Posts Tagged ‘love’

I decided to go back to Cape Town for a boy. This is something I haven’t done since… uh…. Highschool? I guess you could say that the week-long romance (and communication afterwards during my overland trip) was good enough I wanted to see where this would go. So when I arrived in Vic-Falls I booked my flight with frequent fliers using united.com’s (star alliance) website. I checked several options- and finally decided on the most complicated (and least expensive) option of going from:

Kilimanjaro – Addis Ababa – Nairobi – Johannesburg – Cape Town. 4 flights, 2 carriers, 1 alliance, 56 hours of airport time. Total cost to me: 52$. If nothing else, I would get a lot of reading/work done.

I got a ride to the airport from a great friend (Praise Nygene– who I also booked my Kili trip with) along with another American girl who was flying to Rwanda. She checked in and left with no problems.

I get to the counter, after standing in line for 55 min, to find out that my ticket has been “flagged” and I needed “to go to the office”.

I felt like a school kid who was in trouble…

I went to the office and was told that I would be rerouted straight to Nairobi. Great!

6 hours later, I get my new itinerary (I hope it works out!!!) and I’m sitting down at dinner in a really posh lodge that the airline put me up in “for my inconvenience”.

I need to explain something:

I have been camping for the past 52 days. I have been in every climate in all of the southern African horn: desert, rain forest, high altitude, volcanos, snow, sleet, rain. Having people snore next to/below you. Sharing tents with people who talk/moan in their sleep. Having to get up at crazy hours for heaps of reasons (taking care of drunk people, domestic abuse, hippos eating outside your tent, climbing a dormant volcano….)

This was the first night, in 52 days, that I got to:

1) Sleep in my OWN ROOM
2) with clean sheets!
3) NAKED! (if I wanted)
4) while drinking the free bottled-water!
5) jumping on the bed
6) with a mosquito net!
7) WITH MY OWN BATHROOM! ATTACHED! TO THE ROOM! I didn’t have to get dressed/shoed to pee in the middle of the night!

Oh… glorious!

I also got free dinner (and dessert! and breakfast!) which was a huge spread and I stuffed myself silly.

Tangent: there have been several times when re-booking was a great idea… Like the time when I was re-routed to Denver and missed my flight. That night I decided “either I’m going to get a hotel or watch the opening of Batman. Luckily, I got a hotel room- as the closest theater to the airport was in Aurora.

Moving on.

I got into Nairobi. It’s kinda like a shitty little airport- Strike that. Not kinda. It is a shitty little airport. The hallways are way too small and loud people with roller bags stand in the middle of the 2-butt isle screaming on their cell phones.

I search for a lounge. There is none.
I search for comfortable chairs. There are none.
There is nothing that isn’t metal or tile in this entire airport. (Believe me- I had 13 hours to kill… I searched!)

This all surprised me because it’s supposed to be “the airport hub of Africa”- and yet… It’s so unfriendly towards passengers. I mean, when you have a options to fly through certain cities, why would you ever choose to fly through Nairobi? I couldn’t find a single one.

I eventually settled for an over-priced cafe that has ugly orange plastic-coated booths and electric plugs and I plopped myself down for the long-haul.

The waitress startles me when I’m informed that they are closing. Good! 2 hours left in this gawd-forsaken place. I pay, get up and go towards the shitty tiled terminal to wait -in my sleeping bag, on the tile floor- for my flight to begin boarding.

I get on the plane. It’s empty. I would have gotten a row to myself except a Kenyan decided to sit in the middle seat and hovered over me while I fill out my Ebola health form.

I tell him I’m switching seats and get up and move behind him- only to be woken up by the flight attendants who wanted to give me breakfast. At 3am…..

“It’s ok,” I breathe. “I’ll be there soon.”

By this point, my cheerfulness was waning from the long hours of doing nothing. I was exhausted, circling around angry/pissed off- but I needed to look refreshed and flirty for the customs guy at Jo’berg.

