Moonbox Notes #5: June/July 2022

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

Cresting on the South Arapaho Trail. Photo by Natalie Donner

From the Desk:

Nothing but curves, I like to say, the way light bends and the way my body shapes shadows, and against the skyline the earth is folding or snow-cupped or tumbling inward and outward, and with all this water making its way into me, I am carved, bowled, smoothed out by the round droplets of my sweat as I am changed again and again by the slanting shapes of a mountain, perhaps becoming less of my own body, perhaps, me, a curl of light moving, perhaps nothing but curves, as if I feel myself knowing, there in the water, here as it flows.

I’ve been thinking a lot about alpine spaces lately, not just because I visit them, but also because of all the rounds of edits I’ve been doing for an upcoming essay in Alpinist Magazine. I’m proud, but I’m also nervous. More so than my last essay for them. I just know that I’m more than a narrative on paper. And I feel that my prose poetry is more in line with how I see and interpret the world than any formal essay could capture. Nonetheless, I hope my voice comes through. And I hope it means something. My essay will be in the next issue to hit the printer: Alpinist Issue 79, and I’m sure I’ll announce it again in my next update and/or on social media.

I meant to write a June Moonbox after returning from Montana, but time and fatigue, etc etc…so what happened in June? Well, lots of training, lots of life. The highlight was visiting Missoula, Montana to commune with my older brother, Michael, and his partner Kelsey. It was special to spend some time with family again and to change up the day-to-day for a little bit.

[Related: Moonbox Notes #4]

So far, July has been what this whole summer will inevitably be about: savoring what we can about the Front Range of Colorado before we move in September. As we get closer to Fall, our plans finalize more and more, but we’re definitely heading down to Durango! I’m excited for change. I’m excited to learn about the communities there, about the local mountains, about the local deserts. I look forward to being closer to family in Albuquerque: being more involved in their lives and in my own cultural heritage.

Since moving to Boulder, I feel that I have grown numb to aspects of my identity, both of my own fault and not. Who I was in SoCal is different than who I’ve become in Boulder, and there is a lot of discomfort in that. I’m very aware that there was more I could have done to feel held in culture and community here, but the move is happening no matter what, so I will take what I have learned and realized with me to Durango. I want to embrace my cultural roots anew and Durango is an opportunity for me to come back into myself as a Latina and as a more community-facing person.

In SoCal, I didn’t have to prove to anyone who I was or that I belonged, it was accepted that I was of mixed-race and that I wasn’t a fluent Spanish speaker (because people like me are everywhere). People still said my name in Spanish or affectionately used Sarita, and there was never a monologue of turmoil in me as to whether or not I was ethnic enough. Boulder steeped into me a lot of doubt, loneliness, and callus individualism. I’m ready to shed these assimilations and I’m ready to prioritize my roots.

Patrick and I stop at a free campground en route to Missoula, MT.

La Vida Mundial:

I’ve numbed out these past months in response to all that has been going on with SCOTUS and yet more shootings, more war, more climate disaster… Lots of anger, lots of grief. But let’s focus on a few bright things:

Gnarly Nutrition is offering a $15,000 Fuel for Life grant to one running or cycling oriented group. The competition, if you will, has entered its second phase, where chosen applicants are vying for votes from the general public. I believe the 100 top voted teams/groups will proceed to the next phase. If you’d like to vote, I recommend supporting the DirtBags Run 2022 Team, spearheaded by one of my fellow ReNew Earth Running Teammates, Kelsey Rhae Long. Of course, there are so many to choose from, so if you have multiple email addresses, you certainly have one vote per email address (and I apologize that if, by the time I actually post this Moonbox, the voting period has ended).

Patagonia Films recently released “Tribal Waters,” a 49 minute documentary on the Shoshone people and their Wind River homelands. The film directly addresses the injustices of U.S. and Wyoming water management and how important water is to Shoshone customs and, of course, life itself. Sustainable recreational economy is presented as a possible and positive way forward, as Tribal Nations have always been holistically future-facing. I feel that the film is a must-watch, particularly as more and more dire climate circumstances present themselves across the globe.

Another source of indigenous-led or centered films is Vision Maker Media, which also promotes and produces work in broadcasting, through mentorship, and with education. Currently, they are accepting applications for their Creative Shorts Fellowship with a deadline of September 30th. The Fellowship “supports Emerging Native filmmakers to produce a short film: documentary, drama, experimental, or animation piece; and supports a mentorship with a career professional film producer or director.”

Congrats to Ashly Winchester on her recent FKT on the south-bound Nüümü Poyo (JMT).

Stretching during the Four Pass Loop in Colorado. Photo by April Corey.

And HBD to all June/July birthdays!

Recent Top Pick Reads:

+ “Touching the Earth,” by bell hooks, Orion Magazine, Autumn 1996. A short essay on the dissonance between mind/body relationships of black people who left the South to escape racism, and how this dissonance is a result of being disconnected from their kinship with the land.

+ “Walking with the Widows,” by Beth Kephart, Brevity, Issue 69, January 2022. A mediation on aging and losing partnerships in the context of the goings-on of a single neighborhood.

+ “On Memory and Survival,” by Nickole Brown, Orion Magazine, online articles, February 2022. The author contemplates the “aggregation” of memories and how they appear to us (or disappear) time and time again as metaphors for trauma and survival.

+ “Gun Bubbles,” by Margrét Ann Thors, Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Issue 76, Winter 2022. The author comes to terms with a harrowing encounter with a shooter at a grocery store, with her Icelandic heritage, the mystery of language, and her own relationship with motherhood, babies, and the controversy of abortion.

Eerie headlike rock features on the descent of Pawnee Pass.

Books/Mags on the Shelf:

+Deluge by Leila Chatti

+Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Issue 75 & 76, Spring 2021/Winter 2022

Recent Listens/Watchings:

+ “Forging in Concert,” Black Mountain Radio, Season 2, Episode 2. February 6, 2022. A musical biography on Joe Raposo (Sesame Street); the story of the Kim Sisters and their musical journey from South Korea to the States (and the global context of colonial capitalism vs communism); a tribute to artist Rasar Amani.

+ “717: Afterlife with a Gentle Afterword,” The Slowdown Podcast with Ada Limón, Episode 717. July 13, 2022. A daily dose of poetry; this poem is by the late Matthew Henriksen and “speaks to the urgency of living in the face of our own eventual demise.”

+ “Free to Run,” full film presented by The North Face, YouTube, July 14, 2022. Free to Run is an organization founded by Stephanie Case and has a mission to share running (seen as an expression of human rights) with women around the world, particularly in regions of conflict. The film documents Stephanie’s dilemma of grappling with Taliban politics and her organization’s mission to help Afghan women.

A view of James Peak (left) from the Continental Divide.

Writing/Projects: (updates are highlighted)

+ “Sounds of Me, Sounds of Light,” creative nonfiction essay for Alpinist Magazine: Fact checking stage. Autumn 2022.

+I have three general submissions in the ether. A short prose piece for CNF’s Sunday Short Reads, a short prose piece for Western Humanity Review, and a prose poem for River Teeth.

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

+The hybrid essay I wrote last year, “Chuckwalla,” still needs some major 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.


+ Congrats to Patrick (my husband) and my older brother, Michael Aranda, for completing their first marathons (the Missoula Marathon) at the end of June!

+ I climbed my first RMNP alpine route with my friend Sarah Malone.

Patrick and I celebrated 6 years of marriage on July 12th!

Thanks for tuning in to Sarita’s Moonbox.

Happy Spring!


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