Moonbox Notes #11: January 2023

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

Patrick runs ahead along a snowy trail.

From the desk:

Drag Show

So many eyelashes
arc like twigs in long wait
so held against the winter sky
where the slopes wind up and crack
where our limbs reverberate
where warmth is the purpose of the heart.

Aria is at the microphone
cracking jokes and 
lip-syncing songs that shake
chair legs and table tops
and our arms hang or raise a glass
as the hazy winter light
fogs, frames
so much neon
shaped by shadow

even the alpenglow is done-up
by a mountain's contours and cliffs
and as the curling waves of light
press tall and long
with reddening sun
we reach out with our hands
and she takes our dollar bills

To any unassuming passerby
what is it that is strange?
Do we not all double-take
or halt so held by fierce gaze?
There she is, our dearest alpenglow
dressed upon the mountains
shaking the silence of the heart.
A view along the Vallecito trail.

As the poem above suggests, I attended a Drag Trivia Night at a local bar here in Durango. It was a small venue and it was really fun. I met up with two lady friends and we actually won the first round of trivia! As for the poem, I wanted to explore how drag can intersect with the very mountains around us, perhaps in a manner that asks the general public, “What is odd anyway, or frightening, or unknowing?” Do the mountains, or particular angles of light, not also hold such air? And do they not also glow in their beauty?

Life updates: Winter is fully upon us in Durango. Patrick has been somewhat funemployed this month, with intermittent work, as he awaits a transition to a job with a different electrical contractor in town. He’ll start in early February. I actually began part-time work (wow, a normal job?!) at the brand-new climbing gym, Gravity Lab. Yes, it has been nearly 6 years since I’ve worked a W2-type job (if you don’t know me very well, I’ve been self-employed since 2017)…But to help with Patrick’s time off, and our transition to Durango in general, I knew that working 2-3 days a week somewhere would be needed. Plus, climbing gyms are always excellent community hubs: to make new friends and to learn more about the community itself. If you’re in the Durango area, come swing by! Through February, I’ll be working Fridays and Saturdays. This Saturday, I’ll be teaching my first private, one-on-one lesson, which is exciting. I’ve never been given such an opportunity before.

Además, este mes yo comencé clases de español, dos veces a semana, con una mujer se llama Kimberly. Kimberly vive en Chile y es más joven que yo, pero ella es muy simpática y sabe hablar inglés muy bien. Por una hora hablamos y ella me enseña nuevas cosas. Estoy feliz de poder practicar finalmente con algiuen. Hace mucho tiempo desde que usé tanto el español y estoy emocionada.

[Related: Moonbox Notes #10]

I pause to look at Patrick during a run with too-soft and post-hole-prone snow.

La Vida Mundial:

No Man’s Land Film Festival is coming up! Their flagship festival takes place in Denver, CO and this year the dates will be March 3rd-4th. There will also be a virtual pass option (which I will have to do this year).

ReNewEarthRunning, the running team that I have been a part of for the past two years, is about to open an application period for the 2023 Team on February 1st. I have made some amazing friends through this group and I highly recommend being a part of their mission: to support and raise funds for indigenous stewardship and land back initiatives. Keep an eye on their Instagram for the announcement and for the application link. I will continue to support RER in my own ways and through the friendships I have made, but I do feel that after two years, I’d like to open up the space for others to be a part of this wonderful team.

The Campfire Stories book series will be releasing the Volume II anthology this Spring. If you’re already a seasoned Moonbox reader, then you’ll likely know that I’ve been waiting for this release for some time (via the Writing/Projects section). Early in 2021, I applied to write a new piece for Campfire Stories and they accepted. The location I was given was Glacier National Park. So at the beginning of that June, I traveled to Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai land (among others’), to experience the region and meet some of its people. I only had about a week to do and see as much as I could, though much of the higher regions were still closed due to snow or renovations. I attended a nature walk and a campground ranger talk. I hired several guides through Blackfeet Outfitters, a company owned and operated by Blackfeet tribal members, for a half-day of hiking, visiting, and learning just outside the official park boundaries (as they are sadly not permitted to guide within the park).

My campsite within the Glacier National Park boundaries, 2021.

My whole trip, from wandering the trails to foam rolling beneath the long and thin lodgepole pines to the happenstance conversations and sounds, was so special. I heard a barred owl for the first time. I locked eyes with countless mountain goats. I glimpsed bears. My older brother and his partner, Kelsey, came up to visit me at the end of my trip, too. I learned a lot and am happy to soon share the short, braided essay I wrote for them. While it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, given the editors’ style and intended audience, I tried my best to provide something different, unexpected, and humbling. Notably, I hope the Blackfeet guides I met with enjoy and feel good about what I’ve crafted from this brief experience.

