Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summer is Here: A Blowing Rock Trip

Every year, no matter what additional travel plans I must have, I have to see the mountains and I have to see the Ocean… It’s a must! I see the Ocean for the deep and wide thinking experience that I need every once in a while, and I see the mountains for the peace, and the wilderness, for the freshness that recharges every pore in my skin and neuron in my brain!
This past weekend my friend and I decided to take a day trip to Blowing Rock and thereabouts … Not having done that trip before, my friend had some doubts that we can do this in one day, but I paid no attention to the worries, since I have done it a million times before, and almost every time it’s been a success.
Our first stop was in Blowing Rock where we made it just in time for lunch. Although adventuresome and always ready for trying new things, there are some things that I will always keep on doing, as old habits die indeed hard. I always have lunch at the ‘Speckled Trout’, a downtown fixture in the small mountain town, where they make the fishiest, most delicious, and freshest trout there (of course, if you drive towards Celo, ‘Albert’s Inn’ is a fierce competition, but… ). So, I had my trout, and I felt like my batteries are already starting to fill up…
We walked around the town, mostly window shopping in craft and décor stores, dreaming of what stuff might go well in our own abodes…Just soaking our retinas in cottage-style furnishings and local crafts. The weather was hot, and there is no other word to describe it! HOT! And steamy, or rather sauna-y: very few white puffy clouds, but the Carolina blue sky was letting the sun scorch us while stewing us in the humidity! The town was hopping: sidewalks were overflowing of people , no places to park, bands playing in the central park area, tens of kids swinging, playing ball, biking, kicking off their shoes and playing hide-n-seek and screaming and announcing that the summer is indeed here!
When hot and thirsty, we headed for ‘Kilwin’s Ice Cream’ parlor; we were horrified at the line! It seemed like everyone in town had the same thought as us: the line was endless, and the heat too scorching; we needed A/C and we needed cold liquids or foods, and we needed them fast! So, we opted for a cold brew at the ‘Six Pence Pub’, next door… That place was packed, too, but we managed to work out a table at the bar! A chatty waitress and $10 later we felt a bit better and ready for another stretch of the journey…
After a relatively short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway (amazingly empty… I guess all the travelers stopped at Kilwin’s!), we got to the Grandfather Mountain Park… The steep drive is always fun, as are the “native” animals in the zoo, and the Forrest Gump Curve, and of course, the “piece de resistance”, the swinging bridge. My friend is somewhat queasy about heights, so he kept saying “I wish they stopped calling it the ‘swinging’ bridge”… I smiled. Actually laughed. There is something about grown men being nervous about seemingly little things that I find endearing… Last time I visited the “swinging bridge” the winds were 60 mph, and the gusts were 78 mph; at 80 mph constant winds they close it down. This time, the wind was probably, with no exaggeration, 0 mph! Not even a breeze! Peaceful, and hot, and close to the scorching sky! Some clouds let the sun go through, making for a great effect of sun poured into the valley below! The vista was superb and peaceful… Like a green blanket covering a sleeping body, unmoved … Peaceful that is, if it were not for the handful of very chatty (and loud) Japanese tourists nearby, that somewhat spoiled the whole effect! Still, there is something majestic, royal, and uplifting about being at the top of the world! For a short person, it’s the ultimate conquest! That’s one moment when I always think two things: I know there is God, because the world below me is such pure perfection, and second: now, I know what it feels like to be a bird: free!
With very little daylight left (one and a half hours was pushing it!), we headed towards the Linville Falls, further South even. After a wrong turn, and a walk deep in the quiet, tall woods, for about half an hour, we were back in the car looking for the right trail. We parked, and this time, we paid attention to the signs! After a 0.6 mile hike, we walked up, breathless, to the Chimney View that gave us an opening of both the Upper and Lower Falls, and we remained breathless indeed! The Upper Falls are smaller but wider, only to open up in a huge, narrow plunge into the Lower Falls, which in turn gets lost in the woods, and then falls quiets down into the bed of the stream in the valley.. My friend, a kayaker and rafter, could not help but exclaim something similar to this: “Wow, that would be a great drop on a boat!”… I didn’t agree…I guess each of us has our phobias as well as rushes!
After several minutes of ultimate pleasure, and wonder, again, in the face of Mother Nature, and Father God, we decided that no matter how peaceful the water sounded, and how hypnotic, we were not equipped for camping the night, and we had to return to the car, since our camera flash starting going off: the first signal the sun was turning in for the day… We both agreed we’re mountain people. How can we not be? So humble and small and overwhelmed and yet protected in the face of the Universe?! And we both knew that no matter where we ended up living, the woods and the mountains will always hold the key to the silence and the serenity we needed so, from time to time, to move on …
The hike back seemed shorter, but that was maybe because we were again eager to know whether we took the right trail: on the way back, we came to a fork in the road, which we hadn’t notice the first time, that lead to 2 different parking lots. We had no clue which one was ours, but I am a trusting nature (not!), and I trusted my friend’s instinct… It was a good decision…
The light was barely in the sky at 8.30 when we got to the car, and we were starved, too!
After a NC BBQ dinner in Boone, we headed home, tired, feet tingling with exhaustion, tummies full of mountain food, and pores filled to the brim with freshness and peace! Mission accomplished, I should say!
We locked the treasure box in Boone, and headed home, on 421! The treasure will be there, locked, for freshness, next time when the “city” will become once again (it never fails!) too claustrophobic and too polluted for our souls…
The trip was 13 hours and a half, but we could do it in one day! And what an accomplishment: huge mountain vistas, opened up into Eternity, clear Carolina blue skies, and sticky Southern humidity, cold brew with my part-Irish friend, fresh, fishy trout in the middle of a quaint town, gorges filled with raging water that allow themselves to be tamed into a stream at the end, delicious North Carolina BBQ and everywhere, the all-encompassing, ever-present purple rhododendron, bordering the Parkway and every valley … It’s good to feel at home and at peace!
For a visual peek:

