Fourteen years of continuous travel and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.

From a journal entry dated October 18, 2021

Write drunk. Edit sober.

Then blow your fuckin' head off with a shotgun.

I added the last part.

I came all the way here to write. Under a full moon with the waves making the most angelic white noise. Things are always different in our imaginations aren’t they?

Ride your bike for two hours. Sit down to get creative by the ocean. On the way you think of the masterpiece you’ll create. When you get there you take out your keyboard. The cute little Bluetooth one you bought on Amazon.

Lay out your pretty patterned blanket. Get your beverage ready by your side. The air is perfect. The world sounds so delicious.

Just start writing.

Then, get eaten alive. Your entire body itches. Your concentration is broken. There are no lovely thoughts. Primal fear switches on and now I’m obsessed with how I’m going to cake sea water and sand all over my body for the next eight hours so these little assholes leave me alone.

They bit me on the bottom of my foot. The soft part. Damn that shit itches when they bite you there.

Twenty more minutes. But I’ve decided to suffer tonight. Suffer for art; 'cause that’s whatcha do.

I called everyone today. Anyone who would listen. I peeled myself out of bed and now I’m in the world.

As always, it’s me and the mosquitoes.

Later that night...

Quite misery. Much annoyance. Let’s go trough the phone and call people I’ve been ignoring for months. People I didn’t have the time for. People I’ve scared away. Good people.

I came here to talk to God and I'm doing my best to avoid it. He waits patiently, but as his obstinate daughter, I must push our deadline back.

Twenty minutes. That’s all I need. Walk to the water. Call someone I probably hurt really bad. They deserve a call. I will get to the Lord when I’m done.

So the question now is: do I pee in the ocean or walk to the restrooms like a classy lady?

Hundreds-of-thousands of words written since August 2018 but not a single essay birthed to the internet.

Guess that's cause I'm determined to be Queen Hipster™ and only write in paper journals so those words will probably never see the light of day unless I'm put in some kind of solitary confinement and get so bored that typing them out and putting them on the internet will be a relief from the torture of staring at white walls.

I'm sure there's a lot of gold in those journals.

Same Shit, Different Poop Bag

No travels to report on, really. I've been to a few cute places and have even done some things that have a good shot at the Best Basic Bitch on Instagram Award, but nothing an intelligent and sane reader such as yourself would give a fraction-of-a-fuck about.

So today, Dearest Reader, let's explore some psychological-slash-philosophical things.

Out-Pontificating the Pontiff

I joined a philosophy meetup group and finally have other deep, intellectual, ruminating nerds with whom to dissect topics into infinite, microscopic, pointless – yet fun – pieces. We meet weekly to nerd. It's grand.

Last week, in a beachside coffee shop, the topic du jour was Power. For the most part the topic was discussed and debated in the physical sense. You know, politics, war, and the like.

But then...all eyes were on me. I went straight into arguing the psychological uses of Power because, to this contrarian, psychological power is as powerful as physical.

To illustrate my point I referenced The Villiage, a movie I saw...Jesus, must have been 10 years ago? I guess a synopsis would help here, so very briefly...


The Villiage is the story of an isolated group whose leaders use fear to keep other members of the group from leaving or falling out of line.

I loved this film the first time I saw it. Call me simple but I love unexpected twists in stories. I never see them coming.

Certain films have an afterburn; a period of days to years wherein I can't stop the tennis match of ideas they spark, and this film is one of them.

At first I was horrified by the tactics the leaders used to keep the village together:

What kind of monsters could do that to children? This is what happens when the elites in society get drunk on power, man! This is what happens when they want to control our minds, man! They're just a bunch of power-hungry white men, man! (No, wait, that was a quote I saw on Twitter.)

Anyhoo, after grappling with the underlying themes in the story I came to a disturbing conclusion: Yeah, I'd do it.

It's not easy for me to admit it, but I would. I don't have kids, but if I did, I'd be damned if they'd be spending their days on phones, internets, and in front of TVs. Sometimes I'm utterly in awe of our willingness to outsource our societal duties to a bunch of psychos on the other end of a fiber optic cable. It makes me sick to my stomach to imagine strangers who would make my children feel ashamed of their bodies, who would prey on them, who would sway their behavoir, or who would influence their precious little lives from far, far away.

I don't know if I'd quite go to the same lengths as the leaders of The Village, but I'd figure out a way to reach the same ends and still be able to sleep at night. Why would I go to these lengths? Because that's how I was raised, of course!

