Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Ship Out On the Sea

This is the second day I have seen a vessel out at sea. How I want to
be on it. I love water almost as much as I love the mountains.

Last day at work is done. Everything is packed. Last minute
cleaning, experience another sunrise, pick up paycheck, then
drive...back to my beloved mountains. I hope some are still standing
when I return. Blessed are those who stayed behind to fight for them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Importance of Proper Gear

When forging ahead on opportunites, people many times motivate
themselves with the saying, "at least I will have died trying." After
this trip/journey/whatever it is, I feel like I've botched the saying
to, "at least I will have died trying not quite hard enough," and that
is seriously disappointing. I am once again sitting here on the beach
at sunset, alone, watching the surf and the hottie surfer boys. (I'm
not really sure if they're hot but hopefully by now that you know I
speak as much about surfing metaphorically as literally.) As the
waves crash I realize that I have failed myself and like I'm just back
at square-one. (Sorry to sound so down but I believe in truths.)

The surfers and waves are off in the distance but the obstacles to get
where they are much larger than my ability to get there. Ability
isn't the right word. Neither is drive. I'm not sure what the right
word is because I am physically able and quite passionate about it,
it's just that like with many other things in my life, I am ill-
equipped to get there. The resources I need to get there are never
enough (financial, technical, emotional) and other immediate real
necessities (survival) end up taking prescidence. Just like with
music. Pretty soon, I'll be so far away from the waves that I will
end up forgetting what the surf looks like. So I'm taking in this
moment. Since I don't have a nice enough camera to be able to capture
the moment, hopefully my brain will.

Goddamn. Sunset here is gorgeous.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Habit forming

Forming new habits and starting new lifestyle patterns is never easy.  For me, this kind of transition is easiest when moving.  

If you settle into a new place without beginning the new lifestyle habits immediately, I daresay statistics would show that you are half as likely to pick them up within the next year.  At least that's how I have it mapped out in my brain based on my observations…and I’ve had many observations considering I've lost count on the number of moves I've made on the last decade.  

On this journey, I didn't do a very good job of mapping these wishful new habits out before I came.  This is one place where I truly feel like I have failed.  I did say I would write everyday but that was an unrealistic goal, and that's definitely one of the keys to success -- setting realistic expectations.  I know with me that saying I'm going to do anything everyday other than wake up and go to sleep is unrealistic.  Sometimes, I'm learning, even going to sleep is too much to expect.

So as I move on, going back home, I can't help but think that living with others instead of the comfort of my own home that it may be difficult to ease into some the new habits with which I really want to stick.  Regardless, I have to make it happen.  Yoga has always been one of my keys to happiness and good health.  So has playing music.  While going with the flow is important and not planning my life away is important, happiness and health are more in this case, I'll do whatever it takes.

Here comes the sunset in all it’s golden lush.  The wind is arriving along with it.  I'm sitting on the beach for one of my last sunsets before departure.  Crabs no bigger than quarter are dancing across the sand all around me.  

While this place is next to god, I will not be sorry to say goodbye. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Visit From an Old Friend

It's 12:30am and I have to be up in 2 1/2 hours.  This demon called panic that I thought I was leaving behind is haunting me again.  I can't remember the last time I had a full night's rest.  The moment just before I shut my eyes, it starts all over again, but sleep isn't something I can avoid.  Apparently nor is it something I seem to be able to have easily or unaided these days.  Yep, this adventure has definitely go awry.  My body takes it out on me when I am loyal to something other than it.  Only one week.  I am strong enough to do anything for just one week...right?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


The ads on this page IN NO WAY necessarily reflect my personal beliefs.  I do not believe that a vote for Manchin is a vote for Obama, and I do not believe in the rhetoric of the Republican party.  

Just so we're clear...

The Ocean View

Today, I am sick.  Sitting in front of me is my Wonder Woman medicine chest full of zinc tabs, Umcka, vitamin C tabs, some Vick's chest rub, some Advil Cold & Sinus and some cough drops. Beside that is my knitting that I haven't touched in well over a week, a hot cup of echinacea green tea, and a roll of toilet paper that isn't quite as soft as tissues but will suffice.  Even though when I was packing all this medicine I didn't really think I would need to use it, I now know why I did and am glad I chose not to toss it.  There are a few things that I really wish I had with me, but mostly, I did a good job packing.  I have everything I need (and possibly a little bit more).  I've purchased nothing really besides food since I was here so for the most part, I have nothing extra to carry back.  I did have to pick up some extra long tent stakes in efforts to salvage my outdoor kitchen that was at the mercy of my mosquito net during the storm.  Luckily these little things are not space hogs.  (And luckily, they worked when I needed them to most.)

I'm looking forward to my trip home but really pondering what the reality of what being home will mean.  So many people have offered me a place to stay and I'm thinking that I may end up taking people up on their offers.  I never offer such things unless I mean it so I can only hope that this is the case in return.  I'm learning to accept help when offered instead of being so stubbornly independent.  This lesson is one of the only things that allowed to me to make this journey.  If I didn't have help from my friends in weeding out my apartment for the yard sale, I never would have gotten out of my apartment when I did, saving me another month's rent, and affording me the ability to travel.  If my friends didn't show up to the yard sale to buy my stuff, I wouldn't have had enough money to get me over until the next paycheck.  If I didn't accept their generous donations of items or money, I never would have been fully equipped to make the journey.  If I didn't have my grandmother's garage, I wouldn't have been able to keep some things that are irreplacable.  If I didn't have solid friends who I can call at anytime of the night when I'm sad or scared or lonely or having a panic attack, I'm not sure how I would have made it as far as I have.  When I once again started being stubbornly independent is when things turned awry, and I am unbelievably thankful for this wisdom.

