I feel pretty! Oh, so pretty!

Matthew (I always thought that was a sexy, solid name) and I spent like every second of every day together for the last week while I was in Miami. He even drove with me to Fort Myers Beach for 2 days so I could spend some time with Julie. I actually hadn’t even realized my luck – the family that Julie was nannying for had gone away for the week (to Amelia Island which is near my grandmother’s Jacksonville home, so I’ve been there a bunch of times, but that’s unrelated) leaving Julie (and us and like 4 other really cool people) their awesome beach front house and a kitchen stocked with food. (I wouldn’t ever ever ever want to be a nanny, but putting the day job aside, Julie’s got in made.) So Fort Myers was fun, needless to say—I felt like it was spring break all over again.

So don’t laugh at me, but I’ve been walking around in a blissful daze all week. I introduced Matthew to my grandmother immediately which is not something I EVER do. I think the last time my family knew one of my boyfriends (!) I was in like 7th grade.

The best part about this is that when I sit down to write about this, it all comes gushing out like a babbling brook, but in reality, I’ve been pretty breezy about this.

The remaining days were spent shopping at Sawgrass Mills Outlet Mall (a monster of a mall that’s shaped like a crocodile) and hanging out on Hollywood Beach. I have such a gorgeous tan and I am so ready to head back up north (I leave tomorrow morning) and move to NYC. It’s really soon! Just one more month to kill…

Matthew and I already said goodbye so I can spend the evening with Granny, and he’s still down here for one more week. Apparently he had two conferences (in physical therapy) in Miami two weeks apart from each other so decided to make a vacation of it. But then he’ll be back in NYC and we’ve already made plans to go to the Guggenheim Museum (he was shocked that I’d never been there and said we had to fix that right away).


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What to do this summer?

My parents want to know what I want to do this summer. I used to go to day camp and then became a day camp counselor, but last summer I said that I was never going to do that again, but don’t really know what else there is to do.

We always spend a week in Philadelphia visiting my grandparents and I’m thinking maybe I can stay up there with them for more time. I wonder whether I could get a job at the African American Museum in Philadelphia…that would be really cool. And I know that the Eastern State Penitentiary sounds really morbid, but my grandfather used to work there and it’s a pretty cool museum too. It’s not like I’m sooo into museums, but…I hate to be such a teenage stereotype…but I need SOMETHING to put on my college apps. I’m like looking for some sort of experience that’ll set me apart. And since I want to apply to UPenn early decision, maybe it’ll look good if I start acting loyal to philly. Maybe I can even stay all summer with my grandparents. And if those jobs don’t work out (b/c I have no idea if they’re accepting) then Im just I can just volunteer. SOMEWHERE. Even in a hospital.

Meanwhile, I haven’t written in a while. First of all Ricky and I broke up. he ended up being such an ass. he’s graduating this year and doesn’t want to feel “tied down” with a highschool girlfriend when he starts college, but said that we should still definitely keep dating until graduation. Are you fucking kidding me??? I told him to go to hell and I was cool calm and collected and then cried my eyes out when I got back to my dorm room and I haven’t spoken to him since, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks he’s a jerk so that of course makes me feel better.

Also, not much to say here, but our family trip to Stone Mountain State Park ended up being pretty cool (considering the circumstances, y’know, being a family trip and all). We went rock climbing which I’m good at and camped out and it was…fine I’ll admit it…fun.
Flip-flop, flip-flop…seriously that’s how I feel lately. I feel like a yo-yo (that’s a better metaphor), every day I feel high as a kite and then down in the dumps. jesus lacee stop acting like a drama queen, right? argh.

So speaking of rock climbing, I just heard about the UNCW climbing wall. it’s in Wilmington right near school, so I need to find out my info and then get my butt back in shape.

At least my parents are happy that Ricky is out of the picture.


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Miami and Matthew

I’m in love. I know all my friends who are reading this are gagging and rolling their eyes, but seriously! Oh my god, I LOVE SOUTH BEACH! Let me start at the beginning.

