This is 30

30 has been good so far. I feel older but not in a negative light. I don't put pressure on myself when it comes to my age. I know that I will always progress at my own speed and I have accepted that for a long time. I am where I want to be. I am on my own, working, being independent, living in my own place, doing what I want, living the single life [although a companion can be nice], having no kids, all these things I wanted. I have been a work in progress when it comes to myself, in terms of my personality, my social life, my coping skills, etc. I have made a lot of changes within myself over the past several years that I am deeply proud of. However, there is still more to come, it will never stop.

I happen to be writing this shortly after the new year, and while I don't believe in new year's resolutions, I do believe in self reflection and transformation. There are a handful of things I wish to work on with myself, to continue the progress I have been on.

First of all, my only real goal for 2018 is to read more. I recently made checklists of nearly all the books I have [as seen below]. I blacked out the boxes for the books I completed and shaded in partially for books I have only partially read. I have always been curious just how many books I own and how many of them I have actually read. If I constantly buy anything without guilt, it is books, I always buy them and they just keep piling on, I often ask for books as gifts too. Often I find myself saying that I probably have only read a small portion of the books I read. Finally I did the math, I own just over 300 books and have read just a little less than a third of them. Therefore, my goal this year is to stop buying books, with a few exceptions, and just to read the ones I already have.

I made a list for each shelf, this is one example.

 Before I get into what the exceptions are, I need to share some news. Early July of last year, a friend of mine had a little game night party. After most of the people have left, there was just 4 of us left. Somehow we got onto the subject of books, not uncommon with this crowd, and we spontaneously decided to make a book club. A couple of us were drunk, myself included, and we came up with a ridiculous name for our book club which is supposed to double as some new sex act we wanted to invent on Urban Dictionary. I still don't fully know how we came to it, I don't love it, but it's us nonetheless. We picked our first book that night, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. One of the members has read this book several times and knew that we would love it. So the rest of us went on Amazon and ordered a copy. We made a tentative meet date a month later. We have been meeting regularly ever since. I finally finished the book just the night before New Year's Eve. That book, has changed my perspective on things in so many ways, it deserves its own post, one that I hope get to in the future. We are having the last meeting for that book in a couple of weeks, after that the next book is my pick. I didn't even have to think about it, the book I chose is The Alchemy of the Mind by Diane Ackerman, the very book that this blog was named after. This book club has been fantastic and I am extremely grateful for its presence. I have grown closer to my friends in the club and look forward to our meetings. It has also gotten me into the spirit of reading more, even despite my lack of time to do so. Which in turn inspired me to make this goal.

So, for the year of 2018 I want to read more of my books. I usually don't start books without finishing another, however the past couple of years I have done otherwise. Mostly it's my mood that has diverted me to start other books, however, I am eagerly finishing the ones I started. I finished Lolita finally, The Story of O, and I still have to finish The Lord of the Rings, and a couple other short books. Aside from the next book for the book club, I plan not to start any new books until I have finished what I have left. As for the exceptions to the rule of not buying new books, first I will buy any new books required for the book club. Second, the book club has planned to go to the big annual book fair held here in February. I will buy anything and everything that I wish to. Third, if I get rid of any books, I will buy some to replace them if I feel compelled to. Lastly, if there are any good sales on new books and/or Kickstarters I am or will support, I will allow myself those books. After a year of this I want to see my progress and will decide then if it is worth to continue or not.

As for other works in progress for myself, or goals, I intend to donate blood more than I did last year. I want to move up or out of my current job position. With my new membership with Movie Pass, I hope to see more movies in the theater, at the very least twice a month which will pay for the monthly premium. I want to distance myself from people at work. I want to explore the idea of maybe going back to school and/or getting some type of official certification. I want to work on things with my personality that I do not like, or that have been revealed to me by close friends that I find unpleasant or difficult. I want to get a head start on my financials that occur around this time of the year such as my lease renewal and income taxes. That pretty much sums it up, there are many other things that I always say I want to do more of, but I'm being realistic. I want to paint and write more, but those are harder to do because inspiration has to strike. To really do those things more, I have to create an inspiring environment for myself. Perhaps I should explore what it takes to do that...

I know that watching movies, listening to specific music, reading, taking time off work, and spending time in nature are all things that put me in the mood to create. So I guess I should do those things more. Happily, gladly, I will try my best. All in all, I am happy it is a new year and happy to be 30.

A Farewell to Dreadlocks

And hello to another transformation.

October of 2016 I decided to stop working on my dreadlocks, just to stop maintaining them and see what happens. That thought progressed into the final decision leading to cutting them on my 30th birthday.

Just about a year or so into having dreadlocks, I had a conversation with my best friend and casually decided that I would cut them off when I turn 30. I like to do major changes to my appearance as a sort of reflection of a change or milestone. Often times these end up being on or near my birthday but not always. Ever since that casual conversation, I put it into stone. The fall of 2016 happened naturally, I was getting tired of my dreads in some aspects, not really happy with them, wanting to change something but not really having the means. So I just stopped tending to them all together. Then I decided to try to remove some and pull my hair out of them, just to see what it would take. I also decided that I did not want to shave them off completely but to grow them out. I had just started a new job at the time and didn't think it would be professional to be totally bald. I started to envision a very short hairstyle that I wanted. I slowly worked on removing them. Cutting some off here and there throughout 2017. All the sudden my birthday was coming up, I had to remove them quicker, time was running out. I made a plan to cut them just before my birthday for Halloween. I always try to figure my costume out early, I planned to be Lisbeth Salander, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Perfect, I thought, my hair would be just right.

