December 9, 2010

Productive Bummery

Peace on Earth Christmas Cards
Burnt Granola (grateful birds)
Tie Dye (purple fingers, green fingers)
Yoga on the hardwood floor
Keeping the fire burning.
That journal she threw up on
Becoming something without doing anything.

Remember how music knows you. Remember that you can run for hours before growing weary. Remember there are warmer places, higher places, emptier places.
Remember that both fire and ice can be made.
Remember how beautiful you are covered in mud.

The trees are orange in winter as the sun goes down.

What you've done isn't who you are. You're going to have to go a bit deeper for that.

December 7, 2010

fresh batteries in my mag

I daresay I've become a bit ragged.
Sometimes I walk into Java's in the ROC and see ragged people, but I'm not really sure how ragged they are because see, I think some people want to be ragged, and that's not really very ragged at all. After three months of living out of a car followed by ten months of living out of a "red bag", I am ragged. I just am; a product of the last eleven months. It's natural and right, and even now that I have a closet bursting with clothes, most of which are too big, I wear the same ones until I'm laying in bed thinking "what's that smell" night after night until finally (perhaps today) I decide it's time to wash some things. (note: I'm not very proud of this, I'm just not re-adapting very easily to the world of so much stuff.) The kitchen cabinets, basement cabinets, and two refridgerator/freezers in my parents house are bursting with food but all I seem to go for is the homemade grainy bread, the rice, the beans, the bananas, and the granola. I don't desire anything else which is strange, even to me. (although there was this white chocolatey pretzel stuff on the counter this morning of which I admit to thoroughly enjoying, knowing that my digestive system will rebuke me later.)
I bought a car, something that makes most people super excited. I'm not very excited. Except that now I can go anywhere at anytime, which I'm not convinced is actually good for me right now as I need to learn how to be still and quiet again. It's coming back to me rather quickly, but after ten months of having to fight for quiet, not having my own space, working sometimes upwards of 55 hour weeks and always having something new to explore, it's strangely different being in a familiar place with familiar people and all the space and time I could want. I have this car, but it doesn't excite me. When I look at it I see two thing: a potential home and a hunk of metal that will in the long-run eat up my bank account and make my brain hurt.
I drink my coffee black.
One week we didn't have sugar. Then we ran out of milk.
The show must go on.

December 3, 2010

mushrooms in the forest.

I walked to my piano shack tonight. It was dark and cold and wonderful.
I can't believe how easy it is to sing my soul, scratchy throat and all; when something's part of you, it's part of you. (I wondered what it would be like after so many months without.)

I needed to wander tonight. By foot. So I followed the river through the woods until I reached the creek, which I followed to the railroad tracks, which I followed to my driveway, which I followed home. I needed the air, the open space. I put my flashlight in my pocket. I needed the darkness.

I ate granola out of the plastic tub and drank tea out of my mug.

I decided that to be home is to run roads I've never run, because I can.
I decided that to be home is to make a shining, smooth table out of a slab of a log with dad, dozens of biscotti with mom.
I decided that to be home is to stop dead in my tracks and listen to the wind, the trees, the silence.

To be home is to connect.

And freedom has nothing to do with disconnect.

December 2, 2010


After exactly one year of roaming the United States, staying in no one place for more than six weeks, I have an announcement:

The adventurer within me is not going anywhere. It is still there. I don't want to settle down. I don't want to live a "normal" life. I'm not tired of traveling. I'm not tired of new things. I'm antsy and anxious and restless as ever.

I think I was made to roam.
I think I was made to experience.
I think I was made to be free.

And I think that's okay.

(coming soon: an overview of who the heck I am right now!)

October 1, 2010

Cyprus Knees!


It's been a good amount of time since I last wrote. What's transpired as time has passed, becoming so very fluid while my thoughts have become firm and my inner self tastes freedom more and more each day..

