My trip from Chicago to Atlanta Part I

I’m exhausted and probably still running on adrenaline, most of my peers are sleeping while I’m here, awake, writing to you.  I even took some melatonin and nada. An alarm I set months ago to celebrate my arrival in Atlanta just went off.  In Atlanta, however, I am not.  Our Megabus is currently on its way to Tupelo, Mississippi. We were supposed to arrive in Georgia today around 8:30 am.  That definitely didn’t happen.=

This entry is not meant to be a scathing review.  I’m good at those and will happily supply them needed.  In this case, it’s not needed.

On the 22nd I arrived at the Megabus stop around 10:30am to wait for my 11:30am departure.  Our departure time came, buses arrived, people boarded, and buses left.  Mine was not one of them. We, the other potential passengers and I, were able to suss out who was going to Atlanta/Memphis and who was not.  We commiserated a bit and built a rapport.  Many of us were concerned we were at the wrong stop. I kept looking at my phone because isn’t that what we do in odd situations?  We cling to the Internet hoping for answers. I wasn’t clinging quite yet, just consulting.

I’m a well-traveled 29-year-old woman.  I’ve been on something like 6 cross-country road trips in the last 3 years all by car.  I can’t recall how many times I’ve traveled to both coasts by plane. I just know it was a lot. As a result of my experiences I’ve become someone who doesn’t fluster easily.  If I’m trapped in an airport for 16 hours I curl up on benches and go to sleep. If the airport shuts down, I’ll ride public transportation until dawn. If I’m lost in the backcountry, hours from civilization, bushwhacking with a group of students, I won’t panic. I’ll laugh, but I won’t panic.  It takes a lot to upset me.

Our bus finally arrived and we pulled off — it was about an hour and forty minutes after our scheduled departure.  Surprisingly, folks were in good spirits. I remember one woman being really mad at the man who was checking us in, but she wasn’t even getting on the bus, just dropping someone off.  I chose a seat on the upper deck near the back.  Our first stop was Champaign, IL.  As we got close, I noticed the bus went to an off-ramp that didn’t seem right.  Turns out, he’d missed his exit we were lost.  Shortly thereafter, you could tell he was lost again and was going to take an exit to Memphis.  There was a collective, “NOoOo,” and then a flurry of directions from passengers.  We arrived.  The bus drove to the back of the Amtrak station where he could park.  There was a bridge.  We hit that bridge. I heard a huge noise, looked up at the ceiling in time to see the glass roof shatter.  I just sat there, wide-eyed and confused.  He kept driving and the glass kept shattering.  I watched as pieces of glass sprinkled onto those ahead of me. In preparation, I shut my mouth, put my hands over my head and shut my eyes.  Luckily, he stopped midway. We heard the sound of gas and people Freaked. Out.  It could have been worse, but there was this confused rush to get off the bus before either the bridge collapsed, or we blew up (hyperbolic in reflection, but very real in action).

photo

Everyone got off safely. Camera phones were out and I even saw what appeared to be an amateur news camera filming.  I started to laugh because that’s what I do when I’m nervous.  I “tweeted” @megabus and their response was impressively quick. (Nice job y’all)  I text them a picture of the license plate and some other details.  The bus driver that met us in Champaign who was supposed to drive us to Memphis, TN decided the bus was unfit to drive (which I completely agree with) and said “they” would send a replacement bus out, but it would take a few hours.  Again, folks were surprisingly calm. I sat on some tan bark and chatted with a guy from the bus named Mitch.

Let me tell you about, Mitch.  He looks like that guy you see on the street corner playing an instrument asking for change.  The one you’re pretty sure is doing, or about to do drugs, and maybe sells them too.  He had long blond dreads but the sides of his head are shaved. His black sweatshirt was ripped and had some patchwork on it.  His pants were tucked into the top of his knock off Timberlands each procured separately.  From their tint I could tell they were not sisters. He looks like he hadn’t showered in a bit, but didn’t smell. His tiny frame was sealed off with these bright blue eyes.  Initially, I steered clear of him because that’s the guy I always gravitate toward, the odd ones. I’m trying to go against my inherent nature and pursue different people.  I was on a bus full of beautiful Black men and women and I wanted to get to know them.  This situation however didn’t help me break my cycle. I gravitated toward the hippy White guy with mismatched shoes. Of course.

We talked on the tanbark for quite sometime. Our conversation varied from the organic orange I gave him, to his girlfriend, to both of our recent road trips, to stories of him riding the rails.  Eventually, a young man joined us. He was not from our bus.  He was a former marine with an admitted drug problem for whom a priest had just purchased a bus ticket back to California. At one point, a cop came up and said something to him because he’d been drunkenly rolling around on the ground. The cop led this kid away and Mitch and I continued to talk about traveling. Eventually, he pulled out his ukulele and started to sing. I loved that.

