A Study of Murphy’s Law Part Three: Letting Go

All summer long I knew that the only closure I would get would have to come from Hermit’s. I needed to see that you were no long down there, waiting. My heart raged for days before we hit that trail, and I prayed and prayed and prayed that if you were still there, that I would find you. And if you weren’t, that I would learn to stop looking.

When we went back down Hermits a week before I left, the Canyon fought back with everything it had. We packed as light as all get out and I felt sick knowing that if you were down there, I wouldn’t have enough to save you. The whole hike down I looked for you in every crevasse, I looked for you between boulders and under trees, I believed that I would be able to see your plaid shirt someplace that everyone else had missed. You were everywhere. I saw you crawling across every rock layer, gaunt and accusing and ready for salvation, and I was so afraid to touch you with these cursed hands of mine. When we reached the place where we met, I stopped breathing. I kept hiking but I stopped breathing until I could no longer maintain that kind of anabolic activity and sat down midtrial and erupted into tears. My hiking group joined me and Jamie’s calm lake aura settled on my shoulder while Joe and Jacob looked skeptically from rocks across the path. It took ten minutes of hyperventilation and telling you not to come back unless you were coming back until we were able to push on. I lost feeling in my hands and face but when we reached Hermit’s creek, I felt at ease.

My friends made me laugh every second of that hike and I slipped into a post-panic attack nap with my head propped up on a rock and the bubbling stream of life slowly rocking my ears to sleep. After eating dinner and drinking some beer we went to sleep with most of us laid out like sardines, open to the Canyon on top of a blanket. I didn’t sleep a wink. I felt bugs crawling all over us and I stared at the clouds rolling past the starry night sky and I figured if you had turned into a Canyon ghost now was the time you would come pull me over the edge the nearest cliff.

We woke up at two AM to start hiking and within half an hour we encountered a rattlesnake that nearly took off Jamie’s foot and set Joe off on a puking spree. Jamie and I continued on a stupid voyage across the Tonto while the boys went back up Hermits. It was so dark and we had never been on that trail before and I felt like I could slide right off of that darkness over the edge of something no one else in the world has ever seen. I wasn’t suicidal, just disconnected. We got lost some three times and ended up at a washed out campsite with no direction, no sunlight, and no hope. We debated our options and realized that Merril’s wife, and “the experienced hiker”, and you were plaguing both of our minds. This was the place where people disappear and are never found. Only after a massive scorpion that I now know is apparently the most poisonous scorpion in N. America almost made it’s way up my pant leg did we spring out of there back in the direction we came from, almost getting lost once again.

We caught up with the boys and took our sweet time getting out of that rebellious ravine, tossing around the idea that maybe Hermit’s is so terrible because it’s rebelling against the gondola that used to be installed there. Its chaos is a form of resistance to the colonization by humankind. When I exited the Canyon that time, I wasn’t crying and I felt lighter, but I still missed you. I still miss you. And I mourn for the future of that place that will only get less wild from here on out if mankind has anything to do with it.

A good friend of mine recently wrote to me saying, “Leave the Canyon behind. There are much greater adventures to be had…” and I know she meant I have to leave you behind too. But I don’t know how. You were the two minutes I let go, the rope I let slip through my fingers, the trigger my shaking finger pulled without knowing it was even attached to a hand that held a gun. I do not know how to leave you behind. Just as every stranger at night is the man that pressed a knife against my chest, every lone traveler I see is you. They’re all you. I still see that place where we met so clearly, as if Michelangelo himself painted that encounter on the backs of my eyelids. Maybe I am still carrying around the weight of your empty gallon jug. I have taken every step necessary to not think about why my shoulders feel so heavy but God, they feel heavy. Everything here feels heavy, especially the oxygen content of the atmosphere.

