Friday, June 27, 2008

Before the Bus...

It is early morning. I had a terrible night's sleep. Sometimes when I am stressed out I have sleep apnea. My symptoms are mostly stopping breathing during the night and I did so several times. When growing up, Anne used to say that my snoring wasn't what bothered her, it was only when I stopped. It can take a long time before I start breathing again....longer than a regular four or five second pause. When I was a smoker this condition was also prevalent.

But now it only shows itself when I am stressed or anxious.

I have had a lot of anxiety lately. Not just about boarding this bus, but also because my disability insurance is reviewing my case and will decide on Tuesday if they will continue to pay for my recovery. I'll be in the Grand Tetons on Tuesday.

Here's the "Flexible Itinerary" for my trip. It's called Flexible because the destinations can change due to weather or other factors. I'm not exactly sure what those other factors are, but I am ready to get on the road.

We start from San Francisco then it is on to:
The Ruby Mountains (and my old stomping grounds, Elko, NV)
Salmon River (white water rafting)
Idaho Hot Springs
Grand Tetons
Yellowstone National Park (for two days)
Devil's Tower (I'll be looking for Richard Dreyfus and Stephen Spielberg)
The Badlands
The Great Plains
Chicago
Niagara Falls
The Adarondecks (comfortable chairs there, so I hear)
and finally...
NYC

The hostel is awakening with weary travelers. My quiet time in the great hall is over and I finally see some faces over the age of 30. It is time for me to tidy myself, repack my bags, check-out and enjoy the last day in San Francisco.

Wish me luck.

So much love,
All the way from over here...
Linda

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Community Service

"Does ANYONE know what cilantro looks like?" Charles asks exasperatingly to the group of 12 of us who are prepping for tonight's free dinner at the hostel. All chopping stops and blank faced foreigners gaze at our kitchen leader. I look around waiting for someone to step forward and when none does I say, "Sure. It is a flat leaf herb like parsley but different."

"Great," he says with obvious relief. "Can you go down to Chinatown and buy as much as you can with this money? There's a produce stand on the corner of Stockton and Broadway, not too far away from here." He hands me a five dollar bill. I grab my wallet and head out the door in search of tonight's main ingredient. It's mighty hard to make any kind of Mexican food without cilantro. I approach my task with serious determination, quickly finding the produce stand and notice that the fragrant herb is dirt cheap at twenty-nine cents a bunch. I'm tempted to follow the directions and buy 15 bunches but know that we don't need that much. I pick out five good looking ones instead. On the walk back I realize that just like that I am falling into old habits by pushing myself...I mean hardly five minutes had passed since I left the kitchen and it was only 5:15. Dinner was at 7 PM and there were plenty of kids helping out in the kitchen. Why not slow it down?

I pass the Beat Museum and decide to visit my old junkie friends. All the greats are represented with equal respect...William Borroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, and Gary Snyder representing the core. Their books are all still in publication and selling pretty good from the looks of the freshly painted museum. Not only can you buy their books, CD's and DVD's but they also offer real Hippy wear...patch-worked jerseys and authentic woolen black berets. This is better, I think to myself. Learn to dilly-dally. That's the goal.

That's what all the kids in the kitchen did when I returned victorious holding the bag of produce. Charles keeps the multi-cultured kitchen in operation giving direction in small pieces so none of us really know what is the menu and what the game plan is, but no one seems to mind. Franco from Spain enters the kitchen holding a couple of 12 packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and hands them out to the working travelers. I decline the offer.

I am a good twenty years older than everyone in the kitchen and feel pretty awkward like a senior citizen crashing a junior prom. The kids have gathered in little groups working. There are the French kids chopping red and yellow peppers, the Swiss ones working on dicing tomatoes, the Spanish guy frying tortillas, and a group of British guys refusing uninterested in assisting us or chopping vegetables. They have bought turkey cutlets and are making boiled potatoes with mayonnaise for their supper. A pretty blond British girl who is helping half avocados and scoop out their tasty green flesh asks to taste the fresh Cilantro. I hand her part of the bunch and she says, "Oh. Why didn't he say he needed Coriander?" I try to explain to her that in the States, coriander is only the seed from the plant and we call the leaves Cilantro. It is obvious that she thinks that is idiotic.

My intention to volunteer cooking dinner was to maybe meet some people and I was hungry. When I hear there is a free dinner (my favorite price) I wanted to make sure I didn't get sick from the food. Not to be too critical, but I've run kitchens in my day and the community kitchen here at the Green Tortoise Hostel looks clean enough, but I know kitchens. I know how dirty they can be and when a bunch of people are contributing. Eric Cartman from South Park calls them "Dirty Hippies" for a reason. Plus I thought this might be good practice for me to get used to working with group assignments. It's nearly 8 months since I've worked and I'd like to return to some kind of work sometime soon. And you know how I like to experiment on myself. I thought I should check in on my anxiety levels. They do not seem to be getting any lower.

I chop tirelessly making a huge bowl of guacamole and dishing up sides of black olives, diced tomatoes, pickled jalape├▒os, shredded cheese, chopped onions red and white. Charles gives direction with hand gestures to make sure the Germans know how to open the dozen of giant cans he's produced from the storeroom. Garbanzo beans, black beans, white beans, kidney beans and fire roasted tomato salsa are all on the menu tonight. It is starting to smell good.

I take the Swedish girl's lead and take several breaks during my two hour volunteering to make dinner. During one of my breaks Charles comes over to me and asks my name. I tell him and he says, "God, I'm glad you were here today. Thanks for all your help!" He works for the Green Tortoise Hostel and his job is a three day a week gig coordinating the "free" dinner on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I can see it is a job that takes much patience and determination. It's not easy to work with a multi-lingual staff most of whom have never really cooked or made Mexican food.

