A New Friend

I can’t really claim credit for this idea, but I’m excited to share my take on it here. One of the things that gets me down when I travel is there aren’t many pictures of myself. That’s not horrible. How many pictures of me do I really need? But I also travel alone, so taking pictures of myself means they pretty much have to be staged somehow. I have to set up a tripod, figure out the timer, all that stuff. Never mind that I don’t get to take pictures of anyone else.

I have a week off and I’m planning on doing a little bit of local traveling so all these thoughts have come to the forefront again. It’s easy to get down about it. Someone recently shared with me this website: http://www.postcardsfromgoat.com. I thought it was a super cute idea. It’s kind of like that thing where people put a URL on dollar bills and people log in and track them. I liked it because it was a cute stuffed animal, and people were treating it as though it was going on these adventures with them.

So I thought about it and tried to think of what I might like to do that was similar. I wanted to get a cute stuffed animal that I could take with me on my travels and take pictures of. While I’ve always been very fond of my stuffed toys, and felt they should have meaning, I didn’t know where I could get one I wanted locally, so I found one online.

It’s a koala. I think I’m going to call him Kip. He’s very soft, and adorable to the max. I hope we have many fun adventures together. While he’s not a person, I think it’s a very good substitute.

IMG_0360

 

Me & Kip

Me & Kip

Ready to Roll

Sometimes I think I’m an idiot. I get all anxious about things and forget that I’m actually really smart, and can really problem solve if I want to. So I have my new (used) car and I think I’ve finally put it through all its shakedown cruises. I know it’s quirks. I’m confident in driving it. So I can take it on a little road trip, right? Oops, shouldn’t have thought of that. Here are some doubts, fears and things to be anxious about. Traveling alone. What if something goes wrong? Fears fears fears worries fears worries…

Or…or I could use the fleshy thing inside my skull to help mitigate those concerns. That’s what I decided to do today. I ended up spending a pretty substantial amount of money, but in the grander scheme of things, it had to be done. If it helps me do the things I want to do in life, then it’s worth every penny.

Actually, I had started this process when I first brought my car home. I decided that I drive a lot and with two cars now, AAA is probably well worth the money. I think it was like $80 for a year of roadside assistance and up to 200 miles of towing. Done. That’s a no brainer in my opinion. But then I stopped. As though AAA would solve all of my concerns. It helped with the big ones, but I was still worried.

Today I put together the beginnings of a kit for my car that basically just makes me feel better. There are still some things I want to add, but all the stuff I got represented a pretty substantial chunk of change, so I’ll add in other things as I can. Anyway, here’s the spread:

spread

I’ll do a rundown of everything I got, rough costs and why I got it. From top to bottom:

