City Girl Goes Outdoorsy

Pivotal moments for my psyche have revolved around the outdoors. Key moments.

Gresham, OR

We had some fairly intense fog in early October of 2013. I don’t live in the mountains, but it damn well felt like it at times.

And then in the second week of December, we had ice and snow at the campus I go to school at. The pond (that people stupidly fish from) froze over.

And then I began my Wilderness Survival class. Most people felt like it was an introduction to camping, but for this city girl who craves the wilds, it was essential coursework. And also, really fun. See: photo above, my first attempt at a shelter. Sorry for the blurriness.

And then, I got better. I got more equipment, and played around with more abstract setups that required minimal tiedowns.

And as we reached the end of the term, I had pretty much everything. I was ready for field day, hell, I was more ready for anything to get out of concrete everythings and not have the sound of cars permeate every waking moment.

Also, can I just say that my hatchet is effing badass?

And the next day, the field day was incredible. We left early, crammed into vans and an hour’s drive later, we pitched our emergency shelters, and completed our scenarios. Team Gladiator scored all 5’s on all 8 scenarios, including the bonus ones. We then decided to make pine needle tea with an old can we found near the river. Much success, such wilderness.

Winter term came to a close. My Wilderness class project, a camping trip to a po-dunk area of Southwestern Oregon near the confluence of the Illinois-Rogue Rivers, was complete, and we were due to leave the following Monday after finals.

My preferred shelter, actually in use, barely stood up to the rain. It was the thought that counts, and I know now what I need to do. Here’s the major parts of what I brought (since we didn’t hike in):

  • Hi-Tec Waterproof Hiking Boots [similar here]
  • Texsport Reinforced Tarp – Camo [here]
  • Thermarest Ridgerest [here]
  • Browning 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
  • High Sierra Access Pack
  • Coleman Hiking Pole
  • Timbuk2 Messenger Bag – Small
  • Cheap crappy solar charger

I also had most of what I included on my field day set mixed in here, with different clothes… except I should’ve brought the snow pants during the camping trip. With how much it rained, I needed them. Hindsight man… hindsight.

But let me show you what a little area called Oak Flat Campground looks like…

Three days here. It rained most of the time, and shown are the intermittent breaks in cover we had. Probably the most beautiful place I have ever spent time in, and I would love to go back someday. Not bad for a first camping trip, eh? Only took 22 years to happen. Next on my bucket list is a multi-day trip somewhere in Eastern Oregon.

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Social Anxiety and the Beginning of the Job Race

That’s a picture of the Rosemary I planted near the beginning of the summer. I feel it best kinda represents what I’m trying to tackle and the attitude I hope I can hold onto while I try to achieve what I’m trying to achieve.

Losing my job kinda leads me to start thinking about the long run. Are there jobs in my chosen field? Will I be able to handle supporting myself and potentially my significant other for a period of unknown time? There are plenty of jobs in my field, which is highly encouraging. But I need things like a license, and a stable crap job to get me through until I can reach my career.

The revisions my resume has undergone has begun to make me feel a lot better about looking for a job. I’ve posted a brief outline of myself on CraigsList’s resumes section and gotten a few responses, put out a few copies of my resume. It feels really good to have not two or three, but six references who are willing to attest to (what I hope is) my awesomeness. My resume is sitting on the desks of the manager of a local small market and a video game store right now. I’ve applied to the game store twice before, and I hope that third time will indeed be a charm. It’s not too much to look for a part time gig doing just about anything, right?

The second question I’ve been asking myself relates a lot more to how I want to handle my psychological stability. I have a semi-dependent personality and both I & the man know this. We’re very similar in that respect. I’ve only been unemployed a few days, but he’s been unemployed going on a few years now. Being stuck in bum-fuck nowhere does that. The times he’s been down here before have been filled with good times, but also job hunting. Do I think he’ll have a better opportunity down here, to find a job and hold out until he can establish residency? Yes, it’s with 110% certainty I say that. Am I financially stable to support both he and I as well as my beloved fur babies while I go to school? That.. I’m more worried about. 

The idealist in me wants to say, YES, yes, it will be just fine. But the realist in me is screaming NO, no, it won’t be fine. And I’m just sitting here, on a slowly dwindling away monthly transit pass, scrolling through CraigsList and spending my afternoons turning in my resumes to whoever will give it a glance. All while putting in 150% effort in at school, to understand algebra (which I have absolutely no confidence in but apparently I have an A in the class so far?) and remember how the bloody fuck to write a paper.

Each time I approach an employee somewhere I get this screaming wave of terror that they’ll laugh at me, that I’ll be ignored or that I will be seen as “sub-par”. I’m scared they’ll judge me by the pants that just barely fit and the dress shirt that’s too big, and not by the fact that I’m well kept, responsible and ensure tasteful placement of my piercings as well as consideration to keep the only religious symbol I own on my person under the tshirt that also hides the text of the tattoo I have along my collarbone.

So, what does a picture of a flourishing Rosemary plant have to do with my job hunt? I’ve barely paid attention to it over the summer. I’ve let nature take it’s course in letting it root down in the barrel it’s planted in, watering it only slightly while it got extremely dry over the summer. The damn plant seems to have just slowed down, and taken root as much as it can before slowly getting bigger and bigger. It kept on going.

So here’s to hoping. That my fat ass can keep on going.