Teach Your Children Well

My adoptive mother raised us on true crime shows. Kind of a strange thing to be enjoying with your kids, ages 7-10, but ya know, she did her. And boy she scared the living pantaloons off us by showing us what's out “there”.

By the ripe old age of 10 I knew as much about Ted Bundy as I did American history. Could I crush a spelling bee? Well, no. But I could take home a gold f'n medal in a Jeffrey Dahmer trivia contest. Has it fucked me up psychologically? Absolutely it has. Buuuuuut...

Am I still alive? Yes.

Were her girls always safe? Also yes.

Did she teach her girls to presume everyone's a murderer and/or rapist until proven otherwise? Absa-freakin'-lutely.

Did her girls develop the ability to read and predict people like top-shelf carnival psychics? I dare you to try to lie to one of us today.

The lesson here is, she had a job to do and she succeeded spectacularly. How could you argue with the tactics? The point is, she was a woman in the mid-90s who had to work ten hours a day. That means her chickadees had to go out into the world and fend for themselves. I think we can all agree that a mother's number-one mandate is to protect her children, and that's precisely what she did.

I suppose she could have done this in a number of ways. She could have hired bodyguards for us. She could have demanded that we were confined to the home and sent a tutor to educate us. But those options were financially impossible, so she went forth, with her mandate in hand and was forced to get creative.

Remember there were no cell phones or tracking devices for children in the mid-90s. If you were lucky – and a maybe little douchy – you got a pager around 1996 and your parents were able to send out a Bat Signal. It was on you to get in touch with them. They had no ability to see where you were or spy on your activities.

Granted, I grew up in a nice place, but it was an incredibly dangerous place. I can't believe I made it out alive.

Faced with these predicaments: dangerous world, no ability to physically protect your children, what do you do? Seriously?

You train them to be terrified.

Fear is Avoidance

Fear works. I'm no biologist but I can't help but regard fear as the most powerful force acting on every creature in Kingdom Animalia. Imagine that, instead of God, it was Nature barking orders to Moses up on Mount Sinai. Her commandments most certainly would have begun thusly:

1. Thou shalt stay alive. 2. Thou shalt keep your children alive. 3.. Thou shalt insure your children have children. ...

These are Nature's laws, not ours. They're no joke. They are so powerful and so deeply ingrained in us that we will do the damndest things to keep them.

So here I am today, pondering the thought of scaring the shit out of my kids to keep them safe, while conflicting thoughts scream, what kind of monster could do that to children?

Color-me-monster, I guess.

I'll revisit my previous question: what other choice did my adoptive mom have to keep her girls safe? I have thought about this 'til my brain melted and I can't think of one.

Sometimes These Things Backfire

The mission has been accomplished. The Second Commandment of existence has been successfully defended. I am still here. I am still alive.

With a distrust of people and a belief that the world is dangerous and full of murderers and rapists I live on. I breathe 25,000 times a day. I eat. I shit. My heart beats and my nerves signal.

Mission accomplished.

However, there seems to be a small problem: I didn't breed. Because the world is so terrible and dangerous and full of rapists and murderers, I refuse to bring another life into it because that would be cruel. Breeding requires trust and closeness and an ability to be vulnerable.

My genes have reached the end of the line. I will not be able to keep Second and Third Commandments.

Nature has a funny way of self-correcting. Those of us with no fear die off (and if lucky, receive the coveted Darwin Award).

But those of us with the most fear die off, too.

#anxiety #philosophy #truecrime

January 24, 2017 – 11 AM – Somewhere in Daytona Beach, Florida

Turns out today is a heckuva lot better than yesterday, although my left knee is giving me some issues. After years of putting it off, I finally made it to a sports physiologist a few months ago and she assured me it's not the knee at all, but tightness, knots, and lack of mobility in the joints, ligaments, and muscles themselves. Basically, the muscles and all the other crap in my leg can't play nice together and slide past one another properly. They're too rigid and too neglected. All work and no play has made them rebel.

The only thing that's ever provided relief is a muscle therapy doohickey device that I can best describe as a nubby, plastic rolling pin. You basically sit down with this thing and go to work on your meat like a it's a wad of pizza dough, flattening all your rebellious parts into submission. In a fit of rage – back when I realized I had to abandon 50% of my gear on the second day of my trip – I left it with [Friend]. Well, damn.

