Sunday, December 30, 2018

5 Fitness Apps you should check out if you wanna get fit in 2019.

My last few years of New Years Resolutions have included "collect more data". This year I've done that more than ever, mostly with the help up Apps and programs. Even though I'm a doomsdayer Luddite, I have found a few apps to be really helpful in achieving my fitness goals AND personal productivity.

I will note that this year has been the least productive fitness year for me. Hopefully next year as I'm obtaining a Personal Training Certification, I will be able to get back on track of my fitness goals, but this year, amongst anxiety, weight loss and lack of life motivation, I applauded any effort to be active (and met my Fitbit calorie goal almost 50% of the time).

So this is just a post for those of you looking for some extra Apps or websites to keep you motivated and most importantly having Fun!

I have tried other apps like 7 minute workout, which was fun when I didn't have a lot of time, but because it wasn't my only workout program it would think I was lazy. I also have a fitbit, that is definitely helpful in tracking certain things, but I'm kind of over it. The first few months I had it I checked it for everything. now I forgot that I'm wearing it until I go to check the time and find it dead.
I had how easily it runs out of batteries. I was really torn between a Fitbit and a Garmin and I wish I had gone with the latter. I've gone through three new bands (one under warranty, another a month after my warranty expired), and the screen cracked the first month I got it.
This list is the 3 apps and two websites that I use regularly to design my workouts. I'm sure it will change a lot if I do this post next year.

5) (App) Map My Run.
I'm not a big runner, but this app has helped me track my progress (and share it). I typically use this app with my Fitbit running as well, and there are some definite discrepancies... but it's cool to see my route and how much faster or slower I made it. I like that I can make notes about my run if it's an especially humid day, or I have a bad cramp or something. There's also a big community piece that I haven't explored much, though I've posted some of my personal best's to Facebook with ease from the App.

4) (App) Tabata Intervial HIIT Timer by Slydroid
I typically prefer a simple timer to track my intervals and workouts. I use the interval timer on my Fitbit, but because it doesn't beep I have to focus really hard on my wrist mid-Sprint, and I often miss intervals.
I have a Gymboss timer that I love but went missing for a while, so I would use Fitlb's online Timer if I was near a computer. But for times when I would be at the Boxing Gym or outdoors, I downloaded this timer to manage my intervals. I have the free edition so I can only save one timer, which I just adjust depending on the workout. While it is a lot more complicated than the website app, I like that you can play music through the app that gets quiet during intervals. I also like all the settings and possibilities. To be honest, I haven't used this to its full potential-- maybe that should be a 2019 goal.

Whether you're a fitness professional or breaking a sweat for the first time since PE class, there's something at Darebee for you. I think it was designed for board-game-playing anime lovers who decide they need a bit more exercise, as each workout has a warrior/spartan/nerd reference. I often use their workouts as warm-ups but in my darkest days, I would click around to find a 1 minute challenge that would at least get me flexing my muscles for a minute. Again, whether you're new or old to exercising, check this site out!

2) 12 Minute Athlete.
I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this blog 3-4 years ago, but it has been my fall back even on this gloomiest of years. While her website has become less user-friendly as it now enables cookies and has ads peppered throughout the workouts, I still use the search function to find the perfect apartment friendly, boxing, or pull-up workout that I can have done in 15 minutes (including warm up and cool down).
I actually avoided getting the App for years because the website is free, and I a so anti-spending money, even though at just $2.99 it's an incredibly good deal. Cheaper than your post-workout smoothie.
The 12 Minute App is well worth the price. It offers all the workouts accessible at your fingertips, with timers built in, and it tracks your personal best. I kind of which I had this from the beginning so I could see how my workouts have fluctuated during my high and low active periods.
This isn't just a fitness app, though. I get thoughtful e-mails, protein-rich recipies and access to a facebook group of random people just trying to stay fit, all curated by Krista and a few others. As a female fitness junkie, I am often put off by other female-led exercise that are totally for newbs, but 12 minute Athlete offers a range of exercises for all fitness types and abilities, AND she shows you how to do each exercise, AND it's done in just 8-16 minutes, depending on the workout you choose.

1) (Apps) Thenics
I think I found this from someone I follow on Instagram. After months of scrolling through looking at photo after video of sexy people doing handstands, muscle-ups and front levers, I wished that someone would break down the exercises needed to work up to those kinds of things. Then lo and behold, I found Thenics. I love these workouts because they're concentrated but I don't have to break a sweat. I have done these before or after other workouts, or as a stand alone when I don't have the ability or desire to do a full workout and get really sweaty. I think I'm going to try to do these more regularly in 2019 and track the progress, so stay tuned.

Hey, here's one more plug that doesn't necessarilyhave to do with fitness, but I don't think I'll do a whole blog about it.
I downloaded the RescueTime desktop App for my browser. This is really helpful for tracking my hours spent working, because I can look back each day and see how much time I spent on work-related websites. But it's also been neat to see how much time I spend on certain websites. I think, "Oh, I'll just space out and visit buzzfeed real quick, I've earned this," but Rescue Time is telling me I'm spending 3 hours/week on that website, and that's valuable time I could be spent learning a language or cooking my own food. :)

I hope you find this helpful.
What's your favorite fitness app? What are your 2019 fitness goals?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

How long does it take an Environmentalist to go grocery shopping?

The answer should probably be some sort of punchline, but in my case, it's-- "wayyy too long".

My boyfriend and I have been dating for over two years. I'm a vegetarian who tries to avoid dairy (milk and cheese products) for ethical and digestive reasons. My boyfriend is an ethically-leaning-carnivore-on-a-budget, with a severe gluten intolerance. Both of use prefer organic, whole foods but enjoy things like sugar, honey, fruit, and cereal. Other than salad and frozen yogurt, I have been challenged to find foods that we can both share. So, adding that to the fact that we both travel a lot and I usually got food at work, we rarely would buy more than 2-3 meals worth of food at the grocery store.

I liked this way of shopping. Boyfriend and I have each spent some time in Germany, and enjoy the European feel of going to market, buying some fresh bread or stinky cheese that was packaged that day, then coming home and eating it. The greatest benefit of this is purchasing what you are hungry for and eating it fresh. I used to meal plan and cut out recipes, but often by Thursday my leftovers from Tuesday that I planned on Sunday weren't exactly appealing. So I would eat those leftovers, still craving something else, and over eat. (In the last two years I've got a good handle on my weight and diet by eating what I'm hungry for... a simple concept that I'm still driving into habit.)
My every-few-day market dash usually included avocado, tomatoes at any time of the year, beef jerky, and some relative an almond milk coffee drink for me. For years now we've literally lived of those main items plus a few others, supplemented heavily by the leftovers at whatever restaurant we went to that day.

