Posted in adventure, anxiety, Dreams, family, health, humor, kids, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, motherhood, Musings, People, random, travel, women

What if Something Happens?

anxiety lies

Two nights ago, I had a stressful dream that my purse was stolen. I was with my boss, at a restaurant, and realized it was gone. I was so upset! It had EVERYTHING in it- my ID, my credit cards, my makeup, my money! I didn’t know what to do. And then I realized it had my car keys in it, too, and now the thieves could steal my car. What a nightmare. Literally. But, I woke up, chalked it up to another one of my weird stress dreams and moved on.

Last night I dreamed that my car was stolen. It was a new Nissan Pathfinder (in my dream) with leather interior and all the bells and whistles. I was extremely proud of that dream car. I went down the coast to see my sister in law, and I asked her if she wanted to see my new car, which, of course, she did. We went outside, but there were suddenly so many cars, and I couldn’t seem to find mine. So I thought, hey, I’ll just click the alarm button and listen for the sound, but…my keys were gone. Eventually, I realized my car was gone. I knew who stole it, but there was nothing I could do. I freaked out. I woke up, again, very stressed out.

A single dream like this would be par for the course for me- but two? Two in a row? I know what is happening here. As my trip grows closer, I am spending my waking hours planning and being excited, and for God’s sake, not imagining every single thing that could possibly go wrong while I am an entire continent away from my children. But deep in the dark and morbid recesses of my brain, the “what-ifs” are hatching, like terrible gremlins on a gremlin-hatching conveyor belt in the fear factory of my mind. If I refuse to give them any space in my waking-hours mind, they will come out wherever they can.

This morning, as I desperately googled “stolen car dream meaning”, seeking to reassure myself that my dreams weren’t a harbinger of crashing planes and imminent death, I realized that my anxiety had me right where it wanted me. Alone, afraid, and miserable at five in the morning. Wondering how mad my friend would be if I cancelled on her two days before our trip. Hoping I came down with strep throat so I had no choice but to stay home. My anxiety is so ridiculous that I wished illness upon myself to avoid doing something fun and wonderful. Let that sink in for a minute.

So, I took a deep breath, and made a plan. When my anxiety asks “What if something happens?” I will say, “Something will happen! I am going to have fun, and see a new part of the world, and expand my horizons a little bit.” And when my anxiety insists, “Yes, but what if something BAD happens?!” I am going to say “Something BAD could happen just as easily with me here as it could with me gone- something bad could happen at any moment of any day, but mostly, it doesn’t. So stop it.” And when my anxiety continues to pester me with thoughts and images too awful to transcribe for you, I am going to fight fire with fire, by reading and remembering all the wonderful posts about women who travel all the time and make it home safe, happy, and healthy. Other people do it every single day. I am no different.

My anxiety will tell me I should just stay home. But my therapist, who I happen to have at least a bit more faith in than my own anxious brain, told me that my anxiety is dishonest…but that I will never know that if I don’t stop listening to it all the time. The only way to combat anxiety is to do the thing it tells you not to do. I mean, unless it’s telling you not to kill someone. In that scenario, your anxiety is 100% correct, and you should definitely listen.

Because my anxiety doesn’t just want me to stay home. My anxiety wants me to stay home, keep everyone I love in the house with me, close the blinds, and board up the windows. If we leave, we leave in a group. My anxiety wants not only me as a prisoner, it wants everyone I care for imprisoned as well. My anxiety calls it “being safe”, but even I know that’s not honest. That’s not living. So I will take my trip, and I will not let anxiety win this one.

And if something happens? Well…what if something wonderful happens? You can’t stop living because you are afraid. You can, actually. You can stop living because you are afraid. But I have no intention of living that way.

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Posted in anxiety, Dreams, family, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, random, relationships, women

Even After all this time

verbal abuse quotes Beautiful Domestic Violence Awareness Get The Facts [Infographic]

I woke up at three o’clock this morning, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I’d had a terrible nightmare, the kind that seems so real, where you wake up breathless- like you were running straight out of the dream. Honestly, I could cry just thinking about it right now. I dreamed about a man I haven’t laid eyes on since I was 15 years old, a man I hope I never have to see again. But for a long time, he was part of my life, and part of my family. He turned what might have been a happy childhood into years of walking on eggshells, afraid to say the wrong thing, or make the wrong face. He was my stepfather, and he was a terrible man.