What does it take?

(Image source: [here])

The source of this picture has nothing to do with this post. Right now, I want you to look at that. Imagine there’s a coffee shop on one side of this parking lot, a quiet murmur as people go about their Sunday and do whatever it is they do near a coffee shop & a liquor store at 11:00 AM on a Sunday morning.

When I was ordering my coffee today (with my father, out doing grocery shopping), I noticed a woman having trouble outside walking with her rolly basket. You know that feeling you get when you know someone is mentally challenged, has an apparent learning disability… whatever it is that you prefer the name of for political correctness, that. This older woman was the embodiment of that. I couldn’t tell if she was going somewhere or trying to get home. It just bothered me. And at first, I turned away like everyone else in this world does and took my $3.50 latte with a shot of Kahlua flavor & savored that first sip.

My dad and I exited the coffee shop and I stopped. I heard crying. I had almost forgotten about her — and there she was, having problems with her cart… and sobbing profusely. I looked at my dad and he just had this pained face, and he continued to stand there. I know he was trying to figure out something to do, but I couldn’t just stand there. I walked over, asked if she was alright. She wasn’t, her cart was stuck on the curb. When I got closer to her I could tell the clothes she had wasn’t as clean as she would probably want. And her eyes. Her eyes had so much pain in them.

I helped, and she started thanking me, over and over as she stood by her cart in the street, tears now streaming down her face. And I turned back towards my dad who still had his eyes on her. I heard her yell, “excuse me? kind lady?” and asked me if I had a dollar – and I didn’t. I did however have a small handful of change and I offered it to her, and she smiled. Gave her a hug. Told her, “God bless,” and she said the same back… and I went back to my life & back to my day.

For eleven hours this has been sitting on my head and bothering me. This incident brings up a couple really painful points to me, and I could spend the next three hours of my night detailing what they are but everyone would just bring up the point that maybe I could’ve done something more. You could’ve given her a ride, you should have done more…

Travelling through Portland nearly every day for the last year for work has given me the Portland mentality of “look the other way” and I hate that. And when I think about how I could approach not thinking like that… I become stingy. I remember how I need to save for groceries, for my boyfriend’s ticket down here/back home just in case, of how I’m saving for school and oh, don’t forget the $100 a month for a bus pass.

I just have to remember her appreciation for what I could give her. I just have to remember, that even actions will speak louder than a dollar bill ever can. I remember watching her make her way across the parking lot, still having some problems with the cart, but her posture seemed easier. And I would have been back out from the safety of the car to ask her further where she was going & if she needed a lift, if someone else hadn’t walked out of their car with an umbrella and start talking to her. I hope she got to where she was trying to go. I hope her day got brighter from the people she met along the way. I hope she is somewhere safe, and that she has someone to call in case something happens…

I can’t give money to every single person I see struggling, but I can help move their cart off being stuck on the curb…

Fuck, I hate this economy. I miss living in the adolescent ignorance of the world.

Potato Leek Soup – the IDGAF way

For anyone who knows me, they know I love food. I especially love amazing food, that isn’t filled with what I deem “shit”. Shit translates to me, preservatives or lots of margarine. It needs to hold it’s own while still having good nutrition. Being in a swing of Vegetarian means it needs to pull double duty – tastes good and is filling. That’s usually my problem with smoothies is that they don’t fill me up and I’m still irking for something solid. Soup tends to be the most comfortable way for me to tackle my problems of needing food.

If you follow me on Pinterest, which I wholeheartedly recommend because you never know when something awesome will pop up, I recently pinned a soup from a good friend of mine to make later. It was only appropriate to try to make it today – and by golly, we had a winner.

[Original Recipe]
With that as my jumping off point, I started to tweak it just enough to fit my diet and my food preferences.

This was by far the most challenging part. I’ve never worked with leeks before, and it wasn’t until a week ago that I had eaten anything with leeks in it. They’re a member of the onion family, and are basically like a giant green onion with a much softer flavor. The original recipe calls for only using the white & light green part. But only buying one leek (it was about the size of my arm) meant trying to find a way to use the rest of it. A bit of research showed that if I started with the darker parts being cooked and then adding the rest, it would soften up plenty.

From there, everything vaguely followed the recipe… I think the only thing I changed was using two types of potatoes for variety and only using vegetable stock. It took a lot longer for it all to simmer down until I was ready to blend part of it, about an hour total on low, but I ended up having a much higher quality taste in the end than I would have with rushing it.

Now, at this point I tasted it and it definitely was missing something. I wanted to have it creamier, unlike the canned soup I had purchased last week. I added about half a cup of whole milk to what I was blending until it was completely smooth.

When it was reintroduced to the pot it was still a bit thin, so the lid was replaced for a good 20 minutes or so while it simmered down a bit more. Right about now was when I added roasted garlic (which isn’t on the original recipe), the listed spices and just a tiny bit of parmesan.

Looking back I did forget to add in the tabasco. Now I’m not overly fond of tabasco — it’s taste just doesn’t really roll with me. We have chipotle tabasco in the house but I normally reserve that for eggs – so I’m gonna experiment with the leftovers to see what sort of sauce will go best with it. I also have Sriracha in the fridge which could be good… I guess we’ll find out the hard way, eh?

And here’s the end of it — the soup with my choice of ale for the week, a Sam’l Smith fruit ale.