The best I can do now is stop every hour, or so, and force a really good stretch. It's not the same as the doohickey but it's the only way I can take care of my knees without machinery right now. I'm going to need them in tiptop shape.

I arrive in Daytona Beach without a snag. Time for a proper break.

After grabbing some coffee I stop to rest along the waterfront where I luckily find my own little hut and have the place all to myself, save for a couple of crows. We all sit there together and stare at the water.

I should be ecstatic right now. If you could see the gloriousness of this landscape with its crystal-blue sky and light breeze, and the Intracoastal Waterway with its calm, rhythmic rocking and occasional gurgle you might be instantly lifted. But I'm not.

I can't put my finger on why, but I'm uptight. Antsy. Impatient. People travel from all over the world to bask in this sun and I suppose it's positively magnificent for a couple of controlled hours at a time, but I've been in it since 7 this morning and right now all I want is a cool spot in a dark cave.

Is this another case of too much of a good thing?

Then a realization: when I set out to ride this distance I was convinced I could do about 30, 40, maybe 50 miles a day. I've easily done 35 miles before, like a champ, but not with all this obnoxious gear strapped to my bike. These were also times I didn't have to worry about traffic, or the availability of bike lanes, or navigating crumbling sidewalks that eventually just stop. No, in the past I rode in nice places that were made with the cyclist in mind. Not the case now. This is riding in the real world with all its dangers and imperfections that tax the mind and spirit.

Plus, those times I did ride 30 or 40 miles, I did it in one day and then stopped. Not several days, back-to-back, with no time for the body to heal and renew.

Maybe I'm just tired.

Give it time. This is all new. It's only day three. Perhaps I just need to get into the swing of things and I'll start having fun.

Another few minutes pass and I shift my gaze from the water to the inside of my little hut. Some graffiti “artists” have left a couple of messages for us weary travelers. I study the first:

Fuck you

And the other:

I love nobody

The crows engage each other in a weird little bird joust before making a flappy exit. I don't want to rush today, but I certainly don't want to be on the road longer than necessary. I cringe at the thought of forcing enjoyment on myself.

I stop at another private beach area and ceremoniously snap a few photos. Maybe if I share these with everyone back home I'll feel better.

Then it's onto the beach. Crackled sand dunes. A lifeguard tower. Meh.

Time to move on. Obviously this isn't what I want to be doing right now. Last stop of the day is New Smyrna's downtown area and it's totally adorable, but my mood is not lifting, my vigor not awakening. Walk down Canal Street. Lunch at Yellow Dog Eats. Oooh, let me take a photo of my healthy and yummy wrap to show everyone. Snap.

Look at the map. Only 440 miles to go.

I give up. Time to find my host's place and take a load off. Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow will feel like an adventure. I'm sure of it.

More Stories from This Trip

#bike #florida

January 24, 2017 – Tomoka State Park – Ormond Beach, Florida

Heading to just south of New Smyrna beach tonight and while I'm more grizzled than yesterday, I feel pretty good about today's ride.

Since this trip was designed as an experiment to see if I could travel simply and survive with just a bike and a backpack, I laid some ground rules for myself before taking off.

Rule 1: Absolutely no hotels. Only camping – whether legit or clandestine – is allowed and, more preferable yet, camping at strangers homes. If this were a real survival situation, I'd have to be comfortable asking people I don't know for help and offering my talents in return for their trouble. Better to develop a skill well before you need it, right?

With the internet this is rather easy nowadays, as there's a website specifically geared toward matching up touring cyclists with hosts, kind of like Couchsurfing for bike travelers. I signed up to host others several months ago so I could start building feedback to ensure hosts trusted me and so I wouldn't have any issues securing a yard or spare room in which to crash.

Rule 2: Carry only what's necessary for survival/safety. Even obeying this rule when I set out meant I was riding with a ridiculous amount of stuff. On just my second day out I mailed at least a quarter of my things to family for safekeeping until I returned. I just couldn't take it anymore. (That was the day with all the wind.)

I don't know why I had it in my mind that I'd be like one of those vagabonds in the movies with one tiny, frayed pouch mounted to a stick, flung over my shoulder. It's just not the way it is and the fact that I have to stay warm this time of year added at least 50% more bulk and weight to my rig. Things might have been different if I'd done this trip in the spring or summer. Oh well.

