The Hardest Goodbye

My brother told me once that energy just doesn’t disappear. “Information sent through radio waves, tv and even the internet will be around forever in one form or another – traveling through space,” he theorized. “What about when we die?” I asked, “what happens to all that energy?” “It goes somewhere too, maybe it turns to dark matter, maybe stars.” So, I heed these childhood conversations in hopes that you, my best friend that taught me so much and whom changed my life entirely….and ultimately left me far too soon, will hear this somewhere in some form: I love you. I miss you.


The Universe has Another Plan for You

Sometimes you visit me in my dreams. Why, I’m not exactly sure. I wake up in a fog thinking it was real, but then reality hits me like a left hook to the face I should have seen coming: Oh yea, you’re dead.

Because the Universe had another plan for you. And why it involved you killing yourself with a cocktail of drugs and leaving me wondering why, I’m not exactly sure…but maybe that’s the point. Maybe I’m responsible for my own path, and you were responsible for your’s. And it’s just that simple; that’s the only lesson.

When we were kids we would fight like cats and dogs. Over stupid shit. Over video games, over bathroom time, over rules for basketball. “Mom, he’s so mean to me.”  “You’ll be the best of friends when you’re older.” She would say. And I believed her.  Especially during those times after school when you would walk me to the school bus and when everybody knew me as C’s little sister.  Those times…those times established an identity I wish today I never had…Little Sister

When we were older I would talk to you about space and quantum physics and Stephen Hawking. And you would tell me that there are an infinite number of universes. That nothing created is ever destroyed. That nothing really dies: our energy just takes another form, maybe it leaves this universe and goes to another; but energy, life never just disappears.

One of the few times I cried about your death I was worried I didn’t have enough memories of you. And I cried because I was afraid I would forget. Forget the times we would go to the store and buy only candy when we were kids, forget the times we would walk up main street to get ice cream, and forget the times we would ride bikes together.  Did that even happen? Did I even have a big brother? Did you love me? Did you want to protect me and stand up for me like a big brother should? You left me alone and with so many questions… Are you the reason for my tough, walled-up exterior of a personality? The reason I’ve befriended so many “big-brother” types? Am I angry because of something that happened in my past, because of you…or just something I wanted to happen, for no particular reason?

When you died, I guess you carried with you a letter from Mom and a stack of books. Books by Hawking, Gould, and Poe. What dead-beat junkie does that? It’s funny, how you still carried with you what you used to be before you became a different person, before you became a slave to your addiction.

So you started coming to me in my dreams. Maybe this was your way of telling me you remember me, you really did exist, I really did have a big brother once.  And I guess I started writing back to you blindly over the internet. Knowing that the energy I used to type each letter, write each sentence, publish each post could never be destroyed. That in some shape or form, that information would forever be floating in the inter-webs available to anyone or anything that wanted to find it.

So maybe my writing, my random ramblings to a group of anonymous people online is my way of letting you know, I miss you and I don’t want to lose the memories, so don’t stop visiting me in my dreams.


I try to write you, but honestly, I just don’t care anymore. It still sucks seeing you, I’m reminded of what happened when I see your face. And those feelings, those feelings that would fester in my gut and make me want to rot away still oddly, uncomfortably creep up the back of my throat when I pass you on the street or see you on campus. (Ironic how emotions can change so drastically isn’t it? How when I saw your face a year ago, less than a year ago even, my heart would swell with an excitement, with a pleasure I just couldn’t describe…but life goes on, people reveal themselves, and feelings change). To hold on to those emotions is so exhausting…and really, I’m over it, J. I forgive you. Things will not ever be the same between us, and I fear we will never be more than friends that just say “hello,” in passing, but I forgive you.

For all the secrets you kept from me, for taking advantage of my emotions and not treating me honestly, I forgive you. And let me make one thing clear: this is not for you, but for me (I’m not trying to be conceited, I say this honestly, wholly). Because Love is the only freedom from attachment and holding on to this, holding on to you is not love, not love for you, for me…for anything.

Keep it real

Dream a Little Dream for Me…

I walked into my dark apartment after a night out in the city. My dog, jumped off my bed and stretched before she trotted into the kitchen to greet me, wagging her tail and yawning. I threw my keys on the kitchen table and took off my coat. I kicked off my shoes and walked into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I sat on my bed after I changed into leggings and a t-shirt and I turned on my side and saw you.

