The pain in my heart was > the pain any tattoo gun could be. #first tattoo

Growing up I thought about getting a tattoo all the time however I don’t have a high tolerance for pain so I never did it . Then one day I found myself with a pain so deep in my heart that the pain of the tattoo needle wouldn’t come close to matching it. Suddenly I was ready to sit in the chair.

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In May of 2006, I would sit for 3.5 hours straight to get my first tattoo. The artist was heavy handed and I cried for several hours while getting it. Not a heavy ugly cry. The kind of cry where the tears well up in your eyes and roll down your face. Technically he wasn’t the artist I originally wanted/talked to. He was just another artist, in the same shop, that was available on the day I desired. There wasn’t enough time to correct the communication mistake with my top choice artist. The day was super important to me because it marked one year since I had seen/spoken to my nieces. I was heartbroken.

The names of my nieces, along with specific symbols, make up the design of the tattoo. The colors and style were inspired by Henna. Henna has been around for centuries and comes with a positive connotation. One of the reasons I like it is because it doesn’t contain any black. That seems to be rare for a tattoo.

It all started when I got the news my younger sister was going to die. I put school & two jobs on pause and got on a plane to face my dysfunctional past. I had not seen or spoken to my biological mother for close to six years. It was a family friend that called me on that random Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. to inform me about my sister. My sister was only 21 years old. She would be leaving behind two little girls, ages 3 and 18 months, whom I hadn’t met yet.

I almost met the eldest one (once) when my sister took a road trip with her boyfriend at the time from Las Vegas to come and see me in Austin TX. They would get two speeding tickets along the way. This would cause them to turn around and head back, not ever making it to Texas.

Attending the funeral would force me to see people that were abusive to me in the past. The “past” being the most important word here. I worked hard to rise above where I came from. When contemplating how I was going to get through these challenging times, I realized that I was an adult. I realized that I hadn’t seen or spoken to any of them in years. I was busy putting myself through college, working, and all around taking care of myself. There wasn’t anything they could do to me now. Their opinions certainly didn’t matter to me. These facts gave me the courage to go. I went to Las Vegas because I wanted to meet my nieces and say goodbye to my sister. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t.

There would be a few things I would need in order to go. I got back in touch with my therapist – she agreed to be on speed dial for me. I am eternally grateful to her for this. I also needed a back-up plan on a place to stay. The first roommate I ever had in life married her Air Force boyfriend and was currently stationed in Las Vegas. She graciously agreed to be my backup plan if things took a downturn while I was there. I am eternally grateful to her for this.

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My sister died within 24 hours of my being there. I was the only one in the family that stepped up to say I wanted to help raise the girls. I wasn’t going to move to Las Vegas to do it though. I had been living in Austin for about 7 years , I was years deep into college and working hard to do it. I didn’t want to live in a state where prostitution was legal. Sin City is fun to visit but not to live.

I could help if they moved to Austin. At the time, my close friend was the manager of the apartment complex I was living at. She would make sure that they would have a place to stay. They moved a few months later.

It didn’t take long for the estranged relationship with my biological mother to turn tense. I even tried family therapy however she was unwilling to talk about the past. She has never offered an apology and my therapist didn’t think she ever would. Without one , there can be no forward progress for me. Correction – I can move on without her. It’s better this way.

They managed to live in Austin for about a little over a year before she would lie to me and tell me they were going on vacation when secretly she was planning to move to Oregon. She didn’t give many details and I didn’t ask for them since I didn’t want to engage with her.

Time passed and it was getting to be towards the end of the week of their vacation. I hadn’t heard from her and she didn’t return my phone call. I started to wonder about the details of their return. Did they need a ride from the airport? Were they getting in late? When would I be able to spend time with my nieces next?

I was having dinner with my boyfriend at a restaurant close to their apartment, so we decided to drive by their place after dinner. To my shock, horror and dismay, after peeking through the blinds, I found an empty apartment. I immediately cried in an inconsolable way and threw up my dinner.

