In the summer of 2020, I had an abortion.

In the summer of 2020, I had an abortion.

I was in a long term, committed relationship that ended badly.  Naturally the break up was complicated.  It took nearly 6 months to finally end in mid 2021, but let me get back to the topic.

In 2020, we were madly in love.  We had been dating for a year and a half.  We had a rhythm and a routine.  We dreamt together about many things, including starting a family.  Mostly, he was on board, but being more than 15 years my senior, he had doubts about his age.  Still though, he would bring up the idea of having children with me.  He told me how great a mother I would be.  I told him I’d never wanted to have kids, but that with him, I could imagine how wonderful it could be to start a family.

I know the exact night that he impregnated me.  I cooked up portobello mushrooms and veggies on the grill, packed up my camper van, and met him after work.  I was feeling sexy and confident and excited to see him, so I wore a floral sleeveless dress and brown booties.  I did my hair and put makeup on.  When he saw me, his face lit up.  He showered me with compliments.  We had a photo session together, a series of photos of us kissing and smiling into the camera, embracing each other with passion and joy.  We made love.

I have not been on birth control since I was 18 years old.  For a year or so in high school, I took the pill, but when I got to college I chose not to renew my prescription.  This was predominantly because it made me depressed.  I have struggled with depression most of my life, but with exercise, diet, and lifestyle choices, I had managed it with little interference in my daily life.  On the pill, I spent days in bed, had little motivation to be social, and experienced a general and broad sort of listlessness that had never happened before.  It also completely killed my sex drive.  Not only was I uninterested in human interaction, I was also uninterested in human touch or intimacy.  The rare times that I would become sexually aroused, my body would not respond appropriately to the arousal.  I was without natural lubrication of any sorts, which anyone who’s had sex (or a massage for that matter) can tell you is uncomfortable in the least.  More than once, I considered having the copper IUD implanted, but after hearing that it increases menstrual cramps (mine are bad enough to leave me bedridden some days) and about the horror stories of them breaking off inside people, I decided against it.

With my ex, I kept track of my biological menstrual clock.  I counted days from the start of my period to the expected time of ovulation.  I would tell him when we needed to be careful and he would oblige.  We left a few days on either side to be extra careful as well.

The night I got pregnant was days earlier than I had expected to be ovulating, but when the morning sickness came and the piss-on-a-stick pregnancy test came up positive, I suspected it was that day.  An appointment to Planned Parenthood a week or so later confirmed the pregnancy at five weeks.  I counted back in my calendar.  It had to be that night.

When I told my ex I was pregnant, both our first reactions were joyous.  Truly, it felt like a miracle.  I had never known that my body could do it.  I had my doubts through my 20s about whether or not it could happen.  (For the astro nerds out there, I have Mars in my 5th house in a day chart, which I thought could indicate to an inability to conceive).  After the initial shock of finding out, it was time for a difficult conversation.

I knew in the back of my head that in the circumstance of absolute necessity, I would terminate a pregnancy.  It became clear, in conversations with my ex, that he wasn’t ready to take the next steps to start a family together.  He wasn’t ready to live together.  He wasn’t ready to be honest with his family about his relationship with me.  I never wanted to be a single parent.  I am a child of divorce, and I’ve always said that if I raise one myself that it will be with a lifelong committed partner.  My ex’s refusal to be that person to me and to our unborn child made the decision clear to me.

At five weeks, the zygote (that is the technical term for a fertilized egg implanted in the uterine wall) is only half a centimeter in diameter.  For reference, that is half the size of a staple.  It is one fifth the length of the top knuckle of your thumb.  It is about the length of a short grain of rice.  It is not an embryo until week six and not yet a fetus until week ten.

Planned Parenthood made my abortion as easy as they could.  They performed an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy.  They asked if I wanted to see it with the cold metal probe inside my vagina.  They moved the head of the probe around, my feet up in stirrups, until they found the spot where it was implanted.  My curiosity won out and I looked at a tiny spot on the gray ultrasound screen.  

Because of the circumstances, for having no committed support in raising it, I felt sound in my decision, albeit sorrowful for the missed opportunity.  I paid $540 out of pocket for the abortion pills. My private, company-sponsored health insurance didn’t cover abortions.  I was consulted about other options.  A nurse outlined the risks to having a medication abortion.  I was again asked my consent by the doctor who gave me the mifepristone, which blocked my body’s natural pregnancy hormone, progesterone.  It made my uterus inhabitable for the zygote.  She sent me home with a second pill, mifepristone, to take within 48 hours, when I was ready to induce cramping and eviscerate my uterus.

