Monthly Archives: May 2009

Camping in Big Sur

Camping in Big Sur

John and I went camping last Monday down in Big Sur. Is it just me, or do all the beaches around here look the same? Seriously, I felt like we could have been in Mendocino or Half Moon Bay or down in Santa Cruz. Yeah, it was beautiful, but I’m not convinced camping is all it’s cracked up to be. I’m cool to go hiking, but at the end of the day, what beats a long soak in the hot tub and a cozy sleep in my own bed?

Yeah, yeah, it’s the experience of getting away from it all. Must the escape be so extreme? I mean, no cell reception AND no wifi? Why isn’t it sufficient to just sunbathe on your patio, or lie out in the park? I just don’t get it. And what exactly are you escaping? Is life so bad that you need to head out to the quasi-wilderness only to recreate the creature comforts of your abode? If it’s just a vacation, fine. I get it. I get the desire to change your scenery, to see new things. But in my own defense, I get a lot of fucking enjoyment from being connected, from reading blogs and twitter feeds and whatever. I don’t find a need to pretend like I’m a settler moving west for Manifest Destiny. Ah well, as my coworker explained, camping’s not for everyone.

I should mention a few things too about our campgrounds. Most public campgrounds do not allow dogs, so thank goodness we found a private campground with luxurious amenities like hot water, shower facilities, and toilets. Yes, it was pretty much car camping at Big Sur Campgrounds, but hey if you’re not an uber purist, this place is very clean, their staff is nice, and location is convenient, just north of Pfeiffer Beach.

That said, sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground is not comfy, and when the temps dip around 40, it’s pretty damn chilly. The dogs did not rest well at all. Certainly by morning, we had four crankpots in the tent.

As for the tent itself, I was glad to benefit from the latest innovations in camping equipment. Tents now are surprisingly easy to assemble and so light to lug around. Years ago, we had overnighted in a tent on a whitewater rafting trip in West Virginia. I don’t really acknowledge that trip as our first camping experience because we totally ended up raiding the WalMart for all sorts crap to make ourselves comfortable, but point is, back then, I had borrowed camping gear from my friend Andrea, and let’s just say, pitching her tent took way longer than 5 minutes. This time, it was so simple. We were done so fast, we were on to the next to do (yes, I have a todo even on vacation).

Interestingly, a couple of lots over, I watched in disbelief (and horror) as a small family unloaded their SUV chock full of shit. Jesus, there were only three people (2 adults, 1 child), but the amount of crap they had packed could have supported an entire summer camp. They had this monster-ass tent with multiple rooms, they had carpet for outside, chairs, a table-top grill, a tablecloth, for crissakes! I mean, I dunno where they live, but is it really necessary to recreate the comforts of suburban life in the middle of a forest? I just don’t understand the appeal. Why not just BBQ at home? If nature is what you seek, go be in nature without all the junk. Totally bizarre.

As for my relationship with nature, for me, I’m drawn to just exercising outdoors. But I don’t have to be in a remote or undeveloped area. In fact, I am probably more of a city parks kind of gal. I like paved trails, sidewalks, picnic tables, basketball courts, tennis courts, swimming pools, etc.

Maybe that’s why I was bored. Yeah, we took the dogs hiking along the beach, the drive down was very scenic, we pitched the tent, built the campfire, etc. But by the time we finished dinner, there was nothing else to do. And when I’m idle, I get extremely sleepy. I hit the sack around 8pm! John said we’re supposed to tell stories around the campfire, but I had spent the entire day with him already… what more was there to talk about? What stories? He knows all the stories of my life. Oh well. He admitted he was bored with me too.

Next time I suppose we’ll try camping with a group. I dunno. I’ll give it another try. Sigh. I’d so much rather go rollerblading or swimming or biking in the neighborhood though…

Sick Today

Sick Today

Why hello there, stranger. Why this repeated neglect? I have no worthy explanation. I just haven’t been feeling myself. I recently switched to this flex work schedule, and while initially, I felt like a rockstar getting in early and leaving “normal time,” of late I’ve been feeling fatigued. Perhaps I’m due for another visit to the doctor, because although my body is probably its healthiest (by the numbers) since high school, I somehow feel more fragile. I’ve noticed, for example, that now when I get sick, my entire body just goes limp, like I’m on muscle relaxer or something. It’s the oddest thing. Take today, for instance. I started developing a sore throat yesterday at work. Sneezing, burning eyes. Overnight, I didn’t sleep well at all, thanks to Remy’s sick poopies. I also had some disturbing work-related dreams with office politics (but I’m not even involved with office politics in real life!). By morning, my throat was so sore, I couldn’t even swallow. And the rest of my body was too damn tired to even move. And this has happened the last few times I’ve gotten sick. Something is not right.

