All the feelings.

I’m leaving to spend 29 days in the wilderness backpacking and whitewater canoeing. Seriously. I’m sitting at the airport waiting for my flight that boards in 15 minutes. So this post isn’t going to be fleshed out.

I decided I couldn’t leave without telling him I felt. After calling many friends and getting reassured that I was making the correct decision I worked up the nerve to chat with him. He was busy — because he was working– but I still told him I wanted to “touch base” before I left.

After way too many hours passed, he came to my yurt and we sat on my porch. By porch I mean wooden slat outside of my house. He was showered, unshaven, and adorable. We chatted… small talk.. which was unusual. Then we delved into real talk, which was not. 🙂 I finally said, “Do you think our paths will cross again?” He responded with, “yes… but I’m not sure how it will all end up.” Then he looked at me and asked me the same. I responded with “I don’t know, but I would like them to…” Then, with the finesse of an awkward teenager, he got up and said, “…well, gotta put the students to bed…”–it was 10 o’clock. It was indeed their bedtime, but right then? What?

As he walked away I literally said, “…what the shit?” He was never abrupt like that before.

I called my friends and they were like…wait, whuh?

I came to the conclusion that I scared him. I triggered something in him. It doesn’t erase how I feel about him. It just shows me that, as I assumed, their is more to him than meets the eye. Than meets the ear.

So… I laughed. Hard enough that tears came to my eyes and said, well that happened and went to bed. I wasn’t sad, I was just… I don’t know. But I wasn’t sad.

Around 1:30 in the morning I saw lights outside of my door. Heard voices and went to sit on my slat. I could see that a group was gathered around his car. He was searching inside for something. I heard one girl drunkenly ask another, are you really going for a ride on his motorcycle?

They giggled.

I fumed.

They returned whenever they did and I did whatever I did to try and hear what they were saying as they stood next to his car. [I know, I know.] Then I heard someone yell something drunk and left my home to investigate. I said, “…did y’all just hear that?” He said,”yeah.” I started to walk, barefoot, toward to sound wearing a camisole and no bra, my headscarf, and my shorts with no draws. I was in rare form, y’all. As he followed me, the girl followed him.

We joked that if this were a zombie apocalypse I’d shove him in front of me and run. I said, “…sorry I interrupted you before…with her.” He responded by touching my arm and saying, “You didn’t interrupt anything.” We reached the sound’s origin place and saw that the drunkard had moved on and all was well. After joking about how if this were actually the zombie apocalypse I’d be completely underdressed he walked me home and the girl went away.

He told me what happened even though I didn’t ask. He said a bunch of folks were gathered at the fire ring and he mentioned that he wanted to go for a ride to clear his head. She said she wanted to go. So he took her. He said, “I would have rather gone with you.” I met his eyes and touched his arm. My eyes went soft and he pulled me to him. We stood there for awhile.

Eventually, I went into my home to prepare for my flight. It was 3am and I had to leave in 45 minutes.

All of this teases all of the feelings to the surface. This is good for me. I need to explore these feelings in a safe place.

What I feel so far is that he is a safe place. That he is good for me.

No title, just a feeling

I have encountered a man with whom I am more than happy to fall in love. It’s more than that really. I think he’s someone I can’t avoid loving. If he truly is as he presents himself I’m unsure how anyone who meets him could avoid the same conclusion. He is kind and gentle, empathetic, light-hearted, adorable, handsome, genuine, playful…. he is the kind of human being I admire and respect.

He sees me.

From the first moment we met, he saw me. Not in the, “I acknowledge your presence in this room,” way, but the, “I recognize your humanity and it is vast,” way.

Within the first few minutes of meeting him I wanted to be around him. He arrived to the Branch late. I showed him around, sat with him as he ate his meal, listened to him as he shared pieces of his life, and sat quietly in his presence. We listened to his music as the minutes lived their lives. Eventually he went to his bed and I went to mine.

He is easy to love because he loves so freely. I don’t love him yet, but I will. I can feel it. He makes it easy for me to be vulnerable because it just feels like I’m being honest. He’s asked intimate questions and created the space for my honest answers by simply being there. We’ve shared our lives,verbally, in real ways… in ways that come naturally. When he’s not around I miss him. But not in the ways I’ve missed others before. Not the all-consuming jealous nagging feeling, but the lay in bed with my skin vibrating with the desire to have him close to me, feeling. I find myself wanting to make him happy. Seeking out and taking the opportunity to do things that will make him smile.

I’ve been rewarded with peace.

He allows me to reveal my kindness, my humanity without being afraid. I told him once, “I think you’re good for me.” He responded with, “I think you’re good for me, too.”

It feels good to feel safe. To be honest and not have to be careful. To give to someone who will receive and return by just being themselves. It feels good to be at this place.

Is love a choice

Something occurred to me today: Life is full of our choices.

In the past, I’ve always assumed that that statement meant choices like whether or not to go to college, the foods we eat, the place we call home, whether or not we adopt a dog…. Yes, those are choices. I don’t think I ever understood that life’s big events are also choices — Whether or not to have kids. Buying a house, or a piece of land, getting married are all choices,too.

Prior to this, I think those have always felt like things that happened to other people. I know of friends who never wanted kids, struggle at raising kids, and then choose to have more kids. My choices have always been along the lines of, “What do I have to do to survive? Where do I belong? What do I need? Am I becoming the person I want to be?”

Today I hung out with, for a short time, a guy I met a few weeks ago. He was on his way out of town so our time was limited. I could tell that we were attracted to one another. That’s new for me. I’m usually pretty oblivious. His demeanor is a bit reserved. He thinks I’m funny — which is nice– and he’s pretty emotionally transparent. As we were driving in the car on an errand I thought, “Wait a second, I could totally choose to date, fall in love with, and marry this person.” There was no “gut feeling” about it. It was simple.