The last couple weeks in Camden pressed that city inescapably into my heart. I am filled with heaviness and love as I write this now, five weeks after driving away with a screams reverberating within me.
Her leaning into him, shooting into his back outside McDonald's as kids rolled by on bikes and people walked by without a second glance. The emptiness and eerie silence of 500 State the night we drove home to find our house taped off, blood stains from our neighbor's murdered body darkening the steps next door. Standing on the front steps listening to people chat, watching people walk by, all as normal the morning after. That 13 year old boys grinning face looking up at me, "so how do you like Camden now?"
It's the most messed up place I've ever been.
And the service day in the park that had been closed for weeks because of a murder.. the 70 community members who showed up to help clean up the park, their park. The movie night in said park that night.. over a hundred locals showing up to watch Avatar on a blow-up screen with a blasting sound system - too much water-ice.. so much popcorn.. so many people, together in a city with no reason to trust anyone at anytime.
I'll remember the AHEC van, surveying individuals about their thoughts on needle drop-boxes and a needle exchange system.
I can't write about every person, just as there's no way to dive in and go through everything I saw, heard, experienced, felt. I feel I'm doing an incredible injustice to the city as a whole by not telling every story and taking the time to relive it all, but I don't think I'm ready to right now.
Messed up and beautiful. Dead and hopeful. I've never been anyplace so cold and felt so okay. Camden, you certainly made an impression on me.

I spent a week in bed, sick and tired and unable to do anything (something I've also never experienced before). Why, I'm not entirely sure, except that Camden depleted me.

But to switch gears, what's happened since is wonderful wonderful wonderful! I'm living in Virginia Beach, VA in a tiny house three miles from the Atlantic Ocean..
Falling asleep to crashing waves and waking up sandy and happy with the birds and the rising sun will never get old. Just as the constant strumming of guitars and the positive, motivated atmosphere didn't take too long to get used to.

I'm on this brand new composite team for this, my final, round. In two days I begin training for my Wildland Firefighting "Red Card". As for right now, I'm happy. Very happy.

And I walk barefoot down the street in the morning.
And I read Hesse and Kerouac and Dostoevsky, and Whitman.
And I play pianos in tiny churches with people I met only two weeks before (but I've known them forever).
And I talk life with people who make me want to be more alive.
And I feel *sigh* I feel like me.
And that's big.

(oh yeah, and about that photo.. I am officially a dumpster diver.)

August 12, 2010

My hands are painted on a wall here.


There was a time in my life when I had beautiful, flowing words. I used to be able to fill paragraph after paragraph with idiosyncratic details, paint pictures with letters, and come at least somewhat close to revealing my heart with written words.
I'm afraid I don't know how to do that anymore.
I want to sit on my roof, look out over this city I feel tugging on the strings within me, and change it with a song. I want to say a word and know that this place will be changed. If painting these walls would bring new life I'd paint all day, I'd paint all night.. until my eyes grew heavy, my arms weak, and my heart light.
If I could bring light to this place with a song..

If I could bring that child back to life.
If I could promise you a tomorrow without needles, without gunshots, without fear..

We were hanging out on the porch the other day. A guy, probably in his low 20s, walked by and, noticing that we're a little out of the ordinary for this area, said, "hey, what are you guys doing out here?"
[insert elevator speech followed by "we're just trying to clean this place up a bit. what do you think about that?]
"Clean this place up? What would you do that for? I'll tell you what, when I was 13 I was mugged and beaten, when I was 14 I was shot, and at 15 I was stabbed. I'll tell you what, this place should just be burned down. Just burn the place down. Nothing good has happened here in years. Nothing good happens in Camden. Just burn it down and start over."

And he walked away. Waved his hand as though saying "the heck with any of this," and walked away.

I was painting a wall with some kids in a summer program.

me: so do you guys like Camden?
9 year old Zuli: no.
me: how come?
Zuli: too many gangs. too much bad stuff on the streets.

A few minutes later 12 year-old Desmond, far too cool to paint anything but reaching for a brush nonetheless, told me about being approached by a gang member on the street a few days prior.
"He wanted me to join their gang. I told him no and ran."
He wasn't proud. He wasn't scared. He was just saying.

