“Anyone can slay a dragon …but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.”
― Brian Andreas
From La Segunda Semana… (It WILL get better)
Good news… Ambien is available without a prescription- AND it costs less than my insurance co-pay at home.
Also. It’s amazing how quickly my personal shopping values have gone out the window… After a sad surrender to the siren’s song of Wal-Mart, (impossibly enticing when uncomfortable in a 3rd world country), I was able to purchase a decent-ish two dollar and fifty cent pillow. So I’ll be saying buh-bye to the stuff-sack nonsense I’ve BEEN using, and “hola” to a good night of sleep.
And! I managed to pick up an overpriced pair of Fit Flops at some sort of Guatemalan Foot Locker. They are horrendously ugly, but my cankle concern is now alleviated. If psychological solace requires that I trot around in hideous footwear, so be it.
Speaking of psychology… It’s taken all possible self-restraint NOT to get online and research every illness and ailment. After trips to my doc for West Nile and Mad Cow (I swear I had symptoms… vegan or not), I promised: No more self-diagnosis. Though currently, I’ve got some mosquitoes bites and a headache, so I already know that I’ve got malaria. My stomach has struuuuu-ggled to adjust and I’m SURE there’s been accidental water consumption while showering or brushing my teeth, so I’m also pretty confident that I have some kind of parasite.
In the past, I have spent excessive hours surfing WebMD, so I do kiiiinda feel like I’ve got a medical background. And since Cipro is also available without a prescription, I’m considering a solid round of broad-spectrum antibiotic attack. Because I’m getting legitimately worried. And I need to do SOMETHING.
(Side note: I’m seriously considering creating a website called “dontdrinkthewater.org”. It‘d be an amazing forum for travelers to report details on diagnosed and suspected parasites contracted while traversing locations with sketchy water supplies. Brilliant, right? )
I found an awesome sports bar and was able to catch some playoff games. It was an amazing respite from all things foreign. I noshed on a veggie burger, drank cheap beer and made friends with other Americans who wanted to duck out of “life abroad” and spend a few hours “at home”. …I managed to pick up a job while I was there. Bar tending. (WHAT?! Random!) The closest thing I have to “service industry work experience” is a 2-week stint at TCBY. When I was fifteen and a half. And still naive enough to be forced into wearing over-sized, corporate-logo polo shirts. (I’ve since learned to require a “no corporate polo’s” stipulation in ALL employment contracts. Not even kidding. Polo shirts are just a deal breaker for me.)
I’ve got a Guatemalan cell phone, but I’m still not used to the lack of constant txts, tweets, and calls… though it IS nice to have a phone in my purse again.
I’m still schlepping around my copy of Lonely Planet like it’s some sort of security blanket- despite the fact that this town is so small, I’m now unable to leave the casa without running into people I know. (I’ve been networking… Por Supesto.)
I keep buying things. Just to make me feel more at home. Or pretty. Or normal. It’s a problem. Because it’s stuff I don’t even need! …More pony tail holders, lotion, little earrings, overpriced Burt’s Bee’s chapstick. … Inappropriately expensive Almond Milk (5 bucks a box! REDIC! …But apparently, NOT as big of a deal breaker as polo shirts.)
And I miiiiiight have caved in and bought a pair of wedge-heeled sandals. But in my defense, I got them from this place called “The Paca”. Basically it’s like US Goodwill rejects in a GIANT open-air market with relatively negotiable pries. I for sure paid a gringa price for my strappy little 4-inchers… but I was just so happy to secure a pair of heels. Used or not. (I know. Used shoes. I can’t believe I’m cool with it either.)
I have met some really amazing people. I’ve made new friends that I will know for a lifetime, and I’ve heard stories that I will forever remember. But even with chance meetings and head-shaking moments of awe, I’m still having a hard time. I’m still NOT a traveler.
I’m desperately missing my girlfriends. And mani/pedi dates. And sitting on my couch with good wine.… aaaaaand talking about The Bachelor.
I’d love a down comforter, central heat, Whole Foods, and a hug from someone who loves me… And I can’t stop thinking about what (and who) I might be missing out on at home.
And the 5-year plan I should be addressing?? That’s been a bit haunting, as well. (Enter the Ambien.)
In general. I feel like I’m failing. I’m disappointed that I’m not better at this and that “uncomfortable” is so hard for me. I WANT to be some zen-master yoga chick who just sits in patient, make-up-less gratitude for all that I’ve been given. I mean. In my heart, I’m there. Despite my whining, I am SO eternally thankful for all the abundance in my life, and for having such amazing people to love and miss…
I super suck right now.
Not a Traveler…
(It’s now been 3, but here are some thoughts from my first week in Guatemala… also check out www.DIWYY.com for upcoming posts on my Guatemalan adventures!)