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Walmart and other cheap stuff…

Yes, I shop at Walmart… And I am not talking just about the casual once a month trip when you need some cleaning supplies, or some car mats, or some other “cheap” stuff that “looks” expensive but on which you care not spend the buck! I mean, I am a very loyal customer of the controversial joint; I go there weekly if not twice or three times a week. Yes, I am one of those disappearing breeds that “runs into Walmart real quick” (trying to fake the accent here), just for ONE thing at times (like chap stick, or the occasional loaf of bread I am running out of, or even a bag of salad, before dinner).
My motivation is very simply economical: I have one income, and I don’t make enough to spend $2 for a loaf of bread, and I prefer the $1.25 loaf at Walmart, for instance… Not make enough to spend $2.50 for a box of strawberries, when Walmart sells them for $1.50 a box (same box size!). Well, think, just in those two, I am saving $ 1.75 a week! Times 52, that’s $91.00!!! That’s one month of Home Owners’ Fees, or a tank full of gas to drive to the beach one weekend! (or further!). That’s a LOT of “specials” for lunch, at the Thai place (where I pay $5.00, $6 with the tip), and at least THREE individual sushi dinners! I also love to travel, and I would not afford trips to Europe yearly, and outings every month, if it were not for Walmart…
Yes, I know, now you’re disgusted and appalled, that “OMG, she’s buying FOOD at Walmart! Holy Jesus! She’s dying!!!!”… Well, I am not! And yes, I buy “food” there; because when I need the brands, they’re on the shelf for at least 3 quarters of the prices you see at Lowes Foods, and half of what they are at Harris Teeter! And the store brands in some products are actually better than Harris Teeter’s! And to me, a single-income-low-paid-immigrant of this country, it’s immoral to pay more! It truly is! I buy not only food there, but everything else: socks, cd’s, dvd’s, blankets, party supplies, cleaning supplies, plants, even computer accessories, and electronics, car accessories, I buy my paint there, and the paint supplies! The only thing I don’t buy at Walmart are prints from my digital camera. Why?! You guessed it: because someone else (SamsClub) … has those for cheaper! :-) But other than that, I live by the mantra one of my friends gave me a long time ago: “If Walmart don’t have it, you don’t really need it, hon!”. Yes, she was very Southern, so…?!?
I love the place, and that doesn’t mean I fit ANY stereotypes I have heard about since I moved to the US. I am not a redneck, nor am I missing any teeth; I don’t come from West Virginia, and I don’t drive a pickup! I am just a budget shopper. And Walmart fits that bill …- cliché?! OK! I can live with that, too…
In marketing class they taught us that Walmart is hurting the other retailers, because they offer everything the others offer, at half the price. And I understand that! They spend less on customer service, and cleanliness than the other retailers, and afford to save more for the customer… As I have said: I go there for the money savings! Nothing else!
People ask me all the time how I can live with the lack of customer service, and the dirty aisles, and most definitely the infected bathrooms, and the messy floor displays ! Well, I simply go into the store with different expectations than that! I put on my horses’ glasses and walk right through with my shopping list in hand and pretend I don’t notice the “inconveniences”. I am armed with patience and endurance, and move right along… And when my cartful comes up to $50 at the end I smile big! It’s all in the expectations… And I try not to build them up before I go to Walmart …
There is, however, one thing I will never do at Walmart (I am sorry, my friend who should remain nameless, who suggested this!): I will not go there to hook up with men! Even I, a single-income-low-paid-immigrant, am more picky that that! And that is not because of the stereotypes, either: I would not chase men in Harris Teeter either…There is something about men in pajama pants buying cases of beer that I find repulsing at a grocery store…
And one more thing, for those of you cringing: have you tasted the cheesecake in their bakery?! Let me know what you think when you do!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Letting go …