He puts my name on a list which is read during the opening of the meal in appreciation to all of those who helped and we get to go first to eat dinner. Overall, the food is good. I mean, it is a safe bet to stick with the freshly chopped vegetables and I am amazed at how the great hall is full with at least seventy-five starving students and backpackers.

There is a strong college atmosphere here and I search the crowd for any faces that look older than thirty. In the crowd, a pretty woman from Taiwan spots my desperate gaze and she asks if she and her daughter can join my table which is empty except for myself. "Absolutely!" I say smiling and welcoming the company. She is a lovely woman named Raven who is looking to relocate herself and daughter back to the San Francisco Bay area. We have a lovely chat and I am renewed with hope that there are older people who stay at this hostel.

I am a bit nervous about boarding the bus tomorrow. What if all the other participants are just twenty-something and I am the old lady in the group? This will be a good test for me to see if I can be true to myself and not return to old behaviors of taking care of situations. It is my nature to be the den mother and the lasts thing I want to do is feel responsible for a bunch of kids headed into the wilderness.

Dear Sweet Baby Jesus,

I call on you today because of the nice lady I met on the train. She reminded me at how quickly she can manifest action in her life praying to you and I'm on a time schedule so it seems like a good shot. So baby Jesus, please let the people who I will be sleeping with for the next two weeks be kind, friendly, funny and self-reliant. May I keep my anxiety levels to a minimal. And while I did remember to pack the full bottle of Xanax, may I not have to use it too much. I really would like to keep my body pure, but I'm not afraid to open the bottle and pop one either.

Okay mighty Jesus...keep up the good work and bless and protect us all and all that jazz. I'll be looking for you in my potato chip bags on the road. Amen. Ashey. Namaste.

So much love,
All the way from over here in Hippytown USA
Linda

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First Stop...San Francisco

The twenty-two hour train ride to San Francisco went very fast. I had the luxury to have both seats to myself for the first 8 hours of the journey and I took full advantage. I put the ear plugs in, unwrapped the sleeping bag and dozed for several hours having not slept much the night before in anxious anticipation for the coming trip.

The bulk of my anxiety has been around packing. How do you pack for several seasons and carry a tent and a sleeping bag and your laptop? My Eagle Creek bag is top of the line and when Anne dropped me off in front of the King Street station in Seattle, I noticed how small my pack was in comparison to the seasoned travelers checking in for the train. That's how you bring all this crap...bigger backpack!

My bungee chorded system to stabilize the tent bag (which also holds two pairs of shoes, my Teva's and my dressy Birkenstock's both of which are quite necessary for the coming journey) fails miserably and by the time I disembark the train in Emmery CA I can see the holes widening on the bottom off the new tent bag. The bus driver at the train station loads my gear in the bottom of the bus and we speed away to San Francisco Ferry Terminal. As I gather all my belongings, the driver asks me if I am going to "The Tortoise". I say yes and he laughs and shakes his head. "You got a lot of stuff kid," he says to me. I laugh too and say, "Yeah, I didn't think so before I left but now I don't know."

"I'd drop you there but I got too many passengers today," he says.

"Oh that's okay." I reply. "I've been in training for this moment for three months. I"ll be fine. Uh, how far away is the Green Tortoise anyway?" I ask.

"It's down that a ways a bit and then up Broadway a bit. Good luck!" and he boards the bus and drives away. I am left in front of the ferry terminal with my bags and a prayer. I decided to use the prayer first before assembling my bags.

Dear Kindest God,

Hey! How are you? Wow. San Francisco! Who knew I'd be here? I guess you did. Thanks for the sweet train ride and the nice traveling companion. Who knew there were saved Christians in this world who were open to other philosophies? Thank you so much God for letting her know that I did not require being "saved". There was a moment when I was worried that I would turn into a project for her, but you were there. All I needed to do was to mention how much you and I spoke and that the greatest secret was for me to listen to you, god, and then move forward in right action. You know God, it was pretty cool at how she opened up sharing her experiences about being a mom and teacher and having a husband who was 'saved' first. Good stories. What I found most compelling god, was how they both could still be daily pot smokers and daily drug users in the name of Christ.

Really inspirational stuff! I guess your son has a lot of tolerance for weed and Oxycodone. When Anne was on those drugs following the operation, she was a different person and Mr. Sculley's roommate in rehab was hooked on those pills too. My new Christian friend's husband has been taking them daily for eight years. I guess it helps him speak in tongues. I'm not judging, God. I know we are all your favorite children and all so I pray that you keep an extra eye on her and those kids and her Christian ways. May they be safe. Kudos too for giving them the medical marijuana doctor's note. That is a slippery slope and I have been on it...no thank you! I am thrilled to be clean and free from the demons, so keep up the good work.

Anyway God, I'm praying today for some guidance and strength as I walk to the hostel. May these bungee chords work and thanks for the wheels on the backpack. I forgot about that feature. They may not allow me on the bus with that and I can't even think about how I'm gonna get from the George Washington Bridge (where the Green Tortoise drops me off in NYC) to Time Square, but I'll worry about that another day. Peace, love and thanks for all the tasty snacks. Ashey. Namaste.

It takes me about 10 minutes to readjust my pack and the bungees hold for about a block before having to readjust them. I sling the sleeping bag over my neck, hoist my other backpack with my laptop and daily beauty supplies on my back, grab the reusable Trader Joe's bag full of snacks and water and head towards Broadway. The walk along the smooth pavement on the waterfront is easy. A cool breeze comes across San Francisco Bay and freshly baked bread mixed with ocean water scents the air. Several long blocks later and I come to Broadway.

