“Insomnia is my greatest inspiration.”
Three AM again, in this age of being. The apartment is lit up like the Vegas strip on a hot summer night and weird music is playing in my headphones. Again, my evening was a twisting, writhing fight with sheets and pillows unable to find a comfortable position both physically and mentally. Listening to the soft noise of the irrigation system moistening the ground outside my window, I get lulled into a sort of trance. It’s not sleep, it’s not awake, it’s a sort of psychological break. Sleep wasn’t going to come anytime soon.
I turn onto my other side and break into a pouring sweat. A train whistle blows somewhere and my eyes pop open. It’s dark, I can see the soft parking lot light illuminating the parking lot full of shitty cars. I want to sleep, I really do. I love sleep, it’s the only place I feel safe most of the time, but it wasn’t going to happen, not tonight at least. I sit upright, reach over and turn on my tacky bedside lamp and shake my head. “Not again, really, not again.” I understand the mental health ramifications of sleep deprivation, if anybody does, it’s me.
“Do some research.”
In a phone conversation last night, I expressed being overwhelmed, absolutely against a wall in which I felt I had nowhere to turn. My depressive state had coupled with my friend the eating disorder and decided it was going to try and sabotage all of my attempts at climbing from the fear of being in a new place. If there’s anyone in the world that has put up with my fits of fear and loathing, it would be Phil. He’s seen me at my best, he’s seen me at damn well dead. Reaching for help, and selfishly thinking he could wave a magic wand and fix everything, he offered only the advice as to research. Figure out what’s making me tumble into a dark abyss of my own mind.
The internet can be a big scary place, and although it’s a wealth of information, it’s also something that can turn into a worm hole and suck you down tunnels you don’t know how to get out of. To a deep thinker, you never take the first article you come across, you never settle on the easy article with bullet points and pictures. I want context, I want big words that I probably can’t pronounce. I want to be able to look at four different websites and get a consensus on a hypothesis. What I came up with was a chicken and an egg. I’m not a fan of chicken and I hate eggs.
“Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine investigated emotional responses in the brains of people with insomnia and found dysfunctional activity in an area of the brain that regulates and processes emotions. Their findings may provide an explanation for the mechanism by which disrupted sleep influences depression and other psychiatric conditions.”
So, pretty much what I’ve researched said that if I’m depressed, I’ll have insomnia and if I have insomnia it will feed other mental health issues, including depression. I’m not talking about being a little sad, no sir, I’m talking about pulling your car on the side of the road on the way to work and falling absolutely apart. The odd thing is that there isn’t really much that you can do once you feel yourself falling apart, you’re tired, that’s for certain, and you’re probably not exactly prepared to deal with trying to explain why your eyes are watery and red. The best case scenario your co-workers just think you’ve got allergies or are on drugs….drugs…
“Ambien helps me sleep more nights than I care to admit – although I’m uncertain about the quality of sleep.”
You might be thinking “N Weed, why don’t you just get some sleeping pills?”
My response, “No, thank you.”
Pharmaceuticals, as a tool, are great. You don’t use your damn hammer everyday if you’re an accountant and if you’re a carpenter you don’t need a sewing machine everyday, but every once in a while….every once in a while you need a tool. I’m guilty of this, I have painful bouts of shaking fits due to what some call neurological damage or others just call nervous energy. I grab my little orange bottle and get a little bit of alleviation from an aggravating condition that keeps me from writing like a normal human being and sometimes even walking without being afraid of falling. I’m okay with that tool, it mellows me out.
Sleep aids, however, terrify the living hell out of me. There was a time in my life that I was engaged to a guy who had a mom who felt like she could fix my flaws with medication and going to the doctor and beauty salon. Make her beautiful and numb. I went on Prozac and fell asleep behind the wheel. They supplemented that with Welbutrin and I stayed awake for almost 52 hours straight, where somewhere in there I drove to the South Carolina coast from Greenville, SC in record time. I remember glancing down and not understanding the instrument panel. It wasn’t where I wanted to be. I’ve never been a proponent of hard drugs, but I have to believe that I had a reaction to that stuff similar to what one would have the first time doing speed (which I’m not really sure what that is….)
With a brain that goes faster than a squirrel up a tree running from a cat, that combination didn’t work for me.
“Perscribe pills to offset the pills you know you should take.”
Panic at the Disco (okay, lame reference)
After getting back from the beach I walked back to my doctor and said “fix it.” The solution, Ambien. Okay, so you fall asleep while driving, you don’t sleep when you’re supposed to, so we’re going to give you this to make you a normal person that sleeps at night again. I tried to manage without, and it wasn’t working, I broke down and took the Ambien and fell asleep on an air mattress in a guest bedroom. I needed sleep, I craved it.
Then things got weird.
“Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion”
Hunter S. Thompson
Regretfully so, I’ve seen far too many psychedelic movies than I care to admit to, but those are safe. You can turn off the television and be back in a safe spot. I’ve probably have seen Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas upwards of 200 times, and it’s not because I’m a fan of the hallucinogenic properties or moral of that particular lifestyle, it’s just entertaining.
“It’s like taking a trip and never leaving the farm.”
Dan Bowman, the song Wildwood Weed
I felt my body melt into the air filled rubber sack and sort of assimilated my flesh to some sort of molten lava flowing down into ravines of a vast landscape. My pillow felt like some sort of cloud full of razor blades and I kept moving my face around, trying to escape the ethereal sensation of pain but pleasure. The air bed felt like it wanted to wrestle, I wanted to sleep. The medication had set in and I was in the throws of a bad, bad sleeping pill induced trip. Terrified, never having such sensations before I pulled the sheets over my head, but not after throwing that wretched pillow against the wall to make it as far away from me as possible. It was trying to kill me. I knew it.
I hid under my sheet, on that air mattress in Anderson, SC, and prayed for morning. Sleep wasn’t coming, I was wide awake in terror with no way of making it stop, the little pill I took to try to alleviate my insomnia was making it exponentially worse.
“When I was taking pharmacy classes, I would remember Ambien by its generic name Zolpidem because I would associate the word Zolpidem with ZZZ which equals sleep”
-anonymous classmate of mine while studying pharmacy
The piles of the carpet erupted from the floor and became sort of a scary kelp forest environment. There was no telling how long I laid there in a catatonic stupor with fears of razor blade pillows and a carpet of kelp. The next morning I got up and sat at the kitchen table, tired physically and mentally, alone and confused. What happened. Why wasn’t this working. The ZZZ’s never came. I was tormented all night, something that is far worse than any insomnia that I’ve ever endured. It was six in the morning, before everyone else was up. I went into the cabinet and poured myself a glass of Bushmills Black. My soon-to-be-never-was-Mother-in-law came out to find me a puddle of mess.
She wasn’t pleased, only because she was addicted to helping, and she made it worse.
We sat there over the breakfast bar and I explained the visual torment I went through the past night. She poured herself a glass and I realized, people just want to help. Never in her life did she ever think that what the doctor recommended would cause an entire night of physically intangible visual illusions that would keep you from sleeping even more. I felt bad, not only had I not had sleep, I had been terrorized all night from windmills I could never conquer.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Cuixote
Luckily for me, I didn’t let my brain dry up. The Ambien wasn’t for me, and honestly, the experience was as terrifying as any car crash, near death experience, or tax audit I’ve even been through. I’ve been through some pretty terrible self inflicted situations before. 72 pounds on life support at 27, hitting a tree going 40 mph (at least), picking up a hitchhicker in Nebraska and toting him all the way to Oregon only for him to call the Police on me. I can handle all of that, however, the thought of needing to take something that will make me see carpet piles turning into the sea isn’t acceptable. I’ll embrace my insomnia.
“The ability to accurately judge emotion in human faces is compromised by sleep deprivation.”
Same Psychology Today article
“A wink is as good to a blind horse”
The Faces (an album, which is killer)
I love this reference on so many levels. For one, the primary speaks of faces, and the second is from The Faces. Nerd. Yes. Sorry.