Two weeks ago the head honcho of drug trafficking for the Nine Trey Headbustas set of the Bloods in Camden was sentenced to 14 years in prison without parole for conspiring to murder a gang member. He was caught with 500 bags of heroin, about three pounds of marijuana, approximately 2.5 ounces of crack cocaine, two handguns and roughly $10,000 in cash.
Juan Vargas is 27 years old.

Tell me how this happens. Or better yet, tell me how to make it not happen. Someone tell me..

Tell me there is hope for Camden. Tell me those beautiful 10 year old girls giggling as they pour too much soap into a trash can of water and splash it all over the wall they can't wait to scrub and paint will make it out of here. Tell me they're going to become something. Tell me they aren't going to be the next one to be caught between a bullet and its target.
Dear Daughter, hold onto your innocence.
Naomi, you will become president one day.
Desmond, keep running away,
but know that you shouldn't have to.

August 1, 2010

In 6 months..

I've realized that I don't want to live a life of counting - days, weeks, months, jobs, goals, hours, landmarks, conversations. There are so many things I want to do in this life, but I don't want to get them done and then check them off but rather to simply live each and every day for what it is and what it brings and what I can give to it. I wonder if it's possible to live outside of time.. to be barely conscious of the days passing. If it's possible, I would like to find out. I'd like to find out what it's like to work to accomplish something rather than to fill the hours or receive a paycheck. I'd like to discover what it means to be present in each and every moment; never rushed, never checked-out, never wishing I was somewhere else.
There has been a heightening point of tension for me. It lies where my deep, often times painful love for the world collides with my intense love and longing for the very essence and fullness of Jesus Christ. In the ten years since I first experienced this Jesus I've found myself high with excitement, passion and zeal and I've found myself desperately clinging to what I've known to be true when nothing has made sense. I've held dirty, malnourished children in my lap and danced in multi-million dollar churches. I've been judged for the lifestyle I've chosen, from recklessly pursuing the heart of God, to living with pot-heads, to graduating early to pursue God's will for my life to, now, taking up residence in the ghetto (and so many things in between). And every time the judgement has come from Christians.
The questions began to wander in and out of my mind as I found myself frustrated with the walls Christians were putting up, with the "black and white" lines that were being drawn in areas of what were to me very gray, or dependent on the person doing them and the state of his/her heart. I suppose why I'm writing this now is simply to say that in the last 6 months I've been living closer to the non-christian world than I ever have before. I've made mistakes. I've misrepresented Christ. I've been frustrated with the stereotypical view of Christians and have therefore tried my best to change it, but still I have come out in the wrong. I've robbed God of His beauty.

(unfinished but publishing anyway..)

July 27, 2010

Camden, NJ (aka "The Most Dangerous City in the US")

I live in a row house. In "the thick" of it. I paint buildings. I fall asleep to screeching tires, pounding bass, shouting voices and barking dogs. I pick dirty needles, syringes, and empty drug bags off the streets and out of the parks. I am told by the cops that we're wasting our time; that park we cleaned up on the corner? It will be trashed by next week.
"You're in a warzone."
Yes. Yes I am.
But I'm planting flowers in this warzone. I'm playing in open fire-hydrants with kids and painting buildings bright colors in this warzone. I'm sitting on my third story roof talking to my neighbor across the ally about this city, the one he has grown up and lived in for 30 years, about respect, about purpose and hope.
We're a bunch of white, middle-class kids naive enough to look Camden in the eyes and say "You know what? Say what you like, we're going to believe in this city. Whether you want help or not, we're here to help."

As for what's happening within me right now..
I feel what I felt in Ghana. At home.
I am shaken but at peace.
I am dumbfounded, shocked, but resting in this place of certainty. For the first time in months I know I'm where I need to be. I need to be in Camden, NJ. I need to live here. To live in a suburb and drive in to "fix" this place would be hypocritical. What I've learned of Camden and what I've fallen in love with here is from what I've experienced by living here. It's the things I see from the roof, the eyes I make contact with on the streets, the bodies I see wrapped on benches as I run the streets early in the morning. Once again I am having one of the richest experiences of my life amongst the poorest people in the most oppressed places I've ever been. This is what I want to do - to live amongst the poor and the needy.. to devote myself to making small differences in places no one else cares(or dares) to go.
I have yet to feel "in danger".
There's so much more I could/should write, but my Internet time is coming to a close and really, it would take a long time to write out everything I'm experiencing here. Every day I'm learning and realizing something new, from the state of my heart to the state of the world... and even some about how this heart fits into this world.

recent read:
"The Irrisistable Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. Read it.