San Francisco is similar to Seattle where it is a city of hills. Big ones. The five block walk to my destination is all uphill. Good Times! I think to myself, "I am boarding the Green Tortoise so slow and steady is the path I am to take." At each corner I take a break, readjust and take a swig of water. I am sweating pretty heavily and laughing as I remember my fears about hiking the El Camino and having to carry all my gear. Here I am, a seasoned urban hiker with the luxury of having wheels on my backpack and just having to pull the weight in addition to the 20 pounds on my back! Hike the El Camino? Good luck sister! If I could break-up with my laptop (my old heavy companion) it might not be so hard, but she and I are bonded...and she's paid for!

When I arrive at the Green Tortoise Hostel, I am many hours early for check-in but I am welcomed as an old friend and can stash my bags here until its time to check in around 2 PM. As I write I am recovering from my hike in the ballroom sized community room. Pictures of 20-something kids plastered to the walls, graffiti art sketched on the mustard yellow walls, a few travelers looking mighty hung-over slumped over black coffee in the slashed red vinyl banquettes. Signs posted around the great hall read: Lung Appreciation Hours: 4 AM to 9 PM. Happy Smoking Hours 9 PM to 4 AM. Mike stands, a guitar, a piano sit with the recycled materials and construction tools as this room is under renovation. Now the pictures on the walls make sense. This is the place to be at night. 12 pack cartons fill the recycled cardboard bins and brown bottles overflow from the recycling. I wonder who I'll meet today? More Christians? Unlikely.

Maybe I'll play the piano tonight...get over that performance anxiety.

For now it is time to rest, look for more coffee and find a lovely lunch snack.

So much love,
All the way from over here...
Linda

Monday, June 23, 2008

Last Day in Seattle

Today's my last day in Seattle for a while. I am so sad to leave here. My old friends and I have finally be reconnecting and they are such awesome people...it seems as if no time has passed since we last visited. That's how you know you've got great friends. It is still so easy to be myself with them and just hang out.

It makes me want to live here, but we all know how unhappy I'd be with the weather...but I am not ruling it out.

That guy from Match.com didn't work out. Seems as if women don't usually take him up on his offer to meet so he chickened out. Funny, I was pretty clear in my profile that I wanted a man, not a guy. I guess he is still a guy. Good speed match-man. May you find your mate.

I have a lot of loose ends to tie up today before I head out in the morning for the train to San Francisco...final bills to pay, send a few items out to Karen that I don't want to carry in my backpack, a last load of laundry, say goodbye to a few more friends.

Mom really got on my case yesterday about taking this trip and how irresponsible I am. She has a beautiful knack for telling me how awful I am directly and in my face. I had been thinking of visiting her while on the east coast, but am reconsidering now. I have enough of my own anxiety without her adding to the pot.

I know she is only concerned for me and my future and so am I but her tactics are so violent and angry...it is hard. We've made good progress over the last six months with building a stronger relationship and as I've become stronger, she has become more angry. I guess she would prefer it if I were always debilitated and in need if psychiatric care.

Intense emotions arise for the occasion whenever change is present and really, all we are as human beings is change. There is nothing that stays or lasts forever except closed minds and inabilities to change perspectives.

Over dinner last night I tried to explain superstring theory to my friends who have just started thinking about there possibly being something to this universe other than ourselves. I describe string theory using the "Horton Hears a Who". The story of Horton is that he is an elephant on the planet and he hears a little something coming from a tiny dust speck no bigger than the top of a pin. None of the other animals in the forest believes him but he sticks to his convictions that there is something alive on the dust speck. After many pages in the book the universe of the dust speck create a crazy instrument that can amplify their voices and they shout out over and over, "We are here, we are here, we are HERE!" Finally the other animals believe Horton and somehow they all manage to coexist at the same time.

How this ties into string theory is that we are all on different waves or particles within the universe and at times our universes cross and meet and others they are not even aware of others existence. Quantum mechanics looks for larger answers for big questions by going very small, like the dust speck...so if we look inward we will find our answers for the bigger picture outward.

That is a good lesson any day. So today I will look inward and not allow another's point of view create more anxiety for me than I already have which can be quite overwhelming.

So long Seattle. You're a great friend and I deeply love you.

So much love,
All the way from over here....
Linda

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Test Pack

To travel on the Green Tortoise, you cannot bring more than 65 lbs total in weight including your tent and sleeping bag. Those two items are 15 lbs so that leaves me with 50 pounds and one pack. Also, they require you to be able to carry all of your belongings for at least one city block. I think they might even test you. This is quite the packing challenge for someone like me who carries everything. That means I am an over packer.

One of the best features about the Malibu Stacey Funtime Camper was that any item you needed was inside of her. That was because I am a packer. I anticipated what might be needed and put it in a special spot. The VW Westfalia had many cubby holes and drawers to store items. I can see how I've already over packed. This requires a lot of trust on my part and making due with what I have...really look at if I need what I am packing. The backpack is zipped shut now but that doesn't include my bathroom stuff or computer, books, journal, and vitamins.

I must say, this is more challenging than I thought it would be. The tricky part is that it is so cold here in Seattle and it will be chilly in San Fransisco and then I am hoping it will be summer like weather when we travel along the northern trek, but it might not be and I may not have enough warm cloths. Layers are the secret.

It pushes me to see how little I really need to have and it helps me grow in new directions. I started the major purge while in Florida getting rid of most of my home furnishings, clothing, nick-knacks and what-nots. As Americans we are programmed to be shoppers...support the economy. Why else would George W. Bush print fake money and mail out $600 to every citizen in the country? Stimulus checks he calls them...but I haven't received mine. I have not been stimulated by George W. Bush.

