My Wildlife Expedition in Jackson Hole

Ever wondered what it’s like to get up close and personal with bison? And a dynamic bald eagle duo? And a nursing baby mountain goat? In this post I wrote for the wonderful Jackson Hole Traveler, I spill all the beans about what it’s like to encounter wildlife at close range in their beautiful natural setting. I wish I could go back to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone now, but re-reading this article will have to do! Enjoy.

My Wildlife Expedition in Jackson Hole

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Photo Credit: Latham Jenkins

The Travels and Tribulations of a Failed Clown

You meet all sorts of characters on the road, from hard partying hostelers to deep thinking bus seatmates. Sometimes you’ll even meet a great character by the side of the road, like the sole practitioner of this roadside dentistry operation I encountered in India:

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But by far the favorite character I’ve ever met in all of my travels has got to be the failed English clown I found battling his way through a life of abject misery in a Lisbon hostel. Naturally, I felt at once sympathetic, concerned, and a great urge to run away as fast as my non-oversized red shoes would take me.

In The Travels and Tribulations of a Failed Clown, posted on the lovely travel site, Fathom Way to Go, I detail the experience in full nose-honking detail. Go on, click the link. I promise not to squirt you with this plastic flower I’ve pinned to my lapel.

(Sorry, just had to get in one more clown joke. Enjoy!)

Who’s a good little spooky DIY maven? You are! Yes you are!

As you probably all have guessed by now, I wasn’t the kind of little girl that liked doilies and gluing little sparkly things on to other little sparkly things. In fact, I distinctly recall strategically distracting party goers at my childhood best friend’s birthday party with a little stand up comedy routine, just to avoid participating in the upcoming crafting activity.

That’s me in the back, mid-routine. I had just flown in, and boy, were my wings tired!

But, alas, my distractions were more jealousy than anything else. I’ve always admired DIY practitioners, and often wished I were one of them.

Enter Krysten Brown, a designer friend of mine here in Austin. When I was asked to write an article on last minute Halloween DIY decorations, she stepped up to the plate, guiding me through a series of spooktacular Halloween designs until we had just about the coolest DIY house the undead world has ever seen. Afterwards I sat down with my laptop, pulled a mic to my mouth and did a little routine.

Check out the results at the article below, and DIY your own home in the most spooktacular of ways.

Last Minute DIY Guide to Halloween Decorations…of Awesomeness.

Can’t Finish What I Started

I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I’m a master of beginnings. As in, my MFA really stands for, “Master of First Attempts.” But middles? Ends? Yeah, not so much. Let’s just say if my hard drive is a vast desert, story beginnings bounce like tumbleweeds over the horizon. And there I am, dragging my parched, sunburned body along the sand, just trying to capture one of them – any of them — in my maniacal story web. How’s that for dramatic imagery?

Rather than attempting to give this post an end here, I’ll toss you over to Write By Night, who have been kind enough to publish my musings on the subject of beginnings that have no end. Here’s the article. Voila! Go forth! Complete something for once!

The Beauty in the…HOLY CRAP!

The other night, I stopped at the gas station after a long, hard day. As I was waiting for the tank to fill, I stared up at the moon, so sharp and bright in the cloudless sky, and I tried to appreciate the beauty of the world. My eyes fell to a lamp post, where kamikaze bugs slammed against the plastic, fell toward the ground, turned around, and tried their luck again. So eager and determined in their futility.

I tried to write a poem in my mind, to feel the world like I used to when life was slower. Find pleasure at least in words if not in the dry, cracked ground, in the sweat staining continents into my t-shirt. I tried to see the Seattle green in the wrinkled leaves, to see the mountains thrusting jagged snow-capped peaks into the gray sky. The cool of the lake against my skin. Quietude beyond rain-smeared panes.

The gas pumped on, and I began to feel at one with the earth.

And then a MASSIVE cricket the length of my finger and as thick as an OTHERWORLDLY BEAST dropped hard onto my neck and chirped triumphantly.

I dropped the pump, shouted “HOLY CRAP!” and flailed from one end of my car to the other.

And that was the end of that.

When Brains Grow Claws #Feedmeseymour

It wasn’t too long ago that I was riding the crest of a creativity wave. Which, by the way, is a lot better than a perm wave.

Is there something in my hair, or is this…my hair?

As I finished my quest to blackmail myself into completing the first draft of my very first book, ideas were popping up everywhere. Inside the world of my book, I was writing flash fiction, diaries, poetry, songs. Showing off to myself…for myself.

And then, once the deadline passed, I collapsed. Which is kind of something I do…

For the length of my academic career, I’d push myself to the max only to return home during breaks, put on a hoody, sleep for twelve hours a day and communicate in grunts. Except, ever since I’ve come out of graduate school and worked both freelance and on my own businesses, that’s not really something I can do. Because, even though the robots will one day be able to write better than me (thanks for the heart attack, Wired senior writer and not my boyfriend, Steven Levy) they can’t do it yet, and I can’t afford the robots that will do my accounting and marketing.

And so, my hibernation this time around has been work, work and more work. I hid from my book:

But, no matter what form my creative, deep-thinking hibernation takes, it’s only a matter of a month or so before my brain reawakens. Kicking. Screaming.

FEED ME SEYMOUR. FEED ME ALL NIGHT LONG.

It starts as a tingle in my fingers and lips. My muscles need to move, stretch, show off what they can do.

Push it! Feel it right in those phalanges!

Then there comes the inevitable neural clawing. My neurons are fingers, squeezing any bit of stimulus or complex information that made the mistake of waltzing into my hungry mind when it only meant to go for a morning stroll. I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t take some complex scientific or philosophical problem and piece together all the scattered bits into one discernible whole.

I must analyze some thing. I MUST ANALYZE ALL THE THINGS.

And then there come the dreams. When I’m in the middle of a creative flow, my dreams are dead, white space; there’s just no energy left for anything complex. But when I’m craving creativity, my dreams are Hollywood blockbusters. In high school and college, they were torturous, dramatic movies with complex narratives that ran an entire arc. It’s all going wrong, there’s a tornado on the horizon, there are spies and intrigue. The world is saturated with impossible feats and colors. Something is after me, and it’s not far behind.

These days, they’re just as vibrant but less dramatic. Absurd, in most cases. Playing PRISON TELEPHONE at the PRISON.

A dramatic plea from the Real Mr. Ed to set the record straight about the sanitary habits of buffaloes.

I’m actually a buffalo. This horse look is for TV only.

And let’s not forget this gem from 2006: Not Without My Spleen: One Director’s Look Into Power, Bureaucracy and Body Parts. I’d say more, but I used it as the basis for a story and I’m still looking for a publisher.

Sure enough, after month’s of placid sleeps, last night I had a very involved dream about a woman named Yaddis who was trying her best to be respected in a male-dominated workplace. It was a musical, and the men performed a catchy if misogynistic song and dance number about not wanting to sit next to Yaddis in the lunchroom. I believe it went something like:

Yaddis, Yaddis.  Ain’t gonna sit next to ya Yaddis, Yaddis.

Yaddis: she smells!

Whether or not this was a dream about feminism or about the perils of being named Yaddis, I’ll never know.

What I do know is this. I can feel the pressure building behind the dam – ever more so as a rare rain falls from the Austin skies (well, not so rare that it couldn’t toy with Ira Glass last week). That moody, writerly feeling is descending. I can see my characters, sitting in the dark, dank hallway. Shivering. Cold.

Come to me, my pretties. It’s time for us to remember what adventure is all about.