Nothing of sure fruition, but of sure fortitude

27 February 2014

During the long drive to work this morning, I had a good thought process about resilience, and conquering, and plowing through fear.  I have such an appreciation for people who promptly go out in the world and give all their energy to making their desires happen.  I'd much rather be surrounded by people who have a messy heap of "tried that," "attempted this."  Then people who try to keep their neat slate so unexposed. 

I just admire people who DO things, especially when they don't have perfect knowledge or skill.  People who get off the sidelines and into the arena, even if it's error after error, and nothing of sure fruition, but sure fortitude.  One of my favorite quotes Theodore Roosevelt gave at speech in Paris, "The Man in the Arena:"

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

And when I arrived at work, I had an email waiting for me from my Mortal Angel - Nora - "

late night hot chocolate/popcorn to talk about The Unknown and conquering fear?


Ha!  Yep, let's dive in.

Upward and onward,

 I can't stop with this video.  I'm so so obsesssed!  He's fearless.

image source
video source

An Adieu Off to March

26 February 2014

Flowers for you, as I bid my adieu.

I don't know how to say "I tried."  I only know how to say, "I did."
Under the burden of heavy pursuits and heavier expectations.
Pull inward and make God your strongest companion.
When the weight becomes daunting and endless.
Arms that reach out to support, allow them in.
Be still and remember what's within.
Always repeat: I can and I will.

Other than my small list of personal New Years Resolutions I wrote on a piece of paper by my bedside one January evening, I decided my bigger year's resolutions would come month-by-month.  My success rate has been remarkable.

January was my month for new beginnings.  Which I magnified with intense job ambition, a new car, and hiring some agent people.  And any other adult pursuit that could someday be the cause of gray hair.

February was my month for creativity.  Which I magnified with a lot of dance choreography and writing every day.   And any other activity that made me feel artistic and free-spirited.  I have ended the month feeling sufficiently reflective and socially intoxicated.

March is my month for dedication.  Some of my dreams can only be achieved with intense dedication.  Mental focus.  Heavy training.  And lots of rest.  And with goals that require such stamina, I am choosing to refrain from this little space for the month.


April is my birthday month!  And believe me, I will have cause for celebration alongside an additional year of existing!  Like burning abs and a burning abacus!  And all merriments that burn smile creases into our faces.  So you can look forward to my resumed presence then.

Though, if you are ever thinking about me because you miss me oh-so-much, please send me an email!  Or drive to my house and give me a hug.  I'll be needing the support.  Endurance is a tough and lonely road.  But you know my determination - it never runs dry.

To close this eve with incredible news, I just sold my old car tonight!  ALL BY MYSELF!  Up top business girl! 

Upward and onward,

Image Source

My Mountain-Top Bird

25 February 2014

Work was horrible today.  So I'm digging into positive things to feel better.

I found this little gem on my girlfriend's blog today, hidden in her post of our Ragnar adventure last summer.  Also, as it turns out, Ragnar tattoos are not the easily removable kind like found in cracker-jack boxes.  As a matter of fact, they are actually the kind you have to remove with boiling water and a chisel.  BUT NO ONE TOLD ME THAT BEFORE I PUT IT ON MY FACE.

I'm not sure if her comments about me or the video I watched earlier of some old high school Calculus teacher going to the hospital every day to rock sick babies (see here) made my eyes water more.

I guess I needed a little hug today.  And I'll take Jo's virtual one.  Thank you.

AND let it not go unspoken that my foot injury has bid its farewell.  As after last night's run, I have no residual pain.  So, I ring in the celebration by doing a three-a-day today.  What?  Yep, morning Jillian Michaels, afternoon mountain sprint, and a late evening run.

And also because, dance practice is over.  For now...

And also because an old adage taught me: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  Leslie calls it my tenacity.  I call it - giving life the bird.

So off I go to the top of the Y.  I'll offer my bird from the highest point in town.

Upward and onward,

Words that Speak Louder

21 February 2014

a post I found in drafts from a couple weeks ago

Awake and thinking of three words.

This is it.  This phrase is the balm to my terrors.  Except for my terror of answering a FaceTime call at the wrong time - like when I’m laying on my bed after a hot bath wearing nothing but a towel.  Though, I'm sure there are many worse things than accidentally answering a FaceTime call naked, but I can't think of them right now.

