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Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

Jack Kerouac is accused of writing about people going nowhere…but they were always going to Denver, and that is a definite destination indeed. -As quoted in the Denver Post, December 29, 1974

Back on New Year’s Eve 2008, as the year turned to 2009, I remember being struck with an overwhelming feeling that it was going to be a good year. It felt definite and unavoidable. There were things throughout the year that quite actively worked against this but nothing could change the fate of 2009. It was, when all was said and done, a good year.

I know people who would fall on both sides of this argument, those who firmly disagree with me and didn’t bat a eye or shed a tear as the calendar turned from 2009 to 2010 and those who, upon meeting the new year, said,”You got some big shoes to fill, 20-10.” While I am admittedly someone who admits failure much more readily than I do success and will therefore avoid putting any sort of superlative next to 2009 (e.g. “greatest year ever,” “most important year ever,” “year that I ate the absolute most”), I will say that as a year it felt important/good/new enough that I couldn’t help but look at that big old full moon that 2009 left as a housewarming present for 2010 on New Year’s Eve and, like anyone who played after Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival, say, “That’s a hard act to follow.”

Taken during a friendly game of hide and seek at the Denver Contemporary Art Museum with Kyle and Aileen. Aileen was trying to be completely camoflauged.

So, you ask, what made last year so great? What made it so good that I find myself addressing calendar years as they were human? Was it that I started the year in New Orleans, spent half of it on a Greek Island and have ended up in Colorful Colorado- three of my favorite places? Well, that surely helps. Surely it has something to do with all the new people you met and strong connections you made, right? Right, thats important. What about when the Nuggets made the Western Conference Finals? Yeah, that really helped. Was it all the new places you visited and new experiences you had, from camping in Mississippi to having the best birthday you’ve maybe ever had to skinny dipping in the Aegan sea and learning how to play chess? Of course, those were all important, just like my students succeeding and all the good music and books and food that helped to make it a good year. However, there were things that didn’t help it as a great year- things I won’t go into here- but suffice it to say that every year, even the really good ones, have their ups and downs. This is why I won’t say that the aforementioned things were the essence of why this was a good year, though it bares repeating that I am thankful for all of these things and know that I wouldn’t be where I am without each and every one of those things.

Interlude for a photographic essay entitled, "Things that happen in Colorado around the holidays." First up, making apple pie.

Arguing about who gets to ask the question in Trivial Pursuit and then getting in a fist fight with your dad because he won't let you read it.

Congratulating families on their new arrivals.

Alliances.

Solo musical performances.

Musical duos that involve profoundly unattractive facial hair.

Get to the point, right? Here is why:

A route differs from a road not only because it is solely intended for vehicles, but also because it is merely a line that connects one point with another. A route has no meaning in itself; its meaning derives entirely from the points that it connects. A road is a tribute to space. Every stretch of road has meaning in itself and invites us to stop. A route is the triumphant devaluation of space, which thanks to it has been rereduced to a mer obstacle to human movement and a waste of time. -Milan Kundera, “Immortality”

I feel like 2009 was a year that thrust me forward into new places with new faces, and it was the decision to make the year a road instead of a route that made the difference for me. I wanted every stretch of road to have meaning in itself and accept its invitations when it asks me to stop.

I spent so much of my time in Greece attempting to be present in a moment, to worry not about what was coming next or what came before but what was happening then. The funny thing is I realized, when all was said and done, I failed at this. I was unable to simply be present, and, to be quite honest, I’ve never been happier to admit I failed at anything in my life. One misses so much when they are simply present or in only one moment. Being present is important but I think I realized I already knew how to do that. What I really needed to learn was that life is indeed moving forward, or at least around, and the challenge is knowing when you’ve been invited to stop and value the space you’re in along this road. When I said I wanted to be present in my life, I think I actually wanted to make sure I wasn’t on a route with my actions, experiences, and movement purely defined by the point I started and where I would end up. And, you know what, it isn’t.

More than anything, I know I was much more than present because I’m in a different place than I’ve ever been before. 2009 as a road took me from one place and I’ve ended up somewhere completely new with stops on a Greek beach to play backgammon with Mike and Sarah, in John and Zalina’s house talking and laughing, in the Rude Shipyard in Sheffield, in a London warehouse flat as the blue morning light flooded the room, in Eunice, Louisiana to listen to Cajun music, and on my porch on Mardi Gras day. I will admit, the reason 2010 is going to be different than 2009 is that I’ve started it just trying to make sense of the new space I’m in. The new place to which I’ve been brought. But I’m not worried. I’m really not. As long as I step forward meaningfully on this road, this new year, and make as many stops as possible a long the way, I know everything will be fine.

