Sunday, January 22, 2017

March onward.

I'm a feminist. I'm a feminist because I believe in equality, because I believe my inherent rights are the same as a man's, as a lesbian's, as a Muslim's, as a homeless man's, as a CEO's. I believe that I should be paid the same as a man is paid for the same work. I'm a feminist because I believe that I have the right to make decisions about my own body and that no one else does. I'm a feminist because I am not afraid of my own voice or the voices of others. I'm a feminist because I own a uterus, but also because I am a human being. 


I'm a feminist, more than anything, because I have a son. A son that I want to see grow into a man who treats the women and men and children and elderly in his life with equal inherent respect and patience and appreciation for their contributions. A man who gives love generously and accepts it with unabashed gratitude and wonder. A man who works to protect the rights of not just himself and his friends and family, but of all people; to recognize that we are all one people, and we are all worthy. I want him to see color, race, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, creed, disability, health, illness, and economic status, and see the common human thread that connects us all, above all. 

I want to raise my son to be a man who, if he is gay, can come to his mother knowing that he is loved and accepted completely, regardless of who or how he loves. Regardless of who he loves, I want him to demonstrate that love with kindness, patience, support, and generosity; and not just the kind of generosity that costs money. I want him to be comfortable with his sexuality, and the sexualities of others. I want him to be a man who understands and embraces sexual consent, and to demand nothing less of himself, his partners, and everyone else. To stand up against rape culture and stand with victims of assault and to assert that so called "locker room talk" is unacceptable, and to say it even when it's uncomfortable. To know that to stand up for what is right is worth being uncomfortable.

I want him to know that no one owes him anything in this world, and he owes no one anything, but to give and share freely anyway. I want him to understand that kindness is more important than money, than power, than winning. I want him to be the man who lowers his voice and asks questions instead of shouting over the words of those he disagrees with. I want him to be the kind of man who demonstrates that being the bigger, the louder, the meaner man, does not make you the better man. 

I want to see my son grow into a man who is able to disagree civilly, to know that things are rarely as simple as right and wrong. A man who ask questions and respects answers, to view disagreement as an opportunity to learn as much as to teach. I hope that he is able to see that those who disagree with him and his views are not his enemies, but fellow human beings following their own winding path. To recognize that insults and anger never changed a mind, but that calm and gentle conversation might; might even change his own.

I hope that he has faith; in himself, in others, in a greater power or greater good or in his own personal belief that defies creed. I hope that he finds comfort in whatever his faith may be. That he extends respect and reverence to the faiths of others. 

I want him to be the kind of man who is humble and brave and strong and proud and tough and kind and gentle. I want to raise him to be a man who understands that not every struggle will look like his, to give empathy to those struggling, to know that we are all struggling. 

I want to raise my son to be a fierce patriot, to love his country and countrymen, and while I hope he never feels the call to serve his country, I hope that if he does, he does so with courage and compassion. I hope that he is a man who understands that being a patriot sometimes means going against what the people in power say; that our country and people are many and diverse and that all our rights must be respected.  I want to see him grow to be a man to uses his voice and his vote carefully, to educate himself on the issues of the world he lives in, and to make his choices for the good of many, not the select few, and especially not just for his own interests. 

I'm a feminist because all of those things are what it means to be a feminist, and I hope that I raise my son to be a feminist. The future of this country is carried on the backs of our children; I am a feminist to give my son the strength to carry it forward. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016


The air this morning smells like fall. Soft and damp and cool and whispering of the winter to come. Even the roar of the trains feels muted by the closeness of the air, how low the clouds are, how silent the sky. It's a morning for thinking about the past, and the future, and the present barely exists. 

Fall. The season, and the action. This will be my 32nd fall, and I've fallen more times than I can count. Than I care to count. 
"You see, falling's not the problem, when I'm falling I'm at peace, it's only when I hit the ground that causes all the grief..." -Florence and the Machine
There's not a lot of positive ways to fall, when you think about it... We fall in love, that's a good one, but we fall out of love, too. We fall from grace and fall ill. Fall in the opinions of others. Fall from pedestals and fall out with friends. Fall to our knees and fall into despair and fall into depressions. 
It seems unfair for such a gentle season to share a name with such a bruising action. 

