A Busted Tailgate and a Broken Heart



there was a beautiful, peaceful nudist retreat in a forest, high in the golden rolling hills above Calistoga. Magical healing waters flowed from the ground, and people came from miles and miles around to soak their weary bones in the springs and the sunshine. One day, a wandering hussy from a faraway land followed a traveling minstrel into this magical realm…and shit was royally fucked, ever after!

photo by Doug Ross
photo by Doug Ross

Fairytales aside, I like to come across as a hard-ass in my public persona. But the truth is that I’m a pathetically sensitive sap who’s just looking for love and kindness, like most people. I maintain my brash shtick as a defensive maneuver, because I don’t trust anybody — the world is full of assholes!

Well, apparently there was a chink in my armor, because despite my most valiant efforts, some feelings recently seeped in. Or maybe it was the ayahuasca — when I did that ceremony back in June, my “intention” going in was to open up more, and let people in. Well, what do you know — the very next week a traveling jagoff in a hippie van crashed into my life, and fucked everything up!

You remember my dear pal Jack Johnson — the random fan from the Internet with whom I met up in the middle of the desert last month, then ended up having weirdly intense sex with in the back of his van on a backstreet in a quiet L.A. suburb overlooking the Santa Monica Pier? Yeah, that asshole! Well, I don’t know what kind of spell he put on me, but it’s like he had a bayonet on the tip of his dick, and stabbed the shit out of my heart.

After he drove off down Sunset Blvd., I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see him again…and to be honest I was pretty bummed about it, and I’m not gonna lie, shed a few tears. But surprisingly he kept in regular contact, and we arranged to meet up when we were both in the San Francisco Bay Area this past week. He was doing a gig at some Italian restaurant in S.F., so I planned to come see him play, after which we would both drive up to Calistoga to check out the legendary Harbin Hot Springs nudist retreat for a couple days. Since we’d had so much fun on our Deep Creek sojourn, I was really looking forward to it.

photo by Doug Ross
photo by Doug Ross

Still, as I made the 11-hour drive up from Vegas, I was uncertain. I suck at relationships, and this guy in particular was hard to read; I couldn’t tell if he was really into me or not, and I didn’t want to get too excited about someone I was unsure of — I’m timid about showing too much interest in anyone, for fear of ending up a patsy. But just as I was pulling into the Bay Area, around 1am, he called me in a drunken stupor and laid all kinds of crazy effusive affectionate shit on me. Was it drunk talk, or in vino veritas??

Ill-advisedly, I took it as the latter…and like I said, was really looking forward to hanging out with him again. I rarely meet anyone I get along with as well as I did with him…and to be totally honest, I was also looking forward to having sex again — I was more open with him than any sexual partner I’ve ever had, and it was an embarrassingly big deal for me.

At first, things seemed peachy — I arranged to meet up with him the afternoon of his show, so we could drive into the city together, and he even invited me to accompany him to some gigs up in the Mt. Shasta area after our hot springs retreat…a little taste of his freewheeling life on the road. It would have been a total blast, but I declined because I also needed to spend some time with my family up here; I can’t blow them off totally just because I have itchy pants for some random troubadour, ya know?

the van is back
the van is back

In any event, he didn’t seem offended, so I got all dolled up and drove down the 101 to meet him in Marin county, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, in a gym parking lot. I was super nervous, but he rolled up and gave me huge hug and a little kiss…so I figured we were more or less right back where we left off, and climbed aboard his van again for another wild ride with the circus of broken hearts.

This was the first time I’d ever seen him perform live, and he was really good — he plays a kind of old-timey steel guitar roots music, and works a sort of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” sartorial shtick. The gig was in a little tiny Italian restaurant, so while he played, I sat at the artists’ table (reserved for the bands and their family/friends) and had dinner and a couple glasses of wine. It was one of those slightly chi-chi San Francisco joints full of Botox matrons and upscale yuppies, so I felt a little dingy in my jeans and straw cowboy hat…but jeez, I didn’t know! It’s fuckin’ roots music, for chrissakes!

Far out, man! Club Deluxe!!
Far out, man! Club Deluxe!!

Anyhoo, afterward we went out for drinks with another one of the fans who came to see him, this really nice chick whose dad was in the Grateful Dead. I guess he had met her backstage at a concert a while back, and he was fascinated by her family history, and now he talked to her for hours at this awesome little dive bar near the corner of Haight and Ashbury while I hung around the periphery, drinking vodka tonics and chatting with the other kooky winos in the joint. I guess I kinda felt like a third wheel, but the bar was super cool — a smoky old-school jazz joint with two crazy Jewish bohemians on piano and drums, totally Kerouac and totally far-out, so it was right up my alley and I had a pretty good time.