I didn’t tell a single person, besides my ex, when I did it.  I didn’t tell my mom.  I didn’t tell my best friend.  I didn’t tell any of my roommates.  For some reason, I felt it was something that should stay with me.  Maybe I felt shame.  Maybe I felt that I would need to explain myself to someone.  Maybe I didn’t have the energy to tell anyone, so deep in the process itself.  I do know that the decision was not taken lightly.  I know that it became a wedge in my romantic relationship.  And I also know I did the right thing.

It was the worst pain I’ve experience in my entire life.  For six hours, I ran in and out of the bathroom, intense contractions of my uterus pushing out blood and curling my stomach.  I vomited up everything I’d eaten for the day first, and bile over and over again once my stomach was empty.  It was a gross scene, switching back and forth between my ass on the toilet and my face heaving into it.  I broke into cold sweats intermittently for hours, bundling myself under layers of blankets between sessions in the bathroom.  It was early morning before the drugs wore off and I passed out in exhaustion, curled in sweat soaked sheets.

Nearly two years later, I could not imagine having completed that pregnancy.  I am grateful every day that I had access and resources to terminate it.  I feel sorrow and rage for all the people who are now being denied the right to make a choice that directly affects their bodies and their wellbeing, about a choice that affects what could be a future life, about a choice that affects whole communities, about a choice that affects our entire society.

My life would look radically different had I not had the choice to terminate my pregnancy.  I would still be entangled in a toxic relationship, forever tied to the man who didn’t chose me or the possibility of a child between us.  I would likely be financially dependent of the state or on my family to raise a child alone.  If I wasn’t getting assistance, I’d be struggling to make ends meet.  It is not to say that single parents can’t do it or not that they don’t do it well, but that wasn’t my desire.  It wasn’t my choice.  I have not even begun to touch the months being pregnant, but from the intense morning sickness I had the week before termination, I can only imagine the struggles would have intensified.  

Pregnant people everywhere should have the right to make the decision to keep or to terminate their pregnancy, regardless of the circumstances.  Because the pregnant person is alive, because they are in a body that is capable of creating new life, they should have the right to decide if, when, and how they will bring new life into this world.  

Fuck the conservative appointed members of SCOTUS who have chosen their own ideologies over the humans right of people in the United States.  This will not be the end of the battle for abortion rights.

A Scottish Jaunt in 6 days

On Sunday, Al & I took to the left side of the road for a tour around Scotland. With a limited amount of time, the outer Hebrides and Orkney Islands were out of reach, but our explorations far exceeded our expectations. Scotland is gorgeous. Whether it be the view from vistas above lakes at Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, the misty ancient mountains in Glencoe, or the ever changing, ever lush forest we continuously stumbled into, we spent very little time out of awe with wild Scotland. You’ll find a recap of our route and explorations below alongside a few highlight photos. Our route proved outstanding and is highly recommended to anyone looking for a week long driving tour of Scotland!

Day 1 – We left Durham early in the morning and headed north for a walk around Melrose Abbey, which dates back to the 13th century in it’s original structure. The more recent structure was rebuilt after destruction from English invaders but still boasts a 600 year history. From there, we took a walk through Cottage Garden, a permaculture site, and the oldest food forest in the UK.

Melrose Abbey

In the afternoon, we crept through Edinburgh traffic and into Loch Lomond from the east for a hike up Ben A’an. The 1200 foot ascent challenged our legs, but the view from the top proved well worth the effort. We peered down in awe at two sprawling lakes and took our time hiking down, identifying trees, & stopping on a set of boulders for an afternoon snack. Rain started in only for the last bit of our hike down, for which we were very grateful. Down in the parking lot, we fired up the butane stove & made spicy ramen for dinner before finding our camp spot for the night.

Day 2 – From Callander, we headed north towards Glencoe, not knowing what we’d find. A roadside sign welcomed us to the Highlands and within miles the landscapes transformed dramatically. The rolling hills of sheep disappeared and in their place, misty mountain tops rose high above us. The road narrowed and we twisted through a damp, brown & emerald landscape. “You’re gonna need to take a video of this,” Al instructed me from the driver’s seat. Tour buses became ever present, as did hikers and backpackers on parking pull offs. We found our way into one, to take in the looming mountains in a slower way on foot.

