Am I Crazy

I am crazy. Fact.

I am crazy. Fact.

The title of this post is a rhetorical question. Hence the lack of a question mark. I already know I'm crazy. Take a peek into my unedited brain. I've attempted to write an authentic Stream of Consciousness. It goes in order of my thoughts as they popped up tonight (Saturday), post yoga, post a half-assed meditation, while dinner cooks on the stove.

Ok. My pointer finger knuckle hurts. Pretty sure it's arthritis. 
Not exactly insured. Now it's a pre-existing condiiton.
Should stir the curry.
Curry stirred. The electric range is supposedly fancy, yet trying to get it to work started this joint pain.
Am I actually thinking something more important now? 
Not really no.
I want to bike to the beach tomorrow, but not bring my laptop. I really don't want to work tomorrow. 
Yet that requires me to work for 90 minutes tonight.... It's 8:47. Ok, I can work.
I don't get paid enough to work on a Saturday night.
Tonight's dinner is vegan. I'm not getting skinnier.
Oh yeah, alcohol.
What am I thinking? Not much. I like the silence - in my head and this apartment.
Yoga will be good for me tomorrow. If I can find it. I know I will be a rushing anxious mess bc the train arrives at 7:59.
Setting myself up for anxiety. Cool.
Does my internal monologue sound whiny?
Am I mentally healthy?
Will I ever find someone who loves me 100% including the craziness?
Am I actually really normal and just like to think I am crazy to seem interesting?
No. I am crazy.
I think not in a diagnosable way - just like a little OCD and anxious.
Ha when ____ flipped out because I chucked the shampoo bottle and shattered it. He was a little scary then.
Not scary to me in general.
Why do I get myself into those messes?
Dinner smells good. 
Stop trying to force thoughts into your stream of consciousness to seem more interesting.
Seriously. This is a learning exercise.
I wonder if this is boring to read?
Oooh. I seriously don't give a fuck about ______. Maybe I should just ____. So close to zero fucks.
Is a vegan Vietnamese themed dog rescue cafe really my dream? 
A lot of times when you get what you want it isn't what it was cracked up to be. 
I should hustle some more and put money into savings. Paradoxically, people live on so little and are happier. So maybe "should" is really relative.
Money absolutely has almost zero correlation with happiness.
_____ are pretty miserable. 
Toys are nice though. White Vespa and white Specialized bike.
Why white? 
Because it's trendy or because I like it? Also, a Fiat.
Those things cost money. I don't have money.
Well some. 
Where do I want to go next? Do I even care to get to Africa? 
It's scary. But scary things are what help you grow.
Maybe I am done growing.
I like being alone. 
Banana pancakes for breakfast. I should try and meditate again now. 
I wonder if other people think I go off on ranting tangents when I talk to them. Sometimes I see people's eyes glazing over. I talk less now.
That's sad.
__ used to say I had melancholera. A disease of unhappiness. Maybe it was because I was dating him.
Or maybe I am just bound to be unhappy with whoever I am with.
Or maybe I just need to find the right person.
Maybe I need to be the right person.
I wonder if my list is too specific. Tony Robbins thinks no. He and his wife seem happy. 
"Seem" so many smoke and mirror shows.
Who really is happy?
WTF is happiness?
Why couldn't I get out of bed this morning? 
I need to figure my shit out. 
Or don't I?
No one saves anyone. 
I want to find that thing that makes my soul expand. 
It's out there I think.
I have almost traveled all the way around the world. In December I will have done it, plus 400 miles.
Where will I end upppp? Fuck.
My contacts are dry.
It's 9pm. I should probably work.
I should do whatever the fuck I want.
I don't really want to drink. Drinking alone is pointless. 
Hm, Does drinking ever have a point?
I drank too much Thursday. I don't like how that feels.
My stomach looks fat. Maybe another month off the sauce.
I want to travel. But from this as my home base.
A few plans already.
Maybe re-downloading Snapchat was a mistake. Too many channels to get worn thin on.
Another social media cleanse?
I should blog more.
When I die will I look back on my life and think "I should have blogged more"? No. Shut up.
Dinner is probably ready. I didn't make rice. On purpose.
I hope I don't go blind.
Why did I cry?
"I am not empty I am open" - remember that horoscope. 
Am I boring now?
I want a hug. Now I am sad. Fuck I sound like a crazy person. 
Well mom said it was brave to do an unedited stream of conscience. Is it conscious?
Sadness passed.
Numb now. 
Definitely crazy. 
I probably have a layer of thoughts I am not tuning into, maybe they are more interesting than this layer. 
I wonder if she will be mad if I _____.
Some things are too personal to type out.
I want to be off computers and phones and technology 100% for a while. I won't be able to work though. Maybe I should WWOOF. Will I write postcards?
I want Frank's phone number. Not to get an inheritance. Because I miss him. I will bet that's why that bitch wouldn't give me his number. I will just write him a postcard. I have been planning on doing that for 8 months. Why did I delete his number? Oh right. I am crazy. 
I blocked a lot of people and deleted a lot of numbers through the years. I wonder if I owe anyone an apology. Yes. I do. I wonder who the most? Probably _____. Or __. Or _____? Oh I apologized to him already.
Emotional warfare. But not intentional. 
Oh or _____. He hates me.
No comment. 

