Monthly Archives: January 2017

(Guest Post) How to Travel with Your Dog…

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Today’s guest post is from Jenny of Here Pup dog blog (https://www.herepup.com/).

Traveling with a dog is possible, but it can be a huge challenge. However, if you don’t want to leave your furry buddy behind, the best thing that you can do is be prepared for the trip. This is also true if you are planning to dwell in your van, whether it’s full time or part time, or if the situation calls for it, or you want to experience this kind of lifestyle.

One of the first things that you need to do is make sure that there’s enough room for you and your pet in the van. You want your pet to be as comfortable as possible for the long journey ahead. Create a checklist of everything it needs and make sure you get them all packed. Some of the most important items to never miss are your dog’s medications, foods, favorite toy and blanket, leash, and crate.

Don’t forget to bring your dog’s medical record too. Do a research and get the contact information of the vets around the area of the places you are going to so you’ll have someone to call in case of emergency. Plan your route ahead so you’ll known where you can bring your dog for an enjoyable break.

There are more things to consider to make travel with your pet more fun and less troublesome. We prepared this great looking infographics that lists more tips for van dwellers and regular travelers alike who are traveling with dogs.

Be prepared on your journey with your best fur buddy with the help of this guide:

How to Travel with Your Dog without Going Completely Insane

It’s Been a Week

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It’s been a week since I’ve posted here.

I’ve written a couple of posts by hand in my notebook, but I haven’t sat down at a computer with internet access since I sent out the dispatch from Quartzsite.

It’s been a whirlwind tour. A car was sold. My new friend and I left Quartzsite behind. Camping supplies were bought. We spent a couple of nights at free campgrounds, one I’d been to before (Buckeye Hills Regional Recreation Area) and one that was new to me (Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area). We stopped to visit The Lady of the House; she prepared a wonderfully delicious lunch for us, and as an added bonus, we took showers! We drove late into the night, set up camp in the dark, and woke to fantastic nature. We climbed up on rocks and took photos of each other, then climbed back down again.

I’ve been laughing a lot.

I’d forgotten how great it can be to have a nice, helpful, kind, funny person in the passenger’s seat.

So now we’re in a small town in the Southwest. I have friends here, and my new friend is making some of his own. We’ve been anarchist camping at a small campground with no camphost. I don’t feel too bad about it, as the restrooms with the flush toilets are locked, there are no picnic tables anywhere in the place, and we’re not using any resources. We don’t even put our trash in the dumpster! It’s just a place to go to spend a few hours sleeping.

This is the wood spirit my friend carved. The carving sits on my dash and protects my van.

My friend has been carving wood spirits from cottonwood. It’s his new money-making venture. As soon as he makes one, it sells.

I’ve been scheduling readings of my book. I’ll do two next week. It’s exciting. After the woman at the bookstore said I could do a reading at her shop, I felt as if the Universe would give me anything I wanted.

Today I’m tired. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last night, but I’ll be ok.

I’m currently working at the computer lab in the town’s senior center. It’s really hot in here, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I wanted to get a post out today so everyone knows I am alive and kicking and doing well. I’ll write longer posts soon, but I plan to post every other day starting in February. I have more books to write, and I need more time. Blogging every other day should give me time to work on other projects.

Life is good. I am blessed.

My friend took this photo of me at Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area in Arizona.

Last Days in Quartzsite

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The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous has come and gone.

All of my friends have left Quartzsite, save for the new one, the one with whom I am planning on embarking on an epic adventure road trip. Or at least a several hundred mile ride in the van.

Imagine my delight to meet another traveler of my ilk, someone who knows and holds dear dumpster diving, gas jugging, and sign flying. Imagine my delight in meeting another seeker, a fellow believer in magic and signs and the machinations of the Universe.

So we’re still in Quarzsite, but not for long. As soon as the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, we’re blowing this popscicle stand. Leaving right now would be fine with me, although I’m resigned to the fact that we won’t be out of here that soon.

The traffic’s gotten bad. The library parking lot was packed this morning when I arrived at 11am. There was nowhere to leave the van anywhere near the scratch and dent grocery store. The internet connection is slow and frustrating. (Thank goodness I had two weeks of blog posts scheduled. I’d be a wreck if I’d been dealing with the frustrating internet all this time.)

