God speaks through a wasp

I sat on this random pew in the hallway near the receptionist’s office at the Jesuit Spirituality Center. I was here on a women’s day retreat with my mother and aunt. The first lecture talked about acceptance and how to cultivate happiness. I had just finished my first week of teaching curriculum and some of the presenter’s questions were really hitting home.

Do I let other people take away my happiness? Because I think happiness comes from outside situations based on my own agenda? Do I react with anger based on my own  fear and insecurity?

Hmmmm. When I yelled at my kids this week because they weren’t paying attention, was it really because I was scared shitless that I would not be able to teach them the material?

YES!

So after the first presentation, we were instructed to walk throughout the campus grounds silently. No talking to Mom or Carla. I walked to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee then I strolled through the library. Out of all of the literature there, I was attracted to “Living Catholic, the Catechism.” For 10 years I have studies almost every other religion except for the one I lived the first 18 years of my life. Based upon my current set of situations, now more than ever I felt I had to explore this religion through a matured pair of eyes.

I carried the book to that pew. I read through the first few chapters, when suddenly I heard this loud buzzing sound. I looked up to the front door, which was surrounded by large, uncovered windows, to see see a huge yellow jacket wasp flying repeatedly into the window. I thought it was on the outside of the window and was just a distraction from the moment, so I started to read again.

A few sentences later and the buzzing seemed to get louder and louder–demanding my attention. So I started to watch the wasp and realized he was actually on the inside of the window and he was trying to escape I watched him jump from pane to pane. Scratching. Buzzing. Trying to escape.

I felt I could do something to help out this little fellow. I got up and opened the door. I thought maybe he would feel the breeze and follow the wind to his escape. But he just kept flying into the glass.

Other retreaters were entering the door I was holding open-they just thought I was being nice. I was just patiently waiting to see if the wasp would get my gesture. He didn’t.

I went back to my pew while the wasp stayed in the same place. It made me wonder, how often when I wanted to escape was God holding the door open and I refused to follow the breeze? How often did I just bang myself against the glass? Like the wasp, maybe I just wasn’t ready for the escape at the moment.

I walked back to the retreat room with the sound of the buzzing in my ear. He may not be ready for the wind, but I think I’m ready for the current.

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Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine

the logo

A-LIVE-R

After much deliberation, I have decided to share a draft with you, my readers. I figured if you are loyal enough to read my daily thoughts, than you qualify as the perfect critics for one of my upcoming endeavors. As many of you may know, I am dabbilng with composing a few children’s stories. This can be quite a daunting challenge, but alas it is well worth a try.

I have been working on this story for the likes of three years. Please feel free to give me some feedback. If you like it, feel free to share it. Just please don’t steal it…that would surely be a way to break my heart and my trust. Hope you enjoy this LeeCeeLand Production:)

“Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine”