As I'll get into later in this story, “stuff” becomes my arch nemesis. If I thought I was a minimalist before this, it was but a quaint little gesture. I think real, militant minimalists are forged when stuff becomes a source of almost constant grief, frustration, expense, mental suffocation, and physical hinderance.

But I digress.

Since I'd camped my first two nights out, tonight I decide to hit up a member of the cycling host community near my destination. I reach out to roughly three available hosts on the website and get confirmation from one. He says I can camp in his yard and after I do my research, looking into not only his feedback but into those who left him feedback (remember, everybody is a murderer until proven otherwise) I feel pretty confident I'll emerge from his property tomorrow unscathed.

I've couchsurfed only a couple of times in my life, so this was definitely still a new world for me. I feel a little safer knowing I'll be outside and not trapped in a strange man's home should I need to bounce outta there for whatever reason.

Working out all the ways in my head in which this is a relatively safe decision, I recalculate my kind host's Murder Quotient™ and set out for today's adventure.

It's totally gotta be better than yesterday.

More Stories from This Trip

#bike #florida

What do you do when you can do anything?

What do you think when you can think anything?

With whom do you spend your time when you can spend it with anyone?

How do you define boundaries for yourself when you were brought up in a culture hell bent on casting them aside?

They say great people insist on forever drawing outside the lines. And that this is a good thing. But sometimes bad. It all depends, really. Where even are the lines anymore?

When there are no rules, no limitations, and limitless freedom both in body and mind, where does one even begin to lay the foundations for a project or a family or a community?

Go to school, or don't. Have a family, or don't. Question everything, always.

Or don't.

These are questions I've been asking of late. Writing about the bike adventure and life in general has coalesced once rambling, jumpy, zippy, cloud-like thoughts into something...real? Definable? Workable? Understandable?

Not quite sure yet.

Without much work, internet, or screen time these past few months, questions such as these won't give me a moment's peace. I love it. I think I've gotten quite a bit wrong this last decade-and-a-half and can say, with complete honesty, that whenever my ferociously held beliefs change radically I find it exhilarating.

I can truly say I've designed my life from scratch. I wanted what I believe most want. Limitless freedom. Anything less is unacceptable. But like anything that sounds too good to be true, this fight and its spoils have their dark sides.

I don't travel for travel's sake. I travel because the very act fits nicely into a lifestyle built upon breaking barriers and refusing to be caged into anything, anywhere. Not only geographically, but also psychologically. The exposure to other cultures, other climates, other languages, other ways of life, other foods, community structures, norms, expectations, behaviors – everything – has only served to melt away any self-imposed limits on what I perceive these barriers to be.

Get married and have a family. Go live in the suburbs, said they, to which I responded, Poppycock! That doesn't sound like any fun! What else is out there? Certainly others have figured out another way.

A little bit of digging led me to this: If you don't like your culture or its rules, go find one you do like, it's out there! It's possible now! What a great time to be alive!

I still believe this.

What I'm struggling with now is that the people I love don't inhabit the cultures I love. And it is, indeed, a struggle. I'm getting messages, even from those I never thought would take a side, to keep quiet and play ball. Stick around and be mature. Don't rock the boat. Suffer a little so they don't have to. Do “normal” stuff even though you don't want to. It's the kind, loving thing to do.

I certainly want to be kind and loving.

This is a huge problem for me right now. I've gotten so free, so liberated, and so curious I'm spinning out of control. There's no true north. No anchor. No steadfast societal – or even self-imposed – norms. It's confusing.

On the one hand there's the “be true to yourself at all costs” crowd. They have a point. On the other there's the “don't be a dick, just forgive people and put up with shit you don't like and everyone will be happier” crowd. I agree with them, too.

Right now, there is nothing I can't do. These are quite possibly the most beautiful words I've ever put to paper. But also the scariest.

When there's nothing you can't do sometimes the feeling is too good. It backfires and you end up doing nothing at all.

Looking forward to exploring these ideas more in the coming months/years and even arranging travel specifically to explore them. As an artist I believe art can come from anywhere and anything can become art. Even one's life.

What would a life as art look like? Should be fun. But, then again, maybe not.

#philosophy #libertarianism #thoughts

From a paper journal entry dated August 8, 2018

Step 1: Get physically healthy.

Step 2: Calm the fuck down!

Step 3: It doesn't matter yet!

(I had the feeling I was going to emerge from my funk any day now and got a little ahead of myself. And, take it from me, kids: two-plus months of living on Frosted Flakes, pizza, and alcohol probably isn't the best idea if ya wanna stay fit and pretty!)

