What Tinder Taught Me

Musings

Tinder does not have the most pristine reputation. At least in my humble opinion and many of those that I have asked. It seems rather notorious for being a hook-up site. Hence why I had never had any desire whatsoever to go on it, as that is so far from being my style it might as well be khaki pants—insert deep body shudders here.

However, for the sake of argument, a friend of mine who was having seeming success on this site encouraged me to try and see before making a judgement call. I still wasn’t convinced so I talked to my sister. All voices of reason come from two sets of people: my sisters or my besties. If they give me the go-ahead, I will usually go ahead.

My sis said go ahead. Give it a whirl. And she pointed out, if it was ridiculous, I could always write about it. Brilliantly said, little Kia. So that is what I did. I tried Tinder for one week. Fine I made it four days, deleted it, but not before getting one date, tried it again for one more day and then promptly deleted it again. So five days.

For the sake of investigative journalism I definitely didn’t give it enough time, I will admit that. However, for the sake of my spirit, the run-ins with the skeevy and the mean-spirited, five days was more than enough for this girl. And more than enough to make up my mind that my guy is most definitely not on Tinder.

Here is what I found:

There are a handful of nice guys on there, to be fair. Sure I met one guy who is absolutely hilarious and likes bacon even more than I do. We still chat, and he feels like someone who could easily be my friend.

Then there was my date. Also a nice guy who was the first to ask to read my writing as my profile boldly stated: I am a writer who likes to pen painfully awkward tales, usually from my youth. He got major points for not only asking about my writing but then going ahead and reading it and being impressed by it. This earned him a date. His attempt to take me to Zingerman’s Delicatessen after driving an hour to meet me earned him a kiss. Why am I not dating this guy? Well to be fair, I could have easily went on a few more dates with him as I found him enjoyable, attractive and intelligent, however, despite him asking me on a second date, he did proceed to slowly stop texting me before one could ever commence. This is for the best though, as we were of far differing minds when it came to my main man, God and so it never would’ve worked anyway. Also I am moving to the West in two months. And lastly, I am so comfortable with what I bring to the table that any man who loses interest barely registers on my radar, as I am supremely glad to be me and whoever I end up with should be glad too, as he’s partnering up with a delightful weirdo who will be loyal to him for life.

Now besides these two fellas there was a smattering of other decently nice guys, but nothing that went far. But here is where I am sorry to introduce the bad guys.

Like the ones who thought starting a conversation with me by insulting me was a good idea. I had one guy make a snarky remark about my liking craft beer and how cliché that was. Pass. The hipsters don’t have a monopoly on good taste.

Then another who ripped into me for liking God. I also noted that I liked God a great deal in my profile. This guy went on a several sentence long rant (before I could delete him of course) saying I was a grown adult woman who believed in fairy tales, boogeymen and must be pretentious because what about Buddhism and Islam? Uhhhhhh. I shouldn’t have dignified his hideousness or his absolute nonsense with a response, but I couldn’t help myself and replied with, Whoa dude, I have barely finished my morning cup of coffee. No need for the attack. I believe in God. You are entitled to your beliefs as am I. Also how are you getting that I am anti-Buddhism or any other religion simply because I said I believe in God?

Even though I thought this was calm and sage considering I was already shaking, this only upset him further, to which he went on more ranting tirades, like the mere thought of someone believing in God was the most offensive thing he’d ever heard. Yowza. I honestly feel bad for this guy’s angry existence. And I know I should’ve taken the calm, christianly approach and said something cheeky like I’m sorry you feel that way; I will pray for you. Or even, God still loves you even though you’re a flaming asshole. But I chose the quickest exit strategy which simply was, see ya asshole and unmatched him immediately.

This isn’t even to speak of the men who had messaged me to clarify where I stood on the sex thing. Oy vey. My friend who insists Tinder isn’t a hook-up site defends these guys as non-perverts because they aren’t trapping girls into sex, contrarily they are being forthright in what they want. So I suppose in fairness and non-judgement, yes, these men are entitled to their sexcapades. It just isn’t something I am into or even love coming face to face with. It kind of makes me sad for humanity. I don’t see why I would ever have sex with someone casually without him then wanting to spoon me all night long, take me to brunch the next morning and then play a rousing game of Scrabble for good measure. One night stands don’t allow for that and that seriously bums me out, man. If you’re getting my body, you really better be all kinds of interested in my brain and my soul.

And I am not so doe-eyed that I believe the world doesn’t have people in it who are interested in straight sex or making people feel bad about God. Man, we have freaking ISIS about and they are scary and mean-spirited as shit. So I get it. But I like the world when it’s better than that and I also like being surrounded by people who want to be better than that. Yeah, most people want to be better than ISIS, duh. But the fact remains that in my daily life I feel surrounded by all sorts of beauty, kindness and love.

