June Road Trip

What a whirlwind of a month this has been so far!  As I was typing my last post on a rare rainy day in Portland (“rare” being completely true- not kidding), I received a phone call for a job interview, which they scheduled for the following day.  An hour or so after I interviewed with them, I received a call offering me the position to begin in two weeks.  YES!  It’s for a wonderful GI clinic not but two and a half miles from my home.  Another wish list item: check!  Ideal hours at a nearby location so that I can spend my spare time doing things I enjoy instead of commuting.  So, I decided I had before me the perfect opportunity to visit family and friends before the madness of a regular work/exercise/writing schedule began.  That meant one thing: ROAD TRIP!

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Yes, that’s an atlas. Yes, they still exist. Yes, I am teaching her how to read an atlas. The skill will come in handy when she’s a warrior leader during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Off we went, Maya Papaya and I, down through the forests of Oregon

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Diamond Peak in the distance

where we took a spur-of-the-moment long cut around Crater Lake.  Because ADVENTURE!  I’m all about the wild.  She was delighted that there was snow everywhere, though not so happy when the trail we wanted to venture on was closed due to snow and ice.  Of course, she wanted to challenge it and I had to become a mean mommy and tell her no.  High winds + steep drop-offs + ice/snow + no suitable hiking gear + inexperienced miniature five year-old wannabe hiker = certain death.  I excel at math and common sense.  Denied.  I will definitely encourage her to brave the elements and explore as I’ve done… just not yet.

I digress: Crater Lake.  Pictures fail to do justice for this beautiful national park, but I will post some anyway.  Now that I have my camping gear once again, we’ll likely return sometime in the near future to explore the area more.  Hiking, camping, traveling, venturing out into the world- I want to share with her all I did with Josh, and then some.

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On down through Nevada we drove, hoping to make contact with aliens along the Extraterrestrial Highway, but no such luck.  It was a long, blessedly uneventful drive through the desert.  No flat tires.  No overheated engines.  No gang members to kidnap us and drive us off to a bar in the middle of nowhere so we might become a midnight snack for an extended family of vampires.  (Yes, I’m a Tarantino fan.)

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Extraterrestrial Highway

Mesquite hasn’t changed.  At all.  Head’s up: the buffet at the Casablanca is horrible.  Go to the Eureka should you decide to visit.  I haven’t been to the Casa to eat in a decade and I haven’t missed anything at all.  Gah.  I did bring back an assortment of local brews for the family to try after we all went swimming.  HUB brews are so dang tasty.  Highly recommend.  And Maya and her best human friend were reunited and it felt so good.

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However, the visit came to an end and we headed back on the road, our car packed full of more of our belongings that we left behind the first time around.  First stop: Salt Lake City.  We stayed at a high-class Super 8.  Check out the 1980s phone in the bathroom:

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976-BABE

Fancy, eh?  I didn’t dare touch it because Lord knows what assortment of septic microorganisms were lurking in and around that sucker.  However, if I couldn’t escape the toilet for a while and wanted to order a pizza with extra cheese or have a friendly conversation on a chat line (do chat lines still exist?), I would probably use a hand towel and suck it up.  (Note to self: do not stay here again.)

Onto Boise, Idaho.  First stop: Crash the workplace of Maya’s dad.  Done.  Second: Crash the home of Maya’s dad for a night.  Done.  Chat about his upcoming film release: Ghostumentary.  Third: Take off Saturday morning for a day/night in downtown Boise without a child in tow.

Wait, WHAT?

YES.  ALONE.

Boise, you surprised me.  You’re like that nerdy chick who’s secretly got it going on.  Like me.  What to do first?  Why, trail running.  What else?  A great spot: Camel’s Back Park.  I ran my butt off on the trails, logged about six miles, and then hit the outdoor workout center for a full-body workout.  Love, love, LOVE.

Of course, after I’ve worked up a sweat it’s time to hit my hotel room, shower and wander to the downtown area for scrumptious food and a cold IPA.  Or two.  Or, ahem, more… (NO JUDGING.  It was a rare night out for this single mom.)  But first, another stroll down Freak Alley to check out new graffiti.