In my dream last night, somehow, he was back in our lives. We were trying to get away from him- I remember desperately thinking that I should call from a different phone, pretend to be a different woman, convince him that he should meet up with me, but…even in my dream I was too afraid he would recognize my voice, too afraid of what would happen if I were found out. I was standing in my kitchen, in this house, and I could hear the sound of that particular kind of “fight”- the kind that isn’t really a fight at all, but a man overpowering a woman. I know that sound intimately. I rushed out to find him holding my mothers arm behind her back, as she swayed on her feet, looking dazed. He had his arm pulled back, ready to punch her again. My heart was in my throat as I rushed to her side, wedging myself between them, and somehow he didn’t resist me, he let me lead her into the house. This was not how the story went in real life, of course. I was little then, and I couldn’t do anything at all to help, no matter how much I wanted to.

I don’t think my mom likes it when I talk about this. I know these are terrible memories, and she wishes they didn’t exist. But I want to point out how remarkable it is that, at the age of 43, almost 30 years since I’ve even seen this person, my mind, my heart, my consciousness, can still recall exactly the terror and the pain and the helplessness I felt as a child. I want to point out that, even if I never spoke of this again, these feelings still exist in me, whether I acknowledge them or not. I do not think of this man- almost never. I don’t waste my time hating him or being angry about what he did. I figure his biggest punishment is walking around in his skin, with his memories and his broken mind.

But do I ever feel sad for the child I was, who certainly didn’t deserve to have to live that way? Of course I do. Do I ever wonder how much that contributed to my years of drug abuse and dysfunction? You bet your ass I do. How could I not? Do I blame my mother? Nope. We’ve talked about it, many, many times. She was a very young woman, trying to provide a life for her children, and she simply got in over her head. She didn’t know how to get out. The mental manipulation that goes hand in hand with physical and verbal abuse makes it very hard to tell which end is up. There are good days in between the bad days, and remember…this abuser didn’t start off being a monster. You are always looking for the man inside the monster. Sometimes he is wonderful and charming and fun. Towards the end, as I recall it, the monster consumed the man. We left because my mother began to truly fear he would kill us all.

Though he was not my father, he left traces of himself on me. I have had to learn that people aren’t supposed to erupt in rage, or terrify littler people into submission. I have had to learn how to love others without harming them. I did not know how to fight fair. I did not know you didn’t have to fight at all, not like that. I would never tolerate a man putting his hands on me- I made that promise to myself, and I have kept it. But I became the tyrant, at least sometimes, and that has been hard to know about myself. It has been even harder to overcome.

As for my mom- she has gone on to bigger and better things, and she has been successful and happy and done so many wonderful things. But for a long time, she couldn’t talk about those years, not really. I needed to talk about them. I will never forget the night we drove out along the beach, the two of us in her car, and she finally opened up to me. She told me everything I thought was real, my memories were indeed as I remembered, and she said the most important words she’d ever said to me: “I’m so sorry. I wish I could go back and change it, but I can’t.”

Forgiveness was a lot easier after that. I don’t know how to end this, so I’m just going to say this- if you are in a situation where you are being abused, and you don’t think your kids are being affected, please believe me when I tell you that they are, and they will be for many years to come. Even if it seems impossibly hard, you can leave. There are so many organizations that can help.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

 

Posted in Addiction, Dreams, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, recovery, Uncategorized

Bloom Where you’re Planted

bloom-where-you-are-planted

There’s this thing I love to do, where I window-shop for houses on Zillow, almost exclusively in places where I’ve never been. I have this obsession with the east coast, and the idea of seasons- autumn leaves in fall and snow on Christmas, the sweet relief of melting snow in spring and delicious summer nights spent with the windows open. And there is nothing wrong with that, I guess…except that I live here, on the west coast, and this is where my life is unfolding.

I notice that I do the Zillow browsing most when I am feeling the least thrilled with my life here. The cost of living in California is astronomical, and it would be really hard for me to buy a house here on my own, something that has become more and more important to me over the past couple of years.