Sigur Ros- Heysatan

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For those of you who like to listen to music while you read here is a song from an artist called The Tallest Man on Earth. I have been listening to him non-stop for the past month or so. This song might be my favorite of his.

The Tallest Man on Earth- The Gardener

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/06-TheGardener.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7cpcap6ln4Gt98VtpxgZmNqj2HfuX2TvyqbFDvKqn_jegPlAtCBVxmRWr8Ze4LEcKMfe4xJ_XxPbM1zfe1ypDPcXvwP1XFY4W7NUXzTsABq8DWBLNG8qUURe0wzC8EkfG4Q7BDHbT4GefhRxbIiHlZBGOqiOYaYDGxd3xL9kZKOwWadjp1CUIBoxvw7D1nGxVTwcSMx9nQRE-elAHPKgXG1UfowDuPlb7SWz49hQOCRzhHetPrA%3D

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I started writing this post from the Portland airport (ranked as the nation’s #1 airport, mind you) following another week+ of epic adventure with Sophie. Our days in Colorado were filled with beauty and adventures. We explored Denver’s City Park, met up with Joel and Bri as they passed through Denver, got some good family time, went to the mountains for a hike and explored small mountain towns, ate Mexican food AND went to the museum AND got ice cream AND ate thai food with Gabe and Sean, explored the mountains, and went to a Paper Bird concert.

If you are unfamiliar with Paper Bird, you should quickly change that. They are a band from Denver, featuring my friend Tyler Archuletta on the trombone, who spread happiness and joy wherever they go, and are currently doing so on a vegetable oil-fueled bus as they tour the West Coast. They just released an EP called “A Sky Underground.” You should visit their new homepage and/or MySpace page.

In City Park, Sophie tried to eat my face and I got mad about it.  Who wouldn't, really?  Do you want your face eaten?

In City Park, Sophie tried to eat my face and I got mad about it. Who wouldn't, really? Do you want your face eaten?

As vegetarians, Sophie and I were prepared to settle for not much to eat in a small Colorado mountain town.  Then the owner of the cafe said, "I don't have much on the menu- just quinoa burriots, butternut squash soup, and cherry rhubarb tunrovers."  "Yes.  We will have that."

As vegetarians, Sophie and I were prepared to settle for not much to eat in a small Colorado mountain town. Then the owner of the cafe said, "I don't have much on the menu- just quinoa burriots, butternut squash soup, and cherry rhubarb tunrovers." "Yes. We will have that."

Sophie was so excited by the scenery and delicious food that she smiled.

Sophie was so excited by the scenery and delicious food that she smiled.

I was so excited by the scenery and delcious food that I trampled all the poppies in sight.

I was so excited by the scenery and delcious food that I trampled all the poppies in sight.

We made our way to Portland and continued to enjoy our adventures together. We spent more good family time (this time with the Johnson’s instead of the Hamilton’s), hiked in the lush Oregon forest, swam in natural bodies of water, watched movies and Lost, ate good food everyday until I didn’t think I could walk, and got good new music. This was my first time to Portland and more than just its airport is top-notch. Leaving Portland also meant leaving Sophie, which, as you might have expected, was the hardest goodbye for me to make. This is all I will write about this sad event- the rest will remain in my head. And as M. Ward says, “Every town is all the same, when you’ve left your heart in the Portland rain.”

M. Ward, “Paul’s Song”

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/09Paul%27sSong.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7cr8i5XvuVga5t9NyhgJDUZyrrv7y8F9xzwlVvROiApn2hSF-4_5VM3JeqxFGNVG7JZj1t4dOkWGu7PaS3o0XyTw2F25YtfyIsAuS30mZngVFk5CjP01_U2xU6cjajn0RMNQxu4tU9D0advAy1FeTVmR1m0a-CL2_ftxf3q8Jzf1r0dPJaNZ2YuijeJRhA84vlgNeb_eeBwjYlT93TAGHn8UIlwaApLT9iENr4Tc0r2bmRn8iwE%3D

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Look at me and those Johnson sisters.  If someone were to call us mountain goats, it would be for good reason.  No one has done that yet, though.

Look at me and those Johnson sisters. If someone were to call us mountain goats, it would be for good reason. No one has done that yet, though.

