Ow My Ovary

looking up with dad

looking up with dad

Last week I was informed that my notions are too romantic.

Let me back up. I have one ovary. In 2010 the gynecologist found an ovarian cyst the size of a softball resting comfortably on my left ovary. Said cyst had suffocated the ovary and its eggs had died. Aka half of my half babies (are you following me?). 

Instead of rushing down the altar and into motherhood, my thoughts about dating and life evolved. Maybe I won't be able to have kids once I'm ready. And maybe I'm open to finding a man who already has kids of his own so as to take some of the pressure off of me. And that man I am suited to be with, he will love me if I can have kids or not, because it will be us first.

That right there is my too romantic notion. I'm not so sure though. We're all just bunches of atoms configured together in a majestic pattern that has somehow lucked out and received this dope, unique soul. For me, a successful life is going to be without misery and avoidable physical pain, plus adventure and a lot of people (and animals!) around me that want the best for me (and vice versa). I think it would be great if that group of people involved my own spawn, but I can't consider it a failure if my remaining eggs don't cooperate.

A friend and I even brainstormed a Kickstarter campaign to fund the freezing of a couple eggs. The play would be that I spend a ton of time volunteering, US insurance is a joke, I'd like to slow down my biological clock, and (most obviously) my genetic makeup MUST be replicated. But asking for money is not an option for 3 reasons:

  • Old-school Irish pride
  • I don't like getting all science-y about something so natural as getting knocked up
  • And to mom's point: 
Right now, the life you are living is one of beauty, travel, independence and freedom (from debt, obligations, a relationship, a reg job). That is a wonderful and enviable thing. For any number of reasons, you did not choose the June Cleaver, Leave It To Beaver life—more Jack Kerouac hits the road. And that carries natural consequences.

Asking for money to fund your eventual/potential/maybe and never-before-expressed desire to have a child (even to me) while you are living in paradise might strike some as disingenuous, whimsical, an afterthought, and even irresponsible. Like: Why doesn’t she settle down like the rest of us schlumps and marry good-enough, boring Joe and get knocked-up the regular way while she still can?
— Mom
romantically inclined.

romantically inclined.

So for now, I'm going to be a little more romantic than usual and take my time. If it's meant to be then it will all come together... 

Chocolate Cake

Last night I got 2 wonderful presents. 1 was chocolate cake. 

I'm a few days into a 30 day social media cleanse - removing Insta-gratifications and the pseudo-connected feeling that apps can bring, while adding free time and a considerable amount of mental space. Yesterday was devoted to sightseeing, including a Port wine tour, climbing an ancient church tower with 2 Korean friends, and eating at a vegan co-op with some hippie guys that are obsessed with Rainbow (note: don't call it a festival - also of note, don't let them know you work in marketing, because that's totally like, selling out man). 

Porto, the home of Port wine

Porto, the home of Port wine

At one point I was skipping down a path and taking panoramics of gorgeous Porto, giggling at my good fortune. This moment was in sharp contrast to a meltdown, hours later. Let me explain, I am so grateful to be alone right now and devote a considerable amount of time thinking about what this means. The train of thought led to questions on why we need a partner at all. And if that's the case - why the fuck are we even here on the planet, when all we do is destroy it? Cue the tears - thanks wine. 

And the tears wouldn't stop. And then I was sobbing and leaning on a park fence in the dark, crying into the night when 2 girls stopped. 

They asked me if I was OK. And they cared about my response. And they didn't leave. Because I wasn't OK. Then they insisted I join them for coffee. This gift of kindness was exactly what I needed. My loneliness stemmed not from a lack of people to interact with, but from a lack of loving interactions. This love doesn't need to be a romantic one, and it's defined by special human beings that come and go and sometimes stay. But really, the length of time is irrelevant. 

I spent a few hours with my new friends and they bought me chocolate cake. It was the best cake I've ever tasted. And today I walked to the Atlantic, pranced into the waves and waved to the East Coast and my friends back home. We are looking at the sun at the same time now ♥ 

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.

yoga-inversion-vietnam-wanderlust

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?

puppy-blog-vietnam-traveler-dating

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.

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

Eat, Pray, Play in Ubud

Just in time for the Year of the Monkey + VALENTINE'S DAY, here's a MUST list for Ubud (Bali, Indonesia)! Ubud was the setting for the Love portion of the book Eat, Pray, Love and was also the site of days 4-7 of my first date with my ex... You know, the "date" that kicked off my traveling, nomadic life!

temple wandering

temple wandering

EAT at Naughty Nuri's. You do not want to miss this spot while in Ubud. Seriously "The best martinis in the world" - just ask Anthony Bourdain - and a rack of ribs that are so delicious that I polished off the entire rack and then half of a second! When you arrive just seat yourself anywhere there is room at one of the communal tables. 

Another must EAT is the Baba Guling (suckling pig) at Ibu Oka. This is one of Indonesia’s most famous dishes, prepared very early in the morning. Make sure to seek it out at lunch time to ensure the freshest and bestest roasted pork and availability. Definitely a must have in Ubud or anywhere in Bali.

PRAY (or meditate or do whatever the fuck... just no physical contact between males and females!) at Pura Gunung Kawi: This is my favorite temple in Ubud, take a motorbike as the tour companies charge too much money and then you'll have time constraints. There are 2 options to get there:

  •  The front entrance where you will find 200+ stairs and hawkers trying to sell all of their wares OR...
  • The back entrance via Google Maps. We obviously took the back entrance (hehe...) and Google brought us to a local neighborhood which seemed to be a dead end. The locals there welcomed us (and were used to people getting mixed up) from a tiny pagoda where they were carving wood figurines for tourists (the ones for sale on the street in the town). One offered to take us to the temple via the rice terraces! Although we avoided the entrance fee, our guide asked us to buy something from the gift shop on the back side of the temple (a hair pick for $2 USD). Then afterward we chilled in their pagoda for a while and they even gave me a little wooden elephant to take home (we tipped our guide even though he didn't bring up payment).  Thank you to Google for being wrong (this time…).