Anyway, by the time the three of us finally left, we were all totally fucked up. We got in Jack’s van and they started listening to some of the other chick’s dad’s music, and I guess all the talk about her dad made me start thinking about my dad, who committed suicide a few years back. I pretty well internalized all my sadness over that, but occasionally it leaks out (usually if I’ve been drinking) — and before you know it, I was awkwardly bawling my eyes out.

boo hoo hoo photo by Doug Ross
boo hoo hoo
photo by Doug Ross

To be fair, it wasn’t strictly because of my dad — I also heard Jack say something about his girlfriend, and that’s what set me off. At Deep Creek, you may recall I fended him off as long as possible because he had mentioned being in a supposedly open relationship with another woman…but he was so persistent, and the sexual attraction was so strong, that despite having severe misgivings, I ended up caving like a bitch and giving up my puss. Well, in the process, come to find out I also gave up my heart :-/ Hearing him mention his girlfriend gave me a sinking feeling that it was much more serious than he’d let on, and for some reason it just killed me! But also, I was super drunk…so it could have just been the booze.

Either way, all three of us passed out in the back of the van in Golden Gate Park, my insomniac ass wedged between their peacefully snoring bodies. I was still weeping like a little bitch, and before he passed out Jack tried to stick his hand down my pants — so I elbowed the shit out of him. I wasn’t in the mood, ya know? And besides, the Grateful Dead chick — I’ll call her Cass– was right next to me! Thankfully, I finally passed out around 4:30am, and got at least a few hours’ sleep.

When we woke up, Cass had already left, the van was enshrouded in thick fog, and my tongue was enshrouded in thick nastiness. Alas, my toothbrush and stuff were in my truck, which was parked back in Marin County. Also, it felt like my head was full of a thousand little MMA fighters beating the shit out of each other — hangover from hell! Jack dosed me with Advil and offered to let me use his toothbrush, but I grumpily insisted on waiting til I got to my truck. I was still kinda sour about the night before, I guess…but once I was able to brush my teeth (in the parking lot of a Jo Ann Fabrics, nonetheless) and wash off my makeup (at a McDonald’s bathroom), I felt much better. We got coffee, and headed back up north on the 101 toward Harbin Hot Springs, me following Jack’s van like a faithful puppy. Or more accurately, like a bloody heart being dragged up the freeway on a leash made of blind ignorance!!

on the way to Harbin Hot Springs
on the way to Harbin Hot Springs

Now, a word about Harbin Hot Springs, where we were headed — it’s a 5,000-acre retreat in the hills above Calistoga, popular among Bay Area nudists, New Agers and hippies, said to be an astonishingly beautiful place of relaxation and reflection, with several pools fed by natural hot spring water from an ancient sacred source. I’d heard about it for years, but the consensus was divided as to whether it was a peaceful Zen sanctuary or lurid Sextown, U.S.A. I was really curious to check it out, so when Jack suggested it, I was all in.

on the way to Harbin Hot Springs
on the way to Harbin Hot Springs

Harbin is pretty remote, just outside a quaint little village called Middletown, where Jack suggested I leave my truck parked so we could drive into the resort together. So I threw my things into his van, and without even really thinking about it something made me throw my tent and sleeping bag in, too — I think I was afraid that if Harbin turned out to be a hotbed of sex he’d try and hook up with another couple, and I wasn’t into that, so wanted to make sure I had a safe haven. But I honestly assumed I was sleeping in his van with him.

Anyway, we checked in, goofing around as usual with the gate staff, and set up camp — Harbin has beautiful guest rooms, cottages and domes you can stay in, but us broke-ass hippies are on a perpetual budget, so we just camped, which is $30/night, per person, and includes 24 hours of access to the facilities. Not bad! After setting up, we headed to check out the pools, and go for a relaxing soak.

**Note: Harbin does not allow photography, so all the cheesy photos that follow are from their website.**

meditatorsThe facilities at Harbin really are beautiful!! I guess you could call the aesthetic “rustic Zen chic” — lots of crumbling stone walls, lush landscaping, quiet grottoes and little Buddha statues in every nook. Meanwhile there are several soaking pools, ranging from the super, super hot (my favorite) to the icy cold. The idea is, you go from the super hot pool to the super cold plunge, back and forth, to get your circulation going…and they also have a sauna and steam room for the same type of effect. My only beef was, there’s no Jacuzzi-temperature soaking pool — there’s a sort of lukewarm heart-shaped “conversation” pool, but it wasn’t really warm enough for my taste…and the next-hottest pool was around 114 degrees, and way too hot to hang out in for long.

heartpoolAlso, silence is mandated in most of the pools, except for the heart pool and the big lap pool…Harbin is more of a meditative place than a social place, I guess, which sucks for a long-winded conversationalist like me. But on the plus side, I didn’t really see any sexual activity going on in any of the pools — there were lots of couples holding each other and caressing, but nothing freaky or overtly sexual. Maybe it was partly due to all the “NO SEXUAL ACTIVITY” signs posted everywhere — it reminded me of when I was an extra in that porn move earlier this year, and they had all those fake “NO FUCKING” signs in the office. Lulz!

