Unrelated to Anything Else I dedicate this post to my NY Friends

The last few days I’ve been trying to organize my lists of the last few things I need to buy for this trip and have been finding myself feeling kind of blue.  I couldn’t really put my finger on it, aside from attributing it to hating the holiday season (which I really do) without my family.  Then Carole King explained it for me and made me cry (by the way, readers who don’t know me: I cry at a lot of strange things).

When I first moved to New York I worked for this family for an entire year without making any real girlfriends.  The first real friend I made was Rachel.  [ http://thepawreport.wordpress.com/ ]  We met at an animal rights protest for the cats and dogs living and dying in New York City’s Animal Care and Control.  It wasn’t until a few months later that we actually began hanging out but it was destined to be because we were destined to sing karaoke.  The first time we hung out we went shopping at American Apparel and afterwards went to a bar where my drink was horrible and we convinced our server to put Hawaiian Punch in it just to make it a little better (it wasn’t better haha).  After that for about 6 months we karaoke’d together every other weekend and I would stay with her in Brooklyn.  She has a cat named Raskol who is, in her words, a crazy bastard…and he really is.  I’ll never forget waking up in the middle of the night the night before I auditioned for The Voice to him screaming and racing around her apartment lol.  Rachel wasn’t amused but we laugh about it every time now.  When my grandmother died it was Rachel who met fresh from the airport and held me in the middle of the busy sidewalk while I cried.  She’s a very busy bee but whenever I least expect it she’ll surprise me with a sweet little gift or Facebook post of encouragement.

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I was Rachel’s date to a family wedding in Rhode Island this summer

The second friend I made in New York was Kerry.  I was signing up to volunteer at the local animal shelter and Kerry was the person handing out applications.  For some reason that I still don’t know, I asked Kerry if she’d like to have dinner some night and talk about the shelter system in NY.  (SUPER random right?)  Well, we exchanged numbers and made arrangements for dinner.  Kerry will never let me forget that dinner, allow me to explain.  At the time I was friends with a woman who was a little crazy and too intense when it came to animal rescue (I hadn’t realized it yet though) and that night at dinner she ended up asking me to go on a wild cat chase for a missing cat.  I dragged poor Kerry along, who had no idea what she was getting into but the next thing she knew we were knocking on a strangers door in the rain at like 9:30 at night.  I honestly cannot understand why she ever spoke to me again! LOL!  Once I had established that I was not, in fact, insane (well..) we became glorious friends!  She would come over and we would talk about our love interests over a cup of coffee and lots of squealing ridiculously.  Kerry is who pushed me into actually doing this trip.  She is the one who googled camping on public land etc etc.  She listened to me ramble, rant and rave about all the different plans I wish I could have and why they would or would not work and gave me realistic ideas in return.  Kerry is my one friend actually ON Long Island (since everyone else lives in the city) that I could count on in an emergency not even beginning to mention randomly texting for a 5 minute coffee date!  She comes over every Wednesday for coffee and we catch up on the week and that’s that!  Kerry is the best!

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At Kerry’s surprise birthday party this summer

Last year at Thanksgiving Rachel introduced me to her friend Caitlin, who quickly became my friend also!  (Although if you ask her she’ll say SHE infiltrated our friendship).  Caitlin lives with her mother and her fiance with their 4 dogs, 2 (or 3?) cats and other tiny family members.  Caitlin and Richard became another little safe haven for me when I’d get frustrated in my house and needed to escape.  I could always count on them to let me over for a drink and some ranting angrily (plus a lot of loving on from her doggies).  Catlin does work similar to mine so she always understands a lot of the anxieties and frustrations that I go through.  She also has a sassy mouth on her that won’t stop for anything, and I love it.  Sometimes you encounter people who are quiet just to let the peace continue but Caitlin will speak her part come hell or high water even if it’s about you!  Who doesn’t need that in their lives?  I love that I can talk about shit and Caitlin with definitely tell me straight up how she feels about whatever I saying.  She’s also hysterically inappropriate at times like when I give her my Facebook password for emergencies and she hijacks it with status about all kinds of stuff!  What a jerk. ❤

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New Years Eve with Caitlin ❤

I met Alicia, Kathy and Nicole at a concert for an artist that we all love.  For about 6 months we went out every weekend dancing, having fun and getting into trouble.  Eventually we realized our poor wallets couldn’t handle that but all the things we got into during that time allowed us to become very fast friends who can talk about ANYthing and anyone.  Lots of fantastic memories, sleeping on Alicia’s pullout bed and then getting lost trying to find our way back to the subway the next day; dancing and discussing makeup, clothes, significant others in our lives, shoes and upcoming concerts.  I think the best night of the three of us was when we made the not smart decision to go out to a concert on a Tuesday night.  We had hoped the artist would go out with us afterwards (because she had done that the last time she was in New York).  We ended up at a karaoke bar in Brooklyn and suddenly it was 3:30 am, Kathy was being fed a bagel by Alicia like a bird, Nicole was long gone back to PA (where she lived) and I was panicking on trying to get a cab to the train because I had to work at 6:30 am and the last train was at 4.