I've been awake since before the sun rose, daydreaming (is it daydreaming if it's not daylight yet?) and singing snippets of songs in my head.
I wrote one, a long time ago, my broken heart poured out onto a page and from my lungs into the air. It was loud and angry and aggressive, shouting my hurt. Now, all these years later, I want to re-write it for the softer, more yearning broken heart I carry now from more recent falls. 
"Was I worth what you got for me? Would you do it again? I'm alone now... And you let me down so easy..." -Heather Rowe 
Rewrite the fury into a ballad. Maybe that's what growing up looks like. 

I'm ready for a good fall this year. For a quiet season of changing, and then for the silent deep slumber of winter. I need the rest (there's another good word with a lot of interesting meanings). And then will come spring, with rebirth and growth and hope, and I hope I'll be ready for it.  

I love the way autumn smells faintly of rot and moldering leaves... New life is always preceded by death, and after death always comes decay. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beware: Girl Climbing Ahead

Nine years ago, in Joe's Valley, I sent my first (and only, to date) V4. 

                    Crusher face. 

Those Pimpin' Jeans. I'll never forget how proud I was, and how utterly crushed I was when Rocco laid into me for "grade chasing". He was trying to remind me, in his usual unapologetically brusque way, that the goal should be the love of climbing, not numbers, but to my pride it sounded like a condemnation, and a bit of an insult that I was so proud of v4; after all, he had sent double digits and was much less stoked on himself. 

That was almost the last day I ever climbed. 

I wish I had had the experience to understand and the courage to speak up then, as the tears I shed that day still haunt me as one of my greatest embarrassments. It wasn't the grade I was proud of, it was myself, that I had come so far from the scrawny little bar waitress who couldn't carry a tray of beer mugs to a scrappy rock climber who had just sent a problem that she had looked at the day before and said to herself, "There's no fucking way." I wasn't proud that I felt stronger than any other climber, I was proud because I felt stronger than I had ever thought I could be.  I was proud because in that moment, standing on top of that boulder, in that place, I realized what being a rock climber really meant and I realized that I was a part of that tribe. 

Now, nine years later, I know Rocco wasn't trying to crush my spirits. He was reminding me to enjoy the hike in and the warm ups just as much as that projects, and to not get too addicted to the rush of the hard send. It was good advice. It did crush me, though. It felt like being set apart from the tribe, that I wasn't quite there yet.

Nine years later, I'm in Bishop on a road trip. Yesterday was one of the single worst climbing days I've had in 11 years. I woke up with a sinus infection. I'm excited to get moving and go take a few runs on a project, though. 

           This one, to be exact. 2007.

I laid in bed and browsed Facebook while Tim checked in on work, and read a comment decrying women who are sponsored climbers despite only sending v6, because they're hot and post selfies with inspirational captions and how awful and sexist it is and so on and so forth. Where young Heather would've seen that as a personal condemnation and scour her Instagram to delete any cute selfies with too many hashtags that are making her look like less of a real climber, older wiser Heather who likes her fucking selfies and wears makeup to the crag and doesn't give a fuck what you think about #chickswhoclimb got kind of pissed. 

     Yeah, I selfie. You would, too, if your           eyeliner was that goddamn flawless. 

I replied. 