I had come home late, after being gone for nearly a week because of work and visiting some family.  My ladies were downstairs watching the Olympics.  Oh how I love them, and oh how I love sitting in our basement with them, all snuggled up and distant from the rest of the world.  You always feel distant from the world when you’re burrowed into the ground.

So I went downstairs and curled up with them.  I was on my phone, semi paying attention to the asian killing it in figure skating, when a commercial break came on and Julie said, “Alright, time for an intervention.”  I looked up at her, and then looked at Cici to my left, thinking for some reason she was the object of said intervention - even though she is practically perfect in every way - and wondering why I didn’t know what was going on, since interventions are usually group discussed beforehand.  But Cici looked at me.  Then I turned and Julie and Kersti were looking at me too.

Oh.  Should I be vacuuming more?

“Chantel, we know you’ve been thinking seriously about moving to Salt Lake because of the convenience for work.  But we really don’t want you to go.  With all this time you have been away, we really miss you.  Last night when you stayed up in Salt Lake last-minute for work, I almost cried because I realized how much I would miss you if you left.  People like you aren't common.”

Cici echoed the same sentiments.  “We want to stay living with you.  We really like you!”  And Kersti chimed in, “Yeah, we would all really really miss you.  So we decided that at the end of our contract, we would all be willing to move to Salt Lake with you, if that’s what you wanted to do.”

Then my eyes watered up, and I didn’t know what to say.  “Oh Chantel!  We just love you.  We want to be with you.” 

We want you.

To be wanted.  Not just to be spoken at  - "love ya" "care about ya"  "just for today, maybe not tomorrow."  But a conscious decision and sacrifice of wanting.  A CHOICE.  That speaks over the top of empty breaths.  That delivers promise and loyalty.  That desires

My someday husband would be wise to say those three words often.  In the morning, at night, and many times in between.  Including untimely nakee FaceTime calls.

"He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day.  Choice:  that was the thing."

Sherman Alexie in The Toughest Imdian In The World

The morning I left for the Philippines.  Our goodbye faces:

Image Source

Filled With the Silt of It

If our Judgment was determined by sending one person up to The Gates to speak on our behalf - of our character and motives - I know exactly who I would send.  Or if for some reason, life mangles me until the very end, this person would certainly escort me up there bruised and bleeding.  And I for her.

Two girls who came together after their mothers started as cousins.  Now two women who hold the most supreme understanding of the other.  Who share their most closely-held thoughts and comprehend them completely.  Who are constantly impressed with the other's articulation and brilliance.  Who serve as each other's strongest anchors when any part of the world disappoints or fails.  We just get each other.  Twin Souls, is what I always say.  

So I say to my dear Lisa now:

to love life, to love it even when you have not stomach for it and eveything you've held dear crumbles like burnt papaer in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it.  When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you and I will love you, again.

-Ellen Bass

Keep clinging.  As the night of my birthday years ago would have us remember, "We're all in this together."

Part 2: Beautiful Shadows

20 February 2014


For Part 1, read here.

I remember when the concept of loving another fully hit home to me.

Up until that point, love seemed pretty understandable.  I don't remember ever being sat down by my parents and taught how to love, except before the ages of 5, "you love your sister by hugging her, not hitting her."  GOT IT, MAMA!  As I ran off to put dirt in my brother's hair, because that wasn't excluded in my love lesson.  Oh, also, I remember another conversation.... around the age of 15...  GOT IT, MAMA!  As I ran off to go do anything else, like put dirt in my own hair.

But really, I always felt my propensity to love others was very full.  I cared about the people in my life very devoutly, very loyally, very intimately.  And I cared for other people when no one else did, being told on many, many occasions that I had a gift for befriending the friendless and appreciating the underdog.  Cool.  Well then I must be a Loving Master.  God, you can conclude my lessons now.

Cute request, He said.  But juvenile.  No.

Because more of life happened, and then I learned that it is very easy to love people who love me back, or who are so gracious to receive it, or who share in my commonalities.  But it's harder to love people who I don't feel consonant with in any way, who seem so far off, or who are just grating in general.  AND, it's the hardest of all to love people who have hurt me directly. 