June 6, 2010

Waiting For the Rain

I'm going to cheat a bit and copy parts out of an email I sent a dear friend...

Round II:

Sometimes I really can't believe this thing called life. There are days when the external, the tangible, the natural seem so real, so alive, so pressing. And then there are the times when this all seems but a dream, a dream directed by or in spite of all that exists within me.
My insides have melted into this AmeriLife, finally. I love it here in Louisiana. I love the hot air. I love the way the rains come so suddenly out of the blue sky, flooding the streets without anywhere to flow. I love falling onto my mattress at night in a cluttered one room trailer filled to its max with bunks. I love tying chicken necks to strings, tossing them into the water, and catching big blue crabs crabs crabs. I love driving the government van up and down 210.
I love building houses.

I haven't been able to run (something funky is going on with one of my knees) and in a way I think that's been really good for me. It's made me slow down, breathe, chill out. I don't need to run away from anything. It's okay to be in something you can't get out of. I don't have to feel stuck. Finally easing into this understanding has so significantly changed my experience here. I'm okay.

I really love my team. I really, really love them. This is the first time I've really been able to say that. They're rediculous, extreme, insane (truly) at times. But they're wonderful, and these ten months of my life would not be what they are without every single one of them. I've never lived SO closely with this many people before. I never imagined I would like it as much as I do.

Get my loans paid off by June 2011. Drive out to California to Bethel's School of Worship. I cannot shake the need to be in the presence of God... deep in the heart of the Spirit. There's a lot that frustrates me about the "christian world", but I cannot shake my affection for Jesus Christ... hah! I cannot shake him! And I don't want to. I want to love him more and more and more.. the real Jesus.. the one I know... the one I love..

I'm tired of stuff. It's been building in me for a couple years now, this weariness with all the stuff. Stuff everywhere. All kinds of stuff. Churches full of stuff. Land full of stuff. Closets, barns and buildings full of stuff.

Sometimes I feel beautiful in men's pants and sweat-soaked t-shirts.

Imagine that.

May 24, 2010

Lake Charles, LA

It's at least 90Degrees and HUMID HUMID HUMID every day here in Lake Charles but after the initial shock of ceaseless sweating, I've grown to like the heat. It reminds me of Ghana. Especially in the morning.
Building houses for hurricane victims is something I never had on my "dreams" list, but I really love it. I enjoy construction far more than the seemingly destructive tasks of parts of our last project. The men we work with are truly incredible- patient, kind, hard-working, loving, skilled.

How to delve into all that's been happening with me..

I've settled into being here (THE PROGRAM.. if I write the name of THE PROGRAM the higher-ups will find my blog, and we don't want that now do we!) and have found myself really enjoying the daily regimen of life this (Second) round. We live within a barbed-wire topped fence surrounded by a trailer park in our own double-wide with 6 sets of bunk beds, a sink/toilet room, and a tiny kitchen. And even this, this crazy, extreme closeness, I am finding enjoyable.

Last night I sat out on the picnic table with one of my teammates and shared half of a small, old cigar. The goal was to ask each other 20 questions. We only got through 2 in the hour we sat in the thick air: we talked about sex and we talked about Jesus. And my heart burned. And I felt alive.

I've been spending more time letting the LIFE flow into me... be it through the Word, through music, through sitting and waiting, going to any and every church I can find.. I'm so hungry for life.... life.... life.

He has me. I know He does. Even this, this crazy Ameri-Stint. He's building within me a sometimes desperate hunger and appreciation for His presence.

I'm not nearly as impressed by excellence as I am by anointing.. by the Spirit. I'm not so impressed by people anymore. I don't care so much about great music or great words. I just want Jesus. Give me Jesus. Just give me Jesus. Give me a room full of the presence of God, and please, please don't make me leave. I just want to be there.. for a very, very long time.