I live here.

I live here.

Aged, Aging, Age, Agh. Nudity.

When I was 4 my best friend Timmy Ulbrich took his shirt off on a walk through Como Park. Not to be out shined, I also took my shirt off. After a few minutes, self doubt flooded in and I asked mom to please return my shirt because I was "cold".

where my babiez at? nope.

where my babiez at? nope.

Today I turned 32 and while reflecting on different ages, I feel the same as I did when I was 18, plus some key lessons.

At 18 I had just left Buffalo for college in Boston. College, a place where the small circles of friends from a tiny all girls high school didn't apply. Friends of all shapes and sizes were possible, gay Filipinos, beefy black men and Long Island Jewish princesses. I made them all. And some enemies too - like a douchey hockey player who I told off in the cafeteria (Pat Noonan, hiiiiiiiii), and my bipolar freshman roommate who slept all day on the top bunk, and the "friend" who picked me up in front of a group of friends and held up my skirt so everyone could see (thanks rape-culture!).

So much of that time and my 20s was spent focusing on the next step and appearances. 2 years ago something snapped though, and it started with my foot - in 8 places. Breaking my foot and totaling my dream car was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Insurance wiped out 20k in loans and the accident recovery coincided with my 30th birthday, a milestone that is oft met with panic and expectations (dafuq where my hubby and babiez at?). For me it was a joyful celebration of how lucky I was to be alive.

Just 2 short years later and I'm shocked at how much things have changed and keep changing. Just this week I went to a topless beach and did headstands & cartwheels as my 32 year old boobs sunned themselves.  I didn't even feel "cold" once.

Needs

beach yoga = free

beach yoga = free

Anyone who knows me has heard my rants, a skill I credit to Mr. John Anderson aka Dad. A recurring rant of mine has been Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and how they play into happiness. Low and behold Mr. Money Mustache covered these Needs this week (please note: required reading) and their relation to spending. In typical MMM fashion, he goes on about flexing your frugal muscles and cutting down on non-essential spending as a source of happiness.

In the last 2 years I've made drastic changes - I'm obnoxiously frugal, debt-free, a digital nomad, a vegetarian. When looking at the Needs, I've always met the basics (food, water, sleep). After the basics I've done ok too, I've maintained friendships, stayed in touch with my family, feel like I'm part of quite a few communities, fought off bed bugs successfully, am always doing something creative and artsy, and feel pretty secure in who I'm shaping up to be as a human.

walking everywhere = free

walking everywhere = free

I'm even doing alright financially, if you follow along on my tracker you'd notice that from January thru May I spent $5,354 on necessities and $1,633 on toys (camera, bike, tattoo, cancelled flights). What isn't in there is what I've made! Since I started working part time in mid-February, I've earned $7,476, plus a nice tax return of $2,794. My motto of "I'll travel til the money runs out" hasn't caught me... yet! 

