moderation misuse

I have the nagging suspicion that the coming month will pass with a blur.

I have done it again: lacked the patience to practice moderation, and inundated myself with life.

My days include full-time substitute English teaching (including Macbeth), 16+ hours ofΒ  sales representation at the Holyoke Mall on the weekends, finishing, editing,Β  and submitting my historical romance, Tupperware consulting, going to the gym, and acting in a play.

Whereas, three weeks ago I was sleeping in until noon and working one day a week… at best.

It’s called moderation, and I have apparently yet to master it.

This is good, though. Within the course of six weeks, I will have miraculously (okay, painfully) restocked my bank account, and as much as I sometimes refuse to believe it, money is good. In this case, money will allow me choices – it will allow me to step back and consider my options – perhaps move, perhaps stay, perhaps travel a bit more. Who knows. All I know is that I’m keeping my mind too busy (or too tired) to get very existential.

Of course, today as I was driving with Mom back home from work, I was sitting there wondering how people can just wake up and drive places and do things and not realize everything is completely pointless.

Other than those occasional thoughts, I’m perfectly content. πŸ™‚

So yeah. Just a brief update. I’m feeling a bit lonely again (first time in a while). Mostly I miss the warmth of someone I care about beside me… and the ability to cuddle into them and breathe.

Edinburgh, Scotland: Picnics & Perambulations

In the spirit of saving precious time and energy, the following paragraph is taken directly from my dear friend Kara Simpson’s notes:

“One week into our trip, Kara and I (me) spent the morning in the Smart City hostel cafe, writing postcards, checking our email, having tea and playing pool. It was very very nice and relaxing. Once 2 o’clock arrived we went and checked into our new hostel (right next door to the Smart City Hostel), the High Street Hostel. It was a little bit of a downgrade, but for the price, could not be beat.

After a little rest, I (Kara S) headed to the airport to pick up Bill and Katie. They arrived without problems and after getting settled into the hostel we headed out for dinner. We were recommended a pub that had a backpackers menu called Castle Arms. Bill got Haggy, Tatties, and Nips (basically Shepherds Pie with haggis, turnips and potatoes) and I (Kara S) got the Yorkshire Pudding (sausage and potato in this pastry type bowl). Yum Yum. To fully embody the Scottish way, Bill ordered a whiskey. I must say, I don’t think I will ever come around to the stuff. It’s an explosion of burning alcohol in my mouth, and I don’t find that so pleasant. Strongbow suits me just fine! For dessert we ordered cranachan – an oats, cream and raspberry parfait thing. I think I prefer chocolate in my dessert.

That was much easier for me to copy and paste than to write altogether again. Plus, I’m being extra lazy today. I slept most of the drive up to our hostel, Loch Ness Hostel ( We are currently situated in the village of Lewiston near Drumnadrochit, and just a few minutes walk from Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. But the weather is terribly dreary today, which is appropriate, I suppose – sort of how I anticipated the Loch Ness area to be.

Yesterday we met up with a friend of Katie’s and her two children, had lunch in the Edinburgh gardens,Β  and checked out the Edinburgh National Gallery, where we saw a couple of beautiful Rembrandt’s, and a Rubens. Afterwards, I was also able to find REAL soft serve ice cream (!!!) which made up for the crazy fake stuff I’d been falling for repeatedly and being disappointed by. After saying adieu to Jackie (Katie’s friend), everyone returned to the hostel, while I walked around the many tourist gift shops and purchased some random pieces of Scottishness, and a couple gifts. Money is deteriorating fast here, however, what with the pound being worth so much, and our dollar being worth so little. Sad face. 😦

For dinner, we went out to Biddy Malone’s, which was the same Irish pub that Kara and I had been stalked at only two nights earlier by some drunk Irish guy. This time, however, was much more enjoyable for we had dinner at a discounted backpacker’s rate, and were able to finally try Sticky Toffee Pudding.

My favorite part of the evening was after dinner when the band started setting up. While they got ready, a group of Irish step dancers performed a couple songs, and there was a great feeling to the pub. In fact, the pub was having a St. Patrick’s Day Party since it was 6 months til the actual day. So we hung around, and enjoyed the dancing adn the music. I was totally infatuated with the band, for they were so authentic and fun, and the Irish music was terrific. Makes me excited to hear all the live music in the pubs Kara and I will go to in Ireland. πŸ™‚

Enough of this updating crap. I’m going to enjoy the fireside and the Scottish air. πŸ™‚

Home: Sturbridge, Massachusetts

I can hardly believe that I’m in my own bed.