By Elise H. Peltier

“Malorie has a secret. It’s one she wants to tell
about a special family and a hidden magical spell.
The tale starts at the cradle, with a grandmother’s loving care.
Malorie was the oldest grandchild and Mom Mary had so much to share!
As Malorie grew, so did their bond; through kisses and milkshakes and magic baton wands.
But accidents happened and Malorie grew sure
When she was sick or hurt, there really was only one cure.
Mom Mary had a medicine you won’t find from the doc or the store
It’s a gesture from the heart, but oh so much more.
There’s a twinkle in her eye that dances through her hand
It echos in her giggle, it’s music to the band.
At first Malorie thought, it was just in her head
But every time she was sick, she never had to stay in bed.
A kiss on the cheek, a day on the couch
Would fix any ache and soften any ouch.
As soon as there was pain or sickness would begin
Malorie would ask her Mama for Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine.
It didn’t take very long before Malorie’s curiosity
Conjured up the her courage to find the magic recipe.
She watched and she waited for any type of clue.
But laughing and praying for others was all Mom Mary would really do.
She tried to find a potion or a hidden book of tricks
But nothing showed a sign of a medicine that’s magic.
Time flew by and Malorie was no longer a girl.
She grew to be a woman in this new-age type of world.
Things were not as simple now that she was 25
But through the bonds of her family, she was grateful to be alive.
As she explored her life, meeting people from afar
She wished she had found the potion to keep hidden in a jar.
To share with those who hurt or those who need a giggle
Those who need a friend, even those who want to wiggle!
Then news came one day, it changed things pretty quick.
Her sweet loving Mom Mary was so very terribly sick.
Malorie felt helpless, she didn’t know what to do
Neither did the family or doctors. No one had a clue.
Mom Mary could not use her magic on herself.
It seemed like the medicine had to come from someone else.
As Malorie realized this curse, she also grasped the spell
In order to help Mom Mary she had to tell the tale
About the magic medicine that proves of powers from above
It’s invisible yet solid, It’s a simple act of love.
So the more you share the gesture, you’ll learn the trick again
Prayer, laughter and love is the magic medicine!
So remember Mom Mary’s gift, it’s important and it’s pure
Because you just may never know when you’re giving someone their cure.”
————————————–

Saintly Faith

I wrote a few entries ago about how I’m trying to understand my own version of faith. There are a few recent situations that have caused maturation in this process.

The first occurred on December 7, 2009 when my second niece, Catherine Grace Marcotte, was born.

My sister Meggan was diagnosed on October 10 (our deceased grandmother’s birthday) with the news that she was a high-risk pregnancy case. She had very little–if not, zero—ambiotic fluid in her womb. She would have to be on extreme bed rest and if she reached 24 weeks, she would be admitted into the hospital for monitoring.

Well she did make it to 24 weeks. In fact she made it all the way to 27 weeks before she went into labor.

Catherine was born around sunrise on the morning of our great-grandmother’s 94th birthday. The 2.5 pound miracle was  immediately admitted to the NICU.

During Meggan’s recovery, her high-risk doctor told us just how miraculous Catherine’s birth was. She said she had never been so impressed with a little baby. With how little fluid Meggan had, the fact that Catherine came out so strong and healthy was amazing.

I still have yet to see Catherine. She is still in the NICU and now weighs 4.1 pounds. She was taken off of the oxygen tube just two days ago. At this rate, she will be home in a month.

I know these kinds of births happen often. But when you witness the preciousness of life first-hand, it makes you wonder just how delicate things are pieced together. It really wowed me as to how so many people from Rayne prayed for Meggan and supported them through this difficult phase.  It was a beauty to witness.

On an almost completely different plane, the New Orleans Saints have proven the longevity of the fruition process of faith.

After 40 years, they have finally won an NFC Championship and are headed to their first Super Bowl.

The fans have formed such a bond of unity during this season. I work at a restaurant on Sunday mornings and the vibe was so energetic. To see elderly ladies pulling for the Black & Gold gridiron was a spectacular site.

For the past few months, all you hear is “Who DAT!”. And I live in Lafayette, two hours from the Crescent City.

But Saints fans have existed through all 40 years of shotty seasons, yet they are still ever present and faithful to their patrons.

I feel this is a movement for Louisiana. After devastating hurricanes (Katrina and RITA), we are still here. Happy. Prospering. Even if the rest of the nation can’t see it.

Don’t you think it’s interesting that Yahoo.com released a poll on the happiest states and Louisiana ranked #1?

The media likes to play out devastation, and yes they did highlight the humanitarian acts of people going on air boats to help victims in the 9th Ward, but how much have they focused on the aspect of rebuilding?

George Clooney commented on the Haiti telethon yesterday that we should still donate money over the next few months to help rebuild the country. I totally agree, but what I want to know is how much coverage will still be allotted to the effort? How long before even that is old news?

The point is that many people still focused on all of the negative aspects from the levees breaking. What the media failed to emphasize was that a few weeks later, Hurricane Rita wreaked more havoc on the other side of our state. My sister who just gave birth lived in a FEMA trailer for months while she attended McNeese State University because she lost everything in her apartment in Lake Charles.