I’m not saying that I’m going to do any of those things. I’m just sharing that I witnessed a moment. Love isn’t necessarily catalyzed by meet cutes, and hormones. Sometimes it’s meeting a nice person and choosing to be with them. That’s interesting to me. That’s a whole new way to look at love.

The person I mentioned that I was lusting after in my previous entry returns tomorrow. I haven’t seen him in a few weeks. I’m interested in how we are around one another. I wonder if this newest “choice” revelation will change things for me.

Efffffffffff.

This entry isn’t about being Black, or how I wear it.  But, I’m still Black and this blog is still mine so we’re good. 

This entry is about love.  Not mine.  I’m not in love though I’d like to be. I’m in lust, but that’s a different story. [Like wake you up in the middle of the night from scandalous dreams cursing hoping no one heard you, lust. Plan things in advance because you know they’re going to make that person smile, lust.  Lose time because you’ve been daydreaming about situations that could be but just might not, lust.]  I’m definitely in lust and readily admit that love is still pretty far behind me.

A friend, however, is ass deep in the ass end of love.  The part where all the shit comes out and you find yourself covered in the substance pulling your hair out. Where you’re in the craziest headspace of your life and you’re too close to killing yourself than is good for anyone.  She’s in the mirror image of a situation I was in such long time ago. The one that broke me into so many pieces I still wonder if I’ll ever be legible.  The one that had me convinced I was at the end of everything.  She’s hurting in such a powerfully similar way I cry when she does.  When her hair falls in front of her face as it does when one is distraught I remember my disheveled-ness of yore.  Fuck. She reminds me of the shit show I was.  The shit show I’ll be again if I ever fall in love again and that shit scares me. 

She keeps apologizing for being crazy. For taking energy… for being ugly. I can barely get the words, “You’re not crazy. You don’t have to apologize” out of my head fast enough.  We’re going hiking today.  She needs to get away from here, from this place. From them.  She needs to get away to a much further distance than we’ll travel this morning. But I’m not sure she can. 

I, on the other hand, will continue to play at lust as if whatever is looming on the other side is the safest place in the world. 

Update 10/28/13

I’m not as tired as I should be.  At 4:30 this morning I awoke in halves. One half wanting to pee and excited for the day. The second half, annoyed and leafing through her dreams for the bookmark.

The first half won.  I got dressed in my new favorite outfit — a black hoodie, camo pants, and red shoes — and went to The Commons for breakfast.  No one else was awake and so I had the place to myself.  Though I love my commune (it’s not a commune) mates, it’s nice to have a space to yourself no matter how occasionally.

I pulled up the draft for my play, Sala Kakuhle, Mama and started to type.  I played music from some of my favorite artists and began to sing.  I wrote verses, monologues, and felt the rhythm of my story deep inside my chest.  It was nice.  I wasn’t stopped up by hunger, stress, or whatever else sits at my feet on occasion.

Hours passed and eventually I fed myself, joked with my neighbors, played with dogs, took a  walk, exercised, went for a run, and watched tv on Hulu.  I had an impromptu meeting with my boss and he offered me the job I thought I was going to have to interview hardcore for.  This job is so perfect for me right now because it matches my love of food — preparing it for the masses — with my love of the outdoors. Gives me the autonomy I’ve always desired as well as the responsibility.  I have a place to live on the ranch, for free, year-round.  I’ll work 8 months a year. That’s it.  I get time off to do work for Earthseed, and to just play.  Or, I could guide for the summer.

This is good for me.  I’m nervous because that’s my go-to emotion when awesomeness happens. I know. I know.

So, I’m moving to Tucson for 8 months out of the year, and then I’ll be living in Seattle for the other 4.  What makes me happiest, is that those four months align perfectly with Seattle’s beautiful summers.  I’m lucky. I’m happy.

Settled in Tucson

I arrived last night and settled in fairly quickly.  A staff member picked me up from the airport and we laughed the entire way back to campus. Is that what it’s called, campus? I don’t know.  Here’s a picture of me in my yurt:

Yurt living!

Yurt living!

You may not know this, but living in a yurt is on my list of things to do before I die. YEEESS!

It’s day one and and I’m just entering the Honeymoon phase, but I’m in love. The heat. The creatures. The yurts. The people. Everything.

I fell asleep at 9:30 last evening and awoke at 6:00 this morning and went for a run.  If you’ve been reading my previous entries you’ll know I hate to run. Tucson’s elevation is at 2,643 above sea level, whereas Pennsylvania is at 446′. My lungs felt the difference. I probably jogged for 1.5 miles and was like “Alright, that’s enough for today, folks!” and went back home. Ate gluten-free oatmeal sweetened with molasses and some shared watermelon and now I’m here sitting on my bed in front of two fans.  It’s 79 degrees, but it feels like a gajillion.

I’m happy though.

The one thing missing is my dog. There are 4 dogs on campus and though the weather would torture Garvey, and his hair would quickly become home to sharp objects, he would love it.  I miss him.  My next move has to include him. Wherever that maybe, he’s got to be alongside me.

My favorite pic of us.

My favorite pic of us.

Fellowship

I wrote about my application for a NOLS Fellowship awhile back. Here’s an update.

A few months ago I received a phone call letting me know that the enrollment was low and the branch wasn’t sure it would be open, let alone in need of a Fellow. Then, while making my way to Seattle for this work trip I received a phone call.  Turns out that enrollment had surged and they were in need of a fellow after all.  The caller asked about my schedule and I shared it.  Turns out my availability matched their need. I asked for a day to think about it because I’ve learned I shouldn’t make large decisions without pondering consequences. 