It was very 50/50 on Tinder. And I don’t want to willingly put myself in any place where people make me feel the polar opposite of goodness. My mom has this phrase for when my sisters and I would bemoan not finding a good man. And she’d ask where we were looking, (hinting that if we were looking in bars and not her constant suggestion of the hardware store then…) replying with, “well you’re not going to find strawberries in an onion patch.”

And my friends, I feel like Tinder is a giant onion patch.

I am looking for a guy who loves God a whole bunch, has a sense of humor in that he enjoys being a delightful weirdo as much as I do and likes the written word a great deal, because, well, that’s important to me. The rest can be dealt with in time, like my propensity to want to run to the mountains or the sea at any given moment or whether we have five babies or six. Actually, we’ll definitely have six as I like even numbers when it comes to children.

So what Tinder really taught me: I have everything I need in life right this very minute and I don’t feel one bit deprived if that doesn’t include a boyfriend.

I have God, hope for the West, really tasty sweet potatoes and chocolate, the best family a girl could dream of, Perrault children that melt my heart and hold their arms out to me when they see me, books, fine wine, craft beer, fancy coffee, Moon River on record, Hemingway, friends that like me and my wit, a world where the Northern Lights, Lake Superior and beards exist and a heartbeat. If this is what I have, well I have all I could need and then-some. So thanks God. And thank you Tinder. I couldn’t possibly have appreciated how good I have it, if you didn’t show me exactly what I am not looking for.

Help Me I’m Poor!

Musings

After a splendid weekend home a couple weeks back, full of overly sugared donuts and ghost adventures, I came back to the Yoop feeling refreshed and content. Until work the next day when my boss walked into my classroom to tell me they were cutting my hours. Indefinitely. As I blinked rapidly trying to process the fact that I was being let go, (even though it wasn’t me personally, it was mass budget cuts all around) which has never happened to me, I felt a sinking dread over how I would survive.

I wasn’t so much worried about the finding a new job thing, I can always manage that, I mean, have you met me? My personality is delightful. No, it wasn’t that. It was that of all the jobs I do that aren’t full-time writing gigs, this had been one of my favorites as it involved working with kids. Sure some of them are less than darling, like this one particularly sassy girl pointing out the other day, rather snottily I might add, that I had a hole in my leggings. (Reference the title of my blog if you’re confused why I had a hole in my leggings. Also I forgot they were the holey pair when I put them on. And the hole was small and in no way revealing anything indecent). When I said I forgot there was a hole and not much I could do now, she rolled her eyes and asked why I hadn’t gone home to change. As my face began to get hot with annoyance, I told her to go back to playing tag and not worry about the state of my clothing as it was none of her concern.

So yeah, all kids can’t be Shirley Temples, but the way I feel about kids is the way I feel about life, and that is that they are remarkable and if there happens to be one or two sour ones in the mix, well isn’t that just how life goes?  After only about half a day of grave concern over the state of my life and already very grim finances with losing the best paying of my three jobs, I concluded that this had to be my a-ha moment. It had to be. God never just takes things away from me without it leading me to where I rightfully belong. So I thought it’d be rather un-trusting of me to start assuming now that God didn’t have a plan, even if I was at a loss as to what that plan entailed.

Of course, just because I had my a-ha moment of that’s it, this is my sign! Stop working jobs that aren’t your art and really go after it! Within a matter of days, the high of my a-ha moment had worn off. And on the heels of the now plummeting high came my dreaded nemesis, Anxiety. I was in the throes of an anxiety attack eating 100 Grand after 100 Grand (the candy bar, obviously. If I had real 100 Grands I would not be in this conundrum now would I?) leftover from our 1920’s party as a futile attempt at therapy while staring hopelessly at my Idea Notebook.

The candy bar therapy wasn’t really working. Shocker. Food just doesn’t soothe me like it used to. I considered day-drinking. Hemingway, my hero, would totally give his nod of approval to that. But all that was leftover from the party was gin, champagne and beer… Okay, so that actually is a really fine selection. Call me a snob but if I am going to day drink I really feel like it ought to be wine. I mean the hard stuff just scares me a little and drinking beer mid-day, well it seems a smidge more on the alcoholic side than the classy angsty artist side.

So day-drinking was out. I tried soul-therapy then. I went to the library and checked out A Moveable Feast and sat rapt and moved by Hemingway’s prose while it drizzled outside. But still, the anxiety would not leave me, the dirty rotten bastard. I stared out at the vastness of Superior and tried to pinpoint the furthest reaches of the lake. I wanted to be at that place. I suddenly had latched onto my other self-soothing technique which is complete and utter crazed denial accompanied by the urge to flee.