Once again, Sophie tries to bite my face.  This time I don't seem as upset.  This is because I have been watching "Lost" and I now know scarier things can happen in the forest than Sophie biting my face.

Once again, Sophie tries to bite my face. This time I don't seem as upset. This is because I have been watching "Lost" and I now know scarier things can happen in the forest than Sophie biting my face.

This is a very rare picture because Sophie is not biting my face off.  I have entitled it "Bad Ass Brunch."

This is a very rare picture because Sophie is not biting my face off. I have entitled it "Bad Ass Brunch."

I’m back in Colorado for a few days before I leave on Tuesday for Greece. Yes, Tuesday. As in one day from now. I don’t know if you thought these last few days in the country would allow for some rest and relaxation, but you would be wrong if this is what you thought. I have barely had time to pack, as goodbyes (for the time being): Colorado edition hit full force. Also, I was the DJ and master of ceremonies at Katie and Rob’s wedding in Breckenridge for the last weekend. Their wedding was on the Fourth of July, and I am very thankful that I was a part of it. Sean was the best man and I was also very thankful to have all that time to hang out with him.

This is the point in the wedding where I played some bumpin' tunes and wrote an award-winning short story.

This is the point in the wedding where I played some bumpin' tunes and wrote an award-winning short story.

I can’t say enough about the people I have in my life, and if this move brings me nothing else it has reminded me of how exceptionally lucky I am to be loved by the people I love. Every place I have gone and every place I am now from, I was lucky enough to find incredible people who are willing this celebrate this life we share. I’m not quite sure who I’m supposed to thank for this gift I have been given but I am grateful for every one of the people that I love and that love me.

The other night, a friend told me that when you move away its like planting a garden. This was the most comforting thing anyone had told me about moving, because my friend went on to explain that in moving you have planted those seeds and you just have to let them go, never knowing quite how they will grow, or if they will grow at all. When you come back, many of those seeds have grown strong and tall, and often in ways you wouldn’t have guessed when you first left.

Like I said, I leave Tuesday for the bookstore. The next time I write I will be far from here. In this new place, I hope to plant some new seeds with new people, see beautiful things, and have an adventure or two. But know that my heart is always here- with the people I love.

Paul Simon, “The Boxer” (live)

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/06TheBoxer.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7cpl9aUz5MgCY-AmFKqKw0QgU2xZdu6rDZgwT24dviF6v5sACP4jNsEtuZQogzel9jOw4piA6oOC8Ti3cREojQHBW8uKpkQEuwB2NHA-qk29488tXRER_WIMxmknPVoSIIVHzX23IZEPuB78AGYZlAqoaGFYvAdDxCv9xjAjImSrH86EWKuh9OjKd1CXTH7U6duougU7a6YRiNnBDCVEae9HBg7xaGTxUWq-QB6UKQLyyGOBO7c%3D

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I must start by saying that the last ten days have been an absolute whirlwind. The day after my last entry (a Thursday), I said my final goodbyes to my school and most of my co-workers, got in my car, and started driving towards Tennessee. I was thankful for the opportunity to spend hours alone on the road as I was sure it would offer an opportunity to process the countless overwhelming events and goodbyes of the past weeks. I am someone who needs time to process things. I generally take at least a day to really be able to talk about a good movie. I usually don’t like to judge music on the first listen, and I rarely am able to fully engage with profound moments or changes all at once. It takes me a while to process. It seemed that the 8 hours of driving from New Orleans to Manchester would provide ample time to process- to understand everything that had just happened and everything that was changing.

And, I suppose, on some levels, I was able to do this, but not very much. Awaiting in Manchester was the famed Bonnaroo festival in all its glory. There was simply not time to process. Instead, I chose to be present in the magnificence and chaos and beauty that is Bonnaroo. I can’t begin to explain to you this festival. You must see it with your own eyes to truly understand the magnitude of the whole thing. For a weekend, I was surrounded by wonderful things- music, art, food, and games. The music was an incredible balance of personal favorites (i.e. Neko Case, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Wilco), all-time greats (Tony Rice, Bruce Springsteen, David Grisman), and new interests/pleasant surprises (Raphael Saadiq, St. Vincent, Brett Dennen). The weekend was spent with great friends (Danielle and Bryan), which really just added to the fun and, once again, the overwhelming nature of the event

An event of this magnitude, in and of itself, needs time to be processed, and compiled with my need to process events from before, I welcomed the 8 hour return trip to New Orleans with the idea that I could finally reflect on my life changes and the epic event I had just experienced.

