Monday, December 31, 2012

A story to end the year...

After staying up late last night dancing to Flip Cassidy, and my boyfriend getting hit on by a barely legal girl, we hit the hot springs, just before the sun rose. We picked up Kevin, the same man that had introduced me to dealing poker at the Oasis the day before. He offered me a joint in gratitude of the ride. When we all were settled in the hot spring Kevin went to telling the best of the best stories from his life. One such story goes as follows:

In a state I will keep secret for purposes of protecting the guilty, our main character Kevin was told to go so see Johnny, the head of a local mafia bar. Upon entering the bar he noticed two guys leave their watered down whiskeys and conversation with the bartender to confront him, the stranger in the bar. As soon as they were up and yelling, two other men came from the other side of the bar and formed a circle around the adolescent. Kevin, seventeen years old at the time and quite aware of his surroundings, knew that if he held his ground, these very intimidating individuals would stop and he'd get by to see Johnny.

After being threatened with getting beat up and killed, Johnny entered from a back room. “What do you want kid?” he said matter of factly. “I'm here to see you Johnny. I was told you wanted to see me.” Johnny made a big uproar, swore at him then went in the back room, slammed the door and disappeared. Three minutes later he reappeared with these instructions. He said “go to the bar across town. Ask for the owner and demand him to give you his name. Once he gives you his name, he will give you a package. Take the package to the bar across the street from his bar. Tell him Johnny sent you and then you will come back here and tell me how it went.” “Ok,” Kevin said.

And that's what he did. He went to the first bar where he was confronted harshly and threatened by acts of violence. He yelled for the owner and when he appeared, Kevin said “What is your name?” after quite the commotion, the man gave him his name along with a package. The package was about the size of the bible, wrapped in brown paper with no writing or anything affixed to it. With the package in hand, Kevin did as Johnny said and dropped it at a biker gang owned bar after being threatened as he had been before. In the end he walked back into Johnny's bar, and Johnny asked him “how did it go?” “Fine”, Kevin replied, nonchalantly. To which Johnny asked “did you open the package?” “No”, he said. “Why not?” asked Johnny. Thinking Johnny would expect him to say 'because you told me not to' Kevin instead replied “deniability is the only thing I've got going for me, Johnny.”

After Kevin was done with his long yet very engaging story, I sat and wondered what was in that package. We three, Miles, Kevin, and myself sat in silence for a few moments taking in the magnitude of his tale when abruptly, an old frail man, with one eye struggled, while fully clothed, to shimmy down the clay wall of the hot spring right next to me. “Ahh” he said as he released all tension. Miles, noticing the man was fully dressed, questioned him “Wow, that's brave to get in with all your clothes on,” considering the cold temperature outside the springs, to which the man replied “oh it's ok. I have chronic diarrhea and I just had an accident.” The three of us exited the water promptly. What a way to start almost new year.
On a brighter note, whoever guesses what beverage is in Miles' right hand, will receive a free Slab city sticker. Good luck and happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Doing Xmas Slab Style

Leaving Christmas dinner

Yoga by moonlight
Slab Santa

The dump, everywhere

Water tower

Our nightly news

Pickin' n Slabbin'

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Forgiveness, the end.

Walking Chris's dog Jasper while temporarily stopped in the city Santa Barbara, I made conversation with a gentleman walking the same breed of dog. I shared a few experiences in my camper van, and he recalled memories with his ex-wife and daughter, along the California coast in his van. His happy memories soon turned to bitterness regarding how their relationship ended. I found it interesting that despite the beautiful weather, landscape, and company, internally he was a cluster of resentment and confusion.

I asked him, “If you were happy and free of this relationship, what would you have to do to let go?” Quite quickly he responded, “Forgive myself.” 

Forgiveness, not of his ex, but of himself. He explained his ex's cheating and led it to his cheating. It had been years since it had taken place but he still wore it around like a dog's collar. 

Forgiveness of the self is the only way to internal peace. A common question I've heard is, how can you forgive yourself if you don't even like yourself? Start by liking yourself again. Do something special for yourself and say “(Insert your name here). I'm doing this for you because I'm learning to like you.” That's step one. It is the first step to letting go, healing, and transformation.

And one last thing before I go, what If the world ends tomorrow? What is one thing you can forgive yourself for/ What is one thing you can forgive someone else for?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Balancing rocks

At an overlook outside of Monterey, California, we stopped to take some photos. A conversation with Steve and Judy (sorry if I got your name wrong) ensued about the beauty of the area around us. We discussed Steve's correctional facility job, he recently retired from, where he worked with paranoid schizophrenics. He told about his compassion for the mentally ill, due to growing up with a father who was schizophrenic. I asked him what it was like having a father who could hear the walls speak and believed everyone was out to get him, “oh, I knew he was out there, but I always had a sense of reality. I even found out some of the things, I thought were false, he had actually done."