Whenever this happens in my life, (the urge to flee) which truly is often, I always seem to be at a crossroads financially. Okay, fine, I am always at a crossroads financially! (Like today when I cashed in my coin jar for gas money. I thought there was only about $8 in there, hoped for $12 but was blown away when my grand total back was $20.71. Make it rain!) But it is not because I am irresponsible. Au contraire. All my bills are paid on or ahead of time and in hefty sums. It’s just that I really love Dave Ramsey and want to be debt free, so I put everything I make toward my debt and nothing ever goes into savings. Ever. If it does, it is immediately taken out to be put toward said debt, because being debt-free to me equates my being able to finally run away and join the circus. And honestly if I had a dime for every time I threatened to run away and join the circus, well my debt would be paid off and I would be unencumbered to ride the rails and maybe elephants too.

Alas I knew what I had in my checking, savings and on my credit cards and all of it combined wouldn’t even give me a full tank of gas to find the edge of the Lake, much less a free pass to join the circus. I morosely packed up Hemingway, feeling worse somehow and went home. At this point, my sister Kirst who had been feeling much the same as I had—riddled with anxiety that is—and I began to chat. I told her how I needed, no really needed to run away. I felt manic and crazed and like I was losing my a-ha moment. I told her I read about someone else’s a-ha moment on Oprah and how the woman had gotten laid off, was in debt and overweight and how she figured it all out. And wasn’t I in the same boat? Laid off? Check. In debt? Double check. Overweight? Yeah, okay that too.

What’s my a-ha supposed to be? I proclaimed. Now is the time! These are what a-ha’s are for! And I am especially primed because I have all these extra forces and obstacles against me which make the a-ha even better! Bankers are always getting laid off and then admitting their true calling of opening a donut shop and then they wax on and on about how it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

This was supposed to by my grand a-ha and I was already fucking it up because I didn’t know what the fuck to do with my a-ha. My mind was all over the place. And amidst this ranting and raving where Kirst was ranting and raving back at me with her own need for her own a-ha because she was still working at Beef-A-Roo, what I refer to as La Beef, her fast food burger joint job, while having her own dreams of fashion grandeur, we realized we were screaming our dreams at each other at the top of our lungs and asking each other if we were crazy, admitting, truly, yes we were and then saying we would run away, we would run away, dammit and go find our fucking a-ha’s!

And then we were laughing while we were screaming. Laughing so hard and yelling so hard that we were crying and writhing around on our chairs, because we couldn’t sit still with our dreams or our want for them or our pure idiocy in wrangling them to us. And the crying was not out of sadness, but crying out of unbridled hysteria that we truly were insane and we got each other’s needs for more. Something more that we couldn’t even yet name or find but knew deep in our souls we needed, enough to cry and scream over.

And then we calmed down. And our anxiety, at least for the moment, had run off with our laughter and tears. We didn’t yet have a complete plan, or a concrete idea of what to do with our newfound a-ha’s, but we knew something was looming and that if we didn’t at least acknowledge it, Kirst would continue unfulfilled work at La Beef while dreaming of the fashion forward of the East and West, while I continued to use running off with the circus to escape the bonds of the normal as my easy out for not going after my dreams with gusto.

So with very little money at hand and not much in the way of prospects, Kirst and I both are holding fast to our hope in the a-ha moment, in its beautiful certainty that change could be lurking right around the corner. If we accept that a-ha, yes, life could be different if we are just a little bit unafraid. Unafraid of being broke, being laid off, leaving town, getting uncomfortable, failure, success, dreaming too big, dreaming too small, or not recognizing an a-ha when it’s slapping you right across the face.

 

Life Begins Over Again

Musings

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I have had a fucking wonderful summer. Excuse my language, truly I try to be a lady but all things considered (my heart breaking into smithereens and having yet to locate all the pieces or put it back together properly) I have stuck to my mission of becoming who I am becoming. Not only that but I had some incredible adventures.

Now truth be told today started out rocky. I woke up and something about today… the date, September 1st speaking of change including a new season upon us and a new job for me, the dreary rain, the fact that my sister’s boyfriend Kurt was packing up to go back home after being here all summer and delighting me daily with his adventuresome spirit, all of this and more soaked the day in melancholy. As I gave Kurt a hug goodbye I joked that I felt very sad he was leaving and he wasn’t even my boyfriend.

Then I hiked in the woods in the rain for a long while. And got some writing done at Starbuck’s while enjoying my beloved extra extra hot pumpkin latte. But upon hearing this song (which I listened to incessantly while Out West) it made me yearn for Wyoming with a wild desperation. All of a sudden I had to get out of Starbuck’s because all the melancholy suddenly felt like too much. I just knew I had to cry.

As soon as I got in the car I burst into tears. It felt so ridiculous the onslaught of hysteria that I had to question myself. What were all the tears for? And so I answered myself to maybe calm myself.

They were for Kurt leaving and me feeling a little sad because he felt like a little brother now, but mostly for my sister Kirstie, because even if it’s just a move and not a break-up, leaving is always hard.