But it’s more than that, I think. I have always been a daydreamer, but there is this other part to these daydreams- the idea that I could be happier if only I were somewhere else, doing something else. There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming, but it’s the idea that the grass is greener elsewhere that makes trouble. Rather than tending to this lawn right beneath my feet, I’m staring across the country, into the yard of someone who has made it look really pretty for the photos.

And then there is this other part- the part where, and I have learned this lesson already- I will still be me wherever I go. No matter where I am, all my troubles come with me. You cannot run away from your own restless nature. You cannot escape a longing for another place…no matter where you are, that longing will just change direction. When I ran away to Reno years ago, thinking that this peninsula where I sit now was the root of all my problems, I would stand in my bathroom late at night and pretend the cars rushing by on the busy road some miles away were the roaring of distant surf. I just wanted to go home.

I am such a strange human. I long for change and for routine at the same time. I want to travel and still, somehow, sleep in my own bed. I want to start over without losing anything in the process. I want to keep everything I have and have everything I want.

But most of all, I just want to be happy.

And happiness is not a place. Happiness is not waiting for me in an empty house in Maine. Happiness is right here, waiting for me to notice it. I found it yesterday in the most mundane things- a morning spent with my daughter, cleaning out the “linen” closet, which held everything except linen, and packing up seven bags of junk to go to Goodwill. It was in the satisfaction of accomplishing something with someones help, and just being together.

I found it working my 11th step with my sponsor yesterday, and really understanding what this journey of recovery has meant to me, has made of me, over this past few years. I am not at all who I was at the start, although the changes have been so gradual and subtle that it’s hard to notice as they happen. We had to take turns reading because we both kept getting so overwhelmed with gratitude and choked up.

I found happiness standing on the beach yesterday- a perfect late afternoon in early fall. The air was just right- not too cold, not too warm, and my daughter flew a kite with her dad as I tossed the ball for the dogs and just took it all in. I feel peaceful and…full, I guess, just thinking about it.

The grass is not greener somewhere else. Happiness is not a place. I am fine right where I am.

A long time ago, I had this sticker that I loved. It said “Bloom Where You’re Planted”, and I thought that was such a wonderful saying. It was easy for me, at 17, to be happy wherever I happened to be. I think it’s high time I get back to that.

Starting right here, right where I am.

Posted in adventure, Dreams, Life, Musings, random

Launched into Gratitude

grateful

I have been awake for literally five minutes, so lets hope this is coherent, but, HOLY SHIT- I just had a whopper of a dream, and woke up so freaking grateful for my life. First of all, this was just a variation of a recurrent dream/nightmare I have at least twice a month, if not more. It’s always pretty much the same- I have either quit my job already or am in the process of quitting it, and at a certain point I realize what a mistake I’ve made and beg for them to take me back.

This one was no different, except that my boss has told me that, since this is the second time I’ve told her I quit, there is no way that I can come back, but she’ll allow me to finish up some of the things I am working on. While I am there, two different people whom I haven’t seen in years remind me that I owe them rather large sums of money, and I am distressed that they never brought it up until now- I could have easily paid them while I was working, but now I don’t know how that’s going to work.

Somewhere in there, I also got another job- it pays almost nothing, and guess what I get to do? I get to review porn and write edits for it! Hahaha! In my dream, I am obviously disappointed in my life choices, but trying to make the best of it…I believe I commented something to my co-worker (who is an ex of mine that I haven’t seen in years, and also one of the people who reminded me that I owed him money) along the lines of “I didn’t even know this was a job!” As if I were lucky, but really, my heart was sinking.  I got in my car to go somewhere, and the check engine light came on. Great! No money for that, either.

The dream just grew more and more stressful in that manner until I went to my boss and begged for my job back. She said no twice, then said “Okay, fine” in a way that made me think she was never going to tell me no in the first place, but that she was just trying to scare me. It WORKED. I was so relieved, oh my God!

Here’s the deal- I get bored a LOT with my job. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I’m always wondering if there is something else I should be doing, something more fun and more meaningful. But these dreams are stark reminders of what it would really be like if I didn’t have this work to do- what my life would really be like without this paycheck rolling in. I’m spoiled rotten, and I forget to be grateful.

I woke up grateful as hell this morning. Big shout out to my subconscious mind for giving me the kick in the ass I need to see reality. I am blessed beyond belief. I can’t wait to go to work today!

