Tag Archives: Madrid

Melanie searches for her bliss

Ernest Hemingway's 1923 passport photo

Ernest Hemingway’s 1923 passport photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel great today!  Yesterday I was coughin’ my way into a coffin, but today the sun is shining and I feel fantastic.  I don’t want to be here in work.  Think Santiago, think Madrid.  This is why I’m here today.

Arggg……work…..

I’m in the dungeon of my office building.  Amy called it the rape room.  I’m trying to figure out if I truly want to do this for the rest of my life and the answer is no – heck no!

Follow your bliss Melanie.

I’ll always have this office.  It’s a good thing having a trade to fall back on – And it puts me in a perfect place in my timeline where I can afford to spread my wings.

I came across a really great quote by Rumi the other day;

“Knock, And He’ll open the door

Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun

Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens

Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”

If I were to break it down Melanie style, it would go something like this:

“Knock, And He’ll open the door”

You want change, but don’t know what direction to take.  If you pay attention to the signs and follow your heart, doors will open.

“Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun”

Lose your ego.  Lose all negativity and sense of control.  Want nothing and desire nothing and it’s there where you’ll feel as radiant as the sun.

“Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens”

Let yourself go and have trust and faith in knowing that everything will always be okay.  

“Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”

Don’t be caught in the illusion of believing that you’re more special than everyone else.  Be clear, simplify your mind – be humble.  Lose your ego and you become one with everything.

My first client just canceled.  There goes $75 bucks…

I have one more today so it’s not a complete loss.

You know what my problem is?  I’m too damn interested in everything!  I want to do and become everything and everyone.  I want to travel, to write, be a psychologist, take a class on philosophy, ancient myths, learn chemistry, biology, archeology, learn how to be an EMT, be Hemingway, be Picasso, be rich.

The friction of the duality rub is what slows me down.  What’s in my heart can’t happen in the physical – it’s too much work, too much time that I don’t have, too many excuses such as, “will this truly make me happy?  Is it worth it?”

I want to learn basically.  I want to learn enough where I can create something amazing.  The question is, what do I want to create?  That’s a question I’ll take with me on the Camino – it’s the perfect question!

What do I want to create?  What will truly make me happy for the rest of my life?

I love games and puzzles.  I need to find a job that requires putting pieces together.  I love games because I love having a purpose.  The purpose is to win.  You conquer the game, you conquer yourself.  It takes knowledge to do it.

The reason why I’m probing this is because one of my clients told me about edx.org.  It’s a non-profit online college that’s offering free classes.  Everything is free and available to anyone with an internet connection.  You don’t get credits, but you get certificates of mastery.  The participating colleges are spending millions of dollars to teach people who want to learn just for the sake of learning.

I’m not a fan of higher education these days.  They made it into one big money making industry.  People get stuck with tuition bills for the rest of their lives!  Not only that, but they land in a job they’re stuck with indefinitely.  It’s like signing my own prison sentence.  No, no thanks.  Not for me.  But neither is marriage and kids, so I’m an odd ball.

But it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to learn, or am incapable of learning.  I just do it in a real world way, you know?  If I’m curious about something, I go out and participate in it.  Classes are too contained and conventional.  It’s not real – it’s all about money.

But this free online thing is perfect!  I can get a glimpse of these subjects before I commit my life to any of them.  And isn’t that what I’m most afraid of?  Commitment?

After Spain, I’m going to invest in rental properties, sign up for free online classes, work on mastering watercolors and I’ll take it from there. By the time I figure out what makes me happy, I’ll have enough money to invest in the cog of higher education.

And believe it or not, that plan makes me truly happy.

“The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.”

From the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Robert M. Pirsig

(I read it, it’s a really good book!)

Okay client where are you?  I’m ready.

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A rough sketch of my Camino adventure

Bulls running on 7th July 2005, Consistorial S...

Bulls running on 7th July 2005, Consistorial Square, Pamplona. Image taken by Johnbojaen and uploaded on 1st september 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve spent the whole day planning my trip to Spain and let me just tell you, hole – lee – shit.  Holy shit.

The majority of the time was spent figuring out what airport to fly into.  It needed to be an international airport close to the start of the Camino, St Jean Pied de Port, France.  I googled and googled and everyone had so many different routes to take, all confusing, all Spanish sounding.  Jumping from bus to taxi to train.  I felt like an alien on this planet we call earth, no understanding of its foreign ways of traveling.

Let me point out that this is my first time planning a trip.  I went to Colombia, sure, but it was booked through an agency that told me what to do.  Colombia was peanuts – PEANUTS I tell you!

Finally I narrowed it down to Pamplona.  It was the cheapest flight I could find, close to the boarder of France, and there’s a rumor floating around the Camino forums that there’s a woman who organizes shuttles from that airport straight to the start of the Camino (no other airport offers this luxury).  However, I still need to contact the lady in charge and set my pick-up time.  I’m putting all my egg’s in her, so let’s hope it works.  Otherwise, there is always hitchhiking.  People actually said that!  To hitchhike to St Jean Pied de Port.  A single white girl from the states, not knowing any Spanish….shit Mel.  I’m a Goddamned idiot for doing this, aren’t I?