They were for the start of a new season which suddenly I didn’t know if I was ready for; I had just gotten used to summer. Why was summer over? Didn’t it just begin?

They were for Wyoming. Silly, maybe, but suddenly I ached for Wyoming and felt trapped here and unsure where I belonged at all and I longed for the open West and freedom.

They were a little for DC, who I thought by this time I should be good and over and I am good, but certainly not all the way over. I’d say I have one leg over.

They were for my sister Kia who would be leaving as well to move back downstate in a matter of days and would no longer be my partner in crime every day when I needed her. And it just seemed wrong that I should ever have to be without even one of my sisters.

They were for a friend who I recently found lost his grandfather that I knew he loved so dearly and it just seemed so heartbreaking his loss and there being nothing to be done over it and so I cried for that too for good measure. Well I mean once I was already crying.

And then I decided to pull myself together. And the way to do that would be by sharing my top three summer memories to cheer myself. So here goes:

My birthday. Okay, so that seems obvious, as all who know me and some who don’t know I love my birthday disgusting amounts, but this birthday was quite frankly not one of my favorite because of its painfully close proximity to my break-up, however, this doesn’t mean it was not memorable. My dear best friend booked a night in a teepee for me as she knows me well. Normally this would’ve gone over like chocolate being delivered and spoon fed to me by a bearded man, that is to say, amazingly. Except before we got to the teepee which I would be spending the night in with three of my sisters and bestie, Em mentioned that the area we would be staying in was purported to be quite haunted by Native Americans. And she didn’t leave it at that. She then told stories of the hauntings. Okay fine, I am not that big of a baby that I can’t handle a haunted tale (actually yes I am) but then once we set up our fire, Em and my sister joked about the Native American ghosts who might be in the woods and I very gravely told them they could NOT joke about Native Americans. On their Land. Near their teepee. Seriously I had watched a special in which a man who was warned not to go hiking on cursed Native American land did anyway and he disappeared and then later his remains were found and no one knew how he died. I do. It was obviously the Native American Curse. He was warned people! So naturally I had to be the first to fall asleep so as to feel safe that night, and I was. Because of the exceptionally cold night, we had all doubled up in our bunks except Em. I got my sister Alexa and Sav and Kirst were spooned together while Em was across from us. All was well until I woke up at a time I was unsure of but suspected was the bewitching hour. All I could hear from the teepee were sounds of snoozing from all the girls. Instantly I became frantic that the Natives might be mad that the girls had made jokes and when they came in to strangle someone to death that someone might be me, because what if they got confused and didn’t know it was my birthday, or wasn’t sure where Kirst was, or just decided to strangle all of us to make a statement. Honestly if it was going to happen I knew we had brought it upon ourselves. In a matter of mere minutes I was so wracked with terror and so convinced I was about to be maimed by a dead Native American chief that I shook Alexa up. “What.” she whispered. “I’m terrified,” I said. She insisted she was awake now and it was okay, but I retaliated with the fact we needed to skidaddle. Because we were sleeping in a teepee on haunted Native American land with Native American ghosts who probably rightly wanted to kill us and I didn’t blame them. But I wanted to live because it was my birthday and I like cake. Alexa who knows how much I like teepees and Native Americans but who also knows how much I value my sleep, my life and the power of Native American Curses screamed at everyone to get up because I was scared and we were getting out of there. My other sisters promptly whipped out of bed and sprung into action gathering blankets and asking if I was alright with grave concern while I insisted I was not and we were going to die and needed to leave. Em, the only rational one asked why we couldn’t just stay because now everyone was up and my sisters exchanged glances understanding that was of course never an option. Blankets and phones and marshmallows were thrown into my SUV haphazardly and we drove to a hotel two miles down the road where I happily and safely slept in between Alexa and Kirstie.

 

The Meteor Shower. So there was this incredible meteor shower up here that I was dying to see a few weeks back. I think this was also during the Super Moon, but the moon might’ve just been full and large, but it definitely lit up the whole sky, almost taking away some of the stars glory. My sister, her friend and I made our way down to one of our favorite beaches around midnight to catch the show. We had my sleeping bag and a bottle of pink champagne for the occasion. The night was a cool sixty degrees and it seemed cloud cover was moving in over the stars but we were hopeful. As we sipped champagne from our plastic flutes, suddenly my sis jumped up and insisted she needed to skinny dip. She wasted no time in de-robing and running into Superior. Now I am all about Superior all summer long, though most sane individuals are not. But on this cold night, taking a dip in Superior’s frigid depths, much less naked, seemed a dicey choice. But when my sis came back out seemingly exuberant and slammed the last of her champagne and asked if we were coming in too, it seemed I couldn’t rightly back out. She was younger than me and being this bold, I could hardly be the unadventurous one. So I undressed too and ran in. We all did. And our teeth chattered in the water under the moon and soon-to-be shooting stars. After getting back out, getting dressed and cuddling close the girls saw multiple shooting stars while I only spotted one, but one was all I needed to feel truly and wholly mesmerized and to make a solid wish, which of course I can’t share or it won’t come true.

