Tripping Balls

colorful-play-balls

I have now smoked pot three times in my adult life, and all I’ve gotten were rolled-eyes and shaken-heads when I’ve told the stories.
“You can’t trip this bad on pot.” They say. “It must have been laced.” They say. Yeah, maybe. Or, maybe Bobcat’s brains are just not designed to handle the stuff.

The first time, I was 24 years old. I had driven to San Francisco to see about a boy I liked. It was my first evening in his apartment. I didn’t want to appear a bore and assured him “Of course, I smoke!” A few minutes later, I was precariously perched on the edge of the cliff that appeared in the middle of his living room, holding on for dear life and fighting the urge to plunge into the dark abyss below. Then I was all dressed in the shower with no recollection of how I got there. The boy I liked looked worried.
“Get out of there. We’ll take your clothes off and I’ll put you in bed.” This was bad, very bad. I didn’t have time to complain. I was soaking wet, sitting in his closet. Whoever “he” was. I couldn’t recall. I was scared and crying. Then I was in bed, wearing his clothes. I have no memory of the changing process. I fell asleep convinced I wouldn’t wake up. I died then. And then dated that boy for four years.

The second time, I was 39 years old. I took one puff on my boyfriend’s pipe. It was my idea. I was stressed with school and wanted the kind of relief I saw in his eyes when he smoked. But, within a few minutes, there was no relief in his eyes, but flames. In fact, he was the devil, and the wall behind him was a roaring fire. I crawled backwards onto the bed into the corner, scared out of my gourd. I reappeared next to his bicycle. I was turning the pedal with my hand. He was still the devil. I was going to die. I reappeared in his bed, on my knees, hands in a prayer motion. “Please God, make it stop, make it stop.”. The boyfriend was yelling at me “What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you have some sort of brain problem you’ve never told me about?” Then my roommate came. I didn’t know who she was either, but she sure seemed more trustworthy than he did. She held my hand until 2 in the morning.
“I’m gonna die.”
“No, you’re fine. You’re not gonna die.” I already forgot we had the conversation, and immediately started over. She was a good friend. 

The third time, was a few nights ago. I was camped in some ancient ruins in a cave overlooking a grandiose vista of a starry night, with a friend I will call B. I’ve met B only a few weeks ago. He is a calm and collected man. He seemed like someone who could handle me if shit hit the fan. Curiosity got the cat to the bowl.
Again, I took just one puff, and before he even had put the pipe away, I was tripping balls. The world beyond the ruins disappeared into a black hole. I walked back against the wall of the cave for support. B told me “Just ride it out.”

That’s about all I remember clearly or consistently.
But, I did get my journal, at some point.
So, here we go. This is the account as it happened, for entertainment purposes only.

“I don’t know what will come out of this. But I’m going to try anyway.
Too many words.
I smoked pot and I’m “tripping balls” as B would say. I wrote this because I think tomorrow it will amuse me to read balls.
My body is writing this, but my consciousness is shifting realities. It is “going” to the physical location of any thought I have, any event I talk about, and other places in full awareness. Meanwhile, my body is by the fire, having a conversation with B of which I recall none of the words because I was elsewhere. I have visited past, parallel present and future realities. These are actually impressions in a timeless singularity. There is currently no past or future. Now I am here, wondering if I’m full of shit. Still, my experience remains.

I am conscious of turning the page.
B is smoking a cigarette by the fire. I sense that this reality should feel normal, but it is too shifty to feel real. It will be dismantled before I can document. It is already dismantled.
I have no recollection of writing the paragraph since I turned the page. B shifted by the fire. I remember what reality I am in – still a little fuzzy on the time period. I just saw myself create the next sentence. I was in the future when it happened, then returned here to write it. Fast forward and back. I went to tomorrow to read it. The morning sun was shining. Memories are sticking around a little longer now. Each moment is like a slide in an eternal slide show. And a cricket just appeared to bring me back. B is reading now. I wasn’t here when he got his book. I just returned from a few minutes in the future. We will be talking then. I know what will be said. I am only in each “time zone” for a second, maybe not even that long. B said – just returned from there – B said that if I eat something it will pass quicker. But, I put one plantain chip in my mouth – back from my desk in my room in New Hampshire. Ryan was talking to me – plantain – forgot what I was writing about, but I remember it was important. Just returned from when I got my journal, whenever ago in the past that was. I’m glad I got it. If I’m gonna trip balls, at least – just returned from – where was I anyway. I already forgot. Right! Balls! Now my body is laughing because I said balls. Now it is laughing because I wrote balls. Now I am laughing out loud at this set of sentences.
Man, this is intense!
I remember! Yes, I was gonna talk about – just came back from that moment – plantain – OMG! Brain, stay put for a sec! I put the plantain in my mouth and suddenly the flavor was too intense to bear – Was in Tahiti just now with Vatea on the docks. They didn’t have plantain there. Not only was the taste crazy, but it felt like the whole chip swelled up – Hold on, I just got an important insight into reality. Now it’s gone. What was I even talking about?I asked B for some water in a voice I didn’t recognize as mine. I was just in Paris, at a place I don’t know. It was raining. I’ve never been there. There is a writer somewhere I visited just now. In a white shirt with suspenders. A white house. A plantation maybe. Florida? Back to B reading his book. I think I was done talking about plantains.
Oh! I remember … I am traveling to alternate realities that are further on the — B laughed. I lost my thought. I wish they’d stick around longer. I wonder if this will seem like utter nonsense tomorrow. I was there though. And I just returned from the edge of a canal. Where? I don’t know.
Fuck. Ok. I’m gonna ride it out for a bit. I’ll be back.

[some time (whatever that means) later]

So, who’s doing the conversing with B and the writing in this journal while I am gone? I mean, I can hear myself, and I sound totally present – except I don’t know what just happened or what I just said because I was elsewhere. What animates my body when consciousness is traveling away from my body? Or is there no body while I’m not here? Like if I were skipping slides in the slide show of reality.

[I have a sketch of this]
O XXXXX O X=missing slides. O=points of entry.

This looks ridiculous. But that’s what’s happening.
Yeah.  I don’t know.
I am not writing this anywhere else. I just checked. There is no parallel reality in which I am recording this.
This is so weird. I can’t conceive of skipping slides. If slides are skipped then who thinks the thoughts that are created to write this text here that I am writing?
I just read “there is no word”
I don’t know where. Maybe in this journal. Maybe elsewhere.
I am grateful to B for being exactly who he is right now. I just returned from a reality where someone was trying to hold and comfort me. This caused a lot of stress. At least here, I don’t have to worry about what’s going on with my body. I need no awareness for conversation or functioning.
I just forgot who B was. A presence across the fire. But he seems familiar. I seem fond of him even when I don’t know who he is. When I go, I go alone, except for parallel realities that are linked to this fire. When I go to reality with this fire, then B comes too, but not in the physical form of the reality in which I am writing this. I was just in a castle in ?
B said there is an owl – maybe a little owl wisdom would be nice. Seriously! How do people do drugs any harder than this? So unsettling. Am I unsettled?
Well, at least I’m not fearful, so that’s good.
I don’t feel in danger, and I have a good sense that eventually I’ll be here longer.
I just looked at my shoes twice.
I don’t remember what happened in between.
Owl hoots. I see my shoes. Maybe it is helping me to come back. Yes. Owl hoots calling me home. I welcome it if it is so. I’ll be happy to be in my body full time again. Or not skipping slides. Whatever.

