Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sri Lanka and Baby Impossibles

I was in a coffee shop I am fond of today, when I heard the owner chatting with a customer. He asked the man why he hadn't seen him in awhile. The customer replied that he'd been in Sri Lanka.

"Oh Sri Lanka, of course, that's where you are when you're not here," the owner replied with a laugh.

I had to will myself not to turn full on green with envy. Sri Lanka. Sri. Lanka. Sri freaking Lanka, I kept repeating in my head. Who is just off in Sri Lanka from their usual daily life in Virginia? Well this man, obviously, and his usual daily life is apparently very fascinating. Besides not turning green, I also had to refrain from approaching the man and asking what he did for a living that allowed a trip to Sri Lanka. I don't know that it has ever even occurred to me to want to go to Sri Lanka, but the name itself sounds like I should've given it considerable thought long before today, furthermore now that it has become obvious that people go there, for honestly, who knows what, I feel I need to be one of those people.

I was already having a highly contemplative day before this. I had the day off from work--yes I work now, hardly worth a mention as it brings me no personal joy, but I do have a pittance of a paycheck coming in--and I was helping DC at his job, saving plants, admiring the mountains whilst driving along, no big, when I realized the sky was down-right radiant. The sun was splayed in that prism-light sort of way and the clouds were scattered everywhere, while the shades of blue from the bottom of the sky to the top were enough to make a Crayola box weep. In short, it was God. And well, being me, I just felt so bowled over by the sheer beauty and enormity of all of it, God, beauty, being a part of it, but somehow longing for more, to blend in with the beauty, that I started to silently cry behind my sunglasses. And then not so silently sob. When DC realized, he of course was concerned but I just explained that there was a profound ache sweeping over me and there was nothing to be done but cry. He held my hand and let me.

Then he let me drop him back off at work and take his car to go and explore my artistic endeavors. I have been obsessed with this town a little out of the way behind marvelous billowing hills and vineyards before even moving here, and I wanted to go there. If there is anything for me in a mood I can't quite understand, it's always best to be with nature. And write.

So it was sitting in one of those perfect oversized coffeehouse chairs, the big worn brown leather kind with a quaint throw pillow and sipping on a Coca-Cola in an old-fashioned glass bottle with a straw--it called to me more than the coffee once I got there--that I overheard the men talking about Sri Lanka, and that same thrumming that had been inside me all day intensified. I didn't get much more work done as I sipped on my Coke, before I packed up my things to leave, and tried to discreetly check out the Sri Lanka man. He looked about sixty with white hair and matching beard, and was dressed like Sherlock Holmes. Psh, why did he get to go to Sri Lanka, he obviously is an old fashioned British detective, what business does he have in Sri Lanka? Well... I guess if he were a Sherlock Holmes type, it could be quite feasible that he'd have business in a mysterious land like Sri Lanka, so fine! Fine, he probably earned it!

As I drove back home on the winding roads, noting that the sky was getting bluer, the mountains blacker and the fields looked like cracked honey, it hit me that going to Sri Lanka felt like an impossible thing. And as soon as I thought the word impossible, my brain did a serious mental slamming of the breaks. I don't believe in impossible. I just don't. Honestly, I get near it sometimes, I poke at the word with a stick, but if I get too close to taste it, I back away as if burned. The word doesn't sit well with me.

I realized that I have been losing a lot of faith in myself lately, feeling like all of my big dreams seem very far off again and somewhere in the impossibility category. But see, there has been a time before in my life when all seemed lost and dare I say it, in the impossible realm, so back then I had to baby step it. When I wanted to run my first 5k and that seemed near impossible, I did things like tell myself if I could run half a mile, just to that mailbox off in the distance, that I could make it New York City one day. Not only did I make it to the mailbox and run the 5K, I made it to New York City, and then went on to run a marathon but it was simply by first believing a very itsy bitsy baby impossible.