Honestly, who has been stimulated by him? And if you were please take a quiet moment and ask yourself why? How is it possible to have him stimulate you? And did you feel it in your naughty places? If so...please get yourself to a doctor. This is not normal and you may have developed some kind of disease.

My packing is like a disease. I will take more out of the backpack and trust that those important things that I need like insect repellent and sun screen will help me....maybe I should bring cigarettes to use as barter with the smokers. I am sure that some of them will be jonesing for a puff and maybe they'll be holding out on an extra wash cloth or towel...

Note to self: must remember to pack wash cloths and towels!

Yikes. I think I need to make a list. Oh well...let's try this again...back to purging and packing.

So much love,
All the way from over here...
Linda

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Matches

On impulse, I joined Match.com last month and I gave myself one month to have the experience. It's an odd sensation posting your photo and profile, about 4000 words worth, to say who you are and what you desire in your life. My first challenge was taking pictures of myself. I've posted the same photo that is here in my profile since that is the most recent....may not be the best picture of me but it is current.

It's funny that there are so many people on this website all saying and writing the same thing....looking for a partner to go here and there and do this and that and have some sense of connection. Honestly, I don't believe that the whole process works, but I can't be so jaded. Lisa took me to a wine and cheese dinner a few weeks ago and we sat with the cheesemaker and her husband. They were lovely people who met on Match.com and they really encouraged me to put myself out there. What the hell. I took his advice and entered this experience completely not attached to the outcome.

I mean really, am I ready for a relationship? Maybe, but I got no roots. I'm leaving town in about a week and the first interesting man has hit my profile. We're playing email tag to see when we can meet for coffee or whatever and I have no expectations.

I chose to respond to his profile and email because first off he was funny in the email. Secondly, he was direct. His profile sounds kinda nice...here's what he wrote:

I want a woman with a sense of romance and one who isn't afraid to say and show how she feels. I like to give affection and get affection and want someone who wants me back. I am a very simple person with many varied interests. I am very open and straightforward. I respect honesty and compassion, and give the same in return. Very affectionate and love to laugh. I would say I am family oriented. I am looking for a gal who is happy with her life but feels that she is missing that special person to share it with and that person might be me. Somebody that I can take on dates, out to dinners and things like that, perhaps an occasional concert something along those lines. Hopefully more down the road. People tell me that I am a very easygoing person. For the most part I am positive and upbeat I enjoyed my job. If there's anything more that you'd like to know about me feel free to ask. I hope to hear from you soon.

His photo is kinda attractive. Not overly handsome, not unattractive, 6'1" which is just a hair taller than me, and he looks a bit like Dennis Leary and Jim on The Office. Dirty blond hair, human body. He's got a couple of kids that he has half the time. I've only had a handful of emails and winks from the 150 or so hits on my profile and so far, he looks pretty nice....lives on Bainbridge Island which you have to take a ferry to get to from Seattle. I like that part best of all. Crossing the waters to get to a date or into the city is a nice way to live. We'll see.

Here's one of the men who emailed that I turned down. I call him Turtleneck Man:

My needs are fairly simple however, I'm a complex, affectionate, honest and sensitive person with an open mind and a heart to match. I usually dress casual in jeans, shirts, sweaters and turtlenecks, but sometimes like to be more creative. [I wonder what other kinds of creative dress he does....hmmmm] I enjoy many activities such as shopping, [Number 1 activity: Shopping! wow!] snuggling, cuddling, communicating, holding hands and trying new things. [Here's the sad part, I think...notice how he starts off this sentence.] When there is someone to go with, I have fun hiking, traveling, walks on the beach, warm cozy fires, [so when he doesn't have someone, he doesn't do these things...that's sad to me. But don't pity him, look where he goes next!] exploring dreams and fantasies, doing the unusual, attending church or just spending time together. [Not many men put "fantasies and attending church" in the same sentence. I wonder if he has some church fantasies lingering around that he wants to post.]I am a protestant Christian from a Baptist background. I am looking for a Christian lady with an open mind and a heart to match. A non-smoker, non to light-drinker and likes to eat healthy. Age and looks aren't really important to me.

Here's the part that I really like!

But really I am looking for a lady who loves to wear turtlenecks, turtleneck sweaters and anything with a high neck! What I want is to find my soul mate. The one who I can be devoted to for the rest of my life! If this sounds like you and you love to wear turtlenecks, then take a chance on me!!!

Has Dan Savage done a column about men in their late 50's obsessed with turtlenecks? Is there a Turtleneck Connector that we could find his mate? I really feel for this guy and I've never seen a man write so much about turtlenecks! His header reads, "Looking for a woman who loves turtleneck sweaters". And when you read like his list of his mate match, it's all about slim little women. Why did he reply to me?

Maybe he intuitively knew how cold I've been and how good I do look in a turtleneck? Did he see my neck as a challenge? Maybe he is my man and all I need to do is build a new wardrobe of turtlenecks and I'll feel at peace here. Could it be that simple? I already love scarves because my neck is always cold. Maybe Turtleneck Man is onto something. Is he my mate god? Oh dearest god, I really hope not but thank you for thinking of me Mr. T and I hope you find the long covered neck of your dreams.

I'm probably creating bad karma by writing about him and his profile, but seriously...is this what I have to choose from? I've already paid for the month so I'm keeping the Match account until next week when it expires...plus I'll be traveling so no time to find a date online. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

So much love,
All the way from over here...
Linda

Monday, June 16, 2008

She's Got A Ticket To Ride

Reservations are made and paid. It's official. I am leaving Seattle next week. I'll be back to gather the rest of my belongings, but I'm going to take a little ride across country. With gas prices as they are, I've been wanting another form of transportation to get me to the east coast...why the east coast? Well, I've been considering relocating to NYC for many, many, many years now and so why not now? I'm going to spend some time with Karen in Hartford, Connecticut and it will be a good way for me to see how it feels to be back on east coast...to see if that is where I want to land.

