climax. june 19th.

well, there's a lot to say...

no shortage of words here.

i think i'll start with the fresh wound, and work my way backwards.

because it's always better to get the shit out of the way first, then top it off with a lot of good.

so i just hopped onto facebook. and saw sixty pictures taken at my house on thursday night.

for the potluck i was not invited to. with a lot of the friends he won in the divorce in the backround.

it made my stomach hurt. it almost made me cry.

three bands i would have loved to have seen, and one solo artist i have yet to see, that i would kill for. who is one of the lesbians who would kick my fucking ass if i ever tried to see.

this is what i miss from my old life.

maybe it was a fundraiser. maybe this is why he dropped me as a friend.

it's hard, you know? to lose this part of my life.

fuck ever. i just miss that stuff.

so he wins. sigh...

he probably took extra pleasure knowing that i would see it. because i sent him an email yesterday. it read a lot like this:

i was hoping to hear from you about the questions i asked earlier this week.

i'm going next week to file the uncontested divorce order, and want to settle all the details with you beforehand, so that there are no surprises and no issues when it comes to you in the mail.

this lawyer seems to think that mediation shouldn't be necessary if you and i agree on all terms.

i'm paying him $500 to file the order for me.

i intend to leave the business out of the agreement, but in exchange, i want you to put in writing what you agree to about the house, so that we are on the same page.

based on the discussions we've had, the items to include are:

responsibility for financial obligations and maintenance on the property in exchange for my name and social security number staying on the mortgage, and not listing the house ahead of schedule.

our lease agreement: that i will be notified of, and have the option to sign, any and all lease changes.

rental income arrangement: how much you agree to pay to me of what you receive in rent. you had previously mentioned $500 a month.

that i will stay on the mortgage for two years, when the house goes on the market if you are unable to buy the house by that time.

repayment of credit card debt in the amount of $10k, to be taken from the equity when the house is sold.

repayment to my parents of the $30k they put into the house and down payment, taken from the equity when the house is sold.

a 50/50 split of the amount left over from the sale, between you and i.

anything else you want to make a condition, feel free to add it so that we can discuss it.

if you are able, it would be best to have this over the weekend, so that i can go to the lawyer's office before i go out of town on friday.

and if you have a better idea than this, please let me know. this is the best i've found in the time i've spent looking these past couple weeks since we talked.


so there. i was really angry when i wrote that. and exhausted. it was very cut and dry. straight and to the point.

i'm making my appointment, hopefully for monday or tuesday.

and when i go, if i haven't heard from him, i'll probably adjust a couple things. like the length of time he has to buy me out. and maybe something else, too. like the business end of things.

we will see.

wonder which person in the pictures is the paralegal. maybe he was the one holding the pipe, smoking weed? yeah. nice.

okay. that out of my system. it only took a tiny bit of wind out of my sails from the day i have had today.

today, i biked the path with kit. it was incredible. we rode so happily for a long time. almost got to the halfway point, where we were going to have some water and recharge, before finishing up the path and coming back.

and then, her tire popped. and it put a small damper on the speed with which we were moving, but i still had fun. and though she wasn't planning to spend $25 on her bike today, she seemed to be pretty excited despite it. plus, the boy who fixed it showed her how, in case it happens again.

then we rode back to the place she bought it, had them tune it up, and we grabbed lunch at whole paycheck (whole foods buffet-style bar).

we were too hungry, and i hate spending so much money there, but the lunch was exactly what i needed to feel great.

i had a banana today. and that mammoth salad, with only chickpeas and edamame to throw off the diet. but i guess i should mention that i'm done with the diet. i still need to avoid beer until home, but i reached my goal, and i'm really proud of myself, and now i can eat healthy things like fruit and beans.

i still can't go wild with popcorn and chips and everything else i'm dying for, like ice cream, but i am going to try to be this healthy until i get back.

and then, the battle will begin again.

speaking of going home...

so when i got back from the ride, i cleaned the apartment top to bottom in preparation for nina coming back with me. i had to clean slate it today, so that on friday, i can just do a couple things before getting on the plane. i am so fucking EXCITED.



so i set up that scrabble game with coffee days ago. and i was carefully timing it, playing only one word a day, and having a conversation with him in scrabble chat at the same time. i needed the game to last long enough to set myself up to ask him out for a drink when i get there. and i also intend to let him win this one, i think. we will see. i have stats to uphold.

but, he set me up. and i fucking ran with it.

it is done, in my eyes. i brushed my hands, and patted myself on the back. bragged to kit and nina and nate. and now i wait.

basically, he was talking trash. i called him on it. he called me miss tea, which makes me wonder if he noticed the name change. and said he always talks trash. to which i said that i think he needs to back up those words when i'm home in a week, and that we'll see who wins. mano a mano.

which almost read, mano y mano, because that's how i've always said it. thinking it meant man against man, despite two semesters of spanish in college. luckily, kit corrected me before i sent it (i needed encouragement. i was scared...). because mano y mano means 'hand and hand'. although this is more the sentiment i want to experience, hand to hand is the way the saying goes.

maybe all of this had to happen today because of the dream i had last night. maybe it was the exhilaration of nutritious carbs following a killer bike ride.

the dream was fantastic. he was in it. duh. and he was being very cute with me. we were with a bunch of people, i think my family, other friends that i don't know.

and he kept brushing my neck with his nose and smelling me. over and over. and telling me how good i smelled. and kissing my neck. oh. mah. gawd.

and smelling my hair. and touching me. and eventually, touching me. and then i woke up with a coffee headache of all coffee headaches. somehow i forgot to premedicate last night, when i knew i was sleeping in as long as my head would let me.

because when you work in coffee, and wake up retarded early five days a week, and feed yourself coffee by eight every day, sometimes earlier, your body thinks it needs it at that time on the weekend.

and let me tell you, it was just getting started when i woke up from that amazing dream. so i took motrin. and if i hadn't, when i got up at 1030, it would have been a migraine and the bike ride never would have happened.

and yes, i got a little sloppy last night. accidentally.

i had a drink alone for the first time. and what was awesome was that it was great. i went to the bar that i frequent. kit is on a first name basis with everyone there, because she has gone for the years that she lived in her old apartment. and i know their names, but they don't know my name yet, as far as i know. i'm new blood still.

