Wanderlust Remedy

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Category: San Luis Obispo

An Open Letter to My Bicycle

My Beloved Bicycle,

I pulled up next to you this morning in my beat up van, exhausted, alone, lost.  Really I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I saw you still there, intact, undisturbed after what I’m sure was a pretty raucous Halloween weekend.  You are locked in front of some of the lamest, yet most frequented dance establishments in this little college town.  I had not seen you since Wednesday night when I went to get a drink after my class was over at 10 PM.

I’m sorry I left you.  I took a cab home.  It wasn’t for the usual reasons of why I leave you abandoned on a main street, vulnerable to any passerby with a destructive mind.  I know in the past I’ve left you locked up in front of bars while I am too wasted to use you to get me home.  Yes I’ve been a bad drunk to you.  I’ll never forget that evening when I left you locked up in front of the Sportsman after a nice holiday Midnight Ridazz ride when I couldn’t stop taking tequila shots.  Not only did I throw up all over myself and the back of my friend’s car, I lost the key to the lock I put around you to keep you safe.   I made sure to come back as soon as I could to make a public spectacle on Figueroa Street with a Sawsall to get back in your saddle.  Or how could I forget the time after a long drug and booze filled Cinco de Mayo where I lost another key.  I had the SB Fire Department cut you loose.  I never thought about your safety while I partied.  This time I left you not to have  drunken fun.

I was just tired, weak, and full of sadness.  It’s been a couple months of feeling despondent.  I’m despondent for a variety of reasons, but partly because I haven’t gotten to enjoy you like I typically do.  Really bici, you have defined me more than anything, anyone else.  I remember when I first met you as an adult.  It was out of irresponsibility that we ended up together.  I totaled a car and was shit out of money, but I’m glad I was.  You showed me a better way to live.  You showed me to slow down and smell the world.  You’ve introduced me to some of my closest friends.  We enjoy days and nights of moving through space and being present in it.  We don’t cut ourselves off from the elements.  You’ve also taught me to think about how I treat my world and reconsider what progress and growth really mean.

You are beautiful and incredible.  This is not to say we have had our tough times.  There are times I am too physically or emotionally vulnerable to push my body through the hot or the cold to get to where I need to be.  I want someone else to come help me, or to hold my hand.  It is when I use you to commute that we have our greatest dysfunctions.  I just want to be with you for fun, but I have to work and go to school.  My responsibilities keep me from spending quality time with you.  It’s always rushed, and somewhat bitter times.  This is especially true if I’m having a difficult time with a lover or overloaded with work.  Lately I’ve been emotionally spent.  I know you can’t come in and give me a warm embrace.  I have to warmly embrace you.

Perhaps this is the biggest lesson you have taught me my bici.  Inner strength and inner peace.  When I spent a month with you traveling down the coast I never felt more empowered.  Day and night we just existed without anyone to rely on emotionally or physically.  We just were.  Sometimes you would give me trouble, but I would make sure to slow down and see what was wrong.  I breathed and knew all I had was myself.  You were the first thing I thought of when my boyfriend and I of five years parted ways.  I grabbed you, and put you on the train with me when I ran away.  I rode you around when I did not know what I was going to do with my life.  You helped me just exist in the moment.  This lesson rings true in my recent tough times.  Only difference is I have not had that free time to just be with you and the ocean.  I know we will have our time again soon and it will be sweet.

Until then I will look at you from afar and wipe a tear from my eye.  Thanks for all the memories and helping me to take care of myself.  You are not just a political statement, a symbol of a subculture, a mode of transportation, you are an expression of myself and how I can truly love myself when no one else can.

With much love,

Juana del oeste


From Hard Liquor Drinker to Wine Sipper in 3 Steps

The consumption of legal stimulants cause my slow human specimen of a self to be whipped into a frenzy.  On a warm, yet lonesome Monday night I ride my yellow 1980s Specialized Rock Hopper around San Luis Obispo.  The air is kept comfortable by the cloud cover.  A trip to deposit some loose change into my checking account becomes something greater.

Summertime is special in San Luis Obispo.  Actually it is something special in any college town.  With the onset of summer there isn’t much sexual energy pooling on the streets.  As I get older, the highly sexual parade of bar scenes seems awkward like teenaged girls heavily made up in their prom dresses trying to play the part of a glamorous, sophisticated, affluent starlet.  I never dared to play that role.

During my ride I feel the need to write in my little black moleskine.  I stop at a late-night eatery.  Trying to fool myself into thinking I’m better than sitting on the sidewalk late at night, I scrounge together a dollar and seven cents to loiter in a private space through the purchase of a cookie.  I sit down at a metal table outside which faces Higuera Street, SLO’s main drag.  A man with a five o’clock shadow and a weathered face is smoking a cigarette.  I can’t tell if he’s homeless or a just some barfly taking a break from the fun of kareoke night next door.  I offer him the cookie.  He playfully asks me if I put anything on it.  Not in the mood for much conversation I dryly tell him the true purpose of my cookie purchase.  “I just want to sit out here without issues with the management.”  He hesitantly takes the cookie and says thanks.