Honestly, I have no idea what is going to happen on this trip or afterwards, and I need to keep moving forward. I've been doing such intense healing work in accelerated dosages for many months now and it is time to see how I do on my own again. Who of us really knows what will happen in the future? I thought I had a lot of my future all laid out but then circumstances changed them beyond my control. I think about returning to Florida but don't see myself living there again. While I did a ton of healing there, it was never a place that I felt was home or where I could put down roots. Perhaps it is because of all the landfill. The entire southern region of the state is built on swampland. Hard to build a house in the swamp...plus there were alligators everywhere! Literal and metaphorically!

I don't know where I'm going to land and I am open to new possibilities. That's the exciting part. I miss having a car all the time...this is the first time since I was 18 years old that I have not had one if not two cars. I must say I am rather proud of myself for weening myself off of gasoline. It's as addictive as oxygen! I'll probably own another vehicle again either a scooter or motorcycle, but Warren has very strongly (and kindly) asked me not to get one since he's lost several friends due to motorcycle crashes. I hear you brother and heed your call. That goes into the maybe part of the decision making process. Physically I've got the jacket and I'm almost ready to put on a pair of chaps. That's a big step! I am still open to learning how to ride a motorcycle and come back to the west coast on a bike. We'll see what happens.

Dear God,

Thanks for the nervous breakdown and bankruptcy so that I could get rid of my addiction to my car and gasoline! I know it was hard while I was going through it, but it has changed my life in ways that I never expected and I welcome these changes. They truly are all working out beautifully. I am learning how to let go of the control that I thought I had over my life and live in the chi, flow of the universe. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

Oh, and thanks for that thing that you did with the sun! As soon as I book my trip you change the weather! Nice touch!

Let's not forget to bless all the beautiful people everywhere and all of those suffering due to their own obsession with their own thoughts. Wow. You sure have taught me a lot about that too! May all the beautiful people everywhere learn to let go of their minds, just as I have...or perhaps in another form, so they may transform too. Ashey. Namaste.

Here I am getting ahead of myself...let me tell you how I'm getting to the east coast: First I'm taking a train from Seattle to San Fransisco and I'm staying in a hostel for about $30/night in the heart of North Beach, which is like Little Italy....that's where all the great bookstores and coffee shops are plus this is the neighborhood where the beat generation hung out in, so if I want a cup of coffee where Jack Kerouac spent the night, I'm in the right place. I haven't been to the bay area in about ten years and I am sure it has suffered the same as other areas with urban development but like Seattle, the economy hasn't fallen through the floor due to the dot-com industries.

I'll be there for a couple of nights before I board the bus.

What's that, you say? A Bus? Greyhound? Trailways? Motor Coach? Yep. That's right! I'm taking a bus 3500 miles across this great land of ours but it's not gonna take a few days, it will take about 14 days. What kind of bus is that? Why it's the Green Tortoise! For about $850 you get a 14 day adventure stopping at national parks, hot springs, Native American reservations, and other destinations and that price includes entrance to the National parks and 70% of your food! That breaks down to about $61/day. I dare you to do that in a car, alone for 14 days!

What's the catch, you're probably asking?

You get there traveling like a bunch of roadies on the hippy bus that follows the band.

The Green Tortoise is known as a "Hippy Bus" everywhere down the west coast. It prides itself on having a flexible schedule and running late which could be caused by any circumstances for instance: The Tofu needs to marinate one more day before its ready to eat, or Rainbow had a bad trip during the ride through the Northwest Passage so she needs another day to "come down" before getting back on the bus, Dude. Or during the last Sweat Lodge several ancestors came to the driver and foretold about an awesome stream near the back side of Pike's Peak and it's only about 500 miles out of the way and wouldn't it be a shame that we missed it because of the earth changes it probably won't be there next ride so shouldn't we go there too?

Flexible schedule. I like that.

What's attracted me most to this form of travel is the way that I've isolated myself, especially with this crappy weather in Seattle. Half of the trip you are sleeping with all the other bus-mates while driving through the night, the other half you are camping at national parks. You're required to bring a sleeping bag and tent, so there will be some privacy some nights while roughing it.

My biggest fear is the smell. I've traveled with hippies before and they don't always smell too good!

I need to get a moving right now to continue preparing myself for this trip, but I promise to write more frequently. I realize I've been a bit delinquent but it was for good reason. I had nothing to say....so I promise to write daily again. I don't know what my internet connection will be like while traveling, but I definitely will be writing about this experience.

There are about 10 more spots available for the trip, so if you're not doing anything and want to join me...what are you waiting for?

So much love,
All the way from over here....
Linda

Friday, June 13, 2008

Who Likes Short Shorts?

I've been watching the NBA finals...it's an exciting playoff with the Boston Celtics facing off with the LA Lakers. My feelings for the Laker's are the same feelings I have for the NY Yankees. Despise. I love any team they are playing against, and having this attitude, I have learned to like a lot of other ball clubs that are out there.

I fell in love with basketball when I was a little girl. Mom took us to watch High School basketball games when she was an assistant teacher in Decatur Illinois. We lived on the edge of the inner city and went to a 90% African-American elementary school. To an 8 year old girl, high school boys were just like pro-ball players...tall, swift, graceful, smooth. Some little girls watched the game for the cheerleaders giving them routines to practice in the back yard during hot summer days. Not me. I watched the game. I loved the action, the fast paced race up and down the court, the squeak of the sneakers on the heavily varnished court, the smell of sweat in the air. Decatur High was a pretty good team too. It was a great place to learn to love the game.