Derek sat with me in the back seat, he wore that ridiculous top hat he bought for that New Years eve party years ago. He smiled, contentedly. His beer gut had grown since we hung out last and it moved, it bounced. And you, you, sat in front of me, as we drove to nowhere, anywhere. Your hair was shorter since we ran into each other last and your beard was longer. Derek looked at me and laughed. You had turned, twisted in your seat so you could look back at us… and I looked at you straight in the eyes and stated simply, quietly, “you’re bleeding.” You calmly reached for your side, still turning, twisting in my direction. Then, looking at your blood covered fingers at eye level, letting blood drip on the fake leather upholstery, you looked at me and said calmly, “how did you know this thing about me.” Your eye gleamed. And the driver’s seat remained unoccupied.

I turned. It was quiet and there was my  dog, my desk, my books, my lamp; my dark apartment.

Las Vegas Starburst

My time in Phoenix has come to an end. My work in Phoenix started off rocky (P.S Phoenix you suck), but it allowed me to focus on things other than my recent breakup. I have to admit my time in the field was rather therapeutic. After getting dumped by my boyfriend of 8 months, the first thing I did was leave town (this was about three weeks ago now) and that feeling of having a dagger shoved in my gut has faded to an annoying painful twinge in my heart that I feel occasionally. Admittedly, being back in Reno has not helped this feeling, there are a lot of memories here that remind me of J and that make me think I should call him and see if he wants to go to the dog park or ask him what he’s been up to or at least call and tell him I want my Scott Joplin piano sheet music back. I know he has it.  At least I’m only back in Reno for a couple days, then I’m off to Vancouver, B.C.

So anyway, the Sonoran was great.  We drove from Phoenix to Las Vegas to catch a flight home to Reno yesterday. I hate Vegas for the same reasons everyone else does: it’s commercial, it’s hot, unless you’re drunk and like gambling there really isn’t anything to do there. But I hate it for other reasons as well. Two years ago my brother succumbed to his heroin addiction, alone, in a motel room in that horrible city. Just setting foot in Las Vegas made my stomach turn. Made me think of how alone, lost, confused he was when he died. But I did OK. C and I had about three hours to kill when we finally reached Vegas on our return trip, so we stopped at a local coffee shop with free wi fi. I was thinking about my brother ever since I the strip came into view. We had extra food in the truck and I was glad to see a food bank drop off in the coffee shop.

As a side note: I have staunch view point regarding addicts – they are sick and they need help. The way our government treats them now, throwing them in jail as worthless criminals, horrible people that are weak-willed and dirty is not helping the addicts or the drug problem. Addiction is a neurological problem that needs medical treatment. And although these people are capable of making their own decisions there is a point in which the government can either make the situation better or worse, but I’m not going to write a hundred page essay about drug addiction.

So, when I saw the food drop box, I hoped our donation would make it to someone like my brother. Someone lost and confused that needed some help. I ordered my usual Americano. I love Americanos.  The barista was especially friendly. “Here, these are for you” He smiled brightly and handed me a couple of starburst candies from a Styrofoam cup. I froze. “I haven’t had starbursts in years.” I spoke my thoughts aloud. “Is it bringing back memories for ya?” “….yea” I said quietly.

When I was little, my brother and I would ride bikes or walk to the grocery store and buy candy. I loved it. I loved my big brother, he was so much cooler than me. And for someone like me, someone shy and timid, my confidence would shoot through the roof anytime I was with him.  Every time we went to the store, Chris would get starburst, his favorite. I can still see him shoveling the candy in his mouth. I hated starburst, but would still eat it either in spite, or just to be like him. And eating that candy in that Las Vegas coffee shop brought me right back to those days as a kid in Millstadt, Illinois sharing candy with my big brother, before heroin, before Las Vegas.

Part of me would like to think that universe still exists. That Chris and I are still riding bikes through the alley, through mean Less Hoover’s back yard to the local grocery store to buy candy. And in a way it still does. And I think Chris wants it to, I think Chris was trying to remind me, in that Las Vegas coffee shop, that he may have actually still thought of me, like I thought of him, when  he was lost in that horrible city, no longer himself, under the control a drug because of a few bad decisions.

P.S. Phoenix, you suck

It’s been a long 48 hours.  I’m not entirely sure what day it is.  But after listening to my field mate’s music I am certain of one thing: I want to hunt down and kill the next artist I hear singing a bubbly love song…and maybe have a beer and discuss plans for kidnapping my ex-boyfriend’s dog with the next musician I hear singing a what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger-he/she-is-a-moron-for-leaving power ballad. Side note, I don’t want to harm his dog, I am slightly concerned about it’s well-being actually. It should be on a heart worm medicine regime considering he takes him to parts of the country overwhelmed with the parasite and I know it’s not. This thought emerged this morning when I was being devoured by mosquitoes… But I digress.