I drove over 600 miles yesterday. Arrived home at 2:45 AM. Mom waited up for me. I stumbled upstairs, took a shower, and crashed. Now I wake up, and here I am – in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, in my own bed for the first time in over three months.

I realized driving into town that I have never been away this long. I have NEVER been out of Worcester County for more than a couple weeks at a time. Lots of kids have the experience of being gone that long when they go off to college, but I commuted for six years. Just another reason why this trip was invaluable to me.

Everything has changed. I was a little scared of coming home, of driving these streets again. And it might be hard at first. But then I realized that it doesn’t need to be that way.

One thing I’ve realized because of this trip is the awesome power we have- the ability to make changes, to impress ourselves upon the world and make things happen. Yes, perhaps Fate may catch up with me every now and then, but I have the capability of making choices, changes, and inserting myself into the world around me.

That’s a powerful realization, when one thinks about the far-reaching effects such a Truth could hold.

Talked to Jessica Robinson for over TWO hours last night, while driving home. Gosh, I love that girl. I can’t wait to see her again. I got sentimental with her, as I tend to do, but I can’t help myself – I want her to understand how amazing she is, and how grateful I am for her. We don’t always get to see each other as often as I would like, but I’ve learned to accept that, because when we do, I’m so happy. I feel happy in her presence. She mentioned how she was a little afraid that this trip would change me, and although that would be okay, she didn’t want to lose me – she was afraid of the distance it might put between us. It was beautiful to know that, yes, perhaps I have changed, but the truth of the matter is that Jessica has always seen me – the real ME, and loved and accepted the real me – so if anything, this trip has only brought us closer.

I have the vague feeling the previous paragraph is filled with run-ons and is perhaps haphazardly written, but I am going to accept that. It’s 11:30 AM and I’m still exhausted, but I know I need to get up and face the day. I have a car FILLED to the brim with my trip, and I need to clean her out, process some things, and prepare for the next step in the journey of this life.

So don’t BEGIN to think that this is the end of my blog.

This is only the beginning… of the rest of my life. πŸ™‚ As they say.

San Luis, Colorado & Pilgrimages of the Soul

I woke up this morning, and it was as though the world was new. I stumbled out of bed and opened the motel door, and had my breath stolen. Colorado is simply gorgeous. Outside my window were clouds and sunshine and mountains and Hope, resting there among them all.

Last night was perfect. I am so happy I checked into that hotel, sketchy tryst interruption and all, because it helped to focus and relax me. I dyed my hair, I put a mask on my face, I wrote a great blog entry, I edited some photos, and even Panda was in a good mood. I slept like a baby, all comfy and cozy and safe, and I probably would have (maybe should have) stayed there a few more days. But I didn’t want to ruin the magic of my one evening there, and instead I headed off towards Colorado Springs.

I almost feel bad for not staying in San Luis, a little town I had dinner in last night. It was also the place where I stopped to walk up the hill and view the stations of the cross, as rendered by the artist Huberto Maestas. San Luis is the oldest established town in Colorado, and the shrine is located on a mesa, up which I had to walk a winding dirt path to the top.

When I reached the shrine at the top, there was a sign on the church door. It was the only printed thing I saw in the entire area, and across the top it said “What is a Pilgrimage?” The words caught me, since recently while I was staying with Joshua, he kept referring to my trip as such. So I smiled over that, but then something twinged inside of me, and I took a picture of the sign so I could read the answer later.

As I was returning down the path, watching the sun set, and the lightning flash against the mountains in the distance, I decided to stop for a moment and read the answer to the question. As I was reading the words on my camera screen, I felt my eyes well up with tears, unexpected and needed.

A pilgrimage is a journey taken in light of a story. The storey preceded us: we’ve read it, we’ve heard it, we’ve been raised in it. And at some pint we need to test that story with our own experience – to read it with our lives and make it our own.

A pilgrimage – whether Dante’s or our own has certain distinguishing features. The pilgrim sets out on a path that others have taken, hoping to witness what others have seen – so see it with his or her own eyes. Pilgrims travel in company but each must encounter the holy site personally. Finally, the pilgrims return, tell others what they have seen and heard, so that others might be moved to set out on a pilgrimage themselves – to go and do likewise.