During the two hours we were waiting for our replacement bus those of us traveling to Atlanta were told to call customer service at  (908) 282-7420 because we were going to miss our connection.  We called and were put on hold.  The first time I waited for 22 minutes all while hearing a prompt thanking me for my patience every twenty seconds. I couldn’t take it any longer so then I hung up. I tried calling the (877) 462) 6342 number and was able to speak to a person quickly. This person tried to help but told me to check with the bus driver and call back.  After our second conversation she gave me the (908) number. I tried two or three more times and couldn’t get through. So I called the (877) number again. I talked to an associate, Crystal Vierra, who was just triflin…nasty…smart mouthed, obnoxious.  She said that I had to call the (908) number because they were the only one that could help me.  I got what she was saying. I even told her that. I told her about what happened Patrick.  He had called the (877) number and was given a new reservation number that secured his seat on the 7am bus out of Memphis to Atlanta.  That was my concern. I was flying out of Seattle on the 24th. If I didn’t secure a seat on that bus I might miss my flight.  She continued to tell me that she couldn’t help me. I asked her why that happened with Patrick and she said she didn’t.  I told her that we were trying to get through to customer service and couldn’t.  I didn’t want to hang up with a person just to listen to some crazy boring music and recording.  Here’s where I had enough. I asked to speak to her supervisor because I wanted to know why Patrick got a new reservation number and I didn’t. She asked me a bunch of questions, which was fine, but it was the way she asked them. I’d really like to see her treat me that way in person.  I don’t think it would happen.  She wanted to know why I was escalating the call and I told her. She said something like, “Okay, because you don’t feel like/want to call the (908) number…” That’s where I had to cut her off. That was just not true. I’d called the number several times. Not only was I wasting minutes, but I was also wasting time and THAT MUSIC WAS DRIVING ME BONKERS.  She tried to cut me off and I didn’t let her. I’m pretty sure I started my monologue with, “So, you were just disrespectful and tried to cut me off so I’m going to explain something to you and then you may speak.” Not verbatim, but close.

All the while, @megabushelp via Twitter was on point.  They responded to my tweets and assured me.  I got more information from them with less hassle and it was fabulous. Seriously, thank you. I cannot thank the individual running your social media at that moment enough. I received and email from Megabus, before I could even ask for it, refunding the cost of my fare. THAT’S how you do things.  Crystal was disgusting.

I’d love to finish this story, but it’s already super long. The next part involves me falling for a celibate hitchhiker on a 30-day pilgrimage.  I’ll write more tonight and try to post tomorrow before I catch my flight back west.  For those of you concerned for my safety, thank you. I appreciate it.

Be well and travel safe,

❤ WMB

UPDATE: 4/25/2013 I’m in Seattle and I’m TIRED.  I’m not going to update for a few days because the weather in gorgeous and I mess my adopted home town.

a bit.

Soooooo, I’m going to be away from the blog-o-sphere for awhile. I’m leaving Chicago to go back to Atlanta. I’ll be there for a bit then I’m leaving Georgia to be in Seattle. Then I’ll be there for a bit. Then I’m leaving Seattle to go back to Georgia to hangout with grandad for a bit. Then I’m leaving Georgia to be in Chicago to work for a bit. Then I’m leaving Chicago to go to Seattle.  Then I’m leaving Seattle to go to Morocco for a bit longer than a bit.  Then I’m leaving Morocco to go back to Seattle then I’ll leave Seattle and maybe go to Tucson for much longer than a bit. That’s still up in the air though.  Needless to say, I’ll be busy.  I have the WordPress app on my phone so I’ll try to update from the road, but they’ll be short and probably include low quality pictures.

Be well everyone!

WMB

The quality of Wo(Men)

There’s a scene in Mad Men where Roger dresses up in blackface. I’m not capitalizing the “b” because I don’t want to give it any dignity. It takes place in, I think Season 3, and can be viewed here.

Mad Men, and other period shows, continue to receive blowback on their lack of diversity. Their responses are much like Matt Weiner’s when he said, “Honestly, this is always considered controversial when I say it, but black [sic] people still do not have representation on Madison Ave,” via The Frisky via Charlie Rose.

That’s true. Black folks are indeed underrepresented in many fields.

He goes on to say, “If I was telling a story of the black experience, it would be very different. But I’m very proud of the fact I’m not doing this guilty thing.” Great, I’m glad you’re not tokenizing Black Americans. That’s not my issue. My issue is why are telling the story of those men and women?

Let me explain. Producers and whoever else is in charge of making things in this world, continue to tell the stories of White America. When Black America’s story is told it’s usually told in juxtaposition to White America, and rarely in isolation. Matt Weiner also refers to a telling point in the show,”I don’t think people understand what that impact is, to have a world leader, an international figure who is an African-American who is telling the truth and poetic — Don hears the speech, “I Have A Dream,” and he turns off the radio. It’s just a news event. They don’t even know.”