I strained to get the dreads out in time for my hair appointment with a friend. I was so focused on the expiration date that I never truly had a moment to realize what I was doing, I just wanted it done in time. I never had a sad moment, I had a year to prepare physically and mentally. It couldn't have worked out any better. I had told people in my life, but most of them forgot about it. My Halloween costume shocked people but not in the way I expected. Most people had no idea who I was dressed as, most people thought I was wearing a wig [something I had done a few times before] but then they started to notice the reality. My dreads were gone. All gone as of October 27th, 2017.

I started my dreads July 6th, 2009. Had them for over 8 years. They were mostly good to me. I loved having them, loved the lack of work compared to the daily upkeep it is with undreaded hair. At this moment I don't miss them but when I see other people with dreadlocks it does make me a little sad. However, I am very excited about this change, change within my control is always fun. However, my hair is still finding its identity, I like it, but still figuring out what to do with it, how to make it mine, make it unique. A lot of people respond well to it, and that's nice and everything, but hardly matters to what I feel about it. It varies day by day, sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. Being able to run my fingers through my hair feels glorious, I had to relearn how to use a brush, I had to adjust to the lack of weight, cleaning and drying is so quick now. I haven't really had to explain to people that, "I used to have dreadlocks" as much as I thought I would. I don't feel like a lost my identity as much as when I've made other drastic changes to my appearance in the past. I even noticed that I inspired another coworker to do the same. I'm still running into people who don't recognize me at first glance. Their reactions are priceless. I always figured if I ever get to the point where I deeply miss the dreads I can always start them again, but for now I'm content to try this new thing out.

I should also conclude that my 30th birthday celebration was wonderful, and passed by far too quickly. But I will have more to say in the next post.

Walks at the Fair

Every fall season we have the Arizona State fair for a few weeks, usually it occurs just before my birthday or even sometimes on my birthday. For the last 5 years or maybe longer, I will make the trip there by myself. It has become a birthday tradition for me. I always park in the same lot, walk the same path, go through the same entrance, buy a beer, get Navajo tacos, and sit and eat as I people watch. I'm in a daze, as I feel the beer run through me and my stomach full. I walk around and watch people go on rides. I often take photos and try to go when the sun begins to set, allowing for more beauty. I feel happiness, watching the kids run around, adults eating food on a stick, the smiles and screams of the thrill riders. I really take enjoyment vicariously through others. I have the empathy that works in such a way that this is just enough for me to enjoy. I don't like the rides myself except for one or two. Thus, I take the thrill watching others ride. This last visit made me really think about my empathy in this context. I thought, I have been doing this for years now, it's so routine, almost always the same except slightly different, yet the enjoyment is still pure. However, if you generalize this, apply it to contexts/environments other than the State Fair, it still reveals that I enjoy watching others have fun, blissful fun.

I have tried to notice my moments of happiness more, to know when I'm feeling it and what is causing it. It results in feeling of the air being kicked out of me, and often times the feeling of wanting to cry, an overwhelming feeling so good it translates to tears.
Some instances I have taken note of are when walking around the state fair, riding in the work vehicle on the way to Fountain Hills (a beautiful view), the sunrise, the sunset, a passage of a book, solitude, watching others enjoy themselves, kids playing peacefully, dogs, eating amazing food, playing board games with friends, watching a thoughtful movie, learning something new, having moments that make me reflect on all I have done to get where I am, finishing a book, walking in nature with headphones, accomplishing a task, reaching a goal, expressing myself unapologetically, a pure genuine moment with a friend or two, meaningful hugs, capturing moments in nature, music, watching my niece, writing, spending time with family, walking in a bookstore, celebrating the good things, reflecting on memories, driving through Sunset Point on the way to Arcosanti, excitement without the possibility or thoughts of the possibility of disappointment, and so on.


Brother Pt II

A week ago, you called an left me a voicemail that changes not everything, but a lot. It came far sooner than I had expected, if it was ever going to come. Mom triggered that phone call, I'm glad it happened but wish you would of figured it out on your own. But still it happened and I know how difficult it was for you to do. You apologized. Apologized for the first time in seven years.

Today we had lunch, something we have not done in a few years, something I had not wanted to do before but was open to everything you needed to say today. I listened. I felt for the first time that you mostly listened to me as well. We said a lot of things that needed to be said, and we didn't lash out, we had a mature conversation for the most part. We set boundaries that are needed for the both of us. Hopefully the hurt will be able to disintegrate faster now. I am still working on forgiveness, and that will come in time. All of this will come in time. I hope from this you will be able to move forward. And that I can too. Relief is a better feeling than hurt. From this I hope we can create something new and better for the both of us. I will always love you, but can only be so involved in your life. I still have to protect myself. I still don't trust you, this relationship will be very one sided, as it has been, for longer still. I've accepted that. I've accepted a lot of you, but the moment you have nothing nice to say, I will shut you out. Until you apologize again. It is a work in progress, I have no expectations and need no promises.



Your life is like a recurring nightmare. You keep doing the same things over and over and over again until you have hurt more and more people. Even hurting the same people two, three, four, five, six, countless times again.