When Steve was in middle school his father moved the family out to the Mojave desert on 150 acres of land. He told police officers that he was 100% Native American and that it was his land. For 30 years he lived on that land, using an outhouse he made, along with other structures to survive. Authorities eventually found out that he was not, in fact, of native descent and was forced to leave.

On a footnote the reason I met Steve and Judy was because they were checking on a balanced rock structure a man had built the night before at the seashore. The day before had also been their 40th wedding anniversary. They came back to check and see if the structure had remained through the rough winds during the night. It had.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tell me 'bout the good ol' days

After a recent visit home, the song “Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good ol days” keeps creeping into my consciousness. “Sometimes it feels like, this world's gone crazy”. It truly does. Life was simpler. I've found the most honest, forthright, and best advice given by people, statistically speaking, closest to death. I said to my grandma last week, “you're closer to the end of your life than you've ever been, but the most alive,” She is in her 80's, and her list of things to do is going to keep her alive another 10 years, at least. She believes in her strength, in her health and vitality. Her fervor and zest for life is one that is unmatched by even her grandchildren. Honestly.

I have yet to see my grandma siting around idly, waiting for life to happen. She is too busy for that. Too busy moving her body, writing a letter, or making a heartwarming mean for a friend or family member. She attends Bellevue High School reunions every three months for multiple graduating classes from the 1940's. She drives three hours, over a, at times, slippery mountain pass to visit her “older” male companion. He is 88 and is insisting she move in with him. Even though she has told him she doesn't want to move, he isn't getting the point. So last week, in front of his kids, she spoke up for all to hear “My life is here in Western Washington close to my family, if he wants to, we can get a place together here. I will not be a caregiver for him. I have my own life and family that are important to me. I know I may end up resenting him and that is not what I want.” That's why I love my grandma. She tells it like it is. There is no sugar coating it, or beating around the bush.

She would road trip, not for fun like me, but for necessity when moving across the country. In an old Chevrolet station wagon she piled four daughters in a car, with the summer heat offering no relief, and would head from California to Alabama to visit family. In jest my grandma said “I mean who's going to invite a woman with four children over for dinner. Not many, I can tell you that much.” On one such trip my grandma admitted to being quite excited. “I had piled all of us girls in the car and on this day they were particularly bad”. Threatening them she said “if you kids don't behave I'm going to turn this car around and we're going to head home,” to which they replied “good, we didn't want to go anyway”. Her plan backfired until it dawned on her what the punishment was “ok, then we're going”, pleased with the outcome.

My grandma told me about how she loved being surprised from my Papa. My great grandma would make my Papa stay home from school to help her do laundry and chores around the home. The work around the house got in the way of him attaining this high school degree, which bothered my grandpa. After he got married to my grandma in his early 20's, she encouraged him to get his GED because she knew how important completing his education was to him. On Thursday nights he had duty at a military base and on those nights he secretly studied and worked toward getting his GED.  After cooking dinner one night, my grandma lifted up a plate to serve dinner and found the certificate for his GED. Upon seeing the degree, she giggled and squealed with delight in her proud admiration of her husband. She told me how she loved being surprised and the importance of reacting excitedly to keep the guy coming back with surprises.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cast of characters

I received my masters in mental health counseling and opened a practice for a year. I want to help/connect with people, not in an office, but on the road in my van. I am working on my first book about my solo two month road trip around the United States.  During the trip I fasted for 10 days, stayed with strangers in Minnesota, Maine, Kentucky, and Virginia, and met my boyfriend, who was hiking the Appalachian trail in New Hampshire, and is my current road companion. The dreams I have had since I was a child are a reality daily. I travel with my best friend, laugh so hard I cry, and spend time looking to solve all the world's problems. My goals are to share the insights I learn on the road as I write, share van "simple" living, and use this platform for the “therapist” side of me to provide to others human behavior self awareness stuff.

chris Miles Supertramp johnson: artist, traveler, photographer, writer. Miles travels to see, really see the world's people and places, and "to leave them in better condition than I found them". Miles' creative talents are his chosen methods for sharing these experiences. American Artist Chris Johnson: A glimpse into his life and work, click below.  

And...last but certainly not least, Jasper.

"I like da sand." Jasper