Well anyway, I didn’t realize just how dry the place would turn out to be until we were walking back to camp to cook dinner, and out of nowhere, Jack casually let it drop in conversation that he had decided to be a “good boy” and not have sex this trip, after all. It seems that while at the time of our Deep Creek sojourn his relationship had been an open one, in the meantime he had decided to commit, and just decided to tell me now.

Whaaat? You should have heard the shit he said to me on the phone Saturday night!! This new declaration was so unexpected, I felt like a china setting from under which some bumbling magician had just yanked a tablecloth — the ground flew out from under me, and I crashed down hard. But ever the wannabe hardass, I tried to keep a blank face and take it in stride: “Oh, yeah?” But inside, I was like, “Jeez, now you tell me!! After I just shelled out $65 to camp out for two nights!!”

the forest primeval photo by doug Ross
the forest primeval
photo by doug Ross

Talk about awkward! If my truck had been there, I honestly would have left then and there. More than anything, I was horribly embarrassed — not only did I feel like a homewrecker, but I was acutely ashamed of myself for having been so excited to see him, and at having such feelings for him. I should have fuckin’ known…arrrrrrghhh!! But since my truck was parked down in the town, I was trapped — trapped in a paradise of serenity, love and openness, with the devil running around taunting me. SUPER awkward!!!

Anyway, I guess I hid my distress well enough, because we went back to camp and he made dinner like nothing had happened….while I stood on a rock nearby, staring into a beautiful ravine, trying not to bawl my eyes out. For once in my life I had zero appetite, so while he ate and chatted with our neighbor, I stood by in stunned silence — the boring old punched-in-the-solar-plexus-bleeding-bruised-heart shtick, happens all the time, nothing new to see here, move along! It’s trite, it’s boring, and it happens every day…but it’s still a real bitch, as I’m sure most of you know 🙁

Meanwhile, there is no rational explanation for the devastation I felt — I barely knew this tool, so I don’t understand how I came to care for him so deeply. WTF?!?!? It’s like I said…he put a spell on me, or something. Shit!

templeTHANKFULLY, there happened to be a dance party going on that very night, with a dj and all, so I left camp and headed over to check that out, thinking that if I were around other people, it might ease the pain somewhat. At first I thought it was being held in the temple — this amazingly beautiful, J.R.R. Tolkienesque building about a five-minute walk from our camp. But when I got there, the building was deserted; I went inside, and had the entire place to myself. So I sat cross-legged in the very center, under the skylight in the fading twilight, and bawled my eyes out!!! If you must moon about with a broken heart, you might as well do it in ultra-dramatic fashion, in a fabulously surreal setting like that temple…ya know?? At least it was cinematic!! But the whole place was so surreally beautiful, it just seemed wrong to be so miserable there.

Anyway, after weeping awhile, I figured it wasn’t really doing me any good, and being around people would help me a lot more — so I got up and continued on to look for the dance party, which turned out to be across a little lighted footbridge, in the conference center. When I opened the door, I was greeted by a dj spinning some kind of trance/house hybrid in a huge mirrored room with a hardwood floor, full of barefoot hippies and New Agers dancing like the Charlie Brown kids on acid. I mean, you’ve never seen white people dancing like this!! They were all over the place! Old men, young bucks, hot yoga sluts and middle-aged matrons, all spazzing out and letting themselves just go with the music. It was crazy!!

my friendmaker robe, in happier times
my friendmaker robe, in happier times

But it was just the right thing for me in my miserable state — I literally ran into the room, and threw myself into dancing like a possessed demon!! You know how they say certain religions get into a meditative trancelike state of ecstasy through dance? Well, that was me — I had on my garishly brilliant friendmaker caftan-robe, with nothing but a loincloth underneath, and I just whirled about like a fiery Phoenix, swooshing my robe about me like brilliant porange-and-purple flames, swishing in every direction, sometimes just running madly around the room with the robe flying behind me like great porange-and-purple wings! I must have been quite the sight — half the time I wore a huge, blissed-out smile (I’m a shitty dancer, but I love when I’m in a groove with a bunch of other people; it’s better than any drug, and makes me beam like an idiot). The rest of the time, tears streamed down my face as I whirled around and around, like a centrifuge trying to fling away sadness. It was so therapeutic!!!!!

