• My Words

    My Three Spiders

    A spider died in my shower this morning. His name was Floki, and I apparently triggered one of the traps he set last night for George, the Jumping spider that lives in the bathroom skylight. Whatever trap was hit, Floki ran at me across the ceiling but the steam from the shower proved to be too much and he fell into the water. I got him to the ledge of the tub but he didn’t make it. George made an appearance about an hour ago, so he has survived the attempted invasion of his territory.

    I know that all sounds ridiculous, but it’s all real. Floki was one of three cellar spiders in our house, and we’ve been able to track them since we moved in December 2020. Floki wasn’t the biggest – that’s Ragnar – but he would hang with his front legs outstretched in a way that made him look much bigger. He traveled the most of the three, frequently moving upstairs and down for his kills. When he showed up in my bathroom last night, I knew it was to hunt George, and I joked with Rich and Alex that we’d have to do a spider funeral soon. I was pretty sure that George was not long for the world with Floki on his heels. The little jumpy spider that is now bigger than a dime doesn’t know how lucky he got because of my shower.

    Some of you are probably laughing at me right now. Some might think I’m making this all up. Who names their house spiders? Truth be told, this is a huge deal for me. I’m fucking terrified of spiders. The fear level absolutely requires the use of the “F” word. I have multiple stories of me and spiders, and none are good. But these three – Ragnar, Floki, and Halfdan – have been given full access to my house because they seem to fucking hate other fucking spiders as much as I do.

    Ragnar was the first of the cellar spiders to make himself known. He’s massive for something with such a tiny body, and he is fierce. It was his gruesome kill-space littered with dead spiders that allowed me to be convinced by Rich’s argument that he was going to be helpful. I didn’t even know we’d had that many spiders alive at some point down there! Ragnar makes sure I never have to know.

    Back in September we thought Ragnar died. He was tangled up in a web with a much bigger spider at the bottom of the stairs, and neither seemed to be alive. For more than a day we thought they’d succeeded at killing each other. Then Ragnar popped up above the dead guy after another day or so, and showed us how lethal he is. Floki also showed up shortly after we moved in. He was stalking Vlad, the elusive black widow on the stairs, but Rich killed Vlad first and Floki vanished for a few weeks after. I got the sense he wasn’t impressed with us interfering with his mission. For the last year he’s been easy to identify with his unique way of perching in his webs – front legs out straight, almost shaping himself like an arrowhead. Wish I’d thought to take a picture of how different his pose was from Ragnar and Halfdan.

    Halfdan is the newest of the three, and he joined Floki in the guest room over the winter. He’s the smallest and most likely youngest, but he currently has an impressive graveyard in his perch corner downstairs. I know Ragnar probably won’t be around much longer; the cellar spider has an average lifespan of 2-3 years. Halfdan will have a lot of shoes to fill now that Floki is gone. We can’t let the bad spiders take the house.🕷🕷🕷

  • My Words

    Finding Home

    One year and six days ago I walked into Rich’s office in the middle of the afternoon and changed our world. We were hip-deep in 2020 and it had taken it’s toll. Rich had been working from home since March. I quit working at the end of July to focus on my writing and my health. But on that day – Friday, October 23, 2020 – I interupted Rich’s work day for a quick conversation I know he wasn’t expecting. It went like this:

    ME: “I’m not trying to run away but I really need to move somewhere else.”

    RICH: “Okay, find us a house and we’ll move.”

    ME: “That’s it? If I find us a house we can move?”

    Rich: “Yep, find us a house and we’ll move.”

    ME: “Alright, I’ll find us a house.”

    Rich: “Make it happen cap’n.”

    With nothing more than that, I headed back to my spot in the basement and started searching in Washington State. We’d talked for a few years about “What if…” ideas of moving away, but talked ourselves out of it every time. Maybe we’d just do a vacation house somewhere that we could rent out and visit, but where we wanted to be was too far away from where we were in Salt Lake for it to make sense. We knew we wanted to be in the Pacific Northwest, and the Puget Sound area specifically, and that wasn’t going to work as a weekend getaway spot from where we were.

    Now, as adults with adult children and flexible careers, the idea of jumping ship and moving away seemed possible. And with everything brought to light through 2020, it seemed foolish to keep putting off what we knew would make us truly happy. So, I started the search that Friday and by this date a year ago – October 29, 2020 – we’d made the list, hired a real estate agent, and were waiting for word on the offer we’d made on a house we thought would be a good fit for us. The acceptance came through in the afternoon and set a whirlwind into motion.