You see, South Africa has this weird law about Visas. They give you a 90-day visa with an option to extend (but that takes weeks). Normally, (free) visas are “refreshed” every time you cross a boarder, but SA has had problems with “boarder-hoppers”- so they changed the law, but didn’t really post it anywhere. When I emailed the embassy and explained my whole situation, their (oh-so-not-helpful) reply was simply: “it varies from custom official to custom official. Good luck!”

….. heh.

So, basically, I had to show off my persuasion skills (which is really difficult since I’ve been traveling for 54 hours, in shitty airports, all my clothes are dirty, I don’t own any mascara, AND my next flight leaves in 20minutes). I approached the customs window and gave a huge smile. I told the guy that my future relationship depended on him. He asked me to explain and so I told him the whole story… How I met a boy, we want to continue our relationship, I left on an overland tour, I just summited Kilimanjaro, and now “I’m coming back to see him… Please! If you believe in love, you will give me a new visa.”

He told me “Sorry. You need to go back to your home country. To America.”

“But I don’t get stamps from America. How will you know if I’ve been back there or not?”

“Well, you just told me you came from Nairobi from an overland tour.”

“So, you’re penalizing me for telling you the truth?”

(back and forth for about 10 minutes… My flight is boarding now…. Finally…..)

“… I can see how that is frustrating. Ok. This once. In the name of love, I will give you your visa. But if you plan on staying, please allow 1 month to extend your visa!”

Breathless, I ran (until I was really/for realz breathless) to my gate and was the last one on board.

I arrived in Cape Town, bought airtime, called my boy, squee’d a little, rode the bus back home– where the boy and I had a week and a half of romance-followed by a week of frustration from jobs and lack of money and other things, followed by an epic breakup on Halloween.

………Oh well. It was an educational experience, at least.

———

Are you an editor? I’m trying to put together a book of short-stories. (basically, more of these blog posts.) They’re funny! They’re moving! They’re 90% true. If you’re interested in being an editor (cutting out the crap, challenging me on stuff that doesn’t make sense, etc) and have time/interest, let me know!

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I love you, man!

Posted: October 26, 2014 in ADVENTURE STORIES!, Hope, TRAVEL
Tags:

I’m recently met a German girl named Chris who overheard me praising our cook:

“I loooooove collard-greens, Peter! Thank you!”

She called me out:

“You’re one of those typical Americans who loves everything, aren’t you?”

I was taken aback.

“Hell no!” I exclaimed and recounted my life in relation to that dreaded 4-letter word.

While I loved inanimate/non human objects and verbs (working out, my car, steak-cooked blue, my cat) I very rarely tell another human being that I loved them.

I told her the story of my current boss/business partner, Misti, who spent MONTHS showing her appreciation of me and  breathing life into my mentally crippled post-travel brain. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of phone calls and emails of asking me questions, sharing web links and YouTube videos, asking for my opinions on things. It took even longer for me to realize that she genuinely cared about me. I wasn’t just a grunt doing work for her.

Confession: It took me even MORE time to admit to myself that she actually cared about my happiness and success.

(I’m slow sometimes.)

I’ve had good bosses in the past- but no one who has taken this type of time to dig past all the bitter-jadedness and hate that walking-into-a-Walmart-after-traveling will do to you.

She opened me up. She has taught me more (by sharing her own thoughts, books, ted talks, introductions, etc) about myself and how to perceive the world in a shiny and positive new way. She engaged me, empowered me to do what *I LOVE* doing- and we found out how to work (well) together.

Now- she had been telling me that she loved me since we started working together, but I never took the leap. She would constantly call me out on it and say something like “you’re not afraid of jumping off a bridge with a rubber band attached to you, but you’re afraid of talking about your feelings?”

Yes.

“You’re not afraid of traveling to weird foreign countries by yourself, getting (poorly) kidnapped, admitting failed business ideas…. But you can’t talk about your emotions?”

Correct.

Then I realized how silly that was.

So- After 8 months of working together, I told her the 3 silly words that terrified me more than Ebola-ridden snakes painted to look like clowns:

“I love you”.

