I See Dead Animals or Why Airbnb Is Not For Me

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Who does this belong to?

I don’t know about you, but for the past few years, I’ve been disappointed with the formerly high-end hotel chains that turned a great stay in a clean room with amenities into a less than mediocre experience. That’s why I decided to try Airbnb.

Let’s face it; “People to People” commerce is trendy. Ridesharing, couch surfing, and I recently saw an article about a couple brainiacs trying to sell us their idea about “People to People lending.” How great does that sound?

So I signed up, divulged more personal information than ever, and included a photo as required. All of this raises my red flag of privacy, and an internal desperation not to share my personal data that I know will be sold the second I hit “submit.” This was my experience in list form. As you may know, I’m quite fond of lists.

  1. The check in procedure was a complete clusterfuck requiring 4 separate emails. Turns out a key was left in a lock box, hung on a gas meter on the side of the building next to several other lock boxes. Six flights of stairs and a shit load of heavy luggage later, I opened the door panting.
  1. The place was sort of cute. Billed as an “Urban Loft” it was definitely urban. Meaning on a major intersection. The bedroom was, of course, in the loft. Up a couple more flights of stairs. Fairly clean, the loft lacked the little amenities one finds in a hotel like unused travel sized soap, shampoo, and hand lotion in favor of a half bottle of VO5, in the shower. First, I had no idea VO5 was still a thing, and second, in the absence of hand soap of any kind, this shampoo of yesteryear works quite well. I wouldn’t have guessed.
  1. Unfortunately for me, there was minimal drawer space. Most of the drawers were stuffed with men’s clothes and shoes, a little gross. The owner’s I suspect. I left my things in the suitcase.
  1. There were lots of animal pelts. They were everywhere. There was one in the bathroom that still had its tail attached though I couldn’t determine what the animal might have been while alive. Two decorative pillows on the bed were covered in rabbit fur. No offense if this is your thing. I happen to be allergic to this kind of shit. I’m queasy about handling cleanly packed meat from the grocery store. Animal skins are not something I’d ever considered when booking my reservation.
  1. It was a stressful trip, I wanted to relax and watch some TV. Nope. To many of these “People to People” types, TV is so old school. There was a television. It received Netflix and iHeart radio.
  1. Day three: Awakened to dueling jackhammers across the street and heavy equipment cutting up the parking lot.
  1. Did I attempt to check out early and score a refund for the remainder of my unused stay? Oh. My. God. Yes. Was it a hassle? With a capital “H.”

Sadly, my first time with Airbnb was my last. I would never agree to the layers of bullshit required to stay in someone’s home that I don’t know again. Someone I’m not sure feels the same way I do about “clean,” or an acceptable level of noise, and the VO5? Seriously?

In a hotel if something isn’t right, the staff will do what they can to fix things. When I complained at my Airbnb accommodation, the host said I didn’t understand how the Airbnb community works.

As a travel writer, (I’m no longer saying former because I’m still traveling and still writing about it) I do my best to bring back information. If I’ve done my job correctly, it might inspire people to explore, but I also have to tell the truth. I’m happy for anyone who has a great experience crashing at a stranger’s place. It’s not for me. If I have to provide a date of birth, a photo, and pay upfront in exchange for what might be a clean bed and bathroom, that’s leaving too much to chance, and a community I apparently don’t understand.

Mediocre is looking better by the minute.

 

 

 

4 Quick Steps to Reduce Stress in our Turbulent Political Climate

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Sensitive people are often caught up in current events a little too deeply. I know this because I’ve been accused of being too sensitive my entire life. Maybe you have too. Things get to us. It’s a condition that can leave us either isolated or spewing venom, sometimes simultaneously. This tends to confuse our loved ones. It keeps them on edge as they try to discern the penultimate symptom before they’ll be forced to call for emotional reinforcements. White jacket/hard drugs/cake/etc.

One could surmise that a new sheriff in town is the cause of all this angst, but that doesn’t solve the problem now, does it? It’s like going to a therapist for years to learn why you act a certain way when you’re triggered by some random similar event, but it does nothing to resolve the original issue. Secretly, this is my theory for how therapists stay in business, but I digress. The real question for us sensitive folks is how to best deal with the ongoing confusion and maintain some measure of sanity. As The Dude says in “The Big Lebowski,” “I’ve got information, man, new shit has come to light.”