I hope to sit somewhere in the next couple of days and schedule the posts I’ve been writing down in my notenbook.

In hope all my readers will stay tuned.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Carolina, Wherever You Are

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Today is Mr. Carolina’s birthday. I think he’s 26 now.

I haven’t spoken to Mr. Carolina since 2013. I was in Texas and he was in North Carolina when he called to tell me he was going back out on the road. We talked a few minutes, then hung up our phones. That was it.

I didn’t realize we wouldn’t talk again, but the next time I called him, I got the recording saying the phone was no longer in service. Did he lose the phone? Did the family member who’d been paying the bill decide not to pay it anymore? Why did he never call me again? Did some glitch in the system cause him to lose my number? I have no idea.

I got reports about him for about a year. When I talked to The Viking or Sweet L, I always asked about Mr. Carolina. The reports were few and far between, but at least I got some information. He’d gotten a dog. He was on some religious trip. He ranted about seeing the demons in people. That’s the last I heard. It’s been a long time.

I sure loved that guy. I suppose I still do. He is a good person, generous and funny. We traveled together for not quite too months, but we were together every day during that time. We were together every day, and he never got on my nerves, never annoyed me, never pissed me off. He listened to all my stories, cheered me up when I was sad, appreciated every thing I did to make our travels possible.

I appreciated him too. Anything he had, whether food, money, beer, or weed, he was willing to share it with me or whoever needed it. I trusted him to drive my van, and I learned so much about driving just by paying attention to how he did it. I never had to pump gas when he was around. In so many ways, he was a real friend to me.

I hope the last few years have been good to him. I hope he’s happy and safe and loved. If you see him, tell him I said hello and give him my phone number. I’d really love to hear from him.

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The First Time I Quit Drinking

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I recently sorted through my old writing that somehow survived countless moves and a couple of great purges of my belongings. I realized quite a bit of the writing I’d been hauling around wasn’t worth keeping. I threw a bunch of old academic papers and cringe-worthy poetry into the recycling bin. Some of the writing, though, seemed worth saving.

I wrote the piece I’m sharing today early in the 21st century. I wrote it without a clear audience. I don’t remember it being intended for a particular publication, and I don’t remember ever sharing it with anyone. The pieced didn’t even have a title

My emotions were a bit overwrought, and the language I used leaned toward the revolutionary, but that’s the person I was at the turn of the millennium.

Without further ado, writing from my past…

I’m not writing this to tell you what you should do. Do whatever you want. I’m writing this to make sense of what I did, what I do, what I want to do. This piece is self-centered and certainly introspective. It might be a little whiny. Read it if you like, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“I often feel like I have to celebrate my self-destruction,” she said, and I knew exactly what she meant.

It hadn’t been enough to hate myself. I had to pretend that I was happy about it, that I was having a good time, by downing beer or hard cider or the occasional shot of tequila. I was partying, hanging out in bars, spending time with people I thought of as friends, looking for people who wanted to have sex with me, using my body as a commodity, giving my money to bar owners and beer companies. When I remember those days, I remember having so much free time, probably because all I had going on in my life was working for $$$ and hanging out, drinking, partying, having fun.

But it wasn’t fun. Not really. Where’d I get that idea? I never even liked the taste of beer. But oh, I liked the way it made me feel, silly and sexy and free. Just a little out of control. Like my head might float away from my body and leave me without a thought or a care in the world. I could dance and not worry that anyone thought I looked like a dork. I could kiss boys and not take responsibility or blame…I could always use the oh, I was drunk excuse. I got away with a lot.

I thought I was having deep and meaningful conversations with people. Maybe I was. I can’t remember most of it. chunks of my life are fuzzy. What’s the point of sharing the deepest parts of myself if I’m not even sure I did it? Maybe I just think I told people what was going on in my head. Maybe I just hoped people were sharing themselves wit me. When I think about the person I loved most during those days, I’m not sure if he really told me the stories I remember as his, or if if I just made them up. Most of our relationship was a lie. I’m not sure if even now we know who the other truly is. Unhealthy patterns started between us back then; even today I don’t know how to break them. I could only really talk to him when I was  drunk, but I’m still not sure what I said.