I must have danced like that for an hour or two — I mean, balls-out craziness — and when I stopped for a water break, who should I spy but Cass, the Grateful Dead guy’s daughter! Jack had invited her to meet us up there, and despite her misgivings (she’s really shy and self-conscious about her body), she actually showed up. It was a good thing I ran into her, as there is no cell reception up there, and in the darkness it would have been next to impossible to find us (remember, it’s a 5,000-acre resort!). As I showed her back to our camp, I told her the whole sordid story of what was going on, and she was very supportive — I mean, she is just a nice woman. I think she felt kind of awkward being there, and even offered to leave, but I told her I was glad she was there, to break up the tension.

alone again, naturally
an uneasy distance

Anyway, we met up with Jack and headed back to the pools to soak some more, all three of us ending up in the heart-shaped pool, ironically. They were still talking about her dad and music and stuff, so I tried to make conversation with some of the other soakers…but there just wasn’t anyone super interesting to talk to…or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood. After a while, we all went back to camp — I crawled into my tent, and Jack and Cass slept in the van. It has two bunks, and Gentleman Jack took the top one…but it was still a lonely sound to hear the door slam, me on the outside with the coyotes howling in the distance. Wonderhussy….ever the lone wolf.

Up and at 'em!
Up and at ’em!

I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and of course all this bullshit made it even worse, so I was awake at sunrise, wandering around a golden field dotted with oak trees in my friendmaker robe, still bedeviled by stupid tears, watching the abundant wildlife roam around — that place has deer, turkeys, quail, foxes, rabbits…all kinds of shit wandering merrily around, like a Disney movie! When Jack and Cass woke up we made coffee and breakfast, but I still had no appetite, so just chugged coffee and tried to look alive before we headed to the pools for the day.

Before heading to the pools, Jack suggested Cass drive me back into town so I could check on my truck — not that he was really concerned about my truck itself, but he had left his amp and some of his gear in it, and I guess wanted to make sure it was still there. So she kindly took me down to Middletown to check, and it was still there…and I figured I might as well drive it back up to Harbin, in case I needed to bail at a moment’s notice. So now at least I had an escape hatch.

At the pools, I basically spent the entire day moping — moving from one pool to the next, trying to stanch the well of sadness inside me. I can’t believe what a fuckin’ baby I was about this — like I said, I barely knew this guy, but I was disappointed beyond all rational measure, and just could not stop crying. Tears just kept leaking out, in the hot pool, in the cold pool, in the steam room and even in the sauna — hell, I even watered the hot rocks in the sauna with teardrops to make steam out of my sadness!! It was ridiculous how sad I was…and I could not cheer up. I could not enjoy this beautiful place — everywhere I looked, it was hippie-dippie couples in love, caressing and enjoying each other, and I was alone and miserable. Boo-fuckin’-hoo.

The only thing that got me through were drugs and alcohol — both strictly prohibited at Harbin, but both completely necessary to my survival that day. I was very discreet about it, and ate a bit of pot cookie to get me through — to dull my senses. I feel bad about violating their policy, which is in place because there are a lot of recovering addicts living full-time at Harbin, but I just could’t handle my life sober that day. I was too fucking sad!!!

ice plungeAnyway, I got into this routine Jack showed me — sauna, then steam room, then ice plunge; then repeat. Apparently that’s what they do way up in the frozen tundra, where he’s from. I did this triad over and over and over again, all day long, singing my own version of that song from “South Pacific” in my head: “I’m gonna sweat that man right outta my pores!!” It didn’t really work, but I definitely got a good shvitz…so I guess all was not lost. But between all the soaking and all the tears, I was really waterlogged by the end of that day.

Meanwhile, the only thing to distract me from my melancholia was the fabulous people watching: most of Harbin’s patrons are run-of-the-mill hippies and Bay Area New Agers, but it was a pretty diverse crowd, with even a few minorities in the mix…not just old white people, for a change! My favorite was this bespectacled, bearded old man in a bathrobe and a huge straw hat, who sat around sucking on his index finger all day, every day. I mean, he had his finger in his mouth all the way to the first knuckle — and just sat there, sucking on it, staring around. Freaky!!!