Then I realized, “Good God doesn’t the running of the bulls happen in Pamplona?”  I googled it and sure enough, there it was.  It start’s July 6, so I planned my entire trip around it.  I even bought my hotel room in Pamplona!  I had to buy it now or else I would’ve been screwed.  There’s only a meager 10 or 15 hotels left to choose from.  The cheapest was $415 for four nights which is a great deal for it not being a dorm (all hostels were already booked) and so close to the city center.  There was only one room left available and the next price up jumped to $800, so yeah, I had to snatch it up.

I’m so excited right now.  REALLY excited.  I even told my parents about it and my Dad is stoked.

Me – “I’m sweating I’m so excited!”

Dad – “You better not run with the bulls.  You know better than that I hope.”

Me – “Of course not silly, that’s crazy talk.”

Dad – “You’re going to have a great time, that I know.”

I made $400 during these last two days of work.  So what do I do?  I went to REI and got fitted for a new pack and some gear.  And I actually did my research this time!  I looked online for the best size and best pack for the camino, searched for the nearest dealer and next thing I know, I’m standing in front of Joe, the most educated pack man alive.  He was literally talking to me for a good half hour whilst I stood in front of the mirror with a pack on my back.  It had 20 pounds of weight in it and still felt light.  Joe adjusted straps up and down, blushed when he cinched a strap near my boob and talked about his own plans with attempting the 500 mile trek.

I got the woman’s Aura 50 Liter pack made by Osprey.  It’s super lightweight and perfect for the Camino (said by Joe and people on the Camino forums).  And it’s made for a woman!  The pack I used in Nepal was honestly a pack most suited for a cave man.  I was a one-man Three Stooges act every time I swung that thing on and off.  It was uncomfortable, and oh man it hurt.  But I didn’t know any better.  I thought a pack was a pack – all unisex and fits the same.  I was so wrong…

That same day I came home and searched the web for the best sleeping bag.  It has to be the lightest weight and most compact as they get.  Several people on the Camino forums suggested the GoLite Adrenaline 1-Season Sleeping Bag.  I researched and researched and finally settled on it.  Then bought a high quality poncho and some rain pants – it can rain for 15 days straight during May.

Here’s a rough draft of my trip thus far:

Leave May 15 from JFK.

Arrive in Pamplona to meet my shuttle bus to SJPP.

Arrive in St Jean Pied de Port and stay overnight.

Start the Camino May 17.

Walk for 41 days (this is a very roomy, ample time-frame I’m allotting myself.  I love old architecture and don’t want to miss a thing while I’m there).

Arrive in Santiago June 26 and stay 2 nights.

Hitch a flight to Madrid and stay for 3 nights.

Leave Madrid July 1st for Barcelona (taking plane).

Stay 3 nights.

Leave Barcelona July 4th by train to end my trip at Pamplona to watch or participate in the running of the bulls.  And stay for the bull fight and festivities.

My plane leaves from there, the day after encierro, July 8th.

The entire cost of the trip including hotels (thanks to Booking.com), planes, trains, $30 a day on Camino – everything will cost $3,152.

This total doesn’t include food and activities while staying in Santiago, Madrid, Barcelona and Pamplona.  So that leaves me with 12 days of food and fun not tallied into the grand total.

And guess how much I have saved specifically for the trip?  $3,000!  It’s all in cash tucked away safe in a secure hiding spot.  Tomorrow I have to deposit it so I can book my other hotels and flights.

It’s like….perfect.  You know what I mean?  It all seems so easy.  I’ve spent the whole day planning, but now it’s like, so plainly laid out in front of me.  I don’t understand how the Angry Orchestra of Melanie Haters can complain about planning trips while I sit back and relax – planning is freaking fun!  And it’s not even that difficult.  I’m planning a 7 week adventure like slicing through pie, while the Haters complained about all the work it entails.  I don’t get it.

HOLE – LEE – CRAP I’m actually doing this.

I’m going through bursts of hysteria – utterly unable to contain myself, sprouting fits of joy and loud boisterous rabble to anyone who’ll listen.  But then put me in my bedroom, all quiet and alone, and my heart sinks in my chest and I wonder why I’m doing this.  Why am I doing this?  It’s a dumb idea.  Amy would say it’s dumb and all a waste, my mother would agree with her.  The Melanie Hater’s would all assume I’d be coming home in a casket (that got lost and ended up in iceland somehow).  But my Dad and Brother applaud my venturous escape into the unknown.  All the backpacking blogs I read, all the travelers journals get me excited – unbelievably excited.

There’s so much I want to write.  I haven’t even grazed the surface.  But it’s late and I need to put the blog down or surrender myself to insomnia.

Buen Camino!

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