Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last day of 2014

Last day of 2014 but technically it's just another day that will bleed seamlessly into tomorrow as if days and weeks and years didn't matter.

For me it has been a year of vast changes that started off slowly and accelerated into September.  The slow changes revolved around getting rid of pretty much all of my belongings.  I tried to be serious about it, but I was lazy getting going on it.  A friend in Scotland and I talked about me coming over, and he kept chiding me that I had to get rid of the piano.  What I thought would be my 3 most difficult things (not for sentiment but for trouble) to get rid of were the car, the piano, and all the baking equipment/supplies.  The car died by itself in July, and I simply had a tow company come and take it away, and they even paid me for it.  The piano was next, and it was free, and a woman paid a professional mover to come get it.  The baking equipment sold at the last minute because I made an offer that the buyer couldn't refuse.  It just had to go.  Everything else was pretty easy to get rid of.  I either made lots of hauls of stuff on the bike or I borrowed a friend's car for a couple of trips to the thrift store.

And then it was down to leaving for Scotland on October 1 in a trip that right up to Heathrow seemed perfect - even getting bumped up to business class.  And then God shut the door at customs and I was hurled back to Los Angeles on the next available flight.  So many dreams shattered.  I was crushed, gutted.  But God had a very soft landing for me back here.  I stayed for 2 weeks with my friend, Jeanette, and then I packed all my bike gear and began what I thought would be a ride across the USA.  2 days into the ride, arriving at a friend's house about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, however, I was offered an apartment for free through Feb. 2015.  No rent, no utilities.  I had to share it with the two cats that lived there, but they are Siamese and I'm not allergic, and i was more than grateful.  Of course, I had nothing but what was on the bike.  Gifts from the landlady, Gail, and her family, started pouring in.  Clothing, food, bedding.  Everything I needed was provided, including a little extra cash for odd jobs around the complex.  Gail's caveat:  just rest and recover.

I did rest and recover.  I shifted my entire life for a dream that was shattered, and I had an extremely soft landing of love and support.  I was able to finish a book I was writing and start another one with even more books of various subjects in mind.  Because besides being a cyclist, I am a writer.

Sometimes the pressures of life get to be overwhelming.  So much so that I couldn't write.  I couldn't write for years, and I knew from the time I was 13 that I was a writer.  I even have a MFA in screenwriting.  I think I have a PhD in depression, however.  Sometimes I have been overwhelmed by feelings that nothing was ever going to get better or change.

Getting rid of the trappings of daily life helped a lot.  Giving up everything helped a lot.  Having a new goal of bicycle touring  and freedom meant everything.  I know I was born to do more than just pay the bills and die, and when you're in a dead-end job with no future, you lose your hope.  It isn't as if I could say, "Oh, I'll just go get another job."  No, they're all dead-end to me at this point.  Mostly they are just dead... just a means to pay the never-ending same bills for which there will never be any ownership.  That's a living, but it's not a life.  I needed life, and all I'd had were years of living... and many years of just living at subsistence level.

I am not ashamed to be poor.  I am the financially poorest one of my siblings, but I have nothing to prove to anyone.  I have had some incredible adventures in my life, incredible times of God's provision.  Christmas time comes, however, and they want to pitch in for a more expensive gift for my parents, and I say that I need to just do my own thing at my rate.

Well, tomorrow, Jan. 1, training begins again.  Back on the bike.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bike Mojo

All my bike stuff is off the in waiting.  All the Ortlieb panniers are mostly empty but not entirely.

In the handlebar pannier I have a small ziplock baggie with little bits of mojo in it.  Now, I don't really believe in mojo per se, but let's just call them little bits of sentiment.  Mostly small notes of encouragement from friends and supporters.  Then there are the theater tickets - from seeing the Nation Theater version of Frankenstein to seeing The Imitation Game last night.  And there's also a picture of my family that I cut out of my parents' 2014 Christmas letter.  It's a picture taken from their 60th wedding anniversary this past June.  Marty Bear isn't mounted on the bike at the moment, but he's another piece of bike mojo, and that's really it for the mojo.

I tried to explain to a friend yesterday that my journey is not just a trip across the USA.  I am not bound anymore by a job or an apartment.  I am not bound by the bills others pay.  I am not tied to possessions in a storage unit.  No, I gave almost everything away.  What else I have is stored privately.

I can start and stop my journey as often as I want.  If I need to stop and work for a bit, I can do that.  If I need to move on, I can do that.  I can go where I want, when I want.  I can see what I want.  I don't have to be anywhere.  I am not on anyone's timetable.

My only timetable is right now... that I have through Feb. 28, 2015 to stay here.  If I am to stay here longer, God will need to open a door for that to happen.  Right now I'm not seeing any leads for that.  I am, however, among dearest friends, and I would hate to leave them.

Friday, December 19, 2014

2 months of rest

I have now been in this apartment for two months, and it has been almost three months since my entrance into Britain was rejected.  I should have something profound to say, but I don't.

I do know that God is giving me rest, but I also know that I am still planning on being back on the road by March 1 unless God brings something completely drastic into my life that would compel me to change plans. Right now I have no indication of that.

Britain is a lost place of my past - a prenatal existence. I was
born a few months after my parents returned to the USA in 1959.
I try not to think of Britain.  Perhaps it because I feel the burn and scarring of the experience still, and my hunger to be there is not nearly as great as it was.  I'm still a little shell-shocked from customs at Heathrow.  Yet I know that someday I'd still like to see Britain from the seat of a bicycle.