And this too is all a part of what He's building within me.
I have this assurance that one day very soon God is going to release all of this... all of these experiences.. all of the accumulation of His Spirit in my life. For right now this is it for me. For right now I work and serve my country, giving daily to people I didn't have any idea existed a few short months ago. For right now it's good.

(and for whatever comes next I am oooo excited!)

March 23, 2010

Wandering the Woods of West Virginia

I'm writing this from "the woods" of West Virginia, somewhere near Harpers Ferry/Charlestown; For Love of Children Outdoor Education Center, to be exact. The internet is slow and I have no cell reception so to those who may be reading whom I haven't contacted in ages: I'm sorry! I love you all dearly and will be in contact asap! (really, I will!)

Friends, Family, whoever is reading,
I LOVE IT HERE! I love the forest. I love the work. I love the air. I love the trails. I love the mountains and hills. I love my team. I love how God speaks little tid-bits here and there that bring me such a zest and fervor for LIFE!
Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings start out with PT at 6am in the "Miller House", a cold, dirty garage-type building with just enough space for the eleven of us. I'd say 8 out of 11 of us aren't at all happy to be there (and make it quite clear, I might add), but being lean machines comes with the "A" territory, so we push through the gazillion push-ups, throw our fists in the air, shout the word of the day, and amble back up the hill to The Lodge where we inhale gobs of cereal and coffee before starting the work day...
8am we meet our sponsors outside.. and ooo how do I begin to describe them! Picture a 100 lb 50 year old man with missing teeth and A.D.D. accompanied by a younger, sturdier looking version of himself, both complete with hyenna laughs and never-ending UN-PC comments. HOWEVER on their behalf, they love nature, love life, and really do care about people. They seem to think we're a bunch of creepers, which actually has become our team thing. Yeah, we're the Raven 5 Creepers. Team Creep. A couple hours with us and you'd know exactly what I mean. "Every color crayon in the crayola box" is how our Team Leader likes to describe us. Which means there's never an end to the laughs, the random comments, the unnanounced bulldozing (yes, that's right. bulldozing. If you're laying down, you're fair game to be rolled over. and over. and over. by however many people find you.), the spontaneous bursts of energy, and the need to modify the Team Charter. Silence is rare and sacred.
We've done tons of team-builders (good ones, not the silly ice-breaker crap that drives me nuts) since we've been here and have realized some pretty siginificant things, one of which is that we have a lot of work to do in the area of communication.

45 minute hike in at 8am to where we left off on the trail the previous day. Cut, clear, rake, nip and BLAZE trails!! My back aches, my legs are tired, my face is wind-burnt, and I'm in the woods. For me, there is no better job. I love this. I just love this!

We spent last weekend in a massive tree house. I hadn't slept so good since starting Americorps. Something about the air, the birds, the campfire, the open space. I still have this need to feel free. It's not as intense as it was prior to Callin' It Life, but it's still there. Sometimes all it takes now is an incredible long run or a morning sitting alone on a grassy hill, or, as I've now discovered, hiking out to spend a weekend in a tree house a mile from an outlet or running water.

My team loves my granola. So I should probably go make some :)

March 13, 2010

The Nitty Gritty

(warning: this post has to be short so it leaves out a lot... i'll try my best to post more soon but no guarantees!)

I'm so tired right now I sort of feel like I could faint. Sometimes I feel like the only one here who has a thousand things on my mind. My teammate heather keeps saying, "live for today, you just gotta live for today"...

I'm not entirely sure I believe in that. Maybe I do, but perhaps I don't..

Because my today is not all there is in the world. What I experience today isn't going to have anything to do with what the people I love who are sprinkled all over the world are experiencing today. And it's those people sprinkled across the globe that are on my heart and mind all day every day. It's the fact that there's an entire world out there.

It's the fact that the Holy Spirit will not let me go, and I don't want Him to.

