop calls, but completely miss information that people think they're leaving me...not okay for a phone service. 

Overall I’m happy with my purchase but that’s because I don’t mind having a sort of ghetto service. The phone itself seems smarter than me- and I’m okay taking my time to get to know it.
I think this would be a great plan for someone who pays for internet and doesn’t want to pay a ridiculous amount of money a month for cell service, and has plenty of sprint coverage in the places they spend the most time. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.
                                                                                         -Michael Jordan
 You may remember that last November I wrote proudly of my efforts towards two creative contests. The first I wasn’t likely to get, especially when I kept putting off the work until 3 hours before the deadline. I hastily finished and was surprised with the product. You can see it on my E{art}h page.
The second contest I really got into. I started to really enjoy working as a writer and felt that what I was working on was pretty good. I even got a little smug about it, though not too outwardly, I hope.

However, I received an e-mail last month titled "Screenplay Finalists," congratulating the winners of the 2014 New Mexico Women in Film winners and I was not on the list. I read it three or four times just to be sure, but of the 32 applicants, mine didn't make the top 3 (for better or for worse I wasn't notified what place I made). I suppose I really had it coming, after telling Amil that his feedback was even better than winning, thus jinxing the Universe. I guess I needed this humbling experience, despite how badly I wanted to win. I wish they could provide some feedback. I’d love to hear “great content but the format was wrong" (which is clearly the only reason I didn't place). In any case…my loss is your gain, because you have the opportunity to read my unchosen play for free right below these words. Enjoy. 

Singing & Screaming

The outskirts of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Autumn 2010.


QUINN- 25, a youthful and idealistic music producer
JAKE- 31, Quinn’s partner, a student
JACIE- 28, Quinn’s best friend
DANIEL- 52, a professor of music theory in Berkeley
JEFFERY- 55, a bar-owner in Pittsburg

Quinn is sitting on the floor in sweaty work-out clothing, stretching while heavy metal music plays in the background. She gets a text and glances at the phone, ignoring it for a moment while she holds a stretch. She looks around the room, and coming back to the phone, does a stretchy-sort of dance. She reads and makes a face.
Oh boy.
(She texts as she speaks)
Yes I’m happy. How ‘bout you?
(She looks at the falling leaves outside)
New season, Sam, I guess it’s time for a check-up.
(She scoffs and goes back to her stretching, keeping the phone beside her. As she makes a new pose, it goes off again, prompting an immediate check. She reads, “not as happy as I would be with you, my angel.” She sighs a half smile)
Jake enters.                                                 
(he kisses her)
Damn, can you turn that down, I feel like my brain is going to explode.
Sorry, I didn't know you'd be home so soon.
(She stops the music as it builds up to a heavy part)

Class ended 2 hours ago.
Yeah, but then you go to the gym, and you always need “just one more set.”
(she mocks him)

Well I have to work a lot harder now that you’ve got me off steroids.
(He smiles, then looks to the stereo and frowns)
I don't know how you can listen to that.
You're so sweet and caring and it's so aggressive.
Why do they have to scream everything? Why can't they just sing, like--
Singing and screaming are the same thing. They're just different ways to express passion.
(a beat)
Do you still need help with your English paper?
Heh- that’s the only way it’s getting done.
Then we better get on it. I think it’s time you graduate from the title “oldest undergrad on campus.”  
Heh, thanks. I’m gonna shower and play a round of Halo, then I’ll be ready.  

Jake exits. Quinn's phone rings- an upbeat, sexy tone. She looks after Jake to make sure he's left then looks at the phone. She looks concerned, then answers.
Hey girl. What's new?
JACEY (voice)
He fucking cheated! I should have fucking known…

What?! Oh god. Where are you? I’m on my way.  

Okay, now I'm getting nervous.
 (he looks out the window for a several beats)
What do I even say to her? “Oh, Hi, remember me?”

How long has it been since you've seen her?
Gosh...8...9 years now?
And you think she'll remember you?
It's hard to say. I mean, we called each other soul mates. But it was only two short summers.  And she was just a teen then.
And you were an old perv.
Come on, Jeff. I did something no perv would ever do. I stepped back for years to let her grow on her own. I got ridiculed and lectured for emotions I couldn't control. I almost lost my job! I'm not going to sit here and listen to you spit this shit out, too. You and everyone else can just fuck off.
(After a long pause)
You think she's going to drop everything she has here and come back to Berkeley with you?
And if she doesn't? What then? You ‘gonna move in with me and stalk her ‘til she gives in?
(long pause)
No- I'll...move on...keep distracting myself with making music and meeting reckless women. If she's happy...
I'd be a dick to interfere.
But you are interfering. That's the whole point of you calling me up randomly "for a favor" and flying across the country so we could drive across the state to see her...isn't it?
Yes, but. Well fuck. I just couldn't stand it anymore. Wondering. Reliving the words we spoke, the plans we made and wondering...and wondering. And fucking wishing fate would have been kinder.
(after a long pause)
How did you find her?
(they both laugh)

Leaves are falling, Quinn is sitting on the grass with Jacey. Throughout the conversation she is building a stick fort.
But are you okay?
Fuck no. I mean, I’m fine. What’s a man but baggage anyway? But- what a way to end it. Just yesterday he was calling me his angel and saying he would do anything for me. What a load of shit! …anyway… how’s Jake? He would never cheat. He wouldn’t know what to do without you.