So my grandmother is cool, I’m sure you’ve caught onto that. She’s pretty young for a grandmother and is hip and pretty with it, which is one reason why I love visiting her so much. But in one way she really is an old lady (sorry, granny) – she goes to sleep freakin’ early, like 8:00 and wakes up at like 2 in the morning, which just doesn’t make any sense to me. And since I came to Miami so that I wouldn’t sit around and waste the day and night away in front of the TV, I decided after a day of shopping at Aventura Mall and walking around the Miami Seaquarium, that I would not call it a night, but rather climb out of my little box and go a little wild.

I drove down to South Beach and sat myself down at a gorgeous art deco outdoor café (see how wild I can get?) on the promenade with a stack of magazines that I was going to pretend to read – you don’t want to pretend to read a book b/c then people might think you’re too engrossed in what you’re doing and don’t want to be interrupted. So, I was sitting, sipping my latte, scanning my literature, and looking, I might add, particularly hot. See and be seen, right?

I know I sound like a babbling fairy tale, but this seriously happened to me! A gorgeous man came up to me and asked if I was waiting for someone. I thought he just wanted to take the chair so I said, “no, go ahead,” motioning to the chair, and he said, “thanks, I’d love to,” and sat down.

And the rest is history, as they say—that applies to one day old history, too, right? We chatted all night, like really talked. We didn’t even move from that spot, except for a roundabout walk to my car, where he dropped me off and made me promise to answer my phone when he called me the next day, which he already has done.

Not to get too much into my personal life, but let’s just say that this is generally not the way I meet guys. Like in college (which was just like last week, so please don’t let me start talking as though it were thirty years ago) I’d go to a party, get drunk, and then end up making out with some random loser. This was so different, so…REAL. He seems like such a good guy.

And I haven’t even told you the best part yet. He actually lives in NYC, right around the corner from Wave Hill in the Bronx. That’s like 100 blocks from where I’ll be living in a month! Ahhh. So we’re going out tonight (after 8pm of course) to some place he knows on the Fort Lauderdale Beach.

I hope he doesn’t read this. Yikes.
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Putting the Me in Utah

I decided I would simply hitch a ride to wherever the next car out was going. There were a lot of families with kids at the ranch so i just had to find someone with room in their car and not too much food smushed into back seat cushions. Well… two out of three ain’t bad, right? It’s not like my pants were so clean to start with anyways. I honestly can’t even remember their last name, but this very nice family was going back home to Salt Lake City, which sounded to me like a nice enough spot—why the hell not?

So I turned in my spurs, said goodbye to Sandy (did I even tell you about the horse that saved my life?) and Mike and then voila—off I go, turning the last 3 weeks into a mirage, the only traces remaining is the stench that I just can’t seem to shake.

Utah, Utah – there must be a song about Utah, though I can’t think of any.

I’m at a youth hostel now in Salt Lake City, explored a bit this evening, and now I desperately need a map so I can figure out where I’m going tomorrow morning. I’ve barely used my tent and since the weather out here is so perfect right now, I want to go somewhere where I can sleep under the stars. Ok, google maps…

Okay, there is A LOT to do here. I’m thinking I’ll start at Capitol Reef National Park, and then go over to Arches National Park, then down to Canyonlands National Park — that makes the most sense I think, but then Zion National Park is totally in the opposite direction, as is Bryce Canyon National Park, so maybe that doesn’t make sense. Bear with me…

Okay, this is better: Zion National Park (long bus ride from Salt Lake City, I think) to Bryce Canyon to Canyonlands and then to Arches and I’ll skip Capitol Reef.

Okay cool, I’m going to Zion tomorrow!

Wow, was just browsing and see that you can ride a bobsled at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. And I’m kinda interested in visiting the Historic Temple Square here in Salt Lake. Maybe I should stay in SLC for a few days?

Why am I starting to stress out over this? What happened to relaxed Tim who didn’t give a damn about planning. I need to sign off and go to bed. In the morning, wherever and whenever I’m in the mood to go to, I’ll go.


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Back on the road (or air, this time)!

OK, so I like New Jersey, but not THAT much. There’s only so much sitting around and watching TV and only so much Monmouth Mall I can take. Moving to NYC soonish so don’t really feel the need to hang out there now. So, I spoke to Granny a few days ago and she said I should come back down to Florida to hang out with her, but this time to her Miami condo (Granny did very well for herself as a young woman, as she likes to remind her grandchildren often). I found an amazing ticket on JetBlue and I’m off tomorrow! Knowing Granny, I’m sure it’ll be more malls and aquariums, but I’d say hands down that Palm Beach or South Beach beat the Great Egg Harbor River any day, sentiment included (ha, I won’t go into that…).

