Wagon to a Star

Sitting here on a flight over Vietnam I'm realizing my recent relationships have been driven by my wanderlust. Burning Man. Europe. Colombia. Southeast Asia.

funemployed = working to live, not living to work

funemployed = working to live, not living to work

Not deliberately and not so these men would fund it (I paid my own way every time). But to avoid doing this on my own. I don't know why. And it feels cowardly.

This trip is a vacation from the vacation that is my life, with one of my best friends. It isn't a solo adventure, but it has the makings of one, like the training wheels for where I'm headed next. And wouldn't you know, it's March. I had planned a solo vacation for this month 1 year ago. Then I met my ex, then we quit our jobs together, traveled together, loved together, broke up. And so here I am doing exactly what I dreamed I would be doing now, but from a very different path.

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I don't feel like I was dishonest in the relationship, and hindsight is 20/20, yet part of me wishes I had been brave enough to kick this life off on my own. A part of me wishes it had worked with him. And all of me is trying to forgive myself for when I let things get ugly.

Looking back there has been a pattern of "hitching my wagon to a star". In other words, I have often dated men with big dreams and been comfortable being their sidekick, losing sight of what my dreams were and trying their dreams on for size.

So here we are.  Me having a revelation about patterns that have gotten me in trouble in the past, pouring it out. Feels a lot like this post. But how many times do you have to make the same mistake before you learn from it?

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Maybe I don't know the answer yet, but I'm making some moves in the right direction:

  1. For my time left in Vietnam I'm going to explore the country through little excursions; alone and with some of the unique humans I keep meeting
  2. Book my flight out of here, quite possibly to Portugal for a really cool opportunity that has come up
  3. Research animal non-profits where my skills could be used for good (Africa?)
  4. Stay on this path, but allow myself to make mistakes and missteps, laughing all the while

I know that I'm going to knock everything off this list and I'll keep you posted every step of the way. Promise.

Where in the World

Last night it dawned on me that there is a 1 in 7.4 billion chance that I will ever see my ex again. That's some deep shit.

flowers for the woman at UPS who SAVED MY LIFE!

flowers for the woman at UPS who SAVED MY LIFE!

I'm ok with it and I am also crying less. And talking to boys. No comments on that topic though. Seriously. I am not putting a dude on this blog again unless there is a fucking ring (but not a blood diamond ring). It's pretty apparent that my "picker" is broken, so perhaps I stop that stuff altogether for a bit. But there is that whole sex part. Dang...

More importantly, what is next? WHERE? Making travel decisions with your partner takes both of your interests into account. Like motorbiking north from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. But as we all know, I am a terrible driver (Exhibit A, Exhibit B), so in the absence of boyfriend the simplest way to keep myself alive is sans motorbike. 

The luxury of being able to work as a digital nomad does not escape me. I have paying clients, a low cost of life, and until the end of April until my visa expires. But I feel frozen in making a decision. Typically decisive and rash, all of a sudden I cannot even identify what climate I want to be in. Part of me wants to hop on the next flight to Buffalo and hole up in the spare room at my mom or dad's. But a bigger part of me has decided that this "trip" will not be about a failed relationship.

Peace, respect, love? I'll add them to the list...

Peace, respect, love? I'll add them to the list...

As luck would have it, opportunities keep coming up. A roommate (Gary ♥) told me to watch for signs from the universe; more specifically, 3 signs to guide any one decision. Since then, I landed a part time gig with an awesome yoga brand, I have an offer in Portugal, and my awareness for coworking spaces and the digital nomad community has expanded. I was also kicked off one Facebook Group for nomads after cracking a Chaturbate joke. It's all a learning experience, and my brand of humor isn't for everyone, apparently. 

Next week one of my favorite people in the world, Maggie, is visiting me. We are taking to the islands, blogging, working remotely, hiking, and I get some soul-achingly-necessary girl time. 

I am drenched in the opulent luxury of choices. And I feel really fucking lucky.

Fear

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." 

The well known quote rings true to me, especially this week when I made another terrifying decision. I ended things with T. There have been many tears and moments of angst. And there is this magnificent peace. It's totally fucked. 

I have no regrets about my decision, even though I’m completely alone now in Vietnam. As many know, I am a list person, but I couldn't even bring myself to write a list on why it needed to end. I was that disappointed in myself for what I had put up with from a man I dated for only 4 short months. 

But there were good things too (aren't there always?). He helped me rip off the band-aid on a life that wasn't making me happy any longer. I felt safe and physically protected with him, and he was a teammate. For a while, anyway.

