Wanderlust Remedy

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Category: Travel

My Night with the Psychedelic Ultimate Warrior

Last night I fell asleep around 9PM and somehow managed to wake up at 7:55 AM, 5 minutes before I needed to be at work.  I jumped into the front seat of my van and pulled out of the random dirt shoulder I was parked on in residential Los Osos.  These types of dirt shoulders are a dime a dozen in Los Osos, a sleepy beach town with few beach houses or architectural review.  A hodge podge of sheds, mcmansions, and ranchettes line the pot-hole filled streets.  A gravelly, mushy sound came in through my window.  My home/transportation was deflated.  Perhaps this was the karmic price I had to pay for what I did over a 24 hour period in the redwoods the day before.

A veil of ganja smoke covered the crowd as Third World came to the grandstand.  This was a mandatory scene.  I made the pilgrimage to Humboldt County to attend the 30th Reggae on the River Music Festival.  It was my 1st.  Ironically I had stopped heavily smoking marijuana over 4 years ago, but everyone still sees me as a stoner.

I look high all the time. By far it is not my drug of choice.

How I stopped loving weed?  I really don’t know why, but I can tell you the precise moment when I stopped being a hardcore stoner.

Shortly after New Years 2010 I was sitting with my ex-boyfriend and his parents in their living room a lazy evening after a long drive from his cousin’s New Years wedding extravaganza in Las Vegas back to the Santa Barbara area.  As we had done a million times, we all took a few rips of the simple mini plastic bong in the backyard.  The dad sat in the recliner, mom on the couch, my dood on the other recliner, and I was on the floor.  Law and Order was on the TV.  Unlike most Americans, I had never experienced Law and Order. Unfortunately I started to pay attention to the dialogue of this time-honored TV drama.  Saccharin.  Poorly-acted.  Not even enjoyable in an over-the-top way.  A vice gripped my innards.  How could most Americans find pleasure in this rotten indulgence?  I looked at the glowing faces around me hypnotized.  I stared at my then boyfriend.  We had been together nearly 5 years.  All my thoughts and emotions then spiraled out of control.  Before the end of the episode I was freaking the fuck out.  I wondered how my boyfriend and I could still be in love after so many years of being together.  I excused myself to the guest room and laid in the darkness unable to go to sleep.  In my panic attack I convinced myself that if my boyfriend really loved me he would come into the room and have sex with me.  He did come into the room to see how I was.  In exasperation I asked him to fuck me.  Because his parents were awake in the other room he denied me.  He left the room. This was the beginning of my marijuana induced paranoia.

How tragic.

I had already been at the music festival for half a day.  I pretty much missed the first day of reggae.  I drove my home, my 1989 Toyota Van, up from San Luis Obispo on Thursday.  I briefly stopped in Berkeley to visit some friends and continued on my way Friday morning.  Somehow a 4 hour drive turned into an all day affair.  Time is slowed down by the sparsely populated landscape of Northern California.  Sweat dripped from every part of my body as I entered the land of redwoods.  I’m from Southern California.  I am sucked in by the verdant mountainsides leading into blue river valleys.  My trance is broken by a violent sputtering sound coming from my van accompanied with a loss of power.  I was a fool.  The fuel gauge was in a new realm of empty.  It was at least 20 miles from any gas station.  I pull off the road.  You can always rely on the kindness of strangers said Blanche DuBois.  And I do.

Onward!

Before I shot off on a rainbow bridge

Before I shot off on a rainbow bridge

My physical exhaustion subsided as I saw a diamond-shaped orange sign indicating a special event was ahead.  I had arrived!  CHP had built a road block to cross festival goers from the campground to other side of Hwy 101 to the stage adjacent to the Eel River.  The sun was setting.  A mass of traveling kids were posted by the gas station by the entrance of the campground.  I was alone.  A brief visitor to Northern California.  After I parked the van I carefully filled my plastic water bottle with a mixture of pomegranate kefir and leftover seagrams vodka.  It was surprisingly good.  I was alone and needed to ease my social anxiety.  A group of hispanic men from Willits parked next to me and proceeded to roll up a blunt.  Blunts would not help the feelings I had inside myself.  Their faces were emotionless as they inhaled and exhaled.  I too have been working on having one emotion.

After a brief night of drunken dancing, I spent my Saturday morning taking in the scene at the Eel River.  Bodies of all shapes and sizes were soaking in the warm waters of the river.  It was hot.  Water, check.  Vodka kefir, check.  Vodka flask, check.  Jacket, check.  Wallet, check.  Drugs, no drugs.  I had a mushroom cap, but nothing in the quantity to bring excitement to my mental state.  Although I am at a reggae music festival the only high I seek is the one which will open my mind to new worlds.  Remember I don’t enjoy that green high no more. Psychedelics are therapeutic.  They clean.  I am a dirty girl.

The scene on the Eel River.

The scene on the Eel River.

In 2014 I had found much mental relief and revelation in super psychedelic experiences.  After a few sips of my alcoholic concoction I had some meaningless conversations with strangers in the river.  I walk into the concert area and go to buy something to mix with the vodka I had in my flask.  While walking around I run into a friend from Santa Barbara.  I buy a lemonade, pour a shit ton of vodka in it, and smoke some herb with her and her boyfriend.  When I am drunk I find little harm in smoking.  So I inhale lightly.  We move towards the stage to get ready to see Third World.  She hands me a mushroom pill.  I put it in my drink.  The music is loud and my friends move to the back to enjoy the show.  I stay up front.