In the visitor center, we regained our bearings, both reveling in the spectacular landscape around us. Al compared it to Iceland, and I agreed with her. These mountains are ancient, more than 400 million years old, & teeming with waterfalls running down steep mountain sides. We doubled back to where we’d already driven, squeezed into a parking area amongst numerous touring vehicles & buses, & hiked up to The Lost Valley. There in 1962, one of Scotland greatest national tragedies occurred, when the Jacobite king ordered the slaughter of the MacDonald clan after his men had been hosted for 12 days. The clan leader was late in pledging his allegiance to the king, and for it many of his clan was wrongfully killed by the king’s soldiers. Others escaped into the mountains where many died in harsh winter conditions. From the bowl of The Lost Valley, I proclaimed, “Long live the MacDonalds!”

Day 3 – From a campsite atop the central mountains of the Isle of Skye, we finally laid down near midnight. The night before we recognized how late the sun was setting. After 10 pm, golden hour was just beginning. Night didn’t fall until midnight, and dawn broke just after 4 am. We had trouble sleeping, but it made for long days exploring. We failed to find Talisker waterfall, for signs deterring us trespassing on private lands. In a parking pull of above a valley of sheep, we shared a mug of Shiraz. The next morning, we took a driving tour around the Isle of Skye, following the road around the Trotternish peninsula & marveling at the deep blue color of the Atlantic ocean so far north. The island mountains of Skye looked like smaller cousins to Glencoe, falling sharply to the sea at their borders.

We found a parking area near Duntulm castle full of tourists exploring the ruins that gave us access to the ocean. Barnacles deterred us from putting our feet in, but we sat & listened to the waves crash, peeking in tide pools full of anemone, limpets, and snails. After 2 days of difficult hikes our legs were tired on our way back to Vana Black, our trusty carriage, up the beach through a meadow and a flock of sheep.

In Glenbrittle, we stretched our legs along an easy hike to the Fairy Pools, highly visited and easily accessible. We climbed down into an empty pool and stripped off our shoes for a soak in the chilling water next to one of many waterfalls. The cacophony of falling water soothed me as Al stared at a mountain upside down. I crossed my legs and meditated to the waterfall and the Mordor like mountain that rose above it. A trek back inland & a drive-by of the Boleskine house for a late evening activity lead us to our campsite for the night, in the valley above Fort Augustus.

Day 4 – We hadn’t planned to explore Fort Augustus but it was a fascinating side adventure! We stopped in for coffee beside a portion of the the Caledonian Canal, built at the turn of the 19th century to connect Inverness in the northeast to Fort William in the southwest. A series of 29 locks linked together 3 lakes & were meant to tamp the risk of ships moving around the tumultuous waters north around Scotland. Unfortunately by the time of its completion in 1822, steam ships had been innovated and were not as vulnerable to the rough northern waters. The Caledonian Canal, pioneered by visionary engineer Thomas Telford, revolutionized labor & engineering in Scotland, & today functions as a recreational & commercial waterway. We stayed around town watching half a dozen small ships be moved up the locks into Loch Ness, & then a charter ship, the Fingal of Caledonia, with a few small boats be transported down. Al & I shared nerd joy about the canals construction & function!

In the afternoon, we arrived in Inverness & checked into the Black Isle Hostel, where we had much needed showers & found a laundromat. An afternoon of regrouping was much needed after 4 days on the road, but by nightfall we shared a nice dinner at Ness Mahal & made friends with a solo Canadian traveler at Black Isle Brewery. We definitely slept better in Vana the night before though, but only because one of our dorm roomies yelled, “Mate! Mate! Are you serious!?” a few times during the night waking the entire room.

Day 5 – We took the morning to wander around Inverness, strolling through the Victorian market, and getting lost in Leakey’s bookstore before needing to renew our street parking voucher. We ate lunch at a popup restaurant, Tiger in the Wall, and kept fried rice & noodle takeaway to have with dinner. Heading out of town, we felt like we’d timed our stay in Inverness nicely, getting enough of its small city centre without missing anything, driving over to the Black Isle.

