Moonbox Notes #3: April 2022

Welcome to my Moonbox: a gathering of musings, learnings, and aspirations held (perhaps, sometimes only briefly) by the many expressions of me, Sarita.

“Wemagooah Kazuhchich,”(Ute) or “Ancient Mountain Heart Sits There” / Mt. Sopris

From the Desk:

Despite a monotone sky, the greening and flowering of the flora is a welcome contrast. The trees are blooming pink here. The small orbs fill the wiry limbs and shrink the sky. While I want to feel the excitement of spring, I’m a bit exhausted (in a good way) from five days of volunteering for the 5Point Film Festival. It had been a while since I last visited Carbondale, CO, and I’m so glad I made it out this year. The festival never fails to press boundaries and question art, the self, and how one can relate to others.

I penned several thoughts and moments into my little notebook. From the random kid who asked if I wanted to buy shrooms to the feathered look of trees in transition to the questions surrounding the philosophy of flow: “‘What is your relationship to distraction? What is one thing from your childhood you really enjoyed?’ — The audience’s examples related to activities done with others (tag in the pool, building and playing with a twin), whereas my own seem solitary?…” I didn’t announce my examples and perhaps if I had thought hard enough I could’ve conjured memories of playing with my sister or my brothers or of camping with my relatives, but what initially came to mind were things like sitting in the tree in the backyard, stargazing, writing stories, role-playing with dolls…

“A lot to catch up upon: midnight dodgeball, meeting Isaiah, Dani…Alex Johnson’s flashing eyes, sureness of self…Meeting Joe, Forest, Brenden, Q, etc…The snow-covered sage, soil sage smell moist and clouds dressing Sopris like curtains, a framing of red earth, bone-white sky, bright snow as angling teeth, the soft trails, partial mud…connections…The surprises, the whims of the universe…Melissa Simpson’s motto: ‘What’s inside of you is stronger than what is in your way.'”

During the small lecture given by Jeremy Jensen about flow, it’s rather obvious that relationships between adventure films and flow inherently have to do with play. Play is the simplest form of flow, Jensen shared. The festival itself encompasses aspects of this as well, the play of meeting new people, the play of finding yourself sipping rum and Coke as you watch people spin fire, the play of helping others, the play of witnessing visual art in a public space, the play of learning hard truths — play, as in, the novelty, sure, but also the reciprocity, the indulgence, the curiosity, the embodiment, the unpredictability. He also talked about how group play/flow is all the more potent. I feel the calling toward this, the need to expand my sense of community and to engage more intimately with craft as a conversation with others. I can thrive with my solo art and writing, sure, but relations are what I need more than the art itself right now, to be honest.

Fresh blooms at a 5Point VIP dinner.

I’m currently taking a self-guided writing course, and I don’t particularly find it as motivating as my college years or whenever you share physical space with other creatives. Nonetheless, one of the writing exercises has to do with “the reproduction of the mind’s movement,” like candidness or stream of consciousness that includes either existential dread or spiritual inquiry. This all seems to relate to flow as well, to the play inherent in the mind. The unthinking mind coasts in awe or wonder. Maybe this is why I’m so drawn to films and writing that have to do with speculation but also the extension of a present moment, the craft of here and now. I don’t remember who said it or if it was in a film I watched, maybe it was Connor Ryan from “Spirit of the Peaks,” but it had to do with how planning or goal setting is a future relationship with a place/space, but these future relations are inevitably informed by the relations you hold now and even by relations once held in the past.

[Related: My 5Point Journey, Part 1: Rising Bird of Night]

“What is the invisible fractal, the bare branches in the wind?” I ask in my Instagram-shared, prose poem above. While the poem centers the wind, it also centers what can’t be seen, what is forgotten, what has yet to come: the past, the future, maybe sometimes the present moment itself. If we draw spirals outward from ourselves, we might as well be the tree budding pink flowers out front, the rubber dodgeball spinning across a room at midnight, the irises of new faces in a film-lit room, the synapses of a child stargazing. This is why I love art. I get to hold you, send you spinning, but you also get to hold me, too. At least pieces of me. And at least we get to play as beings of nature, where so much communal learning takes place, too.

Paintings on a wall at Craft Coffeehouse.

La Vida Mundial:

Near the end of March, it was announced that Outdoor Retailer, the outdoor industry’s largest tradeshow, was moving back to Utah, which is a controversial move and has big brands like REI, The North Face, Patagonia, boycotting the tradeshow. Here’s a well-written rundown of the situation.

