Four years later

… And can you believe it, I still haven’t been to Quebec? BUT, I have made it to Spain, Mexico and lots of places in between. I will attempt to give a proper update on my life and status, since a lot of has changed since my postings.

I no longer live paycheck to paycheck, even though right now I am currently unemployed due to COVID-19, but unemployment has saved me in that aspect. I finally graduated college with my bachelor’s degree (whoever thought that would happen? Not me), and I finally got a job as an archaeologist. I actually start my second archaeology job with the Forest Service in one week (yay!). So my life is a lot different in the realm of money, but I still stand firm on traveling on a budget. I have quite a lot of debt (student loans and a new car) which seems to come with the territory of getting paid more ironically.

I am currently not in the capacity to travel – one because of COVID (duh), and two because I am currently way too busy studying for the LSAT to apply to law school this year. Wow who saw that coming? I used to blog about not ever finishing college and being on a completely different path, making $260 a week and now I am on my way to being a lawyer. Not for the money at all, but that is a plus and I cannot wait to blog about what travels that will bring. But I am getting wayyyyy ahead of myself.

For now, my blog will focus on summer traveling and the big trip I am semi-planning with my sister for GREECE. Good things come to those who wait …. or to those who have no choice but to wait because they are too busy and have no money to do it now.

Throwback

I like to make comebacks. Life comes at me full force and I tend to leave my hobbies in the shadows for years. Maybe I like to do that, keep things I love hidden, so when I find it again, I feel like I uncovered something wonderful and ancient to be reveled at in a prolific way.

Anyway, I found this old post from summer 2016 from my creative writing blog and thought it would be a nice post to ease back into my blogging. I haven’t blogged about traveling since December 2016, and wow, am I even the same person? Re-reading my old posts doesn’t seem like it, that’s for sure. But there is still lots of bits of me that I like to remember and feel is still much inside me.

This past week I visited Yosemite for my third time, although it feels like more than that. It’s a backpackers dream world.

The endless granite walls. The rivers. The waterfalls. The magnitude and magnificence.

And of course, the crowds. No, not even crowds. Swarms. Herds. Of people.

It’s not that I don’t like people, I love humans. But tourists are a different breed.

I spent four days trekking the wilderness, away from tourists. I only ran into happy hikers and campers also on a journey through the wilderness. Everyone smiled and asked how we were, asked where we were going. They all seemed genuinely interested and happy for our journey. And I felt the same warmness, appreciation and support for these strangers as well.

There is a deep connection between people who are on a journey similar to your own. Every time I travel, I always feel it. These people I meet are so amazing. They were like new friends I would only see that one time.

Some people we did run into later on our four day hike and we laughed and talked some more. Shared stories of our experience in Yosemite. Then we would go our separate ways once more.

The days were hot and grew hotter as we descended thousands of feet to the valley floor.

When we got tired of hiking we jumped in the river parallel to our trail. We stripped down and cooled our muscles down. We ate jerky and dried fruits. And then when we needed we pumped clean water into our camel packs. This was simple living. This was free. And it was beautiful.

Our last day’s hike was down into Yosemite Valley, the mecca of the national park. Where everyone congregated to stare at the waterfalls coming down the mile high granite cliffs. El Capitan welcomes the newcomers and Half Dome bids them farewell.

We got down at 10 in the morning and immediately felt the claustrophobia. We couldn’t get on a bus for half an hour because no one would make room for us and our packs. We couldn’t get help from the workers about a shuttle bus schedules so we could get back to our car 60 miles away. No one smiled at us anymore. No one said “Happy Trails” anymore. All we wanted was to escape.

We finally got a bus to the edge of the park and hitchhiked the 60 miles. We met two great people who picked us up. Both their own character, different from each other, different from me and different from my boyfriend. But we all had one thing in common.

Yosemite is a treasure in the world, tainted by crowds, people who trash the place and don’t respect nature.

I had this amazing experience hiking from one end of the park to the other, constantly surrounded by the beautiful wilderness. And then to be thrown into a whirlwind of people shuffling past to get ice cream and lattes, throwing plastic on the ground, trying to feed wildlife, blocking the trails to take selfies — I began to feel judgmental and angry.

Wasn’t this time outdoors supposed to make me feel centered and part of this world more? But, I only felt more detached than ever.

Yosemite is glorious and I could feel grateful for that the rest of my life, easily. But the human part of nature isn’t always as easy to appreciate.

Maybe I’m not supposed to talk about all that because I sound like a horrible person.

