It’s not a mess, it’s my work flow

I’m not a ‘do one thing until it is done, then do the next thing’ person. Mostly, I think, because there is rarely just ‘one’ thing to do. If you are cleaning your room, that involves doing laundry and re-shelving books and realizing that you need to buy new socks, plus wondering where your favorite pen has disappeared to and thinking it’s time for new pictures on the wall. Cooking dinner means washing dishes, noticing you are out of butter and thinking about what to have for lunch tomorrow.

I’m most happy when I am in the middle of at least three things. I think this is likely frustrating for my employers and other people in my life, who look at my half-finished piles of whatever and wonder when I’m ever going to finish anything.  The answer, of course, is usually that they’ll all be finished about the same time.

tea and a bookI remember moving out of my house a few years ago, and my then-boyfriend showed up to help me load the Uhaul. He was very much a one-thing-at-a-time dude, and therefore would get angry if you interrupted with a new wrinkle in the task he was performing. He saw each as a separate thing, to be addressed individually. The look on his face when he saw a dozen half-empty boxes and what appeared to be nothing ready to go was… well, not a compliment.  But he changed his tune a half hour later when suddenly (to him) almost everything was ready to go.

Similarly, an average non-travel day means I’m likely to be reading a book, writing in my journal or typing on my computer, interspersed with making tea, eating a meal and changing the music. I’m pretty good at cleaning up after myself, but not usually in a ‘drink last sip of tea, get out of chair and put mug in the dishwasher’ kind of way. The mug will likely sit on that end table until I finish the chapter I was reading. The journal might sit on the table while I go take a shower, then work on my computer. At the end of the day, the dishes will be in the kitchen and the various books and electronics will be back where they belong – but in the middle of the day, they are usually strewn everywhere.

Which is fine if you’re in your own house… but not so great if you’re staying with friends. I try to be a good houseguest, which means certainly cleaning up after myself, and well as chipping in where I can with chores and errands. No one likes coming home from work to see that their company (who slept in while they had to get up early, and hung out at home while they dealt with work BS) has left their shit all over your house. At least – this is how I imagine they would feel. I try not to let that happen.

All of this to say: I’m quite happy this morning/afternoon, as I settle in at my sister’s house, where most of the residents seem to have much the same pattern of work, and where they know I will clean up after myself.

Eventually.

Too Much Stuff

As a person who has recently whittled her stuff down to a bare minimum, and then made a smaller version of her stuff to travel with, it should come as no surprise that I am very careful about buying anything that might add to my pile. I’ve seen adorable ceramic turtles for the shelves I’ve gotten rid of and artwork for the walls I no longer possess. And it’s pretty easy to resist buying these sorts of things, regardless of how much I like them.

I have added three shirts and a swimsuit cover-up to my wardrobe since March, so I not exactly expanding my wardrobe, either. And all the books I’ve purchased lately have been e-books, so no mass gained there.

Turtle boots

But somehow, my stuff no longer fits in the bags that I brought it in. I was a week in Brookings, and couldn’t fit all my stuff in my suitcase – though I’m sure it was all in there when I came. Can 20 tea bags and sneakers rather than sandals really take up that much room? It would seem that the answer is Yes.

I have, of course, been buying food and sundries while traveling, which creates a similar problem. I’ve left a half-used bottle of mustard in virtually every refrigerator I’ve had access to in the last month. And I’ve abandoned avocados and sour cream in more than one kitchen where these items are not usually found. The choice always seems to come down to ‘buy too much and waste it’ or ‘don’t buy enough and be hungry/ hangry.’

Most of this problem will go away once I START TRAVELING WITH MY CAR AGAIN next week, but it appears to be yet another thing I didn’t realize would be a thing.

Accepting No Substitutes

Clifford Beach, CaliforniaI was in Seattle last week, and I took a ferry from there to Bremerton, about an hour’s boat ride across Elliott Bay.* From the boat, the water is surrounded on four sides by land, since Puget Sound is all twisty and you can’t see where the bay meets Admiralty Inlet, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and later the Pacific. It was great to be out on the water, and from some viewpoints, any land in view was a long way off.

Seattle, Washington, Puget Sound, Elliott BayThe views of downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainer were spectacular and I was sorry I’d left my good camera back in Portland. The gulls followed us, and fought the wind by being still in the air just a few feet over the deck. The public dock in Bremerton had nice benches where you could stare at the water to your heart’s content.

Chetco Point, Brookings, Oregon.
Sunset from Chetco Point, Brookings, Oregon.

But it was not the ocean. And it seems it really is the ocean I’m looking for, not just a big body of water. Because I didn’t get the same feeling I got in Lincoln City three weeks ago, or here in Brookings today.

Here is the land I’m standing on, there is the water, and then there is nothing. The waves are constant, ever-changing and never-ending. Maybe it’s hot, maybe it’s cold, maybe it’s windy, but the water goes on forever.

Seals in Lincoln City, Oregon
Okay, I realize this is also not the ocean, but SEALS. Seals are cool.

*the ferry is only $8 for passengers. EIGHT DOLLARS! For a two hour boat ride, and the ride back is free.