I liked to refer to the Canyon as the epicenter of chaos, a spinning blackhole that pulls reality apart the closer you get to the edge of it. From day one everything felt dystopian. The tourists felt like visitors to the zoo, completely unknowing of how easy it would be for the tiger in the cage to rip their throats out. Week one, we had the gunman. We lay flattened in our beds giggling out of fear as we watched shadows glint past our window followed by the echo of a cops command. Every week there was something new and unexpected and completely wrong. It was Murphy’s Law, anything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and the closer you got to the edge of the Canyon, the worse it became. There was everything from alarms that went off at random, love triangles, mountain lions, rashes, the girl we found in the woods, landslides, cactus battlewounds, and you. And that’s just the short list. I remember asking my roommate if the national park she had worked at last summer was like this. She said, “no, this is different”.

A few weeks after you went missing, that same roommate speculated that the Canyon wasn’t the black hole of destruction, but that I was. She said that all these things that were happening only happened to her when she was with me. I didn’t want her to be right because that would mean that you would have made it out alive if our paths hadn’t intersected. A week later, she was at the part of the Canyon where that one guy shot himself and I wasn’t there with her and even though I grieved for his life and for that exposure she had to experience, I took it as a sign that maybe, just maybe it wasn’t all my fault. The piece of my heart that lives in England has had made that claim before, the claim that chaos gravitates towards me. He called it The Asfeldt Effect™. I had always just assumed that my life was slightly off kilter, overlapping with a dimension humans are not supposed to be able to perceive. He was the first person to ever make me believe that unpredictability was beautiful.

The whole summer felt like I was just holding my breath waiting for the next piece of chaos to occur, like I was standing frozen in a forest full of dead trees and wind of 40 mph. Who knew when the next log would come toppling down, who knew who would be under it when it landed. After you, I secretly hoped I would be under the next one.

I wonder if I had never met you, if I would be able to let go of Arizona, if coming back to Oklahoma wouldn’t have been/be so hard for me. I still hold my breath every time I see the sun set and I still feel the cardinal pull to the West when I close my eyes. No matter where I was in Arizona, I always knew exactly which direction the Canyon was. It was like a sixth sense that left faint traces of blood along my teeth and no matter how much water I drink, my thirst for desert sand cannot be quenched. I am trying to let you and the Canyon go and I think I am getting there but it still feels an awful lot like I am losing a part of myself in the process, and losing a part of God too. He was so real and relatable and accepting of my neurotic backward hell-bent on running away type of darkness when I sat cross legged at the edge of that void, but here He is starting to feel more and more like expectations I will never meet and answers I will never receive. I know that is not the truth of who He is, but this life is not the truth of who I am and I think the Holy Spirit feels that disconnect.

Now, I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to that land of destructive enchantment, but I do know that it both broke my heart and made me laugh at the same time and I think that means something. It will always be the balance between the nearness of death and the beauty of life. I want to go out into The Beyond with as much bravery as those mountain goats that disobeyed gravity had, but I am still learning to forgive my chattering teeth and eyes that dampen at everything. Please forgive me if one day I walk out into a new daylight and I do not take you with me; I cannot carry you forever. Omar didn’t want me to, and I don’t think the real you would want me to either.

If you’re reading this, and now I’m speaking to all of you, not just Ralph, don’t settle for only telling stories of the past, but lay awake at night next to the hearts that beat for you and write new stories with them in the constellations of every boring nightstand lamp. Hold the hands of those holding your hands and allow your past to stay in your past and allow forgiveness to be a word you recognize in every language. There will be more Canyons and we will find the next fingerprint of God and some people will have enough faith for the rest of us to rest our weary heads and say, “I’m not sure 100% of the time but still I will choose love.” I suppose I will always feel a subconscious pull towards that desolate terrain, but I will choose to keep my eyes fixed on the horizon and I will know that the sun rises just as fiercely on adventures filled with sidewalks and street lamps as it does on adventures filled with rivers and rock layers. May you rest in peace, my Canyon, and may you always bring peace to those that rest in you.

Pangea Project: A Worldwide Concert Experience

Once again I found myself surprised to find myself in Sharp Hall on a Friday night with my parents. And yes, once again I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the performance I was witnessing. Most of the musicians were playing more than one instrument and it was clear they weren’t just “jacks of all trades but masters of none,” these guys really knew how to play. I guess that was the reason that the entire place was packed full of eager and ready listeners. The crowd was lively, excited, and the musicians fed off the energy. The music was unlike anything I had ever heard before as they mixed music from different regions of the world. I was impressed by the ingenuity of the performers and their willingness to venture off the beaten path to create sounds I had never even come close to hearing before. Once again, a phenomenal international concert brought to The University of Oklahoma!