That wasn’t shown. It doesn’t really matter to the people here. We just rebuild and have faith that we will make it through. And have a great time while we do it.

I’m starting to see that whatever you have faith in, comes to fruition. It may take 40 years, but it happens. It happens faster in numbers, too.

Maybe we should take notice of what people really put their faith into. It could be an interesting outcome.

On the road again

The alarm went off before I knew it.  I splashed some water on my face, tried to blow my sinuses through my nostrils, and attempted to get the guys moving. I knew I was in for a long day. Our goal was to reach Fort Collins, Colorado–which was 24 hours away.

I opened the door to find a gentle rain pouring. It wasn’t huge drops like in Louisiana. It was more thin, pin-like pellets that seemed to bounce off of you, rather than dissolve into your clothing.

We packed up Louis and were on the road by 7:15 a.m.

Rick called David to locate their position. The plan was to eat lunch in Bend, Oregon. According to Tammy, we would get there right before 11 a.m.

We drove through windy, mountainous roads past several Oregon State Parks. The view was breathtaking. I felt like a sponge trying to absorb any last drop of this experience.

We arrived in Bend right on time. I received a text message from my aunt Carla to check my email ASAP, so I grabbed my laptop and connected to the restaurant’s wireless Internet.

My sister Meggan was to be married in a few weeks and her bachelorette luncheon was that afternoon. The message said “Wish you were here.” The picture was of my grandmother, mother, a few aunts and Meggan’s friends and they were all making a peace sign. Except for Carla, she was sticking out her tongue.

"Wish you were here"

It was the first moment of the trip where I felt like I was missing out on something important. I knew I had missed a few parties and such, but I had the whole “Out of sight, out of mind,” mentality. Had I not thought that way, I would have been homesick the whole time and would not have appreciated the experience right before my eyes.

I smiled to myself and made a peace sign back to the picture, then closed my Mac. I would be home soon enough.

Interesting tidbit here about Bend. My brother-in-law plays online games and made a buddy through a particular game. They played for years but had never met. A few months prior to my trip, his online friend came visit Louisiana. I didn’t meet him personally because I was still living in Lafayette at the time. He was from Bend.

Once I arrived home, I was listing the cities we visited and my brother called his buddy to tell him I went through his small town. When bro told him where we ate lunch, his buddy said he could literally throw a rock and hit the restaurant from his backyard.

Small world.

We had an amazing lunch that day, shared some intimate hugs with our new friends and piled into Louis again.

Then we drove.

And drove.

And drove some more: through the high desert of Oregon, through the SMELLY dairy farms of Idaho.

We decided I would switch from the driver’s seat once we hit Utah. When we were an hour or so from the border, we realized we were at a quarter left on the tank. We hadn’t pushed Louis yet to see how “E” was “E”.

The gas light came on and we all three grabbed our iPhones to see how far it was to the next gas station. I turned off the A/C and dropped speed to 60mph. The next stop was 50 miles away.

It was the longest 50 minutes. No one talked. The uncomfortable tension between Nick and I could have made Mr. Rogers cringe. Rick said we were going to be fine and he calmly read a book.

I wish I were as cool as Rick sometimes.

When we got to about 10 miles away I started to breathe easier. Every mile that passed at that point was one less that I had to walk and I knew it would be easier and easier. Finally we saw the lights of a gas station and a “Welcome to Utah” sign.

The sigh of relief sounded like a tsunami crashing against the shore. There was now a vibe of peace after the tension storm.

Rick filled up the 14-gallon tank with 13.48 gallons.

We stocked up on water and jerky. I sat shotgun and smoked an American Spirit as we drove through Salt Lake City. I was contemplating my role in the universe and what I may do upon my arrival home. Did I want to move away? Did I want to stay? What is this path unknown?