A #poogate saga update.

We have been notified of our trial date and, while the nerves are mounting, I'm certainly looking forward to getting justice for my “shitty” client.

I was a mess when I was notified of our transgressions. I was out for blood. How could my good, kind neighbors in our perfect little “community” not understand that “shit” happens and human beings make mistakes? (Let's see how many poo puns I can work into this post.)

Be that as it may, I've calmed down a smidge, and will probably let my client stay home and lick his butt while I go alone to defend his honor.

I'm glad to see so many international folks here on How ashamed I am to share this story, the pinnacle of first world problems, with those of you who are perhaps suffering more than we could ever imagine.

While you are out marching and dying in the streets for just a bit of freedom or maybe the right not to be raped or put in jail or executed without a trial, we sit here fat, happy, safe, and bored. Despite all our blessings, riches, and leisure time we are indignant.

While you are out there wondering if the dirty water you are about to give your dehydrated child will kill him, or if you will be subject to torture for speaking out against a repressive government we are here, sourly confronting and threatening each other for playing with dogs “on the grass”. Without signs and without locks, apparently I was the last one to realize we were in a prohibited area. I should have known it was forbidden to chase each other around in plant matter the Almighty Lord himself put on his green Earth for us to enjoy.

Read the Manual, they say. It's not my job to explain this to you, they think. No, of course not. For the Manual is there to prevent the kinds of conversations they're utterly incapable of having.

We may have abolished actual torture, but here we are, desperately imagining creative new ways to torture, humiliate, and punish each other. These new ways are getting more creative all the time, for we've run out of even sorta, kinda bad problems to solve.

No, we fat, oblivious humans in the first world's HOAs have run out of real wars to fight. Real movements to defend. Real communities of others to join to achieve a higher purpose and promote human dignity.

Our dignity is so intact that we must come up with new ways to tear it down and, I must say, the behavior surrounding the PooGate saga is one of the best pieces of work I've ever seen. You should be proud of yourselves.

My human dignity on the day of the trial will be at an all time low. What better way to challenge a successful person's adulthood, humanhood, value for their time, and love of their “community” than to put their name on a docket, in plain public view, where they will be obliged to answer for the crime of poo, in person, before a “committee”.

You have won.

Follow the #poogate struggle

Once an epic meltdown ensues, an epic collapse is imminent. How long the collapse lasts is anyone's guess. All I can ask is that I emerge unscathed to start the cycle again, someday.

And as ferocious and sudden as the collapse manifests, so too the renewal.

It's a light switch, the day when you open your eyes in the morning and decide to rise. To tackle your back-logged responsibilities. To make your living. To do your chores.

A little fatter. A lot unhealthier. Groggy. You pray to your mortal body to give you just one more chance, to muster the strength to heal, and to put your outer shell back together again, even though the whole thing was your brain's fault.

The brain is rested, now the rest of the organism can proceed with its business of living. What a selfish little prima donna, that brain, it must think.

I woke up yesterday from what must have been a coma. The sleep was so intense and regenerative that I felt as if my brain had been bleached clean. I was afraid to get up and go out into the world for fear of dirtying it, but I did.

It was fine.

Man, the Universe is a sneaky, sassy little B sometimes. Just hours after I posted yesterday about my vow to remain single until the Universe brings my Romeo and me together the following happens:

We're doing our daily dog park outing thing. (I have to take this doggie every day, otherwise he'll drive me completely mad and make me feel like jumping off the balcony.)

I see a dude. We met last time we were here. He's a nice dude. We met because the dogs were piling up on each other and the play was getting rough. Now, if you know anything about dogs you know that they growl and nip at each other during perfectly peaceful play. This is normal.

But some of the schmucks that frequent this place are horrified 'cause, as I said previously, they fully expect dogs to play and interact with each other exactly the way humans do. And don't even get me started on their views on humping...I think they're just jealous it's not them.

Anyhoo, this is occurring and, of course, the nosey, uptighty-whiteys gotta get themselves involved. They start yelling at their dogs and forcing themselves into the fray to “break it up”. Jesus.

So this dude sees it and says something like, now, now, everyone. Calm down. They're just dogs playing.

I perk up and feel relieved. Thank you, fine sir. Finally someone gets it.