I wish all I needed was the depth of nature to consult my conscience, but I need to learn to find peace and love even in the most uncomfortable and annoying situations.

Space to change

My boyfriend (my partner and equal) and I discussed our upcoming trip to Quebec. After a few days of going back and forth, we took a night to sleep on it. And we both decided to not go.

Of course, I want to go still, but he has been working for 3 months in the woods not living at home and kept seeing the trip price steadily rise. And I was pushing so much to go on a trip and he loving me so much, went along with it to make me happy.

But, the whole time I could sense he didn’t care either way. So, I sucked up my desire to travel and put this one on the back burner. He is more important than any trip.

It’s weird what happens as I get older. I have learned that the people in our life, the people we choose to spend our time with should be just as important as our other dreams. There is no point traveling to experience other cultures and meet new people if I don’t care about the ones in my everyday life.

He and I talked about saving the money we would have spent in Quebec and use it to fix up my truck and finally get a camper shell, something we have been dreaming of for years. Something I had been dreaming of even before I met him. For some reason I just never put the money aside to actually do it.

Quebec kept getting more expensive. Plane tickets went from $450 when I first started looking to $750. And for only 4 and half days, it wasn’t deemed worthwhile. And now the $800+ I am not spending on a 4 day trip I can get a camper shell, line it with carpet and then start building storage and get a comfy mattress pad. And it serve me for years of adventures to come.

We do a lot of camping, road trips and backpacking excursions. So the camper shell will be the perfect thing for us to have a bit more comfort and flexibility in where we go.

I am more excited about the camper shell than I was for Quebec. Sometimes travel plans change. I have earned that sometimes it is for the best.

Winter traveling’s first stop

I was born in Phoenix and raised just north of San Diego. I lived in Death Valley and Las Vegas. I am a proud desert child. And this January I am traveling to Quebec.

*inserts laugh here*

It will be cold and not many people understand why I am going in the height of winter at zero degrees since i can barely handle 60 degrees. But I’ll back up a bit to the headline of this post. The first stop in winter traveling is shopping. Or as I call it, preparing.

I know, I know, I went over this in last week’s post about how my life was being consumed by material objects, going in debt and not being able to travel. Poor, sad me, relapsing already!

But, I only intend to emphasize the importance of being prepared before taking a trip somewhere with weather you never had to deal with. Hence my need to buy some provisional, warm attire.

I didn’t have to choose to go to Quebec this January. My boyfriend tried getting me to decide on Costa Rica (deciding on where to go as a couple is a post for the future), but I have been enthralled by the idea of walking in the old, European nostalgic city with snow and lights. My desire for that outweighed my love of being warm.

So before you become set on an idea of a place I recommend you prepare yourself. And the best way to do that is to have the right clothing for the weather.

Over the years of jumping on a plane spontaneously, I can accept myself as a bad clothing packer. I am not the type who really forgets things, I just pack like an idiot.

In Virginia (both times, yes I didn’t learn my lesson the first time) I packed too warm. In Scotland I packed too warm. In Ireland I didn’t pack anything good for rain and my feet were soaked for three weeks.

This trip planning for Quebec has inspired me to finally break the curse.

And don’t let that scare you from a place either. Differences in culture and weather and food and just everything is the exciting part of traveling. We are meant to get away from our comfort bubbles. Also, a country offers different activities during different seasons. So while most people go on vacations during the summertime, the winter can offer different experiences of the country.

The idea of a place rarely fits the reality. Which is exciting. I just hope it’s not too cold for me. And if it is, that’s okay too. Always being extra money if you are unsure of what clothing you should have.

Aside

When it’s been a while

When it’s been a while doing something you love, it feels like you woke up from a coma. Not that I’ve been in a coma so I may be entirely wrong about that one. But that’s how I imagine it to be. I have been living in a fog of uncertainty, of doubt, of going through the motions of a robotic life.

I have’t written about tips for traveling because well, I haven’t been traveling. And that makes me unrecognizable to myself.

It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-days and lose sight of what you want out of life. I lost track of my real goals and most importantly I forgot what it is that makes me truly happy.

And a big contributing factor to this is how I got swept up in material objects. Buying unnecessary things is the poison that kills travel dreams. It comes in the form of superficial comfort and success, then implants itself in the brain, convincing one’s self that this object, this thing will be the cure to unhappiness.

