The Best Laid Plans … (Part 2)

Believe me when I say that the adventure down to Texas was probably the biggest adventure I had there.

Sure, I did some neat things, such as go to a bunch of hard rock/metal shows at local venues and hung out with my favorite band a couple times, (which I may or may not write about,) but to be honest, I kind of became a shut-in.  I only really left my apartment to go to work and would take care of errands after work while I was already out so I wouldn’t have to leave on the weekends.

After the first year, I moved into my own apartment, that I actually really liked, adopted two cats, (Chalupa Batman and Squirtle, who will be written about frequently, so consider this your head’s up,) and found that living on my own was pretty great.  I still did the shut-in thing, which probably became worse, since I no longer had to leave to bring roommates to work or go random places, but that was OK.  I wasn’t enjoying living in Texas and by then, had kind of resolved myself to working hard to find another job and move.

About a year and a half of living on my own, I found myself unemployed and I moved back home.

I want to say that being shoved in a Ford Fiesta with two cats, a rabbit and my mother for three days while we drove from Texas to New England was exciting and we bonded and had a great mother-daughter experience, but it wasn’t.  We took turns driving and whoever wasn’t driving, slept in the car.

We stopped at pet-friendly hotels, where Squirtle had the time of his life spending all night jumping between the two beds in the rooms.  (And considering he has three legs, I was very impressed with him.)

~~~~

As much as I disliked the two and a half years I spent in Texas, I wouldn’t change it.  I took a chance at something and even though it didn’t work out, it’s OK.  I learned a lot, like how everything is worth trying at least once.

Risks can be risky, but the outcome can always be a positive if you make it one.  Anything you try is a learning experience and has the potential to be an adventure.

Advertisements

The Best Laid Plans … (Part 1)

Four years ago, I uprooted everything I knew and moved to Houston, Texas.  A job opportunity opened up that I couldn’t really turn down, so I packed up my rabbit, my computer and some (not so) necessities and drove down with another co-worker who was also transferring.

The morning we were to leave, I discovered that the ignition switch in my steering column broke, which no longer afforded me the ability to remove my key.  I also was told that there wasn’t any extra room in the rented trailer (that I was to be towing,) so I had to leave a few boxes of belongings at home.

Three days, 1700 miles and one car accident later, we made it to the two bedroom apartment we were also sharing with co-worker’s girlfriend and their two dogs.  The drive was long and tedious, and I was also pulling a trailer full of furniture, that in retrospect, probably accelerated the decline of my 2005 Ford Escape.

Memphis, Tennessee is probably my first clear memory of the trip.  We’d pulled off to refuel and stock on snacks and drinks, in probably one of the more sketchy areas, after dealing with an almost insurmountable amount of weird highways that were impeded by construction.  At that point, I was too tired to really care about the creep factor of where we pulled over and just wanted to stretch my legs.

The gas station itself was unremarkable; just a little gas station on a corner, surrounded by a bunch of small houses that could’ve done well with some much-needed TLC.  I presume we’d pulled off in the Southern outskirts of the metropolitan area, as it was more suburban.  I remember the unnerving stares we recieved while filling our gas tanks and the attendant looked bored and didn’t seem too thrilled to have his conversation with a local interrupted by some random travelers buying Red Bull’s and snacks.

As we ventured further south, the people did get friendlier, which was a somewhat foreign concept for me.  Having grown up my entire life in New England, “Southern Hospitality” was something we’d only read about in school.  I honestly thought that friendliness had been exaggerated and played up for the sake of an interesting read, but no.  And I’m not talking about a simple holding a of a door or a cordial greeting at a cash register – I wound up having a full conversation with a nice gentleman who held a rest stop door for me, and he’d proceeded to ask questions about where I was coming from and going to, and gave me suggestions of places to see once I reached Houston.  He wished me a happy travels and even let me go ahead of him in line at the check out.  I believe this was in Arkansas.

The last leg of the journey started in Texarkana, on the border of Texas and Arkansas.  We’d spent the night at a hotel so we could get a fresh start in the morning and get to the apartment complex before they closed at 5.  Texarkana, the little I saw of it, seemed like a nice place.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if we were in Texarkana, Arkansas or Texarkana, Texas, because by then, the trip was starting to take its toll.  The drive, I think, took longer than expected, because my car wasn’t really all that fond of towing a heavy trailer, evident by the subtle groans and its resistance to driving up even the slightest of inclines, slowing my ascent to an almost dangerous crawl.  Stops were also more frequent because of the nature of SUV’s and my car was pre-fuel efficiency.  Things were smoother as we ventured south, simply because of the flat land, but the trailer itself would soon prove to be problematic.

