Runaway

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I don’t know days anymore. Life as I knew it was run by a calendar, scheduled almost to the hour some days. I start with that because I literally had to look up not only the date but also what day of the week it is. I’m not sure I enjoy being this untethered.


On the phone with my dad a few days ago, he asked about one particular part of my life, and I told him that this certain relationship had ended because the guy wasn’t kind to me. Dad responded with, “Wow, you’re just demolishing everything right now.”

 

And you know what, he ain’t wrong.

 

When things no longer work for me, and because work no longer brought me life, I did blow it all up. I quit. And there are a lot of reasons it wasn't working anymore, and a lot of reasons why I decided that walking away was best for me. I know that is a privilege of being unmarried/not partnered and childless. If things are going to shit, let them go now so the stench of fertilizer will affect only me. Maybe give me some good soil from which to grow again.

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I left community mental health and dove right into survival mode. I keep saying that history shows that I will make it work because I literally have always found a way through the murky times, and most of those murky times are lived in survival mode. I realized that I wasn't feeling. My people would check in with me. "How are you?" And the answer was, genuinely, I have no idea because instead of pausing I leaned into the wind and began the hike towards an end I cannot see. I did not pause, I did not take stock of what happened, I did not give space to grieve the loss of what I thought would be my career. I simply started. 

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So I left the city for a few days and drove out to my happy place. I came to the Olympic Peninsula because this is where I can hear my heart most clearly. I took the longer land route, and by the time I passed Olympia I began to cry. No clear reason why, just tears seemed the most honest and true expression that moment. I listened to podcasts, hearing the familiar voices from The West Wing Weekly, Keep It, and Death Sex and Money. None are particularly weepy episodes, but that’s the only expression I could produce.

Tears. Grief. Mourning. Gratitude for having lived the experiences I had lived, the people I had met, the client stories I will carry. Anxiety around what comes next.

I swear I have eyelashes... 

I swear I have eyelashes... 

Life at the Hoh Rainforest is slow. I took the time to listen to my body. Before my insurance ended I had begun to work with a naturopath and she brought a lot of light and wisdom to physical ailments I had been dealing with for years. Turns out I'm not crazy, I'm tired all the time for a reason, and this allows me to have more grace with myself when I do opt out of things in order to nap. 

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The last night at my campsite, I took my book down to the river and sat on the rocks at the bank listening to the water find it's way among the fallen trees, stones, and anything else in its path. I stayed there until the sunset crested the peak of the mountain, and then I began my slow night routine. I was not eager to return to normal life, but I was no longer numb. 

Sometimes that's the only battle I can fight: to feel again. 

solo living

the chaos of moving captured in a moment of peace.

the chaos of moving captured in a moment of peace.

I moved. 

Again. 

That makes 8 times in eight years. Eight times I've sorted through everything I own, given stuff away, sold things. Eight times I've packed up the necessities, loaded a minivan, a car, a moving truck, a POD, a UHaul. Eight times now I've trekked near and far to places I've hoped to call home, or at the very least to places I had hoped to find refuge for a bit. 

8 times in eight years. Moving this often is one of the reasons I invested in a Kindle. I couldn't keep packing and hauling and unpacking all of my books. I know how to streamline the whole process now. "That was the easiest move I've helped with," my friends say. I mean, if I'm going to ask for help, then I'm going to make it as easy on them as possible. 

I've been in my own place now for less than a month. 19 days, actually. I've made too many trips to Target and Goodwill to restock what I had given away and to donate things I'm discovering I don't need; I've made countless trips to multiple grocery stores to restock my pantry of staples because who knew weevils could get into a Mason jar. I learned how to cook salmon, I've burnt garbanzo beans, and I've lost count of how many cups of coffee I've made. I've purchased way to many things on Amazon and I'm sleeping on the most comfortable mattress I've ever had

My favorite thing about living alone is being able to do all the regular things, but without pants. I've said this many times to anyone that will listen. There is a freedom that comes when I have the choice to wear or not wear pants. It's empowering in a way. Weird, right? Strange, but true for me. This morning I was drinking coffee and organizing my closet before work, all without pants. I might have danced a little. 

Yeah, I totally danced. 

Home. I'm making a home. I think this is what my friends have experienced and I've forgotten about. Not merely taking up space, but making the space work for me and making it cozy, welcoming, safe. The rhythm of my life in this new space, in this home, my home, is still showing itself. Since I live alone my introverted heart has time to recover from my day. I've noticed myself feeling more alive and present when I'm with friends, more willing to spend time with people after work and on the weekend because I've got my quiet little corner of the world waiting for me. 

