Saturday, May 31, 2008

meet the parents

i'm sitting in my parent's hotel room on my mom's computer after just having eaten a delicious lunch at devil's food.  they're napping to catch up from a long morning of travel.  tonight we'll eat at my restaurant, i welcome the chance to be waited on hand and foot.  
i gave them the brief tour of the van and parking spot, and i think they could appreciate the efforts i've made.  it's not a glamourous life, but it works!  it feels so good to be around them, so familiar, yet special because of it's rarity.  i know that there's some balance i need to find between seeing my family and being out adventuring.  right now i feel the pull to spend more time with them, i miss my brothers really bad too.  so, i'm going to feed my need for those connections more often than i have been in recent years.  then, once we're good and tired of each other, i'll go off again:)
i often wonder if they'll ever leave pennsylvania, i doubt it.  their roots are deep, but i'd love the chance to spend some time with them elsewhere.  they are so mired in work and the dynasty they've built in that little town, i sometimes feel hopeless about it ever happening, but they are here now and that's a step.  and maybe someday i'll change my mind about where i grew up and move back, but the thought still depresses me.  
i will attempt to impress them with my mobile lifestyle and perhaps they'll sell a house and buy an RV like so many other 60 somethings.  it could happen i guess.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


since e stopped calling, i spend most of my days off alone. it's cool because i can do whatever i want, and i have no excuses not to. no couch to veg out on, no tv to watch, just me in the world at large. i've been exploring the neighborhood near my parking spot, and last night i went into a bar a few blocks away to have a beer and read my book. well, one thing i know about bars and books--if you think you'll be left alone to read, you're wrong, and the point of the book is just to have something to do until a conversation starts.
the place was quiet, maybe 6 people there, one tattooed girl with cute bangs, one jock type guy in a penn state t-shirt, the sweet older bartender, and few men in flannel shirts sitting by themselves. after being harassed by the jock to quit reading and play a few songs on the jukebox, i sat back down and a kind looking older guy sat down two seats away. his name was gary and we started talking about our lives. i told him that i'd only been in colorado for just over a year, he told me he's never left. not only has he never lived outside the state, he's never lived outside the little town on the outskirts of the city where we were having a beer. he just never wanted to go anywhere else. i love meeting people like gary who are so different from me. i mentioned that i was writing to my friend who's in prison, and he opened up a story about his son who has served 8 years so far. he's up for parole in july for the second time, and gary is really hopeful he'll get it. he's only 25, he's been in since he was 16 for attempted murder. it's a 12-14 year sentence, which is weird because i know some people who actually do kill people get out in less than that. i tried to wrap my mind around what it would be like to be in prison before i graduated high school and still be there i don't want to downplay the crime he committed, it was a terrible act of violence, but gary's son was protecting his girl and the guy he beat up lived. i mean, 14 years? really?
gary bought me a beer, and in the time it took me to drink it, he drank 4. he was so respectful and never once overtly hit on me, though he did invite me to come back to his place if i wanted to have another beer. i declined and that was all, he didn't act all hurt and didn't try to convince me it was a good idea. he took me at my word and that delighted me. when he left, we hugged and he told me he was grateful for our conversation and i really made his night.
i guarantee i'll be back in that bar sometime, maybe next time his son will be with him. drinks are on me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

little miracles

my luck is changing for the better if only in small ways, i can feel the tides shifting into the magical time of summer, my favorite time of year. yesterday i rode my scooter around all day, just for the fun of it. i went jogging, then went to brunch with a friend where we met some of her friends who are djs of the most fun sort--they play 60's music and obscure soul and one of them even djs with 8-tracks sometimes. quirky and unassuming, i loved them both. then we went to the thrift store to look for 8-tracks and cassettes, also awesome fun. bruce said he would help me fix my broken tapes and look at my 8-track player to get it working right again. finding friends who share your love of old technology is validating and useful.
then last night, i wanted to go see "standard operating procedure" at the theater, but i got there 7 minutes late and there was no one in the box office (it was the last film of the night). i thought i'd be turned away, but there was a girl outside who said she worked there and i could just go in since they'd already shut down the computer. sweet! the movie itself was very good, an errol morris film about the pictures from abu graib prison with interviews from the people in the pictures. have you noticed, i'm a documentary junkie?
today, i took back the window air conditioner and the chiminea i got from lowes because i never use either of them and got my 150 bucks back. then i bought more reflectix and velcro which i've learned are the only things you really need to make your van awesome. i'm trying to get my rig all set before my parents get here so they'll be impressed.
the latest wonderful thing is still up in the air, but i think i got it--i've been trying to find a place for my bff, his boyfriend, and i to stay when we're at sarah's wedding and most places are booked already. i found a little cabin called the gnome house and it is incredible, and (i think) available! it is all hand crafted and looks like a fairy tale or something out of lord of the rings, and it's not even expensive, same price as all the other normal places on the island. so, i talked to the husband and he has to check with his wife, but it looks like we're in! i swear it's the most unique and magical cabin i've ever seen.
things are looking up and this is going to be the best summer ever. woohoo!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


