The Fiji and Jasmine Bond

Fiji growled at me for the first time ever today. I am sure it feels worse to hear a child say, “I hate you,” but I felt like my child said I hate you. I was putting ointment on a wound she has from playing in the chicken coop. The wound must really hurt for her to have said such hurtful words to me. I corrected her and she got on her back to apologize. But I still feel a bit sad. Some people don’t understand the bond owners have with their dogs. They really don’t understand the bond I have with Fiji. I remember when we went through the Paw Paw Tunnel. Nothing but darkness and the sound of dripping water. It was a long walk; I was on the left side of the bike and Fiji was on the right. I shined the flashlight down to check on her. She looked into the light, eyes wide and terrified. But she kept pace with me. It’s like there’s nothing Fiji would not do as long as I was there with her. I felt proud to have her with me, and I picked up my feet a little more, so we could make it out of that tunnel, not for my sake, but for her. She didn’t growl at me when we slept next to train tracks (a train passed by every hour, shaking our tent like an earthquake), when she tore a muscle after running too long, when we rode through flood waters and her trailer was full, when we were caught in the subsequent mudslide, and I had to walk the bicycle through the mud. She kept sinking into the mud, and I walked at one mile per hour because of the weight of the bicycle and trailer, sinking into the mountain side. She didn’t protest when we entered new homes, new situations. She didn’t whimper or lose energy when we would be on the road until the wee hours of morning. I remember starting at 4am one day and not making it to our next destination until 1am the next morning. She didn’t get sick. She smiled and wagged her tail the whole day. When I took showers in strangers’ homes, Fiji would lie next to the door and growl and bark at anyone who approached it. When I went into portable potties or gas stations, Fiji would growl at anyone who approached the door or came too close to our gear. When I felt frustrated and wanted to give up, Fiji, full of energy, would pull the bike and speed us up. She’d jump up and lick me. She’d do something comical.

So excuse me if I’m a little bothered by her words. I know it happens. Dogs do that. It’s the only way they can express when something is wrong or when they don’t like something. She didn’t show her teeth, and even as I write this, she is snuggled next to me. But I still feel like I got into an argument with my best friend.


Home to Home

Today, my nerves, from brain to toes, jumbled from one location to the next. My interview with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra went super well. Of course, I thought that about the job in San Diego, but I did make some key mistakes with them. I don’t think I missed one beat with the ISO opportunity, no pun intended.  Most people don’t know this, but while in Los Angeles, I met my father, aunts and uncles and siblings, some for the first time, and others for a second (but I was way too young to remember those encounters). So, it was like the first time for me! They all turned out to be quite nice, and they accepted me into the family as if I had never been out of it. They wanted me to settle down and not take on “these crazy adventures” anymore. My paternal grandmother who is blind (I cycled for eye research, so it coincidentally hits close to home) wanted me to stay and live in Los Angeles. While LA is a vibrant place, I could not see myself there. I wanted to go back to Indianapolis, the city that stole my heart. I said goodbye to my family last week with plans to hitchhike back to Indy. Instead, I spent three remarkable, tiresome days with Emma, the cellist, in her old pickup truck, Fiji sitting on my lap for six hours at a time, while Emma and I took turns driving.   We stopped in Colorado, stayed with friends I had met on the road, and headed on to Missouri the next day to stay with my mom. We  stayed in Missouri from 4am until 11am on Sunday, and hit the road for Indy. Of course, we received a ton of calls because we were apparently driving in the path of tornadoes. We missed them, but I am so sorry about the people who didn’t. Emma received a cancellation text from someone else she was supposed to pick up. “My house was hit by a tornado. I am not sure I can go,” he said.

I arrived in Indy late Sunday evening where I am staying with a war veteran and fellow cross country cyclist. I said my adieu to Emma, and closed the door to my new bedroom and home for the next several months.