I moved to a different city away from all my friends and family so I started buying stuff. I needed stuff for my apartment of course, but then I started buying the decorations and the candles and more clothes and consuming my daily habits and thoughts with shopping and budgeting my money on how I can afford a $30 Yankee candle. I convinced myself that if I just buy this candied pecan scented candle then it will feel like the holidays, it will feel cozy, it will feel like I have a fireplace. What I actually wanted was to actually be in a place filled with snow, lights strung across a crowded street, sitting in a cafe drinking espresso, reading a translation book. Not just a facade of it in my living room. I might as well plug myself into a virtual reality game and never leave if that’s the case.

I am not entirely sure what my “wake up call” was or if I even had one. It was more of a gradual realization, a gradual journey back to my true self. But, I know it had something to do with seeing some old friends who traveled the world year round and inspired me the first time I met them. I saw them again recently and had nothing to talk about. Nothing real anyway because I had been filling my days with unnecessaries.

Slowly I am finding my way back to the person I want to be and following my happiness.

About ready to take my first bungee jump leap for my 26th birthday. Photo courtesy of  Nic Velarde

About ready to take my first bungee jump leap for my 26th birthday. Photo courtesy of Nic Velarde

I wasn’t sure if this was the right place to write about it but in it’s way it is travel advice. To put it simply is to stay in touch with the happiness you create for yourself. Sometimes we stray off course but we can always find a way back.

I felt I had gone too far in debt to travel any time soon. But after my realizations I began to make it a priority to save. And once I made it THE priority I saw how easy it was to save again.

When I wanted to go to Scotland when I was 19 it was always just a dream, then I thought, why the heck am I not there now? What is holding me back? Nothing! Absolutely nothing except not saving my money. So once I understand that things don’t just happen magically, I have to work for them and make it possible, my dreams became reality.

And then when I felt stuck in rut a few years ago, I looked at my boyfriend and said, “I need to travel … now.” And we did.

That’s what this is all over again, but with a bigger, longer term idea behind it. I want to keep at it, not let a few years go by every time I decide to take an amazing trip to a new country. I want to get back home from a country and start planning for another one right away. I am sick of letting my life slip right under me.

Since I am still a little in debt, I am going to Quebec in January for 5 days for a quickie. It isn’t as long as I would want, but I am not letting that stop me from exploring the world. More posts to come on traveling in the winter.

And to close my comeback here is something I wrote when I was a 21 years old. I read it once in a while to remember who I used to be, who I always wanted to be, who I can still find and be again.

That path that steers us to where we want to be or what we need to achieve is incomprehensible to ever let fail. My entire childhood and adolescence was dedicated to the all the places i could ever dream of traveling to. A painted landscape with a couple arm in arm walking in the distance of grass enchanted fields was the escape for my imagination. I was determined to find this place, if it was even real. How could it be, with such magnitude of wonder and persistence of beauty. Where could I run away to, where was a place I could discover? Harry Potter became the books that defined and shaped who i grew up to. It wasn’t just about the magical story and characters, or even the movies, but the impact it had over influencing my life. I became the Fred to my sisters George. We became so eternally, and internally obsessed with finding our own paths in life that had nothing to do with the normality of others peoples views and expectations. Adventure, discovery, importance was my quest…and yet, still is. I forever cursed myself with never allowing myself to be fully committed to happiness because that would mean the quest was over. With every stamp on my passport, every step with my hiking boots, each breathe of fresh air, each exhale from an intense climb i was in search for truth, the meaning of my existence. This meaning could be put in my hands by experiencing the world in every possible way it was offered to me. I am 21 years old and just now am beginning to understand this on going search and what it actually entails, the responsibilities attached to it. I am finding my way though life in my own way just as everyone else is doing in their own and personal way. I am to be kind and humble, genuine in my smile and my stride beside them or else i have failed myself. I was eighteen and jumped out of a plane. I was nineteen and traveled on a whim to Scotland. I backpacked Yosemite, learned to snowboard, rock climbed, rolled down booming sand dunes. When i was twenty I packed up my life and moved to Yellowstone National Park and then Death Valley. Not many plans work out for certain, guarantee, and if they do it never turns out the exact way we planned or expected. It’s nice to just roll with it.

After taking my first bungee jump leap for my 26th birthday. Photo courtesy of Nic Velarde

After taking my first bungee jump leap for my 26th birthday. Photo courtesy of Nic Velarde

The hell with weekends

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland 2013. Photo: Nic Velarde.

Don’t wait around for your next vacation. Hell don’t even wait around for the weekend. Have fun now.