At Black Isle Permaculture & Arts Center, Clive Brandon toured us around his wife Judy & his 2.5 acre permaculture site, in its 7th year. Clive shone brightly upon our meeting and we shared our backgrounds while he took us around the food forest, through the hen’s backyard, and into his terrace raised beds. On our way around, he shared a binder of information & photos on what the site looked like before cultivation. Grass lawns had turned into dense guilds of herbal, insectary, & food plants. He explained to us how the grass clippings from the walkways were integrated into the composting system. We tasted leaves of lemon balm & apple mint. We gazed in awe of the beauty of lupine, a native Scottish flower, which was in full bloom.

Around the raised beds, he’d weeded to transplant baby annuals, which waited their turn along the path way. Wildlife deterrent fences encircled the beds, with aesthetically placed limbs for function & embellishment. He built a windbreak as part of the fence on the south side of the beds, where the wind howled through. He shared their vision in the space of building a tiered greenhouse on the east side of the garden and asked if we had time to take a walk around the rest of the site.

Al & I walked in awe, taking in so much technical information, following Clive down into the meadow farther away from the house, where he & Judy had woven young willows into archways over the meadow’s walkway. We stopped at a deep nature spring pond in the woods before winding around to two eco cabins that Clive & Judy built recently as vacation rental livelihood.

Inside the smaller of the two, I admired Clive’s woodworking, more deeply after I asked, “And you did most of this on your own?” “All of it,” he answered back humbly. The space was fitted with 12 volt lighting, a foot pump sink in the kitchenette, a shower, & a composting toilet. He shared their vision to donate the living space to volunteers & to artist residents. They’d hosted their first artist in the fall, who worked with natural photography techniques using plants dyes. I’d fallen deep into wonder & awe.

Inside the yurt, Al, Clive, & I took seats as the wind blew in raindrops & I asked Clive about his & Judy’s path to permaculture. We made jokes about being able to survive the apocalypse, & I thanked him (probably too many times) for showing us around. He invited us in for a cup of lemon balm tea & we obliged, connecting more & enjoying nature’s bounty through steeping. “Tuck on in,” he instructed us to sip our tea.

That night we drove into Cairngorms National Park via Aviemore, finding a lovely spot in pine forest off an old logging road. The rain had set in on our drive and didn’t seem like it’d quit soon. We broke into a bottle of wine & waited for a lull to cook potato & leek soup on the stove. It took a lifetime for the kettle to boil, after catching a small fire outside the burner twice, but eventually we slurped up our soup, soaking bread in it, & finishing our leftovers from lunch.

Day 6 – We woke up to rain that had barely quit all night long. It made for a lazy morning. After a PB&J for breakfast, I slid back down into my sleeping back & dozed off, not intending to, but waking up once Al started moving things from the front seats to the back. We’d decided over breakfast to ditch our hiking plans due to the rain & mapped out a scenic drive through the Cairngorms instead. We stopped off for coffee on our way back out through Aviemore & explored through the shops in town. The drive on the Old Military Road through Cairngorms National Park was both challenging & beautiful. Narrow twisting roads opened up to vast valley viewpoints where sheep speckled distant hillsides, giving perspective to the mountains’ size. Like Glencoe & Isle of Skye, we again felt small in the most connected way.

I drove the way back to England while Al navigated & dj’ed, but we made sure not to leave Scotland without a stop at the border & a quick pic. What an adventure it was!


Day 1 –
Newcastle to Coldstream – approx 2 hour drive
stop off at Melrose Abbey & Garden Cottage permaculture site – have lunch

Coldstream to Callander – approx 2.5 hour drive
hike Ben A’an in Loch Lomand National Park – 2.5 mile out & back w/ 1200 ft elevation gain – snack
make dinner & find camping for the night

Day 2 –
Callander to Glencoe – approx 2 hour drive
stop in Glencoe Nature Reserve visitor center
hike The Lost Valley – approx 2.5 miles out & back w/ 800 ft elevation gain – lunch @ summit
Glencoe to Portree, Isle of Skye – approx 3 hour drive
dinner @ Kyleakin on way to Portree (or in Broadford)
restock grocery provisions @ Coop in Portree – explore west of island & find camping

Day 3 –
Driving tour loop around Isle of Skye – approx 3.5 hours
from Portree up to Flodigarry & down west side of Trotternish peninsula
stop at Duntulm Castle – explore ruins & visit the ocean beach
to Glenbrittle for hike @ Fairy Pools – approx 2 miles out & back, easy
drive to Fort Augustus to peer at the Boleskine House, camp above town in the valley