And while indeed I am sick with some kind of respiratory infection, I realize that I am also homesick (but perhaps this is transparent).  Every contact to or from home reinforces this.  The funny thing is that it has taken moving hundreds of miles away to be closer to my loved ones than I was when I lived in the next town.  And while I've lived in some of the most exciting places in the US (however brief), the only thing that has ever made a place worth living has been the friends and family with whom I surround myself; not a job, a beach, nor the city life.  This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy living in some of these other places, because I did.  It just now dawned on me the significance of what it is exactly I walked away from when I left Charleston.  I just hate that it took such extreme measures to allow me realize this. Apparently when it was staring me in the face, I was too blind to see it and too numb to feel it.

So when I go home, will I still call my family every day (that is, if I'm not rolled up on their couch)?  Will I perhaps visit them at least once a week for more than an hour at a time?  Will I see my friends as much as I did when they were rallying to help me prepare for my adventure?  Prior to this move, I never allowed the time needed for any of these relationships.  I was always too busy keeping myself busy.  Maybe this time, I will be able to get my priorities in order?  That's wishful thinking, but lifestyle changes have to start somewhere.

This post almost sounds like I'm talking myself into staying there when I get home.  I still intend to move on once I get there as my adventure doesn't yet seem quite complete.  Where I will go, I'm not entirely sure.  I have a couple of prospects.  One WV bound and the other, the west coast.  I'm looking forward to seeing what pans out.  I'm not really planning much because you know what 'they' say about best laid plans.  However, if there's one thing that I do plan on, it's that nothing ever ends up how you plan it, so I will do my best to enjoy the process.  (That's a huge step from the self-crowned queen planner.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Putting the broom handle down

There is a sheen on the ocean today, almost like a slick. There is a long stream of foam that can't help but make me think of the BP oil spill and wonder what the beaches of Louisiana look like compared to
this and why people are so goddamned complacent to no longer even be talking about it.

I was gently reminded by a dear friend last night that I need to write another blog entry. It has been a week since my last entry. (Why do I suddenly feel like I am at confession?) Originally I planned on writing each day, but to be honest, I just haven't been quite up to  it. I managed to do the thing I came here to learn not to do, and that is devote myself to something other than myself; to devote myself to a job.  To clarify, a minimum wage, back-breaking job.

I have come to the grips with the fact that I am a workaholic, or at least I have admitted it.  Increasingly, I am not okay with it. I work harder at a job than I ever work for myself.  At the end of the day, I have nothing left to give because I have already given my all to my job. I know this is a problem, but I do not know how to put the broom handle down.  Sometimes, literally.  I do not find pleasure on scrubbing bathroom floors, but I do it.  Because it needs done. Why can't I do this in my own apartment?  It needs scrubbed as well. Oh yea, I spent the whole morning doing it somewhere else and now I'm tired. Exhausted.

So what do I do?

I tell you what's easiest to do because it's what I always managed to do: entrench myself in leadership positions merely because I have a workaholic's work ethic which at times may be mistaken as my giving a proverbial shit (and sometimes I do) or makes me seem like a do-gooder.  That's what's easiest to do. I am still haunted with this plague that has overtaken me with every phone call I receive from Washington, DC that has come to make me avoid phone calls with the area code 202; every media call asking my reaction to the chemical industry's lastest wrong-doing; every email alerting me to the auto-bill pay for an organization I took on as my own and for which I paid bills out of an nearly empty pocketbook or on credit hoping I would get compensated somehow when someone decided to care as much as I did to keep the "organization" running.

Was that a run-on sentence? Welcome to my short-wired brain. I blame it on toxic chemicals; a lifetime full of bioaccumulation.

I have only ever taken jobs that I care about. I could say I have been fortunate in that regard but it's not like I've really profitted in any other way than karma points because my bank account sure
doesn't have any rainy day funds available, much less any funds for tomorrow. When I found a job down here, I was hoping I would find one where I wouldn't give a hoot and could try working for a
living instead of living to work.  Unfortunately I somehow manage to at least theoretically dig the cute little iconoclastic bakery where I work and I have much respect for (most of) the people for whom or with whom I work, so again, I bust my ass during ungodly hours and make only slightly over minimum wage.  What is this getting me besides broke and exhausted?  I haven't spent any time learning to surf as I have hoped my entire life moving to a beach would make me do.  I haven't spent any time writing music much less even playing music because I'm either too exhausted or too pre-occupied with another downfall pasttime: TV.  

The whole purpose of this blog was to tell the tale of my great adventure, and it was intended to be great.  Interesting encounters, epiphanies, revolutions of the mind, body and spirit, or perhaps even political revolutions and revolutionaries would be among the stories told. Instead, I bore myself by my writing which must mean that this blog must be boring to anyone who may care to read.  (Yes, I understand that I am my own worst critic.)  That makes me know that my adventure has gone array, as it revered the same purpose as my blog. And I can trace it back to fear. Fear of not knowing how I was going to eat next month when instarted running out of money, fear of the storm, fear of solitude, fear of self-reflection. I let these fears and a series of obstacles, some big and some minor ones, overcome me. So I fell into what was comfortable. Comfortable is boring. It's worse than that, in fact. It's uninspiring. I came on this trip to be inspired. I came on this trip to be inspired, mostly, by...myself.