The hour was creeping past midnight and I was getting nestled into my seat when Rick tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a letter with my name on it.

I was quite confused. Then I recognized the handwriting.

Alison.

My little chief. She was taking my position at the Vermilion and told me she was trying to plan a surprise for me. I had completely forgot.

I opened the envelope and found a novella written on journal paper. No sooner did I start reading her words did I also reach for the Kleenex. No one has ever written anything like that for me before. It was beyond an Ode to myself. It was the truth. About  friendship. About life. About sharing. About learning. About everything.

It made me cherish the relationships I get to experience with people. It cemented my understanding of what I know Alison will accomplish in her lifetime; and made me grateful that I will get to witness her achieve it. I am fortunate to have the bonds that I do.

Rick was given the mission to give this letter to me at an appropriate time. He had been carrying it around with him for a few days and that was the first moment I would have had to read it. Given what I was thinking about when he handed it to me, it was more than perfect.

“Lafayette, she needs you,” Alison wrote. These words have haunted me since Utah. It sounds like such a boost to the ego. But in all actuality, sometimes I think I’m just the one who needs Lafayette.

I fell asleep after rereading the letter. My heart was smiling. Part of me felt like I had just accepted this mission of a lifetime.

I went through one rem cycle and awoke to my phone ringing. It was Neal. It was 3 a.m.

Neal has done a complete 180 in the past two years. He has become very involved with social activism and environmental issues–very far from Pub daze.

He had just gotten into a very heated porch discussion with a friend and the friend’s ex-co-worker; both of whom were just laid off from oil field related companies. We were starting to see this happen more and more where we lived.

It was a very twisted point for Neal to have someone very dear to him challenge everything he had been working for, especially when those individuals were shafted from the source of his frustration.

(P.S. Since this situation things have evolved)

Either way, it was a cool moment for our friendship because we realized the value of how we can level one another out. We both live in these big imaginative worlds inside our heads, and somehow those two fantasies collide into reality every once in a while. It’s even more exciting to know we will see those fantasies become reality one day during our physical existence.

Our conversation ended as Nick pulled into a gas station. We were at the edge of Utah and Nick said he had a few more miles in him. I decided to try the back seat out for the first time of the trip. I curled in the captain’s seat and looked up at the stars through the view of the back sunroof.

There were so many shining throughout the sky. I suddenly felt like a shooting star: flashing through the eyes of thousands of strangers for a moment as I travel to an unknown destination. Unknown to myself and to the viewers.

Hopefully I spark something inside of them as I shoot by. Cause them to take a breath and realize they are awake. Alive.

I fall asleep to the thought, but my vessel kept moving.

USA Today article…

Yesterday, the cover story of the life section of USA Today is about America’s space exploration, or lack there of due to the recession. Next to a picture of a satellite is Brad Pitt’s year-old beard.

God I love my country*. (P.S. this is a *sarcasterick)

The thought of exploration forced me to think of what good has come from exploration in general. Sure, there has been expansion, which has now lead to a population problem, but has it ever really satisfied mankind?

My father has made comments to me throughout my life about man’s need to discover and explore. “It’s what we do.”

From my point of view, which happens to be seen through the form of a Southern white female (although I would argue my shape-shifting abilities), this drive hasn’t really lead us to a place of peace. It has always ended in war. It has always ended in dividing rather than unifying. It has created more labels to argue for or against.

Should we continue space exploration and discover more intelligent life, what do you think the odds are that we will end up fighting them? I have a feeling they already know about us and are just waiting for us to kill ourselves and then they’ll come in and restore our planet.

I was watching a National Geographic movie called “Journey to the edge of the Universe.” Sometimes I feel like that geek in science class who falls in love with the mystery of how we are even alive. Seriously. We are the only planet in our solar system to be perfectly aligned to allow life. How does that not give you chills when you realize this incredible truth?

And how do we celebrate this life? By watching the Golden Globes and argue over who is dressed better? By paying attention to Brad Pitt’s beard instead of human beings in need in Haiti?