I called her one more time to inform her that if I didn’t hear from her by the end of the next day that I would go to the police department and file missing persons reports on all 3 of them. As far as I was concerned, my family went on vacation and I haven’t heard from anybody since. I was getting very worried. She returned my phone call only to confirm what I already knew. They were gone………

Having children taking from your life is one of the most painful things a heart can handle. I fell in love with those girls from the moment I met them. They taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I helped pick out daycare, attended school plays, went to teacher conferences. I gave up every weekend I could just so I could spend time with them. To have them come over for sleepovers, to play with them, to read to them, to cook for them, to love them. To teach them how to navigate life. To expose them to culture events that extended beyond our own so they may be respectful to all. My heart goes out to anyone who knows this pain ❤

Eventually she changed the phone number, leaving me no way to get in touch with them.

Only through the generous gesture of a new friend would I be able to make plans to travel to Oregon to get them back into my life (for a few years anyways).

Covert operation = get nieces back !!

Until then, I will carry them with me – in my heart and on my right arm. I’m over the fear of the needle now. I have gotten many tattoos since. I like the idea of two 3/4 sleeves. One can’t really predict these things- Just like how heavy handed an artist will be.

Love you mis sobrinas bonitas.

Dealing Blackjack in Las Vegas

When I was 22 years old, I was keeping books for Coppertank Brewing Company in Austin TX. Although working at this place would come with some challenges, I would end up returning to it to deal cards after Vegas. It all started when my car broke down and instead of going to work, I took the day off to figure out how to get it towed from the gas station it was stuck at. I also needed to figure out how I was going to fix it. I am the only person I have in my life to make sure things get done. At that time, I was working at Celis Brewery. My supervisor offered to give me ride the next morning except when she arrived, she had a letter in her hand. They were firing me for taking the time to address my car. Thank goodness a girl I knew (you will hear about later in the story) told me about the position at Coppertank. I interviewed later that day and got the job. The bar business is a male dominated one. I felt pressure to keep up with Texas style grooming; fake boobs, fake tan, fake nails, even fake eyelashes because that’s whats Texas girls do. At times the misogyny was glaring. For example- one of the more popular t-shirts sold there said “Drink until she’s cute” The staff were all having sex with each other , even managers with waitresses. I was not in the mix of any of it.

One evening, they did something that was so upsetting, I quit on the spot. I just stormed right out. I woke up the next day in deep regret. I didn’t have a working car and now I didn’t have a job. I was full of apologies when I tried to get my job back but they weren’t having it. Too bad so sad for me.

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Before I could seriously look for another job, I had a vacation coming up. A long weekend trip to Las Vegas. I love to gamble and have been doing it since I’ve had a fake ID at nineteen in Cripple Creek, Colorado. It suddenly occurred to me I could stay long enough to learn how to deal blackjack, buy a car and return to Austin. I heard rumors about how much money you can make in tips so I figured it wouldn’t take too long to gather the funds. They are pretty much handing out loans to dealers and cocktail waitress because they know they would make enough money to cover it.

I needed to seriously figure out how to do this. The only people I knew in Vegas were my biological mother and younger sister. They moved to Las Vegas when I moved to Austin, the summer of 1996. It had only been about a year that I had started speaking to them again. Things were on shaky ground. Growing up, I experienced so much dysfunction I couldn’t get away fast enough. I left home at 17 and went four years without speaking to them. I decided to try again after the worst day of my life. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe- off to Austin TX I go. This Vegas trip would be the final straw to remind me of why I left and I would go another 3 years before speaking with my sister and another 6 years before having to see/speak with my biological mother for my sister’s funeral. I havent spoken to her since January 2011 and I don’t have the desire to ever again. Life became better without her.

I was living in a 2 bdr apartment and everything was in my name. I have had many roommates, none of them stable or good choices. My current male roommate was addicted to drugs and super dirty ( I knew neither of these things before he moved in because he lied) When I went to see his apartment, he had paid someone to clean it. I didn’t know this until after he moved in and we fought about his habits. A couple of times I snuck into his room early morning (because he was always passed out and getting up late) to steal his car keys and use his car to run errands. Guess I’m not the perfect roommate either. Although the only thing I really cared about in a roomie was they paid bills on time and the shared spaces to be kept OCD clean ( I still do) .

I talked to my roommate about my plans for Vegas. I told him I would send money for half the rent/bills each month, just please don’t screw me in any way shape or form. I would only need a few months before I would return. Maybe it would be better to not leave him alone? I really can’t trust this guy. I am taking a big chance leaving for an undetermined amount of time and I’m taking a big chance with where I would be staying in Vegas.