I quit writing around the time I quit being inspired.  I should have quit even before that, but I felt this obligation, this promise I had made to myself and others about writing.  I could write about more of the people I've met because they are interesting people and I have been inspired in their abilities to overcome tragedy, but somehow their tragic stories full of resiliency seem off-limits. So I am left speechless. Or blogless in this case. I could give you a great rundown on the state of Carlo's bakery and what kind of cakes the Cake Boss is making in Hoboken, NJ this week. Unfortunately, that's about it. I haven't even seen a cute surfer boy to literal drool over.

So, that's it. I've decided to come home at the end of the month. If there's one thing that inspires me, it's West Virginia in the Fall. Don't get me wrong, I miss my family and my friends, but right now, above all else, I really miss the leaves. They inspire me. Next to work and obsessing over my flaws, it consumes my thoughts. Don't worry, this doesn't mean my journey is coming to an fact, it's just beginning. Or starting over.  Or continuing.  It's taking a different direction.  I do not plan on staying home for long, but then again, I threw planning out the window when I made the decision to venture out of my comfort zone, so who knows what the future holds.

So give me my ten hail Mary's and let me be on my merry way. Once you confess and repent, you're through, right? Isn't that how it works?

Anybody know how to hail Mary?  

Crap. There's another roadblock.

Hey wait, is that a hottie surfer boy I see?  :-)

(Rhetorical PS to self:  Why do all the surfers have to be white boys?)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yoda was right

Something about gaining solid walls that makes me feel like I've lost something.  Perhaps it's the television that has sucked the life out of my words and mind.  Suddenly my mind is a whirl again with a certain unrest that I was trying to leave behind.  Everyone keeps asking me what is next and I'm not sure what to say.  So many opportunities keep presenting themselves that I'm thinking I better renew my passport so as not to rule any one of them out.  

Today, I came home after a long day at work and fell asleep in front of the tv for about an hour.  Napping makes me anxious.  So does sitting.  I have a difficult time relaxing because I feel that there are so many other things I could be doing to get me to the next step, whether it be towards happiness, money, love, creativity, independence.  I was reminded yesterday that you are where you are supposed to be.  I can't imagine I am supposed to be sitting in front of a tv.  So finally, for the first real time since I've been on the road, I picked up my guitar.  I played the same songs I have played for many many years and I wanted to croak!  Dear god, all this journey and I play the same sad tunes?  This is not the picture I envisioned in my head.  This trip was supposed to clear this songwriter's block that I have had for far too long.  I think it's just time to accept that I am not a songwriter.  I've tried to do that before and then I popped out a tune I was fairly pleased with.  Go figure.  Yoda was right.  "There is no try, only do."

So these walls...I think I miss sleeping on the ground.  I miss my kitchen and living room being exposed to the world and the elements.  I miss having to go get fetch my water.  I miss all the things that reminded me how much we take for granted within walls.  That's why I wanted to camp.  To be grounded.  To feel a part of instead of apart.

After playing my guitar, I forced myself out out of my cavern and onto the beach to enjoy what was left of the the chilly sunny day.  I walked for a while.  I took some pictures with my film camera but the light wasn't quite right and I was not inspired.  Lacking the ability to zoom sucks at the beach.  No pictures of the dolphin pod or the sea kayakers or the surfers in their wetsuits as they watched the dolphins swim by at sunset; only pictures of the clouds and the choppy line of the horizon.  Since when is the horizon choppy?

A hearty meal of beans, bulgar, steamed broccoli and carrots garnished with tomatoes and nutritional yeast topped off the evening.  Now, my cup of tea and a little knitting.  At least when I knit, I can see progress.

It's time I knit something for myself. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I would love to hear from those who seem inspired by my adventure.  What would you do next? 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heaven to Hell in a Handbasket wrapped with a Pretty Red Bow

Okay, so maybe my week hasn't been quite so dramatic as the subject line, but nearly.  

I haven't felt much like writing over the last week.  Maybe I should rephrase that.  I did feel like writing but my body has been on near shutdown starting the moment I get off work.  I think it's a combination of readjusting my schedule, the serious lack of sleep and the duress from last week's weather.  This time last week, I was sleeping in my car.  Now, I get up at 3:15am, go to work by 4am and am off by noon.  By that time, I am so unbelievably exhausted that I can barely keep my head up.  I make a cup of tea, I lay down on my couch in my new apartment and watch my flatscreen HD TV until I am prompted to move (I have a love/hate relationship with television, similar to that of a junkie with their junk who wants to quit).  I forgot how difficult it is to stand on hard floors for 8 hours at a time.  I figure if the women I work with can manage to do it without complaining, I can manage, but at the end of the day, I am nearly cripple.

Work has managed to take over my time and reason for being here.  In the back of my mind, I knew it would.  I can't take a job and not give it my all; it's just not within me no matter how much I wish it was.  I found myself on my hands and knees yesterday scrubbing baseboards and I am only making just above minimum wage.  I don't even scrub the baseboards at my own house, apartment, tent, car.  The weather and this work has turned this sanctuary into just another place that is only a nice place to visit.  A man said to me the other day that a rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home.  Apparently he wasn't here last week when the wrath of God came tearing the walls nearly down all around, and apparently he hasn't met the locals to learn what life on the island is really like.

