Do you ever have the feeling like, upon the day of birth, some people are simply cursed? No matter how well you plan, no matter how hard you try to be a good person, do the right thing, share love with others, bad things keep happening, as if a random black cloud follows you around, ensuring everything you touch or get close to in any way will fall apart?

I have that feeling all the time. I am that black cloud.

I say this as I sit in my apartment that is 80 degrees with the air conditioning ON. Obviously it has ceased to work, something I’ve been telling the apartment for over a year, as the effectiveness of the AC unit steadily decreases, and my energy bills increase with each passing month. Every time, they send someone over to look at things and tell me it is “fine”.

It is NOT fine.

Most people would tolerate the inconvenience of it being 80 degrees indoors with some semblance of normalcy, but last year, the black cloud of doom turned a trip to the beach into an episode where I suffered mild heat stroke, 2nd degree sunburn over 60% of my body, dehydration, and an infection that went untreated for too long. In addition to gaining 25 pounds over the past year, being diagnosed with a permanent inner ear disorder, blood pressure related issues, hypoglycemia, and confusing medical issues I never had before, I also have the inability to regulate body temperature. In short, I do not sweat. My body just stores up heat until my skin starts to resemble a cooking surface for eggs. No AC is kind of not great for me.

If you want more evidence of the black cloud of doom that follows me, I’ve been planning a trip to see some friends for the past month and a half. My original intent was to go to NYC and Philly, and stop to see a friend in the Durham area along the way. Sadly, I am still not allowed to fly, at not healthy enough for such a long non-stop bus trip, particularly in the June heat. So, my plans changed to a more manageable Southern excursion, visiting my friend in Durham, and then off to catch up with some other friends in Charlotte.

A week or so ago, I had a huge fight with my friend in Durham, which resulted in him threatening to no longer continue being my friend. We are indeed still friends, but he said, “I no longer have the level of trust in you where I feel comfortable having you stay in my home”…which kind of sucks coming from someone you’d like to consider a friend, but, c’est la vie. Problem is, he’d agreed to have me stay at his place for an additional two days I’d added to my trip to do things around the area, leaving me to find other accommodations on relatively short notice.

Fortunately, I did, and I had a pleasant enough conversation with the friend I’m no longer certain is a friend or merely an acquaintance who is amused by me….who agreed to pick me up from the bus station when I arrived (but more about that later.), so I thought the whole trip thing was settled.

Wrong. Yesterday, I found out the second person who offered to host me would be unavailable to do so, and I haven’t been able to connect with anyone in the area who is. So, it looks like I’m going to have to pay for a hotel for another two nights.

Then there’s the matter of the bus. Like many Northeasterners, I’m familiar with the comfort and convenience of the Chinatown bus line…which gets you where you want to go without switching buses 5 times and giving you an 8 hour stop in Richmond, like Greyhound.

On Wednesday, I found out that my bus to Durham was actually canceled. This was annoying, because I had to reschedule via Greyhound, which meant taking a bus to Raleigh and then spending another $40 for a cab to my already pre-paid hotel in Durham. Fortunately, when I told my friend in the area about my predicament, he offered to come pick me up, which was quite nice of him (especially since the previous week, I got the impression I was no longer a particularly favoured person in his life.). But, still…this stuff only happens to me.

By “this stuff”, I mean not that a bus is canceled, which can happen to anyone, but that there’s’ a huge bust that puts multiple bus lines out of business days before your planned travel dates. Yeah. This is the kind of stuff that happens when I try to travel.

So, to recap. Broken A/C, sick Alayna, friend who no longer trusts me enough to let me crash on his floor, second host who backed out at the last minute, canceled bus, shutdown of buses I’ve been riding on for years that are apparently death traps, and needing to spend more money than desired on hotels. And I haven’t even packed a bag yet.

Part of the reason I travel is to put the complexities of my everyday life in perspective, take a break from situations that stress me out, and have fun exploring and having a great time with old friends…and often making new ones along the way. I haven’t been able to travel since being so ill last summer, and this is my first foray out into the great big world alone. I should be applauded for getting up the courage to do this, to take a huge step toward reclaiming my independence. Yet, the Universe seems to want me to have the most difficult time possible achieving this.