  • 1 quart Castrol GTX 10W-30 motor oil ($6.50): Look, my car is 25 years old. It burns oil at some rate. Unless it’s hemorrhaging oil so badly that I need a tow, a quart of the good stuff gives me peace of mind.
  • 8-Gauge Booster Cables ($24): To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised I didn’t already have a set of these. I got the nice 8-Gauge ones even though they were about $10 more because why not?
  • Hydrogen Peroxide ($1.50): Tried and true.
  • Bactine ($8.30): The stuff you didn’t want mom to spray on your scrapes as a kid. Between this and the hydrogen peroxide, I feel confident that any minor scrapes or injuries will be no problem.
  • Shop Gloves ($17): Have you ever tried to work on a car with bare hands? It’s a pain in the ass. Worse if you’re near part of the engine that’s warm or hot. Save the bactine and hydrogen peroxide for injuries that can’t be avoided.
  • 50FT Nylon Braided Rope ($7): Rope is one of those things that’s really versatile for its cost. Just a silly thing NOT to have.
  • Mini-can of WD-40 ($3): I’d rank WD-40 right underneath duct tape in the list of handy tools to have. On an older car that has a lot of seized or rusted bolts/parts, WD-40 is going to be the difference between cursing for 2 hours and sitting and waiting for 2 hours.
  • First-Aid Kit ($14): Normally I don’t like pre-packaged first-aid kits because you don’t know what’s in them, or what the quality is, but this was pretty cheap, had some things I didn’t want to buy separately and just seemed like a nice addition to my kit. It includes:
    • (2) Butterfly bandages
    • (1) Medical tape 1/2″ x 10 yards
    • (3) Knuckle Bandages
    • (5) 1 x 3″ Bandages
    • (1) Conforming Gauze
    • (2) Sterile gauze dressing
    • (3) Antiseptic towelettes
    • (2) Triple antibiotic ointment
    • (2) 200mg ibuprofen tablets
    • (2) 25mg diphenhydramine tablets
    • (2) Anti-Bite sting/itch relief
    • (11) Moleskin blister patches
    • (2) Alcohol swabs
    • (1) Splinter picker / tick removal forceps
    • (3) Safety pins
  • Stoke Firestarting Kit ($11): I’ve always kept a box of matches in the car. I was actually going to buy a tube of the weatherproof matches for my kit here, but saw this and thought it was a better option. It’s a waterproof steel tube with a flint striker, several pieces of flint and tinder. Why do I prefer this? Because even if all of it got soaked the flint striker will still create a good spark. I tried it out with a cotton ball just to see how easy it was. Answer? Extremely easy.
  • Emergency Poncho ($2): Silly thing to not have. Small, cheap, easy and the difference between being wet and unhappy and dry and much better.
  • USB Car Charger ($13): These things are so cheap nowadays. With cellphones that have batteries that don’t last very long, it helps that while you’re car is running, you know your phone is topped off. I actually use this exact same one with my PV power station. It works great and has 1.5 amp and 2.1 amp ports for phones and tablets respectively.
  • Heavy Duty Weatherproof Duct Tape ($10): Don’t cheap out on this. Don’t get the imitation ones. Get the brand name 3M stuff.
  • Roll of Gauze 2″ x 2.5 yards ($3): Cheap thing to have that has many uses. This stuff works great on larger scrapes where a band-aid won’t do.
  • Antibiotic Band-Aids ($4): Self explanatory.
  • LED Flashlight ($24): Very bright. Weatherproof. Drop/shock proof. Two brightness settings. 1 AA alkaline battery. LED bulbs don’t burn out. They’re much brighter. Make sure you get a flashlight that takes alkaline batteries (the fewer the better). Why? Because you can store alkalines for a long time. They’re cheaper and easier to find than lithium which some fancy flashlights take. A Maglight is probably also a good choice here, but I don’t know if they have LED versions. I love my mini-mag, but the xenon bulbs it uses burn out too often.

So is this kit complete? Not quite. I’m very satisfied with what I have here, and would feel safe going out with it. Some things that I’d probably also just throw in the trunk would be my ratchet set and a towel. For the kit, I’d also like to have a nice leatherman multi-tool. I didn’t see any that I liked at the camping store today, so I’ll probably look online. I’m also going to look into some kind of non-perishable food to keep in the kit. I’ve heard almonds are good for that. If I wanted to be super prepared, I guess I could get some MRE-style pre-packaged storable meals. I’m also going to get another pack of bungee cords. I have some in my primary car that I got before a camping trip some years ago. They are way more useful than I initially thought! I’m not sure but I might also get a second crow bar as well. I bought one for my Subaru last winter because I had to have some way of knocking the ice off from the wheel wells. Best. Purchase. Ever.

I’d also really like to have some kind of water purification system available to me. They had so many options at the camping store, but that’s out of my realm of expertise. My brother is a pretty serious wilderness/backwoods person, and I know he’s done water purification things before, so I’m going to ask him about it.

Longer term things to think about? I really would like to get a gun. It’s something I’ve thought about for a really long time. I don’t want anything insane, basically one step above a BB gun would be preferable. I’m very partial to the Walther PPK .22LR. One thing people don’t realize is that guns are loud. Sometimes just shooting one can be enough to scare away a bear or moose or whatever. Obviously there’s a lot more involved in getting a gun, and I’d need to learn to shoot it, but I’m pretty sure it’s something I want to do.

Change

It’s really time to make a change. This year can be my year if I choose to make it so. Things have just been headed downward for so, so long, I want that to end. I want to make it end.

What I’ve been doing for so many years is no way for anyone to live their life. I can do better and I owe it to myself to do better. No more waiting around. No more expecting things that aren’t in my cards. No more tears mopped up by my pillow. Frankly, things can’t continue that way. One way or another, that stuff will stop.

