Friday, September 18, 2009

give me that old fashioned morphine

It is raining in Memphis and it has been all week. We go through a monsoon at least once a season it seems, which is generally OK. I remember the draught that threatened to dry up my mom's spring in 2007, and as a daughter of the rural South, I know that rain is a good thing, but this dump of precipitation is threatening the Cooper Young festival tomorrow, so for now, I say "RAIN! Go! Away!" so that I can stroll around drinking beer out of a plastic cup and looking at arts & crafts which I probably won't buy. I am not completely broke as a joke, but seeing as how I just got a half check the last two pay periods, I will be coasting on fumes as the month runs out. Boy, I hate that. That is what leaving work for two weeks to see cool shit will do to you.

Paychecks. With the same regularity of Memphis monsoons, I experience a crushing disappointment in myself quarterly with this fucking job I hate. I go to work and come home & go to work and come home & go to work and then come home unable to smile or laugh one day. Then I lament loudly, in a really boring fashion, about how much it SUCKS, how STUPID I am to have gotten myself into this position, WHAT ON EARTH will ever change, how I have NO SKILLS, etc. etc. etc. Usually by the next day it is gone, because, well, what's the point.

All of this is accompanied by Brandon's insistance that we don't have to keep doing any of this. We don't have to have an apartment, I don't have to have a 9-5 job; we don't have to live or stay anywhere for longer than we want to. We've seen enough of the world and people thriving in it leading unconventional lives to know that it works. We have this bundle of money in the bank that sits and waits for us to do something with it, and over the last six months we have made all sorts of different plans for it. I am terrified of doing anything; I am terrified of doing nothing.

A few months ago we were going to have a baby, and now we are not, and I can't say that I don't think about it every day. I think about it when I see a fat pregnant stomach; I think about it when I interview women who, in this city where the infant mortality rate is absolutely stunning, have managed to push out 2 or 4 or even 6 babies under a banner of poverty & stress. I wonder why & when & how, and then I just sit quietly with it all. I don't feel depressed by it, I don't get in a really sad mood about it, it's just always there, reminding me that I won't have something that I thought I would.

So I think about having a baby; I think about buying a house in this city that I do really love. I think about putting all our stuff in storage and cutting the strings for awhile. I think about moving to the field behind my mother's house and planting a really huge garden and living out of a camper. And I think and I think and I think...

And then I get up, walk the dog, take a shower & come to work again.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trips & Travel, Quatro

The drive from the Grand Canyon to Zion was about 5 hours long, which is a breeze on a trip in which you drove as much as we did. The drive took us through the scrubbier beige parts of the desert into my favorite, the red parts (Do these descriptions sound Kindergarten-ish?). It also took us through the Indian reservations, which are just... Oh man. I am not kidding at all when I say that the White Guilt was heavy upon me when we drove through those reservations. There were roadside stands with handpainted signs to attract tourists, one of which said, "NICE INDIANS." This was single-handedly, one of the most depressing things I have ever seen in my life. When I think of what our nation has done to those people, it just makes me want to cry and cry and cry. Even though the nice thing to do would have been to stop and buy something from them, we just couldn't deal with it at all and drove past.

We ate lunch at a pizza buffet in Kanab, UT, that was staffed only with children. (I would prefer to keep this as much a mystery to you guys as it was to us, and offer no explanation. We did not get one.) We ate a lot of pizza, and the bloat and the heat made me sleepy and unenthusiastic. When we arrived at the park, however, the FAB (fuckin awesome beauty) woke my ass up. Behold! Pictures! (Finally, can you believe it? Although these are repeats to my FB friends and readers of GST. Sorry 'bout that.)

This is probably indicative of the first sights I saw when we entered the park. Like I said, I was all full of pizza and slightly grumpy and groggy from the "road soda" I had consumed on the way in, and the sky, the huge fucking boulders, they were pretty cool, but I wasn't threatening to piss & shit myself like I was when I started seeing things like this:

The Virgin River runs right through Zion, and has formed the canyon. Learning how it has done so, and how many years it has taken, makes geology seems really, really fascinating.

Cliffs like the one above were formed from sand dunes that existed where Zion is today thousands of years ago. The sand dunes in Utah were 3,000 feet deep! Or tall! However you want to look at it. One bus driver told us that, in comparison, the dunes in the Sahara are 250 feet high. Doesn't all of this knowledge make you feel just crazy?

Above is the formation known as "The Great White Throne." All of the rock towers had similarly weirdish and/or forbidding names. (Although in Googling for some other names of landmarks at Zion, I am reminded that they were biblical, so maybe my heathen bias is showing... but seriously, "The Altar of Sacrifice"?)

We had all afternoon and most of the next day to explore Zion before heading to Vegas, where we'd catch our flight home Saturday morning. We didn't do anything major the first day, just a couple of short hikes to check things out. On the second day Brandon woke me up not long after the sun rose and we took off to hike the Narrows.

Like I mentioned earlier, the canyon was formed by the Virgin River, which runs right through the park. When you first drive into the park, the canyon is quite wide, but as you drive further into it, the canyon narrows until, at the end of the Riverside trail, it is only passable by foot, through the river itself. Since the high temp that day was 105 degrees, it turned out to be the perfect day to go for a hike up the narrows.

The river only got a little deep in a couple of places, and you can see how deep it got by the watermarks on our shorts. Those are my camp counselor shorts, by the way.

We didn't intend to spend as many hours as we did in the Narrows, but it was so, so gorgeous that we couldn't stop ourselves from going further and further. We hiked in 3 miles, which meant we hiked out 3 miles, and didn't leave the park until late afternoon.

And now for the conclusion of my travelogue.

Las Vegas, NV.

People love Las Vegas, it seems. Flights to the city are cheap, which indicates to me that it's a popular destination. There's a shit-ton of hotels, and gambling, and titties. When we arrived at our hotel, the Sahara (the cheapest on the strip that didn't seem really really manky), I hadn't bathed in 3 days or so, and had spent the same amount of time immersed in the natural grandeur of the American West. I got out of the car while Brandon navigated the valet parking abortion (even though it was free, we parked ourselves. I can walk, you know). It was hot as fuck in Vegas, all that concrete and defeat had sucked any kind of coolness out of the city. I went in the hotel, through the casino, and was greeted by this bizarre assortment of overly groomed girls in short summer dresses, grandmas on oxygen, skeezy dudes of all ages, and, oddly enough, a seemingly high concentration of disabled people. Every kind of disabled you can imagine, they were spending their SSI checks at the Sahara on August 21, 2009. It was so, so weird & depressing, and I started to feel like Hunter S. Thompson in the Fear & Loathing movie when everyone looked like weird dinosaur lizard people. So, after I had eaten my tuna melt in the 24 hour cafe at the Sahara, I said, "Thanks but no thanks, Las Vegas," and went to sleep. Vegas is not my kind of city. I can't understand how it's fun to go on a vacation where the purpose of the whole thing is to lose a bunch of money! I mean, you spend enough money travelling already!

So, all in all, it may have been one of the best trips we have ever taken together. I am not kidding when I say that we didn't have one fight the whole trip. Sure, we got annoyed with each other a few times, but there was never one of those shitty fights that can erupt when you're in a car together for so many hours. We logged more than 2500 miles in 11 days, drank approximately 6 bottles of $2 chuck, ate 6+ fish tacos, and married off our dear brother & got a sister. You can see a shit-ton of pictures on FB, if you're interested.

Personally, I'm just glad I can go back to blogging about real life again.


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