Instantly my chest froze. How vulnerable! How naked! How raw! I loved a person for taking an interest in me. But she was my business partner! She had all the power! She could cripple me at any minute!

I spent the rest of the day doing the normal thing: hiding under my covers with my cat (who has never said she loves me!) and watched The Departed. (The most anti-love story I could think of…)

I flashed back to the present where Chris was listening in disbelief. “You love your boss?!?”

I was ready for her to say something like “crazy Yankee”- but she didn’t.

Instead she said, “I love it.”

“Huh?”

“My family loves me, sure, but we never say it. I know it- by their actions, but we never say it. This is common in Germany. But when I lived in America as an au pair, I stayed with a family who took me in and instantly loved me. They told me everyday that they loved me. It was an exceptional feeling! It was freeing! And made me instantly close to them. I love them, too- and I tell them that. They are my second family.

“That whole experience made me understand how to express my feelings and it’s impact on others.”

Spoiler: Misti didn’t abuse the “new power” I gave her that I was so worried about. Nothing bad happened- only good. More trust, more responsibility, more understanding, more smiles, more feedback that makes me a gooder person, and (my favorite part): more laughter!

So what am I so afraid of?

I should take the leap more often.

Ah, Cape Town.

I feel like I have lived, died, got reborn, and lived again here. Between love and fear, the past 2 weeks have been a roller-coaster of emotions.

Love: 

I adore this city. It reminds me of San Francisco, Baltimore and Melbourne all mixed into 1. Sometimes I’ll turn a corner and something will be there that will remind of something else. Either which way, Cape Town reminds me of some cool places.

There is a cat in the Hostel named Kai. He’s ginger, just like the Whore. He’s stupidly needy and cuddly and I will constantly find him in my backpack, bed, etc sleeping. He makes me happy.

The community and dancing and singing that goes on in this city is just miraculous.

The interest in where I’m from, what I think of Cape Town, the city itself is astounding! Never have I been in a place and able to communicate so clearly what I think, feel and how I act and feel like I’m understood. I’m also having fun learning Afrikaans (I made sure to learn all the cuss words first).

I’ve met some friends (mostly South African), and have spent a great deal of time with them. Cooking, talking, sharing, exploring the city, sharing languages. Hearing their stories. Their fables. Their good and bad times.

I am constantly reminded that THIS is the reason why I travel. 

Of course, with it comes the flip-side of the coin. The fear. 

I was mugged a few days ago. And while this wasn’t my first rodeo- this WAS the first time I fought back/ran after the guy and got everything back. (phew). But the damage to my ego and trusting myself was done and I had to get over that.

So I forced myself to take short walks when the sun was out. During these walks, I had day-mares of what I SHOULD have done. How I should have attacked him/countered the attack. These day-mares would be so graphic, I would have to duck into a coffee-shop and take a breather. These visions have subsided, thankfully, because I learned to re-trust myself and my instincts and be more aware of how I look. (Which- is still white, curly-haired, girl…. but I can’t help those things.) I smile broadly, say “hello!” and wave and strike up more random conversations with people.

The other thing I’m scared of is Ebola- which, to be honest, is a RATIONAL fear! It’s a virus. A really bad and deadly one. Let me educate you on what I know about Ebola:

1) It’s super contagious (through blood/blood spray)…. or monkey meat, apparently.

2) Eventually, your body, essentially, dies and you just become this shell of a person. (read: Zombie). Your skin is ashen, your stupid sick and your body is oozing blood (because the virus needs to take over something else…. fast!)

3) The biggest Ebola outbreak has killed 1300+ people in 2014. It used to be 100% fatal, but in the recent weeks there are some cures that seem to (HOPEFULL!) work!

