Just Keep Swimming.

Kinsale, Ireland.
Kinsale, Ireland. September 2010.

My days have been grand and crazy. Moving arrangements, college interviews, revisions and writing attempts, ACT planning, plane ticket bookings, trying to stay cool and sane and content in the 96-degree heat of yesterday… But life is good. Enthusiasm is my constant emotion. And really, what’s the point of life if you have no enthusiasm?

That said, I’m not so enthusiastic about my chronic case of sinusitis. I’m off to yet another doctor’s appointment. Woohoo!

Have a good weekend.

Below 200.

I didn’t sleep well last night.

I woke around three to my window rattling. Branches of a pepper tree swung against the glass. A low moan chilled the night. I instantly knew what was up. They had arrived. The Santa Ana’s. I’ve been waiting for them with vigor all autumn. The mania they infuse, the destruction. It’s inspiring. Invigorating. I can’t help but love them. Love them despite the nightmares they cause (after falling back asleep I woke up again two hours later screaming myself out of a dream), the trees they knock down, and wildfires they ignite.

When you fear something as much as I’ve always feared the Santa Ana’s, all that is left is to surrender in awe. I used to dread them all summer when I was young. A friend told me they scramble brains with their positive ions, and I read somewhere that the murder rates in Los Angeles rocket this time of year. Regardless, I believe positive ions feed creativity. Making the “scrambled brain” feeling (and higher crime rate) worth it.

I always write best during wind season.

Not that I like murder.
Or think that the wind is an excuse for crime.

I just like to write.

Sequioas, Here I (May) Come.

A quick update for you all.

To everything I said last week…


I’m moving in January. Probably moving to Humboldt County. I know, I know. I’m hysterical. A riot, my mom might say. But how can I explain this? How can I make sense without rambling senselessly again?

Not even an hour after publishing my last entry (in which I declared myself an addict to moving and swore I’d stay put), everything — EVERYTHING — began to work in favor of my leaving. And it feels so right. My gut no longer burns. I can’t stop smiling, but not in a manic I’m crazy and grinning like a mad food kind of way, but a sincere life may turn out okay and hope is real and I am happy sort of thing. That kind of smile. I’m not twitching as violently, nor am I constantly stalking the Colorado Springs classifieds…

Okay. That last part is a total lie. I will always lust after Colorado Springs.

I will also always do what feels most intuitive. That sounds hippy dippy — trusting my intuition — but it has yet to fail me. And while there was total truth in what I wrote last week, I also know that there are many rational, beautiful reasons behind the potential move. It’s like I had to recognize the negative motives to be able to see the real golden ones too.

Because even as I wrote that entry, muttering about my decision to stay in Orange County, I felt sick. Sick. Sick. Sick. The truth is this: I DO want to move to Humboldt. I’ll be honest, if I could, I’d drive back to Colorado Springs tomorrow. But Humboldt County entices me and there has to be a reason why I keep going back to it. (I almost moved to Arcata when I was seventeen, but instead settled on Berkeley.) Anyway, I have to stay in California for the next two years, and Humboldt County is the only place in this state I can see myself long term.

So, away I (potentially) go.

And maybe I am addicted to moving. So, what?

Who knows. I may move to Humboldt County. I may join the circus. I may go dig a cave in the sandstone of Lake Powell. I’ve learned that I can’t predict anything. I can only let it all fall into place. So flow, life, flow.

Just please don’t slap me if I come back next week and announce my plans to move to Alaska.

I’m sure I’ll dwell on this subject further, but for now, I’m jolting home to Colorado via FIY editing. See ya. 🙂

I’m Not Moving.

The expected fluttering began last week.

Like clockwork, my heart raced. Minutes passed and all I could do was stare out at the gray afternoon sky. Checking craigslist became a twitch. Every hour. Every thirty minutes. Every other minute. My blood ran hot. In acupuncture, I failed miserably at meditating, or even simply resting. Instead, my toes trembled as my thoughts galloped wildly. I bit my tongue.

No. No. Stop. Stop. Stop. Yes. Okay. This can work. I can move again. Move this January. That’s what I’m going to do. Move. It’s time to move. Is this right? Yes. YES! This is totally right. Must move, must move, must move. Humboldt is a 12 hour drive. Okay. Okay. That’s fine. Not as far as Colorado Spring’s 18, so easy, so easy. What about furniture? You’re going to find a place that’s furnished? So do not want to buy furniture again. Who is in Humboldt? No one. Not a soul but me. Why Humboldt? Adventure! Adventure! Gotta call College of the Redwoods. Time to condense my life into the Mini Cooper again! Gotta plan, plan, plan, plan. This will be my salvation. Moving will solve everything! Everything! And I’ll go to school full time and write like a mad woman and maybe find a job at a co-op on the side and it’s always drizzly there, so life will be MAGIC.

