The way it is

In the past two weeks I have witnessed a fist fight, called the cops at 1 a.m. on a Wednesday morning (not because of a fist fight), changed the locks for the front door of the house I’m renting a room in, pushed out a controversial 3,300-word cover story about fee-to-trust land that I’m extremely proud of, turned 31 years old, been to Big Sur twice, made a couple of new friends (I think), and witnessed varying degrees of discrimination being perpetrated both in public and private against different kinds of people.

I’m full-up on life. And I’m tired. But I’m not complaining. Sometimes that’s just how life happens. BAM!


It’s not always calm water and soft, fluffy cat tails.


Sometimes it’s in-your-face, life-changing moments that really make you think hard about your life and the lives of those around you. The kind of moments that make you want to turn and sprint as fast as you can away to anywhere but the present. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s why we live; to face those kinds of moments, to learn to deal with them, to get angry and then sad and then happy, to think about what’s fair and not fair, and to really spend time evaluating and developing those things you define yourself by.

When we fight with anger, we fight with something we have no control of. Our emotions come to the forefront and take precedence over the words that lash out of our mouths. It’s discrimination in it’s rawest, most outright forum. I’ve seen it on an empty street in Morro Bay, in public comments made during a Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting, and spilling from the mouths of U.S. Representatives.

If it’s not Republicans blaming Democrats or the other way around for the “partial” government shutdown, it’s me blaming somebody for being unhappy with their life because I have to hear about it or someone blaming the world for their problems because life can be a real drag sometimes, it’s Santa Ynez Valley residents saying they don’t trust the local tribe or the tribe saying they don’t trust a county supervisor.

And then the name-calling begins, the pointed arguments that have nothing to do with anything but grasping at emotional straws to make a point. It’s years, days, hours of absolute bullshit that’s stacked up over time, and we’ve somehow aligned ourselves with it and convinced ourselves it’s true.

“Obama is the devil.” “The Republican party is crazy.” “Obama care will turn America upside down.” “But we’re not going to pass a budget either, so hah!” And that’s the part where everyone sticks their tongues out at everyone else with their hands on their hips.

Some of the people who live around the Santa Ynez Reservation say that tribal members need to get DNA tests to prove they actually are who they say they are. Or that the tribe peddles prostitutes and is trying to put casinos and oil wells all over the valley while draining the water supply at the same time. Then the tribe blames certain groups or people for whipping up fear about the fee-to-trust proposal and calling people racists.

It’s an argument that’s been going on for decades, and the present collection of words sound strangely familiar to all those that have been said over the last 20 years. Each side says terrible, personal things about the other, that may or may not be true, but the statements made make the people saying them sound like awful human beings. The worst part is, there are good, genuine people on both ends of the argument spectrum. When will they forget the rest and talk about what’s actually going on, about the reality of the current situation, without weighing it down with old bitterness, anger, and resentment? My guess is never.

The lack of communication we experience at the national, local, and personal levels is our own damn fault. How can you blame someone else for something you’ve had a hand in?

When all  I see is what I let myself see, what I let into my life, what I believe to be good and true, how can I possibly allow anything else to be communicated to me? How can I see the world for what it is–myself for who I am–when I’ve already defined it? Compromise is not easy, it involves giving into the pride we hold dear to our chest, giving up a little bit of the definitions we’ve stamped on the world, and letting go of some of the anger we’ve wrapped around ourselves.

But sometimes, if I take a step back, maybe I just need to see the world for what it is, rather than what I think it is or what I want to be.



Sometimes I wonder what more goes on in the brains of the people I hang out with. Is it always the same old stuff—family, friends, boys, and work—or is there more? There must be an undercurrent of more, there has to be.

Lewis range, Glacier National Park

A range of repetition that changes with each peak.

Is there a thought that goes missing, so all they see is the life around them in the space that they are? Like last night, the whirring fans and the fog that slowly settled all the way down to the water soothed me as the words we’ve spoke before once again spilled out of my friends lips.

It all came into focus and my brain just switched off the record of whatever continuously plays over and over again. I noticed the light behind the bar turned the etched glass a light teely-blue color, and the sound of the few customers chatting became loud. I pushed my chair back against the window, listened, and watched—half of me engaged with the person in front of me and the other half just felt quieted, at peace, satisfied.

It wasn’t the food. The sole was fishy and tough, not moist and tender like you want fish to be. The pinot noir was sweet and raisiny, not mellow and complex, like you want a wine to be.

It was just the moment. An off-switch that was triggered, allowing time to tune into the world. Time to feel the goosebumps from the fans constantly turning from the ceiling. To notice the boat outside the window had a stuffed animal hanging from its mast. To watch the mist of foggy air settle into the water of the bay, see the light turned on inside the galley of a fishing boat across the harbor, feel the vibrations of movement from the kitchen, the table next to us, and the bar.

A smile that spread over my body and the deep breath of reality that spilled into my insides left me feeling like I wanted more. More of that now, more of those moments that we filter out from the everyday. It’s not good enough to think about what’s next and why or what was last and why or how I will fill my time now. That’s boring and stifling at the same time, suffocating me with a mask of monotony that I don’t really care for. The effort it takes to piece life together from snapshots of desire and want make me tired sometimes. It drains me of my emotion, uselessly spent on the things that, in a moment, matter least.

Goose Island, St. Mary's Lake, Glacier National Park

A rest to watch the breath of day change to night.

I want to run, not away from something or toward anything, but just run into the breath of air that touches my face when the wind blows. Run into the ever-so-tiny drops of water that barely kiss my skin when the fog rolls in. Run like a crazy person, screaming out at the world, just because it feels good. Just because it isn’t mundane or repetitive, it’s different every time I experience it.

Because it’s what I can feel with the outside of myself rather than what I bottle up into happy, sad, angry, and bored. Last night I remembered what that feels like.