But then I was laying in bed one night last fall, reading a book called Visions of Glory.  To be honest, I never finished the book because it just kept getting more and more strange.  Something like the movie Cloudy with a Chance Meatballs where it starts out super cute and sweet-feeling, but the movie progresses into such a level of ridiculousness that by the end, my anxiety is at an all-time high and I'm screaming, WHAT IN THE FREAK IS HAPPENING??  So this book had a minor, similar effect, BUT, the beginning impacted me so strongly that I requested to borrow it from my co-worker twice, just so I could sink into its beautifully portrayed concept of love.

The book is about a man who dies, experiences a bit of the realm beyond, and comes back to share his experiences.  I'm aware stories like these are highly dubious - as I hugged this book, singing it's praise, and the man I was dating at the time went out and bought it, and then returned it the next day, shaking his head.  But we agreed the way it paints love couldn't be more true.

The protagonist grew up in a sticky home situation.  His father left at an early age, leaving his mother to raise children and upkeep a home by herself.  She grew increasingly detached and vexed towards those around her.  Thus, the main character had strained relationships with each of them, as their subpar actions had severely affected him and caused a lot of pain.

However, when the man passed away, he was standing in the hospital room above his own body, and as he thought of his parents, he saw them from beginning to end.  He fully comprehended his father's challenges in his younger years, seeing why he felt the need to abandon the family.  Then the he saw his mother's intense pain from her childhood and the emotional impact and demands from the abandonment, and all these accrued feelings of isolation caused her to withdraw from people.  So the understanding behind their actions had wiped away his embedded pain, being replaced with complete empathy and love towards his parents.  He saw them in full, who they were and why there were that way, and his love for them was just as complete.

Then he observed the nurse who was in the hospital room attending to his dying body, and he experienced the same far-reaching vision of her.  He knew she was having an affair with the doctor, but he knew her pains, her worries, her strong hidden feelings of fear, and he felt such a magnifying love towards her as well.  Judgment was nonexistent, because when you see someone so completely, you understand the reason behind all their actions and your empathy's are heightened.  Not validating that their actions are okay but having substantial benevolence to see they are doing their best (or at least the patience that someday they will be..)

When this man returned back to his earthly body, he noted his mind wasn't as clear or complete as when he was in the spirit realm.  His ability to generate such immediate love was hindered, as he could now only see a limited side of people.  But now that he understood such a higher perception, he knew that was what it meant to really love.   

Thus reveals the ultimate love lesson - compassion. Seeing people in full, earnestly trying to understand their pains, aware that a greater story exists, and trusting that others are doing their best.

That's why all my favorite movies and books are about one character - because you come to know and adore them from every angle.  Always understanding their thoughts, intentions, hurts.  Viewing them as if they are only person in the world, knowing where they come from, saddened when they slip-up, and happy when they triumph.  Like Jane Eyre and Easy-A.  Which are two polar examples, as one is about upstanding virtue and the other is pretending to sell it out... but both offer such a connection to the character.

And aren't we all trying to reconcile our confusions and hurts and sometimes these inhibit our best output?  Don't we all have hidden bits of ourselves that no one else knows?  People are so wired to only see what is visible.  But to be able to see what is unseen in another and understand them more - that is rare.

And sometimes the most beautiful parts of people are hidden in their shadows.  Shadows that make the brave parts of us even braver.  We don't want to miss seeing that side of people.

Beautiful Shadows.

Love says: I’ve seen the ugly parts of you, and I’m staying. Our culture doesn’t love love; It loves the idea of love. It wants the emotion without the sacrifice.
—  Matt Chandler

First Image Source
Second Image Source

Part 1: Beautiful Shadows

18 February 2014

I read a book my junior year of college, which was a rare occurrence because my face was so glued to textbooks.  I rarely recall other thoughts existing in the world besides those having to do with business.

This book came to my knowledge when one of my very best friends did a book report on an author in high school - Sylvia Plath.  The thought of her always associates me to the book Ethan Frome, written by Edith Wharton, because that was what I picked for my own book report.  I think I read four sentences and threw up.  And then I probably paid my friend in popcorn to write the book report for me.  Because that really happened on multiple occurrences.

But Sylvia Plath was an author who heavily struggled with depression, ultimately taking her own life after writing The Bell Jar.  The book is all about the protagonist's descent into mental illness, paralleling Plath's and my friend's own experiences.  So I picked it up.