Also, there was a giant bus crash full of school children from Malawi, but they all escaped unharmed. I thought I should add that in there in case it actually comes true. I didn’t even know Malawi was a place, except I must have, because I dreamed about it. And no, the TV was not on. I’m just weird, I guess.

Posted in Blogging, Dreams, funny, humor, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings

8 Solid Hours (is that too much to ask?)

no sleep

I just looked at my watch- it is now 3:45 a.m., and I have been up for fifteen minutes. I finally waved the white flag of surrender, after fighting with sleep ALLLLL night last night. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I value sleep above almost everything else, and normally, sleep and I have a really happy relationship. But every relationship has ups and downs, and last night we were really duking it out.

Here is how my night went:

8:30- I start making noise about getting ready for bed. But we are watching an unusually interesting show on Disney XD, so I am dragging my feet. I get my coffee set up for the morning. I decide against washing my face, since I didn’t wear makeup anyway yesterday, even though I know better (this, more than anything else, is a clear indicator that my happiness levels are dangerously low- I know it sounds insignificant, but washing my face at night is a big deal, and this is a red flag. Must get my life together.)

8:45- On commercial, I let Cam do one sparkler, of the many we have left over from the 4th. While we are outside, someone nearby sets off an illegal firework. I literally yell “The fourth is over, asshole!” into the night air. Realize I am outside playing with sparklers. Feel stupid, but I am so, so tired.

9:00-Make my bed. Crawl into the sanctuary of my covers. Try to stream Phineas and Ferb, one of my top shows to fall asleep to, only to find that season four is no longer available on demand. What the fuck? Find that season three is still ready to roll, so I find one I haven’t seen (not that it matters, because I’ll be asleep in five minutes anyway) and quickly doze off.

9:10- my cat starts scratching on my door. I try to ignore him, but he won’t stop. I yell at the door. He adds meowing to the mix. I huffily throw the covers off of me and jump out of bed, yank the door open and stomp into the living room, opening the front door so he can go out for the night. He stands on the threshold, considering his options. “Get out.” I snarl- I don’t have the patience for this shit. He doesn’t want to go out now. I close the door. He starts crying and scratching again. I open the door and try to set him outside. He runs backwards into the house and glares at me. I glare back. Fine. I’ll just sleep with my bedroom door open so he doesn’t get trapped inside and have an “accident” like he did the other night, but he doesn’t get trapped outside, either, and decide to scratch at my door all night. Fine. That is fine. Just let me sleep.

9:25- my dog, Lucy, wakes me up this time- She is barking like crazy, with a much scarier than normal bark, out into the hallway. This is, like, there’s an intruder, or a wild animal loose in the house kind of bark. I am instantly awake and out of bed. “What?!” I ask her, “What’s in there?” But she just does that weird dog dance, and keeps barking, then runs into my daughter’s room. Luckily, my daughter is in my room with me (or at least it seemed lucky at that moment) because I am terrified to go in there. I sneak my arm in and turn on the light- there is nothing there. I check the backyard, the front yard, and everywhere else. There is nothing there. I go back to bed, but this time I close and lock my bedroom door. The cat can just deal with it.

10:00-Lucy wakes me up barking furiously again. I don’t care anymore if someone is in the house. They can just kill me. I’m going to sleep, period.

10:30- I hear the distinct rustling of the giant cat food bag in my room. I just know Lucy is getting into the goddamned cat food again. I wake up already yelling at her to knock it off. Instead, I find that it is my seven year old, who has decided she would be more comfortable sleeping in the dogs bed, and she is whacking the cat food bag with her leg. “What are you doing?” I ask.

“I just want to lay down here.” She says, “I can hear my videos better.” I look at the dog, laying forlornly on the floor next to her own bed.

“Get your ass in bed, and don’t wake me up again.” I say kindly. I’m back asleep before I remember to tell her to put her stupid Kindle away. My mistake.

