I’m coming home

It’s been a long time.

An embarrassingly long time. Too long to remember, not quite long enough to forget since I’ve been home. For me, it’s hard to go home. I’ll have anxiety all week–a little excitement, but mostly fear. Complicated emotions and memories I’d rather not remember. And other thoughts I’ll try desperately to hold on to for their joy and happiness in some sort of attempt to push out the sadness.

I miss it, too.

It’s a mystery to me that I can miss some place so much it hurts, and then dread seeing it in person.

That golden age of childhood shines a little brighter without the real-life reminders of what it really was. It’s tough to show this part of my life to friends and family who never knew me then. It’s hard to admit to myself what my upbringing was like in some ways. And it’s not something I want to discuss, analyze or have much of a conversation about.

But home haunts me. The imagery of red rock, cowboys, and ranches constantly shows up in my conversation and my writings. It’s strongly present in my morals and ethics, even without the religion. I can’t escape the truth of where I come from, but I’m not entirely comfortable with it either.

And Zed has had a full week of seeing this insanity in action. The confusion over why we’re bringing gallons of water, a cooler full of food, and bags of clothes to see my parents. (Isn’t this supposed to go the other way around?) The almost crying and the voice cracking, I’m really fun to be with this time of the year.

But he’s still here. Maybe he’ll fall in love with the red dirt without the complications. Maybe he’ll see why it’s so important to me to have some things in my life and why I can live without the others. And maybe he’ll still want to be here after we wash off the dust of this road trip.

Welp. I’m coming home.

 

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Utah news

Yesterday I was a bit disheartened to see Miss Utah making the internet rounds with her stumbling answer to NeNe Leaks question about income disparity between men and women in the US, even as more women are bringing home the bacon.

The answer is embarrassing. Mostly because it doesn’t quite make sense. “Create education better.” WTF? I agree with local Twitters, this is a sign of local education system at work. Ugh.

Marissa Powell had her shot at web redemption and put out a much better answer for Matt Lauer on the “Today Show.” One I agree with and one that makes Powell seem more articulate, educated and aware. Setting aside the question of beauty paegants and the problems with the question itself. I wanted to bring to light some of Utah’s better sides recently.

But really aside from all that, why not visit the state responsible for green jello and Mormons?

Come on, Visit Salt Lake is literally giving away 10 weekend vacations this summer.

The state is so cool, Summit just bought a mountain for $40 million.

Thirsty Thursday pub crawl with a helping of history

Thanks for all the new follows yesterday! That was a nice surprise to wake up to. I hope all you new kids know I write about a lot more than books, actually I mostly write about TV and my dog these days.

So…yes. I hope you are not disappointed.

I have 93 followers now! Whoo-oo!

I’m tempted to do a giveaway when I get to 100. Perhaps a book? Or a movie? I just can’t imagine a booze-soaked cake will survive UPS. Hmm….I will think on this.

In the meantime let us meditate on today’s entertainment: history and bars!

That’s right I’m doing another pub crawl. This one is around downtown Salt Lake City hosted by the Utah Heritage Foundation.  The more I learn about the group, the more impressed I am by the work they do. I may visit them again next Saturday for the Literate Ladies Lawn Sale. (Alliteration and books? Yes, please)

If i can be persuaded away from the Downton Farmer’s Market.

Nonetheless I’m looking forward to this walk around downtown. It will be the first pub crawl I’ve ever done in a city where drinking in the streets is NOT allowed, so I’m curious how that will go down. I’m hoping for a fun group and lots of fascinating stories about Salt Lake City’s Mormon, miner history.

UHF is top-secret about the tour, so I doubt I’ll be able to post a full review of the experience or outline what we do. But here’s what I will guarantee: rowdiness from a woman in a sundress.

The rest is going to be history.

24 Hours in Salt Lake City

Last week, I saw the Double Tree by Hilton DTours Competition and got all hopped up on the idea of traveling Salt Lake City.

I totally missed the deadline for the competition to win a two-week to two-month trip to wherever, but that didn’t stop me from fully enjoying my 24 hours as a tourist in my town.

This is a tourist hot  spot, promise.

This is a tourist hot spot, promise.

I started off at the one place I always see tourist, the Utah State Capitol Building. It was nice to take the time and enjoy the grounds, the architecture and the sunshine. Usually Archer and I walk as quickly as possible. But this time I photographed it up and did my best tourist impression. However since the dog was in tow, I did not get to go inside the building. It has wonderful architectural details and occasionally you can catch a couple inside taking wedding photos.

It's the little things that give away the location.

It’s the little things that give away the location.

Next I went on a detour to Memory Grove Park just down the hill from the Capitol building. Once again I took the time to photograph and enjoy the scenery a bit as I made my way north to City Creek Canyon.

One of the many monuments to Utah's fallen soldiers in Memory Grove Park.

One of the many monuments to Utah’s fallen soldiers in Memory Grove Park.

