All I Want Is A Normal Life

Musings from a girl named Normal.

Archive for the ‘the great outdoors’ Category

You say you want a resolution?

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(sorry, I couldn’t resist the gratuitous Beatles reference)

So, here’s how this generally works: I write out some really general 5-year plans, then I struggle through some really far away 3-year plans based on the achievement of the far away 5-year plans, then I write some 1-year plans (again, based on the 5 and 3 year), and then I write some 6-month plans, and finally some 3-month plans, and then I review it all and go, “ok, what did I forget in my Memento-style approach to goal setting?” Usually, it’s quite a lot. In 5 years (2014, to those who want to be surprised by a year that looks very far away, but is actually right around the corner), I am not thinking about how much I’ll owe in taxes, whether I still have this 20 lbs to lose, visiting G’ma before she dies, and stuff like that. I’m thinking in huge generalizations like “have friends,” or “have a good relationship with my family.” But if I worked it from the 3-month out, I wouldn’t ever get to the bigger goals like “Hike the Pacific Crest Trail,” since that requires a lot of foresight that I typically don’t have when thinking of immediate needs…

Which brings me to why I think goals are important. When I’m unhappy with my life, goals give me a hope for the future. Instead of waking up every day and slogging through an endless march of shitty monotony, I know that I’m marching through this shitty monotony to the FABULOUS FUCKING CASTLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MARSH! OOH a castle! But if I didn’t have that castle, I’d just look at the grime on my shoes and mutter about how no one knows the trouble I’ve seen. And also, I usually start wondering why I’m in this monotony and start taking actions –often quite drastic actions– to break the monotony, which sometimes isn’t the best from a long-term perspective. Likewise, when I’m happy with my life, it’s easy to coast through the years without noticing that time is passing, waking up at some later time wondering why I didn’t hike the Pacific Crest Trail [before I lost both my legs in the Revolution/before I got married and had children/while I was still insane enough to try it]. Don’t get me wrong… everything is great with loving the time you’ve got and being present in the moment and just being happy (in fact, Buddhists would say that this is the absolute in enlightenment, and that wanting all these goals and stuff is the path to unhappiness), but I think I’ll be happier knowing that I accomplished many things and had many experiences at the end of it all. I mean, I had to decide far in advance that I wanted to bike the Lifecycle, otherwise I never would have started training in time. And some day, I will want to accomplish things far greater than the Lifecycle that will require training of years, not just months.

So, that’s goals. Or resolutions. Or whatever.

Last year, I totally phoned it in. Those goals down there aren’t goals. Most of them weren’t even things that I cared very deeply about. Not that I’ll have more attachment to my goals that I’m working on now, but you’ll see the behemoth task of goals when I finally finish them up.

Right now, I’ve done up a 5 year plan and a 1 year plan, but I was distracted and people were talking to me and doing yoga and stuff like that, so I missed some stuff. My dad and I are getting together in a few days for more hours of goal-setting. It’s always great to do the goal-setting with my dad, since he’s so ambitious and taught me how to do them in the first place. Also, he’s wildly proud of me and it’s kind of nice to have someone cheering and who I can cheer for.

And as you’ve probably inferred from the manifesto above, you should really work on your goals, too. I’ve got some handy tips about categories and what type of things to include.

Anyways, off to do yoga!!

The Weekend with Mom : Yucca Valley, Salton Sea, and others

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OK! The time has come for the massive weekend explanation. I find it easiest to illustrate with photos, so I’m linking off to my Flickr set.

Yucca Valley
I have no photos from our visit to Deeze and Annette’s. Their house feels so much like home to me that I don’t even really think to take photos there. My mom and I stayed up late talking to them and it was so nice to see my mom genuinely appreciating my friends.

Pioneertown
Similarly, the photos from Pioneertown really were pretty lame. My mom took some pretty good ones, but she doesn’t use Flickr, so it’s a little hard to get the photos in here without some amount of effort. Plus, she doesn’t read this blog (as far as I know), so I don’t want to give her indication of how to find it.

The Walk Near PioneertownSeusscape
Mom and I went for a walk through the burned out brush near Pioneertown, CA, outside of Yucca Valley. I took some photos of plants and found two cans from when there were pull tabs that pulled off the can! One is a reaaaaly old Coke can and the other is a Coors with a bullet hole in it. I didn’t take photos of those, but they’re sitting in my car in arrested decay.
Bright Orange Flower The Lesson of the Empty Space

The Windmills

A Windmill is Very Tall

A Windmill is Very Tall


On our way down to Salton Sea and Slab City, we stopped off at some of the huge windmills that are in the mouth of the Coachella Valley. I’d never seen the windmills up close, so it was quite a thrill. As you may or may not know, Jetfuel, Connie-Lynne, and I all undertook to build windmills for the Burn this past year, but they actually completed theirs (I did not).