You’re right. Don Draper is a guy who ignored Martin Luther King Jr.  Why is he the protagonist? He’s terrible.

Why is Roger Sterling a main character? He’s also terrible. Forgotten are the others in history. Overshadowed by the Martin Luther King Jr’s., Malcolm X’s, Harriet Tubman’s, Sojourner Truth’s, the “A students”. The smaller and yet equally beautiful characters in history are written over or written out. What about the kids who scored an 890 on the SATs graduated middle of their classes, and only skipped school sometimes? The focus is consistently placed on the Apex of society, or the gutter. Rarely the middle.

I want to see the stories of the ordinary folks because even in their supposed mediocrity their stories are beautiful and worthy. I’d like for the producers and, whoever else is in charge of making things in this world, to break away from the mold and reveal the quality of human being that more closely relates to the majority of America. That more closely relates to, well… me.

I don’t think that Matt Weiner was, as Jessica from the Frisky states “making excuses for his alleged downplaying and/or erasure of pivotal moments in the black [sic] experience during the 1960s.” I just think he’s focusing on the wrong quality of human being.

*Revolutionary Suicide

Revolutionary suicide does not mean that I and my comrades have a death wish; it means just the opposite.  We have such a strong desire to live with hope and human dignity that existence without them is impossible.” – Revolutionary Suicide p. 3 Huey P. Newton

I’ve been trying to read more during this break.  Yesterday I watched The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 on Netflix.  This post isn’t a review of that although I endorse it completely.  I am, instead, sharing what I wrote as an indirect result of watching it.  A few hours ago I started to read Huey P. Newton’s Revolutionary Suicide, got a page and a half in and realized my discomfort.  My clothes were too tight, I was attune to every extra inch of flesh on my body, and my skin started to itch.  So I wrote:

“I want to talk about Blackness.

It is that Blackness which reaches into the timepiece of me and takes advantage.  I have respect and empathy for all struggles, many of which are familiar.  Born woman and Black and poor and odd I am all too familiar with the struggles of many.  It is however Blackness that heightens my sense of ill-fitting clothing and too many sweets.  Causes me to tear at my cotton casings and seek relief.  My Blackness is the item so old it’s on sale because the world has grown tired of its advertisements and needs the shelf space for newer issues.  The spaces on shelves are served from the struggles that “fit us all” and lumps many into 1 and every into 99 and I am left in the back with an orange sticker marked 50% off.

I NEED to talk about my Blackness.  My part of this disease is consistently discarded because of the color of my skin.  Only this in utero
“malfunction” prevents me from  drinking from the same water fountains  accessing the same mortgage rates and dodging gentrification. It also leaves me alone and hidden in the apartment procured on the sly.  Because I am too angry after reading Huey’s words, too hurt by Kanazawa’s studies, too broken by the imprint of the system, and too tired  of being alone to feel anything else.

My Blackness does not mean African American.

Even saying that feels like a curse because I should be happy that “we”  have our own section in book stores, our own movies on Netflix, and a shelf for our hair care products in some sections of some grocery stores in some cities.  “But “I” am not “We.” “We” refers  to those who descended from  the slaves who were kept on board till America. I am a descendant of those kicked off in the Islands.  The Caribbean.

I need to talk about my Blackness because it is different from the Blackness referenced in the law.

I need to write about my Blackness because it may be the only time I see it in print, and history will forget me and mine.

I cannot bear the thought of being forgotten.

It’s hard enough to live and not be seen.  It is harder still to die and not be remembered.”

*Repost from October 2012

Nope, can’t do it

I can’t eat meat. Can’t do it.

I just cooked up some quinoa with a grass fed red meat with spinach and broccoli.  Ate the quinoa and spinach just fine. Couldn’t really get the meat down. I doused it in A-1 and was able to parts of it, but I can’t. Bleugh.

I can’t. I feel like I’m gonna vomit.

Wearing my apron: Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Reposted from my, now defunct, cooking blog:

…without TVP! Whoa….

UPDATE: This recipe is actually vegan. Go figure! Moving on…

I took an entire onion and diced it into small pieces, tossed it in my favorite pan and let the pieces brown. Then, I took these quinoa crumbles and added them to the onions.

Next I took my favorite barbecue sauce (it’s more than a year old, oops) added it to the pan, threw in some brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, a little dijon mustard, some garlic powder and voilá, sloppy joes!

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I baked two loaves of whole wheat Parmesan and sun dried tomatoes bread yesterday.

This should make for a good sandwich. I didn’t use a recipe, but if you’re interested in what’s in anything you see let me know and I’ll tell you. Otherwise, I’ll just assume you’re here for the smell. 🙂

Wearing my apron: Tortillas

Reposted from my, now defunct, cooking blog:

It’s the end of the month and funds, as usual, are low. I’m good at keeping staple items in my apartment for instances just like this.

