when I was a little bitty baby, my mama would rock me in the cradle.
I smell horse shit.
I did smell that smell months ago. It was an odd refreshment. She carried Herself on the humid wind that dwells in Bryan, TX.
I rode along the roads that polished my skin.
I rode along these roads on Lane’s 4-Wheeler.
His bold spirit carries Mama.
Strange how gravel can take you back and give you ownership.
There was a hint of fall in the air.
That is my god.
god is the season of fall.
he is the mystery.
he is the smell.
my god smells.
I heard a bird, but I’ve heard Her before so her noise doesn’t turn many cheeks.
She can’t turn my cheek.
I cross the road that used to be red dirt.
Red dirt that dusted my callused, oversized feet.
I saw development that may or may not hold meaning to Joe Weido.
It may or may not impress him.
It would not impress him.
A Bloomer Trailer.
A Range Rover.
Brings a false aroma of comparison and debt.
I have no interest in either.
Labels used to make me turn my head and flash a spotlight.
Now, labels are small.
Labels are vapor.
Puff. Puff. Give.
I traveled on to the next curve in the road.
The next curve brought life to the man who was Joe’s right hand.
This man could have been a puppet.
Not only a puppet, but a muscle.
I watched this timid muscle as a cinema.
A little one watching a motion picture that was not understood.
Herman’s home was not welcoming, and I always feared the sound of his driveway.
It brought a familiar smell, but a foreign view.
A weak doorway.
Stacks of newspaper for keeping.
Mama cows that didn’t look like Weido’s cows.
A man who would fearfully climb a tall ladder.
Herman trembled on heights, but not when Joe asked.
I want to know why Herman collected newspapers.
One day, I will understand.
Herman smelled of sweat and age.
I will never forget that smell.
I will never forget his bike or the soft squeak that she brought.
I wasn’t raised with money, but somehow Weido provided all that Jess and I needed.
I wasn’t raised with fat money, but I was raised with smart money.
A little lesson that I have yet to learn.
My recent visits to Carrabba Rd. have proven that money is rising and so is the concrete.
The water will dry.
The grass will turn and blow.
There are so many souls within a 5-mile radius of the home that rocked my cradle.
My womb was once simple and dusty.
My womb is now slick.
Slick + Streamlined.
In the glow of Lane’s light saber/4-wheeler light antenna, I see a MAMA deer who wants to HOP on the disco ride.
She seemed to feel cool and safe, and I needed the company.
There has always been something about a deer.
A skinny little MAMA deer leading her babies.
She clears the barbed wire.
She has no hesitation of where she might be headed.
We are the freaks.
We are the far-out fucks, baby.
THE FAR-OUT FUCKS.
You ever looked at someone and seen the same cloth?
Have you ever mirrored your demon?
Let us all have clear sight of who we are, and who we may become.
We may never know the future, so we must create.
Was Herman cut from the same cloth as me? Was it similar? Was it scary?
A similar strange.
We are the drum, not the beat.
We are the dust before it settles.
I am the drip, not the drop.
Through rose-colored glasses, we see an odd sunset.
Was I supposed to see the coming of the sun?
I missed it, baby.
I forgot to look.
When you’re strange
We go to war with our feelings.
Right. Wrong. Not sure. Right. Wrong.
Something that tugs and pulls at your soul, but you can’t process exactly what it means or where it originated.
A little bitch is what I like to call it.
You may think of yourself as a writer.
You may think of yourself as an artist.
You ain’t wrote shit for words in over a year.
Does your creation draw an eye or a sword?
It may draw a gun. It may draw ignorance.
You can’t tell the difference between the walls of a gray cubicle and a smoke machine. You imagine it will one day become a gray sky with marshmallow clouds. Why haven’t you left the concrete? You fought so hard to get there. You were a relentless, Christian brat who made it to North Texas. Oak Cliff didn’t know what was coming.
You made it.
Your microwave worked, but your bank account was slower.
What now, baby girl?
I will do whatever the blue print says.
Let us all sing together.
W E – W I L L – S E R V E – Y O U
That’s the proper anthem, right?
Will I ever travel again?
Will I leave the selfishness of American soil?
I don’t like the way it feels.
Get it off of my toes.
Get it away from my bones.
Am I to stay due to financial suffocation? Suck it all away.
Take all the green, but give me gold.
Gold is eye contact.
Gold is a handshake that you cannot forget.
Gold is a handmade connection - tattered fabric that was once a quilt.
Frayed little God-like gold.
Seasons don’t lie to you. You’re either chasing rabbits or devils.
You create a requiem for the little skull of yesterday.
Your mind expands.
You think Higher thoughts of a forbidden intelligence.
Your brain begins to shake in disbelief, followed by a relief of new discovery.
NEW LAND OF THE LIVING.
Get down on your knees and pray for the good stuff.
the key to the heavenly gates
the mushrooms without poison
the berries without sour
Place all of your burdens at the feet of Jesus.
That’s what I’ve been told.
That’s what I’ve read. That’s what I used to simmer on.
He pulls at my arm when I cross traffic.
He pulls at my ear when I wake from a deeper sleep.
He whispers when I don’t want to fucking hear it.
He stays silent when all I can do is pull at his sealed lips.
HELLO there, can you hear me knockin’?
THE KING OF ALL KINGS – CAN YOU HEAR ME KNOCKIN’?
I know you’re not a joke. You’re too clever to be a joke.
You’ve shown me how to care for the footsteps in front of mine and how to level the ground for the ones that may follow.
The Universe is not a hole; She’s a mountain.
Feeling is when you listen to GIMME SHELTER.
the mad bull lost its way
just a shot away
Common for today’s story: People getting exactly what they want at the expense of humanity.
New seas are on the horizon. Old seas are draining to dust.
Don’t stop feeling. I want you to look forward with a novice. Hold my hand.