I used to do this all the time. Just tackled the baby impossibles and then the grand daddy impossibles like making the tv show The Biggest Loser didn't seem quite as hard, because I had had practice believing a lot of little impossible things and then once I'd done a very large impossible, honestly nothing in this whole grand world felt out of my reach. But somewhere along the way, what with falling down, faltering, losing a little faith, I have stopped even tackling the baby impossibles. Until today that is. Until I heard an old man talking about Sri Lanka and all of a sudden wanted it so bad that it made me nervous enough to have doubts about where my life is going and think unthinkable thoughts, like the word impossible, jarring me back to a time when just running a half mile was the biggest impossible on my horizon.

Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes of all time:

Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
-Alice in Wonderland.

The moral of today's story: I need to get back in practice of believing impossible things, starting with the baby impossibles and working my way up to Sri Lanka. Because mark my words, now that it's in my mind, it's most certainly on my list and I don't buy into impossible. And Sherlock Holmes isn't the only one in on the world exploration game. No sir.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Where the good adventurers go

I talk a big game about adventure. I mean it's part of my blog name, so yeah kinda one of my favorite things ever in life, period. So last Thursday I not so subtly at all asked my boyfriend if he was just going to be doing office work the next day or running around DC being a posh salesman. He replied that he would be in the office. You know that scene in the Grinch when he gets overwhelming glee at the idea of stealing Christmas and his smile slowly curves up his face? That is precisely what my smile did.

"Soooo, can I drive you into work then tomorrow and have your car for the day?" I asked.

"Sure," he said.

Adventure! Adventure! Adventure-tiiiiiiiiime! My inner self sang, shaking her hips and arms from side to side in a wholly unattractive super shimmy. But it was on. A date with me and the open road. Immediately every outlandish possibility entered my mind. Could I make it to the ocean and back in one work day? Hmmm, probably, if I didn't hit traffic and/or get car-sick which seems to happen every time I get in a car these days. Hmmm, okay, best to get all the irrational ideas out of the way first. That always works best. Though I have really been jonesing the sea, but maybe that trip would require more planning--ugh, one of my least favorite words, and my boyfriend's very favorite words. In fact I think he definitely gets his jollies being a Planner McGee.

Anyway, so then I opened up maps of Virginia on Google and just looked for towns with enticing names. Obviously, that's a great method. I am nothing if not scientific and methodical. I became transfixed with the town Rappahannock. That name is amazing for starters, sounds slightly native and like it more than likely translates to adventure. And I am certain I'd heard of it, which seemed promising, but then I settled that I shouldn't even have a plan at all. I could find a cute town, river, or the mountains which I could clearly see from my window, just with my innate sense of direction and thirst for adventure. I am like a bloodhound in that way.

Friday came and I dropped DC off at his office and drove back home to get ready as I wasn't yet, why mince words, I am not a morning gal and I kept sleeping til the last possible second and then grumpily and begrudgingly got out of bed to drive DC to work, (I know, I know, why would I do that when I wanted the car and an adventure day in the first place, but you know what, I am an enigma. I don't even pretend to get me; I am shrouded in unbelievably infinite mystery, complexities... Okay that was excessive, I apologize) so was not about to adventure in his sweatpants and sweatshirt that I had thrown on in my haste.

After deciding to be nice and drop off a lunch for my incredibly thoughtful sir, for letting me commandeer his car, I couldn't get out of his office and on the road fast enough. He asked me what I was doing and I vaguely shrugged and ran for the door.

"Why are you being so mysterious? What are you doing? You're running out of here without even kissing me."

Oh right. I ran back, quickly laid one on him, smiled my Grinch-y, finger tapping, I have plans smile and said, "Nothing. Gotta go!"

And then I was off!

It struck me when I was driving DC into work earlier that if instead of going left toward his office, if I went straight, toward the mountains, I could just run smack dab into them. At least that is what I fancied in my mind, that I would just drive right up to the base of one and look up and whoa, how do you do mountain friend? That is what I was envisioning as I headed toward the dark blue horizontal zig-zags in the distance, with my packed baggy of PB&J crackers and a water bottle.

