Monthly Archives: May 2015

He said/I said

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Yesterday I shared a post about an ad I put up in the “strictly platonic” section of the Austin, Texas Craigslist a couple of years ago. In my ad, I sought guys to buy me ice cream in exchange for conversation.

One of the first men to respond was R. He immediately wanted to IM, but had very little to say. (What he did have to say was poorly written.) He also wanted to exchange photos right away. We set a time to meet, but he kept initiating contact before our meeting. The following exchange occurred the day after our initial contact and about two days before we were supposed to meet. (I copied his side of the exchange directly from his emails, so all mistakes are his.)

He said: i had a stoke 5 yrs ago im good now no peranent damage

I said: I am glad the stroke left you with no permanent damage. That must have been scary!

He: after stroke … i know u dont want , dont let it affect us, not sure if my dick gets hard now. could you give a hand just to ck.hand in pants is all. dont hate me now . you seem nice i can talk to you dont just ignore mew now

Me: No, I don’t hate you now, but I am kind of surprised that you asked me this…

Haven’t you tried masturbating or looking at porn? Does it get hard when you look at porn?

I hope you are being sincere and not just trying to bait me into talking sex with you. Because if I find out you are just playing me to get me to talk about sex, I am going to be really pissed.

He: no never did i stopped masterbating thats what worries me
no im not trying to bait you promise there are plenty girls out there willing. just like i saidi dont want sex

Me: You know, I am nice, but not nice enough to stick my hands down a stranger’s pants just to see if his dick works, especially after posting on strictly platonic AND telling you that I’m not looking for sex. But I am nice enough to give you some advice so you next time you meet a woman on Craigslist you don’t creep her out within less than 24 hours.

Get to know a woman before you start talking about your dick and worrying that it might not work, especially if you meet her through a strictly platonic ad. Strictly platonic means not interested in sex. So if a woman posts an ad on strictly platonic, don’t mention your dick at all. If you meet in person and she seems interested in your dick, then you can tell her that it may not work. She’ll let you know if she wants to stick her hand down your pants to see if she can get you hard.

In the meantime, try masturbating. Look at some porn. You obviously have a computer and internet access. There’s plenty of porn out there. Find something you like and see if you can get your dick to work. If porn doesn’t do it, I’m probably not going to get you going.

And you know what? I am not meeting you for ice cream on Thursday. You are already off my calendar. If you are more concerned about your dick than you are about the boundaries I set in place, I really don’t want to hang out with you. I understand being concerned about whether or not your dick works, but you just asked for too much too soon.

He: sorry really

Ice Cream and Conversation

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In the winter of 2012/2013 I was staying with friends in Austin, Texas. I was spending a good portion of time on Craigslist, looking for jobs. After watching a documentary called Craigslist Joe, I started checking the “strictly platonic” listings.

I came across an ad from a guy wanting to have drinks with a woman after work. I responded to his ad. He responded to my response. We decided to meet after work (meaning after his work). I picked a bar close to where I was staying so I could walk and not be concerned with driving after drinking or getting into a car with a stranger. I put on cute clothes and fluffed up my hair and met him at the bar.

I had a beer. I don’t remember what he had–a beer or a cocktail. We ordered an appetizer sampler platter. He was pleasant, a businessman of some kind dressed for casual Friday. We chatted. He wasn’t someone I would have spent time with normally, but we were getting along well.

Then he mentioned his wife. I must have looked at him strangely. I didn’t realize I was having Friday afternoon drinks with some woman’s husband.

Then he clarified. He was talking about his late wife. He was a widower with two small boys. He loved his wife; I could tell. That’s probably why he posted his ad under “strictly platonic.” He probably wasn’t ready to get involved with anyone or even have a one night stand. He was probably tired of hanging out with the guys in the office and just wanted to have a drink with a nice woman.

We never saw each other again. We talked about seeing each other on another Friday afternoon, but we never did.

However, his ad gave me an idea. Would strangers buy ice cream for me in exchange for my company?

