13 December 2008


I'm writing this post because there are things I want to say, which is novel. Usually I only update it out of a vague sense of obligation. I'm giving up obligations.

A lot has happened since I last posted: much travel, some organic farm work in Georgia, a torrid and lovestruck affair conducted partly in a gorgeous beachside motel with a spectacular view of the sea (and the other part in Orlando, in the shadow of the tackiest, silliest, most brightly colored mouse on the planet), and now I'm staying in North Carolina for the holidays awaiting a plane ride to Zihuatanejo, Mexico,* where I plan to reside for awhile.

But all of that is completely beside the point.

The point of all my time so far has been figuring out what I want to do with my life: not how I wish to kill time making money till I eventually kick the bucket, but to what end I most desire to use the time I have. And figuring that out has been all about surrender.

I'd like to explain what the fuck I'm talking about here before you make the association with twelve-step programs and go read about something more interesting on Wikipedia.

The surrender I'm talking about is the crux of taking your life in your hands. It's drawing a line in the sand and saying, "No. I'm not doing this shit anymore. My life is fucked. I will not live like this." It's having the courage to give up control of your life to whatever the fuck runs the universe. (If you have an idea of what that is, great. It's not necessary, but it's helpful. Mine is a vision of the flow of the universe itself, as a big playful omniscient puppy.)

I started surrendering in October, when I was babysitting for some family friends. I'd known I had to, but I'd put it off. It scared the fuck out of me. I mean, it's not like I was doing a very good job of living the life I actually wanted, but hell, I could do better, right?

No. No, you can't. Nothing runs your life better than the thing that's been trying to run it your whole life anyway. The universe has a flow to it; that is, in fact, all it really is: everything that is, flowing. It's beautiful, and being a part of it fucking rocks.

Yeah, this sounds like some kind of Born-Again Christian testimonial of how much finding God changed my life. The reason is because sometimes Born-Agains aren't full of shit. Sometimes they've actually given themselves up to their God, and in that case they and I have more in common than I do with most of y'all who are likely to be reading this.

Absorb that fact for a moment.

I know you guys. There isn't a single one of you I think is reaching their potential. Not even those of you with your shit together. Getting your shit together is just baseline functionality in this world. Stopping there is like calling yourself literate because you finished The Cat in the Hat without help.

Some of your lives suck outright; some of you haven't admitted that to yourselves, but it's no less true. And you're thinking, "Yeah, the last thing I need is to lose the last shred of control I have over this trainwreck. Good advice. I'm sure it wouldn't leave me eating a bullet or taking every pill in this house."

There's only one sane reply to that:

Shut up, you fucking pussy. Your whining is not endearing. I know you are whining because I have been watching you keep a strangle-hold on that one shred of control for years** and your situation has not changed in all that time. You are still miserable. You are still having trouble talking yourself into hope. You still wish you were somewhere else, someone else, living some other life. Your joys are fleeting. You wake up every morning and have to convince yourself to get out of bed and start your day. You have no compelling answer to the question of why you don't just kill yourself now, except that you don't really want to, or maybe other people will miss you.

When are you going to start living? When do you stop just waiting to die?

When you stop doing the same stupid shit that hasn't worked so far. A "pull" door doesn't open no matter how many times you push on it. Your life will not change no matter how many times you repeat your patterns of behavior. Isn't it time for something new? Isn't it time you stopped being miserable?

Surrender still sounds scary. It sounds like giving up, like sinking further down into the abyss, like a standing army of every vague and nameless demon you fear might be waiting for you in the darkness of your own soul. Maybe like if you don't control your life, you won't even be you anymore, you won't even be real, you'll just disappear into the morass of horrors.

Don't worry, that's normal. The terror, I mean; not being dragged into the pits of hell by gap-toothed harpies and unborn fetuses wearing little hair ribbons. (Yes, I'm scared of fetuses in pink ribbons. Moving right along...)

The thing you might not have realized is that you pretty much have to be desperate to surrender. You have to finally understand that you can't fix your life yourself, that nothing you do is going to make this better, that there is no panacea for human misery. That's when you turn yourself over to something else, when you draw the line and say, "I'm yours. Make me better. Take whatever you want, kill me, just please get me out of this."

Understand that I'm talking about myself here too.