Day 4 –
Into Fort Augustus for coffee & the Caledonian Canal Centre
watch boats travel in the canal locks & marvel at the engineering
midday head to Inverness for the night – approx 1 hour drive along Loch Ness
stay at Black Isle Hostel for the night, wash ourselves & our laundry

Day 5 –
Breakfast & a wander around Inverness – the Victorian market & Leakey’s bookstore
Drive to Black Isle Permaculture & Arts Center – approx 20 minute drive
Drive to Aviemore – approx 1 hour drive
into Cairngorms National Park trailhead, find campsite for the night

Day 6 –
Breakfast at camp, wake up late, back into Aviemore for coffee & light shopping
Scenic drive (Highlands Scenic Snow route) through Cairngorms
from Spey Bridge to Ballater to Perth – approx 3 hour drive
Drive back to Newcastle – approx 5 hour drive, then REST!

Dream Journal 8/31/21

I dreamt of you last night. It’s been three weeks since we’ve spoken.

I had just done some shopping at some indescript box store where I was grabbing general supplies for vanlife. The scene before you appeared isn’t particularly clear, just a few panels of watching my feet walk along asphalt & then looking up to see Zoey parked alone at the far end of the lot. When you appeared behind me, the lighting brightened and my perspective changed. I had been floating along with my bag of goods, but when I heard you running up behind me, I dropped sharply into my body. My eyes focused tightly as I turned to see what the noise was, your arms at nineties as a white sneaker struck the ground. You jogged up to me. You were wearing that plain red t-shirt and black joggers. Your skin glowed against the red shirt and a look of distress faded from your face as I turned. You smiled big and hard at me and outstretched your hand towards me. I stopped dead in my tracks, startled at the sight of you approaching me. I wasn’t prepared for this interaction, and my body tensed as your image sunk in. Rigidly, I stepped back away from your reach.

You spoke to me, but I don’t remember the words. I remember looking up at you and missing your eyes, your mouth, your face, your eyebrows, the way your expression changed as you talked to me. I don’t remember hearing the words spoken, but somehow a message was transmitted. You wanted me back. In a way, you were begging me, but I remained unmoved. I turned away from you and walked towards the rear doors of Zoey, where I popped open the lock and put my bags while you continued to plead. You were talking, but I wasn’t hearing any words. I slammed shut the doors and turned to you quickly.

“It doesn’t matter,” I told you, abruptly interrupting. You face quit moving as you peered down at me. The smile fell from your mouth. “I doesn’t matter anymore.” I wanted to say so much more, but just like I feel in real life, I was tired of making my case over and over again. For the last six months, it didn’t matter how I explained my needs and my feelings, you disqualified them with your own, constantly asking me to make more space for you in my life, and not giving me much back. In my dream, I continued to repeat myself to you, as I walked away. “It doesn’t matter.” And then, right before the dream ended I said, “I do know you love me, but as long as you are with her, that’s it. I just doesn’t matter anymore.”

WRITTEN…. moments from a dead relationship: entry 1


Patience tested tonight.

“When did you get the tortillas?” you ask me.

“For burritos last week,” I answer, smiling.

You never ask for tortillas, but today you do.

You say, “What? You don’t eat tortillas.”

I say, “You’re weird today.”

I told you a few times today that you’re distant but this time you reply, “but not with you,” & you squeeze my hand a little tighter & I remind you that I can feel your emotions before you tell me. I remind you how I just guessed yours & you agree that I’m right but you still don’t relax because I think you may still not know yourself very well.

I am not upset with how distant you are because of this ex popping back up & taking so much from you & I am doing a REALLY GOOD JOB of being supportive & asking you challenging questions & reminding you that the past isn’t the present & that you don’t have to be the same as your were. You say again that you don’t want to talk about it.

I start a new conversation but you aren’t listening & you aren’t interacting with me & you are physically uncomfortable because you are emotionally uncomfortable & you are REALLY BAD at being uncomfortable. So we move & I ask you to take off your boots but you refuse until I beg you to lay down with me so I can be the little spoon because physical intimacy usually calms you down but you tuck your hands away from my chest in less natural places. I remember how you wouldn’t let me kiss your nipples earlier & I guess I’m just not the medicine you need today.