This is white flour even though I prefer whole wheat. I make it a habit to swing by the 50% off rack and look for good buys. Last time I found two 5lb bags of white flour for something like $1.25 a piece. They were taped over at the edges because of damage, but that’s not a big deal.

I wanted to make tortilla chips from scratch, but every recipe just told me to use store bought tortillas and quarter them. I opted for tortillas from scratch instead. Ingredient list:

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

7 tsp shortening (I’ve been told to use lard — I can’t go there)

1 & 1/4 cups high quality H2O

Instructions:

Combine the dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. “Cut” is a baker’s term for combining with a fork, two knives, a potato masher, or your hands. Slowly add water and mix it with cutting tool. When the mixture becomes sticky to the touch and pulls away from the bowl you’re good. Knead (press the dough together on a flat surface) for a few minutes. Note: Be mindful of your surface. I’m pretty good at forgetting to wipe off the surface and finding stuff on my unbaked dough. Then create little dough balls with your hands:

Set those aside and heat up your favorite most reliable pan. I’m a HUGE fan of getting cookware at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. My favorite pan that will be buried with me when I pass was found during a shopping trip at Macy’s. The original sticker price was $70 dollars. I bought it for less than $30. It’s non-stick and oven safe (might be my favorite part). A few recipes recommend using a cast iron skillet, but I no longer have one. 😦 Heat it up on medium . On my ceramic top stove that’s an eensy bit above 5. Roll out dough to desired thickness. This was my choice:Then place the dough in your favorite skillet like so:

They won’t take long once in the pan. Flip with you see them get a little brown on the heated side.

Then voilá, tortillas!!!!!

One of the recipes I found is here. Next time I think I’d add a bit more baking powder, let them sit longer, and roll them a little thinner. If you try it I’d love to see pics.

Enjoy!

Wearing my apron: Pizza, Peetza, PIZZA!!

Reposted from my old cooking blog, enjoy!

Weariness and a sinus infection kept me from posting earlier. My apologies. In my time away from the incandescent screen that is my Macbook I discovered to recipe for AMAZING pizza dough. Wowzas. I’m beyond happy with this recipe and I got it from my new favorite magazine Mother Earth News.

What you’ll need:

3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbsp granulated yeast
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp Celtic salt

5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch chunks or slices
Handful of basil leaves
Flour, cornmeal or parchment for pizza peel (NOT Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Combine lukewarm water, salt & yeast. Slowly stir in flour with a wooden spoon, bread mixer, or whatever fits your fancy.

Heat oven with pizza stone* in the oven at 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes prior to when you need it.

Use your hands or the spoon to bring all flour together. Don’t worry about making it a perfect round ball. Cover. I mixed everything in a 12 quart bowl and covered it like a lazy bum with a bamboo cutting board. Let sit for two hours.

Meanwhile back at the ranch….

In a food processor:

Add pine nuts and pulse a few times. Then add basil leaves, garlic, and olive oil. Separate mozzarella into pieces. Refrigerate until just before you need it.

Sprinkle pizza peel generously with cornmeal. I’d stay away from Bob’s Red mill because there are HUGE chunks of cornmeal mixed in. Please note, whatever you spread on the peel will be ingested. I used Bob’s Red Mill and felt like I was going to crack a tooth.

Aaaand back to the dough:

When you return DON’T PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH.

Cut off a large handful with a serrated knife.

Dust with a leetle flour (both the dough and the counter)

Roll out dough to desired thickness. Place the dough the peel and IMMEDIATELY add toppings. The longer the the dough sits on the peel the more it will adhere. You don’t want that.

Gently slide pizza onto stone and bake for 7-8 minutes. When the crust starts bubble and brown you’re in business. Remove pizza from oven with peel and let cool. Then eat and enjoy.

Place the rest of the dough in an airtight container and freezer or refrigerate. I put half in the freezer and the other half in the fridge. The longer it sits the better it tastes.

Let me know your thoughts and I’d love to see your pictures!

Enjoy. 🙂

*I went out and bought a pizza peel and stone (and five dishcloths plus a toy for my dog) for a total of 24.99 TOTAL. What, What?! 🙂


Illegality of Racism

My familiarity with the law is just enough that Jay Leno wouldn’t be able to make a fool out of me on JaywalkersThat being said, I feel like European countries have more strict laws against racism than we do.  I’m willing to accept being wrong.  Feel free to tell me so in the comments.