anyways, i got a stoli and diet, and sat at a table and wrote in my journal for probably 45 minutes, nursing the drink.

and it felt just like old times. i kept expecting some random regular to come and light at my table, and strike up conversation. because that is what happened when i used to go to the coffee shop where coffee the boy worked. only no one did. and i was happy. and i was content. and i was writing so much my hand went numb today. but most importantly, i was COMFORTABLE.

i have all this anxiety about doing things alone. and though going to the bar isn't something i should necessarily be doing alone often, it's something i have only done one other time alone, and that time i freaked the fuck out.

it was right after i left ever, to celebrate finishing the novel. and it was awful. anxiety central.

but last night was great.

and then kit showed up. and that was fun, too.

we talked a while, she ordered a beer. and hated it and couldn't drink it. so after two stolis, i drank her beer.

note to self: mixing is baaaaaad.

i wasn't hammered, or dizzy, or sick. but i know for certain that i was fine before the beer. maybe only slightly more giggly.

and i was not so much, after.

in any case, i had a beer. i think my body was like, 'we MISS this shit! wheee!'

then i came home. alone, of course.

and had that dream.

i don't know. some nights, i think about intern. and most nights, i think about coffee. and daydream a little before falling asleep.

i really don't stray too far from that.

the other day, kit had a crisis. when we came back from dark sky, i had driven us, and we rolled into our neighborhood on literally the most insane day of the year.

there's this african heritage festival. the entire city flocks to our neighborhood. parking was a fucking disaster, i parked like four blocks from home. maybe five. really really bad.

but kit didn't need her car. so she didn't use it.

and then, on wednesday, after almost a week of not seeing it, she decided to check on it.

it was gone.

she called me in a panic. i unsuspectingly answered the phone, 'ooot oooooooot' in my usual chipper call.

and she said, 'my fucking car is GONE. my car is gone.'

it was awful. i told her to calm down so much that she wanted to hit me. i could see it flickering in her eyes.

i got my car from all those blocks away, and picked her up, thinking that she had just forgotten where she parked it, and that we could cover more ground by driving around the neighborhood.

i reminded her about the festival and that it probably got towed. that i wouldn't go home until she had her car back.

so she's on the phone with the parking authority, who had most likely towed it for the festival. i asked if she wanted me to just head to the impound lot, and she held her hand up to silence me, because a human got on the phone. as she's telling the woman her tag number, i pull up right next to her car.

i still don't know what kismet directed me straight to it. but in under five minutes, i had found it on the street, where they had towed it. for the festival.

i tell this story, because after she got the car back, i jumped in it to help her find a spot to park.

and we come to this stoplight a few blocks from my apartment. and there's this boy pulling up to the stoplight as our light turned green. and he was so cute.

i smiled at him, because i couldn't help it. and i turned to kit to alert her to the hottie while she made the turn. i looked back and he waved at me and smiled. i waved back and giggled like crazy.

it was awesome.

first time i can think of that i did that. flirted with random cutie driving his car. and actually waved. i'm such a chicken shit.

i hope i see him again. moptop blondie with nice eyes. and a fantastic smile. mmmm.

all of that drama, for three seconds' worth of flirty goodness.

i don't know. since dark sky, i feel like my life has been on track. every day has been productive and great. i'm happy. i feel good about myself because i have will power like nothing i've ever seen. and i hit my goal and feel ready for anything.

which is good, because i might need it in the next hour. or in the next week. or in the next two weeks.

i don't know. waiting for this response is going to kill me, most likely. if he says yes, i'll die. if he says no, i'll die inside.

and regardless, there are technicalities to work out and numbers to exchange, if he agrees to play in person.

i can downplay it, because i already have plans to play with another boy he knows, who i'm not at all interested in. say something about needing a more evenly matched game after jc mops the floor with me.


unexpected backfire: last thing i wrote after formally asking him was the mano line. so what does he respond? i ain't afraid of no manos.

now i try to think of the wittiest way to challenge him and tell him i'm holding him to it.

'well, you should be. (was that convincing? not much of a smack-talker)'

or the thing about the even keeled game? does it knock down his pride a bit to mention that he's the second person i'm asking, or downplay it so he's more open to it?

i hate my fucking brain.

now, i eat. and have a drink. and REGROUP.

to which nina says, 'rah rah rah' and 'you didn't mess anything up, it's lovely.'

dark sky park, part 2. june 15th.

i was too excited to sleep on thursday night, as i knew i would be.

i only got a few hours' worth of a nap and went to work on friday morning. i woke up at 530. it was awful.

i had a few things to load into the car, namely packing the cooler and taking my camera and overnight bag and packing that. kit had loaded mostly everything in the night before.

work was busy enough to keep my mind off of things, and then it was noon.

and then i was lugging ice to the cooler.

we left at 1251. we hit traffic about ten minutes in, if that. it was awful. parking lot on the interstate.

about thirty minutes later, we pulled off for gas and food and drinks.

and then we were really off.

we talked about our days and joked around.

every time kit would say something snippy (in a joking way) or catty (in a loving way), i'd point out her window and yell, 'OUT.'

so that became the first of many running jokes.

somehow, typing this now, it has lost all meaning. not to me, but i'm thinking that this entire narrative is going to be one of those 'you had to be there' things. because half of it was in the facial expressions.

we took the turnpike for a long time. from beginning to end, i think. i've only driven it one other time, and i never went that far north.

so we start the iphone pin dropping. and begin to make the journey well away from the city.

into the countryside, where cows and horses hang about on the side of the road.

we took a wrong turn, onto a road we were supposed to catch further down the line. but we didn't sweat it.

we should have. it was a rough road for maybe an hour, winding about through the biggest barns i've ever seen in my life. cattle ranches, pastures, it was unreal.

so we're winding and weaving, and have to make a pit stop. in a beer store that had a sign pointing to a restaurant. we never did find the alleged restaurant.

but we found the beer store. and they only sold things in cases of thirty, so kit peed. i asked the guy inside if he knew how far it was to the park we were going to. he didn't know. the guy behind me said his brother was there.

the guy behind him said, 'better'n an hour.'

so we got into the car. we'd thought we were much closer. but we weren't.

so we drove some more.

