Word Sprints #9 “Reflection”

(Parameters— Subject: Love, Format: Poetry, Media: Text message, Time limit-1 minute)

The dim light of my soul shines on your facets, pale but brave in your presence.

You absorb my light and build it up with the poetry of your voice and the welcome embrace of your body. You mold it into diamonds and reflect it back at me and my face runs with liquid stars. The feeling is warm like fleece and fire.

 

Mirrored in you, I am beautiful, fierce and eternal.

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Word Sprint #8 “Irritation”

(Parameters: Subject generator: “Irritation”, Format: Poem, Time limit: n/a)

“Irritation”

You don’t know,

You don’t care,

That you make me want to pull out my hair.

 

You laugh when I yell,

You roll your eyes,

It’s enough to make a grown up cry.

 

I deal with your attitude,

And I bite my tongue

When the words from your lips sound really dumb.

 

Your mouth needs a smack,

Your ass needs a kick,

You really are an unbelievable prick.

 

So I don’t harm you

by word or by deed,

I walk away and close the door on my need.

 

Just you wait though,

There will come a day,

When karma will cash in on the price you’ll pay.

She’s a Bitch that way.

#Vanlife Scary Curves and Fluffy Bunnies

This was the first weekend where I was completely out of the house. I worked late Thursday, had Friday off, worked late Saturday and early Sunday and then met my kids in the morning for school on Monday. It was painful not seeing my girls all weekend. I was worried they felt abandoned. I don’t like to bring up the separation or divorce up to them because I know it makes them sad but this is reality now. Papa doesn’t want Mama around because it hurts too much so Mama has to go elsewhere on the weekends. Now I am working on a plan where I can take them out regularly for swimming or something so we can do things together and Papa can have his own alone time for whatever. Just need to get the funds and the plan for it first.

So what did I do on my glorious but painful weekend of freedom?

I got lost. Again. Or rather, I continued down the road I got lost on previously.  Spreading my baby baka Nomad wings and being all self-sufficient and stuff.

As I sat in my truck after the Ex came home, I felt the vastness of freedom closing in around me like water rushing into hole. I could go anywhere. Do anything. I had a full tank of gas (thanks mama!) and an endless list of possibilities that didn’t include the internet, snacking on junk food, arguing, or cleaning. I could go to Barnes and Nobles or the library and read. I could go for a walk on the pier. I could go thrift store shopping and get an ice cream for dinner if I wanted. I could go to sleep early! Whoaaaa!

But none of these things sounded appealing. What I did want, however, was silence. Peace. No cars. No people. I knew I should not be driving too far and conserving my gas because pay day isn’t near. I had to be mindful of my budget. So I decided to retrace my steps from the day I got lost with my kids (read the post HERE). Not too far away and I knew the way back in the dark if I got caught up. I did offer to share the trip with my little sister but she ignored me and so I went alone.

I rolled down the windows. All of them; even my sun roof window. Probably for the first time ever since I got the truck. I picked a playlist on my iPod and set it to a moderate volume. And I drove. Thoughts came floating in to distract me and I gently pushed them out again. I paid attention to the way my arms moved the steering wheel around the curves of the road and the cramp forming in my hip. The squeak of my flip flop on the pedal. The smell of the sage on the wind.

Freedom.

It’d been a long time since I’ve had my thoughts to myself. It was a little odd not to have to worry stuff. I was always on guard for the next argument by phone or in person. I was primed for stress every time my phone went off, living in fear for the next disaster. Mile by mile I felt my brain unclench and my lips stretched into a gentle smile. Maybe this is what they meant by “stress management”. This was nice. Reminded me of drives with mom as a kid going camping in the mountains. We probably even took this very road and some part of my brain was triggered the childhood joy.

My thoughts snapped into focus when I blew right passed my turn out by the lake. So much for no stress. OH CRAP. WHERE I AM GOING? WHERE DOES THIS ROAD LEAD? I don’t have any money if I run out of gas!

Ok….ok….calm down. We’ll just find a place to turn around. It’s okay! It’s one road, two lanes. Can’t get lost. Okay…except there were no more turn outs. And there was a cliff side to my right and double yellow lines to my left. And people behind me that clearly knew where they were going and are riding up on my ass. The road went down hill. My truck is heavy and without my foot even being on the gas pedal I was going 45 around turns I was not familiar with at all. I had both hands gripping the steering wheel and I was thinking “Slow down, calm down” like a broken record in my head.