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Now let’s get down to the juicy portion of this adventure I was on…

After snapping pictures of graffiti, I decide to try out the Slapshot IPA, which was mighty fine, and some belly-filling salad and pizza at 10 Barrel Brewery.  I sat myself down at the bar next to a nice young man, R, and proceeded to do what I do best: act like a nerd.  Apparently that’s not such a bad thing.  Maybe it’s endearing in its own special nerdy way, I’m not sure.  Anywho, I took a few pictures because I am geeky

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not mine, though R generously shared

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I started chatting with the ridiculously fit R who kicked butt in the Spartan Race and discovered that he has sponsors for his runs, which I thought was impressive.  He was truly sweet and his enthusiasm was so contagious.  Ever since completing Tough Mudder, I’ve thought about trying the Spartan Race.  Haven’t done it yet, but he made me want to jump right back in.  As I mused over a future Spartan Race event, I happened to glance over to my left and I see him sitting at the end of the bar.

Him = C.  Slightly older than myself.  Mega-watt smile.  Intelligent eyes.  Biceps you want to run your fingers along.  He gave the impression of having his shit together.  He was magnetic.

R and I asked C if he had completed the Ironman earlier in the day, which he had.  Le sigh.  It took all of my willpower to take my eyes off of him.  We congratulated him, I snapped a photo (yes, I actually did), and I’m pretty sure I plainly stated to R that I wanted that man, which I figured was not going to happen since a) he appeared to be with another woman, b) he was smoking hot, and c) he was truly smoking hot.  R and I chatted for a few more minutes and he then paid me a lovely compliment and went on his merry way.  I stared at my phone for a few minutes and then decided it was time to mosey on to another place.  Excellent beer, great food, wonderful conversation.

Except I didn’t go anywhere because C showed up by my side and he was even more impressive close-up.  He had been waiting for the girl who was not his girlfriend/wife/nada to leave so that he could come down and talk to me.  Glory be.  Introductions were made and we made some chit-chat before I managed to act like a complete moron.

Backstory: I wanted to carry my camera with me for the evening but I didn’t want to carry my camera bag, so I switched to a slightly larger purse that would hold my camera along with nearly everything else.  However, I didn’t have room for my wallet so I took my ID, credit card, and some cash and stuffed them into a random side pocket, which I promptly forgot about.

We decided to leave the brewery and go listen to some live music, only I couldn’t find my wallet.  I’m such a person of routine that I had basically blocked out of my memory the inside pocket with my valuables.  I nearly had a freak out and he calmly whipped out his creditcard and paid for my dinner.  He knew me for probably fifteen minutes or less at that point, but that’s the sort of man he is.  I was embarrassed beyond belief.  I explained that I had to walk back to my hotel to get my wallet but would meet up with him, to which he responded that he understood if I didn’t.

Crazy talk.

I took off and got about three blocks down the road when I stopped dead in my tracks with the realization that I had what I needed the entire time.  I might have skipped like a giddy schoolgirl all the way back to our meeting spot.  Maybe.  When I arrived, he seemed pleasantly surprised, I forced him to take my money for dinner, and we decided to leave the bar due to the unpleasant melodic attempts by the band and seek out something better.

Onward to the BrickYard and an evening of dueling pianos.  It was fantastic.  I haven’t had that much fun during an evening out since…probably since I went to Austin.  C is as much of a music fan as I and the sound was top-notch.  Our conversation flowed naturally, without awkward silences.  Granted, we were drinking (I more than usual) so that can assist the flow of chatter, but we simply had a good deal in common and some similar, significant life experiences.  He was intelligent, witty, genuinely nice, and his smile lit up the room.  We had strangers buy us drinks just because and we sat in a booth all night, soaking each other up.  I didn’t want to leave him and he plainly stated that didn’t want to leave me, despite his exhaustion from the race.

However, good evenings sometimes do need to come to an end as much rest was needed.  I eventually did leave his side and I forgot to get his phone number.  &#*$%! Why?  To be honest, it didn’t feel like we had just met, so I wasn’t thinking that I needed to get digits.  It was as if I kissed him good-bye thinking I would see him the following evening and the evening after that.  Would anything have come of us anyway?  He lives in the LA area and I live in the Portland area, so…/shrug.  We had an excellent connection and stranger things have happened to me, thus it’s possible.

Regardless,  this experience in Boise with C coupled with my last relationship made me realize that I want someone close to my own age.  He was, which I believe is one of the reasons we had excellent conversational flow.  I’ve been chatting with a couple of male friends who are also close to my age (both who unfortunately live far, far away) and our chats are typically fun and easy.  I don’t have to explain certain things; they just get it.  Older men also tend to be solid.  Stable.  They’ve already been around the block a few times and they’ve seen it all.  They’re looking for a true partner at this point; someone to be their cheerleader.  I’m aware that not all men are like that, but the ones I’ve known tend to be.