Then of course too, there were plenty of naked guys hanging around, trying to hit on me. I was offered more than one massage, and one guy even told me how he and his wife are looking for a third person to come into their marriage, and invited me to stay with him if I’m ever in New York (people come from far and wide to soak at Harbin…it’s well known). Unfortunately, I was not attracted to any of them — like I said, I’m hardly ever attracted to anyone — but I did at least get some interesting information from a couple of them.

photo by Doug Ross
photo by Doug Ross

As I was soaking in the heart pool, one old dude struck up a conversation with me (as he was massaging me, of course) and told me about these secret hot springs in Marin county. See, where I live (Mojave desert), there are tons of natural hot springs dotting the landscape, where you can just hike in and soak for free. In California, they’re all developed, and charge you an arm and a leg to get in…so I asked this guy if he knew of any undeveloped springs in the area, and he told me about these ones right on the coast in Marin County, that can only be reached during super low tide during a certain phase of the moon!! Wow!!!

But, shhhhhh!!!! He warned me that they were top secret, and that the locals didn’t take kindly to others finding out about their spot, so I had to keep it all on the down-low. But guess what? Not 20 minutes later, another old perv showed up and told me about the exact same springs, with the same caveat not to tell anyone, because they are “secret.” HA!!! I guess they’re not that fuckin’ secret, eh?? Meanwhile, I looked them up on Yelp and the reviews all emphasize how rude and hostile the locals are to anyone who comes to soak there — those rich uptight assholes think it’s like their private thing, or something. Fuckers! If anyone in the Bay Area wants to go check them out with me, let me know — I’ll be here til August, and might even stay til Burning Man.

Anyhoo, while all this was going on I really felt like the mature thing would be to talk to Jack Johnson a little and find out what was going on, or at least tell him how I felt, just to get it out in the open. All this time I was still hiding my feelings, trying to be cool — I was being really quiet, so I think he thought I was mad at him, which I wasn’t…I was just disappointed and sad. But with Cass there it would have been too awkward to talk, so I just sat around and soaked and festered. But as the day wore on and I sweat more and more, I managed to pretty much get myself under control….and by the time Cass left around 4pm, I was in much better shape.

hotpool381Around that time Jack wanted to eat the mushrooms I’d brought along, and I figured why not? It would certainly beat sitting around sober and miserable all night! So we each ate a small dose, and because we hadn’t been eating very much food the past couple of days (especially me; I had a virtually empty stomach), we tripped our balls off!!! It was amazing!!! Sweating in the sauna, shvitzing in the steam room, then plunging in the ice pool — it was all really trippy on shrooms. We were pretty discreet about it, not wanting to piss off the brass at Harbin…but it was great!!! I even managed to laugh a little — ahh, the wonderful healing powers of psilocybin 🙂

After a few hours, we went back to camp to eat dinner…and finally had an extremely awkward conversation about the situation. Jack said he has a history of making bad decisions, and had finally decided to start making better choices — which I guess means I’m a bad decision…d’oh! Or maybe he just meant being unfaithful to his girlfriend was a bad decision, I don’t know. All I know is, I told him I felt like a country song, because I had a busted tailgate and a broken heart — and he seemed genuinely surprised to hear that I had a broken heart. Which was the saddest thing of all — he had no idea what was going on, and it was obviously one-sided. D’OH!!! A few tears fell into my salad, but I didn’t really make a scene — just let him know how I felt :/ It wasn’t really as bad as it could have been, and it was definitely a relief to at least let him know…ya know?

Then he started in telling me how I need to leave Vegas, how it’s a poison place, and not right for me, and I surround myself with idiots as part of my shtick, but it’s not really me. And the sad thing is, he was kinda right — I’m not really into having my toes sucked or my twat photographed by some slavering fuckin’ perv who won’t stop trying to get me to open my legs wider, wider, wider — it makes for good blog copy, but other than that, it is kinda depressing. I wish I could figure out a way to make money based off my brain, not my twat. I just don’t know what! I have a fuckin’ art degree, for Pete’s sake…I’m adrift.

I need this (or something similar) so bad it hurts!!!
I need this (or something similar) so bad it hurts!!!

As for Vegas, I’m torn — part of me truly loves living in the desert, and I do enjoy how easy it is to make a buck in that crazy city. But lately, I’ve been feeling a little Vegas-ed out…which is part of the reason I took off for California. At heart, I’m a total Nor Cal granola hippie dippie ding dong, and whenever I come back here, I feel like I’m home. But I don’t think I’d want to be here all the time. Which is why I need a van to travel around in — then I can come and go, chasing the odd buck, traveling around meeting interesting people and writing about it, homeless and adrift and still a lone wolf….but in bad ass style!!!

then came the dawn
in my tent

Anyway, after talking for quite a while, we went for a night soak and then headed to bed. I suffered another shitty, sleepless night, dreading the morning and the awkward, unbearably sad good-bye I was facing. It was sad enough when I left him the first time — now it was ten times worse!!