This week, we made history in our relationship. We actually filled an entire cart of groceries. We had a healthy pile of veggies- lettuce, carrots, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes and fruits- apples, grapes, avocados, and limes. We got a regular amount of everything two healthy people should eat, including coffee, milk (and non-dairy milk), cereal and eggnog. Although we had a full-page list, I am wired to usually only buy things that are on sale, substituting things on sale for things on my list just to get the discount. In the end, we "saved" $36 and spent... $300! To this day I cannot understand how my mom regularly fed a family of five on $120-$150/week, except for a) inflation and b) Texas (I do miss my H-E-B). I honestly looked into how to get food stamps last year for the one week I helped feed two kids on top of our regular food on my single-person budget.

So all that is a big introduction to: here's the problem with grocery shopping as an environmentalist.
When I was in college my brother came to visit and we went shopping. I spent at least 5 minutes in front of the egg selection, weighing out the pros and cons of: vegetarian fed, styrofoam packaging, organic, free range, local and of course, cost. While I was weighing the options and how my one choice of which eggs I brought home that one week could potentially destroy our environment, my brother went to get something and came back, "you're still here?"
I felt that again this week, shopping with my boyfriend. I was pretty dilligent through the first half of the store, putting back the Nutella because it's made with palm oil, choosing organic vegetables when the prices allowed, opting for non-organics of some of the less 'harmful' ones, trying to buy things in bulk that I know we'll use up to save on packaging, choosing mostly in-season foods, or local items from trusted sources... But by the time I got to the freezer section in the middle of the store and remembered that the dog was in the car and that the store was closing in 20 minutes... my anxiety became suddenly frustrated at my environmental conscious, wishing it could just shut up.

I honestly can't empathize with people who don't pull up an article they've read while grocery shopping. I would hypothesize that most people in the egg aisle are debating in their head whether or not eggs cause cancer that week, or if it's been long enough since the last salmonella outbreak to buy spinach, etc. But for me, it goes way beyond that. Every food I buy has a footprint, a story, and a track. I strongly believe that my body is my temple and I want to put only the healthiest, most nourishing foods into it. (Sometimes, the healthy nourishing foods my body craves are Frozen Yogurt with lots of chocolatey peanut buttery toppings, but usually it's a more balanced meal.) Part of what helps me keep track of my environmentally focused shopping trips is making pledges. In 2007 I pledged not to purchase bottled water. In 2010 I pledged not to buy palm oil. I know that there are organic options, and local efforts that make the evil of monocultured giants lessened...but that just complicates my grocery decisions. Organic is supposed to be better for you, right? When I was in college I had friends that worked on an organic farm and one that worked on a 'conventional' 22-acre farm. The organic farm kept their certification by putting heavy metals and weird concoctions not found in their natural environment on their plants, while the 'conventional' farm did everything they could to keep things simple and use biologic pest controls, etc. What makes grocery shopping complicated is that every single product has a story, but they're also trying to sell something. To me, buying from co-ops helps take some of the guess work out of it, because I trust them to only stock things made with good social and environmental practices. Natural food stores should check the same block, but unfortunately stores like Sprouts, Natural Grocerers, and Whole Foods often use that knowledge to exploit the consumer. There are still good products at those stores, and often they maintain good principles, but again it's a case by case basis, and even those companies can change their principles over time (take Whole Foods, for example). Nevertheless, we persisted, and two packs of Milano cookies later we convinced someone to open a lane so we wouldn't have to self-check-out our whole basket, then returned to our happy doggo in the car.

This epic grocery shop has already impacted our lives. When we took a small one-day road trip, I packed a delicious snack of cheese and sausage, fruit and pickles and olives. (In hindsight, I should have made myself a sandwhich cause I was super hangry a few hours later). Other than two meals picked up on days we had to drive the 5-hour round trip into the big city, we haven't gone out to eat at all! (Honestly, we've hardly even left the house).
The downsides to buying $300 worth of groceries for two people, is that I'm suddenly remembering that I don't eat that much anymore. Gone are the days where I would house 3 bowls of chili and then look for dessert. Some days I'm hungry mostly for snack foods: granola and fruit for breakfast, cheese and apples for lunch, carrots and hummus and cookies for dinner... but then other days I crave a full meal offset with smaller snacks on either side.

In hindsight, I think that successful grocery shopping requires more than an army of environmental articles and your canvas bags. I am grateful to three tools in my kitchen for aiding me in successful meal planning: big tupperware, a freezer, and a toaster oven. Because I'm the only one eating most of my meals, I've taken to freezing what I won't eat after a day or two. In the freezer currently I have: cooked "meat" crumbles which make an awesome addition to anything I'm cooking in an saucepan; homemade crockpot chili; spaghetti squash with pasta sauce and a bit of tofu. Also in the freezer are my breads, which I take out one at a time when I'm ready to eat, and warm up/thaw in the toaster oven.
Since writing this post, we've restocked on cheese, and I need to buy more pickles. There are still some cabbages and a whole cauliflower in the fridge. Now that I'm getting more comfortable grocery shopping, I can work on eating. All in time.

Since you've made it this far, I'm going to tell you how to make my
go-to breakfast scramble, which I think I perfected this week.

Ingredients (for two):
4 eggs
1 slice Daiya cheese, or regular cheese (if you're into that sort of thing).
2-3 leaves of kale (I usually use the leafiest green kale I can find, not that dino kale stuff)
1 sweet potato, peeled
1/2 yellow onion
Optional: meat, vegan applewood sausages, vegan chorizo crumbles, black beans

1. Cook diced onions on low for about five minutes
2. Add diced sweet potato in about half-inch cubes
3. I season liberally with chipotle powder, salt and pepper, spanish paprika and Chimayo red chile powder or cayenne.
3. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover with a lid. Let simmer for about 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes can be smooshed with a wooden spoon.
4. While the sweets are cooking, chop the kale. No one really likes kale (no matter what they tell you) so I chop it into little bits. (We have a running joke about my boyfriend killing himself in inventive ways every time I try to feed him kale. Not funny? Okay, I guess you have to be there...)
5. When the water is barely covering the bottom of the pan, add the kale and recover. You might wanna put on some more salt and pepper.
6. While this is cooking, I either scramble the eggs (with almond milk and a tiny squirt of mustard, + Salt n pepper) or prep the eggs for steaming (poaching?) on the kale.
7. When the kale turns a darker green, I'll pour in the scramble, or crack an egg evenly spaced out over the kale, and recover. For the scramble, I just keep scrambling until it's all cooked. For the poached? eggs, I just cover until they look solid enough to eat.