I am not saying that our drive to solve problems hasn’t helped us progress as a species. Modern medicine has helped people to survive. I wouldn’t say live, because most of the time you have to pay an outrageous medical bill, which causes you to work more rather than live.

I just can’t help but share the question that stays on my mind every single day.

“What are we doing?!?!?!?!”

Observe what you do on a daily basis. Does it make you feel worth anything? Maybe I’m just really a depressed person. Or maybe I’m just trying to wake some people up so we can LIVE together.

Are we driving technology or is technology driving us? Weren’t we supposed to invent this so we can live simpler lives? When is it supposed to happen?

I’m still waiting.

Maybe I’m just a nutcase who doesn’t know what to do with my own life and I am selfishly shaking up everyone else’s. Or maybe I’m just relaying the message I get when talking to dozens of people a day who talk about what they wish they could do and what they really do.

I am not biased either. I’m not talking to just one genre of people. It’s not just college kids and professors. It’s people working at a grocery store, or music store or bank. It’s people standing next to me in line. It’s people at restaurants. It’s people in public office. It’s engineers. It’s teachers. It’s people in retirement homes.

It’s everyone.

Except for maybe some kids. Kids who still play outside and have imaginations. They are few and far between.

What’s the point of this ramble?

Although space exploration is important, I question the intent behind it. We already have so many problems here that we can’t take care of. Should we really add more to our plate anyway…just to be proud and say we were the first? Where has being the first gotten us anyway? Let’s sink that money into our current state of reality to make it better. Let’s focus on how to LIVE together. Then maybe one day when we are actually ready to handle the consequence of discovering a vast space, we will be responsible enough to follow through accordingly.

Drifting through memories

I have sat in a cubicle for four months. Like the song “Little Boxes” on “Weeds,” I feel like I’m made of ticky-tacky and we all look just the same.

I have drafts for three children’s books. I have more ideas than time to make any of them happen.

And somewhere in the Internet, I am drifting to Eugene.  I am somewhere on I-5 awaiting an epic party, still reveling my time in Portland.

I have had so much trouble finishing the tales of my road trip through the west. I have issues accepting when certain phases are over. But somehow, I have managed to bring Portland to me.

I feel I am ready to complete the first portion of my blog. I didn’t make it to Canada. Instead, I chose security, which defeats the concept of a path unknown.

While I stand at the copy machine, I am at war with my inner conscience. I feel like a sellout, however, the responsible side knows this is what I had to do to pay the bills for a little while. This is not forever.

By finishing this adventure online, it will be time to embark upon a new one here in Louisiana.

I never thought I would have an unknown path at home, but alas, I do. It is a trail I have yet to explore.

I plan to share it here. No longer will I drift nowhere. My current has a purpose, even if I don’t know what it means yet.

That’s the new concept for me; faith.  I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but that’s where the journey comes in. Through my stories, I hope to grasp and share the understanding. I just know for the first time in my life I absolutely know in my heart I am exactly where I need to be. It is not where I expected. It rarely ever is.

So now, it’s onward to Eugene. Who’s coming with me?

The latest epiphanies

I couldn’t sleep after the conversation with my cab driver. It was 1a.m. by the time I made it back to my hotel room. I knew I only had 11 hours left in this city that I had grown so fond of so quickly. I drifted in and out of sleep and by sunrise I had made my way to the cafe to write out my internal dialogue.

I will share two works that I composed as I sat in front of the large window and watched Portland for the last time, while I sipped my cup of Stumptown brew.

ONE

So far my favorite people on my journey have all been older people: Beth, Freddie, Uncle Edgar, and David.

I guess when it comes to meeting random people, I have enjoyed the wisdom of my elders. Maybe because they can see me.

But here is what I realized this morning. Traveling brings out the best of me because it’s a perfect balance of trying and not trying. I just chill out and do my own thing. However, I present the best version of myself physically.