– Paul Eli

It meant a lot to me, to read that. It assisted in reminding me of one of my many reasons for this journey these past few months. More than anything, I hope to inspire others. I want to inspire people to make the changes in their life necessary to attain authentic, soulful, and joyful lives. So many people live “lives of quiet desperation,” as Henry David Thoreou stated, and “go to the grave with the song still in them.” Lots of people that I’ve met on the road have talked about a ‘consciousness shift’ that’s happening in the world. Many of these theories are based around the year 2012, but I didn’t get too much into that, haha. The point is – perhaps we’re reaching a time where the masses are going to wake up – already I can see it in the eyes of so many children – children who are aware on a deeper level than many adults. And then we have Obama, who could potentially change the world in ways that we desperately need. I don’t know… perhaps it’s an exciting time, and maybe I should look at it that way, rather than become overwhelmed by the depravity of the society around me. Perhaps I could be a part of this “change,” this “shift” in the world… and how wondrous that could be.

On my way out of town, I randomly decided to pull into Sophie’s Taqueria, where I was welcomed so kindly, even though they were trying to close. It was there that I had something I have never heard of before actually – a sopapilla. I guess it’s a completely common Mexican dish in the Southwest, but I had never heard of it before. And… it was delicious. And everyone was so kind; as I was leaving, they asked if I was going to stay around for the festival for Santa Ana they were having. I must admit, I’ve thought of that little town quite often in the past 24 hours. It was a wonderful stop on my journey.

I’m exhausted. I want to write more but I can’t. Sarah (formerly Lavalee) has taken me – her and her husband, Jake, and I am eternally grateful to them. πŸ™‚

Colorado Springs is absolutely beautiful, by the way.

San Antonio, Texas

I dropped Mom off at the airport today, hugged her goodbye, and went back to sit in my car. Alone. It felt almost surreal to be all alone again, this time halfway across the country.

It has been a month since I arrived in Eunice, LA, and what ‘a long strange trip it’s been’. πŸ™‚ Furthermore, for the past two weeks, Mom and I have been vacationing essentially by ourselves – first to New Orleans, and then Texas.

Without meaning to sound even remotely insulting to my mother, for I had a great time with her, but the past month has definitely thrown me off. Some of my strength and passion dissipated, and I felt myself being drawn back into that shell… away from the light, not only of the world, but the light within myself. However, after enough moping around and introspective thought today, I came to the conclusion that it was probably good for me, since it reminded me of my original goals, and where I had strayed. It hopefully will assist me in getting back on track, and learning how to be strong – as Kara Emily Krantz. This showed me that there needs to be a balance between the dream of me, and the reality of the world. One can only press oneself so insistently and suddenly upon the world… an imprint needs to be made slowly, and with care.

I had started to get close to an affirming, authentic sense of unshakable self, but apparently it is still very shakeable, for the past few weeks have been rough on me.

But other than that…

Mom and I went to the San Antonio Zoo, which was fantastic, even though it was unbearably hot (as mostly everywhere is here). It’s been really fun to go to all these zoos – as I’ve mentioned before, the zoo has a special place in my heart. The little 5-year-old in me recalls those last fading moments of innocence, when family was a unit and all that mattered was the Panda Bears. πŸ™‚

We also went to The Alamo (wayyyy lame I don’t want to talk about it), Mission San Jose (awesome) where there was a fantastic documentary that simply blew me away. Yesterday… Mom and I went to New Braunfels where the world’s number one water park is located, Schlitterbaun… which basically resulted in a day of HELL. But I’ve never been a big fan of water parks. Haha. Oh man. Quite the day, though.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel resort, where I am tonight by myself (Mom gave me the last night), and we walked down the Riverwalk (which contrary to Joshua’s opinion I found to be beautiful and wonderful), and walked through the shops in La Villita, and had a great steak dinner (and some horrible tex-mex). We met up with Joshua twice, and my mom actually liked him (which is shocking- she’s not a fan of the opposite sex, especially if they’re talking to ME). She even dreamed about him last night, but I didn’t tell him that. He’ll have to find that out when he reads this, haha. πŸ˜›

But now Mom is gone, and I’m here alone. Went through a melancholy, emo stage for a while where I crawled into bed and pouted, but a few friends rallied for me, and I knocked myself out of it. Walked down the Riverwalk by myself, took some pictures, packed up the car, and I’m basically all better. Just trying to get up the energy to keep working on my cocoon, and hopefully, eventually become that butterfly. Like I said, there’s been some serious setbacks these past few weeks, but it’s all right. God doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle, and I’m starting to think that nothing happens that isn’t meant to occur at a given time – to assist us or confront us along this winding, often dirt-trodden path.

New Orleans, LA … to Fredericksburg, TX

It’s been far too long. And I apologize for that!