I guess I had revelations when I was drunk, but I didn’t remember them once I sobered up. E[mma] told me recently that sure, she had lots of revelations when she was drunk, some she even wrote in her journal, but what good did it do when she couldn’t read her own handwriting the next day? I think I’m not going to make enough progress if I can’t remember my own epiphanies.

I had no regard for my life, no regard for my self. It wasn’t easy to live while hating myself and feeling so much despair. I thought drinking was supposed to numb the pain, but it never worked that way for me.  Alcohol somehow made the pain sharper and more intense. Wasn’t being drunk supposed to make me forget? It only made me remember in Technicolor detail what was hurting me. Yep, I was often the crying girl at the party. How fun was that? Not much fun for me. I don’t know whether or not other people were enjoying it.

Now, I’m just not drinking at all. After I left [a notorious party city], I slowed down. People in [the new place where I lived] often thought I wasn’t a drinker until they aw a beer in my hand. Sometimes they were shocked. You just don’t even know, I would think, after explaining that no, I wasn’t a teetotaler or straight edge or a recovering alcoholic. Then I moved to [the Midwest] and slowed down even more. Oh sure, I still complain that this town is uncivilized because bars close at 2am and grocery stores don’t sell beer on Sunday, but I’m getting tired of my comments. What do I think defines civilization anyway?

It’s been five months since I’ve had any alcohol. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without a drink in the last 10 years. Damn, I’m surprised it’s only been five months. It seems longer. It seems like it’s been years and years.

I worry that if I get started I won’t be able to stop. I worry that if I have a swallow beer I’ll end up getting shit-faced. I worry that getting drunk once will make getting drunk next time easier. I worry that getting drunk will lead me to turn to alcohol instead of working to solve my problems.

Sometimes it’s my body that wants the alcohol. Sometimes my body remembers what it’s like physically to be drunk. The other night, my mouth tasted like beer.

Mostly I want it in social situations. If I’m completely stressed out by another person, I really want to go to a bar and have a drink (or two or three) and try to numb my feelings. If I’m at a party and I feel self conscious, I want to drink enough not to care what anybody thinks. When four of the other five people at the table have big-ass beers to go with their garden burgers, I feel strange about having a glass of water. (Who’s that girl without the beer? I think, and then realize it’s me.)

Too shy to even talk to the boy I want to kiss, I know how easily it would be to get a little drunk and totally giddy and haul off and kiss him nonconsensually. Another crush boy’s girlfriend will probably be out of town on New Year’s Eve and I fantasize about him and me sharing a bottle of wine. Knowing my background and his, then we would kiss, and then we could fall into bed together and fuck. Although it would feel good at the time, we’d feel super guilty the next morning, but we could blame it on the booze, chalk it up to being drunk. We wouldn’t have to acknowledge any feelings between us or how our actions affect the whole community or what sort of brave new relationship we could forge as equals and comrades if we were able to keep the bottle out of the equation. But when I think about this scenario, something in me cries NO! and I am determined not to mess up like I’ve done so many times in the past.

I just want to be real and whole and true. I want to know who I really am and to let others know too. And maybe some people can live that way with a beer in their hand, but it’s never quite worked out for me. And the wildest part of this whole situation is that I bet no one I know would ever have thought I had a problem. I never lost a job because of alcohol, never got into trouble with the cops because of it, never got in a barroom fight. I didn’t even drink every night. But I think it arrested my development and kept me from being the person I want to be. I feel sad when I think maybe I wasted big parts of my life. Maybe I could have been smashing the state or writing my stories or building revolutionary relationships instead of getting drunk and walking home down the dark and scary sidewalks of [the big city] hoping someone with a gun would blow a hole in my head so I would be spared the trouble of having to figure out how to dispose of myself. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so depressed if I hadn’t been using a depressant in an attempt to numb my sadness.