Don’t ask me why I’m really writing all of this down. I think I can do this in Lafayette, I just don’t. I guess it’s because writing feels like home to me. So when I’m not at home, I have nothing left to do but let it out. However, I’ve never been gone long enough to know if I can handle it for an extended period of time.

I’ve always had the notion in the back of my mind that I go back to reality in a few days. But at the same time, it’s easier to get work done when no one calls you from home or from a job. I’m a drifter at the moment. Free as a bird.

Who knows how long it will be before I get this opportunity again. I think that’s why I like Portland so much. It’s a comfortable city. But I don’t really know anyone, so I don’t have any obligations.

But I feel the universe wanting to use me. Or me wanting to use myself.

TWO

I don’t want to leave this behind. I don’t want to leave my creativity.

Here no one expects anything from me. No one knows my potential. I can just sit back quietly and read and write and no one thinks anything of it.

It’s not Lafayette’s fault. I talked too much. I let everyone know what I wanted to do. So when I go anywhere, we talk.

And I all I end up doing is talking.

Who knows, I can move somewhere where no one knows my name and I can get caught in the same cycle. All I end up doing is talking and then inspiring other people to cause their own action.

Or, I can finally do everything I have always wanted to do, which is to buckle down and act. ACTivist. LIVEr.

Being away from home gives me the motivation to work faster. Because I want to end up there to start the settled part of my life.

So the sooner I get away, the sooner I put things into action and the sooner I settle.

I needed to see this. I needed to feel this. I needed to understand this.

I know.

I know.

It’s time. I am prepared.

My Moroccan Cab Driver

I had a life-encouraging conversation with a cab driver form Morocco, the country Penny Lane wanted to travel to in Almost Famous–one of my favorite movies.

It was one of those moments when you felt like you met someone who introduced you to someone who haled the cab with the driver with whom you were meant to exchange words.

I was on Facebook earlier that afternoon chatting with Val. She was in Austin, I in Portland. She told me she had a friend who lived here who I just had to meet.

A little back story. The whole reason I know Val is because of a mutual guy we both had a thing for. We often pick on him and say the whole reason we both liked him was for us to end up becoming friends.

Well, her friend Kate had been living in Portland for a few years. Val sent me Kate’s info and after a few rounds of phone tag, she came meet me at this trendy restaurant. We discussed how Val and I had met and she told me she remembered the incident.

These are reasons I do not believe in coincidences.

Anyways, Katie took me around the Northwest part of Portland, which I hadn’t seen yet. We drank and hung out with some other locals: one who told me about a girl he is in grad school with who wrote about the travesty of Katrina (the girl’s last name is Trickey). The other guy was from south of Savannah, Georgia and we talked about the South.

Another anyways, Katie and I both realized how tired we were and she was going to call me a cab. She ran outside of the bar to conduct the search and ended up haling me one that was already outside.

We say goodbye and I hopped in to find this 40ish black man driving the cab. He and I strike up a conversation and I say I’m just passing through Portland.

This sparks a whole discussion on what exactly is passing through. He says he is a child of the planet and has traveled the world twice over. I am completely understanding what he is saying and we catapult ourselves into this very deep talk.

We crossed labels and cultures and barriers that most people won’t allow. We were both so astounded as to just how much we understood one another on a universal level.

Yet again, it was one of those conversations that I don’t think I can adequately capture.

The one thing we both emphasized though is that there is hope in this world.

One of the things that gives me hope is that I have reached this level of universal understanding.

I am from South Louisiana. We are the last to get anything. The fact that I have these types of conversations on almost a daily basis with people from my state gives me hope that there is a larger understanding taking place within the human species.

I tell this to the cab driver and he is flabbergasted. He then tells me about this monkey theory about a single monkey evolving and another monkey modeling that monkey’s action. Eventually, there is this exponential growth of monkey understanding and that’s how it becomes an evolutionary cultural custom. It’s all in the exponential sudden spurt.

