the beginnings of a sweater….
Wild (Cheryl Strayed)

(pictured: author, age 26, on her hike)

This book is pure fantasy & I read it up in 3 days. I needed to see what happens when a single girl goes on a 3-month hike with just a backpack. I want & need to do this, a long-term hike by myself. (I’m in discussions with my friend to bike across country for 3 months, but it’s just in dream stages right now, as jobs and lives hold things up.)  It could be the Pacific Crest Trail, which the author chose, or the Appalachian Trail, which Bill Bryson attempted in A Walk in the Woods (attempted, being the key word of that book – the focus is more on a funny tale of misadventures v. a tale of self-overcoming-obstacles as it is in Wild).

There is such a huge degree of mind control with that much physical exertion, pain, loneliness, unknown factors, and extreme weather/discomfort.  The author deals with this in a somewhat cheesy way, but I bought into her mantra about fear: “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” Total mind control.

Yes, I know, she is a really shitty person for sleeping around on her nice husband & doing heroin. HOWEVER, losing a mom, and effectively a family, in addition to having prior daddy issues à cut her some slack.

The book is at times self-serving (circa dialogue concerning author being super tough because she is hiking the PCT, being a woman alone) – though what memoir isn’t? There is also a lot of cheesy writing involving everything coming full circle. But at its core, it’s really an escapist book, more than it is anything else. Reader puts self in author’s shoes, wants to be self-revelatory author.  But this book wins an award by fulfilling what I attempted to fulfill with Hiking Alone (Mary Beath), which had some of the same pitfalls but to a much greater extent (the cheesiness, the self-serving stories, etc).

The author’s feet – a gruesome tale. I must remember the terrors of the bloodiness involved with ill-fitting shoes when I go on my trip.

Flagrant Conduct (Dale Carpenter)

Fascinating contextual backdrop to the heroic case of Texas v. Lawrence (2003), the U.S. Supreme Court case that took the crime of “homosexual conduct” (i.e. sodomy OR oral sex) off the books. Yes, “homosexual conduct” was illegal in some states up until 2003.

Carpenter spends too much time assessing the facts, timing, and stories of all the people involved to theorize whether or not Garner and Lawrence were actually having sex the day the Texas cops busted into the apartment. It seems they probably were not. But the more important thing is: it doesn’t matter. It’s funny that it doesn’t matter, but neither side – the State nor the defense – wanted the real facts to ever be tried or to come to light. The State, because then the cops would have been egregious in misconduct (“Black guy, white guy, apartment, naked” = perfect cop-lying-breeding-ground). And the defense, because if there was no sex, they would not be able to make a claim that people can have sex in the privacy of their homes.

What a serendipitous string of strange events coming together to create Texas v. Lawrence.  The officers had to arrest the 2 men, even though “homosexual conduct” was merely a fine (and not an arrestable offense). The common-man defendants had to be interested in pleading no contest, appealing the case to the highest court, and losing any modicum of privacy. The gay judicial clerk talking about the incident at a gay bar, where a gay activist heard about it and got in touch with infamous civil rights lawyers. The Texas courts finding that the “homosexual conduct” statute was constitutional, allowing the defense team to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court granting cert to review! The rather conservative Court striking down the law!

It was super interesting to get this view “behind the scenes” of a case making its way to the USSC: the way the lawyers constructed the case in focusing on the family concept, as opposed to the right to have homosexual sex, or how they consulted numerous attorneys who had been clerks to certain justices on the Supreme Court in drafting their briefs.  Even though I knew what the ultimate decision was by the Court, my body broke out into chills – a feel-good moment: gays have some rights, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

thorns thorns thorns in tires…..if i get a flat again this week, i’m throwing my bike off of a roof 

guiding a well-marked mini trail at Tsankawi
Bandolier cavates
phenom picture at Bandolier
Bandolier National Monument - my 3rd visit, but my most expansive, as we walked the Falls trail, as well as visited the Tsankawi ruins
hoooooot spriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiings. to ourselves