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.

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.

Bev’s First New Rule of Travel

When in doubt, take your stuff with you.

I’m on the Maine coast for the weekend – gorgeous sun, beaches and rocky coastlines and seafood restaurants every block. I mostly came to see the Atlantic Ocean – having driven over from Oregon, I felt like I had to go All The Way, so I could legitimately say I’d driven all the way across the continent in my little red POS.*

Atlantic Coast, Maine Coast
Cool library!

I got a cheap room on Orbitz** that was close to the beaches and not far from Portland, ME. Also have to go to this Portland over here because, duh.

I’ve been at Laurie’s house for more than two weeks now, and I got all settled in and shit – took the tubs with extra clothes, snacks and whatnot into the house. I unloaded the bags I had full of ‘hotel room’ amenities like paper plates and extra cups so I could use those bags for other things.

I looked at all that stuff when I was packing to come here this weekend. Looked right at it, and then left it behind. And I’ve been mad at myself ever since.

List of things I left behind that I totally could have used in the last 24 hours:

beach towel
paper plates (purchased again)
crackers and cashews for snacks (purchased again)
actual shorts (rather than just capris)
laundry bag for dirty clothes
HDMI cable so I could watch something I *chose* instead of whatever was on TV

List of things I just got lucky were still in the car:

fork/spoon/knife set (you know those three little ones on a ring, that you have for camping? Yeah, those) to eat the ice cream I bought at the store and to stir my tea in the morning

beach chair (which did a pretty good job of replacing the towel I would have laid on at the beach)

Ogunquit beach, Atlantic Ocean, Maine Coast
Taken from my beach chair. These two girls were having a blast jumping over the waves, and the sailboat decided to make my photos even cooler.

It’s not even that I left anything important behind, or that my trip is ruined, or I spent a lot of money on things I didn’t need. It’s just SO annoying to know that the exact thing I wanted SHOULD have been in the car, and would have been if I’d been on the road rather than planted somewhere. These were the things I carefully curated before leaving Susan’s house, to maximize the useful things I’d have with me without carrying around a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t use.

I didn’t really pack a lot of extra stuff, so I should really have it all with me. Again, duh.

Now I have to figure out what I’m taking back to Portland, OR in a few weeks. The car-traveling-kit is too big, and a lot of it is pretty specific to traveling by car – but I don’t want to spend weeks pissed off that I left a stupid towel behind.

*And yes, I acknowledge that Portland is not on the coast, but I have indeed driven that car to the coast – more than once – so I’m totally counting it.

** I’ve used Orbitz a few times now & I’m liking it. They keep sending me discount codes, and I earn points with them pretty quickly that will get me a free hotel room soon. No, they are not paying me to say this. But I’m totally willing to accept any and all such endorsements, if anybody knows somebody there.

 

Where Did All That Time Go? On Being Busy But Not Accomplishing Much

Columbia Falls, Montana, Rocky Mountains
The view as I run errands and do not get my shit done
Keeping your own agenda while not keeping your own space is not an easy thing to do.

This month in Montana – while wonderful, and notable for the lack of morning alarms being set – is more a transition than the beginning of this thing I’m doing, whatever that is.

I had promised to do whatever I could to help take care of things for my mom (who moved to a new place the day I arrived) that would normally have fallen on Susan’s already quite full shoulders. So my days were filled with errands and cleaning and packing and organizing and stuff – but not my stuff, someone else’s stuff.

And staying in a household full of other people, and therefore other people’s agendas, exerts an influence, even when not intentionally exerted. Dishes are dirty, dinners need to be prepared, various chores completed and errands run. AS I’M TYPING THIS – I received a phone call to add one more (important, necessary) thing to my list of chores today. THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

I’ve been the only adult in my household for most of the last 16 years. All chores were my chores (or those having to do with the minor child in the house – so, mine), all my agenda, all my shit and no one else’s.

The only other agendas that got in the door were those I made a point of inviting. This is not always ideal, frankly, because I tend to isolate myself. But as far as ‘who’s shit am I working on today?,’ the answer was almost exclusively ‘MINE.’

I remember – long ago and far away – living in a house with five adults and one child (mine). Most of the other adults were either working or in school. As the only adult with free time during the day and a vehicle, it fell to me to do the chores and errands for ALL the adults in the house. It was easy to have an entire week go by where nothing of my own got accomplished other than my share of the household chores.

This is not by way of complaining that I was forced/expected to do these things – no, no, no.  This is me realizing that I will have to be more disciplined about creating my own agenda and making sure it gets on the list of things that need doing while staying with other people.

It’s really easy for me to go along with those around me who have a plan, especially a plan for the upkeep and maintenance of me and those around me. Of course I have to contribute to those things. And I volunteered to do all the things regarding Mom’s apartment. But if I don’t put my own stuff (organize things for road trip, confirm crash pads for road trip, write for blog, investigate writing for cash, etc.) on the list, then three weeks can go by while NONE of those things get accomplished.

Which is basically what just happened.

I will need to get better at this if I’m going to extend this current lifestyle beyond the money in my savings account.