My homepage is set to the BBC. Almost every morning someone on some sports team is being punished for being racist. Or, just doing something racist.  I mean, that feels kinda nice.  Here in the States we have our general No Hate Crime laws, but it doesn’t feel like they’re the same as in Europe.  But, it does seem neither of us have found a system that works.  Our laws are aimed at removing racism from disenfranchising people in an active way.  Example, if you wanted to rent a building from me I couldn’t legally cite my reason for turning you down as something related to discrimination or racism.  That’s nice. HOWEVER, people of color are discriminated against all the time.  Poor people of color are discriminated against even more.  Even though there are systems in place to prevent active racism, there are loopholes the size of Zooey Deschanel’s gigantic eyes that allow racism to take root systemically.

I love the work that’s being done to combat all forms of racism. Activists are pushing in aggressive and sometimes off-putting ways. Public figures find ways to inform people and work toward a more just system, daily.  I’m not sure that we can ever have a completely oppression and race free world. That’d be expecting perfection in a place where it’s impossible.  I do believe that the fight is work undertaking.  Without it, I wouldn’t be able to write this because I probably would know how to read.  Thanks, Abolitionists!

Related Posts:

Uefa proposes 10-match ban for racist abuse
UFC Fighter Supended for being a transphobic asshat
UEFA Doubling Efforts to Deal With Racism; Euro 2020 Easier Travel for Fans

A [beautiful] man sits on the couch and discusses the Mario Balotelli issue.

 

Wait, am I black?

I’m sitting on my bed one day before I find out about the NOLS Gateway Partnership freaking out.  I’m biting my nails–which totally isn’t my thing. I’m all gassed up–which totally is my thing, and I have butterflies in my entire torso. I also applied for a Fellowship and I found myself on their website again. I seriously can’t seem to stay off. Looking over the requirements brought me back to an issue that frequently pops up in the world of equity work; Ethnic vs. Racial Identity.  Let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with NOLS.  They’re great. My issue stems from the systemic oppression surrounding race and ethnicity in the United States of America. The Fellowship requirements are:

  • At least 21 years old, with some exceptions on a case-by-case basis
  • NOLS graduate
  • Clean driving record
  • U.S. citizen
  • Ethnically American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or multiracial (categories defined by the EEOC, U.S. Census Bureau).
  • High level of initiative, attention to detail, flexibility, self-motivation, sense of humor and tolerance.
  • Punctual, dependable and excellent “expedition behavior” in a communal living environment.
  • Competence with Apple computers as well as MS Word and Excel.
  • Excellent critical thinking and communication skills
  • Ability to work well in a dynamic environment and adjust priorities quickly
  • Understanding and passion for the NOLS mission
  • Physically able to bend, stoop, crouch, lift (up to 40 lbs.), frequent walk, and stand for extended periods of time.

Here’s the thing. Though I often find myself living the African American Experience, I’m not African American. I am however, Black.  I refused to fill out the Census in 2010 because I problematized their adoption of “Negro” as an option.  I also problematized the Black OR African American word choices.  It’s not an either or situation.  It’s like saying are you Asian, or Pacific Islander, are you Tall, or a Woman, are you Eating, or are you digesting, are you a Rectangle, or a square.

One can be both.

Because I look like this:Image

I have encountered the same racial inequalities as someone who identifies as an African American. But, I’m West Indian. My mother is from The Virgin Islands and my father is from Jamaica. Like born and raised there, from there. They came to the states for college. My brother and I were born here.  I identify as Black because of the way the world treats me as a result of how I look.  An old woman in a care unit where I worked when I was 18 tried to kick me in the face and call me a nigger no more than 5 hours after I signed the new employee paperwork.  People making off-handed, not all disparaging, references to my ethnicity ALWAYS allocate my existence into the African American box, initially.  It’s not until after I correct them and explain that they understand the difference.

My battle against the homogenization of the African Diaspora is important to me because it’s the root cellar where my good childhood memories live.  I remember living in Jamaica. When I return to that home I can see images of my childhood painted on my surroundings like holographic images.  Ackee and sal’fish, green banana, breadfruit, yellow yam, jerk chicken, curry goat, curry chicken…all of it resonates inside me like a tympani drum.  I spoke Patois fluently in my youth. I stopped when the kids, of all races and ethnic identities here in the States, made fun of me and pointed out that I was different.  When I discarded my language I shaved off an identifier.  When I went to boarding school, I stepped into another realm. It wasn’t until my twenties that I realized how much of myself was tied up in my ethnic culture.  I’d soaked in the acid of American assimilation and became, through visual identification African American. I’d lost myself.

I don’t mind being connected with my genetically, tinted brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles.  We are connected, regardless, because we live in a society that has colonized us. My visit to the Virgin Islands at 21 taught me that all of U.S.V.I. was purchased by the US government for 25 million dollars. Our economy is fully reliant upon tourism… upon the extravagant expenditures of the privileged. We share a common bond in that tint of our skin and the pain of our experience.  We are united in the endeavor to celebrate our intelligence, talent, and resiliency. My desire to own my ethnicity and resist the convenient markings of the Census Bureau is oppositional by action and not intent. I am merely showing you that your antiquated boxes based on convenient observations have no place in my world.  I am Black, but I am not African American. I am West Indian.