[some time (whatever that means) later]

I ate something and I think the effects are lessening a little. I am not as “real” in those other places as I am here.
I vaguely remember being scared when it began, probably from bad past experiences. Now that I’ve gotten used to it, being just here feels a little “flat”. I can’t find a better word yet. Here. “Here” feels small by itself, maybe like a comfortable childhood home after a round the world journey.
There is this rock here in particular that looks very familiar. I just saw myself tomorrow, giggle at how nonsensical that last sentence will seem.

[some time (whatever that means) later]

So, I am only partially right. I don’t recall where I’ve been as crisply anymore, but I am definitively not “back” yet. The owl stopped hooting. I have reached a state of trust. I don’t know what my body is doing while I’m gone, but I trust it to continue to appear normal. I just set up camp – precise movements I know by heart. Next thing I know I’m writing in my journal from my sleeping bag. I was not involved in the setup process. Oh … I can almost see where I just was. There must be boundaries between realities. Maybe one-way valves that don’t let memories back through. I return with impressions here, then create images in my mind to match these impressions. But, that’s because the original images can’t make it through.
Oh, I have questions! Maybe best I ask them tomorrow.
One question I won’t be able to answer tomorrow because I won’t remember how I feel right now is Why can’t memories of parallel journeys be brought back? Because of how this feels. I think that’s what insanity would feel like. Shifting realities and not remembering which one is “ground”. I count this one, in which I am writing this, as ground because when I’m here – and I seem to return here more consistently – the others are fainter. Though, I suppose this one could feel faint when I am elsewhere. I don’t know. It doesn’t feel important.
Why was I so scared the other two times I smoked pot? I guess I feared losing my mind permanently because I didn’t remember going elsewhere. I was just missing large chunks of my own story with no explanation – like finding myself fully dressed in the shower or by the bicycle. Maybe I was scared because I didn’t trust my body left “unattended”.
I guess this is one major difference. I feel good here, being me, and I trust B. I feel safe in the ruins.
I vaguely remember telling him “I’ve known you for a while” or something like that early on. It’s just a flash of a memory. I wasn’t here very consistently then. I flipped through realities quickly with him for a bit, all had to do with the fire. It was the anchor for the duplication of this one reality with B. I saw him by the fire across lifetimes and time periods, in different forms. I didn’t look at his face, but his feet and bottom of pants/shorts changed rapidly. We were in the steps of Mongolia. He had black feet in the Serengeti. On a sand dune by an oasis. Others. More. We were family, partners, lovers, then back to friends, right here. It feels weird to write this now. And I’m (this body) here will think it’s utter bullshit tomorrow.
Hey, I don’t know. Maybe it’s all in my brain. Altered chemicals with weird side effects. But then, isn’t perception of reality always in the “brain”, a receptor/decoder for consciousness. “I” didn’t move, but I was conscious elsewhere. Maybe all realities are in my head – stories to experience impressions.
Yes, of course they are. I just can’t conceive that they are.
I was here for a long moment just now, and I liked it.
I’m just going to sleep it off now.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll just be here.

Bobcat – or whoever I am – out.”

Home (“here”, “ground”), the next morning: caveruins

Advertisements

Repack and Go.

 

Many thanks to Mikhael in Flagstaff for a space to get everything out of the truck.
I’m now repacked and ready to go, next stop, New Hampshire – estimated arrival date December 15th. Just in time to go ice climbing (that’s what’s in the big bin with the black lid – delicious gear!) . I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, but I have everything I need were I to not return, or not return for a while …

IMG_0166 IMG_0170

An Interview with Melissa Wyld

[Note: No part of this interview took place outside my head. Any resemblance to any interview I might give at any time in any future in which Oprah has discovered Crazy Free is pure coincidence :)]

Good morning Melissa. We’re glad to have you with us on the Crazy Free website this morning. So, tell us what this Crazy Free book of yours is about.

Crazy Free is a story of exploration – exploration of various world perceptions, concepts of self, geographic locations and personal physical boundaries. The journey covers the past two years of my life. It starts in Bellingham, where I experience something I would call a “mild out-of-body experience”. This leads me to a Vision Quest Fast in Death Valley, where I have a full-blown spiritual experience – mind blown, world upside-down kinda experience. The rest of the book deals with understanding what happened to me in the Death Valley through gradual awakening. It ends in Sedona when I fall in love with a man who champions UNspirituality (the opposite of spirituality) to the point of having published a book about it.

It seems these days bookshelves are filled with stories of spiritual journeys. Oprah started nothing short of a small awakening revolution when she brought “Eat Pray Love” to the Oprah Book Club. I see that you start in a similar fashion: 40-years old recently divorced woman sets out to find herself and her truth. So, what sets your book apart? What would a reader get from your story that has not yet been shared and published by others?

Well, first of all, every person’s story is unique. I enjoyed reading “Eat Pray Love”, and I do see a similar progression in world-view perception in Liz Gilbert’s book and Crazy Free, but I am a whole different beast than she is. Ha ha! Although the internal journey is a running thread throughout the book, the adventures that support my awakening belong more to the category of “Into the Wild” (except I don’t die at the end – I hope!) than that of “Eat Pray Love”. I take the reader along on two years of free-form wandering. 15,000 miles by road (with stops in five states), 2660 miles on foot (the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada) and 400 miles by kayak (from Whitehorse to Dawson on the Yukon River), with a side trip to Rishikesh, at the foot of the Indian Himalayas. I also like to push my own limits. In the book, I spend 4 days without food, 3 days without sleep, I climb high peaks, and I explore low deserts. I cover the full spectrum. I also go from complete perceived insanity to absolute clarity. And just when I get there, I meet Chris – Mr. UnSpirituality -, and my whole deck of neatly stacked spiritual cards go tumbling down. So although no part of my story is a first of its kind, I like the combinations and juxtapositions in it. I like how “epic” it is.

You describe your journey as an “epic spiritual adventure.” Are you referring to the scope of adventures that constitute the background to your spiritual journey? What is your tie to the word “epic”?

Ha! Yes, I like the word epic. I have looked it up to ensure that I followed through on my promises to the reader. Promising an epic story isn’t something you do casually. Basically, my story is epic because it is out of the ordinary. In my daily life, I tend to shun the mundane and have a slight mistrust of “normality”. I think we create our own lives both through the choices we make but also by the way we perceive ‘what is’ or ‘what was’. I like to create a BIG life for myself. Writing a book about your life is the ultimate indulgence in terms of perceiving what was, and I am first and foremost writing this book for myself. I would not be able to sustain the writing process to completion if I were not thoroughly enjoying it. If my future readers get half as excited reading my book as I am writing it, it’ll be on the best-selling list in no time. Ha ha!!

And we hope that it will. Tell us a little bit about the logistics of writing this book. You are still unemployed and homeless, is that correct?