As mentioned above, the 5Point Film Festival wrapped up this past Sunday (April 24th). I’m so happy to have witnessed “Spirit of the Peaks” win Best Cinematography, which is so deserved along with being a very needed un/reframing of the ski industry and land/people relations. Another film that really stood out to me was “Joe Buffalo,” not only for its cinematography but for its handling of Joe’s story. The film was done in a way to really give him space to exist in all of his multiplicities, even the painful ones. I was able to feel him through the cinematography as much as I did through the voice-over. The emotionality of it was woven with a hard truth about residential schools and I felt that his vulnerability was able to breathe without it becoming overwhelming to bear or to engage with and hold space for him, with him. This is really difficult to do, as it is with writing or art in general.

Greg Balkin (left), Connor Ryan (middle), and Len Necefer (right) accept the award for Best Cinematography.

One aspect of the outdoor industry that I feel is finally changing is the usage of concepts/words like wild (a change that includes myself, too). More and more is it being reexamined, and as with similar frameworks as emotional intelligence, I feel the way we want or must speak about the outdoors, about outside, about all of nature (including ourselves), is becoming more specific and tangibly expressive. Wild has become a strange and empty abstraction. It has come to mean too many exclusive things and the historical/legal connotations of wild are often too vast to pass on within its four-letter shallowness. The main point, really, is the fact that we all need to become better at saying what we really mean, at distilling the vapor of the status quo, and familiarizing ourselves with the ineptitudes (or sterilizing qualities) of the English language. This is where art can begin, I feel, when you leap from a word or visual scene and relinquish yourself to the play of observation, to allowing the world to speak from other manners of being, other languages, other sadness, other comedies and strength.

If you were to begin a sentence with, “The tree’s thinnest ends trail in another water…” what would you write next?

Thursday afternoon 5Point “Van Life Rally” before the crowds.

[Related: My 5Point Journey, Part 2: Twilight Zone Semantics and Backdoor Tequila]

Birthday Shoutouts:

-Yosemite/East Side friend and badass, Lindsay Bucher, April 3rd

-Yosemite/SoCal friend Jennifer Arge, April 10th

And HBD to all April birthdays (duh)!

Recent Top Pick Reads:

+ “An Interview with Andrew Garfield,” by Esmé Weijun Wang, Believer Magazine. A great conversation surrounding ego, artistry, craft, etc.

+ “What Slime Knows,” by Lacy M. Johnson, Orion Magazine, Autumn 2021 Issue. An amazing, introspective look at the relationship between the smallest and most misunderstood class of creature and the entirety of life — they are perhaps the oldest living things on Earth and allow us to glimpse how life may have started.

Alex Showerman and others play drums inside Amy Kimberly’s underground cistern.

Books/Mags on the Shelf:

+Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Issue 75, Spring 2021

+Poet Warrior by Joy Harjo

+Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses

+Thin Places by Jordan Kisner

Recent Listens:

+ “Ep. 063 w/ Verna Volker,” The Run Eat Sleep Show, March 22, 2022. Verna Volker talks about how she found running for herself, how she started Native Women Running, etc.

+ “The Ancestors Know You: Real Life Reconnection Stories,” All My Relations Podcast, December 17, 2021. Daniel French and Adrienne Keene discuss their reconnection stories to their indigenous cultures.

+ “José Gonzalez: Discovering the Multitudes of You,” Trail Ahead Podcast, March 29, 2022. A very important and poignant conversation surrounding language and identity politics.

+ “The Philosophers: Loneliness and totalitarianism,” Vox Conversations, April 25, 2022. A fascinating discussion about Hannah Arendt’s writing and work surrounding totalitarianism, loneliness, and “the banality of evil” — and how all of these modes of thinking find themselves in U.S. life as well.

A brief pause from volunteering at 5Point to write about the wind.

Writing/Projects: (updates are highlighted)

+ “Sounds of Me, Sounds of Light,” creative nonfiction essay for Alpinist Magazine: Final Draft Stage. Summer 2022.

+I have two general submissions in the ether. A short prose piece for Western Humanity Review and a prose poem for River Teeth. I recently received the rejection email from Orion about my pitches, ha.

+The hybrid essay I wrote last year, “Chuckwalla,” still needs some revision before I submit again.

+I’ve revisited my Science Fiction short story, which has been fun, so I hope I can keep up the progress and finish the manuscript this year.

+ “When We Visit,” short creative nonfiction essay for Campfire Stories Volume II anthology: Finished Draft stage. The book is currently due to come out in Spring 2023.

MISC/Brags:

+ I just had my dentist checkup and no cavities, yay! Let’s celebrate, lol. (If you’ve got nothing big to brag about, small celebrations are still awesome. 100%)

Snow-covered Brainard Lake and the Indian Peaks that surround it.

Thanks for tuning in to Sarita’s Moonbox.

Happy Spring!


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