Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It's 52 degrees outside. 52 SUNNY degrees.

I'll be on my bike if you need me.

In the meantime, check this out. How very cool and helpful these could be. Although I'd hate to see the lines jumping all around after a heavy night of drinking at the local pub; especially if there were a few drunkards in the ole pace line home. It'd be akin to a Pink Floyd Laser Light show I saw once.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Letter From A Friend...Continued/Part Two

For those of you who think I am going to tell some steamy, sexy tale of my long lost lover, you should just quit reading. This is not a love story of that sort, although it IS a love story in its own right.

To be clear, S and I have never been lovers; in fact, we've never shared more than hugs, lots of east coast style hello and goodbye kisses and he's held me together, literally, more times than I can count. Our dating histories have always been somewhat the opposite. If I'm single, S is fully entrenched in relationship, or vice versa. We were, after all, sometimes 2,000 and then recently nearly 4,000 miles apart.

That day, that first summer, it marked a beginning. A beginning of a friendship that would ebb and flow throughout fifteen years as friendships typically do. S and I spent the first summer as adventurers/friends in crime. We'd hop into his truck and galavant around the countryside; hike in peoples' backyards, rock climb, tube down the river, play bar games, attend festivals, drive up little known hollers, and rock climb abandoned mine shafts. Mostly though, we laughed. We swapped stories of where we'd been; where we hoped to go next. And we made fun of each other. We were easy, fast friends.

I returned to Iowa at the conclusion of that summer with a fierce determination to stay in touch. I was in love with Vermont, I visited often. I traveled there several times throughout the coming years; in the fall to see the foliage, in the winter to snowboard the Green/Adirondacks, and even a couple times during mud season, because I wanted to be there when everyone else wasn't.

And when I moved to L.A. just out of college, S visited me there. Fittingly, the day of his arrival in L.A. was the day I found out I was pregnant with my son. My relationship had since failed, my to-be child's father was well into more than one new relationship, and we were not communicating. It did not matter. S was there.

He held me as the words fell out of my mouth complete with snot and tears and shaking fear and pain. He brushed my long hair back, told me I was strong, I'd make the right decision, and be alright. And minutes later, he helped me pack our things and we headed north to backpack. I was in shock, dismayed, sick stumbling around in the rocks, sand. He held me together, literally and physically. When bears surrounded our campsite the first night, he held me again as I shivered in fear of all the unknown. He promised to be there for me. My son. Whatever it took, he said, he'd do.

The unconditional nature of his friendship totally freaked me out. In a space that would hold so much fear, abandonment, shame, guilt, anger and mistrust throughout the coming years, S was relentlessly and wholeheartedly there. I pushed him away, and yet he was still there. Several years later, after I had pulled together some of the pieces, S and I discussed pooling our money and buying chunk of Vermont land. He couldn't afford it on his own, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of putting down roots in Iowa as it was always meant to be a temporary move back home to get on my feet with my baby, and ultimately we figured if we could both front half the down payment, it would be sound investment.

Something happened, and S called me one night just before things got serious and he bailed. Someone gave him advice, he told me, he was going to make it happen on his own. It was an uncomfortable situation for us both, and it took the wind out of my sails. I wanted this, this dream I had of escaping some day to Vermont, to build T and me a cabin in the woods. It was not to be. I took my stash of savings instead and purchased a house in Iowa. I brushed the feelings of it all aside, but largely, I shut myself off as far as S went.

Sure, there would be visits, some chats from that point on, but things changed. I fell in love, moved to Washington. Around the same time, S fell in love, married and he and his wife moved into the cabin S built on that land. They had two kids. And recently, they divorced.

S appeared via email the other day after I found an updated address for him in an account I rarely use. He cannot type for shit, and yet he wrote me one of the longest, most heartfelt letters I've ever received.

He apologized. Took ownership for all those things he felt responsible for in the distance that came between us in these past years. His letter made me bawl like a baby. Not because I hadn't forgiven him long ago. I had. But because of this part somewhere in the middle of his letter that reads:

"...every time I think of you I remember what a tremendous time we used to have hanging out and talking and laughing... never having to guess what the other was thinking or explain ourselves to one another... that was nice. If there were two ways to interpret things, we would always side with the best possible outlook, because each of us knew that the other would never say anything to hurt the other or cause ill-will...."

