Anne tagged me, let’s do this.

Name: Carly Casper
Nickname: Carly Casper
Birthday: 1991
Gender: newtonian genderfluid
Sexuality: trees and tree-link humanoids
Time Zone: 
What time and date is it there:
Average hours of sleep I get each night: 8, solid. Protip: don’t half-ass your effort when it comes to yo body, kids.
The last thing I googled was: “mosquitoes in streetlight”
My most used phrase(s): ”bring me more jarlsberg, dammit”
First word that comes to mind: frenemies
What I last said to a family member: ”olive juice”
One place that makes me happy & why: the Valle Vidal in New Mexico, because I lose myself in smells: the dust and the sage and the buffalo hair
How many blankets I sleep under: very many. what’s your angle?
Favorite beverage(s): the blood of my haters
The last movie I watched in the cinema: 
Three things I can’t live without: cat ears, cat whiskers, cat bellies
Something I plan on learning: money things
A piece of advice for all my followers: no half measures


9/1/14 - labor day


the crickets followed me home today,
iowa to indiana, all the way across,
chirping and buzzing.

some people never take a day off.

i hurtled across I-74 all afternoon,
sun beating into my sometimes-home,
transporting air across the states.
doing my work to mix things up,
doing my work to feed my brain
a steady diet of grain elevators and
gas prices.

some people never take a day off.

my stomach churned the potato chips
and pulled pork, my skin oozed lake water
and my heart beat a little stronger
with the help of new friends.
peoria came too soon, the sunset
closed the most recent chapter in
a government-funded love story.
indiana arrived darkly, and it was all
very metaphorical—the universe was
making its jokes again.

some people never take a day off.

the radio talked of the hurt people:
the pained parents, the dead parents,
the famous parents, the shouting
parents. it seemed too personal so i rode
in silence,
then i filled that silence in my head with memories
of the happy parents on rental pontoons,
the proud parents eating chili,
the not-yet-parents practicing smiles.

some people never take a day off.

Until Next Year

I recently had the opportunity to return to my summer job for a few weeks to help finish out the season. I left after my last class on the first of August, tearing out of the parking garage with no place to live but New Mexico. The drive was long, bad but not too bad, and over much too quickly. I arrived onsite early morning on August 3rd, parked at the HQ office, stepped out and breathed in the soft scents of infinite joy—hot canvas tents, quartz dust, ponderosa pines, the old band-aid smell of the infirmary, the sour muddy smell of burst earthworms drying out in the mid-morning sun. I could even smell the thinness of the air, a “sweet, lucid” taste as Edward Abbey called it, like synesthesia scents of clarity, reassurance, and navajo blanket patterns. I saw sights and heard sounds seared into my memory by overexposure: the iconic ridge over base camp, the rows of tents, the squish and scratch of ranger feet over that precise gravel in tent city, velcro, belt buckles, pack clips, carabiners, velcro, velcro. The language came back to me and flowed from my mouth as if I’d never been away. The sounds were mine, the sights were mine, the scents were mine, the coldwarm air was mine, the dialect was mine, the fine cardboard taste of the food was mine. It was as real as in my memories, as in the fantasies I’d had in the weeks leading up to my return, almost as if it had never really left me. It had never not been mine.

(I always get this feeling returning to the west. The first time I saw the Pacific Ocean as a child I remember thinking finally, I’m here. Every return has been a homecoming.)

Coming at this point in the season, my arrival lacked the larger-meaning zen profundity I’ve always felt in years past—I had a focus, a specific job, there was little time to do anything but good work. Finally, I’m here. I was whisked into the backcountry in a matter of days and then it was work work work, it was the rejuvenation of a burnt-out staff, it was the put-off and handed-down tasks that needed to be done. It was the tender, intimate end-of-life care necessary to prepare the place I love for a winter in the Rockies. Between the laborious work and customer service detail with visitors, I managed to get (most of the way) up the big mountain once, knock out a few smaller ones, walk some new trails, bag some ridges and unforeseen pleasures, make new friends, and visit old friends as close as family.

It ended quickly, and it ended well. I added new scents to my registry (coal smoke, paydirt, the cold must of the mine) and enriched my memories. It was a great, strange ordeal, like high-intensity-interval-training for the soul. There’s no better therapy than nature, no greater teacher than the need for self-reliance, no greater insight than that found on the trail. There is an essence to the west—from the big sky, over the rockies to the rainforest, down the ocean to the borderlands, around the big bend and back out to the high plains—that fosters rich thought, lucid insights, and a deep and unfocused love that fills you brimming. My hope is that I have managed to abscond with some of that essence inside my own heart, that I can hold onto that love for at least nine more months.

Until next year. Come on baby, one more summer.