Last night, I had a wonderful dream. It was quit symbolic of what’s been happening in my life lately, and the decisions I’ve made. It started with me looking in the mirror. It was me. Usually when I have dreams, I am always someone else, a better version of me. I had a suit on, and I looked confident. I walked out of the restroom, and saw my father and uncle, two big guys, waiting to escort me somewhere. Apparently, it was a job interview at some liquor store in LA. While my relatives stood outside, I met with a very nice lady who managed the most upscale liquor store I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why, but we sat on couches in the middle of the store and interviewed while customers passed by and looked around. I put on the charm, told her about my travels and goals in life, and answered her questions. After hearing about salary, I was quite sure I could do the job, and I wanted to. At that moment of resigned resolution, my eye caught sight of a famous violinist. She was browsing the products with a few burly men following her–bodyguards??? Suddenly, I found it quite hard to focus on my interviewer, and I rudely kept looking at the violinist. In her, I saw opportunity, greater than the one in front of me. Maybe not with the highest salary, but doing something I love, being in the environment I am passionate about–that of music. As the violinist exited, I stood up. “I’m so sorry,” I said, running towards the exit. “Hey, where are you going?” My father said who stood at the front of the store. I ignored them and ran towards the pickup truck (it resembled the one I had just driven from San Diego to Indy with Emma) and stopped it before they drove off. I proceeded to tell the violinist my aspirations, and how I always wanted to be a manager or secretary of a touring violinist, getting to see the world and simultaneously learning about and being immersed in the world I adore–classical music. I was talking super fast, and she looked at me with some enthusiasm and interest. However, I woke up. I don’t know the outcome, but the dream was representative of my real life, and that outcome hasn’t been revealed as of yet.  The liquor store and my father represent the opportunities and people I left behind, and the violinist represents Indy and the ISO and every other adventure my life will dish out in the future. Going down the road less traveled…  I am so excited to make my mark in Indy, to now take on another challenge–becoming the violinist I want to be. I figure if I can pedal 14 hours a day, I can practice five hours a day. Really, after cycling across the country, facing adversity, never giving up, meeting beautiful people, I feel like I can conquer anything, at least what I’m passionate about. I’ll find out in a few days if my career in music starts or not. I’ll let y’all know.

BTW, Fiji has settled down in her new home. However, she still expects a 20 mile bicycle run each day. No slacking for me!

Random Acts of Violince, 2

Practicing string crossings in a friendly stranger’s garage. I literally pulled into the driveway of a beautiful home, sat down in the shade and asked the woman if we could be there. She was super sweet. Fiji got excited when the kids came in, so I had to stop. I’ll upload a full version of the Bach Cello Suite, No. 1 for violin as soon as I memorize and practice it.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel @Violinfanatic!

Also, be sure to donate to the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. I am 3 days away from St. Louis, MO!

Day 1 Part 3

“Hi, my name is Jasmine. I’m cycling across the country with my doggy, Fiji, and we’re looking for a place to camp out tonight. Could we stay on the church’s property?” As I handed her my flyer, she put her hand up. “You have to go next door. Go ask in the church office.” She gave directions.

“Thank you.” I was a little disappointed. You don’t know how hard it is to ask for generosity in our society. For me, my faith in people went to no man’s land a long time ago. A single parent, my mom struggled for years, without help from my father, neighbors, strangers, friends or the government. I grew up with the “every person for him or her self” mentality. The only living things you could count on were loyal, unconditional loving canines and immediate family, but I even hesitate to ask my mom for anything since she has enough on her mental and physical plate.  I learned independence at a young age.

So, when I started preparing for this journey, the most nerve-wracking part of it involved asking for donations.  Whether for Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation or myself, I put my head down and mumble, “Would you like to donate a little to our cause?” Yeah, that’ll get the wallets out the pocket.

Fiji whimpered loudly outside. I tied her up to a pole near the bike. “Hush, Fiji. Gosh,” Frustration kicked in. It had been a rough day. This was the point where one mile felt like 10 and one block felt like 20. I started rolling my bike, Fiji now in the trailer, towards the parking lot.

A woman with short brunette hair stood next to her van, staring at us. A man was standing on the other side of the vehicle, talking with her. She was so enthralled with my set up, though. She had a huge smile on her face.

“What’s going on here?” She asked.

“Oh, I’m just cycling to San Diego, CA with my dog, and we need a place to stay tonight. I’m going to ask the people in the office if I can either campout or be hosted.” Yeah, no big deal.

She turned to the man she had been speaking with, looked at the van, the ground, and then back at me. “I’ll host a cyclist!”

“Really?! Are you sure?” Oh great, way to give her an out, Jasmine.

“Yeah,  I have a meeting, but I can pick you up after.”

I thanked her a bunch. Her name is Lois Bennet.

We waited around and talked to several people, including Ryan, who donated police-grade pepper spray, and Jeff, who is an avid cyclist. Jeff cycled across America several years ago, but could not believe the weight I managed to haul so far.

Lois came about 45 minutes later.  Ryan helped us to load everything in the car. The bike stayed in the church. We drove off.

Lois' beautiful backyard.

Lois’ beautiful backyard.

It didn't take long for Fiji to get comfortable.

It didn’t take long for Fiji to get comfortable.

Lois' husband prepared a tasty, healthy dinner.