I serve it on a tortilla with avocado, sometimes fresh tomato, and hot sauce. And cheese, real or non.


Also, check out this alternative I made this week that I'm obsessed with:
Eggs, feta, black beans, onions and some amazing "sweet and spicy" green chile.

Friday, November 30, 2018

A final farewell...

Okay, I'm delaying my cute little blog post about grocery shopping and going straight for what you're all waiting for- What on Earth have I been doing since my "I Quit" post?!
Well, I wrote a pretty personal post about privilege but was too apprehensive to promote it, so if you're really curious you can click the back button my archive.

Since my I Quit post, I've been doing a lot of traveling, a lot of sleeping (who knew the body could stay horizontal for 9 hours at a time?), and a lot of research and applications for graduate programs. Perhaps the most time-consuming task has been compiling my portfolio of experience in Environmental Education. A lot of the pieces I have compiled will make excellent blog posts coming up... but I decided to start by sharing this photo essay. In my portfolio, this essay serves to show many distinctive experiences I've had in EE, but it's a nice look back, as well. 
As I'm looking into graduate programs and teasing with what job can help me afford the applications process, I am starting to say goodbye to my energy-sucking experience in Outdoor Education. It is my goal to stay educating and influencing others about the environment... but I'm realizing that I just don't have it in me to do these residential programs anymore. So, without further adieu, here's a look at my life the last few years.

When my parents came to visit in the fall of 2015, I took them to Base Camp. The pinon were ripened, as I’m showing them here, but I explained not to collect too many because the local animals and communities gather them for food and income. 

 I learned the hard way that some Native cultures in NM don’t like seeing skeletons, much less collecting them. Nevertheless, in American culture nothing is more hardcore than some skulls and bones. I worked with an 18 year old who was attending our 6-week expedition over the summer. She didn’t quite fit in because she came from a less affluent background than the rest of the students, and her interests were less social. I sort of created a niche for kids like that, and when I told her that I had found a half decomposing bobcat in the canyon, which I buried in forest, she told me she would love to help me render it. I think I took the photo with her camera, but at one point after digging up the bones, dipping them in hydrogen peroxide and bleach (separately), and lots of scrubbing with tooth brushes, we had a full spine of a bobcat on a string. I suggested she wear it like a necklace and she did, having me take some pictures of her epic success. 
  My favorite thing about running Family Programs every Sunday for 4 years was the openness it provided. I would encourage every family that walked in the door to explore, play, touch and create. I never had set rules on what you had to do with the crafts on the table, but had lots of opportunities for various levels of interest. In this activity, participants were to make a nest, which these kids filled with painted rock “eggs”. There was no right answer and everyone was encouraged to be creative in their own way. The child on the right didn’t go for nest building, but instead played with the puppets, making up stories and begging me to play the role of the other animals. Additionally I set up experiments to be conducted around the park, and activity to get the families exploring outside, and some sort of indoor craft that would challenge different motor skills like sand paintings or watercoloring with wind (by blowing through a straw). 
  I’ve taken dozens of groups to Bluewater. The last group I went with was a group of 9th graders who seemed uninterested in anything but each other. Nevertheless, I got them all to stop and squat down around a dead snake that I found along the path, and we speculated its cause of death. With other groups I’ve just seen how far we can walk down the canyon before turning back, allowing them to take in as much of the scenery as possible and pausing at only the most important of features, like the one place where you can literally reach out and touch 5 different types of native trees. With other groups I haven’t made it out of sight of the parking lot, where we stop and catch crawdads and make watercolors from the murky brown water. 
Another thing I learned over time from working with (and dating) Dine people is that you shouldn’t touch trees that have been struck by lightning. I explained that to this group, offering that it could be dangerous and they didn’t have to touch if it they didn’t want to. But most opted, like me, to get a closer look and smell the burnt caramel sap and imagine what it would have looked like to see it get struck. 
 I have led a number of adult groups as well. I have grown to rather like these, as they have a deeper appreciation for how I have strung my knowledge together over years of learning and connecting. When I brought my first adult group to ah-shi-sle-pah, an area that every child we work with raves about and could explore for hours if not days, I was sure they would take a look, take a few photos, and turn around. But I was wrong. A 64-year-old woman was with me as we crested the hill overlooking the mushroom rocks in the white wash. She clasped her hands together and strode off with the same boundless enthusiasm as an 8-year-old. I pointed out the dinosaur bone and some of the unique clays, but they were content to roam on their own and take photos. 

  My favorite thing to do with the pre-schoolers that visit the park is ask them to tell me how many arms across our big trees are. The result is a wonderful photo-op of students hugging the tree as the teacher walks around counting the students. That isn’t what’s pictured here, but on this hike we were exploring the texture of a relative giant. Although you can’t see the student’s faces, you can see their interest and engagement in this discovery. 

This was one of my most successful days in my summertime position as naturalist. I had 4 kids choose my activity, which was to go explore the rotting elk carcass that had been hit by a car along the side of the road. You can see my bandana from when we checked it out. Later visits would prove more successful once the maggots subsided. The period started with an unplanned encounter with a snake which I will detail later, but by the point of this photo they had gained enough trust in my passions to stop and marvel at every little thing in the dirt- even button cacti and small sage plants. 
My final photo goes with a little essay I wrote, as my final farewell to the friends I've worked hard alongside. Since they didn't have room to publish it in the last newsletter, I'll drop it here. 
You know that moment when you’re waiting for the thunderstorm to pass and you’re huddled under a tree with an inadequate poncho, watching the lightning strike and hoping it stays far away, and even though you can see the golden rays of sun just beyond this mediocre cloud, the penetrating rain drops are cutting into your planned hiking time, and now you’re wondering if you’ll be able to make it down into the cave and out again and back to the vans before the trekkers get hangry for their snack… That moment seems to last for decade. In fact, your whole summer is strung together with moments like these; or that insufferably long walk to the General Store after Chili night, or waiting for your Outfitters to go back to their cabin to get their raincoat/socks/headlamp/item-you-mentioned-16-times for them to have in their day pack. And yet, despite all these wonderfully drawn-out moments, the summer is over in a flash. You find yourself singing Desert Silvery Blue one last time, trying in the breaths between bars to think about to those drawn out moments, and hold on.