When you feel numb, hold to the feelings that are certain, the ones that don’t leave.
I’ll look to the humming tires of a Peterbilt hauling the bulls that give a gift to a rancher - The bulls that chase ya - The bulls that win the staring contest.
I’ll look to a twenty-eighth birthday in West Texas. Marfa drew something that I cannot erase. I was told that I could speak to the future years ago, but the future takes breaks. I looked at Elly and Brent, and I knew that something was different.
We traveled to the observatory like obedient tourists should. At first, Mary thought they were car lights, but there wasn’t a fucking highway. Headlights don’t come from sand. Headlights don’t leave each other then join hands. It was magical.
The four of us stood in amazement. I was scared to blink.
Jo + Mary + Elly + Brent
We smoked ciggies as little raindrops fell from the sky. Brent called them fun drops.
I looked into Elly’s eyes with my astigmatism.
May all the goodness transfer from your Papa. May your souls be one, and your hearts survive as a reflection of the other. Similar rhythm. May all electricity flow and connect.
Thank you Elly. You opened a little gift that I didn’t know was wrapped.
We lived the life outside of a cooler and a dream.
Two sandy aliens that didn’t know of color or gender.
They only knew of the other’s existence and needs.
Hey, if you need a hand or a DIRECTION, I will show you because I love all that you are and I relate to your need.
Can you see my veins in your reflection?
Can you hear me knockin’?
Can you relate to desperation?
Let’s shake this shit up until all the dust lands on the noses of the people. Let’s make people believers of the real shit.
BELIEVERS OF THE ROTATION. BELIEVERS OF THE VIBRATION.
Garth to Terlingua.
Seger to Marfa.
Hangover to DFW.
The feeling you feel you should regret is SOMEONE. That’s the one you should toss. If it comes back to you, grab it. Feelings come and they go.
You fall for a man who proves time and time again to be unavailable. This feeling is STUPID. This feeling is DEAF. This feeling is FROLIC.
This man is unaware of all feelings. He is distant to the eye and reach. He lives with the northerner’s and doesn’t know of the move he has on the south.
No woman shall drag a ball & chain.
You allowed yourself to feel something from so far away. You turned your back on your walls. You wanted a piece of Ohio. You wanted to feel Ohio on your breasts. Ohio is an illusion. Hallucinations make you crave clarity, but that motion picture was never yours, baby.
Maybe I’ll run in the sun with someone who wears the same sunglasses as me.
Livin’ on Mountain Time, yea one day I’ll be livin’ on Mountain Time.
There will come a time when Lane will be able to feel a sticky sap from the pines. He’ll bring it home to Mama, and we’ll light a candle in the memory of broken fingernails.
We’ll look back on the climb.
We’ll throw the finger up and give thanks to the author of time and movement.
We’ll tip our hats to the assholes who were doubtful.
We’ll tip our hats to the family who faithfully pushed our thighs when our ankles gave surrender.
We’ll tip our hats to the devils who pretended they knew better than we dreamed.
The wind has carried us.
She will not fail to bring a new leaf.
Adventure is fun.
Adventure brings you high. I love high places.
High to the sky of dreams and imaginative glow.
The high will not last; you will eventually be forced to come down to reality and face the unveiling of truth and life as you knew it before.
You will become familiar with the dirt that your ass was dropped in.
You will breathe in the dirt and watch it flow quickly between your fingers.
The high leaves and the dust settles.
So, how does one go on?
Too dramatic? I don’t give a fuck.
How does a human being move past disappointment and unmet expectations in a graceful manner?
At twenty-six, I have yet to figure that one out.
When you cut my dreams, you cut my flesh.
I walked 275 miles last summer from Denver, CO to San Francisco, CA. It does pain my spirit to admit such a small number of accomplished miles on foot. My pride and initial plans for this hike have kept me from writing about the experience due to fear of rejection and the irrational concern of what others would think of me. Damn you Cheryl, my hero.
Think what you will, I must write my story.
Eight months ago, I wrote an entry titled “Tough”. That was the last time I put any words to page (screen).
Many turns in the road have come about since that entry, none of which were expected or planned. I did not expect for dispersed camping to be so limited on the American Discovery Trail, it was. I did not expect for a simple campground with running water to be nearly the same cost as a hostel/cheap motel, it was. I did not expect to feel so defeated without my Lane boy within close reach of me, I did. My heart missed his heart.
I will never forget a conversation I had with my friend Sam, we discussed my frustrations and options going forward as I tried to calm my anxiety after the first couple weeks of the hike in Denver. My food was ruined and so was my concrete plan. This conversation led to me comparing my journey to Cheryl Strayed’s journey, this was bound to happen with her story being such a heavy influence on my endeavor. Sam quickly reminded me that Cheryl left behind much less than I did. Most importantly, Cheryl was not a mother at the time of her hike on the PCT. My time spent away from Lane, along with financial opposition, created unbearable hurdles to complete the amount of miles left on the ADT on foot.
Can you blow up a balloon? I cannot, or at least, I don’t believe I can.
During my stay with Lynne and Bill on the Grand Mesa, I figured I should sleep outside a couple times to prevent my body from getting comfortable with the luxury of sleeping indoors. Originally, I planned on using a Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad under my sleeping bag throughout my hike. This specific option proved to be extremely uncomfortable. Lynne offered to lend me an inflatable sleeping pad to provide extra comfort and support for my back. I was hesitant to accept the gift; the last thing I wanted to do was blow up a sleeping pad every night while setting up camp.
I decided to give it a shot.
After dinner, with Lynne’s family as an audience, I practiced blowing up my new sleeping pad.
I have never felt more embarrassed or insecure.
I heard Lynne (child psychologist) whisper to her brother, “This is a confidence issue.”
So much became so clear at once.
