Friday, September 12, 2014

On Seattle

Seattle is a very peculiar place because it has the ethereal airiness of somewhere close to the sea that I love, in tandem with this... underbelly of sordid weightiness that I love *less* but find to be a  necessary quality in almost all fascinating places.

It would be an epic city to see in dystopian ruins hundreds of years from now because of how aggressive the nature surrounding it appears to be. It would just be... completely consumed! When I buy a house, this is the aesthetic I want to attempt: post-human Seattle. Seattle ruled by small furry mammals. Hedgehogs can be an exclusion to the 'furry' guideline, as long as they are friendly. I recently invested in a necklace that is a little bottle full of porcupine spines. Is this vegetarian? I have no idea. Don't tell them.

It's amazing how reinvigorating it can be to go somewhere new. Especially somewhere as magical-feeling as the giant forests in the Pacific Northwest... I wish I had been able to spend more time camping/canoeing/hiking/in the wilderness than I did this time around. Someday. It is so beautiful and honest to feel so small and yet so brimming with possibility.

[Also, the coffee was stellar.]

I love having time for art! I miss normal academic classes, but that's why I'm getting certified as an emergency responder through Arlington's CERT program, which is funded by FEMA. Work as Officer Christina and learnings and art. I'll go back to language study in the later winter and early spring. Now is writing and reading and cooking weird vegetables like avocado squash. And exploring America! In October I am going to Amelia Island in Florida, and later that month I want to find somewhere neat to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. In December I plan on making it to South America... where precisely, I am not entirely certain? 

Nature is strange and hilarious. It is my favorite thing, and place, and person, and time.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer 2014: UPDATE

Usually, this is the time of year in which I am finalizing my summertime-epic-adventure-plan. Reading sordid tales of debauchery on Hostelworld... regarding my places of residence for the next several months. Repairing my backpack. Preordering the necessary flag patches. Booby-trapping my many travel wallets. Relating on more than a vague nostalgic level to the writings of Paul Theroux.

Not this year! For the first time in almost a decade, I will be spending a summer predominately in sunny Washington, DC. Sweating. With the politicians. And my cat.

I keep on getting the usual question:

"Where are you going this summer?"

And my answer:

"McLean (work.) Clarendon (home, many activities.) Rinse and repeat."

Sometimes Georgetown (campus,) sometimes Vienna (other activities.) I feel fantastically weird about it, of course. But May was a wildly transient life period in terms of finishing my masters, beginning the shift to a different position at the office, searching for meaning in non-academia-centric existence, and a number of other Big Things--and so it just didn't seem like the right time to up and voyage to South America/Southeast Asia/etc. for three months... like it usually does. For my personal life, or my continuity of paycheck. (Let's be real, mostly the second one.)

And thus, here I am. Tentative long weekend trips to Nashville, Seattle, Portland, and Disneyworld--essentially another country, arguably all countries--on the docket. Getting to know good old America.  Celebrating the 4th of July here... I don't even remember how people do that anymore. Something about fire. Very strange. I do intend on doing a trip abroad later this year; I've applied to multi-week photography workshops/residencies in Cambodia and Bangladesh, and I'll probably throw another few applications in for good measure. But right now, there is very little travel to recount. This will force me to take better pictures of America. To find stories in America.

If this sassy broad I captured in Southern Virginia some years ago (more from this series here) is any indication of the opportunities that await me here, in the United States...  well, I am ready. I was born ready. 

(And in the United States. Convenient!)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Costa Rica is pretty

I find meditation to be almost impossible. I suppose I get a certain version of it through yoga, but when I try to do non-moving meditation... I'm in a hundred places at once in seconds. This makes the "Mind Fitness" course I am doing through my program at Georgetown surprisingly difficult. The next time I am in a yoga retreat style environment, like I was in Costa Rica, I really look forward to being able to fully immerse myself... both because of my wrist surgery, and presumably because I will have achieved a new level of zen.

My cat has mellowed out considerably. This blurb-y section is not about my trip. I suppose I could try. I am glad that she has mellowed out considerably because this means that I can... smuggle her onto flights... and through customs? Because she can come to the beach with me on a leash? Because she can catch us food on the rough streets of Hanoi? No, none of that seems quite right.