Surrender is unconditional. If you're to stop trying to run your life, you have to stop it on all counts, in all aspects, of your life: emotional, physical, romantic, financial, medical, professional, psychological, everything. This takes awhile; it's hard to break the habits of a lifetime. Be easy on yourself, but keep affirming your surrender. Say it any way you like; I think of it in sailing terms, as standing at the helm but letting the whipstaff swing however it pleases, because the idea of doing that still scares the fuck out of me. Let the universe, or whatever you envision running the universe, do the steering for you.

That means surrender is not just about letting go. It's about cultivating a new attentiveness to the world and how each thread of it touches you. After all, if someone else is steering your life, you have to learn how to take their direction. It's like relearning how to see your life, not as a series of difficult tasks to perform or hoops to jump through, but as a unified organism with a place in the larger organism of Everything. With time and attention, you learn to see the way the world moves, how it makes things happen in your life, and you learn to follow them. You become part of the flow instead of resisting it. It takes time and sometimes it's frustrating, but so is anything actually worth doing.

And it's worth it. God, it's worth every damn second I spent trying to think of a reason to wake up in the morning. I'd have given another decade of misery for this, it's so sweet. I'm still a neophyte at this game, and I can't believe it could get better, and somehow it just keeps doing it. I found true love, and discovered I didn't need it. I wanted somewhere to retreat to and get my bearings and really start living my life, and I have the choice between two (TWO!) beautiful, seaside, tropical, affordable, laid-back locales with good contacts in them to help me get oriented. I'm living on my own terms. I'm getting so close to discovering my ultimate desire I can taste it, and it involves becoming my own hero, self-sufficient, someone I respect above all others -- which itself means I need to draw up training plans so that I can learn to outrun a car, heal myself, and focus my brainpower and energy much more efficiently, among other things. I am having the time of my life, literally. Every week, I look back at where I was the week before and think, "Really? How could I have been such a benighted fool? Was that really only a few days ago? I'm so much different now, so much better. I wonder what I'll be like next week."

And these changes still scare me a little, but they are so wonderful most of the time I don't have space for fear amidst all the gratitude. I feel alive.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, I've put up two posts that I found hanging around finished as drafts. They're backdated: look for them here and here. The latter may be helpful as a counterpoint to this post, since it's me explaining how I felt about my life in April and what I planned to do with it then. That was somewhere around when I started realizing that taking responsiblity for my life was going to be important. I'm glad I did.

*You remember the name of the town, don't you? I could use someone who knows how to get things.

**Yes, years. All of you. No, you are not exempt from this statement; if you wish to beg exception, email me.

17 October 2008

Radio Silence

At the beginning of this month, I declared radio silence. I emailed everybody in my contacts list and told them that I would not be speaking or writing to them in any form for the foreseeable future. Most of them had some prior warning, though not all. I completely forgot to post about it here.

And now, clearly, I am breaking it. I destroy my relationships with everyone I know and care about, and here I am breaking the ban? Why the hell would I do such a thing?

Because this journey thing is all about growing up, and part of growing up is learning how not to be a short-sighted self-absorbed little bitch. And part is learning to see when something has lived out its usefulness.

That's not to say I'll be emailing everybody anytime soon to say radio silence is officially lifted. That's not what's happening here at all. Just, I'm going to be posting here occasionally. Letting y'all know I'm still alive. I've got requests on that point that I feel the need to honor. So if you want to make sure I haven't been killed by a large white whale, this is the place to check. If you want to chat about what you did this afternoon, that's still going to have to wait awhile. This silence is still being very very useful to me. I can hear myself think and I like what I'm hearing.

So, that's it. I'm the only one who can post to this blog, and any posts you see mean "hey, there, I'm still around somewhere."

09 September 2008

Oyster Bay

Still alive. Staying on the Nyckel until probably the 13th of Sept. Then off to spend a couple days with Augie, and eventually get home, pack my shit up, and fuck off to parts unknown. Currently docked at Oyster Bay, on Long Island, a crap little town I must say. It doesn't even have a whaling museum. I swear to God, if we see a single whale on the way down to Lewes, I will take the Zodiac out and harpoon it with a ship's knife. And then eat it off the capstan, render the blubber into whale oil, and make a mint -- definitely enough to pay off officials on an epic run from the law to the Cayman Islands. I bet I could make a bitchin' harpoon out of a whale's own jaw.

This is what New Bedford does to people. It turns them into whalers.