You are where you are supposed to be.  That sounds like a little piece of mind I would say to someone else struggling with their place in the time but instead someone reminded me of it just today.  I believe I was drawn to this cafe for work probably because I needed solid walls around me.  It has also a good reminder of what exactly my path is and what it is not, and that is listening to myself and not letting fear respond putting me in a situation where I don't want to be is the way.  The women I work with are teaching me a lot about life.  Anyone who thinks they're above working a minimum wage job, especially in the food service industry should try it out before judging.  It is neither easy nor rewarding, but I will elaborate on this more at a later date.  And how I want to tell their stories, individually (but I am just so tired)...

This place thrives on tourism, and when the season is over, so is the work, so most people on this island have to thrive on the pay they get for 8 months out of the year.  The women I work with go on unemployment for the rest of the year unless they want to move away from their homes to find jobs elsewhere.  If I owned this business, I would turn it into a co-op and make it a year-round business where the people who work here (mostly locals) share in the profits.  They could package and distribute their goods through the winter months in order to keep people employed.  If only it were about the people instead of the profit, but we are living in America, afterall.

My zest for writing has been replace by exhaustion so this brief summary for the week is all I have in me at the moment.  At 7pm, in 1/2 hour, I will need to go to bed in order to get in 8 hours of sleep before I go to work.  If only I could make that happen...

This morning, I slept in until 6:45am and I felt like I was living the high life.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


The power kept surging and is now finally off. This wind is
frightening. I had the air conditioner on to keep the sounds of the
wind away but apparently I am meant to be frightened right now.
Luckily I've moved to an apartment but somehow I feel almost less safe
than I did when I was sleeping in my car. Hurricane Nicole's remnants
didn't appear so violent on the Weather Channel's forecast. I can
only hope it means that this is the worst and it will just get
better? I just put on my rain boots. Will probably sleep with them
on, that is, if I sleep.

Power back on...wonder how long that will last. Charging computer
battery now. Amazing how complacent walls make us. Plugged in surge

It's probably sounded this bad for hours only before I didn't notice.
Maybe I can sleep through it. (??). Hopefully my little pill will help.

The Big Bad Wolf

This doesn't do it justice. No sleep for me tonight. I wish I had
charged my computer battery before the power went out. Say a little
prayer for me that the big bad wolf does not succeed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Serendipity strikes again

I am now sitting in my new apartment watching direct TV where I am
warm (or in this case, cool) and dry after having had a hot two-handed
shower. I am exhausted, but happily so. I knew something drew me to
this cafe. One more night of sleeping in my car in horrid
thunderstorms would have been beyond abysmal, it would have been an
all new low. After one hour sleep, I woke up at 2:30am to go to work
at 3:30am where I made and sold some of the most popular pastries on
the island...and they just so happened to have an apartment for rent.
Funny how serendipity works. I have never been happier to make so
little money in my life.

Thanks to all of those for reaching out after my last post. Your
support is what helped me through.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The rain sets in

It's a dark and scary night and I don't know what the hell I'm doing
here. What point am I trying to prove and to whom? The wind is
whipping my tent walls so violently to and fro that I cannot sleep
there. It's hard to find solice in my car which is jam packed with
all the stuff I didn't leave behind. Right now, I just seems like
junk that is in my way and bogging me down. The roads are covered
with wonder everyone here has a truck. I should have a
truck but instead I have a car that has 186,000 miles on it, a broken
windshield wiper, a broken window (that just miraculously happened
yesterday) and a bike rack with no bike. I could get a motel, but I'm
nearing broke. The money I made to come down here is almost gone and
the bit that trickled in today won't last long.

The woman from the cafe called me today. She tells me I should plan
on coming to work real soon, but that her daughter, Marsha, owns the
place and is the one who does the hiring, so I'd have to talk to her.
She says Marsha left me a message but I told her I received no such
message. I hope this isn't getting off to a bad start.

God, the rain is really coming down. The power went out and the
ranger locked up the bathrooms, so when my service got cut off at the
campsite I decide to drive to the gas station at the end of the road.
All that plus the wailing winds was just too isolating. I was afraid
too make calls when it started lightening anyway, so I figured I could
write and go somewhere where I could be in touch with someone if I
really need to. The problem is, in moments like this, I end up
wanting to reach out to those I shouldn't to calm my fears. Doing so
would only perpetuate feelings that best remain buried. So, here I
sit, alone, in the rain, the wind, on an island where I know nobody,
and I am essentially, for all intense purposes, living in my car. I
contend that I am not homeless, but I am living in my car, a self-
imposed dillemma that I'm no longer sure if I'm comfortable with. But
I can't give up now! I've only been here for a little over a week! I
would feel like such a wimp, such a loser if I gave up now and went
home. I can hear the comments now about my 'vacation', which in all
honesty, has been anything but. I have spent my entire time worrying
about what comes next and how I'm going to get there. I had to stop
searching the Internet the other day when I was driving myself crazy
about jobs. What am I going to do? What am I REALLY going to do? I
had a good job. My boss was great, I loved what I did, I believed in
it, I threw my entire soul into it and was crushed when politics came
into play so I left it behind. Suddenly the lousy pay was lousy pay
and the benefits weren't worth the hassle. Plus, I can't see myself
sitting at a desk for the rest of my life. I'm afraid I may shrivel
up and die. If I don't ge a job, I may shrivel up and die from
starvation! (I am really far from starvation. I have lots of food
that will last me for a while in my car.)

