Tag Archives: Spain

Random thoughts about the Camino

Señal del Camino

Señal del Camino (Photo credit: gabsiq)

I’m in work waiting for my client to show.  She’s my pretend sister, my brothers fiancé.

I’m still sick.  All I want to do is go home and put my pajama’s back on.  I feel a type of exhaustion I only felt one other time while I was suffering from altitude sickness when hiking up the goddamned Himalayas.  Unable to move or function.  It’s stress induced, I know it.

And when I am home, I feel bored.  I never get bored!  I’m bored because I’m too exhausted to do anything.  It’s frustrating.  And so I mess around with iMovie and make YouTube video’s like an asshole.

Experiencing boredom makes me understand people better.  They push themselves everyday just to escape this kind of boredom – escape the meaningless of it.  Nobody wants to be alone with themselves.

Time is approaching for the Camino launch.  It really is a big deal.  Not to anyone else, but for me it’s huge.

People go on the Camino expecting to find miracles, insights, to find God, secret cults….etc.  They think it’s some prolific journey and are let down when all they’re up against is walking on blisters.  They can’t find the spirituality they seek.

People need to realize that spirituality happens when you’re alone with yourself.  And just like it is with boredom, it can scare the shit out of anyone.  Make them itch off their skin.  Wanting to get out.

This is the world I live in – the world of reflection.  I’m at ground zero in fighting my own bullshit.  I crave solitude and being alone as a way to find faith in myself, a way to find my ground.  However, with such a big journey approaching, I’m feeling that I need others support more than my own courage.  It’s like reaching for a life raft before sinking into my fears.

I’m not brave enough on my own.

This is why I’m sick.  This is why I felt boredom for the first time in years.  Right now I need to be around people, but unfortunately I’m stuck in bed.  I stretched myself out too thin over the past few weeks and it all caught up.

Now I’m stretching myself out on my bed with my laptop on my crotch.  It’s 9:10 pm.  I downloaded three audiobooks for the Camino.

Ellen DeGeneres – Seriously….I’m Kidding

Tina Fey – BossyPants

Mindy Kaling – Is everyone hanging out without me?

They are all safely stored on my iPhone awaiting day one of the Camino.  In all honesty, I’m looking forward more towards listening to those books than I am to the actual walking part.

I’m having second thoughts about this whole thing.  No no, wait, am I?

I can’t stop sneezing.  My coughs are coming from the bowels of my spleen.  The spleen is a dark slimy green, loud, mucus organ.

Omg I need nightquil.  I have a tear rolling down my salty hot cheek.

Why am I doing the Camino anyway?  I already went through all that spiritual crap, I get it.  Let go, go with the flow, hold no negativity, be compassionate, all suffering is self inflicted.  Yep, got it.  I don’t need to walk across Spain to gain understanding!

My laptop is getting all germy with my hot sweaty hands all over it.

I’m walking it for pride, for ego.  So I can someday look back on it and say “Hell yeah I fucking did that.”  There is no other purpose other than that.

That seems to be the reason why I do everything.  Or is it?  Do I really care about seeing the world and what’s out there?  Or is it all just an attempt at filling that empty space in me that yearns and yearns?  Am I yearning for a proud moment?  Is there meaning in pride?

This is how the camino humbles people.  They see themselves as the horse asses they are.  Possibly once they transcend their arrogance, transcend hiding their weaknesses or lying to themselves, that’s when they reach their ground zero – the true person they really are.  And no, there’s no meaning in pride – it’s only yet another illusion of ego.

You have to stand directly in the light in order to see your own dark shadows.  The camino physically puts you there in that light whether you want it to or not.  That’s the spiritual part of it.  When your physical body gets pushed, so does your soul.

It’s all about thinking, getting yourself good and humbled and asking yourself while looking down that endless road, “is this really all there is?”

Yeah buddy, that’s everything.

You are it!  The zen is already in you.  Which brings me back to the beginning, why oh why the hell am I doing this?

Most people choose to walk alone because they haven’t reached an understanding in themselves.  They need to think more on it.  Think about what?  The why, that’s what.

“Why, why why?”

Me – “Cause it just is man.  Let it go.”

I let everything go.  I let everything go and now I want to walk and leave it all behind.  I want to vanquish even more shit hidden in me.  I want to be both the water and the rock.  Unable to ever be hurt again, but soft enough to embrace change.  My soul is the rock, my physical self and mind are like water.

I want to get there – the foundation, the answer.

In moments such as this, when I find peace – I feel I have it, but then as soon as I’m around people, it gets ripped from me.

Ayahuasca told me I need to be strong for others – maybe this is what she meant.

I need to sleep.

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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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Melanie Falls, But in a Funny Way I’m Sure

There They Go-Go-Go!

There They Go-Go-Go! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh num she body oh num she body oh num she body.

I can’t get out of bed.  The stress of my upcoming trip, work, going out, hiking – everything has taken its toll on your poor ol’ pal Mel.