I mean like, I arrived exhausted. Because Spirit Airlines freaking SUUUUCKS. (Cheap flight yes, but a totally miserable experience.) And our legroom was frightfully reminiscent of those anti-meat protest photos with pictures of chickens all squished together.
Sleep had since remained elusive. Lots of dust, new allergens, constant firecrackers (continually mistaken as gunfire), pillows that are aggressively uncomfortable (the pillow issue here is epidemic)… and moths. I have a very deep-seated and totally irrational (but nonetheless powerful) fear of moths.
Also of note: I’m VERY concerned about developing cankles. And no. I’m not even kidding. Wearing stupid little flat sandals on this derelict cobblestone is making the front and sides of my ankles and lower calves excessively achy and I’m quite fearful this is because muscles are being built in new, unflattering places… perhaps with the eventual result of cankles???? Also. There seems to be a national obsession with salt. Which is not helping. And I mean. How would one remedy cankles? Like, let my legs atrophy from the knee down? How long would that even take? Really. Very. Concerned.
And while I’m being a crazy chick, let me just say… There are no mirrors here. The lack of full-length mirror accountability, in particular, is no bueno. I forget to be self-conscience. It’s a problem. I’ll hop on Skype and think- “WOAH! Umm… how about some mascara, Chica!”And I know my jeans are fitting a little bit more snug- I blame comfort eating. It’s the only familiar thing I can do! (And. I found an AMAZING falafel place. They also serve freaking sweet potatoes fries. Again. NOT HELPFUL. After next week. I swear: NO MAS!)
I have a gnarly bruise on arm from carrying my bags. And ADM (that’s my new Spanish version of OMG. “Ay Dios Mio”), you should have seen me as I arrived. Complete disaster. (WAY worse than Japan.) One carry-on bag in hand, a soft guitar case slung across my chest (a poser for now, but I’m committed to learning), and a giant Gregory “I hiked Whitney on my way to LAX before heading to Europe for the summer” back pack, peaking over the top of my head… cautiously looking around me at the Guatemala airport with an newly instilled, unfortunate, and more or less unfounded paranoia brought on by a battery of concerns from fearful loved ones who went Guatemala Google crazy.
The feeling of loss still lingers as I think about a couple special goodbyes that twisted my heart in a teary mess. I cried a bit on the plane as I left behind some roads I’m very much still hoping to explore, and of course, some friends I’m very much going to miss. But I’ve only cried twice since arriving. And for those who know me well, that’s impressive. Usually, it doesn’t take much more than a solid Folgers commercial to incite tears. But I think I’ve just been so totally overwhelmed- the places, the people, the air I’m breathing, these new sights I’m ingesting…. Awe, confusion, and intrigue have moved in to even the most remote places in my heart, crowding out the option for crying.
And let me just reiterate: I AM NOT a traveler.
I thrive in comfort. I love familiarity. Cozy, comfy, and safe are the fastest ways to my heart. These things pair with “traveling” about as well as chocolate with Chardonnay.
So I’m giving myself some time to adjust. I recognize that for now, most of my struggles are shallow. I’m confident that this adventure will present some legit opportunities for growth…. aaaaand comedy. But for now a little grace period of superficial, comfort-inducing expenditures is in order… just until I feel cozy and safe.
Don’t ask me to read James.
Don’t cite Lewis or Tolkien.
Don’t tell me to meditate on Proverbs 31.
Because I’ve heard it. I know it. Hell. I’ve got it memorized. And for now, it rings hollow.
Almost 2 years ago I sat with a friend outside of our office building- while we talked over cups of green tea. I so specifically remember him saying, “It’s not too often in life that we experience real pain. If you can just find a way to let yourself feel it. To experience it… that’s really living, you know?”
So here I am. The messy me. Learning how to be broken. Again. Trying to let myself feel the disruptive pain of splintered plans and loss and disappointment.
Because that is life in bold.
Brokenness seems to punctuate the illustration of our lives with these unassailable strokes of obtrusive colors. Brazen streaks of painful contrast. Hues that vibrate against a canvas painted mostly in harmonious shades of safe. And from my current vantage point- it’s an ugly addition.
So I’m learning how to be broken- in an almost functional way. To be one of those walking wounded, questioning my desire to heal.
I’m learning to dig a little deeper. To find purpose in the face of rejection and reason in stomach-turning desperation.
I am not taking joy. I am not “planting flags of truth” …I am just learning. And I’m not a great student.
I attempt to forgive the morning for arriving too soon… But condemn it’s arrogance in parallel. I curse the sun for rising before I wanted to see myself in it’s light and blame the day for bringing with it a whole new race to run… Because I’m exhausted. And I don’t at all feel like building perseverance.