The gas station is closing now but luckily the lights are still on.
It's so dark at the campground and I can't find one of my flashlights,
the one I know and trust will last for hours upon hours. Last night
in the whirlwind of transferring from tent to car, I lost track of
it. I know it's floating around the car somewhere but it's not easy
to move all this junk around and find it in the dark.

The rain just stopped and everything is quiet. It's amazing how
emotions run rampant with the storm. Peaked at it's most intense and
relieved at it's most calm. I still don't know how I'll manage to get
to work by 4am on nights like tonight camping. When will I take my
cold shower at the bathhouse?

I had grand plans of playing my guitar and reading in my car on nights
like this but I can't seem to let myself be at ease, I just worry and
feel insecure. That's the worst feeling in the world, insecurity.
I've suffered from it my entire life. Perhaps that's why I'm here, to
try to conquer insecurity by doing things that make me feel the most
insecure. Maybe I'm just sadistic. Who knows.

"Here comes the rain again," Anne Lennox sings in my head. Too bad
she already stole that lyric. I might have written a good song with
it tonight.

I went for a long walk on the beach the other morning. I had seen
Mark and Suzanna mulling around before I left but I thought I'd wait
until I got back to go speak to them. I had intentions of hanging out
with them the previous night but wasn't sure how. I thought I'd
invite them to dinner but honestly, I was not feeling creative and I
was cooking mostly leftovers that I wasn't quite sure if I should
still eat much less anyone else. I thought perhaps I'd invite them
down for a beer after dinner but it came to pass and I just went to
sleep. By the time I returned from my long walk, Mark and Suzanna had
already packed up and gone. That's the story of my life...paved with
good intentions. I really liked them and hoped to possibly keep in
touch but I blew it because I hesitated. I think I didn't want to
bother them as much as anything being newlyweds and all.

Talking to them the other night at dinner about how long they had been
together made me really happy for them but sad for me. I have never
managed a relationship beyond a year and a half. They were together
for five years prior to marriage. Talking about it just made me
realize how alone I really am and I just seem to keep doing things
that isolate me.

I went to the my favorite beach after my walk that morning convinced
that I would finally get in the water. Every other day I just sat in
my chair watching the surf competition. After about an hour sitting
next to empty blankets, a couple with surfboards in their hands walk
up; it was Mark and Suzanna! Apparently I plopped my stuff next to
theirs perhaps through some sort of strange, comic intention. I had
another chance to chat with them before they headed home and exchange
contact information. Moments like these seem random but I can't help
but think there is a reason for them.

The rain is picking up again but I am getting sleepy. Time to head
back to camp and attempt to sleep. I'm going to need to go to bed
much sooner than this for the 4am job...

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I've spent a good chunk of time each day watching the surf
competition. After the first couple of days, it wasn't as exciting.
The waves tamed down with the parting trail of Igor and the surf
whimpered. Thus, so did the surfing. It seemed that I kept showing
up right around the time the kids were surfing and I couldn't figure
out why, that is until after "ronniecarmen82" handed me the schedule.

Ronnie spent a little time as an 18-wheeler after the yacht-building
business tanked 6 or 7 years ago. Somewhere between Flagstaff and
Phoenix, he almost ended up in a tragic accident where 3 other
truckers lost their lives. "It really messed me up," he told me.
Upon his ex-wife's pleading, he moved back to the island. His kids go
to the local high school and she said they really needed him.

In the span of 15 minutes, I learned Ronnie's life history without
even asking. Why does that always happen to me? I didn't stop him
because it seemed like something he needed to tell. It was prefaced,
however, with, "I thought I'd get up the nerve to come over and talk
to you," as he handed me an ice cold bottle of water. It was a bit
flattering considering my I was letting my pasty white body hang out
in a bikini without reservation. He seemed a bit rusty on his pick up
lines and was "testing the waters" with me. That was his term. I
hoped that when he asked me if I had any kids 'yet' that my saying,
"no, I don't want to be bogged down by kids" would turn him off. Any
good father would say, "see ya later." Unfortunately, he continued
testing the waters. This is not to say he's not a good dad, or that I
was telling the truth. I couldn't glean enough from the conversation
and certainly didn't want to judge. It just was what it was and I was
not interested in him but didn't want to seem rude.

Ronnie said it was hard for him to talk to women. He had been out of
the game so long, he didn't know how to play anymore. I gave him some
advice and told him just to be himself. That made him go into a story
about hanging out with this girl he knew and watching a guy go all
around the place talking to every single girl and what a turn-off it
must have been. "Exactly. Pick-up lines are lame," I said to him in
a tone that I could tell made him think, 'hey, maybe this girl isn't
interested in me afterall.'

Regardless, he pressed on. He would be attending the big event dinner
for the competition and wanted me to come with him. My being nice
apparently made him think that I would say yes to dinner. For a
moment, I will have to admit I pondered saying yes just so I could
mingle with some of the hottie surfers. Unfortunately I'm just not
that kind of girl; not even the transitional me.

For some reason l told Ronnie I was a musician. I don't remember why
but I clearly remember a pop song coming over the loud speaker when he
said, "man, I love this song. What kind of music do you play?" "Old
country songs," I told him; clearly the antithesis of the soundtrack
that was narrating our conversation. "Cool," he said and switched the
conversation to surfing.

Earlier that day I was thinking how great it would be if I met a local
who would teach me how to surf. When Ronnie offered, suddenly I
became less interested. Maybe another local, but not Ronnie. He said
I "had the body for it." Man, he was slapping it on thick. When he
told me I didn't look a day over 25, I will admit I was flattered but
suddenly became overwhelmed -cough cough- by the sun and needed to -
cough- leave.