A veil of ganja smoke covered the crowd as Third World played their set.  I am lost in dance.  I look over to my left.  There is a shirtless man with shaggy blond hair.  His face is covered in a cacophony of neon colors.  I am instantly jealous.  I want his paint all over my face.  My instincts tell me that he is the one I must talk to.  He must of felt the same way because we start exchanging glances.  After the set I ask him to help my mind explode in rainbows.  He tells me he asked his friend to paint his face like a psychedelic Ultimate Warrior.

We run from the festival to his luxury truck to find some trouble.  He dumps out a couple bumps of coke onto his galaxy tablet.  More running.  We sneak into the volunteer area onto a school bus his friends drove to the festival.  He finds a backpack and starts digging.  He then proceeds to open a number of tie-dyed plastic cases.  To me they look like contact lens holders, but he informs me they are to hold doses.  We found no doses, but did find some molly.  Bump! Bump!  The psychedelic Ultimate Warrior is an apt guide, but has yet to provision me with the tour I really want to walk through.

Back to the festival we go.  We run around trying to find his friends.  A band I don’t care for is playing, so we run back out to try to find them.  A young man who knows the psychedelic Ultimate Warrior stops him in conversation.  He mentions our quest for “L”.  As if the answer was painfully obvious, the young man says “I have some.”  One accrid palm drop later we walk back to see Jimmy Cliff.  Maybe because of the coke, or maybe because I had waited a decade to see Jimmy Cliff, I danced harder than I’ve danced in a long time.  It was incredible.  And then abruptly the music stopped, and the crowd was directed to leave as it was the last set of the night.

Suddenly, the full extent of psychedelia set in.  The en masse exit of festival-goers was like being stuck in fetid, shit-filled rapids.  I was helplessly being pushed down the rapids.  All I wanted to do was to break free from the current and be an individual.  I stuck close to the Warrior and asked him if we could get out of these waters.  He assured me we were close to something.  I wasn’t sure what we were nearing.  I was growing nauseous as the world swirled around me and the grumbling voices overwhelmed my aural senses.  We pulled to the right of a giant flood light.  We were back at Warrior’s truck.  He turns his key and the interior of the car lights up like a control panel of a spaceship. The interior of the beastly truck was a sanctuary.  We were on a boat, bobbing in turbulent seas.  Occasionally I would peer out the window and get sea sick.  I saw gray banshees writhing in the grey waters.  There was no need to leave. I had the company of the psychedelic Ultimate Warrior.

With the first moments of stillness on our rainbow journey I started to notice some details about my guide.  He had the most ridiculous tattoo on his back.  He tells me it is his pot farm accompanied by the url for the dispensary business he owns.  Business is apparently really good.  His hands are incredibly fucked up.  I can’t see his face.  I have no idea who I’ve been traveling with.  I can’t see beyond the neon strokes.  The paint is starting to peel off, but there is no reference to features on his face.  I am fixated on his eyes which are wide and blue.  His pupils are just pinpoints.  They really are beautiful.

As I hold the brown felt hat I was wearing all day in front of me it floats around like a flying saucer.  I flip it on its side and stare inside.  It is an infinite black hole.  I utter “the hat is vast.”  I cannot handle the endlessness of the hat and put it back on my head.

Psychedelic Ultimate Warrior starts to open up about himself.  He had relocated to this area some time ago from the east coast.  He grew up a poor white boy that had a precocious mind.  Because he was able to navigate the public education system while “raging” he got a full ride scholarship to a private university up north.  He got two Bachelor’s of Science degrees and sold some type of computer solution to a huge IT company.  There was a very conventional route he could have excelled in.  This is not what he wanted.  All throughout college he grew marijuana.  His mama had shown him how to garden.  We all have free will.  We all have choices.

He had fathered two children with an old money girl who was “a looker” but was not OK with his profession of choice.  He had to dump his “babies mama.”  He goes on to divulge how his hand got so fucked up (a bad car accident), how he had been a first responder to a girl who lost the front of her face to a shotgun blast (she lived; he’s a volunteer firefighter), telling me about his truck collection, and his love of john deere hats.  He then explains how he is really a black man.  Usually he is G’d up, but tonight he decided to be a psychedelic Ultimate Warrior.  I’m glad he is because I wouldn’t have talked to him otherwise.  There were far too many g’d up doods at the festival.  I saw him more as a trippy hippy surfer guy.

Push play.  Three Six Mafia blasts from his sound system.  He gloats about being obnoxious.  The music does not fare well with my rainbow trip.  Bitch. Hoe. Fuck. Pussy. Money.  I ask him to turn it off.  Why Warrior why?  Because, he explains, he appreciates how these men can make money by saying dumb shit. We keep talking.  He tells me I should come up north and work for him this harvest season.  I politely decline.  We all have choices.

He turns on the seat warmers.  I want to do something, but everytime I try to leave the confines of the truck, the gray waters make my head spin.  I come back. He just wants to be a good father.  I ain’t no dead beat dad.  I’ve saved a college fund for my girls. The sun starts to come up.  I wonder if my faculties will come back to me. Reggae.  Slowly.  Yes.  My mind is here.

