the north atlantic ocean makes me a little too pensive

It's on a darkened plane, stiffening corpse behind 5x4 pixelated screen, that it strikes me: I live in the future.

Outside, the same sailor-charted stars shine as we hurtle along - 600 miles an hour, in temperatures that could kill a man. We make a year of antiquity's journey in the space of a television episode while the stranger beside me is in earbuds, listening to another time's even. This is a world of genius trifles: ADD-dulled miracles and frivol magic.

Great Scott. What am I doing here? Here, in the future? 

So much of travel is wanting to see something past. But we wanderers can never truly see what we would like to see. All we can do is scrape at shadows of it - in a museum or an antique shop, deluding ourselves with flashes. Rarely are we satisfied with our moment - preferring instead to dwell on someone else's. 

All tourism is nostalgia. All nostalgia is tourism. 

Is all travel just an attempt to escape our own present? Our own futures? Is my whole trip just an attempt to escape? I am going to the future of another place - if not civilization's cradle, then its boarding school. But do I really want to be there, or would I rather have gone to the past?

Does it even matter? Even if I'd have rather traveled to 1964, I can't. Cosmically and historically speaking, how often do we end up where and when and with what we want? Just about never.

But this time, this place is just the moment I want - because I want to spend it with these two. I want this trip. This life. This morning.

Outside the window is a quiet dawn, but an electric one. London, here I come. 

K: Did you know that sharks eat their own siblings in utero?!

K: What?

K: YES. A shark will have two wombs, and one shark fetus eats all the other shark feti in its womb. Then two are born.

K: That's... I was reading about wax museums, and you had to bring up Shark Cannibalism.

K: Wax museums are just as if not more creepy than sharks eating their siblings.

K: You know, you're right.

an evening with the bennions

K:     No, that was the one about the Irish eating their children.

J:     Eugh!

K:     He was a satirist.

M:     Meaning he wrote satire, not that he was part goat.

D:     Satirist vs. satyr-ous? Have you thought about this one before?

M:     I work with eighth-graders. It actually comes up all the time.


I've always dreaded the "Where are you from?" question.

In an eight-year span, I've moved ten times. I've lived in four states and two countries, attending six different school districts before graduating from high school. In all actuality, I don't know where I'm from. But no one particularly cares to hear the whole convoluted history of my residency, so I usually just say, "Utah."

Then, the other night, I had an epiphany. Debating idioms, someone told me, "We say it differently back East. You come from the West."

And a voice inside me said, yes.

I come from Uintah cattle-ranches and immigrant football clubs.

I come from potato farmers and Mexican polygamist-colonists.

I am the product of fat handcart girls and hard-headed Danes, generations of half-mad people carving out a living in the blizzarding desert.

I come from ideals of freedom and diversity and friendliness. I come from ruggedly beautiful country.

I come from the place that people risk their lives to come to, where dreams shine brighter than the journey and are sometimes never realized.

I am from the West, the American West. And, for the first time in my life, I am happy to be so.

Where I'm from isn't who I am. But, at the same time, it is. I had to come to Wyoming to brush the Western chip off my shoulder and learn to love my big-sky, laborious heritage.

Still spitting politics. Still feminizing. Still me. But I'm now more at ease with my roots and myself. And it's a good place to be.

wildlife guide: cougar/puma/mountain lion/panther/catamount/painter/screamer/sneak cat/deer tiger/long tail/catawampus/fire cat/quinquajou edition, ten fun and/or gruesome facts

1. My roommate's father's chicken was killed by the only one in North Carolina.

2. On a wildlife field trip in sixth grade, the caged cougar meowed. Hannah Gunther was there. She can attest.

3. They are very difficult to taxiderm.

(Or so it would seem.)

4. They are said to inhabit Yellowstone but no one ever sees them because they are too stealthy. They are the ninjas of North America.

5. They have the widest range of any animal on the continent, from the Yukon to the Andes. Some people try to distinguish them ("Well, Holmes, that is an south-by-south eastern western wildcat"), but they are deceiving themselves. No matter what you call one, it is tantamount to a catamount.


7. They hold the world title for Animal With Most Names in A Single Language. There are 40+. I was going to put them all in the title, but my interface balked.

8. My neighbor once hit one with his car. (!!!)

9. Roommate's father's chicken's death notwithstanding, they have been declared extinct back east.


They are beautiful.