The next day I called back and accepted.  I’ll spend 3 months on their campus working my ass off and living in a yurt.  If you know me, you know that living in a yurt is one of my dreams. Seriously. For the past 5 years it’s been on my “Do Before I Die.”

My life has a habit of falling into my lap. Plan as I may, those plans often go asunder and I’m left giggling at my absurd desire to plan in the first place.  I have a few major concerns about my life and bills, but I’m trying to ignore them for the time being. It will all workout anyway. 

My time in Seattle feels great and is packed full of love from friends who’ve become family.  I came to take a break from my grandfather and heal.  Being in Georgia has left me raw in scarred places.  I’ve picked open infected scabs and the pus of my past still oozes from gashes in gobs.  At this moment in 30 years of moments, my favorite quote from my favorite book resonates.

Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” – Their Eyes Were Watching God

Peace isn’t the absence of trauma. Peace is quiet in the midst of it. The last year has stumbled upon me being very quiet in the midst of the very traumatic.

While in Seattle, I’ve had several sensational meetings/interviews/catch-up sessions with men I’ve come to love, respect, and adore.  Their thoughts have given me quite a bit to think about and I’ve enjoyed digesting our conversations.  Material from their interviews will be featured in my one-woman show “Sala Kakuhle, Mama which goes up in Chicago May 2, 2014 at 11pm.  I’m writing as well as performing and it will be directed by Janice Stewart my mentor, friend, mother, and director for the past 16 years.   It’s a story about descendants of the Afrikan Diaspora and their relationship with the Wilderness.  My Seattle advisors and Board of Directors are helping me write grants for a spinoff dedicated to identity development in youth. That’s for another post however. 

This Fellowship with NOLS is exciting and scary. So much of my life is exciting and scary.  I enjoying taking one breath at a time and living in the moment. I’ll be sure to share my thoughts on the experience here.  What an experience it will be.

Be well, friends!

WMB

 

Related Posts

NOLS Fellowship

A letter to my brother

My relationship with my family was complicated in its existence. It is currently complicated in its absence.

I won’t get into it here because it’s too long, and honestly, you wouldn’t understand.  I am posting this letter because I found it on my computer today and would like to share it.  A little background. My brother and I didn’t grow up in the same house after I was 11 and he was 13 (14?).  We hadn’t spoken often due to his hurtful and irresponsible actions. After a significant silence — which I broke to inform him of our grandmother’s illness and eventual passing– he asked to be apart of my life. After considerable coercion I said, “Yes, but this is your last chance.”  Two months later he failed to communicate appropriately after telling me our other grandmother had health issues.  I found out from someone else that in the two-week time period that he wasn’t returning my phone calls or texts she had died of a brain tumor.

It hurts to know him.

I sent him this, via text message, because he wouldn’t answer the phone and I didn’t have his email address.  In spite of the message the letter conveys, he still followed me, creepily, on Instagram. Here is the letter grammatical errors and all:

Our dilemma: I’m bored by you and the cyclical fashion of your behavior.  I’m bored by my naivete and willingess to allow this to happen again, and again, and again.

 If our relationship were a sitcom we would’ve been canceled long ago due to recycled plots, stagnant characters, and uninteresting conflicts.  I am a little sister of two and so society says I am to embrace my nature and manifest certain behaviors in order to get attention read: pick and pick and nag and nag yearning for an emotional response. 

Fortunately, due to experience and maturity, I out grew that phase.  I don’t beg.  It’s beneath me.  If someone wants to be in my life they are welcome…until they aren’t. You are not.  I once sent an email like this ma/joyce/your mother/all of it feels false but you know who I’m talking about. 

She was so upset by the tone of the message that she didn’t understand the cause behind it.  Each time you both hurt me  I end up in a place that is so unhealthy it’s ridiculous.  I set boundaries and still you hurt.  I walk away and you beg me for permission to reenter my life. 

I allow it and yet the behavior never changes.  It’s like I’m related to robots. I would rather endure the pain of never hearing from, speaking to, or having to smell the putrid odor that accompanies your disappointing soul than to let you or anyone else that is related to you hurt me in that way again. 

Please read this next part carefully: I never want to hear from you again. I don’t care if you are on your deathbed, if your sons need a transplant and I am the only match, if your mother’s kidney fails and her dying wish is to spit in my face: I don’t care. 

I want nothing to do with you and anything or anyone that associates with you. 

*insert my brother’s name here*, know this.  I am serious.  Don’t call me, or text me, or ask anyone else to do the same. I will change my phone number.  I will get a restraining order. I swear to God I will take whatever legal action is necessary to get my point across. Don’t fuck with me.  To dear Isaac and Eli.  I feel badly for them because their lives lack the presence of an aunt who loves them dearly but has no access point.  Their father, an untethered foundation, thinks that relationships are built and sustained by pixels and such submitted through the internet and over the phone. He thinks that is enough.  He hopes that is enough.  He believes that is enough.  I know it is not enough and that knowledge grieves me.  Oh the promise our relationships could manifest and yet they are left with naught. 

This time I am hurt by me but not gravely as was common in my youth.  It’s like an old relationship the drags me in.  An ex I cannot shake.  A pool of putrid piss in which I linger long after toddlers have gone to nap.  I am silent in my hurt because I welcomed it near my being yet again knowing full well of the end.  An ending which is always the same. 