and what we ran into next was altogether different. it was a road that runs through miles upon miles of national park wilderness.

at one point, the road dipped down, and ahead of us was a wall of road that seemed to be at a 45 degree incline. kit was taking pictures of the forest out her window.

and then there was this blanket of purplish flowers. as far as the eye could see. it was brush. it was incredible.

forever, everywhere you looked. purple flowers and woodlands.

and then it happened.

i hit a squirrel.

i was only going maybe forty, tops. the road was so decayed that i had to drive down the middle, and only got onto my side of the road when i couldn't see over a hill in the road, in case of oncoming cars.

the thing ran right out in front of my car.

i hit the brakes, but didn't slam them, and when i looked in the rearview, it was spinning in a circle to a stop in the middle of the road.

i had to tell myself that i just knocked it out for a second, and that once i was over the hill, it got up, shook its head, and ran off into the woods.

i fought tears.

but then it was prettier, and we reached a sign that said we were at 2175 feet, and we were very very close. we stopped to take a picture and let miss b catch her breath.

there were entire portions of the drive, for ten minutes at the most, where i had the car in neutral coasting down mountain roads, riding the brakes. it reminded me of the drive to my grandparents' house, which probably has spans of ten to twenty minutes in neutral.

coming over a hill, i asked, 'is that a mirage?'

as i got closer, i saw that it was in fact tire tread. but kit cracked me up by saying, nonchalant, 'it's a dinosaur!' in a cute little kid voice.

and then we drove a bit further. and then we were there.

we pulled in and parked, and checked in. the old man was very sweet and very fixated on telling us all about the raffle on saturday. and about the extra tickets we could buy for it.

we scoped out the lay of the land.

it was a huge airfield. all grass. the astronomical field.

it was divided up into sections that were named. we realized on saturday that we were camping in orion. which has sentimental value to both kit and i.

so we looped around. found the food vendor tent, and the bathrooms. and then looked for a place to light. it was about 7 when we got there, i guess. it was packed. people had been there since tuesday or wednesday. the star party started on thursday, and we got in on friday night, so we didn't have too many choices.

right away, when i parked, this bitchy looking girl gave me a look. i asked her if i was in an okay spot as i took the tent out of the car to pitch it before the sun started to set.

she got into her lexus and said that we were in the way, and that we should move over.

this was the first interaction with the star people, and i was not impressed.

so then we start laying out the pieces. i've never pitched a tent before. but there were only stakes, poles, and the tent.

as we start piecing together the poles and checking out the size of the open tent, our 'backyard' neighbor came over.

he was an older guy. in his sixties, with white hair. he talked like he was half deaf, and said that we might have an easier time if we did it a different way.

star people interaction number two. and i'm thinking that this guy thinks that because we're girls, we can't pitch a tent. and that, being a man, he needed to intervene and assist.

again, not impressed.

but i was wrong about him.

his name was guy. i kept thinking of his as being gus.

we got the tent set up, and made our 'beds' and set up our chair and tables.

we felt good, it was early. and it didn't take long to figure out that all of these people spent time in daylight tinkering with their telescopes for the big show after dark.

guy's buddy, dave, came over at some point to say hi. the two of them traveled from ohio for the party. they had huge separate tents, but otherwise were there together.

dave was sweet and adorable and also in his sixties with white hair. and i kept thinking of him as being named mike.

that's how dave and guy became gus and mike for the weekend.

we walked around the field, checking out people (and boys, of course) looking at telescopes and meeting super friendly star people who would have a conversation about just about anything.

there were the weird star people, who probably wear unicorn tee shirts in their day to day. scraggly men with crazy hair in ponytails. there were nerdy star people, who look like they push their glasses up the bridge of their noses a lot. there were normal people, like us. who have normal day jobs and normal families and normal lives in normal places. who escape to the forest to get away from the normalcy. there were retired people, and kids running around talking about galaxies in ways that i couldn't comprehend, who have been raised to know more than i do.

they were the star people. they were honest and nice and generous. no one was bitchy or territorial, which was a nice shift for me. everyone left everything laying around while they meandered. and it was safe to do so. it was pretty remarkable.

so the woman who told me to move my car was a damper. she was so loud and rude, mean and bitching at her kids and her husband. and she was wearing a clingy skirt and boob shirt. no one camps in shit like that. it really annoyed the piss out of me.

but she was on our bad side, and we hated her. we were guessing at what she did for a living, and feeling sorry for her husband. and i looked at her, between scrabble plays. we were talking about her in terms of 'it' so she wouldn't know. and kit hoped that she wasn't a schoolteacher, but thought she was in real estate. i thought she nailed it. found out much later that she was, in fact, a teacher. poor kids.

anyway, she was bitching up a storm and i looked at her a minute later. and she smiled at me. i probably scrunched my eyebrows in confusion, but looked away from kit and whispered, 'it smiled at me.' which caused a wave of laughter that didn't cease for a while.

and then, it wasn't long before the sun was below the horizon. camp came alive.

everyone was excited for the night ahead. people were training their telescopes on the rising planets, because they are visible before most other things.

we saw venus first.

and venus was kinda boring, honestly. it was super bright white.

next, dave got saturn in his telescope, and the first of many 'hey, girl....s' was called to us.

he never attempted to learn our names, which made me feel less bad about referring to him as mike. and i guess he was old school enough to think it was okay to call any woman 'girl'. i grew to like it.

so we excitedly went over to where his scope was pointing up. kit let me go first.

and i stared with my mouth open. there were a lot of 'oh my god's throughout the course of the weekend. i like to romanticize this as being the first, but it might not have been.

i stared. i couldn't believe that i'd been waiting so long and was finally seeing it. i thought i'd cry, but i didn't. and i just thought that it's not that it's so brightly colored, or that you could see it to a scale bigger than a b.b. pellet, but that it was really out there. shining away in the night sky for part of the year. and that i'd probably seen it a hundred times, and just assumed that it was a star.

through the eyepiece, it just looked like a white dot with a white line through it. they were saying that in two years from now, its axis will make it so that we're looking at the top or bottom side of the planet, and that you can see the ring around the circle completely, with the gap between. and that you'll be able to see individual dust rings that make up what, from this angle, appears to be a skinny solid line.

