Anti-Social RVing

The other day, I was behind an RV on the freeway.  You know the kind, the super-duper shiny house-on-wheels, towing the family car behind it.  My first thought was, “That is a great way to travel for those who are too lazy to pack.”  My second thought was, “Don’t these stupid things have any speeds faster than 45 mph?”  My third thought was, “I could totally get behind this way of traveling, because hey, I’m too lazy to pack.”

My mind immediately wandered to joyous days on the highway, spent with my family and pets.  Oh, the places we would go!  The adventures we would have!  The people we would meet! Just me, my loved ones, and the open road. Especially with the weather we’ve been experiencing here … dismal, cold, and just enough snow to be annoying but not enough to be fun… it would be awesome to just pick up and go someplace warmer and sunny and much less work-y.

Then, I remembered.

I hate driving.  I hate wearing anything that doesn’t involve fuzzy slippers.  I hate people. I’m not fond of adventures.  If I’m not tuned in to social media at least hourly, I go certifiably insane.  I cannot parallel park my bicycle, much less one of these behemoths.  I hate driving in the rain or snow and at night; heck I hate driving on clear days, for that matter.  Not to mention, my loved ones and I would potentially hurt each other if we were confined to a large tuna can on wheels for hours at a time.

Now, I’m not saying this whole idea is out the window; it still seems more appealing than say, getting bamboo shoots through my eyeballs while gargling Spam juice and listening to Polka Hits as performed by Hip Hop artists.  Barely.

If I am going to be stuck in a rolling trashcan for hours and days, I fully expect some concessions.

I would need unlimited access to WiFi wherever I am.  New York to the desert and everywhere in between, I need a specialized WiFi connection.  I need all my bars, all the time, wherever I am.  My RV will be a rolling WiFi receiver.

Speaking of bars, yes, please.  A nice fully stocked bar to keep me sane on my journeys.  I can think of no better way to drive down the freeway than with a glass of wine in my cup-holder.  Oh.  Wait, that’s not right.  How about, I can think of no better way to ride down the freeway than with a glass of wine in my cup-holder and a chauffeur driving me?  Not just any chauffeur, but a chauffeur who knows better than to speak to me, look at me, make eye contact, or ask questions, lest my breathtakingly introverted awkwardness come to the fore. Maybe my special RV will have the driver’s seat fully encased in sound-proof steel.  Or, hey!  The cone of silence!

The chauffeur’s wife will be the RV maid.  For a ridiculously high sum (I mean, come on, I’m nothing if not generous), she gets to stay in a closet and come out when I am asleep, silently cleaning up behind me and making a fresh batch of waffles before joining her husband in the driver’s compartment cone of silence. She can double as the “polite one,” and engage in conversations with strangers at gas stations while I peep through the curtains and silently hate on everyone.

I would require all roadways to be clear of cars and traffic so that we can zip effortlessly through the landscapes with little to no interaction with civilized society at all.  My RV will be equipped with rocket launchers to ensure my path will always be clear … and fast.  No slow lanes for me.

The main thing keeping me from my Anti-Social RV road trip is money.  I mean, right? I can’t help but think a fully stocked bar, unlimited WiFi or Hotspot capabilities, a well-paid maid and chauffeur, and a rocket launcher might set me back a few dollars.  Suggestions on getting capital for my adventures are certainly welcome.

In the meantime, I will continue to make mean faces at the young child looking back at me through the frilly curtain in the back of this slow-moving RV. Hmmm. It seems I can be just as anti-social without the RV, after all.

 

 

 

Just Say No – To New Year’s Resolutions

The holidays have drawn to a close and what a strange Yuletide it has been. Life, in general, has been odd since my father passed in October, there’s just no denying it. My birthday was uneventful … which right about now – especially in my family, is a good thing. A quiet ending to a chaotic year was welcome.

Now … now, it’s that time again… when good people are expected to pledge their right arm and a sizable chunk of their self-esteem on promises they either have no intention to keep, or, through the simple human experience, fail to uphold. It’s an exhausting cycle of projected self-improvement and ultimate self-loathing.

The thing with resolutions is – they are all too often made half-heartedly and therefore easily broken. Plus, who says we have to make serious commitments to life-altering changes only once a year? Wouldn’t it be better to make adjustments as the year, and life, wears on?

Deciding on foregoing resolutions will certainly help one’s self-esteem – no resolutions made, no resolutions to break and feel guilty about later in the year month week. I mean, seriously, who needs more guilt?

Be a better person. Live a better life. Take chances. Those are resolutions worth making and would hopefully be easily kept. As for that diet or exercise regimen? Sure, make those too if you want, but just remember, promises casually given, even to oneself, are easily broken. In which case, don’t beat yourself up for it … I have no doubt throughout the coming year there will be times when you will feel the need to change some aspect about yourself or your life – seize it! For all intents and purposes, those decisions, those opportunities, they are your New Year’s resolutions, even if they come in July.

Perchance to Dream

Many years ago, too many to count or even admit to, I used to listen to a radio show called America’s Top 40, hosted by Casey Kasem. His sign off phrase was, “Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.” This is good advice. Dream big, but stay somewhat practical.

Sadly, as children and even well into adulthood, we are often discouraged to dream at all. Sometimes we are discouraged by people who don’t support or believe in our dreams, and sometimes we’re knocked down just by pure circumstance. Perhaps, however, the reason we’re afraid to dream is because we are afraid to fail, or maybe, just maybe, we’re afraid to succeed. Whatever causes the death of our dreams, I just know it doesn’t have to be that way.