I’ve been MIA from a lot of people’s lives lately, and I’m not really sure why. I’ve barely spoken to anyone on the phone, I barely go on Writerscafe, and I get messages from people asking me if I’m okay. So I want to assure everyone that I’m fine.

This past week was spent in New Orleans, which was fantastic. As I told Kara S. on the phone today, it was truly the way it is represented. Sometimes you go to a place, and it’s nothing like the way you expect it. New Orleans, however, was just what I anticipated, and more. And the heat was ridiculously unbearable – the humidity was enough to evaporate you. Regardless, I loved the energy in the air, and the beautiful, eerie Lafayette Cemetery, the three dollar strawberry daiquiris, the powder-covered beignets, and the never-ending opportunities to meet fascinating people.

I’m a dork, and I’ll admit that my favorite part of New Orleans was the Audubon Zoo, where Mom and I spent over four hours in the debilitating heat walking around talking to the animals and taking pictures. I suppose I’m making up for my lack of zoo experiences as child, or perhaps subconsciously I am attempting to fulfill some deep need of my child-self to return to a place of hope and innocence, predominately because my last family vacation before my parents divorced was when I was six, and we went to the Washington D.C. Zoo.

Or, I like the animals. πŸ™‚

Panda got a new friend (minion) out of the deal, and I also added a new animal to the family – a really chubby, ridiculous-looking alligator.

Of course, the only one who made it into the hotel room tonight was Panda herself.

Tonight, Mom and I find ourselves in the little, slightly odd town of Fredericksburg, Texas. I drove for about 8 hours today, and I’m tired, but I wanted to make sure I keep up with these entries… that I continue to write, for I realize it is something I must do. In order to remain true to myself, and in order to share myself… with you. I appreciate the incredible feedback I get from you all; it motivates me, not only to continue this journey as a person, but as a writer, as well.

So here we are, in this little German town in Texas. It has been an interesting day. And now we find ourselves in a strange little bed and breakfast house that’s somehow part of the Econo Lodge across the street… I’m not trying to figure it out. All I know is that I drove for about forty minutes off the main road through empty highway to reach this place… and it’s dark outside. And there’s armadillos. And, apparently, rattlesnakes, as Joshua was so kind to inform me… even though he didn’t feel the need to respond to any of my texts so that we could celebrate my arrival to his great state…

But I’m not bitter. I’m fine with it. He can do whatever he wants. I don’t care if I see him at all, really.

Stupid Joshua.


Hm. As I was writing that, I got a text from Joshua that informed me that he hates me because I’m the name-caller. So I guess I should take the “stupid joshua” part back.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Arrived at Clay and Cori’s on Tuesday, and on Friday we all headed off to the Gulf Coast of Alabama, where we’ve spent the weekend. Clay rented a beautiful condo by the sea, with four bedrooms, for all his family to come and spend a weekend together. I’m honored to be a part of it, and it has definitely been a crash course in the Menard Family. πŸ™‚ And they are a wonderful family indeed.

The first day we got here, I branched off from the group and headed over to the beach. The Gulf of Mexico is so warm and delightful; I’ve never enjoyed swimming in the ocean so much. I usually don’t go into the water, but this time I found myself being drawn into its salty depths, laying on my back and floating over the waves. It was so peaceful. At the same time, I was dealing with a sudden onslaught of anxiety, which had been building and suddenly decided to overwhelm me. I was feeling frustrated, anxious, easily aggravated… all emotions that are uncommon to me, and most uncomfortable. I was able to talk through many of my concerns with Kara S, and then drifted some of them off into the ocean. Afterwards, I lay on the beach and listened to another chapter of Eckhart’s Power of Now, and found myself, once again, transported to another place. Since listening to that passage on Friday, I have been changed, and have been able to not only deal with my anxiety, but more fully enjoy the Present. I have a feeling that these concepts and feelings, if maintained and applied, could change my life forever… fill me up with the Present for the rest of my life.

Today I had a fantastic time with the four kids. We all went swimming, and then later on in the evening they all piled on my bed and looked at the pictures I’ve taken throughout the weekend. It was adorable. They’re all simply wonderful, and make me light up inside. I need to learn to have more patience, however, for children, since when I do take the time to simply BE with them, it’s always delightful.

Cori & Clay’s daughter, Jeanne, is really wonderful, and I’ve had some great conversations with her… I actually wish we could have gone more in-depth, for I think we could really tap into some great things. Her and her husband, Justin, are wonderful to watch… they were married last September, and they are so in love. It helps balance out the other couple (the one with the kids), for their relationship is quite strained, and when I watch them, all of my family and marriage counseling alarms go off. I feel terrible for Clay’s son, since he seems like a really great, and essentially happy, guy… and yet his light is constantly being dimmed.