When the kitchen is a mess, there's no one else to blame. I would be a passive aggressive witch with my last roommate and wait until she did the dishes. When I moved out of that living situation, I moved in with friends and their kids. They had a dishwasher, so that was a life upgrade for me. Now, if the dishes are dirty I have to clean them because there's no one else. I know without a doubt that I will finish a bottle of dish soap before the month is over, but thats okay because I will wash dishes all day as long as I don't have to wear pants.

a letter to Pa

It's been a year. 

I had flown in the night before. "Just get here," Dad's voice ringing in my head while I bought a plane ticket and flew home. Carrie and I needed to see for ourselves, and Warren came, too. I had no idea you had been in and out of the hospital. 

Did you hear us talking to you? I cried. I had never seen you look so small. You had always been a mountain of a man. 

They said your kidneys were starting to fail and, as absurd as this sounds, I knew from all my years of watching Grey's Anatomy that you didn't have long. 

I sat with Meme for a long time that day; it felt like a long time because I didn't have a sense of time.

An unexpected week home in the middle of January. 

I miss your calls. You would always ask when I was moving home. You asked every time, and once I had to assess if it was because you didn't remember my answer from last time. "Oh, I remember," you said. "I'm just always hoping your answer will change."

I miss hearing your voice. Sometimes I listen to old voicemails I have just to hear that gruff timber again. "Courtney, this is Pa. I love you, honey. Call us back." 

I love knowing that you and Meme would check the weather in Seattle everyday to see what I was dealing with.

Did you know Meme asked me to sing at your memorial service? I haven't sang in years, so it felt odd, but I can't say no to Meme. Or, I can, but I pick my times wisely and I knew this was not a time I wanted to say no. I wanted to give Meme anything and everything I could. 

Could not figure out what song until someone said they had found the lyrics to Over the Rainbow in your shop. You spent so much time in that shop making beautiful things for people you love. I still have the hope chest you made me. What were those lyrics doing there? Did you put them there? Did you even know they were there? 

That's what I sang for you at your memorial service. For you and Meme. 

I made your friends sing with me too, which was a great decision since I forgot a whole verse. It brought some laughter to the service, which I appreciated, and I think others did, too. 

I loved learning that you would take Meme's car every week to fill it up with gas and wash it. Don't worry, Dad and the guys at his shop take care of that now. It seems like every time I call, Dad or Aunt Gaye or Uncle Greg are there. She's a tough woman, that wife of yours, but she's tender, too. I hope you know that we've got her. 

We got tattoos. I know you would not like that, and Meme made sure to tell us how much you would not like that but it's a generational thing. Most of your grandkids honored you in the way we know best. We took over the tattoo shop; it was quite a sight! Our grief suspended for a moment while we memorialized you on our skin. Same design, drawn up by one of your granddaughters, in different spots on our body. 

I think Meme actually liked it once she saw it. 

Sometimes I find myself rubbing that spot on my arm, just thinking about how much I miss you. How grateful I am to carry your name. How honored I am to be your granddaughter.

We miss you.

I miss you. 

34

I love my birthday.

It wasn't always so. From 20 to 25, I cried every year on my birthday because I hated where my life was going. The direction I was headed held no desire or passion for me; I was doing the things you're supposed to do, which didn't match with what I wanted to do.

Even before then, there was some birthday trauma. On my 9th birthday, my parents and I planned a big party and I invited everyone in my 3rd-grade class, but no one came. Literally, no one showed up. No one even told me they weren't coming (except for one girl and I remember that she even still gave me a gift to lessen the blow that she wouldn't be able to come to my party). I ended up going out to dinner and a movie with my parents. The movie evades my memory, but I know we went to the Golden Corral for dinner and I was allowed to eat all the ice cream because sugar really does numb the wounded 9-year-old heart.

My 10th birthday was a little less eventful since I had sworn off parties, but I sure did come down with the flu. My mother picked me up from school, and I came home to vomit in the privacy of our own home. She had to go back to work, but she did bring me a cupcake when she came home that night. I ate it, of course, then promptly vomited again.

What a way to welcome in the double-digit life, ya know?

I move to Seattle in August of 2009, and that December I turned 26. That was the first birthday I remember enjoying in a long, long time. My roommates and I threw a holiday/Courtney’s Birthday Party at our home, and I got properly wasted and laughed all night. It was incredible. I can remember yelling, “It’s my birthday!” and the crowd would holler; then I’d say, “Best birthday ever!” and they’d holler again. It was a nifty party trick.

I think 26 meant more to me than all the birthdays because I was living the life I wanted, and no longer attempting to conform to societal expectations. I wasn’t worried about finding a boyfriend so that I could stress about getting married and having kids. I had moved from the Houston suburbs to Seattle, and I was pursuing my Master's degree while living in a fantastic city and going to therapy regularly. I was investing in myself, and that felt like a new experience.