That last day, Jack didn’t have to be at his next gig until the evening, so he planned to stay at Harbin until our 48 hour pass was up at 4pm. I had told my mom I’d leave around noon, so I kinda dragged my ass around, stalling, until then. I soaked in the super-hot pool, then plunged in the super cold pool, and did that invigorating rotation a few times. I hiked up the hill to this awesome little teahouse perched way on top of one of the mountain, overlooking the entire valley, that had a meditation area and an altar where you could write down your intentions and prayers and shit, and scribbled down a bit of heartsick drivel and tucked it under a Buddha foot or some bullshit.

20140712_123802Then I decided to decorate my hat — on all my travels of late, I’ve been wearing this straw cowboy-type hat I’ve had forever, but only started wearing around recently. I stuck a bunch of pins and buttons and stuff on it to personalize it, but now I decided I would add a little memento from each of my adventures to the mix — a fake flower I found at Deep Creek (when I went with my sister), a seashell from Mexico, a bottlecap from one of Jack Johnson’s beers, and now I made a little decorative rosette out of reeds from one of the landscaping plants at Harbin. This hat tells the story of my Summer of 2014…and I think at the end of the summer, I might burn it — maybe in the temple fire at Burning Man, I don’t know. Anyway, I thought it was a cool idea!

peace out!
peace out!

But finally, it was time to stop stalling and get the fuck out of there…so I put on my friendmaker robe and hat, gathered my things, and went to find Jack Johnson to say goodbye. I found him over by the cold pool, and bid farewell in the midst of a bunch of naked New Agers, who barely looked on as we hugged each other one last time. “We’ll still go exploring stuff together sometime, eh?” he said…but I just shrugged, squeaking out a lame “Yeah, maybe.” Then I blew him a kiss and flashed him a peace sign, and walked off to my truck…which I now discovered had a cracked windshield, in addition to a busted tailgate. Damn, I’m a wreck!!!

And that was that — bury my heart at Harbin Hot springs! It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, and I wholeheartedly recommend it…but I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. Aside from my bad associations with it, they probably won’t let me go back, after reading about my drug use!!! But in my defense, I was going through some really tough times up there…so cut me some slack, willya, guys?

Photo by Doug Ross
Photo by Doug Ross

So anyway, on the drive back to my mom’s house, I started thinking… if life really were like a fairytale, or the modern Hollywood equivalent, shit would have gone down much differently! Picture Natalie Portman as Wonderhussy, a burned-out nude model cruising around in a beat-up pickup like a busted-up rodeo cowboy, making one last modeling trip around the West Coast. Matthew McConaughey as Jack Johnson, a confused and directionless vagabond, afraid to tap into his true potential, working an endless circuit of one-night gigs in smoky bars and dancehalls. Their paths cross, drama ensues, then they help each other find true love and freedom: Natalie inspires Matthew to finish his album, which goes onto resounding success. And Matthew inspires Natalie to write her memoirs, which are then optioned by Hollywood and made into a movie starring Natalie Portman and Matthew McConaughey. Whoa!

Alas, however… this ain’t Hollywood, and that shit ain’t happening. And this sure as fuck ain’t no fairy tale!!! If my and Jack Johnson’s Deep Creek trip was charmed…this trip was cursed!

The real answer might lie in my aforementioned busted tailgate: it broke back in June, at Deep Creek, right around the same time as my heart. Maybe if I fix it now, it’ll break the spell of Jack Johnson — who, ironically, offered to help me fix it…then either forgot or changed his mind.



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This made my heart hurt from memory. The pain you described is feeling I haven’t felt in a while but will never forget. I hope you are successful in moving past those yucky feelings quickly. I always find I get over hurt feelings faster when I accept and feel them rather than fight them. (How’s that for some hippie dippie shit! Ha!)

But all self actualized bullshit aside, fuck that guy! What a selfish, insensitive asshole he is to have treated you that way! You are waaaay too good a person for that kind of guy. Just don’t give up on letting people in, you have to fuck a lot of frogs before you find a prince. Like a lot. So many.


Despite my slight suspicion of your awareness…Dude 100 percent knew what he was doing. One night playing the hand snake to the next claiming celibacy on behalf of his chick? Staying quite about some other chick attending? Claiming ignorance to your distress, but astute enough after a couple weeks to claim all your people “idiots?” Vague offer to meet up in the future? Dude 100 percent knew what he was doing. Seems like he needs the emotional upper hand (aka insecure), using females to satiate a massive ego. Fuck ‘um.

