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“Sgt. Pecker’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” outfit

sgt._pepper_sWe hope you have enjoyed the show. We’re sorry but it’s time to go. We’d like to thank you once again. It’s getting very near the end.

no label vintage flower-print & black empire waist dress – $12.99, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store |Ralph Lauren studded black suede & wood high-heeled mules – $5, Good Samaritan thrift store (MSRP $100)

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Derry mid-century modern velvet sofa in sapphire – $620, Wayfair.com | local black walnut coffee table – $750, custom-made byDerek Hurd at Studio 12-12 | Gorgeous rug – gift from my ex | 1972 flower painting – gift from my ex | Mars metallic lamp – long-ago gift from my ex-ex

Cheep it with a lonely heart.

“Out of Africa” outfit

“Perhaps he knew, as I did not, that the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road,” – Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

Before I left for Kenya, I read Karen Blixen’s (nom de plume: Isak Dinesen) book, Out of Africa. Taking place at about this time 100 years ago, the Baroness owned a coffee plantation just outside of Nairobi. Her book is ripe with the soul of the country and its people, with less of the entitled colonialism than I expected.

Karen wanted nothing more than for her bones to lie in rest in Africa. She did not get her wish. Her coffee plantation suffered locusts and other acts of God, and she was forced to leave the land she loved, later dying of malnutrition in her Dutch estate. A minor tragedy of dislocation.

On the day I took this picture, I wanted nothing more than to make it out of Africa. I’ll likely process the full scope of traveling during the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic over time—peeling off the layers of weeping revelation like an onion. The unthinkable happened a million times over daily, and I wasn’t even paying that much attention, until reality forced my hand.

It gradually dawned on me that I was on one of the last planes out of anywhere in the world. That other countries (see: Morocco, Peru) closed borders a week before with less than 24 hours warning. That entire airlines and international routes were shutting down in the blink of an eye. That hundreds of thousands of people were trapped far from home everywhere.

And I was on safari. On the Sunday we came out of the Maasai Mara, the Kenyans in my group arranged to visit a Maasai village, delaying our departure, and eliminating a back-of-the-mind possibility to change my flight out to later that night.

It can’t really put into words, not yet, the sheer soul-expanding magnitude of that Maasai village visit. I inexplicably connected deeply and immediately with the son of the chief. He will always be in my soul, burning like the ember of fire that falls out onto the sword from the friction between human will, cedar wood and the sandpaper tree.

When he slipped off his beaded bracelet and somehow shoved it onto my wrist, still puffy and swollen from sunburn, I knew I’d make it home, transcendentally. The bracelet has no clasps. It’s not meant to be taken off. Even now, it smells like fire and smoke and him. He also gave me (I mean, of course I gave him money before I left for all of these wonderful gifts), the Maasai-made bright pink sheep’s wool wrap he wore. I bury my face in it often, and I’m immediately brought back to Africa. To the night sky of the Maasai Mara. To him, far around the world in his small hut under the stars of the Southern hemisphere. To the time-and-space-defying power of human connection.

Miraculously, I made it on the last Seattle flight out of Dubai before Emirates grounded all planes later that day.  The Maasai Mara is now closed. I am coming to grips with the changed world from inside my Boise home. And I am washed aground here awe-struck by God and humanity and Africa. And this precarious and magical opportunity to be alive. Fully alive. In it all.

handmade African orange, yellow, blue & green print dress – $3700 Kenyan shillings (about $37) – Nairobi market | Maasai red, white & blue beaded bracelet – $2000 Kenyan shillings (about $20) | Maasai armour bijoux blue & gold beaded breastplate – $3000 Kenyan shillings (about $30)

“Safari in the time of Corona” outfit

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My safari tent’s name was “Cheeter.”

In Swahili, safari means journey. Less than 8 hours before I departed on a two-day trip through the Maasai Mara, the US declared a level 4 travel advisory, urging all Americans overseas to return home immediately. Borders are closing. The unthinkable is happening everywhere. I could have to shelter in place indefinitely—no matter how far that place is from home. TMI, but I threw up all night from the stress. I had a ticket home through Paris in five days, but a 20-hour layover there (the original reason I bought that particular flight) in a European epicenter of COVID-19 (where even citizens must have a permission slip to wander outside) now sounded like a level of hell. My dad talked me into buying another return ticket through Dubai a day earlier, the best option we could find.

I decided to still go on the safari. I chose the cheapest camp, and while the rest of my crew stayed at a luxury resort up the dirt road, I was the only person at the thatched-roofed, canvas-tented property.

The Maasai Mara deeply impacted my soul. I’ve never experienced such unreal beauty. Such spectacular paragons of divine evolution and creation. Every animal pack had IMG_0901babies. So much new life, yet ancient and eternal and changeless at the same time. The brilliant night African sky—cicadas chirping in surround sound as if emitting from the thousands of glittering stars—rivaled the Mara in its stellar celestial beauty. Mars blazed orange, big and bold like a planetary beacon.