Yes, technically, though so far the Universe really has had my back. The decision to write Crazy Free hit me with the same strength as that of walking the PCT. Although I had been thinking and talking about writing a book for years the shift was instantaneous. Suddenly, I was writing a book – unavoidable and non-negotiable. My writing of Crazy Free is as much of an adventure as the journey described in the book. I would not be surprised if Crazy Free is followed by a second book, “the making of Crazy Free.” Ha ha! I have been a roaming writing gypsy. Each chapter of the book is being written in a different location. Sometimes I have the luxury of a desk and chair, other times I write in the back of my truck parked in breath-taking sceneries. Writing a book on the road definitely presents challenges, but my first and foremost passion is in the full experience of life. I believe my creativity would dry up if I were stationary. I am writing about my life, so I need a life about which to write.

[At this point,  Chris (Mr. UnSpirituality) entered the room and asked what I was writing. I told him. He laughed. “So, you’re writing a fake interview of yourself, by you, about your book, which is about you, to put on your blog. I think you’ve reached a new level of narcissism!” – He meant it as a compliment. Narcissism is just an other name for Self-love 😜]


Mr. UnSpirituality himself, here disguised as a Sedona irrigation specialist. 

Sasquatch encounter!

Good morning my beloved readers,

Stopping by the Roaming Bobcat’s blog to tell you a story in the midst of writing my Crazy Free book seems a little bit like taking time off from the PCT to go for a hike. That would never happen. Well, unless it involves a Sasquatch encounter. I have been really stretching my brain to write Crazy Free; it will be fun to write one as it comes with no worries of publishability. Don’t judge my writing on this story, okay?

So, would you like to read about my Sasquatch encounter? I just learned that I had one myself. Here it is:

August 12th, 2012 – 19 walking miles from Ashland, Oregon (PCT mile 1708). I set up my tarp and sleeping bag on a small outcrop overlooking a valley and framed by a small bowl-shaped hill. The top of the hill, a few hundred feet from my camp, was wooded. The rest of the hill was covered in low brushes and golden dried grass. I don’t know what was on the other side of the hill, but I thought there must have been a road there because Halfmile’s map showed the trail intersecting a dirt road coming from that direction three or so miles down the trail from where I was camped. The valley below was deep and wooded as well. My interest in the view was not the valley, however, but the open sky above. This is what I wrote in my journal that evening:

“I stopped earlier than I meant in terms of miles today, but the Pleides meteor shower is supposed to be now and I am worried this might be the last cool protruding outcrop for a while. It looks like the trail dips back into the woods for a few miles from here.”

I enjoyed the meteor shower from the warmth of my sleeping bag and slept well that night.

The next morning, in the first glow of dawn, I was woken up by a long guttural howl. It had the tone and quality of a large man’s scream. It was neither menacing nor from fright, but more like the sound we thru-hikers make when we call to each other in the woods “woooooooooooooooheee!”, except it was stretched out to about thirty seconds and much louder. No man, not even Pavarotti, would have had the lung capacity for either the volume or duration of that call. I woke up but did not move. I wasn’t frightened by the sound, just very curious. My first guess was that hunters were using some calling device designed to amplify and sustain a human voice, but I could hear no engine, voices or other noise typically human. I then heard the same call from a different place on the ridge. I concluded that either there was more than one whatever-was-making-that-noise or that the whatever was moving very fast. I thought it might be a bird, a very large strange bird with a hell of a song. The call resonated again, this time back in the first location. I decided there definitively were several of the calling creatures. There was by then enough light for me to make out the top of the ridge. I scrutinized the edge of the wood and the top of the trees for any sign of movement, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The calls continued, about one every couple of minutes. After four or five them, I sat up and noticed I was not feeling so well. I felt a vague malaise, the physiological equivalent of thinking “something is very wrong here.” My intuition told me that I was safe – I didn’t have any fight or flight response to the call-, but I sensed I should not linger. I had intended to wait for Weathercarrot, who was camped a mere 5 miles away, but suddenly felt a slight sense of urgency about leaving the exposed outcrop I called home for the night. I packed rapidly and quietly, yet calmly, stashed a granola bar in my pocket for later and rejoined the trail. I heard one last call, this time further from my camp than the previous ones. I walked into the woods and to Ashland. I thought nothing further of that morning’s incident. I believed I had heard a strange bird or two; the event didn’t even warrant mention in my journal.

 

April 28th, 2013 – Lake Morena campground, California. I just returned from the yearly Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off reunion and party. I had an amazing time there, reunited with old friends, and met new ones. One of the great new acquisitions in my arsenal of friends is the delightful Coyote. I was sitting on Coyote’s Toyota truck’s tailgate when I noticed the “Science of Sasquatch” book on her sleeping pad. I asked her about it and she told me that she had never had an interest in Sasquatch until she had an encounter on the trail. Her encounter took place in 2010, in California, well out of the range where one might expect to find Sasquatch. She and a small group of thru-hikers were woken up in the middle of the night by a long guttural scream right by their camp. They woke up with a start, grabbed their hiking poles as weapons and yelled back at the creature in the woods. The creature ran away and screamed a few more times as it did so. Although it sounded very large, it moved rapidly and skillfully. This was not a lumbering beast through the wood. They never saw the creature and found very little evidence of its passage through the woods the next morning. The ground was not conducive to footsteps and there was no obvious damage to the trees in the path the creature must have taken as it ran away. Coyote filed the event away in the unsolved mystery folder in her brain for over a year before finding any potential explanation.

Although Coyote had filed the event away, her trail friend SOL (Shit-Out-of-Luck) had not. She researched the web looking for any answer to the question “What made that noise in the woods that night”, until she ran across a talk-show about Sasquatch. Included in that talk-show were several recordings of what researchers believe to be Sasquatch vocalizations. Bingo! Coyote and SOL agreed: the Sasquatch vocalization samples were exactly the same scream they had heard. With this new potential culprit in mind, Coyote picked up the Science of Sasquatch book. She read me parts of the chapter on Vocalizations: Most of Sasquatch’s vocalizations are presumed to be in the infra-sound range. This would make sense from an adaptation to the environment perspective because infra-sound carries over a greater distance than higher pitch sounds, and Sasquatches are purported to live in vast forested areas where sound could easily be absorbed. Sasquatches would also, based on their size, be very likely to possess the vocal cord length and lung capacity to emit infra-sound  The most interesting part though, I thought, was the effect that infra-sound have on humans. Theycan cause dizziness or disorientation because of the soundless pressure on the human inner ear. Sasquatch researches often report feeling uneasy or queasy while recording Sasquatch vocalizations. I was fascinated by Coyote’s story, but had not linked any of it to my own Oregon incident. I had never considered my strange birds might be Sasquatch.

“Do you want to hear the vocalization samples? I have them on my laptop’ Coyote asked. You know where this is going … We sat under a tree by the truck huddled around the small speakers of her laptop ,and she played the part of the talk-show with the vocalizations. Yep, those sure sounded like my strange birds!! The whole Oregon episode came back to my mind vividly from the lost dusty corner where I had stashed it. I remembered the scream, the calls back, the lack of any crashing through the wood sounds and the malaise or queasy uneasiness I felt.

I will try and find the recordings for you. I am typing this on my camping chair and don’t have internet access at the moment, so this story won’t be posted for a little bit.

That’s all I’ve got. I don’t know what produced the calls on the recordings, but whatever creature makes that sound is the same creature Coyote heard in California and the same I heard in Oregon.

