Solo Camping

Musings

I think I might be a grown-up. I know how this sounds. Of course by all standards, I am a grown-up. I live apart from my parents and pay my bills and brush my teeth and get dressed in the morning unassisted. I don’t know that these are qualifiers for grown-up-hood actually because five year olds too know how to get dressed and brush their teeth, but they can’t buy whiskey and move cross country whenever they feel like it, so I stand by my declaration.

Anyway, this occurred to me last night as I was walking to the bathroom at the campground I was staying at. By myself. I kept giggling like I was a kid who had in fact snuck out of my parents house to do something illicit. I did do this once as a youngster, with my best friend Katee Peach—that really was my childhood best friend’s name, isn’t that perfect?—this is what Bad Mary Janes we were. We snuck out around midnight, drove to Meijer—a nicer version of Wal-Mart, but not as classy as Target, for those not in the know—bought bulk candy and sat in the furniture section feeling smug, rocking on faux leather office chairs until our eyes got heavy and we inevitably just drove home.

I told myself when I moved to yet another new place by myself, that I was going to attempt to do things alone, things that I would have previously never considered doing alone. One of those things was go camping. In my mind going camping alone, seemed rather lame. Who would I chat with and snuggle and eat s’mores with? Turns out the s’mores thing was hardly a problem. I made it my mission to eat enough s’mores to account for two people being there. I know, I had to take one for the team on that one.

I had decided to ease into camping by myself, I wouldn’t venture into the Wyoming wilds alone, alone. First I would start with a campground and I opted for Buffalo Bill State Park on the reservoir. Not too shabby canyon and water views, accompanied by the secure feeling of collective campers, and a distinct lack of grizzlies seemed wise.

I brought my childhood stuffed giraffe that I still cart around the country when I am in between snuggle partners as she makes a good fill in. Lula didn’t disappoint. She didn’t fight me when I put her worn orange cotton ears tightly underneath my neck. She also didn’t object to my constant position switching in the night to get comfortable on my stack of about 9 folded blankets.

I can’t say I deserved a high-five for setting up my tent because it is new technology and basically idiot-proof. I am pretty sure I could have Mary Poppins’d that shit, and sang a song to my tent and it would’ve risen. Also God love a Coleman, because the beaut held up to insane and persistent Wyoming winds all. night. long. I kept checking the corners which I had weighed down with rocks, because my campsite was pure rubble and I could not get the stakes in.

But the tent and Lula held through the onslaught.

I had made a fire, no prob, because duh I was a Girl Scout. Although, okay I love to throw that out there, but I think I actually was a Brownie and never graduated past Brownie. But I did sew something once, so, I am pretty sure I still get the honor.

I drank peach beers and smiled dreamily at my blazing fire, the sun dipping down behind Cody canyons and felt like I was figuring it out. At least I hoped I was. I wanted to start in on my laundry list of worries because that is my usual pastime, but I refused. I told myself I would simply enjoy the pure pleasure of being alive and able to camp on my own in the West. Turns out this wasn’t a hard feat.

I kept laughing and it wasn’t from the peach beers, though to be fair, two did make me tingle a bit. I sincerely felt in awe of doing an activity that seems like it should be a two person activity, and making it fit one. My bed, happily high from the obscene amounts of stacked and folded blankets only took up a small space in my five-person tent. But I liked my miniature living room, with dimly lit lantern, Wall Drug cowboy satchel filled with books, my styrofoam cooler brought purely to protect the chocolate and brews, and then there was me and Lula.

I always say that I have the worst night’s sleep on record when I go camping, and I surely did. I was up every half hour it seemed with howling winds that shook every seam in my tent relentlessly. I wondered if the wind would pick us all up: me, the tent and Lula and cart us off to Oz. I dreamt about packing up the tent multiple times, but each time I woke up and heard the wind and rain, I snuggled deeper into my blankets and prayed. I didn’t pray for protection against a wayward tree crushing me, but for God to not let my new Coleman get destroyed after only one use.

I had fallen asleep wearing pants, a long sleeve shirt, doubled with a thick sweater and wool socks. I awoke sweaty and to the sounds of squawking birds. The tent was now still and my body ached as I wearily peeled off socks and multiple layers of my clothes. I whipped off the mounds of blankets and unzipped the tent flap to a cool breeze and bright morning sun. I gulped in the fresh air and wondered about coffee. I also wondered if I could shoot the squawking birds without incident.

Camping is slightly like heartache following love. You wonder why you bother, yet secretly are up for all the thrills all over again.

I debated whether I had the energy to pack up without caffeine first, but I swallowed some stale water from my Nalgene bottle and ate three squares of a Hershey’s bar and determined that would have to suffice.

As I tried to stuff the tent back in the bag that never seems big enough to hold what came out so easily, I thought, hey, I did it. I camped alone.