Bring a sarong or other covering (knees must be covered for men and women) - otherwise you can borrow one from the front entrance at the temple.

PLAY in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary: No trip to Ubud is not complete without playing with the monkeys. Some of these monkeys are quite wild, however the tame ones are a delight and will play with you. Note: Do not antagonize them, especially not screaming at an alpha, while staring him in the eye, while he climbs up your body for the banana treat you are holding out for him (oops). There is a small conservation fee to enter that allows you to explore the temple and see monkeys everywhere!

Special reminders:

  • DO NOT BRING FOOD WITH YOU!! Buy bananas from the banana lady and offer them to a monkey that seems interested 1 at a time. To do so, hold it up as high as you can then hang on tight. One or two monkeys will likely jump onto you, climb up, grab the banana and possibly sit on your shoulder to eat it - so make sure a friend is ready with a camera.
  • Take all your valuable possessions (jewelry/phone/etc.) off for this visit, or else Curious George may walk off with your cell phone 

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...

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.

Pimp My Hut

hut-bungalow-pai-circus-hostel

Circus life continues. Free lodging in exchange for a few shifts of "work" per week. Me coloring on chalk boards while showing guests to their room, T staying up late night and hushing guests/breaking up debaucheries of all sorts... Sex on the trampoline + fist fights to name a few.

Our bungalow (hut?) just got pimped out (like pimp my ride but more of a glamping twist). I was whining about my sore back and trying to get a back-rub out of the deal but somehow this inspired T to renovate our space (and once began he was a man possessed). AKA borrow mattress pallets + plastic rug + fan from empty staff bungalow next door, rotate bed and bug net horizontally for optimal space utilization, check on-site storage for odds and ends to score a coffee table and re-jigger our clothes line inside so towels would be out of head range. Plus I scored the backrub as well.

Benefitz of pimped bungalow:

  1. Cozy environment to invite in others for a smoke of Indonesia's finest
  2. Babe magnet, "So you're T... I hear you have the best bungalow and you pimped it out... Can I see?" - "Probably not a good idea, my girlfriend is in there sleeping right now." "Oh"... I WILL CUT YOU
  3. Menta l health and less of a feeling of transient-homelessness

Grateful

In a span of 9 days I will have been in airplanes and airports for a total of 52 hours and 34 minutes. 4 hours of those because my pilot died.  

My red-eye flight from Tahoe by way of Phoenix yesterday was the one in the news because of the emergency landing made by the amazing crew after the pilot passed away mid-flight. Being a part of the experience was completely un-traumatizing and we have the crew to thank for that. their grace and professionalism made a panic situation one that had me wondering "Is this a joke" and "Does he have food poisoning..?"

So for them I am completely in awe and filled with gratitude, and for the pilot's family, I can't even begin to understand their grief. But I do know that Olive is happy to have another person she can mooch treats off of. 

melissa me friends tahoe french bulldog.jpg

So why so much travel? And why does my life feel like a snow globe, of out-of-body, surreal experiences right now? For starters - I don't see any of the following as warnings, omens or negative signs. No, I feel the most alive and grateful that I have ever felt (after all of the car and other accidents my life alone is a ton of miracles stacked one on top of another). But really, the travel...

Last week Sunday I stayed up past my bedtime to watch the blood moon lunar eclipse from an overpass on Storrow drive. I felt peaceful, alone and alive. The next morning on my commute to Stoughton (part bike, part commuter rail) I was hit by an SUV and tossed off my bike, yet neither of us was hurt (us being me and my one-true-love, my bike).

Within a few hours of the accident, I had an email from the new dating app (Meet Me Outside) I had dabbled with that gets active and outdoorsy people connected (i.e. non-creepy, non-Tinder experiences). I had won their ultimate first date in Tahoe to meet a mystery man and run a Spartan Race - that weekend. Of course I said yes, but, I'd maxed out my vacation time at work so we had to get crafty with booking travel - cue the red eye! 

The weekend was magical, my date was an energetic, bright, successful guy who is totally on his way to doing tons of cool shit; and i can absolutely see us staying in touch as we move on our separate tracks. Speaking of tracks, as the universe would have it, his and mine had overlapped so many times before that weekend that it was uncanny:

  • He was a t.a. for a natural disasters class at NU the year after i took it
  • I bartended at a cigar bar he frequented in college
  • We had multiple mutual acquaintances and he attended a NYE party this year that I RSVP'd to but didn't attend...

Meet Me Outside, Reebok + Spartan Race showed us an amazing time and I felt like the ultimate, obstacle race princess. What a thrill, and what's even more awesome? It was my first >1 mile run since shattering my foot last year. 

After that whirlwind weekend, the pilot tragedy, and a 3 days at work it's time to hit those blue skies again for 3 days (back) in Cali with Melissa (the most fiercely loyal and true friend anyone could ask for) for some acro yoga, Napa winery hijinks, Bonk-bulldog-snuggles and never-ending laughter.

From Cali, the most interesting part of the story begins: 151 days and 22 hours in the making (on my biggest adventure yet), then almost a day in airports (20 hours and 44 minutes, but who's counting?). This one, I’m holding close to the vest.