Wyoming. Sweet Wyoming, there are so many words I have for you (you deserve a whole blog post and will probably get one) that I don’t rightly know where to begin. But I’ll begin with the cowboys. And the horses. Oh mercy me, these two things alone made my summer visit here one of the greatest in recollection. I joked with a friend that the state was so filled with cowboys and horses that I was certain if I moved there I would be given both a cowboy and a horse as a welcome. Wyoming filled my soul with such grandeur, such drunken adoration over the ever changing landscape: wide and winding rivers, fly fishermen, mountains that were green and blue and red and grey, valleys and rolling open land, that most times I was just speechless while others I wanted to throw a tantrum over how desperately I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stomp and fling myself into a moustached cowboy’s arms and beg, don’t let them take me. I am yours now. I belong to you! Honestly, I didn’t want to leave so badly that I applied for a job there in hopes of staying. Hence why I wept over Wyoming today. That place really got ahold of me.

While I obviously had so many more incredible summer memories with sisters and friends and family alike, I said top three and I have already been wildly verbose, so I will leave it at that. But, see there, I’m reminded that if summer was this sweet, I certainly no longer feel like crying and instead feel warm and magical over what this new season has in store for me.

O Captain!

The Adventurers Life

Coaster IIIt’s no secret that the sea transfixes me. When I decided to incorporate a new segment into my blog where I interview people with jobs that embody adventure, I knew landing an interview with a ship captain* named Niko Economides naturally had to be my first post. *(Niko insisted he shouldn’t be called a ship captain, just a captain, as those who were captains of ships were equivalent to surgeons in their training, but as far as I could tell, he was as much of a ship captain as I’d ever seen).

The Ship Captain

Niko invited me out onto his fine vessel for the interview. I am not even going to pretend I was cool and collected about it. I was basically salivating as I sat on a ledge in the harbor waiting for Niko to get back from a sail and once he did and spotted me, he hollered for me to climb aboard. I scrambled to get on his ship that looked like it deserved a role in a real-life Peter Pan movie.

Niko was still busy talking to those who just went out on the sail with him, as his boat is used for that exact reason: ventures near and far into Superior. Niko paused to tell me to have a look around the boat. Immediately I pulled out my camera and began investigating every knot, rope and clasp in breathless awe. I don’t know where this complete adherence to all things that touch the sea came from, but it’s been with me as long as I can recall. I cannot help but quip that I must’ve been a mermaid in another life for I yearn for the sea as if it were mine to begin with. As if I’ve merely been plucked from it so am therefore always working my way back somehow. Back to the sea, back from whence I came.

After touring the boat while my heart thrummed with its devotion to being on this ship—the Coaster II—I sat down near the wooden steering wheel and compass, to wait for Niko. When he made his way over, he summoned the two young chaps that were his crew to come have a look at my ship tattoo. This must’ve convinced everyone aboard that perhaps I belonged there. Then Niko told me we were going to go on a quick sail to do a pump out. I had no idea what this entailed, but the mere mention of moving out into open waters had me so twitterpated that I forgot to ask what exactly a pump out was.

I held my legs down to stop them from jumping and running around in unrestrained delight. My ship tattoo may have convinced these men that I was legit, but running around squealing over the prospect of setting sail would have been most uncouth.

When we set sail, Niko looked over and said I could start asking questions. I pulled out my notebook and began. Niko told me about how he’d been sailing for a long, long time; about how he did wilderness guiding, backpacking trips and built boats for a living before his sons (one of which was among us on the crew—21-year old Thanos who looked like he’d been born at sea) had expressed interest in a family business involving a large boat such as the one we were on. So Niko and his family began to look into purchasing such a ship.

Niko maintained that they needed a fixer upper and after finding the Coaster II, he and his son sailed it back from Maine where the Economides family then spent two years restoring the ship.

While Niko sailed and spoke, I noted that he, like his son, looked as if he were born at sea too. His full beard, sheath at his hip and natural ease while steering the ship bespoke of someone with the confident air of a true sailor.

When I asked Niko about different trips people could take aboard his ship, he rattled off a list of islands in Lake Superior and various day trips ranging from 2-8 hour sails. When he mentioned Granite Island and I asked where that was, he responded,

“About 14 miles due North.”

I asked what exactly due North meant, but loved hearing it intensely as it was clearly sea speak.

“Like to Canada,” he responded.

Once on the subject of direction, Niko began talk of navigation and ancient sea kings telling me that riddles were used for sailors to remember where the stars would rise if they were at different places in the world at different times.

“The sun’s important,” he noted, “but the stars will tell you more.”