And so I write this to ask the following: for you to give me peace. Leave me be.  Bother not myself, my spouse, or off-spring to which I may rear as my own.  Should ailments reach you or yourn protect yourself from feigned response. I will care not and ask that you let that be.  Allow this to that which greets every desire to contact me bring back to this note. This interesting diatribe.  Should death befall, leave me alone. Should you hear of my misfortune, leave me alone. Should you hear of my bliss, leave me alone.  Take your kin and return to your hovel.  I care not for passage nor grace.  I ask not for forgiveness. I ask for you to leave me be.

Emotional Eating

Kale salad

I have this thing with food. I’ve talked about it at length in other blog posts like here and here.  It’s a process.  I’m back in Georgia and I’m stressed.  As I’m typing this my grandfather is taking a shower and I’m sitting outside the bathroom door as a precaution.  He’s already had 2 or 3 near falls this morning. Luckily I was there to catch him.  What do I mean by near falls?  His breathing becomes labored. His eyes roll to the back of his head. His body becomes rigid. His spirit goes away. When these “spells” occur, he has no control and will often fall or clutch the nearest object with the death grip to win all death grips.  Two or three times I was there. Once I wasn’t.

I heard something that sounded like marbles against a wall from the other room. I walked into his bedroom found him in the closet in an awkward diagonal with his head against the wall, stomach on boxes, and feet on the floor. I put him in the rescue position on the floor of the closet and put his head on a pillow.  He resisted told me he wanted to “bade” (take a bath).  I responded that I wanted him to stay there for a few minutes because he’d just hit his head.  He argued that he hadn’t and that he was fine.

He wasn’t fine.

It’s always difficult when I find my grandad after he has fallen.  The last big fall he had left him bloody and covered in his own urine.  Afterwards, I craved Cheetos. It was immediate. Once the adrenaline settled the craving took its place.  That time, I ate them. This time, I did not.

I’m on day 6 of a 21-day gluten-free elimination test.  I craved Cheetos last night and refrained from eating them. After his fall this morning, the craving returned and I refrained from eating them again.

I continue to be amazed at how connected I am — at a chemical level– to food. The events of this morning have renewed my sadness and reminded me that he is going to die.  I will have no grandparents left. I will no longer be tethered to this family that hurts. At least not tethered through obligation merely bloodline.  As I continue to explore my odd position in this family and the oddities of this family I can’t help but wonder what will happen to me when his life goes away.

Panera Cares; dead up.

Taking a quick reprieve from my Morocco journal to reflect on an experience that’s still happening.

I’m leaving Portland in a few hours to go back to Atlanta.  I’m returning to my grandfather after a long time away.  I slept on the couch of my friend’s cousin.  We called at 1pm and asked if I could spend that evening on his couch or whatever.  He called back at 4pm to say, “Sure!”  That’s the Miesle clan for ya. Always an open door for a stranger.  This is not the first time I’ve used my friendship with them to stay in a complete stranger’s home.   I feel like that’s what strangers are supposed to be; really awesome in moments of need.  In Morocco they have a saying pronounced, “DayfAllah.”  You can show up at someone’s house, knock on the door, say, “DayfAllah” and they basically have to let you stay there for at least the night. They’ll offer you shelter and food and tea.  You offer your best houseguest skills and take solace in having a nifty place to stay for the night. 

Even though I’m the kind of stranger you want to be around if something happens to you.  The sporadic kindness of strangers still surprises me.  I will stop, help, and make sure you’re cool for the foreseeable future.  It doesn’t often happen that someone returns the favor.  Apparently, Panera Bread Company is also a similar quality of stranger.  Let me introduce you to Panera Cares.

Panera Cares is a new kind of cafe – one that exemplifies an entirely different way of giving back. It is a community cafe of shared responsibility. One of the goals of this charitable program is to ensure that everyone who needs a meal gets one. People are encouraged to take what they need and donate their fair share. There are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation levels and donation bins.” – Panera Bread Company

As soon as I walked in the door a woman with a “Georgia” name tag greeted me in a way that was, initially, unnerving.  She seemed like an overeager sales associate and I immediately searched my brain for ways to avoid her. I didn’t find any.  She asked me if I’d ever been into this location before and I told her I hadn’t. She explained that this branch was a little different and that they were one store out of five in the Nation.  The “prices” on the menu were suggestions, not prices. She went on to explain that if I could afford my meal then I could could pay. If not, then that was alright.  She also told me that large backpacks were not permitted in the cafe and I’d have to leave it at the side.  I was carrying one large multi-day pack, my smaller day pack and my leather bag. She also said that she would watch it for me to ensure that nothing happened to it. (She didn’t, but hey). I went to the register ordered a large soup and handed the clerk a ten dollar bill. She handed me a five and five ones and it didn’t register.  I could have said, “Thanks!” picked up my soup and bounced.  Instead I dropped the five in the donation bin and stepped to the side.  Could I have used a free meal? Absofreakinlutely.  I paid because I felt this heavy societal pressure to do my due diligence. It was also super important to me to not be lumped into the bundle that was homelessness.  I feel guilty writing this, but I didn’t want any of those people thinking I was homeless.  Man, I wish that weren’t a stigma.

I’ve read quite a few articles on how successful this program has been.  Here are some of the links:

  1. Problems at Panera Cares – Eater PDX

  2. Panera Cares Community Cafe – Panera Bread

  3. Panera Cares pay-what-you-can cafe learns about entitlement

  4. Panera Cares

I’m super happy that this is happening and I hope it lasts — and spreads like herpes.  Panera Bread is a huge corporate entity and I’m glad they’re figuring out a way to make the business model work.  I’m not up on my food security game and there are probably hundreds of community based organizations that have been doing this for years.  This is the first time I’ve heard of it. 