these days, i just love mail. i have money in the bank, and i get so excited when they come because i can just pay them. a few times, i've been able to pay them completely off, and that is a wondrous feeling. writing checks for thousands of dollars is so satisfying. i actually get disappointed if there are no bills in my po box. weird, i know.
and there there are the letters. i'm a practitioner of the old-fashioned art of letter writing, and there's nothing i love more than a good conversation through hand written letters. i've gotten a few from my girlfriends--notes with invitations, postcards, cute crafty things to cheer me up. but the best paper fun i've been having is a furious back and forth affair with an old love who is in prison. he's not there for terribly long, just a year, but that certainly provides a "captive" audience for sustained discussions through letters. i got his first letter which was written on the back of a form detailing his possessions, in my old mailbox at my former house which i just happened to check one last time after i moved out. i'd already had my mail forwarded, but i guess a few things slipped through. it was a magical moment where the unexpected found me through dumb luck. i have no idea how he got my address, i mean, we've seen each other once in the past 2 years, but he does live in my hometown, so we've been aware of each other through mutual friends which is probably how he got it. at any rate, it's been a rare and joyous pleasure to communicate with him. being locked away is doing him quite a bit of good, as he is now sober which facilitates his brilliant thinking and elegant, poignant writing. he always was the drunken poet type, but now he's morphing into a sharp wit with a broad perspective who surprises me every time.
it's things like this that keep me happy some days.

Friday, May 23, 2008

i must be ovulating

the more i understand my body, the more i understand why i feel the way i feel. this past week i've been torturously hungry for the opposite sex. this is not my ususal state of being, i am often aloof and unavailable, but for some biological reason, i cannot keep my eyes off of attractive males. i think in part it has to do with e not talking to me. did i mention he hasn't called in weeks? he's going through some shit, and i understand that, but the message is abundantly clear--he wants nothing to do with me. i can't really blame him since i never was the girlfriend he wanted, but i think his method is cruel and a little immature. so i'm out looking for other men who might be interested, and for better or worse, i'm not finding any. well, not any that i'm interested in as well. i've got plenty of offers i would never take, but i'm looking for the one that gives me butterflies. i'm a romance junky, a believer in destiny, and a sucker for intriuge. add in the fact that i live in a van, and it can get complicated to even approach someone. so many chances for rejection, and i do hate rejection. it's always a war between what i want less--the chance for rejection, or the reality of being alone when i don't want to be.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

forging friendships

i've decided that it's high time i made some friends in this town. it's spring, i'm tired of being a hermit and when i decide to see it, there are amazing wonders within every person i meet. so, i'm forging a friendship with my co-worker jessica. she's obnoxious, charasmatic, addictive, and totally great. i love talking to her an she's up for any adventure, a rare trait to be sure. we went out tonight after work and had the best time--a few drinks, a lot of convesation on the nature of relationships, and a little booty dancing at the end. she's a real person, no pretense, no bullshit, lets just go out, talk to some boys and call it good. we've started running together too, so now i have some accountability for my laziness.
good things are afoot....

Monday, May 19, 2008

three movies, one day

i borrowed three movies from the library deciding to take full advantage of my housesitting home theater. i watched them in this order--"Show Cats", a documentary on fancy purebred cats and the people who show them, "Secrets of the Wild Child", a documentary on the child named Genie who had been locked in a room for almost 13 years with only a potty chair and a crib, and "Hell House", a documentary on the Trinity church in Texas and the house they run every october to scare people into being christians by way of depicting hell. seeing these films and the wide variety of people and lives they illuminate made me feel good about being who i am where i am. i'm not a crazy cat lady yet, there are far more extreme cat lovers, i had a pretty awesome childhood with lots of love and education which has set me up to be the explorer that i am, and i'm not terrorized by extremist christian fear-mongering. i like seeing movies that reveal the extremes of society, i am always fascinated by the breadth of human experience. it allows me to feel more comfortable with my own eccentricities.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