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Acai, The Super Fruit

Awwww the magic of Acai! I had heard about it for years as the magical health benefits of the fruit seemed to make its way onto every newspaper ad and into every health food store across America!! When I finally has the chance to try it I committed in a BIG way. Indeed, I asked for the super bowl which equated to 4-5 normal servings! Luckily for me I was hungry and luckily for me I loved the stuff! When I found out that the college of International and Area Studies was promoting Brazil study abroad by handing out Acai I was intrigued! I loved the various events all across campus and was sure to show up everytime they announces there would be Acai! While it didn’t take Acai to convince me to study abroad in Brazil in the first place I hope that it was enough to convince others to do it! Brazil week was a great event and the Acai made it even better! If you’re thinking of traveling or studying abroad be sure to consider Brazil!

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Hey Cinderella

In honor of Halloween, I figured I’d talk about how studying abroad makes me feel like a princess.

I could take this post a lot of directions, but for now I think a conversation I had with one of my flatmates best describes it. I was explaining how I was planning on missing a class later in the week because I had plans to experience part of the city. She called it punk and I laughed. “I don’t really know who I am sometimes,” I chuckled, “I would never do this in the states.”

That’s true. In the states, back home, I am much more responsible. I am more uptight. I wake up, study, go to the activities that look good on my resume, do homework, shower, go to bed. Hopefully, I eat somewhere in there if I remember to do so. Weekends, I catch up on work and sleep. I spend time with family and friends doing the same tired old things. I am not necessarily fun. I am not spontaneous.

Here in Puebla, I have become a second, better, version of myself. I (like to believe I) am fun, spontaneous, adventurous. I laugh more and worry less. Sometimes I skip class to try a new restaurant or see a new sight. I stay up late because tacos taste better at 3 AM. I start conversations with uber drivers even though I know that I am probably going to make a fool of myself. On the weekends, I go dancing even though I know I can’t dance. Homework is important, but experiences are more so. I try foods like cactus and crickets. I kiss the boy. I wear that thing in a way I’ve always wanted to, but never had the courage to.

Yet, as we move into the last full month of my study abroad experience, I feel like I am Cinderella and my midnight is approaching. And when I go home, I fear that the carriage turns back into a pumpkin, the dress becomes tattered, and I end up with only one shoe but there will be no Prince Charming chasing after me. I know, though, that since I have experienced this life, gotten out of the every day dust and seen in the light of a new country the things I can be, that I can work to embrace this person when I return home.

I have fallen in love with who I am. I like this Cinderella version of myself. I believe she’s here to stay.

Study abroad and get your own Cinderella moment, because I assure you that it is absolutely life changing.

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Viva Mexico

My time in Mexico is flying straight past me. I am excited for Dia de los Muertos. At my exchange university they have put up ofrendas or altas de los muertos. They are extremely beautiful.

This past month I have seen so much of Mexico. I have been to Mexico City (so huge!!) and Cuetzalan (the mountainside is beautiful) and much more. I feel like my spanish is finally (yet slowly) improving and I am making many friends here in Mexico.

I am enjoying my time in Mexico and I feel I have learned so many things about the Spanish language and Mexican culture that you can’t learn in a class.

I still miss many things about home but right now my heart is here in Mexico. Its a completely different thing to live in a country than it is hearing about said country on the news.

The stereotypes that people have about Mexico are not the full story.

I would highly recommend the OU in Puebla program to any students who are considering studying abroad in Latin America. Also Puebla is so much better than Mexico City (to me at least). It’s the perfect size and it’s very beautiful. From Cholula to the zocalo.

I’ve fallen in love with Puebla!