It reminded me first and foremost how glad I am he's/we're back, how much I've missed our easy frienship. And also how insanely shitty awful it feels when someone does not give you the benefit of the doubt.

In the moment of reading that line, I realized how far I've come...and yet how very far I still have to go, in terms of living this truth of siding with the best possible outlook for myself with ALL people I've come across in life...and among so many other gifts; I will once again can thank S for being unabashedly and wholly there...just when I needed him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Letter From A Long Lost Friend

I met S close to fifteen years ago.

I was driving my car aimlessly around the United States, after having spent nearly a year in Europe. It was an ignorantly blissful, free, and yet confusing period of my life as I tried to cobble together my place in the world as it unfolded in trees, and leaves, and mountains, and trails, and adventures all around me.

I found it on the road. Driving by myself. Looking at trees and stopping to hike muddy trails tangled with weeds.

I remember waking up one day close to the end of my semester and lamenting that I'd seen nary little of the good ole U.S. of A. in comparison to all those European countries I'd tromped through with my backpack and bike and tent the previous year.

I started driving.

I took a stash of cash (a whopping $600), stuffed my little Honda Accord with a cooler of PB&J fixins, some clothes, a pack of cigarettes, a mummy sack and some CDs for my portable CD player (remember those things? skip. skip. skip.).

I drove. I slept in that mummy sack at rest stops in the boring states and when I didn't sleep there, I couch surfed.

First a trip to Colorado, and then after lamenting that I'd only ever traveled west, I resolved to do the rest different and headed east. I headed east through northwest Iowa for a wedding.

Then, straight south.

I stopped anywhere I had a contact; stayed until I'd overstayed my welcome. Thus began my great love affair with Nashville, Tennesse. It's another story for another day, but my overnight quickly turned into a week of adventure; which has years later turned into multiple friends moving there by my prodding, two marriages and babies. From Nashville, I headed south, east, and then north up the coast. Kind of.

I drove and I fell in love with Asheville, Charleston, Chapel Hill, among a whole bunch of other beautiful places tucked in the eastern half of our country. I called in favors. I sought out brew pubs. I called old classmates, people I put up when I lived semi-permanently in Germany; friends of their friends. I met people, swapped stories, drank beer with them and sometimes stayed with them. I backpacked. I camped. I hiked. I got lost in the Smokey mountains in the thick of so much kudzu I thought I might never find my way out. I stopped in every National Park I passed. I tried to also hit every state park; I missed a few. I went to a couple baseball games.

I had no plan.

I did have it my mind, that I had to eventually, before the $600 ran out, make it to Vermont. I'd been told by a man I loved that the state reminded him of me, and that intrigued me. I'd also been told by an American woman I met in Germany that I would fall love with Vermont; more than I would ever love any man. And that really intrigued me.

So, true to my style during this portion of my life, I pulled into South Royalton, Vermont at around 3 p.m. on a week day about a month and a half later with $5 left in stash, a maxed credit card, very little gas and the name of a woman named Kate scrawled on a bar napkin. Kate was a friend of the woman from Germany, the woman who said I'd love Vermont more than any man.

I was to call Kate who lived in this totally random Vermont town with not more more than a cute square of funky shops, a law school and a meandering river running right through town. My friend in Germany promised me Kate would put me up. I called Kate, and there was no answer.

I went to the next most appealing place. The bar. It was a friendly looking joint called The CrossRoads, sitting just across the railroad tracks from the square. There was a golden retriever laying in the sun on the deck; I saw that dog as the perfect invitation to go there and spend my last five bucks on a beer. The place wasn't yet open, but the door was (it is VT after all) and I went in and took a seat.

A guy appeared who I'd later learn owned the place. Tall, slender, with dark short hair, a defined jaw and piercing grey eyes; this guy with a thick east coast no bullshit accent and I struck up a conversation within seconds and of course, he asked me where I was from. I laughed. Did he know I was a tourist? He smiled. It's not that big of a place. He poured me a beer.

