A cold desert Christmas.

I had a cold desert Christmas. I visited my dad in his new home of Flagstaff, Arizona, and was amazed by the majesty of the land. We had Christmas dinner at the Grand Canyon. It was my first visit, and the site took my breath away (because the Canyon is awe-inspiring, and because it was really fucking cold).”We” was me, my dad, and John, the wonderful human I get to call my boyfriend. I’ve spent many holidays back home in Tahoe as the weird single LA artist cat lady, so being somewhere new with someone to call my own felt like Christmas morning all week long.

In addition to the Grand Canyon, we also explored the Wupataki ruins, the Sunset volcano crater, the mystical rock formations in Sedona, and drank in the stars via telescope at the Lowell Observatory. One word kept connecting these different experiences: perspective. I’d been needing a dose of the stuff. Lately, I’ve been trapped in the petty grievances of my lower mind.

It was fascinating to read about the natives who called Wupataki home, how they were in a constant struggle to survive against the elements yet thrived for centuries. Pottery has been found there but not the tools to make it, which suggests it came from elsewhere, which suggests trading between tribes occurred at Wupataki. The Sunset crater wasn’t much to look at from the base, but the lava flows around it were cool, and I was gobsmacked to read the placard calling the volcano a “geographic infant” because it erupted a mere 1,000 years ago. Telescoping the night sky at the Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered!), we saw a “stellar nursery” located within Orion’s belt, which is literally where stars are born. Add in that poor Pluto isn’t even considered a planet anymore, and all this perspective made me feel one thing: grief.

Grief for all the times I’ve felt less than amazed to be alive. Grief that I spend a lot of my days without perspective. The perspective that this Earth is magnificent and I’m lucky to inhabit it for a speck of time.

So my perspective going into 2015: I’m grateful I have a healthy father, a car to take me to places like the Grand Canyon, and a witty handsome boyfriend to be my co-pilot. Here are some pics!


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I’m Jew-ish (Part 1)

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving, and for the first time in 125 years, it was also Hanukkah. This mash-up of American tradition and Judaic celebration is a good representation of yours truly, a girl whose dad is Jewish and mom was culturally Christian. Thus, I’m Jew-ish.

I could relate to the centerpiece decoration at our feast, pilgrim figurines situated under a Star of David, a mixture of two cultures. I enjoy being a hybrid. I’ve celebrated both Passover and Christmas every year of my enitre life. I’ve equally loved Christmas Eve church services (if I’m honest it’s the candles during “Silent Night” that keep me going back), and the parsley dipped in saltwater during Passover (to symbolize the tears of our ancestors in slavery). I love the story of baby Jesus being born in a manger to remind myself to be humble, and that  upon mentioning the Ten Plagues during Seder, we poor wine out of our glasses ten separate times to demonstrate that we will not raise a glass to the suffering of the Egyptians, though they did our ancestors harm.

I gain wisdom from the stories from these religions, but my relationship with God has been a separate journey. More on that in future blog posts.

I want to write a series of posts on being Jew-ish, perhaps on my faith in general. To start, here’s some backstory, a piece I wrote on my trip to Israel via Birthright, a free ten-day trip to the Holy Land any Jew under the age of 26 can take.  Matador Travel published the article, and I’m still very proud of it. Read it here.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgivukkah, see you at the next one–in 77,798 years.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!