28 August 2008


It may not be a minor holiday, but here I am actually updating.

I don't think there's anyone who reads this that I haven't already informed (and if there is, I'm sorry, I probably just forgot who's told me they keep up with the blog), but my future plans have gloriously changed. None of you are surprised, I'm sure.

I will not, in fact, be taking the job as a ship's cook on the Hawaiian Chieftain this September. Instead, I am sailing the Kalmar Nyckel to Martha's Vineyard, which will have me back in Pittsburgh something like 9 Sept., after which I will pack my shit up, store it in my parents' basement, and get the hell out of PA.

I don't really know where I'm going, but I'm definitely running away to sea. I need to find some way of sailing single-handedly, with no other people around, just me and the sea in every direction. So I think I'm going to find a small vessel in need of love and a good community of small-craft sailors, and learn. That's it. This is the life I've sworn to myself I'd one day embark on, and it is high fucking time I do it. I made myself an oath last winter that once I was through college, I would never commit myself to a time contract I was not 100% absolutely sure was the right thing to do, that I wouldn't read any books I didn't want to, that I would live my life for myself, as I wish to live it, no matter what -- and that's what I am doing. I extended my time on the Nyckel by two weeks in order to do it. So when I next get to Pittsburgh, I'll be 23. Which is cool. 23 seems like a good year; old enough to be out of that standard college bracket, but young enough to still be stupid and optomistic without raising suspicion. I have a lot of hope for 23.

08 August 2008

My name in print

So apparently there was a lawsuit going down in Seattle involving the Sonics. Here is part of the story. And let me tell you, there is ony one word of it I give a shit about: there is another first-name Slade in this country. And he's a senator!

21 June 2008


I will also be attending the 1908 Centennial Jamboree today.

20 June 2008

The Lusty Month of...June?

Happy Official First Day of Summer, and a joyous Equinox to you! We're apparently continuing the minor-holiday-posting routine.

I am back in the Wex, having finished my summer classes. On Monday, I'm starting doing random lawn care at the kennel I worked at through high school and part of college. This is usually my brother's job, but he's got a second gig now as a roofer, so I'm helping with maintenance. This is brilliant because it looks like I won't be spending the quiet summer at home that I'd planned.

On July 3rd, Giffy is coming down from Somewhere In New York State, and early the next morning we embark on a road trip all the way to South Carolina to visit Cassidy. We're staying at his place for four days, then hiking back up to Indiana, PA, for a couple of days before Giffy continues his car-bound trek back home. I will be remaining in Indiana for two weeks as a counselor at the RECHC Summer Honors Program (SHP), where I'm getting 10 high schoolers to do with as I please and to keep from dying/shooting up/fucking/stabbing anyone/huffing incense/whatever kids these days do for fun. Some of you may remember that I was an SHP counselor two years ago as well, when I was assigned to the illustrious Dr. Gwen Torges' Constitutional Law class. You may find my next sentence repetitive: this year I will be assigned to Dr. Gwen Torges' Constitutional Law class. The subject this year is different; last time was the Supreme Court, this year it's constitutional amendments.

After SHP, I will sleep for 48 hours straight. Upon waking...who knows. I still have to find some time to get on the Kalmar Nyckel (and I'd love to do the Lewes-Provincetown voyage). My birthday is Sept. 2nd, the day after Labor Day; sometime probably after that, but not by a lot, I'm leaving Pittsburgh for something new. Hopefully a boat (I'm looking at several). Definitely something warm year-round; fuck this winter shit, I'm done with it.

And that's where things stand right now. I've walked graduation but won't be officially out of the system till August. Can't wait.

26 May 2008

Some quotes for you in May

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Do something memorable.

I've been doing a lot lately, like graduating, taking classes, hanging out with people (especially on the moon), and finally enjoying some decent weather in Indiana, Pennsylvania. But that's not what I'm putting this post out today for. You see, I collect quotes, and today I realized how many really glorious yet unknown quotes I have that others would likely enjoy. So here are a few.