Yet you never apologize, never care, don't think of the consequences, don't think of the hurt you cause. At the same time you refuse to discuss your own hurt. You don't ask for nor welcome help or kindness. You believe, despite all we've been through, that we are all out to get you.

I am not out to get you, but I am running out of reasons to believe in your potential. I have nothing left for you. All I want is an apology. An apology that means something real.  I'm running on empty for you and all things revolving around you. And I'm sick of it, sick to my stomach, sick in my heart. I'm out to save myself, my sanity. So I do nothing, because that is what is saving me.

The hurt you have caused me is palpable, tangible, and very real. It boils my blood instantaneously. It wells up in my eyes until I am blind. It creates an equally tangible form of helplessness not only for you but for me. I have made a promise to myself and have held onto it for the most part. I can only sit and wait until you grow up. I hate waiting, but it is all I had to save our non-existent relationship. But then you destroyed even that. What else can you destroy? Plenty. It is all there for the taking.

My heart and soul has been broken by you so many times. It's crumbling, but still stands, barely. My sliver of hope is the last remaining leg. That hope is very fragile, deep within me, but fragile still. It exists only because it is waiting for you to become more than human. More than the fucked up human that you are. The blood that we share is all that connects us. Only that.

My promise to myself is what allowed me to change. I know I wasn't always the best to you, and I recognized that and made an active decision to change that. Buy you don't see it, never even given me the chance. What is that? You were given countless chances, not only by me, yet you believe it is perfectly fine not to give others any chances. This is what recently destroyed me, more than your relapse did. I am a person too.

You said it first, because you always have to get the last word in, but now I say it to you... Good riddance.


For Mom & Dad

My niece is turning one year old next weekend, spending time with her and my family is reminding me more of my childhood, the good memories, the little things of my parents. I want to take the time to make a list of each little thing I can remember that each of my parents did with my brother and I as a kid. I should also mention in the last couple of weeks I have had a few dreams of my parents and my brother. I know this is because I have been watching Kitchen Nightmares lately, and due to a lot of the family dynamics in the restaurant business that was displayed, it has made me think of my family more consciously and subconsciously.

  • He read us stories. I especially cherished when he read us Christmas stories during the holiday season.
  • He would tickle us to no end. It hurt mostly because of his brute hands, but he took so much joy out of it. He wouldn't even touch me and I would start a giggling fit. 
  • He would crawl on his hands and knees and we would tackle him and try to take him down.
  • He woke me up most of my childhood and even as I was a teenager until I got my own alarm clock made for deaf people. He did this by turning the light on in my room, and often times getting the dogs riled up and had them jump on my bed and lick me until I was awake. This was annoying sometimes but still a memory nonetheless.
  • He cooked breakfast or got McDonald's breakfast most Sundays and we would look at the newspaper and eat together.
  • We watched a lot of TV together, especially The Simpsons. Every time my dad laughed at something, he would look at me. Again, this annoyed me, but as time passes, it's endearing.
  • My dad was almost always reading, this has stayed with me and given me a passion to read as well.
  • My dad, as long as I have been alive, is a self employed home improvement and repairs man. He always fixed and built things around the house, this installed in me, the value of self sufficiency and learning to do such things.
  • When I started doing arithmetic in school, my mom was no good at math, so my dad would help me with my homework. This was sometimes frustrating, but something I still remember and value. Eventually, I had to learn to do more complex math on my own.
  • He helped me start my first bank account. I was always good at saving my money, mostly because my dad is cheap and we always bought generic things. This taught me to save and buy equally valuable products regardless of brand names. 
  • My dad and my mom taught me how to drive, but it was mostly my dad, and usually involved yelling. I have a fond memory of one of our camping trips, we were driving and I always paid attention to the road when others were driving. Always looking at the cars around us and the signs. I remember saying something about the upcoming road because I read the sign. He said, "You'll be a really good driver some day." Always remember that.
  • He gave me my passion for cars. I paid attention to them because of him, my brother, and all the male friends we had at the time.
  • I'm sure my mom plays a part in it, but I distinctively remember my dad teaching me how to read. I remember walking the dogs and we came upon a Toyota truck, and he taught me how to read "Toyota" by sounding it out.
  • My parents owned a dog prior to my birth, he watched over me until I was about 7 years old when he passed. This dog, and my dad's love for him, gave me the passion for dogs. We used to take this dog to my elementary school playground and run amok. We always walked the dogs together and played together.
  • My dad helped me become a better soccer player. We went to that same school playground/field and I was goalie and he just kicked balls at me for a long time. I relentlessly caught most of them, regardless of my injuries.
  • We also played basketball in our carport once he installed a basketball hoop. My brother and I played many games together and with him.
  • Anything my dad was working on, I would ask questions and he would educate me. It was not only a learning experience but a bonding one too. This expands to anything from something he is repairing, building, working on cars, painting, math, measuring, etc.
  • On weekends, I think Sundays, we would watch The Three Stooges together and just laugh.
  • My dad was the one that mostly did laundry in the house. This was a task I learned much later in life, but thanks to him.
  • Because of my dad's job, his back was always hurting him, he even blew it out quite a few times. Often at night he would let me walk on his back and give him massages. I definitely consider myself a good masseuse because of all this practice.
  • As I said for my mom, my dad also always apologized after yelling at us. That kind of tough love is what he had. It showed he cared.
  • My dad got a breadmaker at some point and would make a big deal about making bread, it kind of became a team thing we would do together every now and then.
  • For several Halloweens, we would carve our pumpkins and then my dad would bake the seeds.
  • Dad gave us our first "job", we worked with him during the summers at a residential community doing yard work. We also went with him to other jobs at family friend's houses. Doing anything from wallpaper removal, painting, and other such home improvements.
  • Dad is an incredibly loud sneezer. Something that we can hear in any room in the house. My brother and I are well aware of this and happen to do the same, almost as a tribute to him. I also find this to be the most satisfying way to sneeze.
  • I was a very picky eater when I was young and really didn't and still don't like fat on red meat and would always give my leftovers to my dad.
  • A lot of my memories with my dad as I was older revolve around dinner time. Him and I would prepare dinner together. I usually made salads, he would cook or barbeque meat. Drinking milk was a big thing in our family and I would get a glass for him and I. He still drinks from the same cups we have always had.