About three hours from Houston, upon crossing an overpass, I hit a weird bit of asphalt and jackknifed with the trailer, spinning my car 180 degrees across the two-lane highway.  Thankfully, we were the only ones for a mile or so in either direction, so there were no injuries.  I don’t really remember much, aside from seeing my co-worker’s car about 50 yards ahead, and then suddenly, my rabbit’s carrier was in my lap, there were bunny kibbles everywhere and there was an oncoming semi.  So that’s nice.

The interesting thing that I noticed about interstate highways down south is that there are houses dotted along them, with driveways leading right onto the interstate.  Fortunately, when I’d spun around, I landed in front of a house, whose residents witnessed the whole thing and called the state troopers for me.  Apparently, that happens more often than not off that particular overpass, and I was lucky that the weight of the trailer had prevented me from spinning off into the ditch next to the highway.  The trailer had actually come off the hitch and was only being held on by the cables that connected the electricals.

There were also a few good samaritans that pulled over and despite not speaking English, they did their best to try to help get the trailer out of the road, for which I’m thankful.

IMG_2002
I was basically told to go sit in the ditch while everyone else tried to re-attach the trailer.  So enjoy this photo, taken from a ditch.

Eventually, I was able to sort of assess the damage and pick up a few pieces that were ripped off the trailer hitch.  I no longer had directionals or an interior light, but still had tail and headlights.  The trailer, however, had no electricals at all.  Awesome.

IMG_2003
The other one was mangled, but surprisingly, still attached.  This one just ripped right off.  It remained as a “trophy” in my cupholder for two years until I sold the car.  Now it’s in some box somewhere, I think.  Or I threw it out.

The state trooper was super nice and since a report was made of the accident, if I were to be pulled over for not having tail lights or not signaling a merge in the remaining three hours of my trip, there was documentation that would explain why.  Thankfully, I wasn’t, but I did vow never to tow anything ever again, (not like I could because my trailer hitch was basically destroyed.)

We eventually made it to the apartment complex with minutes to spare.  Once we got our keys and signed the lease, we unpacked the non-furniture stuff and dumped them in the living room before heading off to Walmart.  My number one priority was to get an air mattress, (as I wasn’t able to bring a bed with me,) and there were other various necessities we all needed.

Luckily, we still had a day to spare before co-worker and I started work, but we were now “home” and our Texas adventure was beginning.

Work as History

I’ve been through a myriad of jobs – barrista, kennel attendant, pet store associate, concierge, movie theater clerk, inventory control, video game clerk, community editor, office assistant and probably others I’ve forgotten, almost all of which I spent at least two years at.  I like to consider myself fairly decent at things, but not really an “expert” at one thing.  I learn fast and generally enjoy trying to streamline processes for efficiency, as well as spend time researching the parts of the job that particularly fascinate me.

A few of the jobs I’ve worked didn’t last long and I have no regrets.  Things happen.  My first job was the barrista job at the coffee shop in town.  A few of my friends also worked there, so I figured it’d be fun.  I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it, as I’d come home feeling awful, sometimes with hives and feeling like my lungs and windpipe were jammed full of cotton, (which I’d later come to find is an odd, but serious, coffee allergy.)  Within two weeks, I’d managed to piss off one of my friends (how was I supposed to know I’d been hired at a higher pay rate than he was – he asked and I told him,) break some very expensive glassware, upset the owner by bursting into tears when he asked me how I was doing after a particularly difficult evening, somehow managed to break down the espresso machine for almost my entire shift, and accepted a full tip (from my own mother) that got me in trouble with the manager because we were supposed to share ANY and ALL tips recieved, despite my argument that it was lunch money my mom was giving me.  (According to my friends who still worked there, my mother marched right in there and told off the manager for making me share money she was giving me for lunch.  Apparently, the conversation didn’t go well and Mom never went back to the coffee shop, or the neigboring pet shop/groomer that the manager owned, again.  To this day, she won’t confirm or deny that she was banned from both.  I tell people she was banned, just because it makes her more badass.)

The other short-term job was as an office assistant for a one-woman consulting company.  That lasted a few months and I tried to do my best, but after my first week, it became somewhat obvious that the woman wasn’t very good at running her business.  Don’t get me wrong – she knew how to do her job very well; hearing her sweet-talking hedge funds to invest in “up and coming” biopharmacutical companies was pretty impressive, but she wasn’t really great at the other facets of the business and she also lived way beyond her means.  My first “official” task was to go pick up several thousand dollars worth of computer equipment at the Apple Store, then come back to the office and set it all up.  Not a problem.  It got weird when she had me keep two checkbooks – her personal one and the business one – and had me constantly shuffling money between the two.  I didn’t think anything of it, to be honest, since it wasn’t my business, though it was kind of frustrating that she would use business funds to buy antiques and furniture and not tell me about it until I’d find a discrepancy the next day while balancing her checkbooks, and then she’d either become obstinate and ask me why I needed to know or just tell me she “bought something.”  