Pita Jungle Tears

Who knew a falafel pita would stir such emotion?

Who knew a felafel pita would stir such emotion?

This is a story about how Pita Jungle made me cry in my cubicle.

I had a lunchtime meeting so I asked Lou to grab me some Mediterranean food (the benefit of working in the same office with your sweet husband). With my order in hand, he and a friend scooted out to Pita Jungle.

I was disappointed. I don’t like Pita Jungle as much as the little pita place around the corner.

That’s okay. I thought. His friend probably wanted to go to Pita Jungle so he could ogle the under-21 female wait staff. Haha, what a dog.

I was smirking in my cubicle. Then I imagined Lou would probably ogle as well.

Suddenly, I saw red. My eyes stung as I pictured the short skirts and lack of bra-wearing that always seems to happen at Pita Jungle.

What was this? I never think this way!

Then I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and utterly confused. My emotions were out of control. I felt like a little kid. I was in elementary school, crying in the middle of class for no reason.

Lucky for me, I’m now armed with higher levels of reasoning.

It’s because we recently stopped using birth control. I’m not currently knocked up, but I might be soon. And then I’ll be a mom. And that means he won’t like me. Especially if the scales tip more to “mom” than “wife”, I’ll lose him.

This is a very vulgar and misguided interpretation of what happened to my parents. It’s humiliating to admit that I experienced any of these feelings. But, clearly, this unfair formula became one of those hard-wired laws in my silly emotional being. I just hadn’t undone the equation yet.

During the drive home later that day (yes, we are the annoying couple that carpools to work), I sheepishly told Lou what happened. (Oh, I skipped the part in this story where I sent him a nasty text, shortly followed by the “I’m CRAZY” apologetic text.) He was, of course, understanding and reassuring as always.

Then, poof, it was all gone. I’m totally fine now.

Maybe that’s part of being a grown up. If you think hard enough, you can usually figure out why you’re crying, share it with a trusted partner, and probably never feel that way again. Children can’t do that.

I’ll have to remember this when my future kid cries for no reason. Poor little future kid…what a rough gig.

My Mom Had a Stroke. And How Are You?

I'd rather not see this again anytime soon.

I’d rather not see this again anytime soon.

When my mom had a mild stroke almost five weeks ago, I turned Lou and said, “I think I need to blog through this. It will help me. And maybe it will help someone else.”

Jesus. I’m really glad I didn’t.

First of all, now that my mom is walking on her own, fixing meals, and completing chores, it seems like a real whiny thing to do. Writing about my “struggles” during this experience is insulting to anyone who has had to endure a normal or severe stroke. Heck, it’s insulting to describe MY struggles at all. I’m not the one who can’t use her left hand.

Five weeks ago, however, I didn’t know everything would be okay. I completely lost the ability to imagine improvement. I guess that’s why they call it a crisis.

But things have improved. Including my attitude. And to celebrate, I’m capturing some of this crazy business in a list.

Ten Things About My Mom’s Stroke (in no particular order)

1. “Don’t freak out.” That was the lede when Brother #1 called to tell me mom was in the ER. I didn’t freak out. Not until much later.

2. My freak out. On her first night in the hospital, she assured us all that we should go home to sleep in our own beds. Lou, after picking up takeout for me, scooped me up from the hospital to take me home. By the time I arrived home, I was sobbing hysterically. Lou simply gathered a few things for me then drove me all the way back to the hospital so I could spend the night with Mom.

3. I ate a sandwich. This, in itself, is not memorable. But when you eat a sandwich on the drive back to the hospital mid-freak-out, it’s quite a sight. Sobbing with tears and boogers streaming, I moaned, “Why the FUCK did this happen?!?!” over and over. Meanwhile, I was shoving a sandwich in my mouth as avocado and tomato slices slid out from between the bread. I picked up the avocado slices with my fingers and ate them. I didn’t have a napkin. (This item would also make my list of top five most unattractive moments of my entire life.)

4. I forgot. Lou tells me that in the days following the stroke, he managed to sneak me away one morning for a hike on North Mountain. I have absolutely no memory of this. None.