  • My mom didn't read as frequently and consistently as my dad, but it was known that if she did read anything, she would stay up until she finished it.
  • When I was learning to drive with my mom, she was more relaxed, so it relaxed me more.
  • As an artist herself, she encourage the arts, my writing and drawing. She was free spirited and extremely supportive.
  • My mom got me into astrology, a passion that really blossomed when I became a teenager.
  • We would sit on the patio while she smoked cigarettes and discuss life and other deep concepts. She really helped me open my mind and explore things. Even if she had different views. Most of these discussions resulted in tears, but good tears. I really appreciated these moments deeply.
  • I learned how to clean because of my mom, traditional as it is, but I notice now how similar we are in that fashion.
  • As I know now, I have IBS, but did not know this as a kid. I know I had bouts of constipation and severe pain. My mom was the only source of comfort I had for this. If I was in the bathroom experiencing immense pain, I would call on her. She would just sit on the floor of the bathroom and be there. All I needed was her presence.
  • Anytime my mom got mad at me, which wasn't as frequently as she did with my brother, if she yelled or anything, she would always come back to me and apologize. This I find to be a good trait, that has shaped me.
  • My mom made homemade meals most nights. I was a pretty picky eater and eventually got better, but she installed a passion in me for healthy foods. Every night we would have a plate of raw vegetables or a bowl of salad, prior to our meal. This is something I still enjoy to this day and something I make well. I love making epic tasty salads because of her. She also made awesome guacamole, a recipe I still use.
  • My house was the house that a lot of friends would hang out at, especially for dinner or overnight. My mom was a great host and people really enjoyed coming over to homemade meals and warmth.
  • Ever since I was a baby until I was quite young, my mom always blew raspberries into my stomach. She always loved to do that and it tickled like hell. It is still a very sensitive spot on my body.
  • She loved music, very passionate about it. She sang a lot. She didn't have a great voice but she always liked what we liked and encouraged that. She took my brother and I to our first concert, Linkin Park, when I was 13. I have been to a handful of concerts with her during my teenage years.
  • As long as my mom lived with us, she almost always tucked me in. She literally tucked me in all while I was young, gave me kisses and wished me sweet dreams. Something I still do to others.
  • We talked about the dreams we had. I used to do this with friends that slept over, whenever we woke up, I would talk about the dreams I had. I know I do this because it was something my mom and I did. Our dreams were very different. She never dreams about people she knows, they are always foreign, although in the last few years she has had more dreams about people she knows and still shares them with me.
  • My mom took me to get my first tattoo when I was 17. She also went with me for my last one just a year ago. This was a fun experience.
  • Once I got a little older and held a job and had money, mom and I would go shopping together. We enjoy it very much and still do it today. It started with trips to downtown Tempe every pay day for a couple years. On one of these trips it was just a couple days before my birthday and I joked about getting a tattoo and she looked at me like it was a possibility. She said I had to ask my dad and that's what I did that night and we went the next day!
  • When my mom cooked, she would let us help her but mostly wanted us out of the kitchen, so she would give us little tasks to help with. I also learned baking with her.
  • My mom, several times, had made our costumes by hand and with a sewing machine. When I see photos of our costumes, I'm in awe at how awesome and cute they were. I don't ever remember directly getting lessons from her but I did learn how to sew, also probably with the help of my grandma. Mom always took us treat or treating, I don't think she cared too much about Halloween if it weren't for us kids. She really enjoyed doing it with us and we always had a blast.
  • Plain and simple, my mom was great at gift giving. Every Christmas, my brother and I would wake up super early and we were allowed to open our stockings prior to our parents waking up. She got really creative with the gifts she put in there. It was one of the funnest part of our morning. 
  • Starting when I was about 12, my brother was into BMXing, him and his large group of guy friends would go to BMX races. My dad attended some of these, but mostly it was my mom that took us. They were always far southeast or north from our house depending where we were going. It would be us and a friend or 3 and we would drive out there every few Friday or Saturday nights. We would blast rock music and drive out there, watch the races, eat junk food, stop by a late hour Basha's and grab food to go for the ride home. This happened for at least a few years. One of the absolute funnest time of my life.
  • Since most of our family vacations where camping, we didn't have many more lavish vacations. At one point, prior to my parents divorce, when things were a bit more rough at home, I expressed a great need to have a staycation. My mom understood my need and felt the same way but we knew my dad would not approve but she took me anyways. We went shopping, bought new CDs and other stuff and stayed at a hotel only a couple miles away from home for a night. Just the two of us.
  • During most summers mom would take us and some friends to the various lakes around Arizona. We would spend the whole day swimming and eating.
  • My mom has always drank a ton of water throughout the day, she always had a special water bottle or glass. I didn't like water too much, but seemed to always want to drink hers. The thing she would always say to me is "Don't breathe in my water." Ha! It's hilarious to me now because I realize I drink water like a baby drinking from a bottle. I would sit there and just drink several gulps at a time, breathing in and out as I do it.