But this isn't a vacation. It's the rest of my life. And the little voice in my head kept reminding me of three things:

  1. We were great at planning and accomplishing goals together, but lacked joy
  2. The fights were really nasty
  3. In a tight spot he folded, and in an incident I’d rather forget, he betrayed me

So now what? When the going gets tough, Lulu crunches numbers. I used this fancy budget tracker and determined exactly how much money I owed him ($459.73) and am debating purchasing the motorbike that was custom-built for me (another $400, jury is out on that one).

making new frandz

I signed on for a shared workspace for the month (Dreamplex, $89), paid for March rent at a new place with friends ($200), have been drumming up quite a bit of digital marketing projects ($?), and decided to stay for the remainder of my 3 month visa here in Vietnam.

Things aren't a fairy tale at the moment, but the support from friends and family around the world has made me feel connected, loved and a little less alone. I'll end on these words from each of my parents:

Don’t run away from, medicate, or fuck away the pain. Be present to how life is right now. Let it burn off the stink. Be compassionate with who you are and where your life is right now. How would you talk to your 13 year-old Lulu? What would you tell her? Do you extend compassion and gentleness to yourself?
— Mom
In adventures it isn’t possible to fail. Most people won’t ever get on the boat.
— Dad

Capitalization

Note: Since this post things have drastically changed. But I am leaving it up for old time's sake.

Fuck. The blog has had quite a facelift over the last month. Completely redone, remapped, and now a shared social footprint with my boyfriend. I hate that word. I have a serious aversion to possessive-relationship terms and although I can see the need for them there is just something so icky about hearing something like, "You know my fiance, ____? Anyway, yeah my fiance and I were..." - JUST SAY THE NAME.

Part of my hangup might be that the love of my 20s insisted on stating that we were non-exclusively dating, and would only tell me that he loved me when I would break-up with him. Also, we were living together. Also, we dated on and off from 2006-2011. Oh baggage you silly little buddy.

motorbike-vietnam-blog-couple-hcmc-saigon

Anyway, yeah. My boyfriend (T) now is half of Lulakilla. This was a really hard step for me. Maybe harder than quitting my job and leaving my apartment in Boston because I think I was all set with them anyway. Sharing this blog and telling our story on it (not just mine) is kinda like getting a dog together. Or moving in - funny because we technically have lived together since Day 1 just given the nature of travel. Also funny because T is pushing hard for us to adopt a dog (look at the PUPPEEZZZ).

So now I am turning this blog into something that can tell our bad-ass travel tales and share the magic we get to see on a daily basis, also you can vote on the future of the beard from the homepage. I think I am having a love affair with Vietnam - the coffee, the French infusion, the street food, the harmonious chaos of the motorbike traffic - this place is next level. Also? The epic wifi. I'm back on the grid.

And now that I am a grown-up I am taking mom's feedback as productive and not criticism and introducing Capitalization into my life.

En-Gagged

A year ago none of my exes were married or engaged. While creepin' the interwebs this week I saw that one of them is newly engaged. The same one whose Match profile said "never married", but had been divorced 3 years prior (FUN FACT: almost all of the food in his fridge and pantry was also dated 3 years prior). 

Of note: We broke up in May. 

It gets better. 

I should have broke up with him after a month. I tried to, but it didn’t stick. He was needy and insecure and it was making me crazy. Remember in Twilight how the wolves (om nom nom Jacob) imprinted on the one they loved? Becoming completely obsessed and at their beck and call, willing and eager to forgo all of their own interests for this paramour figure? Yea. That. He is a really sweet guy though. The type that you always think back about and know that you never woulda' had to worry about anything had you been a gentler soul and partner. 

However I'm all angles + mostly bristles, and after 2 months I kept asking myself... "But how am I growing aside from extending the time-frame it typically takes me to snap?" 

psychiatric-help-engaged-dating-blog

Providing the ultimate clarity in our incompatibility was 5 days post breakup when I received a 40+ minute audio recording through which he revealed through tears and multiple dramatic pauses:

  • He was in therapy again (due to our breakup)
  • The happiest he had ever been was during his time with me
  • He could see how tender and broken I was on the inside and he could help
  • He had been looking at rings... you know, the engagement kind...

The question that all of my friends and I had was if his therapist had encouraged this voice recording? I'm fucked up, we're all fucked up, it's the fucked up club - but the weight that was lifted when I let the relationship go was so intense that I could not even bring myself to go on a proper date for over 3 months. The emotional drain I felt was so exhaustive and intense. I guess the lesson from this one was that although I thought I might be compatible with someone so very in touch with his emo-side that I over-reached for the goal and probably am better suited to more of a man's man...