"(Name), I briefly got free gear, many years ago, and I to this day have never sent V5. The company gave it to me because I was on a 6 month road trip with my new husband, living in our truck, traveling and climbing and exploring. The company felt that our adventure embodied what this community is all about, living life to its fullest, being badass, regardless of grades. 
Personally, I find the whole concept of sponsorship only if you pull v12 or whatever demeaning; you can be an integral, important, powerful member of this community and not climb particularly hard. Why are grades so much more important than psyche? Does it make me less of a "real" climber to you that I don't climb hard, even if I've devoted a huge part of my life to climbing, even if I've traveled to and climbed at most of the bouldering areas in the Western US, even if I volunteer and vote and petition to maintain and improve access,  and keep areas clean and safe, etc? Does that only count if I pull double digits? Because, yo, I'm also a wife, and mother, and career woman, and I love climbing but hate training, and all those things together in a package means V motherfucking 4 for life, and I'm perfectly ok with that, and if that makes me less of a climber to you, well, you're kind of a jerk and not helping the female climbing community one bit."

I almost didn't hit send on that one. It felt defensive and a bit angry, and I suppose it is. Yet, it sums up my feelings on the matter pretty firmly, and it felt good to say it. 

Haggard sick tailgate terrible hair selfie, too. Because I fucking selfie. Suck it. 

V4 for motherfucking life. 

#ClimberChicksRock #SuckIt #LifeIsAwesome 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

New beginnings

March seems to be the turning point. 

As just about everyone knows, my Asher was stillborn at approximately 24 weeks in May of 2006. It was, and still is in many ways, the darkest time of my life. I felt so alone, completely cut off from the happiness of the world, and heartbroken. It's a feeling I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. 

           Look how tiny his feet were.

Fast forward to March, 2016. I have taken a position as business manager at a nonprofit, The JLB Project. Their (our) mission is to provide support and outreach to families who have lost a baby, due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in infancy. The morning I got the offer (and immediately accepted, despite having other probably more profitable opportunities), I was in a daze of happiness and excitement, and could not stop talking to Asher. "We did it, baby, we made it out and now we get to help other families make it out on the other side too. It wasn't for nothing. You never got to take a breath, but you're going to help people!" 
So many people who lived long lives never get to say that. 

It's going to be excruciatingly painful some days, I know. I don't have any illusions about that. But at the end of the day, I'm going to be able to use my professional experiences and my personal experiences to help people who are in the hardest, darkest time of their lives, and that's so worth reliving my own pain. 

Late winter feels like a perfect metaphor for life right now. The storms of the season aren't over, but the worst is behind me. The days are getting longer and warmer and new life is stirring, spring and summer are coming. I know that the storms will come again with the seasons, but I'll be better prepared and I'll be stronger. I'm ready to face the challenges the coming year will bring. 

Maybe I just needed the reminder that I've already survived things that most people can't imagine. I've come out tougher and braver and yes, much much sadder, but I've come out. If I can do that, and even be tough enough to dive back in and make it my mission to help others suffering what I suffered, then I can do anything. 
I've got this. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our first winter

I just realized that it's been since November that I last posted. Time flies when you're having fun, and this time by having fun I mean going from one low to the next. 

December 18th, the forest and city formally denied our access. And let us know that they'd be locking the gate on the 20th. Merry Christmas, homesteaders! 

We were supposed to have spent that weekend at Hueco Tanks, and instead spent it miserably looking at apartments, which we wouldn't have been able to get regardless because everyone here breed restricts. Tim, Rob, and I spent a lot of hours going back and forth and back again, trying to figure out what to do, and ultimately, after consulting a lawyer, decided that we're not going anywhere. This is our home, and we're not going to let the forest manhandle us out of our home. 

Shortly after Christmas, Tim, Havoc, and I left to spend some time in Texas with our families. Rob stayed behind to take care of the dogs and hold down the fort. Our trip to Texas consisted of illness, missed connections, misunderstandings, arguments, and as much fun as we could fit in between all those things. Meanwhile, Flagstaff was getting hit with the heaviest snow storm in 130 years. We got about three feet of snow at Serenity Valley, and Rob learned the very valuable and also costly lesson that the 4x4 in his Tundra is not up to the challenge of three feet of snow. 