It’s no big secret that moving to Oregon has caused quite a few changes in lifestyle for me, and although I’d like to say it was supposed to be a physical change that was supposed to lead to mental improvement, I know better. Anybody that knows me well enough knows that my favorite magazine in Psychology Today and I really only like to have conversations that challenge my intellect. Sometimes I think my brain is wired to a different voltage, one that my breaker can’t handle. It’s almost as if I lay down to sleep and by breaker flips. Somehow I thought I’d find peace in Oregon, a place to start over. A fake wink is as good to a middle finger to a taxi driver.
My sleep deprivation hasn’t been by choice, that’s for damn sure. There have been times that I thought about just treating myself to a some over the counter remedy that “alleviates symptoms of insomnia”, but that’s scarier than a snake in my toilet. The biggest difference right now is that I have no reason for insomnia except depression. Again, it’s cyclical, A+B causes C, C=+D-E, math.
Does my roommate think I might be insane? Perhaps.
I don’t know when I flipped off my taxi driver, I don’t know when I went chasing windmills.
Wait, maybe I do.
Instead of reading the stereotypical books that hit the newsstand I read obscure classics.
Instead of staying where it was safe an familiar, I took off, more times than once, and I think that’s why I’m tired and I can’t sleep. All of that vagabond nature has caught up to me and I’m feeling a certain sort of consequence. With every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Opposite. Does that mean that the fish you intend to catch are in the end going to catch you? Does that mean that the fuel you put in your tank actually fuels you? Does that mean that the shit you pull out of your carpet with your vacuum actually sucks the shit from your soul? Physics has always been one of my strong points, but when it comes down to drawing parallels between the two, gag.
My sleep patterns, well, although I’m lacking in quality sleep, I’m not as dysfunctional as to where I was when I tried a sleep “aid”.
“There are some nights when The Doors are the greatest band in the world.”
Hunter S. Thompson
Strange nights follow me while living in the Portland area, most of which are uneventful with just adventures to and fro looking at long abandoned timber operations and majestic waterfalls that seem to erupt from the mountainside. The wheels of my car spin faster than the wheels of my brain at times, and then I pause and let my brain catch up to where my wheels are going. It has been an absolute sensory overload at times, the strange and new of everything buzzing in my head. It’s a lot for the blonde girl to take in at times, and honestly, it has been a bit frustrating. The only writing I seem to get done is accomplished between one and two am and my sleep cycles have been so freaking out of whack it’s not even funny.
If this sounds like whining, it’s not intended to be. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Sitting here in my sweat pants listening to The Soft Parade by The Doors makes me realize what life is all about, pain and expression. Maybe that’s a stretch, the song Touch Me is a bit brash, but at the same time, it was popular, only because it lacked depth (or at least that’s what I’m guessing). If anything, The Soft Parade has always been, and always will be my absolute favorite Doors album, only because most people hated it. That’s what I like about it. Jim at his absolute armpit of life. It’s actually so bad it’s good.
If you could take a can opener to the skull of Jim at that point and time in his life, what do you think you’d find? The need to rhyme and dance around? The need to be chemically altered at all times just to get through life? An insatiable need to be the life of the party, but never enjoying the party? Miserable, mentally miserable.
“We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary, pain is more terrifying than anyone else can inflict.”
(It’s been a long time coming that I’ve been trying to write this post. Since 2011 actually)
“The man is at the door.”
I was upstairs in the extravagant house that I was living in on a golf course in South Carolina when the message came through. It wasn’t my house, it would never be my house, I just had the privilege of living there for a while. Sure, I was engaged to the guy that owned the home, but it didn’t make it my home. It would never be my home. It’s sort of like renting an apartment without the noisy neighbors. You never feel at home, you’re just living.
A simple message on a primitive smart phone. “Virginia.”
Puzzled, I overlooked the message and went back downstairs to practice our foreign language program the fiancee and I were taking. Being deluged in learning German made me forget all about the cryptic message that came through on that cursed high tech device. I thought my life was complicated. I had to learn foreign languages to enjoy a vacation and had to worry about stuff like international driving permits and the manner in which to conduct myself in a foreign country. Yeah. My life was really difficult. I didn’t pay rent. I didn’t pay for anything except my car note (and I had a damn nice car). I didn’t even cook. Yeah, a really complicated life.
“Virginia. That’s close to South Carolina, right?”
The next message came through as I was about ten minutes into my German lesson, and the fiancee, which I’ll just refer to as “ex”, was less than pleased. “Who keeps messaging you?”
“An old friend.” Back to German.
We finished German. Worked out. Ate dinner.
“Have you ever been to Williamsburg?” Another haunting message.
I had to respond, primarily because I’m a narcissist and like to pepper the world with useless knowledge about me AND it seemed like if I hadn’t been there, I’d just seem lame. I lied and said I had been. Fact of the matter is that the letters on the other end of that phone and I had been talking for probably two weeks, and there was something strangely melancholy about the messages over the span of that time. After going almost eight years without speaking to each other, he was reaching out to me.
Why? I don’t know. I knew there was something challenging his deep mind. Have you ever looked into a puddle and thought that it was just a puddle then tried to walk through it and found yourself pecker deep in water? Yeah, that was him. Fun on the exterior but inflicted with mental burden and pain that I, to this day, cannot comprehend.
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster….for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
After about the seventh message of the evening, I felt like I needed to extend some sort of cyber hug making sure everything was okay. The ex was getting a bit perturbed with my constant preoccupation with my phone, but I wasn’t trying to being rude. I was fully engaged in our studies, our dinner, our evening in general, however I had an absolute gut feeling that something wasn’t okay. Not between the ex and I (aside from him being a bit irked by my phone usage). Things were not okay in Virginia.
The week leading up to this was littered with messages between he and I about his upcoming birthday. Turning 30 wasn’t becoming of him, and although it’s a godforsaken milestone to take on, there’s no avoiding it. It happens. I wasn’t there yet, but for some reason he was terrified. My response of “you don’t have a choice” didn’t resonate in a pitch I had wanted. Actually, it sort of fell by the wayside and I got more complaints about birthday woes. I never understood how people designate their happiness with their age. Whenever there has been an inquiry as to my age, I’ve been predispositioned to saying “old enough”, however, for him “old” meant something other than an ability to do fun adult stuff, it mean adult stuff.
Sitting in this apartment slightly outside of Portland, Oregon it’s 2:30 am. I have special headphones on as to not disturb my roommate (it’s her apartment, she lets me crash) and a beer with a straw. I’ve already slept a solid six hours and my mind is in high gear. Syd Barrett is now caterwalling in my ears, changing gears from Jim Morrison. All I can think about is that last text that I received that evening in South Carolina. It haunts me. I’ve done bad things in life, like almost killing my dad in a stupid car crash, but nothing haunts me more than that night. As expressed before, I’ve been struggling with this since 2011. Almost six solid years of waking up at night wondering if I could have done something different.
“Do you ever play Angry Birds?”
The message popped up on my phone. The ex expressed disappointment again, and I pretended not to care about the message on the phone. Acting has never been my strong point, and especially in this circumstance. It was bedtime, I was tired. No excuse really. I could have very easily responded and said “go the hell to sleep.” I didn’t. No response from me. It was more of a self preservation for me, I knew the “ex” wasn’t going to deal with me messaging much more. I looked at that phone, looked at that message at about 11:15 pm, plugged in the phone and walked away.
The next morning, nothing.
No Angry Birds.
No talk of being 30.
“I’m disappearing, avoiding most things.”
I had a Nissan Maxima at the time. I remember getting a phone call and sitting down next to the car and falling into a puddle of tears upon the news. My friend in Virginia had been found in a non living condition. I sat in the driveway, in a white dress, on the ground, leaned up against that wretched machine. My back against the quarter panel, as dirty as it was, I didn’t care. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t sit down. I wanted to thrash and break things, but at the same time every single bit of energy I had was being expended on emotional turmoil. Could I have done something different?
You want to talk about a mental funk, you have no idea. I’ve been there for six years. Was there something I could have done different? Is it my fault? It’s almost as if somebody has requested you to throw out a life preserver that you have in your hand but you just sort of turn your back. It was a volatile situation and I ignored it. I ignored it because I was too self involved. I was too worried about learning German, too busy eating dinner, too busy catering to my own selfish needs to care for another person. Granted this person had been out of my life for a while, when someone turns to you for help you fucking help.