I drove straight for awhile happily staring at the mountains ahead and blasting my folksy jams. But then I came to a blinking light and what seemed to be a darling town to my left. I should turn, I thought. Good adventurers always go with their instincts. Who knows what could be in this fetching lil town? Turns out nothing of note, but no matter, I was officially getting lost heading toward mountains, fields, and woods. Oh and getting lost on purpose. The best way. I have serious navigational skills, so I was not worried about ending up anywhere unsavory.

I lost sight of the mountains and began winding further into what looked like farm country. But honestly it was lovely. I happened upon this house the size of a castle, but that was shaped like two silo's. Riveting! I kept trying to get closer but every road near it said, No Trespassing. Seriously, what are people so worried about? If you're going to build a house that is clearly an architectural gem, you should expect Lookie Lou's. I totally would've inched further down the road anyway and then pretended to be lost if I got caught if I weren't in DC's car, on top of hearing his voice in the back of my mind being all stern and rule-follow-y, questioning what kind trouble I was about to embark upon. Honestly, Dece, I'm not a criminal, simply curious. There is nothing wrong with healthy curiosity. In fact, I was strongly encouraged as a journalism student to cultivate my curiosity. So by heeding DC's imaginary warnings, I was actually stifling my journalistic instincts, but fine! So be it, I will turn around and miss an opportunity to see a barn castle up close.

I kept going, getting giddy seeing rolling hills with cows grazing, abandoned houses--one of my favorite things to ogle, a white horse that I was certain in the passing light could've passed as a unicorn. In fact I may have squinted my eyes as I got closer to be sure it wasn't a unicorn. You really never know. If I had a unicorn I most certainly would hide it in plain sight. It's actually quite brilliant.

Then I started to realize I hadn't come upon the mountains yet as I had sort of planned on. I was just getting deeper into the woods. And it was a grey, dreary sort of day and I was passing a lot of overgrown cemeteries. As I was winding through a road that seemed to be in the middle of a swamp, my mind latched onto a memory I had of reading about some haunted road in Virginia where a woman disappeared. Instantly I was convinced I was on said road. I did feel a ghostly presence come to think of it. I got about another mile down and saw another abandoned house and immediately did a U-ie. I just can't be on a haunted adventure alone, I freaked out! Honestly, where are the mountains, why are there so many graveyards out here? Are all the houses abandoned? As I started back the way I came I drove slowly past one of the empty houses, overgrown with weeds, and a dilapidated, rusted blue ford in the back. I swore I saw a lady in an old tattered cream dress leaning against the door of the back barn, I panicked, hit the gas, tires squealing on the corner of the road.

I have to get outta here! Now I was legitimately over-worked and convinced I was most certainly on the haunted road and the ghosts were evidently rampant! By the time I got home I had imagined myself into all sorts of tizzies and had to find out if I had indeed stumbled upon a haunted area of Virginia.

No. No I wasn't even close. Well okay, still, that was a spooky adventure nonetheless. How titillating. Then I thought I heard a thump in my bedroom. Keep in mind, it was mid-day at this point, but no matter. I looked around slowly, prickles dashing up my spine, and then high-tailed it outta there to go get DC. I grabbed a Valentine's cookie on my way out though. To soothe my rattled nerves.

Good grief. I just never can prepare for the type of adventures I will have, truly. Who knew I'd go searching for the mountains and find a silo shaped castle, would-be unicorn, and ghostly phenomena instead?

Nope, there's no preparing for that.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Happy Frenching

I say that I want to be a lot of things. This is true. I also want to see a lot and experience a great deal.