Apologies in advance for getting way too involved with that write up.

Oh and I did notice your grey shorts in the previous story.


You just seem very bright and I didn’t want to insult your noggin by spouting off some already known nonsense.

While I got you, what happen with Street Carnage?


There are few words that won’t come off as trite, vacuous bullshit when the heart is hurting.
You are remarkable, untamed and your heart is opening.
It’s tough getting comfortable with yourself, letting someone in and then getting hurt.
Still, I know that the heart for me is out there, if I’m willing to be open.
I’m sure yours is too.

Rose Sailcat

You remind me so much of myself at your age, having adventures, writing them up, putting yourself out there. You are a great writer and a unique human being–the higher the fewer. He’s out there, ya just got wait.

Wicked Step-Mom

So sorry for you busted tailgate and your broken heart. I totally relate to your sorrows. I’m stuck in a shitty place. You are so brave and beautiful, smart too. Don’t ever forget this.

Dim Sum

So you meet this guy, and because he has a dopey smile and a guitar, you let him bang you in his van down by the river.

You must have known he has a wife or girlfriend or both. But do you walk away? Nooooo …. you say, “He’s a d-bag BUT I CAN CHANGE HIM.”

No, you can’t change people.

So why are you surprised that he screwed you over?

Meanwhile, if you met a single, interesting man who can hold a conversation and cares about people …. you would be instantly bored.

Then you blame Las Vegas, when maybe you need to realize is you need to look in mirror and see a child staring back at you. Try stop using drugs.

And nobody uses “anyhoo” any more in their writing. Stop. Just please stop.

I’m not reading this blog any more.


I wasn’t really looking to change him…I genuinely liked him the way he was, except the girlfriend part. I felt he was a bit disingenuous about that…but yeah, I probably should have known he was full of shit.
I have met plenty of single, interesting men…and while I’m not bored, I don’t often find myself sexually attracted to them. Pheromones! It’s rare that I meet someone to whom I’m attracted sexually as well as intellectually. That’s why I fell in too deep with this one 🙁
And yeah…I am totally emotionally retarded and unwilling to grow up. It’s my biggest problem. I’m trying to work through it but it’s slow going.
I’ll never stop using drugs, sadly…especially alcohol. Life is unbearably sad without them.
And do I give a fuck if nobody else uses “anyhoo?” Not really. It’s a word I like, for some reason…it makes me happy 🙂
Sorry to see you go!


Well, you never know if someone you are going to hang with (male or female) is a total d-bag. I’m sorry that you had to find out at Harbin. Because you are right, Harbin is a magical place (when in the right frame of mind). And even though I’m not a “hippie” (I’m quite conservative), I enjoy visiting Harbin now and then, and checking out both the locals and the visitors. The place is a trip.

Go back there at some point with someone you can trust and try it again. Hopefully, you will have a better experience with the place.

I’ll keep reading your blogs. I find you have an interesting perspective on your travels through life.


Interesting how strongly the theme of heartbreak resonates with so many people here. The last one that crushed me had me struggling so hard, and like we all say “why can’t I shake this? Get it out of me… especially when I don’t want it???”

And this quote came into my life:

“The Mind commands the Body, and it obeys.
The Mind commands itself … and meets resistance.”

I wish you the very best. Stay naked and happiness is sure to follow. :^)

Janet Reno

I was wondering what bad things would happen to you after “accidentally” killing that innocent little mouse in mexico.


HUGS to you Sarah! Stay away from “open relationship” people. Bad news, unless you are willing to participate. Personally I would not hang out w him again, the trying to stick his hands down your pants one evening and the next day talking about being a good boy, ewwwww. Go explore with your real friends or me next time I’m in Vegas!
Now I need to go to Harbin hot springs and the ones in Baja that you wrote about earlier.
Hey, Burning Man is next month. That must make you happy right?


I absolutely love reading your blog Wonderhussy, in a way I live vicariously through you, I stumbled upon your blog after Googleing Nevada hot springs, I was hooked after the first blog I read. I’m sorry your heart went through the pain it did but I feel everyone needs that sort of emotional whirlwind, learn a lesson from it and move on.
I envy your wondering life style. I’m not in the situation where I am able to roam as I want (currently writing this from my job-that controls my life) so thank you for your beautiful writing and adventures of a life so different from mine


Right on, thank you so much for the kind words…they mean a lot!! I’m about to write a new blog, all about this roadtrip I just took to the Pacific Northwest…went to some AMAZING hot springs up there; stay tuned 🙂


I felt so bad while reading this post. I wrote you over a year ago and suggested you write a book. You should, you really have a way of connecting your emotions to language. I hope you are happier.