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Last minute, I thought of someone who could take my place in the apartment. The only drawback is that we had broken up not too long ago. We weren’t dating anymore because he was an alcoholic with commitment issues. He was living with a couple who were wanting more privacy because they were planning to get married. They were hinting their desire for him to move out. The timing was perfect. He could pay half the rent and bills. This would allow me to save more money and get home faster. I could also have someone to keep an eye on my dirty cocaine addicted roommate.

We went out for a drink and I laid down some ground rules. I would de personalize my room to make it more comfortable for him. #1 Rule NO sex with other girls in MY bed. Take it to the living room couch (also mine). Better yet, go to her house! He would keep an eye on my current roommate and update me with any information I needed to be aware of. He would make sure the bills were on time. His #1 concern was getting stuck with my things. I assured him if the day came that something happened. I would come home immediately to take care of my business.

I flew to Las Vegas and signed up for dealing school. It was fun, I learned how to deal pitch. I learned how to check the chips. I memorized blackjack payouts from $1-$100. What takes most people 30 days to finish, I did in 7.

 

When you are new, there are only certain casinos that will hire you. They are called Break-In houses. They know you are new and going to make mistakes. I went for my live audition at the Gold Coast. I got the job! They hired me on the spot. I was assigned the night shift. The hours were 7:00 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.. The Gold Coast works on a 24 hour tip share pool. This means the person working at 6:00a.m. (when no one is playing ) is making the same amount of money as the person busting their ass Friday night at 11:00 p.m.

 

You’re not allowed to have people you know sit at your table to gamble so I didn’t let on when my buddy Joe and his friend drove up from California to play some blackjack. They followed me around to each table I would be stationed at ( since a shift includes working for 40 minutes and breaking for 20) then you get put at a different table. I would end up taking all their money.

 

20190727_115855.jpgThey say it’s all about who you know, which couldn’t be more true in Las Vegas. I made friends with one of the female pit bosses. She nicknamed me Downtown Julie Brown. Do you remember that MTV host? Anyways, this would prove to be beneficial. It would ensure I never got picked for a “random” drug test. I beat a hair test to get the job.

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You know the day the guy I used to date was worried about. Yeah, that day came. He called me one morning, after three months, to let me know the other roommate was moving out. I would need to come back to Austin to take care of my business. I woke up the next day, bought a slightly used car ( light purple Saturn SC1), gave my two weeks notice and started to prepare to return home to Austin. I flew out a girl, whom I thought was my friend, to travel home with me. She turned out to be a frenemy. We then drove 24 hours straight home in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends. This would be the year I would take 13 shots in addition to some cocktails resulting in giving myself alcohol poising. I may have turned 23 while living in Las Vegas however I wasn’t another year wiser.

Upon moving back into my apartment, I would end up having to live with that ex boyfriend for a few months. After a month a so we managed to find ourselves having sex on the couch. This naked time between us would result in another separation. I would end up asking him to move out. Sex on the couch = I known what it means. Coming into my bedroom for sex and then leaving to sleep for the night in your own bed = crossing the line = no commitment = you gotta go…

It wouldn’t take too long before I would see an ad in the paper for dealers wanted. Since gambling is illegal in Texas, it caught my attention. Turns out, there were several companies in town throwing parties with a casino theme. These types of parties are popular during the holiday season. Companies throw their employees parties, feed them, and give them drink tickets. We are the entertainment. Hopefully they offer incentive to play otherwise we stand around doing nothing but watching them eat, dance, and sometimes sing karaoke. They have become my entertainment.

I currently have a job with a casino company in Portland Oregon. I have been dealing blackjack since 1997. I held my gaming license for 10 years and now I teach people how to play. I have a feeling it will be a job that I do until I am old and can’t work anymore.

What starts in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas LOL.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe- off to Austin TX I go.

1995 was a rough year for me. I was 21 years old. I crashed my car, lost my job and found out I was pregnant all in the same day. Time for some big changes.

I grew up between California and Colorado. I was born in San Francisco and lived in the Bay Area, mainly Vallejo, until I was 8 yo. After some serious physical abuse inflicted upon me by my step father, I was shipped off to live in Colorado Springs. I would live with my biological mother’s mother. She was also abusive and I would stop speaking to her at 18 years old.

I would graduate High School in Co Spgs. I wanted to go to college far far away but couldn’t afford to even go to the local community college so just like ever other kid who doesn’t continue their education, I got a job.