5. Hair is down. When I arrived with Lou and Brother #3 in the hospital, Mom’s hair was down. Gray, wavy, and thick, it covered most of the pillow. She always wears her hair in a french braid because she hates having it in her face. As soon as we walked in, she burst into tears. Then she asked me to braid her hair.

6. I learned how to french braid. “Who did your braid?” I asked Mom the other day. I figured it was her friend, Sammie (the other frequent braider). “You did,” my mom answered. I felt proud. It was a fine braid.

7. Mom squeezed my hand. On day one, her left hand couldn’t do anything. One morning during week three (or so) I put my hands in hers. She looked me right in the eyes, scrunched her brow, and squeezed my hand. I squealed.

8. Spring training. Mom spent two weeks at Scottsdale Osborn Hospital. While I stared out her window, endless families flooded the streets to watch spring training baseball games. They were wearing ridiculous hats, drinking beer (or whatever), hopping in pedi-cabs, and having a blast. I was in hell. But I was happy for them.

9. I became a lady. Sorry to be gross, but this was total bullshit. The day of the stroke, I unexpectedly got my “lady-times” while we were all at the hospital. Whatever!

10. I got mad. I wish I could tell you that I handled this entire thing with grace, love, and patience. I didn’t. Not even close. But I’m not ready to write about that yet.

Visualize This

This photo makes me think of Phoenix. Then I think of the silhouetted power lines I often see in the evening. That makes me remember a tattoo that a friend of mine has on his forearm. And then I contemplate how the imagery of tall palm trees and power lines against a skyline has been adopted by so many Phoenicians as a symbol of life in Phoenix. That leads me to wonder about our collective identity as a city…and then I remember that most of us could care less. Which makes me think about how Phoenix natives never talk to their neighbors. I COULD GO ON. All this happens because I look at a simple photo.

I’m taking a break from making maps.

It’s actually my favorite part of “writing” this book (I guess since I enjoy it, I’m not really justified to take a break but whatever). For every hike, I must turn in a map so the cartography department can accurately create another map that’s included with the trail review.

I like to do it because I get to make pictures. I use the image from my EveryTrail app or a scanned trail map and then I add arrows and notes using Snagit.

It’s not a far cry from what I do in my current day job in which I must find the most meaningful way to accurately communicate complicated information.

In short, that means turning most things into pictures.

I’m probably betraying my kind here, but I believe that humans are much more sophisticated in reading the pervasive visual language than the traditional written language.

Don’t argue with me. I learned this in my Art History classes.

They say the average modern-day American views [it's too late in the evening to look up the estimated number right now but think about every billboard, computer icon, television show, packaging design for products, etc. you see each day] a whole shit-ton of images in a day. Compare that to the actual words you read in a 24-hour period.

See what I’m getting at?

When my book comes out, I can expect most “readers” to flip through the pages, scan the photos, glance at the maps, and maybe, maybe read a caption or two.

I can’t blame them. I do the exact same thing.

Taking that into consideration, I suppose I shouldn’t feel so guilty about busying myself with map-making in order to avoid the writing.

Like Humans Do

I can’t help but to wonder…

When I see a stranger on the street, my imagination is spurred. These are just a few of the things that happen as I’m silently contemplating other nameless human beings.

If it’s an adult, I assume the person has most likely had sex. Like, passionate love-making sex. And then I picture their facial expressions and I get embarrassed.

If the person is old, I imagine they’ve raised children, buried friends, buried their parents, seen a war, and now feel forgotten.

If it’s a cute girl, I try to assess how she has managed to look cute, then I make a mental notes to steal her style.

Unfortunately, due to my morbid curiosity, I often imagine what unattractive strangers look like when they are buck naked.

When the person is an old man, I automatically assume that he’s “seen some shit” so no one should fuck with him.

I imagine every person has broken down and sobbed at least once in their life.

If it’s a homeless person, I wonder if they have ever been in love.

If it’s a teenager, I assume that they’ve probably started having sex. And then I get grossed out as I realize that my friends and I were that young when we did it for the first time.

If they have a unique outfit on (good or bad), I imagine that person getting ready for the day, looking in the mirror, and saying, “Okay, yes, this works!”