  • We ate dinner together in the dining room for a good chunk of my childhood, something that rarely seems to happen with families anymore.
  • Both my parents always said "I love you," always gave hugs and kisses. Love and affection were given freely in our family. Not only was there affection towards us, but my parents had a lot of affectionate acts towards each other. Just thinking about it, my mind creates a montage of all the acts, something that I notice I give and crave from others.
  • We camped a lot growing up, both my parents loved nature and were self sufficient. Insects didn't bother us, we fished, we learned to shoot guns [but didn't hunt, at least not us children], we hiked, bathed in the waters, swam, and boated. Tons of memories there.
  • While I am not religious, my family engages in typical Christian traditions. Christmas season was always a fun and cozy time in our house. We would get our tree ourselves in Flagstaff or buy one, decorate it together and decorate the rest of the house. My dad usually did the Christmas lights outside while we helped and we would stand outside and admire it together.
  • There weren't very many boundaries in our house, I had seen both of my parents naked on countless occasions. We always bothered or tried to hang out with my mom while she showered or was on the toilet. Sometimes my dad would bathe in our bathroom or take a dump and we would hang out with him. Obviously this changed as we got older, but it was pretty common earlier on.
  • In our many camping trips, I have a few common fondest memories. Eating, especially lunch time, we would often have crackers, cheese, and braunschweiger. I remember one particular time my dad was joking about the insects crawling around, he caught one on the table and ate it, exclaiming, "Protein!". Another is nighttime by the fire. I don't remember speaking much, but we would sit around the fire and just stare and enjoy the moments in nature together.
  • If we were ever sick, my mom was usually around to take care of us, but my dad was also very helpful and always wanted us to feel better. I make this note because not everyone likes to take care of others when they are ill, both my parents were well equipped and willing to do so.

This is a bulk of what I could remember, I'm sure there are a ton more memories. This was a fun experience remembering all this and knowing that my relationship with my parents are very good in these last several years.


Love That Grows

Have you ever gotten tired of someone?

Do you believe you can love someone more and more each day?

Yes and yes.

I need a love that grows 
I don't want it unless I know 
With each passin' hour 
Someone, somehow 
Will be there, ready to share

I need a love that's strong 
I'm so tired of being alone 
But will my lonely heart 
Play the part 
Of the fool again, before I begin 

Foolish heart, hear me calling 
Stop before you start falling 
Foolish heart, heed my warning 
You've been wrong before 
Don't be wrong anymore 

Feelin' that feelin' again 
Playin' a game I can't win 
Love's knockin' on the door 
Of my heart once more 
Think I'll let her in 
Before I begin 

Foolish heart, hear me calling 
Stop before, you start falling 
Foolish heart, heed my warning 
You've been wrong before 
Don't be wrong anymore 
Foolish heart 
Foolish, foolish heart 
You've been wrong before 

Foolish heart, hear me calling 
Stop before you start falling 
Foolish heart, heed my warning 
You've been wrong before 
Don't be wrong anymore 
Foolish heart 

Oh foolish foolish heart 
You've been wrong before 

Foolish foolish heart 
Foolish heart

Foolish Heart lyrics by Steve Perry

Nothing has happened, nothing has changed, but this song has been my theme song longer than I had even heard of it.



A month ago, I decided to put in a request for a week off of work, in hopes I would go out of town. The ideal goal was to go to the beach in California with friends, as I usually always crave during the summer. That didn't pan out but Arcosanti is always a back up plan. When I was considering it, there was a big forest fire going on in the town of Mayer, Arizona, not very far at all from where Arcosanti is located. The fire was just on the other side of the freeway. That town was evacuated and the fire at the time was only 1% contained. I didn't even have any knowledge of this until a blood donor brought it to my attention when we were engaged in a casual conversation about summer travels. I thought that option was out of the question but then just a few days before I booked the trip I discovered the fire had been recently 100% contained and there was only concern for flooding. I booked a room last minute and was set for three nights which I had only done once before.

This is my second time going during the summer, which is not ideal but can be tolerable. Because the hotel room is technically a greenhouse, it gets really hot during the summer. The room is all concrete, concrete walls, concrete ceiling, concrete floors. No air conditioning, basic pluming, screen doors, and either a space heater or oscillating fan depending on the season. The heat also means that there will be more insects hanging about both inside and outside the rooms. I planned to go out when the weather wasn't bad, but expected storms in the next night or so. Driving there is always a little stressful, it's not far, but the upwards cliff edge highway is nerve wrecking. Despite my life on these roads, they still scare me. However, due to my job with the blood drives, we go up to Prescott and Flagstaff often and these roads have become more and more traveled over a short time. This was the first time that the drive wasn't really stressful at all. I am always relieved when my vehicle makes it successfully.