I know there are people who think I was absolutely foolish to give up my apartment and my job and car to set out on a bike adventure.  Basically homeless.  But I was living a life of not living.  I was existing.  Existing from one bill to the next.  Nothing ever changing.  Nothing ever getting better.  Now I have broken free of that dead-end cycle.  I am in a place of God's complete grace and rest, and it's not the first time God has put me in a place of rest.  The first time was in 1985.  I was twenty-five years old, just out of university with no job prospects having had an extreme roller coaster ride of stress in the spring of 1985 (upcoming graduation with no job prospects, senior recital (voice), and the other lovely little thing of thinking I might be pregnant (I wasn't)).  I had had a job in the town where I lived and went to university, but that was not a job to have (fast food) after graduation.  No, no.  I had student loans to pay.

I don't remember what day I graduated university with a triple major in music performance (voice), History and English, but it was in May 1985.  I moved out of my little apartment in Pueblo, Colorado, and back in with my parents in Colorado Springs.  Of course, it was meant to be temporary until I found a job and could save up enough to move out.  But I couldn't find a job... a job that would pay enough for an apartment and all associated bills plus my student loans.  It was quite a low point for me.

Then in late June I got a call from a life-long friend, Karen Magistrelli.  I had known Karen since 1971 when she was a girls' camp counselor at a Christian youth camp and I was a little camper.  I got an invite to her 1972 wedding, and despite our age difference, we have been best friends since then, and she saw me through many difficult, angst-filled teenage years. I have seen her raise her children and now have a quiver of grandchildren, and we are still best friends after 43 years.  But she called me because that same camp where I had been a camper was needing a cook.  I didn't have anything else happening, and all the R&B was covered, so I went up... and I didn't leave for 50 months.  Yes, I became full-time, year-round staff at Eagle Lake Camp, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains above Colorado Springs.  Elevation; 9,500 feet.  In the summers the camp swelled with staff, counselors and kids, but in the rest of the year there was only a skeleton crew.  No room and board costs.  No utilities.  No phone bill.  And I still got paid.  It wasn't much, but i could pay for the student loans.  During the quiet months I felt my heart and life begin to heal... and I found the strength to forgive myself.  I knew God had forgiven me, that I was cleansed by the blood of the cross, but I couldn't forgive myself.  God had to speak very gently to my heart that His judgment was the only judgment, and for me to not be forgiving myself was to place my judgment above His, making my authority higher than His.  I had to let go of my own unforgiveness of myself.  God gave me just over four years of rest there.  He healed my broken spirit and gave me new vision... a vision for screenwriting, and my efforts paid off with my acceptance into master's program at The American Film Institute in Los Angeles in 1989.  I graduated in 1991 with a MFA in screenwriting.

So right now I am in another place of rest, and I will be here until Feb 28, 2015 unless something else happens.  I should also mention that I had brief places of rest in the summers of 1981 and 1982.  In 1981 I got a job at a different kind of Christian youth camp in Manitou Springs, CO.  I would say it was more of 2 weeks of intensive schooling for the kids.  This was Summit Ministries.  Room and board + pay.  Then in 1982 I went up to Cripple Creek, CO, a former silver mining town (elevation 10,500 feet), and worked as a cocktail waitress in the old melodrama theater at The Imperial Hotel.  R&B+ salary again provided.

Right now I feel a little disconnected with the bike.  Mostly I feel it is unsafe to ride around here.  Unsafe, that is, to ride in the main city streets.  I'm not really used to riding in traffic like is required around here.  I know people do it all the time, but I don't like it.  The good thing is, my foot is pretty much healed up.  I'm not limping anymore and that's good.  It's nice to get out of bed in the morning without hobbling to the bathroom. When my landlady took me to the shoe store and bought me new shoes a few weeks ago, I was still in a lot of foot pain.  It didn't matter what shoe I wore, I was hurting.  Now I can once again be on my feet for a normal amount of time without limping off at the end. I think the old scar tissue from lots of ankle injuries just gets strained and pulled now and then, and scar tissue is not as forgiving as normal tissue.  A few times I even soaked my foot in basically scalding water just to force as much heat into the area as possible.  I think I will also temporarily lower the seat on my bike a little.

I have been making lots of English Toffee in the past couple of weeks.  None of it has been for me.  Now I need to make some for me (2 batches) and I still have 3 batches more to make for the landlady.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Give it a Try. Whispered the Heart.

Today is one of those days which is not a great day.  Woke up with a horrendous back ache.  Sometimes it happens from sleeping on the lilo, which means I probably need to add more air to it because it's not hard enough.  One does occasionally need to add air to keep it firm.

Then there have been the tears. It's hormonal, but even so, on this day my dreams and hopes seem further from me than ever, and one dream in particular seems so far away.  It is a dream I cannot ever discuss in public due to it's proprietary nature.  And the tears come to my eyes when I think of it and how far away it seems, an impossible goal.  And then the doubts and self-defeatist thoughts wash through my soul with their sharp, painful edges to injure and scar me and reopen old wounds that never seem to heal.  This is one of those days when my soul feels the piercings and woundings.

And yet I sit in a place of complete basic provisions of living.  But I want a life, and that is something that always seems just out of reach.  Perhaps that's why becoming a touring cyclist means so much to me... because it's about finding life.  A life unfettered.  A life of exploration of new possibilities.

I had a hard time when I first arrived here because I was so anemic, so tired all the time and still perhaps recovering from the shock of dreams shattered.  Today I feel that shock anew.  I'm a bit put off by foreign travel now because I would be absolutely mortified if I ever had to go through customs detention like that again. I would just be permanently put off forever by foreign travel. Zing! Another self-defeatist shard just carved a chasm through my heart.

 I have started a new Sherlock book, but it's not really taken off yet for me although I know approximately what I want to do with it.  It will build on the foundation I have already established and is a sequel of sorts, but not of the mystery in the first one.