Archer loves running in the water, following the stream and meeting all the other dogs on the loose. I like that it’s a lot of nature, but close enough to the city I don’t have to drive. It’s literally across the street and down the hill from the Capitol. I love it! The hike took about an hour before I decided I was ravenous enough for a snack.

The City Creek from which so many place in this town take their name.

The City Creek from which so many place in this town take their name.

After depositing the puppy at home, I made my way to Eva’s Bakery on Main Street. This little place looks like it flew over from Paris to bring chic local eats to the weary. The cappucino was delicious and the Beehive brioche divine. I love, love Cafe Ibis. The roast is always just right, and Eva’s baristas know there way around an espresso machine. They served it dry and it was foamy caffeine heaven for me. The brioche was a delicious honey, almond, sugar blend. The dough was crispy, light and delightful. Absolutely loved it! The setting was wonderful for settling in to write a bit, read a bit and just relax after a long morning hike.

A delightful mid-morning snack to go with writing.

A delightful mid-morning snack to go with writing.

Next I made my way to the Salt Lake City Downtown Library via TRAX for some more spectacular views, architecture and books.

Architectural awesome right there.

Architectural awesome right there.

The library has always been one of my favorite SLC landmarks since I first moved here. It’s not just a space for books, they host community events, house local shops and regularly show films. I stocked up on all the crime noir I could read in a week, checked my Twitter feed and was off to meet Lewis Bros. Food Truck.

I have been waiting and waiting for Lewis Bros. to park near me. But I always miss them! This time, however, I knew right where they would be and what better excuse to indulge in Vietnamese inspired local fare than traveling in downtown?

A menu and a logo on the Lewis Bros. food truck.

A menu and a logo on the Lewis Bros. food truck.

I took TRAX again back to the Courthouse stop. Several food trucks were gathered in a parking lot near the Little America Hotel for the CNU21 convention. I skipped right by WakiPaki, Chow, Off the Grid and a pizza truck for Lewis Bros. banh mi.

Like I said, I’ve been wanting to try their food for ages.

The wait was brief. The cooks friendly and helpful, even going so far as to take orders to customers who seemingly forgot their kimichi fries.

The pork was tender, juicy and ginger-y. Yum!

The pork was tender, juicy and ginger-y. Yum!

I opted for the pork in the Vietnamese-style sandwich. It was served on a crusty baguette with delicious shredded pork and pickled carrots and onions on top. Not the fanciest of fare, but coming from a truck pretty impressive. At $6 a pop, it’s the most expensive item on the Lewis Bros. menu and totally worth it. I devoured the whole sandwich sitting on the grass and listening-in on some true tourists take on Salt Lake City.

After all the food and walking I needed a break from all my excursions and headed home to veg out for a bit before a night on the town. I wandered around Temple Square people watching and trying to see the plaza I walk across so often from a traveler’s point of view. The results: so many weddings, flowers and statues! It’s an awful nice public park most of the time.

I knew I wanted a perfect SL,UT night, so I headed to Bar X following dinner. I ordered a Moscow Mule since I am deeply in love with those copper mugs. It was crisp, fresh, delicious and absolutely on point, like every drink the mixologists of Bar X create. They are perfectionists in the art of cocktail making; and it shows. It also hits the wallet with cocktails starting out at $9 and going up for there.

But so, so worth it!

I sipped my drink and listened to the live band. It was nice to get out, but I was still pretty bushed from the day’s adventures, so I soon went home.

If had waited until this week, I totally would have hit up Friday Night Flicks in the Park next. 

I love summer in Salt Lake City!

Camping?

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I think maybe, I might just go camping.

I am not a fan of the outdoors. I do not like to sleep on the ground. I see no reason to eschew running water and electricity in an effort to get close to nature. If I want to be close to nature, I will hike around a bit and go safely home to my warm bed in my comfortable house with lights, a toilet and a shower.

I like cities. I like convenience. I appreciate the little things like cell phones, laptops and wifi.

Camping is not for me.

Be that as it may, I believe I may go camping this summer. As I’ve mentioned, the man and I would very much like to go on a trip, however the reality of fiscal responsibility and student loan debt has left us with little choice about what we do. (Don’t go to college, kids. Or do and just know you will have payments FOREVER.)

And camping despite it’s many, many not fun aspects is indeed very cheap in this state.

I have no idea where we will go. Somewhere close, hopefully not to far from a tiny town. As much pre-packing as I do, I am convinced bugs will attack us. I’ll be forced to runaway from the mountains, trees and lakes. Or the red rocks.

“Utah is a playground! I love it!” I hear from the other dog owners, neighbors and every person I know in this city. “The outdoors are so close!” Other people are in love with rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, hiking and biking all over the place.

I am not.

But it seems a crime to glamp. That’s not me either.

So camping I will go for the first time in ages, praying I don’t die and carrying a very large large, very full flask.

Salt Lake City’s Warm Springs Park and Children’s Musuem

Utah's Children's Museum-a derelict reminder of days gone byEvery city has its secrets, its sore spots, the places where few deign to go without incentive.

In some ways, I suspect Warm Springs Park is one of those places in Salt Lake City. It’s a fantasy for urban decay nerds; and a playground of a park for earth crunchers.