Life is not flat for me. It's not dull. It's not mundane. It's not the day-to-day. It's not on one level. I see a homeless man and my heart aches, my spirit groans, my hands reach for my peanut butter sandwich, I see the globe as it spins and turns and frustrates itself into believing this is all okay. I wring my hands, I hand him my sandwich, I see myself in his eyes, and as I walk away I wrestle with the desire to do something, anything; I believe for a second that if I could feed this one man I might be able to feed them all. And if I could feed them all I could bring them hope, life.. I could change their worlds and then they could change more worlds and pretty soon the entire world would be singing this song of deliverance and hope, assured that love is more than a word and life more than an experience.

There are days when I would give anything to be in the Spirit and days when I know I won't be satisfied until I'm sitting in red dirt with an African child stroking my soft brown hair. There are days when the thought of 9 months here literally makes me panic. Fear rises in my throat and I can't swallow much less allow myself to engage in any conversation, lecture, project. Though I've always been a wanderer, a dreamer, I find myself zoning into other worlds more than ever before. I can't settle with all this stuff inside me. I wonder why I'm here sometimes. I know where I want to be, I know what I want to be doing. But I can't do it right now. And so I'm here, hoping to be proactive while getting out of debt.

There are moments when I know I need to be here. Part of me knows the structure is good for me. I'm going to be able to interact with and work for tons and tons of non-profits throught the next 1700 hours of service and really, who knows what might come of some of that..

for now I am tired. and my spirit groans as it waits for all these things to come together. one day they will. right now i have to believe this is preparing me. someway, somehow.
I just wasn't expecting it to be such a challenge.

oh, deep spirit...

*a year ago now ghana was wrecking me in that beautiful, profound way..*

35 to go!


An obnoxious sound rings in my ear. I swear I open my eyes, but I see nothing. A few seconds later I feel the pain in my lower back as my mattress sags towards the ground and I remember, oh yes! I am in a psych ward! There are bars on my windows! My bedroom door does not lock! If I walk down the hall I will be met by 86 other unique individuals who have no idea what to do with their lives! Together we will walk to the VA gymnasium where we'll yell loud noises as we get into military formation to do side-straddle-hops and more push-ups than I've ever done. to date.

PT over, I grab my hoodie and hit the pavement for a sunrise run around "the point". I'll be the only one there - just me, the sun, the chesapeake bay, the birds, and the stray cats. It's still. It's quiet. And I'm alone. *sigh*
Team meeting to discuss the day's projects, goals, etc.
Work work work! Could be a project briefing. Or perhaps service in Baltimore with, for example, The Moveable Feast, a non-profit providing meals and human-interaction for hundreds of AIDS victims throughout Maryland who can't leave there homes as well as a number of homeless individuals. OR perhaps we'll clean the Brandywine Zoo in Delaware! Or drag brush and clear trails in any number of state parks throughout the area. Or maybe today we'll have random drug tests! Or learn how to use power tools! Or how to set up and tear down a disaster shelter? Why not?
Return to the psych ward to cook dinner in our team kitchen with the $200 of food we have for the eleven of us for the week. If I'm not on to cook, this is more run time!
DINNER! Depending on who cooked this can be a wonderful time or a learning experience. ;)
Clean the ward.
Team Meeting in the laundry room.

It's the life, people. It's the life.
haha okay really, it's not so bad. pretty cool, actually. I have a team of 11 people (including me). For the next 9 months these people are my family. I'm not ready to explain them yet except to say that we're special. Really, really special. *ahem* but really, we just might be the most diverse, unique group of all the 21 teams that make up Class 16. From California to NY, downtown chicago to boonies ohio, black to white, musicians to jocks, gay to straight, christian to atheist, 18 to 24... we're diverse. all entirely different. but whether we liked each other on the first day or not, we're in this together. our mission for the next 9 months is to "get things done for America", which means the differences can't matter. They can't be anything. As much as we're going to gain and grow in the coming months, they're not for us.

Tomorrow we leave for our first of four major projects for the year. We'll be in Harpers Ferry, WV working with a group called For Love of Children that aims to take kids out of inner-city DC that they might be able to experience nature and discover themselves outside city life. We're going to build composting toilets, clear 12 miles of trails, paint buildings, build benches, and a bunch of "behind the scenes" conservation/environmental work...

