As a fun experiment, I’ve recorded myself reading this essay. Listen below—in three parts—or simply scroll down to read.
Last spring, before I headed to the trailhead of the 800-mile Arizona Trail I was about to thru-hike, I loaded up my water supply to full capacity: 6 liters.
I wasn’t sure what water sources would be like nor how frequently I’d come across them, so I wanted to err on the safe side.
Four of those liters were easily accessible while hiking: two gatorade bottles and two smart water bottles.
The other two liters were stored in a Platypus—a clear, flexible water container—which lived deep in the back of my pack. It was not easily accessible while hiking, and in my mind I thought of it as my “emergency water.” Just in case.
After the first two days, I’d crossed enough flowing streams to know that two liters of emergency water was overkill. There was no reason to be carrying all of this dead weight! Read more
Back in January, one of the three focuses I illuminated for the quarter was to put into practice some sort of container, such that I would regularly be playing creatively and challenging myself monthly.
Here’s a little peek at how that’s developed over the past three months. Read more
Sometime in March, while browsing my local library’s website, I saw that they were hosting an “Un-bound Upcycle Book Art Contest” that month.
You go to your local branch, ask for an old book, and then use it as your canvas. You can turn it into… anything!
I saw this as a very low-pressure, fun Yes, yet still very much a challenge.
What can I do with a book, using what I have in my home?
What ideas do I want to share?
One of the reasons I like working on trail crew is because so far it’s the job I’ve found where I feel most human: We play, laugh, create, joke, move, and shoot out snot rockets from our noses.
There’s a coworker with whom I’ll often create random poems on the whiteboard, or random phrases aloud—while we’re waiting around the shop in the mornings. He’s one of the most creative, goofiest people I’ve met and it’s such a treasure to be around his random mind. Our creative play happens organically, unplanned.
Here’s a small snippet from a moment this week:
This friend had written the chunk in the bottom right, then passed me the paper. When I read it, I decided to use his format and just change a few things—adding the bottom left chunk.
Then he wrote the “Avoid sleepy mistakes” 2-liner, so I added the “fates” 2-liner. Then he heard in his mind a woman with a southern accent saying “Honey, fate finds you!”
Lastly came the top left chunk, to which I replied with the top right verse.
It’s so fun to playfully create—especially with others!
A Look Back at 2019
For me, looking back on the year I can see five distinct seasons:
Five Seasons of 2019
1. France Sojourn (Jan. – Feb.)
I opened the new year feeling like I needed a release from expectation and striving, so I gave myself permission to do whatever I pleased with no guilt. I stayed with a friend for a month and a half in a small costal town outside of Nantes. I had very calm, solo days, filled with reading, watching Netflix (The Good Place, Home Made Simple, The Hook-up Plan, Call My Agent), cooking, baking, and taking walks. I did a very tiny bit of drawing, some yoga. I also experienced feelings of inferiority, trying to fit in to French culture and do things the “right way,” act appropriately in social situations. Applied to two jobs. And then, my final week, received the news that Cathleen had died. Read more
Twenty-nineteen certainly was the year of books for me. Even though I did not read during the two months of my AZT thru-hike, I still read 21 more books than last year. I was unemployed until mid-November this year, though, so it makes sense that I spent more time reading. That said, while grieving, I did notice my pace get too fast, blasting through merely so the book would be complete, so there would be some ease/relief of being finished. So, I’ve been trying to slow it back down in 2020.
Below are the books from 2019 that have stayed with me, and that I’m most excited to recommend. There are plenty of books I enjoyed this year which aren’t listed below, so here’s the full list if you’re interested.