I notice we push or at least I push a lot of things to the side. I tell myself one day I will start running marathons again, one day I will go to Thailand, one day I will get that foot massage I bought on Groupon months ago. But someday doesn’t always come and it might not ever come if I wait around too long.

It’s just like New Year’s resolutions; next year I’ll get in shape, next year I will start eating healthy. We all do it. We wait for a specific day, a rite of passage almost, to signify our change in lifestyle. But what’s wrong with any old Wednesday in the middle of August to start changing your life, to start doing your someday.

So what is it about weekends that makes us wait to have fun? And it isn’t only having the two days off in a row thing that throws me off. It is that so many people I know believe that having weekends off means that you have somehow made it, you are successful. What…the…

Enough about those days of the week.

My point is, is that I don’t want to wait around for the weekend to have fun. I want to make everyday fun and even an adventure in its own way. It may be the smallest of activities but it is better than giving up and waiting around for someday. Because once the weekend comes you may be too tired or something important comes up and then what?

Today I will go for a run before work. Today I will go for a hike. Today I will surf. Today I will go rock climbing. Today I will drive around on a mini-road trip adventure.

That is all it takes. It is a simple change in attitude because even your home town has great things to offer. Go out there and make your everyday an adventure so the hell with weekends.

Confessions of an anti-tourist

Ireland

Somewhere in Ireland. Photo: Nic Velarde

There is a guy that comes into my work everyday and orders the same coffee. Two shots of espresso over ice. As he stirs in his agave and cream, so thematically and certain he tells me he is thinking of going on a vacation. I instantly light up and want to give endless advice on how he should go about it, as I always assume people want to travel how I travel.

I am learning that not everyone enjoys hostels, hiking and not having an itinerary. Those people probably don’t come here and read my blog with any interest.

He is a realyl cool guy though. He has been to Australia enough times and wants to go somewhere new. He then says the magical world … Ireland.  I thought I heard a flute piping in the background.

I get excited and start telling him all these cool things he should do. And then of course, whenever I start talking about my trip to Ireland I mention how to avoid all the crazy summer tourists. Yes, I was one as well, but that is definitely not the kind of experience I crave.

Meeting the locals, doing cultural things like eating their foods and drinking their beers, having conversations, going dancing, and also exploring the landscape. But I sure don’t feel like a cliche tourist while doing it.

I am respectful and want to learn and embrace that culture not just see it from afar.

But now I am getting ahead of myself. Back to this guy at my work who wants to go to Ireland.

So before I can get far enough into what he should do while there he drops the P-word bomb. He found a Package deal on Groupon. Cool I love that site, they have cheap massages, but I wouldn’t trust them to plan a trip for me. I wouldn’t trust anyone to do that except myself.

He said the price is right at about $1,500 leaving from Los Angeles and includes airfare, board and rental car for nine days.

It seems too cool to be true. My ticket to Ireland alone cost $1,025 from San Diego.
Hostels for two around $1,000. Bus passes for two $500.
Food, beer and pub money $500 each.
And some extra, accidental costs it all added to about $5,000 for two people. But it was for three weeks. Three weeks in Ireland to do as we please!

Cork, Ireland

A neighborhood in Cork, Ireland. Photo: Nic Velarde

I think to myself, do people really buy vacation packages? So I started looking into it and yes, yes they do. That is why I am struck with the questions “Really? Why?”

Going off on your own to explore and do whatever you want is so freeing. That is the beauty of a vacation to me. I guess some people really enjoy the relaxation of a vacation while some (like myself) enjoy the spontaneous adventures.

Relaxing doesn’t enter my vacation. It comes to me when I am at home and have homework to do and I don’t want to do it. So I relax instead. Or when I am sick and watch movies all day. But not when I am in a foreign country.

So back to what I was saying before about being respectful of a culture and wanting to experience it fully. I have to remember that everyone wants something different out of their vacation and to avoid being judgmental I will embrace my bias in what I think a vacation in a foreign country should be.

I learned this a lot while in Ireland last summer. One day my boyfriend, Nic, and I were on a tour around the Ring of Kerry, one of the most popular spots in the Irish countryside. Quaint towns, amazing edges of cliffs, ocean views and lots and lots of people.

Our tour bus took us to the most beautiful stopping points. At the places that would be great for hiking and exploring we were only given minutes there. Yes, MINUTES! As in the words of tour bus driver, “Enough time to take a few good pictures.” I wanted to scream and run away from the bus.