Look for a sign. Where are you? Where are you going? There’s a turn out! Let these people pass, take a breath, get a drink and turn around. I can’t turn. I can’t see around the curves. Someone could smash into me. OH MY GOD.

Suddenly freedom was pulling me inexorably forward around scary ass hair pin turns toward a place I had never been in my life. #VANLIFE??!?!!!???

I nearly passed out from light-headedness when I finally saw a city limit sign and then almost cried real tears when I saw that the half hour drive ate up a quarter of a tank of gas. HOLY CRAP. Okay, keep going. Keep going. You’re fine. There’s only one way back. Literally one road. Just find a spot to turn around.

I did eventually find a large enough turn out and a straight piece of road that would afford me a decently fast turn around without fear of a crash. But then through the open windows, I smelled the ocean. What the hell? I was going through mountains! How do mountains spit me out near an ocean? Now curiosity out weighted the panic and I continued driving. Not even 5 minutes later there was a little parking lot and a full expanse view of the coast line. I turned into it. Here’s what I found:

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It was beautiful. Exactly what I was looking for when I set out that day to find peace. I didn’t bring my iPod or my purse or even a book (SHOCKING!). I only carried my keys and my phone. I called Owen for a little while and let the happiness his voice brought me well up inside. I filled my lungs with salty sea breeze and softly pungent herb smells. I took a sage leaf and tucked it inside the pocket of my phone as a memento. The trail I took was networked with little path ways across a field and I had fun choosing left, right or forward. Metaphor for life eh?

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Eventually the little trails converged into one large pathway so I followed it from one one end to the other. Probably two miles or so.  There were train tracks right next to me and one went by while I was standing not even twenty feet away. Brought back memories. (I lived in front of train tracks for 14 years.) I took pictures of plants along the path so I could play the “WHAT’S THAT PLANT?!” game with Owen (he loves plants and coastal ones are fascinating to him since he’s never been to California).

When the lure of football took him away from the conversation I just walked, letting the sounds of nature and the feel of the sun on my skin melt over me and soothe my ruffled feathers. I loved up some friendly dogs and found an amazing memorial along a cliff side.

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Someone was loved very much.

One end of the path led me to a large park where along the edge of the field, there were bushes. And about a dozen fluffy bunnies and Squirrels. They were out enjoying the grass and the coolness of evening setting in. I’d never seen so many in one place! I sat on the field and watched them because I could. I had that kind of time and no kids or friends saying “I’m hot/ bored/ tired/ hungry/ need to pee”.

Once I’d had enough of nature I made my way back and at the end of the trail I finally discovered where I was.

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And as it turned out I came back just in time. There were tow trucks pulling into the parking lot as I climbed into my truck. The park closed half an hour after sunset (which that day was at 7:30). It was 6:45 but they looked ready to jump the gun. PHEW!

The ride back through the mountain was no less scary for me, even having driven it two hours before. It was getting dark and I had more cars behind me pressuring me to go faster or move. I moved. It scared the heebie jeebies out of me puling over because a lot of the time there was no guard rail between me and a thousand foot cliff. But not having head lights and impatient drivers glare at me through my rear view mirror was worth the small risk. I just didn’t look and I prayed a lot.

When I got to my little turn out that over-looked the lake I was a jellied pile of grateful baka Jessie. I took a moment to rest and closed my eyes. It had gotten chilly being in the wind tunnel the lake and the mountains created so I made my dinner inside the truck. My first Gypsy Nomad dinner!

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Classic right? And doubly delicious! I rolled down a window and ate and watched the moon come out. The clouds around it turned pink and the mists rolled in like some scene off a Scotland postcard.

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I really wanted to stay there for the night and wake up to an amazing sun rise but I had a feeling the Po-Po would be cruising along soon to shoo me away. Bummer. So I came back down the mountain (got lost AGAIN on a twisty unfamiliar road) and popped out in between cities at a little RV/VanLife stretch of road. It looked safe enough and there were large gaps between trucks that I could sneak into.

Well. Don’t mind if I do!

I turned my bed down (literally just unfolded it) and washed my filthy feet with a baby wipe before crawling in the back and calling Owen again before bed. It was some of the bed sleep I’d gotten in a while. I woke up to the sight of a light blue sky and trees in my back window. I took my time getting out of bed, enjoying the slow warmth of the sun baking the air in my truck and munching a granola bar as I watched the sky turn into morning blue.

