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The Millennial Battle Cry

Oh my God I’m so tired.

Anyone else? Like, the last two weeks for some reason I’m just completely exhausted. Still going through the motions, trying to be productive, make art, post to Instagram; but man, am I beat. I don’t feel physically stressed out- I mean, my hair isn’t falling out any more than normal and my skin is at standard acne level- but I have my suspicions that my pooped-ness is due to just that. Stress. The stress of being isolated and confined, trying to get a business off the ground, inner conflict about whether I’m even capable of it, stress about money, stress about health, not to mention the state of the union, the utter bludgeoning of bad news, etc… It’s all feeling rather insurmountable.

Mustard who gets plenty of rest


Speaking of insurmountable, Kyle and I went for a hike last Saturday to a place called Crafts Peak, way up high in the San Bernardino (pronounced, by me: “Bern-er-deen-er”) forest. I wanted to get outta town for a minute, get back into nature, and try to avoid people as much as possible (that’s a weird new feeling: wanting to get the F out of isolation but also wanting to avoid all people at all costs). After some casual research using the keyword/phrase “lightly trafficked,” I settled on Crafts Peak.

We drove about an hour east, then another 40 minutes Charlie Day’s North (re: straight up into the sky), arriving without much issue, save a couple little squabbles here and there about my subpar navigation skills and where the heck are we supposed to buy an Adventure Pass anyway? Parked the car in the sort-of designated area, and readied our bodies (ate Clif bars) and minds (went into denial) to ascend 1,600 feet farther up into the sky. 7.2 miles out and back, easy pease.

So, I don’t know if some people can see those numbers with their eyes and compute them in their brains, but apparently I can’t. It was a long hike. It was a tough hike. It was serious frickin’ exercise. But the views were nice. Multiple times, in the midst of catching our breath, hands-on-knees, hearts pumping at an alarming rate, we’d look over and say, “Well, this is incredible.” It was hot, and there wasn’t much shade, but the air smelled so lovely and tree bark-y. The trail, mostly a fire access road, was surrounded with gorgeous pines, big rocks, scurrying lizards and chipmunks. It was sort of like a hike back east, nary a cactus in sight. And, of course, the views were absolutely stunning. I gathered a whole bunch of inspiration for the ol’ art bank.

We could hear a thunderstorm off in the distance. I was so excited at the prospect of weather! But not so much when I realized that we’d be pretty close to lightning. No matter, it was still pretty far off; we kept on.

There were a few spots where Kyle (and I) had to trust my less-than-stellar navigation skills again, once the access road turned into an actual trail. The last bit was definitely the toughest, I’d say. We went through a damp-feeling, forested area positively teeming with buzzing buggos, which cleared out into a steep white-rock path. We could see the peak ahead, but we checked in at the bottom of that super intimidating path. Should we keep going? Are you okay? Yeah I’m okay. Just slow and steady. Yeah. Okay let’s do it.

Oof, killer. Thank God for those pilates videos. I mean, I was totally winded but if it weren’t for those videos I’d probably be actually dead.

Finally, FINALLY it flattened out. Then it was just us and the sky. And some rocks, plants, fire ants, and probably snakes. The thunderstorm was still mostly far off; we could see the rain falling over Big Bear to the southeast, a few strikes of lightning here and there. It was beautiful, really. There was so much to look at. Birds came bursting out of the bushes to congratulate us, and then to tell us “Lol jk it’s not over yet.” One more slight incline later and we were at the summit. However, we never reached the peak. Apparently to reach the true peak, one must risk walking through dense thicket pulsing with huge fire ants and populated heavily with scratchy pokey bushes; oh and then basically jump from boulder to boulder til the end. It’s, like, impossible. Nevertheless, we took a stab at it (literally, my legs are scratched up), but we didn’t get very far before any semblance of a path dead-ended and the hidden fire ants and snakes and whatever else made me decide it wasn’t worth it. We turned around and ate our oranges and Goldfish on the rock with the least dense population of fire ants. The view from that rock was still quite amazing.

One extra special super neato burrito thing that happened on our hike was getting rattled by a rattlesnake. On the way up, I just happened to look over to the right and see, what I assumed was, a sleeping rattlesnake. She/he seemed real relaxed, hanging out in a little crevice in the path. I called Kyle’s attention to it, snapped a photo and we moved along. On the descent, giddy with how much easier it is to go down, refreshing thunderstorm gusts at our back, we failed to notice the same rattlesnake coiled farther up the path than it had been on the way up.

I have been bitten by a snake before, but not a venomous one

“JESUS CHRIST!” Kyle exclaimed, and jumped back. I ducked behind him. The noise the snake made seemed fake. At first, for a split second, I was more startled by Kyle than by the sound of the rattle. And then I eyed the scaley beast, rearing its head, mouth wide, tail a-shaking. It’s SO MUCH louder than you expect it to be. He hurriedly passed it, while I stayed back, watching it watch him, stunned. “Walk around! Walk around!” I heard Kyle telling me what to do. “I should just keep going??!” I asked him (his answer to that question whenever I ask it in whatever context is always yes, by the way). After a half second of R E C A L C U L A T I N G I yeeted myself clear of the snake. WHEW.

So, that was exhilarating.


A photographer he ain't

I’m excited to squeeze some watercolors out of the experience. My current climb is to keep making art in the face of exhaustion and stress and maybe even a lil tinge of depression. The experience of trying to kick things into gear with my art business has been a lot like the climb up to Crafts Peak. There are periods of gradual incline, periods of steep scrambling, instances of fear, times when I think I’ve done all the work I can and it’s not enough. And I tell you what, going down is way easier. The backslide with making art is smooth and quick. Luckily for me, I’ve got someone who I can irritate with my directional inability who stays by my side and tells me to keep going. So here I go, keeping going.

Sometimes it’s not fun. It’s not super fun right now. It’s a lot of marketing and promotion and website stuff and tapping into the algorithm and hashtags. But I’m finally back at the easel, and I’ve finished two pieces and started a third. That feels good. One foot in front of the other. And don’t forget to ice the knees.

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