On day two of my safari, my Paris return flight was canceled, never to be rescheduled. On IMG_0989the Sunday I came back, Kenya announced they were suspending all international flights effective Wednesday. My dad saved me. Even in the majesty of Africa, there’s no place like home.

I had an epic Savers shopping spree before my trip. I found this tres chic Nine West cotton white jacket. Perfect to shelter from the African sun. But when I put it on a week into the journey and glanced in the mirror, it looked like nothing more than a medical jacket. A few weeks can change the perspective of everything.

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A pack of buffalo are barely visible in the background. Giraffe and zebra wander around, too.

Nine West white cotton trench coat – $7, Savers thrift store | Coldwater Creek abstract burnt orange, black & white animal print dress – $12, Savers thrift store | Frye studded burgundy booties – $75, Bombshell Salon‘s Head to Boots Fall Make-Up Event

Cheep it under African skies. 

“Social distancing in Hell’s Gate” outfit

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The view from my banda at Camp Carnelley’s.

As the entire world entered into a certain sort of hell while I am in Kenya on an ill-timed vacation, I decided to go to Hell’s Gate, a national park near Lake Naivasha. I figured the wilderness was the most social distancing I could achieve while on this fated trip.

Hell’s Gate has few predators, so you can bicycle through it alone. I passed by giraffe, zebra, warthogs, gorillas, and so many other extraordinary creatures great and small. Lake Naivasha is populated by hippos and thousands of birds. Paradise on earth. Even when the world goes to hell.

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no-label tropical greenery swim top – $3 (came with bottoms, too), ReStyle thrift store | Jones New York bronze silk skirt – $4, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store | Spense white jacket with gold zip – $5, Savers thrift store (why I didn’t wear this during my bike in Hell’s Gate the next day where I got a wicked sunburn is beyond all comprehension) 

Cheep it in the wilderness.

“Contagion” outfit

5c106120-3bb8-11ea-afdd-fbe168b753ab“Banish the ghost of coronaaaaahhh…”

Before my trip to Kenya, I went to Passport Health, a traveler’s clinic for immunizations and fear needling. There, I was handed a terrifying brochure filled with the potential dangers of my destination. Typhoid. Hepatitis. Yellow fever. And a long list of other shit-inducing diseases borne of filth and mosquitoes and the social nature of human existence. It totaled $1500 to completely mitigate the fear of the unknown. I paid $500 to slightly assuage it, which my Kenyan friend found baffling and idiotic. I also paid dearly for taking the live Typhoid pills that made me vomit for hours on end over the course a week.

I took off into an exponentially panicked world. When I left one week ago, the novel coronavirus drifted in and out of the public consciousness. It still felt like a somewhat foreign concept. Other people’s problems. A few days after I landed, COVID-19 did too. Blessedly not via the conduit of me. Since then, it feels like the entire world has screeched to a terrified halt.

As I hiked through the vast Karura Forest in Nairobi yesterday, I passed a group of 20-something Kenyans, and the guy at the end, smiling wide, sang while staring straight at me, “Banish the ghost of coronaaaaahhh…” I found it hilariously apropos, as I am the whitest person I’ve seen in this entire country. Now a specter of doom and death indeed.

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no label multicolored-virus-patterned silk tank top – $3, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store | ADAY almond Easy Days pants – $119 (discounted as I keep pretending I’m a new customer through alias email addresses to get the promo code) | Nike hot pink, yellow & blue cross-country mesh shoes with hot green laces – $5, Restyle Thrift Store | SavageX natural tiger print chiffon bralette  – $9.99 (during epic site-wide sale) | Quicksilver yellow fanny pack – $2.50, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store (pick a purse outta a giant bin sale, I had to dig my way to the very bottom to find this) |pink & black multi-striped pink pashmina (the best travel accessory in the entire world) – gift from friend from Turkey

Cheep it while social distancing…

“Rosé-colored glasses” outfit

Wine pairing non-recommendation: A liver-cleanse acupuncture session immediately followed by a wine tasting trip to Walla Walla, Washington.

My time-lapse progression in 6 tiny tasting pours. 1st taste: “Mmmmm.” 3rd taste: As giggly tipsy as I was when 14-years-old cadging cheap boxed pink Franzia at that one backyard wedding after which I was arrested for underage drinking while walking home, therefore losing my driving privileges before I could drive. 6th taste: Splayed slack-jawed on a fancy lobby chair nearly passed out.

So, yeah. I couldn’t really drink, so I spent my time photographing myself at artful wineries. I’ll raise a glass to that.

Scenes from Foundry Vineyards.