He asked me my astrological sign and I told him Gemini. Niko informed me that Gemini was the sign of the navigator and I sat rapt, thinking, it all makes sense now. I am a navigator. It’s in the stars. Then he told me it really is in the stars, telling me about the twins, which represent Gemini.

According to mythencyclopedia.com in Greek and Roman Mythology Castor and Pollux were twin brothers. When Castor died, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. The pair were regarded as the patrons of sailors and were also associated with horsemanship (fancy that—horses—only my other favorite thing in life). Earthsky.org said that “in China they were associated with Yin and Yang, the contrasts and complements of life.”

Niko told me that Marquette was built upon its shipping history: schooners, sailing vessels, birchbark canoes.

“There was more happening here before there were any roads,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of roads.”

When I asked Thanos who moved gracefully and fluidly about the ship to tell me about his greatest adventure to date involving the ship, he spoke reverently about his time sailing back from Maine where the ship was purchased: traveling 26 hours down from Portland, sailing down the East Coast, cruising up the East River, then the Hudson, followed by the Eerie Canal. Once in Detroit, the rest of the Economides clan joined the boys and they sailed the Great Lakes home.

Thanos

He told me that his family buying this boat was life changing.

“I was either going to be a rock star or a cook,” he told me before settling in at 14 years old that a life aboard a ship would be much more meaningful.

“Right after we left New York I awakened and became more alive… [I] embraced this future,” Thanos said.

As we sailed back into the harbor, I noted that the air smelled exactly like the sea, fishy and crisp. And while the day had been bordering on scorching until now, suddenly I felt the wind change, cooling off my cheeks that were warm from excitement.

All my life I had been yearning to sail, especially on a boat such as this, one that bespoke of history and resilience, magnitude and adventure. And alas, the stars had aligned in my favor when Niko walked into my work one day (who I was then introduced to by a coworker who I’d confided in that I was looking to interview men of the sea).

But hey, I am not the only one who could experience such a thing. The Coaster II is available for sails nearly every day of the week. And Captain Niko surely will not disappoint as even going on a brief stint around the harbor while he regaled me with his knowledge both of boats and seafarers alike was a trip worth taking.

If you’re anything like me, you will take to the sea and understand there’s something worth fulfilling in your soul out there.

“The sea pronounces something, over and over in a hoarse whisper; I cannot make it out. But God knows I’ve tried.”
-Annie Dillard

I Get By With a Little Help…

Adventures in Nature

Today was perfect. I got up for work at seven. Okay. Correction. My sister woke me up at seven because I am without a phone, therefore without an alarm clock and at the mercy of others (because I keep neglecting to just travel back to 1999 and buy an alarm clock) and waking up at seven was less than perfection but no matter. I laid in bed not fully letting myself fall back asleep but instead fantasizing about the sleep that I could no longer partake in for fifteen minutes. Then I proceeded to the couch where I sat for another fifteen minutes not accepting that I had to go to work. Then I remembered that there is really fresh and delicious coffee where I work and I perked up, got cute and hopped on my bicycle.

Where I got coffee and got to work.

I left around two and immediately was called to nature. I got ahold of my hiking buddy, Dana who I can always, always count on to do just about anything outdoors and active with me. I put on my bathing suit under my hiking clothes as I had been broiling since my bike ride into work this morning. We went out to my favorite secluded beach and started weaving down the trails that ran parallel to my beloved Superior. Today the lake was glassy, with green undertones in the shallow waters and royal blue reflections out deep, with some fog dolloped on top for added mystique.

As we walked through the forest I couldn’t help but continue to inhale deeply. I’ve come to realize the smell of the forest, like the smell of the sea brings me more joy than I can hardly stand. I became so intoxicated with it, that I pointed out to my friend that they should bottle up the smell of the forest—the pine needles on cushy ground, the dense growth, the timber—and make all men wear it. But then I’d be in for a world of trouble, because it’s bad enough the flannel wearing, beard sporting men in this town, if they all smelled of the forest too, I don’t rightly know that I’d have a hold on myself. All bets would surely be off and I might become a wild thing.

As we walked along, though worries wanted to nag at me—I have a whole list of worries I can pick from on any given day: how will I pay all my bills, when can I see the whole wide world, why did my relationship end, how much weight do I need to lose, etc.—but today I forcibly reminded myself to be present. There was no use re-hashing what had been or wondering about what would be. All of that nonsense would detract from my walk with my friend, my walk with my forest, my walk with God.

After the hour-long hike, both uphill and down I was of course sweating where my body produces sweat, which is everywhere. I de-robed and slowly waded out into Superior, feeling her out, wondering if I would lose all feeling in my ankles and calves before forcing myself to submerge fully like I always do. No matter how frigid Lake Superior may be, if I go in past my ankles, I must dunk. It may be a Finnish thing, or perhaps it’s a crazy thing. Either way I stand by it.