Let's see, what else that might be of interest.
I passed my drug test! ;)
One of our four major projects will most likely be in New Orleans, or somewhere along the gulf doing relief work.
I did my first presentation since college last week. Before every major project we have to do extensive research and present to a board, including the Director of the NCCC Atlantic Region. Never imagined I'd spend countless hours doing research in a library for a deadline ever again but, alas, it has happened and will be happening again.

I will be writing a more emotional entry to follow this one. don't worry, i haven't changed that much. :D

January 6, 2010

Some Painting

Once again, it's been awhile.. and once again, there is so much to be said! Where to begin, where to begin...

Well, it's been two months since we left Lewis County (the first time).. two months of driving from state to state with gaping face in awe of the changing terrain, curling my knees up into my chest in an attempt to get a good nights sleep in the car, entertaining strangers and relatives and being entertained by... well, just about anything and anyone, wearing the same clothes day after day until they become just another layer of skin, shaving my armpits in walmart restrooms entirely unaware that anyone else is there until I hear a toilet flush, running miles and miles through towns I don't know and don't care to know the names of. It's been two months of granola for breakfast, granola for lunch, granola for dinner, three large jars of peanut butter, fresh bananas on a semi-daily basis, filling my SIGG bottles every chance I get and then slowly, critically evaluating its taste before guzzling the rest regardless of how great or terrible it is.. ah, it's been two months, two months.

Today I no longer want to travel. Today I want to lay in bed all morning before being escorted to a sporting goods store where I will buy brand new expensive Brooks running shoes, which I will charge to my credit card. Then I will come back to this room with this big comfortable bed and I will put on my cute little running shorts and my cute little running top and my beautiful new running shoes, toss my long clean hair and pull it into a cute little ponytail, strap on the brand new garmin watch that I don't have, and run for at least 90 minutes. 90 minutes and I just might begin to feel like I could attempt to be normal again.

There's something brand new associated with freedom for me these days. Friends, this is freedom: waking up everyday with no place to be, no thing to do, no one to respond to (other than my beyond incredible Traveling Companion). It is being drawn into the ocean at midnight on the coast of Florida, twirling into the salty water and crashing into the moonlit waves. It is driving hundreds of miles on a deserted road in Texas and jumping out before the car has fully stopped in order that I might prance around on the dotted yellow line while waiting for the evening haze to set in and the sun to become one with the ground. It is picking tangerines off a tree in the hills surrounding LA and wandering aimlessly through an Asian community entirely unaware of the time. It is walking into a church in California and asking, through unpreventable tears, to play the piano.. because I just need to. It is longing for an entire day to sit and drink warm beverages and read and write and contemplate life, and getting it. It is paying $4 for unlimitted multi-grain pancakes and staying all night to eat pancakes and convince ourselves of the possibilities this life might hold. It is, It is..

I could go on and on..

But today I am tired of traveling. Yesterday I saw a grove of trees that were 25ft around and as tall as a 19 story building. That's enough to change my entire life. How does one touch, love and experience a tree so regal and lovely without missing something or shortchanging it somehow? Oh beautiful Giant Sequoia, you have changed me. I could have sat with you all day and still I would not have known how to leave you.

I fear I am going just a little bit crazy. All this freedom, the farewell to caring what I look like, sound like, appear to be. All this experiencing, loving, living, becoming. All this attention to all these places and all these people joined with all the places inside of me and all the parts that have made this person...

In one month I have to be in Perry Point, MD. Finally, I have been accepted to Americorps. My chance to change the world.. or at least a few people's lives. I am both excited and disappointed. It's strange to have the next year of my life all planned out for me. What's even crazier, tho, is that I still need to make it to Seattle and home in the next four weeks. And I'm tired of traveling.

This beautiful, beautiful trip..
I'm sorting out these things inside. I am more me than I've allowed myself to be in a long time. I am beautiful after 7 days without showering. I am scattered over thousands of miles across this incredible country. I am happy, contented, peaceful, alive. I am, I am.

that's it for now.

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