 

I am bummed I didn’t know I was having a Sasquatch encounter when it happened, but at least if this ever happens again, I’ll know to panic -or go after it, whichever mood seems most appropriate.

XOX. Roaming Bobcat.

I’ll be back in Sedona and at my writing desk tomorrow, I’ll load the story then.

 

Okay, here ya go:

Sasquatch recordings: http://www.bfro.net/REF/bfmedia.asp#sound

And if you are on Facebook, check out my book page: https://www.facebook.com/crazyfreebook

The next adventure

Hello my beloved reader,

Before I walked the PCT, I always felt sad at the end of my day-hikes or backpacking trips. I always felt I had more “walking” left in me. The same is true of those stories I write and post here, on this website. I can turn a 5-minute event into a 3-page story without even trying, and I always have more ‘writing’ left in me when I am done writing. So, I decided to get onto the writing PCT equivalent; I’m writing a book.

There has been many books written about the PCT. People I have told of this project always assume I am writing a book about the trail; I am not. My PCT hike is one section of a seven-sections book that starts in a counselor’s office in Bellingham and ends two years later here in Sedona and recounts the crazy set of events that took place in between . I actually don’t know how the book ends yet. The end is being written in real time.

Because my writing is being funneled into the book project (I already have several chapters written), don’t expect any stories here for a while, unless I feel inspired to post excerpts from my book. I’ve been talking about writing this book for a while, then suddenly I could not NOT write it. It’s been pouring out of me and there is nothing I can do about it but let it. This story apparently wants to be told, regardless of what I want. I think I’d rather be walking or exploring or kayaking or canyoneering, but that’s not what is happening. I comfort myself with the though that every great explorer has had, at some point, to take a break and record their adventures. I don’t know how long it takes to write a book, but I know that I will take this to completion as surely as I knew I was walking to Canada when I set off from Campo, and that it will likely be an adventure in its own right.

Here is a tentative, unedited prologue:
[P.S.: All protagonists’ names are changed in the book]

Prologue

I remember clearly the moment when I first lost my mind.

It was a crisp January day and I was breaking up with Logan over the phone for the 7th time. A few days prior, I had returned from an ice-climbing trip during which Logan and I had explored delicate enchanting ice falls in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, in addition to the depth of both our passion and dysfunction.

The specifics of that particular breakup are irrelevant. Logan and I never did anything unspectacular. Our breakups could have rivaled the most dramatic of Greek tragedies, only to be undone a few months later by inescapable magnetic attraction compounded by series of serendipitous events. We were epic, filled with love and tragic; as was that January phone conversation.

That day, in the midst of a circular argument, I suddenly felt myself detach from my physical body. I floated up and to the right slightly, maybe a few feet, and started to slowly rotate clockwise above my physical location. I panicked, hung up and sat down, an observer to my own experience. “If I am up here, then who is down there, in my body?” I asked aloud. “Which one am I? Which one is observing this? Is that my soul out of my body?” Fear set in. “Have I gone insane? Has that man finally pushed me over the edge of reason? Is it recoverable?”

This is the story of the spiritual journey that ensued.

It took two years of mostly solitary roaming, over 15,000 miles by road, 2660 miles on foot and 400 miles by kayak, with a side trip to the foot of the Indian Himalayas, before I could regroup myself.

At least, it was not boring.

———————

I might change the prologue after I write the whole book, but that’s where it starts, for now.

Love to you.

XOX – Mel.

The Universe is a playful puppy.

Some would even say a “sick puppy”.

So, let’s back up a bit … Previously on the RoamingBobcat:

By following a Pink Jeep back to the head office, I finagled myself a tour guide position at the Grand Canyon. The job came with medical, dental, housing and paid training. I was to get paid to drive along the rim of one of the seven natural wonders of the world and dazzle tourists with my intimate knowledge of the canyon.

Meanwhile, I met a ‘spiceful’ unspiritual man in the heart of spiritual Sedona, where we launched an open-ended debate of colliding worldviews. To avoid getting trapped in the cushy dangers of a potential nascent romance, I fled town and roamed southern Utah under the pretext of learning the art of canyoneering, and had a blast at it.

Intoxicated by the potential of new canyon adventures, I told Chris I was not interested in starting a relationship with him, especially one clearly doomed to failure from the start. I mean, come on, the guy doesn’t even own a rope! He brushed off my rejection with an unperturbed “Fine then, go find your fantasy lover”. My truck, however, had its own agenda on this matter, and I found myself parked in Chris’ driveway the moment I drove back into town by no volition of mine. He cooked me fish, sweet potatoes and kale, played the guitar and reengaged our philosophical debate. I was powerless against these ruthless acts of seduction and let myself be wooed like an unsupervised child.

It was from Chris’ place that I wrote the last post. And now you are all caught up.

—————–

Despite the Universe’s unfathomable generosity, I started my first day of training at Pink Jeep with some reservations. I looked around the table at the fifteen newly hired guides and was struck at the level of gratefulness and excitement around the table. These people felt, probably rightfully so, that they had just hit the jackpot of life. This is usually my natural mode of operation, so why was I sitting there feeling flaccid? I cleverly avoided noticing the glaring red flags that should have stopped me, a self-proclaimed self-aware person, dead in my tracks. I was reticent to give my phone number to my new co-workers or commit to future social events. I kept quiet and did not engage in any thru-hiking, PhD-quitting, India-visiting, I-am-so-awesome-aren’t-you-lucky-to-meet-me boasting of any kind. In the midst of everyone’s enthusiasm, I felt more alone than I had felt miles away from any other human being.

My first week of training felt like gentle yet unavoidable subjugation. There were official start times, required reading lists, mandatory meetings and group rides. To be fair, to anyone else and even to me when I could tame my squirming ways, these were all delightful parts of an easygoing job training program. I had come to Pink Jeep in full knowledge that switching from absolute freedom to any job would require some serious adjustment, I had also anticipated that going from fiery quirky Sedona to dull depleted Tusayan, our living quarters outside of Grand Canyon, would create a drop in my level happiness, but I had not anticipated the degree to which I felt trapped in this dream situation. I started leaving the hotel to sleep in the woods at night and reinstated daily morning yoga in search of grounding and peace of mind, to no avail.

Chris drove up to spend the first weekend with me in Tusayan. We had a lovely hike down the Kaibab trail, with great conversation, a good pace and plenty of sunshine. I used Chris as a guinea pig and gave my first informal tour. I had learned a lot about the Canyon in one week. I knew all the sediment layers, important people, place names, and enough tidbits and side-stories to keep my “client” engaged.

On the way back, as I drove along the rim of this incredible magnificent natural wonder, Chris pulled out a book and started reading. I was appalled!  I said nothing. First, I had to figure out why I was appalled. After pondering the subject for a while, I decided that I was appalled at the lack of respect Chris was showing to the Canyon. How dared he read a book while in the presence of one of the seven wonders of the world!? The energy in the truck dropped an octave. I was angry, yet still quiet. Chris closed the book. In a failed attempt at bringing up the topic of my discontent in a non-confrontational manner, I asked “Why did you close your book?”. He said, “I was done reading”, and looked at me inquisitively, indicating he sensed there was more to my question. What followed was a 15 minutes monologue – Chris just observed and let me work through my full-circle train of thought without any judgement. It started somewhere around “how dare you”, “so insensitive” and ” you reading here is like you peeing in my church”, transitioned through “Mmmh. I seem to be over-reacting” and “I wonder what just got triggered in me right now”, and ended with “Wait! I’m the one who doesn’t care about Grand Canyon” and a teary-eyed mess of “I don’t want to be here at all”.