People love their Panera Bread. When our local Burger King was replaced by a Panera my hometown neighbors collectively and gleefully lost their shit.  Almost a decade later it is still packed to the hilt with elderly White people every Sunday. 

Yes Panera Cares has had it’s issues.  I appreciate the tactics they’ve adopted to address those issues.  I can think of several corporations that would benefit from it’s tutelage.

*I’d like to note, someone is walking around giving away free Panera Bread baguettes as I type. A blog entry to follow will examine why being here makes me so damn uncomfortable.*

 

Am I really in Morocco right now?

More from the journal I kept while in Morocco

June 27, 2013

First, I’m having a bizarre experience.  I am actually in Morocco!  What? What?!? We’re leaving Rabat tomorrow.  that makes me sad.  I’m learning so much.  The tv is currently on in the background and set to a channel speaking Darija and I’m able to understand words here and there.  More importantly, I’m able to hear Arabic as more than just one long word.  There is such beauty in this language.  I love Darija.  I would love to be fluent.  Not literate, but fluent.  Learning to write Arabic may be too much.  I think it’s a valuable language and I would benefit from learning it.  If Jamaica isn’t possible for me to visit consistently, may be Rabat should be my adopted country.

 

In this post I’ve used “Arabic” and “Darija” interchangeably. They are not. They are two separate languages.

Visit to the doctor’s office

More from the journal I kept during my visit to Morocco. In a doctor’s office in Rabat waiting to get my ear looked at.  I’d had water in it for about 4-5 days at this point.

*       *

There’s something that stings when someone tells you to lose weight.  My grandfather said it before I left.  My family said it at [the only] Christmas [we had together] when I was in high school.  When I look back at pictures I think I looked great and struggle with how I look currently.  The doctor just weighed me and told me to lose weight in Morocco. There’s a theme here.

We live in such a negatively affected society.  People are happy to mention what you should do to make yourself better.  Yet they often neglect to tell you something you do well.

*       *

The doctor came in so I had to go.

Apparently I’m good at learning Darija.  Moroccan Arabic is my shit.  I know I haven’t even been here a week and so it’s presumptuous to be talking about next year, but I’d love to comeback.  I’d love to become fluent in Arabic and learn basic french just so I can be better at Darija.  It’d be cool ot work with 19more in the nice months in Seattle, and Rabat in the rainy winter months.  I wonder what that would cost.  Home stay for 3 months each year?  Sell belongings in Seattle.  Leave boxes in someone’s basement?  I don’t know I could find roommates in Seattle where I could afford the rent — hella cheap.  They would be willing to walk Garvey or rather take care of Garvey for a small fee while I’m out of the country.  I dunno.  It would be nice.

sign

The face of God

More from the journal I kept on my way to Morocco

6-25? 6-24?

It is early even for me.  Roosters have been testing their lungs for several hours.  I awoke before the 1st call to prayer and I wanted desperately to go and see.  More feel than see though.  I miss the power of a holy place and haven’t found myself in a church sans my cynicism for quite sometimes.  The religion of my up bringing  feels foreign and has for many years.  This is not to say that my God is gone because He is not.  He created me, raised me, guided me and continues to pave my way.  The spirit inside of me has never left or been replaced.  My unique understanding of my Creator has though.  I embrace Him as Lord, Father, maleness unique to me because that is what I I need to feel as though, be balanced.  More than balance, I crave a Father.  More than a father I crave my God.  More so still I seek His name because previous utterances of my tongue and calls from my heart no longer fit. They feel tingly and numb and then fall right off.  I seek His name as away to ease myself.  To, perhaps, right what I’ve done wrong to seek out favor.  I ask that God be revealed to me on this journey and that I reveal myself to God.  Also important to note, must tell Kim and Eliott that Rabat looks just like Assassin’s Creed. Weird.

Je suis fatigue

More from the journal I kept on my way to Morocco

June 23, 2013 

I want to travel forever.  On the flight to Paris with my students and co instructors.  Just looked out the window and was, in fact still am –able to see this confusing and beautiful body of water.  It appears to be water land painted with sewage thirsting for water.  The sun is setting and so there is a brush stroke of faded orange to my left.  I have the window seat and the leisure of controlling 2 windows.  My fortune abounds and gratitude follows.  I am being paid to be at this place.  Where I can see the private moment where water clasps hands with sky.  Their palms linger and they are intimate.  I crave that intimacy with people and with the earth.  Living in an open place with people and love.  The sigh that follows hold my continued journey toward peace.  I am fortunate to be on this journey.  I am fortunate to known that this journey exists.  peace, like happiness is a journey not a destinations.  So happy to be on this journey.

*             *

We’ve been traveling for almost 24hours and some rando woman just scowled at me for brushing my teeth in the sink.  I wanted to yell, “hey lady! you want to be next to me in an hour or two?! My breath will be as funky as this bathroom and armpits 10x’s worse!” I feel like a terrible person but I just caught a cat nap on the floor of an airport in Paris.  I’m greasy, bloated, and I just want to be done moving.  The group of kids have been great.  Too great.  I wonder what’s going to go wrong and when.  Something smells funny.  It could have something to do with not having showering and the leftover smoked salmon wrapper in the garbage.

*             *

On the plane form Paris to Rabat.  Je suis fatigue. Je suis fatigue. Je suis fatigue. Tengo sueno. Deseo different… I want something different. I want to stop moving. I want the *water in my ear to drain.  I want the pain from it being there to stope.  Je suis fatigue. I am tired of doing this alone.  I want to experience life with my person. Where are you. I need you. Je suis fatigue.