    Salt Lake was the only home I’d ever known. I was born there, and Rich moved from Texas at 12 years old. We met years later after we’d had kids and tried to make a go of it with other people. We came together in 2004 and built a life that was good. Our marriage was solid, our kids were figuring out their own situations, and Rich’s work made it possible to dream about moving to a place we really wanted to be. For the longest time though, I couldn’t make the jump. I wasn’t sure I could be the type of person who moved away from home. But something about last year made me decide I needed to try.

    The news was a shock to most people who knew us. To be honest, it was a little bit of a shock for us as well! Telling people we decided to move to a different state, found a house, hired an agent, got approved for our loan, and had our offer accepted on a house we’d never been in makes the whole thing sound crazy. When we add the fact that the house we’re in was under contract when we first put it on our list, and that the first buyers walked away the same morning we made our offer because they decided it wasn’t a starter home, it almost feels like fate. If you believe in that kind of thing… That we did it all in six days was hilarious to the two of us. We still laugh about it sometimes.

    Although our offer was accepted on this date, we didn’t close and move in until the first week of December. But the past ten months in our new home have been everything we hoped for. The house’s 1990’s design isn’t perfect but it will be when we’re done. Living away from my family has not been easy; I miss them all and I miss being able to get together without using vacation days. But distance doesn’t lessen love, and there’s something to be said about living in the place that makes you happiest. Still, I never imagined I’d move away from home to find where home was meant to be.

  • Words of Others

    Hear me out: If I can be an Ally, anyone can.

    Hi everyone, I’m Rich, my pronouns are he/him. My wife asked that I repost this “article” I wrote as an Ally for our Queer and Allies affinity group at work. I’m proud of my company’s investment in DE&I and love being able to share in the support of everyone.

    Let me start by introducing myself and we’ll get the basics out of the way.

    I’m a white dude, obviously. I was born in Texas, lived most of my life in Utah and as of last year I now live in Washington state. 

    I’m married to my wife, Alie, and have three adult children, so we’re empty nesters with a fur baby up here in the PNW. 

    Let’s break that all down in the context of first impressions and general assumptions.

    • Being born in Texas; If you were speaking to me right now, you might assume that I’m “hiding” an accent. I do have a slight accent that comes out when around southerners, but I was an army kid in an army town so the backgrounds were extremely diverse.
    • Telling you I have lived in Utah most of my life, most people would assume I’m LDS. I’m not.
    • Having three kids and being married to a straight woman, you’d immediately think I was straight, however I’m Bi.

    Bias or assumptions, however you frame it, don’t speak to someone else’s journey. Mine, like everyone’s, is a sum of all the parts and the community identities we juggle.

    My LGBTQ+ journey so far has been as a strong supporter and Ally. More visibly coming out doesn’t change that.

    In a nutshell, I struggled with my own feelings and thoughts in a world that has a very rigid view of “normal”. 

    As we all know, your journey is affected by other’s where they intersect. Both positively and negatively. Ultimately people just want to have a say in their journey, especially when it’s core to their identity.

    Let’s be honest, this is why politicizing people’s identity is a problem.

    I was raised in a very conservative Catholic family, enough said. Like anyone in my situation, my inner identity was always different from what was considered “normal”.

    I had crushes on boys as well as girls, I had a couple brief relationships with men while not married. I wasn’t “normal”. The reality was it was just easier to succumb to the pressures of normal society. I mean I could go either way.

    If you know me, you know I like to tell a story, and there is a lot packed into that last statement. I won’t digress here, but would be happy to have a dialog over a beverage of your choosing. 

    Being an Ally has always been important to me. I hope that I can show people they’re not alone in what you’re feeling. These worlds are not easy to navigate, by any means.

    Yes I’m part of the community, but my journey as a monogamist bi – to add another label – has been to give into the pressures of what other people see as “normal”. A privilege if you will. We won’t go there today…

    Even as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I consider myself an Ally first. But Why? Because, my struggles are not as difficult as other groups in my community. 

    I’m not implying that anyone’s journey is easy and pain free. Like anything there’s a spectrum, but as an Ally I choose to put more effort in supporting and speaking up for those who need it.

    I ask you to join me as an Ally for all communities of people who just want to live their own journey without the pressures and biases of “normal”.

    Much like our own journeys, everyone’s “normal” is equally as different… To be cheesy.