And no, I didn't pick it up because I was on my own descent.  Though I wouldn't completely argue against a case of mental insanity, because school was very grueling that year.  Mostly, this book seemed as good as any to get me away from the hum-drum of late night brawls with my calculator.  And also, I was curious to understand my friend just a bit more.

So I read it all, sitting upright Indian style on my bed.  It wasn't seat-gripping thrilling by any means.  Parts of it were actually super boring.  But, I'd crown it as the book of Emotional Majesty.  Here's why-

Reading about a woman's case of bipolar disorder from inside her own mind was eerily cogent.  One would think that a book of such a topic would make you cry out your sympathies, feeling all sad and mopey and surrounded by crumpled Kleenex.  But it didn't.  Because that isn't depression.  This book threads through the character becoming increasingly apathetic and aloof and completely unfeeling.  And as I walked with her literallily (I just made that word up - clever, if I say so myself), I was unaware of her deepening depression.  Rather, I was nodding along because her thoughts made sense to me!  Not in the sense that I related to it - I've never struggled with depression - but I was nodding because I completely understood her, to the point that her world was NORMAL to me.  It was so rational and lucid and explicable.  It was real. 

Then I closed the back cover, ran off to class, and as I thought back, in the presence of reality, I realized just how many steps away the character's thoughts were from being emotionally healthy.  But while reading that book, there was no gap; her reality was as extant as anyone else's.  And therein lies the genius of the book - only a handful of people can even grasp such emotion, let alone write a novel to take you inside of it.  So for a book to fully immerse you in another's Bell Jar, I cannot think of a greater literary persuasion.  Except maybe Everybody Poops, because up until one reads that book, you just never know.

Well, the memory of this book came to me because recently, I've had many friends come to me trapped in Bell Jars of their own.  Encased in an isolating space of intoxicating and irreconcilable emotions.  Feeling the weight and intensity of mortal harshness that others cannot see.  And I've been crawling inside of the individual Bell Jars, one at a time.  Listening, understanding, resting together under the burden. And each person says the same thing -  fear of others misunderstanding, insensitive attempts of others to force them out, feeling even more alone.

That saddens me.  This world should be a safer place.  We should be far more compassionate than we are.   Far more emotionally aware than we are.  Do we only see merit in skills that can be developed professionally or technically certified?  And since no training of empathy is offered, we see no value in it?

I want to spur a wake of people to stop fearing Bell Jars.  To admire others' Bell Jars and embrace their own.  I shall call this undertaking-

Beautiful Shadows

I don't claim myself to be any sort of leading emotional health expert, says the girl who full-on cried to her friend last night about how DEAF PEOPLE CAN'T HEAR, EVER!  Also, those who claim much of anything above their own heads leave a pompous, icky taste in my mouth.  So I won't be titling this 27 Ways To Be A Human, as the post fads are going, because that's like standing outside someone's Bell Jar and pressing a to-do list up against the glass.

Let's learn to see ---
to accustom the eye to calmness
to patience
to allow others to come up to us
to defer judgment
to acquire the habit of grasping an individual from all sides.
This is the first preparatory schooling of intellectuality.  

Said Friedrich Nietzsche.  Nietzsche is Peachy, my English teacher always rhymed.  The same teacher that made me read pukey Ethan Frome.

Hug someone today.  Our journey begins tomorrow.

Image Source

I Stay Where I Stand

16 February 2014

I'm reading about this woman and her tales of motherhood (see yesterday's soap box).  The diaper blow-outs, the post-partum depression, the snotty-faced exasperated crying into her husband's arms (so sweet, right??).  But it's not told in a wallowing kind of way.  It's told in a Full House kind of way.  Like, allow everything to get real messy before you cue the music and tie everything together in a paralleling lesson.

I just really appreciate her honesty about her life as it is in the day-to-day.  She's a mother, and that is the truth of a mother's world.  It's relateable to about every estrogenic species.  Well here's some of my life honesty for you, though I am in a very different stage of life than her.  Not motherhood.  But datinghood.

I went to a cosmic dance party with Kersti and our buddy, Christian, last night.  After we had become sufficiently sweaty, Kersti and I were standing next to the fog machine, under a string of pink balloons, talking about relationships.  Suddenly, I remembered this book that I once read, after being suggested to me by my counselor, though I can't remember the title.  It rang more true for me and my dating life than any other book I'd read to-date.