27 was a turning point. I decided that I wanted to do what I loved on my birthday: feed my people. I enjoy making food, surrounding myself with people I love and adore, and feeding them. It’s how I show love, and quality time is how I receive love, so it’s a win/win! Since that year, I have fed my people on my birthday, and I revel in the experience. I make a large pot of my maternal grandmother’s marinara sauce, and I boil noodles throughout the night. People from all aspects of my life come and talk and eat and laugh. My best friend makes her amazing cheesecake for me because I. LOVE. THAT. CHEESECAKE. and we all drink and are merry for an evening.

For my 30th I wanted to do something special to mark the occasion of ending one decade and entering into another, and it was phenomenal. I asked for people to send me letters with stories they love about our relationship, how they’ve seen me grow and change, and what they hope the next 30 years will bring for my life. I received cards and letters from friends all over the world! It was truly an honoring experience to read words of how I’ve affected people, or how they’ve loved to see me grow into myself over the past few years. My friends in Canada, Rob and Matt, send me a care package of Canadian treats!

This year I’m celebrating turing 34. 34 trips around the sun, 34 years of life completed. I’m making that marinara sauce, roasting some vegetables, boiling noodles through the night, and sharing the party experience with my friend, Kim, who’s birthday is the day before mine. Our combined friends will pack into Kim’s studio apartment, in the heart of the city we love, and will let us love them tangibly for loving us so well this year.

Birthdays can be magical. I know mine is.

In honor of completing 34 years of life, I’ve made a list of 34 Things I’m Grateful For (and then some).

  1. My friends are my family and woooo weeee do I have some good ones! Not only in Seattle, but all over the world. People that drop short notes to tell me their thinking of me, people that encourage me to come out of my shell, people that see the mess and love me still. Not to mention the friends that have opened their home, their dinner table, their couches, and their lives to me this year while I wrestled with where to live and what to do for work. It’s quite an experience to be known so deeply and be loved all the same. I highly recommend it.

  2. My family - their love and support can sometimes be heard as nagging, but they’re always down for a conversation on how to do better, and I love being surprised by them.

  3. Coffee - that sweet, sweet nectar of life.

  4. My car and the freedom it brings me.

  5. The internet - I’m so thankful that if I don’t know something, knowledge is a quick search away. I’ve learned so much over the years from brilliant people through the internet, be it blogs, twitter, or news sites. I like to believe that because of certain spaces online, I have grown in my understanding of my own privilege and heard from marginalized communities how I can advocate for them.

  6. My Kindle - since I move so often, I’ve stopped buying books and have gone digital. It’s saved my back, too, since I’m not carrying around so many physical books anymore, and saves on packing for the next inevitable move.

  7. Libraries - did you know that you can check out eBooks from most libraries? I’m so grateful for King County Library and Seattle Public Library for being my hubs of knowledge and entertainment on the cheap. I just finished Surpassing Certainty by Janet Mock and I highly recommend it (along with her first book, Redefining Realness). Libraries have always been a place of escape for me since I was young; now they’re also a place of learning and growth.

  8. Books! Books have always been something I’m grateful for. How else would I have been able to travel so much to so many different places and not spend a dime? I’m grateful for the adventures that books take me on.

  9. Camping - getting out of the city, being surrounded by nature, and reminding myself that the world doesn’t revolve around me. Always pack more bug spray/repellent and firewood than you think you’ll need.

  10. Warm beaches and cold drinks - I used to say that I was more of a mountain kind of woman, but now that I’ve been to Hawaii, I think I could live on a warm beach pretty easily!

  11. Macadamia nuts - again, Hawaii changed me, and a part of that was the abundance of macadamia nuts. So delicious!

  12. Air travel - how else would I get to hug my niece and nephew? Be with my family when good and bad things happen? Stand on warm Hawaiian beaches, walk the Mission District of San Francisco, or watch a friend get married in Denver?

  13. Podcasts - I drive a lot, and podcasts are a great way to dive deeper into topics that I already enjoy, get to know artists that I like, and learn more about the world around me and the world beyond me.

  14. My body - I’m grateful for this body of mine, of its capabilities, the way it protects my heart and brain, the way it talks to me and tells me when I’m sick or hungry or sad. I’m grateful for the way it can climb mountains, swim in the ocean, walk around the block, feel pleasure and pain; the way it holds and moves and wiggles and jiggles.

  15. My health - my doctor is amazing and always gives me time to talk to her and hear what she has to say. My dentist is beyond fantastic and I enjoy her presence. I am grateful that I have the privilege to curate a care team that makes me believe that being healthy doesn’t mean what society tells us it means, but how we - me and my care team - define healthy.