We moved to Harrisburg PA in 1973 which is about a hundred miles west of Philadelphia. The king of basketball was Dr. J (Julius Erving) who played for the awesome Philadelphia 76ers. He and Wilt Chamberlain were at the top of their game. Wilt Chamberlain was working on his list of 10,000 women to bed after being a Harlem Globetrotter. Seriously, who could turn him down? I'd sleep with a Harem Globetrotter...I got a thing for tall, funny ball players.

Man, I loved those Harlem Globetrotters too. They always beat the shit out of the Generals. Every time! Funny how the Generals team is still mostly white guys.

I never made it to a 76ers game as a teen but that was when I fell in love with pro-basketball.

My distaste for the LA Lakers began in 1988-89 season when we had season tickets to the now Oklahoma Super Sonics. Back then they were the Seattle Super Sonics. Our seats were finagled by friends who worked for the basketball team and we sat with the player's wives, family, friends and sometimes hookers. They were good seats too, in the end zone facing the players opponent's bench so there was a lot of opportunity to witness what they enemy was up to. During those years the Laker's were on fire with Magic Johnson leading the pack under the direction of the arrogant, egocentric Pat Riley. Pat Riley was the supreme role model for all white men in the late 80's and early 90's...rich, good looking, fast living and coaching a very winning team. He was the face for the Yuppie Handbook.

That arrogance carried over to the team and they won through intimidation and testosterone, plus they had great plays and players. Always tanned and ready for the competition, the Seattle Super Sonics never won.

The real reason why I hate the Lakers is this: They were the first NBA team to start wearing long shorts. Yes. They started the trend of mid-thigh shorts and now the players are wearing frikkin' Capri pants!

Seriously...What Is Up With That?!!!

Today's ball players are wearing Lycra shorts underneath their hip-hop baggy trousers. I say, get rid of the over-lay and bring back the short shorts! I am in my sexual prime people and need to get my groove on and these baggy pants do nothing for my imagination. I want to see skin that is well moisturized, and shiny. Let's watch those muscles running up and down the court. I want to see thighs and butts again. I can remember Dr. J's firm behind and it is a nice memory. You can't even tell what kind of tail Kobe Bryant has underneath those sunshine yellow slacks. Yes, slacks. They're not shorts...they are wearing pants.

Who do I want to win the NBA playoffs? Anyone but the Lakers and the Celtics are doing a damned good job at kicking Laker's ass. Go get 'em boys. And when you win the championship final game, we're going to have to have a chat about those black socks you're wearing on the courts.

Protecting the NBA fashion....
All the way from over here...
Linda

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Coldest year since 1917....

Okay. I am not crazy. I just found out that Seattle is having its coldest year since 1917. This makes me feel much better. I really thought that I had just adapted to living in the south and in Florida since 2001, but knowing that there is a serious weather change happening here helps.

I'm looking on the bright side of things about this freezing June temperatures. For instance, I've been having a series of hot flashes once every 75 minutes or so. Yes. I've timed them. I like to approach my body as a scientist....cause and effect....let's see what happens. These hot flashes are easily relieved with the cold weather. So this is a blessing.

As for observing my body as a scientist, I often need to get confirmation for my secret experiments. Sometimes I like to use my sisters bodies to confirm reactions I've discovered in my own body. For example, I give you the Starbucks Cookie Incident of 1999.

In 1999 Starbucks used to sell these huge chocolate chip cookies that tasted so great going down, but I noticed about 5 minutes after I ate one, I lost everything in my bowels. I know, not a nice topic of conversation, but it is true. The first few times I had the cookie I didn't put the two together but the cookie was the best tasting cookie store bought...it was almost as good as one of my cookies which is quite a complement. I am a master baker and know my cookies, baby.

I was perplexed on how such a great tasting cookie could have such a violent effect on my body. Every time after I ate one of those cookies, I had to practically void my bowels. So I decided to see if it was me or the cookie.

One afternoon, Anne (my sister) and I were out and we stopped by Starbucks for a coffee. This was my chance...the moment that I'd been waiting for. I needed to confirm if my experience with the Starbucks cookie was my own or was it the cookie. My inner scientist went to work. To gather data, I decided to use Anne as a test subject. This needed to be a blind test, so I did not tell her what I was doing when I offered to buy her a chocolate chip cookie. She accepted the cookie and when she offered me a bite, I said no thank you and watched her eat the tasty treat in its entirety.

A few moments passed and we were wandering through the abundantly fresh and huge produce section of Larry's Market at the Oak Tree Plaza. Anne said she had to find a bathroom....NOW! We both knew where it was and away she went. I waited outside and several minutes later she emerged with a "What the Fuck" kind of expression on her face.

I was nodding and smiling...all knowing as to what happens haven eaten many of these tasty chocolate chip cookies myself. I told her I thought that might happen, but I had to be sure.

"You knew that the cookie you offered to by me made you crap your guts out and you didn't tell me?" she scolded. She was quite upset with me, but I needed to maintain the integrity of my experiment.

"I wasn't certain, Anne. I had to know for sure. That's where you came in. It's not personal, I just needed to know if it was me or the cookie." I explained.

She was pretty pissed off at me for a little while, but it was then that I knew I wasn't crazy. There was something in the cookie that was indigestible to the Silberman women. I guess having that knowledge, I could have used the cookie as a laxative, but I'm not into that kinda thing.

The point of the story is that it was at that moment that I knew I wasn't crazy. Having confirmation of sanity for me is rather important. Perhaps conducting little experiments is a sign of insanity.

Anne, thanks for eating that cookie. I really appreciated it.