I sat on the issue for two days, talked to friends, slept on it, and considered potential gains and losses. On the third morning, I woke up with a crystal clear mind. I wanted to be in Sedona, not Tusayan. I was not in love with Grand Canyon – and from my experiences on Mt. Baker, in Death Valley and in Sedona, I know how being in love with a place feels- and had no desire to fake enthusiasm about it in front of hordes of tourists. I just had to trust that something else would show up for me in Sedona. Quitting made no sense to my brain, but my heart did not have a doubt. I felt the Universe was having quite a giggle, testing to see if I’d play it safe or live by what I have been preaching about following one’s heart and take a leap of faith. Under the eyes of my two flabbergasted managers, I turned in my first and last time-card and drove away without a second thought.

I didn’t even give Tusayan a fairwell look in my rear-view mirror as I drove away. I breathed in freedom, sang songs and gave loud thanks to the Universe in proportion to the joy in my heart. I had no idea what I would do in Sedona. I figured I would resume roaming, sleeping in the desert, following my bliss, and meeting Chris occasionally for a meal, a conversation or whatever. I figured my positive attitude would manifest another job opportunity, somehow. I sent Chris a text to let him know that I was driving south. He replied that he was starting the building of a flagstone patio in a beautiful part of town and could use some help. I had never built a flagstone patio, so, of course, I was interested. A few hours later, I was developing strong arms and a nice Sedona tan mixing bags of mortar, handling power-tools and carrying 200+ Lbs pieces of flagstone. That first night back in  Sedona was cold – it even snowed a little bit – so I stayed at Chris’. That was three weeks ago. I’m still here, and the Universe is still giggling at its little playful twist of fate.

Here is what my Dad wrote to me on the subject:

“Guide at grand Canyon” was already a romantic proposition, but now you are swimming in pure romance, and I am sure you are not finding it too unpleasant! … And Chris Chris either:  he found both a companion and physical laborer … How much does he pay you? ;0)

I think, nevertheless, that your unconventionality is well beyond the usual meaning of the word … In these times of global crisis, while millions of unemployed people in all countries are desperately trying to survive, a hot air balloon brings you a dream job (and breakfast) in the desert and you leave a job to mix cement with Chris??? …

As they say: “what is wrong with this picture! …”  ;0)

Yesterday, Chris and I finished the patio. Contrarily to first impressions, we are not swimming in pure romance every day. Within the constraints of each of our own weirdness, we are just like any other couple. We have good days, bad days, perfect days and f-ugly days. Considering that we both came from long stretches of unbridled freedom (A full thru-hike and some serious post-trail roaming for me, 9 years of singleness for Chris) into a sudden 24/7 live-in loving working partnership, considering that I live in a magical spiritual world and Chris is about to publish “Unspirituality – permission to be human”, an invitation to embrace life without a spiritual story, considering that we match each other in stubbornness, intensity, wits and unshakable faith in our own world-view, considering all this … I’d say we are doing pretty well.

Yesterday, we broke up in the morning because of irreconcilable philosophical differences. By the time the patio was finished, we both knew this brake up would not take. Are we for keeps? Sometimes we think so. Other times, we think the Universe is a playful (sick) puppy with little regard for the fragility of human hearts. Either way, I have no regrets about my leap of faith. Until the next twist of fate, I live in Sedona, work as a landscape architect/irrigation specialist’s assistant, and enjoy being in a complex loving relationship. I sure didn’t see that coming …

Thanks for reading! 🙂

XOX – Semi-roaming Bobcat

P.S:
Here are photos of the finished patio :

IMG_5087sml

IMG_5089sml

IMG_5013sml

What happened that one night by the Little Colorado.

“Sipapu!” I’ve had the word stuck in my head for days now. Most people get songs stuck in their head, I get words. Once, in India, I had the Sanskrit word Patanjalim on replay in my brain for a full week, and for hundred of the PCT miles I had duress pop up several times an hour for no obvious reason. In most cases, I have no idea where I originally pick up these sticky words, but I do know where Sipapu comes from, and this post is that story, and yes, it does have spirits in it.

Do you remember, if you even paid attention, this post I wrote on Facebook a few months ago?
January 20th, 2013: “Wow. I know I’ve been updating my status everyday with stories of how amazing my move to the desert has been, and I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but, wow, this takes the cake. Camped several miles down a dirt road on the straight down steep rim of the Little Colorado river canyon, far from any light pollution. I even got Google sky map out. The silence here is intense. About to crawl into my bag with a book of Grand Canyon lore. Love ya.XO”

This is what happened that night: I had gone to the Grand Canyon to familiarize myself with the lay of the land and hike down to the Colorado River. On the way out, I decided to go East, through the Navajo and Hopi reservations, to link up to I89 south to Flagstaff. I left the Desert View, in Grand Canyon around 5 pm, which placed me along the Little Colorado River canyon right at sunset. The vast expense of gold, pink, orange desert was surreal and well beyond the abilities of any camera I own. I passed several side-of-the-road stands destined to become Indian Jewelry tourist traps when the season kicks in. Back in January, they were nothing but empty low tables under thatched roofs, dirt and tumble weeds.

I had intended to drive straight to Flagstaff that night, but the desert was so inviting and serene that I decided to make it my home for the night. I took a dirt road behind one of the empty native jewelry stands and aimed straight for the Little Colorado River. I drove a few miles, went past what looked like abandoned ceremonial structures, and found a pullout within walking distance of the canyon. The Grand Canyon might be grand, but I think the canyon of the Little Colorado is just as beautiful, and much more intimate. I could see the water at the bottom, a dark emerald green shade surrounded by a low fog. The canyon edge were steep, the sun had already set and I was hungry, so I didn’t linger.

I cooked myself a meal on my little fuel stove, sat on the tailgate of the truck looking at the desert in the last dusk glow, checked Facebook and talked to my friend Ana on the phone until well past dark. Nothing unusual. By then I had been living in the back of my truck for months, I am comfortable with being alone far from civilization. In fact, I prefer it.

A beautiful starry silent night fell on me, the truck and the Little Colorado. I crawled in my deliciously warm bag and got myself ready to sleep like a log, as I usually do in the truck. But something was not quite right. The wind had picked up, but not to any alarming extent. This was not my first windy night in the truck. For no immediately obvious reason, I felt compelled to sit up and check on the desert. I couldn’t see anything worrisome so I laid back down. A few minutes later, I again wanted to check, and still, nothing there. I repeated this maneuver every couple of minutes for about half hour and started to get the feeling that something was seriously not right despite the lack of evidence. I sent a prayer out to the Universe, “Please protect me from fear and harm, especially fear”. That has always worked well enough for me, but this time, I couldn’t shake the uneasiness. I crawled back out of the truck to check the desert in person and pee. I usually love peeing under the stars, it’s a treat, but that time, I pee with my back to a tire, so that the truck protected my blind side. On the way back, the hair on the back of my neck suddenly stood up. I didn’t know what was there, but I didn’t question it. With my back to the truck, I side-stepped to the cab, sat at the wheel, locked all the doors and drove the hell out of there.