*             *

In the Hotel Darna for the evening.  Thus concludes the journey from Seattle to Rabat via Paris.  I still have water in my ear.  It’s ringing now.  Will purchase alcohol –isopropyl tomorrow to try and dehydrate or rather evaporate the water from my ear canal.  Not tired at all but I should get some sleep.   Excited to hear morning prayers.

moroccan countryside

Pooping

I just pooped, wiped, looked at the toilet paper in my hand and didn’t know what to do with it.

I spent the last 30 days pooping and peeing in Turkish Toilets — for the most part. In my hotel rooms there were western toilets with Turkish expectations.  This is a Turkish toilet.

Turkish Toilet

Thanks shwiya b shwiya blog!

I’ve used them before when I traveled in Eastern Asia.  The difference now, however, is that in Morocco (and probably Turkey, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been) you don’t put the toilet paper in the hole. You fold it in on itself and put it in a wastepaper basket where it sits until someone takes out the garbage.  In my small village, when the garbage was taken out, it went to a larger container that sat in the bushes near cherry trees and the water source.  Just because it’s out of the house doesn’t mean it’s out of your life.

I enjoy using Turkish Toilets. The squatting position is better for your system and just feels great. I love pooping in the woods because it combines the prime squat position with a beautiful view. That’s the life right there, y’all.  I didn’t love pooping in Turkish toilets because the smell from the wastepaper basket, or merely the knowledge that it’s there, is distracting. I just wanted to poop in a smell free poop free environment.

My pooping in Morocco was disjointed.  When Moroccans found out that I was a vegetarian they’d laugh — because they thought it was a joke– and then they’d ask if that meant I ate lamb…or chicken… or fish. Seriously.  If you say in Darija, “I don’t eat meat.” You also have to explain that you don’t eat fish, chicken, turkey, or lamb. It’s quite a process. Even then, me not eating meat meant I ate a crap ton of potatoes with a few carrots.  At one point I sat back and recollected on my food consumption for the day. “You know what?” I said to my co instructors. “I had a hard-boiled egg and bread for breakfast. Now I’m having a hard-boiled egg and bread for dinner. The hell is going on?”  That was pretty much the extent of my food options. Bezzaf (a lot) of Khobs (bread). Granted, we convinced Mama Fatima to make us lentil soup and frites (french fries) for lunch and it was so good we asked for it every day.  We didn’t always get it, but we asked.  I think she felt bad preparing us the same lunch so she tried to vary it.  If only she knew that I could have eaten that for 3 meals a day and been absolutely fine. The lack of vegetables in my diet led to me feeling clogged up or uncomfortable for most of my days.  We often had to request watermelon (dluh-h) and cherries for the sake of taste and fiber.  There were also honey dew and cantelope melon hybrids that I grew to enjoy. I hate them in the States, but hey, when 98% of the food options aren’t on your menu you’re not going to get too picky with the 2%.

My last few meals in the city were splendid. Well, one was falafel and hummus at a Syrian restaurant — that was splendid and the other was pizza — that was okay. I think my bowels valued familiarity.  The food on the Air France flight was similar to Morocco, which shouldn’t surprise you because France colonized Morocco in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The quality of bread and cheese on the flight was more my style than in the village. I mean come on, who doesn’t love fancy cheese and croissants? 😉 I ate the inside of a Spinach burrito from Gorditos upon my return and I’m pretty sure my stomach brain just had an aneurysm. I haven’t had veggies aside from slivers of zucchini and carrots (and potatoes) in a month. It has no idea what to do with itself.

I’m struggling a bit as my stomach struggles to right itself, but that’s okay. I’m happy to be back in Seattle and pooping in a toilet that I don’t have to share with a gajillion other people… even if it has a toilet seat.

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

Passport

I’m packing my belongings in a room in Chicago that smells of overpowering cat urine.  Staring at treetops over plant starts growing on the windowsill and wondering how my life will be different one month from now.  I’ll have been in Morocco for quite sometime and all of this may seem so small.  That’s what happens when I travel. My life in The States becomes much smaller.

My passport is in front of me and I just flipped through the pages with all the stamps from visas. There’s Republic of India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya, Jamaica, Republica Ferderativa Do Brasil, and Vietnam. Some stamps, some stickers, most old, a few relatively recent. I have traveled. Though I was labeled student when the majority of those visas were I assigned I still feel as such though currently traveling as teacher.

A friend of mine just returned from burying his mother in the traditional Islamic way — they handed him his mother’s coffinless body wrapped in a cloth and he helped lay her six feet below the surface in an Arizona desert facing east.  It broke him in many important ways and in some unimportant ones too. But during our conversation at midnight as he smoked and drank beer I could tell her death repaired him as well.  I cried last night thinking of my grandmother how, like he, I missed her death because I was too far away. And, like he, felt the pull to relocate to be closer to the remaining loved one.

Life happens like this; in bits and pieces never all at once.  We are changed by our momentary involvements but life is never changed by us. Too old for influence it bowls us over or passes us by, but doesn’t stop to check for a pulse.  I was changed by my travels. I was changed by the death of my grandmothers. I am changed by everything that happens to me.  There is something peaceful in that realization.  I am changed by everything. I wonder, how will I be different tomorrow.

 

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.

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

Preparing for that which I cannot control

The possibility of taking a 23-day NOLS course this fall is the first thing to excite me in years.  I’m responsible for at least 50 visits to the NOLS website over the last few weeks.  I’m not really worried (maybe a little) about my mental capacity to handle the backpacking. I’ve hiked from 2-14 miles in a day in the past and handled it well. I’m used to spending time in the backcountry for long periods while covering long distances and tackling rolling terrain.  This is not to say that I’m under some foolish impression that any part of my NOLS course will be easy. It won’t be.  Many of the difficulties I may have I cannot prepare myself for.