With the light of the morning sun coming into the truck, I start to see the Psychedelic Ultimate Warrior is a mere mortal.  I have to drive back 8 hours to go to work the next day.  I have a big presentation.  It cannot be missed.  Reggae.  Sunshine.  Rivers.  Slowly I crack open the door.  An overweight woman in a Raiders jacket is smoking a cigarette. The air is already hot and dry.  I throw a giant scarf around my hat.  I can’t handle the outside world.

Reality. Oh reality.  I guess it was all real.  Can’t deny what I perceive is real.  I’m thirsty.  I’m hungry.  I’m tired. The psychedelic Ultimate Warrior needs to find his workers.  They are out there making good money.  “Crushin’ it!”  I softly place my feet on the dirt road.  My feet are in pain.  Off I crawl to my van, down highway 101, away from the redwoods, away from rainbows, away from superheros. Before I know it I’m standing in front of a projector, saying words I don’t quite understand.  Part of me is still dancing while I gesture into the next slide.  I wonder if I’ll ever journey with the psychedelic Ultimate Warrior again.  It was a good time with a side of reggae.  Free will. Choices.  Where salaries and benefits don’t mean a damn thing.

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Mid-Spring Update

I watched the sunrise today. In the company of three wild and free souls, my wasted body laid in the sand bundled up in a found Mexican blanket and a thrifted parka from Joshua Tree.  I was the only one not holding onto a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon because my mind was caught up in the future.  Caught up in the “what I have to do later”, making the now irrelevant.  The goons in suits had pinned me down. There was the 75% empty bottle of Hornitos I had absorbed (with a little help from my friends, of course) that I was giving up for adoption.

Everyone’s face looked perfect in the light of dawn.  We are in the chrysalis together.  Our wings sticky, not yet ready for flight.  There’s so much uncertainty, but fuck it.  I sure sipped on that tequila a few hours before.

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What could possibly be lost? I’m already in the maze.  If there are some dead ends, I can turn around.  Who even says you need to be bound by the walls of the maze.  That’s what they want you to think. Climb over those walls! Go beyond the edges of the universe.

Yesterday is today and tomorrow was a week ago.

The Uber drivers thick foreign accent was amplified by humid Southern air. “You sure you want here?”

The cab idled in front of the Clermont Motor Hotel. It looked abandoned.  I just wanted to be somewhere else.  A few minutes before I was at the pub crawl put on by the conference. It proved to be the dullest of dulls.  Sitting in the bar, noshing on chicken wings, talking about careers, so on and on and on, felt like a bludgeoning. dull. dull.  I’m frantically am trying to make the puzzle pieces fit. My fist is smashing the cardboard bits. Eventually I give up. I ask the event photographer where a girl like me can find a more entertaining venue.  He tells me the Clermont Lounge. “You will love the Clermont Lounge.  There’s nowhere else like it.”

A Brazilian fellow attending the pub crawl starts a conversation with me as I finish my cocktail.  Everyone looks like a satirical skit of a conference pub crawl. Button up shirts letting loose by unbuttoning the top button.  I think I see what could be a chest hair. I tell him I am going to the Clermont Lounge.  His face goes from sexual interest into one of shock. With a furrowed brow he says, “Why would you want to go there?!” I ask what he’s talking about.  He won’t really divulge anymore information, but agrees to go with me. I ask if he’ll ask some of his cohorts if they’ll join. I envisioned a merry pack of people going somewhere more exotic. Usually introverted my drunken self took pride in my ability to corral and move packs of people. Or so I thought. I excuse myself to the bathroom, and when I come out I see the Brazilian already deep in conversation with two new women.  I reckon this will be another solo mission and step outside to smoke a cigarette and wait for my Uber.

The uber drivers thick foreign accent was amplified by humid Southern air. “You sure you want here?”

Fuck it. I could be in the middle of the most dangerous neighborhood in Atlanta for all I know, but I want something sharp to cut into me. A quick cut or a slow bludgeoning death? Stab away. I see a red staircase on the side of the abandoned motel leading down down down to somewhere unknown.  A descent to hell? As I walk down I hear voices and music and a sense of relief.  I made it.  A billy goat gruff sat on a stool next to the entrance.  I turn my head to the left.  The sign slapped me in the face.

Clermont Lounge

Atlanta’s Most Popular Adult Club

Reasonably Priced Drinks

A small additional sign said, “NO CAMERAS.” I hand Billy Goat Gruff my identification card and in I go.

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I’m on autopilot.

I get cash out of the ATM.  A drunk girl in a peasant skirt and long hippy hair runs into me.  She grabs on my arm and tells me I’m pretty.  A blond girl peaks her head out of the bathroom and grabs the hippy girl violently saying come on. I find a non-threatening space at the bar and order my spring of ’14 standard, a gin and soda with lime and a shot of tequila.  Alcohol slips through my system too easily these days. A quite rotund middle-aged white woman with short skunk hair, a tank top, and a skirt gets up on a stage in the middle of the bar. She slowly wiggles her hips and begins to take her clothes off.  Oddly enough none of this makes me feel uneasy. Watching this conventionally overweight and unattractive older woman get naked and dance made me feel relaxed.  I start talking to the guy next to me. He and his five friends next to him were there for a fun weekend away from Savannah.  They went to a music festival headlined by Outkast, and caught a Braves game.  This was their last night out; the Clermont Lounge was the cherry on the top of their outing.  The trip would not be complete without it. I notice most of the people in the bar are nonthreatening twenty-something hipsters. Is that me? Jump back jump forward.  I’m in the back of a truck riding through light rain.