114 jobs and counting

Years of working led to years of yearning for something different. Something bigger.

After the worst day of my life insofar as of yet. I decided I was going to move. But to where?

I had spent time on the West Coast already. I had seen parts of the East coast. I wanted to move to a bigger city but not too too big. The Northern part of the states was cold like Colorado. I hadn’t spent too much time in the South. The idea of never having to scrape snow and ice off my car before heading out was awfully appealing.

20190727_120604.jpgI busted out a map and said Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. How bout I go to Austin TX… I’ve heard good things about it from a girl I know named Rebecca. To think that was enough information for me is semi frightening. You wouldn’t catch me doing that now. I would need way more information.

 

 

Austin was bigger than Colorado Springs but not as big as Chicago. My Air Force boyfriend was from West Dundee IL so I have spent a lot of time in the Chicago area. Got my fake ID in Woodstock IL since they turned me down in Elgin. His sister was a nurse and lived downtown Chicago. She came home almost every weekend though to be with her family. She was lonely. I have a lot of gratitude towards my fellow humans for allowing me to get an education, to learn some life lessons ,by observing the details of their lives. Watching her fill her loneliness with her beloved family taught me that when you live in a big city, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. It showed me that just because you have a lot of money doesn’t take away the fact you could easily feel like just a number. I didn’t want to feel that lonely. Not only did I not have any money, I didn’t have any family to lean on. Seriously- if this pretty, smart, successful girl was coming home on the weekends, what was in store for me? I was already going to be alone when I moved. Unless I could find a friend to join me….

The girl I found turned out to be Courtney. We knew each other from high school. She was a fellow friend ready to have a bigger adventure and get out of the military town we grew up in. Colorado Springs is surrounded by Peterson AFB, Fort Carson Army Base and the Air Force Academy. Courtney and I soon spent our days making plans. We would need to rent a truck, map the route we would drive and research which parts of the city were best to live in. It was all very exciting!

Three weeks before we were supposed to leave, Courtney found out she got into college. It’s what she really wanted to do therefore she backed out of the move. I was committed. I would go alone if I had to. Going with a friend sounded much better though. I wasn’t going to know anyone in a city/state I had never been to. It would make life so much easier and nicer to have a pal to explore with.

I decided to hit my friend T up. I have known her since 8th grade. I lived in her house during my senior year in high school. When she graduated high school she moved to Breckenridge to live with her boyfriend. I would move into a downtown apartment with my friend Amy. True Independence at last. I would visit T in Summit County several times. During one of those visits I would mention that Courtney had backed out of the move, that all the plans were in place and I just needed to find someone to join or I would go alone.

T was born and raised Colorado. All her family lived in Colorado. She is close with her family. She said she would join if I could help convince her parents to get on board. I agreed. I had the talk with her parents, it worked and suddenly I was back on track with a friend to move with.

 

 

I was going to drive a 15 foot truck with all our belongings. Behind that truck I would tow my car that broke down the night before. It broke down in the Rocky Mountains on the way home from gambling in Cripple Creek. One last hoorah. There would be no time to fix it before I moved.

It took 2 days to make it from Colorado Springs to Austin TX. I had set up an appointment with an apartment Realtor to show us around. I decided I wanted to live close to downtown. Downtown is where you go when you don’t know where to go. He showed us good options.

20190711_214204-1.jpgWe picked a two bedroom at Riverside Place apartments and moved in later that day. I picked up the Sunday paper, found an office manager position to apply for with Celis Brewery. Even though I don’t like beer, I knew it would be a fun atmosphere. I was just 21 years old after all.

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So we arrived on a Friday night, found an apartment on Saturday- moved in, picked up the Sunday paper and had interviews for jobs we would both get by Monday. This is how you know you are where you are supposed to be when life works out so effortlessly ❤

 

 

Before I moved, a girl I worked with gave me someone to connect with in Austin. His name was Scott Crossett and he threw an annual 4th of July party on his boat. We would get to go if I called. Little did I know how much of a gift this guy would be in my life. He was the owner of Apple Leasing and he would be the reason I had transportation for over a year which allowed me to obtain work. That deal worked out for some time however I would end up selling my 55 gallon fresh water fishtank to put an engine in the broken car I towed with me.