For a Monday night there is sufficient activity to meet my voyeuristic needs.  MoTav has kareoke, Frog and Peach has an open jam night.  Tourists and townies stroll up and down the street.  I had just drank a 2/3’s of a small coffee, a rare indulgence for me, and can’t keep still. The pennies in my coffers funded these little purchases.  I am confused as to why I have not been able to save money for the past 27 years of my life.  I hypothesize it might have to do with my equal inability to master sobriety.  I’m caught betwixt the fond memories of crazy nights and painful realities of the consequences of too much fun.  Mistakes don’t come cheap.  Tonight though, I keep my mirror clean and reflect because I’m on the flip side of a metamorphosis.

About two weeks before, I sat inebriated at the same eatery, in the same chair.  Many mistakes had been made up to that point.  Everything had reached critical mass.  Sometimes letting the crust accrete in one’s eyes is what causes all the crust to come out in one big chunk.  Suddenly you can see with some clarity.  Without going into much detail of specific events, I was left feeling unlike myself.  My moral compass was thrown off.  I was behaving against my ethical framework.  This caused my eye crust to rip from my tear ducts.  I can see clearly.  Lately I’ve been a beer and wine sipping kind of girl.

I scribble in my moleskine.  A soiled vagrant wobbles into the eatery’s patio and sits behind me.  He has a similar idea.  Legal loitering through a purchase of a food item while consuming a caffeinated beverage.  My shabby poncho from Tijuana, hiking sandals, dirtied yoga pants, messy hair, and journal writing doesn’t help separate us very much aesthetically.  An outsider looking in would assume we are both in the same situation.  A few minutes earlier I saw the same man spanging for some change.  Maybe he wanted to join me for some passive Monday night voyeurism.  After a few minutes of writing I look back at him.  He is reading the New York Times.  What is he looking for?  Guess I might not be that far from him?  What does he want to create, see, or destroy?  Create, see, or destroy conventions, negative memories, or his body?  Will I reinvent myself whilst destroying ill pasts?  What type of hillbilly tucks his shirt in?  Can I pay it forward through voyeuristic behavior on the streets?

We must work hard to get what was once easy.  It is all part of getting older.  Enjoy the pain.  Get super fucking high from the pain.

Give your cookie away to someone you don’t know is homeless or not.  Assure him of the truth.  There is nothing on the cookie.  Lose the pounds permanently.  Make lists and get off on the feeling of drawing definitive lines through tasks and goals.  Do not settle for less and fight to get more.  Move the fuck around.

You are scared of getting your hair cut too short.  I want to get my hair long again.

You didn’t know much about the benefits of trims.

There are no ends of eras.  Just a continuous line infinitely looping into itself.

Up in the sky.  The town in question is below.

Up in the sky. The town in question is below.


27 years young, fingers covered in donut frosting at midnight.  Sticky fingers fueled by caffeine type nothing.  Going nowhere far now to go somewhere far tomorrow.  Grizzly bears don’t wander into California.  We only like kind bears in the golden state.


Growing up in suburbia either makes you feel a constant sense of boredom or imbues you with the ability to find fun in any situation.  I’d like more of the latter and possess more of the former.  Lately there has been far too many chance encounters.  I’ve spread myself all over the place.  The nutella runs low; I must make the end of the jar last for a little longer.  You run into everything and everyone over and over again.  What would be a new situation?

What is one to do when they can’t leave, but must savor the here and now?  The itch is persistent.  If I had balls, I’d sit here with a pair of irritated rocky mountain oysters.  What is so boring about paradise?  Why do some humans like to press on their bruises?


We are all guilty of being caught between temporary diversions and meaningful activities (but who knows if they are meaningful?).  Wandering outside, freeing my mind from thought is interspersed with episodes of facebooking, youtubing, and blogging.  We are guilty of sitting on busses, eyes glued to our “smart” phones, ears full of headphones.  My balance is off.

Wanting to go somewhere.  Move your feet.  Watching the young coeds giggle at the cassanovas’ displays of masculinity.  Remembering when you were a giggling coed.  Remembering to not remember.  Move your feet.


Wake up, work towards… sumting… sumting…, get tired, irritated, feel guilty for feeling irritated, sleep.

Pointless exercises of sobriety remind you why you love getting drunk.  There are too many questions with no answer.  Accept there is no answer.  Move your feet.