For four days, I was set on moving. The certainty consumed me.

But for all the thinking I was doing, I wasn’t thinking much at all. The craze and adrenaline fogged over any sort of mental clarity. In the last three years, I’ve moved five times. Up and back and down and over to always end up right back here. I only just returned to Orange County two months ago. I was in my house prior to that for a spare two months. And before that, six months. And I could go on and on about the lengths of time I’ve stood still in residency, but the point is, since moving to Berkeley, I’ve developed a tendency to move at any given opportunity.

Hi, my name is Heather and I’m an addict. An addict of moving.

My car can vouch for me.
When I finally did SHUT UP with the thinking, a hollowness settled into my gut. My hands shook, my throat closed. I stared at my feet, at the ceiling, at the glossy wood of the dining room table. Loneliness wove down my spine. Why do I want to move to Humboldt County? I’d been talking about the (less then great) schools up there, about the Redwoods, and the lifestyle. New people. New experiences. Independence. It would be difficult, but I would grow. I need to thrust myself out of my comfort zone. It sounds (as moving always does) so glamorous. All awesome and legit reasons to move, yes, but the decision felt wrong. My depression was escalating, while my anxiety brewed darker every day.

I’ll admit another secret: For every time I checked Humboldt County’s craigslist housing postings, I also checked Colorado Springs. And Santa Barbara’s, Seattle’s, the Bay Area’s, Portland’s… Warren, Ohio’s, too. Point is, I really don’t want to move to Humboldt County. I just want to move.

So I slammed the book closed.

I wanted to move for the sake of moving. I wanted to move because it’s been two months and I’m still here. And Orange County is the last place I want to be and I really thrive when I live on my own and I’m nineteen and that’s almost twenty and I miss Colorado, hell, I miss Colorado more than I thought I could, but I CAN’T go back, because I MUST stay in California, need to dedicate myself to school, and let’s be honest, I have a lot of self doubts, confusions, I’m tangled and alone, so I need to fly, fly, fly away and move.

Which is exactly why I’ve decided to stay put. If I’m going to grow from anything, it’ll be from facing what I fear most and roughing out a semester in my childhood home. I think forcing myself to be stagnant is necessary right now. I need to stop running, need to sit still long enough to figure out what I REALLY want to do. Moving consumes me, it numbs out all other issues, gives me something to focus on for months at a time.

Making it unfathomably addicting.

My plans for the next six months are far from glamorous or exciting — live at home, attend classes at the local community college and work towards transferring to a university, write, write, write, write, find some sanity. And I won’t deny that thinking about this (about my not moving any time soon) makes my lungs itch. I’m not enthused. But it’s the right choice. I know this. I’ll make it work. My thickening despair (as I write this entry my twitch strengthens) is only making it clearer that I need to stay.

And anyway knowing me, I’m sure something dramatically fabulous will fall into place sooner or later.

Hm. Actually. Maybe I will move.

Two Weeks With a Backpack.

It’s October 13th. 9:11 AM. I’m sitting in my house in Orange County, staring out at my backyard, at the bright blue sky. It’s so clear. I have to blink. Last time I checked, I couldn’t see past the olive tree. The coastal fog had been thick, a white blanket of chilled cotton, trapping the morning in its hazy grip. But it’s gone now. Evaporated. In the time between pouring my second cup of coffee and feeding the dogs, the autumn heat burnt the fog off.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it shall be another glorious day in the golden land of Southern California.

I promise that wasn’t sarcasm. No, not at all.

Would you believe me if I wrote that I’ve been home for two weeks now? That I flew from Europe and returned to America before October even began? It’s true. My Twitter account can vouch for me. And already my time in those foreign countries has faded into a dreamlike bundle of memories. There are so many emotions that swarm when you’re in the midst of travel, so much to absorb and learn. It was incredible.

Yes, we came home early. Rather then backpacking for a full month, we only stayed for two weeks. I could ramble endlessly about our decision and the time I spent in England, Ireland, and France, but I kind of already did. For whatever reason (laziness? an unwillingness to repeat myself?), I feel inclined to post an excerpt from my “private journal”. I wrote this mess two days after coming home (October 2), when I was still encased with jet lag and had consumed too much caffeine. But I think I mused over my travels as good as I ever will, so I’m sharing it here. Understand that I wrote this with the intention of keeping it locked away and dusty, so read at your own risk. It does get sticky…

Europe. Europe. Europe. Heather, my God, focus [don’t tell me that I’m the only one who addresses herself in her journal writing]. Europe was lovely. Exhausting. It was as good as backpacking can be. But backpacking, seriously, where did such a ridiculous notion come to place? When did strutting through foreign cities with your heavy life strapped to your weak back, lost, not knowing where you’ll be sleeping, living like a homeless nomad become such an awesome idea? It was absurd! Absurd! Maybe Amber and I are spoiled, weak, but neither of us could fathom how someone could backpack for a full year.