Adios, Solana

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Baahubali- ‘One with Strong Arms’

One of my favorite pastimes is watching movies, whether it is a silent film, a foreign film, a cult classic, or a new action packed blockbuster, I’ll watch just about anything once. I had just gotten out of a long day of class on Thursday, October 19 and I was casually sitting on campus and decided to scroll through my Facebook feed, unwinding for a bit. I saw an event pop-up on my timeline from the Indian Student Association (ISA), stating that they would be showing the film Baahubali: The Beginning. I realized I had no plans, and nothing to study for (relatively speaking, this is college there is literally always something to study for), so I decided to head over and watch the film. I have never been to an ISA event on campus, but I was not too worried, you don’t have to know people well to sit around and watch a film with them. Baahubali is actually a Tollywood film, which simply means it is apart of Telugu Cinema, which is another film market in India where the films are typically in the Telugu, or Bengali.

Growing up as a kid, my mother and I used to watch Bollywood music videos on Saturday mornings, so going to watch this movie was an nostalgic experience for me. Whether it’s Tollywood, or Bollywood I adore the vibrant characters and colors within the films. I love the exaggerated acting, the fast-paced romantic developments, and of course the choreography and melodic tunes, of the musical numbers. If you ever find yourself in a bad mood, I would strongly encourage you to watch an Indian film, you will laugh, cry, and rejoice with the characters onscreen. Also, it just offers a differing experience from some of the monotony from many of the films produced in the United States currently, don’t get me started on our film industry though, that could be a whole blog series. All I’m going to say I throughly enjoyed the movie, and will be watching Baahubali 2: The Conclusion on Netflix soon. So, if you are debating whether or not you should go to a new event by yourself I say go for it, I had a great time and made a couple new friends.

The Impact of MP3s on Music Consumption – “The Distortion of Sound”

 

In today’s world, we are completely surrounded by music. Everywhere we go, people are listening to music on their phones, and in their cars. However, what we are hearing is merely a shell of the original recording. This is because, in order to shrink the files down so that they can be stored digitally, the audio is compressed, and up to 90 percent of the original recording is removed. As a self-proclaimed “music junkie”, watching the documentary “The Distortion of Sound” and learning this was concerning.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect is that most music consumers don’t know that there’s a difference, or they know but don’t care, because of the convenience of digital services. For many people, digital is all they know, and they have yet to experience music at its full quality.

For me, watching this documentary also led to a realization: The compression of audio files is likely one of the main reasons I love live music so much. I have been an avid concert-goer since the age of 13, but I didn’t have much of a valid explanation as to why, other than enjoying the energy provided by being in a crowded room surrounded by other music fans. Now, however, I have realized that another reason I enjoy live music so much is because it is one of the only ways to hear songs as the artist intended, rather than a crappy low-res rendering.

To learn more, and to watch the film for yourself, visit www.distortionofsound.com

Track Review:“Trouble”-Five Finger Death Punch

Yesterday, Five Finger Death Punch released their first single since 2015’s Got Your Six album, titled “Trouble”. The track is one of two new songs being released on their upcoming greatest hits record. While it’s a solid rock track, and it  does contain the distinct “FFDP” sound, it barely grows from their past material. It’s a decent song, but it also sounds like it could be pulled directly from any of their past efforts (except maybe their debut The Way of the Fist, which was more metal-esque). The guitar patterns and drum fills sound all too familiar, and while vocalist Ivan Moody does seem to be in a better place following a tumultuous year of on-stage meltdowns, if they want to stay relevant, they’re going to need to do some evolving.

Rating: 3/5

Wine Tasting: Big House White

Name: Bootlegger White

Variety: White grape blend

Region: California

Country: USA

Year: 2014

Price: $8.99

Winemaker Description:

My Review:

I really liked this wine and I was definitely surprised by the amount of body it has. I thought it would be pretty light bodied because it’s a white wine, but I think the grapes the winemaker mixed together ended with a more medium bodied wine. It was mostly clear with a green tint and had hints of lemon, grapefruit and honey in the smell. The taste comes across as really sweet at first, but then I could make out some of the complexity of the wine, and the sweetness was cut with fairly high acidity that blended together pretty well. Some of the more specific flavors in the wine were lemon, melon, and honey with vanilla.

I drank this wine by itself and it was pretty tasty, and then I tried it with lasagna and it wasn’t that great. It just goes to show that you really need to think about what food you pair with what wine. I think it would go really well with some sort of chicken back though.