It was about women who are successful, who really apply themselves, or who have a considerable amount of talent or determination.  And, as the theory outlines, some men are drawn to this type of woman, because she inspires him to reach higher for his own dreams.  The man becomes particularly stimulated and hard-working, looking heart-eyed at the source of all this inspiration - the woman.   But then, time goes on, and the man cannot sustain his motivation.  He feels insecure, possibly inferior under the feet of this woman, and he begins to resent her.  He'll feel like she changed him.  He'll feel like her expectations are too high.  He'll feel like it's her.  And, often, he'll walk away.

Well here's my truth of it all.  I cannot tell you how many times I have sat across the desk of my co-worker Katie, as she's held one hand solid, representing me, and her other hand symbolizing a little man running up the hill to reach me, and by the time he reaches the top, he's panting and gasping for air, and then his pace slows down and eventually he retreats back down.  At this point, Katie has basically made a full-length film of my life with just her two hands.

But is it really on my shoulders to create a clear gap of inadequacy for him to fill?  Because what of this world if women have to be less than they could be in order to be wanted?  No.  No way.  Any conclusion I reach that I would not teach my daughters is one I should reassess. 

Well, here's my true conclusion.  I believe in action-based orient.  I find men (including myself and people in general) passively retracting from feeling insufficient or personal insecurities.  I hear them say "no given need" or "place for them to stand."   A better approach would be taking action - "What can I do for you today?"   And in that, they'd learn, love.  I need love.

My man has to have that loving willingness.

Boon to Mortals Given

Today I only shaved half my legs.

Not like, half of my FULL leg, no only half of the modestly visible portion of my leg.  Soooo, half my calf.  Because I was thinking that it would be efficient to only shave a little bit beyond the bottom of my skirt.  Not thinking about what happens when I sit down at church, my skirt comes up above my knees, and a handsome man comes to sit by me.  But, what can you do at that point.

Instead, we laughed about french accents.  Because I couldn't tell if the speaker had an accent or I was just really terrible at understanding English suddenly.  He whispered to me that her accent was very subtle, like an aftertaste.  And then, because I'm in a half deaf ward, as we sang a congregational hymn, I pointed to the word, "boon," wondering out loud if the signing deaf man would know the word, because in English I sure didn't.  So we both looked up from our hymn book and waited for the lyrics to catch up to our curiousity.  The signer's face contorted, he panicked, and then quickly spelled it out..  Nope, guess not.

And no more singing happened for the rest of the song because our hands were pinching our laughing cheeks so hard.  The song ended, and I placed the book on my fuzzy knees.  We can go ahead and keep those hidden.

Then on an orange sticky note, I made some spiritual goals for myself this week.  I think I need to come to church a little more attuned to the Spirit.

And also, I need to buy more razors.

Image Source

Rowing My Boat Gently Down the Stream

15 February 2014

I've stayed mostly cooped up today because I am determined to heal this foot.  You don't realize just how active you are until you aren't allowed to be anymore.  So this foot-throbbing-whatever needs to stop, because unlike other life monstrosities that are cured with a good mountain run or a bedroom choreography party, this can't be cured with such.  But it seems to be getting better.  And... I'm probably going to test that assumption by running the Y in a bit...   I'll go gentle.

Today I was supposed to get up before the sun and go jeeping in Moab with some friends.  My alarm failed.  Though, considering my hours of sleep for the night totaled just over three, I was severely disappointed for about five minutes as I stood in Kersti's bedroom wrapped in a blanket to hide my G's, but then I went back to bed for many more hours.

But I have to say that between these two disappointments that have left me laying on my glorious and very coveted bed - after deep cleaning my bedroom, which turned into moving folders of paper from one location to another - I am extremely content.

I've been reading Meg Conley's blog from beginning to end, like it's a book, and listening to Ray LaMontagne.  I did the same with Stephanie Nielson's blog -  while listening to Rosie Thomas - years back at the very start of graduate school, when I was just barely dinking into the world of online writing myself.  Good writing awakens me.  It awakens me in a different way than my other passions.  Running awakens my stamina, dancing awakens my confidence, but writing awakens my.... grounding to life.

Sidenote:  No wonder I'm always a bundle of energy - I find so much to awaken me! Which mirrors the text my best friend Chelsea sent this morning, after I texted her a picture of a letter I wrote her, found in my car dated last APRIL!  I'll go ahead and mail that now.  - Oh Chantel, I just read the first page from the photo. Thank you so much. You are one of my greatest inspirations with the way you live and love life. I love you.  Thanks, C.