I can’t speak for all the alumni staff at the Gulch, but for at least the last seven summers, I’ve been trying to put our finger on a strange and mysterious concept. This year, we gave it a name, a name that it may have had before, and surely will be carried on. Gulch Time: that crazy dissonance between those long, scattered moments and the apparent brevity by which we all come together in one, perfect, rustic, phone-free space to laugh, cry, sing and grow.
I can only speak to my experience of Gulch Time as a staff person, and even then, my concept of it has shifted depending on what my responsibilities were before and after the summer. But I have observed it’s affect on our trekkers. I have heard countless trekkers sitting with me on airport day, or at our final meal together at Base Camp, express hesitation for going back and immersing into their world, after spending such an intentional summer building community.
A few years ago, a girl on MDT confessed to being hesitant to return to a world where she was compelled to use her phone again, now that she knows she can cope without it. A summer after that, on a Cottonwood hike with two TTers and a boy from WCT, one of the girls confessed that this experience made her be present, and more friendly.
“I wouldn’t even be talking to you if we weren’t at the Gulch.” She playfully told the boy. “At home we’re conditioned to avoid awkward interactions by connecting via screen with our friends. If I was bored, I would use my phone… but here, if I’m bored, I have to ask you questions, make friends, and entertain myself.”
I consider that a success in my book. I saw two articles this week about schools banning phone use during school hours. In one article, they site all the concerns parents have for not being able to connect with their kids. These are valid anxieties in a world of instant communication, but remember, that world is a new creation. At one campfire this summer, near the end of our 16-day expedition, I asked the trekkers what they miss most, and what they are gaining by being here. When one trekker stated that he missed the luxury of google-searching anything on a whim, everyone agreed. Yet, our carefully selected book box had hardly been opened.
This fall I got to hike The Narrows in El Malpais—a land that was totally foreign to me in 2014 when I agreed to move to Albuquerque and help with caretaking and outreach for the Gulch. I thought a lot, on this hike, as I often do. I thought about all the times I have built a fire in the rain, jump-started a car, pushed a car out of the sand/mud, talked two people through a conflict, helped make a salad for dinner, or shouted “Hey Cottonwood Gulch!” with a resounding response of attention. As I trekked from cairn to carin I counted about a dozen times that I’ve traversed this trail, wound up the sandstone steps, and explained the stunning views of lava-flow below. Gulch time means never stepping on the same trail as the same person. 

I’ve been thinking about Gulch time differently this last month—in the deeper sense, of the Gulch’s affect on our life-time. I have worked 7 summers, two seasonal contracts and three full years in various positions at the Gulch. I trekked on 100 treks, exactly, leading over 65 of them. The Gulch has provided my paycheck, an incredible forum for learning and creating, and a strongly woven network of friends. But soon it will merely be a memory, a brand of hardships, perseverance and commitments that will serve as a foundation for my future.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


**Disclaimer** This isn't the easiest subject to write about. This is strictly personal. I accept feedback and constructive criticism. I'm not pointing any fingers, just trying to point out what I see. 

Written October 6th, 2018:
I have given many hours of thought to this topic in the last few days, though the essence of it has followed me since before I became aware of my own privilege—which honestly has only been in the last decade.
I’m writing this from a truck where I was attempting to take a nap before work. I slept in the back of a van last night, and had a dream that a man was peeking into the van in the middle of the night and I tried to hide from him to avoid the unimaginable. In several weeks I haven’t slept in the same place for more than three consecutive nights.
Yesterday all these thoughts formed into a direction... I called my grandfather to ask about his health- he offered me a couple hundred dollars to pay my graduate school application fees. This is Privilege, I thought.
Just hours later, on the phone with a good friend, I’m listening to their frustrations at not having the extra $750 to pay their reduced lawyer fees in an attempt to gain custody of their own children. This is poverty, I feel. Despite being told I’m getting a check for several hundred dollars, I feel helpless to help their position.
Last night, at the end of a sporadic 12 hour day of computer work, meetings, organizing, etc, I’m with a co-worker in a work truck at a grocery store.  A gray-haired leather-skinned man with a strong Spanish accent waits outside the car door for us to finish our conversation, before launching into his request for money for a bus fare, etc. etc. Coming to the end of my emotional roller coaster for the day, I told him firmly that I was at trying to end my work day, and had enough charities on my mind at the moment. Immediately, I felt guilty. I have seen friends struggling with addiction-- living off of the dollar bills they find in their apartment until the next paycheck come in-- offer kindness, food and even money to people in similar situations. Here I am, (despite not having a job after this month) with a car, and a savings account—which is surprisingly more than so many people in this country—and I’m a bitch to someone struggling to get by.
This morning I went on a walk with an empowered young woman with no family to offer her hundreds of dollars for graduate school. She has her own apartment, and a job and is going to school, but doesn’t have much in the way of savings. She has benefited (if you can call it that) some certain financial state requirements for kids taken from their families, but not in a way that eases the emotional burden of such. She is one example of this growing population of people just trying to get by, who will continue trying to find more jobs and seek more government assistance to pay the rent for the older generations who feel entitled to rob the youth. 
After our walk, I went to get some coffee at my favorite coffee shop, full of gray-haired customers and hipsters alike. After spending $8 on coffee and granola and using their free wifi, I passed a homeless man on my way to the car. Most of his speech was incoherent, but he assumed I had a job, denied asking for money but suggested that I smoke (implying I give him a cigarette), then as I walked away said he didn’t want to date me… [incoherent]…I hope you have a great day …[incoherent with increasingly negative tone]. I thought, as I walked toward the truck I’m typing this in, of the commonly uttered statement by white middle class and working class people, as a dismissal for giving to the poor and underprivileged: “I’ve worked hard for my money. I’ve earned this, etc…” Whew. What a statement. Is being born a white cis male or female and getting the management job you apply for, and then, yes, working 60 hours a week getting your team up to speed to accomplish important tasks for the world, “working hard?” Did you work any harder than the college student who spends 5 hours a day, 6 days a week teaching 30 kids in childcare? Or a woman born of Mexican-immigrant parents who works a night job as a janitor and a day job making tortillas and in the meantime is teaching herself English. Why are you entitled to 3x her salary? Because you worked harder? Because you had someone help you pay for college?...
Perhaps none of these thoughts are new to you as they are to me. My own privilege in this world is just finally clicking. I know that a lot of the people reading this might defend their behaviors with a “you can’t help the whole world” sort of statement, and that’s just where you are. I know I can’t help the whole world, but I can certainly figure out my place in this one. I may have the privilege to be an out-of-debt, college educated straight woman, but I can commit to sharing my meager means with those who need it more than I do. And where I can’t give with money, I can give in time. In the time it takes to get a high score in Bejeweled, or whatever, I could volunteer at any number of organizations...