Shit. This isn’t a happy story. And I don’t know how to end it because there’s not an ending. People at the…show tonight are going to have alcohol. I’m going to think about getting a beer, or just taking the bottle from someone’s hand and having a long, slow swig. But I know that if I have one swallow, I’ll have another and another and another. And I know that if I don’t take the swallow, I’ll have one more night to work on feeling real and whole and true.

 

 

My Creative Dream Guidebook

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I’ve adored SARK for years.

I can’t remember which of her books was the first I read, but I know I knew about her before the 21st century. I remember decorating a post card and writing a fan letter on it and sending it to her in 1999 or 2000, so I certainly knew her work well by then.

If you’ve never heard of SARK, I’m glad I can be the one to tell you about her.

Succulent Wild Woman
SARK is her acronym name; the letters stand for Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. On her website, Planet SARK (http://planetsark.com/about-sark/), she says about herself,

Throughout the course of my life and career as an international expert in personal well-being and transformation, my name has become synonymous with transformation, color, healing, movement & FUN.

I’ve written countless books and created programs that I offer to provide a powerfull [sic], grounded and practical approach to feeling glad more often, transforming what hurts into what helps and living a life of joyfull creative expression. No matter what!

I’ve read a lot of SARK’s books over the years, including Succulent Wild Woman, Eat Mangoes Naked, A Creative Companion: How to Free Your Creative Spirit, The Bodacious Book of Succulence: Daring to Live Your Succulent Wild Life, and Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed: The Ultimate Nap Book.

The books are full of colors and wisdom and love. Even though I live in a van and have little space to hoard books, I own copies of both Succulent Wild Woman and Eat Mangoes Naked. Sometimes when I am sad, I reread one or both of the books for the umpteenth time. I like browsing through the books, skipping around, reading bits and pieces here and there. Reading SARK’s kind and gentle words always lifts my spirits, cheers me up, makes me feel better.

Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day
In 2004, Touchstone books released SARK’s book Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day. (Yes, I WOULD rather sleep all day, as a matter of fact.)

I’ve had my eye on Make Your Creative Dreams Real for a while now, but I was never in the right position to acquire it. I don’t like to spend money on books since there are so many free ones out in the world, but I never found this one in a free pile or offered on BookMooch.

I was house sitting for a friend from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve. She had a $10 voucher at an independent used bookstore that expired on New Year’s Eve. She didn’t have a chance to use the voucher before she left town, and her plane didn’t land until late on December 31. Since she couldn’t use the voucher, she left it for me. (Super big thanks to this generous friend who also left a Chick-fil-A gift card for me!)

Before I went to the bookstore, I didn’t really know what I wanted to get. I wandered around in the store for a while before I thought, OH! SARK!

So I sought out SARK in the store’s self-help section. (SIDE NOTE: I couldn’t find the self-help section, but I was too embarrassed to ask any of the workers to direct me. How silly is that!?! I was too embarrassed to let strangers know I wanted to self-help myself. Sigh.)

The Grapes of Wrath
There were quite a few titles by SARK on the shelf. Then I saw Make Your Creative Dreams Real. Oh, yes, that would do. I checked the price. It only cost $8! Score! (With my remaining $2, I bought a battered copy of The Grapes of Wrath, which I’d decided to revisit.)

Although the word “plan” is clearly in the subtitle, I didn’t realize Make Your Creative Dreams Real is a how-to book. I started reading it and realized it’s a twelve month, week-by-week guide. Every week SARK presents a new project, exercise, game, or suggestion.

I’ve never been good at sticking with how-to books that require weekly exercises, but I figured since I already had the book I should stay the course.

The exercise for the first week was to make a “creative dream guidebook” for myself. I had a visual journal I’d bought with a gift certificate The Lady of the House gave me a couple years ago for Christmas. I’d bought two journals and only used part of one, so I thought the second one would do just fine.

I made collages on both covers. (One of the best features of this particular journal is that you I can open it completely and lay it flat.) I went for a blue theme, which I thought gave everything a dreamy feeling. Coyote Sue had just given me an old children’s dictionary she’d bought at a thrift store, so I cut out and pasted on the definitions for “create/creation/creator” (since there was no entry for “creative”), “dream,” “guidebook,” “blaze” (because, you know, the dictionary doesn’t include “Blaize”), and “sun.” I think it turned out great.