Turns out I lived in Austin for 15 years. It is the longest I have lived anywhere. Austin holds so many memories for me:

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I would put myself through college (it would take ten years). I would move to Las Vegas, deal blackjack for 3 months, return home in time for New Year’s Eve (to give myself alcohol poising) in a light purple Saturn SC1 with a spoiler (joined by a friend turned enemy) that an Office Supplies truck would crash in to (totaling it) and (leaving me to go to the hospital on a backboard by ambulance).

 

 

Photo 2It’s the city where I would learn my younger sister was going to die, leaving me to rise up and face my dysfunctional past, in order to attend her funeral. Shortly after her death my biological mother and nieces would move to Austin. A few years later I would be lied to. I would be told they were going on vacation. In reality they were secretly moving to Oregon. My nieces would be 5 and 3 at the time.

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Austin is the place where I will sell weed (to pay for the last year of college) since I borrowed the maximum amount allowed for an Undergraduate degree.  I would go to jail for possession of marijuana and get robbed twice before I decided to change the trajectory of my life. It’s the place I will fall in love with two men and be cheated on and lied to therefore I will walk away from both. I could list so much more but I will keep some for myself.

 

In December of 2010 I will walk away from it all. I will move to Oregon after graduating college to be closer to my nieces. I want to be a part of raising them. I don’t have kids of my own. I love kids. I have finished school and it’s time to leave Texas.

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Portland Oregon was calling my name….

“It’s a great day for chili”

I bought a pair of Keen water shoes in 2010 to go to Lollapalooza with my friend Alex.  They were the nicest pair of water shoes I have owned yet.  I have enjoyed using them often since I am living in Oregon now. They have been my go to shoe for all the kayaking trips I get to go on working as the Full Charge Bookkeeper for Next Adventure   This job has a lot of adventure perks. I plan to go on them all. So far I have being skiing on Mount Hood, taken every guided hike and I have taken every guided kayaking trip they have to offer.

I have been out to Ross Island, several times- it is on the Willamette River. I have been out to Rooster Rock which is on the Columbia River Gorge.  I have been to Sauvie Island which is in the state of Washington but feels like really far north Portland.  I have come to expect some kind of challenge to happen during the trips because so far every trip has had something happen to make it a somewhat difficult experience.

Off all the challenges I have dealt with, the trip to Sauvie Island sticks with me the most.

Our group started off having a good time, we were moving along, taking in the nature when we encountered water only 2 inches deep.  This would take hours and hours to get out of.  The mud underneath was so soft we were unable to get out and stand in it to pull the boats.  I tried and the mud went up over my knees to mid thigh.  We turned our paddles into oars and inched our way along.  It was miserable but there was no other way around it. Not everyone was going at the same speed. It is important to stay together as a group.  After a considerable amount of time pulling ourselves along it was time for a break.  I hitched up with the high school girl.  She had just had surgery on her foot. Under no circumstances should her foot get wet.  She came on this trip because it had already been paid for. Not only was it her Aunt’s birthday, it was also her Mom’s weekend to be with her.  She sang Journey songs with me and taught me the new slang way the kids say “bitch”  = “batch of cookies”  I think it’s cute! I’m going to start using it. We also played silly games and asked each other fun get to know you questions.  Thank Jah this group was awesome to be stuck with!

P1020944After an hour of chillin’ in the mud, waiting for the other people to catch up, everyone voted to move inward and go from there.  It would take another 30 min of inching along just to reach the shore.  I am going to need to get out of my boat to help the high school girl get her boat the closest to shore as possible so she could get out while keeping her foot dry.  I’m going to have to pull her boat which will require me getting into the mud. The mud was soft like gray clay. The minute I stepped into it, it came to above my knees . I lifted my leg up to take a step and bloop..my shoe came off 2 feet under the mud.

Oh Fuck!  I turned right back around and plunged my arm in that crap to find my $100 pair of shoe.  Seriously, it was not to be found anywhere.  I plunged and plunged my arm around, it was hopeless.  I pulled that girl to shore and the sweetest gal that was on our trip came back out in the mud to help me look.  We crawled around on all fours…. both of us grossed out – words can’t express the feelings we had.  After a solid 10 minutes of trying, we didn’t recover the shoe.  I would have to spend the next 5 hours with one shoe only.