After the party is broken up I walk over and say, I agree with you, by the way. They're just being dogs. The only reason I walked over to get my dog is because I'm so used to being yelled at here by people who don't want my dog to play with theirs. Even though they're at a freakin' dog park!

We both laugh and he looks at me with a smile. The eyes are a little weird, though. A little too nice. A little too welcoming and interested. But, I'll get to that later.

Now, mind you, I've just spend a month holed-up in this God-forsaken condo trying to get some repairs and upgrades done. I've had next to no human contact, I feel isolated, I feel alone. Then, when I finally go to Ireland to see my family and desperately want to connect with them, they tell me I'm crazy and to go get professional help.

Long story short, I'm feelin' a bit chatty. I just want someone to talk to.

We walk around the pond together and I gather rather quickly that this dude's gay. (So, I guess, trigger warning for readers out there who know damn well what I'm about to say is true and can't stand it when others honestly describe the world around them.)

Why gay? He was a bit above average in enthusiasm, clarity of speech, eagerness to chat, openness, and I guess, general perkiness.

(Ok, trigger warning over until the next one which will be in about 2 minutes. Actually, consider this your blanket trigger warning for this entire blog.)

We BS for a while, he leaves. Sayonara. And that's that.

So yesterday he's there again and he comes right up with this enthusiastic ass and still unsettling eye-contact. We chat. Do the pleasantries and such and he jumps right back in to the chatting.

What do you do for a living? Oh! How interesting! I do this thing. Where do you live? Sounds really cool. I live in this place with cool old oak trees, it looks like a sci-fi movie set, etc. That's so cool that you were out of town recently? Why did you go there? What did you do?

Smiles, caring, and enthusiasm in his demeanor all the while. And then...

Are you single?

Now, I don't think anything of this question. I don't know why. I think it's because I was in la-la land just thinking about life. Another thing is, I don't mind talking about any subject with anyone. I'm the Queen of what would be deemed “politically incorrect” or “personal” questions with strangers, just because I find people interesting and genuinely want to hear what they have to say.

So I answer honestly. Yeah, I was married. Such and such happened. We're cool though. Now I just roam the earth, do my art, blah blabbity-blah. There's this other dude, but he just wants freedom, so now I think it's time to join a nunnery. (That last thing was an attempt at humor. Ok, maybe not.)

He tells me his relationship stuff and how he and his ex are still able to have coffee together from time to time. I say that's great...

Him: We should hang out sometime. Maybe take a bike ride?

Me [Thoughts]: Oh, fuck me sideways. I haven't the mental capacity to deal with this right now.

Me [Audible]: Yeah, we're here every day almost. I'm sure we'll get to hang out a ton.

His face completely drops and demeanor changes, like a light switch. If we were in a room, the energy would have been sucked out. I can't hurt this poor dude's feelings, so I muster an ounce of strength to devise another option.

Me: I only do things that are dog-friendly now, so we're frequently at the brewery up the road.

Him: Who's “we”.

I point to the dog and call him my “boyfriend”.

Him: So we're just gonna leave it up to chance then?

Me: Sure. You don't believe in the Universe as much as I do.

I give a giggle.

Him: So I take it you're not going to give me your number.

He's getting increasingly perturbed. I see it's time to put my serious face on and change my tone to trial attorney. I don't know if he knows who he's dealing with here, but this ain't my first ro-day-oh, bub.

Me: What I'm saying is I don't know you well enough to give you my number.

He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a business card. I'm starting to get nervous cause this dude's personality has just changed right before my eyes and he now knows a crap-ton of personal information about me.

Him: Well, it's the man's job to ask. So I asked.

Me: I understand, but don't be offended. I was raised on True Crime documentaries, so my threshold for trust is a bit higher than most. Seriously, it's not you. I do this to everyone.

(The True Crime documentaries replaced the Jesus videos and PBS specials when my dad started dating again, just to clear that up.)

I laugh. Seriously! I do treat everyone like this. To me, everyone's a murderer until I'm confident they've proven otherwise. And, even then, we've still got guys like Ted Bundy running around out there so, we're all, in fact, doomed.

I'm standing there holding the card and he quickly walks away. Goddammit! Now I feel so uncomfortable that I don't want to stay at the dog park. I could have just shrugged it off, and probably would normally, but my mental state isn't quite primed for mature behavior right now.

I leave. I'm irritated, but I also feel bad. What if he took the rejection personally?