“The moment I let go of it was
The moment I got more than I could handle”

I’ve been trying to let go for years … I’ve been reading Eastern Thought books, and doing yoga, fighting with meditation, and learning about Buddhism and Nirvana, ever changing and impermanent …. And trying non-attachment, and “training” my brain to just stop, for a brief moment and just … soak into the present …For years and years, I tell you … And yet my stubborn, ever moving, and ever energetic, fiery Aries nature has kept me going, and going, and going … And I have been known to think too much, and want too much, and plan too much, and when reality didn’t match my make-believe dreams, I was deeply saddened and lonely, felt hurt and unfortunate, felt pity and loneliness…

I couldn’t learn from my cats, who are undisturbed when napping, nor from the sun who stubbornly comes up into the East every morning, nor from the patience of the monks who dedicate their lives to the Lord every day, in the same unchanged routine every day, for centuries, without questioning…. I was always questing a change and looking to tip the boat… looking for something different and new and “else”… And wanting, ever wanting and needing, and not just relaxing and breathing into the moment … For years…Wasted years and books and thoughts, and I am sure brain cells, too…

I think finally, I am listening to my own body and heart… And I am figuring that after failures and heartaches, the only thing that is permanent is beautiful memories, and happy times that life simply creates for us, and unexpected surprises that we never really ever predicted, much less planned for! … So, for a change, I am just soaking, for once, into the now, and waiting for time to kind of unfold… and for life just to happen… And the surprises are endless… And the beauty of the world in borderless… I’ve had some of the happiest times, and yet the saddest times lately… But I managed not to let the saddest times kill me and my spirit, because I let the happiest time take their toll and unfold, without trying to control either of them, nor be suspicious of anything… And finally, after a quest of at least 6 years now, I am finally seeing the light and breathing the fresh air … I float, instead of trying to constantly steer … And the bounty of joy is surprisingly generous, and ecstatic… Breathless at times … And I enjoy the body-board… taking me to shores unknown and full of beauty, silence, and endless freshness … Not ready yet to jump off on it and swim on my own… Enjoying the randomness and unpredictability of the float, and getting so rich off of simply letting go, and being aware and awake …

This excerpt reminded me of all these, this week:
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” (Kafka)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Being slow, oh well! - (thinking out loud)

I can't help but wonder sometimes what in the world is wrong with me?! Why certain things that used to be fun are all of a sudden cumbersome at best, if not downright annoying as all hell! Dates seem to be annoying races to show off and impress, and going out to bars is more disgusting and judgmental than anything else... I used to be : " my way or the highway, go f*ck yourself if you don't like it, bitch"- type of gal, now I am accommodating and give people a second, and a third and a fourth chance... I've also used to be a "kiss on first date, sleep on second ... ok, maybe third... " gal, and now I'm ... well, let's not go there!
I've become more critical over the years, and all of a sudden more circumspect... I hold a lot more tension in my shoulders, from just not letting go (and from asking way too many questions, out loud or not...) ... I think twice about everything and that sometimes is a waste of time, and certainly of fun, or so I think, sometimes... It feels like it ...
I can't keep up with the fashion anymore, since the fashion is more and more skin, less and less cloth, and I feel like my body's starting to feel the 31 years I've packed on it! I'm one of the luckier 31 year olds, if I may say so myself, but I feel every hour of every one of those years... And trust me, so does my graying hair and my speckled skin...So, I don't think more skin IS worth showing, really ... And thus, I "lose" to the youngsters that are showing it all...Oh, well ...
I s'ppose things have changed, and now I have to put on my 31 year old glasses and look at the world and try to integrate and mingle, and ... date ... in a new age (for me and for the world)... Of course, coming from the comfortable cradle of 8 years of being "hitched" is not helping my rusty motors, either...
But hey, don't let me bring you down, all right... The old age wisdom and accumulated experience and insight are there to be shared for anyone who cares enough to discover it ... I know, you're saying: "honey, that, in balance with more skin is LOSIINGGG!!!!" ... I know, so, move right along, please! Save your time, and mine, too ... I may be slow, and judgemental, but I still like myself that way, and at the end of the day, I am the only person on the planet I gotta please! And I am pleased with that! :-)
We still live in a speed-driven century and people don't have time for taking time to discover ... It's the "instant gratification" age, as a friend was calling it the other day ... We all want "one hour photos" and "same day deliveries"... Who has time for long chats or walks under the moon?! No time for that, chick! You give it all out on day one, OK, you got an extra day from me, if I decide you're worth another breath of my lungs, and if you don't deliver the goods then, you're out ...
And that's how I am still in the window, catching dust and still being looked on/at ... I love the circus before my eyes, however... It's better than any movie, and it's free! Some even pay for your drinks...:-)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Thank you!