Ronnie wanted to make sure I knew where the dinner was even though I
told him most likely I would not be attending. "Hold on a minute, let
me find out where it is," he said. I waited for him to return because
I didn't want to seem like a total jerk, even though perhaps I was.
He returned with the schedule and said, "I told a white lie. It looks
like the dinner was last night. I'll probably go over to the grille
and sing some 'scary-oke' if you want to come. It'll be fun!" I said
yes to grabbing beers with Ollie because he was harmless. Ronnie
honestly seemed harmless, too, but definitely had more on his mind
than I was interested in entertaining, so 'scary-oke' was out.

"Alright, take care," I said and joked about being glad he could test
the waters with me. Ronnie asked me if i was on Facebook. "Yea," I
told him, but that was all. Luckily he only knew my first name. He
wanted me to make sure I looked him up. Then he said, "hey, do you
have email?" Once again I told him "yea" and he told me to drop him a
line at "ronniecarmen82". I was a little puzzled that he wanted me to
email him but didn't give me the server. Strictly out of
dumbfoundedness, I asked. "Gmail, yahoo whatever," he said.
ronniecarmen82 was a trip. I tried to look him up, again, strictly
out of curiosity. I couldn't find his Facebook page. I get the
impression he was not sketchy, but rather just wanted to sound cool.

When I looked at the schedule he gave me, I learned that the adult
surfing competition was over two days prior.

The names are changed to protect the innocent in this blog post.

Oh Canada

The days have moved quickly since Bruce left.  It's been a little lonely too. I really enjoyed his company.  I popped by to say hello to Ollie every day but each time, he was elsewhere.  If it weren't for the picture of him holding one of his grandbabies on the cash register, I'd think what he told me was all a sham.  I have a feeling I could find him around 4:30 if I really wanted to.

I don't do a good job relaxing so I ended up spending a fair amount of time in the library applying for winter jobs.  I want to have some source of income on the horizon, so getting started now I figured a good idea.  As for jobs here, the sign at the Cafe down the road keeps taunting me. Ollie's words of heeding are in the back of my mind. He says I'd have to go to work at 3:30am if I work in the kitchen and 6:30 if I work out front.  Both times kinda make me eek, but something keeps drawing me to that place.  I think maybe tomorrow I'll inquire.  I wish I was equally as confident about booking gigs as I am walking into that kind of place and picking up a job. Part of me thinks it's now or never and I shouldn't allow myself to fall back on what's easy.  Yesterday, it was really getting to me, so I talked to my dad about it and he said, "why not do both?"  He's right.  I'll procrastinate on booking gigs until I leave and by then, I'll be flat broke and just plain mad at myself.  This trip is all about stepping out there, taking chances and making opportunity yet I think my fear of performing is the most difficult obstacle to overcome.  I got used to performing with Chet...he was there to pick up the slack when I lost a line or a chord, not to mention round out the sound that now feels empty.  Performing by yourself is completely different.  All your mistakes are out there for the audience to judge with no buffers.  My sound system isn't so great, and my guitar sounds tinny.  Those things coupled with low performing self-esteem does a good performance not make.  Maybe if I got better equipment, I'd feel better.  Then again, that costs money, something I am desperately lacking.  Another obstacle with booking gigs is the fact that I have nothing recorded to hand a potential booking agent.  That was one of those things I should have done before I left, but I was in such a rush to leave it all behind.  Note to self: don't hurry when you're not in a real rush.

So if i get that job at the cafe, I'll have to figure out where I'm going to camp when this campground closes.  I'm hoping I can stay at the one up the road owned by Kevin, one of Ollie's biker buddies who stopped at at the bar  last week for a beer.  His place has hot showers but it costs more money.  That will be a real perk once it starts cooling down.  This camping business isn't as cheap as I'd like it to be.  I'm thinking I might look into effencies or rooms to rent.  If only I had an RV or an Airstream...I dream about Airstreams.

Even though it was tempting to take the campsite next to the young couple up the road, I decide to stay.  It's exhausting moving all the time.  I did befriend them.  Mark and Suzanna are their names and they are newlyweds from Canada.  They just moved from Vancouver to Ontario for Mark's residency.  He's going to be a family doctor.

The night after Bruce left, Mark and Suzanna invited me out for dinner.  Even though it was outside of my peanut butter and jelly budget, I was thankful for their offer and took them up on it.  After having company, eating alone was kind of lonely.

Since neither of us had enough room in our cars for all, we decided it best to caravan.  I followed them up the road to the bakery up the way.  They sell donuts, brownies, gingerbread men, and also pizza.  After working at Lolas, I always love trying new pizza shops, but in the back of my mind I know that none will compare.  They did have whole wheat crust, however; something I wish Lolas would consider.

Over dinner, we introduced ourselves...where are you from, what do you do, etc.  That's when I found out they were newlyweds and had been down here just a few months prior, on their honeymoon, I'm guessing.  I asked Mark about Canada's health care system in comparison to the US.  Isn't it funny how we just assume everyone knows what's going on here?  After I talked comparison, I wanted to shoot my America-centric self.  How annoying.  The way Mark boiled it down, it sounds like all people are treated equal regardless of money.   Imagine that...people who have money don't get treated first because they have more money.  I love it.  He said you may have to wait longer for something like a knee replacement, but he spoke highly of it overall.  Isn't it funny how in America equality is seen as this crazy commie notion that should make you run for the hills?  I want to move to Canada.