  16. Sunrises - to watch the world wake up is a true gift, and while I’m not a morning person, I’m always in awe of a sunrise.

  17. Sunsets in the summer - sitting still on the end of a pier in the summer and watching the sun set, taking a moment to breathe in the night air.

  18. Music - always music. The ability to be transported to another place, another emotion, another time in just a few notes is a gift and I will always be grateful for music.

  19. Breakfast food - there’s something about a runny egg yolk and carbs that just make my heart happy.

  20. Tacos - no explanation necessary

  21. Birth control - I’m grateful that I live in a state with birth control is covered under my insurance; I’m grateful that I work for an employer that sees birth control as a non-issue and covers it; I’m grateful for the opportunity to not be a mom, to control my periods, and to be in charge of my own body.

  22. Antibacterial hand soap - I’ve lived with kids this year, and I think without antibacterial hand soap I would have gotten sick more often.

  23. Bread - carbs are my love language and I’m so grateful for good bread.

  24. Chapstick - Burt’s Bees replenishing pomegranate lip balm, specifically. It saves me every winter!

  25. Red lipstick - I’m grateful for red lipstick because when I wear it I feel powerful and strong, like a boss ass bitch.

  26. The ocean - I cannot stand at the shore without thinking about what’s on the other side of this expanse of water, how every ocean is connected and that it connects all of us. The ocean helps remind me that I am not the center of the universe. The waves and their unfailing nature, returning to the shore, remind me that consistency can be therapeutic. The smell of salt in the air calms me.

  27. Soft clothes - coming home after work and changing into my pajamas is my favorite moment of the day. Sometimes, if work has been particularly brutal and traffic is a nightmare, I have been known to remove my bra in my car because I NEED TO BE FREE. It’s the unbinding of society from my day, and I breathe easier.

  28. A well mixed cocktail - lately I’ve been introduced to the Old Fashioned, specifically the Oola Old Fashioned. Oola is a distillery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, and they make a charred cask (?) bourbon that set my life right the first time I tried it. Other cocktails I’ve enjoyed this year: cucumber vodka and ginger beer, mango rum in an Arnold Palmer, and the ever faithful margarita.

  29. Blankets to deepen the cozy on a winter day

  30. The gray and rain - I’ve always leaned towards the depressive, and it helps me feel “normal” when the weather reflects how I feel inside. Watching the world get washed clean with the rain soothes me.

  31. Cupcakes - I was always made to share when I was growing up, so there’s nothing better than a mini personalized cake that is all mine mine mine!

  32. Laughter - from the small chuckle to the deep belly laugh that makes me throw my head back while tears fall. I’ll take laughter in any way it wants to show itself.

  33. My own space - as I am writing this list, I received an email saying my application for a studio apartment in my old neighborhood has been approved <3 Back to solo living I go!

  34. Hot showers in the winter there’s nothing better in the winter than standing underneath the spray of hot water while the bathroom fogs up.

  35. Flannel bed sheets - follow that hot shower with a cozy bed wrapped in flannel and you have my idea of nirvana.

  36. Cheese - it is a scientific fact that I will try anything labeled ‘brie’. Herbed brie, caramelized onion brie, cranberry brie, and even a nut-based brie are a few that I’ve sampled and loved. Put it on a cracker, some bread, or just straight into my mouth, please!

  37. Seeing Crater Lake for the first time - that was just magical!

  38. Prosecco on tap - it’s a real thing and I am here for it.

  39. Steady employment - I might not like the organization, but the work is good and I’m grateful to be able to be a therapist.

  40. Knowing my worth and not settling for less - I’ve learned to always ask for more money because the gender pay gap is real and I’m not about that broke life.

  41. Not settling in general on things that matter - there’s a reason I’m still single

  42. Cell phones - it’s a grateful/annoyed relationship for me and my phone.

  43. THERAPY Jesus, therapy has saved me

  44. Scarves - not just a fashion accessory. Every winter there is a day when I forget to grab a scarf and each time I regret that moment when I think, “Nah, I don’t need one, I’ll be inside most of the day!”

  45. Honey roasted peanuts - we’re having a small love affair over the past few months.

  46. My clients - I learn so much from my clients every day, and I’m always grateful for their openness and honesty, their ability to laugh in the midst of their pain, and their acceptance of me being along for the journey.

  47. Small notes from friends

  48. Burgers and fries - but, like, a good burger, and good fries. Life is too short for mediocre burgers and fries.

  49. Christmas lights

  50. Happy Hours

  51. Random pit stops at Kiersten and Brett’s place to use the bathroom while I drive for Lyft (yall the real MVPs!)

  52. Pizza while drunk at 1 AM

  53. Noise canceling headphones

  54. LEXAPRO - My antidepressants have helped me beyond belief the past few years. Not sure I would be who I am today if I didn’t have that little pill to take in the mornings.