On the way up I really only saw one section of land that was charred by the fire. A very gloomy sight. Weeks before I had worked at a blood drive in Prescott and we had to drive a long way around the fire but we could still see the smoke over the tops of the mountains. If I didn't know there was a fire, it would of just looked like clouds. It was an eerie sight. Once we arrived in Prescott, we could see more of the smoke and you could smell the fire. As bad as it sounds, it smelled good, like campfire. We were able to drive the usual route back and got more of a glimpse of the smoke, but never did see the fire itself. It almost look like a volcano because the smoke rested between mountain peaks. Here are some photos I took of that drive.

Sad but beautiful were the only thoughts we had.

It was still pretty hot when I arrived, around 4:30pm, however it was still 20 degrees cooler than it was in Phoenix. I stayed in room J, pretty sure I've been in that room before, but this time it had 3 twin beds inside. It was the only similar type of room I wanted that was available for 3 consecutive nights. As I was bringing my luggage up to the room, I noticed a girl sitting outside the room next to mine, just chilling and drinking a beer. I introduced myself right away, her name was Jennifer. I had a bluetooth speaker in my purse that was quietly playing music. I told Jennifer that I was hard of hearing and if I play anything too loud to let me know. She said that she was somewhat deaf, so I laughed and said that we would be alright. I had to make multiple trips to get all my stuff, one the final trip to my room, there was a guy now sitting with Jennifer, he just nodded awkwardly at me but didn't introduce himself. I unpacked immediately and as always can't really decide what to do next. I was contemplating swimming, hiking was out of the question. Instead I sat out on the patio to enjoy the view and slight breeze as it felt better than inside the room. I also met another neighbor a few doors down named Brandon.

Just around 6pm I got my backpack ready with water, a water bottle full of red wine, my room key, and my wallet, and hiked up for dinner. Dinner wasn't as impressive as usual, perhaps it was leftovers from Saturday, but it was still okay. They raised the price a dollar for the dinner buffet. Since it is summer and the sun sets later, I decided to go to my usual cliff edge sunset spot after dinner. Up north from the spot it was very cloudy and dark. The sunset wasn't much from where I was sitting, but I did get some pictures and a video from the spot. As I saw some color of the sunset further west, I walked in that direction to take more photos. I found a beautifully simple star shaped structure that I don't think was there the last time I visited. The sky had beautiful pinks but only showed up in my photos as more orange than anything. I then went back to my room to sit outside and watch the rest of the effects of the sunset to the south and east. There was a beginning of a lightning show out northeast. As it got darker I went down to my car to smoke and watch the lightning some more. It never did storm at Arcosanti and only got down to 70 degrees that night.

After awhile of watching nature I went inside the room and watched a couple episodes of Top Chef, thankfully the room had the WiFi router there and internet wasn't an issue the first couple of nights. Due to the weird bed situation, I was not really happy with the arrangement of the beds I created and haphazardly chose a bed to sleep on. Despite going to bed relatively early, I did not sleep very well at all. The size of the bed and the direction/placement of the bed and the oscillating fan were not in my favor. I also should share an incident that happened. I always bring a styrofoam cooler for my snacks and drinks, but I had to buy a new cheap one which broke in half the first night as I was rearranging water bottles. Most of the ice and water poured out all over the floor. All I could do was cover everything with towels and wait until the morning to buy another one at the nearby gas station. It was quite humorous but annoying too.

Here are some major realizations I had after the first day being there:

Serene is the word that comes to mind here. Everything I feel is serene and I'm hardly doing anything. The biggest stress I feel here is deciding what to do next and how to get people not to talk to me. Serenity takes over the second I reach meadows that tell me I'm near. The drive out of the cliff edges, at the top of the mountains, is a flat land full of overgrowth that always takes my breath away, no matter the season.

I like to people watch here, nature watch, insect watch, all of it. But the people watching has become more interesting especially since my last time here. I can't stop fantasizing about strangers in unlikely fantastical situations. Which, is really fun.

Being in nature makes me introverted. Even when I work on the blood drives up north, I'm more to myself. I believe it's similar to camping as a kid. We didn't talk a whole lot that I can specifically remember. Dad would tell stories, share experiences, and educate us of the surroundings but it was great deal of sitting and walking in silence. Just enjoying and taking in our surroundings. Also it is what I have made in terms of my traditions every time I come here, I isolate myself. I enjoy it and feel very independent here.

Pre-storm and post-storm clouds look like inverted magma.

The darkness here no longer scares or stresses me. I know what to expect here. I didn't use a flashlight once. I could stand in the middle of darkness and not have a worry. The bugs in the room no longer phase me. There are some that I leave be, and some that I catch and release outside, as simple as that.