I’d hate to see what might have happened if I’d decided to go to New York, Philly, or D.C. instead. I’m pretty sure if I’d been allowed on a plane, there would have been a hurricane, or a suspected terrorist attack.

Seriously, life. I am over the black cloud of doom that thinks “one step forward, two steps back” is a fun game to play with my life.

It would be awesome if you could refrain from sending me a hurricane while I’m traveling, and my dog doesn’t run away from the person taking care of her. Of course, she’ll probably just be happy to have A/C.

I’m trying really hard to keep my life simple, fun, and not over-complicate everything. It would be awesome if you, life, would cooperate. Thank you. :)

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been around much lately, and the “Life Less Ordinary” project has found itself on hiatus. Initially, this was a good thing—I spent two and a half weeks traveling to see family and friends in the Northeast, hanging out in NYC, Philly, and spending a week in the sun at the Jersey Shore.

Not unexpectedly, the latter is where things began to go terribly, terribly wrong.

If you know me, you know I love the beach. In fact, most of my “what I want to do one day when I’ve made enough money and am ready to disappear into anonymity” scenarios involve living on a beach somewhere. And, since I’ve been under a rather large amount of stress lately in my everyday life, I figured there was nothing better than spending hours each day on the sand, soaking up the rays.

This provided a fun and relaxing holiday, until the very last day, when I decided to rent a beach chair and sit near/in the ocean, while reading my book and drinking my contraband vodka and clementine Izze soda. It was a great day, and when I got back to the hotel and took a shower, I noticed I’d acquired a killer tan.

Two hours later, I noticed that the tan was actually sunburn, and it was kind of painful. By the end of the evening, I could barely walk without crying, and of course, the next day was the day we were set to travel to Philly.

I made it—barely—but spent the next week largely in bed, with blisters and painful 2nd degree burns over my legs and belly. In addition, I started to have dizzy spells for no reason, often accompanied by a feeling that fainting would soon occur, heart palpitations, and a feeling that my body was out of control. The first time, I thought I was having a heart attack, and was going to die. :(

I can’t tell if these experiences are provoked by heat exhaustion, anxiety, or a totally unrelated medical issue—but let me tell you, nothing is more frightening than the feeling your body is working against you. For nearly two weeks, I’ve been unable to tolerate bright lights, heat, and staring at the computer screen. Even small things have tired me out immensely, which is unlike me, and my typically energetic, vivacious approach to life.

Slowly, things are improving, and over the past few days, I’ve had the physical and mental stamina to return to work, largely through the help of sunglasses. (wearing sunglasses indoors so you can work on your computer looks silly, but if you are intolerant to light, it actually works quite well.) Yesterday, the sun and the 100 degree temperatures decided to disappear, and it was the first day I actually felt like my old self…so I have some level of confidence that I am recovering, although perhaps not as fast as I’d like.

As always, I enjoyed my time in NYC, although I’m always there far too briefly for my tastes. I had the opportunity to catch up with three old friends I’ve known for years, and always miss dearly. It seems like years ago, distance wasn’t such an impediment to friendships, since there was always time for phone calls, IM chats, e-mails, and the like. Nowadays, there’s rarely the time, and when there is, there’s not always the energy. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it’s something that kind of sucks about getting older.

Philly, on the other hand, was a bit of a disaster—with the exception of July 4th. If you’re going to be anywhere on the 4th of July, you want to be in Boston, Philly, or D.C., which is one of the reasons I always plan my trip up there over that timeframe. Unfortunately, being ill really limited my ability to see anyone or do anything, and also reminded me of how difficult it’s always been for me to get along with my family. They’re largely like strangers to me, strangers I find negative and less than supportive, and who don’t really relate to me or anything I have going on in my life. It’s always been that way, of course, but the older I get and the more well-defined my own life becomes, the less they seem like people I know or understand. There are always arguments, always difficulties co-existing, and within two or three days, I begin to miss living in my world instead of theirs.

