The Alpha Blonde

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This article was written on 30 Oct 2013, and is filled under parenting, travel.

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Mariposa- what a rush.

I’ve been taking baths at night and reading to wind down and sleep better.  It helps a little, but the book time has been killer.  I’ve finished Heavy Hangs the Head by Taryn Hipp and Blow Drying a Chicken by Molly Fisk and can’t believe I haven’t been reading more all along.  Remember the good old days of challenging myself to read more total pages than the year before?  I blew that wad on War and Peace and have been easing back into the practice of reading for fun.  I also, most recently, went through a phase where I was heavily into nutrition books and food industry expose tomes.  No wonder the concept of “a good read” seems so…wait for it… novel.  Actually those were both non-fiction but…shut up.

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So I’ve been working my way through the books I’ve accumulated lately from people I almost kind of know or have had a chance to briefly meet.  Taryn Hipp is friends with my saving grace best friend Aurora Lady and I figured that with my past experiences with alcoholism, coupled with the fact that she’s been someone Aurora speaks highly of, I’d probably be able to take a lot from her memoir.  And I did.  It was well written in the voice of someone who could easily be one of my friends (she’s a zinester, too!) and it felt like sage wisdom and a cautionary tale while completely triumphant all at once.  It was well worth getting the pages a little wet from a poorly judged plop down mid-bath on the edge of the tub.

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I met Molly Fisk through our mutual friend Julia.  Molly was coming to Fresno to do a poetry reading and Julia suggested I get in touch with her.  I arranged for her to be a guest on Chuck’s show and immediately knew I wanted to know more about her.  She read a poem live on the air that was beautiful, erotic and witty- I don’t even know which poem it was now, but I was mesmerized.  I felt that flutter in my stomach that said “Start writing again, you fool!  You could be like her one day!” when she mentioned that she has been a poet for under 25 years.  “See, you didn’t miss your chance to be a writer, you can start now!” it nagged.  I ordered a copy of her collection of essays right away when it was released.  Funny, sometimes sad, always said in a way that was completely relate-able.  A few of the essays made me stop and think about how near we might be to the end of the world and I felt the panic she mentioned in them.  Leave it up to a poet to say things in a way that you can’t escape them.

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The next book in my stack was High Country Women by Chris Enss.  This is what the post was actually going to be about before I got derailed talking about books.  I got into the tub yesterday, my back wincing from sliding onto the sides still chilly from this first hint of the cold weather coming our way, and I started in on another non-fiction book- this one about the women of Yosemite.  This book ended up in my hands during our trip to Mariposa in August.  The author and CA Assembly member Kristin Olsen were doing a book signing at the Mariposa Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center that I was about 10 minutes too late to, but I still was able to get a signed copy.

And then, laying there unflatteringly under the light+fan combo that’s a bit too bright in my bathtub that’s a bit too small for real comfort it hit me- I missed Mariposa.  Lifelong Californian Confession Time: I have never, ever been to Yosemite.  Ever.  I feel like a failure, this gem that people get PISSED about closing during the government shutdown because they’d traveled the world to see it, right here in the back 40 and I’ve never taken a single Saturday to go see what the fuss is about.  In August I made it to Mariposa and fell so in love with the town that we didn’t even bother to push further into the park.  So I’m still a total dork for that.  You can’t fault me, though.  You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever spent any time in Mariposa.

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I work my butt off all day for an amazing organization that works it’s butt off to get people in Fresno to give a darn about Fresno.  Sometimes it works and we can see where we’ve made a dent in the perception of downtown, sometimes it feels like a hammer to the teeth.  Then I went to Mariposa, saw the streets full on Friday night of locals and tourists supporting the restaurants and bars.  The gift shops with gems and knick-knacks were open late, too!  It was dark and they still were helping customers!  I heard so many languages passing by me, a markedly metropolitan thing that managed to feel just as at home in an unincorporated town. At the park it felt like the whole community was out mingling and tapping their toes along to the live music on stage.  Kids were rolling down the hills and even accepted my kids into their play, much to the breathlessly laughing joy of my daughter and she rolled down again and again and again, running to the top of the hill hand in hand with another little girl.  They were there and it wasn’t forced.  I realize that comparing Fresno to Mariposa is ridiculous, but I learned that Mariposa had had it’s fair share of problems and had been revitalizing for years to come to this point.  Just that alone is enough to help me carry a torch for that kind of community involvement on our own main street.

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Everywhere we went we felt welcome, we got a tour of the historic courthouse and jail, a trolley ride and some great question and answer time at their chamber of commerce when I wandered down there while the rest of the family was napping.  I truly fell in love with their way of life, their scenery and their history as a mining town.  The moment I walked into the backyard of the home we were staying in for the weekend and looked out at the hills in the distance and the grapes happily trellised in the foreground I looked at Chuck and whispered “I could live here.” I’ve never felt that connection with another place, ever.  I’ve always been Fresno-centric.  I was wooed by the blue sky and different pace of life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about leaving Fresno- there’s still a lot of things I want to be part of here, but I have my heart fixed on Mariposa, tucked away in the “someday” files.  For now, I’ll have to be content with visiting Mariposa- maybe even making it to Yosemite for once.

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I scrambled out of the tub and dripping, sent Chuck a text: “I miss Mariposa.”

His response: “Weren’t you going to make a video of our trip for your blog?”

So here it is- our trip to the “home of Yosemite” in a neat little minute and thirty second montage.

PS- yeah, that title was totally a Gold Rush pun.  Sorry, Mariposa.  You may not want nor accept my affections after that one…

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