Have you ever felt that ALL your ships will be sunken at the end of the battle?? Have you ever sat there and asked yourselves: "Gosh, why does it HAVE to pour every time it rains?"?! Have you ever felt so lost, and helpless you didn't know whether to scream, yell, kill yourself, or just shoot someone else?! Have you ever felt abandoned by ALL?! Fate... God...Your country... Fate... Any family, and friends you've EVER known .... Abandoned by Hope, even ... ?!? Have you?!? I am sure you have...

That's how my day was... Painfully slow and sad... I don't mind days like these, once in a while: they make me be grateful when I AM happy, and when I DO feel like I have stuff to be grateful for ... But when they come on a MONDAY, I just want to scream, or yell, or shoot... you know... !!!!!

But today it was different: I did feel like all that, and it was a Monday, but because some of the people I know took the time from their busy lives to "stop by" and say hey, and say a few nice words, I did see the silver lining! So, thank you! All of you who did stop by and made my day! On MySpace, and outside... You're a God-send and a blessing to have, so thank you! You made me live, and even smile on a day where I found impossible to ... breathe! Thank you!

I Have Issues! - a MySpace Blog

I've always worn my heart on the sleeve, as they say around here... I always thought keeping secrets and especially lying is SUCH a waste of time ... They always told me I won't live long, too, so I have always been paranoid that I'd go before the world realized how I truly am! I think to this day that not seeing the true me is so wrong, and such a sin, on my part, if I don't reveal the true me... So, here are some things off the top of my head that would describe me... (the moral is at the end, so please read on):

I love travels and nothing moves me more than being in a place that is new, and unfamiliar; I soak up the new-ness of a new place through my pores, and nose, and eyes, and ears; it's what gives me the rush; the open road, the planes taking off, the people-watching in the airports; I love falling asleep with Mr. Fero purring in my ear, and Gypsy kneading my chest, while Li'l Kitty warms up my feet; I love a warm stinky breath of a kitten or a puppy in my face; I love popcorn and fries, and those are just two reasons why I'd never be on a successful diet; I love food, in general, and mostly carbs, but I'd eat anything from chicken feet to sushi; books are my friends on a rainy afternoon, or a sunny morning at the beach, or a midnight any time of the year, in an airplane, or on a train, at work on my lunch break, in my car while waiting for the friend to get there, in my car, in the drive through wash... Books are where my money goes ...; I will tell you if you have toilet paper sticking out of your pants, and if you have ketchup on your chin; I will tell you if your dress makes you look fat, or your new hairdo looks like shit; I will ask you about your past because I am nosey; I love scars, because they always, with no exception, tell a story; I don't like tattoos if they DON'T tell a story; a pretty little rose because you wanted a tattoo but didn't know what to get and you didn't want it too big is cheesy! - sorry! I love rain when it comes once a season! Draught?!? Please, people, this is America, we won't ever die of starvation OR thirst!!!; I love and live for my family; they always come first; I have little patience for movies; unless I can stop, and fast forward, they usually suck to me! (with a handful of exceptions); I like rules, but I love exceptions; I like laughter and to make people smile; I love smiles, not necessarily laughters, since they can be fake ... I like to help people and especially those that are never paid attention to (like old people); I cook my own foods (including snacks), clean my own house, paint my own walls, frame my art myself, do my own nails, adjust my clothes (nothing ever fits me in this country!), hand wash my dishes, although I have a dishwasher; I never buy from E-bay because I want instant gratification: can't wait for the stupid auction to close!!!; I love adoption, and believe strongly in over-population; I love sex, but I can't see it just as an act; if I want to burn calories, I'll go for a walk instead!; I love the mountains for the mystery and the beach for the peacefulness; I hate lying with a passion. mainly because I am not stupid, and I hate when people assume that I am; I love and respect tolerance when I find it, but just like happiness, it's a nice utopia! It will forever be missing in the world, in its pure and absolute form! I myself cannot be tolerant towards ignorance, and others' jumping to conclusions, and conscious and stubborn close-mindedness; I also see myself as a tolerant with strong opinions; like I said: complete and total tolerance will forever be unattained in this world; just like the existence of clean air ... That's the gist of it ...