In my assessment of our American right now, there is a lot of privilege. At least amongst the types of people browsing facebook every day and reading my blog. And there’s also a lot of poverty. The privileged bunch tend to have the opportunity to ignore certain realities of the challenges of rising rent prices, drug addiction, the daily impacts of climate change, etc. Then, even amongst my friends, there are people who don't have financial support from their families or even emotional support from their families. I have one friend who grew up from a middle class family that stopped talking to him when he had his first breakdown that resulted in him being diagnosed with manic depression, and now he's in a hospital psych ward in Oregon, surrounded only by other homeless friends as family. 
However my brain is wired to work, I cannot fathom how anyone can ignore these situations, in a growing globalist society, and live in ignorant bliss in their own communities. Aside from the issues and wars and injustices of the whole world, even in your own communities, there is poverty, there is pain and there is a suffering that we all could work to heal. I just. Don’t. understand. the apathy.
Here’s an idea, for example. How many middle-upper-class families do you know, that have a spare room in their house for when their adult-child comes to visit (or something similar)? How many nights do those nicely adorned beds in high-count thread-sheets collect dust? If every middle class family got to know and adopted a homeless person, showed them the compassion and connected them with the resources necessary to help them get on their feet, that could mean millions of people assimilating back into society… Obvious there are challenges with this model, but it's a thought/start. 
I also feel a little bad, harping on working class folks, and certainly, don’t want to discredit their work and families and problems. For example—in the last three-ish years: I have had three serious partners, the love of my life passed away, I took my first serious full-time job with benefits, I have helped fight custody battles, blah blah blah… Despite considering myself a pretty strong woman, I have been through many challenging and defeating things in the last few years… and yet, now as I come to the end of my full-time job, I eagerly await the opportunity to slow down and process. What a privilege! To think that I’m exhausted from all the normal things that happen in life and yet I'm relatively immune to the spiral of problems that keep many oppressed and in poverty… is quite the privilege.

I have spent the last week driving around the Pacific Northwest, hearing hard-working people with no means to invest talk about great ideas that will never be supported. As we search for a parcel of land to hatch our own dream, I'm met by constant examples of how a small number of people are exploiting the rest of us to make themselves richer, for what? More yahts? 

So what does all this matter? The 1% is taking over the world, and we’re all being funneled around like sheep (most of us blissfully ignorant of our situations) towards a war that will likely eradicate at least 40% of the least-wealthy populations in our country, if not the globe... But I guess I feel like recognizing our place of privilege amongst all that, is the least we can do. …

Sunday, October 7, 2018

I Quit

On Tuesday I facilitated my 100th expedition. 

One month ago I moved out of my house-- the most stable living situation I've had since living at home. Weeks before that, I had carefully crafted an e-mail to my boss (edited to remove my emotions, thank you, David) stating my desire to end my employment with this organization.

After 7 summers, six seasons, and three full years, I'm resigning from the work I once felt was worthy of all my energy. I'm leaving the responsibility of taking care of others' children and 27 acres, and the anxiety and guilt of working at a non-profit, and focusing instead on myself and family. 

This was perhaps the most difficult decision I've ever had to make, just a few hairs above taking this job in the first place. By ending my role in this position, I'm ending endless bragging rights, opportunities to work in the sunshine, and shutting the door to an amazing community of dozens of like-minded people. To many still in the role, this decision was hard to fathom. What's gained by me moving out of my house and ending a job I've labored over for years, is acknowledging a need for a reset. And the world has shown me several reminders of the importance of this decision as of late: 

Image may contain: 2 people, text

To be clear-- I think I'm on a generational straddle between making long-term career commitments, and the increasingly flippant idea that self-care outranks community-care, and commitments can be broken. I have been loyal to this organization and it's community to the point of my own self-destruction...and after much consultation with friends, lawyers and a therapist, I've decided it's time to go.

There's so much I Could say about the difficulty in the decisions I've made in the last few weeks, or months... but one way to summarize is this: 
"Find what you love, and let it consume you" is tattooed on my left hand. It's a daily reminder of the way I live and love-- by diving in deep. 
Remember the scene in Matilda in which the kid has to eat the entire chocolate cake in front of everyone? I love chocolate cake. But eating one piece of it leaves me unsatisfied. All I can think about it getting to eat cake again. So, my style is to plunge in, and eat the whole damn cake, or as much as I can until I'm so sick of cake that I never want it again. For better, or worse--that's what I did with my first fiancé, and that's what I've done with this job. 
I got a taste of this new exotic flavor. It's family, it's support and comfort, and I'm gonna dive in.

Monday, August 27, 2018

There's No Place like Home

When I worked in California, before moving to New Mexico full time, we taught the students the basic needs of all species to ensure their survival as an individual, and a species:

FWARPS. Food, water, air, reproduction, protection, space.
It was fun working through the acronym from their 12 year old brains. Of course they never guessed Reproduction, and would giggle when I said it. They would guess the "S" stood for shelter, which I would lump under protection. But the final word, "space" really got them. I liked to teach this in the San Bernardino NF, next to a thick stand of hundreds of Ponderosa or Jeffery pine that were only about 6 inches in diameter with a foot on average between them. Next, I would take them to the strand and tell them about the unicorn sightings and explain that if they hug a tree and make a wish, it would come true, and that if they saw a unicorn they couldn't ever tell anyone... but this post is about space, not unicorns.

Over the years, I've identified my growing need for "space". In a recent appointment with my therapist, I was illustrating my own basic needs, and amongst "friends" and "nature" was space: both internal and external, illustrated by me in a little treehouse, with nature all around.

On a recent trip with a group of senior citizens, an older man named George asked where I was from. "I grew up in Texas, but now I live in Albuquerque", is one stock response that glosses over my transient period. "Oh, how long you been there?" he asked. "4.5 years," I bragged, "but the previous 5 years I had lived in 16 different places." "Oh wow. Where to next...?" he inquired. I smiled.
Although he and most of the crowd had been living in Albuquerque since the 80's, all transplanted from the East Coast or some far away place with an entirely different climate, he somehow recognized that my time in this city was coming to an end. 

The view from my old porch
When I ended my season of teaching in California, I moved to the space from which I am typing this. A small one-bedroom casita with modern fridgedaire appliances in a 27-acre park with apple trees, grapevines and lots of space. Friends and family have teased that I found my retirement job a little early. This space has been my Home, and I mean that in the deepest comforts of the word. On stressful days, I've walked from my front door to the pecan orchard and watched the ducks bathing in the irrigated grove. I've seen baby geese and blooming roses along the trails. I've had to say things like "please don't move your furniture into the sunflowers," and "Sorry sir, you can't use your metal detector here" and been offered a guinea hen, and told that I'm the Poop Fairy. In addition to being a constantly amusing albeit public place to live, this home has also been my safe place through the ups and downs of getting a great job, and losing one, and boyfriends coming in and out of my life, and this world. 