it's going to be amazing. i promised kit that no matter where we are in our lives and where we are living, that we would reconvene on the dark sky park and see it in all its splendor.

so that was the first time i saw saturn. i am already forgetting details (i thought it was the first thing i saw, but it was actually after venus). but i think dave instructed me to go back to the loaner scope and find it.

so i did.

and THAT was when i truly lost it.

i looked to where i knew it was.

and found it. just sitting there, in space. with its little ring and two little moons. and tears came to my eyes, and my chin started to crumble.

i was laughing and smiling, but i was crying. i had to look away. it was just too awesome. literal sense of the word.

i let kit see, and she gave me a giggly 'awwww' at my crying, and rubbed my shoulder, which made me cry harder.

and i just kept repeating, 'i just can't believe it. i can't believe i can see it. i can't believe it.'

looking at my shoes, planted firmly on the viewing field grass. feeling like i had achieved some major goal in my life.

i saw saturn. i found saturn. i saw it again.

we must have looked at it several more times, but after that, the darkness started to cover the camp, and dave and guy were teaching us constellations.

kit knew a lot of them. stargazing was so far removed from my life that i had forgotten all but orion (which was not visible) and the big dipper.

turns out the big dipper is super important, so it was a good one to remember. but we learned what it pointed to and how you use it as the edge pieces in a giant puzzle to fill in the gaps and create the big picture.

something really cool happens at sunset. at star parties, it's a well known fact that white light destroys night vision. for this reason, all lights are covered in red shields.

imagine four hundred people with red flashlights dangling from their necks. actually, maybe only three hundred. the other hundred had red headlamps, like star spelunkers.

it was really neat. the bathrooms were well lit, all with red lights.

i've only ever been creeped out by red light and red light bulbs. and i've never had much experience in dark rooms to counteract that. but all of this red light was like a lifestyle choice, and i loved it.

i put red tissue paper over the lights inside my car, so we could dig and hunt for things in the night. we even had a little red lantern, lighting our table so we could play scrabble.

that first night was just magical.

at the same time, it was dizzying. vertigo-inducing. something about looking up while standing, for prolonged periods of time, really fucks with your equilibrium and vision. and i felt like i was shitty drunk, but hadn't had a sip to drink. we kept having to sit down and just lean back in the chairs to see the sky in general, because it was really overwhelming in the beginning.

around ten or so, it was completely dark on all sides. the beauty of this airfield was that it gives you a 360 degree view of the sky. there were tall pines, but they didn't block much from view.

when a meteor would soar overhead, you'd hear sighs and ooohs and aaaahs from all around, a random scattering of people who were lucky enough to see the same thing i saw at the exact same time.

and it was about that time that it became increasingly difficult to navigate your way through the sky. the big dipper stayed the easiest to find, but everything else was lost in star soup.

we learned about the summer triangle, what to look for near vega and deneb. much later, probably around two am, we learned about the teapot. and the clouds of the milky became less hazy and more clear.

kit had to explain to me what i was actually seeing, but it goes something like this:

our sun was behind us and under us, globally speaking. and we were looking out through the clouds of the milky way, toward other galaxies. it didn't look as defined as i thought that it would. they looked like normal clouds, only they didn't move. and though i didn't specifically do it, when you aim a telescope into the clouds, millions of other things are strewn throughout it.

later, much later, the teapot rose. the teapot is the top half or so of sagittarius. astronomers love the teapot, because there's a lot to see in it. globular clusters (billions of stars all in a tiny space. it looks like a little fuzzball, only some of the stars can be deciphered from the others. the tiniest pixels of light, condensed together).

and later still, maybe around three or a bit after, cassiopeia was high enough in the sky that she was pointing at andromeda. and somewhere in that vicinity, the andromeda galaxy. kit was fortunate enough to see it through binoculars. i couldn't make them work for me, enough to see something that made sense, so i saw it through a telescope.

an entire other galaxy. that is on a collision course with our very own. horrifying, and beautiful.

(to take a break here, and discuss life on other planets... to think that there are billions of galaxies out there, with sun-like stars and planets in orbit... i know that we cannot be alone. i just know it. it's statistics. i'm not saying they look like us and talk like us, or that we would ever even know they exist. but there has to be something like earth around something like our sun, hanging around space. living and breathing and eating and communicating.)

anyway, the collision is something like four billion years off, or something like that. so nothing to be afraid of. but it's still pretty amazing.

and there was the square of pegasus, which has the m31 globular cluster. and i want to say the swan nebula (it looks like a long stream of smoke, trailing through the sky), and also want to say the ring nebula, which the star people jokingly call the dirty donut.

there's a double star over there, too. one is blue and one is gold. and you can see them distinctly, and their colors are very real.

and then, around four am, people started crashing out. we decided it was time for a night cap. kit had a beer, i poured a coctail. and we sat, giddy and dazed, too excited for sleep. but entirely exhausted all the same.

we fell out around four thirty, if i had to guess. it took me a while. and, how i have work dreams about coffee shop life, i had dreams about stargazing. i was looking all over in my sleep, staring at the sky.

it poured overnight. i remember hearing it for about three seconds, but must have fallen back asleep, because i missed the rest of the rain. sleeping out in it must have lulled me into deep sleep.

the heat from our sun became unbearably hot in the tent around 730. and i had to pee too bad to sleep any longer, so i was up and about after a three or four hour long nap.

star people are funny during the day. they nod off during lectures, they sleep, they drink more coffee still (which is the approach we adopted). they sit in chairs under canopies and talk shop. they mill about other camps, and talk about their toys and things they saw the night before.

it's a sedated version of the camp at night.

everyone is exhausted.

there weren't showers (i didn't die, though i thought i was going to), but i'd come prepared to sponge bath, and i did. turns out that slightly soapy wet paper towels work quite nicely, and that baby wipes would probably be an invaluable commodity at a time like that.

got dressed for the day, and wandered around.

we hit two lectures, one was about the mythology surrounding the constellations and the stories and images of what people saw when they looked up at night.

it didn't really get to me as much as it blew kit's mind. she just tripped out on the fact that for thousands of years, humans were looking at the same things we were. naming them, creating stories to teach others about them.

i mean, it's crazy to me. but she was really lost in it for a while.