I think that, all these years, I’ve tried to create a relationship and an understanding with my family that just doesn’t exist. I’ve tried to create a feeling of “home” in this place that should be home to me, and I’m always devastated to remind me that it’s not. I’ve created an ideal in my head that I’ve always wanted, a place that feels like I belong and am loved and understood, and it’s natural to assume that safe place should be with one’s family. For me, it isn’t, and I’ve come to realise that the stability and support and comfort I want from “home” is going to have to be one of my own creation. It’s reminded me why I’d like to focus on finding a place I’d like to live on a permanent basis, and being able to buy property there, so that “home” doesn’t have to be someone else’s, and it doesn’t have to be a transient idea.

I’m glad to be back in Atlanta, though, and to spend time with the people I care about here. Even if I have to spend a chunk of my summer in bed, watching TV and working with sunglasses on, there are still some good times to be had before the summer is over.

And, of course, Big Brother is back, one of my favourite summertime guilty pleasures!:)

I’m the kind of person that naturally gets bored and feels uninspired if I stay put for too long. I’m not sure why; it isn’t that I don’t have the capacity to be happy or content. Sometimes, I even value the feeling of safety and security that “home” offers me, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than hide out there for awhile. Those phases are often short-lived, however, and then I find myself plagued by restlessness and ready to chase adventure again.

Day #2:




Escape To Your Happy Place

At least for me, half the fun of going somewhere different is looking forward to getting there. Everyone has their own “happy place”, the place they’d much rather be, if there were no boring meetings, dull assignments, crying children, or endless obligations to attend to in life. For most people, it’s the first place you’d be likely to run off and hide out if you won the lottery tomorrow, quit your job, and had the personal freedom to go anywhere you wished.

My happy place is the beach, which is why I try to go at least once a year. Atlanta, being hopelessly landlocked and short on bodies of water, has the misfortune of having beach-worthy weather for at least 7 months out of every year, without any actual beaches nearby. The closest beach getaways are 5 hours away by car, too far for a day trip, and too inconvenient for non-drivers like myself.

It isn’t so bad, if you live in a nice complex with a pool—which, incidentally, I do not. My complex finally re-opened the pool, and it is now filled with screaming kids and angry, angsty teenagers all day long. It’s a far cry from some of the previous places I’ve lived in Atlanta, where I managed to spend an hour each day lying in the sun and shedding my vampire-like complexion for a few months. So, the result is that once March hits, I start looking forward to a trip to the beach.

I didn’t get to Savannah yet, although I’m determined to spend a weekend there at some point this summer. However, I’ll be visiting the Jersey Shore at the end of June, spending a lot of time lying on the beach and tuning out the entire world. In order to accomplish this, I needed a new bathing suit, and this one seemed to say “me”…at least today.


Sometimes, part of appreciating life is reminding yourself that you have freedoms, choices, options. While you might not always have the time, money, or energy to step away from your life and escape to your happy place, remembering that someday you will is motivating and invigorating. And, sometimes, your happy place might turn out to be exactly right where you are.

While absolutely nobody reads this blog, save for a handful of close friends, it seems I’ve been targeted by a spammer-bot that found me on LiveJournal, and just won’t quit with the comments. So, I’m going to handle the situation like I usually do when a problem with someone or something comes my way: by writing a polite note that is perfectly cordial on the outside, but on the inside, contains a very large middle finger. :)

Dear Spammer-Bot,

My comments are moderated for a variety of reasons, but you are one of them. Your comments will not be approved, so, please, stop wasting your time and mine.

Thanks,

*~ A.

In other news, I have now officially failed at/ broken all my New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t lost a single pound since successfully convincing the scale to take 5 off the number it shows me every day, I spend more time wasting time on the computer during my work day than actually working, I’m not in a financially promising situation due to all the things that are going into planning a friend’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and attending her wedding next month, and I’ve only read one book and watched one movie on the “classics” list. The past few months have brought a good deal of distance, both physically and emotionally (though, ironically, not at the same time.) into my relationship with The Guy I Am Currently Dating. We’ve had open and kind of emotionally draining conversations about the future of our relationship—or, in my mind, the lack thereof.