I figured I’d drive a little further down, but the “fight or flight” feeling stuck with me for a good hour. I ended up driving into a national monument and camping illegally under the perched citadel ruins of ancient Puebloans people.

This was the comment I wrote below my own Facebook post the next morning:

” So , this is how that went … after I wrote the above post, the night got darker, and the whole place started to feel creepy. I’ve been sleeping in the back of the truck in a different location for 3-some months now and never felt so uncomfortable. I had no reason to feel so, but I didn’t argue with it. By 9:30 pm, with the hair on the back of my neck raised, I got out of there. No idea what that was about. I drove several hours and finally crashed in what looked like a parking lot, no one around. I woke up this morning RIGHT underneath some ancient Puebloans ruins surrounded by infinite golden grass field. I actually think it was even more beautiful than where I was last night. What a weird life I’m having, seriously.”

Fast forward two months. I get hired by Pink Jeep Tours, I move to Tusayan, just south of Grand Canyon and I start the guides training (side note: I have already quit Pink Jeep. Wait, what!? True story … read my next post when I write it. )

One day, while visiting the ruins of an Anasazi (of which the Hopis are the descendants) village with the group of trainees, one of the current guides tells us: “You can always find a little portal covered by a rock in Anasazis’ ceremonial rooms, usually a few feet from the main fire in the center. It is called the Sipapuni, and its function is to prevent spirits from entering this world, the 4th world. Not to be confused with the Sipapu, which is an actual place in the Little Colorado River canyon. The Sipapu, according to the Hopis, is the portal into the underworld and the place where spirits enter our world. It’s an actual place. There is a hot spring there, and a vent with steam. The water is very green, almost emerald color”.

It didn’t register right away because I was busy taking notes, then suddenly it dawned on me. Holy smokes! That’s where I was. What I took to be fog was steam, I remembered the dark emerald water. So, I must have camped RIGHT above the portal between the 4th world and the underworld, the specific place where spirits emerge. No wonder I was spooked out of there.

When I got back to the hotel, this is what I dug up on the internet:
“The story of the Ancestral Puebloans lives on in the mythology of the Hopi, considered by many to be the most mysterious and mystical of all Native Americans. It begins with the claim that their ancestors emerged from the Third World through a crack, into this, the Fourth World, in a placed known as Sipapu. Their Sipapu – other Native Americans have such places of emergence elsewhere – is located near Desert View, 25 miles of Grand Canyon Village, near the confluence of the Colorado and the Little Colorado Rivers. The Sipapu itself is a natural salt dome, six to eight meters high, topped by a permanent spring”.

I didn’t actually see the Sipapu because it was too deep in the Canyon. Apparently, accessing it requires a seven hour trek along the Salt Trail Canyon. I’m not sure I have the guts to go there. Certainly, I would not want to be there at night ever again.

There you have it. Sipapu.
I live in such a magical land. Arizona, I love you.

XO – Roaming Bobcat.

I love Quantum Physics in the morning.

I woke up this morning with a quantum physics itch to scratch. Something I just read in an otherwise very good book called “The Quantum Universe” (Cox and Forshaw, 2011) just doesn’t sit right with me. I mean, if it were somebody like you or me making this claim, I’d be okay with it, but these are some of what my friend Chris calls “the smartest people on earth”, so really they should know better.

Here it is (you don’t need to fully get this to read the rest of the post): ” Imagine a ball flying through the air. Euler found that the ball travels on a path such that the action (*1) computed between any two points on the path is always the smallest it can be (*2) . This seems like a rather odd principle, because in order to fly in a way that minimize the action, the ball would have to know where it is going before it gets there. How else could it fly through the air such that, when everything is done, the quantity called action is minimized? Phrased this way, the principle of least action sounds teleological – that is to say things appear to happen in order to achieve a pre-specified outcome.” It then goes on to talk about Darwin vs. Intelligent Design, and I’ll get to that part.

*1  – the ‘action’ is mx/t2, with m the mass of the ball, x the distance between two points and t the time at which the ball will be at that later point, 2 is meant to be ‘squared’.

*2 – this relates to the transfer of energy between kinetic and potential, and is a very useful Physics 101 trick. 

So, these scientists have a ‘problem’ with the idea that a ball would know where it is going before it gets there. Let’s suspend the problem of balls being able to think for a moment. It seems to me that this is only a problem if we limit ourselves to a linear view of time. If, as I am pretty sure it is, the universe is actually a timeless realm, then there is no problem. The ball is both at its origin and destination and everywhere in between in the Now. Our human brain’s limited perception of time forces us to see this as a sequence. But it could be a sequence in space, not in time. One way I envision this is as a movie of the ball flying through the air. Each frame, from start to finish, is already on the movie strip. The whole sequence already exists, but WE decide to play each frame one by one in order to get the visual of a ball flying through the air.

So, what does it mean that our perception of time is limited because it is linear? That’s actually the thought that was in my head when I woke up.

Let’s imagine that instead of having the brain to perceive a 3-Dimensional world, we only had the ability to perceive a 2-Dimensional world [I would have gone 1D, but didn’t want to endure my ex-husband’s rolling of the eyes. We had quite some disagreements about 1D universes when we were married :-)]. As a 2D being, we would be able to move any way we want as long as it is on a plane surface. As long as we are rolling balls on that plane, the physics that our 2D brain established based on what we could observe, and that is taught in our 2D schools, would work perfectly. What if the world was actually 3D though? We would be living in a 3D world, yet would only be able to perceive it in 2D.

Let’s look at these worlds from the side.

A) 2D motion in a 2 D world:

_________________0 – The ball rolls and I can see its entire path. All is well.

B) 2D motion in a 3D world (height, the new dimension is up):

_________________0 – No problem still, the ball stayed where I was able to perceive it.

C) 3D motion in a 3D world:

___________
|                            |
——                             ——-0 – The ball gets bumped up and flies at height h for a little while (the lines are connected, my keyboard isn’t really designed for drawing physics concepts).

D) 3D motion in a 3D world as perceived by a 2D brain:

——                             ——-0 – There you go, now we have magic, or spirituality, or a physics quandary. There is nothing in our well-established and tested 2D physics rules, or in our ability to perceive the world around us that can explain what just went down.

The issue is exactly the same if instead of a 2D brain in a 3D world, we have a 3D brain in a 4D, 5D, 6D, however-many-D world, or if we have a 3D-linear-time brain in a 3D-timeless world. There is nothing in what we can OBSERVE to inform us of what’s really going on with the ball flying through the air. I hope you see that this is really only a pre-determinist teleological “problem” if one lacks imagination.

So, am I saying these super-smart physicists lack imagination?

Yes indeed, but not all of them. A quote a few pages later gives me hope: “The debate is neutralized once we grasp Richard Feynman’s approach to Quantum Physics. The ball flying through the air ‘knows’ which path to chose because it actually, secretly, explores every possible paths.

Kuddos to Feynman! Really, not bad for a 3D being. I would add that the ball explores every possible paths AND is everywhere on each of these every possible paths right NOW. It’s then up to us, humans, to block out the infinity of possibilities and narrow it down to an easily-digestable linear single path sequence. How or why we do this is a different question, and one I won’t discuss here (partly because I still have to shower and do some laundry before the day is over and also because I have only vague ideas on the topic).