Finding out that this is the coldest year since Hitler was a young man, makes me feel better somehow about Seattle, and it is easing my hot flashes.

So much love,
All the way from over here....
brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Linda

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm no Shirley MacLaine

I've had a lot of time to ponder the future. Blustery cold winds isolate me leaving my imagination to plan for the future. Certainly, I dream about sunny skies and warm ocean temperatures and I believe I will have that again...I just don't know when.

A reoccurring dream I've had on the back burner several years is to walk the El Camino de Santiago. That is the 500 mile trek that starts in the south of France and goes through northern Spain ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela on the northern coast of Spain. It is a Christian pilgrimage but that doesn't deter me. Along the path there are monasteries and tiny villages to stop and rest and refuel before trekking onward.

At first I thought the trek was only 300 miles...I could rationalize that mileage. I figured if I did 10 miles a day and rested 1 day a week I could complete the trek in about 40 days....a good number for a pilgrimage. Jesus always did things in 40 day increments and it makes sense. You've got to get adjusted for a couple of weeks before really getting into the groove of any life change. Jesus didn't write too much when he went into the desert to face the devil for 40 days. I don't remember exactly how the story went, but I think he felt better after facing the devil...isn't that a metaphor for his own internal devils? Knowing how the bible works, I'd guess that he faced the actual devil.

NOTE:On Cartoon Network's Adult Swim they have a very clever 15 minute animated cartoon called "Lucy: Daughter of the Devil". She's the Antichrist that is dating Jesus Christ who is an awesome DJ and all about keeping the beat and groove going. I only bring it up because I like the idea of artists attacking the traditional visions of the Devil. This devil wears Bill Cosby sweaters and he has a pot belly. Clever show...I recommend it. Oh, I don't have much TV and watch everything online at www.adultswim.com

I have a girlfriend who started a 40 day fast on May 2nd. She's facing her own demons...an ending of her 3rd marriage, ending her job, she needs divine inspiration and fasting for 40 days can do that. There's no way I could fast for 40 days but I can understand the attraction for sure.

A 40 day pilgrimage seems like a good way to discover what my real purpose is...but I realize that there is no real purpose in life...simply living is the goal, this I know and it is interesting to see what fears come up for me.

The first is living without my cell phone. While I don't really use it much, I talk to Karen Sevenoff everyday for at least 30 minutes....some days we talk for about an hour. I've realized how much I depend on these phone calls. That was pretty interesting. She's my primary relationship these days.

The other fear that came up was me living without my computer for that length of time. I've become addicted to my computer while living in Seattle.

Living without my cell phone and computer would probably be a good task for me...but then there's the whole physical aspect of the trek. Shirley MacLaine did the walk at the age of 65 and she did it in 30 days...20 miles a day! I'm no Shirley MacLaine, that's for damned sure! That woman has been working out since birth. I've started re-reading the book she wrote about it and she's complaining about the pain of the path.

But if a 65 year old woman can do it, can't I?

It is much to ponder during the chaotic weather of Seattle. Snow is predicted in the mountains tonight. First time in over 50 years that snow has come this late.

That's where my head is today.

So much love,
All the way from over here...
Linda

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It is June

It is June 5th, 2008 and it is 48 degrees and raining in Seattle...

Linda, this is your consciousness speaking. Remember this moment. Remember how cold you are. Remember that you are not programed to stay inside under covers longing to be warm all day. Remember that you are inspired by the sun...not gray skies. Remember that it is not necessary to see your own breath in "summer".

Dear God,

I know...long time since we wrote. But you know what I've been doing and what's been going on. Thanks for last night. I really appreciated your help with winning those big hands at the poker tournament. I learned my lesson well by not listening to you and responding out of fear during that last betting round of Texas Holdem. Next time I will listen to you and when I've already put $2400 in the pot, I'll play the last card instead of chickening out. Golly, that was an expensive lesson.

You know God, I've been thinking a lot about leaving Seattle but the inner work that has been going on with the Hakomi Therapist is so helpful and I can really see the progress. Today I do not retch at the thought of returning to work...but it still is not time. And I know that I have free will and at any moment I can pack a bag and leave Seattle. Thank you for the reminder.

God, I'd like to speak about the books that you've been brining to my attention. I've been reading three books at once...an old Seattle habit that I'd given up and have now picked up again: 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and I was Carlos Castaneda by Martin Goodman. I notice that there is a reoccurring theme going through all these books that is listening to the inner voice that speaks to us; the 'god' voice that is within and living by it. Essentially it is releasing all the control that I have created over my life and allowing God to come in and follow that higher consciousness. It makes sense too since no one has any real control over their lives. What have bumper stickers taught me? Shit Happens.

Echart Tolle talks about it. He writes about being in the observer mode, not having any attachment to your thoughts and especially not having any attachment to the identity that is created through the "I" and "me" stories. Having that awareness it is easy for me to witness this behavior in others now as it was my behavior in the past. For instance, I was playing in a poker tournament last night with 22 other people...mostly hipsters, very chic and cool musicians, artists, lawyers, programmers and other downtown types. I felt intimidated since I hadn't played poker in a couple of years and while my old poker friends were kinda cut throat, we didn't play in this style. There was a buy-in and the ante doubled every 30 minutes so by 7:30 PM it cost $400 just to play a hand. It cost $10 to buy-in chips so the hundreds and thousands of dollars in chips that we played with were fictional but the chip winner wins the pot and if you arrived at the game after 6:30, you had to pay more to play. The winning bag of money was over $300. For some of these artists, it is the only way for them to get money to buy paint with..nobody's buying art these days.