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Kathy, Alicia, Nicole and her fiance SJ, and I

Last, but not least, is my friend Taina.  I met Taina in July this year.  We ran into each other at a pow wow in Queens and never interacted and then ended up being in a giftshop in a museum at the same time two weeks later.  We went out for coffee and immediately there was a click.  Right away she understood what I meant when I said I love to sigh in the wind, to stand in the rain with my arms up.  We like to say that destiny brought us together at a time when we needed a friend that understood our souls.  We don’t see each other often but whenever we do and whenever we talk we have these deep, honest discussions about EVERYTHING and sometimes there is a language barrier due to her speaking more Spanish than English and me the other way around but we always get our point made and understand.  We have had many adventures and end up laughing over the silliest things later on.  There is always a race to watch the sunset when she comes to Long Island to visit me and hopefully one day on my trip we will watch one.  ❤

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Watching the sunset at the beach

Needless to say, the first time I left New York I didn’t really mind it because I wasn’t leaving anyONE behind.  This time the thought of leaving my girlfriends behind is really rather excruciating.  Since my phone will be off I won’t be able to just text, facebook message or call any of them if I suddenly have a problem with something and just need to talk, want to see their posts on animals on facebook or what hair drama Kathy is having.  For the first time in my life every single girlfriend I have here is someone I can literally say ANYthing to and know that they won’t judge me.  They accept me for who I am, and respect me enough to be honest with me.  I’ve never known friends quite like this that will have an entire thread about my ridiculous antics on Facebook the way these ladies will and it genuinely makes me smile knowing that I love them as much as they love me.  I’m super glad I wrote this blog out because it actually lifted my spirits a lot thinking of all the joy my friends bring to my life.  #FreeFranny

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Oooh Packages!….and other thoughts.

So the last two weeks have been one package of gear after another after another arriving, ending with my business cards being delivered this afternoon.  I can’t decide what I’m more excited about!

1.  DandyCase Waterproof Phone Bag

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So I have a horrible habit of taking my phone in the bathroom when I’m showering so I can play music to sing along to.  I learned the hard way that this messed up your phone pretty fast.  I decided that since I have no idea when I’ll be able to buy a new phone I’d better be REALLY careful with this one so I bought this waterproof bag.  I’m kind of diggin’ it because I watched a few video reviews and it’s totally submersible!  The only downside is that I there’s no way to have my headphones plugged into it so… I might have to buy a second one for my ipod.  We shall see. Until then bring on the rain!

2.  Schampa WarmSkin Balaclava

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So, something that I really wished I had had on my trip to Bear Mountain was one of these.  I saw a lot of other bikers wearing them and, damn, on my way DOWN the hills my poor face was FREEEEZING.  I’ve tested it out once and was actually SO cozy I had to pull it down to my chin!  So hopefully in really chilly winter weather I’ll be ready!!

3.  GoalZero 12301 Nomad 7M Solar Panel

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I decided that I wasn’t going to buy the solar charger I had previously talked about as I was told that it didn’t really charge well at all.  I also started reading different reviews and this brand GoalZero was said to be ultra durable and weatherproof.  You can connect it up to other compatible solar panels which is great!  It has a USB port along with two other forms of charging.  I cannot WAIT to test this out on my next ride!!

4.  Smith Optics SME OTG Goggles

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Along with wishing I’d had a balaclava my eyes were watering like a waterfall on the downsides of hills, and once the rain started, as I mentioned: it was pouring rain and I had to put my glasses in my pocket.  I was really picky about these without wanting to spend a zillion bucks in case they didn’t work.  What I mean by that is that I needed to find a pair of goggles that fit comfortably over my glasses.  Right now the glasses that I wear are small but my other pair that are apparently missing and presumed lost are the ones I want to bring on my trip.

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So the next 2 gifts were incredible.  I had them on my wishlist for items I need to still buy.  I checked the mailbox Tuesday morning to see a box in my mailbox and inside it were a set of 20 Bungee cords of different sizes and an AMAZING bike multitool.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the box and when I saw the gift note saying they were from my friends sister wishing me a wonderful trip I started crying.  The thing is, so I have all these plans and wishes for this trip.  It is one thing for your friends to like you Facebook page and follow your blog and say that they’re behind you but when you physically get to hold in your hands proof that people believe in you and wish you well in your dream?…Let me tell you, friends, it’s kind of an overwhelming feeling.  I will never need another bungee cord as long as I live….okay maybe I will but not for a long, long time!