It was so incredibly cold over there.

London, England.
First night of travel, in London, after 9 hour flight.

But I loved it. I loved backpacking. I reveled in every moment. The physical pain was exhilarating. The emotional trauma was stimulating. A new city everyday, the green fields and fresh figs and historic decaying buildings and the people, all the different people, drowning in the cultures that vary so aggressively, that build these countries piece by piece. I cried most nights. The craze of the day would settle. My depression would crawl up my throat, settle against my tonsils. And finally lying down, finally still, my thoughts would catch up. No, no. Not okay. Ambien. Benadryl. Lunesta. Knock myself out until morning, until I woke, when it was time to again pull on my dirty jeans and strap the wretched pack onto my back once more. But it was okay, it was what I’d anticipated, and Amber and I would dive deeper into which ever foreign world we were currently visiting.

Cork, Ireland.
Where am I? Who am I? What is this thing on my back?

I knew that I had no where else to be, so I didn’t mind the “trials” of being a nomad overseas. But really, how can one mind when you’re witnessing so many beautiful and obscure things? London, Oxford, Sheffield, Cork, Kinsale, Galway, Belfast, Dublin, Tours, Aix-En-Provence, Paris… They were all so remarkable and extreme in their individual appeal. And even now, listing those cities, it doesn’t sound like much, but it also sounds like too much. And was it all just a silly dream, a joke, am I still asleep?

Sheffield, England.
With dear Shola in Sheffield — a definite highlight. So, so wonderful to finally hug such a fantastic friend!

A lot went wrong. It became a hilarity. And I loved every flaw. But not in a self-loathing way. No, because each flaw brought on new flair, brought on adventure and change and ridiculousness and what is reality without a good dose of error? Some of the greatest moments in Europe were when Amber and I were stranded and scared and wondering where we’d go for the night and why are those French girls pointing and laughing at us and how have we wound up lost in Irish suburbia? So when our flight was canceled and we had to take an 18 hour ferry to France, it was just silly. Just classic.

Ferry From Ireland to France.
On a boat! Journeying from Rosslare, Ireland to Rosscoff, France after our flight was canceled due to strikes.

And so when we finally got to Paris, two weeks into the trip, so bruised and weary, and we had no accommodations planned for Switzerland or Spain and couchsurfing was a bust and Amber was missing her boyfriend and had a huge test for work to study for and me? Me? Heather, do you want to go home, do you think we should go home? There’s a flight from Dusseldorf for three hundred euro and you won’t go into debt if we leave now, but if we stay you’ll probably spend another thousand euro on food and hostels and debt debt debt debt and your back hurts, your bleeding internally, and you just want a good salad, a real shower, so yes, lets go home, lets go back, is this a good plan?

Aix en Provence, France.
Amber and I in Aix-en-Provence

I didn’t plan anything for this trip. I didn’t prepare. I didn’t initiate a thing. It was always Amber’s gig — her after college before real job real world backpacking thing. I was just along for the ride. Content. Excited for an excuse to experience something, see new things, shock my system into feeling. So, when I realized how deeply Amber wanted to cut the trip short, I agreed. I contently lied back on the twin sized bed in our dingy Parisian hotel, stared at the sail boats floating on the wall, nibbled on a piece of dark chocolate and said, “Hell yes.” I was fine either way. I could rough it out for another two weeks. I could (preferably — I’m not a fan of debt) go home the next day. So, that’s what we did. Came home. And I don’t regret the decision at all, it was definitely the right choice, and I’m thankful we didn’t let our pride make us stay. It’s nice to still have nine hundred dollars in the bank.

Grenoble, France.
Grenoble, France.

So, now I’m back in California. Back at this dining room table and I know my writing sounds rather insane. And you know, I do indeed feel rather crazy and antsy, but maybe it’s just jet lag and sleep deprivation and an overdose of black tea, or perhaps I’m approaching the end. The end to all things, but what do I even mean?

Rosslare, Ireland.
Ultimate lesson of backpacking? Learn to dance regardless of the weight on your back.

And there you have it. A look into my brain, perhaps? Or maybe my private journal entry isn’t oh so different from my normal blogging style. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

As of tomorrow, I’ve been home for two weeks, and I can safely say that my (brief) time in Europe was incredible. It taught me a great deal about myself — my personal strength, what I want out of my life, how blessed I am. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Alright. This entry is already way too long. I’ll be back again soon!