Saturday, April 30, 2011

Back on Track

    With my first meltdown safely behind me, I'm back on track. A big shout out and Thank You to my near and dear Karen, who gave me my first sponsor contact! Thank you my love. You are a rock star! While at SXSW she snagged the card of the woman at JanSport. Yes, the people that make the backpacks. She was at a music festival (which is what SXSW is, just fyi) talking about sponsorships for bands, but whatever. It's still a total score in my book!

       Also, I did hear back from Luca Zappa at Borgo di Casignano on Friday. While his email was welcoming, I did not experience the same sort of 'zing' as when the description first jumped off the page to me. For now, I have set it aside in the 'Ima be travellin' for 4 months ' email folder. While at dinner with Rochelle I busted out my new and improved 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice farm list for Italy. The second farm listed on the first page made her stop, "Oooh I think that's it!" To which I say, "The horse ranch?!"  The description is very appealing, hence why it made the second round of cuts, but I mean really?! I'm going to travel all the way to Italy to have what they advertise as the 'True Western Experience'? I lived in Arizona, in cowboy country, for three years. I ask her to at least finish reading the rest of the list to humor me. I mean, I put all that work into organizing it.
As for the South African farms, in her humble opinion, I hadn't found it yet. There are 29 farms in total on the South African WWOOFing list, and I really was only looking at Capetown and the Western Cape. I will soon be printing out the descriptions of the other 19 farms on the Eastern Cape and beyond.

     I woke up this morning to chat and consult with la mia bella madre.  She agreed that I need to be open to the possibility of the Italian dude ranch. At first I was reeling because this is not what I'd intended to learn while in Italia. Then I realize I had become stuck on the idea of having a very stereotypical experience; going to a vineyard and/or olive oil farm  because Italy seems ideal for that kind of education. However, being married to any one idea while planning an experience of this magnitude, I believe, would prove very detrimental. And come to think of it, when have I ever done anything according to what people expect? I've always danced to my own drummer. I'm going on this trip in order to break out of a rut, to learn something new, to be open, to regain some passion about something, shit, anything... however that shows up. So now then, I will be revisiting the horse ranch’s website immediately and sending them an email today!

     It's a beautiful day out and normally I would feel guilty for not taking advantage of this California sun on a Saturday, but I’m having too much fun being inside, still in my PJs and glasses, blogging, researching farms, and stumbling through how to write a sponsorship proposal.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inaugural Melt-Down (#1 of ...?)

     I had my first, of probably several, mini-meltdowns yesterday. All those details that I was slightly obsessing about overtook me completely and had me practically rocking myself in the corner. A total WTF moment! I became partially paralyzed. I say partially because I did force myself to go through that damn 65 page Italian farm list one more time and organize all my favorites into the categories of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. I brought all this manic internal dialogue up with my friend Rochelle and her initial intuition was to let go of my place, but that totally flipped me out. I absolutely cannot be travelling guest for 4 months, and then come home to couch surf! I do know myself well enough to know that I need a place to land, when I step off that plane at LAX at the end of December. I'm a Cancer for Christ's sake!However, I cannot incur the full expense of my place while I'm gone.... I'm hoping that I can find a friend/subletter.

So let me take this moment for a brief PSA :
If YOU or anyone you know would like to live in a furnished 1 Bed Apt complete w/ kitchen, laundry, garage for storage only, a backyard and gazebo, all utilities paid including Direct TV and WiFi, as well as the charming company of one Miss Zoe Calamity Jane
for 4 months (Aug29-Dec29 tentatively) in the lovely downtown Culver City area PLEASE contact me for more details and negotiations.

    Rochelle feels this part of it will somehow work itself out, and I'm going to trust that especially since I need to get back to the more important matter of just finding farms to take me! While at Happiness Hour Wednesday, she was relaying an inspiring conversation relevant to her life at the moment. As so often happens I found the truth in it for my own situation. Ahhhh, the wisdom that comes out of that Topanga Canyon. Hippies rule, and it takes one to know.  The paraphrased pearl was this, " You have to pursue what you're passionate about, what is calling you, even if it doesn't work out in the end, especially if it doesn't... because you'll learn and gain so much from the process alone." And yes, this seems like an obvious 'Of course' ... but sometimes we need that reminder....and sometimes while hiking with a woman who spoke with such clear and definite conviction that it makes you cry as it did Rochelle. I think the thick French accent contributed to the poignancy of the moment as well, a foreign accent usually does.
     That was still playing in my head as my mom and I had our usual ass crack of dawn check-in.  I ended up calling her back and asking, " I have to do this right?! I mean I have to keep planning and trusting, right?! " to she said "YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!" She could hear my 'old tapes' playing in my mind  and saw my very unattractive tendency to be easily discouraged peeking around my shoulder. I hereby give each and every one of you permission to check me if you see this happening again, preferably in a kind of thick foreign accent of your choosing.
      In our second conversation, my brilliant, ever brainstorming mother came up with the possibility of trying to get sponsored. An outdoor gear company, like REI or Patagonia, or shoes/clothing, like Teva or Athleta might be interested in me wearing using their gear, mentioning them in my blog, and taking pictures for an ad campaign. Maybe it's a longshot, but there is certainly no harm in trying; i.e writing a few letters, seeing who may know someone who may know someone. Most of you should have received that email a few hours ago actually. I'm open to any and all suggestions!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Initial contact...