My wall was not my lung capacity.
My wall was my mind.
I DID IT.
I blew up my sleeping pad.
Honestly, I was convinced that this was something that I could not accomplish. I convinced myself that I could embark on a cross-country endeavor but I was certain I could not blow up an inflatable sleeping pad.
Lynne taught me so much during our time together.
She convinced me that a snowball was a suitable substitute for toilet paper.
This was a scary option to try.
With a crystallized clitoris, I walked on.
Following an unforgettable time on the Grand Mesa with the Cobb family, I caught a train to Reno. UNEXPECTEDLY, I met the most perfect pair of seasoned best friends, traveling and adventuring with the sole purpose of staying young at heart. Jan and Jeanette awakened something inside of my young body, they showed me a little more of who I was. Our snacks and conversations about men and pot will forever haunt my mind.
STRONG ASS WOMEN.
Reno was an experience.
A cheap hotel room.
Excessive amounts of pizza for one.
Smoky penny slots.
The elevator to my room traveled slowly as my pack pushed on my shoulders. I watched retired, rich couples waltz in and out counting their money and spreading their denture filled smiles.
Y’all gonna fucking adopt me or what?!
My Nevada state coordinator, Ted, picked me up in downtown Reno and we headed to my last leg of the trail. During the trip, he spoke to me in the most kind and encouraging way. How can someone who has known you for thirty minutes believe in your abilities and dreams? How can they have such a confidence that you will be who you are and succeed? How can a fatherless little girl search for a daddy in a stranger and hope that he responds with acceptance and love? How is that little girl still alive? She refuses to fade.
I fought tears when he handed me a cup of coffee.
We studied the trail maps together as he prepared to go his own way.
I wouldn’t dare let my daddy-for-a-day know that I wanted him to stay.
Couldn’t have him thinking that I was anyone less than a fearless hiking momma.
I will never forget my first encounter with Kim.
Kim stood in a slender stature with contagious energy and a magnetic smile.
We exchanged stories and similar experiences.
Kim was once a single mom.
Kim once quit her job and left on an unaccompanied trek.
Needn’t say more, I love Kim.
She opened her home to my world and my baggage.
I will remember Tahoe when I think of clear waters, full-bellied feasts with cigars, transcendent homesteads, and the kindest of Gods people.
I was given the opportunity to explore Tahoe by day and lay my head on a pillow at night.
I was in some kind of new and unforgettable heaven.
Kim and her family convinced me to spend my time and money to my benefit throughout the end of my journey. I wanted to see and experience as much as possible before returning to Texas.
Be smart, Jo.
I rented a little space car.
I knew my ‘Yota Yaris could take me anywhere and I felt cool as fuck.
The feeling of shoving my backpack in a baby car and driving away on wheels was indescribable.
Yosemite was the prettiest of places but the rocks made me lonesome.
I stared them down thinking, “Fall on me, you son of a bitch.”
Cameras flashed as husbands clinched their wive's shoulders in an attempt to claim them.
Kids were screaming while the scent of sunscreen flooded the air.
I remember setting up camp and cooking dinner but everything after that is kind of a blur.
The trees entranced me as they caved over my tent.
I was worried about bears but the stars were telling me not to worry about anything.
I woke up thinking about San Francisco.
I packed my temporary life and headed for the bridge, the golden bridge.
She would be my last stretch of steps and just as meaningful as the first five I took in Denver.
IT WAS EXHILARATING.
The fog was foggy.
The wind was windy.
The vibration was strong beneath my boots.
Seger was singing to me.
My hair was everywhere.
HELLO SAN FRANCISCO, YOU MOTHERFUCKER!
Thank you Jeff and Courtney for opening your home to a long lost family member.
Your compassion meant the world to me, so good to see you both.
I bought a Garth Brooks CD and headed down the Pacific Coast Highway 1.
I have never seen more beautiful country.
The waves were loud at each lookout, all having something different to say.
Looking for a therapeutic answer to all of life’s problems, I closed my eyes and tried to sit still.
I pondered for the purpose of me sitting on the side of a California interstate.
This was it, baby.
This was the end.
Thank you Shae for your generosity that brought me home to Texas.
I remember anxiously walking down the aisle of the plane trying my best not to injure any passengers with my backpack.
In my head, I was swinging that bitch around taking everyone out who got in the way.
There were no fireworks.
There wasn’t a party.
People were still on their cell phones.
They all smelled the same.
Hey Jesus Christ,
I know you’re there.
I’m still confused.
I will keep looking for the light that will make sense of this journey.
Doing what I can to figure life out, meet me somewhere.
Thank you to all the souls that communicated with me throughout my trip.
Your connection was medicine.
Thank you to the hands that gave.
You believed in me, I am forever grateful.
I recently spotted a deer on my drive home. I would normally keep driving but I wanted to watch her so I pulled over and turned off my headlights. Initially, she was running at a fast pace. She was alone but seemed very confident in her destination. It didn’t seem to bother her that she was alone. She slowed her speed and gave me a cryptic look to let me know she knew I was her audience. She danced forward in a slow and sexual manner while her hooves hit the dirt. Dry Texas dirt. She walked into the trees like they were hers and disappeared from all the humans and their movement. I became envious of that bitch. However, I was in her corner, whether she knew where she was headed or not. She was moving forward.
Reflecting on the past couple weeks has been a painful process but I cannot tell you how freeing it is to know that I am still here. How the hell am I still here? I cannot decipher whether the grace of God is sustaining me or torturing me.
On the first day of June, I completed nearly ten miles of the trail with fifty pounds of life on my back. The first part of the trail was mainly occupied by cyclists who showed no mercy in their passing; their speed gave them ownership of the trail. I remember thinking, "How will I get up if one of them blows me down?" I would have died there. I checked my Fitbit hoping to see that I had accumulated what felt like two hundred miles.