Once the basic Needs have been sorted, us humans have the chance for Self Actualization. It comes as a result of creative pursuits, service and giving back. Now, by no means am I a saintly person - perhaps not eternal damnation bound, but growing up I spent countless hours on the Bad Chair in the corner, in detention, and banished to my room. If there were equivalents to these as an adult, I would still be putting in hard time. Yet I have an infinite soft spot for dogs. 4 days each week I've been volunteering at two bike-able sanctuaries here in the Algarve.

The first is ADAPO, where there is a run of 6 dogs plus 4 wild dogs who I feed, water, love and hangout with. The second is Goldra where there are on average 120 dogs. I do the same things with these guys in addition to cleaning cages, bathing, grooming, and photographing so that perhaps they might be adopted (or sponsored, here's a link to sponsor one if you want to help out!). Some of these pups have big issues - behavioral, blindness, hit by a car, or as many puppies in Portugal are, left in a dumpster. Troubles and all, I love them. Each and every one. As I spend time with each one, I start daydreaming about adopting him or her and how happy we could be and the mischief we could get into. Perhaps we could explore the U.S. in a cross-country road trip to see everyone I love and miss... Just like John Steinbeck & Charley.

Reality check: I can't provide a stable dog-home right now because I'm not sure what's next, but for the next few months I've found a home here in Portugal and I can spread my time amongst an entire dog family. And guess what? Although NEXT is completely up in the air, I think I'm on the right track. 

BONUS: I've updated my goals. The exercise around this is one I learned when I worked at lululemon, it's shaped me and my decisions since 2010. I've still got to drill down on the next 2 years but I am in LOVE with where I'm headed. Let me know if you would like to do the same and I can coach you!

Infested

Tonight I made pesto pasta in the electronic teapot in my hotel. And it made me so fucking happy. 

Little pleasures like this really matter while enduring a harrowing bed bug infestation. In the last 6 days I've accumulated around 50 bites covering my upper back, face and arms, oh and 9 on my knee, for good measure. For those of you that don't know, bed bugs hide in mattresses, bed frames, walls and travel in clothing and other objects. They can lay dormant for up to a year as they wait for their favorite thing, human blood. For some reason, they LOVE mine. So although I was staying in a relatively nice hostel, someone before me must have left them behind, because, 24 hours post check-in the nasty bumps made their debut. 

(L to R: selfie on day 2; note-to-self in phone; gratitude journal, May 17th)

After a day of scratching I went to a dermatologist who immediately diagnosed me and prescribed some stuff (ugh $). Then I washed all 15kg of my clothes on the hottest setting and was moved into another dorm room in the hostel, with promises of an exterminator. But hello, I woke up this morning with new bites. Cue 3 more rounds of laundry, bagging of belongings, checking into a hotel to cortisone my naked body on repeat while I Netflix & chilled with bae (me), and the teapot pasta. 

tick infested pups, bed bug infested Lulu. samesies.

tick infested pups, bed bug infested Lulu. samesies.

Most of you haven't had a skin condition that marks you in such a miserable and obvious way since the chicken pox, so let me explain, the red bites come in clusters, mostly on your arms, back, face - they can raise into hives, and are so itchy that each night I wake up scratching the shit out of myself. These welts then either blister or open into sores, and as of Day 6, are still quite visible. Did I mention they were on my face? A quick Google search yields interesting responses to bed bug outbreaks such as alienation, depression, oh and suicide. Nice. 

So, I did what any logical woman would do. I joined Tinder. Insert Marilyn Monroe voice "If you can't love me at my worst...blah blah..." In fact, this was not my reasoning but still pretty funny. My first dating experience in Portugal was nice, but isn't that the kiss of death? Nice. Although my sores didn't frighten him away, his lack of a job did frighten me away. 

Through all this I've managed to work, buy a bike, find an Airbnb for the next 2 weeks and volunteer with the dogs at Goldra (a dog sanctuary with 110+ dogs!!). While picking ticks and fleas from the body of an abandoned 4-week-old puppy, it dawned on me that maybe I don't have it so bad. 

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 ♥