The New Shit

1) It’s time to bury your head in the sand, Sensitive People. Not forever, just for now. There’s nothing to be gained by getting all worked up by the fact that our country is quickly running out of allies. This isn’t your shit to solve. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and noticed last night while watching mindless television, that my heart rate was 83. IN THE FAT BURNING ZONE. This, I think, might be a sign of stress.

2) Go about your business. Whatever that means to you. Don’t stop to check the news online. Whatever you do, Sensitive People, avoid any social media that has turned into a steaming pile of phony news, political rhetoric, and mean spirited people. What happened to all the cat videos? In the most recent political clusterfuck, I lost more Facebook friends than I ever had in real life, in my entire life. “Divided we stand” is the new black. Maybe we can figure out how to embrace it. But not now.

3) Love. Listen up fellow Deep Feelers. All we can do is show a little more love to others. Hold people a little closer, make an occasional phone call instead of texting, and remember that who you are in the world is the same person you’ve always been, and you are made of love. Sensitive people must remain wrapped in love or we wither. (Like everyone else). Say it. Share it. Wear it.

4) Puppies.

Now, what does any of this have to do with my blog about having 55 jobs? You tell me, maybe this is my job. I’m waiting to hear what you have to say, and I’m always listening. Love, People.

 

 

The Long Haul To Love Via Australia

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The first few minutes of the flight are exciting. It’s a struggle just to sit still in the seat. Nine months of waiting has finally landed with a big, fat thud on my cool new suitcase, that can split into two bags of exactly the same size so I can load it up with souvenirs, or, even better, a couple pair of extra shoes. This is how the “Trip of a lifetime” begins.

Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney, Australia, the second longest direct flight in the world. The Flight Tracker scares the shit out of me. Really? Halfway around the planet? Only 15 hours and 41 minutes left? All of it over the ocean? Xanax. Thank God for Xanax.

The trip turned out to be everything a good travel adventure should be: Fun, exciting, stressful, and full of wondering and personal discoveries. I could lay it all out here, but nobody would read it. A blog is too short a medium to share something as huge as a “Trip of a lifetime.” I’ll break some things down later, once I’ve digested a little more, and I’ll share it as I can. I used to do some travel writing, so there’s a chance I can string together a few sentences that summarize an event or two. In the mean time, here’s the rough cut.

Sydney-The Opera House-The Harbor Bridge-(Kick Ass Flat Whites)-The Blue Mountains-Uluru/Ayers Rock-(Reverence)-Cairns-The Great Barrier Reef-(Swimming with sharks)-Palm Cove-(Ahhh)-Rainforest-Melbourne-Cricket-Penguins-Koalas and Kangaroos-Sydney-Climbing the Harbor Bridge-(Wow)-Home.

Time Frame:                            Three weeks.

Air Travel:                              Six flights.

Tour Buses:                            Too many.

Miles Walked:                         50

Pair of shoes ditched:              2

Hotels:                                    Five, one of which was particularly scurvy.

New Friends:                          Dozens.

Questions about Trump:     Hundreds.

Magic:                                        Every. Single. Day.

Quick summary: Once you discover travel is simply a way of meeting yourself in other people in a different venue, (the simplified version) you get to experience the real deal. We are all the same. We are all love. Travel Safely in the new year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attitude Of Gratitude

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This is a really tough time of year for a lot of people. It often feels like the last ditch effort of the previous year to send a bunch of us off the proverbial cliff. Depression, for many of us, drains our energy and reminds us of the people we’ve lost. Others feel lonely and abandoned, less than. Excluded. This year, on the heels of the most divisive elections and the most intense seasons of ugliness, I’m choosing to “act as if” my life is bliss and just see what happens.

The only other thing that works for me is a gratitude list. It has the ability to quiet the damaging tornado winds of criticism and negative self talk, (A.K.A. bullshit) my mind tries to trick me with. So here it is. Feel free to borrow, or steal from this list if you’ve never taken the time to actually create a written list. Committing these thoughts to paper gives them more power than you can imagine, and who doesn’t need more power right now?