I Love Turbos

I wish there was some way to get a good audio recording of the turbo in my car spooling up. There’s a section of road on the way back to my house from town where the speed limit goes from 40 to 50 and there’s about a 3/4 mile hill. At the beginning of the hill on the right side of the road is a guardrail that does a pretty good job of reflecting some of the sound back to me when I’m driving. It’s really great because I can approach the hill going about 40mph and be at a pretty comfortable rev range for 4th gear. 45mph is actually a good place to move to 5th gear, but with the hill staying in 4th will give you the most power. Anyway, I can’t even describe how awesome it sounds when you’re at the bottom of that hill in 4th gear, turning between 2500 and 3000 revs and you just lay into it. The turbo spools up pretty fast from that rev range and you can hear everything being reflected off the guardrail. There’s a tiny bit of whine, bust mostly it’s a whooshing sound. Agh! It’s so great! It makes super light work of climbing that hill too. In my big Subaru, the hill isn’t a problem if I make a run at it, but it’s an eco automatic transmission, so it really fights you on delivering more revs. For my daily driver, I love it, but it’s not very fun.

I actually find that while you can get into boost at almost any speed, and in any gear, it’s most fun in 4th. It’s where you can feel it the most and once you pick up some speed you’ve got the option to hop into 5th and keep going. I’ve also been on straights cruising at 50-55 in 5th gear, so again, turning around 2500-3000 revs and laid into it. The turbo still spins up and you do get boost, but it’s just not as fun. I think it’s because at that point, you’re already topping out how fast you can/should be going in a car like that, especially if you’re not on a highway. Seriously, it took me by surprise the first few times. You’re doing 50, lay into it, and bam! Now you’re doing 80 before you even notice. The acceleration in 4th is similar, but at least by the time you finish you’re only doing 65 or something.

Boy, it’s just so much fun. I love the sound, and the feeling, and the lightness of the car. It’s a very road-connected driving experience I’ve never had before. Handling is pretty good. The suspension is tight, but the balance of the car doesn’t feel quite right. It’s hard to say for sure though since I haven’t taken it on any good driving roads yet. There are a few corners on my way to work that I can work through and in those cases, I did feel it was a bit front-end heavy. That’s to be expected in a FWD car, though it didn’t really fight me and it did track the line I wanted it to.

Anyway, hopefully lots more experiences and fun awaits.

Had to Share This

So I’ve come across a relatively short series of videos from a young woman roughly my age from a few years ago on youtube. Everything she says resonates with me like a gong. It’s almost hard for me to watch. I was actually listening to this one today while at work and it almost put me to tears:

Station Thirty Transfer

There’s a certain long-helf belief that I’ve had about myself. It definitely solidified as I progressed through high school (ages 13-17) but I kind of suspect it was kicking around in more subconscious levels for years before that. I’m not the kind of person who believes in fate, or being able to tell the future, or anything like that, but this belief was always kind of strange.

In high school among friends, I remember that I started to verbally articulate this belief. It was kind of morbid, so I talked about it the only way I could…with humor. I would always tell friends, “yeah, I don’t really expect to live past 30.” I’d laugh, and they’d laugh, I was just being silly. Live fast, die young, right? That was hardly the image I portrayed. I was a bland, never rock the boat, milquetoast kind of person. It was funny that I’d describe this future where I essentially chose not to bother living past 30.

Friends occasionally joined in on it and it became kind of a running gag. There were even wild predictions about my demise, usually revolving around taking too much acid and having a brain aneurism after listening to too much Pink Floyd. Though I was very into psychedelic rock at the time (still am) I never did drugs or anything like that. I’m sure no one ever really thought anything of it. It was a “gag” because it couldn’t possibly be true, or so it seemed.

Little did anyone else know, and little did even I realize, it was more than just a running gag. Something deep inside kept telling me that 30 was like this wall beyond which was nothing. It was like if my life continued on the path it was already on, there would be no point going beyond that. It was like everything was focusing down narrower and narrower until hitting some kind of singularity.

Fast forward to college and beyond, and no longer did I have friends with whom to “joke” about this belief, but it was still there. Only now it had morphed into something different, and more malicious. It was as though the path had already begun to narrow, and like a turbocharger forcing air into an engine, depression surged and started to push everything to redline. All the while I never forgot. 30. It would manifest in different ways when combined with depression, “If I can’t turn things around by then…that’s it, game over. I can’t live like that.” The once amorphous event horizon appeared to be more and more clearly an endpoint.