1 fucking 30 in the goddamned morning: I am jolted awake by the sound of laughter in my pitch black room. I whirl around, trying to get my bearings, and find my child, pressing her Kindle face down into the mattress so that I can’t see the light coming from it. I can still hear the sound however. She does this in such a smooth, skilled manner that I can’t help but wonder how many times she has practiced this maneuver in the past. The voice of Satan seems to issue forth from my throat-“Give me the Kindle!” I fling it to the floor (only because it has a child proof case, and I know it will simply bounce- I’m mad, but I’m not an idiot) and tell her she must immediately vacate the premises and go sleep in her own bed. I can’t take it. We both know I don’t mean it though- there is possibly an intruder sleeping in there, anyway, or at the very least, a family of raccoons. She starts crying, which means I’ll NEVER get to sleep…so I turn the TV back on. But I make sure it’s  a show she hates, because I’m evil when I’m tired. I fall asleep to the sound of my child wailing at the injustice of it all.

1:45-3:30- Horrible dreams about owing people money, awkward confrontations with friends, trying to pee in a bathroom with a big hole in the door and people trying to get in (which, now that I think about it, that probably worked in my favor- the last thing I needed last night was to wet my own bed at the age of 43), having to look for a job and regretting quitting the one I had, and just generally feeling very stressed out and uprooted. These are what I call “worst case scenario dreams”, and I have them fairly often. It’s always nighttime in these dreams.

3:30-Finally throw the towel in. Realize that a bug of some sort bit me several times, on my fingers and my arm. Curse my life, and all of the cowardly bugs who refuse to bite you when you are awake and can defend yourself.

3:45: Decide I should at least write about it, and make it all worth something. I hope you enjoyed my (hopefully) amusing retelling of my night from hell. And for God’s sake, I hope you slept better than I did! At least I won’t be fully awake for work today. There’s always a silver lining!

Posted in adventure, Blogging, Dreams, Goals, Life, Musings, People, reading, story telling, writing

My One True Love

writing

I woke up stupidly early this morning, as usual, and did what I do every morning- grabbed a cup of coffee, checked my Facebook, screwed around until the fog lifted from my brain. And then I did the thing I LOVE to do, which is this- I opened up Word, and I started to re-read the last few paragraphs of the novel I have been working on for probably a year now… I know, I know, that seems like a really long time to be working on a novel, but…you have to remember, I also work full time, I’m a single mom, and I have many, many other things that I am always trying to make time for. That leaves me about 30 minutes on a good morning to work on the thing that I love best, which is my writing. Subtract from that the many mornings when the well has run dry and the words just won’t come, and the mornings when I forgot to dry the laundry that has all of the school clothes in it, or any number of other small catastrophes, and it starts to make more sense why it is taking so long.

The important thing is that I always do come back to it. And when this one is done, whatever happens with it- whether it sits here in my computer forever, or whether I am catapulted to some insane stardom for my clever and captivating writing- I will always return to whatever I am writing next. Writing is the one constant in my life, and has been since the moment I realized that I could write. I don’t mean the moment I discovered I could write well, either- I’m still not 100% sure of that. I just mean the moment I grasped that it was within my power to pick up a pen or a pencil, or sit down in front of a typewriter (Yep, I had several of those once upon a time) and make up a story.

I love it. I love everything about it. I love making up characters, and watching as they take on a life of their own. I love trying to guide the story and finding myself rushing after it instead, trying to keep up. I love the feeling of my fingers flying over the keyboard, trying hard to transcribe the scene that is playing out in my head. I love that the story becomes a living thing, and veers off into places I didn’t think my head was capable of imagining. I love reading back over a chapter and feeling my heart pound when something is really wild, and so, so good, and wanting so badly to share it with someone else. I love the magic in words…the way the possibilities are infinite, the scope is limitless. Quite simply, it is thrilling.

There are few things in life that I love the way I love writing. My children, of course, they are always first. But my love of words, writing them, learning them, reading them…that has been around long before I ever dreamed about being a mother. And I have known for as long as I can remember that words were “my thing”. I’ve known it all my life. I think it may have been born already inside of me, to be honest. I’m one of the lucky ones who never had to search for the thing that I loved. It has always been writing.