Into an unknown situation.

Another day, another night, another day.

I rent a bicycle after the conclusion of the conference. My destination is Atlantic Station.  I had written a paper about this place at school.  It was my case study.  Retrofitting Inner-Ring Suburbs.  The place was awful.  A bad case study. Another Southern California mall export.  Where do you want to be escaping to?  Disney will make it for you whilst you sport some H&M for your S&M later on tonight.

I rode back to the bike shop to return the rental, an older man in tight cuffed pants, with a small u-lock in his back pocket, and a purple single speed and I talk about bicycles and planning.  He offers to give me a guided tour of Atlanta.  For the next three hours we go through the Freedom Parkway, Little Five Points, Candler Park, Druid Hills, skim the Emory campus, drink a double gin and soda in the Virginia Highlands, back through Piedmont Park and Midtown, to his house on the edge of the Buckhead area.

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Somewhere in my gin and soda in the Virginia Highlands I decide I want to watch some live music. He opens the free weekly to the section listing all the shows.  I struggle between wanting to see Avey Tare’s slasher flicks or Bombino.  I pick the latter for no special reason.  We drop the bicycles off at his house and he gives me my first ever convertible ride in his swanky BMW.  I was tempted to ask him to drive me around all night long, but the fried chicken accumulating in my lower intestine told me to dance.  And dance I did. The mistakes we learn from.

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The green numbers on the LED clock cause me to yell a hearty fuck.  7:32.  My plane had departed approximately 35 minutes before that.  I wake the stranger next to me.  The blinds are drawn and all is dark.  My fingernails dig into my scalp.  Exhale.  Move the fuck foward. I make it back to California albeit 12 hours later than I wanted to.  My body was wasted.  The mistakes we learn from.

So many mantras are gained when you are on the move.  7:32 I had to be at work at 8, but it was her last night in town and everyone looked so perfect in the sunrise.  A common thread tied me to everyone and everything by the ocean this morning.  I smelled of stale cigarettes, booze, and B.O.  Then I recognize that I am the ocean and my friend and the sand.  We are little bundles of atoms shifting from one form of energy to the next.  I give my friend a long hug goodbye and she tells me my hair smells good.  I’m wearing a long parka I got from a thrift store in Joshua Tree, sunglasses, and a hat that says cock; they are all me too.

Everywhere all the time.  Never alone, but never together.  We are each in our own chrysalis dangling from a blooming flower.  And when it wilts it will feed my bloom.  Sticky wings flap.  They dry.  Off I go to one day become more food for all the flowers about to bloom in the light of dawn.

To this Valentine’s Day

I have a piece of shit van that only runs because I think it will.  Over the past couple months, it’s been a shortcut to trouble.  It’s also a keen accessory.  Both in fashion and crime.  It helps me run away from the fear factory of age, poverty, loneliness.  It’s a hangover haven.  Just me in my little sunroom.

As the wrinkles set into my face, my skin gets discolored, and the circles around my eyes darken, I look into my rearview mirror less and less.  I don’t want to see myself.  I don’t recognize my face anymore and there is no need to look back.  Like Dylan in the movies.  If I only move forward I don’t need to look in the rearview mirror anyways.  So I try to only move forward.  Get myself straight.

Over the past couple months I’ve driven from Joshua Tree up through the Sierras finding lust and love.  Every weekend is an adventure.  There is a tribe out there.  A wandering traveling tribe whom serves as a reflective surface.  A fucking rearview mirror.  The lives that I envy.  The beauty that I envy.  I need to tear that damn thing off.

If only I had never gone to college and gotten into debt.  I could be here or there doing this and that… all the time…

But the great bodhisattva, guru, teacher (whatever is en vogue) that is the pacific ocean has taught me to let go.  These ionic bonds will break.  I will become a breath of air and and drop of water along with everything else that has ever and will exist.

Take the bottle of whisky and swig.  Take the bottle of tequila and swig.

So I drive forward drinking it all up.  The strange places I’ve woken up in.  Nature is beautiful but so is dancing to amplified music under flashing lights.  I drove to Joshua Tree to take some photographs alone and dry out for a few days before the New Year.  I wandered down a trail with my heavy bag and awkwardly climbed up some rocks to watch the sunset with myself.  The wind roared it’s dragon breath against my ear drums.  It’s easier to climb up then to come back down.

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Among the rocks I find the feeling of home.  I want to embrace them (similar to the feeling I have towards the ocean) with such strength and intense passion that it melts into my being, I cease being human, and I am one with it.  You always have to come back down.  I drove forward.  My discomfort sets in.

The camp was full.

I went over to Pappy and Harriet’s to get human again.  Rejoin a bit of civil-lies-ation?  Civil-libation?  My van is a bar next to the bar.  I swig on some cheap tequila to get warm.  I step inside and move towards the band.  The music and the heat of the alcohol put everything on autopilot.  Oh fun.  Oh here I am.  Next thing I know I am just being in the Tree of Josh for the next few days not thinking and smoking some spliffs.  The secret is that if the camp is full, the camp is not really full.  That’s what they want you to think.  Don’t get discouraged.  Nothing is permanent.