I already know my wish for my birthday candle tonight.

C: should you stumble across this blog, send an email to me.  Here’s a song they didn’t play for us, the one I request every chance I get:

Hello Again

Tap, tap, tap.  Is this thing on?  Oh…  Ahem.  Hello.  My name is Michelle and I’m a recovering absentee blogger.

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Hi

Greetings and salutations, my friends.  It’s been over a year since my last entry, but don’t mistake my absence from blogging as a sign that I’ve been hiding from life, as the truth is most opposite…

I’ve traveled around a bit.  Built a heavy wood headboard.  Visited family I hadn’t seen in many years.  Fell in love.  Read books. Ran a 10K and a couple of 5K races.  Worked my butt off and saved a bunch of money.  Rode on a camel.  Briefly.  Quit my job in Nevada.  Sold/donated the majority of my belongings, packed my car with whatever would fit (including Miss Maya), and moved to Portland.  CRAZY.  Felt ridiculously happy.  Found a lovely apartment blanketed with green trees and home to geese, deer, birds, a beaver, opossum, and a perky squirrel I’ve named Skippy. Sampled delicious Oregon brews.  Noticed that my chronic neck and back pain vanished.  Visited the ocean and dug my toes in the sand again for the first time in almost six years. Had my heart bruised.  Settled Maya into a wonderful daycare/kindergarten.  Felt a bit gloomy and disheartened.  Went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and stuffed my face with cheese, glorious cheese.  Felt better.  Meditated.  Hiked trail after trail.  Planted a vegetable garden.  Sent out resumes.  Went on an interview.  Walked in the rain again and again.  Felt happy.  Read some more books.  Wrote some nonsense.  Made some friends.  Had a cute guy grimace at my choice of IPA for a brew but then buy it for me as we chatted.  Two, actually.  Harvested various lettuces from my garden plot.  Reconnected with an old blogging friend who makes me smile and laugh.  Felt happier yet.  Sent out more resumes.  Became ill with acute bronchitis.  Won the HGTV Smart Home in Austin, TX.  (Okay, I haven’t won it… yet.)  Still felt happy.  Told the Universe to “show me the money.”  Promptly received multiple calls and scheduled multiple interviews.  (In fact, I received another call and set up another interview as I typed the last sentence.  YES!)

Which brings us to today: sitting in a coffee shop on a gloriously rainy, cool day here in Portland.  I am in heaven.

So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Michelle, if you had all these freaking cool adventures, why weren’t you blogging about them?  You actually took action instead of blabbing incessantly about what you wanted to do!  Why the absence?”  To be honest, I lost interest.  I felt my passion and drive wane early on in 2014.  I was stuck, not only with blogging and writing, but with my life in general.  I knew it was time for me to take a break- a long break- and basically:

Although I’m still ironing out a few details in my significant, change-of-life move to Oregon, I feel inspired again.  I am certainly no longer stuck.  I’ll admit that I have days when I feel lonely and I become wistful for my significantly less expensive former digs and “comfortable” routine, but I feel like I’m supposed to be here right now.  I’ve had some bumps along the way and unexpected turn-of-events, but there have also been an unusually high number of synchronicities in my life since I moved here.  Last October I made a “wish list” of what I wanted when I moved to Oregon.  I stuck it in a folder and promptly forgot about it.  I found my list a couple of weeks ago, and aside from having my ideal job and waking up with my love spooning against me as the rain falls outside, I have everything I requested.  It’s incredible.  (I can only assume my other two requests have been slightly delayed but on their way.  I did write “my love” and not one name in particular, so there’s still hope…)

I finally let down my guard and opened myself up to real life.  No more hiding.  No more talk and no action.  I’ve taken baby steps throughout the past decade and transformed my inner life slowly (with occasional stumbles), and then this past year I leapt, arms open with an eye-crinkling grin.  I fell in love, and even though we found ourselves on different pages and it didn’t work out, it was the loveliest thing that happened to me in a long time.  It opened me back up to love.

My “a-ha” moment, the instant I realized that all of my deep work on my inner world and my own well-being was real and actually paying off, was when I was able to sincerely wish him love and happiness as we parted ways.  I truly wanted him to be happy, even if that meant I wasn’t the right fit for him and he needed to be free to find someone who would be closer to his ideal.  Letting go isn’t typically easy by any means, and while I had a couple of “grrr” moments and a crying spell or two, I realized that I was going to be okay because I was happy before he came into my life; I was never dependent upon him for my happiness.