Of course, marriage has always been a tender issue for me. I have never really seen a “happy, healthy” marriage, and that is a little scary and off-putting. Also, I have never really been in a relationship that improved or enrichened my life. Yesterday, Jeanne, being completely kind and not remotely condescending, said “You’ll find a good guy. They’re out there. And they’re wonderful,” and it’s apparent that Justin is proof of that.

TOMORROW MY MOMMY IS FLYING DOWN!! Cori, Clay and I are picking her up at the New Orleans Airport around 3 tomorrow afternoon. I was nervous for a while, not sure if I was ready to see any of my family members yet, but I think it will go well. It’s been hard for me to consider giving up any of my freedom, as I will have to do now that Mom is not flying home until July 16th. However, I’m learning to accept life as it happens, and stop applying anxiety to things. God always manages to take care of me, impossible ward that I am.

So much more to say, now that I’ve got myself going, but I’ll keep it to myself for now. Tonight, I posted some older photos onto Flickr. Call it homesickness, but I call it “fond remembrance,” since I truly have no desire to return home yet. It was sweet, however, to go through my old photos and give them a place on my Flickr account. I wanted to ensure that they were saved somewhere safe, and also to share them with you all.

Peace & Love

Smoky Mountain National Park

Today was a wonderful driving day. Occasionally it became haphazard and awkward, but overall I really enjoyed my time by myself, in my car. It had been a while (about 9 days) since I had been on the road, so it was long enough that I could appreciate it again.

I said my goodbyes to Doug and Lisa this morning (okay fine early afternoon) and it was really bittersweet, because on one hand I was really happy and honored to have gotten to know them so well, but on the other hand I literally had to tear myself away. But it was time – time to move on, time to meet new people and see new things.

So in the spirit of seeing new things, apparently, I drove directly back the way I had came a week earlier, heading back to Cherokee. Haha – oh well, it was still a beautiful drive. I was actually really happy to drive it again. In fact, my favorite part of the day was very unexpected, and completely based on a whim. I was driving all the curvy roads, when I saw this abandoned farm-like place on the side of the road. I remember seeing it on my way to Georgia, and wishing I had stopped to take a picture. Well, this time I did exactly that, in abundance. I pulled over on a side street, walked down into the property, and took about 300 pictures (in fact, in total today I took around 800 photos!). The location was just so inspiring – everything was deserted, there was broken glass and boxes in one building, and bird’s nests and farm equipment in another… it was really a photography heaven. I’m hoping to get the chance to edit some of the pictures tomorrow and post them; I’m really excited about that.

Of course, that threw me off course by about an hour, so by the time I arrive in Cherokee, I was well behind schedule. I entered the Smoky Mountain National Forest, and before I knew it I had to start pulling over to take pictures, since everything was breath-takingly gorgeous. I stopped at the old Mill, and at a couple of the lookouts, and then did the hike up to Clingman’s Dome, where I stayed until the sun set.

Which, naturally, threw me more off course (that, and the adorable baby bear that was on the side of the road), and all that made me even later to arrive at my final destination .

Which is where I am now – in Knoxville, Tennessee.

On my way here, I drove through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, which were ghastly, haha. But more than that – it was the unbelievable way you enter into Gatlinburg. One moment I’m driving through beautiful bendy roads of light and trees and tunnels, and the next I’m bombarded with neon lights and fast-food restaurants. It was the STRANGEST thing – at first I was sure I was hallucinating, but alas, it was real. It was a like a mini, hick-filled Vegas. Oddest thing. And the worst part is I felt this incredible, morbid fascination with the entire place. In fact, I almost pulled over and decided to spend the night, but I kept myself strong and kept driving. But I’m telling you, I want to go back – the perversion of it all, the bright lights and tacky storefronts… oh man, it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t believe that this was Tennessee.

But here I am now, in Knoxville, with Scott and his wife. I arrived later than anticipated (around 10:30), but Scott welcomed me so kindly; in fact, they both did, and we instantly started having fantastic conversation. Scott and I spent the last couple hours talking, about this and that, and it was great. I think, so far, my favorite part of this trip has been the fantastic conversations. How I have longed for profound, intelligent, humorous conversation -with people who are passionate and inspired and open-minded, and poets at heart. πŸ™‚ It’s been wonderful. And I’ve had a beautiful fill of such conversations, and such people lately.