So, for those of you who lately have been telling me that I "have issues" and I "am a basket case", and "I am at a weird place in my life" , thank you... I suppose I am all that... And I also suppose it takes one to know one, too...Although coming from some of you, it's insulting ... I also kindly invite you to read some Freud, and see how we all are in fact mental patients, in various ways... I promise reading won't kill ya'! :-) And "who is Freud anyways, to be such a trusted source?!" - well, let's just say he has made more history than you, so ... enjoy! Thank you for thinking "I have issues", but please read this, when you do have the curiosity to find out just who I "really" am...

And, yes, I do realize that in my previous blog I said the same about others, but that was not my point there: that blog was about "false advertising"; my point there was that people present a fake image of themselves on this site, when in fact I find out (after getting to know them a bit) that they are very different than their own description of themselves...

And, to close, this is my motto in life, if you're interested (reminds me of my own dad, too, and his advice to me, when I was very little): from Margo Kaufman:

"I once complained to my father that I didn't seem to be able to do things the same way other people did. Dad's advice? 'Margo, don't be a sheep. People hate sheep. They eat sheep'."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

MySpace Quiz - with an Attitude!

This is a repost of an older blog. I have been told, over all this time, that I am bitter... Well, I will forever refer to this blog, since this was pretty much my initial reaction to this whole MySpace zoo, as an explanation as to "why" I am bitter (should that be necessary)... And I still hold (partially) this feeling... Sure, I have met some wonderful people here, people that I really relate to, and people that can see the beauty in a drop of dew, or a cat asleep, or a sunset, people with common sense, and well-meaning ... Just like I said before, and with the risk of being repetitive: there are always wonderful exceptions out there! Just reposting this, for the world, and for a personal reminder ...

This was actually created on February 18, 2006
The MySpace Quiz –with an Attitude!

When I said in the “about me” section (on MySpace.com) that people can ask me “about me” and I will answer, if they need to know more than what’s in there, I didn’t have in mind exactly the questions that I have been getting in my e-mails… But no need to be picky now, I will answer the questions I’ve gotten so far, and hopefully shed some more light on what I want and who I am. And sorry (not really) for the attitude in my tone. Sometimes this site just…brings out the worst in me. And if you had the courage to ask on your own terms, I think one should have the courage to answer … on their own terms as well.
Here we go:

Exact quote: “Have u heard about Do you like? It is very cool site.The thing is, they show you a pic of a boy and ask if u like him. You answer Yes or No. Do u like me?”
Honey, I don’t need to see your picture to know I don’t like you! I’m simply NOT into “boys”. And now I have heard of “do you like?”, and I hope you got your answer too…

My girlfriend made me write to you. She likes to get crazy with girls sometimes and she loves your profile, so she wanted to know if you’re interested. Just to warn you, she loves to use the video camera. Here’s her link, would you write her back?!
Hhhmm… OK, you’re obviously not man enough to admit you’re a kinky bastard who likes to watch two chicks doing it, and your girlfriend, if she exists, probably has no idea you wrote to me. Pi$$ off!

I’m am open minded girl who likes to get it on with other girls sometimes. Are you interested?
Read the left hand side, you moron! It says “straight”, as in “heterosexual straight”. I didn’t say “bi”, nor “not sure”, I said “straight”. And if at any point I would have mentioned I was “gay”, I think I would have used “happy” instead!

Exact quote: “Hey my angel,its been a while i heared from you last.i hope u are ok?why have you decided not to mail me for sometime now.please get back with me immediately”
Well, you can’t spell – I have an English major: see the problem?

I want to talk to you more because I am into foreign chicks. I am in the military. Will you write me back?
No. You kill people for a living. Thanks. I think I’ll pass.

Wanna f^$k?
Hhmm… Yeah, F^$k YOU, but not in the same sense you’re thinking!

Hey, I think you’re sexy, so next time when you’re online, would you hit me up?
I would LOVE to! Upside your head, if I got a chance.

And my absolute favorite:
Hey, am I bangable?
No, you’re an idiot. That’s not even a real word!

Keep the questions coming, people! Thanks for your interest and for keeping the Circus alive!