the way of the scavenger

i pride myself on being a good scavenger and i think it's an important skill to have if you, like me, want to get out of debt and/or live simply. if i can find it for free, and actually enjoy the process, then that saves me two times--once for the price of whatever it is i was going to buy, and twice by giving me something productive to do that doesn't cost any money.
one of my favorite methods is dumpster diving. in the city the easiest finds are furniture, building supplies, firewood, and clothing. it's harder to find good food because many places lock up their dumpsters or use compactors. i have to drive out of town a bit to get a good food dumpster. in smaller towns the easiest find is food. most little grocery stores don't think to lock up their dumpsters because they can't imagine someone would want their garbage, and you are therefore likely to be the only one that does. trader joe's is famous for having a prolific dumpster with all the food packaged neatly and easy to extract. whatever you are diving for, be courteous and leave the area cleaner then you found it. also, don't take more than you need, there may be others who will come after you.
another method is just keeping my eyes open for what i need as i go about my day. i often do this with food, i just wait until it's presesnted to me. in the restaurant biz, this is very easy, though it happens outside of work too. people in this country throw away tons of food and if you don't subscribe to germ paranoia, then eating off of a strangers plate makes perfect sense. discretion is required, at least for me, because i don't want to arouse discomfort in other's sense of order and i also don't want someone to offer to buy me food. i'm not starving or penniless, i just don't think food that i want to eat should go to the garbage instead. its a way of reducing the waste, people in other countries where food is more scarce view this as logical and normal--so do i.
another method that i love is thrifting. it's not free, but it's pretty cheap. goodwill is too expensive for the most part these days, i go to smaller independant thrift stores and there's a chain here called the arc that has 50% off sales all the time. here is where i buy the majority of my clothes, kitchen stuff, furniture, and sometimes books. now, there are times when i'll spend a chunk of cash on new shoes, or the occaisional $100 pair of jeans, but when money is an issue, it makes no sense to do that when comperable things are at the thrift store for under 5 bucks. and i should mention that i look great, all my clothes are unique and fit into my personal style. that's the beauty of thrifting, there's only one of everything in the store, perfect fun for the person who likes to dig for treasure.
as much fun as free stuff is, i've definately had to reign myself in as a van-dweller. it's easy to start aquiring too much stuff this way, after all it's free! this is where a sense of simplicity and streamlined economy are essential. i've found that this plus a love of scavenging produces a lifestyle of abundance. there are always more goodies to find, more food to eat, more adventures to have, so i don't need to hoard them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


i certainly haven't kept up with my exercise goals. i'm feeling really bad about it, and that's worse than i felt before i made the goal. ugh...i hate this stuck spot. to me, there's nothing worse than having nothing to blame but my own laziness. i abhor it.
i got the chateau back and it's ship-shape. it has a new fuel pump, an oil change, and the brakes were adjusted and are much grippier now. i'm still staying in a house which is fun, but i do miss rolling out of bed and into the outdoors. i feel cloistered away in this fancy lonely apartment looking out at the green leaves of this wet spring instead of touching them. hearing the birds sing muffled songs instead of crisp and close to my ear.
i still haven't figured out what i want to do for the winter. i'd like to at least make a visit to my family, and maybe live near one of the far flung aunts or uncles for a while. i just renewed my subscription to the caretaker's gazette, and i'm going to get the workamper guide as well, so maybe my winter answer will show up there.

Friday, May 16, 2008

reporting from my boss's house

i'm naked, sitting in my bosses bedroom, waiting for my grilled cheese to cook. freyja hates their cats so far, and has not held back her vocal protests, but i'm determined to make peace. we'll be here for four days, and i hope in that time to socialize her at bit. i'd love for her to get to the point where other animals are no big deal.
i've been hanging out with my friend jess from work lately, and i really like her. she's been through many of the same things i have--in love with a gay man and the eventual breakup, substance abuse, service industry burn-out, weight issues. it's a little easier to get by just knowing that someone else has been there too. she thinks the reason i'm alone is because people are afraid to get involved with someone who isn't rooted in place. i say, no one knows how long they'll be in one spot, i just accept that i'll be moving on sooner or later and figure i better find someone who is ok with that.
the chateau is still in the shop, i'll pick it up tomorrow. i think i'll try to get a few more housesitting gigs before i hit the road, it's great to have a house all to myself and be appreciated for loving on the cats and watering the tomatoes. and to have a bath!! i love to soak! it heals my wounds and puts my soul in order.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