That’s cool.  I don’t care what you buy, I just need to know how much it was so I can keep your checkbook balanced.  In the two and a half months I was there, she went on two week-long vacations, where I was expected to still be in the office.   No big deal, I’d answer the few phone calls that would come in (usually from her to make sure I was actually at the office,) hang out with the office cat, watch TV and try my best to keep up on her checkbooks, since she used funds from both her personal and business accounts interchangably, much to my frustration.  Things kind of came to a head when it was becoming more and more obvious that she was looking for a personal assistant/friend, whereas I was more interested in assisting in her business.  She’d make passive-aggressive comments to me in regards to how her previous assistant would go to her house and pick up her garbage, bring her to antiquing, make her breakfast in the mornings (sometimes,) and hang out with her.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was when her previous office assistant’s mother came in, begging my boss to give her son his job back, since his current arrangement didn’t work out.  After the mother left, I waited a few and then told my boss that I was quitting, which she then felt it necessary to double down and fire me (?) and tell me how her old office assistant (whom she was most certainly taking back,) used to do all these personal things for her that (I’m being quite honest here,) I wasn’t comfortable with, such as making dinner for her at her home, helping her move furniture, driving her son around, going antique/furniture shopping, running personal errands, and the aforementioned taking out her garbage.

I also spent a lot of time working with animals at various animal hospitals in the area.  My official title was “Kennel Attendant,” which suited me fine.  I got to hang out with (mostly) friendly pets all day and sometimes I’d get called to assist the doctors or vet techs with something.  There was one hospital in particular that I remember most fondly, where the staff were treated like family.  The hospital was situated on basically the front lawn of the doctor’s home, where he’d walk up the driveway with his Rottweiler every day.  (Sometimes, the dog would come on his own on Dr. K’s day off, which he’d then call and ask “Is Brutus up there?  Can you walk him home?  He needs his pill.”  Though Brutus would be fine coming to the hospital on his own, for whatever reason, he needed an escort home or he’d sit outside being a nuisance until the door opened, then he’d barrel through and go straight to the little house/pen that was specifically set up for him.)  We’d often have storytime sessions with Dr. K, where he’d tell us about strange or funny things he’d come across in his career, or even stories from when he was growing up.  He was everyone’s papa bear.  He knew my dad, which was comforting, particularly when I’d gotten a call from my father saying he’d lost his job.  I was told to have a seat for a few minutes before I went back downstairs to my kennel kingdom and tend to my canine pals.  When I returned upstairs to feed the cats and Brutus and check in for any extra tasks, Dr. K took me aside to his office and informed me that he’d made a few phone calls and should my dad want it, there was a position for him at a local company.  This, of course, turned on the waterworks again and I don’t think I’ve ever hugged an employer before that, but at this point, Dr. K had resigned himself to being everyone’s “Work Dad”.  I’ll never forget the chuckle from “Work Dad” and how he said that they were also giving me a dollar raise.  After I’d moved on from that job, my grandparents, who brought their Yorkies to see Dr. K, would tell me that he’d always ask about me, making sure I was doing well.  (I wound up quitting after a dispute with the office manager, despite Dr. K’s best efforts to keep me from leaving.)  He eventually sold his practice and cut his work schedule to once or twice a week until he eventually retired.  I’d heard he was heartbroken when Brutus passed away, as well as one of the practice’s cats, after which he wasn’t really the same.  I do regret never stopping back in, especially after hearing Dr. K had been keeping tabs on me through my grandparents, but I’ll never forget his kindness and the subtle lessons he taught us all through his stories.

To many, work sucks.  It’s a job.  It pays bills.  Jobs give people stability, security or freedom.  It’s rare when someone’s stayed at their first job for their entire career.  Nowadays, it can be hard to find a job that will afford you the stabilities and/or security you require and once you find that particular job, there are likely at least a dozen others vying for the same thing.

I’ve had a varied work history, but it’s just that, it’s history.  It’s part of my history and to be honest, I wouldn’t do it any differently.  Sure, I’ve been fired from a few places or left on bad terms, (I’m still not sure if I quit or was fired from that office assistant job,) but there are also places I left because that was the direction I needed to take in my life.  Some places leave behind memories that I can look back on and smile, others I can look back on and learn.

In retrospect, I don’t regret the choices I’ve made in my work history, (except for maybe that time I flooded the fish room at a pet store,) because each and every one, as well as the memories I’ve made equal an experience I needed to grow.  You need experiences, both negative and positive, to help you grow as a person.