Awe….. I have sooooo been there. It’s damned hard when that happens and no easy way to get over it (Get lost to those mean commentors here…anyhoo they don’t get it!)

This post brought back memories of me in my own 20s…just gaga over a guy who didn’t deserve me, someone I barely knew and cried my eyes out for when he screwed me over. You even know better and you can’t help it and KNOW you handed your heart over to him to tear to shreds…and you just met him!! What’s up with that!? Of course your dude had red flags written all over him and yet there was still something that you totally fell for. Something you were willing to risk big time to experience.. Not to play armchair psychologist, but I can’t help but wonder if some of the sadness about your dad was coming out during this encounter? So maybe it was cathartic grieving in a sense? He totally let you down but not before you cast your pearls before swine as they say. Good riddance to him.

My mom used to say, “Never let anyone disrespect you and if they do, off with their head.” Easier said than done of course, but now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve taken to seeing younger guys on MY terms. But dammit, that falling-in-love stuff still gets in the way sometimes. You sleep with them and you fall in love. Hate it when that happens.

Beautiful, skillful, evocative writing about a very heartfelt and painful experience. You have talent and one day you WILL make a living with your brain, your art and your heart. Aloha from Hawaii.


Thank you SO MUCH for your kind words! I do feel like it was a cathartic experience, in a way…I’m not sorry it happened, anyway — I got a good story out of it 🙂 And I am pleased to announce….I have officially 100% recovered!


That is how life is, I think–full of difficult experiences that make us stronger. Especially in our 20s. My 20s were so full of angst of my own doing, and yet I learned from each experience! “Sweet are the uses of adversity.” Carry on, and may Jack Johnson be forever a distant memory and a good example of the kind of dirtbag you will avoid in the future. Let his GF have him, he sounds like a peach. NOT!

Paula love

I’m 44 and I just got my heart broken by someone I fell in love with too quickly that didn’t deserve me. I wish I could be more careful with my heart….alas…keep writing!


“like a centrifuge trying to fling away sadness”

Brilliant and thanks for being so nakedly true and raw. You’re the real deal! I first came across your editorial in BRC weekly (2012 or 2013, I think?) and loved your fearless bold. Inspired me to be more free and breasty on my next burn, fuck the pervs. And actually, there weren’t many, just people who value freedom the same.
Had no idea you had a blog until I saw you linked from a burners.me article, from which I got sucked into your compelling Harbin read. I just blew half a morning of work, fascinated with your story, your journey. Thanks for putting it up and keeping it up and happy 100% boy recovery. I envy that. Pheromones are a bitch and the best and most ruthless drug addiction there is. I never fully recover from that rare pheromone connection that i would do anything to mainline if I could and if only the pheromone-bearer (I think I’ve met maybe two or three my entire life) were less wrong for me, as seems to be the universal curse….I blame it on magic hidden pheromones, anyway–how else? I see those ads for pheromone ointments and am tempted to shell out to try to sprinkle some on a Nice Guy, but alas, I fear it only works with the MANufacturer of said drug. Our fucking genes in action, I suspect, prime scent for prime genes to mate and run….millions of years of evolution for this chance “scent” connection or whatever it is. Powerful stuff.


it seems to me in the very short time I’ve followed you that there is 1 thing missing in your life that would be very helpful, someone (preferably male) who gives good ear. I have been the ear in several friendships with females and all have said having a male friend who isn’t trying to get in their pants is very special.


someone straight would work as well, but as long as you have that consider utilizing him to talk about things that are bottled up, you’ll see how much better you may feel.

Vlad Oberschenkel

Ah, Sarah Jane! Thank you for sharing this, sad as it is. I know you don’t want to hear this, but I do think that you’re favorite drug is the most fickle one of all. It makes the most promises, all of which it can’t keep! And then it even makes you forget that it didn’t keep it’s promise last time! Weed, done in moderation, brings clarity. Shrooms, in occasional doses, bring even more clarity! So why go with a drug that betrays you?

Oh well, I know you’ll know what to do. You’re young, you’re smart, and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. You are soooo gorgeous, and I know that’s more than skin deep! Wishing you all good things!

P.S. I like “anyhoo.”


That is one strange thing about love, you don’t have to really know or even like the person to love them.

Smart women have it hard. They want a man at least their equal, and how many men are? Of course you want a guy who can fuck. Duh. How many really can?

I like Harbin too. Have you been back?

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