WindmillsWindmillWindmills

Salton Sea
This warrants a large photo:
Dead Fish
Mom and I drove off the main road and down to the Salton Sea shore (no, she didn’t sell sea shells by the shore of the Salton Sea). I was amazed (disgusted?) to find that the whole place smelled AWFUL (truly stomach turning) and it was pretty clear why after about 40 seconds of standing there: the entire shore was covered in mounds of dead fish, fish bones, and bird poo. Really, every gross thing you can imagine was all over the place there. I don’t know how to describe how gross it smelled, but it sure was picturesque:
Salton Sea
Why are all the fish dead? It’s seasonal and based on agriculture in the area. Nitrates and other fertilizer runoff causes a huge algae bloom in the Salton Sea, resulting in a reduction of oxygen in the water. As the algae consumes all the oxygen, the fish literally suffocate in the water, dying by the thousands. They wash ashore and rot.
Acres of dead fishmore dead fish
There were also a lot of birds hanging out:
Another Bird in Flight

Salvation Mountain
One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen is Salvation Mountain

Crap. I have to go to work, since my mom needs to use the internet and I need to send a big file.

Also, there was this sunset:
desert sunset

Written by normalslife

November 26, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Photos from the most amazing weekend since the Amani weekend

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I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet, more for my attention span than for yours. All the photos link to a bigger version on Flickr.
IMG_0024Wizards of Warlock are playing in SFI took this photo for Shady
me and arlette are having an amazing weekendat the Yucca Valley swap meetJoshua TreeBob goes in for a head bonk

Written by normalslife

September 16, 2008 at 2:22 pm

People know more obscure Cracker songs than I do

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Tomorrow is the beginning of the Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven Campout!!! Believe it or not, I’m more excited for this weekend than I was for The Burning Man. Cracker is my favorite band (if I have one, which I’m not sure I do, but if I did it would sure be Cracker) and I’m so fucking excited to see them live that I’m even driving out the two hours tomorrow night to catch the acoustic set and then driving back to come to work on Friday morning.

Pictured at the right is “O Cracker, Where Art Thou?,” which is still my absolute favorite Cracker album. I know, I know… purists will say that joint albums do not count in “favorite Cracker albums,” but those purists can go to heck. It was the album that first got me into Cracker (being a bluegrass fan first, alt-country fan second) and taught me the tight-but-loose, complex-yet-simple sounds of Cracker. Plus, it’s bluegrass. Plus, it’s got a reference to a tasty snack (Cracker and Leftover Salmon).

I checked out the diskography and it’s not even listed there! What a travesty! And I wasn’t sure if I even really qualified as a true Cracker fan until I noticed that yes, I do have all the songs, and yes, even some of the bonus tracks (thank you, Gabriel, wherever you are).

Arlette set up a wedding registry for me at her work, so Dave Lowery and I are going to be happy to receive all your gifts as soon as we announce the wedding. *cough* Or just give me gifts.

Written by normalslife

September 11, 2008 at 4:43 am

Wilderness Travel Course

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Last year, I really wanted to get into backpacking. Arno (the Ex who I don’t know that I’ll ever get over) introduced me to backpacking as a more than casual hobby, and I really didn’t know how to get going on it without him. I mean, it’s a lot of gear to haul around on just one really feeble body. FUN FACT: if you’ve seen me, you know that I appear to be of average build, when, in fact, I’m of small build with quite a bit of fat… 41 lbs of fat, to be exact, according to my doctor. I’m basically no muscle and have a really lame skeleton. FUN FACT: I’ve broken my arms a total of six times, collectively. So having a helpful (and strong) porter to assist in the gear haul has been absolutely essential to a fine backpacking experience.

Except when that porter dumps you and leaves you wanting the hobby but hating the memories. FUN FACT: the relationship ended THREE years ago, and, for all intents and purposes I’ve moved on — I have a new and fantastic and truly wonderful boyfriend, David, who loves me and is thoughtful and funny and interesting — but there are still several things that trigger a vomitous response in my central chest area… backpacking and camping has been one of those

Last year, I decided I had to get into backpacking to make my own memories that didn’t involve Arno… memories that had to do with me, strong and independent, doing things I never thought I could do! Exciting! Wild! Adventurous!

So a friend of mine referred me to the Wilderness Travel Course, offered by the Angeles chapter of the Sierra Club. It seemed to be exactly what I needed! Friends to go backpacking with in an equal, non-relationshipey, fun, empowering environment! I enrolled immediately and started attending the weekly courses in West Los Angeles (this was before I realized Pasadena would have been closer), reading the assigned chapters in the book, and doing all this homework on navigation, map-reading, rock-jumping, and basically everything I wanted to know.

And then I broke my arm.

I tried to stick with the program, but I could barely tie my shoes, let alone lift a backpack or operate as a functional, independent, adventurous, empowered woman. They let me know that I probably couldn’t come on the part of the trip that involved rock climbing (um, duh). I was crushed by it all, since I was finally doing something proactive about my heartache.

This year, though, my arm is much better and the course is coming up in January again. I’m enrolling and nothing can stop me, and this time, I’m training for the course before it starts. I want to be able to soar up the mountains on agile legs, lifting 40 lbs of stuff with no effort and enjoying blister-free feet because my trail shoes are completely broken in! And so I’m training daily, hiking up my mountain every morning for at least an hour with Diva, who is hardly able to keep up.

I’m going to do this and nothing can stop me.

Written by normalslife

September 5, 2008 at 2:40 pm