THREE FUCKING MILES.
I peered into the sun and convinced myself that I had purchased a defective Fitbit.
A man on a bike slowed as he passed me yelling, "Where ya headed?!"
It was all I could do to feebly respond, "San Francisco!"
He and his buddies raised their fists in the air and cheered. In that moment, I forgot the agony and defeat I was tearing myself apart with. I forgot about the fifty pounds of life on my back. I forgot the uncertainty of feeling in my toes. All I could imagine was my goal; reasons of why I started began to run through my mind. Those guys were just what I needed at mile three. I would call them passing pillars of strength.
Can't quit today, Bitch.
My first night camping was an experience that I will never forget. I had to remind myself how to live...
Where do I put my socks? Somebody or something is going to steal them.
I wonder what my face looks like?
I'm not sure if I'm pitching my tent the correct way. What if I blow away?
These Walmart camp sandals won't stay on my feet. Five dollars well spent.
My goodness, I smell horrible.
The last thing I wanted was food. My body was battling a combination of allergies and anxiety. My mind was mush. I decided that I needed to eat, no matter how I was feeling, my body and mind needed the calories. I opened my bear vault (I finally figured out the locks) and smelled something that could be compared to death. I took a good look at my food, something was wrong. I saw the green mold and my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. My meals, except for my snacks, were somehow ruined.
I fucking LOST IT.
Maybe it's just the food that has been in the bear vault?
Surely, ALL of the food that I prepared for the summer is not spoiled.
I later found out that all of the meals for the hike went bad. I could not and still cannot figure out where I went wrong in the preparation. I followed the examples of previous hikers and everything was sealed properly. My immediate thought was the powdered milk...that still doesn't make sense because POWDERED MILK IS SUPPOSED TO STAY FRESH. Still a mystery. I spent nearly three hundred dollars on hiking food in bulk for the entire summer. You can imagine my dismay; three hundred dollars means something to my bank account. That amount of money is not "change" for this girl!
I panicked. I cried. I panicked. I cried.
It was all I could do to crawl into my tent and pretend to be at peace. The coyotes continuously howled. My mind was a mess. My body was in shock and my heart was broken. I forgot how to sleep. How do I sleep? I began to dream of a Greyhound bus to Dallas.
You cannot quit on your first day! That's a rule!
I woke up the next day feeling as if a truck ran over my tent with me in it. I knew I had to call my state coordinator and explain my food crisis and emotional death. I hiked to the next town of Morrison where she rescued me. RESCUED ME. She has been my "guardian angel" since our first conversation. She and her family took me in and helped me regroup. We laid out every item that I was carrying in my pack until we were able to bring down the original weight of fifty pounds to thirty-eight pounds. I had to part with my favorite flannel shirt but my back and shoulders benefited from the sacrifice. They bought freeze dried meals (ones that I originally ignored in planning because of the price) to get me started and sent me out on the trail. Incredible, right? This is not the last time you will hear of this angelic family.
Twenty miles later, I finally arrived in Idaho Springs where there was a tornado warning. Perfect! I would like to publicly thank my Dad for coming to the rescue and setting me up in a motel for the night, thanks Dad! All I wanted to do was recluse in my small town, smelly motel. I couldn't do that; I had to branch out and speak to people. My next town was the beginning of my elevation gain and the Rockies were staring me in the face. I knew Colorado had experienced late snowfall this year and ridiculous weather to go with it. I wanted someone to tell me that everything was melted and that my plans would go forth with ease.
I walked to the visitor's center, grocery store, library and local pizza place searching for answers and a green light. I remember all of their faces; each expressed a unique puzzlement.
"You're on foot? You picked the WRONG year for the Rockies!"
Well, no shit. Thanks!
I started back to my motel, in the rain. I watched my boots invade the puddles like they were going somewhere; I didn't feel like I was headed ANYWHERE. Silly boots. I looked up to see a rainbow and felt my stomach turn. I mumbled under my breath, "What the fuck are you promising me?" Silly Jesus.
I brainstormed with my coordinator trying to create a plan to get me through the trail in the mountains. I did not expect snow to be an issue this late in the year; I was not prepared or equipped to hike through snow. Once again, my plans began to change and take a completely unexpected turn. I would "skip" ahead past the snow. My guardian angels, without hesitation, came to my rescue!
I am now on top of the Grand Mesa in Colorado with my state coordinator; she and her husband have basically adopted me into their family. I have never felt more welcomed by the most beautiful strangers. I "day hike" in and around the Mesa to gain as many Colorado miles as possible. The high elevation and rollercoaster miles are proving to be helpful training for California; my body will undoubtedly be the strongest it has ever been when I start my trek to San Francisco.
Spending time with Lynne has been life changing. It came out of nowhere and was not a part of my original plan but that doesn't matter anymore. She's fucking cool. I am learning so much from this mountain momma. She's a Springsteen fan and has kept my heart company with interesting conversation. I didn't realize how much I was going to need PEOPLE on this trip. I could not think of a better place to be stalled, confused and hungry for answers.
I am anxiously counting down the days until I see Lane in Grand Junction. July 1st is haunting me, I cannot wait. I miss my baby, my lovetree. He is the reason why I am still here. When I return to Texas, I want to look Lane in the eyes and tell him that he can point his feet west and see San Francisco on foot. He can do it because Mommy did. He can do it no matter the hardships or shitty surprises.
I miss my couch. I miss rock and roll in my underwear. I miss my oversized sweater. I miss Weido. I miss my Johnny boy. I miss MY PEOPLE.
I met a couple from Houston on the side of the road last week. I was loaded down, sweaty and singing Petty. They pulled their motorcycle to an overlook for a smoke break when they asked me where I was headed. He wore faded blue jeans that were his for years. She had long, cold, black hair with leather fringe painted to her thighs. We exchanged our summer plans and laughed about the weather in Texas. I'll never forget them passing me on the road and snapping pictures of my pitiful escalation. They waved goodbye and headed into their summer on wheels.