I wrote the following ad and posted it in “strictly platonic” section:

Ice Cream and Conversation

I’m a mostly broke traveling lady with a young spirit who likes meeting new people, laughing a lot, and having fun. Why don’t we meet at Amy’s Ice Cream? I’ll wear something cute and you can buy me an ice cream cone. We’ll talk about whatever is important to you, or if you’re the shy type, I’ll regale you with stories from the road. We’ll depart new friends with a fun Craigslist story to tell our old friends.

I’m not looking for sex or a romantic relationship. I’m just looking to spend a fun hour or so with a nice person who wants to buy me ice cream (although I might be open to lunch or dinner too). I don’t care what you look like or how old you are, as long as you are NICE. My life if too short to hang out with jerks!

I’m only in town for three weeks, so this offer is limited.

I started receiving responses almost immediately.

The first guy I was supposed to meet stood me up. Straight up stood me up. No call. No email. No apology. It was not a nice game he was playing.

Most guys did not stand me up, although I did not meet every man who sent me an email. Some behaved inappropriately and found themselves cut from the ice cream list. Some just couldn’t sync their schedules with mine.  (I did have a life–and obligations–outside of eating ice cream with strangers.)

A couple of fellows took me out for meal. An older Latino gentleman treated me at one of those upper-scale burger joints. He seemed so lonely and somewhat frail. Another fellow took me to breakfast at Kirby Lane. He and I hung out a couple times after our initial meeting and are still in-touch through email.

Several of the guys were from out of town, visiting Austin for business. I guess they wanted to get out of their hotel rooms and do something other than go to a bar or eat dinner alone. I didn’t have much in common with most of them, but I was pleasant, and they were pleasant, and the ice cream was always delicious.

One of the guys visiting Austin was from San Francisco. He was Asian and seemed like a grown-up surfer with long hair and a laid-back attitude. He told me all about Burning Man and encouraged me to get a reduced price ticket to attend. (I looked into it, and the process to get such a ticket wasn’t as easy as he’d made it seem.)

When I told the Lady of the House about putting up an ad to meet people who bought me ice cream, she said it was one of the saddest things she’d ever heard. (I’ll admit, that stung a little.) She thinks it’s sad that there are people so lonely they’ll shell out dollars to talk to a stranger.

But I thought the whole situation was fun and kind of sweet. It wasn’t just about the free treats for me. I enjoyed meeting people who seemed very different from me and trying to find common ground. I enjoyed hearing about other people’s lives and learning what they were passionate about.

And the ice cream was always delicious.

Old Kernville Cemetery

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I visited the Old Kernville Cemetery in Wofford Heights, California in late April 2015. According to http://billiongraves.com/pages/cemeteries/Kern-River-Valley-Cemetery/12171#cemetery_id=12171&lim=0&num=25&order=asc&action=browse

This cemetery was used between 1863 and present by the residents of “Old Kernville” a town which was relocated in 1953 because of the creation of Isabella Lake which flooded the old town site. The old cemetery is located above high water.

Monument at the entrance to the Old Kernville Cemetery.

Monument at the entrance to the Old Kernville Cemetery. The next two photos show the plaques on the monument close up. The second one is unfortunately difficult to read. It does say that Kernville was once called Whiskey Flat.

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The monument was moved from Old Kernville and rededicated  in 1953. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernville_%28former_town%29,_California,

Kernville (also, Whiskey Flat, Rogersville and Williamsburg) is a former settlement in Kern County, California.[1] It lay at an elevation of 2,575 feet (785 m).[1] Kernville was established in 1858 as a gold camp, and was inundated by the Lake Isabella reservoir in 1954.[1]

I enjoy walking around in cemeteries, especially really old cemeteries. I spent at least an hour walking around this one and looking at all the old grave sites.

I liked the inscription "Pioneer Teacher" on this tombstone.

I like the inscription “Pioneer Teacher” on this tombstone.