Suzanna has a degree in outdoor recreation an is working at an outdoor store.  It seems to work for them right now but I get the impression they will be happy to move back to Vancouver once Mark's residency is over.   If I get this job in Washington, there's a possibility that I'll be spending time in Vancouver.  I'm extremely excited about that.  I hear the music scene is killer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day Four- Pt. 2: Fried taters and corn

On the way back from the beach, I stopped off at the grocery store last night to grab some potatoes and corn. That was much cheaper than the grits that my friend Sheila said would go well with shrimp.  Bruce met this lady down in Hatteras proper who owns a seafood shop.  She cooks up the shrimp for him if he asks real nice.  (I can't imagine him not sounding nice.)  I thought cooking something to accompany his meal was the least I could do to say thank you for helping me with the previous day's move.  Besides, I don't think either of us minded having some company.

I cut up the potatoes, put some oil in the pan and pretended my coleman was my grandmaw's stove and that my pan was sitting next to a pot of pinto beans and some homemade corn bread was about to come steaming out of the oven.

Right around that time, Bruce rolled in from his day on th beach; motorcycle fastened firmly on the bed of his truck along with his beach chair and cooler.  I asked him how fried taters and some corn would go along with that shrimp of his and he said great.  He had to go pick it up in about a 1/2 hour.  Everything takes longer on the Coleman so that timing would work out just right.  Besides, you can't rush fried tater perfection.

My pan was only big enough to cook so many at a time, so when Bruce made it back with his shrimp, I had only about a spoonful for each of us finished.  I figured seconds may be appropriate, so while we ate, I threw some more on the stove.  Bruce brought over paper plates for us both to eat from and his own silverware so as not to dirty mine.  Of all the things I packed, apparetly I forgot the ketchup so he brought me a couple of packets of that, too.  He seemed to have the simplicity thing down.  I sure could take a few lessons from him there.

Over dinner, we talked quite about our families and and lives past.  Seems Bruce was an alcoholic but when one day he realized what it was doing to his family, he decided to sober up.  That was about 26 years ago and another difficult feat to hurdle.  His resiliency is astounding, and I don't think it comes from military training.

The vegetarian conversation always comes up over food so we closed that gap.  I told Bruce about the 20/20 special I saw as a teenager and how it was as much a health choice as anything.  He seemed to be worried that I would starve.  I don't know if it was solely because of the vegetarian thing because that's when he asked me, "so is your dad worried about you [being out on this journey]?"  It was becoming apparent that was thinking about me as he would his own daughter in the same situation.  I told him, "of course my dad's worried about me.  My whole family is worried about me, but they live and support me in whatever I do, and I felt I needed to do this."   I also told him that I hated it that my family worried about me and that was the reason I try to be as cautious as I can be.  

Throughout dinner, I kept popping up to check on the taters.  At this point, they were ready to be served up.  Luckily, Bruce was ready for another helping, as was I...they were mighty good taters.  It makes me happy when people like to eat what I cook. 

I divulged a little about myself and my reasons for coming to be here, mostly about how stress was starting to have a negative impact on my health and how I was worried that I'd keel over soon if I didn't do something about it.  Seemed he knew from personal experience what I was talking about.      

Bruce is an account by training.  He only had so long to take advantage of the GI bill, so when it was coming to an end, his coursework lent itself to an accounting major.  My mom wanted to be an archaeologist, but when she got pregnant with my sister, accounting seemed to be the path laid out or her.  I didn't tell Bruce about that, but I should have.  Also like my mom, he didn't want to go on and get his CPA, so he became the controller for a company.  He had it pretty well there because he was like the second in command and the head honcho didn't care if he wore jeans to work.  (I knew I liked Bruce for a good reason.)  When bosses changed, Bruce couldn't wear jeans to work anymore, both literally and metaphorically.  It affected his health so much that when he was fired, he was never happier in his life.  His wife said that he was the only man who came home from being fired with such a huge grin on his face.  That's when he dusted off his woodmaking tools and started his furniture business.  I guess I need get out my guitar so I can learn "Jesus Was A Capricorn" or write a tune or two of my own.

There's something about that Bruce that made me want to talk to him all evening long, but it was nearing the time when I make my nightly round of familial calls and I still had some cleaning up to do.  Even with his paper plates, I managed to dirty every dish and utensil I brought; but, that's me.

As he headed across the way, he said he'd have some milk leftover and would give it to me when he pulled out in the morning.  Once again I thanked him and told him not to worry, that I would not starve to death.    

I've spoken more to my family in the last week and spent more time with my friends on the last month than I have in three months combined.  Being so busy all the time made me feel like a bad daughter, granddaughter and friend.  It feels good to be getting better at that.  Unfortunately, it makes my family miss me more than they ever have.  When Bruce leaves, I have a feeling it'll make me miss them even more, too.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crab hole

Day One of Surfing Competition

Where are all the surfers?!

Day Four: Where are all the surfers?

After a good night's sleep, a shower and about ten phone calls later, I finally made it to the beach to catch some of the surfing competition.  So where the hell are all the surfers?  The answer: Playing games the sand.  The waves are still treacherous, violently and haphazardly colliding into one another...if only I could capture that from my iPhone.  I did bring another digital camera but I realized that for blogging purposes, it's not as easy.  Besides, the images it takes aren't much better than the iPhone, anyway. Anybody know of a good free app?  Afterall, this trip is all about peanut butter and jelly and free apps.  

