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.

 

 

 

WANTED: Home and Llamas

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It seems like no matter where I go in the world, I’m always looking for home. Not that I don’t have a place to live, I do. Currently, I reside in a great house, on a good block in a swell neighborhood. My stuff gathers there. My hats are hung inside. But it’s not home. It’s like a temporary way station until I find the real place. The place I finally put down some roots and refuse to yank them out again. Like I’ve done eight times in the last 10 years.

When I finally land, it will be in a house where I love waking up to greet the sun on the back porch. I’ll sit outside with a stellar cup of coffee contemplating the forecast of an amazing day. The kind of workday that keeps me busy enough to stave off any boredom but not so demanding it feels like a grind.

In the evening I’ll gather with friends who are likeminded and entertaining. People who like organic food and care about the environment. My friends are super smart and they laugh easily, but also care deeply. I never have to worry whether anyone has my back because they all do, and I reciprocate in kind. We often discuss serious issues, but instead of just complaining about the status quo, we all commit to take one small step to change our little piece of the planet for the good of ALL.

Some of us have different political views, but we love each other enough to listen carefully and respond thoughtfully. There is no blame or vitriol. Nothing ugly happens here.

My home will be the place I always think of when I’m away. The place I always long for because it’s where I’m happiest. Where my comfy bed lives in a large room just waiting for me to get horizontal and grab a good book. It’s a place where I grow some veggies and flowers so I’m always surrounded by living things and beauty.

Home. The scene where I laugh the most, and dance across the living room floor pretending I’m a rock star because, in my house, I am. Also, there are llamas in the yard, just because.

What says home for you?

 

 

 

How Social Media Has Added 15 Years To My Life

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Social Media and I have an uneasy relationship. It’s like avoiding your drunk uncle at the family reunion and then discovering he’s the designated burger flipper. If you’re hungry enough you’ll swallow your discomfort, walk up, and say hello.

My job is writing, and if my intention is to share the words I write with anyone other than a few close friends who think I’m clever, I have to put myself out there. What that means anymore is Social Media. It stands as the gateway to my dream.

It’s an avenue I avoided for years, a place reserved for hipsters and the intrinsically cool to share their thoughts and opinions on everything from cat videos to the current political clusterfuck. Not the place for someone like me—holed up at home hour after hour engaged in what I think is serious writing.

I used to scoff at friends obsessed with constantly checking their Facebook page. And let’s face it, me sending a tweet is as effective as shooting a message into space via potato gun, then sitting at the Very Large Array (VLA) and waiting to see if there’s been contact from another life form, i.e. hipsters and the intrinsically cool.

But here’s the thing about Social Media. I got involved, surfed the learning curve; I posted and tweeted. And my self-esteem walked itself back 15 years. I don’t mean my crow’s feet lessened and my body leaned up. I mean there’s nothing like someone calling what you felt was a clever reply to a post, stupid. Nothing smashes someone’s self-esteem to smithereens, like being called stupid. It pushes every button we have, and most of us have a stupid button among the others residing near our fragile egos.

Twitter. How cool, I thought, to follow writers whose books you’ve studied every word of, or comedians and celebrities you admire. You can actually send them a Tweet! And just like in real life, they live in one world, the rest of us in another. This pretend place will not bring us closer together.

Perhaps I’m playing in the wrong sandbox. (Also, crow’s feet reduction should be a pre-requisite on this crazy play date). Honestly, I don’t think people are as nice as they used to be. I need the Social Media where people encourage and champion each other. The one where I can bounce ideas around, and hear what other people think who don’t have to spit on me when they speak. Please tell me that place exists, and then if you would, kindly send me the directions.

In the mean time, I’m getting younger by the minute doing my job, writing and navigating the gatekeepers to get my words out there, and hope to hell someone will read them. Otherwise I’m headed to the VLA and beaming my shit out into space.

Also, don’t bug me because I’m checking my Twitter and Facebook Page every few minutes to see if anyone’s liked my last post.