No More Matching

People who know me well know that I have a small obsession with lingerie, particularly Victoria’s Secret. It’s an indulgence where no matter what I am wearing clothing-wise, only I know what I am wearing underneath and it gives me a sense of empowerment.

For example, when I was finishing my bachelors degree, my “advisor”, whom I called the Dragon Lady on the 4th Floor, called me white trash and said I would never do as well at my 4-year school as I did at community college. For the record, I was valedictorian at my community college, and # 6 of 2,000+ at my 4-year university graduating Summa Cum Laude. But while she was berating me about how much of a lowly scum I am, I knew that underneath my $9 outfit I had gotten from Salvo, that I was wearing a $5 pair of Victoria’s Secret panties with a bunch of apples on them that also said “Bite me.” My underwear was appropriate to the situation.

My underclothes almost regularly cost more than my outfit. About 95% of my wardrobe is second hand, but I truly believe (for sanitary reasons) that my underclothes should be new. If I’m going to buy something new, then I want the good stuff, or if not good, then I at least need to be having fun as I kiss my money goodbye.

So generally, my bra and panties are matching, even of I’m having trouble getting my outfit to match. My excuse is that I’m legally color-blind (which is true, according to my paperwork from when I tried to join the Navy back in the 90s). So, gosh darn it, my socks may not match, but my underwear does. You gotta take what you can get sometimes.

Now, it is well known by anyone and everyone who has a hankering for horror movies that the girl being terrorized, hurt, maimed, or killed in such flicks is most usually wearing a matching bra and panty set.

I have never understood why this is the case. I just figured it to be a costuming snafu or some sort of elaborate Hollywood joke. Maybe its some well-placed, subliminal advertising. At any rate, I’ve always thought horror movies were pretend.

That is, at least, until I took the vacation that made Freddie and Jason look like a daydream.

I took my worst vacation in 20 years this week. It was the first time that I have ever come home early from someplace. I came home a day and a half early. In fact, I was gone less than 24 hours.

Things went to hell in a hand basket fast, and now I am starting to think there just may be something to this matching bra & panty gig that Hollywood perpetuates.

I refuse to end up in a body bag, so from now on, I will not be matching my bra and panty sets. From now on, when I get dressed in the mornings, I will do so with an abandon that makes a 3-year old dressing themselves look like executive level material.

Why have I decided to stop matching and have this linked to matching panty sets? Let me set the scene ….

So Monday left to go camping in an area of the Adirondacks that was brand-new to me. The spot I had chosen was about an hour to the north and east of my usual haunt. The place I go camping in August, I’ve been going to for 15 years. This trip this week was a new experience.

The drive was gorgeous, the directions easy. I arrived with high expectations for some relaxation. The first maybe 6 hours were great, and then everything changed into a horror flick. Damn Hollywood and matching panties.

Hindsight is 20/20, and now after the event, I realized what happened was this: I went hiking through the campsite to locate showers, garbage, bear prevention accommodations, etc. when I passed some guy on a bicycle. I said hello, as I normally do to other campers. Later, I passed this same individual on foot. So, he parked his bike, right? I thought nothing of it.

That night as I was tending the fire, I noticed the wood truck went by several times. I do mean several. It slowed down next to me quite a few. The guy was wearing a hat. In retrospect, it was the same guy from earlier. When I left the campground, I found out that this location does not offer wood service. It was NOT in fact, a wood truck, but some creep-o stalker dude.

At the time, I thought it was the wood truck.

After properly distinguishing my camp fire at about 10 pm, I was in my tent by 10:30. The purpose of staying in a tent is to reset circadian rhythms.

At about 11:30, I woke up due to some rustling in the brush. I have seen chipmunks, squirrels, ducks, deer, and even a bear once while camping. I am quite familiar with woodland animal sounds. The interesting part is that at this camp site, I had not seen any animals earlier, and the sound was not entirely familiar. Also note that I was told at check-in that the ranger station closed at about 11-11:30 pm.

I looked outside the tent and saw nothing. I went back to sleep.

I was once again awakened, this time at 1:30 am. It was a human sound. Directly outside my tent. I have spent enough time running trails when I train for my marathons, that I know the sound of sneaker on dirt. Especially when the sound is close to my head. I have been camping enough over the past 20 years to know it was not an animal sound. I have been homeless before and know from living on the streets what it sounds like to be laying down with people walking by you.

This was a human sound, and suddenly I was scared as hell. Now, most normal people know better than to walk through other peoples camp sites. They most certainly do not do this at 1:30 am.

Not knowing the intentions of the person, who said nothing and ran off, I then spent a very uncomfortable night in half of the backseat of my car. The other half was taken up by the cooler.

I finally got to sleep at 4 am, only to be awakened at 6 am by some extremely loud children 4 sites away (4 sites!) screaming their heads off. I taught preschool for 11 years, and I have no problem with groups of children being loud when having fun. But these kids were screaming to be assholes.