I waded out to my chest. It was cold, sure. Numbing in a way, but not its usual electric shock of frigidity. The numbing chill felt welcome and therapeutic, like ice on achy muscles. I took a breath, plugged my nose and tipped back. I popped back up, smiled and dunked once more and just like that I was used to it.

I yelled to Dana that it felt amazing. She stuck a toe in and told me I was crazy and that it was freezing. So I frolicked around in it a bit and then met her at shore where I searched out unique rocks and eventually sat down on one in the lake, my toes still submerged to chat while I let the air dry me.

I found what looked to be a floating piece of newspaper and I plucked it out of the water inspecting it. Amused, Dana asked if I’d found a love letter while I read it over hoping that’s exactly what I’d found. It was just movie times that seemed burned around the edges, left over from a fire. I put it on the sand and told her I still held fast to hope that one day I’d find a love letter at sea. Or by my coffee maker. Or in my mailbox. I never lost hope it seemed. Though I knew at 28 the chances of finding anything other than bills or an Ulta catalog in my mailbox were slim to none, I always checked the mail with hopefulness that one day, one day maybe someone would have something soul-stirring to say to me.

We left the beach to go make our dinner which we agreed would be hearty steak and a slew of vegetables. Something about being out in nature pumping my legs just makes me want to eat like a man. And now that I knew how to cook a steak, I wasn’t holding back anymore. The entirety of my relationship with DC I would mention my cravings for steak (it’s been my favorite food since about five) and anytime I wanted him to make it for me for dinner, he would say we needed a grill and it was no good on the stove. I would acquiesce, disappointed and hold on until summer or he took me out for steak. But never would I simply attempt to just cook the damn steak on my own; I thought it was a mans job.

Malarky. It is now my job to cook a mean steak if I want to eat like a man, which admittedly sometimes I do. Back at Dana’s I cut up onions in thick chunks, sliced wedges of carrots and drizzled asparagus with olive oil topped with parmesan cheese. I sauteed mushrooms with fresh garlic. And I grilled up two steaks, seasoned to perfection and rare enough to moo (at least mine that is). As I put bites of steak topped with mushroom and onion in my mouth, then quickly scrambled for a bite of carrot and asparagus, only to wash it down with a pomegranate beer, I realized that food had never tasted so fine.

And I’d made it myself. After hiking the forest. After swimming in Superior. After getting up at seven to make ends meet. On my own. By myself. As God intended. For me to understand that I can and should be reliant on myself—with a whole lot of help in the way of forests and trees and steaks and girl friends thrown in from the Big Guy—but other than that, just me, learning how to forge ahead making my own way and my own steak.

What Could be Better?

Musings

Lately I have been having a lot of what could be betters? It’s funny, because I am in the throes of the biggest what could be worse—heartbreak that is—but, despite the agony of a disintegrating heart, I can’t help finding that things have been more than alright.

Like the smell of pine trees and pine needles dusting a forest floor. Oh mercy. What could be better? Besides the fact that the forest might be filled with some of the most intoxicating scents to ever fill my senses, it always reminds me of our family camp which happens to be my favorite place in all the land.

Then there are my freckles. Have I spoke before now about how fondly I gaze at my freckles? If I haven’t, I’ve been remiss. My freckles bring me no small measure of delight. I like them at all times of year, but in the summer when they crop up by the dozens on my face and arms and I can make constellations with them, well, what could be better?

What about Cat Power’s song, I Found a Reason. Gosh, I forgot about that song. It came on shuffle on my sister’s ipod one morning while I was cooking a particularly Gordon Ramsay-esque breakfast and I was stopped immediately. I had to find the time to sway. What could be better? To let my stinkin’ faulty smoke detector go off if it had to, but I had to get lost in that song, in that moment. I am not one to forget in the power of music, but sometimes, something deliciously unexpected catches me off guard, like this song, and why oh why do anything but honor it?

Or how ’bout the Northern sky? Have you ever seen anything like it? It fills the whole world I am living in with its vastness: its blues, its pinks and purples, whites and greys. And that’s not even speaking of the clouds. Oh the clouds—they touch every part of the horizon, seeming to touch land and sea and everywhere in between. I was on the beach today, sitting out on a rock island a small distance out from shore, having waded through Superior’s icy waters to get there, and for so many moments I couldn’t do anything else but gaze at the sky in wonder. I felt like I was on vacation at some fancy resort, but no, this was my backyard. What could ever be better than a Northern Sky?

Lake Superior perhaps? My favorite sea. Truly she is. I was informed today that Lake Superior is considered too large to even be considered a lake, so in fact, she is an inland sea. The Ojibwe called the lake gichigami, meaning “a great sea.” With my sea-loving heart, what could be better than 3-quadrillion gallons of water at my beck and call? In the morning as I pedal into work I see her. Or in the evening on my nightly walk, waves a-blowing to shore. What could be wrong in life with Superior out my window? Even her name has bragging rights.