Ohhhh, Jakey. You know, he's so old and so young at the same time. He’s like a lost puppy finding his way through the world. I just want
a man who has found himself already.
And needs a wild young woman to get him lost again?
(Quinn snickers)


A few yards away, Daniel and Jeffry meander along the path under the leaves. As they talk we see Jacey hug Quinn and leave. Quinn remains, looking up to the sky.
Oh my god. I think that's her.
You're joking? Which one?
(Daniel nods toward Quinn)
Well, go ahead. Let’s get this over with.
No. I can't do it here. I've thought it over and over in my mind and it has to be at her house, so I can see where she lives, who she has become.
(He pauses, looking around)
 This is too open. Not intimate enough.
A park can be pretty intimate, trust me. Do you want me to go talk to her? Ask her name, and make sure that it's her?
Yes. Yes. Go chat with her about something… light. Tell me what she sounds like.
(Jeffry walks away before Daniel finishes)
Jeffry approaches Quinn slowly, and Quinn continues to look up at the sky through the leaves. As Jeffry looks around for something to say, she starts the conversation.
Isn't it gorgeous?
The color?
The sound. The sound the leaves make. It's hypnotizing.
(looking up to the leaves, then down at Quinn. their eyes meet)
 I, uh, I haven't been here before. It is ...stunning.
I come here as much as I can. People consider it more of a landfill than a park because of all the graffiti and broken benches...but something about it inspires me.
…I'm Jeffry. Jeff.
Quinn …I like Jeffry. It sounds wise.
hah, well that's me. Old and wise.
(Pause. They look at each other, then away. She grabs her scarf and bag and starts to exit)
Well I hope you enjoy the park as much as I do, Jeffry.
She scampers off, and he watches her go, a smile twitching on his lips. Daniel comes up to meet him.
That's her alright. Quinn. It sounds cuter when she says it.
(They both stare after her. Daniel makes short paces in front of Jeffry)
Oh, come on. It's a beautiful day.
(he smiles)
I've got to settle my nerves. I'm going for a coffee. You want to come?
(looking up at the leaves and around the park)
You know, I think I'll stay here and breathe in the fresh air.
With a nod, Daniel exits. Jeffry looks around the park, eying a bench but getting distracted by a woman walking her dog. Quinn comes up behind him, approaching hesitantly.
It’s hard to tear away, isn’t it?
(turning around)
Oh, Hi.
(he warms)
I thought you left. Indeed it is.
A beat. Quinn smiles, as if to say something, as Jeffry opens his mouth to speak. Before either can get a word out there's a loud squawk from a crow flying overhead.  They both look up. Then back down at each other. She lets out a breathy chuckle.
What? What's funny?
(lightly laughing)
It’s just…you remind me of someone.
Your father? Heh.
No… My first love.
(She looks him up and down)
Maybe it’s just your posture.
Want to see my favorite place in the park?
Yes, sure. Definitely.
Follow me.
(They walk into a thicket of trees, where she drops down to her knees to crawl under a row of rose bushes)
Watch the thorns on that one.
This is your favorite place?

Yeah, just wait and see.
(She sees his hesitation.)
Trust me.
(He slowly lowers to his knees, crawling stiffly behind her. He emerges from the tunnel to an enchanting enclosure of flowers and flora)
Oh wow.
In the afternoon the sun shines through that gap-
(she points upward)
-and it’s so cozy. It’s my way to get away from it all.  
(He looks at her and smiles. She shares the gaze, which they hold for a while)
What do you have to get away from?
Life. Hah. Well, I’m a music producer. Somehow living my dream. We just set up our studio, and we have all sorts of artists trickling in. It’s a slow start but I love it.

Is that what you want to do for the rest of your life?

Who wouldn’t? Music is such a release. And I love putting my moods to music.

What mood do you feel right now?

Hmm, something—
(Her phone rings a whimsical, energetic tune. She pulls it out, embarrassedly. She sighs) Sorry.
(Answering the phone)
Hey hun.

JAKE (voice)
Hey! I just got a call from the loan office that you paid my balance! You’re an angel.
(Quinn shudders slightly, smiling at Jeffry)
Can I repay you with some dinner? Then we can work on my paper?

(to Jake)
Sure! That sounds great. I’ll say ciao to Jacey and head home. You too. Bye.
(she hangs up and half-smiles at Jeffry)
Shit, I should let you go. I mean, I’ve got to go, too. I’m meeting someone.
(neither of them move. Then they both start out the tunnel at the same time. They laugh.)
You first.
No way- I’m not letting you watch me squeeze through there.
(Quinn laughs, and goes first through the tunnel. On the other side as he crawls through, she picks off some leaves, picking some off him as he stiffly stands up)

Maybe I’ll see you again, Jeffry? I come here every week.
I wish I could. I actually live a few hours away.
Oh. Well, have fun with your ‘friend’.

(extending his hand for a handshake)
It will pale in comparison to your company.

(She blushes, brushing past his hand and giving him a hug)
Quinn disappears through some trees. Jeffry walks out of the thicket and back to the trail, where Daniel is pacing.
(holding a disposable coffee cup)
 What the hell? I thought you ditched me.
(smiling and shaking his head)
Are you ready for this?

Well I didn’t fly all the way out here for a shitty cup of coffee.
(They exit)

Quinn sits on the sofa, a laptop in her lap. Jake lays hunched over a book at the table. There is a knock at the door. Quinn glances at Jake, unmoving, and picks herself off the sofa toward the door. She opens it, staring outside, her mouth drops open.


It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.
                                                                                                  -Bill Gates