Detail on the door of Utah's Children Museum

The half-wild slopes of the park are home to temporary shelters made from oak brush, tarps, blankets and sleeping bags. The park is wild, overgrown sage and brush creep east to Ensign Downs. The neighborhood where mansions rest in neatly trimmed sweeps of green lawn. The going price is $500,000 for one of the more modest homes on the hill. Mansions look over the valley; the homeless too close to the basement to be seen.

Broken windows at the Utah's Children Museum

Warm Springs Park is little used; it appears unwanted.

The view north from Salt Lake City's Warm Springs Park.

Refineries process oil and belch black smoke into the sky to the north and west. Looking south the city unfolds its industrial arm, just enough west for factories, just enough east for public schools. Downtown lies to the south and east, the tallest buildings jut up from the valley floor, the dome of the State Capitol just visible over the ridge. The cityscape is a number by number guide to wealth in this narrow valley.

At the center of the park is an old decrepit Spanish style building. It was a Children’s Museum until 1993. The locked doors, chipped paint and rotted stucco a reminder of the public bath houses of the 1920s. Locals once bathed in the sulphurous warm springs seeping underground. The old spring seeps through the north end of the park. The smell of the water is masked now by the traffic on old Highway 89.

Salt Lake City from Warm Springs Park

There is a small playground at the south end and a soccer field where I’ve seen more dogs playing fetch than children playing games. It’s an unusual park for a city that tries so hard to remain pristine.

Address and hours:
Salt Lake City’s Warm Springs Park
(Children’s Museum)
300 West 900 North
8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Welcome to the neighborhood

Dewey grass Lately I’ve taken to conquering the blergh of a day by conquering the neighborhood. It helps living next to a woman who is unemployed and entertaining with her tales of terrible ex-boyfriends and rehab drama.

It’s like living next to Day of Our Lives. Anytime I need a break from the computer and the keyboard, I just leash up the puppy and walk ’round the corner. Alisha (not her real name) will inevitably be out smoking, watching YouTube videos on an iPad and open to conversation.

We’re both tired of talking to dogs. We’ll swap stories of bad boyfriends past, she’ll update me on her current state of recovery, I’ll tell her about the stories I’m working on.

If Alisha is out, most likely in another rehab trying to get clean again, I venture over to the next yard. The dog, Bella loves Archer. They would play all day if her old bones could handle it. Instead they chase after each other for about five minutes until her growls kick in while Paul and I politely chatter about the neighborhood.

That’s a thing now, “my neighborhood.” I feel a little weird about it. After 18 months, I went to a neighborhood meeting. I’ve been getting flyers for them every month. Turns out, I am not the only person who lives here. I met some lovely women and some bizarre men. Only 10 or so people where there. They talked a lot about trees and traffic. I asked about shops, a library and a grocery.

The Marmalade Library is a real thing that’s going to happen in the ‘hood. It’s slated to open in fall 2014. And for reasons, I do not understand the community does not like the design or the name of the library. I think they’re forgetting how awesome having any library at all is. Plus there will finally be something in that huge empty lot I like to call “The Hill Hole.” Marmalade is a much better name, mmm…kay?

One old woman told awesome stories about kicking out slum lords and gangsters in the 80s. I had no idea this dirty district was actually worse back then. There was some nice symmetery at the end of the meeting when she reminded us (with particular looks at myself and the other under 30 woman present) that we could always call the police with concerns about party houses, creepers and drug dens.

Clearly everyone present was concerned about the neighborhood and hoping to make Capitol Hill a better place to live.

But other than the Parks and Rec feeling, I’m not sure I gained much by attending. Mostly there was a nice sense of polite community. I told the room I was mostly curious because I’ve lived here for so long, but have only met most of my neighbors since owning a dog.

That part of dog ownership is very true. People love to talk to puppies and their owners. One woman (another neighbor) even said, “You know how puppies bring people out.” The next second she was stroking Archer’s ears much to his chagrin. It seems like owning a dog has brought me into the neighborhood more so than living here every did.

Sadly I also lost a neighbor to a move. Ann (not her real name) is super sweet. She went out of her way several times to help me while I lived here. On snowy days, I’m pretty sure it was just us shoveling all the steps and sidewalks in front of our building. She was tremendously helpful with dog rules and offered up tips, treats and tricks to raising a better dog after adopting her akita two years ago. I will miss her friendly wisdom.

A new neighbor has already moved into Ann’s old place. She seems just as sweet. We’ve only chatted briefly a few times. She has fabulous hair and a lovely puppy. She seems excited to be here. And hopefully she’ll forgive all of Archer’s barking. She’s also a bit closer to my age which is nice. It won’t feel so much like I’m the only non-baby maker around.

I am now a part of a neighborhood–one that is struggling for identity, has tremendous potential and will one day be a new kind of pace. That’s one of the best parts of staying. Watching change happen and joining a community.

By the way, April 27 is neighbor day. I’m guessing that’s one Saturday not to be missed on my block.