Thursday, August 29, 2013

Farmus Interruptus

Wednesday night gang - Monkey's Uncle and Friends
It's that time of year when I abandon my garden (painful, painful) and head to the beautiful city of Denver, Colorado to co-produce a fundraising project I started six years ago. Every summer, my comedy husband, Steve Loukas, and I put on a comedy improv festival to benefit Smile Train, the amazing folks who do cleft repair surgery on poor kids all over the world. Having experienced facial disfigurement (and the resulting 25 surgeries) for the first 21 years of my life, I have made this my personal charity of choice.

As I type this, we are four shows in to the festival and have three more to go. We enjoyed some unprecedented media coverage this year including my 17-minute radio interview with host Wayne Yaffee - it broadcast the weekend of 8/17 and 8/18 on four stations - KOSI, KALC, KQMT and KEZW. Also, we made the Denver Post (print and online) as well as snippet on 5280's website. Huzzah!

Just this morning, I received some incredibly good news. My dear friend, Valerie Liberty, works for an insanely cool company, Balsamiq, and through them has made a sizable donation ($3800!) to our fundraising campaign. If you go their site, she's the gorgeous mama in orange. (Doesn't that look like a fun place to work?)

Mind you, Val is not only the mother of my very favorite farm intern, Eleni, she is now my biggest donor. When I called today to make sure she really meant all this and there were no numerical typos, she said: "I've decided it's the Year of Heather!" and then went on to tell me about how proud she was to be my friend.

Incredible. I am still stunned and wondering how I can properly thank Val and Balsamiq in meaningful way. Perhaps I'll send them some garlic.

Sunday night crew: Gay v. Str8t
Being yanked out of the rural farm life and plopped in a city, hanging out with snappy comedians every night, well, it's quite the cultural shift. My witticisms are slower but my driving is faster. I worry about the ravenous corn fungii that I'd found (again!) on my popcorn just before I left and I simultaneously worry about filling theater seats each night and if the funds raised will be worth all the effort. Straddling two worlds, never fully in either, I wonder if my reality will always be spread so thin.

My life is always a mixture of extremes, lots of bittersweet moments and mixed emotions. Being here in Colorado makes me homesick for, among other things:
  • Hearthstone, the co-housing community where I once lived, it remains my Colorado home until they file an official restraining order
  • Mexican food, the REAL stuff - no ketchup on the table
  • Sunflower/Sprouts/Whole Foods - healthy food selections in large amounts! Swoon!
  • The beautiful Rocky Mountains - nice to see land go up, just for a change, plus, they give off gobs of powerful spiritual energy
  • The smell of weed at nearly every stoplight - breathe deep!
  • Colorado citizens: The people that live here are noticeably friendly, optimistic, progressive, healthy, spiritual, intellectual and good looking. They've got a rugged glow that comes from thriving outdoors, every season. My Colorado crush runs deep.
As does my North Dakota crush so, yes, I'm already starting to miss my farm life, the people there and the wide open skies. Not the bugs though, I don't miss them at all.

Monday night jokesters: Rodents Out of the Basement
Staying in the Hearthstone home of friends, I am sleeping in their daughter's bedroom. At night, when I shut out the light, the ceiling lights up with glow-in-the-dark stars and I can't help but compare them to the incredible panoramic night sky view on the farm. With zero light pollution, the Universe is all mine. Sometimes, I lay in the grass late at night and ponder my great fortune and the joyful liberation of my own insignificance. Divine.

Tuesday night: Junk Drawer
The other day, I met a friend downtown for lunch and spent 20 minutes looking for street parking before I caved and paid $7 for a lot spot. Having done my time in LA and San Francisco, I am all-too-familiar with Parking Anxiety, a chunk of reality for so many urban dwellers. My life in NoDak does not include this category - nor does it include locking anything - houses or vehicles.  There is an entire layer of urban concerns that is peeled off me every summer, and put back on again in the winter. On the farm, the only real anxiety I have is what type of mood Mama Nature might be in that week; her foul moods tend to destroy things, like farms and lives.

Sunset at Second Chance Ranch
Being here in Denver, I get to re-connect with friends who keep track of me online, and they give me such lovely encouragement. "I love your photos from the farm! You are doing such great work up there!" and so on. Feedback like this means so much; it all goes into the boiler room that burns the energy that keeps me going forward. When someone tells me they look at my farm photos while they sit in their office and dream about having their own farm, my heart swells with the possibilities, for I want them to have their own farm too. Making people think about the potentials of beyond-normal living has got to be one of the key points of my life. 

Otherwise, I'm just a girl with a lot of zip codes and no roots and I aim to be so much more than that. 

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