  1. My spouse. I am such a lucky girl.
  2. My friends. How could any of us ever manage our lives without the wonderful people      who love and support us even when we are assholes?
  3. My family. Exactly as they are.
  4. My dog. Get one and see.
  5. My Sobriety. I got sober two days before Thanksgiving 28 years ago. That’s a long time without a drink, but I got to live my life rather than die, and that’s an incredible trade off.
  6. My experiences. I am such a lucky girl. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned.
  7. My health. So many people have serious health challenges. Mine is not perfect, but I have nothing to complain about when I see others standing tall despite theirs.
  8. My passion, skills, and talents. Otherwise I’d sit in a closet all day eating stuff that wasn’t good for me rather than writing, growing food, and figuring out where to move next.
  9. My life. I am so over the moon grateful that the Universe took a chance on me. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
  10. Cake. And just like that…bliss.

 

Love, People.

 

 

 

 

 

The Art Of The Follow

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I’d like to take a moment to recognize and thank the peeps who have followed me on this most recent journey. You know, the super-sonic road trip where I wrote a book and then tried through social media to get some people interested in my work by writing a bunch of blog posts that may or may not have been similar to the style of the alleged masterpiece I penned.

Since we’re talking, I’d also like to add that the real manuscript rocks around the freaking clock. It’s the best writing I’ve ever done, and is equal parts, inspirational, poignant, and is an ass kicking riot fest from start to finish. Sadly, you’ll probably never read it.

Here’s why: It’s apparently impossible to sell a book regardless of the quality of writing unless you happen to have the following of multitudes. I do not. Hell, I am lucky to get those closest to me to read anything I’ve written other than a personal check, or a hand written note on a birthday card—and my penmanship leaves plenty to be desired although I can pour on the sentiment like nobody’s biz.

I’m not a big fan of social media, I’m too old for it maybe, and it feels like a popularity contest I don’t quite have the chops for since my basic makeup relies on an, I don’t give a shit attitude. I’ve always kind of questioned authority that way. I’m a fighter, not a lover.

But I am also a writer. To my core I have been afflicted with this beautiful, unbearable need for expression—both a blessing and a burden—coupled with the fact that this gift most often resides only in my head or a hard drive somewhere. So this amazing and miserable calling, the thing I live to do, where there is no passage of time, no noise, nothing, but me and the words I hold sacred, is also a body bending cross to hoist each day.

And this I do for the few people who are completely unknown to me. Some contingent of folks who read my work and have not yet beat a hasty retreat. So for those of you hanging in there with me, I have only my thanks and gratitude to offer, though it’s clear I’ll find a sack full of sarcasm to tidy things up in the end and call it a sacred offering too.

Thank you for following. Get as close as you like. Nobody loves you like I do. Yes, you.

 

Going Postal

 

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Damaged books, hurrah!

The United States Postal Service and I have an uneasy association. We’re entangled in a dysfunctional relationship predicated on the idea that I’d like my mail delivered in approximately the same general structure in which it was originally sent, and they don’t give a flying fuck what I want.

Most of my friends know about my self-imposed mission to straighten out this quasi-government agency, and I’m guessing, more than a few of them have some concerns about me because of it. I complain about my experiences with mail delivery all the time. I’ve contacted the Postmaster General more than once, and I’m often seen firing off a smoking, hot email to a regional USPS Vice President from my iPhone.

I’m certain I was a mail carrier in another life and a shitty one at that. There is no other explanation for my current problems. In a previous life, I was probably one of those guys that hoarded other people’s mail, hiding it in huge stacks in my house, which was so full of crap there were paths throughout the rooms, like a paper infested rat’s maze. Instead of cheese at the end of the puzzle, there were only ads about cheese. The California Milk Advisory Board’s marketing campaign, “It’s the cheese. Real California cheese.”