Today is April 24.  That leaves me with 18 more days until I’m on a plane searching for my spirit animal and running around the desert high on peyote thinking I’m a coyote .  And since my visuals tend to be that of a cartoonish variety (judging from a fever induced hallucination I had as a kid), I’ll no doubt turn into Wile E Coyote falling off a cliff.

Aside from my peyote adventures, in 24 days I’ll be walking the entire width of Spain with nothing but the clothes on my back and the boots on my feet.

Today as I lay here in bed completely exhausted while looking at the path that lies ahead, I turn into that turban dude from Indiana Jones getting his heart ripped out.

If I feel completely annihilated now, what’s to come of me on day 5 of my pilgrimage?

This isn’t me.  I’m not an adventurer although I always wanted to be, always pretended to be.  I’m just a plain girl from CT.  I’m a little bit poor, a little bit rich – a little redneck and a little bookish.  My friends are all straight-edged for the most part.  All of them going by the book, going through the stages and emotions of getting older.  Finding their places and comforts.  I have all that I’ll ever need right here at home, but it’s not enough – it was never enough.

Hence my blog, hence the reason for having 30 plus jobs over the years, hence the reason for breaking free and starting my own business.  I just want to be free from the circumstances that shape my life.  And by breaking free, I create my own set of circumstances.

So in 18 days my three-year-old blog of written words may turn into a video diary mainly because I won’t have the strength or resources to write.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I hide behind the written word, but I can’t hide behind a camera in my face.

The reason why I write is that it brings meaning to my life.  I can handle anything because I write – all experiences are never for nothing.  My life is the thing that’s most precious to me, so I want to capture it.

And I’m taking you with me.

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I’m a damned writing fool is what I am

Hi I’m Melanie and I’m a time traveler.  I’m from the year 2068 and I’m 88 years old. I traveled back in time to accomplish everything that I was too scared to do when I had the chance.  The only problem is, I forgot all my memories of the future.  I’m living today as if my older self never existed.  I have a clean slate, a new beginning.

So here I am at 33 years old.  Perfect health, perfect teeth.  Not a single responsibility except for owning a small business where I set my own hours.  I have $8,000 in the bank and a steady flow of continuous income.

I landed myself at a good time in my lifeline.  A time where I can literally do anything, learn anything.  BE anyone!

Yesterday I got home from work at around 5.  I needed to finish planning the last two weeks of Spain where I’ll be traveling from Santiago, Madrid, Barcelona and then to Pamplona for the running of the bulls.  I had to book my hostels in advance so to avoid getting stuck anywhere paying out the nose (learned from a client).  I mapped out walking directions to the airport, walking directions from Hostel to Hostel, I purchased a plane ticket to take me from Santiago to Madrid.

I’m still not done planning yet.  It’s the directions that I want to be sure of.  I’m going to try and avoid taxi’s and public transit so long as I can help it.  It’s cheaper to walk, plus I get to see more scenery.  I immerse myself in my surroundings when I walk.  However, I no doubt will have to learn the bus or subway system while I’m there if by any chance there’s a “must see” museum far off.

This type of planning is the hard part.  Pilgrimages are easier.  They’re linear and you walk in a straight line from town to town.  Very little planning is necessary because everything you need to know and see is all right there.

My clients are starting to say, “I’ll see you when you get back!”  Instead of saying, “What do you have open 4 weeks from now?”

To me it still feels like it’s so far off in the future.  But it’s not.  Today is April 19 and I leave for Arizona May 8.  That’s in how many days?  27.  27 more days.  27 days until I’m in the desert eating peyote buttons and searching for my spirit animal.  And in 33 days I’ll be walking 500 miles to unknown lands across the sea.

My next client will be here any minute.  I’m booked mostly everyday until I leave.  I feel like I should be home planning the rest of those last two weeks.  I’m jittery and restless.  And last night I was hit once again with the mean reds.  The mean reds of fearing that I’m truly alone on my journey.

It’s now the next day.  I got locked out of my office because I went for a drink with my last client to the attached bar upstairs.  He’s a politician, a democrat.  He was mayor at 26 years old and now he’s something else but I didn’t ask what he does.  He’s very smart and I enjoyed his conversation, so agreed to one drink which turned into several.  He’s gotta be out of his mind if he’s looking for a cheap hook up.

My clients are awesome, I ain’t gonna lie.  Every person that comes to see me now are all regulars that know about my trip.  Today I’m massaging my asian mentor client – it’s exciting.  90 minutes of good conversation and I’ll be rewarded with $100.  My job is the shiz.  The shiz I say!

I’m the shiz.

Not only am I the shiz, but a Melanie Hater texted me last night saying that we’re going to be just fine.  It made me so happy to hear!  That means I’m most likely going to Maine after the trip to Spain and I’ll be welcomed back into my family of friends after our long harrowing absence.  It’s like returning home for real – returning to happier times – my roots and my heart.  That makes a journey like this possible.  It lifts me up and gives me strength.