Related: I had no idea this was happening, but it sure as hell is related
The First African-American Spokeswoman for DNC Isn’t Black Enough, Says Idiot White Guy

NaPoWriMo

I’ve seen the phrase “NaPoWriMo” often, but didn’t know what it meant. Usually, when that’s the case, I Google it, but I haven’t had the time or desire to satisfy my curiosity. While cruising the Help section of WordPress I stumbled across this post on spacing. It offered great advice on spacing for poetry which is great. Now I can go back fix my old posts of poetry, of which there aren’t many.

I wanted to write something today, but it’s raining. I haven’t taken my vitamins in weeks. My body chemistry feels a bit off and so I need to get on that. Let’s just say I’m feeling pretty defeatist and like an imposter. It probably has something to do with this line in the NOLS Gateway Partnership Scholarship Application: ” Notify you by April 10, 2013 whether your students are accepted in to the program.” If you can’t tell, I haven’t heard anything from anyone yet and so I’m assuming the worst. Granted, I didn’t apply through my old organization as much as I did as a result of them. My old boss, and friend, sent me the app and told me I should apply. I did.

In the seventh grade, someone told me this wretched phrase, “No news is good news” Bump that. I just want some kind of news so I can move on. All this trepidation is killing my mojo.

Related Posts:

Preparing for that which I cannot control
So you want to go camping but you’re bleeding from your vagina
Black People Don’t Swim
Rock Climbing

 

So you want to go camping but you’re bleeding from your vagina

My visits to the Obgyn start like this:

Them: “…when was your last period?”

Me: “Always”

I got my period for the first time when I was nine. I was supposed to go to a pool party. You can’t go for a dip with a mattress in your underwear so my mom handed me a tampon and I put it in my panties like a pad. She laughed so hard I thought she was going to pass out. I’ve since learned how to properly deal with those little cotton spheres so we’re all good, but sometimes those little bloodsuckers aren’t enough. Sometimes, you need to call for reinforcements. For me that means creating a bullet proof vest of a blood belt in my underwear with overnight pads 24 hours a day for 10-20 days. Misery. So I get it. You’re worried about being with your menses while sleeping under trees.

Since I started seeing my Naturopathic doctor soulmate I’ve stopped bleeding all crazy. Progesterone is manna from Heaven for my uterus from Hell. That helped solve part of my problem. So, I don’t bleed as badly as I have in the past. I still bleed though.

I say all of that to say my relationship with my monthly is complicated.  Since I started being an outdoor lova I’ve had to maneuver these bloody waters and it’s been interesting.

First things first. There’s camping in the front country and camping in the backcountry. This list refers to camping in the backcountry. What’s the difference? Great question. Backcountry means you’re generally an hour or more away from definitive care/civilization. There are no bathrooms, ranger stations, or rest stops. It’s you and your mother nature in Mother Nature. Front country means car camping. You can see your car from your tent and it probably has a cooler full of beer, ice, and food in trunk. Front country camping usually comes with bathrooms and the opportunity for a quick emergency trip to a convenience store.

Here are some of the things I do to keep myself sane while chillin in the backcountry with my monthly.