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I took the photo of my Creative Dream Guidebook collage. The other images are links to Amazon.com. If you click any of those images, they will take you to Amazon, and I will get an advertising fee from anything you purchase.

Happy Birthday, Dolly Parton

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Today is the birthday of Dolly Rebecca Parton. I’m sure everyone knows who Dolly Parton is, so I won’t even bother with autobiographical details. Instead I will share a review I wrote of a Dolly Parton biography I read last summer.

Dolly Daughter of the South
The book in question is Dolly: Daughter of the South,  written by Lola Scobey.

Where to begin?

I picked this book up at a thrift store for a dime. I wouldn’t say I’m a big Dolly Parton fan, but I do like some of her music and when I’ve seen her being interviewed on TV, she seems like a really nice person. So I figured, what the hell?, and forked over the dime to buy the book.

Several things about this book are suspect.

#1 It has no ISBN. Did books in the 70s and 80s not have ISBNs? What does it mean that this book has no ISBN? I dunno. (Oh, wait. I did find the ISBN, in tiny print on the spine, and again in tiny print on the right side of the front cover, right next to the price of $2.50)

#2 There are photos in this book, but no photo credits. Don’t most reputable authors give credit, if not to the photographer, at least to the person who provided the photo? No one is credited with the photos in this book.

#3 The following disclaimer is given on the book’s credit page: Sections of Chapters 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 18 are dramatizations based upon facts about the characters’ lives and/or attitudes they have expressed. Dramatizations? As in made up? As in fiction? Ok, the author made up some of the shit in this book, and while she admits to making up some shit, she doesn’t tell us what shit she made up. So how can the reader really know what is true and what is not?

#4 The author never says where or when she actually interviewed Dolly Parton. At the end of the book, she does “acknowledge” some “fine people of Sevierville” (the town near where Dolly Parton grew up). Throughout the book, the author does mention situations in which some of those “fine people” told her about Dolly Parton’s past, so I do believe the author interviewed and got quotes from those “fine people.” And although the author presents the reader with many direct quotes attributed to Dolly Parton (with quotation marks and all), I think the author read a bunch of other interviews other people did with Ms. Parton and cobbled together quotes and included them here. For some of the quotes, the author of this book even says who did the interview and in what magazine it appeared (but no dates or issue numbers). I think this book is akin to a term paper, where the author read a lot of other people’s writing, then put it all together hoping for something bigger than the sum of its parts, but without any endnotes or footnotes or citations of any kind. I think any of my high school English teachers would have called that plagiarism.

This book is has a copyright date of 1977, with a first printing in October 1977, and additional printings in January 1978, August 1978, August 1979, January 1981, and February 1981, so I guess it sold a lot of copies. I’m sure Dolly Parton had a lot of fans at the time who wanted to know all about her and were willing to shell out a few bucks to get all the info in one inexpensive, paperback package. (I thought my mom had a copy of this book lying around the house when I was in middle school, but nothing in this book seemed the least bit familiar, so if my mom had it, I somehow didn’t read it.)

Great literature, this ain’t. Consider the first sentence of the book: “Kicking the damp, sticky sheets away from her legs, Avie Lee stared with plucky brown eyes into the sultry morning darkness that still filled the hot rooms of the cabin.” “Plucky brown eyes”? “Sultry morning darkness”? I haven’t seen such overwrought use of adjectives since 10th grade English class. I suspect this is some of the stuff author Lola Scobey dramatized, since I doubt she was in Dolly Parton’s parents’ bedroom before Ms. Parton was even born to experience for herself how sultry that morning darkness was or to witness the pluckiness of Ms. Parton’s mother’s brown eyes. Sheesh!

I like trashy biographies. I really do. But this one was kind of disappointing. I didn’t get swept up in the writing, and nothing really juicy is shared here. I did learn that Dolly Parton has been working as a singer ever since she was a little girl of nine or ten years old. That was interesting.

Really, the best thing about this book is the cheesy photograph of Dolly Parton on the front cover.

To really celebrate Dolly’s birthday, let’s watch a video of her singing “Jolene,” circa 1975.