The moral of the story is, although it’s not a noxious tumor growing out of your testicles or a mysterious blood disease, it doesn’t mean that it’s not equally as deadly. Mental health is just as dangerous as any sort of physical health. (Just to clarify, I’m fine, don’t get excited, there are no ropes, sharp objects or anything like that.) Too many people focus on diseases that they can actually see – you know the ones that have gone through Chemo, those that have Parkinson’s and shake like a leaf, those that can’t contain their own bowels. It’s easy to sympathize with those that you can put a visual on.
Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees.
Some say hindsight is 20-20. I never understood that. I wish I could do something different, maybe everything for that matter, but that wouldn’t leave me where I am right now. The twinkling lights over the Columbia River of Camas, Washington seem like they’re winking at me, almost encouraging me. I’m no longer living in a posh house on a golf course. I’m flat broke, but this is where I am, listening to The Doors, pondering what life is all about.
“All my life, my heart has sought a thing I cannot name. Remembered line from a long forgotten poem”
Hunter S. Thompson
It was Andre Breton. He wrote the poem, but really, unless you’re a total dork like me and wanting to expand knowledge wherever possible, you wouldn’t take the time to look into where it came from. The original context of this line actually contained “yearned” as opposed to “sought”, which is trivial seeing as how it was originally in french and translation can be a bit sketchy at times. The moral of the story is, do we really know what we want? Are we seekers for the right things or grabbers of what is convenient?
Since being in Oregon, I’ve been a professional adventurer. Yes, I had plenty of adventure in South Carolina, hell, I even had a bit of the adventure bug when I was living in Illinois, but this is different. This appeal towards the road and adventure is a sheer carnal need. Much like the carnivore lusts for its next piece of juicy meat, I daydream about the next time I can hit the road and see something, anything, even if it’s something that I have seen twenty times before. Take Vista House for example, it was one of the first truly scenic places I went when I “moved” out here. I go there at least once a week, I know what I might see, but never is it what I expect. Take for instance July 4th, I fly all the way back here from South Carolina after a full day of adventure, a four hour plane ride and losing my car in the airport parking lot, what do I do? Grab a six pack and go to Vista House to see the sunset.
The very next day I work my normal day, in good spirits due to the previous days adventure and secretly plot my next adventure. The work whistle blows (okay, we don’t have a whistle, it’s just when your brain feel like it’s going to melt out your ears it’s time to call it a day) and I hit the road. This time my heart seeks a new adventure, going down a road that I’ve never seen the end of. The terrain turned from rolling tree farms to over forested areas of mountain to dirt road. I wanted to see the end, I needed to see where the road went. My heart yearned to see the end of that road, even when the road turned to dirt and the vegetation along the roadside dipped into the travel lane, I proceeded. My valiant horse, Senna the Civic, led the way, enjoying the pursuit of adventure as much as I.
Here’s the problem, patched asphalt turned to gravel, gravel turned to compacted trail, compacted trail turned to a few ruts through a fleshy forest. There are limitations that even I have to bend to. Senna the Civic is hardcore, I’m even more so when it comes down to seeking out my destination, but sometimes you have to put your tail between your legs and admit defeat. The world isn’t always nice, and in our case nature had us beat. It wasn’t that I lacked confidence that Senna the Civic couldn’t plow through those ruts through the forest, but I had to have sound logic in pioneering in such an endeavor. My sense of adventure didn’t overpower my nagging suspicion that there was something down that semi-road that would tear Senna apart and leave us stranded forever in the middle of the Oregon wilderness.
“The bars are in the cage, and the birds come down from far above to sing before these bars.”
(He was mentioned before)
I felt barred in, I met an obstacle that I couldn’t overcome with my equipment. I could see plainly on the map that this “road” in fact went where I needed to go, my intended destination, Mt. Hood, but I couldn’t get there from where I was. As the crow flies, I was only 10 miles from my destination using that “road”, however, I had to turn around and travel an extra 60 miles to get there. Some people would just throw their hands up in defeat, not me, not by a long shot. I proceeded to turn around in the woods and travel back down the dirt, gravel and semi asphalt roads that led me back to semi-civilization.
Why? Why was it so important for me to make my destination? Did I have any business on Mt. Hood on a random Wednesday evening? No. Did I have any business in the middle of nowhere on Wildcat Mountain Road in Oregon? Probably not. I was looking for something, I was looking for anything, I was seeking something my heart needed, in which I cannot name.
Wildcat Mountain Road leads into the anus of Mt. Hood National Forest. Before you know it, you’re slap in the middle of rough terrain, amazing wildflowers and absolute lack of civilization, which is what I was craving. I had no idea that’s what I was going to find there, but it was exactly what I needed. An escape, a place without cell reception, without technology. Senna the Civic and I, alone in the woods to be with our thoughts (okay, maybe Senna doesn’t think, but I like to feel like he has an adventurous soul). Surrounded by the towering evergreens of Oregon and mysteriously placed rocks, I felt at peace. That’s what my heart was seeking, peace. When you decide to make your life more difficult than it needs to be, peace is incredibly desired.
“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground
“I’m free to drink martinis and watch the sunrise.”
Bob Dylan, Hurricane
I’ll take a bow on that reference.
Sometimes the liberation of independence is a lonely game. Without anyone to answer to, or anyone to look forward to coming home to, my heart seeks adventure. A solitary sort of life just makes me want to wander about looking for something to fill my soul like the love of another. When you move 2800 miles away from anything that knows and loves you, you tend to get a bit wanderlust.
“You may beg, you may plead, you may argue with her logic.”
and in the same song…
“I wasn’t born to follow”
I was begged to not go to Oregon. I was told it was a bad idea. I didn’t listen, primarily because I didn’t feel like those giving me the advice had proper knowledge as to why I was going in the first place. Actually, I’m still working on the whys and hows, but that’s something I have to deal with. I feel like a failure out here in Oregon, but it doesn’t defeat me. Perhaps if I planned better, perhaps if I asked for more help in moving, perhaps if I researched the cost of living….
“But who has the will to concern himself with such dangerous Perhapses!”
(hey, it wouldn’t be a bonafide N. Weed post if there wasn’t some Nietzche in there)
Atop the tall mountain of Mt. hood I can look out over the vast landscape and ponder what decisions I’ve made and why. What am I looking for up here, and why is this where I chose to go instead of my comfy home nestled in the gorge? Why do I chose to drive aimlessly around adventuring impassable roads instead of being content in my living room? How is it that I’m broke every week by Wednesday? Because I spend my money on gas, chasing a thing I cannot name.
“One circumstance tormented me then: Namely, that no one else was like me, and I was like no one else. I am only one, and they are all.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
I walk down the side of the road weighed down by a couple of bags of groceries and an adventure backpack full of all the needs that I could possibly have on my evening adventure. Traffic zips by me at a dangerous pace, however I feel like I’m in a botanical wonderland. Eighteen wheeled monsters fly past me at a ridiculously fast pace going down a 9 percent grade, distracted drivers dip across the outside line getting precariously close to where I wander. I’m aware of the traffic, I’m aware of the danger, but at the same time I’m delightfully aware of where I am and what I’m experiencing. The traffic is as good as non existent to me, I’m in a happy place.
I watch the blonde colored wild grasses dance in the wind that the cars passing by provide them and realize the diversity of each and every one of them. I can get totally nerdy about genus species on each of them, but that’s not where I’m going with this. I’m not in the mood to give horticulture classes anymore, it’s more about learning about how to survive in the diversity of culture much like the shit on the side of the road survives. How many times do you hear somebody has a “black thumb” or “I kill a plant by looking at it.” Nobody nurtures the plants on the roadside and they get along just fine, so what’s the point? They might die because they don’t like you.