 

It seemed like an ordinary day but for me, it was a day worth writing about. My true first day of choosing my path and following it, baka Gypsy Nomad style. And I didn’t get dead which was a plus! This day, subtle as it was, gave me a boost of confidence that, yeah, maybe this really was the right decision and maybe I can find peace after blowing up my life.

Just what I needed.

Word Sprint #7 Hufflepuff at Hogwarts

(Parameters: Random word generator Use as many as possible, Format: Letter, time limit: ten minutes Partner: Owen <3)

WORDS: herbs, skinny, offend, broom, badger, planet, fragile, addle

Dearest mother,

Hogwarts is the coolest place on the planet! I live in a castle! Can you believe that! A Mainord in a castle! The first thing we did was get sorted into our houses. They put this smelly hat that talks on your head and it tells you where your aptitude is. I got Hufflepuff, who’s animal is a honey Badger. We get to have dorms right next to the kitchens and as I understand it, we’re the “Support class” house. But I don’t mind. You know I love being in the kitchen anyway.

My favorite class here is Herbology. There are so many different other herbs than the ones they sell in London. Some are poisonous. Some we have to wear ear muffs for. Some we can eat straight away and they do funny things to us! One stupid guy ate some Hortense herbacia and he addled his brains for a week. He’s never going to live that down, I just know it. I like working with the fragile herbs the best. Even the teacher commended me on my steady hands. She said that I would make an excellent Potions master some day if I could survive Professor snape.

I’ve made a friend already mum and it’s only the first week. She’s not what you think though. In the kitchens, we have creatures called house elves. They make the food and clean up the rooms and stuff. If you sneak in after hours sometimes they’ll even bring you sweets and tea. Huffles have the advantage of being so close to the kitchens so naturally we’re regular visitors. Well, I came one night to get some tea for my insomnia (I found an herb for that!) and a skinny house elf holding a broom came to my elbow and started asking questions. The other elves seemed very offended with this but I insisted it didn’t bother me. I liked the company. Her name is Willa and she seemed very young.

She asked how it was to do magic and take classes and have homework. I told her that magic was scary because it was a big responsibility but also fun when you master it. You can use it for entertainment and protection and even cleaning (she gasped when I performed a simple charm to clean up the tea I spilled on purpose). She is very sweet and charming and I am happy to share my evenings with her. I asked her about her story and how she came to work at Hogwarts but she doesn’t trust me enough yet. It’s okay. I’m patient. You said I could make friends with anyone and now I’ve made friends with an elf!

Well the tea is setting in now mum. I’m getting sleepy. I will write again soon. Ta!

#Vanlife Look and Find, Baka Gypsy Nomad Style

When you’re a kid, you don’t notice cars unless they’re flashy or about to run you over. You perception of the world is very narrow, focusing on your toys, your family, the park, the cute fuzzy animals. I got lost a lot as a kid because I would be in my own head and wander off, not paying attention. I ignored street signs and reached for stray dogs before asking if they would bite me. Walking two blocks to the grocery store for ice cream felt like a million miles.  Kids will be kids and self-awareness is not their forte.

As teenagers learning how to drive, suddenly your perception shifts. Instead of being the pedestrian, you’re now watching for them as you accelerate metal death machines down the road. You are hyper alert for balls bouncing from out of now where and kids running after them. Cats streaking from one side of the street to another. Idiot drivers not looking before pulling out into traffic. Parking places. Street signs. Buildings. Street lights and traffic cameras. Speed limits. You have to re-learn how to get everywhere in a car!

The mental maps shift in your brain. Instead of going down three blocks until you hit the yellow house with the German Shepard in the yard and then turn right through the alley to get to the store, now it’s go straight from Hemlock Street for two blocks, make a right onto Oak Street and a direct left onto Acacia Ave. You have to know where the turning lanes are and make sure you’re in them beforehand. You have to learn to merge and go onto scary freeways. You have to navigate parking lots without doing bumper cars. You have to have your brain engaged at all times because YOU CAN’T TRUST ANYONE to be a rational and logical driver. Defensive driving.

As a baka Gypsy Nomad, I have to adjust my thinking a little more drastically than just “being aware” now. I have to dig into the finer details of driving and paying attention to my surroundings. My mind map is already set for my town so I can get pretty much anywhere with ease and not worry about it much. What I have to do now is search for potential places to rest and sleep and use facilities.