Work isn’t rainbows and unicorns.  Work is work, but if you take a moment to think about it, work contributes to you as much as you contribute to it.  You form bonds with the people you work with, you encounter things you normally may not come across otherwise and you create memories that stick with you, even if you don’t intend for them to.  They create your history and in turn, create you, which, is an adventure.

Smile … You’re Blogging

Whenever I travel, I always bring a copy of Henry Rollins’ Smile … You’re Traveling with me.

I’ll be honest – I was never actually a fan of Henry Rollins, or even Black Flag, despite loving punk and hardcore.  I made a valid effort, maybe just because I wanted to fit in with my peers, but I just couldn’t get into it.  I’d picked up a copy of his spoken word book, Solipsist, but poetry never really was my thing.

Don’t get me wrong, spoken word poetry, as an art, is great, and you can call me juvenile or “basic” as much as you want, but Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Dr. Seuss were more my speed.  (Take that last statement as you will, because this is coming from someone who uses a pouch shaped like a pair of underpants as a wallet and still giggles at fart jokes.)

However, after deciding to give Rollins another shot, since clearly there was something wrong with me if I didn’t like his work and was into punk rock, I picked up Smile.  Unlike SolipsistSmile … You’re Traveling is a travel journal as Rollins traverses places unknown, logging his own adventures.  I was fascinated by his observations and envious of his experiences.  I wanted to have those same experiences and make those memories.  I wanted to know what it was like to wander down a street in a faraway land, without having to be under the watchful eye of a chaperone or in a group.  I wanted the freedom to discover what hidden secrets these places held.

I met Henry Rollins in 2007, while in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I was there for the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival with my university, who was performing there for three weeks.  Rollins was “performing” at the same venue my university group was, doing a one-man storytelling hour, at the tail-end of the festival.  (I say “storytelling” hour because he wasn’t doing spoken word, he was just there, talking about his travels.)  I was hanging out with the staff from the venue, (under the guise that I was “shadowing” them for future career experience, sorry-not-sorry-bout-it,) when in walked Rollins.  He’d arrived to discuss his lighting and sound requirements for his 4-day stint, which took all of 5 minutes, and then he came back and sat down with us in the storage room where we’d been hanging out.

We’d been talking about our pets when Rollins sat down with us.  Emma was talking about her dog, while I, at the time, had a cat and several snakes.  Euan remained rather quiet and I’m pretty sure Rob was dozing off, after having been out the night before drinking, (I would know, as I was there too.)  I’d already been familiar with Rollins’ involvement with ball python breeding – I’d briefly considered purchasing one from his business partner in Michigan – but never really expected him to join in the conversation as he did.  Emma would tell me later that once Rollins and I started talking about snakes, she felt like she was watching a tennis match, her head shifting back and forth between the two of us.

After about an hour of snake-talk, Rollins had to go, but told me to meet him at his prep room before his show the next day and bring my computer – he wanted to see photos of my snakes.  If when a big, burly, tattooed, gruff, punk rocker-turned-author-turned-actor points at you and says, “Meet me tomorrow at 3.  I want to see your snakes.” isn’t pants-shitting terror when aimed at a 5-foot-nothing, Asian girl, I’m not sure what is, especially when one of my flatmates had only agreed to come to Edinburgh because he was hoping for the chance to meet THE Henry Rollins.  Needless, the venue staff thought it was pretty rad and in a few hours, forgot all about it because we went out drinking.  (I would drunkenly write myself a reminder for the meeting and post it outside my bedroom door, only to get ripped a new one by the aforementioned flatmate, who felt it was a slap in the face, since he’d basically flown half way around the world to meet the guy himself.)

The next day, after my daily responsibilities were taken care of, I met up with THE Henry Rollins.  Snake pictures were shown and after some conversation, plans were made to meet again the following day, where we just hung out and he told me about his travels and showed me photos of his trip to Iran.  He’d talked about the Iran trip in his one-man show, but he went more in-depth about his experience when showing me the photos he took.  I’d mentioned I was interested in travelling like that and he was more than encouraging.

All in all, I spent 3 days hanging out with Henry Rollins, and learned more than I probably deserved to, and left our final meeting kicking myself for several reasons:

1.)  I’d never introduced myself to him until the last day when he asked who to sign my copy of Smile to.  I just showed up at his prep room when he told me to and that was that.

2.)  There was only about three days left of my three weeks spent in Scotland, and I’d spent the previous 18 drinking and partying when not working.

3.)  I never properly thanked him for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit and chat with me for three days in a row.  Obviously I didn’t know how busy he actually was during his time in Edinburgh, but I’d later find that that entire year was kind of a whirlwind for him.  Realizing that makes me appreciate and treasure the time he took with me even more.

It was then that I’d made the conciensious decision that the next time I travelled, espeically internationally, I wouldn’t take any time for granted and I’d smile, because I was traveling.