For over a decade and almost a half I’ve been dealing with plants, and in all honesty, I think I’ve learned more philosophically about myself from plants than I ever have from philosophy itself. I’m not going down an agnostic “nothing exists” tangent, it’s just I guess I relate to them. Take for instance the weak kid that gets picked on and becomes emotionally fragile because of being bullied – I think of those plants that are sweat shop grown with roots that will never grow and are thrown into a scary new place that they aren’t prepared for. The child can’t emotionally take it all on, nor can the plant sustain itself due to lack of proper roots. The child might be prepared mentally, not emotionally. The plant might be ready to get out of his damn pot, but not physically.
This has not always been the problem. Growing practices have turned more into a churn and burn operation, grow fast, sell faster, otherwise to the burn pit with you. We as society have become similar. Get successful quick, gain wealth, otherwise you might as well live in the dumps of the world. We can’t all be beautiful flowers, we can’t all be cool kids, some of us are just awkward people trying to keep a chin up and a smile on their face. Some plants, such as the Viburnum, are diverse, but people think they’re boring. I have probably fifty parallels of personalities and plants, but I’m not going to bore the world with that. That’s not my point today.
“My name is Nobody”
Homer The Oddesey
We can all relate to certain psychological triggers that we have in life, things that make us feel a bit inferior, but there has never been a time in my waking adulthood that I could feel inferior around plants, especially those along the roadside. Too many times we focus on the flowers on the gardens, the manicured lawns, the parks of the cities. Manicured to try to please the masses. Trimmed. Altered. Unnatural.
There is so much beauty in the weeds of the roadside as opposed to the manicured lawns of suburbia, it’s hard for me to believe that people don’t see it. Honestly, it’s because they don’t know how to see it. They think there is a sort of role everything has to play, a mold you’re supposed to fit in. You’re a successful — whatever the hell you’re “supposed” to be. I knew what I wanted to be, I wanted to be me. I’ve been successful, I’ve been a failure. I’ve been rich, I’ve been a pauper. The only time that I felt like wasn’t me was when I felt I had to be somebody else. A mold that I couldn’t melt into, primarily because I don’t melt.
“He had big muscles, he had a tan”
Chicago Farmer, Illinois Anthem
“This isn’t Florida, not California….It’s Illinois.”
Concept of the song, dude had someone swoop in to get his girl with his good looks and hokey personality. She left him when he wasn’t tan…which is hilarious to me, you can’t be a natural person in Chicago in the winter without laying in a tanning bed, and if you have a tan in the Midwest after about Labor Day, you’re a phoney. People still do it, I did it, but I’m sort of embarrassed about it. I’d lay in a tan bed every day, because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be. I was supposed to be bronze, fit, and gorgeous.
I feel much more gorgeous being sort of pale. I don’t feel I need to chase after guys with big muscles and have a tan, and then again, it takes me back to my previous quote, Struggling with eating disorders for however many years, I’ve come to a sweet spot. The diversity of the weeds on the roadside remind me that many different shapes and types can exist together without hatred (except kudzu). We’ll all wave in the fragrant air of the blooming Ribes plants and be our own beautiful species, be it a type of person or plant.
“And I was like no one else. I am only one, and they are all.”
Maybe they are all and I’m the only one that enjoys the weeds on the roadside more than the manicured lawns of the suburbs.
“Yea, and if some god shall wreck me in the wine-dark deep,
even so I will endure…
For already have I suffered full much,
and much have I toiled in perils of waves and war.
Let this be added to the tale of those.”
Homer, The Odyssey
As we turn the page on another day of existence we look at an empty page that is just waiting to be filled with the trials and tribulations of modern day life. It’s not as simple as it used to be; we have technology. Those of the 50’s didn’t have to worry about twitter, cable television, or hell, even radio (what with the onset of this new fangled satellite radio business). We as a culture have become so deeply ingrained it makes us absolutely saturated with needing that technology that we’d go nuts without it. I admit, I’m one of them. When I can’t reach to my phone to see what the latest ____fill in the blank_____ is, I feel like I’m just part of the out crowd. It has really gotten to the point of feeling like you’re missing out on something.
Where would we be if it weren’t for social media, email, new feeds, and god forbid the drunk text (or sober for that matter). We as a society has become co-dependent on the fact that we can get any source of information we want with a few clicks or swipes of the ole digits. We can get things pertinent to a profession, find the latest movie times, we can even gamble. Sounds convenient, yes? Actually, I’m not sure how anybody does their job anymore without some sort of modern technology. Supermarkets would struggle would it not be for the POS system behind them. Law enforcement would be sluggish without a manner of looking up backgrounds with a simple couple of clicks. It even comes down to the simplest things, most of our cars are smart enough to know what time zone they’re in, and most of our alarm clocks automatically chance with the changing of time.
I sit here in my dark dining room, hacking on these keys, my roommate watching a movie in the next room. The roommate has hot apple cider and is lounging in her jammies. I’m here, bourbon in my adventure cup, wearing one of my favorite concert shirts, listening to “West LA Fadeaway” on a very decent set of headphones. My bourbon is perfect, the jams are very decent, and I love this shirt. Life doesn’t get much better.
Maybe it’s the bourbon. You can’t take away my bourbon. Maybe it’s the jams, you can’t take away my jams. You can remove me from this dining room, but you won’t remove the me that lives inside, and unfortunately there’s a lot of technology that goes into every single aspect of that. I’ve become a subject of the 21st century, a victim perhaps. I’m engulfed in a need to use it all the time, and it makes me sick. Maybe that’s why I enjoy my bourbon.
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”
W. C. Fields
May we all have a since of humor upon life! Alas, we’re constantly bombarded by technology that jacks with our flow (that’s a N. Weed term, you can’t use it). In all reality, W. C. Fields had a point. We all carry a handful of fears and never equip ourselves with the ammunition to take care of the matter at hand. We all face challenges, home life, work, socially and so on. We focus on making the challenge be the topic of interest instead of packing our backpack with ammunition to better guard ourselves against it. Most of the time we know what we’re going to face that’s going to be difficult, but we don’t prep ourselves to face the difficulty of life and the burdens of obstacles. We’re not made that way anymore, we want the internet to fix it for us.
I’ve been planning for snakebites my entire life, and I’m no stranger to dealing with them. Bourbon is not always the answer (whiskey in W. C.’s case), but in a safe environment and with the right mind, you can let those snake bites go away for a while. It’s not going to mean they’re not going to bite you again tomorrow, but, it’ll alleviate the instantaneous discomfort you’re feeling. It doesn’t have to be bourbon – – it can be rum. Just kidding .
Alleviation of self woe can be made so many healthy ways, people don’t realize what a little bit of soul searching will do for your overall mental health.
“I wouldn’t want them [kids] to raid my liquor cabinet and glug down my bourbon either”
In other words “all things in moderation.”
Few people know that I’ve done two stints in rehab, it’s not a big deal. Few people know I picked up a hitch hiker in Nebraska and toted him all the way to Oregon before he called the state Police on me. Few people I know I have seventeen scars on my body. Few people know exactly how I got my interest in plants. Few people know why you like that topping on your pizza. Few people know why you like the color green.
Fact of the matter, it’s nobodies fucking business, however, we’re curious. We turn to our friend technology to tell us what we need to know.
What celebrity married whom?
What did that political guy say to make himself sound crazy today?
Where did her dress come from?
Where did that football player go to college?
Seriously, do we really need to know any of these things? Do they do anything to enhance our day to day lives or just make us miserable? Does technology make us more intelligent people? I can’t give a definitive answer to that, but I can bring up some good points (in bullet points, because I’ve been told people pay attention to them.)
-Garbage in garbage out, who do you believe
-How much time do you have investigating something that probably doesn’t pertain to your daily well being (ie: fashion and sports)
-Could you be doing something to enhance your brain more for the long run instead of your current impulses?
-Psychologically, are you looking for mental masturbation or just looking for something to fiddle with?