What I can do is address the physical aspect to being on course.  I started jogging again when I was in Georgia and the weather was nice.  I tried to keep it up when I got to Chicago, but couldn’t. The temperatures aggravated my asthma and I was a complete shit show. I don’t have insurance so me going to the emergency room isn’t something I can afford.  So, I started with P90X again and get outside when I can.  Additionally, I started another fast. I’m on Day 4/Day 2 (depends on who you ask) and I feel great.  I’ve been moderately active and I haven’t been able to complete my P90X workouts. I also haven’t forced myself to, either.  This fast is about resetting my system and trying to reprogram old habits.

I have a pretty fucked up relationship with food at times.  Before you start thinking I eat 4 supersized meals and a small kitten for breakfast, that’s not the case.  I love vegetables and the cooking kale for breakfast is a common occurrence.  I was a vegetarian for almost a decade then I started adding fish to my diet.  In fact, I’m more vegetarian than pescetarian.  Soda is rarely my go to beverage and hasn’t been for about 2 years.  I make fresh juices with my juicer and drink homemade teas and lemonade flavored with stevia when I have a hankering for something sweet.  My problem isn’t often with food choices. Mostly it’s about quantity. When it isn’t about quantity it’s about choice in a big way. Go big or go home, right? *She shakes her head* I’ve used food as a coping mechanism for a long time. Probably ever since I was able to control what I ate which hasn’t been long. Let me explain.

My parents divorced when I was five and we didn’t have much. My mother did what she could, but I spent a lot of time feeling hungry.  She was from the islands and fed us the rural island version of cuisine.  Well, at least what was available here in the states. That was probably fine, but we were in America and when my brother and I hung out with friends, McDonald’s was a go to. She worked something like 4 jobs and we were left to our own devices often. We’d steal money from her coin jar and go to the baseball field, or corner store and buy candy until our faces exploded.  Fast forward six years and I was sent to a boarding school for financially needy and social orphans called Milton Hershey School (MHS). At The Milt, we had access to plenty of food, but I’ll be damned if it was good for us.  We’re talking Pennsylvania Dutch style cooking.  We ate casseroles, potatoes, cream chipped beef, bullseyes (the breakfast egg dish not the seeing orb of a bull), sugar coated french toast, and their nutritionally deficient cousins. Everything  came in the big box truck known as the meal bus.  Not only was the food for shit (props to the ladies in the Central Kitchen even though it was nutritional shit is was pretty tasty… those birthday cakes and cookies?! I still dream about those) it was also controlled by someone who wasn’t me. I did not grow up learning about the food around me. I just remember we had to set the tables with meat first, starch second, and then the vegetables.  Our portions were controlled. If we wanted more it was kinda a no go. If we wanted less, or none we couldn’t.  We had one “No Eat” food and that was it. Because my mom didn’t want me eating pork, that was my “No Eat” food. Everything else, I had to ingest.

That was middle school. High school was a bit different, but not much. The atmosphere of the school changed and we started shopping more often at the local Giant Food store.  Nonetheless, my education did not include food.

In college, I became a vegetarian.  I don’t remember when or why, I just did.  The cessation of meat consumption didn’t really, at least I don’t think, come with knowledge about healthy eating.  It wasn’t until I went to work for Milton Hershey School full-time at Springboard Academy that I began to teach myself about nutrition.  I’d began some studying in Chicago, but I made pennies and couldn’t afford healthy shit anyway.  When I got to Springboard I made enough money that I could live alone AND afford healthy food items.  Hell. Yes. When I learned about quinoa I damn near lost my shit. Stevia? Hell, that knowledge pretty much gave me an aneurysm. Even then, I was in a SUPER toxic relationship with someone who had CF.  You may not know, but people with CF need to consume large amounts of fat.  People with ADPKD like I have don’t. So with this toxic relationship not only was I not strong enough to set healthy boundaries for myself, the person I was with had the exact opposite dietary needs as I had.

Moving to Seattle is what did it for me. I was working as an Outdoor Educator and physical activity was my life.  When I started with Seattle Public Schools, I had enough money, again, to afford the food we all deserve.  My apartment was across the street from a Jewel Osco, and few blocks from Trader Joe’s, and the Central Co-o: Madison Market — my favorite place in Seattle. I spent so much time at the co-op learning about vegetables, buying fresh breads and cheeses, selecting kombucha, and focusing on my overall well-being. This was two years ago. I’m twenty-nine years old and my healthy relationship with food and nutrition just started. I’m still a baby.

My hope is that my fast will tune my brain and my heart to the key of my stomach. I don’t want to eat when I’m not hungry. I want to remember what hunger feels like and associate that with goodness. Like it’s a message from my body that reads,

Hey, thanks so much for that last meal. We’ve sent it on to do great things and are looking forward to more. ”

Instead of,

Holy shit we’re hungry. We’re hungry. Fuck, when’re we going to eat again? Are we going to eat again? Who remembers how to make biscuits?! Flour’s cheap. We can use water instead of milk. That’ll keep us from dying, right?! Right?!

Two very different messages. I’m tired of teaching my body that panic is a good way to approach meeting its needs.

This NOLS course will test me physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally. I’m worried about meeting my cohort and being the only  Brown person. Worse yet, would be finding out I’m the only Brown person with no White allies.  My standard for interacting with Whiteness is pretty concrete. I’m not going to sacrifice my wellness because of ignorance. I will not allow someone to learn off of my back. My story is not a novelty it’s my life. I don’t know how I can/would/should respond to racist shit that occurs Outside in this situation.  Actually, I don’t want to deal with it all I just want to fucking play outside because it’s my favorite thing to do.