For twenty minutes that seem like an eternity I forget to breathe with you, even though I always do, & a few times tears well up in my eyes but I hold them back because I am thinking too many things that I can’t speak.

Like… maybe you’re the last thing I need to let go because you need to learn how to take care of yourself & right now it feels like I could never give enough to take care of you… that I cannot make you see your own agency… that your past relationships don’t dictate your present & your future unless you let them… that caring about someone else’s kids more than you care about yourself is another excuse to keep you away from your dreams & from yourself… that the love you have for someone does not give them the right to misuse your kindness & to manipulate you…

I think that maybe I’m just in this learning another attachment lesson- actually the same one again- & that I should quit dreaming with you because today you quit dreaming for yourself. It feels like you’ve abandoned yourself & I don’t like the shell that’s left.

Even though you didn’t have sex with her, you still laid with her, & cooked with her, & parented her children, & then you left because you didn’t want to leave your family.

Are we all just doomed to repeat the same fucked up patterns? I don’t think so, but I think it’s crazy hard to break the cycle.

Vanlife Diary: What a Year

A year ago, I’d begun building the van that is now my full time home. I was about a month into the build. My stepdad had come out and helped me finish insulating the walls before we hung sheets of plywood across them. They were a bright light wood that glowed in the winter sunlight. Now, they’re a dark cherry. The last day and a half, I’d assisted him as he built a chest style bed that he assembled from blue prints in his head. It took me watching most of the process to realize what and how he was doing it. I’d told him I was thinking about a slated bed, like the ones most van lifers have, but he didn’t know what I was talking about. I handed him tools and watched him work, grunting and groaning.

The next weekend I problem solved my way through hanging plywood for the ceiling. We’d talked about it. It should only take two pieces of plywood but this didn’t align with the structural ribs across the roof of the van, so I ended up doing it in three pieces. Reason, I suppose, does not always match reality.

Now I’m keeping mental tabs (which need to be physical notes) of little fixes needed around my home on wheels. In some places, the maps on my ceiling are peeling away from the plywood. Most notably so above the camp stove. It seems 90 3M adhesive is no match for regular heat rising off the propane burners. It’s too cold in Denver to do much with the van these days and my schedule has been a little erratic for these sorts of grounding exercises, but I feel I need them.

For now, I am experimenting with van living in approaching single digit nighttime temperatures. It takes a surprising amount of energy to live this way, though I am loving it. I feel empowered and capable, although decidedly ungrounded. I managed to keep my food and my contact lenses from freezing last night. I remembered that coolers work well as warmers too, or at least for combating temperature changes. My REI down sleeping bag has been crucial. Cooking breakfast in the mornings alongside my Buddy Heater heats the van up quickly, although it doesn’t stay once they’re off.

I’m hermiting pretty hard these days in my best intention of completing my book before April 1st departure to Ecuador. I’ve romanticized this type of solitude all my life and although mostly suites me, at times, it is paralyzing. For now, I’ll head to some public place with good heat and power outlets to regain a bit of normalcy. Until next time, live easy and love freely, my dears. ❤️

Where did November go?


My apologies to those of your who may have been expecting something earlier. Undoubtedly, November has gotten away from me, and although I’ve started book-writing, I certainly let a few trips slip by unnoticed here. I’m not one for regrets, but I do regret that.

NYC was just about exactly what I’d expected. Revisiting the major attractions stirred up old feelings in me. I still don’t have much use for Times Square. On the other hand, part of my heart still lives in Central Park. The last day, Sunday, it rained heavily on us, but my friends were good sports while I wandered through the self guided tour of Seneca Village (one of the first places free blacks were allowed to buy land, (very cool, google it)) but the day before we’d spent a few hours snapping photos and ogling at the beautiful bridges tucked in the park, some of them surrounded by wild and some of them backdropped by buildings. Either way, the Park was my favorite part only behind the $2 carousel ride in DUMBO. This tourist area of Brooklyn is very well gentrified. I never thought I’d be able to say I’d walked across the Brooklyn Bridge but damn well, we did it.

As for the cruise, the Caribbean is stunning. I was able to practice my Spanish a tad, got a little sunburn, got a little seasick while trying to ride the elliptical in the gym, and I ate my $500 worth of food, just like I said I would. The contrast between life at each port was stark (Grand Cayman, Belize, Costa Maya Mexico, and Key West). I may go into that more later. The Mayan ruins at Chacchoben we’re breathtaking and full of old energy (my personal highlight) although the whole trip was balanced between relaxing and tiring, just like vacation should be.