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There was a lot of sunbathing on rocks.  Looking up at the sky.  There’s not a lot of words I needed to say.  I just let my body feel what it needed to in the absence of an analytical mind.  I drove on.  Don’t look back.

Then I straddled my thighs around Big Sur and let all it’s majesty pour into me.  I sweat my way to the top of something big.  A panorama.  There I was in silence again.  Feeling peaceful.  Then you have to always come back down.  And I drove forward.  And the discomfort sets in.  And I found wine and music to commiserate with my homo sapiens in the strange misfortunes we have experienced.  Lots of weird shit.

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I love the weird shit.  Some risks must be taken.

In between it all I’m over carpeted floors and between cubicle walls.  Dry as a bone.  But that is OK.

Nothing is permanent.

These are just words.  I need to let go of my fear of their inadequacies.  Sometimes you have to censor the true story.  It’ll get told another day.  Trust me it’s much more interesting.

This Valentine’s Day I am in love with the pain as much as the joy.  To all the lips I have kissed.  To all the bodies I’ve held.  To all the words of lust and love exchanged.  To all the promises kept and broken. The truth and the lies.  I let it all go.

I drive forward.

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

Regaining Wanderlust

I apologize for any grammatical and or spelling errors.  This is a hastily composed hangover post.

I haven’t posted very regularly since moving to San Luis Obispo over a year ago.  My wanderlust has been suppressed and somewhat lost because of three factors:  work, school, and romantic relationships.  Sometimes I feel like I have shot myself in the foot by going to graduate school.  Now I am stuck in one place, piling up debt that I cannot run away from.  As much as I fight it, I have a hard time being “stuck.”  Being “stuck” either results in getting into relationships that could never work out or being a boozehound both to fight loneliness and boredom.  I want to be in transit.

Occasionally a drastic event will wake me up from my self complacency.  There has to be some type of escape from the rat race, right?  In my attempts to free myself from debt slavery I have started to think outside of the box.  Two-thirds of students will graduate with some form of debt.  The average amount of debt is $26,600 per student.  My debt is greater than this total.  There is truly a student debt crisis.  Education goals have propelled the youth of America into indentured servitude.  I stay awake at night imaging myself sitting in the office daily, toiling away to show nothing for it except carpal tunnel syndrome.  I will be the first to say that college is not for everyone.  There are numerous alternative methods to gain skills and education.  For me not going to college was never an option.  My parents ushered me in the direction of a higher education.  Although it has a hefty price tag, I am grateful for the ways my brain has expanded from my education.  I am not happy about now having to worry about what my next move will be.

My options:

1.  Don’t pay.  This will lead me into default basically making me an untouchable in the eyes of the American banking system.  I will have my wages garnished, cannot declare bankruptcy, will be unable to really ever obtain any sort of loan.  Many are going down this route, the three-year cohort default rate rose to 14.7 in 2010.  As irresponsible as I am I don’t want to engage in this clusterfuckery.  I already have enough problems with authority to just screw myself for the rest of this existence financially.

One broke-ass bitch

One broke-ass white trash chola

2.  Be really poor.  I am good at this, but honestly am tired of being broke.  It’s nice to not be under the stress of not knowing how to pay for anything.  If you do find yourself broke, working at McDonalds with your liberal arts degree, you can qualify for deferred payments from economic hardship, but the loan will just be sitting there until you die or until you start making more and have to start repaying.

3.  Get severely fucked up.  The loan will be forgiven if you become disabled and unable to work.  So you can step in front of a semi or get into some type of bike accident and not have to work, but you may miss out on something else.

Countless college students spend their money on cheap beer, but don't recycle their cans.

Countless college students spend their money on cheap beer, but don’t recycle their cans.

4.  Get really rich.  Realistically for me this could be accomplished by winning the lottery, which I am too stubborn to play, marry a rich man (I haven’t even dated a rich man), become an entrepreneur, or by exploiting someone.  Urban planning seldom reaches a 6-digit salary.

5.  Be a debt-slave.  You could go down the conventional route and work 40-hours a week and pay off a loan which will be substantially more than it was when you first took it out.  This is the thought that crushes my soul.  I could sit at a desk for hours everyday to just still live like a student by making massive interest payments to the Federal government, but there are other ways…

This is where you can get a little inventive:

6.  Leave the country.  I personally know people who abandoned their student loan debt and have moved abroad never to come back to the US.  This is risky as you never know what situation may draw you back into the States.

7. Work full-time in a public service job.  The federal government will forgive your loan balance after making 120-months (10 years) of on time loan payments if you work a public service job full-time.  You can use this in conjunction with income based repayments which will decrease your loan payment according to your income.