That’s how I know something big is about to happen. It’s the whole reason I had to get away from the South. I knew in my heart that something is taking place in humanity that most of us don’t even realize. You can find it in the most unexpected places.

We can’t compartmentalize how we find truth. But as humans, we try to figure out everything. This life is not meant to be understood. But we spend lifetimes trying to say that the answer comes in a certain form. However, when you let go of the expectation, the answer shows up in an unexpected fashion.

We have to let go and trust one another.

We stayed parked in front of the Ace hotel talking about these universal ideas for five minutes. Both of us were so excited to have found someone who “gets  it”. Neither of us wanted to part ways because we both knew it could be a while before we found another soul to share this truth.

All we did was tell one another to pass along the peace and hope that it does exist.

His name was David. We shook hands after formally introducing ourselves and smiled.

This is the Liver philosophy. This is life. It exists. I found it in Portland. I have found it everywhere. It is me. It is you. It is now.

Portland, Oregon

I awoke from my sleep at around 10a.m. I was so psyched to check out the neighborhood during sunlit hours, that I didn’t want to wait. Ben had told me I had to grab some coffee at Stumptown, which is connected to the Ace. Nick was still dead to the world, so I dressed and headed downstairs.

The whole lounge was buzzing with twenty-somethings. They were dressed funky and reading books and newspapers while sipping on coffee or tea.

I rounded the corner into the brew house and I felt alive from the aroma alone. The baristas were all male and all very good looking. All hail the Pacific Northwest! Literate, attractive people.

I sipped my dark roast while read parts of Hitchhiker’s Guide of the Galaxy. I hadn’t read but a page before a gentleman to my right told me that was one of his favorite books. We chatted for a few minutes then Nick texted me to see where I was.

I walked upstairs to meet him while I thought about how amazing it was to meet someone over a book. At that point I knew I didn’t want to return home and leave this kind of lifestyle behind…and it had only been a few hours.

We ended up walking past a Northface outdoors store on our way to find some grub. I spotted a pair of shoes that I had been coveting since Flagstaff. I tried them on and was about to pass, but the clerk tells me that there is no sales tax in Oregon.

What?

I love Oregon. You don’t have touch gas spouts or pay sales tax. And the coffee is amazing.

I walked out of the store with my yellow shoes and we found a local brew restaurant called Rogue’s.

It was now Nick’s turn to revel. He ordered beer-battered mahi-mahi fish and chips while he sipped an emperial stout. I hadn’t seen him that happy since Kimber without the “ly”-our Hooter’s waitress on Memorial Day.

We were about to head back to the hotel when we spotted Powell’s, a bookstore. We knew it was huge, but we didn’t realize its magnitude.

It conquers an entire city block and rests at 160,000 square feet, with four stories and hundreds of shelves to open the mind.

I lost my breath. We meandered through Philosophy, local authors, Religion, Psychology, and Tarot cards. After two hours we knew we had to leave otherwise we would have spent the next few days there.

We showered (separately, of course) and then left to find some fresh seafood for dinner. Someone suggested we go to Jake’s Crawfish. At first we snubbed our noses at the name, but then we figured we had nothing to lose.

We sat at the back bar and had our own personal bartender. We sipped wine, I had clam chowder for the first time-both New England and Manhattan. Nick and I then split the seafood platter and then I had a chocolate martini for dessert.

We tried to walk around for a bit, but my allergies kicked into high gear. We retired to the hotel early. We heard the livliness of the bar next door for hours, but decided saving our energy was a smarter plan.

Through the Redwoods to Eureka!

The Redwoods are big. It’s almost a redundant statement because anyone who has been there knows it’s an understatement…just like the Grand Canyon.

My friend Sarah had written on my Facebook page that driving through the Redwoods Forest is a humbling experience. She was right on several levels.

To witness vast, living nature makes you feel like a single spec of existence. You realize how tiny you are in an infinite universe. Plus, it feels so still and all-knowing. It made me realize how often I run in unnecessary circles and waste potential energy by replacing productivity with worry.