I feel so damn bad for dudes sometimes. Years of rejections, and for a lot of them, nobody to teach them how to behave with potential romantic partners. It's probably worse now with the internet. Either you're getting advice from testosterone-y douche bros or feminists or dudes who claim to be feminists. I don't know, man.

This shit is simple.

Since I don't give a shit about PC speech, here goes: women, in general, think differently than men. If you want women, all it takes is a little understanding mixed with a little technique.

I swore I'd never do this, but here's an internet listicle for ya. I'll call it Smiley's Top 5 Greatest Tips for Dating the Modern Woman. Jesus.

Be patient. When you appear to be rushing things and won't let us get to know you a little better, we immediately realize you are playing a numbers game. I'm not into dudes who play numbers games. I like depth. I need to know someone well to be comfortable with them. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that when you treat someone like a number, they don't exactly feel special. If you had any doubt let me clear it up: people like to feel special, especially in a romantic context, and especially women.

If you really are interested in her and sense pushback just relax and say, cool, I'll see you here next time.

Don't take it personally. Ever! You never know what's going on in someone's life. You never know if they've been recently hurt, physically or emotionally, or if they've got some shit going on behind the scenes. Just because they tell you they're single does not mean they're looking.

It could very well be they are not attracted to you. I'm sorry to say this but if you've been dealt a shitty genetic hand or have let yourself go, that's an area you are going to have to work on first and foremost.

Be concrete. Don't say “let's hang out sometime”. That's the worst shit you can do. It's an open-ended statement and it will get her defenses up. If you are going to ask her to spend time with you, always have an idea in your mind including place and time, and always, always, always invite her to a busy public place. Think festivals, breweries, etc. Any place there are a lot of other people around. She might want to meet up with you but she also wants to feel safe. Suggesting you ride your bikes off into the woods together is not a good idea.

Try something like, I'm gonna be at such-and-such later with some friends around 6. I'd love it if you joined us.

Work on yourself!!! Make it your top priority to get the fuck off Reddit, Facebook, or whatever and get some social skills. The number one most important skill you'll need is confidence. Confidence will overcome almost any physical limitations including height, weight, and even money.

Do the work! If you don't, someone else will.

That was only 4 tips, whatever. I ran out of time. Ok, enough about my awkward life. Bye.

Today is yet another day I don't feel like writing about travel adventures. Nope. Today I've got some domestic goddessing to do because my perfect little square of suburban paradise is turning into a festering shit-show.

I need a break at the moment so I'll write something about one of the many weird things I ponder while cleaning the house. (I get most of my best philosophical ideas while house-cleaning. Hey, whatever works.)

A confession...

I Hate Being Single

This is actually really hard for me to admit. I was raised in a world where it was pretty cool to be a tough, independent, go-getter, modern woman, with my own shit, my own house, and my own thoughts, dammit! I don't need no man!

Sorry my sistahs, I quite love and admire men and quite like having them around. I love the idea of being in “a team”. Of having a life partner. A soulmate.

For the first eight, or so, years of my life I was raised in a rather strict Christian – first Lutheran, then Fundamentalist – household. Mom's idea. Not dad's. He stayed the hell out of our moral upbringing unless there was a valuable lesson to teach about Tough Midwestern Work Ethic.

Our media was tightly controlled and I wasn't even allowed to play with Barbies. This means I learned what I know about love and relationships mostly from PBS dramas and gorgeous, soulful movies such as Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. I still adore these movies with all my heart to this very day.

When I was old enough to understand romance I dreamed of a man just like Gilbert Blythe, and since he's how I first learned about men, I imagined the world was positively peppered with guys like him.

Spoiler alert: it is not.

So, my mom is out of the picture by the time I'm starting fourth grade. (She didn't abandon us. She got very sick.) This was just in time for me to journey down the Lonely Road of Horrific Puberty all alone.

Picture so far: I'm an innocent little Christian flower. I'm thrust into the world of boys. I think all boys are just like Gilbert Blythe, but maybe some are like the imperfect, yet romantic, Nazi in The Sound of Music. (Act One, not Act Two. Think gazebo scene.) And to add an extra little giggle, this is all happening in South Florida. If you're from South Florida you know EXACTLY. WHAT. I'M. TALKIN'. 'BOUT. #flogrown

Dear Baby Jesus in Heaven, please look after your little daughter.

Long story short, I got the wakeup call of my life when my expectations in no way came face-to-face with reality. Turns out, dudes were dudes, not characters from movies and books. They were real humans with myriad flaws. Just like me.