Until next time 👋🏻

Manhattan & Brooklyn from One Observation Tower
Central Park colors 🍁💛🍃
A cruise ship sunset
Mayan temple at Choccoben

On Van Life: Month 1

It’s been a month now.  Five weekends.  

The first two I didn’t get out of the city, because I still had moving out to do and a few projects to finish on the build.  

The first weekend I finished moving my stuff into storage and hooking up the solar electricity.  I bought a deep cycle battery at Interstate, a battery box at Home Depot, and though still intimidated by the project of hooking up a solar system, I managed not to fuck anything up.  

Late Sunday night I mounted up the water pump and ran what hose I could to get the sink operating, but I was short a couple of hose clamps and was very tired so I called it quits just short of completion.  

One day the following week, I stopped by the house to hang out with my cat and finish up the plumbing.  He slept with me in the van that night, first curled up on the driver’s seat, but as the night cooled down he ended up next to me.

The next weekend I was so burned out that instead of making a rugby trek into the mountains, I opted to lay around the house with my oldest best friend and binge movies.  It was 100% worth it. I was feeling 6 months of working overtime weeks and van build weekends and I was tired. I may still be, but the more I minimize, the more centered I feel in my decision to make such a radical change in lifestyle.  I’m finding rest in a variety of places now and doing my best to listen to my body and my mind’s desires to be still.

Here are a few reflections from the last month.

1. Firsts are difficult.

The first week was the least comfortable. The first morning I cooked eggs and chorizo on the camp stove was the least graceful (the propane kept leaking). The first time I peed in the middle of the night in a wag bag was the weirdest (as I squatted just a few feet from my pillow). The first time a coworker asked if I needed a place to stay was the most awkward (he completely understood my decision once I explained). Now all of those things feel regular.

2. Food is a relationship.

I purposefully didn’t design a fridge in the build because my intention was to only be traveling in the van.  I was also considering that they use a lot of energy and a bit of space and I didn’t think I needed it. I don’t.  I’m at the grocery store every couple days and I’m (mostly) eating everything I buy. I currently have a jar of strawberry jam and I’m afraid I’m going to be sick of PBJs before it’s gone.  I’ll get back to you about that. So far, the small cooler I have is perfect.

3. Solitude.

I’m alone A LOT which generally suits me since I’m an introvert (also because I’m trying to find an artist’s way aka hustling all my waking hours to do something meaningful), but it has made my weekend interactions more intentional and my chosen tribe more apparent. I’m also very productive, because I have no excuse not to be. Equally, my sleep schedule is on point.

There’s so much more to say, but I’ve run to the end of a train of thought.  More to come another day. Peace.

Reflections after my first Protest

I’ve been thinking a lot lately.  Thinking about writing this post. Thinking about breaking my blog silence.  Thinking that I want to be more than just someone who writes about wild times out drinking while they’re traveling.  Thinking about all the things I’ve always cared about.

I don’t remember hearing about much civil unrest when I was a kid.  Some dissent was spewed from a few relatives, but generally in my family, politics was a topic excluded from polite conversation with guest or relatives or basically anyone at all.

The first I remember really hearing about it I was a teenager and my mom was telling my brother and I that she and my stepdad always discussed who they would vote for president because if they voted against one another, their votes would cancel each other out.  I’m not really sure if that’s a real memory, because none of the details were ever discussed.  

I remember hearing how Gore won the popular vote even though Bush was reelected by the Electoral College.  I thought this was weird, but I didn’t understand why it happened. I thought it was just a one-off situation.

By the time there was a Presidental Election that I was eligible to vote in, I had a fire burning in me.  Some of it was undoubtedly teen angst, a manifestation of my trauma. Nothing was ok in the world including the way I grew up, but the discomfort radiated out of me in all directions.  

I remember being a young college student and learning about China and telling my parents how amazing the landscape was and how the culture was so different than ours (likely in a condescending or judgemental way) and how my mother got defensive, demanding I shut my mouth and praising America as the greatest country ever to be.

I used to smoke a lot of weed, often with my brother and his crew of friends.  I remember one time being so fired up about some injustice in the American institutions (likely how slavery has just changed it’s mask) that I stood up from my chair in a huff, proclaiming to the circle of friends that I would give my life for something that I believe in and asking them (with naivety) if they would.  I remember the look on their faces, sheepish looks as they shook their heads. I don’t remember any words spoken as I exited the garage.