The past twenty days have been some of the hardest I have ever lived. I have never felt more emotion or been more headsick. A lonely heart is quick to believe defeat. A messy mind is quick to dream of a Greyhound to Dallas. My bones have never been this tired. Tough was once four digits of miles accomplished on foot. Tough is now choosing to put one boot in front of the other when your heart, mind, body and soul are persuading you to duck your head and catch a bus home.
"You don't duck your head to nobody, ya hear? Nobody."
I want to thank the Cobb and Arthur families for your unheard of support and generosity. Your selflessness has made over my defeat with hope. THANK YOU for helping a Texas girl find her way. I am eternally grateful.
You can donate to my hike to San Francisco by clicking the donate button on my home page. Your donations, prayers and beautiful words mean the world to me! Thank you all.
Love and Peace
What trail are you hiking?
I am hiking the American Discovery Trail.
Are you hiking the entire trail?
I am hiking the last leg of the trail from Denver, CO to San Francisco, CA.
Are you going with a group?
Who are you going with?
I will be hiking alone.
I guess you watched the movie Wild?
I have watched the movie Wild because I fell in love with the book when I read it. Cheryl Strayed’s story was one that inspired me to begin my own research and plan my own journey. The next three months are not an imitation of the movie Wild. The next three months are mine.
How long is it going to take you?
I have to complete the trail in three months.
Where will you sleep?
What will you eat?
Oatmeal, Instant Mac n Cheese, Instant Mashed Potatoes, Jerky, Trail Mix, Etc.
How are you going to take a shower?
I won’t. I will have “bath wipes” and natural sources of water. I hope to stay in a hotel every couple weeks to write and take an actual shower.
How will you communicate? Will you have your cell phone?
I am bringing my cell phone but service will be unreliable at times. I will be reaching out to my family every chance I get.
Will there be other hikers on the trail?
I’m sure there will be but who knows?
Aren’t you scared of wild animals?
Yes and curious about when I encounter them. Hoping for cool experiences. I am carrying bear deterrent with me for emergencies.
Are you packing a gun?
That was my initial plan but after researching licensing laws in western states, I decided against it. I will be carrying a knife that my friend, Mary, bought for me.
What about your job?
I quit my job.
Are you returning to Wet Seal when you finish?
I do not plan on going back to Wet Seal after the hike.
What are you going to do for work when you get back?
I don’t have that answer yet.
Didn’t you just buy a house?
Where will Lane be staying?
Lane will spend the summer at Grandma’s house, like every other summer. The only difference is I will be hiking, not working.
How are you feeling about being a FEMALE hiking alone?
I FEEL FUCKING PHENOMENAL. I still don’t understand this question. I will have the same resources that a male would have. I will experience the same vulnerability that a male hiker would. I will sleep on the same ground that male hikers have slept on. I do not foresee any threats from humanity on this journey. Know that I am not scared to use a knife or beat the living shit out of someone who intends to hurt me.
I want to REALLY LIVE. Worrying about what could happen to you on the freeway or out in the wilderness doesn’t allow much life to happen. Fear encloses you in a cage. No human should live their life in a cage.
I leave in six days to start this journey of a lifetime! I have created a Paypal account for those who would like to donate to my trip. If you want to buy me a burger or a bed along the trail, you can do so through the "Donate" tab on my homepage. I would be so grateful! I am overwhelmed by the consistent support/encouragement/love I have received during my preparation. I can't wait to start walking in Denver. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
ALL MY LOVE
Do you remember when you introduced me to the Rolling Stones in your blue truck? I do. Thank you for that. Thank you for showing me what rock and roll was! To this day, we don’t just listen to good shit; we talk about how the good shit makes us feel. You’ll never know how much our musical analysis means to me.
Kool & The Gang
Earth, Wind & Fire
The Allman Brothers
The list goes on and on…
Your salt and pepper hair allures the young and the old. It is forever cool.
I can only remember painting my nails once when I was younger; I was so incredibly frustrated because there was more bright green polish on my skin than on my nails. You heard my pitiful sobs and came to the rescue. With the two of us working on them, they had to be some kind of ugly. That didn’t matter because you helped me calm down.
I can still smell the perm solution you put on my hair. I don’t remember if that was your decision or mine. Either way, let’s never do that again.
I remember when it was possible for you to swing your leg above my head, what started that? Your aerobic sessions?
Remember when I wouldn’t kneel in mass and you would get pissed?
I had to have been thirteen when we were loading feed at CO-OP and I broke my bracelet. Without thinking, I said, “DAMN!” You looked at me and asked, “So, you gonna start talking like that now?”
Do you remember when you caught me “sneaking in” the house wearing white eyeliner and a full face of make-up in the middle of the night? “I was checking the mail” seemed like a good response at the time.
At one point, your number was saved in my flip phone as “OH SHIT”. I can’t describe the fear I felt when I saw that call at 3am.
“JODI! Are you drunk?? Are you smokin’ that pot?? Get your ass home!”
I’ll never forget you whipping my ass with a belt at sixteen because I wouldn’t give you my truck keys.
I told you I was pregnant and all you could say was, “It’s a big responsibility.” Then you went outside to feed the cows. Thank you for quickly coming around and supporting your baby with a baby.
I always loved it when I was almost asleep and I could hear your feet shuffling across the living room floor.
You’d say, “Night peach.”
I love how soft your skin is. You always smell good.
I love how proud you get when you barbeque chicken or when you keep flowers alive.
You’re the only person I know who can wake up before the sun, run eight miles, work a full day pouring your heart and soul into a class full of inmates, ride all three horses, feed, clean up the house and prep to do it all again the next day. You’re a fucking machine.