During the game I noticed that a couple of the guys (and it was mostly men...me and two other women) really took losing hard and I thought that a couple of the guys might fight but the host wouldn't let that happen. He kept everyone cool, but I could see this one guy who seemed trapped at a teenage age...that was what made me think about the Hakomi stuff. He appeared hijacked or triggered by something that happened a long time ago and he was responding the same way, as a teenager.

That's the work I'm doing. It is helping me move forward in adulthood and it is making me younger and younger in spirit.

In the Hakomi practice, it is also about being in mindfulness and not attaching the sense of self with what emotion is presenting itself. The therapy teaches to stay in the moment, especially those uncomfortable moments, and ask the emotion what they have to teach us...be it anger, boredom, sadness, happiness...whatever emotion that has come up; stay with it. What happens is that the emotion shifts into something else.

Hakomi also focuses on feeling hijacked by your emotions and looking at them for insight and wisdom on what there is to learn from the past. It is going in deep within the emotion and asking it questions...staying as an observer and allowing growth to come through. There is an element that feels like self-hypnosis and it takes courage to look at the situations in the past to witness where a fear or belief system was created and then accepting it and reprogramming yourself.

I don't think Oprah will have this stuff on her show anytime soon...but it is in the same family of Echart Tolle. Learning to stay unattached to the emotions. Really good stuff.

Dr. Paul's Evolutionary Healing Institute in Miami and The Hakomi methods are very similar in the ways that they are both designed to stay in that uncomfortable position (Dr. Paul's is in the physical form, Hakomi in the emotional) and see what happens that moment when it shifts...notice what happens to the body...notice what happens to the emotion. I accept this time and space and the physical challenges as well as the emotional ones and I thank the universe for the opportunity to learn from it.

My whole issue has been my sense of self is completely absorbed in my work life leaving no real room for other people or emotions. At a young age I learned that I had to take care of myself and to do it happened through hard work so I pushed and pushed myself in a highly competitive business and identified the "who I am" with this work persona. When my world fell apart and I was given the chance to release this idea of who I am, I went into a tail-spin and having the time and quiet space to release, relax and renew has been one of the most terrifying experiences in my life and I've done some pretty scary stuff.

God, today I ask you to remind me to stay focused on today...on this moment of quiet and cold and to move through the tension of resistance to what is. It is cold. I am here of my own free will so I will accept these conditions and embrace the freezing rain on my face as I move through this world in search of warm beverages.

I stay in gratitude for having the time to blog, a roof over my head, loving sisters and sweet animal friends all around to support this journey. Ashey. Namaste.

So much love,
All the way over here....
Linda

Monday, June 2, 2008

What's been going on...

Everyday I feel guilty that I have not written online, but I have been doing a lot of writing in journal form. For me, it isn't a "Dear Diary...today Tommy told me he loves me..." sort of writing but it is about the soul searching I've been going through. Naturally, I have felt that my emotional progress has been a bit self-indulgent, but it is necessary.

I had my Vedic astrology chart done last week when I went to see Amma. Amma is a spiritual saint from India who is known as the "Hugging Saint". She has charities all over India and she has several Ashrams here in the states. Her philosophy incorporates no traditional doctrine although she does a ceremony where she brings in Krishna...she essentially stays in love and meditation plus she has an awesome band that plays with her. Amma visits the USA once a year and I always try to see her where ever I am...NYC, DC, Seattle, San Fransisco are all the spots I've hugged Amma.

Her events are all free but there is awesome stuff for sale...scarves, sari's, photos of Amma, rose essential oil and then there are the non-regular things like the Amma comic books, bumper stickers, tee shirts etc. They also offer services like Puja (pronounced Pooja). This is a sacred prayer that is performed in a temple with priests and is used in assistance with removing the human ego which is the cause of all suffering. You know, that is true too. When the ego is removed from any situation, it is simply a situation. Echart Tolle talks about the pain body and how the identification with this pain body which means the ego is identifying with the situation is the cause of all suffering....he's on the right path for sure.

A Puja is used to assist in removing the ego and obstacles ahead of you and offers this to god....and Amma offers this service. All the money goes to her charities so it is a good cause. Plus they have Vedic astrologers...this is the eastern form of astrology. In Vedic astrology I am a Sagittarius which is interesting since in western astrology, that is my rising sign.

The Vedic astrologer said it was my life-path and my karmic path to not be involved in a relationship...to be completely self-sufficient and that romantic love is not my path. Well, that is completely different from what my western astrologer said....he said that it was my path to learn how to be in relationship with someone. And that left me with total confusion...I mean what the fuck? What's up with this? One says it is my path the other says it isn't?

Free Will...plain and simple. Remember, we did not snack from the tree of life in the garden of Eden...we snacked on the tree of knowledge and were given free will. So I guess it is anyone's guess if I will be in relationship with someone.

And the reality is that it doesn't matter. Wanting romantic relationships is simply a way to keep myself distracted from the real internal work that needs to be done. I think about the movie "Sex in the City" which is all the rage these days...it is a show about four women who love to drink and shop and talk about their relationships. Is it important? Maybe...but it is very superficial and distracting from the real internal work that is there for each of us...the question is, will you do it in this lifetime or will you come around again and get it done?

Not every one believes in reincarnation but I do and I do not want to reincarnate again....as if I have any choice in the matter...but I like to think that I do. If I bring consciousness to my everyday life then perhaps I can evolve to the next level and be more available for self-less service while still being able to take care of my own needs.

Part of that works requires me to stay in the mucky-muck to work out the issues I still have.

And that's why I haven't been writing here. I am not sure it is worthy of posting and don't really find it all that interesting. Not like rice. Rice is interesting.

Thanks for checking-in and I will continue to write. I promise that I will return to the daily posting, just not today.

So much love,
All the way from over here in cold, gray, Seattle...
Linda