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This is the tombstone for the person buried in the cemetery who was born the earliest: 1806. California is a long way from Kentucky.

Were these women sisters? Sisters-in-law? Friends? Business partners? Life partners?

Were these women mother and daughter? Sisters? Sisters-in-law? Friends? Business partners? Life partners?

The next two photos go together. The first is a far shot of the grave site. The second is a close up of the tombstone. Someone planted a tree on Francis’ grave, and the tree has flourished. The words on the tombstone (which is actually made of wood,  not stone) must be repainted every so often. I don’t think paint from 1899 would still be readable.

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Many of the headstones in the cemetery are small wooden boards covered in varying amounts of peeling white paint. If names or dates were ever painted on these markers, such information is no longer there. A few grave sites were fenced off, but not very many. In New Mexico cemeteries I’ve visited, many grave sites have been fenced off. I’ve been told it’s to keep cattle off the graves.

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The Kern River is visible from the cemetery, which is on higher ground above the river basin. I could hear the river flowing as I walked around and read headstones. It is a lovely location.

I took this photo because Petra and I have the same birth day.

I took this photo because Petra and I have the same birth day. Also, I thought it was cool that she was married to Jesus.

Flag and beer. I guess a comrade left an offering.

Flag and beer. A comrade must have left an offering.

The man in the photo was 19 when he died. His grave site was right next to the other one with a Bud Light left as an offering.

Phillip Miranda was 19 when he died. His grave was next to the other one where a Bud Light was left as an offering. This was the first time I’d ever seen beer left on a grave site. I know about pouring alcohol out in memory of one’s homies, but I never heard of leaving an unopen can of beer. Life–and death–is different in California.

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White Blanket got a very plain marker. Something about the simplicity of this one, as well as the uncertainty of when when she was born, really got to me.

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Cowboy. I like that. Cowboy.

Baby graves always get to me.

Baby graves always get to me.

Below are two views of the same tombstone, apparently marking the graves of two children from the same family. Sigh. That dead bird is intense.

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Did he have a band? ("Uncle John's Band"? It's a Grateful Dead song? Oh, never mind.)

Did he have a band? (“Uncle John’s Band”? It’s a Grateful Dead song? Oh, never mind.)

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The simplicity of this one got to me too. I love the way John C. Howe’s information was scratched into the wet concrete. I love that he was “a hunter and prospector.” I imagine he was a simple man with a simple death.

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Here’s one more view of the cemetery. I was sitting on a memorial bench under a tree, in the shade, when I took this one. I like memorial benches. It’s nice to sit in a cemetery and contemplate mortality. I don’t necessarily want a fancy tombstone, but I wonder how else anyone will remember me.

I took all the photos in this post.

Bearanoia

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I wrote the following words in the middle of the night of May 22, 2015.

I shouldn’t have had that coffee. And I certainly shouldn’t have had the Dr. Pepper on top of it.

Sure, I had the coffee before 9am, and I drank the last of the Dr. Pepper by 5pm, but yes, I am so sensitive that I’m awake at 1am.

I read until 10pm, and then I did sleep some–fitfully–but now I’m wide awake. I finally turn on the Luci light and grab my notebook. I can’t lie in the dark another moment.

Why are noises so much louder in the dark?

Not that there’s much noise out here in the forest at 1am. Mostly I hear the popping and thumping of the van as it cools in the night air, but there are also sporadic metallic pings as water (actual raindrops or just the moisture of the fog dripping from the trees, I don’t know), hits the roof of the van. Farther off, there’s a steady dripping sound; I don’t know what or where it is, but it reverberates in the silence.

Do I hear a bear, or is that the grumble and groan of my own belly? I honestly can’t tell in the quiet dark.

Yesterday when I got home from Little Babylon, night was falling, fog was settling in, and chill was wrapping around, so I cooked in the van. I left the doors open while I did it. Has the odor of food dissipated? Can the bear(s) smell the airborne molecules of my dinner? Will a bear try to rip a van door off in the night to get food that’s now in me?