Kitchen/living room
 These walls have seen several shades of love, as I've shared them with my first fiancee, my game-warden-bound best friend and her adorable dog Boone, a work friend and her dog and occasionally her boyfriend, my soul-mate who met an untimely fate, and a couple of years with this wild man I'm looking forward to spending my life with. Under this roof, I grew and practiced different kinds of love. 
These walls have shared the laughter of long nights of rants and giggles. The floors show stains of memories from Amil squeezing peaches to distill into peach liquor, and the walls show a few knuckle dents from when things were really hard to take.

There are desert and NM skies like these elsewhere.

Despite all my fond memories of this fishbowl, I may have worn out my welcome. Two friends recently told me, in their own words, that... In life, when you feel like you it's time to do something different, you should really listen to that. I had held onto this space, despite my exhaustion of opening and closing the gates every day, sleeping with my phone on in case I don't hear the alarm, having to find someone to live-in my house and do my jobs for every night I didn't stay there, and the utter lack of privacy of living in the middle of a parking lot. I held on to the perks of my slice of nature in the city, and the pride of the reputation I have built in my Home. But I finally realized this summer, that there are other Homes. We found a beautiful place to rent in Valdez, NM, along a stream in a verdant canyon under the highest mountain in the state. The neighbors are like minded, the dog can roam free, and there is easy access to the Carson NF. 

Farewell, sweet little abode. 

On the day that I moved all my stuff up, I saw a bus boy watering the plants outside with the leftover water glasses from the table; we donated $10 to the local fire department and were told in exchange "thanks! We'll save you first" in all sincerity; and we discovered that the local "post office" is just a stand of P.O. Boxes. I think this place is going to be a good fit for a while. I can definitely start to feel like this is Home
[Check out the song Lost Boy on the link, can you hear me on the back-up vocals? 

---- Just for fun: -------

The 3 stages of packing up your shit.
1) I am the definition of simplicity!
During this phase, you throw out everything you touch, thinking about how good you're going to feel packing the three little boxes into your car when it's time to move. You start with biggest stuff you've been threatening to get rid of, then work your way to the junk drawers and nooks of nothing you've been holding on to since college. You create piles of questionable materials like anything electronic and dead pens...wondering where you can recycle such things.
2) I might need this, later...
About halfway through the purge, you start thinking about your life in the next situation. What if it doesn't exactly work out. What if every Salvation Army and Goodwill across the country suddenly close and you can't ever get that rug/hat/jewelry stand/ boot scraper back...
3) To sleep, or to pack, that is the question: 
Finally, you realize that it will take as many years to sort through everything as it did to accumulate it. You put everything left in boxes, take the final three loads to goodwill, and just move it to the next place, getting rid of more stuff there as it doesn't quite fit with your new floor plan. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Life is Hard

Life is hard, sometimes.
And they don't prepare you for it.

As we grow up we learn to identify animals, make cupcakes, and analyze literature.
We're barely taught nutrition and how to balance checkbooks. The math we're taught is generally irrelevant, and no one can tell us when we're going to use it. We're not taught the importance of moving our bodies, in schools, but instead forced to sit still and attempt to pay attention.
I went to a good school. I learned the basics of American History, I read a lot of good books, I went to college, I took a lot of jobs post-grad that perpetuated my learning of subjects, and life, and it wasn't until then, until now, that I realized why adults are so grumpy. :)
Adulting Life is hard.
There's trust. Which no one in the world can tell you if you're doing right or wrong. Sometimes people will tell you if they can't trust you, and even less often how to fix it. But more times, you'll think you can trust someone, only to realize, maybe several times, that you are wrong...

There's greed. A simple enough thing when Adam is hoarding the oreos at recess and not sharing... but a growing complicated thing that makes people act less like animals and more like devils, intentionally causing ruin to their own species...for what...? power? yachts? I still don't understand.

There's hunger. I was really affected by Richard Wright's book Black Boy in high school. He had a powerful way of describing hunger, not only as a crippling longing for food and sustenance, but also an inner desire to do, to be, to create.

There's passion similarly. Which they don't teach you about. You just seem to have it or you don't. You can see it in others, you can feel it for others, but it can become grossly complicated and interwoven into your worlds.

There's the fact that none of us asked to be here, we all just popped out, crying and hungry and have fought to figure it out ever since.

I work with kids. I spent short but impactful hours with groups of kids of various ages and backgrounds. Many of them want to grow up, to have power and freedom. But with all that, comes responsibility, as Peter Parker probably said. No one wants to pay bills, argue with their partners, fight for their children's health, or spend half their day at the mechanics shop. We didn't ask for this. But we have the option to handle it with grace, or greed. With a smile, or a frown. Nobody really teaches us that.

I have a vision of our future world. Maybe this is more of a sci-fi Hunger Games or The Giver sort of scenario, but picture this:
[use your best mental action movie narrator voice]. It's the year 3000. Aydrean is a Learner, a select group of only about a few hundred people in our human population of 20 billion (only 10 or so live on Earth), who have secure access to books, the way our ancient people gathered information. Aydrean spends his days browsing through library catalogues in a giant pyramid-like library, to collect information to put into the latest technology, keeping things up to date as well as adjusting historical files as necessary. Aydrean is so ecstatic to enter the library every day, he hardly notices that Jiyuna is watching him. Eventually Aydrean and Jiyuna fall in love, and Aydrean confesses his plan to make The Library accessible to all, in case others want to try this unique thing called learning. 
 I believe that education is the solution to everything. I feel that the more our students have the answer to everything at their fingertips, the lazier they get about their education, and lose their will to learn. And even though our teachers aren't required to teach about Greed or Trust or paying your bills, while you're in school... you do learn those things. I'm learning a lot of them right now, and even though it's hard, and painful sometimes... I'm grateful to be learning. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Two Ways to Live (in love)

As a teenager, I wanted to create a board game called "Either/or" or something like that, in which players were confronted with a decision that they had to pick a side on... such as: 
Do you drive the frontage road, or the highway?
Chocolate milk or plain?
Do you brush your teeth up and down or in circles? 

Somewhere I have a list of at least 50 more creative things I thought of over the years. This was a mental exercise that would help pull me from the very non-binary world that we live in and focus on the simple things. Do you prefer Sweet or Savory breakfasts? Are you a morning person or a night person? I never quite sorted out the players move across the board or whatever, so patent is pending. 

As I've grown up, I've become increasingly aware of my science-centric mind, yet as a collector of data, I see the evidence in astrology. All that is to say, that as a Pisces sign, I often experience two polar-opposite things pulling me in different directions. That has ultimate been the theme of my life for the last 6-8 months, if not the last 5-10 years... and I am SO incredibly grateful for the patient friends who have helped me find a course despite the pulling. 