What could be better than having four of my six sisters living in the same town as me? Two of which live in the same apartment as me, one who spends the night most nights anyway, while the other bikes over after work. How agog am I over having my sisters near me? Well, they fill my soul with equal parts joy, comfort, hilarity and fulfillment that it can’t help but heave happy sighs of contentment.

And then, then. There is my main man. My one and only. God. What could ever be better? He is the biggest what could be better and the best of course, hence why I saved Him for last. I wouldn’t have any of my what could be betters without Him. I wouldn’t have Cat Power or extra tall pines or waves or pink skies or freckles or six sisters. So with gratitude for things of beauty and delight saturating my heart that needs it, I again say, what could be better than God? From whom all blessings flow.

So, sure, the breakup is the worst what could be worse (at least as far as my heart can tell). But if I didn’t have God, I wouldn’t be having all these what could be betters to get me through. And for that I am a very lucky girl. Very lucky indeed.

High Time to Get to Sea

Adventures in Nature

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“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”
-Moby Dick

I always knew I loved the first few sentences of Moby Dick, but I had never gotten much past that for some reason or other. With my love of the sea tis shocking  that I have not yet read this book. I found it at a thrift shop the other day and paused to read past, “Call me Ishmael.” The paragraph as quoted above not only grounded me with its stunning poetic verse, but it felt quite similar to a situation I find myself in as of late, feeling a bit grim about the mouth, wanting to knock people’s hats off and most definitely jonesing the sea. Or in my case open waters. Superior.

Here I am.

Sometimes, words fail me. Hence why I borrowed Herman Melville’s for this post, because he said it better than I ever could. And also, I thought I would let some photos I have snapped since re-locating back to the great North do the talking for me. So I feel ya, Ishmael, sometimes the only thing to do is get to the water.

 

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The Winds Are Changing

Musings

Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can’t put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what’s to happen / All happened before.
-Bert, a la Mary Poppins

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to being lost. While there have been many times in my life that I have felt lost, usually it has mattered little to me as I have always felt a bit un-tethered. Once while on a road trip with a past love, I groused to him that I had tried braiding my hair to tame it, but that it had exploded upon itself anyway.

He replied, “I guess that means you can’t be tamed.”

Even though I had used the word tame in regards to my wild curls, I loved that he threw it back to me in describing my wild spirit. I found it to be a high compliment and nodded to myself that it was so. I certainly could not be tamed.

I realized, however, with my epiphany in the bathroom the other day, staring at my body and not feeling shame, that I feel a little less lost in myself. The importance of this didn’t occur to me until today. Well last night really. I couldn’t sleep because the rain was splattering so furiously on my windows that it kept jarring me from sleep.

Though I checked my phone multiple times to find it was still the middle of the night I started to feel awake and with my alertness, I began to feel a little lost. A few years ago when I lived in Wisconsin I used to feel so lost that I would wake up in the middle of the night, look across the room into the mirror, catch my reflection and not know who I was looking at. I felt like a displaced person inside of myself and it happened all the time. It was unsettling to say the least, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it happened so frequently.

Now I suspect it had something to do with my vast unhappiness in my own skin.

But when I woke up last night it wasn’t the kind of lost I used to feel in Wisconsin, instead this felt like a directional sort of lost. This one I was more familiar with and could identify as part of my gypsy spirit, the part of me that needs something more … somewhere … but I am not yet sure what.

When I left New York City I had the same feeling. At first I knew I needed the flat farmlands of my hometown of Fowlerville, Michigan, to soothe me, but that didn’t satiate me long—it never does—and shortly after abandoning New York I knew I needed the mountains. That’s all I could think was mountains, I need the mountains and their vastness. And their “good tidings,” as John Muir says. I felt claustrophobic after leaving New York City and the mountains seemed the perfect antidote to that.

Now, all I knew was I needed the North. I needed Lake Superior. I needed to be on the lookout for moose and the moving green mists of the Northern Lights. I needed dense forests and zero traffic. I needed my sisters. After that I didn’t know what I needed or where to go to get it but first and foremost the Great Up North seemed to be beckoning in her most alluring way.

I often feel that a lot of people couldn’t or wouldn’t comfortably understand my need for abrupt change, but the best way I can describe it is this:

“Not all who wander are lost.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

So while I feel a bit like Mary Poppins noting that the wind has changed and there is nothing to be done but follow it, I don’t feel internally lost. I feel ready for a good wander. Internally, I have never felt more secure.*

 

***
I wrote this post before I moved yet still wanted to post it, but my secure-ness has shaken a little—err a lot—and my lost-ness has intensified. But alas at one point I felt certainty in the wind change. Now… well now I am just finding comfort in myself, deep down where God resides.