he shared native american stories, sumerian stories (who i was already really into), and of course greek and roman stories.

the second lecture was about the hubble space telescope.

it was pretty cool, the speaker was this guy from 'sky and telescope' magazine, which is the go to resource for all things amateur astronomy.

he was funny, not boring, and the images were spectacular. i knew some of what he was talking about, but not all.

then there was the raffle. we bought extra tickets, trying to win a pair of binoculars and i tried to win a beginner's toy set. but we didn't get lucky.

dave, however, won a fantastic eyepiece. when he won, kit and i cheered loudly.

we knew, selfishly, that because he won, we won. the view that night would be even more incredible. it was a really nice prize. it was the one thing he really really wanted.

it was great.

there was a mass exodus when they drew the last ticket for the last prize.

we knew, driving up there, that there was a chance we'd be leaving saturday to come back, because severe thunderstorms were headed right for us. and everyone was talking about how, even if it didn't rain, the cloud cover was supposed to be a totality, and that we wouldn't be able to see a thing.

so more than half, maybe two thirds, of the people left. maybe even more. it was a ghost town.

on the upside, it was more quiet, and less crowded. on the downside, two thirds of the other telescopes left with them.

still, it was great. and the monster telescope stayed, and dave and guy stayed.

after the raffle, they were still preaching impending doom and gloom, and shitty stargazing weather. but so far, the storm had blown around us. it sprinkled for only a minute. by the time we got under covering, it was over.

so we decided to stay.

and were rewarded.

that night, monster scope was pointed at saturn just after sunset.

what a show. it's not that it is bigger, but there is this minute level of clarity you gain with a thirty two inch mirror.

when you climb the ten foot ladder to look in the eyepiece, what you see is this:

same bright ball that is saturn. maybe an extra moon that was too tiny to see before. but this is the clencher: you see the shadow of the ring on the planet itself.

the night before, it had just looked like a white light with a white line through it. in this scope, you could see clearly the planet and the ring, and the shadow. unbelievable.

it was supposed to be public night, where anyone can come and see things for free, through the scopes that are set up there.

and they canceled public night, due to the predicted storms.

only the storms never showed up.

the clouds did, however.

at this point in the trip, the cooler had grown funky. the ice was soupy and barely frozen at all. there were bugs and grass and dirt and food bits floating around in it. two cucumbers had sunk to the bottom, surrounded by cream and bacon and sausage and atkins shakes and atkins bars, which were floating in baggies. there were five beers left, and i had my stoli vanil and diet coke in there, too. i got a cup of ice from the food stand to take back and reserve; half for my coffee, the other half for my cocktail.

it was early the second night when we grabbed first drink, maybe around eight during the sunset. we weren't expecting to see anything, but were hopeful anyways. i got a beer for kit, and poured myself a drink.

kit looked at me in horror as i took a big sip off the top, and asked,

'where did you get that ice???'

we were in hysterics for a while after that. she thought i'd drained it from the soupy cooler, forgetting i'd saved coffee ice for drink ice. it was hilarious.

word to the wise: beer is not allowed in state parks.

i can't say that we found this out the hard way, but as we sat with our drinks, we offered dave and guy a beer, and when they declined, kit shouted to all of our helpful and generous neighbors 'we have beers if anyone wants one!'

guy came running over, saying something about he thought we were bullshitting him, not to announce it, because alcohol is strictly forbidden in state parks, and if they caught us, we'd be kicked out.

it put a little damper on things, but only for a minute. no one accepted, and we went back to oblivious drinks, waiting for a sky show.

we couldn't see anything until about nine. and by midnight, the coach had turned back into a pumpkin, and a hush fell over the field. everyone was calling it a night and going to bed.

there was talk of sucker holes, which are breaks in the clouds that let you catch a glimpse of something. but by the time you line up to get a better view, the clouds have moved. so you can never quite catch what it is that you're chasing.

after two days, they still didn't know our names, and dave kept saying, 'hey, girl...s... do you wanna see (fill in the blank)?' he kept delaying that s, and addressing each of us as girl. still cute to me.

but then the clouds were thick, and there weren't even sucker holes. guy and dave went to bed early, and we let them put the loaner scope away.

kit wanted to go to sleep before i did. i was holding out hope, and putting off saying goodbye, i guess. it was around one when we called it a night. and i had the beer that broke the diet.

i'd been behaving so well. i mean, who goes camping and doesn't have smores and buns and chips and all kinds of other things that are delicious. they even had star shaped iced cookies for sale that i would have killed to just smell at close range.

i was so good, but having a farewell beer was necessary to me.

i thought it would help me fall asleep, too.

so we talked about our plan for the morning, about how tired we were. about how there was really nothing to see at that point. and about our plans for the future, involving star parties and the park we were in, deep in the allegheny mountains. we talked about how lucky we were, and how we couldn't believe the things that lined up to bring us there for the party.

i can't even remember now how i found it. i can't remember how i found out about dark sky parks in general. i think i looked into stargazing in our city, and found something in the burbs that linked to the park where the party was being held. and then figured out that, without a telescope there wasn't much point, and that if we came to the party, that would be best.

and from there, found that there were two: one in june, one in september. and impatience was only half of the equation for me. the other half was that i wanted the chance to go to the first one, so i'd know if i wanted to go to the second one.

i am so incredibly glad that i did.

i still can't believe it, honestly.

i will plug into things near us, but because of the city, i cannot imagine that stargazing here could be any good at all, whatsoever.

our other neighbor, chris, came over to talk to us. kit had guessed accurately that he was a scientist like she is. he did neuro-research, but gave it up to have a family. he was in his forties.

we were sitting around, he was counseling her on her life path, where she is in science right now, where she can go. he was encouraging her. and something that weighs heavily on kit's mind is a question that i popped.

she always wonders what type of person she will marry, ultimately. but for now, what type of man would keep her interested. she's had her time with crushing on musicians, and wishes that scientist men weren't such dicks all the time, because she thinks that two scientists make one scientist too many.

so i asked him what his wife did for a living. she was in ethics at the same college he was in. so she most likely sits on review boards.

it was an interesting answer, and i didn't think to discuss it with kit after. but we both kindof nodded, like 'hmm... very interesting.'