To name a few:

Labor on a lobsterboat
Live in Paris
Wade through cranberry fields, and sunflower fields
Experience the wild west
Work on a dude ranch
Hear Native American drummers
Photograph Italy... and well the whole darn world
Ride the Trans-Siberian Railroad
Be a part of the Iditarod
Hike the Appalachian Trail
Be boundless, aimless, and footloose and fancy-free
See every one of our National parks
Write about and hob-nob with greats: artists, musicians, poets

And that is a meager few, a toe dip in the ocean of experience I long to have. I also want to dabble in death-defying acts: white-water raft, skydive, get lost in the wilderness and have to fend off a bear with my hand-whittled shiv. Okay, fine, I am just kidding on that last one. I am all talk and would surely be mutilated in one-on-one combat with any animal, including a raccoon. I am a serious pansy and yeah a lot of the time still have to wear water-shoes in less than clear lake water as I am convinced either a leach will get me or a Freshwater Pike (yeah I know what Freshwater Pike are, I grew up on the Great Lakes) will shred me from the ankle down, or God forbid a strand of seaweed should graze my inner thigh, it's all over, man.

So the other day when I decided I wanted to live more like a French-woman, (in the cultivated way not the armpit hair neglect way just to be clear) this was not even in the least bit alarming to my ever-changing sensibilities. I was drawing myself a bubble bath (I know drawing a bubble bath sounds so 18th century erotic, but it paints a picture okay) mid-day as a nice reward for re-introducing myself to the running world, when I fancied I wanted a glass of wine. I somehow felt that I needed justification for having a glass of wine around three in the afternoon though. Bubble baths with several lit candles, yeah that's totally commonplace for my afternoon ritual now, so that was A-okay, just the wine needed a lil background check. I quickly racked my brain for sophisticated mid-day drinkers and immidiately came up with the French. Duh. Of course the French drink during the day! And they are the epitome of class and culture.

I literally googled, How to be like a French woman, hoping this would surely say they soaked in bubble baths and drank a nice red, (not the $10.00 variety I'm sure, but I do have a budget here) while contemplating life. I read a lot of interesting facts about mimicking the ever-refined French lady and after a couple of varied searches, including, so the French drink during the day right? right?! I did find that yes, the French have a glass of wine, no problem, in the afternoon. I happily poured myself a small glass feeling extra decadent and rule-breaky. Americans. Ha! The French know how to live!

But upon settling into my bath, gazing upon the flickering candle light and taking my first sip of vino, I realized I actually wasn't in the mood to drink wine. At 3 p.m. it just didn't taste as good. How weird. Okay, fine. So I'll pour it back in the bottle, I thought, it was worth a shot. But I can still take on some of the other French tips, of course, now that I did all that research. So after my bath, I decided to put on a black lacey slip and a fancy dress and then do my hair and make-up and just waltz around the house appreciating art more and taking in the breath of life, French women are like that, it said so on various reputable searches. I really felt I needed a bowl of cherries to eat lazily, but I didn't have any, so I made a mental note to get those next time I was out as they were instrumental in my being more like a French woman.

But after trying on several dresses and making pouts with my lips that were supposed to look like I wasn't trying to pout, I grew a bit tired of the effort and went to unwind in front of the TV, a little un-French but I was just taking a break. But after a few minutes I began to squirm in my dress. Gosh, were dresses always this uncomfortable, or was it just the slip? I hadn't even gotten to my hair or make-up yet so I was a bit concerned that I wasn't going to be able to live like Coco Chanel at all! I went back into my bedroom just to glance at different dress options. Then maybe, I sort of ended up in leggings, a sports bra, and a t-shirt and abandoned all hopes of a twenties-style hair-do and thick black eyelashes.

Being French is so overrated, I concluded. Except I really still want that bowl of cherries and I think I could totally pull off living in Paris as I have a lot of fetching hats that most certainly say Frenchie! Okay, so maybe I will start smaller next time and practice holding cigarettes delicately whilst sitting at outdoor cafes and scoffing at people who don't know all the fancy cheese brands. Yes, yes I will start there.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Project Hemingway

It's no secret that dramatic is my middle name.