  1. Manageable itinerary: I make sure I don’t plan strenuous trips while bleeding from my vaginal pit. Your energy is going to be low enough as it is. Take it easy leave those 14 mile 10,000ft elevation hiking days for another time.
  2. Communication: I make sure I tell the person I’m with what’s going on and what has happened to me in the past. I’ve bled so heavy I’ve passed out. If that happens when you’re an hour away from definitive care that helps your camping buddies and medical responders figure out what the hell happened and treat you accordingly.
  3. Cramp Bark: I don’t take Ibuprofen because of my ADPKD. Sometimes Acetaminophen works, but I try not to take that either. This stuff is golden it takes a bit to kick in after your initial dose, but it does a good job of warding of the Fallopian demons of pain with timely subsequent applications .
  4. Draws: NOT COTTON. Weight is usually a big deal when backpacking. On shorter trips I don’t usually mind a few extra pounds. On longer trips say 12 days or more I might even cut my toothbrush up to the bristles cause items add up and, Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That extra weight. I’d make sure I have at least 5-7 pairs of nylon draws. This way if and when you bleed through your goodies you can wash them out strap them to your pack and they can dry during the day. If they’re still moist at night slip ’em into your synthetic sleeping bag and they tend to dry completely. Actually, this works in my 0 degree down bag as well. Cotton will not dry as quickly and you’ll just end up with wet draws. No one wants that.
  5. Diva Cup: Once I was getting on the bus with a group of 12 middle to high school boys and two male identifed co-instructors when I felt that familiar jostle in my ovaries and knew my menses were about to commensees. I didn’t have time to pull together my standard Period Kit so I ran to REI and bought a Diva Cup. It’s simple to use and it can stay in for up to 12 hours. Just make sure you bring hand sani, your treated water, and Dr. Bronner’s soap to the cathole where you’ll bury the blood. Trust me, you’re gonna wanna wash your hands.
  6. A trashbag and a landfill clogging grocery bag: If you opt-out of the Diva Cup or similar products, DO. NOT. BURY. YOUR. TAMPONS or any of their supplemental materials. You need to pack that shit out. Put them in the landfill clogging plastic grocery bag and tie it nicely. Then put the landfill clogging grocery bag into the trash bag and tie that nicely. Place them both back in your pack and pack it out. I suggest the double up because it helps manage the smell.
  7. Mesh shorts: Or at least some kind of pant that expands with your bloat AND will dry quickly. I always bring my favorite mesh shorts that I’ve had since high school.
  8. Pads: Choose your poison. Some may opt for the environmentally friendly sanitary napkins. I go for the “as large as my granny panties” sanitary napkins. These are a just in case mechanism for catching blood. Don’t forget, pack them out. Why? Because they don’t biodegrade. They’ll just sit there until the next person comes to peep or poop and freak them the hell out. Also, it’s pollution. It’s also unsanitary. Also we all need to, Leave No Trace.
  9. A Good camp chair: Again, some don’t care for the weight, but I don’t go on a trip without mine. There’s something to be said about settling into a comfy camp chair after a day of strenuous hiking and mountain climbing.
  10. An understanding that you may smell: A friend of mine (actually, we just fooled during a WFR certification course) who *thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in something like five and a half months (average human time is 7.5) told me that the most arousing smell for him is a woman’s natural scent. Unshowered, unperfumed, and mixed with the residue of campfire. If that eases your worries, awesome. For me, it’s the fact that EVERYONE smells when backpacking. It’s like a trophy.
  11. A sense of humor: The potential for a situation to get weird is peak. A friend of mine got her period in the middle of her first backpacking trip ever (she’d only ever camped at a campground 5 minutes from her house and even then she and her family went home to shower). This one was 14 days and she had an emotional breakdown with her pants down, back against the tree, and bloody tampon in her hand. That shit was hilarious. No, I wasn’t standing there watching it happen — that’s beyond my threshold for human contact– she told me about it when she came back to camp crying. I just stood there like, o_O *laughter and tears.* <–worst friend ever.

You might be afraid that animals will smell your blood and think you’re supper. Not true. Well, unless you smell like a sandwich. As long as you’re not storing Snickers in your vagina like a squirrel, you’re good.

I’ve had my period for a long time, 20 years. Women have been bleeding for much longer. If our ancestors figured out how to deal with it, we can too. I wish being on our period wasn’t such an embarrassing event. We hide tampons in our purse. Companies create quirky (and bloody obvious) wrapper designs so people won’t know we’re carrying a tampon. Everyone knows it’s a tampon. We become ashamed when someone points out that we have blood on our pants. Why? This bleeding happens so we can create a person in our bodies. It’s not some sign of the apocalypse. We didn’t do anything wrong. After all this time, I still don’t get everything right. My body behaves differently with each cycle. Sometimes my boobs hurt. Sometimes I’m on the couch for 4 days, straight wishing I could just slip into a coma and wait it out there. There’s no fool-proof way to get through a camping trip while your bleeding from your vagina. Hell, I still don’t know how I get through regular life when I’m riding the crimson wave. I’ve shared some of the things that have helped me, but I’m always learning. If shit goes down grab some sword fern fronds, a bandana and McGyver yourself a spill spot. It’s okay. I promise you’ll laugh about it later.

The most important thing I want you to take away from this is, “Don’t let your, period or anything else, stop you from camping.” Nature has the capacity to soothe. We should all strive to spend more time outdoors whether we’re bleeding or not. 🙂

If you, or the people you love, have any additional tips please share them in the comments. If you have a story to share let me know and you can guest blog it here. For now, drink, be merry and bleed from your vagina. 😉

*he walked from end to end without leaving the trail except for a day here and there to shower and pick up resupply materials

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Pooping

MacPherson’s: Where vegetarians go and pee a little.

I am about to blow your mind.

My MacPherson’s visit brought this into my life:

Look at that massive bag of spinach!
Look at that massive bag of spinach!

for $9.25. What?! Mind. Blown.

Here’s the breakdown:

Bag of spinach – $2.99

I will eat this before it spoils.  All of it. Not at once though.
I will eat this before it spoils. All of it. Not at once though.