so then we were joking around. all these lightning bugs were appearing that night. all three of us were smoking, and one came close to the cherry on my cigarette. keep in mind, it's pitch black. none of us can see each other. just little red lights going from mouth to resting place on elbow triangles planted on thighs.

chris was saying that it was probably trying to find its mate in my cigarette and said, 'that's going to end badly'.

to which kit said, 'feels like burning' in that cute high pitched kid voice.

to which i replied, 'you might wanna get that checked out'

it was another of those moments where it takes a few minutes to stop laughing. we were trying to be quiet, because it was late enough for most people to be in their tents, attempting to sleep.

in any case, he called it a night. and farewell beer came and went. we took our trip to the bathroom, which was a ways away from our tent, comparatively, but not far at all, really. maybe one city block?

kit and i climbed into the tent, defeated. i was thinking, as i have at many times in my past, that i just wanted to see one more shooting star. actually, i was being greedy because the night before had been so loaded with them, and wished for two.

but the clouds. i didn't see one.

so i set myself up for sleep. earplugs, eye mask, ipod. but i had these two lines, swimming in my head. i got up to get the red flashlight to write them, and spotted the cardstock printouts guy had given us of the messier objects and the c objects (can't remember what that stands for now).

i wanted mine on the messier card, because it's like a to do list for me. they're the easier things to find, after stars and constellations.

so i wrote like four lines, that is all i had room for, around the border.

and then used the other card for a note to kit, for her birthday.

by the end of eight sentences, kit was out like a light.

and then i switched off my flashlight, and got all my gear back in place.

but couldn't let it go.

there was too much swimming in my head to sleep. and i know that when i get that feeling, i have to act on it. because when i read what i wrote the morning after, i'm always glad. half the time i don't remember writing it. it comes back to that 'i am a vessel' thing. sometimes i don't even know whose thoughts i am writing. but then remember, yep. those are mine...

so i sat up, immediately having to pee. i took my ipod and journal with me. we'd packed up the car before sleep, which turned out to be a very very good idea. so i unloaded the car of the chair. my hoodie with cigs and lighters and all that. i forgot my glasses in the tent, and didn't want to wake kit up, so i just sat out without them.

i'm pretty blind. i could only see a couple stars through clouds. but i was writing anyway, so i wasn't looking up at all.

in hindsight, besides my brain, maybe it was the beer that kept me up. all those carbs in my system after over a week without them surely shocked my body.

in any case, i ran to the bathroom, afraid i'd get lost going alone at night. i always tried to turn down the wrong path walking back, and kit would correct me everytime. it wasn't complicated or hard, but i didn't get it right until that one time. i was really relieved when i got back to my car and my tent and realized that i'd not gotten lost.

and then i sat. and i wrote. until about four. two hours of writing. with sigur ros in my ears. it was exactly what i'd been craving. and just like food, i didn't realize it until i felt the satisfaction when i finished it.

i felt calm and peaceful inside. i felt the weight of my exhaustion. i was on a total of seven hours of sleep at that point. i'd almost been up for 24 hours, for the second day in a row. everything felt very intense.

i said goodbye to the sky. i said goodbye to the park. i said goodbye to the party. i said thank you. and i went to sleep.

i'm going to have to stop here for the night, tonight.

the drive back was another story in itself. and it's getting late. i still haven't recovered from the lack of sleep this weekend, and don't want to feel any worse for the wear tomorrow.


how funny is it that the day after the dark sky post, blogger revamps everything and lets you choose kickass templates and backrounds?

how funny is it that i went from polka dots to stars?

i hope this is easy to read and decipher.

it feels kindof boring.

but it took about 30 minutes to do this much, so...

feedback would be helpful.

thanks for reading.

dark sky park, part 1. june 14th.

it's going to be hard to do this.

i think that where i have to start is where i am.

mentally, i am broken.

i feel like i had my heart and my head cracked wide open.

i feel like my life is nothing like i want it to be.

it's interesting that kit and i just met for drinks, to recover from returning to real life. and that all day, and all night last night, both of us came to independent conclusions about our lives that are incredibly significant.

seems that what we saw and felt were not the only profound things to come from this weekend.

i also have to admit that it is hard to plug back in. writing analog for four days makes rehashing it here seem like a daunting task.

trying to explain these things will be difficult. but i'll do my scattered best to make that happen.

there are so many stories. the story of the weekend will have to come later.

essentially, when you see things like galaxies and planets and nebulae and clusters of stars, you realize that there are entire worlds out there, galaxies out there, planets out there.

it sounds dumb. but really, it's mind numbing.

the whole trick is that, once you know where to look, you can always see.

there was a lot of talk about trips i've taken in the past. and a lot of talk about past lives.

and i relate this to both a drug addiction, and an acid trip.

i believe that, once you open you brain to something with a hallucinogen, you kinda never see the world in the same way again. and also, that once you see things in that way, you can see them in that way even when you haven't touched the shit for over a decade.

so to say that once you know where to look for something, and how to see something is not a new idea.

but when it lies outside of our planet, and (because i live in a well lit metropolis) outside of what i can see on a daily basis, it is life altering.

there are so many tangents i went on, on paper, this weekend. because there was no electicity in the wilderness. not for us, anyway. when your head is being completely flooded and overwhelmed with information, it makes it hard to think and process clearly.

these are a few of the things that i figured out this weekend, while seeing some things that really melted my mind:

i am an escapist. not a new idea. but it explains why i felt so at peace out there. i didn't think about the divorce. i didn't think about money. i didn't think about rent or my apartment. i didn't think about bills. i didn't think about anything insignificant (aka: the small stuff).

despite only getting an average of three and a half hour nap each night, i felt well rested when i came back. and more excited than i have been in a while.

i was writing a lot about intervention before i left, because i was watching a lot of intervention before i left.

maybe that is why i wrote about this trip as an addiction:

i could not get enough.

i tried it once, and immediately thought about the next time i would do it.

i wanted all the paraphernalia right away, so that i could partake whenever i so choose.

i didn't need sleep.

i don't want to work.

i want to spend my days in that place, doing those things. instead of being a responsible adult and living in the real world.

i wanted to prolong the high.

life without it seems dull, boring, less extraordinary.

there are other ways that it is the same.

but today, i realized that i think i need to have a job where i travel.