Meanwhile I have a friend nannying for a month at Fort Myers Beach, so I’ve already gotten permission to take Granny’s car and road trip across the peninsula to stay with her for a few days.

OK, just have to head to Monmouth Mall one more time for a new pair of flip-flops. Will update you on my travel whereabouts in a few days!

Getting in touch with my inner Cowboy

Yeehaw!
It was my goal to become head wrangler and I am proud to announce that I have achieved that title. After much persistence and insistence (begging, really), I came out on top!

Mike: Tim, you may not be head wrangler without years of experience.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: No. Stop bothering me.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: If I let you accompany the head wrangler for a day will you shut up and leave me alone?
Tim: Yes.
Mike: Fine. Shut up and leave me alone.

And THAT’S how I became head wrangler!

Meanwhile, I’ve spent most of the last 2 weeks feeding pigs, washing dishes, and pretending to be important, but I’ve also taken a few excursions from the ranch. Last week I went to Eagle Ranch where I went on a guided tour of how pistachio nuts are grown and processed—and anyone who knows me knows that I was totally in my element. Combine ranches and pistachios and you’ve got one happy guy.

There’s a genre of museums that I didn’t know about til now and because of my recent ranch escapades, I’ve got a newfound appreciation for: the ranch museum. I went to the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum as well as the Ghost Ranch Living Museum. There are a bunch more though, that either highlight the history of ranch life or are museums of local arts and crafts work that’s housed in a ranch. The Spring River Park and Zoo I hear is good too—there’s a ranch there with Texas longhorns (my new best friends) on display.

The culture out here is so rich and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. I seriously keep thinking of my cubicle…

It’s not like the east coast doesn’t have a rich history and culture of its own, but somehow, now, after being out here in the wild west, it just seems so bland. Almost European in nature compared to out here on rich American soil.

Dude, I was born to live on a dude ranch. Maybe I’ll stay here forever…

Evolving into a nomad chick…

My friend Robert told me that the Portland Japanese Garden is not to be missed, so I’ll add that to my itinerary. He’s offered to take me through Smith Rock State Park since he lives nearby.

Also, I’m thinking that I should rent a car to drive up to Oregon and then fly back to Phoenix, otherwise it’s just too many hours driving by myself. Speaking of which, I’ve been doing some research on women traveling alone. First of all, I’m reading Women’s Travel Writing 2008, which seriously makes me laugh and cry on every page—I’m so easily moved it’s ridiculous.

Found a great site with advice for solo women travelers — maybe i just like the ring of it, nomad chick—could that be me?

Musings and Travels

Greetings from the open road! We finished up last week in West Virginia, chilling in the countryside with some beautiful people. Sometimes all you need is to be around the right people in the right place and things just seem to fall into place. Not that things were bad before, but somehow I feel like the air around me has cleared. Like I breathed in some special aura that decluttered my thoughts and realigned my chi and completely centered myself. I can breathe easier—and isn’t that why I headed out on this trip? City anxieties were just getting me down, weighing me down.

Earlier this week we were in Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore which was beautiful. We camped out 4 nights in a row, 3 in the park and once at a campground we found along the highway on our drive up to Indiana.

We’re actually in Chicago now (I know I keep complaining about big city life, and yet, I can’t pull myself away!). We’re really just here to refuel and restock (not that I’m defensive or anything…). We already went to The Plaza Shopping Center in Evergreen b/c I needed a new watch and Ryan needed new pants (haha—I’m laughing thinking about it. When we went white water rafting, he jumped out screaming “watch this corkscrew” but all I heard was “watch this – ” b/c then he splashed so hard into the water and when he popped up, his pants must’ve gotten stuck on a rock and ripped all the way down his leg. He’s been wearing them for the last week with a makeshift sewing job (done by me!) and he looks ridiculous.).