Bear or belly?

Are those bear footsteps I hear? (What do bear footsteps sound like?)

I’m wearing the shirt I wore to cook in, which I just found out is a no-no in bear country. But if I took it of, it would still be in the van with me, still smelling of tofu and brown rice and peas. (What kind of hippie bear wants to eat tofu and brown rice and peas?) It’s not like I can lock my cooking clothes in the trunk. (No trunk in this van.) But if I’m wearing the cooking clothes, will the bear(s) attack me when it/they rip off my door, lured by the lingering scent of dinner caught in the fabric?

Shit! The paper cup I was drinking Dr. Pepper out of? It’s up front, on the floor next to the driver’s seat. I forgot to throw it away in town. I meant to throw it away as soon as I got to the campground, but I forgot about it again. Bears may not want tofu and brown rice and peas, but they sure as shootin’ want some Dr. Pepper and can probably smell the sticky sweet remnants clinging to the sides of the cup.

Should I get out of the van and walk through the foggy, drippy dark to deposit the cup in the trash can? That seems riskier than staying put.

Trash cans. The trash cans out here are not bear-proof, so it seems easier for a hungry bear to go for a trash can smorgasbord instead of attacking my van which harbors nothing but the faint smell of food. Attacking the trash cans would be so much easier. A trash can in the (bear) hand is worth two girls in a van…

My friend who communicates with angels would say that all this attention on bears is going to make the angels think I want a lesson, and they’ll send a bear my way. I actually address the angels aloud, ask for protection against bears, say I don’t need a lesson, no thank you.

Should I turn on the radio? A classic rock station comes through clear way out here in the trees. Music would mask and distract me from every little noise, but if a bear is indeed snuffling around out there, maybe I do want to hear it.

Don’t think about bears.

Don’t think about bears.

Don’t think about bears.

I locate my whistle. Bears don’t like loud noises. Right? I’d wear the whistle around my neck, but because it’s plastic, the circle used to attach it to things broke when I had it on my key ring in the city. Why didn’t I get a metal whistle before I came out here? Where can I put this whistle so I can find it immediately in the dark?

2:20am

I heard that bears are most active at 4am. Are bears just now waking up, yawning and stretching, thinking about where to get breakfast? I think of the Berenstain Bears and the super annoying cartoon bears on the Charmin commercials. (Who thought it would work to have cartoon bears sell toilet paper? I guess we’re supposed to get the reference to bears shitting in the woods, but as far as I know, bears don’t wipe their asses. Why would I trust a bear to tell me what toilet paper I should buy?) However, if I do see a bear tonight (or any other night in the woods), it’s not likely to be cartoon cute or friendly.

I just want to see a bear from a safe distance. I just want to see one way over there. I do not want to see a bear ripping a door off my van so it can lick the dried Dr. Pepper from the sides of a Burger King cup. I do not want to see a bear eating my shirt.

I just want to sleep. Sleep. Sleep. I just want to close my eyes and sleep.

(image from http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3rh0wf)

Update: Made It Through Memorial Day

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I’m settled in and feeling happier.

We had fog and cold on the Thursday afternoon/evening/night before Memorial Day, and Friday was miserable with fog and rain and cold and mud. The weather improved on Saturday (sunshine!) and Sunday and Monday were gorgeous. I even took off my long underwear and jacket by 10am on Monday and wasn’t cold again until after six that evening.

I started working at the parking lot at the trail head, which makes my work day fly by. I get to talk to people there, so I’m not as lonely, and I feel less isolated.

My co-worker at the trail head is a snarky older guy, but we get along fine. I laugh at his negativity, and I think he’s impressed that I’m not lazy. When the parking business is slow, I perch my butt on the old school metal garbage can, but when it’s busy, I hustle from car to car.