Lois’ husband prepared a tasty, healthy dinner.

That night, I also helped Lois at a food pantry held at the church. I met wonderful people who prayed for my safety on the trip, but didn’t discourage it. Many of the members in the church ride with the Freedom Riders. They’re a group of long distance cyclists who ride for a cause. Therefore, they all understood the need to get in the saddle and keep pedaling.

Food pantry

Food pantry

I will upload a video soon! It’s been hard finding the time and software to do so. I’m looking for someone to edit for me. Know anyone? Shoot me an email at

This cycling adventure has shown me a good side of people. There is so much bad, we often lose sight of the wonderful people out there willing to lend a helping hand. I hope I continue to meet great people like Lois along the way.

One Month

March 15, 2013. Today means one more month to prepare myself physically, emotionally and financially for the ride of a lifetime. You can consider these my before pictures:

Fiji waiting patiently for the picture to be taken. She's attached to the bike with a Springer America.

Fiji waiting patiently for the picture to be taken. She’s attached to the bike with a Springer America.

Fiji spots a cat as I get onto the bike and we're ready to depart for our training ride.

Fiji spots a cat as I get onto the bike and we’re ready to depart for our training ride.

Fiji pulls desperately to try and reach cat, but Springer America keeps her on my side and me on the bike. Gotta love it!!!

Fiji pulls desperately to try and reach cat, but Springer America keeps her on my side and me on the bike. Gotta love it!!!


My First Breakdown

I didn’t cry yesterday, but I sure did buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. New York Super Fudge Chunk, if you’re interested in the flavor.

The day started out well enough. On Friday, I received my Springer America bike attachment in the mail. I planned a full Saturday–riding and training Fiji with the springer. The forecast was warm with a little bit of rain.

I woke up, hopped out of bed and ran upstairs to where I had set-up my bike and Springer the night before. I opened the box and began to install it. Here’s the list of what went wrong in chronological order:

  1. I did not have instructions. Ok, easily remedied by looking it up online, right?
  2. Internet went down. Ok, this cable company sucks. You knew that all along, Jasmine.
  3. Tried to assemble myself and kept putting the attachments on in the wrong order. Ok, this is what happens when you don’t have the directions.
  4. I did not have a wrench and pride would not allow me to go ask the neighbors for one. You know, you can only borrow stuff from your neighbor so many times before it gets old.
  5. Kept unscrewing the clamp and putting it back on to find the right order. Ugh…
  6. Finally got it but it was loose because of no wrench. UGH…
  7. Hurt my fingers trying to tighten the screws. Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One hour later, the Springer was still loose, and my heart strings were even more loose. I was mad. I couldn’t figure it out. This was a really trivial situation. But, my spirits fell, and gravity seemed to clutch on.

My mom looked at me and couldn’t believe the change. “You were just so excited. What happened? Please don’t tell me it’s because of that thing,” she said.

“No, it’s not because of that. I feel like the day before April 15, 2013 when I’m supposed to set out and embark on this great adventure, the apocalypse is going to decide to grace us with his freakin’ presence!”

I walked downstairs, shoulders hunched over, questions spiraling in my mind. Will I have enough money? Will I be fit enough? Can I really take Fiji? Can I do this? It’s amazing how assembling the Springer brought about so much self-doubt.

Of course, I rebounded back to the normal cheerful and optimistic Jasmine. I am sure whilst on the road little break downs like this will come upon me. I am prepared for them. I have a tendency to not let the negative get me down for too long.

A whole bunch of great stuff happened after yesterday. Received donations, wonderful messages from friends, support from the DailyMile community and stood on the scale to discover I lost 10 pounds! Like Annie says, “Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya!”

And seeing Fiji in her new, free Web Master harness put a smile on my face.

P.S. The Springer America works wonders. I suggest using a wrench to assemble it and following instructions. Your psyche will thank you for it.


Stumbling Blocks

What did I expect? Of course a demonic downpour of popcorn size snow balls would decide to declare war on the East and Midwest portion of North America just when I resolve to start bootbamp training.  Why does chaos like to show his ugly face when you least want him to? I’m determined to not let Mr. Chaos win. I drove to the gym, and I did my first assessment for bootcamp. Thanks to a mild January with lots of outdoors cycling, my test came out great. I was able to run, perform situps and planks and so on. I could not do any pushups. lol Fiji, on the other hand, also tackled the snow with a feisty little heart.  She actually ran away for 10 minutes.  If you look closely at the picture above, you can see Fiji’s little body sprinting away. Near the mailbox. Ugh… First day of training for Fiji, FAIL!