Thank you for giving me an appreciation for horses and the beauty they carry inside and out. I will always think of you whenever I smell saddles and feed.
Did I mention rock and roll? THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME ROCK AND ROLL.
Thank you for helping me buy my first home. I would not have been able to accomplish that without you. You are beyond smart.
Thank you for being such a solid and invested JJ. Lane obsesses over you.
You’re the most generous woman on earth. You give your time, heart and soul. Don’t ever stop being Jacque; the world would feel it. I am so proud of your accomplishments and aspirations. Congratulations on the new job. You are unstoppable. You are so deserving.
Thank you for guiding me through life when I felt like I didn’t want to leave my bed. You have always been my number one fan. You have never stopped cheering. You have always empowered me.
As Sly & The Family Stone says…THANK YOU FOR LETTIN’ ME BE MYSELF.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Love you Augustus.
I begin my journey from Denver, CO to San Francisco, CA in twenty-nine days. It hasn’t settled in my brain yet; thoughts of me being alone in the wilderness have been floating around like clouds. There are people that think I am crazy and seriously derailed. That’s ok. I am. However, I believe I am destined down this path, this trail.
Planning has been stressful. I do not know what I would do without Maranatha and Mary dedicating their time to help me configure routing, resources, survival etc. Those women are my angels. Our sisterhood has a certain sting that is without comparison.
We studied all four states looking for red flags, permits needed, harsh conditions and any other useful information for my anxious high. I am so thankful we did. Utah and Nevada are in their fourth year of record-breaking drought so limited water was a consistent issue during our planning. The mileage between resourceful stops is not doable for a novice hiker in the dead of summer. One trick is to drive throughout that part of the trail and bury your water in the desert along the way, prior to your start; this is not feasible for me at the time.
I connected with the state coordinator of Utah and had a life changing conversation with her, she was exactly who I needed to speak with. Then she asks, “Jodi, would you consider cutting out Utah as a whole?” My immediate response was prideful shock and denial. I explained to her that I have been planning to hike across four states while reaching an accomplished trek of a four-digit number of miles. I’ve been set on those two goals and not willing to bend much.
I’ll never forget when she said, “Jodi, I live here and even people that live here do not hike long distance during the heat of the day in the summer months, we just don’t.” It felt like my heart was in my stomach for a good five minutes. She was so understanding and helpful; we began planning my new route.
I will hike the entirety of the trail in Colorado until I reach Utah’s border. When I reach Utah’s border, I will turn around to hike back to Grand Junction, CO. Lane will be meeting Mommy there! From Grand Junction, we will ride the Amtrak throughout the desert and into Reno, NV; we are pumped for the trip. After some rest in Reno, my family will send me out on the last leg of the trail. I will hike from Reno to San Francisco to end my journey. As I mentioned earlier, it’s imperative that I achieve four digits worth of mileage. My heart must have that. I will be in search of side trips in Colorado and California to add to my miles; I have no doubt that I will come across many beautiful opportunities to leave the beaten path.
I admit to feeling “wimpy” when my plans changed; I have been so transfixed on making it through Utah and Nevada. I’ve had to remind myself over and over of the peace that I felt when I spoke with Lynne (Utah Coordinator) that day on the phone. I had to remind my stubborn ass that the new plan provides a fun journey for Lane and I to share together in the middle of my trek. I had to remind myself that I am NOT an invincible camel who can survive days in the desert without water.
Weido assured me that my route change did not make me a wimp, by any means. I believed her and moved on.
Lionhearted means to be exceptionally courageous or brave. In twenty-nine days, I will be removed from the comforts of my territory to start a journey into the unknown. No matter the amount of preparation or planning, I am approaching a summer full of surprises.
Mind be strong.
Steps be courageous.
“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” – C. JoyBell C.
Wednesday morning was a slow one; I awoke with half of my eyelashes crimped and curled in a very peculiar way. I stood, half-alive and cloudy from Wild conversations toasted with champagne the night before. Mary and I like to think we are classy.
6am has never been a high point for me.
Johnny begins to scratch and whimper to be let outside. Unfortunately, his bladder holds priority over my coffee. I hear Lane’s door open, he must have heard Johnny’s roar. My eight year-old Frankenstein stumbles down the hall…
“What’s up mom?”
All I wanted was to pour my coffee slowly into my Lennon memorial mug, carefully collapse onto my velvet sofa and enjoy my brew with hopes of making it into my mouth. At this particular hour in my life, I didn’t want to think or do. I didn’t want to see or feel. I didn’t want to answer to anyone.
I answer loads of questions for a living, forty hours a week.
MAM!! MAM!! *snaps fingers* Can I get a fitting room? No shit.
Can I speak with a manager? You are.
Do I look fat in this? OF COURSE not.
How my ass look? ........
Y’all closin’?! Wet Seal closin’?! No mam.
I smoked pot, danced and had sex in this. Can I return it? NO.
Can you change the layout of your entire store, process 30+ boxes of product, make this conference call, beat last year’s numbers and smile all before opening on a Monday? Sure big dogs, we’ll get right on that.
I cannot express to you the amount of therapy I receive from thirty minutes of silence before getting ready for work every day.
LET ME BE A ROCK WITH NO AGENDA.
Lane comes running into the living room, with Johnny in tow, as they both pounce on top of my feet. My blurred vision made it seem as if they were moving in slow motion. These boys have energy, y’all. I didn’t know whether to cry or pour the coffee on top of my head just to see how it would feel.
I have a sweet little voice that I keep tucked away for when my eyelashes are permed and my brain is dead. It was my only option.
“Lane, baby, please let Johnny out and wash your face and brush your teeth.”
“Mommmmmmm, it’s too early for that.”