Image result for pisces
Two fish swimming in opposite directions-- a metaphor for my life. 

I was thinking about binaries on my 2 hour drive to my boyfriend's house this morning. My previous partner lived 6 hours away, so I suppose this is progress (even if we lived together for the last two years).  Do you move in with your partner immediately and try to work things out, or live separately until the ultimate commitment? I have always been in the latter category, but for the next few months I get to practice the former. 
Do you write letters, allowing time to wander between thoughts sent and thoughts received? Or reach out with the increasing-ease of immediacy that technology affords? I miss writing out letters of Thank yous. 
Thinking about the binary situations of the way I live now, contrasted with the way I lived when I moved to ABQ, I wondered: What's changed? My partner, partly. Another quality of Pisces is leading with our heart, and being sort of a maleable spirit, and I have seen that exemplified in my life through my last four partners (It's been a wild 5 years...). And also, my job. I remember thinking a lot before I took this full-time position about how it would change the slow-pace of my life. The blog I wrote about how everyone should work part time would become hypocritical, and instead I would spend the next three + years working time and a half or so, for a cause I believe in through every fiber of my being.  

Through the last five years with four different partners and one very complicated job; I have learned the two ways* to live (and love; in love?)...
1) As a planner: 
a)I spent a lot of this life thinking about the future. I wasn't often satisfied with a meal, for I was thinking about my next one. I asked the universe for things, and it responded. I was constantly planning my next hour, day, 10 years. And this helped me get a sense for my current trajectory and how to track success on every step of my journey. 
b)Perhaps more a consequence of my transient lifestyle than my partner(s) at the time, I also had a lot more free time to put into writing letters, being intentional with my words, making food from scratch, and traveling with a flexible itinerary (and 3-6 plans for how that itinerary COULD go).

2) In the moment: 
a)I've been learning this one in the last few years. While I don't think I connect with it as much deep down, I can appreciate the beauty that comes with living in the moment. Why plan the future, if there's a chance it's going to change, is my current partner's mentality. So we wing a lot. We find ourselves in unique unplanned situations that often are pretty cool, but sometimes are less fun than waiting at a dentists office. We definitely have good stories that come from unexpected last-minute decisions. For example, we've been talking about purchasing a bed together for a while. I imagined we'd go to three different mattress stores, lay on 100 different mattresses and argue about the necessary hardness to get a night's sleep... but instead we drove a European-sized Wal-Mart at 9:30pm and gazed at different varieties of inflatable mattresses and toppers before settling on a queen-sized-green-tea-scented foam thing in a 2'x4' box. Through this life, I laugh a lot. Instead of having expectations, I embrace the daily surprises. 
b)Then, as a result of my latest lifestyle, I'm living a bit more frantically. I rejuvenate quickly from a shower or a cup of coffee, then go back into checking off tasks, an ever-growing list that will never be satisfied. Food is less-interesting, and more quickly fulfilling. I live for the deep breaths looking at the clouds, or the rare event that I get to listen to a whole song with nothing else on my mind but the beats of the music. I soak in the sporadic successes of hours of sweating, speaking and scheduling. 

I'm really grateful my my mutability, though it's really a pain in the ass sometimes (there go those fish again). I'm thankful that I have immersed myself into different lifestyles and challenged myself to embrace new behaviors.... for now I have enough data to know that I'd like to settle into 1b, with a dose of 2a. In the very-real transition into my 30's, I'm appreciative of all the chances I took and experiences I had in my 20's. Now I know what I which way I want to live. 

Which way do you live? How would you characterize your life?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Recycling Report

I get a lot of e-mails for local events, and many of them, are cleverly marketed to look rather interesting. But when I realized I was available mid-Saturday to attend the Recycling Panel to update Albuquerque on the state of recycling... I wrote it in all my calendars, and convinced a friend to come with me.
It is totally indicative of my interest in learning that I neglected to notice that the panel was part of a larger event-- the 9th annual Recycle Festival!
So last Saturday, I dragged my young friend along, fueled by some delicious chiliquiles, into a room of about 30 people facing a panel of 5 people, two of whom I knew (one used to live in my house, another I know through his waste management job).
While waiting for the final panelist, the facilitator was probing the audience for what we were curious about.
I admitted, "I have always been a recycling Nazi/ambassador (depending on which side you're on). When I moved here, I had the opportunity to tour the recycling sorting center, which provided great insight into the behind-the-scenes world of recycling. I'm the kind of person that pulls bottles out of trash cans and makes quips at people for not walking the 3 feet to the recycle bin. So I feel like I should be equipped with the best information."
At the Friedman Recycling Center, I saw how they used magnets to pull out metals, and wind to sort the paper. They used employees to further sort, and then baled everything up and sent it away. It was there that I learned the 5% rule-- that whatever gets sorted only has to be 95% of that substance. This was illustrated as we walked around a big bale of papers, complete with pipe cleaners from some child's art project poking out.
Part of the discussion on Saturday was centered around a big change to that rule. China has vowed to no longer accept the world's "Garbage". Recycling plants (predominately in China) have started sending back anything with more than .5 percent contamination.
What does this mean for recycling?
"We should think of quality over quantity" said one of the panelists, as a take-away. This directly contradicts my previous method, which the panel shamefully referred to as "aspirational recycling."
Since seeing the recycling center, and their publications about everything that can be recycled, I was definitely the kind of person who would toss anything that wasn't plastic film or food waste and think, "they'll figure it out".
But with the new recycling standards, people like me need to get in check. Quality over quantity means thinking about the energy that goes into processing the things we put into our green bins, and imagining what it's going to be on the other side.
(We talked briefly about greenwaste, which unlike material recyclings is usually recycled locally, saving another precious resource).
I walked away from the talk feeling excited, and a little ashamed. One of the questions to the panel was how we can justify, living in a severe drought state, the water necessary to rinse out our recycling. No one had a conclusive answer to the same question that I was asked by a family member when I was home for Christmas, so I did some research. I read 8 articles from California, Australia and in between (if you're looking at a Mercator map), and this one tells the fullest story, which can be summarized saying: use gray water to rinse the food out of your plastics, metals and glass so you're not wasting water.

If you're new to recycling, or you don't have the time or opportunity to visit your local plant and attend panels of recycling agents-- you can download the Recycle Coach App, which has a search option for all your queries.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The State of our State and the World it's within

If you were to read every blog I've written (not counting those angsty livejournal pages from High school), you would note a clear shift from environmentalist to doomsdayer. It's becoming increasingly difficult to put down my "Oh-shit, we're fucked" mindset and focus on the joys of nagging people to recycle one bottle at a time...especially in our current world. If you don't know what I'm taking about, pick up any newspaper.