"During the 1998 refit of the U.S.S. Constitution, a number of interesting artifacts were found; one was a provisioning record. When the ship left Boston on July 22, 1798 with a crew of 475 officers and men, she carried 45,600 gallons of fresh water (enough for six months), 7,400 cannon balls, 22,600 pounds of black powder and 79,406 gallons of rum. Her mission was to harass English shipping. Making Jamaica on October 6, she took on 828 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Then she headed to the Azores, where she arrived on November 12. She took on 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. She then set sail for England on November 18. In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled twelve merchantmen, but not before salvaging the rum. On January 27, 1799, powder and shot exhausted, Old Ironsides, undaunted, slipped up the Firth of Clyde, put ashore that night a landing party, and captured a whiskey distillery, hauling away 40,000 gallons of what we now call Scotch. Then she raised sail and headed for home. She arrived in Boston on February 20,1799 with no cannon balls, no powder, no food, no rum, no wine, no whiskey and 45,600 gallons of stagnant water. Length of cruise: 181 days. Alcohol consumption: 252,000+ gallons, or 2.93 gallons per man per day (this does not include the unknown quantify of rum captured from the 12 English merchant vessels in November). Naval historians say that the re-enlistment rate from this cruise was over 92%."
---from various sources, including the National Park Service

If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.
---Glenn Clark

It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both
incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by
twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.
---Rod Serling

Last night Rusty pointed out a waitress who was taking orders at the next table. He said that four years ago she was married, had a fourteen-year-old daughter, and was the school system's consultant on dyslexia. It was summer. She and her husband were having a drink in a bar in Aransas Pass. Her husband went to the rest room and while he was gone a man at the other end of the bar said, "Hi. Would you like to come with me to Mexico?" On the spot she walked out. She lived with the man for three years in Guatemala. Even more unexpected than the story was the reaction at our table. We were all staring at the woman as if she were a heroine. A time comes when you need to clean house. No, you need to go even further, you need to burn the house down with yourself inside it. Then you must walk from the fire and say, I have no name.
---Hugh Prather (from Notes on Love and Courage)

Not one of us ever grows up to be what he intended to be. Not one of us
fulfills his own expectations. We are all our own children, in that sense.
At some point, somewhere, we have to stop making demands.
---John D. MacDonald

In the land of the dark the Ship of the Sun is driven by the Grateful Dead.
---Egyptian Book of the Dead

"One unexpected result came from the seismic experiment recording the impact of Intrepid on the surface after we had jettisoned it. The entire Moon rang like a gong, vibrating and resonating for almost on hour after the impact."
---Cortwright, Edgar M., Apollo Expeditions To The Moon, By C. Conrad,Jr./ A.B. Shepard, Jr., U.S. History, 1 Sep 1990.

17 April 2008

How to fix a broken Slade this summer

I feel that I've been emotionally dishonest with myself and the world. I've worked myself like a forastero Indian at Potosi for the last four years, and although I've done a lot of cool stuff, I feel like I've cheated myself out of a lot of emotional growth. I haven't focused on my writing in years. I haven't taken an art class or touched wet clay since sophomore fall. I'm drained from Jordan. I'm drained from getting back on the grindstone this semester, even though the last few months should not, on paper, have been so hard. I'm utterly spent trying to pull more energy, more time, more caring, more anything out of myself to feed into a system I think is innately craven, dehumanizing, hope-crushing, and stultifying. I still can't believe I'm graduating, not only because it's been so long I can't believe it's already here, but also because there is a large part of me that knows I'm a sellout for finishing my time on the system's terms instead of tunnelling out when I could.

So I'm coming up with a plan. It's a plan for a fresh-out-of-college adventure in replanting myself in reality and rejuvenating/rebuilding from years of partially self-imposed exploitation. I made a list like this for myself last year around this time, and it went pretty well (1.5 goals met out of 3, by my reckoning*). I want to make this list public in kind of the same vein as an alcoholic coming out so that everyone knows to expect her to be a bit fucked up for awhile.

Therefore, my big, fun, and scary adventures for the summer are:
1. Insofar as possible, read only books/comics/etc. that I actually have a strong personal desire to read. And get them from the library. Lots of them.
2. Clean, organize, and paint my bedroom at home.
3. Make a fairly rigorous writing regimen that I can stick to.
3a. And make a glorious start into the Goddamn Nordic Hero Novel.
4. If I don't have some stonecut future and summer employment set up by June, get some of each.
5. Make myself a decent website. (Dan, I'll probably be in touch. [grins])
6. Sell off as many useless old textbooks as possible. Donate the rest.

There. I think that's excellent signposting.