Everything about my life felt wrong. Even the most incompetent people I’d ever met seemed to be shoved inexorably forward by some invisible force. Sure it wasn’t a straight path forward, but they were slowly getting there. I wasn’t. I looked around desperately to find others like me, and found no one. It started to become easy to convince myself I didn’t belong at all, and I wasn’t meant for the world (or maybe it wasn’t meant for me?). I was genuinely resentful of my parents for bringing me into it. No matter how much they insist that I’m fine, and I’m not that different, it’s not true. I know something’s not right. I’ve always known something’s not right. I can feel it all around me. It honestly got to the point where even I was willing to help make it the end. I’m nearly 27 now, so time is getting short. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.

–Present Day–

So it’s with that lens that I look upon the events occurring in my life right now. Events no psychic could’ve predicted. Events I would never have believed if I myself time travelled back to 15 year old me and told me these things. Nevertheless, it appears I had been right for all those years; 30 was an endpoint. What I hadn’t been right about, and what I couldn’t have possibly foreseen, was that this wasn’t a total endpoint. It was the end of an era. That train’s line ended, yes, but I could get off and get onto a new train, a better train, a train that would let me actualize myself to my full potential and happiness. Maybe I had to get close enough to see another train waiting at the upcoming station.

All I know for sure is that train is there. It’s waiting for me. All I have to do is get on it. This train I’m on? It does end at that station. That’s all there is to it. There’s a barricade, the tracks end…it can’t go any farther.

I don’t believe that little coincidences are all that significant, but when I see something like this in my life…this long-held belief of mine intersecting so elegantly with present day events, well, I have to take notice. Things that line up like this on such a grand scale can’t be ignored. They shouldn’t be ignored. I won’t ignore them. I’m ready to transfer.


My parents don’t read or know about this blog, but if I could tell them something about all this, it would be to please just believe me. Please believe me that I’ve always known the train I was on wasn’t right. I’ve tried to tell you for years but couldn’t articulate it well enough. It always came out as “I’m not right.” I understand there wasn’t much you could do about that. When your kid says they “aren’t right” what are you supposed to do? Pretty much what you did. Consoled me. Told me I was fine. Told me I was different, but would somehow become the same as others one day.

All the social anxiety that has never gone away. The self-mutilation that still occurs to this day, and that you never cease to chide me about. The utter relationship ineptitude that I know you’ll say is fine, but I know it’s not fine. The inexplicable anger and frustrated outbursts as a child. All those things are manifestations of my inner disharmony. My “not being right.”

I’d love it if I could tell you that I know now what my disharmony is. That I’ve seen a future beyond the upcoming station and just imagining it has made me happier than I’ve ever been. I wish I could tell you those things and you’d just believe me. Believe me and tell me that you trust and love me. I wish you could understand that your son can’t continue past that station, but your daughter can.

 

Power

It’s summer-like despite only being early May here, and with good sun for days, I’m running off solar pretty comfortably. Tonight I’ve got my lamp, fan and laptop all running at once. Amazing that I’ve been able to cobble all this together and use it so nonchalantly. It’s pretty great to be using all this stuff and not be plugged into anything but my power station. And it’s not even that big!

Pictures

I really don’t have many pictures of myself, and virtually none that I like. It’s been this way for years. I also never really got into the whole selfie culture. That’s what tripods and timers are for. My mom always came down on me saying how much she liked pictures of me and that I was just being silly for dismissing them. I’m sure she wishes there were more pictures of me.

I don’t like mirrors either. I just never really liked myself I guess. That’s part of something that I’m really trying to change. I want to be me and be happy about that. I didn’t even know that was a thing actually. Being yourself and being happy about it? Wow…what a novel idea! It’s definitely a foreign concept, or at the very least, not something that comes to me naturally. That was the past though. I understand that how I’ve been isn’t what most people experience. That would be fine if it wasn’t also causing me so much distress.

I had an idea over the weekend though. Maybe I could hire someone (a professional photographer maybe?) to take some pictures of me with my car. My prediction of the outcome would be that although the pictures themselves would probably be very good, I’d still hate the person I saw in them. So I’m wondering what comes first here. Should I take the pictures now and hope that because they’re of me with something I love and am proud of that I’ll grow to be ok with myself in them? Or should I wait until I’m truly happy with who I am and how I look?

Deep down I have a sense that nothing would make me happier than having pictures of the real me with my car. Hadley the real me. Smiling a genuine smile. Genuinely proud of who she is, what she’s done and where she’s going. Oh I can almost feel it.