For the 10 nights straight I had dreams of Ebola. Someone in the backpackers vomiting all night and I go in to ask how they are doing and there is blood every where and they are ashen/zombie-like. I take a picture of them (with the phone that the mugger did NOT get!) and shut the door immediately and tape it with duct tape- careful to not cut myself or expose myself in the process. I text the picture to the health officials and tell the hostel owner that he needs to evacuate everyone immediately. I get all the HEFTY plastic bags out of my suitcase and wrap myself in plastic and don all 4-pairs of rubber gloves and condoms that I can find and tape everything down with plastic-tape. I go towards the door and interview the guy on tape: “How long have you been sick? Where did you come from? What made you sick? Where all are you bleeding?” etc.

I send this information to the health officials, as well and wait for the Hazmat suits to get here.

I wake up in a cold sweat. it’s 4am. I use the internet (because that’s peak times to use the internet!) I try to go back to bed, it doesn’t work. I go for a run and watch the sunrise over the cape and the tide swells and my breath gets taken away again by the beauty of this city that I forget everything all over again. My heart feels light, my head is clear. The sweat from my run gets taken away by the tornado-like-gusts of wind that Cape Town gets, I get goosebumps. Every bump is a memory of good, bad, indifferent… A story.

Ek Glimlag.

 

This is why I travel.

Amy Purdy was a teenage snowboarder. When she was a teenager, she heard about a boy who lost his legs in a freak accident and confessed (on a Ted Radio Hour) having the thought that if the same thing happened to her, she would wheel herself over a cliff to end her life. 2 years after hearing this story (about the boy) she ended up getting bacterial meningitis (suddenly) and losing both her legs below the knee, her spleen, both kidneys and her hearing in the left ear. She considered herself lucky because it could have been both hands and her nose, too.

In less than a year, she got a kidney from her dad and partnered with a prosthetic maker to create legs for her. She went back on her snowboard and ended up being a 2-world cup winner in the Paralympics. (She has also been a finalist on “Dancing With the Stars”– which I really love).

The thought process and determination to get back on the board and snow is probably one of the most attractive traits to me in human beings. Someone who is faced with an absolutely impossible situation and (somehow) manages to pull through.

I’m not talking about the “stuck on 95 during rush-hour and you have to ‘somehow’ get home in time to let the dog who has a bladder problem out before she pees all over your floor” impossible situation. (It should be noted, however, that this *IS* impossible) But more along the lines of “You’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you decide that through chemo, you’re going to have the best year of sales of your life” type.

The latter happened to a friend of mine, who I’ve met in Africa. She said that even though it was difficult, she knew that she was going to beat it. “It was harder for my family because they were scared. but I threw myself into my business- not in to the sickness- because that wasn’t worth spending time thinking about. It was just trying to hold me back- my business was exciting!”

She ended up growing her business 20-fold that year alone. She’s one of the best and most humorous people I’ve ever met.

 

On the other hand, some people just get the “deer in headlight” moment and stay there. They freeze and can’t get past the crumbling problem. They spend so much time wallowing in the problem that they forget that they, alone, have the power to FIX (or get over/around/whatever) the problem. We’ve all been there!

I once knew a guy who was a registered sex offender. Long-story short- he was getting to 2nd base, in public, with a girl who had an abusive boyfriend. (News to him). The bully’s best friend walks by- calls out to them, she then files a sex-offender case against the guy because otherwise the bully would beat her up. That was 6 years ago and the guy is still crippled by this problem. Instead of taking life by the horns and figuring it out- he’s sitting there like a deer in headlights.

 

Which gets me to my real story:

We’re in Africa. We are staying “in the bush” where we hear lions and jackals and elephants (oh my!) at night. When walking from the main lodge (food) to our tents, we need to be escorted by a staff member (local). “Why?” You ask– I’ll tell you! Because a lion could be there! And what do you do when you are face-to-face with a lion? You stare at it… straight into the eyes- and you back away slowly. Eventually someone will lose interest and you both will continue on with your lives.

Even though this safety talk has been explained numerous times, they still have the gringos walk with locals because the locals know what to do. They don’t rely on their gut. (Gringo’s guts would say do one of the following:

1) Run away (what you do with bullies)

2) get big and loud (what you do for black bears)

3) play dead (what you do for crocs, bulls, elephants, rhinos, grizzly bears, etc.)