-You could have been fishing (I stole that from someone)
“What the world needs now, is another folk singer, like I need a hole in my head”
Actually, the world needs more folk singers. We’re devoid of people being able of speaking their own minds, what remains important to them, not just what they think people wants to hear. The twitter feeds wouldn’t blow up had famous celebrities started their careers talking about wishing their roommate would take out the recycle bin or how much they love their cat. That shit is boring. For some reason we don’t like to feel emotion, and especially in the musical spectrum, which bleeds into the technology aspect. Our worlds are full of Pandora, Spotify, Google Play, and they’ll suggest what they think we want to hear, not necessarily what we need to hear. You have to work pretty hard to make them tell you what you want to hear.
Case in point, Pandora thinks I need to listen to Bruce Springsteen. “Because you listened to so-and-so”, excuse me? Don’t tell me what I want to listen to. It’s sort of a subliminal messaging in the new age. It happens everywhere, music, websites we browse, even stores we go to. Just ask our emails. Although they say “no, we don’t “share” your information”, they’re just part of a bigger company that can “share” it with some of their smaller companies. It’s the nature of the beast. Some of us like it here.
“Paranoia is just another mask for ignorance. The truth, when you finally chase it down is almost always far worse than your darkest visions and fears”
Hunter S Thompson
Burying your head in the sand makes you an Ostrich, burying your head in a mass of questionable media is just being a jackass. We can sit there and fear the mob, fear the military, fear the apocalypse. We can believe that the ____fill in the blank____family is the most wealthy, that _____fill in the blank_____is so much more attractive than me…. and so on. You become ignorant when you can’t look in the mirror and see the innate goodness you see before you. The mirror is a far better teacher than technology ever could be. I know I probably sound obtuse, but in the long run, if you can look into the mirror and realize that the ramifications of relying on technology risks you loving the actual world you’re living in…..you’re gonna miss out.
“Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent hiding underneath it.”
In a sort of Johnny Cash sort of way, flip the bird to technology. Don’t feel you have to be what you see on the internet, typically it’s seen through a filter, a photo-shopped moment, hell, you can even use the old school Paint program to clear pimples or ugliness. Be wary of what you see AND what you throw out there, there’s always someone out there that is watching. You don’t want to be the one that depresses to the point of no return, nor to you want to be the popular person that everyone wants to hang out with. Just be the fuck you. Why should you not be?
I’ve failed at it before, and since I’ve been in Oregon I’ve realized being me is the only way I can survive (perhaps because one of my favorite quotes are “Too weird to live, too rare to die”) I continue to pump my fist in the air promoting individuality. Drink bourbon, listen to Johnny Cash, read Shakespeare, just don’t let the technology get a grip on you, it might be corrupted.
Just kidding. Everything on the internet is the truth. ::
Sippy Cup of Bourbon
“It comes back to me with a vengeful clarity that makes me wonder once again if my head is entirely healthy.”
Perhaps one of my favorite quotes, not because he was insane or anything, but he was speaking of the circumstances in which he found himself thrown into. This particular occasion in was 1972 and he was covering the campaign (which my fascination with Nixon made the HST book On the Campaign Trail one of my favorite reads). Throwing himself in the epicenter of a presidential campaign, but believing he could actually keep up with the minutia that encompasses it was not a decision a sane person makes. Later on his frantic journalism style and sheer madness towards the campaign led to this excuse being made for him:
“What the hell are you guys worried about. He’s up there cranking out a page every three minutes … What? … No, it won’t make much sense, but I guarantee you we’ll have plenty of words.”
None of this really clicked with me until I was driving at top speed through the warehouse district of Portland last night at 1:30 AM chatting with a friend from South Carolina. I had gotten into a car that I can’t afford, leaving an apartment that I can’t afford, living in a state that has come to hate me, driving aimlessly because I couldn’t sleep. There was a certain part of me that wanted to cling to my sheets and beg the sandman to whisk me away, but that’s not me. That’s not a Nikki sort of approach to a simple situation.
My friend had been up, I had been up, and what the hell, why not call someone at 1 AM South Carolina time just to shoot the breeze. Seems logical, right? I’ll fess up, he’s been a pretty strong voice against my pilgrimage from sea to shining sea. I’d like to say he was the last person I actually “knew” in South Carolina before I left and he begged me not to go, almost like a premonition overcame him and suddenly encompassed him and his job became to try to save me from the impending doom that awaited on the interstates. He knew me, but didn’t know me well, but knew me good enough that me hopping in that red ragged Civic was more of a flee than a flight.
I’ll paraphrase what he said last night cause he was half drunk and I was driving, “Of course you’re out driving in the middle of the night through the warehouse district, of course you didn’t listen to me when you left, that’s who you are. You do what you want.”
Ouch, Nate, ouch.
But it was true on so many levels that it turned my little evening cruise into somewhat of a philosophical journey that led into a longer night of sleeplessness and mindlessly tuning to Netflix to numb my bleeding spirit. The cat sat there looking at me wondering what the hell I was doing and I was sort of in the same boat as the cat. With a can of beer on the nightstand and a laptop going I realized – this is the world of Nikki Weed and most people can’t cope. Not only does the sheer grandeur of the adventures boggle some peoples minds, the lack of purpose gets them just as much. Reading that article by HST reminded me that even him, with less than a quarter of his wits about him found his way out of situations.
I guess that’s sort of what I was bred to do, but damn it gets tiring. I used to wrap my brain around philosophy and long talks with intellectuals about the impact of global warming, now I drive around having adventures. What happened? Where did the straight and narrow get bent? Looking back at life experiences I realized that we all do it, we all take those tiny moments and make an adventure out of life, maybe you don’t realize you’re doing it, but looking at something out of a different frame of reference turns even the most menial task into something that could potentially make a great story. Isn’t that what life is about, making great stories to tell your grandchildren?
“Few are made for independence, it is a privilege of the strong, and he who attempts it having the completest right to it without being compelled to, thereby proves that he is strong but also daring to the point of recklessness.”
Independence sucks but at the same time it allows you to go on late night tromps through seedy parts of town without having to tell anyone where you’re going. It also allows you to eat french fries for breakfast (guilty right now) and have a stack of beer cans on your nightstand. It takes a very strong will to pioneer through life seemingly alone with only the support of a few friends and a whole lot of naysayers. There comes a point that being independent and co-dependent on independence collide that there is where you get the point of recklessness that pushed many a man over the edge.
I’d like to firmly state I believe I was born this way, and before we go down the abyss of homosexuality and race (being born into a certain skin). I think back to my daring childhood days of riding down the stairs in a sleeping bag, of going in the spooky basement, and making snow dogs as opposed to snow men. I look to my teenage years and struggled through them because there was a part of me that felt the need to conform, however in my heart I felt those that were so conformist to trends and style were the mentally ill ones. It didn’t mean I didn’t want what they had, but I had to be strong and be, well, me. I didn’t win any popularity contests, that’s for damn sure.
While in college I hopped a plane to go to Mexico without telling anyone to go visit my fiancee/boyfriend that was running drugs in Morelia. I didn’t know it at the time, let’s just say I learned the hard way. I woke up without clothes once in bed with a doberman. These are things that normal people don’t do, these are things that only someone that has a sense of adventure and creativity has about them. I look back on every single one of those moments that nobody in their right mind would ever think about doing, I don’t regret a thing.
If there’s one thing that an existentialist lifestyle has taught me is that it’s okay to pick up guys randomly at the gas station, just don’t give them your actual number. It’s okay to eat a grape from the produce section, knowing that you don’t even like grapes just to feel the thrill of grabbing something that isn’t yours and never be able to return it – well – I suppose you could. Personal favorite for me is actually tipping the gas station attendants out here. I’m broke as a freaking joke, but seeing them get confused and happy at the same time is quite a trip for me.
“It’s called a comfort zone. You need to get over that shit and get on with your life.”
Ron Weed (My dad in response to a breakup I was going through when I was about 20)
….and that advise has followed me ever since. Perhaps it was a trauma of having the first fella I actually loved dump me like a big truck full of gravel, but to this day the concept of comfort coincides with independence, and that leads to my recklessness. All three of those things are making me tired, not in the sense that I can sleep at night, but in the fact that I stay away trying to figure out how to extricate that adventure aspect, how can I lay low for a while and stay out of trouble. I’m not saying that the Washington County jail wasn’t a lovely place to spend an evening, but I’m over it.
