because everything has a story

Month: October 2016

Gated temples and eating your tail

It was a strange feeling, walking around Temple Square in Salt Lake City. There were so many ways for me to feel unwelcome. I was not from there, I was not mormon, I was not male. Those things that I was not seemed louder there, like the echoes of a bible dropped in a Cathedral, the sound amplified by the space around it.

I know what it is to feel like an outsider. I’ve been a lot of places where I didn’t quite fit in. At my previous job there was a deep divide between the attorneys and everyone else. The majority of the people in my office were attorneys and most of them kept me at arms length, or at the worst, treated me like some sort of lesser being because I hadn’t studied law. It was strange to be surrounded by people every day and yet unable to connect with most of them. I’ve never been so lonely as I was there.

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Natural Laws and Indifferent Universe Bartender

I don’t get this sign. I saw it in a coffee shop in Omaha. I got off the train at 6:30am after a restless overnight ride. I took an extended nap on the couch, then I wandered off into Omaha. I ended up in a coffee shop full of hipsters. Omaha hipsters were a little behind, hipster-wise. They still carried a hint of goth and hadn’t really gotten their ironic scarves sorted out, but they had the hanging-out-in-coffee-shops-all-day thing down. So I drank some strong coffee and watched the locals out of the corner of my eye. And saw this a sign on the door with tiny print at the bottom:

weird sign

“Use of tables, chairs, bathrooms and internet service is for customers only. We will enforce this natural law”

What natural law were they enforcing? I had no idea that using someone’s wifi without buying a two dollar cup of coffee was a fundamental human transgression.

Anyway. I think that the point of all this is that Omaha is kind of a weird place. However, my host on couch surfing went on something of a crusade to convince me that Omaha is a happening place. In a lot of ways he was right. Me, my host, and Kati (who was also visiting at the time) went to a bar in Old Market and I was impressed. The bar and the neighborhood both had a lot of character. We sat at the bar and drank craft beer and ended up in an argument about whether bad luck exists.

“I think bad luck only exists if you believe in it.” Kati is one of those impressively positive people that I don’t understand. She’s going to be a sunshine care-bear for Halloween and I personally don’t think she even needs a costume for this. She is the embodiment of sunshine.

Our bartender chimes in that white lighters are supposedly bad luck. “But then if that’s true then all those graphic lighters are bad luck because if you peel em back? All white,” he grins at us as he pours bourbon.

“I just don’t think bad luck makes any sense.” Kati is relentlessly positive.

I chime in just to try and inject a little uncertainty. Uncertainty is kind of my deal. “You never know, the universe is a strange and interconnected thing.”

“I just don’t think the universe would be that much of an asshole.”

Our bartender turns his head to address us as he walked past with an order of drinks. “Eh, I think it’s indifferent.”

Indifferent Universe Bartender is the absolute highlight of my time in Omaha. He is my favorite. Such philosophical heights were totally unexpected and that made it all the more delightful. Although, I must say I was surprised and impressed at the beer, the charm, and the cocktails I had there. Beercade was particularly great with an impressive tap list and old school arcade games. Anyplace that had Ms. Pacman gets an A+ in my book. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in town.

So Omaha was not exactly what I expected. Then again, when does anything ever turn out how I expect? That’s the beauty of this universe. In addition to being (probably) indifferent, it is endlessly beautiful in it’s ability to surprise me and so I will, at least, never be bored. I’m grateful for that.



The river why

I only spent one night in Iowa but it gave me a lot to think about. I found a host to stay with on Couchsurfing with a nice condo with a spare room in “downtown” Burlington. It’s very quaint. I think there are less than ten restaurants, total. Iowans don’t really have an accent, but they have a distinct way of speaking. It’s a quiet tone, with odd syllables lengthened here and there like they’re in no hurry to finish a sentence. It made me slow down a bit and that was a good thing in my book. My host told me a bit about his life, his son and his business, and then he asked me ten thousand questions about my life. It was immediately obvious why he liked to host travelers. He just loved to learn about people. He wanted to talk about ideas. He made me really think about things.

We ended up talking about money and how that’s not what I want to value in life. He asked me what I valued instead and, at the time, I didn’t have an answer for him. Well I’ve thought about it a lot since and now I think I do. I value stories. I find meaning and beauty in life through them. I don’t think its possible to communicate the deeper truths of our world directly—they’re too big to be defined easily. But through telling stories about who we are and what’s important to us I think we can begin to sense their shape. Like the shadow of a whale under water, you can’t see it directly but you know it’s there if you learn what to look for.

That’s why I’m out on this half-baked adventure. I’m here for the stories. I’m here to skim the surface of this world in the hopes of a glimpse of what’s underneath.

Safe travels,



I arrived in Park City last night. It was dark when I got here but this morning it’s all clear bright morning sunshine. I went for a run through the woods, stopping repeatedly to take pictures of all the fall splendor. fallsplendor

It’s one of those mornings where I’m just grateful to be alive. It’s funny how little it can take to make you happy sometimes.

Anyway, I’ll take it.

morning magpie


The girl who goes alone

Izzy is always late. I probably shouldn’t generalize from only two data points but somehow I’m sure this is the case. It’s funny though, she’s so charming that you love her for it. Her lateness, arriving trailing a scarf off one shoulder and declaring that she got lost again, it’s all part of her charm. Izzy is from Australia and she’s traveling around the US in what appears to be a completely haphazard fashion. From LA to Portland to Austin to New York, there’s neither rhyme nor reason as far as I can tell. But this too is just so Izzy. She marches around as she pleases with a smile that can’t help but spread.

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Trainhoppers and rose gardens

Well, here I am, alone in Portland. So much has happened already, even though I only left home this morning. A transient man snuck onto the train and then refused to get off. I was sitting, drinking coffee in the dining car, when an Amtrak employee walked up to him and told him he had to get off. They were standing not three feet from me. They had a protracted argument where the employee told him he had to get off, he couldn’t stay on, and threatened to call the police. Then he actually called for police, and still he wouldn’t budge. The train hopper kept telling them to call Amtrak and they would say he had a right to be there.
Finally they made an announcement apologizing for the delay because they were “having issues de-training a passenger.” I don’t know why, but at that point he sort of deflated. He said “tell you what, I’ll go back to the station and you guys can be on your way.” Maybe it was the official feel of an announcement, maybe it was having it announced to every person on the train that he was making us all wait. Who knows, but he walked off the train. I’m glad he did, not because I felt any animosity towards him, but because I really didn’t want to see him get arrested. I worked at the public defenders office too long not too feel for him. I have an inkling of how hard his life has been. I’m glad he left before the police came.

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Freedom, all the way down

My blisters have healed now and it’s time for another adventure. The idea has been in my head for a while now to do some solo travel. Every time I drive out to the mountains my hands start to itch on the steering wheel. When I get to the turn off, part of me wants to just keep on driving. I’m sure you know the feeling. I want to get the hell outta dodge. And it just keeps getting worse. I want to see some new things, meet some new people. Don’t get me wrong, I love Seattle and I’ll always come back here. But I need to get away for a bit and have some adventures.

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