Accidentz

Ride Or Die. Literally.

Ride Or Die. Literally.

Melissa tells me my accident prone behaviors in Southeast Asia are (potentially) a desperate cry from my subconscious to ensure that my new boyfriend will take care of me. if that is indeed true, I'd like my subconscious to seriously stop messing with my shit and be a little more resilient.

For example, when I was taking the motorbike out yesterday I really wanted to prove I am capable of taking the painstaking lessons he has imparted on me and am in fact a Ride Or Die Bitch. Instead, while backing a non-running 125cc motorbike down a tight alley I lose control and "laid it down" ever so gingerly against a tree, Resulting in a big ass dent on the gas tank. At this point it might have been smart to call the proving quits, but my ever-rational brain determined that the net-net of a 30 second experience with one crash would seem less bad if that one crash was averaged over a much longer span of riding successfully.

Not four minutes later (after a jerky exit through a wooden plank bridge, rock wall + shoddy sand grooves in the sand), I turn right onto a dirt road and need to come to a sudden stop, which results in me trying to hold up said 278 lb. bike on my right leg, Failing and ultimately causing lay down 2, as well as an embarrassing rescue from a local, who yells after me "Drive Careful" as I stall out while careening away down a dirt hill, gripping the clutch and slamming on the foot brake for dear life.

The fortunate net-net of the biking extravaganza was a dent and a bruise to my leg, which T took remarkably well, see:

Until I picked him up at the dive shop... "Woah, that dent is like the size of my arm, you realize you dented it in the worst spot where we can't pop it out and it will for sure rust and suck for whoever has it long term. Not worried about the money though, the bike is only worth $500, but if this was a nice bike you'd be fucked."

Thanks. This on top of my firework injury. On top of my coral scratched knee that took 4 weeks to heal. On top of a UTI last month. And the scrape on the top of my foot (from dancing / doing a split in Pai). And my total dependence on contact lenses. And my general limpiness on my once broken foot. And a few other things. I'm definitely the ultimate liability for someone whose been compared to the hybrid version of James Bond, Chuck Norris, Macgyver, Transporter...

motorbike-el-nido-philippines-blog

Blogz

Blogging. Believe it or not i have been writing a bit over the last month and a half, but sometimes it feels like a chore. And sometimes i have no wifi. And the days with good wifi and interest in writing aren't that plentiful. And oh... did you see that sunset? And mm Tanduay rum and poker night is more fun.

Also - I am not sure that the current layout of the blog still works as my life evolves. Dickz. yeah i have a ton of ridonkulous lessons in dating still to impart, but i am dating a dick who is not such a dick most of the time. So do i write about us under Dickz? 

Travel... well that is my whole life now. Finances and work and life all revolve around where we are and where next might be, so do I add a section for that?

Promise: I am going to back-date what I did write and post it at some point but the size of that job increases with time. The next goal is to make sure that the blog reflects me and where I am going right now. For the short term here's the soundbite version of the last 2 months:

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  • Circus school was a haven for relaxation and not getting shit done. 24/7 there was mellow thai weed in the pagoda, there were parties every night (a BIG PARTY at least twice a week), and one of the highest ratios of humans getting laid:humans I've ever seen, perhaps 1.4?
  • Kittens are definitely funding ISIS, specifically Drugz
  • Travel from Pai, Thailand to Palawan, Philippines was a true testament to our relationship - we meandered off the most direct path many times (ooh a cock fight... ooh a 3 day cargo ship trip...) and only fought 2, max 3 times
  • The world does not end when I don't regularly workout, my butt gets more juicy and i still fit all the same clothes
  • Divemaster school is not as easy as imagined. Night dives are terrifying. And i am not good at everything in the entire world as once suspected
  • You can in fact blow off a chunk of your finger with a firecracker, and it might just happen on a cliche night like NYE
  • Being in a relationship centered around travel + living together is a huge test but the personal growth it allows can be mind blowing
  • The magical, creative place where fiction + reality collide can be as simple as this... (special love to Xavier - pictured for the photos, memories + writeup on his site) 

Goalicious

I'm really afraid to write anymore goal lists. In the past 5 years every single goal or whim I've put to paper (aside from marriage - which would have been a fucking mess to anyone I dated anyway) has been smashed to smithereens and I've gone well overboard in achieving it. 