4) punch it in the nose once it gets close enough (sharks)

All of these would get you killed by a lion, btw.

 

But my point is that even though we are told to do one thing, when faced with a huge crippling problem, we don’t know what we would do. The best (and most attractive) people, in my opinion, are the ones who get over the problem/obstacle the quickest – without getting swallowed up… By life or lions.

 

Thanks for letting me share.

Fighting

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Hope, Ramblings
Tags: , , , ,

Since coming back to The States, I’ve been hiding out. Purposely avoiding a lot of people and crowds of people because I just don’t feel comfortable- which is weird, because if it were Chatuchak Market in Bangkok or Carnaval in Baranquilla it would be fine– but it’s different here somehow. I get overwhelmed like it’s Walmart on Black-Friday.

I moved to Austin to avoid the arctic vortex that was hitting the east coast/north and came to live with my soul-roommate, Cristi. She works at GrassRoots Leadership and was in a protest against immigration on the Monday after the Superb-Owl. I drove her and participated and took/posted pictures, as our society dictates. (Social Media!!!)

After posting said pictures, a few friends from Philippines and Thailand messaged me on Facebook. “What are you doing?”

“Why are you in jail?”

I tried to explain- but I came up not really knowing what to say…. Why *was* I doing this? It just seemed like something to do. We have to fight, right? It’s what we do as Americans.

The last part is what I wrote back- knowing how my friends wouldn’t understand at all. Especially my Thai friend who just protested against her government in the Bangkok Riots. 

I remember the times before I left. I remember working super long hours and arguing with bosses over aspects of my job- feeling like all just fight a little harder to get my point heard. “No! Honest! This is the way this sound should be. It’s better this way! I’ll stay up all night to prove you wrong!”

I remember my past relationships and how we used to fight- and “if I just made one more heart-shaped pancake, he would love me more!”

I remember thinking “well, I didn’t fight hard enough- that’s why it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”

I remember believing that all these negative thoughts occupied my heart and mind while the good would come and go all too quickly. Sometimes so much that I believed I had no good in my life at all.

As much as I appreciate our country’s passion and drive to fight for what we believe, is it really necessary? I guess it is if you want to get any sort of news coverage. Love and acts of it doesn’t get any airtime- unless you’re a Coke commercial.

All of this is inspired by this blog post. I feel like my trip made me change in drastic ways- which was the point. I’m not the same Hobbit. But to feel so uncomfortable in my own country? To feel like I don’t belong? To not understand AT ALL what is happening on twitter or facebook? This was more than I planned for.

Do you think America will eventually stop fighting? Or is it just so engrained in our culture that it’s pointless– or, even worse, do people even want to stop?

I joined Crossfit Fuse back in November, 2011– right when they first opened. I was a member there for 6+ months and they quickly became my family. (not even my 2nd family… my real family.)

It was the place that I went to hang out after I had a bad day at work. It was a place where “challenges” from the other members were hurled at me and bets were made. It was a place where I became the fittest I’ve ever been in my entire life and I was HAPPY (despite all the shitty seattle weather that ALWAYS hits me– no matter what I do). Apparently, “Doing crossfit at Fuse” was the key that I was missing.

Because this box is near and dear to my heart, this whole thing will be biased– however, I’ll try to be as accurate as possible.

1) The box is HUGE. It’s a little difficult to find (near Marymoor park– check their website for directions) but once you turn the corner, you’ll see a huge tire that says “FUSE” on it- and you’ll know you’re in the right place. You’ll probably also see some poor schmucks (read: you later) running with med-balls in the parking lot.

2) Troy is an amazing coach who is always up for trying new things and making his athletes the best at whatever they want to be good at. He’s been training/coaching for YEARS… possibly DECADES and his advice varies from “here’s how to do it” to “just try this… get good at this.” He also has a plethora of friends from other boxes that randomly come in to train/throw down with us which is also helpful and awesome.