“Be that word our sign of parting”
On that note, I’ve got to go, I’ve got an adventure to go on (because I haven’t found the cure for the common adventure yet).
“It is a seedy place, but a powerful sense of drama seems to hover on it., a feeling that almost anything can happen in a place like this.”
Hunter S. Thompson
My interpretation of that:
Mt. Hood, Oregon
In the midst of majestic mountains, amazing valleys and this jutting rock formation of what is called Mt. Hood, I find myself dabbling along through this chapter in life. It’s a surreal sort of phenomenon that can’t really be explained unless you actually experience it. I’m not only talking about the existence of this amazing mountain, but the experience of transplanting yourself far away. I look at that mountain knowing that it’ll never move, it’ll stay stagnant forever. Looking upon that mountain on a daily basis reminds me that I’m the furthest thing from a mountain ever created.
Tumbleweed – that’s me. There are undertones and funny stories of me falling down and being a real live “tumbleweed”, however, for the majority of my life I’ve felt that I’ve just been tumbling through situations. Never do I feel like there is a really nailed down agenda and I always have to go with the flow. Think of the tumbleweed adventuring across an interstate. The tumbleweed in responding to an outside stimulus and reacting towards it. Although tumbleweeds don’t have the ability to choose where they’re going to be uprooted and hurdled towards the opposing lane of traffic, they still would rather stay put. They don’t have emotions and they sure as hell can’t argue with the wind.
Mt. Hood, however, doesn’t care what the hell the wind says. I look upon that big ass mountain daily on my commute to work and admire the fact that it’s there in the first place. The panorama surrounding what I call “the hood” is amazing. You have rolling mountains and then this big ass mountain, jutting out like it’s the king of the world. The Hood will surprise the hell out of you on certain days, being ominous over the valley almost as if it’s reigning over. The Hood will also give you a sense of grounding, realizing there is this imposing presence of something over encompassing. The Hood doesn’t care, it’s always going to be there. It doesn’t care about the weather, and it sure as hell doesn’t care about politics. It’s The Hood, it is stationary.
Which brings be back to the mentality of moving on. As was quoted earlier – Hunter touched on a sensitive spot of mine while driving by The Hood the just today. There is a sense of drama out here because of a few reasons
-I know practically nobody out here and those that I do I haven’t spoken with since a sensitive time of teenage years
-I find myself never meeting a stranger, and since being out here I haven’t met one yet. In the grand picture, you have to realize that it’s just a way to deal with reality. You can cover yourself in a cloak of fear of other OR you can embrace them for who they are.
-The Hood has been towering over the valley forever, it’s kind of it’s thing. The Hood isn’t going to change for anyone else, lest there be an epic natural disaster and it blows it’s lid (such as Mt. St. Helens did). The Hood has drama, it can be eroded by a simple trickle of water and be carved away, but it doesn’t crumble at the thought.
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced”
The assimilation that I have with The Hood is that of experience. I wake in the mornings and peer over mountains that have been whittled away at the tops. They pale in comparison to The Hood, although they’re in the same range. They cower under the peaks of a superior mountain, and I feel bad for them. They let nature get them, they got suppressed but some unforeseen reason. There’s probably a geological explanation as to why they pale in comparison to The Hood, but in the long run, they just suck. They’re puny, they’re runts.
In my world, I see myself as The Hood every day. There are so many problems to be experience, so many challenges to face, obstacles to hop over. You can wake in the morning and loathe the fact that you have to deal with them, or, you look at them and realize that you will have to conquer them one way or another. It’s a learning moment, or at least, to make the most of a challenging situation it’s necessary to view it as such. You can go through life and think that living is hard, there are so many obstacles to overcome (I digress for a moment and profess that there are some people that don’t understand certain struggles, however, the struggles that the look towards as petty they suffer others that they suppress). Those that know what it’s like to be without grocery money suffer differently from those that lack the ability to show true love.
It’s a real thing, and a well-rounded individual realizes this. Life is hard, you deal with things, however if you let it dominate you, you lose. External stimuli that you have no control over does nothing to our actual living beings. We can be living in a world of hurt, such as break up or bad weather. If we allow ourselves to become victim to the external stimuli to the world around us and others decisions or the ebb and flow of weather, we become vulnerable. You become an emotional tumbleweed, letting yourself get tossed to and fro at the whims of external stimuli. The Hood didn’t allow that.
“Yet there’s no one to beat you, no one to defeat you, except yourself feeling bad”
If feeling bad about myself was a profession I’d be a millionaire – however I never fell into that hole. I look upon those that have eloquently spoken themselves out of trouble, faced down fearful situation with not a bad of an eye, and those that just fake it until they make it. I don’t think I’d be here, I don’t think I’d be chasing the dream (perhaps no the American dream as Hunter S. Thompson spoke of) but I’m out here in the face of all torment and tribulation. The Hood took it on, I’ll do so also.
In the meantime, I’ll keep on going. I’m not going to allow the world to get me down, I’m more of The Hood than I am a whittled down mountain in the background.
“Scenery is fine, but human nature is finer.”
Never once have I bought into the Romanticism philosophy, nor have I ever really took any time to research into it and see what it’s all about. I’m not saying I’ve never wrote a love poem before, however, they’ve all been sort of cheesy – you know, the rhyming type that Dr. Suess would probably do a better job at doing by adding a green egg or meat product. Romanticism isn’t my thing, however, this morning I feel a sort of draw towards that sort of carnal romance. The romance of living, as opposed to the suffering of living. There isn’t really an option, you know, between living and not living, so it just makes sense to make the most of it and fall madly in love with it.
It was brought to my attention yesterday, unbeknownst to me, that moving all the way across country is a big feat to conquer. I haven’t really thought about it, I just sort of did it, which is the way I’ve been rolling my entire life. The problem with that is that I just roll, I never really carve a track for my ball of life to roll down. I survive, yes. I keep myself fed and a roof over my head, yes. Is it where I want to be?
No, but yes.
Physically, this might be the most beautiful place, to me, on the planet. Of course, emphasis is based on the fact that to me it’s the most beautiful place in the world. Human nature craves different things, and in nature you’re going to find a more suitable climate for your being. There’s a reason that people gravitate towards the equator, and there’s also a reason people gravitate towards the Pacific Northwest. For me, I’ve found that since the first time I saw this part of the country while rolling in Morris, there was some sort of magical, ethereal, fairy tale like ambiance about it. Perhaps it was the fact there was a green sheen of moss on everything that made it look like a Disney movie. It could have been the fact that there were nurseries brim full of unique cultivars of plants on every street corner. There was also that cool pioneer vibe that you get, the sort that you only feel in newly explored areas.
Maybe not recent history, but the Oregon Trail is sort of a big deal…
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
My enthusiasm gets me in trouble on a daily basis. There’s a tingly feeling that I get when I brush my teeth for more than the recommended electric toothbrush timer designates as a suitable time frame for cleansing my teeth every morning. I get really excited when I vacuum the same spot three times trying to get every nasty bit of crap out of the carpet of my new apartment (that doesn’t look like it has seen new carpet in decades, but that’s okay). I especially get a feeling of accomplishment when I take the time to manicure every leaf on my patio garden to achieve this magazine ready terrace of horticultural wonderland.
The problem with enthusiasm is that you can get wrapped up in your passion, lust, and task and lose sight of the small things. I can focus all of my efforts on making sure I brush my teeth longer than the toothbrush manufacturers standards, however, it does no good unless there is actually some toothpaste on the damn brush. Of course, it’s better than not brushing at all, but it’s just not the same. That time wasted doing extra brushing could have been spent flossing, however, I chose not to because flossing makes me gag. This coming from the over decade suffering bulimic, go figure, I don’t like to gag. Also, if you were to couple in some simple practices like not eating food that sticks to my teeth all day (gummy bears, guilty) and avoiding acidic drinks (guilty also on many fronts), my teeth would be in good condition. Do I do those things? No. Do I think I’ll change? No. Am I going to keep brushing longer than the allotted time? Yes, because I’m enthusiastic about brushing.