Tomorrow we’re going to the Museum of Contemporary Art and then we’re gonna get back on the road for a loooong time and go to Lake Maria State Park where we’re finally going to see Aly, Tess, and Greenie (more Rainbow friends)! They don’t have internet and since we’ll be staying with them for a week or so, you may not hear from me for a while…

Wait I was about to sign off, but I just want to say that things with Ryan are going so so well. Not that I was worried at all, but I know that other people were, saying things like, “Once you travel with someone you learn all about their dark side” or something like that, so either Ryan just doesn’t have a dark side or he’s doing a damn good job at hiding it from me. Obviously he’s got one, but it’s nothing I can’t handle!


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Alive and Safe and maybe never going whitewater rafting again!

I seriously posted that last post and before I signed off (like a minute later) I already had an email from my mom telling me that I’d better be safe and email or call her when I get back. (Mom, PLEASE don’t sit by the computer all day waiting for me to write…..seriously, aren’t you supposed to be working??)

And so, here is just a very short post for all my dear readers: rest assured, I am safe. New River Gorge National River (didn’t swallow me up as I thought it would). Though I think rafting just may not be my thing.

First of all, the rapids weren’t even so bad (supposedly). I think they were a level 3 or something, which are “wimpy” rapids. We had a simulated “flip over” as soon as we got in the boat, and even that left me screaming and splashing around for dear life—mind you, we were in 2 foot deep water.

But MAN, I have never seen such peer pressure. The other people in the boat FORCED me to stay on the boat, saying that I’d be ok and that we “probably” wouldn’t flip over anyways. And they were right, kinda. No one flipped over…but me…three times! But, as goddess is my witness (that’s for you mom, I know how much you love that), I would not allow that frothy, glistening water to win our raging battle. And so each time I fought, and each time I came out on top, stronger than the last time.

By the time we got to the last rapid, people were actually laughing so hard and not focusing on the rapids at all, that our whole raft capsized throwing us all into the calm of a patch of river that was just near a truck that was waiting to load us up and take us home.

Ryan says I’m a good sport. Or sportess—he’s making fun of me.

It should not go unmentioned, however, that my brush with death was nearly worth it due to the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us. A little before and little after, we hiked through the area and I really took the most amazing pictures of cascading waterfalls flowing off of sandstone cliffs.

And then I remember that this is why I needed to get out of the city. To try new things and to experience the divinity of nature. And that is what I found here—that is what I keep finding.

Even this house that we’re staying at. They have acres of land and children and animals who all seem so happy and at peace with their surroundings. They open their home to travelers and allow them to taste from sweetness of their lives. This is family. This is something great.
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City Slicker par excellance

This is seriously the life. I don’t believe that just a few months ago I was in NY trapped in my cubicle for 9 hours a day wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life. Just last night I was in some bar in the middle of nowhere drunk off my ass and singing my lungs out at a karaoke bar—doesn’t sound like the Tim you know? Yeah, me neither.

So want to know where THIS cool guy is as we speak? On a dude ranch in New Mexico. I got my cowboy hat and I smell like shit and I just gorged on a ranch BBQ and now I can’t move. This is truly the beginning of a beautiful life. I’m staying here till they kick me out.

Meanwhile, just to track where I was that brought me here: I was in Albuquerque where I met some guys at this youth hostel who were on their way to this place. I spent a few more days chillin’ in the ‘querq (that doesn’t work, does it?) and now I’ve met up with them at this ranch.

There’s standard backpacker lingo around here. The greeting: Where have you been and where are you going? And the response: I was here. I am going there. Do you want to come? It’s a beautiful world we live in outside the constraints of the 2×4 cubicle.

Before making it down to the ranch, I made a stop at White Sands National Monument which is near the Tularosa Basin. I walked for about 5 miles through magnificent dunes and then went dune sledding (on a toboggan that I borrowed from a 6 year old girl, which was very nice of her). Apparently White Sands is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. I’ve got great pictures that I’ll upload when I’ve got a faster internet connection. I actually just missed the Annual Bataan Memorial Death March, which is something that the Air Force organizes every year to honor the thousands of people who died during a forced march of 60 miles led by Japanese soldiers during World War II. It would’ve been cool to be a part of that…maybe next year. There’s an exhibit now in the Philippines called “The Zen of White Sands” about one man’s experience here. You can see some of his pictures online. I was there!

I plan on picking up some city slicker skills while I’m here. I’d like to deliver a baby calf (remember that?) and learn to chew tobacco. There’re actually going to put me to work here, otherwise I’m just a “tourist” and then I have to pay more.
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