The next two mornings I did exactly the same thing. I ate a snack, got dressed and drove to the gas station. The first morning I tried to find a cooler, but they only had a really small one but referred me to the dollar store across the street. I bought ice and a fabric cooler, which I later decided is not really meant to hold ice as it leaks too and doesn't keep the ice frozen for very long. To keep the cooler from leaking everywhere I would periodically pour the water from the ice into a water bottle and just have it to drink throughout the day. After replenishing the cooler with ice, I showered and prepared to go swimming. I was very excited about this. In the many visits here, I have never swam in the pool. If I remember correctly, on my very first visit here the pool was still under construction or not even there at all. Most of the time I usually travel here in the cold seasons where swimming isn't ideal. But I was on a mission to swim and I was really hoping I would have the pool to myself. Which I did for the 2 hours that I spent there. The pool is on higher ground than the hotel rooms, you have to hike up a pathway to get there. It sits on the edge, creating a balcony that overlooks all the land. It's always a beautiful sight, even if I never stepped foot in the pool. I took pictures as soon as I got there, arranged my stuff and took of my shorts and hearing aids and dived right in the deep end. Because of the distant storm the night before, there were a lot of dead bugs along the edges of the shallow end, I mostly swam around the deeper ends. I would swim a lap, float, and hang out at the edge and just stare out at the mountains and clouds. I did this back and forth for over an hour. The water was cool, the wind felt great. Wasps would come and go, fetching a drink of water from the pool. There would be anywhere from 1 to 15 of them in the pool at any time. They would fly over, land carefully at the surface, sip water for up to 10 seconds, and fly away. They never bothered me and I didn't bother them. Once I actually started to feel cold, I stepped out and dried off a little and sat in a chair in the sun. I warmed up and dived back into the pool only to do it again a bit later. I eventually started to get hungry and went back to my room after drying off in the sun.

After swimming, I sat on the bed closest to the window in my room and ate food while staring out. Very few people were out and about, perhaps only one or two of the other guests and an employee cleaning the unoccupied rooms. After eating I decided to write in my notebook about my stay so far. Almost every time I stay at Arcosanti, I document the basics of each trip, any noteworthy things, the mundane things, the realizations, everything I'm typing here. I do this not for others, but for me. It reminds me what happened on each trip, a travel through time and memory. As I've said before, each trip is similar in terms of activities and routines but the experience is always so different. It has a lot to do with my mental, emotional, and creative state at each time.

Just a few weeks prior to the trip a three of my friends and I decided to make a book club, which we named 5 Finger Fairy Book Club, it's supposed to be a dirty term we invented late night while drinking. The first book we decided on is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that 2 of the club members have read before. I had not read it before and started it on this trip. I'm really grateful that I started it here because I was able to focus on it and enjoy the nature around me simultaneously. This provides the most perfect reading environment for myself personally. The book gave me an eerie feeling from the beginning, and after reading the first two chapters or so I decided to read a bit about the author. Finding out more about him and his son, I started to cry. I cried hard for a good 5 to 10 minutes but didn't want to rehash my last experience here when I grieved for David Bowie. Thankfully it was just about time for dinner so I put the book down, wiped my tears, and got ready. I do not wish to talk further about the book as that is not the main focus of this post, however I could not put it down for a good portion of this trip.

My evening plans consisted of going to dinner, watching the sunset in the usual spot after dinner, and then hanging out by the room. The weather was similar to the first night but only slightly better, no storm activity that night just more clouds. I was really wishing for a storm. This is one of the handful of trips were there were so many clouds that I could not see any stars any of the nights. Dinner was better and lived up to the usual expectations. I bought a bottle of wine from the cafe as I really under packed in that department.

I really enjoy seeing the animals and insects in the area. Every now and then I'll discover a new being I hadn't seen there before. There were signs warning of watching for snakes, which I had never seen in any of my visits. However, this time millipedes made a few appearances.

I read more that night and went to bed pretty early. I rearranged the beds again earlier that day, making one of the beds most similar to position of my bed at home [facing east]. I was so exhausted but still didn't get much sleep. I think that is mostly due to the size of the bed and the fact that it has wheels. The wheels at the end of the legs make for easy arranging but move with every movement you make on the bed. Note to self: always ask for a room with a queen bed.

The next day was a replicate of the previous day. Went down to the gas station, bought more ice. Showered, went up to the pool. This time the guy that was hanging out with my neighbor Jennifer was already there in the pool alone. I just went and put my stuff down, organizing it all, and he got out of the pool and came to the table where I was to grab his towel to dry off. He awkwardly said hi. I told him also that I am hard of hearing and will be taking my hearing aids off, thus wouldn't hear him if he tried to talk to me. He said nothing pretty much and sat down in the sun with a book as I dived into the pool. It was kind of awkward sharing the space with someone else, so I tried my best not to look or swim towards his direction. I know it was mostly his awkwardness that I was reading into. After about ten minutes or so, he got up and started getting his shoes on. We waved goodbye and that was it. A handful of people were out and about walking near the pool but no one else joined me for the rest of my time there. The pool was cleaner, there were less winds, and less wasps. It was a bit warmer than the previous day, and I had found out after the fact that UV rays were high that day, causing my skin to redden but not to burn. The sky was extra cloudy in the distance, a beautiful and never tiring view. Being in the pool reminded me how much I love the sun. The sun always makes me happy, makes everything clear. Swimming controls my body temperature and keeps me cooler for most of the day. I have always felt one with water. I swam proficiently at a very young age, years of swimming matches, countless visits to lakes and beaches over the course of my childhood. I miss it. I don't do it enough. Swimming here made the heat worth it, bearable too.

After a couple hours of swimming and sitting in the sun I went back to my room to eat, read, and write. I brought other books that I am currently reading, but I just couldn't get to them. All I wanted to do was read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I got into over a 100 pages in the course of the couple of days. Stopping every few paragraphs to stare out at the land outside. It makes one very reflective, profound, and thoughtful.