    Mercury Retro-fuck, as I lovingly like to call it, officially ended on the 23rd, WOO HOO!  I made my initial farm contacts today. I want to secure my farm(s) in Italy first. Ideally, I want to be able to sequentially plan each location although I have a sneaking suspicion that's not how it's going to happen. Another part of this process, a huge part, is learning to trust my ever expanding intuition. My first choice is a vineyard in the Arezzo region of Tuscany. While going through the 65 pages of farms my eyes were beginning to glaze over at reading such similar descriptions. So I actually skipped ahead 5 pages and the second to last farm on page 39 literally jumped off the page. Borgo di Casignano, an organic Chianti vineyard and olive farm. Check em out! 
Bellissimo! Fingers crossed that I hear back from one Mr. Luca Zappa. Come on, how rad a name is that?!
    Every bit of this journey is still very much a rough draft and I realize may change completely. As it stands now though I have a fairly strong outline everywhere except for South Africa. My first choice, Living Art Farm, farm does not need help in December and I won't arrive until November 14th approximately. For some reason though, I felt the need to go ahead and reach out to Candi and let her know of my intentions. Who knows? Maybe this December will be different or maybe she can point me in a more helpful direction.

    Instead of simply focusing on the basic skeleton of this magical mystery tour, I've started slightly obsessing over the details....i.e. who's going to watch my cat, will she forget about me, should I keep my place or let it go and put my stuff in storage, should I quit my job completely or ask them to save it, what's the best international phone plan so I can be as available to my friends as possible, should I get a cheap laptop for emailing/blogging that has mobile broadband, I should start learning Italian, like yesterday, I need to get traveller's insurance, visas, what if I hate farming, what if I want to come back after a week, what if I never want to come back, how am I going meditate for 9 hours a day for ten days......... all this as I'm trying to fall asleep of course. I hope all this chatter will quiet down as things get ironed out and concrete plans are actually made.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

5 months till lift-off....

"Traversed the planet when heaven sent me. I saw the kings who rule them all
Still by the firelight and purple moonlight. I hear the rested rivers call ..."
- The Rover by Led Zeppelin

     Ever since my first devouring of 'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert ( I have since licked the plate clean 3 more times highlighter in hand) I have heard 'the rested rivers call'. It was gentle at first, a small brook softly babbling in my ears whispering sweet nothings of  "Oh, she's so lucky - what a lovely experience that would be... ah well" to a more urgent and aggressive whooshing of rapids, holding my head under while taunting me with swirlys and digs of  "What's up Wonder Woman?! You want that too? Yea? How bad?!... Well fuckin' go and fuckin' make it fuckin' happen!"

      And so here I am. Well, let me back up a smidge. I applied for a writing fellowship that would've paid me $52000 to travel outside of the U.S for a year! I desperately wanted to win, and so like the diligent good witch that I am, I did every spell imaginable. I even had a vision board that I light a candle and burned incense next to every night. I wrote my congratulation letter that I read every day and carried in my back pocket. My wiccan and manifestation skills failed me though. At the same time the dance theater company that I was working for decided to call it quits or at least take a lengthy hiatus. There I was, not feeling like a legitimate writer OR dancer. I was the girl behind the counter at an indoor cycling studio from 5:30a.m-1pm... WTF??? I didn't feel like I had an honest answer when people asked what I did. I didn't know what I was doing or what I wanted to pursue. I didn't have a fire in my belly for anything. The only thing getting me through the week was Happy Hour Wednesday with my best girlfriends. No joke. 

      I guess to be completely honest, the more accurate statement would be that I had several fires in my belly. Take my beautiful and brilliant older sister, Wendy. She has known what she wanted to do since she was fifteen. She is an amazing CRNA (Nurse Anesthetist) and loves her job. I, on the other hand, have never been able to comfortably settle on pursuing ONE thing. I did massage therapy for awhile, and enjoyed it for a fleeting moment. Then I left it completely to become a dancer (pronounced dramatically for effect as dahn-cer) and that has been amazing. I love every second on stage and feel in those moments that I am embodying my true essence. However recently, an opportunity to go to New York for 3 weeks elicited the reaction of "Meh - No thanks".
I want to pursue writing, art, acting, singing, music, traveling, cooking, vintner-ing, yoga, dance, love ...... phew!
* Inhale

Soooooo NOW here I am, planning my very own Eat, Pray, Love expedition via WWOOFing. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms offers free accommodation and meals in exchange for volunteer farm work. This shall be my golden ticket. ( It is April 21st, and as it stands right now I am planning on leaving August 29th, 5 months out.
There is still a ridiculous amount of planning that I have to do, and I'm patiently waiting for Mercury Retrograde to wrap up before contacting any of the farms on the list or buying my ticket.  I have at least made the most important decisions: where I'm going and for how long.

EAT = Italy
  •  A straight up copycat move I realize, but I'm  more than likely going to DRINK as I would love to find a vineyard and learn about making wine.
  • 7.5 weeks
PRAY = Nepal
  • No farming. There were very few farms on the WWOOF Nepal list. Instead, I've found a 10 day yoga retreat as well as a free 10 day meditation course. This shall be my break between the two working bookends.
  • 26-30 days
LOVE = South Africa - Western Cape
  • This more or less came from an astrological reading of the best overseas locales.
  • 7.5 weeks
  • Coming back for New Year's Eve with my girls

BAM! Head out of the toilet, taking back my power - kickin' ass and taking names ... and saying "What's up?! What's my name? .... Say my name! .....