A bag of potatoes @ $1.17

puh-tay-toe/puh-tah-toe

Pink Lady apples – 2 @ $0.59 cents each = $1.20

A little bruising never hurt anyone

Bananas – 2 @ $1.29/lb = $1.29/lb

Go bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Asparagus – @ $0.99/lb

Yummy asparagus
Whaddup broccoli? How you doin?

I also bought corn, 2 for $0.69 each. I just can’t find the picture. Harumph.

I’m super pleased with this shopping trip. I’m going to finish up my bomb homemade vegetarian chili  and then cook some awesome meals with these veggies and the dried beans from my “pantry.”  Then I’ll bake some bread for sandwiches and whatnot.

Yay for shopping trips.  I even have a few dollars left over.  I will not spend them on ice cream…. I will not spend them on ice cream…. I will not….

Side note: I’ve been brewing this Kombucha for over a month.  The starter cost me $30+, but now I don’t have buy the bottled stuff for almost 4 bucks a pop, AND I get a baby ‘bucha with each brew.  If you’re in the Seattle area I’ll give you one for free. Seriously, just contact me and it’s yours when it’s ready.

My first batch of kombucha! Don’t let the label fool you. This is an old apple cider bottle I reused because that’s what how we do in this part of the pacific northwest.

I just blocked my brother on Instagram, ya’ll.

Yup.

Not like funny ha ha blocked, but Eugh I feel gross, blocked. The story is long and so I won’t burden you with the deets, but he’s not my favorite person.  In fact, the thought of him makes me allergic.  My acid refluxes and I start sneezing at shit I didn’t even know was in the air. My nose gets stuffy and my throat itches.  I’m allergic to my family and I’m allergic to bullshit. Good thing I blocked him because I might have gone into anaphylactic shock.

You see, I may have communicated my disgust at his life.  All of it. We have a history of me expecting too much, and him being a terrible person. Ok, that’s unfair. Our relationship is complicated.

Short version?

We didn’t grow up together. Boarding schools. Different student homes.  I tried to keep contact and maintain a relationship and he was more interested in girls and sports.

I tried supporting him and doing the things I felt sisters were supposed to do, but never got much in return.  I’d call, he wouldn’t call me back. Rinse. Repeat.

As I aged, my resiliency for the taste of our cycle diminished. We stopped talking.  My paternal grandmother was on her deathbed and I reached out after a few years to tell him he needed to see her.  He drove down but was too late. Something about he and his wife forgot something at home and had to go back and get it.  That doesn’t make sense to me. They should have kept going for everything but their newborn.  Anything else, leave that shit like it fell off the wagon on the Oregon Trail.

She died before he got there.  She longed for him for 14 years and died without seeing him again.

While there he did the whole, I-need-to-right-all-that’s-wrong-in-my-life-because-we-are-mortal-beings , bullshit.

Him: “I want to be back in your life”

Me: “No, you’re just saying that shit because you’re sad.”

Him: “I won’t fuck it up this time, I’ll be better”

Yada, yada, rinse, repeat, soak cycle.

Me: Fine, but this is it. Seriously. I can’t take this anymore. Last chance.

Fast forward a few months.  We’d been texting regularly..meh, kinda regularly. He calls and says,

“Hey, they found a lump on grandmommy (our maternal grandmother’s) brain.

Me: “Ok. Um, do I need to fly there now? Is she okay? What’s going on?”

Him: “No, you don’t need to go, it’s okay. ”

Me: Ok. Lemme call you back later (I was at a Homecoming and couldn’t hear fo’ shit).

Him: Ok.
I call back later. No answer. I call again. No answer. He doesn’t pick up the phone, or text me back for two weeks. Finally, I reach out to my other family members and when they get back to me I find out she has died.

Yes, my grandmother was dead and my brother never told me.

I was done. I sent him a text message saying so (trust me I tried calling) — and that was it. He didn’t respond so I assumed that he was going to respect my decision.  It’s been a year, maybe more I don’t know.  Well, today I was looking at the “likes” on Instagram feed when I find out that he started following me 12 hours ago.  He didn’t reach out to me in anyway.  He just started following me.

He had a lot of time to say something and didn’t. I felt gross so I blocked him.

This blog address is in my bio so he’s probably read a bunch of my stuff and shared it with other family members I don’t care for.  Whatever, I put it on the internet so I can’t control that.

What I can control is maintaining my relationships with the positive influences in my life. That feels good. Positivity feels very good.

 

Thug Kitchen, I love you

Listen. I have a problem with loving Thug Kitchen. I think it’s because I don’t know the person behind the posts.  Oppressive cultures do a great job of taking the pieces of marginalized cultures and swimming in their profits. I don’t know if that’s the case here though. It is the case when you’re talking about this guy who says that he took “urban” youth on hikes, but doesn’t. Not linking to it, but it’s out there.  Narcissism for the dubiously modest talks about it on their blog. While I sit in a moral quandary, I want you to enjoy the brilliance regardless of the person behind the curtain:

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