sleeping in the old van

tonight i'm sleeping in the old van because the chateau is in the shop getting a new fuel pump and an oil change. i put freyja in there and she was like "what the hell?!" i'm actually really grateful that i still have the van so i can do this. i want to sell it as soon as possible, but maybe it hasn't sold because i still need it. if i didn't have the old van still, my plan was to set up a tent in my parking spot while the repairs were getting done and ride my scooter to work. oh yeah, my scooter, i haven't blogged about that yet. i bought it a few months ago but have just recently been using it due to weather restrictions and laziness. it takes about 45 minutes to ride it to work from my spot because it only goes 25mph. it's a 1980 honda express in canary yellow, and i love it. it's like half the fun of a motorcycle at a sixteenth of the cost. no insurance, no registration, and it only cost 500 bucks. i'll try to post some pictures soon.
my boss is being really cool lately and asked me to housesit while he's out of town for a few days. he knows i live in the van, and he used to make fun of me, but now he has respect for it. i don't know what changed his mind, but i'm glad to be here now. in fact, that's my mantra--be here now, so simple, and it helps with the depression. i don't have to focus on the future or beat myself up about the past, just live the present moment in the best way i know how. i read a book called "the power of now" by eckhart tolle a few years ago and it's really brilliant. it addresses how to live in the now. simple but not easy. i should re-read it.
e won't return my phone calls, and i'm worried about him. maybe he'll read this and know that i miss him and want to be there for him. he shouldn't be alone at a time like this, it's not healthy. he's so stubbornly reclusive, he's too much like me!
in his absence, i've been up late drinking almost every night with my pals from work. not the greatest, i know, but it's something to do. the great thing about vandwelling is never risking a dui, just slip into bed and sleep!

Monday, May 12, 2008

gathering it all up

today i got all my stuff out of E's place. my friend jess helped me because i was scared that e wouldn't want to see me, but it wasn't like that at all. he told me what's been going on, and though i don't understand why he didn't tell me sooner, i feel relieved just to know. his way of coping with intense stress is to retreat into a very tight shell which leaves people who love him (i.e. me) out in the cold wondering what they did wrong. turns out, it's not about me in the least. i feel sad that he doesn't want to talk about it, but i don't know what to do to help him. i guess just continue to leave him alone. i called several times today to see if he wanted to hang out, but he was doing something with his kids for mother's day and all he could spare was a text to tell me he wasn't interested.
at any rate, i have all my stuff in one place now. sort of. i still have the old van, and some of the stuff is in there--a box that i'm sending to my mom's house, a box going to the thrift store, and random massage stuff. the rest i fit in my little shed at the parking spot. i've got to get it sorted and pared down so that i'll be ready to leave when i'm ready to leave. i can't decide if i should sell my massage chair, i hardly ever use it, but it could be very handy for a mobile massage business this winter.
i feel good about my progress toward a totally van contained life. there is absolutely no reason why i need more stuff than i can fit in my giant van. life is lived outside my "stuff" now.
i'm having a bad girl streak--i drank mimosa's at brunch, a beer for lunch and i just finished a half pint of ice cream for dinner. now i'm going to a bar to see if i want to hang out with this guy who's been calling me. i don't want to date him, but maybe he has a cute friend:) hehehe

Saturday, May 10, 2008

traits conducive to vandwelling

1. likes the idea of living outside in all weather conditions--this is what van life is about, you will have some shelter but get used to existing out doors.
2. likes being naked outside--this will happen sooner or later, if you like it, then all the better.
3. not afraid of using public restrooms for all they are worth--get cozy with unfamiliar toilets and feel lucky when you find a private lockable bathroom with hot water. sink-shower time!
4. likes one pot meals--the less dishes the better, there's really no time for cleaning caked on crud, so keep it simple and clean it up immediately. living without running water teaches you the value of cleaning before it dries on.
5. puts things away when done using them--nothing teaches this faster than the sound of glass breaking when you hit the brakes, no cats were harmed in this accident, just lost a jar of sarah's mineral tea:(
6. would rather pay for fuel than rent--because you will.
7. would rather listen to the rain than the tv--the sounds of nature are your soundtrack when you have limited electricity. one of the biggest benefits!
8. has a knack for finding shady parking spots--even if you don't have an animal inside, keeping your stuff from boiling makes for a happier life.
9. comfortable on the fringes of society--most people think you're strange, some will not want to associate with you, others may try to oppress you because they can't stand having you in their vision. vandwelling is just too much for some folks.
10. has a decent support network--you will need a physical address for some things, maybe some storage, and some safe havens to curl up and rest. mom and dad are good for this, or anyone else who knows what you're doing and loves you no matter what.