 

The mud proved too much for the group to get through so our guide decided the next course of action. We would pull our boats across a cow pasture which had stickers galore on the ground before making our way closer to the river to drop back in and paddle back to where the van was.  We were tired and the tour guide ended up having to pull some people for awhile.  We were also out of drinking water.  Thankfully a boat had noticed how long we were stuck and tossed us some bottled water.

Finally we make it to shore.  Loaded up the van and headed back to town. We didn’t make it back to the shop until 7:30p.m. (2.5 hours later than planned).

I stayed to help the tour guide wash the mud off the boats before putting them back.  Then I gave her a ride home since she needed one.  Dang. What a trip.

Three days later I received an email from the Willamette RiverKeeper asking for volunteers.  The Willamette RiverKeeper is the only non profit organization here in Portland dedicated to clean up of the Willamette River. The river is large and dirty.  It divides Portland into east / west sides. It’s the reason we have twelve cool bridges. I’m glad someone cares enough to keep it clean. Especially now that they try to market it as safe to swim in during the summer. They were offering a Keen shoe gift card worth $150 in exchange for a four hour shift.  Whoa- just what I needed and just in time.  It’s like the universe stepped in right away to support me ❤ Therefore- Sign me up and put me wherever you need me.

New Seasons 1They signed me up to be stationed at a New Seasons Market in Beaverton. I was tasked with selling chili outside the store.  It cost $5 and the money would go towards keeping the river clean ( and I get my shoes back )  I stood outside for 4 hours.  For 3 of those 4 hours I shouted at people walking by  “It’s a great day for chili” .  It was indeed a great day for it.  It was cloudy with the feel of rain in the air. I am a vegetarian and so was the chili.  I had it for lunch, it was delicious.

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I got my shoes back as well as a pair of much needed rain boots.  It rains in Portland 8 to 9 months out of the year.  Maybe not all day everyday but often enough to use rain boots.

 

I can’t believe it worked out.  What a crazy way to loose my shoe and then get them back plus some.  I wouldn’t trade this story for anything. I have learned that painful moments end up making the best memories when you get to look back upon them.

Thanks Earth School.

 

Providence Bridge Pedal- Cheaters Never Prosper

Portland Oregon goes by many a nickname.  One of them is Bridge City.  Portland has 12 bridges that span the Willamette River.  Each with their own unique design and purpose.

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I have lived by the Broadway Bridge since I moved here in 2011. Once over this bridge, you will continue to be on Broadway street which runs through the heart of downtown to the south part of the city.

 

The first year I arrived my co-worker’s husband told me about a fun annual event in town. Once a year they close the bridges and only allow bikes to utilize them.  Normally cars dominate (there are tiny bike lanes ) . Once closed, the entire space is available to bike riders. There is an option to walk however that only includes one bridge – the Marquam Bridge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still cool.  The Marquam Bridge gives you the best view of the city.  Calling it a bridge is a bit deceiving. Its more like a highway ramp/ overpass. That’s how you get the good view 🙂

The event is called Providence Bridge Pedal and I am definitely going to check it out.  Portland is such a cool city!

Research showed I was late to the game.  I didn’t have time to register and pay.  I didn’t have time to get any gear.  I barely had time to think of what I would need.  I haven’t done anything like this is so long. It has to be at least 15 maybe 20 years since I have been on a bicycle.  Ooops

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I called some bike stores around town and found a place downtown on the west side that had a single speed bike left (with a basket).  I will take it 🙂

 

I found the route online, determined I could sneak in behind a business that was just a few blocks away from where my full time job was. Only because I knew a bit about the area that I figured it would be a less risky spot to slip in. This way if I needed to exit quickly, I would be somewhat familiar with my surroundings. It doesn’t feel good to cheat. Being poor sucks. Being unprepared sucks. I vow to pay next year ( and do ).

I didn’t blend in at all. I didn’t have proper biking riding attire. I had some random snacks and a water in the basket of the bike. I was the only person as far as the eye could see that was not wearing a helmet. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of people who participate in the event.  It bears repeating. I was the ONLY person without a bike helmet. As I moved along with the crowd, no one spoke to me.

As I rode along, having a great time, there was a moment it occurred to me were getting further and further from the city.  The road I was on started to have a lot of space between the random businesses. Mind you, I have only been living here for a few months and I have no idea where things are.  All I know is that I was riding my bike down the side of a long road so far that I started to have dreams of calling a taxi. After a few minutes , serious cyclists started to pass me.  They had proper gear and signs on their backs with the number 10. I had plenty of time to think about what that could mean.  Suddenly I remembered some information I had glimpsed at since I didn’t technically pay to register.  There are options for the event.  You can walk, or ride over 3 bridges, 5 bridges or 10 bridges.  The 10 bridge option is about 25 miles long.