A fleeting thought- “It’s too early for your little ass to be on this couch with me.”
I have trained Lane to live a life that is full of conversation and exploration; he has uniquely developed in both of these areas. When I lay my head down at night, I am a happy momma. However, I’m not usually a woman of many words before 11am, it takes some time for me to “power on”. Lane turns quiet on me at times but I am convinced that Johnny’s switch is broken.
I try, once more, to coach Lane off of my toes and into the bathroom. No luck.
He purrs, “Ohhhhh Momma, I just love you and want to be with you.” He lays back and holds a death grip on my calves. Of course my son would reach into his treasure chest of mush and crush me with it. DAMN.
So, I was sad for a little while. No alone time. No meditation before work. My expectations weren’t met.
Wednesday morning showed me a tiny life lesson of thankfulness and gratitude. Looking back now, I am thankful for the hour of 6am with two healthy joys. Lane is a mini “Fonz” with bright ideas and strong bones; he can squeeze my calves whenever he pleases. Johnny has been such a joy for us to share our lives with, even when he bites my boobs.
Thankful for loud mornings that turn into afternoons with endless possibilities.
Thankful for interrupted silence.
Thankful for jolts of solitude that come in waves.
Maybe, one day soon, I’ll be the first to wake.
Jacqui Romero has been a family friend for as long as I can remember; I’ve been fortunate enough to become closer to her this past year. Mutual interest/zeal surfaced. Jacqui was always so cool, the kind of cool that wasn’t forced or painted on. Relaxed cool. It was fascinating to me. I was a different little girl; I was weird (some things don’t fade). She was always an inspiration to my young, colorful mind. She let me know, without knowing, that I didn’t necessarily have to fit into a certain mold or group of people. I was my own group of people and that was okay. Jacqui recently moved to Santiago, Chile to teach English; when I heard the news I had to know more! I will be living vicariously through her over the next year…
When did you decide to teach English overseas?
My interest in teaching abroad started in 2010. In 2011, I started to research options online and attended a free seminar that February, held by Oxford Seminars, to learn more about the process. Once the pamphlet was in my hands with all the countries looking for teachers, I was ready to go!
What inspired you to make this step?
My inspiration to make this step in life came from a love and fascination of different peoples and cultures. Beyond travel, I have a deep desire to immerse myself in a culture and understand the human experience from a completely different perspective. I love to talk with people about their lives, see how they live, what they listen to, how they interact with their surroundings, what they eat, drink and do for fun. We have so much to learn from each other! Funny, when I look back on things/occurrences in my life that truly moved me, one thing that clearly stands out is my favorite class during my studies at Texas A&M - Anthropology 205: People and Cultures of the World. Oh the books I read for that class! The people that I learned of! It was all so fascinating to me and has never left me. To this day, a couple of my favorite books are those that were required reading for the course…Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women along with Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa.
Why teach English?
In my experience, the common vacation time allotted for travel was not sufficient for me. In one or two weeks I had barely scratched the surface! It got me thinking about what I could do so that I could turn my travel into a long-term stay/experience. In my research, I found opportunities to teach English abroad. I could hardly believe I could actually get paid to see the world through my native language! For some time, I had mixed feelings about teaching English. For example, why is it that I should be so "lucky" to know this language that it would allow me to see parts of the world that others may not be able to explore? Shouldn't I be the one learning another language? How do people in other places feel about me coming into their land to teach English? Ultimately, after a lot of thinking it over and the overall desire (that would not stop nudging me) to experience the world, I obtained my teaching certificate to teach abroad and worked out a timeline to leave and find a place to teach. I decided on Santiago, Chile so that while teaching English, I will learn how to speak Spanish. As a Mexican-American with very little Spanish speaking skills and a deep desire to learn how to speak the language, I came here as a student myself. In my short time here in Santiago, I have been frustrated! I have been tired from trying to think of how to say what I want to say in Spanish for what feels like an hour when it's only been minutes. I have been silent when I would otherwise talk only because I cannot communicate. I have felt lonely not having anyone to talk with. I hear people talking in Spanish with ease and I ache to do the same! Oh how much my world would open up if I only spoke Spanish! How many people and places would I suddenly have access to through language? Then it hit me; this is exactly why people want to speak English! Now, after four days in Santiago, I truly see what a gift it is to share your language with another person! I have dropped the unnecessary burden of speaking a language that other people desire to know. This has created a space of joy, fun and excitement. I now understand what that opens up for others, as it opens up for me.
Have you taken any other trips for a similar purpose?
This is my very first trip abroad as a teacher of the English language! There have been so many emotions mixed in with preparation for the trip and getting here! I am creating the possibility that this is the first of many trips across the globe for me.
What are your plans for living quarters?
I checked into a hostel and will be staying here for at least two weeks until I find a room to rent.
What will be the duration of your stay?
I will be staying in Chile for the minimum of a year. After that, we shall see.
What school or academy will you be teaching at?
I will be teaching English with English First of Education First. English First teaches a majority of their classes online with their morning students signing in from China, Vietnam and Taiwan. The majority of the afternoon students sign in from Brazil. EF also offers local classes in Santiago.
What are you most excited for?
I have been the most excited about my surroundings and giving my family and friends an opportunity to visit me while I'm in Chile! This is the first time I have been in South America. I am so excited about exploring the diverse landscape of Chile! From the Atacama Desert in the North, the wine region of the Central Valley, the Andes at my doorstep down to the beautiful fjords and glaciers in the Southern Patagonia!
How was preparation before your departure? What’s your current status?
Preparation ranged from hectic anxiety to pure enjoyment. There always seems to be some hesitation or stress involved in planning for a trip, especially one of this length of time. In the final days leading up to my departure, I forced myself to stop, take a moment to smile and remember what a beautiful/life changing adventure I would soon embark upon!