So what is a public service job?  The following are listed as public service jobs which qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.  Sorry this is a big list:

  • AmeriCorps position means a position approved by the Corporation for National and Community Service under Section 123 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12573).
  • ƒ An authorized official is an official of a public service organization (including AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps) who has access to the borrower’s employment or service records and is authorized by the public service organization to certify the employment status of the organization’s employees or former employees, or the service of AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteers.
  • ƒ An employee means an individual who is hired and paid by a public service organization.
  • ƒ Full-time means working in qualifying employment in one or more jobs for the greater of: •
  • An annual average of at least 30 hours per week or, for a contractual or employment period of at least 8 months, an average of 30 hours per week; or
  • Unless the qualifying employment is with two or more employers, the number of hours the employer considers full time. Vacation or leave time provided by the employer or leave taken for a condition that is a qualifying reason for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29, U.S.C. 2612(a)(1) and (3) is equivalent to hours worked in qualifying employment.
  • ƒ Government employee means an individual who is employed by a local, State, Federal, or Tribal government, but does not include a member of the U.S. Congress.
  • ƒ Law enforcement means service performed by an employee of a public service organization that is publicly funded and whose principal activities pertain to crime prevention, control or reduction of crime, or the enforcement of criminal law.
  • ƒ Military service for uniformed members of U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard means “active duty” service or “full-time National Guard duty” as defined in Section 101(d)(1) and (d)(5) of Title 10 in the United States Code, but does not include active duty for training or attendance at a service school. For civilians, military service means service on behalf of the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard performed by an employee of a public service organization.
  • ƒ Peace Corps position means a full-time assignment under the Peace Corps Act as provided for under 22 U.S.C. 2504.
  • ƒ Public interest law refers to legal services provided by a public service organization that are funded in whole or in part by a local, State, Federal, or Tribal government.
  • ƒ A public service organization is: •
  • A Federal, State, local or Tribal government organization, agency or entity; •
  • A public child or family service agency; •
  • A non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that is exempt from taxation under Section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code; •
  • A Tribal college or university; or •
  • A private organization (that is not a labor union or a partisan political organization) that provides at least one of the following public services:
  • • emergency management,
  • • military service,
  • • public safety,
  • • law enforcement,
  • • public interest law services,
  • • early childhood education (including licensed or regulated child care, Head Start, and State funded pre-kindergarten),
  • • public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly,
  • • public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health support occupations, as such terms are defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics),
  • • public education,
  • • public library services,
  • • school library services, or
  • • other school-based services

This robust list provides an interesting pathway.  I am scheming some grand ideas, but cannot share them until they are fully formed.

Despite having semi lost my identity in graduate school, I suddenly see how I can make my expensive and worthwhile education work for me.  I am learning many useful skills to benefit humanity, but was scared the price tag of my education would make me bitter towards the experience.  Now I feel some hope.  Unless someone decides the government should default.  Then maybe it would be time for option 6.

There are ways that I can perhaps not have total financial freedom, but can still have the ability to travel.  More to come as I build up my preliminary ideas.

Link to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Page:  http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service

ABSURDISM JISM

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.

Poppies

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?

sunshets

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.

couple

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…

The Bike is the Donkey

A few days ago I rode my bike home from Goleta.  I now know why I didn’t really blog when I rode from Davis earlier this summer.  There is just too damn much to write about.  I broke down the entries into multiple parts.  For those who lack confidence in their riding ability this is a great intro to bike touring.  The Southern California route is flat and close to many amenities.  There are some spots where you are riding with traffic, but this is America.  You will always be riding with automobile traffic.

Dear Master(s) of the Universe,

Why does Laguna Beach hate me so much?

Why is bike riding so fun and so much exercise, but make my ass get bigger, not smaller?

These are two of the many questions I pondered whilst riding my bicycle through Southern California.  No suitable answers were provided so I am left with no choice, but to  move forward.  This is the beauty of bicycle touring.  Questions, concerns, fears, and anxieties arise, but are stymied with each successive stroke of the pedal.  Bicycle touring is a catalyst to living in the now and freeing oneself from the prison of thoughts.  Right before I kicked off my farewell to bum life bike tour with a nighttime ride from Goleta to Carpinteria, I ran into someone I used to casually see.  Ironically, he told me I think and philosophize too much.  If I sit still maybe I do, but when I’m on the move the mind is toned down.  I had to go on another multiday ride before I am bound by responsibilities.  Since doing my first tour in June I’ve been obsessed with going on another ride.  Without much time or money I decided I should just stick with riding back down south from Santa Barbara.  I went up for a bon voyage fete and thought why not?  With bike touring the nowness is usually achieved.  Sometimes I think too much, but in the end all is well.

The nighttime ride from Goleta to Carpinteria is a peaceful one, and I luckily manage to get into the state beach campsite late enough to avoid a ranger.  You could easily bum camp in many places along the way.  I chose to stay at the campsite so I could meet other tourists.  Bike tourists got swag for days.  Because it is labor day weekend the hike and bike is packed although there is no one to talk to.  Everyone is peacefully tucked away in their tents.  I find a couple trees, set up my hammock, and pass out.

Anyone who doesn’t have their head up their ass knows that when you go camping, precautions should be taken to protect food from critters.  I thought about this for two seconds, but had too many Tecates to feel like doing anything.  In the middle of the night I was woken up by movement under my ass.  In my sleepy haze I just wiggled my butt to make it move away.  I heard some rustling noise very close to me, but didn’t want to get up to deal with it.  In the morning I assessed the damage.  Rocky Raccoon must’ve stuck his grimy little claws into my pannier and massacred my package of tortillas.  Luckily my broccoli obscured my brick of cheese and both remained unscathed.  Respect and fear the raccoon.  I’ve heard tales of raccoons learning how to flip latches, open zippers, detonate bombs.  They are an advanced breed of being.