What the heck have I gotten myself into?!?!?!  Here is just another example of how Cheaters Never Prosper. I had no choice but to continue. I was tired and the taxi dreams were getting stronger.

Turns out we were headed to the St. Johns Bridge.  The furthest bridge North. Fun fact: it is the only suspension bridge out of the bunch. They had closed the on ramp for the bridge which made it convenient to access. At some point, I got off my bike to walk up the on ramp. It was a steep incline okay, I was tired and soar already. I had a fixed speed bike.  I didn’t even know what that meant before I had this adventure LOL

Then another shameful thing happened. I saw a man peddling fast going up the ramp, passing me by with not one, not two but three individual kid pod carriers behind him. Whoa, new goal.  I had come so far, I was so unprepared, I was so tired that it wasn’t motivating enough to get back on the bike.  I did stand there in awe of his moment.  I silently gave him praise and wished that I was in better shape.  The moment has stayed with me 7 years later.

I got back on the bike at the top of the ramp, rode over the bridge, headed back down towards where I started and couldn’t have been happier to be heading back. The ride back was fantastic.  They closed part of the Highway 405 which is a major thorough fare.  The event starts at 5:00 a.m. because they want to start opening back up the bridges at 11:00 a.m. You can imagine the delays in traffic this event causes once a year. It’s a big deal and I really wanted to do it. I was doing it.  Even if it meant sneaking in with my rented fix speed bike.

I started at 8:00 a.m.. It took me 3 1/2 hours to finish from where I snuck in ( rental due back by noon). I ended up riding over 6 of the bridges. In no particular order (corresponding pictures ) the Marquam Bridge, the Broadway Bridge, the Steel Bridge, the St. Johns Bridge and the Freemont Bridge, and the Burnside Bridge.

 

 

I never want to ride my bike to the St. Johns Bridge ever again. Kuddos to you if you do.  I would however do the Family ride which includes 6 bridges and the 405n Highway.  Be safe out there!  Bridge Pedal

 

114 jobs and counting

I have been working for as long as I can remember. It is common for me to have at least 2 jobs, more like 3 or 4 at a time. I work one full time job and then a bunch of part time ones that fill in nights and weekends.

Work Work Work

One day my friend Joe asked me how many jobs I have had in my lifetime. I was in my late 30’s and I decided to give this question some serious contemplation. I decided to make a list. A complete, thorough and accurate list, to the best of my ability. I even dug out old tax returns to remember some places of employment. If I received money for services, I put it on the list. Even if it was just a one time payment. The list was up to 109 places and counting. Then I moved to Oregon at the end of 2010. I have only added 5 jobs since. I am not dead yet and I don’t plan to live out the rest of my days in Oregon so it’s guaranteed the jobs list will grow longer (SMH).

Since I started working at a young age, it’s no wonder I have hit triple digits.

At 10 years old – I remember being motivated to sell the most Girl Scout cookies in my troop so that I could win the grand prize of a trip to Denver. I knocked on doors before and after school. I did it right away to beat the other kids. I used the weekends to go around to businesses in the area. It worked. I won!!

At 12 years old – I started finding ways to make money. I grew up in a poor household and learned early on that I would have to help myself wherever and when ever I could. In addition to babysitting gigs, I would shovel snow out of the neighbors driveways. I caught grasshoppers for the gentlemen on the block that used them for fishing.

At 14 years old – I got a workers permit. Then a very nice elderly gentleman gave me a job at small restaurant. It was called “Your Hearts Delight”. It was a one man show and I became his sidekick. I was the hostess, server, cashier and bus boy. I even learned how to make an open faced tuna melt sandwich. The type of healthy food he served was ahead of his time. After a few months of being open, his restaurant was featured in the local news and I got to be in the commercial.

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At 16 years old – I got a paper route and a job at Taco Bell. I worked for El Pollo Loco where they made me wear the chicken suit to stand outside and wave people in. Working fast food was mortifying. Frequently I saw kids from my High School when they would come through the drive through.