I just wanted to talk about that for once. I always talk about my kids, my struggles with addiction, my life in recovery. I talk about mental health and working out and all my other myriad goals in life. But for some reason, I don’t talk much about my longest, strongest, most precious love affair…writing. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the reason behind that is some deep, terrible fear of not being good enough to claim that I am a WRITER. But this isn’t even about whether I am ever published, or financially successful because of my writing, or even (gasp! dare I even say it?) famous through it one day…all of those things would be wonderful, of course. But writing feeds me in a way that nothing else does. And because of that, it is already perfect. Even if nothing else ever comes from it, it is still the greatest thing, the best part of me that I know.

Still…just in case…remember my name. You never know. 🙂

Posted in adventure, aging, Dreams, fun, Goals, Life, Musings, People

It’s Time

live

In my head, there is an alternate reality, an entire life that contains all (most) of the same people that my actual life holds, with some pointed differences. In the life unfolding in my head, we do a lot more travelling. We do things that I am afraid of ( i.e., pretend to hate) such as camping- I can see myself and my daughter smiling around a campfire, looking up at the stars. In this alternate life, there are other differences, too. We are much better at togetherness, and I don’t mean laying in bed together while one of us watches season two of The Office (me), and the other one watches other people play video games on their tablet (her). I mean actual togetherness, laughing and eating waffle cones full of fresh churned ice cream at some food festival in Maine kind of togetherness.

In my imagined life, I am more organized, I am not such a freaking hoarder, the rooms in my home are neat and sensible, and I have tracked down the source of the moldy smell in the big bathroom and eradicated it. We get homework done without crying (that could be either of us on a bad day) and Cam reads to me without stubbornly insisting that she doesn’t know how, even though we both know she can read just fine when SHE feels like it. Or better yet, instead of pretending like she hates Harry Potter, she begs me to keep reading. In my other life, I always have extra blankets, nice ones, clean and folded neatly, in the linen closet. And I have a linen closet.

There is nothing wrong with the life I already have- as a matter of fact, it’s pretty great. But could it use some fine tuning? Um, yes. For the first time in memory, however, I already have all the main ingredients needed to make the leap from the actual-life-I-am-living to the-life-in-my-head. All I need to do is figure out the right measurements. Reduce the generous helping of pure laziness to maybe a pinch or two, and double the amount of effort and elbow grease. Buy some garbage bags, make a few trips to Goodwill to drop off the 17 pairs of “goal jeans” that, let’s be honest, if they ever do fit again, they aren’t even going to be in style anymore. I have an entire drawer filled with shirts that I dig through every day, and refuse to wear any of them. Why? What am I keeping them for, then?

For some reason, a truly clean house- like, every nook and cranny clean- plays a central role in my fantasy life. I have no idea what that has to do with food festivals in Maine or camping, but I guess it would make packing easier. It would definitely make coming home from a trip away more pleasant. In true ADHD fashion, though, cleaning properly is never a straightforward event for me. It involves a lot of half finished projects that stall out when I get distracted by something else that needs to be done, over and over, until I drop from exhaustion, leaving the house looking ten times worse than it did when I started. This is not an exaggeration, this has actually happened to me before.

But here is the thing- I KNOW there is a way to make this other life happen. I KNOW it. I can feel it in my bones, that I can have the life I want. I just need to keep taking steps towards it, every day, no matter what. There have been plenty of times when I got off work and wanted to veg on the couch and binge watch whatever thing I am currently into, but instead chose to push myself a little harder to get a few more things done…and it felt great! I need to choose to do that more often, instead of occasionally. It’s amazing, the amount of energy I find myself to have, compared to what I think I do.

My 20’s and 30’s were a blur…most of it, I wasted on self loathing and addiction, and the times when I actually had my act together, I was desperately trying to catch up, or to keep my family from going under. But there was always the sense that I had ample time to figure it out. I am 43 now, and although that is not old, there is definitely a feeling of “It’s time”. Time to pull it all the way together, or as much as I can. Time to take all of the trips and clean all of the closets, and generally figure shit out. Before my knees start protesting, and my back starts being really difficult, and my hormones jump ship, or whatever hormones do when they get old.

There is absolutely nothing standing in my way for once, except for me. And I refuse to be the reason my life falters anymore. I’ve done that for as long as I can remember, and it has never served me, not once. So I am going to challenge myself to try harder, dig deeper, and really start living the juiciest, most exciting, most awesome life ever. In a super clean house, naturally. Now excuse me, I need to go order some camping gear.