Balance is of course a healthy part of life. It’s good to be smart about life, to be grounded, and of course I always say to have a “Plan B.” And “C.” And even a “D.” Believe me, I’m not telling you to throw your life away in pursuit of foolishness. I’m not telling you to quit your job, sell your stuff, and backpack around Tibet. Unless of course, that’s something you really want to do. Then I’m all for it. Send me a postcard!

The young dream big, don’t they?  I mean, they can dream like we adults can’t even dream of dreaming. So who are we to snuff that out? Don’t we know that one of the cruelest things a person can endure is when someone they love can’t support their dreams? In a sense we’re saying we don’t believe in them. We don’t mean to. We’re just trying to protect them from the hurt we may have endured ourselves.

Plus, we think we know it all. We’re adults, right? We’re supposed to know it all. What we have to realize is that it’s better to let go and pursue our dreams rather than to always live with the ache of what could have been. I for one don’t want to be responsible for that in my life or the lives of my children.

What about us older folks? Those of middle-age and beyond. Do we think we’re too old good to dream? Our dreams are what move us to accomplish greatness and gift the universe with our brilliance… or maybe they just allow us to get through each day as we struggle with overwhelming mediocrity.  I will digress here for a moment to point out that Grandma Moses, pretty much a household name now, didn’t start painting until she was 78.  She painted right up until her death at 101. 101!  Her favorite quote, which indeed seems to tell her own personal tale, was “Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.” Words to live by indeed.

Bram Stoker didn’t create Dracula until he was 50 (Stoker, not Dracula). I mean, seriously, where would the vampire genre be without him?

Donald Ray Pollock received quite a bit of attention for his debut novel, The Devil All the Time, but did you know that he dropped out of high school to work at a meatpacking plant for many years before moving on to a paper mill where he worked for 32 years as a laborer and truck driver?  The same year he turned 55, he took the leap and published a book of short stories – just a year before graduating Ohio University by the way.  Three years later, in 2011, along came The Devil All the Time which won him the Guggenheim Fellowship.  Talk about following a dream.

To digress even further (thanks for your patience!), Laura Ingalls Wilder… well, there’s another one. Even though she was a columnist at the age of 44 and doing fairly well, her Little House books made her a household name, and she didn’t publish those until she was the ripe age of 64.

After the death of her second husband, Mary Delany began creating amazingly intricate paper cut-outs of flowers to help her deal with her grief. She was 68. She created more than 1,700 pieces of this unique form of art and continued with her artwork until she was 88. Her pieces were so delicate and so incredibly beautiful that they now reside in the British Museum’s collection.

My point is, dreams shouldn’t be snuffed out… not in children, and certainly not just because a person has mastered the aging process. If anything, aging gives our dreams greater meaning. Life may throw us curve-balls or set us on a different path than we ever expected to be on, but dreams…dreams can set us free and put a new life in motion.

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Or Achievin’

Is dreaming just for the young? How about following your dreams? Can we rebuild our lives – or build a new life –even when we are most definitely smack in the throes of middle age or…ahem…leaning towards the outer edges of it?

When I was younger, I had no qualms about trying something new, going on an adventure – whether that was a career, a move to a new home, a new town, an experience, what have you.

But now…

Whether it was growing up (ahhh…adulthood, not all it’s cracked up to be, I must say), growing old, or simply being stuck for years with someone else’s criticisms eating away at my brain, my heart, and my self-esteem that did me in, I have found myself more timid – quite indecisive actually – when it comes to making decisions that would take me out of my comfort zone, even when it would be in my best interest.

Recently I have been catching sight of that person that I used to be, that plucky, spirited individual willing to take risks, lurking around corners, trying to come out from the shadows (Hello there! Long time no see!) – and now I’m pondering – is dreaming just for the young?  Can older lives be torn down and rebuilt the way we want them to be?  Or do dreams have a shelf life?

I have dreams just like anyone else and I want to make those happen.  Sometimes I think it’s just too late. I’m just too old. The world is obsessed with youth. Everything – advertising, TV shows, movies – even news – all seem aimed at teenagers and twenty-somethings…thirty-somethings at the outside.

Is it any wonder that middle-aged folks might think that their best years have passed them by…that if they were going to achieve their dreams, whatever they may be, they’d have done it already? We’ve been indoctrinated to think so.

But then I think, surely I don’t have to be stuck here, in this part of my life, if I don’t want to be. If I can oust this echoing voice in my head…the one I’ve been listening to for too many years…the one that makes me doubt myself…then certainly I can do something with my life, to make my dreams a reality.  Something that’s meant for me.

Historically speaking, it’s not unheard of – this rethinking of one’s life at middle age or beyond.  Grandma Moses comes to mind. She was 78 when she started painting – 78! Prior to that she’d spent decades embroidering, but when arthritis made that too painful, she took up painting, and within a couple of years became a household name.

Or how about Julia Child? She was 40 years old when she started to learn French cooking, and 50 years old when she started her cooking show!

Ever hear of Phyllis Diller? She was 37 years old when she became a stand-up comedian.

Then there’s an author named Elizabeth Jolley. One year she got 39 rejection slips! How many people give up their attempt to write after that first awful rejection – and she kept going and going and going until finally, at the age of 56, her first novel was published. The rest is history.

If they can do it, so can I.  So can anyone.  Right?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to become a household name.  I want freedom, not fame.

The world cannot be just for the young. It simply cannot work that way. I’ve had dreams sitting on a shelf for some time, and it’s high time I started looking forward, not back.  At this point, there’s nothing holding me back but me.