As I drive down familiar roads and through industrial blocks, instead of thinking of my to-do lists or crafting dialogue for my current story, my eyes search out potential camp spots. I look for “No Parking”/ 2 Hour parking signs. I look for RV’s on the side of the road and Vans or Trucks clumped together. I look for street lights and hidden alcoves where I could squeeze in without being noticed by the local Po-Po. it’s kind of amazing how quickly my brain adjusted to finding these things. But for urban camping, 24-hour parking lots are still best. I slept in a Winco parking lot this week and was relieved it went without incident.

For residential living, I try to find places that are underneath a tree by the side of the road or along a long fence line where I’m not immediately in the home owners line of sight. I’ve found two spots like this that I feel safe parking at so far, one very near my kids’ home and one near my old home. But I acknowledge that this is only acceptable because I know this neighborhood and this town. This would seem fool-hardy traveling into unfamiliar areas, which is why VanLifers always advocate WalMarts while traveling or aiming for a friend’s driveway if you can.

ALWAYS stay in your car and observe a place you’re thinking about staying before you start your nightly routine! Listen to your gut and then move if you don’t feel safe. There were several places I tried to park in one night that turned out to be bad decisions so I had to move. They had the right conditions but things didn’t make me feel safe, like, cars were driving too close to my truck and they would shake me in their passing. Or there was a kids park and field  too close to my spot so there were a constant stream of night-lifers coming near. A pair of dudes even used my truck as a shield so they could smoke a bowl. Yeahhhh. Too close for comfort and now I know.

But I can find places to camp pretty quickly now, which definitely helps with the actual sleeping. I’m managing at least 6 hours of sleep now rather than a spotty 3-4 because I have the criteria of “relative safety” mapped in my brain. There’s always room for improvement of course, especially when I travel outside my town, but for now, spreading my baby nomad wings is what’s important. I got nothing else but my truck or a homeless shelter so I’m making it work best as I can.

I asked for this when I blew up my life so every mistake and failure will only act as a learning experience. I am #Vanlifing the best way I know how.

#VanLife Getting Swoll and Showered!

This week Van Life took me to—!

The Gym! Yeaahhhhhh! For more than one reason.

Here’s the rub.

I’ve been so resistant to gyms. The idea that I should Go To A Place To Sweat In Public was ridiculous. And I hate wearing exercise clothes in public. Seriously, one of my biggest pet peeves. And I especially hate Lunk Heads who make the rest of us nublets look bad on purpose. So what if you can press 200 lbs? Psshhhhh!

I’ve been exercising inconsistently at home with the wonderful duo from FitnessBlender.com, Kelli and Daniel. No hyped up music, no fakey encouragement. Real people with real flaws and real cool personalities. I invested in some weights and discovered I love to lift. Burpees suck. My hips and ankles can’t do jumping jacks or high knees. Stretching is just about the greatest joy after a really intense workout. I even like the after burn in my muscles because it means I had a really good work out.

I’m just not consistent with it.

Once Van Life went live, I realized that I would need a back up for showers and work out facilities. So I had to shuck off my prejudice against Gyms and start shopping around.

Criteria:

-Open 24 hours (so I can stay in the parking lot if needed for a nap afterward)

-Showers

-Near by

-Low monthly rate

-Big franchise (for when I travel)

There was only one place that fit those criteria: Planet Fitness. And by happy coincidence, my cousin has a membership that allowed guests to use the facilities. So I got to scope it out and get a crash course in the tread mill (LOVE) and the elliptical (henceforth to be known at the Devil Machine). I haven’t tried the other machines yet because I feel that I can get a better work out doing body weight exercises like squats and lunges and Pilates but I might try them just to say I can use them.

So far I am only going on the weekends because that’s the only time my cousin can reliably take me as her guest. We have weird work schedules. I find myself wanting to go more, to challenge myself more, but my fundage atm is very low. (As in, I have $12.38 to last me for two weeks). I can’t afford the start-up fee yet ($30). So I work out and shower when I can in between kid wrangling, napping and chores. The drive to get to this particular gym is a pull on my gas tank so for now, Becky does the driving.

Now I wait patiently, which is probably for the best. Working out can be a gift and a curse depending on how you’re feeling that day. You can do wayyyy too much if you’re feeling strong and fit. And then you injury yourself because you weren’t listening to your body and are thus out of commission for three days, setting yourself back. Also gives Becky a chance to catch up as well since she’s somewhat less active than I am. I don’t want her feeling discouraged because I can do more than she can >_<

So yeah. Getting healthier, training my body to be stronger, my brain is happier…all good things! Getting Swoll and Showered.