  55. Pilot G2 pens in blue ink

  56. Office supplies in general - super sticky Post-It notes are my jam

  57. Good shoes - boots in the winter and sandals in the summer

  58. My hair - even when it’s crazy, it still makes me laugh. When it looks good, it looks REAL. GOOD. Love my hair.

  59. Reusable shopping bags

  60. Mason jars for all the things

  61. Makeup - when I want to wear it, it makes me feel good; when I don’t want to wear it, then I’m grateful that I love my face and don’t feel the need to cover it.

  62. The coworkers I’ve worked with over the years, especially the ones that do the jobs others see and ‘beneath’ them. Front desk folks, especially; y’all bear the brunt of a lot of shit from all directions and don’t get nearly enough praise for the work you do.

  63. Campfires and good stories.

rupture and repair

We met 8 years ago as graduate school babies from three different parts of the continent: Texas, Minnesota, and Ontario. We formed a family, shared our lives with each other, our dreams and fears for the future, our love for the gray weather, and our mutual love for sitting on the floor when we’re all together.

7 years ago, our family erupted; fractured by all that was happening in each of our lives, we were unable (and unwilling for some (read: ME)) to stay connected. We were wounded by life circumstances, and our family went our separate ways: one to Florida, one to Texas, and I stayed in Seattle.

Time does not heal all wounds, but it did heal ours, both individual and collective. It took a year before I felt whole enough to reach out and apologize, and then we moved as if time had not passed. Another few months and I received a Facebook message, and again connection happened and time had not passed.

In the psychology world, this is called rupture. The relationship fractures or breaks, and you not only have to decide if you want to continue in relationship with this person/people, but how to continue.

Now we stand here. Among us there have been two weddings, two babies, two Masters degrees, three careers, and a deepening love and respect for each other. Our bodies are softer, our hearts are bigger, our hair is greyer, and our friendship continues.

Without a ceremony, we picked each other and built our own family, which is a gift beyond measure. To be known so deeply and loved so well by people that continuously choose to be present with me is a honor I wish everyone had.

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Robyn and his husband, Matt, came to Seattle this past weekend for a visit, and it was life giving to be around My People again. Since they live on the eastern side of Canada, and I’m on the west coast of the United States, we don’t get to see much of each other except through video calls and Facebook posts, so this trip was a treat for all of us. We hit all the high notes of Seattle: drag brunch at Seattle’s #1 drag cabaret brunch, Mimosas Cabaret (shout out to Mama Tits!); a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory and subsequent stomach ache from all the tastes we received on the tour; a walk around Pike Place Market with drinks from Rachel’s Ginger Beer and yogurt from Ellenos Greek Yogurt stand; dinner at Walrus & Carpenter; and our final dinner being at Ballard Pizza Co. followed with cupcakes from our old favorite cupcake shop, Cupcake Royale. We vacation well, y’all.

Robyn, Matt, Mama Tits, Kim, and myself. Best. Sunday. EVER.&nbsp;

Robyn, Matt, Mama Tits, Kim, and myself. Best. Sunday. EVER. 

One of my favorite moments was all of us gathering at Mel’s for an amazing dinner. Fried chicken, roasted brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, and two desserts – homemade cheesecake and apple crumble. Mel shows love by cooking for people, and this was a crew of folks that receive love through food. It was a divine night, to be sure. I looked around the table and saw the faces of people I love; my chosen family from so many different places, with so many different experiences, and laughter fills the air while we filled our bellies with love.

My heart is full.

speechless

I was working on a post about what's been happening with me for the past few months. I was writing regularly, even had posts scheduled for when I was out of town, but then I disappeared. I was working on that post and then more things happened. 

Specifically, Hurricane Harvey. My hometown, my city is under water and I have no words. My family is there, I still have friends from high school and college there, and the city is now a giant lake. 

No words. 

My anxiety was in a neat spiral for a few days while I stayed in contact with my family. For 20-30 minutes I would be on the verge of a full blow anxiety attack. My heart was racing, couldn't sit still, tears in my eyes, pain in my chest, and unable to catch my breath. Then, in a moment, it would be as if all the adrenaline that had been coursing through my veins would dissipate and I would be left feeling so, so tired. This would repeat six or seven times over the course of a day. 

I'd call my grandmother 3-4 times a day to make sure she was okay. She is the type of woman that is always moving, always doing something. "This is day four of being in the house," she'd say. I could hear the tension in her voice, desperate to go outside and do something - or maybe I imagined it, projected my own tension onto her words. 