The Camp Hosts from Georgia who were making their morning rounds around the campground called out, “leaving already?”

“Yeah I was just here for one night. Now I am going hiking.”

“Be safe,” the man said.

I nodded, feeling sweaty from the effort of shoving the tent into its too small bag.

And just like that I was off in search of the largest coffee I could find and a hike that would quench my never-ending thirst for more adventure. Alone or otherwise.

I am Not Offended by Pies

Musings

Not too long ago, I had an interesting experience while in line at Target. I was eyeing up the brightly colored magazines with pies and holiday décor on the covers and had commented to my friend that my mom had almost every single one of those magazine subscriptions and oh how I envied her. It was my turn to check out then and the cashier started talking to me about one of the pie’s taking up the entire cover. I nodded in excitement thinking she was just as jazzed as I was about pies, the holidays and women’s magazines. But right as I had started to smile and say, “I know, pies!—” she rolled her eyes and started in on a long tirade about how disgusted she was with the pie. She sneered like the pie was a known criminal who’d just been set free.

I faltered. What was wrong with pies? I didn’t understand. Maybe she was a health nut… As she was bagging up my items, she kept going on about the pie and how much it aggravated her. I looked back at the magazine and the offending pie for clues when she then started in on Woman’s Day in particular.

“I mean, come on, Woman’s day? Why does it have to be a woman’s day? Making pies?” she enunciated the words woman’s and pie while waving her hands zestfully. I swiped my credit card.

And bingo was his name-o.

“So you’re a feminist?” I commented.
She beamed, glowing as warm and bright as a freshly baked apple pie.

“Exactly!” she smiled like I got it and went on. “Why are they assuming only women want to make pies?! And why is it called Woman’s Day? It should just be called… Day!”

“Right…” I nodded and though I completely did not feel that Woman’s Day should be entitled Day or women’s inclination for pie making was all wrong I wanted to be helpful and show my support of her passion and chimed in, “men can make pies too!”

She looked downright exuberant now and like she might grab a protest sign hidden behind her cash register that said, Men make pies too! and start marching around the store.

By this time my transaction was done and my friend who had been ahead of me in line was waiting near the exit doors. I smiled politely again and waved goodbye. She looked deeply relieved like she had gotten through to me—made me understand that women’s magazines and pies were a throwback to the 50’s when women served their men whiskey and lit their cigars while wearing pearls… all of this after a long day of vacuuming, of course.

Little did she know that she was preaching to the wrong lass. It’s not that I am not a feminist though (those types of things simply don’t rile me up). Am I all for women’s rights? Absolutely. Do I think Lena Dunham is the shit? I sure do. But I am offended by the idea of being barefoot and preggo in a kitchen baking a pie for my husband? Nope. I think that sounds delightful. Do I therefore belong in the kitchen baking pies? No. I don’t belong any one place in particular, not to a kitchen or a pie or heck even a man. I belong where I say I belong and my mind changes daily on that. Sometimes I do belong in a kitchen baking pies, you better freakin’ believe I do. I love pie! And other days I belong to the open road. And still others I belong to my laundry basket that is overflowing. I belong to my keyboard and my camera. I belong to the forest and the sea. I belong to God.

I will tell you what does offend me though: the idea that women should be just one thing. They should be career women and be offended by Woman’s Day insinuating they should spend their days baking pies. That’s preposterous. Woman’s Day is simply celebrating women, however they want to spend their day, making pies or not making pies. Okay fine, then they should all be mothers and they should all love to cook. Nope still wrong. Not everyone wants to be a mother and that’s okay too. I personally don’t relate to that one, but I also don’t undertsand the allure of cottage cheese; the world is just incomprehensible sometimes. Now wait for it, here’s a real doozy, what if you want both?

I do. I want a career. I want to write novels and travel the globe and live out of my car and soak up every human experience possible. But some day I want babies, loads of ‘em and a hubby too. I would like a house with a front porch and a big kitchen for cooking meals for that family. I’d like a dog and maybe some goats.

Lately though, maybe it’s because I am nearing 30 and people have taken it upon themselves to worry for me, I have gotten in a lot of conversations that utterly baffle me with how insulting they are. I am going to combine all of these very real convos into one for you now:

”So are you seeing anyone?”
”Nope.”
”How old are you?”
”28,” I answer because I am not ashamed of my age or sharing it.
“Ohhhh… do you want me to set you up with anyone?”
”No thank you. I am footloose and fancy free.”
”Are you sure you want to do that?”
”Be footloose and fancy free? Yes. I love being footloose and fancy-free”
”Yeah… but you’re not getting any younger…”
”I appreciate your concern but I am really not worried.”
”No you’re right. I would start to worry by 35.”
”Um. No I am not going to worry then either.”
”But don’t you want kids?”
”Yup. Six of them.”
”Oh my gosh! Your eggs are probably already dwindling! You should really get on this.”
”Yeah… no. I again am not worried. And if I have to adopt half the orphans in Africa and Vietnam with or without a man, I am comfortable with the fact that I will one day be a mother and I also would like to be a writer as well.”
”Well… kudos to you…” they say begrudgingly.