Anyway, Meg's writing has heightened me to the goodness of mortality, the way all of our roads can be just a bit dreary, but we can still perceive it through any fanciful filter we choose.  I'm reconnected to the wonder of people, always loving to see how the world moves through them, how they see and deal. Now, having wrapped around Meg's mind, her lovely writing, her magic as a mother, her vulnerability, I feel such joy for the open side of humanity.  I desire to be more freely expressive myself.

But I don't always feel such a liberating rush to throw my doors open and call for people to gallivant around in my space.  Mostly because I see people gallivanting less and less kindly.  Am I just losing my childhood ignorance and seeing more of the real world, or are people increasingly cynical and judgmental and frightening?  I see too much insecurity, separation, and fear.  And here's my thoughts as too why....

I am reminded of the years of my life when I engaged in no social media, only connecting with others through real world interaction or meaningful online writing.  I have always sought to connect through only the most authentic connections, wrapping myself around the full essence of another, creating safe bonds of understanding and trust.  And I felt those same bonds reciprocated, people always saying they shared no other connections in comparison.  That shouldn't be!  Why are quality relationships so rare?

And then I went back on social media and felt a decrease in my interactions.  I make no stab against using such media, but I hold no hesitation in saying they greatly deplete our capacity of connection.  It cheapens our relationships with each other, as the process is observe, validate, and disengage - a graze across the top of someone's life.  And many only exist with that one layer, spawning an inability to understand someone's world at any deeper level, resulting in misunderstandings and abuses.  Which spurs fear and uncertainty for people to share any further because they know energy will not be offered for full comprehension or appreciation.  Thus, taking steps away from each other, concealing our nakedness and actuality, driving our world away from the practice of compassion.

But writing - oh I love it.  Writing goes down inside.  Writing shows humanity.  Writing gives all air to the thought: we are all fellow travelers just walking each other home.  We're all doing the best we can, seeking to understand, trying to create, survive, and love.  And if we could only SEE that in each other - see another's panoramic, in-depth experience of life - then I believe the measure of love from human-to-human would increase exponentially.  We would trust each other!  Talents would surface with boldness.  Society, professions, the economy - everything would thrive!

But I can't push on the side of a ship and make it turn.  I can only row my own boat in the direction I believe.  Thus, I am back to my same conclusions:  authenticity, honesty, and compassion.  And writing is the best way I have found to engender those.  And today, I feel moreso.  Discovering open people like Meg make me want to be just a bit more of all good things.

Cheers, Meg, to beautiful writing.

This whole post is extremely similar to an essay I wrote exactly one year ago, here.  The world takes a year to orbit to the same place, and apparently my thoughts do too.

Upward and onward,

Image Source

Only Where You Are Now

13 February 2014

Honest now.

Are most people multiple layers deep?  Layers that add on from life experience?  Life experience derived from one storm to many?  Do the under layers callous to shield the top?  Do layered people generally prefer others of the sort because they can reach more to the bottom?

I hold the answers for myself, but I wonder what others would say.

A Greg Laswell song cut through all my layers today.  A day that started on Jessica's couch because a rush meeting pushed me to remain away from home last night, then a morning full of important meetings, and a quick escape back to my other job responsibilities in a whole different town, with added time constraint because of dance show preparation.  I'm heavily demanded right now.  It's adventurous, but slightly exhausting.  I need my foot - still healing from an injury.

But through it all, I keep my layers perfectly stacked.  Organized and pristine, just like the rest of me.  And people don't get through my layers - there is no reason to - except for a few who have walked my same road:  Greg Laswell and Kee, my 50-something Native American co-worker.

So I'm sitting at my desk, engrossed in a song by Greg (listen here), staring at the above picture and feeling all of what I will never say, when Kee walks by my office.  I have red zombie eyes from sleeping in my make-up, but also slightly tear-stained.  Greg started it.  But Kee knows why.

A big hug, and nothing more needs to be said.

Close up the layers.

Off to dance rehearsal,

DJ Chan Coolio

12 February 2014

A morning conversation about the greatest luger, Kate Hansen, and her experience at the Sochi Olympics left my buddy and I super inspired.  Including her warm-up dancing, which also thrilled Beyonce.  We talked about life being about big dares and no regrets, and living not with greatness, but with gratitude! And then we had a life rejoicing moment via text, dreaming up larger-than-life possibilities, and the heavens opened and started playing rapid violin music, and the tops of our heads lit up like on Touched By an Angel.