Same thing about the vacuuming aspect. Little known N. Weed fact, she loves to vacuum because it’s sort of like mowing grass but inside. Odd, I’m aware, but when I can’t actually mow grass I need to channel the need to make neat rows on the ground someplace else. I suppose it was one of my first real jobs, cutting grass for a living, that instilled the fact that the ground/floor should have neat parallel lines to create a pleasing aesthetic. Inside or out, it doesn’t matter. My mom would have “carpet lines” in our house every day when I’d get home from school, it was a comforting thing. I liked to have alternating lines in my fescue when I had a big yard on a golf course. Now I focus on perfecting the art of making vacuum lines on my old, stained carpet. Does it make the carpet look any less ragged? No. Does it make me feel better? Yes. I could spend the time that it takes me to go over the same spot three times and rent a carpet shampooer, however, I chose not to because I’m too enthusiastic about my vacuuming to see the bigger issue – the carpet is just old.
Let’s talk about that plant thing. Not to bleed into the previous analogy of the grass – plants and grass are two different things in my book. Plants bring a different kind of joy, grass is just, well, carpet outside. (I don’t care if it’s sod that is void of weeds or a weedy patch of Bermuda, if it’s outside and in mass, it’s just grass) My little balcony overlooking the warehouse district of Wood Village, the railroad tracks, the interstate, and the Arco is like my little slice of heaven. I’ve crammed that little 4′ x 12′ area with so many plants in random containers it looks like I’m an eccentric old lady that collects cats – but has a cat allergy so collects plants instead. I have plants that only I would like, ones that others would think weeds if they were growing in their own yard, but I like. I have a different relationship with plants, and I push the boundaries a bit sometimes. Just ask my dad, I left him with 42 African Violets to care for back in South Carolina when I skipped town.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”
My enthusiasm got me to South Carolina, only because I was chasing love – or avoiding conflict. I had a new love interest in the South and one that was dwindling in the north. My enthusiasm got me into a ghetto college chasing the dreams of someone else, but also made me realize how much I’d miss plants if I didn’t work with them on a daily basis. It’s different if you sit in front of a computer looking at lists of pharmaceuticals every day or sit in front of a computer and look at lists of plants every day. I get melancholy thinking of cancer drugs, I get excited thinking about the newest variety of threadleaf Coreposis that a customer wants. That’s enthusiasm, that’s what drove me here.
I don’t feel like I’ve failed because I’ve always had enthusiasm, that’s something that isn’t handed out lightly. For the failures that walk the planet, or at least the perceived failures, chances are that they didn’t really “fail” they just put their ambition and enthusiasm in the wrong direction. There have been headlines here about people protesting and rioting in Portland in which it became out of control. Yes, they’re enthusiastic, but on the wrong topics. I parallel that mentality with my pilgrimage cross country. These protesters turned rioters were passionate about a cause and took it to the n’th degree. I, too, was passionate about things, perhaps it was my detachment of a profession with actual plants (as opposed to a big box store where plants aren’t really plants and are expected to just be thrown away), perhaps it was my enthusiasm of being different, perhaps it was the fact that I was ready to ween myself off all that was familiar and make a grand voyage west like those that took the Oregon Trail did.
(side note: for some reason the Oregon Trail was really glorified when I was in Elementary school, it was almost like that proposed that everyone that went to Oregon went to the big rock candy mountain. It actually instilled thoughts into more than one of us…)
“You scream to the conductor
But he’s been deaf for twenty years
Hear the other people laughin’
As he grinds through every gear”
Widespread Panic (Climb to Safety, a personal favorite)
You’re your own conductor, grab the balls of your enthusiasm and chase what is important. At the same time be cautious, you can get caught in a gully of false ambition! You might be at Taco Bell and realize that Taco Time is really where it’s at. You may be at Lowe’s, but you realize that Home Depot has what you need. Chasing your needs is much greater than the wants. I wanted green spaces and trees. I wanted to be surrounded by plants – tons of plants – on a daily basis. My enthusiasm about that led me here. I finally get to play with plants without actually physically moving plants from point A to B physically – which is what I’ve done for over a decade and a half. I get to do it remotely. Plants move, I tell them where to go, it’s sheer bliss.
In all actuality it’s a dream job. I move plants, I don’t have to touch them. I don’t have to take them off a truck, put them on a table, load them into someones car, talk to them about when they kill it. It’s a dream, for someone enthusiastic about plants. I wouldn’t have found it had I not been enthusiastic, passionate, confident, secure about what I love. It takes a moment of self realization to make changes in life. Sure, I went through all the courses to work in a pharmacy, but I actually took the time to realize it wasn’t for me. My enthusiasm for that never existed.
At the same time, paying attention to the smaller parts of the world pays dividends in the long run. The carpet aspect, yes, it’s a pain in the ass. The tooth brushing bit, yes, I have to get over getting gagged by an object in my mouth other than a toothbrush or finger (my own). The carpet, well, I don’t own this joint. I scoot money over to someone else that has taken over for someone else It’s her lease, not mine, therefore it’s her carpet, not mine. The plants, well, I forget what’s supposed to be yellow and what’s just saturated in water.
Here’s the thing…enthusiasm is amazing. Some people lack the courage the push the limits of what society think is acceptable, but there are pioneers such as I that say screw it. They taught us about the Oregon Trail dauntlessly elementary school, they wanted us to go.
“Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.”
Wrong, Siggy. Wrong.
In all past articles, I do believe I would find a quote, agree with it, then drive the point home. Recently, however, I’ve been in a bit of a contrary mood and there have been a few cavities of my philosophical soul that need some fillings. How many times do we hear something that strikes a chord with us, you know, flings it’s fingers on the right fret, and sticks with us like some sort of haunting sequel. You hear it over again – a deviation from the original – but a slight difference. Enough to make us perk up and take notice.
Flowers have been my life – and I reckon they always will be. “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family,” sure! I’m fine with that, I’ve been able to select certain family AND friends that stay with me in my life, however, I’ve never had the luxury to exorcise botanical wonders out of my life. It started before I could read, planting sticks in the back yard proclaiming I was growing trees, I ran away from home at the age of seven to buy corn seeds to grow in the back yard, I did my own version of pack trials in my bedroom in high school. I don’t even want to delve into the sickness that adulthood brought me plant wise. Thousands of dollars later I have nothing but a few pots of flowers on a covered balcony – a far cry from my two acres of landscaped bliss in South Carolina.
The problem with the Fruedian statement that flowers have not emotion or conflict is the exact gripe of any gardener or flower fan in the world, or at least, those that are trying to grow them where they don’t belong. There is a large part of me that wants to agree with this bold statement of being a footloose and fancy free flower, just because you’re a flower. He hasn’t studied the flip side of the coin, you know, the flower that was put someplace it doesn’t belong.
We don’t have to be gardeners to know what happens when you put something where it doesn’t belong. Put some tin foil in the microwave and tell me what happens. It doesn’t mean that the tin foil is bad, and it doesn’t mean that the microwave itself is trying to do harm to the tin foil, however, they just don’t mesh. Same thing happens with cats and water. Chaos ensues and you’ve got yourself wondering if the water is really trying to hurt the cat or if there is some deep seated problem with the cat that tells them they don’t like water. I could throw out a few more analogies, but I think the point has been driven home, flowers are a creature of their habitat.
I long for the opportunity to have Freud go out and look at some landscapes that were poorly planned, with creatures struggling to survive because they were set out of their element because of someone elses oversight. He must have never really dealt with plants, living breathing creatures as they are. Life is so much more volatile when you’re completely at the mercy of your climate as opposed to just getting by. Like the person stranded on an island without water, the suffering of a flower without water is parallel. Things like this are overlooked by the casual observer, aka, any psychologist without any botanical background.
The flower struggles daily, grasping for sunlight, craving water, wanting air to grow into and soil to reach for. Flowers really don’t have it that easy, although they look like life is nothing but roses (pun intended). Much like people, some of them decide to thrive even when it’s the wrong circumstances. I know for a fact I’ve had some of them, and on the other hand I’ve struggled with those that should have thrived without my help at all. Looking towards the gardens of my past and those that I envision in the future, nothing is a promise. Even when you have the perfect conditions for a plant, such as a paeony, it don’t mean that it’s going to follow the rules. For the number of times that I’ve tried to grow paeonies, trust me, I know.