Like a lot of people, I have one of those smaller mailboxes known as a “Gibraltar Box.” Go ahead and look it up, I’ll wait. It’s the kind of box that sits curbside so mail carriers can shove the mail from the comfort of their little mail trucks. Now imagine that particular box having 10-days worth of mail in it because you were on vacation. Most of us get a lot of junk in the mail in addition to bills and other items, and in an election year, well, enough said. But now imagine the contents of that box also included a plastic envelope measuring 15” x 22,” you know, the kind of mailer that clothing is often shipped in, and in this case, contained a rather expensive jacket. Now you have an idea of what the mail delivery looks like at my place. Every. Single. Day.

What is left to do after you’ve spoken nicely to the carrier, moved up the chain to the Regional Manger, then the Regional Vice President, and finally to the Postmaster General herself? To their credit, they’ve coached the poor performance,  but seem to have a rogue on their hands they don’t know how to handle.

I’m inclined to rehome a nest of birds about to fly the coop, and see what happens when the carrier opens that door. Then again, who am I to step into the Karma he’s creating for himself? I wish all good things for him in his next life. I just wish he wasn’t delivering my mail in this one.

*Disclaimer: I’ve never been a mail carrier although one year I was hired at the Christmas holidays to sort. I declined when I saw where the work took place. Nobody can function in that much government gray, which actually explains a lot.

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No front page, no problem.

So…About The Current State Of Politics…

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I almost never jump into the fray when it comes to politics. It’s not that I’m uninformed, uneducated, or disinterested. It’s because the vitriol and hate that accompanies the political clusterfuck in our country hurts me to the core. I’m just sensitive that way.

I can’t wrap my head around how supporters of a particular candidate can threaten to hurt, maim, or kill their fellow human beings based on a differing opinion. When did all this ugliness start? This is not the political process I learned about in school; the civic duty my parents participated in, and taught my brothers and me about. Maybe it was around the same time some mega churches started telling their parishioners how to vote. I don’t know about you, but I like a little separation of Church and State with my politics. I don’t want the blood from the meat mixing with the mashed potatoes if you catch my drift.

Let’s face it; we have one candidate who degrades women, minorities, and anyone who doesn’t agree with him, and another who’s been embroiled in one scandal after another for most of her political career. This is our choice. I have never wanted to be so uninvolved in my life. I don’t want to vote. I don’t want to participate in this hateful, disgusting display we are showing the rest of the world. It’s embarrassing.

And yes, someone please tell me how my vote counts. How I’m not allowed to complain if I don’t vote. Then please remind us all how the Electoral College always, really votes the will of the people. Those guys always have their constituent’s best interest at heart, right? Well, they do if they’re voting themselves a raise. Did I just read Social Security benefits were going up by about $5.00 in 2017? Wow. Generous.

People who work for the newspaper, The Arizona Republic have been threated with death and arson for endorsing Hillary Clinton. When did we become so un-American? How does politics have the ability to whip people into such a frenzy that we’re willing to annihilate our neighbor’s rights, and actually threaten to kill them if they don’t side with what we think and believe?

Maybe we should force Clinton and Trump to govern together. Both of them are smart. They both know how to get things done. Make the two of them sit together in a room and figure out what’s lacking in our country, and then come up with a plan to fix it. Not in four years, right now. Equal power. Equal input.

And if the two of them fail, as surely they will, We The People will find someone who can take care of business. The time for status quo has come and gone. We need a new political process in this country. One that doesn’t require billions spent by special interest groups when people in our country are hungry and in need. When our National Debt is beyond our ability to ever repay it.

It’s time for politicians to lead this country with love, or at least to act as if. And this is why I usually refuse to jump into the political fray. There’s no redeeming social value, actually, no value of any kind. Certainly there is no love. Nobody who truly loved their country and its people would spew such hate in order to serve it. Disclaimer: In all the jobs I’ve held, politician is not one of my former titles. But I’m certain I could do a better job. So could you. Perhaps this is our call to action.

Also, I’m going to subscribe to the Arizona Republic. I am a writer and a journalist at heart. You may not agree with what they write about and publish, but they have a right to run their business without death threats. It’s how we do things here in America. First Amendment. Freedom. Rights and all that jazz.

But hey, this is all just my opinion. You know, that thing we used to be free to share without being threatened. I’m interested in yours. Share it. I’m listening.