=================

All this just to figure out how balls fly through the air?

Well, no. This actually applies to everything. There is a second part to this chapter. After being puzzled at balls in the air, Cox and Forshaw make the leap to  biology [Hi Chris … if you are reading this, I think our fish dinner just took on a whole new dimension (Ha! That wasn’t even an intended pun)] :

In biology, a teleological explanation for the emergence of complex creatures would be tantamount to the argument for the existence of a designer, whereas Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection provides a simpler explanation that fits the available data beautifully.

That’s like looking at D) above and having a war over whether God made the ball skip or not. If you remove time from the equation it becomes obvious that the argument is irrelevant. Both Darwin and the intelligent designers are coming up with explanations for an observed phenomena based on limited perception. It’s a valiant effort, and I’m not saying we should not thrive to understand our world with what we can observe first (but let’s not have wars over these explanations based on limited perception, please). What I am saying is that maybe the answer to this and other problems lie in a dimension to which we do not have access perceptually. I think it was Einstein who said that you cannot solve a problem at the level in which it was created. It was also Einstein who said that “imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Maybe these physicists should listen to their own and not make problems of balls flying through the air or of the existence of complex biological creatures.

————————————————

One final word on the creation of complex creatures. My opinion – and it is only an opinion, because I am not “one of the smartest people on earth”, by a long shot – is that the answer probably lies somewhere closer to the Budhists’ idea that the experience of a tree exists, with the acorn asking the tree to Be as much as the tree asks the acorn to Be … or the single-cell organism pulling the human, dolphin, bobcat, etc into existence as much as all this complex biodiversity pulls the single-cell organism into existence in a timeless Now.

Right … I guess I’ll go start my day now … 🙂
Have a great one!

XOX – The Thinking Bobcat.

10 events that occurred since a hot air balloon landed on me in the desert and offered me a job.

These are in chronological order.

1. I successfully completed the undercover expedient mission to reunite my treasures.
I flew to Seattle, then picked up a Penske truck and emptied my Bellingham storage unit in less than two hours. I drove back to Flagstaff through one blizzard, two snow storms, some dense fog and a downpour. I had a flat tire, frozen windshield fluid and wipers, a bellyache from a Denny’s chicken sandwich, and some exciting “adrenaline” moments on the road. Three days later, I popped out in the red rocks and sunshine of Arizona and the world was once again the magical place it is.

2. I fell off the back of the Penske truck, hard, and thought I had broken my back. 
But I hadn’t. That night I stayed at my Sedona Angels’ (Adventure Mike and the Fabulous Julie) house. Mike “made me” sit in a Jacuzzi under the milky way and Julie rubbed Arnica over all the hurt parts. I woke up the next day as if nothing had ever happened. Yay for a strong body and caring friends.

3. I danced the night away on Whiskey Row in  the cowboy town of Prescott.
Among my dance partners were a 6’8″ adventurer wearing a bright orange shirt sporting the face of a geeky kid – the geeky kid on the shirt was taller than me -, a 25-year old birthday boy who enjoyed jumping around as much as I do, and an ER suicide rescue specialist with a dream of moving to a tropical island. I also befriended the drummer who introduced me to the band. By the time I left, I knew about a third of the people in the bar. That was the most social event I have partaken in since … since beyond what I can remember.

4. I met Chris.
I was eavesdropping on a conversation at a local cafe between an older gentleman who insisted he was an alien (like, from another planet) in a human body, and well-spoken Chris, who argued that the older gentleman was actually primate, the pinnacle of evolution. When I was done giggling at such a “Sedona moment”, I checked out the website advertised on the back of Chris’ laptop, www.unspirituality.com. I turned around and asked him if he made a living out of arguing with people about their spirituality. It was about 9 am then; we were still talking by 6 pm.

5. I had my final interview with Pink Jeep at the Grand Canyon.
It went splendidly. I enjoyed the interviewers’ questions. What do I need in a job to be happy? I need to be able to grow and learn, I need to use my body and mind, I need to be outside. What will my first evaluation say? It will say “best guide for 10-years running”. The quote was borrowed from Adventure Mike who was the “best guide for 10-years running” after 3 months working for Pink Jeep.

6. I woke up to a thick coat of snow over my beloved red rocks and cacti.
See for yourselves: Red, White and Gorgeous

7. I signed up for a canyoonering class.
I serendipitously sneaked into the last spot offered in a class that had been full for a while before anyone else noticed one had opened. I am on my way there in a few hours. The class takes place in a beautiful dry canyon outside of Cedar City, UT. I plan on stopping by the Vermilion Cliffs State Park on the way either there or back. That’s where “the wave” lives, the famous rock formation featured on the cover of most geology textbooks.

8. I showered.
Hey, don’t knock it. I still live in the back of my truck, so I appreciate when a friend invites me over for shower, laundry and dinner. I still prefer to sleep with the stars and coyotes, but civilization does have its perks.

9. I went to see a zombie love story movie, and loved it.
I have a feeling the “out of character” activities will continue as I fill my life with interesting new friends with vastly different lifestyles and hobbies than mine. I still dance and hula-hoop in the sun, hike red rocks and roam as Bobcats do, but now also enjoy activities that make me go “I’m doing what?’

10. I got a job. 
It’s a good thing Pink Jeep Tours was excited about me, because I have applied nowhere else. I start February 26th. The job comes with housing, medical, dental, WOFER (Wilderness First Responder) training, and oh yeah, and I get to cruise along the Grand Canyon for a living! Wooohooo.

Thanks for visiting. Be in touch!

XOXO – The Roaming Bobcat.

Ridiculous job-hunting

“Your stories are just getting ridiculous” was my friend Ana’s reaction to the story of what happened to me this morning. “Ridiculous” would be the reaction of two more people as the news spread with the help of texts and Facebook.

The story of how a job landed in my lap, literally.

I was sleeping in the back of the truck, on a forest road with gorgeous view of red rocks to the west and low chaparral to the east, when I heard overhead a strange noise as though someone in the clouds was using a pressure washer. I peeked out and in the distance I saw a hot air balloon flying over and along the red rocks. The sight was perfect, except for the washed out clouds. Any other morning since I have gotten here would have yielded a better sky. No complaints though. I got dressed quickly and crawled out. The balloon was coming straight towards me, and landed less than 60 feet away.

IMG_4654

I was hesitant at first. I worried I was camped at the usual landing spot and was inconveniencing the balloon pilot. When curiosity finally got the best of me, 30 seconds later, I walked over and watched as the basket was carefully positioned on the ground, the passengers helped out and the balloon brought to the ground. I asked one of the three men, “Do you need help?” He said, “We will in a moment”, and yelled to the others that I was willing to help with the bag. A second man came by and said tongue-in-cheek, “You did order a balloon for breakfast, right?”. I really didn’t do much to help. I just picked up lose ropes and coiled them neatly. When it looked like the task was done, I went back to my truck. I had just finished stuffing my sleeping bag when one of the men, Roger, brought me a glass of champagne with some fresh strawberries and an apple puff-pastry. He asked about me, where I was from and such. I told him I had just moved to Sedona and was looking for work, although I had a good feeling about Pink Jeep (read below). He said that the  balloon company could really use a female crew member and to get the contact number from him before they left. I joined the clients and talked with them for a few minutes. They were excited that I had photos of their flight from the ground and I promised to send them some (which I have already done). I then helped load the 400 Lbs balloon onto the trailer, and learned it’s not a good idea to be behind it, because that thing can really crush you if you aren’t careful. I’ll have a bruise on my arm, no doubt, but in a way, I am glad; I might not have believed what went down without an actual physical mark to ascertain this was not a dream, that and the boss’s phone number.