Heart-shaped rose-colored glasses – $2.99, Grocery Outlet bargain market | Black cotton jumpsuit with beaded waist band – $40 (this was slightly pre-Cheep but still on sale), Piece Unique & Shoez (I bought this from a “fancy for me” boutique approx. 15 years ago and it immediately popped a stitch on the neckline that I just fixed approx. 15 days ago. It feels good slipping into something you think you’ve lost, like your ability to get toasted on 3 sips of wine.) | red & plaid jacket– $4.99, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store | Frye ‘Sacha Moto’ black leather shooties – $100 (MSRP: $278), Bombshell Salon‘s Head to Boots Fall Make-Up Event

“My own private Idaho” outfit

“I always know where I am by the way the road looks. Like I just know that I’ve been here before. I just know that I’ve been stuck here. Like this one fucking time before, you know that? Yeah. There’s not another road anywhere that looks like this road. I mean exactly like this road. It’s one kind of place. One of a kind. Like someone’s face. Like a fucked up face.” – River Phoenix, My Own Private Idaho

no label – vintage beach dress $5, ReStyle thrift store.

“85 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats” outfit

“Do you know how fast you were going?” the state trooper inquired, inching down his aviators.

He lay in wait in a mirage-like speed trap on the desert highway. I spotted him too late, then caught him creeping out onto the highway in the rearview.

“Fuck.” This vintage white Caddy with the blood red interior must look like a drug dealer’s wet dream.

I fluttered my Bambiest of doe eyes. “I actually don’t. This only goes up to 85.” I gestured to the speedometer, that did, in fact, cap off at the age of the grandmas usually behind the wheel of this particular old-school luxury vehicle.

A wry grin flashed across his face, turned on as instantaneously as those red and blue lights.

When he came back, he gave me a warning, and this cogent piece of advice, “If that needle gets to 85, slow down!”

Jessica McClintock maroon(ed) long sleeveless dress – $3.99, ReStyle Thrift Store | ADAY Something Borrowed black traveling button up shirt – $125, thisisADAY.com | Crocs (but the fashion-y kind) black fleece-lined slip-ons – $20, Crocs.com

Kim got this amazing shades-of-blue winged cotton jumpsuit at ReStyle on the same visit, probably $4.99.

1993 Cadillac DeVille with only 86,000 grandma-driven miles – $3,000, Boise’s Best Auto Sales (thanks to Ryan for tracking down/loaning me the $$$$)

Speed Cheep

“Edward Hopper diner scene in Salt Lake City, Utah” outfit

On the menu…

appetizer: Polish sausage w/ sauerkraut, split in two – J Dawgs (pictured)

main: A dozen oysters on the half shell w/ fresh grated wasabi. Arugula salad. French onion soup. – White Horse

dessert: J.S. Ondara show – The State Room

Ralph Lauren gold & black striped long-sleeved shirt – $2.99, ReStyle | Liz Claiborne black skirt – $3.99, ReStyle | Frye knee-high black leather boots – $75, Bombshell & Blokes “head to boots” fall make-up event

Cheep eats

“Ace of wands in Wendell, Idaho” outfit

I’m lost. Not, like, literally. I’m not still in Wendell, being gawked at by pumpers at the gas station across the street, as Kim and I pose in our driving clothes in front of the abandoned Ace (one storefront over from the brilliantly-named Grizzly Dairy Wear).

What I need is a big phallic tarot card, telling me, in what I assume is a Barry White ASMR voice, “Hey girl, you’re magic. Poof. It’s all in you. Everything you need to do.”

And then—like magic, like I’m wand-renewed with a psyche scrubbed clean of the plaque of regret, longing, fear, and inertia—I do everything I am designed to do. Like it’s in the cards.

12 pm by Mon Ami floral print long-sleeved shirt – $2.99, ReStyle Thrift Store | Hot Kiss jean jacket – $5.99, ReStyle Thrift Store | Dizzire black and white print pants – Idaho Youth Ranch, $4.75 | Crocs (but the fashion-y kind) black fleece-lined slip-ons – $20, Crocs.com

Note: Every outfit for this trip was recently purchased during one glorious visit to ReStyle.

Card-carrying Cheep.

“Jabberwock” outfit

Scene: Alice through the looking glass in the Velma Morrison Center bathroom during the premiere of LED’s “Jabberwock,” wearing a portmanteau print mix that feels like an idyllic garden scene that goes down the rabbit hole.

Josh purple floralscape dress – $2.75, ReStyle thrift store | no label Brown and green silk taffeta jacket that looks like bark and electric moss – gift | brown suede & fringe jacket – gift | vintage bakelite & yellow leather purse – $20, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store | ADAY Crop & Roll Leggings grey – $125, ADAY | burgandy boots – $50 on sale, Riverwear in Stanley, ID

Powder room pics by Kim Philley.