Then when we went to towns we had over an hour. UGH. They even dropped us off at a restaurant in a hotel for lunch with no other options around.

So we ordered the second worst fish and chips of the trip (the first was in Cashel at a Mediterranean restaurant that didn’t serve Guinness. We should have left at the”‘No Guinness”). It isn’t like we are snobs about our fish and chips, but it was a fancy hotel FOR TOURISTS. We didn’t want to eat there, but it was lunch time and had no other choice.

Then we get to Lady’s Point. A magnificent view of Irish green country. All we wanted to do was explore. But we only had ten minutes for a photo opportunity.

I tried hard to swallow my judgment of the tourists. Everyone is crowding one area of the mountain to get a sweet picture of this place they didn’t really experience, and neither did we. I felt like I never even went there. I saw it, but I didn’t get to know it.

And that is why I strongly dislike tours and tour buses. It’s a facade of an experience in the country.

So, I try to tell this guy I think he would have more fun doing his own trip. But he is set on doing it because it eliminates the hassle involved in a planning a trip.

*Sigh*

That is half the fun, or at least one-eighth of it. The planning of which hostel is cheaper, slightly less shady, and in the best location. Picking out what county to stay in and for how long. What plane ticket to buy, what bus pass to go with. Then finally getting there and not knowing what to do next. That is a good part of the pre-travel experience.

I want to just yell at him, “You will be missing out on so much!” There won’t be the opportunity to change your plans on a whim because something cool came up.

And staying in a hostel forces you to make friends with people in your room and in the common room at night. That is how you find people to go out with at night or explore with in the day. That is how you make life time friends.

That is how you discover you can understand French when you’re drunk.

Hostels usually have kitchens so you can experience grocery shopping in a foreign country. And there are so many different travelers from all over staying at hostels that are all hanging out in the kitchen as well.

Taking a bus may take longer but sometimes the struggle of bus times makes it all the more fun. Although, I will admit, having a car for a day or two would be nice to go to more remote places to hike that buses don’t go (that’s a post for another time).

But if we had a car in Ireland we never would have been forced to hitchhike after our bus left us. We met really amazing and generous people to give us a ride back.

Nic and I got closer. But I also got out of my comfort zone so many times. I got closer to my soul. My soul got closer to the earth.

Fight the herd and go on your own trip. It is hard to plan and scary but so worth the experience. The country will thank you for really getting to know it by the end.

The Myth

Kinsale, Ireland

Kinsale, a little harbor town, in Southern Ireland. Photo: Susan Georgette Whaley

Everything goes according to plan. Every plan you make works out if you spend the time and energy and just work really hard.

I wish that was true. I am one to be cynical, but definitely not to be a victim of this tragedy. I don’t do self pity. However, I will say that it is (duh) extremely difficult to have your own place, pay rent and all the other bills while only working one “normal” full-time job.

I technically could do it, but who the heck has the time for all that? NO, it’s not even the time, but who actually wants to do that … work your butt off just to pay the bills? Where is time for fun, for relationships, for a real life?

My plan was to be financially comfortable. But I guess I never really had a plan to follow. I always just wanted to travel while being okay with money, not having to worry. Okay that sounds great and most people have that dream, so what did I do about it? I traveled for a bit. I moved around a lot, still not making lots of money but at least I was seeing parts of the world and to me that was really living.

Then I came home after three years of slightly disenchanting experiences with an array of magical encounters and connections. I stayed with my parents for a bit (sorry to anyone who has gone through this) with my cats I acquired and I had a weird pull inside of me to finish school.

So it began. The journey, the adventure of me turning into a citizen of society again. Like getting an apartment.

Now I have more responsibilities, more attachments and I can’t just pick up and leave. Well yes, technically I CAN, because I always have a choice. My choice is that I would rather have these attachments, even though they seem burdensome at times.

Now I am trying to actually stay on a path and finish school. I kept dropping out before. I have a quaint house I am renting with my boyfriend and roommates. I have a life here. I have my cat Gandalf. But, I have a really low-paying job because it works around my school schedules, lets me take time off and understands I am trying to do more with my life.

So then where does that leave me for all my other dreams? My dreams of traveling, being a nomad, having many adventures, going off whenever I please? I’m still not sure. That’s what I am still trying to figure out: what do I sacrifice and what is my main priority?

We all have a choice, nothing is set in a stone of destiny for us. I have the choice to drop out of school, to leave this house, to give my cat away, to be single yet I stay here. Some say I have these thoughts of leaving because I am actually unhappy with my life. But I am just being honest, when I think not everyone really is with themselves.