I landed in Santiago on Thursday morning with most of my tasks completed before departing from Texas. Some things I have left to do are getting my cell phone unlocked and obtaining a SIM card to use here while out and about (thank goodness for Wi-Fi in the hostel!).
What do you want most out of this journey?
I want to invest in the creation of a world that is more understood, appreciated, loving and kind. Language, the ability to communicate with one another, makes this possible.
As I stated earlier, we have so much to learn from each other as human beings. One of my favorite moments that put this into perspective was a podcast from The Nerdist with astronaut, Chris Hadfield. He said that one of the best things about traveling in space is that when you're in space looking back at the earth, there is no "them" or "us", there are just people. He followed this up by saying that now, because of this, on earth he feels like he's constantly meeting neighbors. There are no more strangers. That moved me. Especially in current times when it’s evident that fights of all multitudes erupt from a “them” or “us” style of thinking.
Why do you need funding?
I had not thought of asking for donations/funding for my trip until a friend asked me where they could send a donation for my travels! As I was not going on a mission trip or anything along those lines, the thought had not crossed my mind. Now that I have begun my Chilean adventure in Santiago, I realize just how much a donation of any amount would be very helpful! I have saved a little money for my trip, however, I plan to stay in Chile for at least one year. With an average monthly salary of $400-$1000 and the average cost of living at $800-$1000, I will be breaking even at best for the duration of my stay. In addition to this, your donation will help me with the cost incurred for settling into a new home:
Spanish Classes - The company I work for does not offer Spanish lessons with employment. Even with the opportunities available to speak/practice my Spanish, taking classes will help ensure I am learning proper form, grammar, pronunciation and similar.
Hostel Stay - Typically $18-25 a night.
Meals - I'm eating out more currently as cooking is not as convenient until I find a place to live.
Toiletries – Some were not easy to pack and I will soon run out of my travel size portions (contact solution, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, face & body wash, etc.).
Bedding - Sheets, blanket, pillow, etc. will be needed once I find a place to live.
Travel/Excursion Items - Items that were not feasible to pack: sleeping bag, tent, hiking boots, etc.
Toastmasters Dues - I will be attending a Bi-Lingual Toastmasters club to further my Spanish speaking skills.
Additional Conversation Clubs/Spanish Speaking Events - Santiago offers several opportunities to connect with others who want to learn English. You can meet for lunch/dinner, over coffee, etc.
It is hard to describe my gratitude for being able to make this bold step and leave my home, friends, family and comforts to enter another world. God has granted me with the gift of connecting with others easily and freely. I am grateful to use this gift to share my language while learning another. I really appreciate you taking the time to learn more about me and the specifics behind this adventure. Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments in regards to my travels or to find out more information on how to teach abroad!
Maybe the mold is bullshit?
The mold. The status. The title.
Did you ever think that everything you thought you were supposed to be was bullshit?
What if the face that you want to show was never meant to be?
What if you have the wrong idea of beauty?
I’ll never forget his face or his sign, both his way of communicating his pain and suffering.
Cheekbones like lifeless leather.
Calling out for a brother’s help or a brother’s hand...
HELP ME BROTHER.
His sign read “homeless”.
I can read but I didn’t like what it said.
I didn’t like what he was feeling as he held the sign against his chest, such a bold statement for a fellow human to make.
His sign should have read “FUCKING HELP ME".
I’m on the side of this fucking highway and all you BITCHES are driving past without a glance!
I reckoned to not be an infamous prick at 5:12pm.
How the hell did I have eight dollars cash in my wallet that day? Not sure.
I never carry cash. I don’t remember how I accumulated eight greens.
The traffic light stood still and red. I was sure of the fact that I was supposed to encounter this man, this human.
I rolled down my window and he started slowly at me, anticipating the big bucks, the good shit I suppose.
I don’t have the good shit but I do have eight dollars.
I handed this nameless human my eight bucks and looked directly in his gaze, he knew that I knew exactly how he felt.
He knew that I had worn joyless shoes before, stood in a joyless trance.
My smile spread as he spoke, “Thanks for helping an old man out.”
The eight dollars didn’t mean shit at this point. All that mattered was the fact that joy was being exchanged, like a fair trade. He gave me a grin and I gave him some green.
The wind was alive and so were we.
We were alive too.
Materials were a thing of the past and spiritual matters became something.
Someone’s face will tell you cold truth about their life, past and present. I don’t know how much life I have to share but I will give what I have ready and available.
I wanted to spend hours with this human but I didn’t.
I didn’t spend hours with him.
I didn’t stop my hamster wheel of a schedule to live with him and feel a bit of his world.
I wanted to.
Wayne Myers once shared to give no matter the circumstance or hurt, give whether you know the money will be put to good use or not, give it and give it again.
My job is not to dictate when or where this human spends this money.
My job is to give when I see someone in need.
I don’t care if his last eight dollars were spent on a needle fix.
I do care about the exchange of our smiles in that moment.
My fingers felt silly waving goodbye as the light turned green and time switched gears.
Honk honk honk. Move move move.
People were ready to GO, ready to get HOME.
HOME to their steamy dinners and comforting families.
They craved it; they craved their homesteads, their people. It’s a beautiful craving to have. I support it. However, we have to learn to stop, we have to learn to look.
I’VE WORKED MY EIGHT HOURS! GET THE FUCK OUTTA MY WAY!
I thought about parking my car in the intersection and twerking on top of my hood to throw everyone off of their agendas.
I wanted to scream, “STOP! There’s a human in need here!”
The earth is a home for us all.
Roof or no roof. Grass or plush sheets.
Compassion and unconditional love must continue somehow.
May gifts and touch precede any form of xenophobia.
His sign should’ve read “human” instead of “homeless”.
You’re a human, baby.
We’re all humans here.
Photo Credit: Lee Jeffries