all i want to do is go on vacation. even though this was a weekend trip, and i didn't miss work, i go home in ELEVEN fucking days.

and all i want to do is plan my next trip, my next vacation, my next adventure.

i was saying to kit tonight, that i can't believe we tapped into this whole other world. and she thought it was funny that i chose the word world, because really, it's a whole other universe. multiple universes.

but i meant it in the way that we have found these crazy star people.

who totally get off on finding shit in the sky and seeing it better than they do on a regular basis from their own back yards.

the whole way up, driving through the countryside and mountains, we kept repeating that we could never give up city life.

and the whole way back, we kept saying, 'i think i want to live somewhere that is dark.'

three days, two nights.

they were the best two days of my life. i wrote it more than once. i said it a couple times.

but i think i really meant it.

the adrenaline, and the raw emotion. the excitement. feeling like i had found this secret niche where i both belong and want to thrive.

it was inspiring. which is quite an understatement.

it made me want to go there, just to write and live and breathe and SEE.

i admitted about a week ago that i never had that feeling with ever, the one about 'i'd die for you'.

because i never would have died for him.

and what i'm about to say is kindof like that.

most people claim that their wedding day is the best day of their life.

i've had a few. all from when i was nineteen in the magical summer.

but as a free, independent, grown adult? i think this is the new IT.

the new best days of my life, so far.

i came back hopeful. i came back humbled. i came back incredibly heady. i came back with this thirst for knowledge that i don't know that i have felt before, to this degree anyway.

because i equate many things to harriet the spy, she goes on this rant about 'i want to go everywhere and see everything, and i want to write down everything!'

it's like that.

i haven't given a single specific yet. and i'm only tapping into the craziness that was my weekend.

the memoir, chock full of details, will have to come later. that is the only solution. first, i feel the need to clear my head of these words. a lot like the last night there.

i had tried to go to bed at two. kit passed out immediately. it was cloudy, so there was nothing to stare at. the star people had packed up, most of them had left. mass exodus at six pm on saturday night.

but those who stayed were rewarded with clear skies from about nine at night until about midnight.

and when the clouds came in, they seemed to want to stay. so everyone called the end and almost everyone went to sleep.

i tried. but i just couldn't. i got out of the tent and wrote for a couple hours with sigur ros in my headphones.

it was a definitive moment.

there was something so right about hearing that music, and sitting where i was sitting, with a red flashlight shining through my fist to write in the night.

i can't believe i didn't cry.

my heart was so full. i was so sad that i felt it nearing its end. i didn't want to let go.

i milked it without seeing much of anything else.

i am so tired.

last night i was too tired to write anything at all.

i just tonight caught up on the lives of my friends and virtual friends.

and just tonight made time to write.

i didn't even mean to. i sat down to write a couple sentences that i didn't want to forget.

and here i am.

it was kindof like that.

the chink in the dam that brings the flood.

without any other tapping, it would have had little effect. but the cumulative effect is devastating.

not in a sad way. i just keep using the word profound.

it's probably the best word for this.

i did cry. tears came to my eyes more than once. but i cried and couldn't stop one time.

because i saw saturn.

i didn't cry when i saw it the first time.

one of our new friends, dave, showed it to me just after sunset on friday. we had said that we were there to see it. so it was what he showed us first.

it was a short time after that, on the loaner telescope of his that he let us use all weekend. when i found it on my own, for the first time. i pointed and lined up with the finder. and i focused in. and i cried.

and i had to look away. and through tears, let kit see it. and i cried. and i cried. and she touched my shoulder and i cried harder.

i just couldn't believe that i finally saw it.

that i was so privileged to be there, at that precise moment in time. seeing something that is so far away. that is so old.

that i had been waiting for, for at least a year, since i started watching the universe documentaries.

that, without needing coffee to show it to me, i found it all on my own. saw it with my own two eyes. and that, as often as i wanted, while it was up, i could go back to it. over and over.

and i did.

i saw it through a few different telescopes. the last time i saw it was pretty incredible. saturday night, before the clouds, before leaving on sunday, in the telescope of all telescopes, a thirty two inch that was well over ten feet high.

(insert jokes about compensating for something else here).

the guy who owned it let us climb the ladder and look into the eyepiece.

and through his incredible scope, saturn was so defined that you could see the shadow of the rings on the face of the planet.

you could see three of its moons.

it was unbelievable.

it's hard to say which was my favorite part, because there were so many. but i think that seeing saturn for the first time on my own was probably it.

finding things in the sky on command was pretty intense. that happened the second night we were there. it was like a test, like being quizzed. being directed to go to a constellation, and x number of degrees (the width of your finger is about one degree, in sky terms) to whichever side of whichever numbered star.

there was this sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that came with it. and an audible gasp at success in finding what it is we were looking for.

seeing the andromeda galaxy which we are on a collision course with (billions of years from now, but regardless) was up there.

seeing clusters of stars beyond what your eyes can decipher and count was incredible. m31 was the crowd favorite. we saw it in every telescope, more than once.

the words i use to describe all of these things (unbelievable, unreal, incredible, etc) translate to 'not able to believe' or 'not able to be believed'.

because you can see it, and know it to be a fact. and it really exists - you can see it with your eyes. but your tiny brain cannot possibly begin to comprehend.

to say that i am hooked is also an understatement.

because just today at work, on a smoke break, i was leafing through sky and telescope magazine (a gift from guy, dave's buddy) i was seeing things in the magazine. and it was from february of 2008, so it's old news, but there are pictures of things. and it tells you where it is in the sky.

and i know how to find it now. i could look at the photo, and if i had a telescope and a dark enough sky, i could point the finder to it, and then look in and see it with my own two eyes.

and that, to me, is something that i cannot get over.

it's like owning the universe.

it's at my fingertips.

to say that i want a telescope is not entirely honest. to say that i need a telescope is more accurate. to say that i MUST have one... that is my future.

i already know it.

i hope i can hold out for a couple of months.

to say that i'm planning my next trip back is also accurate. i was already planning it within a few minutes of being in the dark that first night.

to say that my new plan is to buy the scope before the trip to my grandparent's house in august is going to really strain the cash situation. but i am going during the perseid shower. and i will be in the smoky mountains. and i think that, if i go, i am going to have to have it by then.