By the time I am up, most of the travelers are gone.  From what I’ve observed bicycle tourists are a diligent group.  Quick to go to bed, early to rise and ride.  I haven’t gotten into this groove yet.  After wiping the ample accretion of crust from my tear ducts I say hello to a middle aged fellow with a solid pair of legs.  His name is JP Comstock.  He is a certified badass.  Turns out his work allows him to ride between SF and Ventura, A LOT.  I did not ask Mr. Comstock how many times he had ridden this route, but turns out he has written a very detailed guide titled “Bicycling and Touring the Big Sur Coast” available here.  He knows the route like the back of his hand.  We discuss why my bicycle sucks for touring.  He gives me a copy of another book he has written, a beginner’s guide to bicycle touring.  He gives me a couple hot tips on good bikes I could find insanely cheap on craigslist because people don’t know what they have sitting in their garage.  I swore to him I wouldn’t share the secret.  He got his own on CL for $60, threw some nice components on there, and then uglified it so no one would steal it.  He also reaffirmed Ortlieb bags are the way to go.  Someday I too will have Ortliebs either when I get a sugar daddy or a real paycheck.  Mr. Comstock and I discuss the national state of affairs, advises me to contact a bankruptcy lawyer, and then states he needs to ride after getting worked up discussing the political apathy of the nation’s young voters.  Much valuable information was gleaned from Mr. Comstock.  Play your cards right you too may meet JP Comstock on the road.  Sounds like he’s a Cali coast fixture.

Mellow is the only word I can think of to describe the near 50 mile ride from Carp to Leo Carrillo SB.  Like most of the SoCal route it is a flat ride.  There is a small section of the 101 you have to ride between the 150 and the Seaside exit.  The shoulder is fairly wide, and is a good intro to what it feels like to ride on the side of a highway.  Feel free to stop between Carp and Ventura and laze at the beach.  If you wake up in the morning there is plenty of time.  It’s a good idea to stock up on food somewhere in Ventura or Oxnard.  There are several Vons, Ralph’s, restaurants, crap food on the route or near the route.  At Leo Carrillo there’s a beach store, but it expect to pay more.  I personally don’t mind riding with a few extra pounds if it means I spend less.  Nutrition on tour has always been a mystery to me.  I always end up eating what is cheap and tastes good.  I stopped at a Vons to try to write a check for cash back (misplaced my bankcard in a drunken snafu in santa barbara) because I suddenly craved Indian lunch buffet.  This did not work.  There were no check cashing places anywhere along the way.  It was cheese, broccoli, mayonnaise, and canned salmon for me.  The ride is pretty uninteresting between Ventura and Point Mugu.  You do get to see some ag land and ride on government property!

Government property never looked so good!

Going into Malibu is a big farewell to the Central Coast.  There’s the familiar vista of rocky cliffs against ocean.  Then suddenly there are beachfront houses on stilts.  Yuck.  Right before you get to Leo Carrillo there is one last restaurant if you don’t feel like cooking.  It’s called Neptune’s Net.  I’m making a habit of stopping here, peeing, getting ice in my water bottle, and taking soy sauce packets.  They also have a dispenser with tartar sauce.  If you have money, they offer a wide selection of fried sea animals to give you diarrhea.  Click on the link to see some shit that will make you nauseated.

Off to Leo Carrillo.

VANishing: My summer of slacking on the road

It’s 7AM in San Luis Obispo.  I have parked my 1989 Toyota VanWagon next to a Starbucks to mooch their wifi.  A few minutes earlier I barely avoided pissing myself, but found sweet relief at a Jack In the Box.  It was close.  I was tempted to piss outside seeing no one was up yet, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it because I passed out in an affluent neighborhood.  I got paranoid.  My back hurts.  Because the nicest neighborhoods are almost always built on the land with the least geologic/seismic stability I slept at an extreme slope.  My body kept slipping forward off my newly constructed bed.  At least it was better than the way I was doing it which was sleeping on the floor with my head jammed between the passenger seats.  Regardless I always sleep like a baby in the van.  Could it be because it mimics a womb?  These minor complications are the little bits and pieces of reality I didn’t anticipate when I embarked on my latest stupid experiment.

For the past couple months, with intermittent stops at my parent’s house, I’ve been cruising around Southern California and the Central Coast in my van with an incredibly limited amount of money.  My madness is fueled by a fascination with the writings of Jack Kerouac, the songs of Woody Guthrie, and the aesthetics of “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski.  Take note these are all narratives of the masculine persuasion.  How few women have ever dared?  Or are there many who’ve also boldly taken on this lonesome experiment, but go unsung.  I’m no gypsy.  I have no caravan to roll with.  It is a solo pursuit.

Other versions of this post delved into the emotions felt throughout this stupidity.  The executive decision was to keep the emotional claptrap to a minimum.  Let’s just say I’ve felt lots of lust, some degree of infatuation, even less love and loss, betrayal, belittlement, misogyny, empowerment, camaraderie, and a whole lot of loneliness.  Every fucking day could be a blog post.  I’ve partied a lot, woken up in stranger’s houses, been kicked out of places, and spent a whole lot of time in the ocean.  There’s a lot of stories that could be told, but instead I want to focus on the inside of my van.