I can love my life here and all my obligations and still have the desire to do other things. I still do travel, even if it isn’t as often as I would like. But I find the balance. I find the solace and acceptance of my life and love it for what it is.

Plans don’t always work out. They go all sorts of ways. That doesn’t mean failure, as cliche as that sounds. The myth about hard work pays off is slightly true, but no matter how hard you work for a certain job, a certain life there are other forces influencing the universe and the outcome. And different paths branch from the original.

Embrace and accept the changes, because we must be adaptable. I certainly have had to adapt to this life, this life I never thought I would have.

A house, a relationship, school, paying bills and working without getting ahead. I never wanted any of it and look at me now. I have found my way to a semi-normal life which irks me at times, but like I said plans are myths.

I am alive!

When I have homework, that’s when I find time to write in my blog.

We were returned from Ireland safely many, many months ago. Since I returned I never had time to really reflect on my travels. It came, happened and left.

I went to Ireland for three weeks and I came home to an apartment infested with fleas, started a new job as assistant manager and began my first semester as editor in chief for the college newspaper.

But, now that I am back to writing for fun I will post some of my journals I wrote while in Ireland and begin talking about my next adventures.

Time for a Guiness.

The “American Dream”

Yellowstone Lamar Valley

Backcountry camping in Yellowstone Lamar Valley. Photo: Susan Georgette Whaley

I think the ‘American Dream’ isn’t even American. It is a human dream, a human lifestyle. Do what you want now and be happy. It is so simple. I want to measure my success in different ways than what has been wired into my brain since a child such as having a good job, going to college, getting married, etc. I have experienced parts of the world and moved around and learned about myself from within. I have learned to love and am on a spiritual path and I enjoy the activities that fill my day. But … oh yes there is always a but.

But, lately I have been feeling down on myself as I see friends get cool jobs and graduate college. I chose a very different path and like everyone else, I question it at times.

Not everyone is on the same path in life. We all have priorities and things we want to accomplish. I think I know what I want to accomplish, but getting there is so tough and I tend to fall back into what I know and am comfortable with. That is working a, don’t like to use this word but, meaningless job and am not even close to graduating college … like ever. So what does that leave me with?

If you could fill your day with anything, someone asks you what would you say? I would say rock climbing, writing, reading, being outdoors, playing chess, being with people I love. Well, it seems that is already what I do and I am fufilled. So why do I buy into the whole mindset of feeling like a failure because I am not accomplishing anything in my career? Is that the only way people can measure life by?

Is a career what we define our happiness and success by? I like to write, but if I never make money doing it then have I failed? What kind of mind set is that to have in our society? I know I am not the only person that has felt that way about their passions and hobbies. The ‘dream’ is to make money from what you love to do, but can’t you just do what you love and not get paid for it and it still be meaningful in life? I guess I don’t mind working a lame job, but if I had the opportunity to do something else hell yes I would do it. I just don’t want to work my ass off for my entire 20’s and 30’s and 40’s trying to make a lot of money so I can retire one day and then start enjoying life.

Gaining the ‘American Dream’ entices most of us and I even can admit I fall into the seduction every so often, such as today as I write about the squabbles within myself. But is that what i really want? Is it actually what most people want or is it wired into their/our brains since childhood?

College, marriage, car, house, kids, retirement … wow that is a long list of what the ‘American Dream’ entails, that the way to a happy life we must get all of these things. I am doing absolutely none of these and I am so far away from them, they will never happen.

If I had to pinpoint the moment that my life changed it was when I was twenty years old and finally moved out of my parents house, dropped out of college and moved to Yellowstone National Park to work at a lodge. My life has been what some can say difficult ever since: trying to make money, pay off my truck and go back to college. I never could move back with my parents, I was forever on my own. But, it taught me so much and was what those wise people call “life experience.” I don’t have a college degree but I got to live in some cool places and have cool stories. When I write a novel one day I think my life experiences will help more than a degree.

Some people tell me how I am crazy and not focused and jump around too much, but then they tell me how they actually envy me. I am not saying this to flatter myself, I am using it as a point that people that judge at first how I don’t walk the straight line seem to envy my freedom. I just tell them they can be free too and not be bogged down everyday in unhappiness and piles of homework. All hard work pays off in the end, i.e. college, but only if that is what will really make you happy. And you must ask yourself, if it makes you unhappy now why are you doing it? Don’t you want to enjoy life now, why wait for the ‘one day’?