Wanderlust Remedy

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Category: Van

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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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.