The problem I have with these conversations besides their being wildly offensive in nature is that people are implying my life sans man or sans children right now is cause for worry. It isn’t right. It’s against the grain. Aren’t I a woman? Isn’t that what all us womenfolk want?

Yeah, some of us want that. And some don’t. And some want the career and some want the babies and some want the pie and some want a little of all three and some want none of the above. Leave us alone! Leave Woman’s Day alone! Leave our bloody egg count and our want for pies or adventure alone! No woman who wants to be a mother and only a mother should be labeled un-ambitious because she doesn’t have inclinations other than to procreate. Being a mother is beautiful. So is having lofty career goals. And so is wanting both.

And guess what the very best thing of all is? Women who have the confidence to go after what they want whether or not they are getting older, their egg count is dwindling, their other friends happen to be married, have babies, houses, dream careers, but still they press on knowing who they are and what they want out of this crazy life.

Hmmm. Got a bit soap-boxey there. Maybe I’m a feminist after all… Just not one who is offended by pies.

Underwear Woes

Musings

I am neurotic. I like my things organized and color-coated and everything down to a paper clip to have a home. So naturally I fold my underwear and then stack them neatly on top of all the underwear I hate and loathe entirely but keep around as back-up reserves in case. I like to never have to get to my reserves and I rarely do. But the other day it happened. I tore apart my underwear basket in a panic wondering where all my good Hanes were. Well they weren’t clean and freshly pressed in my underwear basket that was for sure.

As I located a girly floral lace pair reserved for when I have a boyfriend (beginning stages only) I stared in dismay and hatred at the flimsy cotton and lace combo. Is there anything worse than having to resort to your back-up underwear, I thought to myself. No. The answer was a resounding no. There isn’t a damn thing worse.

I put on the dreaded fancy underwear and went about my day.

Now that was a few days ago and I have since done laundry and re-washed all my beloved boyshort Hanes in solid colors with loads of fabric to cover every ounce of my fupa and then-some. Ah happy days are here again.

But today it hit me as I was looking over my underwear supply. It has gotten low somehow. I think some were lost. One pair was slipped off recently when I decided on a whim to take a dip in Lake Michigan on my way home to visit my parents. Still having a long drive to go I put the wet undies behind my seat. I then made the mistake of letting my dad borrow my car.

Here’s the thing about my dad. When I was young and not as hip as I am now, I used to have all sorts of useless shit in my car. I had a fur steering wheel cover, fuzzy dice (don’t you dare judge me) and to top it off all my stations were pre-set to gangsta rap—this was my only form of rebellion in high school, since I spent my free time babysitting and attempting to write romance novels (now you can judge me). When my dad would use my car, he took everything off, including my twelve dozen keychains, bringing it all in the house and leaving it on the counter. He also changed all my rap stations to conservative talk radio.

He did this every time.

Since then I have gotten rid of all things faux-fur related and no longer have pre-sets pertaining to 50 Cent. The last time my father drove my car however, he took my 26.2 and I love Mountains bumper stickers off. He claimed they fell off in the car wash. I knew better.

This time I noticed my usual pile of things Dad found in my car that he found to be unnecessary piled on the counter. But I also noticed that my wet underwear were missing from behind my seat. I knew my dad had done something with these because it pains him greatly to have anything in his car—or mine—besides George Jones CD’s and a large styrofoam cup of diet pop.

I didn’t want to be down one pair of my beloved boyshorts but I couldn’t bear to ask my father what he’d done with my overly large underwear that are made to look like mens boxers. I didn’t want him thinking they were a guys because umm yikes, I don’t want my dad thinking of that ever. But worse, I didn’t want him knowing that those were mine and truly they could easily be misconstrued as mens. I counted it as a loss and said nothing.

So the conundrum I had today was this, I am dangerously low on my Hanes boyshorts. I am also dangerously low on fundage. And Hanes used to offer these splendid underwear in three-packs, but now they can only be purchased in a two-pack, those sly bastards. When I found this out, I was in such a hot rage I almost wrote to them as I was already pained paying $9.99 for three pairs and now I would only get two?! Five dollars a piece for underwear? Who do you take me for, Hanes? A Kardashian?

I mean they really have me over a barrel here, because they are my favorite and I have never loved any underwear so much, but obviously if I am buying my underwear in a plastic package at Target I am not then going home to drink Cristal. I can barely afford coffee, man.

My point with all this ranting over underwear is this simple fact: When did buying a two-pack of Hanes become a luxury I can’t afford?