*Anxiety Spiral*

I'd text and call my stepmom several times a day. My dad has long since ignored his full voicemail so I always try my stepmom first. I hated that they were living through this experience and still I needed them to ease my anxiety. "Are y'all still dry? Do y'all still have electricity?" It's August in Texas; no electricity means no AC, and no AC can be akin to wishing for your own demise. 

My Meme was there with them, and I'm so glad she wasn't alone. I kept wondering what was going on at her house, full ready to rage against a god I don't know I believe in anymore if anything would happen to her home. She's already lost her husband this year, how much more will the universe take from her?! 

*Anxiety Spiral*

My family has been lucky so far. Everyone is dry and everyone has electricity (from what I know). The long haul of rebuilding has barely begun. 

Being 2,300 miles away from home is sometimes hard. 

Ways we can help, no matter where we are (taken from a friend's Facebook post):

American Red Cross - text HARVEY to 90999 (this will donate $10) or visit www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey

You can also give blood to help: www.redcrossblood.org

If you don't jive with the way Red Cross works, no problem! 

Save the Children, a wonderful international organization that has pledges to help displaced children and their families, 10% of donations also go to their Children's Emergency Fund: https://secure.savethechildren.org/…/H…/apps/ka/sd/donor.asp

Global giving is trying to raise $2 Mil for disaster relief: https://www.globalgiving.org/…/hurricane-harvey-relief-fund/

Texas diaper Bank is taking donations for the littles: https://texasdiaperbank.networkforgood.com/…/33717-change-a…

Airbnb is waiving service fees and you can list you're home for free if you have extra space for refugees/evacuees: https://www.airbnb.com/disaster/hurricaneharveyevacuees

The Driscoll Children's Hospital is still weathering the storm in Corpus and they're taking donations: https://co.clickandpledge.com/advanced/default.aspx…

Houston Texas Relief Fund- they're pretty close to their $1.5 mil goal: https://www.youcaring.com/victimsofhurricaneharvey-915053

Portlight is trying to keep disabled people and those needing medical supplies safe and healthy: http://www.portlight.org/home.html

DirectReliefUSA similarly makes sure people who need medications can get them in an emergency: https://www.directrelief.org/usa/

Here's some food banks you can donate to!:
http://houstonfoodbank.org/
http://galvestoncountyfoodbank.org/
http://victoriafoodbank.org/
http://foodbankcc.com/
http://setxfoodbank.org/
http://foodbankrgv.com/
http://bvfb.org/
http://centraltexasfoodbank.org/
http://safoodbank.org/

Houston coalition for the homeless is trying to make sure everyone who was already homeless has shelter too: http://www.homelesshouston.org/hurricane-harvey/

Trusted World is operating three shelters and needs stuffffffs: https://trustedworld.org/hurricane-harvey-volunteers/

A few airlines are offering miles if you donate https://www.redcross.org/donate/cm/americanairlines-pub
https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/team/airlink4

UPDATE: The Cowboys v. Texans pre-season game has been relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, tickets are going for $25 and proceeds will go to the United Way Relief Fund (both clubs also donated $1 Mil, and Jerry Jones donated $100K): https://www1.ticketmaster.com/dallas-co…/…/0C00531CAEEF4EC6…

Think the humans should've evacuated (I disagree but whatever!)? Here's how you can help the animals left behind- 
SPCA of Texas is still rescuing and relocating: https://www.spca.org/news_hurricane-harvey

Austin Pets Alive is still rescuing and relocating: https://www.austinpetsalive.org/hurricane-harvey-evacuatio…/

Corridor Rescue only had one volunteer able to get to the shelter as of today and water was still rising, no donation link yet but you can follow their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CorridorRescue/

Dallasdogrrr is caring for many displaced animals and specifically Tall Tails Rescue as of 3 hours was still trying to get trapped dogs out and had rescue staff refuse because they were "just animals" (internally screaming) www.dallasdogrrr.org to see if you can help.

8 years

Seeing the Cascade Mountains for the first time was like coming up for air when I didn't even realize I had been under water. 

Snoqualmie Pass was magnificent to my eyes. 

My heart felt like it was flying. My new adventure had finally begun.

Then I hit Seattle. 

Chaos. Traffic. Roads laid out in patterns that made no sense. I couldn't get a hold of my landlord. Didn't have a place to sleep that night. My mom called her friend in Tacoma, and I had a bed waiting for me. 

That was my introduction to life in the Pacific Northwest. 

8 years ago, I drove down I-90, through the tunnels, and into this city that I love. I could be whomever I wanted; whichever version of myself felt most real, most true. 

Freedom.

In 8 years I have lived in 7 different places. I have started graduate school and completed graduate school. I've worked a few jobs and started my career. I've hiked, camped, I've made friends that have loved me well and allowed me to love them. I've seen weddings, babies, and funerals. 