Let me paint you a picture:

The other day I got in the elevator in my apartment to go downstairs. I waited the obligatory seven or so seconds to reach the ground floor. The seconds ticked by and ticked by, but still the doors had not opened. Odd, I thought, but still waited, thinking I really ought to be more patient. But when it had been a very long many seconds, upwards of 60 I would say, with still no opening doors, I looked around and thought, oh my, is the elevator broken, am I stuck, then it escalated, my thoughts that is, to, oh my gosh, what if I can't get out, what if I plummet to my death, dear God I hate enclosed spaces, why didn't I take the stairs, I should've called my mother and told her I love her today even though I talk to her eleven times a day already. I resisted my urge to claw at the walls and begin screaming in hysteria and thought, please unhinge the crazy part of your brain and access the logical girl that resides somewhere in the recesses covered in dirt, cobwebs and old maps (um yeah maps because I love to travel, duh, get the reference) and see what could be the issue before I assumed this was a death trap. I looked around and it dawned on me that the elevator had in fact not even moved yet, so I glanced at the buttons. I live on the fourth floor. I hit the 4th floor button upon entering the elevator instead of the ground floor button. Oh. Alright then. Minor mishap. Appreciate your help there, Captain Logic. Thank the sweet heavens Lieutenant Crazy didn't completely run that mission. Could happen to anyone, I thought as I sheepishly pushed the G button and began to move, seven seconds later the doors promptly slid open. Alright disaster averted.

Drama runs through my veins pumping more steadily than my blood flow? Correct.

So it should not surprise me that today when I am reminded of something that needs paying when I already overdrew my bloody checking account for seventeen damn cents that my whole world spins madly on its axis and I want to do things like pull my hair in every direction, fall to my knees and wail, whyyyyy, gag and pretend throw-up, because I don't like real throw up, and if you know my best friend, envision her every time she says I just threw up--yes she's said this a number of times, every time it's not real throw-up--with even more of a flair for the dramatic than myself, and I respond calmly, "oh so you spit up a little in the bathroom sink?" And she yells no! But absolutely all she did was gag a little over the sink, until here eyes watered and then reports to everyone within earshot that she just "threw up." She's fond of attention in case you didn't gather that. So anyway that's what I wanted to do about my finances. I felt like I was having heart palpitations, I started jotting myself notes that said, quit being a snob and just get a job somewhere, anywhere, everything will be all right, you're not selling your soul if you have to stock soup spoons and clean bathrooms again for minimun wage. And then I obsessively filled an entire page of my notebook with the words everything will be all right. Until I could feel a small semblance of sanity taking hold again. I grabbed at every piece of logic in my heavyily-emotion-driven brain and stacked them in a neat pile so I could cool my jets. I remembered reading something a few months back. I was visiting my sister in the yoop (upper peninsula of my great state of Michigan for those of you who unfortunately have not experienced this wild slendor) and I wanted to read every piece of Ernest Hemingway's wisdom that I could get ahold of. I love that man. And were he still alive I would more than likely have a restraining order. I kid. I am very stealthy, I so wouldn't get caught trying to invade his privacy. Again I kid. I am an upstanding young lady that may or may not ignore the rules of trespassing from time to time, but in no way have a problem with the law. Anyway. I happened upon this little pearl of wisdom from my man Ernest:

"Worry a little bit everyday and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry: Worry never fixes anything."

Oh brother, if the average person worries on an average level and still loses a couple years, I have probably already short-changed my life-span by at least a decade by now with my incessant and psychotic worrying. So as I sat worrying, jotting down notes to myself and generally not enjoying my lunch date with my boyfriend when I was previously throroughly enjoying his miffy mood and now I had to instead bask in my own (oh I do so enjoy when he gets a little cranky because it happens so rarely that I get a slight thrill when I am not the only one being a toot in the relationship--naturally) that I remebered Hemingway's words about doing what you can and then just letting it go.

So after lunch, I went to the bank, took care of the filthy business of my overdraft, then felt mountains of relief just from dealing with the problem at hand and so I began to cry. Again, dramatic, what? Ahem, yes.

Moral of the story: I am going to start channeling my inner Hemingway, because maybe it'll balance out the inner theatrics. Well one can hope. Here's to Project Hemingway! I will let you know how I fare.