A-ha!

I am happy.  I’m centered, calm, and resilient.  I’m excited about my future, writing projects, and the possibility of big love being out there for me.  I believe it is.  I’m proud of myself for taking huge risks in my life this past year.  I kicked down the wall I built around myself and I’m thrilled to discover I have no desire to hole myself up again.  I’m free.

Hello again, world.

Some completely random pictures from this past year:

 

 

 

 

Getting in the Mood Again

I haven’t been “in the mood” for a while.  I mean, it comes in spurts (no pun intended), but I haven’t felt like one hot woman since my trip to Austin in late October.  I felt like a sex goddess that weekend (except for the bit where I face-planted in a club) and while a person I was interested in did not make a move on me (possibly due to aforementioned face-plant action), I was approached by a number of men, which boosted this single mom’s inner desirability meter.  Mind you, I possessed self-confidence and that “I’m a sex goddess” frame of mind before I set out about town, so I wasn’t dependent on a man to create that feeling for me; the attention merely reaffirmed that desirably and brightened my glow.  (This has nothing to do with feminism, people.  This is simply about a heterosexual woman feeling attracted to and attracting men.  Because sometimes it just feels spectacular to be wanted.  Very simple.)

Flash forward to the end of January.  Not feeling like a sex goddess.  Feeling frumpy and it was my own doing.  Ah… one holiday season when I let myself go.  A moment of rebellion against my own good judgment, healthy eating habits, and regular exercise routines.  It was my hibernation.  My cocoon before I emerge this spring as a vibrant butterfly (or so I pretend).  The bountiful chocolates, baklava, cookies, hearty meals, wine and cheese were delicious, but was the rebellion worth it?

No.  No, it was not.

However, this was a lesson learned.  I know- we all let ourselves go now and again.  I was never past the point of no return, but my collection of slightly larger-sized clothes were becoming snug and I was beginning to feel sluggish and not the slightest bit hot at all.  I couldn’t even jog a full three miles without stopping at least once or twice to catch my breath.  Plus, the entire situation was affecting my sleep, my self-confidence, my work, my creativity.  I had to fix it.

I shook off the burgeoning feelings of regret.  No point in wallowing.  I readjusted my eating and exercise habits.  I’ve almost dropped down to my normal size, but more importantly I’m sleeping better and I feel like myself again.  It’s astounding how a shitty diet and lack of exercise can completely wreak havoc on your entire being.

Another boost:  I’m regaining my “oomph.”  This is really something for me right now because I am totally, completely, emotionally and mentally free and clear for the first time in nearly eight years.  There are no old “what-ifs” lurking in a closet or past relationships that need closure.  No baggage and no part of me that needs to heal.  I’m ready for all the possibilities the world has to offer. It’s all coming together right now.  Of course, that’s exactly when doors open and I’m drawn to someone; someone who begins as a tickle in the corner of my mind and innocently pervades my thoughts.  I find myself flirting again.  Smiling.  Maybe my mind starts wandering…

This tune plays relentlessly in my head:

I know that (by industry terms) it’s a slightly old song and maybe some of you fine folks don’t care for it, but for me… it just does something to me.  Although, for me, it isn’t about crawling back to someone, but rather allowing myself to be available.  It makes me want put myself out there and not be shy about telling a man I think he’s so cool and I’d love to get to know him better.  I love the beat, the lyrics, the sound.  It makes me move.  It makes me walk different.  Being in that frame of mind motivated me to purchase a sexy, backless dress and lingerie at Victoria’s Secret this weekend (thank you gift card…).

I’m ready.

Except for one thing: I promised myself over a year ago that I would finish one particular screenplay before I would allow myself to dive into a relationship or fall in love or meet my “soulmate” or whatever.  Why?  I honestly can’t recall.  Probably something about making myself finish a project before I use a new relationship as an excuse not to finish it, thereby chickening out on my dreams.  Whatever the reason, it stuck.  My brain and my entire being- hell, even the universe itself- has accepted this as THE TRUTH, and since I am most serious and determined to move forward in my personal life, it’s time for me to finish the sucker.  Plus, I want to finish it.  I want it, period.  Another thirty pages or so and I’ll be to “fade out.”  I’m pushing through.

Let’s see what happens then…