So I’m learning how to be broken in these times when “getting better” feels more like giving up . Because sometimes Hope looks like a thief. And the mire feels more secure than being lost. When clinging to the past means keeping a piece of what’s missing, moving on is a perplexing notion.
I’m learning how to be the artist of my life within a new aesthetic of surrender.
But in the mean time, please tuck away those cliches. Keep the ancient wisdom in your pocket. And silence all those promises of healing Time.
At least for a little bit longer.
Not that my 20’s were all that easy, but 30?! Where’s the E-break?
Inevitably approaching, with break-neck velocity, in just a couple months, is (deep breath)…
My big Three-Oh. My. GOSH.Howdidthirtygetheresofast???
I recognize that I am as helpless in preventing this impending next decade as I am in rebuking the soon-to-show sun damage that I no doubt incurred back when baby oil tanning was an acceptable practice.
I remember thinking “30” must be somewhere near the middle of life and by the time it hits, you’re more or less done.
I REMEMBER my parents turning 30.
I remember the show 30-Something. (Though, it was on after my bedtime.)
I’m pretty sure I also remember thinking 30-something was a boring show about OLD people. OOOOOLD PEEEOPLE.
OLD? 30? WHAT?!
(I just had a heart palpitation.)
Thirty. I don’t like to say it. I don’t like the way it feels in my mouth. And it’s sounds as shameful and passé as googIing its Roman numeral expression.
In the shadow of my almost-30 panic, while listening to Counting Crows and drinking wine (I know, it’s a maudlin combination), I have created a bucket-list of sorts. Here it is:
35 (or so) things to do before I turn 30.
(Because the first draft had me pulling out of my 2 car garage in a hybrid SUV, blowing a kiss to my husband while he mowed our perfect lawn as I took the kids to ballet and soccer. And really, 60+ days isn’t really enough time to get all of that done.)
And here’s the WIIFM part: If you can help me, in any way, to get a little check mark by any of the following line items, you’re off the hook for a b-day present. (Unless you’re my mom, brother, or boyfriend. Sorry guys.)
Here they are, in no particular order…
1. Memorize all 50 states AND their capitols. (Back off. I went to a bad elementary school.)
2. Learn to surf.
3. Start my own company.
4. Ride in a hot air balloon.
5. Start a 401K. (I know you financially savvy peeps just choked a bit. I just, kinda, put it off.)
6. Go to a concert at the Greek Theater.
7. Get health insurance.
8. Learn a complete song on guitar and play it for an actual person.
9. Get some kind of certification… in anything.
10. Change my own oil. (And it needs to happen, ASAP)
11. See the Grand Canyon.
12. Sky Dive. (I know, cliché)
13. Bungee Jump. (Ditto on the cliché)
14. Read at least 2 books I was supposed to read in high school…. Buuut didn’t.
15. Throw a satisfying vegan dinner party for non-vegan friends.
16. Crash a party. (take pictures)
17. Go to a movie alone. (Without broadcasting to every person I see that I do in fact have friends, and that I am alone by my own choosing.)
18. Set up my own web page. (Already own RobynHannah.com, thanks to RK! Just need to build it out…. A little Webmaster tutorial?)
19. Learn how to use my big-girl camera. (Anyone speak Nikon?)
20. Go to the SF Zoo. (I know. How crazy is it that I’ve never been?!)
21. Lose 10 lbs. Just 10. And then be happy staying there.
22. Get a spray tan. Way healthier than my go-to Fake ‘n’ Bake system…. Even though it means someone has to spray your almost naked body. (SO awkward, right?!)
23. Be able to answer, “Who do you think you are?”
24. Get a beach cruiser and bike to destinations, instead of driving. (Even if that ISN’T more efficient)
25. Learn to really forgive, without needing a conversation or an apology.
26. Watch the sun RISE over the ocean.
27. Visit Yosemite. (Nope, never been!)/Climb half dome…. Is it REALLY that hard? I mean, Boy Scouts do it.
28. Take a wine class.
29. Learn to play chess, and then play a stranger.
30. Own cool designer sunglasses that come with their very own case.
31. Eat at Chez Panisse. (Alice will have them whip up some Vegan eats, right?)
32. Organize a recipe box/book.
33. Publicly post a poem or piece I’ve written.
34. Learn to Salsa dance
35. Make a REAL bucket list
The improbable, but really desirable goals Pre-30 goals…
1. Climb Machu Pichu (I might have to settle for Mt. Whitney??)
2. Zip line in Costa Rica
3. Swim in the Atlantic
4. Go to all the ballparks in the NL West
5. Ride the roller coasters at Cedar Point
So. If you’ve “got a guy”, will “come with” or wanna throw some cash towards my endeavors, let me know!
“If you hold on to the handle, she said, it’s easier to maintain the illusion of control. But it’s more fun if you just let the wind carry you. “ –Brian Andres, Story People