Category Archives: Extreme Adulting Challenge

Extreme Adulting Day 3: Beauty & the Beer

I’m tired. I don’t want to be writing this post, actually, but I feel compelled to keep it going and keep producing, even though I’ve spent so many hours today already writing and working on this little blog of mine.
(Yes. Hours.)
I woke up this morning in a fit of indecision…actually quite a bit like the one I described yesterday in my challenge post. I wanted to go to the beach and go fishing, but I had a lot of work to do. Especially homework. Ultimately I rolled over to sleep on it and awoke an hour or two later decided—I would go. I would rather take the opportunity for a ride out to some little beach I’d never seen before and a day learning a new skill than work on homework. Even if that means shit grades.
A girl’s gotta have priorities, you know. Who moves to Mexico to sit in the house and study and work all the time. Not this one! And this may seem irresponsible and not very “adult-like” behavior, but when you’ve invested so much in being in a place and experiencing it, it would be a damn waste not to do so.
So I crammed in some morning work before catching my ride to Boca with Porkchop in tow, and we all loaded up in the panga to head out to the rancho somewhere past Quimixto but before Yelapa. We landed on a small beach full of big granite boulders and awash in seaweed. The big brown mountain rose up sharp behind it and a little hut stood off to one side behind a green iron gate. The whole property past the beach was ringed in rusty barbed wire and termite-tasted posts, and it instantly took me back to my youth of tetanus shots and tick checks in the evenings and I loved it.
Back-story —the writing malaise is lifting, can you tell?—my fishing companion for the day is Paul. Paul is a 65+ year old guy who has been enamored with me and regaling me with fascinating stories since I met him a week or two ago on the bus. He is from LA and owns a house up in the hills somewhere in Vallarta. He wants me to watch his house in his absence because…well, he still has a few years of probation left in the states apparently.
I take all of Paul’s stories with a grain of salt because they are some pretty wild tales, but he launches into them with such a genuine enthusiasm (and repeats them so often,) I actually am beginning to believe them all. I’ve also seen first hand the way he operates is such that the situations he describes are fully plausible. Paul is fascinated with the idea that I’m a writer and will someday tell all of his stories, but I won’t get into all of that just now. (No, not even the one involving myself tagging along with him to “look for his old girlfriend” in a series of Vallarta’s finest strip clubs.)
Anyway, part of what makes Paul believable is that he has a lot of obviously very old friends around and one of them owns this rancho on this little isolated beach in between all these crazy tourist destinations and eco resorts and that’s where Porkchop and I got to spend my day. We putzed about a great deal and Porkchop chased crabs on the rocks and I explored the tide pools after tiring of my casting practice. (Read more about me and learning to fish with a hand line.) There was a nap involved, at some point, followed by some adventuring up the hillside.

Paul’s friend, whose name I wouldn’t know how to spell even if I could correctly pronounce it, has been working on the hillside all this time, clearing off all the brush and digging out the dirt beneath the massive rock shelfs. I asked how the prevented erosion when the rains came and was confronted with a surprising answer—all of this was to ENCOURAGE erosion. The summer rains would come and wash all of the exposed dirt down off the hillside into the retaining walls at the foot of the mountain, effectively building up new flat space to build.
Coming from a state which harbors several communities in states of emergency due to erosion, I have personally never been able to picture it in a positive context and so I found this interesting. It’s a brilliant way of letting nature do some of the work for you, though certainly clearing the steep hillside is no easy task.
Despite all this, I found myself hankering (yes, hankering) for a beer or a cocktail because beaches and beers just go so damn well together. It was the first time so far I found myself slightly disappointed in my commitment to sobriety, but I stayed preoccupied and drank lots of water instead and successfully marked one more day off the Sober Month Calendar.
Yay me!

Day in Bullets:

  • Pesos Spent: $15 for a bag of plums before the plum lady got off the boat in Quimixto.
  • Alcohol Consumed: Zero!
  • Fish Caught: Zero.
  • Ticks Found: Two.
  • Homework Done: One biology lesson.
  • Pitches Sent: One, unenthusiastically.
  • State of the Porkchop: Thoroughly exhausted, impossibly sandy, curmudgeonly about tick check, and dreaming of crab catching.
  • Pictures Taken: About a million.
  • Sunburns Acquired: All of them. (My 30spf waterproof sunscreen was no match for the 11+ UV index today.)
  • Watch/Listen: Lauryn Hill’s Video for “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”  This one popped up in my feed today and was just such a delicious pop of nostalgia I thought I’d share.
  • Link: “The particular beauty of Naples, an incomplete list” by Sara White on Verbalized. I loved this travelogue today. It’s such a great style, and reflections on these small things are the ones that make them special to us—not the grand tourist attractions, no matter how spectacular they are. It got me thinking about what this list would look like for me here in Vallarta.
  • Link: “The Personal-Essay Boom Is Over” by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker. This is such a great piece picking apart a portion of the night mare freelance writing is right now. There’s a lot to this and I love how it puts things in context—all that time I spent on LiveJournal and Blogger as a teen is what gave rise to the army of poorly-paying and non-paying “writing gigs” out there because there was more flashy content available coming from people who were already accustomed to not being paid. What I hope this all means, ultimately, is that people are beginning to turn away from the milled-out Thought Catalog essays (like the one I recently submitted out of frustration,) and towards real writing—thoughtful, researched, edited writing that is bought and paid for with real money instead of internet fame. It seems weird to be writing this in a blog chock full of personal essays but…such is life. I’ll end the night with this tidbit:

The commodification of personal experience was also women’s territory: the small budgets of popular women-focussed Web sites, and the rapidly changing conventions and constrictions surrounding women’s lives, insured it. And so many women wrote about the most difficult things that had ever happened to them and received not much in return.


Extreme Adulting Day 2: Clarity

Clarity is a funny thing. You can go through life doing things blindly without understanding why, or even realize that you are, until…wham. One day you’re confronted with proof positive that other people think the same way you do on certain matters.
It’s kind of an amazing thing.
Recently, I’ve read two books that have done that. These two confirmed to me that I was on the right path on matters I’ve felt compelled to invest myself in without really knowing why, or even realizing there was a subconscious method to my madness. Goodbye, Things and The 4 Hour Work Week are not necessarily groundbreaking reads…unless, that is, that these happen to cover issues that pluck a chord.

  • Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism was actually a quick and easy listen via Audible. It was really helpful in clarifying some of the ideas and philosophies behind minimalism that had already made it appealing to me and reaffirmed my interest in maintaining as few belongings as possible. One particularly memorable passage discussed the link between excess belongings and anxiety. The author, Fumio Sasaki, absolutely nailed the scene that would play out nearly every single day back in Alaska—waking up in the morning and feeling so overwhelmed by your to-do list, largely revolving around the various and sundry maintenance of “stuff”, that it became incapacitating and the day would be wasted under the weight of indecision. This happened to some degree every single day I had off. All of the days, in other words, that didn’t command a specific starting point to the day’s activities.
  • The 4-Hour Work Week has a long-established cult following and more or less is the authority, and perhaps the inventor of, ::dun, dun, dun:: lifestyle design. First published in 2007, Tim Ferriss uses the book to outline a lifestyle I’ve been kind-of sort-of striving to achieve without his guidance for quite some time. Most of the information in the book is nothing new to me, but I enjoy the anecdotes and the organization of the information. It, too, is reaffirming in that it assures me I’m not the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous to willingly work harder rather than smarter. Clearly I haven’t mastered any of his crazy money generation methods, but being confronted with the potential of a lifestyle I’m already largely living is…motivating. And confusing. It makes me question whether or not it’s actually something I want and whether or not I want it for the right reasons. (The answer to the former being boredom and the latter being no.) At any rate, his weekly e-mail, Five Bullet Friday, was also part of what inspired me to work on this—my bastardized version of bullet journaling. (It also reminded me that I used to do very similar things on Pulp Faction and it was awesome then, so why not.)

In Other Bullets:

  • Pesos Spent: $220 for mineral water and cheesy beefy quesadillas. $18 for bus fare. $238 total for dinner on the beach while Porkchop played. ($12.75 USD)
  • TV watched: Zero! I watched enough yesterday for the entire damn week.
  • Books Read: Also zero, but I’m putting together my Epic Mexico Summer Reading List, so stay tuned.
  • Homework Done: Not enough. Deadlines Sunday and Monday.
  • Spanish Studied: Argued with the bus driver about letting the dog on, and spoke only Spanish to my waiter. (It’s the small things.)
  • Pitches Sent: Officially, one. Several contacts were made for collaborations, and I researched several outlets for my work. Also made arrangements to write a band bio and press release for a very interesting up-and-coming Memphis act.
  • Beverages Consumed: Alcohol, zero; Caffeinated, lost count; Water, only about 60 ounces. (Sad.)
  • Weather: Chilly with a chance of rain? IE; 76 degrees, 6 mph winds, 85% humidity, overcast with the tails of Tropical Storm Beatriz churning our way across southern Mexico, but apparently little to no chance of getting rain from it.
  • Shared: The National Institutes of Health reveals a study that links autism to an increased incidence in heavy metals in baby teeth. The study covered a small sample size, but is particularly interesting because it utilized twins who would (presumably) have the same nutrition en utero at the stage in which some of the significant differences in heavy metal levels between autistic and non-autistic children were noted.
  • Shared: An 18-year old from Oaxaca was crowned men’s world champion surfer in France yesterday.
  • Shared: KFC reveals a pizza utilizing flattened fried chicken as a “crust”. Earlier I asserted that I was fine with this. That was before dinner. It is a natural next step from the “double down” thing of whatever that was in which they used two pieces of fried chicken breast in place of bread in a sandwich, but this is a food evolution that is just…not ok.