The bug situation was pretty minimal despite the heat is what brings a lot of them out. The first night after opening up the curtains I discovered a large brown fuzzy spider. Those are the kind of spiders you don't risk. So I took the only cup I brought and a paper plate and caught it and threw it outside. Later that night I was doing something at the sink and went over to the bed, only mere seconds later I looked up at the exact spot I was standing and there on the ground was a big scorpion. Caught that and released it. Later that night there was a baby scorpion on the wall in the bathroom. I decided to leave it alone for the time being but found it the next morning on the wall not too far from the bed I had slept in. Caught it and released it. That night after hanging outside, I went in to find another large scorpion in the sink. Caught that and released it.

That last night of my trip, while hanging about waiting for dinner more dark clouds started to come in. I was excited for the storm to come. I had been waiting for this. It started to rain a little bit before dinner time so I decided to hike up to the sunset spot early to enjoy the sights. I was getting wet and smiling. After sitting at the spot for a little while I realized I forgot my wallet. I hiked back to my room to get my wallet and hiked all the way back to the cafe. I was really wet at that point but it felt incredible and out of breath. It was so humid in the cafe the water turned to sweat. I took several pictures outside. After dinner I went back to the room to sit outside. The storm only lasted a little over a half hour.

When you can see this much land all at once, the storm looks like impending doom.

Just some fun edits I was playing around with.

This photo is dedicated to my friend N.
After sitting outside post storm, Jennifer walked up to her room and I couldn't see her but heard a scrape and saw a big millipede being thrown across the sidewalk into the planter. A few minutes later I saw her scooping with difficulty the same millipede that was persistent about getting into her room. I had a big chuckle about it. We laughed together at the comical moment.

The second night, I believe, I decided to watch a movie, one I had only skimmed briefly in the past. A film called 30 Beats, a film revolved around connections people make through sex. It's not the best film, but what touched me was in one of the scenes towards the end, the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance made an appearance. It was the same print that I had, the scene involves a young adult guy who was reading the book and an older woman was seducing him. She asked him to read a passage, he just stared at her. So she told him to read the third line or so on page 99. I had not yet gotten that far in the book yet, but when I did the next day, in fact that line was there.

"When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process."

Overall, I realized that I never really notice how much I need these trips until I come back. I had been inspired lately but hadn't done a whole lot about it. Once on the trip, everything comes in floods to my mind, at an overwhelming pace sometimes. I write, read, sometimes draw, watch films, etc. My mind is calm and only slightly unorganized. I usually like to go to the hookah lounge the day I get back home, that's where I will write about my trip. Instead, I didn't write about my trip, but I made an unexpected post. It was the next day I started drafting this post and had been doing so in parts over the course of a few days.

Music was a big part of this trip as well. I invested in a bluetooth speaker months ago, I use it with my phone at home and anytime I have to drive at least 20 minutes somewhere. I don't care to invest in a stereo for my car, so this works great and I can take it anywhere with me. Last month I went to Yuma for work and with my headphones listened to the score of the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It was so eerie but worked well with the surroundings and I actually even slept on and off during the trip for the first time. I never really ever have an opportunity to listen to music as I sleep since I take my hearing aids off at night, so this was an especially unique experience. I haven't listened to anything but the radio and 80's rock for the last couple of years. I've been stuck in it. This was the beginning of bringing me out of that. So for my drive up to Arcosanti, I listened to a Spotify mix of Nine Inch Nails. I listened to it all the way up there and while I was in my room until dinner time. A long lost and only recently found pen pal friend of mine from Canada also recently recommended the artist Chelsea Wolfe. I'm getting into her, and it reminds me a lot of Portishead but still different. I even got back into one of my favorite bands The Gathering and listened to their newer albums that I had been reluctant to listen to due to the change of singers. I have been listening to The Gathering pretty much nonstop since. This is the music inspiration and experience I have been needing ever since my passion for Journey has recently declined only due to hardcore repetition.

Once I got back from the trip my brain has been fuzzy. Reflective and happy but not remembering simple details. I hung out with my mom for a day after I got back, it's always a great time with her. That night I went out to my regular bar with a friend I haven't seen in a long while. I haven't been there forever. It was a calm but well needed night and that's when I realized I really couldn't talk or recall things as well. Just that fuzzy afterglow brain, I guess. It definitely makes a difference when you don't speak for 4 days and then get thrown in social situations and have to talk again. It always takes time to adjust.

Going to Arcosanti gives me the recharge, the invigoration that I need. Again, I don't really notice it, the prominence of it while I'm there, it is when I get back that I truly feel it and the necessity of it. My mind is free again, not ground down from work and the mundane distractions I choose over art. It also helps my digestive system, it kind of resets everything. I've lost a few pounds in just this week, less mindless eating, eating better, and less portions.

So to finish up this post, I wanted to sum up a list of ideals, that help make the trip the best that it can be, from the collective data of all my varying trips there.

  • Spring or Fall seasons are best and should still welcome the use of the pool. Winter is still great if pool isn't required
  • Queen bed
  • Private bathroom
  • 3 nights minimum
  • Bring a cooler that keeps ice and food cold as long as possible with little to no issues or leaks
  • Don't overpack creative mediums, you never end up using it all
  • Cloves are better

Below is a picture of me on my first visit seven years ago sitting on the cliff of the sunset spot, after it is a picture of me on my last day on this recent trip.

The face of serenity.