See the truck down in that gully? Later snows buried it almost completely. The guys estimated that they moved 16,000 square feet of snow to get the truck out and back to the house. The truck runs fine, thankfully, but sustained body damage that broke Rob's heart a bit. 

The good news was that Tim's truck had been in Texas, and therefor was not snowed in. The bad news was that we were snowed out, and we could not get home. Our neighbors, Tom and Melinda, graciously offered to let us park at their house, and we hiked 1/4 mile, very literally uphill, home. 

That first hike home was, needless to say, goddamn brutal. 

It didn't take long before we realized that Havoc and I simply couldn't handle that hike on a twice daily basis, to school/work and back, with groceries and laundry, etc, even after Tim and Rob shoveled the entire 1/4 mile walk out of nearly knee deep snow. Gods among men, these two, I'm telling you. So, we bought a quad. Which I promptly wrecked, bending a rod a week in, required a week in the shop. 

Our water trailers are frozen. We can fill our jugs at midday on warmer days, other days Tim has a system rigged up with heat tape and the generator that thaws the valves enough to function. 

The coyotes are getting frighteningly bold, coming within a few dozen yards of the house a lot of nights, which is unsettling since I have to go outside every night to pee (in the snow, and it's usually in the negative degrees. Yay, homesteading!) and I can see them, like, rightfuckingthere. Three of them even followed Havoc and I one morning on our way to the truck. I didn't care for that so much. Neighbors have reported bear and cougar in the area recently as well, which hasn't done a lot for my peace of mind. 

The shiniest of all the many silver linings so far has been the wood stove. The glorious, glorious wood stove. Most days, we've been letting the fire go out around midday, because even if it's 25° outside, it's 80° in the tiny house. It's the best.

We also finally have our solar rig up and running, which means the concept of refrigeration has come gloriously back into my life! It's so cool to be able to just turn around and grab what I need, instead of going outside to the cooler on the porch. No more food spoiling one day and freezing the next! Modern conveniences are awesome. 

I was able to get my truck back home this past week, so no more freezing quad drives to the neighbors for H and I. The road is still very snowy and it's a stressful (but oh man so fun!) drive, but I can get in and out safely and that's been a huge boost for my overall mental wellbeing. 

It's been a tough first winter, you guys, but it looks as though we are tougher, and though we're learning an awful lot of really painful lessons the hardest way, we're getting through. The days are getting longer, and warmer, and we'll be much better prepared for next year. 

Here's to spring! And I promise, I'll post a less miserable update soon! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tiny House: Mission: Accomplished

We got our first snow yesterday. 

We barely made it into the tiny house in time, by a couple of nights! There are still details to finish, like the kitchen backsplash, and getting the solar set up, but we're in! 

It's amazing how warm it is in the house! Last night got into the teens, and even though our fire burns out around 1 am, it was still warm at 6:30 when we got up. Hooray for insulation. 

I'm slowly but surely decorating and getting organized. 

Snow days are so different here, in that it actually snows! It's pretty neat that Havoc gets to spend our first two snowy days at home! We're going to bundle up shortly and go find animal tracks; a rabbit ran circles around the trees just outside the living room window. 

It's 28 degrees here right now. It's 75 in Austin. Wow. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October, already?

On the 19th, we will have lived here for six months. A half a year has gone by. 

It's a beautiful fall here in Flagstaff. The leaves are changing, the days are getting cool and the nights are getting cold. Tim ran 14 miles up a mountain yesterday and found snow on the peaks. 

We aren't quite there on the house yet. Seems there are always delays in construction, especially when you're a three man crew with a five year old helper. 

We added some details that ate up a day, but will be very worth it once we're done! 

Texture went on yesterday, today we prime and paint. Once the flooring and trim go in, we can move in, although there will still be work to do. I know I've said it before, but we should be moving in mid next week. It really depends on the wood stoves arrival; without them it will be too chilly, and the trailer, although cramped, has heat. Next weekend is going to be cold and rainy, I'm hoping I can spend it cozily, unpacking some things and making my tiny house feel like home.