Be part of what is…

Urban Planning for Hangovers

There is much to discover in the San Luis Obispo area.  In almost three months of being here I have managed to explore many of the little towns surrounding the city.  These little towns have stimulated my inner voyeuristic, anthropologist weirdo.  I recalled a creepy text I got from my friend when he was riding Amtrak.  He was elated that he was high enough to look into every car below him.  Of course he was scoping for cleavage, but there is the similar predisposition to watch strangers from afar.  I am enamored with the unique folks in these places.  There are some interesting haunts too… You just got to let your freak fly.  While I was languishing in my own filth after a night out, I realized these jaunts out to these small towns constitute adventure and would be apropos for my blog.  So here.  This is what it’s like to be in a random place hungover.

It was 1230 in Arroyo Grande, a small city 15 minutes south of San Luis Obispo.  I was scrambling to get food to nurse the most apocalyptic hangover I have ever experienced.  Honestly, I was disgusted with myself; I’m sure I drove and conducted the job interview which drew me out here still drunk.  The night before, a couple friends and I killed a bottle of cherry vodka while watching “Life of Pi” and then hit up the dismal San Luis Obispo bar scene.  My friend drove me from her apartment where I passed out to my van and I barely made it to my interview on time.  I’m sure my slight inebriation made me much more affable, articulate, and charming than my usual anxious self.


Dramatic reenactment of my half eaten grilled cheese sandwich

The center of Arroyo Grande has a very cutesy old-timey surf country aesthetic.  Proponents of new urbanist architecture would swoon at AG’s urban form.  The town proudly calls itself a village.  CuteCuteCute.  The storefronts are right on the sidewalk and there’s even colored brick in the crosswalks.  Many of the patios have seating which spills out onto the sidewalk.  It’s a very walkable environment, unless you have the wrath of Thor raining down upon your brain.  With my head cocked to the side in an attempt to nurse my unbearable nausea I walk past a number of little eateries before stopping at a place called Branch Street Deli.  They have grilled cheese sandwiches.  I’m sold.  I order my food and run to the bathroom to deal with the cruel realities of bad decisions.  The food is ready once I come out.  My excitement can barely be contained.  I can’t handle the classic rock streaming on the speakers so I sit outside.  Two bites into my grilled cheese my stomach my head starts spinning and my stomach turns.  I burp.  Oh shit.  I grab my food and start heading towards the parking lot, but I could not move fast enough.  Projectile vomit shoots out of my mouth all over the stairs and into my hair.  I sit on a curb to let my body complete its processes.  My private life has become public in a small town setting.  Good thing I don’t live here or else I’d be the talk of the town!  A man in textbook cowboy attire:  cowboy hat, tight pants, tucked in button up shirt, Sam Elliot moustache, is conversing across the street with a woman.  Neither of them seem to be phased by my public puking party.  The restaurant worker on his phone doesn’t say anything either.  I start to wonder if I am invisible or if this display is normal.  Suppose it’s simpler to not care and ignore.


I slither ashamed into the back of my van.  Eventually I find myself on my side eating the rest of the grilled cheese and fries with ranch before I pass out.  A couple hours later I am woken up by the rain.  Glad no one found my behavior suspect and called the AGPD.  My hangover is still as intense as ever, but I could not spend all day being a vomit covered vagrant sleeping in the back of their van in Arroyo Grande.  I muster the courage to start heading home.  Suddenly I panic as I pull out because a mob of middle  school aged children have flooded the streets.  It’s 3PM on Friday at this point.  Children sit in the front patios of all the restaurants to indulge in cheeseburger and burritos before their metabolisms slow down and they have to think way too much about what they eat.  As I try not to commit manslaughter I smile when I see how the happy kiddos are to embrace the weekend.  My head throbs intensely as I sit at the stop sign waiting for the parade of energetic girls and boys go by me.  Growing up in Menifee we didn’t have this.  We would all go to Target and later on the Temecula Promenade which is now trying to mimic the same old-timey village downtown look.  I remember when I didn’t get hangovers like this.  The hangover is a wake up call to spend my time more wisely.  Evenings of drinking could instead be times of creative fervor.  Guess I get caught up in the idea of being hardcore.  The ego must be challenged.

I take the van down the main street.  There’s a cute park on the left.  There’s a bridge over a creek.  It’s all so idyllic.  Especially on a rainy day when you are hungover.  There’s even a place called Doc Burnstein’s ice cream lab.  Sounds like somewhere wonderful magical events take place, but my body was in no state to enjoy such an indulgence.  The center of Arroyo Grande is very quaint, walkable, and compact while the rest of town looks more like typical suburbia.  I head over to the local big box shopping center.  I met a man at the Trader Joe’s in town whom takes his pet goats stand up paddle boarding.  He had them tied up to his 80s era toyota compact car in the parking lot.  They were content munching on a patch of grass.


The central coast is never free of surprises.  So thrilled to get to be weird as ever out here.  Not so hungover, signing out.  La Juana del Oeste.