On days when we expect many tourists, the camp host down the road picks me up at my campground and drops me at the trail head (then transports me home later), so my giant van doesn’t take up precious parking space. She and I are getting along well. She likes to talk, and I try to be a good listener, which I think she appreciates. She actually has some good stories. She’s worked for the company at campgrounds on the river for nine previous summers. She’s mostly been on patrol, cleaning restrooms at, picking up money from, and checking on campgrounds with no host. She’s told me about the three dead bodies she’s encountered and the woman who almost died due to some combination of overheating and drug use. She’s also full of handy tips, such as: spraying cheap nonstick cooking spray on the insides of the toilets will keep the shit from sticking.

I consider her a work friend, and I’m glad to have one.

My campground was booked solid for Memorial Day Weekend, but some people never showed up. No-shows make my life easier. We hold those sites in the event the party arrives later, so I don’t have to try to rent them, and I don’t have to do paperwork for them. Once the reservation expires, I don’t have to clean the campsite, because no one’s been on it.

The campers who did make it to the campground all behaved themselves. There were no disgusting messes left in the restroom for me to clean. No one complained about noisy neighbors. No one tried to stay past checkout time or left trash on their site.

The natural beauty here is amazing. I’ve seen trees in many different places, but the trees here are the tallest, the biggest, the most majestic. So gorgeous! Even in the cold fog, it’s lovely here, but when the sun comes out, it’s a special kind of spectacular.

Of course, I don’t know what the summer holds, but right now, my life is good.

Dashboard Protection

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These are some of the objects I keep on the dashboard of my van home.

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I see them whenever I’m sitting in the driver’s seat.

The skeleton is from a Playmobile pirate set. I found it (I can’t say if it’s a he or a she, since I’m not the kind of anthropologist who knows a male pelvis from a female pelvis) at the mega super thrift clearance center, along with a canon and one or two pirates from the set. (Those went to a kid that the Lady of the House knows.)

In the middle is Kwan Yin. According to http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/beings/kuan-yin,

In Buddhism, Kuan Yin (also spelled Guan Yin, Kwan Yin) is the bodhisattva of compassion venerated by East Asian Buddhists. Commonly known as the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin is also revered by Chinese Taoists as an Immortal. The name Kuan Yin is short for Kuan Shih Yin (Guan Shi Yin) which means “Observing the Sounds of the World”.

Due to her symbolising compassion, in East Asia Kuan Yin is associated with vegetarianism. Chinese vegetarian restaurants are generally decorated with her image, and she appears in most Buddhist vegetarian pamphlets and magazines.

I first learned about Kwan Yin when I went to Malaysia. I was told women pray to her for healing of the female organs. I got this statue for $1 too, at a second hand store in Taos.

Next to Kwan Yin is a guardian angel that I got from a woman selling at the Bridge. She had a $1 table, and the guardian angel was on it. I didn’t have many dollars at the time, but I figured I needed all the protection I could get, so I bought the angel. She reminds me of the little statues my grandmother and great-grandmother displayed when I was a kid. We kids were never allowed to touch the breakable figurines, so I think it’s kind of cool to keep something similar on my dash. The guardian angel must be tough because she hasn’t broken yet. She was actually my first figurine and survived the move from my last van to my current van. (I think any guardian angel of mine better by tough, because it must be a hard job to keep me safe.)

Next to the angel is a yellow question mark flecked with glitter. I also rescued it from the mega super thrift clearance center. It was part of some board game, but I thought it was pretty cool on its own. It’s a constant reminder for me to question.

Behind Kwan Yin is a Navajo vase one of my vendor friends at the Bridge gave me. He’s not Navajo, and he doesn’t make the vases; he buys them from Navajo women and resells them. This one had some problem with the glaze, so he gave it to me. The dried flowers in it were given to me by one of youngest friends, a delightfully funny girl I knew at the Bridge when she was five, the summer before she started kindergarten.

I can’t say that I actually believe any of these objects offer me protection. They’re more like good luck charms, although I don’t know if I believe in luck. (Lately, whenever something unfortunate happens to me, I do think about the three mirrors I broke in the span of three months last winter and wonder if maybe bad luck does exist.) I guess more than anything, they offer me comfort. The angel reminds me of my foremothers. Kwan Yin reminds me to treat others with compassion and mercy.The skeleton represents all things Grateful Dead to me. The question mark reminds me to keep searching and asking. And the vase makes me think of my friends.