Is something troubling me? Nothing outside the ordinary. Work wise, sure, I have those insecurities I mentioned before about staying ahead of the curve and remaining relevant… but whatever, not like I’m losing sleep over it. I suppose I’ve been thinking a lot about my friends. So many of them are unhappy… for various reasons: some are alone, some have shitty jobs, some are overweight, some have addiction issues, some are in relationships that are volatile or incomplete. I struggle with how to help them take action and feel better. I suggest therapy services I found that are free/low-cost. I suggest rec classes through the local community parks & rec departments to jumpstart exercise/fitness. I mention nutritionists to help them learn new ways of eating. I invite them to go skating/swimming/biking with me. NOTHING happens. I’m not upset because they aren’t listening to me. I don’t claim to be the authority. But what does piss me off is their inaction, their CHOICE to not do anything about their unhappiness. Yes, sometimes, you just need to wallow in self-pity. But for how long, really? Days, weeks, months, years?? The bottom line is this. If you’re done, then end it. If you are not going to end it and you’re unhappy, then do SOMEthing because really, what’s the point of living otherwise? And no, this isn’t some passive-aggressive attempt to send a message to my friends who are frustrating me. Believe me, I have already voiced this directly. And they know what they need to do.

Anyway. I’m home today. Felt crazy weak and tired this morning, but now I’m feeling better. John takes wonderful care of me when I’m sick. He made me a grilled cheese with his homemade bread, and he’s also making homemade chicken soup. In the future, I should get sick once a month just to lap up this luxury.

Btw Kat, the cranberry juice DOES work wonders for the sore throat! Thanks for the tip!

Summer of George

Summer of George

Well it’s official: John’s last day of work was last Friday. Yes, it’s been a long time coming, but he finally cut the cord after 8 years. It’s time for a change. Sure, the economy is shit and the job market sucks, but we’re done trudging through the mud. We’ve been preparing all our adult lives for this kind of flexibility and freedom to take risks. Enough is enough.

To be frank, in the beginning, I was reluctant. I’d had my fair share of shit jobs, so I admit I had a case of “You don’t know how good you’ve got it” attitude. But ultimately, he’s the one who’s unhappy, so if it doesn’t feel right for him, who am I to say otherwise? And so he’s packing the bags. Just. like. that.

I’m at ease with the decision now (he broke the news to them about two months ago). I mean, it didn’t take THAT much convincing. I could see the depression and unhappiness creeping back. Last summer’s respite was just that: a break to see if the symptoms would disappear once the alleged stressor was removed. After he went back to work, the symptoms reappeared.

Sure, he’ll still need to develop coping mechanisms to deal with future imperfect jobs or stressful environments, but at least for now, his current relationship with the employer comes to an end. And so begins another new adventure.

I proceed excitedly but cautiously. Downgrading to SINK from DINK is a substantial drop in income. But I remain hopeful: this will challenge us to become more resourceful and more creative. I’m a little sad to abandon my recent pricey hobbies (shopping, theater, classes) but ultimately, I know that freedom is priceless. And I remember that for many years, John toiled so I could pursue my interests. Now it’s my turn to return the favor.

So next week begins my official status as breadwinner (for real!!). And I really am psyched. I’m ready to be a Clydesdale the next several months while Bubbey frolics in the summer breeze. Haha. It’s not completely one-sided. I’ll be getting some delicious home cooked meals out of this. 🙂 Washed clothes and a clean house might be another story, but I’ll take what I can get…

A Peculiar Thing

A Peculiar Thing

Since college, I’ve always had guy friends. My roommate at Duke was like Miss Popular in high school: the smart, sporty cheerleader chick. You know what I mean. I, on the other hand, was the awkward, nerdy dorky chick. Thankfully, I wasn’t scrawny too like I had been in middle-early high school (before I got into weight lifting) but still, I was definitely socially awkward, inexperienced, and sheltered. I suppose rooming with a social butterfly like Jo opened me up a little bit. I started actually hanging out with boys– probably by association to Jo than anything else. Regardless, I befriended many of them. The relationships were always platonic. Yes, I found some of them attractive but not really in the “jump his bones” kind of way; I just really enjoyed the camaraderie. My fondest memories are just of us hanging out, lunching at the cafeteria, making fun of the teachers, laughing. I loved their sarcasm and wit and humor.

Of course, at various points during my first two years in college, I did end up falling for a few of them. They never felt the same way. That was the story of my whole romantic life up until then. I always fell for the multi-talented, sharp dude, and he never reciprocated. Instead, he would talk about some other chick he was pining after. Yeah, I had a decent personality, but whatever, in the end, personality was never enough to take things to the next level. And so there I remained. For the two guys I had crushes on, being friends was difficult. But with the others, our relationships were simply great friendships. And I really believed that platonic relationships between guys and girls were possible.