When I told S what I was doing, he didn't so much as blink twice. He listened as I told him where I'd been, then told me he'd done the same, only for years at a time just before tiring of caring for the tourists he drug around, and buying this place. S pointed out the places I'd missed, told me about how he himself had stumbled upon this place I now sat, and told me about Vermont.

He poured me another beer. I told him I was out of cash. He said not to worry, consider it a welcome to Vermont. Turned out he knew this Kate I was looking for. He knew where she lived and knew where she worked. He knew she was at that moment, in fact, working. He called her work and introduced me to her. She gave me directions to her house. A cabin on the side of the mountain, about half way up, near the babbling brook, she said. I swear to god, that is what she said. She said go there, take the room with the skylights, put your stuff away, have a drink, a smoke and and a nap and she'd see me later.

This S guy poured me another beer. But I have to FIND this place without an address, half way up the mountain, I protested. Oh, not to worry, he said, I can have someone mind the bar, show you there.

Life was, for all practical purposes, perfect.

And as perfectly and as easily as those pieces fell in place that night; even more would fall into place in the coming days, weeks. I belonged here, half way up this mountain, in the little wooden house next to the babbling brook in the room with the skylights.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In The Middle

In The Middle
By Barbara Crooker

**This post was originally listed as a note on my friend Christy's Facebook page. It spoke to me:

In The Middle of a life that's as complicated as everyone else's,
struggling for balance, juggling time.
The mantle clock that was my grandfather's
has stopped at 9:20; we haven't had time
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still,
the chimes don't ring. One day I look out the window,
green summer, the next, the leaves have already fallen,
and a grey sky lowers the horizon. Our children almost grown,

again how to love, between morning's quick coffee
and evening's slow return.
Steam from a pot of soup rises,
mixing with the yeasty smell of baking bread. Our bodies
twine, and the big black dog pushes his great head between;
his tail, a metronome, 3/4 time. We'll never get there,
Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

T Says...

It's not that I've nothing to say, truly I do. It's just that I have so much to say I am not sure where to begin. I promise to get back to blogging on a regular basis one day. In the meantime, a couple quick tidbits from my child.

This morning as we drove to school, we witnessed a drug bust in action. It happened on one of the busiest streets in town; a police car, followed by two unmarked police cars zip right around our trusty Subaru and into the driveway of a house conveniently positioned by a stop light that takes forever. Multiple large men in bullet proof vests surround the home within seconds, and we sit at the stoplight watching as they pound on the door, hands on their guns.

T: Woah man, this is JUST like CSI.
Me: What are you talking about, you have never seen CSI.
T: Details, mom. Details.

It's president's week. T has therefore been studying the governmental structure of the United States and president's for the past couple weeks. It has been fun having him quiz me on all sorts of useless facts about our government and listening to him giggle as I know so pathetically few of the answers.

The unit wraps up, I found as I scrounged through the kid's backpack this weekend, with a large project on a president of the child's choice whereby they will do extensive research, create a clay bust of their president, and give a report. The majority of said project is homework. So T and I had a discussion about which presidents might be interesting for this project: READ, which presidents MOM might find interesting to HELP research. I told him unequivocally that if he were to select George W. Bush, that he'd be flying solo on this project. I half meant it.

Yesterday was president-picking day, and when I picked him up my first question for T was:

So...what president did you get?

T: Oh man mom, you don't want to know.
Me: Come on. Tell me. Who?
T: George Bush
Me: You're kidding me. How did this happen? You know I am not helping now, right?
T: Well, I got the OLD George Bush at least mom. I tried.
Me: Too bad, I'm still not helping. I will NOT make a clay bust of George Bush in MY house.

He ponders this for awhile, and I ponder telling him I will help anyways. But because I am hopped up on adrenaline from a good workout, and I love watching the kid squirm, I hold my ground. Eventually, T gives in. He giggles and concedes defeat:

T: Actually, I got Jimmy Carter. NOW will you help?
Me: Yesssss!
T: I could have gotten the dude who was too fat to fit in the bathtub. But there was NO WAY I was gettin' George Bush.

Grandma is WAY more gullible than you, by the way. She believed me for over half an hour!

So, I ask you: who is "the dude/president who was too fat to fit in the bathtub?"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Need A Date? You Could Always Buy One

Go here for bidding, and here for additional details. I am part of this um, package. Consider yourself warned.