“I’ve told you the analogy of the gardener with the beautiful garden, right? You walk up and see a beautiful garden, full of flowers. Then upon further inspection you see that all the flowers are actually weeds. That gardener has taken all of his focus and put them on the weeds.”
-My amazing boss
Here’s the thing, I’m not trying to be a plant nerd. Actually, the opposite. The perpendicular tangent that I’m running is this – we’re both living things however, a plant has no thought, it just survives. Humans, however, breathes and eats just like a plant, but we think about things too much. Too much mental energy is spent trying to figure out where we’d be happiest or what would cause us to thrive. Plants, on the other hand, just go and do, especially the weeds. You’ll never meet a flower that hasn’t struggled to get to where he is.
So, next time you see a flower, don’t take him for granted. Thank him for the struggles that he went through to ge there. If you were to compare your own life to his, it’s probably a little less sad. An abandonded seed that floats into soil and has to raise itself on it’s own….
Okay, maybe that’s a step too far….
“What ever happened to Faye Wray?”
-Rocky Horror Picture Show
I have to say, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks, and although I feel bad about leaving “The Adventures” page full of crickets, it was sort of necessary. There was no way in hell I was going to find time to contribute to the contents of this site, there was just too much new going on. Travelling across country for vacation is one thing, but when you find yourself smack dab on the other coast with a new job and no lodging, you sort of prioritize. For me a roof over my head was more important than writing, and for that I apologize, but at the same time I don’t.
So, I bring to you a real story (not of the fictitious sense at all)
When I decided to pick up my anchor and move to uncharted territory, at least for the Weed clan, Oregon seemed like the scariest place in the world. At the same time it was the most amazing place in the world, almost like a Disneyland for plant nerds. When Brook and I traveled to the left coast a few months ago, travelling through Oregon put me on the edge of my seat (okay, the seat of Morris). Everywhere I looked there was nurseries and garden centers screaming at me “check me out” or “hey, I’ve got a pure white hosta” things that will drive a girl insane.
I had been scouting out jobs, not just in Oregon, but everywhere coast to coast after my discontinuation of employment with Lowe’s. Being a ridiculously firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I knew that it was time to broaden my horizons. The lush growing fields of Oregon resonated in my mind, and although I wanted to just go and do, there was a very strong moral compass that pointed me in the direction of family. There was also a very strong need to go where I felt I would be the happiest, not what was the most convenient. I’ve spent far too many hours toiling in mediocrity to be satisfied with my decisions in the past. I had an awesome marriage, but it ended. I had a great career lined up with Lowe’s, but that fell through. It was time to do something on my terms, on my timeline, without looking for a bunch of support at first to help me through the transition.
After being in Oregon a week, I’ve realized the cool thing about Oregon is that the entire state seems like people genuinely care about others. It’s a different sort of caring than transpires in anyplace else I’ve ever been, and at first I thought I was just seeing what I wanted to see. You can listen to the AM radio here and hear nothing but stories about people that need help, how you can help them, and a happy ending. It’s nothing like the news of people getting shot, people dying, or the doom and gloom that is modern day news media. You get a genuine sort of caring here, and although I’m far away from what I have considered home for a long time, it seems like I’m at home already. It’s a pretty neat feeling, scary, but neat. Of course, in the pit of my stomach I know that there is rape and pillaging going on, but they don’t seem to glorify it as much as other places. It might be a “swept under the rug” mentality, a parental feeling for all of residents of the state to protect their baby, however, in daily interactions I feel it’s real.
I used to religiously listen to Pandora on the way to work, but now, I find myself more entertained by the enlightening stories of the AM radio station. I used to be a music snob, sorting through stations upon stations that accumulated in my Pandora account. I used to go an entire commute without actually listening to an entire song, searching endlessly for the “perfect” song. Although I have an archive of my comically large USB plugged into the car of hand picked music, I still would struggle with finding the song I actually wanted to hear. It was like a rat race of music, change the station, change the song, get tired of that genre after twenty seconds, change station, change song, wonder why you like that genre in the first place. It was exhausting, but that was how I ran life for a long time, making things more difficult than they had to be.
With the introduction to AM radio, it seems like life has become exponentially simplified, except for the fact I care about issues other than “what’s going on in Nikki’s life”. It doesn’t make me want to be political, by any means, but it’s very enlightening to lift the curtain on life and open my windows to the view of other peoples issues other than my own. Forever I had dwelled on “poor Nikki” which actually, just fed the machine of self pity. Having lyrics that ooze out emotional sputum tainted me day with songs that cried of heartache and love. The aspect of my modern life really isn’t that complicated in comparison to the lives of some people, struggling not only to survive, but just to live free. Not “free” in the non-penal way, just free to do their own thing. Chase dreams, see mountains, eat ice cream without worrying about calories.
“But yet I am firmly persuaded that a great deal of consciousness, in fact, is a disease. I stick to that…Tell me this: why does it happen that at the very, yes, at the very moments when I am most capable of feeling every refinement of all that is “sublime and beautiful,” as they used to say at one time, it would , as though of design, happen to me not only to feel but to do such ugly things, such that…”
Notes From The Underground
Being totally aware of your surroundings if vital for survival, especially in cases of being in the wilderness and you have to be cautious of bears looking to eat you alive. In a modern culture of human nature and politics, you look towards your consciousness not in a way of self-preservation but self-promotion. All too many times we try to look through the lens of the superficial creature seeking out the best thing for ourselves instead of looking out for those that aren’t as lucky as our own beings. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the lives of luxury cars and capers, but there are some people out there that aren’t thinking of anything other than surviving. Surviving not in a way that most of us think of, like making sure there is enough craft beer in the fridge, but surviving by the means of living.
Sometimes, we get wrapped up in what is the then and there and forget to take a look at the here and now, and it can be as simple as the bird on the windowsill or the guy picking trash out of the dumpster behind your new apartment. It was a humbling experience, being warm and surrounded by the creature comforts of my kick ass apartment. I watched him from behind a sliding glass door, overlooking a balcony, which overlooks a semi-secure parking lot. Here I am looking out over a warm place to stay and a pretty new car in the foreground of my morning panorama. I’m safe, drinking water out of a faucet and using electricity, and there he is picking through the crap that I threw out yesterday.
How much of our lives are nothing but waste? Waste in a sense not only in physical items, but in terms of time and money? Could we not waste less time delving into the social lives of people that don’t really impact our own lives? Could we not waste less money on the things that aren’t going to last or that doesn’t have any pertinent nature in our lives? I look around me and I already see a pile of waste (not in a garbage sort of way), but wastes of time and effort. A television set that sits baiting me with brain dumbing programming, a refrigerator full of food that doesn’t really nourish, a car that is totally impractical. I don’t hesitate to say that it’s a ridiculously comfortable way of living, however, what’s it like to not be comfortable?
People suffer for their own reasons, in their own ways. I, however, have selected the ways in which I suffer. Apparently I chose having an eating disorder, being a recovered alcoholic, and a wanderlust philosophy junkie. I also like to drive fast around corners and eat pizza, but that doesn’t make me a bad person. None of those things endanger others lives, except maybe the driving fast bit. The issue here is, are we really better than those that dig out of our own trash? Are we not all crawling up a ladder of destitution only because we put ourselves in a lifestyle what wasn’t sustainable? I have no doubt in my mind that the thrill of the fella picking garbage from that container was more thrilled about getting a copper bottomed pot that would sell for good money at a scrap yard than I’ll ever be getting a cheeseburger at McDonald’s.
Be grateful, humble, and giving. There’s really no reason not to. What ever happened to the pure and gracious nature of human beings? What ever happened to “love thy neighbor”. All of a sudden culture as become a sort of rampage of “give me what I want” and “screw my neighbor, help me first”. What ever happened to borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor as opposed to going out and buying an entire sack you probably don’t need?
“I invented adventures for myself and made up a life, so as to least to live in some way.”