Fast forward ten years. Previous to my current job, I worked for a fuel cell startup– an engineering R&D place, meaning I was one of 3 women among 50 guys. I had lunch with these guys, I went rollerblading with them, I had dinner after work with them– sometimes alone. To me, this was never anything more than simply connecting with another human (who happened to be male) and enjoying his company. Sometimes John joined. Sometimes he didn’t. He always knew what I was doing. I didn’t sneak around rendezvousing.

Anyway, there was one dude I hung out with maybe 3-4 times. We talked about the usual stuff: that hellhole of a place where we used to work, our coworkers, what we’re up to… I never flirted or touched him or anything! We were going to try this new pizza place once but it turned out to be short order. I suggested we get it take out and then just hang at his place. He said no because his place was dirty. Ok, whatever, let’s dine somewhere else.

On another occasion, he was dropping me off after dinner and we had this weird discussion about prostitution. I don’t know how it came up, but he knows I’m feminist and I don’t buy into that “woman’s personal choice to work” bullshit. Anyway, he said something like men have needs. Yeah, THAT argument. I was completely shocked and truthfully, a bit offended and disappointed. And I told him so. Seriously, I don’t fucking care about a guy’s needs. He should deal with it and not at the expense of others. I mean, this is not like a guy with stubble needing to shave, and so he gets a disposable razor and chucks it afterwards. You know what I mean??

When we arrived at my house, I invited him in for tea or whatever. I was still in disbelief about his stance and it was otherwise a weird conversation to end on… John was home, and then the three of us talked and then he headed out. After that, we sort of lost touch.

In part, I was taken aback by his position on prostitution but beyond that, I just grew busy with work and my new year’s resolutions. I figured he’s probably just a “friend for a season” sort of thing. (you know, “friend for a lifetime”, “friend for a reason”, “friend for a season.). And that was that.

A year passed. He emailed me. I replied that things were insanely hectic, which they were. I didn’t ask to meet up. I was at a different place in my life with friendships. I felt like I had been over-engaging… like I had been trying too hard with my friendships, so I was scaling back. Whatever.

Three months later, another email. Just seeing what’s new. No big deal. Then three month later (last week), I got the strangest message.

Basically, he confessed to starting to like me, and the reason he didn’t want to go to his place for pizza was because he was afraid he would make a pass at me! WHAAA?? Yeah, OMFG I am totally clueless, right???

The email disturbed me on so many different levels:
1. Huh? How is this possible? I never intended to give any message that would result in this.
2. This kind of shit does NOT happen to me. Seriously, it’s a fucking miracle that I even snagged John. It’s not like I’ve ever been hit on at a bar. I’ve always had to buy my own goddamn drinks, thank you very much!
3. Am I naive to think platonic relationships are possible?
4. What the hell happened to my radar, my people reader? Apparently, it’s not fucking calibrated!!
5. Why now? I mean, the last time we hung out was late 2007. Why is he telling me this?
6. Is it not apparent to everyone I meet that I am an uber control freak who has MAJOR issues with infidelity? Really, there is no excuse for cheating. Married or unmarried. If someone is in a relationship, fidelity needs to be upheld. It’s just so tied to honesty and trust… Ugh. Don’t even get me started…

So the thing is this: I feel a little disappointed that somehow the relationship was misunderstood. I mean, maybe people can’t help feelings but they can totally control actions. So why is he telling me? Is he throwing a bone to see if maybe the feelings are reciprocated? Is it just closure? More importantly, what are the implications of this on my other friendships with guys? Part of me is pissed! I mean, if I want to see a play with a guy friend who also happens to love Les Mis, why not? And if we grab dinner before/drinks after to discuss, why not? I can spend 8 hours shopping/eating/hanging out with my friend Pamela late into the night. We’re kindred spirits. Who’s to say kindred spirits must be the same-sex (if you’re hetero).

I turn the scenario around. Say John starts hanging out with a lady at work. Grab dinner after, hang out until 9:30 alone. If they are friends, they are friends. I don’t deny that a red flag won’t raise, but that’s because he’s typically not a social person. He doesn’t do a lot of friend activities. But would I forbid it? No, because ultimately, people are going to do what they want to do. Whether we are married or not, in a relationship or not. I am not going to live in fear or worry about what might transpire when he is alone with someone else.

For me, I know that I have no other intentions with my guy friends. Perhaps my lesson is that I cannot control the other party. But still, I can control my response. And respond I did.

Of course, now I’m going to have to poll all my other guy friends to see what this is all about…