The beginning of my adventure to Phoenix started when I left Reno at 10:00am on Sunday and arrived at LAS airport early, only to be delayed on the tarmac…but BFD. I got off the plane eventually and my field mate and I took a cab to USGS where our field truck was parked. Another side note: Vegas is a shitty town. I could not stand on the parking lot in my converse without my feet burning like I was standing on hot coals for more than 5 minutes. Why live there? We got to our field vehicle only to realize we had one centrifuge in the car and about 100 capillary tubes. Not enough capillary tubes to process all our blood samples and one centrifuge short to create an efficient lab in our hotel room. We made about 15 phone calls – no one answered.

After spending 2 hours and 59 minutes too long in Vegas, we drove off in our field vehicle, headed for Phoenix. We would have more capillary tubes shipped to our hotel, and we would make due with one centrifuge. Things would be ok.

While driving to Phoenix, we pass Lake Mead, saw a beautiful rainbow and drove through a fantastic lightening storm ran out of gas in a lightening storm only 30 minutes away from our hotel. We had to walk 2 miles in the pouring rain to a gas station. This really didn’t bother me as much as you might think. We had been driving for almost five hours and I hadn’t been in a rain storm like this in years. We bought the gas, put gas in the truck, filled up the tank and we were off. After our three hour delay back in Vegas though, this hour delay set us back even more. And now, we weren’t going to get to the hotel until about 9 or 10 and we had to buy breakfast and lunch food for the field. Also, we had to be in the field by 5:30am the next morning. I really just wanted to sleep once we had the truck going again.

None the less, we had to buy supplies. So we checked into the hotel and headed to the nearest grocery store. As soon as we get out of the car at the grocery store, we heard a sickening sound. A hissing sound. We had a flat. In fact all four tires were on their last leg. The wall on the right rear had just worn through. Is this really happening? I’m still soaking from our jaunt to the gas station and now I have to change a tire.

C, my field mate, called her boss. “We have a flat and I’m buying 4 new tires tomorrow” “No! Don’t buy 4 new tires that’s too expensive!” “OK, then I’ll buy 3″ “Don’t do that either, you have to buy them in even numbers…buy 4!”

I started changing the tire. No tools in the truck would take off the lug nuts. The jack wouldn’t jack up the truck, it was too low and wouldn’t even crank. Life sucks. I thought. Life sucks. And then, two men, native Arizonians, took over, and changed our tire. One, worked at Olive Garden, still had his white dress shirt on and started rolling around the parking lot turning his white shirt almost completely black. Another, had a pick-up filled with odds and ends and and was able to jack the truck up off the ground. Once the tire was changed, they left without even sharing their names.

C and I got back to the hotel around 12am. We had to get up early to find saline and a meat thermometer for field work the next day. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes today and I am running on less than four hours sleep. But, I have caught tortoises and seen rattlesnakes.  ….that almost makes up for the shitty 48 hours and the heart break.

As for Phoenix, I am never living here. Any place that forces you to be inside between the hours of 10am and 6pm is unnatural…even for a herpetologist.

Spirit Guides

“Do you have a spirit guide?” We were on our bikes and had just ridden up to Bibo’s to get coffee. “You mean like an animal?” “mmmhmm” You hopped off your bike. (I love how enthralled you are with bikes, by the way, and it shows every time you ride one). “Do you?” “Elephants.” You answered without hesitating. I thought of the carved wooden elephant I had at home hanging in my living room and answered, “I think maybe dogs; I trust dogs more than I trust most humans.” “I was born in the year of the dog.” you said.

While I was running yesterday, I realized dogs have never been my spirit guide. I din’t lie to you J, I just wasn’t thinking. When I was little, my dad used to play a kind of game with me. He would hide notes around the house for me creating a sort of treasure hunt. But it was more complicated than just following notes that led to a pile of cheap plastic jewelry. The notes were written by characters he created, Kestrel and Hawk. Some characters were evil and others were good. Hawk and Kestrel were good. They wandered the country side protecting little girls from monsters. To this day I still see birds of prey as good omens. So, while I was running, Ginger keeping pace with me; I ran into a pair of red-tail hawks, sitting o the ground about two yards away from me. They both looked at me for what seemed like minutes.  I stopped running. Ginger stopped running. The four of us stared at each other. And I thought about spirit guides. And I thought about you. And I thought about my path. The hawks flew away, and I continued running.