The bike multi tool is AWESOME.  It’s the Topeak Alien II 26 Multi-Tool and seriously is the most intense tool I’ve ever seen lol.  Allan wrenches, box wrenches, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, mini pedal wrench, spoke wrenches, a knife, a bottle opener, and several others which I like literally haven’t a clue how to use yet.  Good thing it comes with instructions for every tool on it.  I am so incredible grateful for the people who are starting to come forward saying they’d like to donate to my trip and help support me.  ❤ ❤

MY BUSINESS CARDS HAVE ARRIVED.  There isn’t really too much to go on about with these except that I’m super pumped because they are BEAUTIFUL and everything that I dreamed they would be =)  See for yourself!

See? Pretty!

Moving on.  Remember how in my last post I mentioned that my wrist was bothering me?  Well it still hurts.  A lot.  When I do anything.  Initially I’d purchased KT Tape and that seemed to help but then …it didn’t anymore, and it seems to be getting worse.  So I traipsed back to CVS and got an actual brace, which is glorious.  I then got on my bike a few days later and realized that, no, not even the brace makes it better.  I sound really whiny to everyone I talk to but IT HUUURRTTSSS when I bike!  So this puts a severe cramp in my training plans!  Two weekends have gone by (one of which wasn’t wasted as I had a friend visiting me) but this last weekend and this weekend could have been long trips and now can’t be. How am I supposed to be ready for mountains when I can’t practice going UP them?  It has me genuinely concerned.

Lots to Say

You know when you have so much that you want to talk about but it’s so much that it’s just pain in the ass to type it out because you can’t even SAY it fast enough?  That’s what I’m suffering from haha.  I have a lot to tell but I CAN’T TYPE FAST ENOUGH!

Y’all won’t believe all that has transpired since my terrified bear post.  Where the hell do I even begin, geez.

I traveled this weekend to Illinois by train for my cousin’s wedding.  I chose to take the train because I had the extra day and it was cheaper lol.  I take the Amtrak from NYC to Washington and then another train from Washington to Chicago.  The WA-CHI train is my favorite ride ever.  It goes through mountains and fields and streams and it’s just gorgeous and this trip was no different.  I’m sure I looked like a crazy person to the man sitting across from me because I would stare out the window at the trees whirring past me and random start smiling so big and joyously, and I’ll tell you why.

Usually when I take this train trip and I admire all the scenery I think to myself ”boy one day I’d love to travel through this area on foot or something that I can stop and enjoy”.  And then I start playing a game called ”if I was on my trip where would I sleep?” and start searching for places that I could have put a tent up if I were travelling.  This is the point where I get really excited and start smiling lol.  To make things even better at one point we were passing through a really beautiful clearing with a lake and next to the lake are BIKERS WITH THEIR TENT SET UP!  I gasped so happily I’m sure people were like what the hell is this woman’s problem??

So fast forward a little bit.  For my birthday my aunt gave me a book called Wild by Cheryl Strayed [http://tinyurl.com/lz77ko3].  It’s the true story of how she (Cheryl) hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone!  ALONE!!  Her mother died when she was 22 and afterwards she kind of fell apart, her marriage, her relationships with her family and husband, everything fell apart.  She decides to do this grand journey with no training or anything.  I immediately connected with her while I was reading.  It was actually incredibly difficult for me to read every single sentence in the Chicago airport while she discussed being with her mother in her last days.  I was definitely reflecting back on the last days I spent with my grandmother and the discussions we had on her last day of coherency.  She basically chooses to go on this major journey as a kind of spirit journey, finding her happiness and center which I LOVE because that was what inspired me to do this trip.

So anyway during every part of this book I was totally enthralled and by the end I was so excited I couldn’t stand it!  I am so excited to find places I’ve never seen, to watch sun rises, and sleep with a full moon sky, to learn about shit that I never would expect to happen and have to deal with by experience.  I can’t wait to wake up and listen to the birds or fall asleep listening to the rain on my tent and be cozy [I hope haha] in my little home.  Most of all I hope to be happy.  I’m so ready to find a place where I can remember moments with my Grandmother and not dissolve into tears as I do now, not find myself unable to breathe with sorrow and I know that she would support me doing what I feel I need to be happy.

Everything that stresses me out in my daily life floats away easier because I have an actual dream that I’m looking forward to.  I know that I’m not in this endless job that I will never escape and if I’m having issues all I have to do is plan or research anything trip related and before I know it I’m high on happy feelings.