***I will spare you the list of all the places I have worked. There were a lot of fast food places/ restaurants between the ages of 16- 18 years old.

At 18 years old – I started working in offices as receptionists and secretarial work. This would be the start of my 25+ year accounting career. It would also be the time I would learn that working for family owned business can provide extra challenges than regular places.

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At 22 years old – I learned how to deal blackjack in Las Vegas. After returning to Austin, TX, this would be my part time job moving forward. I currently deal blackjack part time at casino parties all across the state of Oregon. I have been dealing blackjack since 1997. I love playing it. I love teaching it. It will be one of those jobs I do until I die.

At 25 years old – I will begin attending college. I am paying for it myself and on the part time plan. it would take 10 years to complete and I will work any random job I can find.

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At 33 years old- I would deal blackjack and Texas Hold Em poker in a titty bar. This would be the funnest job I have had yet. I worked there for a couple of years. It would pay for the last two years of college. I borrowed the maximum amount allowed for an undergraduate degree. I had too much fun dressing up, drinking and gambling all for the sake of work. Some of my best friends will come from working here ❤

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At 40 years old- I become an Airbnb host. This experience has inspired me to write a book and start this blog. I have hosted close to 800 people in just 2.5 years. This experience has also sparked the next dream job.

At 42 years old – I finally get to stop being a bookkeeper. I have a degree in International Studies with a minor in Spanish. I will pick up some transcribing work while figuring out how to make the dream job happen.

So that’s how I have arrived to the present moment. I am amazed when I hear stories from people who have lived in the same city their entire life. Amazed when I hear someone say they have held a job longer than 5 years. That’s the longest I have made it in one position.

They say variety is the spice. Apparently I like it spicy.

Next Stop: Opening up a Bed & Breakfast somewhere in Spain.

Ride Shares – Adventurous or Risky Business ??

I had never considered using the ride share section on Craigslist until my friend Wrenna said she had great success with it. She is a twenty something hippie kid from Ashland so maybe her trust level is different than mine ?

I did grow up in a time ( the 80’s and early 90’s ) where hitchhiking was common and relatively safe. I can’t remember ever doing it though.

I wanted to go to Oregon Country Fair and I didn’t have a car.  I moved to Oregon with a car but it died a year later.  I wasn’t in a position to purchase another one right away so I became a bike only girl. That adjustment will go down in history as one of the all time biggest adjustments I have had to make yet.  I rode down with the coworker that told me about the event the first year I moved here.

In order to get to fair from Portland, you need a car.  It’s in Veneta Oregon, which is a few hours away.  I also like to be able to arrive and depart when I feel like it.

I missed fair for a few years in a row and I was aching to go again.

I decided to give this ride share thing a try. It would be cheaper than renting a car on my own. Boy was I nervous.  This is really out of my comfort zone.  The thought of it being out of my comfort zone amuses me now that I have been to Burning Man a couple of times. Regardless…….

I went to Craigs List, found an option that worked for me and reached out.  I remember he didn’t have his shit together and we would be leaving later than he stated in the listing because he needed to clean out his car and get gas.  I didn’t have a choice but to wait.

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Once he picked me up, making conversation was easy.  Once we arrived, we parted ways to experience fair on our own. We set a time to meet back at the car. The drive home was challenging for me.  Having to listen to this middle aged guy go on and on about the number of young girls breasts he saw made me want to throw up.  Instead I pretended I had smoked too much weed, was tired from walking around the event and closed my eyes to sleep the whole way home. Never again.

 

The following year I decided to rent a car and offer a ride to other people.  I ended up with 3 other passengers, one of whom did not have their ticket and made the whole car go out of it’s way to a location where one could be purchased. You can not purchase them at the gate. Besides that, they were nice enough.

We also parted our individual ways to experience fair and meet back up at the car at a set time to travel home to Portland.  I didn’t have to hear about tits and I was much happier.

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This year, I am still a bike only girl that wants to go to the 50th anniversary Oregon Country Fair event.  Since I have been on both sides of the coin. I prefer to be in charge therefore I have rented a car. I posted in the ride share group on Facebook. I also put a listing in the ride share section of Craigs List.  I am up for some adventure and just know the people that I give a ride to will be nothing short of awesome. My heart and mind are open ❤

 

I CAN’T WAIT TO GO TO FAIR THIS YEAR. I AM THE MASTER OF MY DESTINY.