The EPA being sued for violating clean air policy 
Massive Oil Spill in Indonesia

These are just a couple headlines in the last few weeks.

I am fortunate in some ways to get to spend the Spring away from technology and news, hiking in remote public and private lands of Northwestern New Mexico with local students, sharing with them an appreciation for the Earth beneath their feet, and trying with all my might to instill a sense of wonder at this wholly-connected world we live in.
Despite my very full-time job leading and organizing camping trips, I have had some unique opportunities so far this year, to travel beyond those trips and gather beta on the depressing (my opinion) state of our future generations.

Some students on an adventure-focused trek 
REI's latest ad campaign states that Americans spend an average of 95% of their lives INDOORS. Despite constant evidence that, as animals, we are designed to be in and connect with nature, we seem to be increasingly ignoring this connection, and even causing harm to it. This is both promising and discouraging-- even heart-wrenching. Working in a field that promotes environmental literacy, there is a sort of capitalistic promise in that we are making positions like mine, and the knowledge I possess more scarce. But it won't matter how marketable my skills are when our mono-crops have failed, we've destroyed 25% of the Earth's diversity, and billions of people are fighting over privately owned water sources. See-- sustainability and politics/the hope of our future freedoms are more hand in hand that most of America believes, it seems.

Outside Magazine's most recent issue has an article explaining the pollution and mismanagement of Mt Everest. I think this is a beautifully horrifying metaphor for our use of the outdoors. Mt Everest is a microcosm of our use of nature. Find the biggest/baddest and conquer it, giving little thought to the impact of you doing so.  In the same magazine as the REI ad and the Mt. Everest article, there's a review of the movie Mountain. With our decreasing understanding of the Earth and how it's working, and the slow stripping away of our public lands, romantic places to relax and unwind will so soon be full of people and pollution.

This weekend I led a presentation for the Association of Experiential Education conference here in Albuqeurque. My topic was how to engrain Environmental Education into Outdoor Education because it came to my attention at the international conference in November, that they aren't the same thing. There are currently people earning degrees in Outdoor Leadership and Adventure Learning that don't have biology, ecology or environmental studies as a required course. They take students into the wilderness for days or weeks at a time, and don't know of the incredible contentedness of the ecology they're existing in. This is a huge problem.

I attended two education conferences this winter. At SXSW EDU in Austin last month, I stood in a room full of ways to connect students to new technologies, to teach circuit building and robotics. One company teaches through holograms-- allowing kids to "experience" new things. We are clearly on the verge of a futuristic world that I honestly don't want to live in. I was one of three organizations there that offered travel experiences, and the only one that does so unplugged. We are so obsessed with ensuring kids have the abilities to be 'connected' we have forgotten to connect them first with the earth beneath their feet.

My booth at SXSW
At the Montessori Conference in Denver, I was a little more enlightened. Inspired by the Rachel Carson quote,
 "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adults who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in."
I was reminded that Montessori educators value nature, above most things, and students lucky enough to receive a Montessori education have greater environmental literacy than most. The conference was concurrent with the rallies for stricter gun control, which was inspiring to see. It is my understanding that most of what they are asking for is already in play in our legal system...but it was encouraging to see the turnout of families and adults and children of all ages.

Every day, I am grateful that I followed my heart toward a degree in Environmental Studies. And every day I am enraged that the people who make political decisions, educate our youth, and affect our daily lives did not obtain the same simple education. I am working HARD to ensure that everyone, at least in New Mexico, has some environmental awareness. But this fight is taking too long. At this rate, there will be little of our Mother Earth to fight for by the time we win. I am honestly afraid of what is to come. All I can do in the meantime is smell the flowers and wonder for how many years they will be able to bloom.

Want to test your "Environmental Literacy"? Here's a quiz with some basic questions EVERYONE should know.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Thirty! 30! thirty.

19 year old Cass
Today I turn 30 years old. Other than going through several boyfriends/fiances and living in 5 states and moving 18 times or so, it was a pretty chill decade of slowly easing out of my comfort zones. 
I decided that for my thirties I need to drink more coffee and do more drugs. 

I decided that to keep me focused on blogging this year, I'm going to post a monthly list of 30 things, starting with

30 unique things I have done in my life. 

21-year-old Cass

  1. Was told that having Controller of the Universe on my resume was too intimidating, so I changed the title of my planetarium job to Controller of the Solar System. 
  2. Sent nude photos to my fam and friends with my college graduation announcements. 
  3. Got a phone number from a guy on a bus by filling out a "reason's why you're awesome" notepad sheet and putting it in his hand as he walked by. 
  4. Dated a man I met on the internet (before it was cool).
  5. Shared a room with two different bosses, to save money on hotels. 
  6. Was paid to Mime on 6th street (when I was a teenager). 
  7. Took drum lessons with my favorite band's drummer just to ask him out. But I learned a bit, too. 
  8. Been in the president's room at the Kennedy Center.
  9. Spent at least a week away from home for 45 of the last 48 months. 
  10. Vomited on an OU fan at a Texas bowl game. 
  11. Lived in Four of the US Time Zones. 
  12. Auditioned for my dream role as Peter Pan, but didn't get it. 
  13. Spent three weeks in Germany-- ate gelato every day, but only had one beer, and no meat. 
  14. Dated four different guys in a three-day weekend. 
  15. Driven at least 10,000 miles in a 15 passenger van.
  16. I am an illustrated character in a kids book. 
  17. Paid to "lose my head' as a magician's assistant (best paying gig I've ever had). 
  18. I have watched the sunrise on the East coast and set on the west coast (but not in the same day). 
  19. Bought a new car.
  20. Shaved my head 5+ times. 
  21. $19/hour is the most I've ever been paid (other than Mime and magician gigs).
  22. Been engaged twice, never married. 
  23. I can do half a handstand push-up. 
  24. Paid off my student loans (Thanks Grandma!)
  25. Got paid to do voiceover for a kid's program.
  26. I used to have three black lights and a disco ball and strobe light in my room, where I would dance to 311 and Metallica, and Disco music and the Night at the Roxbury soundtrack. A lot. 
  27. I've given $2000 to a friend in need (on more than one occasion) and received a $1000 plane ticket from a friend when I was in need. 
  28. Did 9 days of the 10-day Master Cleanse
  29. Hiked 26 miles in a day (from my front door, up San Gorgonio and back to bed) in Merrel's paceglove. 
  30. Slept in a homeless shelter, a park, a teepee, a hogan, a Wigwam and a variety of tents, several vans, and a couple hatchbacks as well a dozens of nights on the ground under the stars.
I would LOVE to hear if anyone else has done more than one of these. :)