And here comes the sticky stuff. While the trip was certainly worth doing, I must be honest about the financial situation. I signed a contract that paid a small amount of money and being that I was so excited about the opportunity, I didn’t try to negotiate or even ask questions. Though I will admit that negotiating would have been hard, because this book series is mostly (if not entirely) Kickstarter-supported, despite their prestigious partnership with Mountaineers Books. They either offered to pay a small amount to writers who had already written pieces about certain parks, or, they offered a slightly larger amount to writers who would be willing to travel to a certain park and thusly write a “commissioned” piece. The latter is what I had applied for, so the pay I received was a “travel stipend” funded by the Kickstarter backers.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park. Known as, “The Place Where They Dance,” to the Kootenai.

I more than happily paid Blackfeet Outfitters their due fare, but it was 83% of the money I received. What I’m trying to get at is thus: to properly pay for such a trip, from camping to paying guides to the food and gas, etcetera etcetera, the travel stipend wasn’t particularly well thought-out, from both the Kickstarter entities and myself. I went into the negative to create this piece. I did not and will not make anything from them actually using and printing the words themselves. Their first book did well, I imagine, and I’ve seen Volume I in big-name stores like REI and even here in the local bookstore of Durango. I am really disappointed knowing that the editors of the anthology, and Mountaineers Books, are likely going to turn a good profit…and that many if not all of the writers involved will see none of it. But the contract is the contract, and it was a bad contract. I have learned my lesson! And I have come a long way since 2021 in my career experience. So let this be a cautionary tale, I suppose. It’s tough to get paid your worth as a writer or a creative. And determining what that worth is might be even harder. It’s also strange to be a part of an anthology alongside big industry names like Cheryl Strayed and Shawnté Salabert. I’ve yet to see the whole list of writers, but perhaps we’re all eyeing this book with both admiration and a sour glance.

A snowy overlook in Durango. Perins Peak is center.

HBD to all January birthdays!

Recent Top Pick Reads:

+ “Witness to the Cold War in the desert,” by Terry Tempest Williams, High Country News, photo essay with Emmet Gowin, June 1, 2022. A sobering look at the post-nuclear Arizona desert, a cratered moon-like landscape, as seen through Gowin’s photography and Williams’s words.

+ “Homophobia’s Hidden Carbon Count,” by Jourdan Imani Keith, Orion Magazine, Lay of the Land articles, July 2014. A valid look at how homophobia (and inevitably other social/political phobias & isms) feeds the climate crisis.

+ “Conscience and Resistance,” by Scott Russell Sanders, Orion Magazine, Inner Life articles, April 2018. The author takes a hard look at Christianity and its relationship to war, racism, and poverty, and reveals how his exposure to a certain writer showed him new depths to morality: “…our ecological crisis is, at root, a spiritual crisis.”

+ “What’s the Connection Between Running and Playing Music?” by Micah Ling, Trail Runner Magazine, Outside Online, January 17, 2023. An interesting look at how music and running intersect, particularly for some high-profile musicians/athletes like Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie.

Books/Mags on the Shelf:

+In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

+Imaginary Peaks by Katie Ives

+Deluge by Leila Chatti

+Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Issue 76, Winter 2022

+A Place Called Doña Ana by James J Drexler

A hot chocolate from the Animas Chocolate Company.

Recent Listens/Watchings:

+ “See Us Heal,” by The Black Foxes, YouTube, January 17, 2023. Jalen Bazile, Eric Arce, and Evan Green bike-pack through the mountains and speak about masculine vulnerability and creating connections with other masculine-identifying males.

+ “The High Life,” by Patagonia Films, YouTube, January 11, 2023. Hutkeeper, Sarah Cartier, speaks about her relationship with and her time spent at the 119-year-old Le Refuge de la Charpoua. Every summer for nearly a decade, she has lived in the high-altitude hut with her family, cooking for and looking after mountain travelers.

+ “Kelsey Long: Hope & Inclusivity,” You Are A Big Deal Podcast with Becca Jay, Apple Podcasts, December 3rd, 2022. Kelsey and Becca (both RER teammates of mine) discuss using running as a platform for advocacy, about the Dirtbags Run organization, and about her inspirations.

+ “Experience Native American Skate Culture With Apache Skateboards | SKATE TALES S2,” by Red Bull Skateboarding, May 19, 2022. A short film about Douglas Miles Jr and his father’s legacy and influence in the apache skateboarding community and art scene, fusing culture with modern movements.

Patrick and I visited the Durango Hot Springs.

Writing/Projects: (updates are highlighted)

+My online writing course with Orion Magazine, “Writing Resilience through Our Relationship with Wildness,” begins February 2023, taught by author and poet, Cmarie Fuhrman.

+I currently have zero general submissions in the ether.

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

+The hybrid essay I wrote last year, “Chuckwalla,” still needs some major revision before I consider submitting again. I’ve begun another research phase as well.

+I have a Science Fiction novella that I’ve been slowly working on since 2017.


Our silliness on the trail, full of smooches.

Thanks for tuning in to Sarita’s Moonbox.

Happy Winter!


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