And I’m pretty sure I started on this reflection. I really am. But before I knew it, I was back in New Orleans and Sophie and I were having dinner at Lola’s, a personal New Orleans favorite. Then the next two days were spent frantically packing and preparing to actually leave New Orleans. Instead of really taking this as time to look back on the last two years, I chose to be present as I spent my last days in New Orleans, in my house and room, and with my beloved roommates. This was a good choice. My last night in New Orleans was spent much like my first nights in New Orleans- surrounded with friends, music, and celebration. CJ, Justin, Joel, Bri, and I played games, laughed, and sang well into the night.

Here are a few pictures, set up as a timeline to illustrate that my roommates and I have always managed to make our own fun:

This is the first time we all hung out.  We started cheers that filled MinuteMade Park.

This is the first time we all hung out. We started cheers that filled MinuteMade Park.

We ruin every party by playing rapping games.  Luckily, CJ and Justin are good at rapping.

We ruin every party by playing rapping games. Luckily, CJ and Justin are good at rapping.

After many rousing cheers, we caught a majestic Horse Monthly Calendar at Mardi Gras- a coveted item, indeed.

After many rousing cheers, we caught a majestic Horse Monthly Calendar at Mardi Gras- a coveted item, indeed.

We were responsible for other people's children...

We were responsible for other people's children...

The next morning I woke up, picked up Sophie, and we hit the road. Surely, a road trip is a great opportunity to process/reflect/understand everything that had happened. Surely this would happen.

And, to some extent, on some level, this happened. But not a lot. Rather, I chose to be present in what could only be described as a wonderful but strenuous and forward-looking road trip. The goal was to arrive in Denver on Friday night after leaving Thursday morning. This is a twenty-one hour drive, which could easily be done but the pit stops and site-seeing must be kept to a minimum. But being present was a great choice on this road trip. I felt incredibly close to Sophie, the sky throughout Texas is incredible and somehow bigger than anywhere else I’ve ever seen, and that stretch of I-25 between New Mexico and Colorado is overwhelmingly beautiful. And, in case you were wondering, we not only made it in time to help Aileen move on Saturday morning, but we made it in time for Kyle’s goodbye get-together on Friday night.

If anyone can explain to me why the sky in Texas looks so big, I would really like to know.

If anyone can explain to me why the sky in Texas looks so big, I would really like to know.

And that essentially brings us to now- with me writing to you from my parents house, with Sophie asleep next to me. And never fully have I processed the incredible change I have gone through. I think thats okay, though. The time between goodbyes and endings to now has been filled with far too many celebrations, beautiful sights, good songs, and togetherness to not allow myself to be present. I refuse to miss this.

Prior to moving to New Orleans in June, 2007, I was an avid follower of Dan Baum ‘s New Orleans Journal in the New Yorker. If you don’t know Dan Baum, I strongly recommend you check out his writing. I think he is a very good writer and is always able to eloquently describe the elusive essence of New Orleans. He book “Nine Lives” is the best example of this. Anywho, he had been writing from New Orleans for two years and that very same summer his Journal had been canceled. Aside from his time in New Orleans, he lives full-time in Boulder, CO. I remember distinctly reading his last Journal entry from a hotel room in Amarillo, TX, as I made my journey from Colorado to New Orleans. He wrote this entry from a hotel room in Houston, TX, as he made the exact opposite journey from New Orleans to Colorado.

I don’t know if our paths crossed exactly but I wrote him that night in Amarillo and told him about our swapping of places and thanked him for his writing. He wrote me back promptly and thanked me for reading his column.

While I was as present as possible on my trek away from New Orleans, I carried his last column prominently in the front of my mind. Mr. Baum wrote of feeling in exile outside of New Orleans and missing it dearly, or “knowing what it means to miss New Orleans.” He wrote of feeling shocked by the sanitary, wide-open, corporate-run world outside of New Orleans, and how somethings feels amiss. It was, however, his focus on New Orleanians ability to be present in a moment that stuck with me as I drove- to not be driven or controlled by the dollar or the clock, but to rather simply be in a moment, for better or worse.

This lesson, this skill, is the face of the parts of New Orleans that I carry with me. It represents what I learned in New Orleans, the wondeful people that I knew and loved there and the times I was present- up to the very last night and into the wee hours of that morning. And as Dan Baum said, “It took me a while to figure out that in New Orleans the future doesn’t really exist. There is only the present.”

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