Let the Rebellion Begin

Something in my cute little feminine brain snapped. I don't know when and I don't know why, but as each year of my adolescence and teen years passed I grew more and more ruthless when dealing with the non-fairer-sex. As I write this I'm still trying to figure it out and when I say I don't understand this I'm being 100% honest.

This is my theory: I mistakenly believed the perfect man, is a perfect man.

The novels and my fantasies said so! He's out there, so keep looking. The second you see you didn't reel him in, move on so you don't waste anyone's time.

I swear to God, in my mind I'm doing them a favor by leaving. In my mind their perfect fantasy girl is out there, too. Let's be adults about this and respect each other enough to allow each other to fulfill our dreams. Right?

I've been told this is an awful way to behave by more people than I dare name. The freakin' Bible even says so!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails...

This is the word of God himself and I still can't bring myself to behave. Some good Christian I am.

Unicorns Do Exist

It's not just movies. I've witnessed relationships I deeply admire out in the real world, too. Through traveling, both in a pair and alone, I've met half-a-dozen or so couples I've envied so much. You've probably seen the type: intellectual, a little eccentric, comfortable in their own skin, mad about each other, fiercely loyal to one another. One of 'em can make a joke or poke fun at the other and they're able to laugh and fire one right back.

They've usually been together for years, with no intention whatsoever of changing that. I love couples like this. And if I can't be like them, maybe I could convince them to adopt me.

Raining Men

I've been really bad to a lot of men. I own my behavior, take full responsibility for it, and will not make any excuses for it. I'm just as confused as they are.

But, then, there's that time when I was the worst.

I left my then-husband in a foreign country and walked out the door with two suitcases without even bothering to give an explanation or talk about it.

The guilt didn't even sink in until about six months had passed, but when it did, oh freakin' man. Oh-man³. Wanting to die doesn't even come close to how I felt. To how I feel. I'm still traumatized even though this happened well over five years ago. Actually, I think it's been six.

When it sank in, really sank in – what I'd done to him – I went stark, raving mad. Hurl myself off a building mad. Shouting apologies into the air and hoping somehow he'd hear them 5,000 miles away mad. Dig a hole, fill it with dog poop, lizards, and vomit and jump into it face first mad.

I vowed there and then that I'd never torture another male soul again.

When I did kinda, sorta, consider another relationship I made him sign a contract that stated he was of sound mind and knew full well I'd ruin his life. I still have this contract. It was written on a napkin at a high-end whiskey bar.

He found it amusing. Little did he know I was dead serious.

All I Can Do Is Write

I'm writing this because I still ache. I'm so riddled with Lutheran guilt it seems impossible to escape. I might also be writing this because I'm hoping just getting the words down and out into the universe will inspire forgiveness.

I'm writing this because I can't stress enough that my intentions were pure. Are pure. I wasn't then, nor am now trying to be evil, cruel, or sadistic. I'm writing this because it's all I can do to prove how I think and why I do the shitty shit I do.

I'm writing this because I desperately want you to know I try really fuckin' hard to be a good person. But I'm flighty. Stubborn. Hard-headed. Creative. Kooky. Probably still fantasizing about Gilbert Blythe in some sick way.

I'm also writing this because I want you to know how deeply I do love. I care so much and feel so much sometimes it hurts my tummy. I think you're a beautiful human but I couldn't dare possibly tell you. I was raised to keep a tight lid on emotion – which is no excuse, for sure – but I'm begging you to try to understand just a little. I have reasons to fear dying tomorrow, at a young age. I'm almost her age when she died, you know? I have reasons to fear wasting precious lives with precious little time.

Life is precious. Why do we struggle and fight to make something work when it clearly doesn't? Am I the only one who still believes in “if you love something, let it go?” And, if so, does that make me cruel?

Gotta get back to my housework...

A Prediction

I really want to get married again, but I'm here today to make a vow. I will never again go out into the world actively looking. If the universe sends me someone who has the intestinal fortitude to put up with me, well that would be swell. If not, sucks for me. There's always my Anne of Green Gables DVDs and adventures with the dog.

And, if my next victim is out there right now, in addition to the contract I'm going to require you take a test on our first date. The test will be based on all the things I write on this blog.

It will be pass or fail.

If you're still brave enough to wander down life's nature trail with me, well then, welcome to the family.

#love #relationships #thestuffthatmademe