The Ocean is My Spirit Animal?

Oregon Coast, Brookings, Oregon, the ocean is my spirit animal
I took this photo 18 months ago, and it was my phone’s home screen until I got a new one. The ocean has been trying to tell me things for a long time

It’s been just over three months since I held a real job (Location Independence Day + 3 months = July 4th!), and I’m still floundering a bit. Partly because I had location-dependent commitments in May and June, mostly because this is all brand new territory for me. How to choose when the choices are seemingly infinite? [Here I should apologize and say thank you to my friends who’ve been listening to me whine about this issue lately. I promise I’m working on it].

Lots of things sound cool, lots of places look interesting, lots of friends have asked when I’m coming to see them (and again, thank you lovely people!). But nothing has said THIS, THIS YOU MUST DO! And frankly, I was expecting something like that. This whole idea was a bolt from the blue, I expected the same kind of pull towards something once I took the big leap.

Ogunquit Maine, Atlantic Ocean, the ocean is my spirit animal
Maine coast, with bonus sky.

But, nothing came. And the more people asked me questions like ‘what are you doing next?’ and ‘what is the most interesting/coolest/amazing thing you’ve seen so far?’ the more I realized I hadn’t really seen anything amazing yet, and I had no idea what I wanted to do.

You don’t get messages from your future when you’re whining, or when you are running around like a crazy person from one event to the next. You can only hear the quiet voice when you are quiet. It yells very rarely, and only when you’ve been listening to the quiet. Or something like that – my metaphor stopped working back there somewhere. What I’m trying to say is… the ocean.

Knik Arm, Mt. Susitna, Sleeping Lady, Alaska, the ocean is my spirit animal
A tiny piece of the view from my favorite bench in the world. Mt. Susitna/ Sleeping Lady trying to peak through the clouds, and the tide is way out.

The ocean has been calling me – quietly but consistently – for a long time. In Alaska, whenever I’d feel like I was in a weird head space and needed to figure something out, I’d go to Cook Inlet (15 minutes from anywhere in Anchorage) or Knik Arm (only a bit further). When I moved out of state, I asked Carl to go take pictures from my favorite spot, just south of Anchorage where you could see Knik Arm dump into Cook Inlet (and you can’t see the other side). My first road trip, to test out my little POS, was to the coast of Oregon.

More recently, the coast of Maine looked like heaven, and Lincoln City, Oregon was incredible – even with the cold and the wind.

I found a journal entry yesterday – from May 1 of this year – that said straight out that the only thing that called to me was to be at the ocean, alone. Apparently I wrote it and then immediately forgot it.

So, that’s it. That’s the next thing, I finally heard it. Now to figure out how to make it happen, at something less than $1000 a week.

Lincoln City Oregon, the ocean is my spirit animal
Lincoln City beach in the cold.

Travel Challenges: The Shower

shower ninjaIt never occurred to me that travelling domestically would involve so much mental energy given towards executing a proper shower.

I’ve showered in 12 different places since I ceased to have my own. Something like one-third of those twelve showers had the hot and cold tap labeled incorrectly. Some had no place to put a razor or bottle of shampoo where it would not immediately fall into the tub. Only one had radio as a permanent fixture. Blessedly, all had plenty of hot water.  You don’t think about how different showers can be from one another – even when they’re all in the same country, with the same level of access to things like water and technology and whatnot – until you have to figure out a new one (seemingly) every day.

How do you make the water come through the shower instead of the faucet below? Where can you put the clean towels so you can reach them without dripping all over the floor? Are there clean towels? Where do you put the towels once you’re done? Did you remember to put your shampoo/conditioner/razor/body wash in the shower before you got in?

I know, these are not difficult questions. But how often do you have to ask them, on a regular day? Never, that’s how many. You do have to remember to buy shampoo when you run out, but it has a place it belongs, and you probably stopped thinking about that place a long time ago.

In my world, showers happen in the morning. Morning is not the best time for Bev to come at a problem with all cylinders firing. I was shocked at how often I failed at showering by having to drip on the floor to retrieve some forgotten item, wasting five minutes waiting for the cold water tap to give me warm water, or being unable to determine where I should really be hanging those wet towels. And I was sure I’d mastered showering before graduating high school.

Turns out showering is not the only thing I struggled with. Did you know that not every town in America has a Fred Meyer and carries my favorite breakfast foods? Or that hair salons do not all like people to just walk in and ask for a hair cut for less than $20? Also, toll roads: Can we all decide on one way for them to work and stick with it? And why can’t I buy an EZPass somewhere on those many toll roads that wants me to use one so badly? Seriously.

I knew that quitting my job and running away would present me with new and interesting experiences.  I just didn’t realize they would show up in the form of failed hygiene rituals and a burning desire to return to my neighborhood grocery store. Life is some crazy shit.

I can’t believe I only have one photo from a bathroom in the last few months – I’m always taking pictures of weird bathrooms! All I’ve got is a photo from Reed’s birthday weekend, during which we rented a house where ninjas were lurking everywhere, even in the shower.