~~~

After writing this post, I found out that Henry Rollins had written not one, but two books detailing his adventures the very year I’d met him.  I haven’t read either yet, but they look to include the stories he’d told me while looking over his photos and talking about snakes.  Hell, maybe he even mentions he performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Check them out:

A Preferred Blur: Reflections, Inspections, and Travel in All Directions

A Mad Dash

~~~

He’ll never read this, but in the 1 in a million chance he does – Thank you, Mr. Rollins, for everything – taking the time to chat with me, for showing me your pictures from your experiences, for sharing your stories and for igniting a flame that’s been burning for years to start adventuring and living.  Thank you.

~~~

Side Note:  Please check out the links in the post.  To be completely transparent, they’re Amazon Affiliate links and any purchase made, I get a little something for.  I’m kind of new to the affiliate thing, so I’m not sure how much of a percentage I get, but again, transparency and I want to be upfront that I’ve inserted Amazon Affiliate links.

Thanks.

The Journey Begins … and it’s Terrible

I used to blog when I was younger and going back to those old blogs now makes me cringe so hard, I worry about cracking my molars.

But, back through them I went, because I spent a lot of time on the fence, debating whether I should try my hand at blogging again.  Amid the sea of silly quiz results, (if I were an affliction, I’d be rabies, if you’re wondering,) I wrote about my day, about the music I liked, concerts I went to and just various things someone leaving high school and entering college would do.  One thing I noticed was that I never really went in-depth about how I thought about things or what I experienced.  Saying “Oh em gee, I saw [insert band here] and I was in the front row and the lead singer looked at me!  Best.  Night.  Ever!!!!!!!oneone111” doesn’t count.  I guess I never really took the time to appreciate the things around me to the point where it’d stick.  Looking back at that, I regret it, simply because now that I can appreciate it, I can’t really go back.

When you’re younger, you coast by, thinking you’re indestructible, full of piss and vinegar.  Eventually, you take one too many bumps in the mosh pit and suddenly, your body becomes it’s own weather.com, or you drink a little too much one night and your hangover lasts a little too long afterwards.  That kind of stuff sneaks up on you.

And it sucks.

However, after that mild feeling of “Oh god, oh god, oh god I need to do ALL OF THIS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I AM CLEARLY DYING AND IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!!oneoneone111!!!” (no, you never actually grow out of accidentally releasing the Shift key when typing in excitement or panic,) you emerge from your blanket fort/nest/cocoon and realize you need to slow down and appreciate the things you took advantage of.  It’s at this point, you have two choices – you can dwell on all the things you should’ve done, or you can look forward and fully enjoy the things you’re going to do.

It took me a long time, several boots to the ass by supportive friends, and several gallons of Teavana Youthberry White Tea, (1.85oz – 15 bags), for me to realize that Ferris Bueller was right (sort of,) when he said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  Life is what you make it.  If you want it to go fast, it’ll go fast.  If you want to take the time to experience what it has to offer, you have the power to do so.  Granted, you can’t control how other people’s lives will interfere with yours, but it’s a matter of harmonizing.

Anyway …

Hello.

This is my adventure blog.

Regardless of whether I’m arguing with a customer at my retail job, getting lost in the middle of Malta or curled up in a pile of blankets and cats, everything is always an adventure.