We drove through scenic California mountains and ventured through one of the tackiest, yet must-see, tourist spots: a Redwood tree you can drive through. It’s $5 to go through the park, which is located in a 700 population village.

I bought some Redwood incense from the gift shop, along with a Viewfinder for my godchild Ellah. It had pictures from major American signature spots, most of which I saw on this trip. Plus, I had one of those small, blue, optical gadgets as a child and I used to look at Disney stories on it. Who needs modern HD, when an imagination and still frames can get you that simply excited?

Nick had the idea to set up Louis with the doors open and us jam out Remy’s song. After a short debate, we decided to film it as well. He grabbed his djembe and I played guitar and sang. Random cars drove by and waved as if we were rock stars. Or maybe they just admired that we were living life.

We drove through more terrain for hours until we reached Eureka. It was one of the last cities in California. We ate at Hana’s sushi restaurant. I cannot even describe how fresh the fish was. I know I live on the Gulf Coast, but I feel like I’ve been lied to. The Rainbow Roll had the most delicious salmon and tuna. I washed it down with Happy Hour saki and then we hit the road again.

We didn’t realize we still had another six or so hours to Portland.

We were slightly discouraged until we saw the Pacific Ocean. Nick was driving at the moment and pulled off the exit. My nerves started to intensify as we parked. At first I walked slowly onto the sand to take in the open view. The sun was starting to set, there were people tossing frisbees to their dogs, and a few couples were snuggling on the sand.

I inhaled the salty, fresh air and was about to sigh a refreshing exhale when Nick took off running and said “Beat ya to the ocean.”

We were a half mile away from water and I took off in a sprint. The young chap didn’t stand a chance.

The water was colder than a snow-cone on a hot summer’s day. I’ve heard the Pacific was cold, but compared to the Gulf it’s Arctic.

I waded in the water, reveling in my small victory, searching for stones to take back to my other godchild Malorie. I triumphed in my search and even discovered a crab claw to bring back for my fellow Cancer, Aaron.

For a split second, we thought about camping out on the beach, but my buddy Ben had scored us a room at the Ace Hotel in Portland and I didn’t want his ambition to be a waste.

So on we drove through windy roads. I have to admit, I did get queesy quite often. I had to lay back in the passenger seat and close my eyes in order to deter the puking sensation.

We finally crossed the Oregon border after darkness prevailed throughout the sky. We pulled up to a gas station in order to fill the tank and were astonished to find a guy walk up to our car and ask how much we wanted to purchase. Nick told him not to worry about it, but then we were told it was illegal to pump your own gas in the state of Oregon.

What?

I thought we had left the weird laws in Oklahoma.

Evidently, it’s supposed to create more jobs and it stops drive-0ffs.

We snacked on popcorn as we made the trek to downtown Portland. We didn’t arrive until 3 a.m. I thought the streets seemed pretty bare considering the size of the city.

We walked into this freshly renovated, rather trendy building. It was classically chic and very purposefully put together. We were handed a real, old-school skeleton key and told our room was on the second floor.

I had so much adrenaline rushing through me as I creaked up the stairs. Ben, one of my dearest friends, works at the Ace in NYC. He was originally supposed to take part of this roadtrip with me. As I peaked around the lounge and hallways, I felt his presence.

It had been months since I had seen my pal, but as I opened the door to my room, I felt like he had set the stage for me. Everything was clean, precise and unique. The detail to how the magazines, brochures, and products were placed made you feel how the staff cared about the experience of this hotel. It had Ben written all over it.

I felt so connected to him at that moment, that while Nick passed out, I stayed up and wrote an email to him. I then began to type uncontrollably. I had only been in Portland for a few hours, but there was an energy here that awakened a part of my soul.

By the time I closed my Mac, the sun was coming up. I nestled myself into a ball and hugged my pillow as I fell asleep with a smile across my face. This wasn’t a sweet dream. This was a sweet reality.