Hitchhikers Are a Blessing

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I left my temporary campground around 10:30 in the morning. I hadn’t made it even a mile out of the gate when I saw two people standing on the opposite side of the road. I thought they were just waiting to cross, but then I saw they had their thumbs out.

What?

I stopped next to them. A guy and a gal were standing there. Both were probably in their 20s (the guy a little older than the gal, perhaps), and both looked outdoorsy and totally wholesome.

My driver’s side window doesn’t roll down, so I had to talk to them through the little triangle window.

I asked if they were ok.

The gal began explaining that they worked at a camp and the battery in their car was dead. They seemed to be going the way I was going. I said I didn’t have much room, but I’d try to squeeze them in. I said I had to unlock the door and was about to climb out of the driver’s seat when I realized I was stopped in the middle of the road. I saw a turn-out ahead, so I said I’d pull off the road up there, and we could figure it out.

When I opened the side door, my stove and the tub with my cookware, and a random hat came spilling out. I’d forgotten to strap my tubs together, and things had shifted and fallen. The tub with the cookware only latches on one side (the latch on the other side broke off and has disappeared in the van vortex), so knives and forks fell halfway out the door. I’m sure the hitchhiking couple were wondering about my sanity (or at least my packing skills), but I guess they figured dealing with me was better than being stranded.

As I repacked and shifted my belongings to make room for them to sit on the floor (with my bicycle and the folding table I had just tossed in and not actually put away), they explained their situation more clearly.

They were working at a camp for kids, not at a campground as I’d assumed. They’d discovered the battery in their car (which was actually a small truck) was dead moments after co-workers had driven away.

They wanted me to bring them to where the people they worked with were, but I offered to give them a ride to their vehicle and give them a jump start. The gal was like, Oh no. We couldn’t ask you to do that. It’s three miles down a dirt road. I asked if she thought the van wouldn’t make it, and she said she thought the van could easily make it. The guy added that it was a really nice dirt road.

I realized they didn’t want to inconvenience me, but I didn’t have to be anywhere at any certain time. Heaven knows I owe a lot of hitchhike Karma and a lot of jump start Karma. I told them I would be happy to drive them to their vehicle and give them a jump start. Once they realized I was really glad to help them, they seemed really glad to accept.

They climbed in the back of the van and sat among my belongings, and I climbed into the driver’s seat and opened the curtains between the front and the back. That’s when I realized what a stereotype I am. I was driving this big ol’ conversion van, and (I’m not kidding!) burning incense and listening to the Grateful Dead. (I was not wearing a long hippie skirt, only because I was wearing my work uniform, which, perhaps gave me a bit of respectability.)

The drive to their camp (not campground) was down a road I’d passed several times in the last three weeks. I would have never taken the van on that road without knowing something about it. (It’s kind of sketchy to take the van down a dirt road in the mountains without having some idea of the condition of the road. I absolutely do not want to get stuck somewhere.)

The view was gorgeous! A couple of times I shouted Wow! A couple of times I stopped the van so I could get a good look at the trees and the mountains and the sky. I think my passengers were a bit amused by my outbursts.

They told me that at the end of the road, if one hikes about three miles, one arrives at the ruins of a fire lookout tower that burned down (is that irony?) and a cool rock formation. It sounds awesome, and I would like to go, although I’m not much of a hiker (and understand arithmetic sufficiently to know that 3 miles there means a 6 miles round trip). Maybe when my friend comes to visit we can go together.

The jump start of their truck was anticlimactic. Once the cables were connected and I started the van, their truck vroomed to life. There were hugs and thanks and we parted ways.

Their misfortune was my lucky day because I got to meet a couple of cool folks, see a gorgeous view, and learn about a cool place to visit.