3) There is a huge projector hooked up so we watched the games while doing a WOD. I fondly remember (the worst WOD ever) was something like “Helen”– then followed by a “cool down” of “row 2K, do burpees every 90 seconds”. (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) Some of the wods left me wanting to kill Troy– if only I had the energy to crawl over there to do it. Most of the time, I just gathered up my stuff and came back the next day to get my ass handed to me again.

4) There is a PR/Brag board and a “monthly challenge” board. The monthly challenge is something like “do 500 burpees” or “do 1000 double-unders”. You could do them all in 1 day, or you could break it up– but either which way, it was something that was supposed to get you better at a specific skill (or made you hate it less). It was extra credit and, of course, it was all made public- so you were always mentally challenging yourself to be better than Bob or Joe or whoever.

5) Fuse also really loves their facebook account, which I’ve been following even though I no longer live in Seattle. They post the board (after a WOD) with a few shout-outs to the best performers of the day. They will occasionally throw up some helpful tips/great reading material or specials that are going on. Again, this may be my bias-ness, but out of all the Facebook Crossfit posts that I see, Fuse is my favorite.

My favorite wod was the 12-days of Christmas wod– where you did:

1 broad jump
2 burpees
3 10lb slam balls
4 pushups
5 pullups
6 lunge-w-twist
7 dips
8 everett mountain climbers
9 situps
10 kb swings (35lbs for women)
11 goblet squats (35lbs for women)
12(00) meter row.

I miss and love these guys and I highly recommend them to anyone who is going to be visiting the Seattle Area.

Herbie Hancock

Posted: January 26, 2013 in ADVENTURE STORIES!, Hope, Ramblings, TRAVEL
Tags: , ,

Last night I saw Herbie Hancock perform. It was actually kind of amazing. I should note that I felt pretty amazing before the concert even began. I was freshly showered, dolled up and slightly tipsy from the rum and cokes that we were drinking before hand. Then we walk into the convention center, sat down in our seats and I allowed myself to be overtaken.

 

Usually when I hear jazz, my evil school background comes back and I start analyzing everything. “Oh, that’s a dim9 chord—and yes, he just resolved it but then he turned it around and is transitioning into a Dmajor key—but only for a second because he just played a ii…..” etc. Annoying, right? Yea- for me, too. But not this time! I was bound and determined to not let my stupid schooling get in the way, so I let my old career do it instead. So, while listening to Herbie free-style on the piano I tried to imagine what movie he was scoring.

 

It seemed to be following my life.

 

Quitting/”retiring” from my old job in software. The anxiety that I felt leaving that old life behind. Knowing that I won’t come back “the same hobbit, if at all” was all perfectly matched with each passing-tone in the right hand.

 

The random melody going in and out of emotion perfectly matched my travel adventures… Sometimes, admittedly, drawn out and seemingly never ending—other times fast and quick, mimicking how I feel when someone speaks Spanish to me. Wanting so desperately for them to slow down (just a smidge!) so I can catch up, breath, understand the cascading melodies.

 

He flowed in between pieces- taking only a moment for a brief applause- a quick inhale- before diving back into the story of my life. (Because, honestly, this whole thing is about me and MY life. Duh.)

 

The last piece was about love. Finding it, falling in it, growing and experiencing it. There were two people having their first kiss, holding hands, not knowing how they felt for each other because of that terrible awkwardness of “does he like me?” mixed with the “do I actually like HIM? Or just this feeling?” The dynamics of his hands expressing the uncertainity, assurance, truths and mistakes and…. loss- or doubt. One of the two. Either which way, the pain, the questioning. The longing for ANY ANSWER AT ALL. All the notes are wrapping together and the turmoil of the left hand not fully syncing with the right until, finally. The resolution.

 

The answer. A short pause before striking a quarter-note Cmaj7 chord.

 

That’s it. That’s the answer. That’s the end. Simple, elegant. A perfect reminder that relationships are about the chaos, the journey, not the end.  That we should enjoy what we have because (as cliché as this sounds), the end will be quick and will come up faster than you think.