Life here is full; life here is an adventure. 

No doubt that had I stayed in Texas that I would have had an adventure there, too, but there was something in me that felt like Texas was too small; I couldn't breathe. I needed more, and I've found it. 

Some days are easier than others. Some days are really, really hard and dark. That would have been the same no matter where I made my life. But I'm here, with these friends that are my family, and I'm doing work that I love, and I'm not sure I would have found my true self any other way. 

Happy anniversary, Washington. I love you. 

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making my own holidays

I really don't like holidays. 

Most people can't believe me when I say that, but it is true. Every 'national' holiday here in America holds a special place in my heart filled with disdain, anxiety, and frustration.

Except New Years. I love New Years. 

The big holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) are especially awful. If I could, I would hibernate from Halloween to New Year's every year and not think twice about my choice. The cultural expectations of being single and my presence always being requested back home; the reminder that I can't please everyone because I'm never spending enough time with anyone, the food coma we put ourselves in to celebrate a dinner that never happened; which brings me to the whitewashing of history in general... I mean, for real, my dislike knows no bounds. 

This is why, when I moved to Seattle in the late summer of 2009, I started celebrating my own holidays. One of those is the anniversary of when I bought my car. 

My last car was a 2004 Pontiac Sunfire. Named La Puma Azul (or The Blue Panther), my mom and stepdad bought the car for me before I went away to college that fall. I'm pretty sure they were motivated by the fact that the ancient Ford Explorer I was driving at the time might not actually make the 200 mile trip home for visits, but what did I really care? I was 20 and I have fresh wheels. I put a lot of miles on Azul, and she was my favorite thing about life because having my own car gave me freedom. For graduation, my parents signed the car over to me. Azul was officially My Car. 

Fast forward to July 2009, and I sold Azul before I moved to Seattle. I was told that I could rely on the bus system, and the idea of not having a car was new and somewhat exciting. So I sold my car, rented a minivan, and moved west.

For 5 years I relied on King County Metro to haul myself to school, to work, to internship, and back. For a while, I walked a lot, and I mean A LOT. Miles and miles a day. One summer, I was so broke that I walked the 2.5 miles to work every morning and took a walk on some back trails to get home. 5 years of pounding the pavement and making sure my ORCA card had money on it. 

Everything changed 3 years ago because I started my career and that particular adaptation of post-grad life required me to have a car. After I received the call with the job offer one Tuesday, I ceased cleaning my apartment and hopped on the bus to the nearest car dealership. I told the salesman that I wanted to look at used Priuses, and he walked me through the lot and sung the praises of a couple of them. "This one has Bluetooth and a backup camera and a sunroof and is only 2 years old with 40,000 miles on it!" The next one he downplayed, "This one is 4 years old, so it doesn't have a backup camera, it doesn't have Bluetooth, and it has 19,400 miles on it." 

SOLD. It had been so long since I had a car that could say that I'd never had a car that had any of those bells and whistles. 

I didn't even test drive her (because by then, It had become a Her). We ran the numbers and I signed some papers. I picked her up 3 days later on Friday because I was starting my new job on Monday. 

I named her Captain Margaret the Adventuress. Margaret is the name of the youngest Dashwood sister from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. She has a desire to explore the world and have adventures in a day and age when women weren't encouraged to dream beyond who they could marry to improve their status in life. One of the suitors of the other Dashwood sisters took to calling this young woman Captain Margaret. 

Captain Margaret the Adventuress was cristened. She was mine (or, more accurately, Capital One until I pay off the loan). After 5 years of being semi-confined to the King County Metro schedule and routes, I now had the freedom to go and do as my heart desired. 

musical interlude

Update: I'm still in the woods, sucking the marrow out of life or something equally grand but less disgusting. I wrote this before I left.

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Music is one of the greatest forms of art; to be able to sway people's emotions and perceptions by playing notes from an instrument or singing a specific song is truly some black magic type shit. Think about it - how would we ever really know what to feel when watching a movie if there was no soundtrack? 

I've always been invested in music. From 3rd grade into college, I was a singer (Alto, if you must know). I did church choir, school choir, solo and ensemble contest, state competitions, region choir, and a wedding or two.

Music is embedded in my body.

I still try to find the harmony to almost every song I hear; I still remember parts of songs I learned in junior high; and I can still sing most of Ave Maria in Latin (first verse only, and not very well since I haven't kept my singing voice in good shape). My musical tastes have always leaned towards the depressive side. While I enjoy a good pop tune, I love a melodic, haunting song and will play it on repeat for days until I know every word.