So I returned to a time in my life where I have no limits.  I have the wisdom of my 88 year old self and the timeless love of forgiveness and togetherness.  I’m not alone, and not only am I not alone, but I’m loved.

Two nights ago I was exhausted while laying in bed surrendering to sleep.  That’s when I asked the question, “is there really a God?  One almighty God?”

I tried rationalizing the irrational.  I realized that I had to turn off my monkey brain and use my left brain – the feeling side that know’s no language.  I tried feeling the answer – I deeply meditated and probed for an answer, for some kind of understanding.  Then it hit me.  Hit it me so hard that it felt like my chest was being brutally punctured by that long syringe from Pulp Fiction.  I felt like I was having a heart attack and that my mind was going insane.

For a brief second I had it.  I felt it.  I understood.  But my brain couldn’t handle it.

He felt like a singularity and all encompassing  – so close and so far.  Webs, mathematics, love and fear, light and dark.  My brain wasn’t able to hold onto it.  I felt terror and panic welling up inside.  My heart physically felt adrenaline – so much so that I wanted it to stop.  But I understood – I saw it.  There are no words to describe what I felt.  Only that yes, there is a God.  Not only is there a God, but we will NEVER be able to know him.

We will never be able to connect deeply with him.  Much like infants not being able to understand their parents.  We’re just not there yet.  We haven’t grown enough.

But yeah, I connected for a brief moment with God and wow holy crap.  Do I want to do it again?  I don’t know.  I have to have unwavering faith and belief in myself – eliminating my fear of death, eliminating my need to control.  I need to be deeply aware of myself and my individuality so that I don’t lose myself or my mind.

Okay, now it’s 2:30 in the morning.  I just got home from Bar in New Haven.  I was in the back, where the dance happens.  I was a dancing fool.  The only one wearing hiking boots.  At one point I proclaimed, “It’s too damn crowded in here, I can’t dance my real dance!”  So the girls I went there with pushed back all the sweaty vibrating guys and made room for me.  I let loose and didn’t give a shit.  I was me in all my glory, and everyone moved back to recognize.

All anyone wants is to be either entertained or inspired.  If they can’t get love with whomever they’re with, they look for it on the outside.  All anyone wants is love.  Self actualized love.  It’s all about connection, inspiration, appreciation.  Knowing how you look to others and having that awareness to respect and connect on their level.  It’s the Great Agreement is what I call it.  The physical reality of the outside in agreement with what’s on the inside.

You can be who you are all you want, but to really have an influence on the outside world, you have to connect with it.  And of course the only way to do that is with self-actualization.  That illuminous video camera that captures your true self.  You have to see yourself in the real world so you don’t lose yourself or your mind.

I’m laying here in bed eating carrot sticks and vaping my electronic cigarette.  Nobody really know’s me, nobody sees.  But when I create, they see.

If only people can see what I see, know what I know….

I don’t want to stop writing, but it’s about that time.  If I don’t stop, it will turn into another “I’m Teething” post.  All egoistic, not mindful.

Damn, I want to keep writing….

I’m making a lot of money lately.  That’s egoistic.  It’s not stopping either.  It just keeps coming and coming.  Like one of my nose bleeds as a kid.  It keeps pouring out.  You want to stop and take a break, but it keeps coming out.

Tonight, as I grabbed a beer from the bar and made my way back to my friends on the dance floor, I had to lift my chin up to avoid random shoulders jutting up making contact with my jaw.  I listened to the DJ playing dance music, everyone being so random.

When you listen to a band play, everyone’s facing the same way – everyone has the same purpose.  When a DJ spins a record, it’s all random.  Sex and animal instincts take over.  Everyone facing this way and that.

I went to a film festival tonight at Yale.  The showing was “Habemus Papam” translated to English, “We Have a Pope.”  It’s an Italian movie about a fictitious Pope abdicating his throne.  It was such a well made movie.  It struck a few chords in me.  He didn’t have faith or belief enough in himself to trust God.  He wasn’t self-actualized, not being certain of what he wanted.  It showcased deep truths about our fallible human nature.

All Guru’s are fake.  Anything written about sacred wisdom is fake.

Anyone can learn anything and be capable of regurgitating and believing whatever they learn.  But to have actual knowledge is completely different.  Knowledge can’t be found in a book or in a person.  To have actual knowledge is a whole brain process.  It’s called wisdom, and in the sci-fi book, Stranger from A Strange Land, it’s called Grokking.

To Grok something is to not only understand it, but to familiarize.  To see your reflection in it.  People can’t tell you anything, you have to figure things out on your own.  It’s the only way to understand anything.  Everyone’s just too lazy or too busy to put themselves anywhere they haven’t already been.

I need to sleep.  I booked myself a 10am tomorrow.  A quick $100 bucks.   Then two more to follow suit.  People want in.  There’s very little time for anything else.

Just under 2,00o words.  Sorry guys, it’s hard to hold back.  Especially when shit faced.

 

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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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