Money makes travel right now very limited so you get to read thrilling articles about Gyms! YAHOOO! But I will be traveling to some near by parks and hiking trails and uploading more pretty pictures soon.

#VanLife for the Baka Gypsy Nomad!

#VanLife Pain and Planning

This week in VanLife the Gypsy Nomad went—-?!

Home.

I know. So very not thrilling. But out of the blue my uterus decided it was going to give a detailed demonstration of that it feels like to have my organs roasted over a spit from inside the human body.

I have no idea what happened. I was at work on sunday, not a problem. And then as soon as I step out the door after my shift there was DEBILITATING PAIN. As in, I can barely put one foot in front of the other and make it to my truck, pain. Or open the door. Or get in. I considered putting the seat back and laying there miserably until someone found me and took care of me but with my luck it would be my boss and he would take me off the schedule for the rest of the week to recuperate.

Health= money.

I now understand the term “Blinding pain” though. Trying to drive home scrunched into the drivers seat with a seat belt pressing against the offending organ made me want to shut my eyes and cry. I honestly don’t know how I made it home in one piece. Divine intervention maybe. Or some really cool complicated science-y brain consciousness stuff.

I grabbed my keys, my wallet and my phone and walked the short distance back home bent over double, trying to breathe past the exquisite cramping. Husband heard the back door open and spun around to find me almost collapsing on the ground. I gave a short explanation, went to the bathroom and grabbed the bottle of codeine pills from my neck surgery in may. I took one, changed into some loose fitting shorts and collapsed onto the bed, wrapping myself around a fleece blanket and tried not to lose my shit until the drugs took over.

It took me a full two days and three codeine pills to recover enough to walk around normally. And it got me thinking real hard about some things. So hard I had a manic, depressive out burst of self-pity. But for time purposes, I will stick to the one topic, which is Planning for Emergencies as a Van/Truck Lifer.

If I decide to travel  WHEN I travel outside my city, how will I handle things like that? Humans are squishy creatures and I most likely will be traveling alone most of the time. I haven’t found any caravaners yet who might join me on my journey and no family has the time/money to come be with me should I be hospitalized. So it occurred to me that there has to be a little bit of planning in this whole VanLife thing.

– Firstly, Make sure your insurance is up to date and in order before you go anywhere. Do your research and keep a copy of the policies with you. Check about Emergency room fees and what exactly your insurance will cover. Make sure you tell them you’ll be traveling and call a representative with any questions you might have about changing your policy to include any traveling or wilderness hazards such as bear attacks or toxic bugs that might give you diseases.

-Before you reach a town, take time to find out where the hospitals are. I got my smart phone for the sole purpose of google maps. DUH. Use it!

-A secondary thing is making sure I have a paper copy of my medical file with if that’s possible. I’m pretty sure my medical file can be accessed online since I have poor people Medi-cal but just in case, ya know? Have it sealed by your doctor’s office into an envelope and opened only by another physician if you feel more comfortable.

-Also, when I decide to stay somewhere for the night, whether it’s urban or suburban, make sure I have a detailed location ready for the police or ambulance to find me easier. Know the street I’m on and the cross street nearest me and any land marks or buildings near by. Write it down in a journal specifically for that and keep it near.

-Another suggestion it to have a stash of glow sticks or road hazard lights to stick outside the truck to make myself distinguishable at night.

-Lastly, but ALWAYS FIRSTLY, make sure someone knows where you are at all times! Doesn’t matter if they’re next door and you’re street parking or five states away. Let people you trust know where you are!

I can’t imagine dealing with something like this on the road, alone. Or something worse, like a broken leg and having to drive or a severe illness and being hospitalized for weeks. I don’t know how others do it. I’m not afraid to say it kind of put the brakes on VanLife for me just a little but the downside to that is I’m getting too comfortable at home again. Not good. Pain does weird things to human brains. It goes into survival mode so naturally, you’ll want to go to the place you feel safest to heal and be taken care of. For me, that’s still my husband’s home. MY home.

The strings still haven’t been completely cut I guess. I’m still not totally immersed in vanlife. I had a moment of weakness. Time to trudge out the door again and get back into it. I have to remember that vanlife means Freedom, Exploration (externally and internally), Creativity and Experience. These are the things I want and need at the moment, hard as it may be to give up comfort and safety.