Which reminds me – as I was driving the last stretch of road into Knoxville, I had serious heart-pangs about leaving Ellijay. More than anything, I wanted to be sitting in my bed there, on my computer, listening to doo-wop and drinking sweet tea, and knowing in the morning Lisa and Doug and the deer would be there… but alas, I had to move forward. Regardless, it was bittersweet to miss something so acutely. It’s been a long time since something was that wonderful enough to miss.

Tomorrow? Well, I guess it involves a little boat, and traveling to the Gulf of Mexico.

But Scott might have been joking about that.

Asheville, NC

After leaving Savannah at 10:30 AM, I drove five and a half hours back to Raleigh, North Carolina, to be comforted by my friend, Corey. As I told Rick this on the phone, he laughed and said “I’ve never heard of anyone going to such lengths to nurse a hangover.” Which, once I thought about it, was half-hilarious, half-pathetic, and completely necessary. I was a mess. After all that crying and all that feeling displaced, I needed to be somewhere where I felt safe, and could regroup and start again.

That drive was THE most painful experience of my life. It was never-ending, and excruciating. Everything hurt. I assumed it was a hangover, but then Kara Simpson reminded me that I was working off of about 5 hours of sleep in a 48-hour period, so that helped to explain the distinct feeling of slow death.

Finally, I reached Corey, and spent the next day recovering and trying to figure out what was next. I slept like a baby, in a bed by myself (not random Swiss guys and hot chicks), and consumed absolutely no alcohol. Thank goodness for straight-edge friends. And thank goodness for Corey. πŸ™‚

As the title of this post infers, I am currently in Asheville, North Carolina. I drove here yesterday, and spent the night in my first hotel – not only the first hotel of my trip, but the first hotel I’ve ever experienced by myself. I felt stupid spending money to sleep somewhere, but it was nice to not feel obligated to anyone, and be completely alone.

Of course, being completely alone eventually led to me talking to myself, a lot… but it’s all good. These things happen.

Woke up this morning, not hung-over and completely alone, which was divine, and walked downtown Asheville. Lots of artsy people and stores, and it was relaxing and enjoyable. I had been communicating online with this guy, Chris, from, and he had told me where he was working, so I stopped by to say hi and make sure he wasn’t a psychopath. He was, indeed, a non-psychopath, and we ended up having a great conversation, and making plans to meet up later. And that’s where I am now – at his apartment, with the beautiful view of the mountains and the sunset, feeling comfortable and completely non-violated. πŸ™‚

Still in Hilton Head, SC

The last two days have involved gorgeous walks around Shipyard, thanks to the suggestion of Hollar, who has been trying to help me see my first alligator. Needless to say, it took me a WEEK to finally find one, but it was well worth the wait. You’ll have to see the video to really understand what I’m saying (yes there’s a video and no it’s not a dirty video)


However, the walks (even sans the alligator) have been simply amazing. Today I realized that more than anything else, I’ve been walking. Not doing anything really special, anything too touristy, anything even very exciting. Yet almost every day since I drove away from Massachusetts has involved a long, long walk through woods and on trails. I have taken more gorgeous pictures in the last two weeks than I have in my lifetime, and there really isn’t a way for me to describe to you how satisfying that is for me.

It happened these past two days – I’ve wanted to cry from the beauty of the earth. I know that sounds ridiculously holistic, but it’s true. I felt this incredible swelling in my heart, much like love. But it was for the moment, for the light and the birds and the trees and the earth.

Last night I met two sets of interesting people. The first incident was at the Tiki Hut, where I walked to sit, have a cold soda, listen to some acoustic music, and read my book. Right when I walked in, this woman gave me the kindest smile, which although is very unique for me, is not an odd thing to have happen in South Carolina. So I smiled in return, sat at one of the back tables on the sand, and read for a while. However, one time that I looked up, she caught my eye, and beckoned me over to sit with her and her husband. I obliged, and before I knew it I was engaged with intelligent, spiritual, and slightly slurred conversation with Bonnie, while her husband, Donny (yes, Bonnie and Donnie) sardonically ignored as much as he could.

I figure that the fateful alignment of this meeting mostly involved the fact that Bonnie was an independent, almost 60-year-old woman. However, she was vibrant and lovely and very intelligent. She had her PhD., was accomplished in every area of her life, and I could BE her in 40 years. What she told me during that conversation was to “do it now” – to live my life, go after my dreams, and do it all now before it’s too late. She insisted that I was intelligent, I was beautiful, and I was responsible – and therefore I could not go wrong. But I had to keep doing exactly what I had started, and that she regretted not doing that herself.