IMG_4660

Pink Jeep round one

So, one way to get a job around here is to sleep in the back-country and wait for balloons to land on you. Here is another:

Foreword:
Back a week or two ago – time seems rather irrelevant in my life at the moment -, my new Flagstaff friend, Mikhael, offered me a room in her house for a month or so, enough time for me to find work and a place of my own. The generosity of people will never cease to amaze me! At the time I was going about finding work according to the old paradigm of how we think the world works: there is a recession, and the job market is horrible, so just hunker down at the library, apply to anything you are even remotely qualified for and don’t be picky, just feel lucky if you find anything. I lasted about a day doing that. It just didn’t feel right to me. The way I think it works is that the world is as benevolent of a place as one’s heart is open and that if one follows said heart, it will lead straight to the best life/job possible. Recessions and horrible job markets only affect those who feed them energy by worrying about them. To the old world view the new way seems airy-fairy and neither reasonable nor pragmatic. I have never claimed to be the latter ones and have no qualms about being called the former. I therefore declined Mikhael’s amazing offer and followed my heart, which said “go roam”. Mikhael understood completely.

Side note: One of the jobs I applied for during my one day at the library was for a customer representative position with Pink Jeep Tours, a company that leads off-roading tours in Sedona and vista-tours at the Grand Canyon. I didn’t really qualify, so I wrote them an outrageous resume. I figured it would either get me noticed or thrown in the garbage right away. The next morning, which was the morning of the story with Henry (1-11-watch-your-thoughts), I woke up thinking how cool it would be to be a guide for Pink Jeep. If only I could get that Customer Service Position, then I would have a foot in the door and eventually I could get to know the lead guide and so forth. This is also old world thinking. If I want to be a guide, and my heart says I can be a guide, then why be a customer service representative? [note that the outrageous resume worked. Pink Jeep did call me for that position, but by then … well … read on]

pjtour

The next couple of days were perfect. I just did whatever the hell I wanted to do, felt incredibly grateful for being able to do that, and put no second thought into the fact that I “needed” to find a job, I just trusted that my heart knew what it was doing. On the second day, I was roaming downtown Sedona in search of cool beads to make a pendant for my friend Laura. One shop recommended another, and then another, and I ended up in a part of town I had not yet explored, JUST in time for a Pink Jeep to turn in front of me at a stop sign. I followed it. I ended up at the service center; that particular Jeep needed repair. I told the mechanic that I was looking to talk to someone about working as a guide. He seemed amused – I was looking pretty shabby after two+ days in the backcountry -, but he gave me the name of the hiring manager and the address of the main office. I went there, as I was. Things then fell into place rather rapidly. I met Mike, one of the guides, and chatted with him for a few minutes. The hiring manager, Jacky, came out and had me fill out an application – oh she also asked me if I was over 25, and looked surprised when I told her I was 42. I like that part of the story! -. Half hour later I was back out to the truck, calling all my references.

Pink Jeep round two

I wasn’t expecting to hear from anyone in a while. They had over a hundred applicants and my application was likely the last one since I had filled it after the end of the application deadline. The next morning though, I was hanging out at a coffee shop when I got a call from Tom, the lead guide.

side note – I LOVE Sedona. In that coffee shop there were witches (long flowey purple dresses and soft “spiritual” voices), aged flower-children (bandanas, tie-dyes and peace signs), men in corporate suits and down-to-their-waist dreadlocks and even one man walking around with a wolf tail hooked to his jeans as though that was the most natural thing in the world. Love Sedona!

The call from Tom while I was at the cafe, the very next day after following the Jeep, was my phone interview. I was not ready and lost a bit of my wits. When he asked why I think I’d make a great guide, all I could think to say was that I was friendly and enthusiastic. He then asked me to pretend I was guiding him and to tell him about something. I asked if he wanted to hear about the crater on Mt. Baker. Lucky for him, he did. Those of you who know me, know how I can talk about the crater. Tom actually had to stop me. I guess I proved my point about being enthusiastic. He said he was recommending me for a face-to-face interview the first week of February. He also gave me all the delicious details of that perfect of jobs, but I am not sharing these with you yet. I will (if/)when I get the job.

Pink Jeep round three

After all this, and some more roaming, I really was in need of a shower and laundry, so I called Mikhael and drove back to Flagstaff. She had given me a key to her house so I was able to let myself in and prepare an Indian meal on a real stove for the two of us. I do not take any of this for granted, trust me. When I left the next morning, I wasn’t sure where I was going, but the truck seems to be wanting to go north this time, and often it knows things I don’t. Since I was going north, I figured I’d go check out Tusayan, a 300 inhabitant town of two hotels, one bowling alley, a gas station and a few restaurants. That is where Grand Canyon guides live. Then I figured I’d go see the Grand Canyon, because it’s there.

It took me 10 minutes to visit all of Tusayan, and then I saw a couple of Pink Jeeps parked in front of the Grand Canyon I-Max. I thought, “oh, I can go in and pretend I’m a tourist and see some guides in action”. But I didn’t find any guides in action, instead I found one on a lunch break, and it was Mike, the man I had met a week prior when I followed the Jeep in Sedona. He said “I remember you. You’re the girl who wants to be a guide. Come here, I want to talk to you”. I liked Mike right away. He’s one of those happy, larger-than-life people, I tend to attract and whose company I relish. Once again, I was stuck in a good luck vortex. I met the Customer Service Rep, Tiffany, who loves to dance and makes the most amazing cup-cakes I have ever tasted, and Burt, another, rather handsome, guide. Mike then kidnapped me to the Grand Canyon and led me on a small private tour. I liked that he spoke as though I already had the job (“when you work here, you will …”) to help me manifest it. That night Mike and a handful of Pink Jeep employees and I went bowling. I was appalling at it, but had a great time. I got to visit the guide’s house and went to sleep well past my bedtime.  The next day, I went into the park and hiked the 5000 feet down and back up on the Bright Angel Trail.

IMG_4490

Meanwhile, Tiffany, Burt and Mike were telling Tom about me. When Tom called me a few days ago, he said that everyone said very nice things about me and that he was looking forward to meeting me for the face-to-face interview, February 7th.

When I returned to Sedona after spending a few days at the Grand Canyon, and stopping in Flagstaff to say hi to my coffee shop, Macy’s, I called Mike. He and his wife Julie (with whom I clicked as instantly as I had with Mike) invited me into their home, fed me dinner, gave me a bed and showed me where the spare key was, just in case I ever needed it. I know I have said it before, but wow, people’s generosity never ceases to amaze me! The world is full of trail angels!!

Pink Jeep round four

The story is not finished – obviously, I don’t have a job yet – but today it was raining in the desert, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to come to the library, download some photos and write a story.

… to be continued …

IMG_4521