It’s been a decade now since I’ve been able to call myself a teenager but the feeling never went away.  Through my 20s, the economic and political landscape has changed drastically from the one I grew up in at least it appears this way, although mass incarceration began under the noses of my parents’ generation and those flanking them.  It seems the more I learn historically about the last three decades of the 20th century, the more I notice general apathy from voter base, or at least little evidence of upheavel within the majority (read: white population). I’d love to be proven wrong.

So now I ask, why?  Was the privilege too great?  Were the paychecks too good and the houses too cheap?  Did no one realize that suburbanization was another substitute for segregation or was it just too comfortable?  Were y’all scared to change? Did mass incarceration laws coo the screaming baby whose symptom was economic disparity to a population outside of nursery?  Were y’all afraid to accept that the injustices of our past do not have to hide, continuing into our future? Did you find it easier to bury your head in the sand and spout phrases like ‘let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps’ when the opportunities to have bootstraps weren’t even given?  How about now? Do you feel safer knowing that thousands of people fleeing from physical harm and economic disparity are being imprisoned without the basic necessities of life?  Do you feel more comfortable knowing that racism and sexism is being justified by the head of our exective branch?

I just don’t get it, but I’ll say one thing more.  I don’t want to live in a world where people aren’t willing to use their voices and their power to help the oppressed and disadvantaged, and since I generally want to live, I have resolved the only thing I can do is use my voice, and challenge those around me to use theirs too.  Power to the People. Not to a corporation. Not to a PAC fund. Not to a 1%er. Not to white Americans. POWER TO ALL THE PEOPLE.  

New Orleans, Part 3: An Impression of Katrina

Elena’s toes pressed against the windshield as I cruised across Lake Pontchartrain back to New Orleans for the last day. I yearned for coffee and donuts. It was mid morning already and my belly ached for sustenance.

The lake extended for miles and miles ahead of us, like the pavement of our vast interstates, broken evenly by light ripples. The road seemed to float just above the surface.

I circled the block once, finding a parking spot just outside the doors of District Donuts Sliders and Brew, in the Garden district of New Orleans. The roads leading to it were lined by rows of shotgun homes alternating with much prettier plantation style houses. There were a series of blocks that were very obviously lower income, but just as they were noticed, larger house began to pop up again.

We enjoyed a variety of donuts. One made into an ice cream sandwich and another a breakfast sandwich toppedwith a dippy egg and the last two of odd flavor- strawberry lemonade and root beer float. Each one was delicious in its own way. They were by far the best we’d had on the trip.

I insisted we do a bit of exploring of the urban decay from Katrina, though I’m sure my compadres wouldn’t have gone without me.

We rolled down Claiborne Avenue towards the Lower Ninth Ward, but passing it first, only finding refurbished homes and new builds spaced out by vacant lots in a nearby parish.

“This isn’t that bad,” Ellie started, “but you know all these grass patches used to be houses. See,” we all stared out the windows, “driveway there, and there, and there.”

I followed the road to the end of land, looking for water, but only finding manmade hills of earth, at their crest a barrier ran the extent. Finally, I found Claiborne and followed it back to a main stretch of the Ward, where now the vacant lots and refurbs became neighbors to boarded up ranchers and gravel cross streets, many closed. It was obvious they had been paved in the past, but now stones lay rubble to their history.

I was hypnotized, in complete awe of the extent of desolation and decomposition. Around every turn, another site awed me. I ventured down one of the side streets to find it closed just a hundred feet ahead. I began my three point turn, and looked up to see an entrance stairway standing alone, wild grasses growing alongside it. It announced an empty lot, grass lush and glowing green in the intense summer sun.

We cruised slowly down a main stretch out of the Ward. Two building sat next to each other. The first, a corner store, the shattered front glass and boarded windows a solemn testament to decay; the other, a barber shop still open for business.

Farther down the block, an aged black woman stood on her front porch, separated from the commercial buildings by three grass lots, the driveways still distinct, but just barely. She looked out in the street, watching us pass by from her front porch, living the life she’d always known, but knowing so much change, so much heartache, so much pain. I could see it on her face, even from the shelter of window glass, potholed pavement, and stop signs.