I invited Bruce down to watch the competition with me but then realized that I had some other stuff to take care of so told him I'd possibly meet him here.  Bruce is my new neighbor; a Vietnam Vet out joy riding on his motorcycle and living the good life.  His wife passed away about 16 years ago at the young age of 49.  She was his childhood sweetheart, he told me, and they had three children and six (I think) grandchildren.  They were together for 30 years until one tragic day at the beach her heart heart out on her.  I asked him if it was hard coming to the beach after that and he said it was
for a while, but that at some point, you have to choose to shrivel up or go on living, and that's what he chose.  I told him how sorry i was and that it takes a lot of guts to learn to live again after something like that.  

His story seems so sad, but he seems like such a happy fellow.  He's such a kind man. I pulled across from him after I decided to move sites again and he asked if he could lend me a hand.  I told him I hated to ask anybody but if he wanted to, I'd sure take it.  

Poor Bruce didn't know what he was getting himself into.

I wouldn't even have considered moving again, especially with my little near heat stroke episode the previous day and the beautiful view that Michael & Annette helped me achieve; however, when you're a woman camping on your own, it's important to pay attention to your intuition.  After all the surfers bolted, the campground was near deserted, leaving me with only two fishermen near me.  They made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, so I decide I should probably listen.  Truth is, the thought of their potential creepiness is what made me not sleep moreso the previous night than being awoken by my other neighbors.  It kinda hurt my pride to tell Bruce that, so I just told him that I wanted to be near more people since I was camping alone, and he seemed liked good people.

Bruce helped me haul my tent gear up the hill to the new site.  He held ole Kelty steady as I put her poles together and put her up.  The wind was not quite as ferocious as it was on the beach earlier yesterday but not too far off.  I put some stakes in the ground so he could let go and left the rain fly for later after I went back to the old site to get the mosquito canopy.  I told Bruce thanks, that I appreciated his help but he said he'd hang in there with me.  In fact, he said, why don't we just use my truck to get the rest of your stuff if that would be easier.  I know it makes some stomachs drop to know I said yes, but I did because it would be easier.

I should have said yes when he asked if it would be easier to pull the solar shower out if his truck bed.  See, I have a hard time accepting help.  I don't know why, I like to help people, but when the tables are turned, I feel like I'm bothering people.  I know I need to get over it, and maybe one of these days I will.  Until then, I'm constantly trying to make it easier on the people helping me, which just ends up making it more difficult in the long run.

When we got to the old site, Bruce said, "Geez, you've got a lot of stuff!"  "I know," I said.  "if you can just hold the mosquito net while I break it down, I'll come come back for the rest."  "No sense in that.  We'll just get
It all."  I sucked up my pride and said, "okay, thank you, Bruce.  I really appreciate your help!  You probably got yourself in for more than you bargained!". Luckily he didn't mind.  He didn't have anything else to do and probably enjoyed the company as much as I did.

Just now a crab popped his head out of a hole on the sand.  I turned to take a picture of him and he flinched, back into the hole.  I threw a little twig down after him.  Mean, I know, but I wanted to see him again.    

Once again, he held the net as I took it apart, disassembling poles as he could simultaneously.  We put the net in the truck, and of course, he ended up having to move the solar shower bag anyway so the stakes wouldn't pop it.  One of the fisherman from next door walked by and asked Bruce how the Eagles did because he saw the license plate on the front of his truck.  The guy didn't sound so creepy as he seemed earlier, but still, I was glad for my decision.
We loaded up the rest of the stuff and headed back to the new spot.  We climbed up the hill and once again, Bruce held the net to keep it from flying away while I put it together.  The whole time, he told me about how he had helped his daughter build her log house that was put together with wooden pegs...I can't remember what kind of construction he called it.  It sounded beautiful with 18 foot high ceilings and huge windows.  Sounded like my kinda place.  I went on to ask him what branch of the military he was in.  "Air Force," he said.  "My dad was in the Air Force, too, during Vietnam.  He built generators or something like that.  We don't talk about it much."

By around this time, the net was up, the stakes were in so, once again, I thanked him graciously for his help.  He said no problem and that he was glad he could help.  I asked him if he liked brussel sprouts.  He said he didn't know, he had bever tried one.  "What are they?" he asked.  "They look like little cabbages," I said.  "Tell ya what, I'm going to cook some to go with my leftovers.  I'll bring some over so you can at least try them."  "Alright he said, that's a deal."  Earlier, he asked if I ate meat I told him no. He told me he had a big steak waiting for him back at his camper and was going to offer me some if i wanted it.  I told him I was having leftovers, but didn't offer any because I didnt feel like having the vegetarian/fake meat conversation with this guy.  Brussel sprouts seemed like the best I had to offer.

I finished tweaking my tent and net and started supper.  Bruce yelled from across the way that he threw his steak away because his fridge had gone out and he didn't trust it.  He offered to take me to dinner but I told him "thanks" but I had already started cooking.  I offered to throw together a pot of spaghetti but he said he had some other things he might throw together instead.  And he did.  He put on his "cooking hat," which was this fuzzy topped tennis cap that cracked me up and made some beef stew.  As promised, I took him over some brussel sprouts.  I told him that if he liked them, great, but if not, at least he could say he's tried them and that my feelings would not be hurt.  I just hope he didn't think of them as punishment!  

I slept like a baby last night.
The crab just came out of his hole holding my twig.  He swiftly threw it on the ground next to him as if to say, "damn tourists.  Hmmph."