This is my refrigerator.  Along with my backpacking stove I call this my kitchen.  It’s all a pain in the ass.  I’ve probably spent over $30 on block ice.  Food still goes bad.  It’s too fucking hot.  Because this set up is a pain in the ass, I usually end up eating hastily thrown together lavash wraps.  Friends have thankfully let me make use of their kitchens.  In a tight pinch I also have resorted to eating dumpstered donuts.  A bag of dumpstered donuts is a blessing and a curse.

This is my bed.  My friend and I built it out of some plywood and 2×4’s.  We measured no times and cut twice.  Think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.  Upon installation one of the legs snapped off.  I also forgot to put legs on the far end of the bed so it has to be propped up by my wardrobe.  It’s definitely a work in progress and will take on multiple permutations until it is in it’s final state.  Hopefully before then I don’t impale myself on a jagged piece of wood while I sleep.  The van’s shaggin’ wagon status has been revoked.  Nothing wild can be done on this precarious construction.  Underneath my towel and sleeping bag I’ve got a hand-me-down thermarest.  Thankful for the donation because sleeping on the bare floor of the van was not the most comfortable experience.

This is my wardrobe.  Better than a walk-in closet.  I’ve got a nice selection of outfits in here… except my friend did just tell me I need to dress better.  Perhaps I stopped caring in my pursuit of simplification.  Yoga pants and sweatshirts forever.

This is what lunchtime looks like.  I loiter at a public park, set up my backpacking stove, and make culinary magic happen.  I blast some jams from my epic van stereo system.  Today’s selection was Killer Mike.  Parks and beaches become my living room.  I can only chill in the van if the back door is open.

Despite all the emotional, physical, and financial burdens I really am seeing and experiencing a lot of shit.  Here’s a sampling of the past few days.

I like spandex now.

With each stroke of my pedal the endorphins surge from my stinky feet up through my frizzy hair.  Riding my bicycle is better than popping a milligram of Xanax.

Tomorrow I take off for my next little jaunt, cruising down the coast of California.  Although this isn’t nearly as adventurous as embarking to an exotic locale solo or as physically rigorous as the cross country rides some of my friends have taken, I am damn tickled pink to experience the next month of my life.  I plan on meeting many other folks who are playing the same game.

I fucking love riding my bicycle.  This isn’t a secret.  This isn’t anything new.

My friends are fucking awesome.

Chamois padding ballz shaft

Beals Point, Folsom Lake

County Road 32A leaving Davis for Sacramento.

Travel Purgatory

It’s 4am. I can’t sleep. Too much is on my mind and weighing on my heart.

Changes can be painful. I’m not necessarily saying this Is bad. Currently I am in a transition point. I didn’t recognize how much my little time abroad changed me. Coming back hasn’t been easy. Many lofty goals had been assembled in my head. Many of these dreams will have to be deferred.

My heart tells me to move. Part of me has stayed with my travels. What doesn’t translate well is living daily life like I’m traveling. I’m caught in a transitory period of my life. I know where I will be settling in a few months (SLO), but for now I am poor and stuck at home waiting for the next bit of money to come into my pocket. There are many projects I’ve undertaken at home namely gardening and junk removal but both have been slow moving because of opposition from my parents. Emotionally taxed I have decided to move forward and take care of my heart.

In high school I read Jack Kerouac’s seminal mescaline (edit: was it amphetamines?) driven piece of work “On the Road” for a book report. This changed me forever. It took me 26 years to finally really travel. I can’t stop. Until I can buy my next plane ticket, hopefully after I start school and work in the fall, I need to heed the call within. I need to just fucking go.

Poor and without a car my options to travel are limited. This is where my bicycle comes in. I’ve had my bicycle for almost 7 years. I’ve been commuting by bike for 8. Before I left for CostaNicaRicagua, I did a 45 mile loop with friends in the Santa Ynez Valley which involved climbing. With a little guidance and help from my friends I learned I am capable of riding up hills, something I had feared and not been able to do successfully.

I’m not sure where or when the idea was birthed but I am riding my bicycle from Sacramento to SF and back down the coast. Simple enough. I just said it and now I’m just going to do it. Time to be fucking proactive.

Live the life you love. Love the life you live. If your life is bringing you down, do something to change it!

Training rides fill my days at my parents house. Since I decided to take this trip many of my friends in the bicycle community have donated time, parts, and support to help me get on my way. I can’t even begin to say how much a rack and panniers have revolutionized my life and back. I am an idiot for not putting that shit on sooner!

So I’ve been logging miles and fixing bike problems (or having awesome friends fix problems) along the way. Just like getting ready for Central America, I don’t know what to bring with me. What is necessary?

Bringing the hammock again. Cross my fingers for no rain.

This bike touring idea is also rad because it’ll give me an opportunity to visit friends all over Cali. Im starting to see this trip as my love letter to California. I am a proud Californian. We have the sexiest people and the most beautiful landscapes. It’s time to take in both.

So I’ll be taking off on June 3 or 4th depending on how hungover I am from my friends wedding. I hope to get some good mileage in my first day and get to SF or the bay area from Sac. After that the only timeline restrictions are Monterey Beer Fest and catching my friend in Santa Barbara before he leaves for Indonesia.

Next week I’m going to do a couple test rides before I head out. I’m thinking my parents house to Oceanside. I miss the ocean. The developed inland empire is an armpit. Going to get my festie on in Joshua Tree this weekend.

Love you friends. Can’t wait to give everyone big sweaty hugs.