I left the camp site and reported my experience to the ranger station. They seemed to know the exact person I was referencing, but were not concerned, as that person is “harmless.” When its someone you don’t know standing right outside your tent at 1:30 am, it does not seem harmless.

I came home from vacation less than 24 hours after I left. Needless to say, I won’t be going back to that location again.

When I returned home, I ended up sleeping 15 hours recovering from my ordeal. I also set the tent up in the yard to be sure it was dry and swept before putting it away again. The “harmless” individual had left a bodily fluid on the side of my tent. I’m glad I came home when I did.

I spent the last day of my vacation having a beach day at Lake Ontario. Some vacation. It was not the relaxing reset I had been envisioning.

So now I am just continuing to trudge on until my week off in August. Lets hope that trip goes off without a hitch. If I have another experience like this one, I’m pretty sure I will lose my mind. I have had plenty of experiences like this pretty much every time I had ever visited New York City, but this was the first time I ever had anything like this happen to me upstate.

I can tell you right now, I won’t be wearing matching bra and panty sets anymore. Freddie and Jason can just keep their Hollywood starlets, thank you very much.

I’m just going to keep hoping I get the break I need in August. And I’m never going to match my clothes again.

Finding Peace

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Every year for the past 15 or so years, I take a camping trip for Labor Day weekend. I go completely off the grid to a remote location that has no cell service, no electricity, and no running water. I joke that I have to drive myself to the middle of nowhere to escape my life. The sad part is that it is true.

Part of my journey in simplicity and minimalism is to slow down in my normal, every day life in order to create a life I don’t need to escape. I am hoping to be able to identify pockets of peace in my daily routine so that I do not feel I need to wait for that one, magical time of year for it all to happen.

My camping trip has always been an escape from technology, phones, email, responsibility, problems, my 2 or 3 jobs, and whatever other drama was occurring in my life at the time. Oftentimes, I was so stressed out that I was unable to truly relax, even though I was completely displaced from the stress and in a very beautiful place.

This year, I am hoping that my vacation is a true respite. Each year I return to the same location, no matter what is happening in my life, or what my point of origin. This year, I have so much to be thankful for. Instead of having to worry about paying bills, putting food on the table, or rushing from one job to the next on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, I am thankful that I am finally at a point in my life that I have employment I enjoy, that treats me well, and meets my basic needs.

This is the time of year when I push the reset button and recharge. My goal in slowing down my every day life is to be able to do this in small doses daily, without feeling the need for one huge trip. I will continue to do my camping trip every year, but I am hoping to bring some of that peace to my life daily instead of just annually.

Part of my trip this year is going to be identifying areas of my life in which I can slow down even more. This is a gradual process where I am continually evaluating my priorities and making changes in my life. I don’t feel that there will ever be a point in my life where everything is 100% okay, happy, and stress free every day. Unless you’re on botox or some really good pills, I don’t think that happens for anyone. My hope is to increase my happiness as much as possible.

For me, I find that I attach more easily to places than I do to people. I frequently revisit places that make me feel good. Being able to identify what makes you feel good is helpful in being able to achieve peace and identify what you can do in your daily life to recreate that feeling.

What do you do to feel peaceful? For some people, it is the little things in every day life like a bubble bath, or reading a good book. Sometimes it is having a cup of coffee with a good friend. Part of my goal on my big peace trip this year is to identify more of the small things that bring me peace on a daily basis.

Finding peace is helpful in grounding oneself so that you have an anchor in the storms of life. I have some pretty big life changes coming up, and I want to be sure that my foundations are strong in order to weather those changes. Sometimes you need a moment to regroup and remember why you are doing what you are doing and what is important.

Family, experiences, and love are the important things in life. How can we maximize those positives? Sometimes when you are in a situation, you are so in it, that you need to take a step back to make a decision. Being able to look objectively at life helps you to identify the positives and negatives to work more efficiently towards your goal.

One of the most peaceful aspects of my trip each year is when I sit by the water and the wildlife comes right up to me. I wake up in the morning to the sunrise and the sounds of birds. Not only birds, but ducks. Quite a few years, I have woken up to quaking, unzipped the window in my tent to find a duck looking at me. Being able to reconnect with nature is a great way of centering.

Each year at the holidays, I usually give people a colorful miniature rubber ducky with their holiday card. This causes some confusion, but for those who know about my camping trips, they know that it is the time of year that is most peaceful for me. Holidays are not supposed to be about gifts, they are supposed to be about people, experiences, and peace. I give those duckies each year as a reminder to people to be peaceful, as the ducks remind me of the time of year in which I experience the most peace. It is one of the small ways I have found to recreate that peace I feel on my camping trip each year.

How do you find peace? Do you need to take time to step back and recenter? If you are constantly going from one thing to another, it may be time to slow down and regroup. You cannot give from an empty cup. Stop and recharge.

Rewind real slow.