It definitely inspired me, and was exactly the conversation I needed.

The second pair involved a 40-something truck driving/construction working guy named Frankie, and a younger, gregarious black guy named… fine, i forgot his name. The beautiful part of this story is the humor involving the fact that these were the guys I happened to attract at the bar, haha. Which was fine with me – I would much rather have a jovial conversation lacking in sexual awkwardness, than I would an intimate conversation lacking in intellectual stimulation. So Frankie and I talked, and it was wonderful, his friend there joined and started telling me who he’d “never been with a white woman” and shared with me how sexy I looked when a piece of my hair fell just like that over my eye…

And although i appreciated the participle of poetry located within that sentiment, I was still annoyed that he was corrupting my innocent moment with crudity.

The funny part was that I started writing this story here earlier today, and then this evening I walked over to the Tiki Hut, on my way to find something to eat for dinner, and randomly this guy beckons me over to smell his “jasmine.” Yes, that was a new one for me, but while I was telling him my name, Frankie overheard and made a joke. I was shocked to see him sitting there, outside at the bar, sipping a beer. But I was very happy to see him, especially since it gave me an excuse to gracefully run way from the jasmine guy. Funny how people come into our lives – Frankie is the nicest guy, very pleasant, intelligent, down-to-earth, and reminds me of a teddy bear. πŸ™‚ My favorite kind of guy. Anybody that reminds me of my grandpa gets an A+ in my book… not that he was old enough to be my grandpa, but he held that air to him… that presence that makes me smile. And I hate how interactions are instantly labeled as either being picked up or not interested. I don’t understand why people can’t interact and learn about each other, care about each other… be with each other, in a moment, and have no expectations beyond that. Perhaps that’s too much to ask, but I’m going to keep valiantly trying for it.

Tomorrow I need to start planning the next leg of my journey. I definitely want to head back down to Savannah, and I’m waiting to hear back from Chas about whether or not I can annoy him and his wife for a bit, haha. πŸ™‚ Stupidest birthday present he could have asked for! πŸ˜›

Reflections, Day 13

“You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart. Then people are going to treat you better. You’re going to find, yes you will, that you’re as beautiful as you feel.”

– Carole King

Last night involved karaoke. I want everyone to take careful note of the spelling of the word “karaoke”.

AND… that’s all I have to say about that.

But really, I sang karaoke last night – “Real Live Woman” by Trisha Yearwood and “Forget About It” by Alison Krauss. First one was fun, second one kinda sucked, but ya live and ya learn.

My favorite lines from “Real Live Woman”:

“And I no longer justify
Reasons for the way that I behave
I offer no apologies
For the things that I believe and say
(And I like it that way)”

The best part was when I was in the grocery store today, and these two guys walk by the aisle I’m in, but then suddenly one stops and goes “karaoke!” So I turn to him and he says “You sang karaoke last night!” I said yes, agreeing, a little freaked out, but then he goes “You were amazing!”

Yeah, that sorta made my day. πŸ™‚

So I’ve finally figured it out: this place is a plastic factory. There is a warehouse on the far eastern side of the island, tucked away behind lots of palm trees and a couple great white egrets, where there is a high output of Barbie doll-like creatures in the shape and form (and relative size) of human beings. They come out tanned and svelte and potentially wearing thongs.

Once I figured this convoluted conspiracy out, I started to feel immensely better about myself. At least I’m real, right? I’m sure there’s someone out there who can appreciate that.

Hm… perhaps? Haha.

I think it’s getting to be time to move on; I’m getting far too comfortable here. Or perhaps I’m uncomfortable? I can’t tell. All I know is that I’m definitely dealing with some serious self-confidence issues (but I suppose now is the time to get that over with) and my heart is being weird and defiant and basically annoying.

Panda is also in the car, and she’s pretty pissed about that. Maybe all these weird feelings I’m having are merely feelings of guilt about leaving her in the passenger seat this entire time in South Carolina.

* * *

Just got off the phone with Joshua. I probably shouldn’t write this because he’s most likely going to read it and he’s already SO full of himself, but he truly is amazing. I can’t recall a single time that I’ve walked away from an interaction with him and not been grinning from ear to ear.

Except for that time I poured my heart out to him (delicately, into little Saki cups) and he looked at the beating remnants of my heart, all poured for him, and he said “you call that poetry? you call that Love? you make me sick” and proceeded to throw the Saki cups to the floor, which was made of porcelain and lined with crystal, and my heart-pieces shattered across the ground and were left there bleeding.

Other than that one time, he always makes me smile, and I’m ridiculously grateful to have him in my life.

I still have a text I sent him a little while ago which said “You had me pegged from that first moment in the coffeehouse,” which, naturally, was in reference to what a bitch I am, but the beautiful thing is I still remember that moment so well. He had a guitar and long hair and a heartfelt smile and a joy that radiated from his fingertips. I adored him from the moment that I met him. πŸ™‚

For someone so soulful and connected to God, he is also very open-minded, and hilarious as hell (yes I said hell deal with it Joshua). He grows on me the more I get to know him, and at the same time I feel like I could never know him enough. He inspires me to want to be a better person – and that is a rare feeling for me. Not too many people inspire such things from me, for I look around and find very little to be inspired by in others. Yet Joshua is layered and he is lovely, and I love him to pieces.

And that’s all I’m saying about that. I’m obviously drunk.

Fine I’m not drunk I haven’t had a drink in days but I need something to excuse this random bout of kindness and sincerity towards Joshua. Lord knows he doesn’t deserve it. πŸ˜›

I suppose it’s time for bed. I doubt that I will follow through with that idea, but seeing as it’s before midnight (for once) it might be a swell idea. However, having written the word ‘midnight,’ now I’m thinking I’ll read another chapter or two of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, since I need to truck on through it before I head back to Savannah.

Wild Wing Cafe, Savannah

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

– The Velveteen Rabbit

Wasn’t going to write tonight, but figured that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be remaining honest to myself. Or to you.

The truth is, I’m relatively blue tonight (at least at the moment), which is probably a mix of drinking more than I usually drink (which doesn’t take much), being overwhelmed by slightly crazy people, and having my predominant insecurities careened back to the forefront of my heart.

Of course, it would be ridiculous to believe that I could just get in my car and drive, and magically leave all those things behind.

So I’m being honest here and writing a not-so- happy blog post. I don’t think I’m going to get in to much depth here; in fact, this could potentially be the last paragraph of the entry. I’m just trying to keep the whole thing real.

And the honest truth is that I had a wonderful night. It was amazing to spend time with Sarah – she really is a beautiful person and I felt closer to her than I have in my life. We went to Savannah, with all it’s squares and it’s history, and we hung out with and watched an amazing band, and I danced and laughed, and overall it was quite enjoyable.

I’m honestly not going to get into the things that are bumming me out right now – mostly because I’m so tired of talking about them. Furthermore, it seems that whenever I talk about them, I invariably find myself defending and rationalizing myself and my feelings, and I’m far too tired of doing such things.

So I will sit here with my feelings, nurturing them gently, because I’m tired of voicing them only to be momentarily placated by people’s kind words. Honestly – until I can hold myself as delicately as I hold others, and treat myself with that same respect, then this journey is only mine to take.

Good people, though. Man oh man. The band’s percussionist was this big teddy bear of a black guy, all cuddly and chocolate. He made me happy just to look at him. Whenever I got the opportunity to speak and joke with him, it was as though my heart was all happy. I keep thinking back on him, and his amazing talents on the bongo drums, and reminding myself that beautiful people and beautiful moments are definitely still ahead of me. I will persevere.

Oh yeah, and it’s currently 4:44 A.M.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Consider the strange feelings gone, thank goodness. Of course, my mind still feels a little fuzzy (am I still tipsy from those two drinks 40 hours ago? haha) and my heart is still a bit achy, but it’s all good. I’m alive and willing to keep on living.

Always a good sign.

Another smoothie by my side, I’m recovering from an arduous day of shopping and laying on the beach. I have more of a tan (or is it just a burn line?) than I’ve had in my life, and it’s only been two days. I sort of don’t want to leave – the atmosphere here is so relaxed and warm. I definitely feel “on vacation” here. Sarah works a lot, and I sort of tinker about on my own, which is fine with me, since I’m comfortable by myself. I also don’t feel (too) weird or awkward being myself with her, which is a relief. Sarah has always been one of those people who can get along with anybody, and I honestly believe she barely ever has a truly negative thought about anyone; she’s so loving and accepting.

Started reading “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” today, as preparation for my trip to Savannah. I was concerned about how I was going to experience Savannah in a way that would be inspiring and transporting, but then I remembered couchsurfing, and sent out a couple emails. Hopefully I’ll get a response, and someone to help me see the city. Perhaps even a couch to crash on.

I think I burned the top of my head. I always burn the top of my head.