  • Career > Become a digital marketing manager? Check. Did it for 10mos: launching a website and rebranding a social media presence while surviving an understaffed team, an underfunded budget, a redefining of a role, a director who micromanaged my every decision then quit. All the while pulling side gigs on my off time to...
  • Pay off debt > I had been chasing my tail on this bitch for years. after buckling down and defining my hard limits on budgets I finally got out of this hole. Savings are the next leg of the journey but for right now I am beholden to no creditors and feel freed from the capitalist spending cycle - BUY MORE WORK MORE YOU DESERVE IT DEBT DEBT DEBT. fuck. off. 
  • Friends > I moved on from some people who just weren't a good fit, redefined relationships with others, and mended one of the most important relationships from my 20s (Cuban Assassin = my heart). I am blessed to have a small group of badass bossgirls who I would cut-a-bitch for. The distance will probably continue to redefine these friendships but the extra effort is worth it. 
  • Travel > Are you kidding me? On a whim I listed out some places and dates I'd like to hit before the end of this year (before the decision to live abroad on Halloween I already had Southeast Asia booked for March 2016). On that list were Napa, Minnesota, Buffalo 2xs + Palawan. We are on a boat now moving to Palawan for 2mos to do our divemaster certification. And I ticked off all those locations in the states before I left and Colombia. Is this a dream?
feet-ocean-palawan-philippines-goals

The freedom of this life is so amazing - and all it took was for me to take the leap off the edge with the trust that we can I can weave my own safety net on the way down OR learn to fly OR both. Finding an ability to work for trade has reshaped my self-worth. It has humbled me in this way where I find myself giving mad props to the owner of a tiny fried chicken stand or the driver of the Jeepney - way to kill it in the cashmoney business my friends. I am so curious as well about the future of how I can position myself as a digital nomad, it's scary af - but when I look around I see many westerners finding a way to earn money remotely (for me this will be dependent on a good wifi connection). This again is a learning curve. Trusting my skill-set outside of the traditional office-based, rat-race arrangement and trusting that someone else will see its value, yielding a mutually beneficial scenario. 

It's day 51 of this journey and I'm fully immersed. Letting go of the loose ends I was unable to tie up stateside. Letting go of things I expected and opening up to the world of adventure and mystery we are sailing into. 

Also this horoscope:

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): To the other eleven signs of the zodiac, the way of the Gemini sometimes seems rife with paradox and contradiction. Many non-Geminis would feel paralyzed if they had to live in the midst of so much hubbub. But when you are at your best, you thrive in the web of riddles. In fact, your willingness to abide there is often what generates your special magic. Your breakthroughs are made possible by your high tolerance for uncertainty. How  many times have I seen a Gemini who has been lost in indecision but then suddenly erupts with a burst of crackling insights? This is the kind of subtle miracle I expect to happen soon.

The Love Study

My new guy and I sat face-to-face answering a series of increasingly personal questions. By question 27, he professed his love to me. No. This was way too much, way too soon. How'd we get into such a mess?

Two months earlier, my mom had sent me an article about falling in love with anyone (even a stranger) after answering a series of questions together, then staring into their eyes for four solid minutes without looking away. At the time I wasn't dating anyone, but saved the article just-in-case.

A month later, I took the leap onto match.com at a time when pretty much everything in my life was on a track I had chosen and I wasn't even that interested in dating (reverse psychology, but my thoughts were to put myself out there when I was least needy in order to attract the right, non-needy people).

Sure enough the 2nd person I met was all-in for the Lulu-Package. I saw signs of deep insecurity in him and even pulled back a few times letting him know that I thought he was more into me than I him. But he let me know that I would definitely come around (and I quote... "I can't wait for you to realize how good I am for you"). So we persisted. About 4 weeks in we threw all sheets to the wind and decided to do The Love Study.

Not shockingly, the study opens you up with some pretty intense questions that lead into intense conversation, connection and vulnerability. Additionally, I don't think most wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am bros would be like, "Ya babe, I def. wanna do a love study with you for 2-3 hours. sweetnezz." So by agreeing to take the test both parties are probably open to the idea of loving one another. 

Most of the time I ignore the emotional and tender side of myself and so it was a great surprise to both of us when I burst out in tears to question 26, complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “. My answer was olive's death. my 9 year old bulldog. How apropos that the next question read If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know. To which he answered "I love you..." (I returned the sentiment because you kinda have to at that point and also I was feeling all of the feels, ugh).

Amazingly, I think the true outcome of the test was me falling more in love with me. (narcissistic applause ensues.) But you know what? I had to let Olive go in June (1 month after I ended things with stage-27-clinger, more stories on that to follow), and I had one of my very best girlfriends in the world by my side, holding my hand, crying right along with me. I think the love study works, but not like you'd expect.

friend-acro-yoga-napa-valley-love