The first job I took after graduating with my Masters degree involved a lot of driving around, so I subscribed to a streaming music app to help myself enjoy my car time to the best of my ability. Once while working this job, I had a client in my car with me, and I let him pick the station he wanted to listen to on the app. He browsed through my previous selections and said, "Wow, your music is depressing." 

I've never felt more known in my life so quickly. 

Needless to say, I sometimes run across an artist that stirs my heart and captivates my soul. Today that artist is Penny and Sparrow. Specifically their song Rattle from their 2014 release Struggle Pretty. 

"You wanna come and stay here
And depending on the day, I want to let you in.
But I know me, I know me,
I'm scared I'll just wake up and want you gone again."
-Rattle from Struggle Pretty

The melody is haunting, from the first note to the last I am merely a stowaway while they read my damn diary. 

Another fantastic song is Fantine

"I cannot in good conscience wear white if I'm honest,
My wedding dress needs to be black.
I've seen too much skin and the souls that live in it,
I fear I'm the bride you'll give back."
- Fantine from Struggle Pretty

Anyone that has ever sang in public before knows that you cannot hide anything when you sing a cappella. Ordinarily, if you are a smudge off pitch or forget some lyrics, there is music to help you remember or to even hide behind in some cases. A cappella is brave and bold, and to end an album with an a cappella song feels like a band that says, "We are here for the challenge and privilege of making music." 

They also seem to have some thread of Les Miserable happening. 2013's Tenboom has a song called Valjean, the aforementioned song Fantine on 2014's Struggle Pretty, and then Eponine on 2016's Let a Lover Drown You. Again, music nerd in me is here for this. 

These two gentlemen met and formed Penny and Sparrow while in Austin, Texas, and being a daughter of the Lone Star State, I'm adding this information to the Pro column. 

They're coming to Seattle in October, and I'm hoping to see them live. Anyone want to join? 

Who is your current musical obsession? Leave a comment and let's introduce each other to our music of choice. 

 

-CW

off the grid

I'll be off the grid for a while. 

I'm headed to the woods with friends. 

Camping, hiking, sleeping, reading, swimming, and no internet service for a week or so. 

Sorry, Mimi*, I'll call you when I'm back in civilization. 

Until then, please feel free to be in awe of my adventures.

I'll write more about it when I arrive home.

 

Happy trails, 
-CW

&nbsp; I'm gonna swim in this magnificent pool.

  I'm gonna swim in this magnificent pool.

*Mimi is what I call my paternal grandmother, and she hates it when I go camping or hiking alone, and probably when I'm out of cell phone range for very long. 

when you feel like a writer, but, like, a fake one

I used to write a lot. I felt like second nature to me, as easy as breathing.

It took me over a year before I realized that I stopped because I was scared.

I want to be authentically me, but I lost myself along the way.

Sometimes I'm scared to share my stories because the internet - and the world, in general - is not always a safe space for women, particularly if that woman doesn't subscribe to the typical, cis-gender, patriarchal roles the world says are the only way to be a woman.

There are people out there that are writing good things, better things that what I could produce.

I got scared that I would offend or scare people the people I love. I worry that they still see me as the quiet and somewhat shy 14 year old that loves Bible study and Jesus and wants to work at a church when she grows up.

That isn't who I am anymore, and I didn't know how to publish that here without feeling as though I were drawing a line in the sand, daring them to still love me.

Instead, I have decided to share who I fully am... on the internet... like a crazy person... 

I hope my words find you when you need them; I hope my stories bring you support and help you to feel a little less alone in the world.

I hope you'll grow to know me and love me.

 

-CW

beginnings

welcome to the beginning of my disjointed journey.

Disjointed is an adjective that means, "lacking a coherent sequence or connection." This describes my life in quiet an accurate manner. 

I have no home to call my own; I live with my best friend and her family while I occasionally house sit for friends while they're on vacation. All my possessions, besides clothing and things needed for work and daily life, are in a POD being stored in a warehouse on the outskirts of Seattle.

I work in a vocational field that I believe in passionately, but that the world finds less than important because it's focused on people and not making money. I travel between clinics, so even my work, while the same job, is nomadic in nature.

Post graduate school, pre licensure with hurdles that have tripped me up along the way, leaving me to wonder if this process will ever end.

Most of my friends are married, a good number of them have children, and I'm just trying to have a date that doesn't make me feel hopeless.

It has been a long time since I have realized that my life would not follow the linear narrative I was taught growing up: college, marriage, children, then happily ever after; however, this chaos feels unnecessary. 

My name is Courtney Warren. I live in the Seattle, Washington area. As of today, I am 33 years old, fully employed, fairly nomadic, and desperate for stability. 

This is my story. 

if it feels chaotic to you, imagine what it's like for me to live.

hope you enjoy the ride.

-CW