and if i don't go, then i will have it before september. before the next star party.

and when i say that it was all coffee all the time, well, that is a double entendre.

when you see that many shooting stars, so many stars that you strain to find the big dipper, it makes it feel like you can wish as much as you want, and that at least some of them will come true.

on friday, i saw at least twelve meteors. and one comet. on saturday, i only saw maybe one, because of the clouds.

regardless... that's a lot of wishing. only i kept forgetting to make wishes. we just kept collectively gasping.

some lasted one second. there and then gone.

some crossed from one side of view to the other, lasting several seconds. there was one in particular that ran from north to south, all the way. beautiful.

i literally drank coffee from the time i got to work on friday, at around seven am, until just before i poured a drink at around four am (technically saturday, in an effort to finally try to sleep as the sun was coming up).

and waking up a few hours later, on saturday, until about ten pm saturday night. and from the time i woke up on sunday until we rolled back into town at about six pm.

i had a gallon of coffee, cooled for iced coffee that i nearly finished, all on my own, in three days and two nights.

it was a little much. but there's no time for sleep in a situation like that. so you join the ranks and drink a shit ton of coffee. you can sleep when you're no longer in the dark.

i'm getting a headache now, and i wonder if it is caffeine withdrawal.

kit appreciates astronomy perhaps more than i do. i know she does, actually. she knows a lot more about it.

but i feel so entrenched in it emotionally, that it gives that a run for the money.

the other thing about coffee is this:

i could not stop thinking about him.

wishing him to be there with me, at some point in the future.

and, on that last night of pre-dawn writing, wishing that he could be there, with or without me.

what i wrote that night was important.

i wrote that i just want him to be happy.

and if that means that he is happy with someone else, sharing a tent with someone else, then that is actually okay with me.

when i wrote it, and right now, i genuinely mean it.

don't get me wrong. i have my preferences. this is no secret.

but i just want him to go.

and see what i saw.

if i show him, then all the better. because i do want to be happy, also.

one of the conclusions that kit and i each came to is that we don't need a boy to be happy. to have fun, to go on an adventure, to see the world, to learn, to seek these things out. to be inspired.

and though i will struggle with this for a long time, i am starting to get there. i am starting to be less afraid of doing things alone. and pretty comfortable doing them with friends.

just genuinely meaning what i said about him being happy is a step in the right direction. because the sun won't rise and set based on what he says or doesn't say, or whether he even shows up at all.

they will keep rising and setting, as they have been, for billions of years. coffee won't change that for me, much less for the world surrounding me.

but i am happy.

and i wouldn't have wanted it to be any other way, than being there with kit, celebrating the day she was born into this world, onto this planet, with her and a group of people who are genuinely great. but specifically, with her only.

we had too much fun. we laughed until we cried so many times.

and already, there are inside jokes that are so funny that we're still crying while we remember. i'll include them in the story that will be part 2.

as we rolled back into town, life kinda flooded back into our heads. we got off the highway at work, which is our exit to our apartments that are three blocks apart.

and i realized that i have a lot to do in a little time. everything that i hadn't thought to think about while i was driving and being there and driving back flooded back with an anxiety inducing vengeance.

i realized that i am going to have to bust ass to get out of here and onto the plane that will take me home in eleven short days.

we went out for drinks tonight. i think it was, as it is every night for me, a coping mechanism. we tried to immerse ourselves back into our separate realities. our living working lives.

and neither of us could find the autonomy. because the astronomy was still in the forefront.

feeling so intensely inspired. wanting that feeling back again. wanting to be there again. all day, every day. until the novelty starts to wear off. i can't imagine that it would even be possible. because every night presents the opportunity to see something which is slightly different from the day before.

this is the other thing. i'm going home. and forever now, i've been measuring it in months.

since december, really. and then it got to the two month mark, and i started measuring it in weeks.

and for a while now, it's felt like it was three weeks away.

before, when it was five or four weeks away, i kept thinking it was only three. and now that it's under two, i finally realized it's not three weeks away anymore.

it's now being measured in days. it started at eighteen days away. and somehow, by magic, it's under two weeks away. it's eleven days away.

and i felt ill at work when i counted and realized how soon it is going to arrive.

because i have too much to accomplish in a short period of time.

a few things have gotten away from me.

and i need to reign them in so i am not anxious about my trip, but excited again.

and because i'll probably never be done with talking about the boy who is 'coffee', kit attributes the anxiety about going home to dealing with him.

i started a game with him tonight. i called it dark skies.

it will be the platform in which i ask him to a drink in person to play a game while i am home.

it will be the place where he puts in writing 'yes' or 'i can't' or 'i don't want to' or 'no' or 'i'm going to be gone'.

it will be the place where i tell him that i have quite the story for him, and that he should let me buy him a drink.

what he won't know won't hurt him.

and if he doesn't care to hear my stupid stargazing story, then fuck'im.

because it's not stupid. and it would excite him. and he would want to see it for himself. and other than kit, at the moment, he is the only person who would feed off of the excitement in my voice as i tell it, and equal the excitement.

and at some point, after that story, i'd ask him the big question about the non-kiss. or about what even really happened anyway. however it is that i end up phrasing it.

kit thinks that once i taste the victory of closure that i'll become addicted to it the way that she is. and that i'll never let it get away from me again. and that gaining it from the one person i need it from the most will make it so that every person or time after is cake.

lack of closure is why i am who i am. it's why i still think about coffee, dub, the sun, and um. it's why i still don't know what is going to happen with ever. it's probably why i'm delaying filing for divorce, even though i want that closure to be here and passed.

people are starting to pick up on the last name drop on facebook.

i wish it was real. i wish it was official. i hope i can make myself make that call tomorrow. to think of the lawyer in time to act on it.

it is so close. i am so close to putting it behind me and moving on. i have already started over. but not in the law's eyes.

the trip home is going to be so great for me. to be there, with people i love and care about. with a boy that makes me wonder at night. and during the day, in all honesty.

i'm going to reconnect with people i haven't seen in a while.

i'm going to float in the pool and get tan lines, finally.

there's a lot riding on this trip. everything, in some ways.

it's coming fast. faster than the speed of light. and though i still don't really understand that exactly, i have a much better idea now...