*Jordan was supposed to be my semester off and doing NaNo was dependent on my taking real time then for my writing, instead of having this boyfriend and spending three months playing video games and mooching around in the Middle East. So half a point off each of those goals. And I definitely learned to sail, so that makes 1.5 goals accomplished, which isn't bad when really 2.5 were dependent on No. 1.

01 April 2008


It seems to be my destiny only to update on minor or national holidays.

Here in Indiana, this is the second consecutive day of truly beautiful, warmish weather. It's in the mid-60's* for gods' sakes! And the forecast says it won't drop more than a couple degrees below 50 all the rest of the week.


And the groundhog lied; this is the 9th week since he saw his shadow. I'm wearing a T-shirt, the window is open, I'm contemplating getting an ice cream tonight and actually taking it outside the building, and the last thing I really want to do is start my first draft of my research paper, which is due later this week and really must be begun today. And after that I read Kannani and the Document of Flames for East Asia and, more awesomely, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons for Colonial Latin America. And write papers on both of them. Then, another exam and two short papers for US Since 1877, an exam in Latin America, some more random reading quizzes in US, my Seminar paper presentation, and then finals, and then nothing for a few days, and then I walk graduation, and then I have a month taking two summer classes (Psych 101 and Geography of the Non-Western World, both of them easy), and then I am finished with School forever and ever, amen.

I can smell the end. It's wonderful.

*That's almost 19 degrees for anyone from a metric country reading this. Isn't that crazy?!

17 March 2008

St. Patrick's Day update

Hey, guyshttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif. I'm still alive, despite not posting since Thanksgiving. Some things have changed around here in that time. I'll be graduating this summer instead of this fall, after taking two summer classes. I'm behind on work for school and trying to make it work so I can get the hell out of here. The Global Scavenger Vlog is back on -- watch this week for a new post from me. John and I went to Cairo over New Year's and now are both home safe in the States (and still dating). I'm doing my last major research paper of college on Marvel's Civil War extravaganza and how it uses recent history and old Marvel stories to talk about national American ideals and identity. Steve McQueen, my adorable wonderful rat, is very broken and has either pneumonia or an inoperable tumor in his lungs.* I'm getting new glasses soon, and the first pair of prescription sunglasses of my life. Usually I find a pair of wholly inadequate and stupid-looking clip-ons and just deal, or go without sunglasses entirely. But now I'll actually be able to see outside in the summer! And they're cool-looking, too, with little gold lions on the sides. Pearle Vision had a two-fer special.

Other things have not changed. Like I said, John and I are still dating, and it's still great. I still can't wait to get out of college; Becky Chamberlain has a countdown on her door that I pass every day, and it just makes me want out more. I still have not given anyone but my mum their Christmas presents. I just got back from spring break, which was partly restful and partly restless. Can't wait to travel again, do something new, get out of Western PA for awhile.

To that end, I'm applying for a job (technically two: bosun and cook) on the Lady Washington, who operates out of Seattle but roams all up and down the West Coast. Most of you have already heard all about her from me babbling about it nonstop. (She has naval battles! Come on!) I haven't seen the Pacific since high school, when we took a family vacation to San Francisco. And I haven't been aboard ship since last summer on the Kalmar Nyckel. I'm missing the sea like I usually just miss writing or pottery. I really hope they hire me; that would be amazing. I'd get a good summer in Pittsburgh (and some sort of summer employment), then move to the other side of the country in a backpack and maybe a duffel in order to sail a new boat year-round and learn to care for her properly. Perfect. Maybe there'll even be holystoning. Application goes out today or tomorrow (I forgot to check when I was home about my last tetanus shot and high school GPA). My fingers are crossed.

And speaking of writing and pottery...well, not much change on that front. There's an Advanced Ceramics class offered this June that keeps tempting me but I'm going to have to say no to in order to keep from incurring more debt and more time stuck in Indiana. Kills me though. And while I keep getting story ideas and I can't wait to get back into the novels I have in progress -- especially the one about the girl who stops Ragnarok -- I can't do a damn thing with them right now because as per usual there is no spare time whatsoever aside from classes.

So, that's how things are here. Drop me a comment; how are you doing today?

*Normally this would get a whole post to itself in which I wailed at the horror and cosmic unfairness of such a wonderful rat having such horrible genes -- he's a pet-store albino rat -- but I'm working on not dwelling here. I love that rat. And I hate that another of my rats has gotten a tumor.