Friday, May 9, 2008

faulty signals, outdoor showers

i'm plauged by bad communication, unknown motives and wanderlust. e won't talk to me. i don't know why, i think he needs some space which i'm totally willing to give, but the lack of a simple request has me puzzled. didn't we go into this relationship with the agreement that we'd be honest with each other? am i imagining that we intended not to keep secrets? whatever the issue is, his lips are sealed and i'm left wondering if i've made a big faux pas that i don't know about. if i don't have him to pal around with, this city becomes less attractive. he's made my life easier for this transition to van life, and i'm so grateful for that, but if he's gone, then things change. i wish i knew what the deal was.
on the other hand, i had a great vandwelling day today. i was too lazy to go to yoga this morning, but i really needed a shower, so i started heating up water. i put a full crockpot of water on and let it get real hot, then heated up a pot of water on the stove. it was cool and thunderstormy, so my solar shower was not heating up on it's own, i had to help it. i added about a gallon and a half of very hot water to the five gallon bag and it was quite comfortably warm. i think on a cooler day i would have needed another gallon of hot, but with today's mild temp it was great. i washed my hair and got my body all clean and beautiful. it was very satisifying to be able to take care of that basic need with just the tools at hand. sponge baths are effective to a degree, but sometimes you need a nice hot shower to really feel clean.
i miss everyone i love. it's pretty painful. seeing all my girlfriends was wonderful and filled me up to the brim and i just want more. more family, more friends, more lovers, more life to embrace! i'm ready to be a part of something bigger.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

lost in the woods

yesterday i went for a hike and got lost in the woods. it was great. i felt like an idiot, but i also got a great workout and climbed a mountain, something that never would have happened had i not needed to get out of the woods as quickly as possible. i was two and a half hours late for work, but luckily i was able to use my cell phone on top of the mountain to call my coworkers and let them know my plight. i ended up hiking about 7 miles total--5 more than i intended. it was a very interesting psychological study of myself. rather than turn back, i chose to go forward even though i had no idea where it would lead. i figured if i could just get to the end of the trail i was on, i'd have to be near a road and i could hitch a ride back to my van. the longer i pushed on, the less attractive turning around became. and after i climbed the mountain and came down the other side, there was NO WAY i was going to go back up it. so, i eventually made it out to a road and the very first person who drove by picked me up. he took me to the intersection of the highway and from there i had to hike a while until someone else picked me up and took me back to the van. very different individuals--the first was a business man in a lexus who was very nonchalant about my situation, though quite pleasant. the second was a haggard older guy in a beat up pick up strewn with junk who was concerned about a young woman like me hitching. he said he picked me up just to get me off the street before someone less savory came along. whatever, i was just happy to be on my way. once at work, it was no big deal, there were hardly any customers and i felt quite content just to leisurely cruise through the night. amazing how a harrowing adventure puts regular life in a new perspective. i highly recommend it!

Monday, May 5, 2008

northwest is best

my mental state has greatly improved thanks to the healing powers of the oregon forest. misty, ancient, green and deep, there's nothing quite like it anywhere else i've ever been. i realized how much i miss the water. abundant water that rushes in rivers and piles up in snowbanks and gently rains almost every day. plus it makes my hair look better.
the concentration of friends i have there is very lucrative. i had gorgeous maidens beckoning me to join them, to cook with them, to live with and near them in the most beautiful land with the most progressive cities and the coolest people. duh. being here by myself made me lose track of how many opportunities i have elsewhere. even the hot spring we were at was hiring massage therapists. now, they don't pay much, but you live there and they feed you three organic vegetarian meals a day. it's yet another place i'll be free to live when i'm out of debt.
i came back with renewed vigor and determination to push through this trying time and into the next chapter. i'm all set to tackle my may goals, and i went to bikram yoga today. i'd love to be a little slimmer for sarah's wedding in july, and i know how to do it. one day at a time.

Friday, May 2, 2008

food update #6

i made it through without going over budget! i ended up with about 21 dollars left at the end of the month, and i used that toward taking j out for a birthday meal today. it's really late, and i have to be up in like 3 hours to get on a plane. i'll be gone for 3 days with my best girlfriends soaking in the hot springs. ahhhh.