"But still... remember how we haven't been tweeted about by Beyonce or competed in the Olympics?"


I'm screaming uncool right now.  I'm wearing grandma shoes because of my foot injury, and I drove to work in a mini van (#lastavailablefleetcar) sing-belting One Direction.

But, fortunately, there is one memory that salvages some of my coolness.  Actually, this one moment left me feeling like THE coolest person in the world.

And it's not the one I told my friend about out-eating 18 dudes in an ice cream eating competition.  Because when I asked Beyonce to tweet about that, she sent me this picture:

So here's a better story. 

My kid brother, Brennan, looks up to me like I'm the bees knees.  Whatever that means.  Every time I come to town, he can't stop saying how awesome I am and that I'm his best friend because I am just SO fun.  And weird.  All true.  And then he starts listing off memories with me.  Like the time we put on oven mits and held a boxing tournament in the kitchen, while everyone else just sat there.  Or the time I slipped a jalepeno into my dad's water and winked at Brennan across the table.  Or the hours we've played Just Dance, and the one time I punched him on accident, and he popped right off the ground, gloating that his coolest sister just marred half his face.

But most of his favorite memories center around... driving.  Anytime our family goes somewhere, "I'M WITH CHANTEL!"  he says.  Because there ain't no party like an S-Club party, except in my car.  Windows down, music up.

First of all, I will go to the very furthest extent of energy and entertainment when I'm around Brennan.  Every child needs one person in their life who absorbs all the fun of the universe and brings it right to them.  And I love to see Brennan so happy and laughing. 

And second, I have my car specifically prepped for these drives with my little squeeze.  You see, my grandma is always concerned that my car is "prepared" - equipped with blankets, water, emergency packs, and light sabers in case I break down somewhere.  So when she asks if I'm "ready," I just nod my head.  Because yes, I am ready.  Not for a Zombie Apocalypse.  But for a Car Rave. Which, if you think about it, the items for each aren't mutually exclusive...

Anyway, just this last Christmas break, Brennan and I hopped in my car to go visit my mom at work.  Immediately, the volume went up, and I started pulling out my gear.  Which consists of Flashing Light Rings - which I got in India when we had a dance party on the top of the orphanage, and then we lit one of those Tangled lights on fire and threw it up into the darkness and it went just beyond the orphanage wall and then promptly fell to the ground of super dry weeds, and we all starting blowing from atop the roof of this building, as if that would prevent the whole field from igniting.  Remember that time I almost burned down an orphanage in India?  yep.

And my next gear item, these Super Star Glasses - which I got at a work White Elephant party this last Christmas, given to me by this old lady who kept making sexual comments about everything - like how some candles should go to this super quiet newlywed girl because they'll come in handy for some... bow-wow, and all the men were red-faced blushing, and I was laughing my head off, and then she gave me these star glasses because "I'm single."  Remember that time I wore star glasses to put men in heat with me?  no. 

Anyway, so I'm wearing these flashing lights and crazy glasses, and I'm pounding to the music, and Brennan is just giggling over in the passenger seat.  Then he asks, "Chan, can I wear those glasses?"  YEAH LITTLE MAN!  So I put these oversized glasses on his tiny little head, and I keep pumping my arms to the music.

Then I look over at him, and he is just BEAMING up at me.  He is leaning towards me with the widest grin on his face, staring at me with these big, bulgy, gleeful eyes behind these ridiculous glasses.  And he just looks so overjoyed and full of admiration for me that the whole world seemed to slow down to this one moment of just his little self captivated with my presence.

And then I turned my attention back to the road.  Good thing.

Later in the day, when I had to say goodbye to him, he wrapped his little arms around my waist and held tight for a really, really long time.  He said over and over, "Chan, I will miss you."  And he kept holding on, long enough for me to look at my mom with a quizzical face - is this normal?  "He really likes you," she whispered.  My eyes watered up.

His wide-eyed, big-grinning face looking up at me in the car has never left my memory.  I felt like a million bucks to this kiddo.  I am as cool as cool can get in the eyes of an eleven year old boy.

Tweet THAT Beyonce.