If it’s a cute boy, I immediately feel guilty for even noticing that the guy is cute (and now I feel guilty for writing that — sorry Lou!).

If it’s a small child, I worry about their home life.

And if I recognize a “stranger” to be someone I know, I get really excited (I ran into my brother in a Target parking lot one time and I got giddy…even though I had just seen him the day before at family dinner).

Happy Friday, everyone!

Now enjoy this song about humans…

Very Arizona

I can’t resist you.

I’m feeling very Arizona.

I’m also feeling inspired by my grandmother’s writing.

Right now, I’m stuck in my office and staring at a screen. But my mind keeps wandering back to these sights, sounds, and moments on the trail…

I love you.

Powdery plumes of iron-rich, red dirt exploding with each step.

Green mountain slopes covered in a far-reaching thicket of prickly pear.

Mismatched socks of a 10-year-old hiker, eager to ditch her brothers to join me in the shade.

The grating sensation of my first blister…right between the toes.

I want to be inside you.

Slippery, moss-covered rocks bombarded with the rushing creek.

My white toes peeking out from frigid water as I floated on my back.

A scream followed by our cackles when my friend poked a “dead” spider with a stick.

You’re lovely.

Distant masses of clouds threatening to pound the dirt with fat, violent raindrops.

A lone coyote trotting across a dry wash.

Sheets of torrential rain marring my visibility.

Flushed cheeks and matted hair of my overheated hiking companions.

Yes!

A lovely mess of overlapping ancient petroglyphs carved into rock.

The constant buzz of whirring insects’ wings echoing off canyon walls.

Total solitude in a craggy, shaded canyon.

A swarm of insects hovering over the stagnant water trapped in a tinaja.

Toads the size of my thumbnail hopping out of the way.

I will return to you.

…all this in just two days of hiking.

Dream Lou

By Alpha TangoBravo Adam Baker on flickr Creative Commons.

Terrible creatures can ruin a good night’s sleep.

I’ve always had vivid dreams and nightmares.

Since I met Lou, my general sense of safety has changed. I feel more secure and the nightmares have subsided.

But, every once in a while, a bad dream worms its way into my slumber.

I had one last week. It was about Lou.

In the dream, we were still married. But he was distant.

No matter how hard I tried to engage him, he resisted conversation. And when I mentioned the palpable shift in our connection, he only rolled his eyes. With increasing anxiety and devastation, my attempts to reach him escalated. I was sobbing and begging. But my desperation only made him recoil in disgust.

He was done with me. And there was no getting him back.

In real life, my alarm clock chimed and I could feel Lou next to me.

We were both half asleep when I rolled over and mumbled, “You love me and you still want to be married to me, right?”

“Yes!” he said. “And I’ll never, ever leave you ever.”

I didn’t have to explain the details. I’ve had dreams like these since we first started dating.

“Dream Lou is a real dick,” Lou always says.

Yes, he is.

But real Lou is the best.

My Friday Morning, A True Story

By chatfly, flickr. Creative Commons

We only see what we choose to.

I had to run a few errands early this morning. For the entire trip, I listened to NPR on my iPhone. This way, as I hopped in and out of my car to complete necessary tasks, I could continue to listen to the day’s news.

After finishing, I returned home. I was listening to a story about the Women’s Olympic soccer event as I pulled into the driveway, unlocked the door, and rushed into the my office. I was running late. I was also thinking that I would talk to Lou when he got home from work. Our yard is overgrown and looks like hell. I’m embarrassed.

Still listening to the news on my iPhone speakers, I powered up my laptop. Then a man walked into the room.

I thought I was alone in the house.

I screamed.

Then I noticed this person was wearing my husband’s shirt. Then I noticed this person was my husband.

Lou grabbed me, pulled me close, apologized, laughed, and kissed me.

“Didn’t you see me?” he asked.

I hadn’t.

Then he explained that not only was his car still in the driveway, but he had been sitting on the couch when I walked in the house. As I cruised by, he waved and said hello.

“I thought you were mad at me so I followed you in here.”

I didn’t notice any of it. Not his car, not the wave, and not his hello. I had assumed that by the time I got back, he’d be gone. So my eyes and ears ignored all evidence of his presence.

Dude.