What I can do is prepare (as much as possible) my body for the physical challenges that are certain. Cause NOLS is hard, y’all. I can sharpen my mind and clear out space for frequent visits. Other than that, I can only rely on the me that’s been alive this long and has not gone to prison for reacting to hate — purposeful, or accidental.

We are people, a reflection.

My stomach hurts this morning.  It seems a bit of my surroundings leaked in while I slept.  Stress is heavy when it takes hold.  My eyes, just as dense with the weight of similarity, express their desire for slumber through fog. I’m foggy today.  I began this journey over a month ago and am now a weary traveler.  Life in spaces that are not mine has added its girth as well.

My bank and I lean on my friendships. I can see their weight and yet they do not break.  For that I am forever grateful.  I do make wise decisions though financial institutions does not seem like one.  It was at one point, seven points ago.  My friendships are some of the best decisions I make.

I awoke this morning to additional broken promises.  I called ING Direct to inquire.  I was put on hold.  The weight sat heavy and tears threatened their presence.  Apart of me knew I’d been deceived again and I awaited the news.  Luckily I now have the means to locate that which is mine and yet that does not assuage.  I’ll believe it when I feel it in my shaking hands.

My car, no longer a reliable means to get me to the hooded south, sits in the parking lot within eyeshot. My belongings take up space that is neither theirs nor mine in an apartment where I’ve been for more than 20 days rent free. A squatter. I’ve cooked meals out of love and not obligation. Dined and laughed, without mirth, at the folly of corporations and absurdity of situations.  I feel like I should feel like I overstayed my welcome but I don’t.  Those are the friendships that I’ve chosen.  I have chosen well.  I have been chosen as well and it feels good.  In my world where abandonment is common-place, betrayal second nature, and disappointment a best friend I have been chosen by kind, loving, genuine people.  Good people have chosen to love and care for me. That explains my history.  Good people have chosen to love me while bad people have chosen not to.

I am loved by good people.

Corporations are people. Your policies, actions, and inaction hurts people.  That’s what this is  all about. My bank has yet to acknowledge that I am a person who needed them to deliver and they didn’t.  Individuals under their employ drooled phrases from instruction manuals rarely deviating from their scripts.  As is common, they hid behind policy designed for all yet applicable to few and further alienating many. We are people.  When you have gotten so big that it is impossible for you to acknowledge that important reality perhaps your focus should shift to getting smaller.

Eat Rite Health Promotion Center Amarillo, TX: a review

When I was a kid I tried to make bubble gum. I read the list of ingredients on the side of a Bubble Yum package and compiled what I could from the kitchen. It should be no surprise that mama’s ingredients did not Bubble Yum make.

Today at almost 30 years old I had a similar experience. I walked into “Eat Rite Health Promotion Center” in Amarillo, Texas looking for BCQ or Boswelia Curcumin Quercitin. They didn’t have it so they handed me other bottles with other ingredients including what I was looking for. Sort of. I was going to experiment, but then felt uneasy and told them I found it online. Which I did. The men– who were less than friendly– said oh, what’s in it? In one of the most condescending ways I’ve been spoken to in a very long time. I showed them the ingredients from my iPhone and they exchanged some dialogue and sent me on my way. I left the exchange feeling like they were mocking my choice and, in fact, me. I returned the items to the shelves and started to purchase the other items in my basket. I looked over my shoulder to find the older gentleman sneering at me. Sneering. Like Lord Voldemort.

It’s been 30 or so minutes since that interaction occurred and I’m still angry. I would drive away, but then they would walk away from that feeling like it’s okay to treat people in that manner. It’s not.

They were offering me dehydrated apples and apple juice and telling me it’d make an apple just fine. That’s not true. I had a specific product I wanted and they didn’t have it.

I’ll never shop at Eat Rite Health Promotion Center again and I hope you won’t either. In a second, I’m going to go back in there and give that gentleman some feedback that’s probably long over due.

Has anyone else had a similar experience at this location?

Road Trip Update: 1/12/13

Bleugh. I feel kinda crappy today. I haven’t eaten particularly well since my stove quit on me. Thanks a lot Coleman. I still have the back-up (MSR Dragonfly) but it’s been 30 degrees and CRAZY windy and I just haven’t wanted to sit in the cold and cook. Can you blame me? I’ll be at my friends house in a few days so I’ll get to relax, but for now I feel bloated and lethargic.

I miss my routine. I would go to work and stop by the co-op on my way home. I’d pick up seasonal veggies and fruit and I felt good. I knew that my purchases were pesticide free and contributing to the local economy.

Because of the route I’m taking I’m kinda far away from natural food stores. I tried to maneuver my way through San Francisco to find a health food store and ended up lost in Oakland, CA at like midnight. Not where I wanted to be. As a result, I’ve been trying to steer clear of metropolitan areas.

I also haven’t done as much hiking as I did on the Oregon Coast. Hiking trails were more frequent, and the weather was more mild. In the Southwest it’s sunny, but it’s WINDY and dust blows everywhere. Also, there are burrs that get in my dog’s fur and we can’t get very far. I feel like the trip is an audition for my next home. It seems like the PNW (Pacific Northwest) is where I need to end up.

Tomorrow is my 5th six-hour driving day in a row. I spoke with my grandad on the phone a few days ago, and I’m excited to see him. That might be why I can’t concentrate on the road trip anymore. I miss him and just want to be around him.