I’m certain that those that have known me for a long time have pegged my recent sadness as simply that thing that happens to me every so often, where I realise I’m dissatisfied with my life, and ready to run: from a job that isn’t ultimately what I want to do, but is improving my life and good for me *right now*; from a relationship that often seems too hard and too complicated and destined to end as soon as it is time for me to make any kind of major life change; from a living situation I don’t like, with a roommate that simply refuses to find a full-time job and hasn’t paid more than $100 a month toward living expenses for a year; from friends that talk about me behind my back and I’m not always certain truly like me or consider me a friend, nor if I truly like them. I know I tend to run away from things rather than moving forward, but I haven’t done that in a long while, and as a result, I feel stuck.

And while I know there are options for unsticking myself that don’t involve just packing up and going somewhere where nobody knows my name (which I guess means Boston is out. :P ), that idea can’t help but seem appealing and exciting to me. I’m ready for a new adventure, and for things to not always feel so stagnant. Part of me just wonders if I’ve exhausted my adventures here in Atlanta, while another part simply wants to move closer to the city and into my own apartment. Either way, I find myself being bored and restless, and while I don’t want to leave behind all the positive relationships I’ve built here and find myself all alone in the world, it seems like every time I finally develop something that feels like home and family, my natural inclination is to want to go away from it and visit it on holidays.

I am really, truly, in need of personal growth, adventure, and excitement. For the first time, concerns about relationships, work, money, and everything else aren’t paramount in my mind, although they really should be. My energy and focus always drifts away, and dreams of adventure, exciting changes, and recapturing my spirit.

I’m not really sure what to do with that, or about that.

For as far back as I can remember, Christmas has always been one of my favourite times of the year. Never mind that I’m a summer girl, and that snow, ice, and temperatures below 50 degrees turn me at least 3 even more drastically whiter shades of pale, cause me to catch colds three times in 5 months, and leave me with a perpetual desire to hide underneath my electric blanket with the TV remote and flannel pajamas. Despite that, for the 4 weeks or so that fall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (and include my birthday!), I’m clearly happy to be alive, prosperous, and enjoying the most festive time of the year.

Each year, I spend the holidays with my family, with the exception of one year involving an ex-boyfriend, snowstorms, and a broken-down car (which left us in a decidedly less urban area over the holidays, but the atmosphere was still warm, spirited, and charming, nevertheless.) Amusingly enough, after the end of my 10-to-14-day visit home, once the warm fuzzies have departed and everyone’s gone back to yelling at one another and pointing out why they’re glad Christmas only happens once a year, I can’t wait to get back to my home, my adopted family, and my normal life. But for the month of December, I’m a child again, one who can’t wait to get home and put up the Christmas tree in front of the fireplace, bake cookies, and listen to my mother’s favourite radio station on a month-long endless loop of sentimental carols and dedications to long-parted lovers, newly engaged couples, and children fighting in wars far away. Eleven months out of the year, it drives me completely insane. But at Christmas, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

I’m also sentimental in another way, in that I love sending holiday cards, complete with photos and individually-crafted handwritten messages. I know that many people look at it as an outdated tradition, or an obligation, but I love taking the time out to tell someone special to me that I was thinking of him. I love the personal touch that, despite our technological advancements, e-mail just doesn’t quite convey.

So, when Shutterfly offered a promotion on their website, offering 50 free holiday cards to bloggers willing to share their holiday card stories, I was all about it. Each year, holiday cards are a huge part of my December ritual, encouraging me to break through the ice, snow, commercialism, and family squabbles to send a little bit of holiday spirit to those who’ve made my year a special one.

Are you a holiday card fan? Visit Shutterfly, and send one to those you love. And, if you’re a blogger, share your experience, and get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly.