The Holidays

This holidays, since I’m still not working, I travelled all over and had a great time seeing everyone. Firstly I went to Philly, then State College and finally a solo backpacking trip on the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail. I’ll briefly tell y’all about all my trips and show some pictures.

Philly was nice, I saw all the friends I had hoped to and updated them all about my news of going on hormones and that (starting this Friday!). I also got to tell my Aunt and Uncle I was transitioning who were quite supportive. I even got to see a good friend from my first year of college and spent the solstice sunrise with her.

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

I spent the solstice in Philadelphia and spent most of my time in a brick cabin of sorts called “the compound” owned by Half Dread. It has a rain water collection system, electricity and a wood fire to heat it. The day of the solstice I spent time at Philly Aids Thrift and lots of time meditating in the sun. That evening I was with Guac for a while and even got to see Juju briefly. Anxiety overtook me that night and when I saw the sunset I felt myself working through and flushing out old problems. It was a cathartic experience and has made me exciting for 2015 a year of powerful enlightenment, awakening and openness.

Sunrise in Philly - exhausted and relieved

Sunrise in Philly – exhausted and relieved

Next was State College. I saw mostly my immediate family, it was especially nice to have my brother there. He missed x-mas last year, which while it’s not an important holiday for most of us it felt like the conscious choice of work over family. My family worked on calling me my new taken name and worked a little on using female pronouns too. This felt validating as though I was transforming into a woman in their eyes, and in my own.

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My final trip was to hike along the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail (LHHT). It’s the same trail that I hiked over Thanksgiving and I was happy to hike it again. This was the most intense of all the experiences. Including two opposite by equally astounding experiences.

The first being hiking two days to come upon a winter paradise. Suddenly there are houses covered in snow, even their roofs (there was no snow to be seen where I was hiking). People are skiing from house to house and then I see a ski lift. I’m at Seven Springs Ski Resort. I laugh and take a silly selfie and continue hiking. Whereupon I realize this is only the beginning, the LHHT cuts directly across multiple ski slopes. From serene woods to dodging skiers and snowboarders. I hike across the slopes taking a couple of pictures as I laugh at the insanity of what I am doing. Finally after 20 minutes in this winter paradise I quietly return to the woods.

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Now my third and final day. I decided that morning to cut my trip short early because there is freezing rain, I forgot my rain pants and I’m running low on food. I spent the day wandering adjacent trails in Forbes State Forest. The weather is beautiful with everything coated in a thin layer of ice. After hiking for several miles I realize I want to bike back to my car (I dropped of a bike two days hike out so I could ride back to my car). I also realize that I am lost and can’t comprehend where I am on the map. Luckily I see my footprints in the ice and simply retrace them. Three miles later I make it back to my bike and realize I have 20 miles left to bike.

At this point I am tired and woozy and have been for the last two miles of hiking. I eat two chocolate bars and start biking. First I bike down Laurel Hill, peak elevation 2,994ft, on Route 31. Next I bike up and down a series of hills on some back roads before turning onto Route 653. At this point I am exhausted and my pants are drenched, I can even feel the water sloshing around in my boots. I reach pinnacle after pinnacle as I climb the mountain where I parked my car. Having just read Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron (I’ll talk more about this soon) I try to stay focused on the present and not let my mind wander.

This experience is wet, exhausted and laden with mild muscle pain. Not as bad as I imagined. The whole experience was actually beautiful, being present in the now even if it is miserable it calming and fun. After miles up hill I start seeing fog and familiar signs. I make it to the summit in a state of serene peace. I was very present and remained so the following day.

A wonderful end to my trips and a great memory to have as I embark on my job search and continued quest for my true self.

Mega busing it to State College

This Monday/ Tuesday I visited State College. I came to catch up with a few people and most importantly to go to a dinner my brother hosted for his senior project in the Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management major.

The trip started off fine, getting on the Megabus in Philly at 11:30. The trip started getting more exciting when the Megabus broke down climbing the last big hill on 322 when it’s still a 4 lane divided highway. After 10 minutes of waiting the driver was able to start up the bus and we got going once again.

But no long after right where the road becomes a 2 lane road the bus broke down again. We were stranded 15 minutes outside of State College. They were sending a mechanic who should get there in 1 to 2 hours, and a second Megabus was coming in 2 to 3 hours. Nearly doubling the length of the total trip…

We reluctantly got the okay from the driver to get rides from people to State College, warning us to be safe. And then one of our bus-mates spotted a Penn State school bus parked just up the road. There were some students on a field trip looking at rocks.

I wandered over and jokingly asked, “does it help that I’m a PSU alumni.” which I followed with a laugh figuring that it didn’t.

The bus driver said he’d call his supervisor and see what he could do. My bus-mate handed me the job of dealing with the Penn State bus saying a combination of incoherent gibberish and finally that he was stressed and I looked a lot calmer.

The bus driver motioned for me to come over when he was talking on the phone and he said to the person on the phone, “yes we have a Penn State student here.” I interjected saying, I was only and alumn and showed him my old student id. He continued talking on the phone. He got off and finally said that they could take 6 or 7 people and there was a second bus coming in just a little bit and they could take more. The only catch was that he could only drop us off at the hub.

I got back to the mega bus and told them the good news. A few excited people joined, I think the others were still in disbelief. We hurried on the bus and then we drove off. I felt a great accomplishment both of the fun of the whole event and the ability to step up as a leader in the whole situation and help orchestrate the bus ride back.

We got to campus and I got off thanking the bus driver profusely. He actually told me when I got off that he could drop me off at our original destination, North Atherton Plaza. A few people took him up on that, I got off and waved goodbye.

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The rest of my trip was also exciting and jam packed. I hung out with some USASers for dinner. Hung out with Savages and Mother after that, went diving with Savages at GWs. Then I hung out with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long while, she’s a friend that I was friends with back in middle school and high school. Then I had lunch with my mom, followed by shopping for belt buckles and clothing at GWs. I had a meeting with a professor friend of mine and finally I went home before my brothers dinner.

My brother is a HRIM and for the senior year they have to manage their own restaurant for a day. They make the menu, order the food, find the guests and manage the place on the day of the dinner. It was cool to see ram in the place he likes to be. He was shmooshing all of the guests, making sure the whole place was running right.

But most exciting was the look on his face when he saw that I was there. He was startled, but happy. It was nice to be able to take the time off from work to see his project and eat some good food! My parents also brought a bunch of wine, as did their friends which made my trip home on the mega bus (just a hour after dinner was over) a bit more fun.

We are…

Embarrassed, angry, tired of hearing about Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and all that crap that happened. That is how State College seems to feels about it, and the community wants to move on.

Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 out of 48 charges and will be in prison for the rest of his life. Joe Paterno fucked up, but he’s dead now so can’t do much regarding that. Curly and Schultz are probably going to jail for at least a little while. And Spanier is completely “innocent” enjoying his plush super secret job working for the government (guess all that pandoring paid off).

This leaves the Penn State and State College Community, confused and hurt. They lost so much, and are being reminded of that every football game, as the team has been punished by the NCAA’s attempt moderate the football culture so that football doesn’t trump everything else (especially children’s livelihoods).

In response there has been a lot of hatred for the NCAA.

Love of Paterno.

And support for the football team

State College feels very strange since this happening. There is a desire to forget it, but a constant reminder that it happened. A reminder from people’s comments and jokes. A reminder from having a new coach. And the constant reminder of the ongoing happenings regarding Sandusky, the victims and the new book coming out soon.

In an awkward attempt to console the community for what happened and remind everyone that Penn State and State College is a community together rather than entities constantly butting heads they put up these banners at main entrances to State College.

“Together We Are One” But were we ever one and will we ever be one? Or will Penn State always have an awkward relationship with the community. Pushing the community around and occasionally covering up abuses to the community. But what can a community so dependent on Penn State really do?

The Casbah

One of the reasons for my visit to State College this past weekend was to finally move all of my things out of the Casbah, notably all of the bike stuff.

It was a sad time,

But Savages was happy because he got most of my bike parts that I couldn’t take home.

I got to remember the good times, working on bikes for days, being my own boss, and learning a ton of shit about bikes. I had to throw a lot out (all of which was taken within a few hours), but in the end the place was all cleaned out, nothing of my was left. It was a sad day, an empty room, but it had to come sooner or later.




The house is getting cleaned up and should be up for sale by November, the goal is to have it sold by May, the leases all end sometime in May. Dalton has been promoted to house manager, he got a little decrease in rent and now is in charge of keeping the place clean. He takes pride in the house and has done good work so far. The living room once again looks like a living room and is clean and tidy as is the dining room.

My dad has been doing work on the house too. He started on the outside of the house mulching, painting, cleaning and fixing the deck. He just started to move inside ripping up the tiles in the basement. The tiles are getting replaced because they started coming up and they also have asbestos in them. They are going to get replaced by a nice layer of paint. The plan is to paint the walls and clean up the rest of the inside as late as possible (to prevent re-dirtying).

Recently a frustrated problem has peaked in the Casbah, unwanted pests. This situation has been going on for over a year, but it has gotten unmanageable, to the point that house-mates are getting keys so they can start locking the doors to keep unwanted visitors. My dad even had to intervene and kick someone out of the house who was living there and leeching off everyone. Many of you might remember him, Small Head. He lived in Lil Tokyo’s room for a while, but has completely worn out his welcome. He is now jobless getting paid unemployment, drunk, high, and tried to even sell weed from the Casbah.

But despite all of these changes and difficulties, the Casbah still has a community of people who call it home, and it ain’t just the people who live there. Here’s a shot of a bunch of them hanging out on the couch and reading some of their favorite books:


Arts Fest

From Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon in the second weekend in July, State College comes alive with art. Artists come from all over the country to showcase their art, and ideally make a few sales. From hand carved wooden spoons to ceiling mobiles to tables made from Penn State’s famous Elm trees. There are hundreds of stands as well as various stages setup across campus and downtown where bands play and people congregate. Allen St is shut down for a few blocks, in addition to other streets, and the whole community has a good old time.

At least that’s what is supposed to happen. But just outside of downtown are a group of people that frequently intermingle with the event, but certainly don’t come for the same reasons as most visitors. This group of people is Penn State students. Arts Fest is a call to all of these students to return to Penn State for one weekend to party; all day, all night, all the time.

It picks up slowly Friday night, and by Saturday it is in full force. By Saturday afternoon I witness over a hundred people crammed on small front yard outside one of the multitude of house parties. These returning students increase the density of the crowds dramatically. While State College sidewalks are rarely filled for this weekend they are jam packed with people, with nothing to do but have a good time.

On Saturday afternoon I witness guys in one of the balconies in Beaver Canyon rating girls as they walked by. Holding up large pieces of paper with numbers on it I hear them shouting, “She’s a 7,” followed by a quick rebuttal from a fellow self-proclaimed-judge, “No, no she’s only a 6 … now that one is a 7.”

A few minutes and blocks later I hear someone scream “HEY!!” I turn to see who is yelling at me and I see a girl with a bright green shirt on. She stops yelling and promptly lifts her shirt revealing a maroon bra.

I quickly turn my head away and continue walking, now in a daze. I ask the people walking with me, “where am I?”

Drunk college town in between semesters. Welcome to Penn State, 2nd best party school of the 00s, still going strong

Vacation


I got 5 days off from work, so I decided to clean up some unfinished business and have my self a good time in good old State College. Here’s an overview of what I’ve done so far and what I’ve got planned:

Thursday
-4:00pm Enter State College
-5:30pm Have dinner with my parents and Aunt and Uncle
-8:00pm Watch ultimate frisbee being played by the State College Ultimate League
-9:00pm Hung out with Guaca and her friends
-11:15pm Biked home to my parent’s house stopping to dumpster NW to pick up some fruit on the way

Friday
-9:30am Ate breakfast with my parents and Aunt and Uncle
-11:30am Biked around with Savages
–Saw his restored prairies as well as some woods.
-4:30pm Hung out with Savage’s friend Elmo, elmo is known to some through the xc team at State College High. He went to art school in Detroit and learned how to make very nice furniture and explained the process to us
-5:30pm Went to people’s choice, bought expensive food and lemonade
-7:00pm Went to Savage’s parent’s house saw his excellent garden and met Mother there
-8:00pm Walked through Arts Fest when it was closing
-8:30pm Ate dinner at Herwigs, a delicious Austrian restaurant
-10:00pm Hung out at the cabin with Elmo, Savages and Mother.
-12:15pm Biked home

Saturday
-9:30am Woke up and ate breakfast, said goodbye to relatives
-11:00am Went over to Sparks St to finally move all my bike stuff out
-11:30am Savages and Mother joined me in the clean up, taking lots of bike parts
-2:00pm Took a break and ventured through the chaos of downtown to eat at Chipotle, Mother’s treat!
-4:00pm Mother left and Savages and I finished cleaning the place up
-6:30pm I left to go eat dinner at Rey Azteca
-8:30pm After getting home I just stayed in
-11:15pm Sleep

Sunday(so far)
-8:00am Wake up, start laundry, eat, blog

Future plans:
-Dumpster dive apartments
-Dumpster dive at GW and one of the other Ws
-Hang out with Savages and Mother
-Check out inside of GW
-Buy cheaper groceries
-Get car inspected
-Buy clothing at GW
-Buy socks/underwear to increase time in between laundry days

More details to come as well as pictures!

Relationship

Over the past Smiles and I have been having relationship difficulties. It’s been ongoing for a while. We snap at each other a lot and harass one another about things we do or don’t do and control one another. Also, we haven’t been have fun together, we just stay inside and are miserable.

The fact that Smiles is living in Reading during the week and I’m living in Philly all the time exacerbated these problems. We started spending only 2 or 3 days together a week. We would snap at each other during those few days and I ended up feeling awful the rest of the week too, because I had become so dependent upon Smiles

Finally it got too bad to handle. The weekend of the 22-23 was the worst weekend we spent together. I actually felt better when Smiles left, and Smiles felt the same. During the following week I had a very hard week. I kept thinking about breaking up, all that was wrong with Smiles, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. My subconscious was convinced there was better for me, while I tried to ignore these thoughts saying to myself, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” I went on a few several-hour-long walks trying to figure things out. And I had insomnia so I couldn’t fall sleep until 3 or 4.

I didn’t want to come to any conclusions or break up, especially when Smiles was gone. We had intertwined our lives, our stuff and our housing. I didn’t want to loose all of that I just hated our relationship. After I figured out all of this stuff I felt horrible watched movies and nursed myself out of it with sad music. I finally had a good time. My second half of the week was fun, I got things done and enjoyed myself, for the first time in a while.

Then Smiles came home. It was awkward because in my subconscious I had already ended it with her. We started bickering again and finally it came out that I wanted to break up with her. It turned out to be the most emotionally draining break up I’ve ever had. We treated each other awfully. By the end I was emotionally drained. Smiles left Saturday night and then came back Sunday morning while I was sleeping. We talked more and agreed that the relationship was awful. And then with some coercion and the emotional exhaustion from last night, I agreed to start things over like a normal couple.

The following week was fine, but mainly because of the same reasons the last week was fine, I was ignoring our relationship and sorta thought it was over/bad things gone. We didn’t talk much and it was only in a friendly way not an harassing way or relationship way.

Then came my birthday bash weekend in State College. Smiles had really wanted to go and I did to. But turns out I didn’t want to go with Smiles. We went from “starting over” to being married again and it wasn’t fun. This irritated me and caused me to lash out at Smiles and be irritable to other people.

Finally we talked on Sunday. The conversation wasn’t bad at all. I think that’s because we both knew it was coming. We decided to break up for now. We are going to sublet our apartment and take some time apart not being a married couple or even dating. We are done, but open to starting again. We’ll see if we want to start something again

It’s hard because I don’t really know if I want to start that again, but I don’t think I should know yet. I just have to give it all time and find out. What I do know is that marriage isn’t for me yet. I want a fun relationship where we do things together and enjoy one another’s company.