I don't know why I like traveling so much. It's expensive, and often lonely, and I usually under-pack so by Day 5 it's game over on any plausible chance of my smelling like a clean and presentable human.

Maybe I'm searching for answers where there are no answers.  e.e. cummings said:

'always the beautiful answer that asks a more beautiful question.'

e.e. cummings is always right, too. I know this because of how large the spaces between meanings are in his writing. You can fit two worlds in there! One for your language, and another for the amorphous and incomprehensible mutterings of everyone else.

[I assume that is where the wisdom is. That is why I am learning all of the languages.]

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Last full day in Costa Rica

This is the view from our cabin. The spiral is for meditation (and sungazing... but I'm not really sold on that practice just yet.) The other day we hiked way down into the valley--far past the last tin roof that is visible in the image. It was to a place called 'Big Rock'... as photos after I get home on Monday night will display, the rock is seriously big. But with fantastically tiny frogs surrounding it! The mind boggles.

It is overcast in Costa Rica for the first time in almost ten days. Tomorrow morning, Julian and I begin the arduous trek back to San Jose from the mountains near the Pacific Coast--a formidable drive of 4-5 hours (but the taxi driver will be doing most of the work.) It is odd to think of leaving here after having adapted so much to a different lifestyle: yoga every morning from 7-9 (with a number of bizarre alterations to the Ashtanga primary series thanks to my similarly weird wrist injury), only raw food, hiking every day, water everywhere, enormous spiders, bed at eight. But... so it goes! Back to 'civilization' tomorrow, and the office on Tuesday morning.

I'm hoping to carry some things back with me. More raw fruits and vegetables in my life (perhaps investing in a Vitamix?), yoga in the morning (though I get my surgery next week, so that might be a bit short-lived in terms of developing a habit right now), and the importance of having puppies wandering around always. Also getting outside more often. Graduating in May might help with that--right now, classes and work get a bit in the way. Practicing speaking Spanish more... I really enjoy Spanish. What beautiful sounds. But finding a balance between activities and places and passions can be a real challenge.

Dominical Beach and the surrounding town were full of air and light and little kids running around. We got the most amazing banana mango smoothies I have ever had. The secret ingredient to everything appears to be A) Cinnamon or B) Garlic (but rarely combined.) (In this case, it was the first one.) (Thank god.) The coast line looks like something out of Jurassic Park... probably because *I think* that it was filmed here. If only DC had a solid beach. Just one!

The people here have such interesting stories... I could talk to them all day (and often do.) I need to do a better job of seeking out people with narratives this diverse at home. Maybe I'll post my new year's resolutions here. Maybe I should be better about having daily resolutions.

Frogs and birds and kittens and wind and toucans. Arlington is going to feel so quiet.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

the generation of disenchantment

In the 1980s, Costa Rica abandoned realism.

This is in the words of Wikipedia; I was not born yet.

The farm in which I am staying is a part of this movement. Abandoning the real. It is at the end of a very long, winding road that requires finesse with four wheel drive and manual transmission that I cannot imagine. Our cabin is on the top of the mountain. Top. There are sloths, toucans (en masse), tiny frogs that fit on your fingernails. There are large fluffy dogs that almost make me wish that there were snow (so that they could pull me along in a sleigh to the beach.)

All of the food is raw vegan... and amazing. You can pick all of your fruit off of the fruit trees, and use holy basil as insect repellant, and if you want to swim in a waterfall--you have at least 5 options (though all of them require some pretty serious hiking. Which is okay by me.) When I want to peel an avocado and eat it whole with sea salt on it, I do it, because there are at least ten other avocados (it's all-inclusive room and board for both of us for $75 a night,) and nothing bad ever happened by eating an avocado. I do yoga at 7 am in a "yoga pagoda," on which thousands of leaf-cutter ants also do yoga, because they are made of steel and their meditation involves lifting foliage six times their size.

Spanish is mostly useless in the hippie mountains. Fortunately, I had a two hour cab drive during which to practice when Julian and I traveled here from Quepos--and the driver told me all kinds of interesting things about the area and palm trees and caracaras. Quepos was neat, mostly because we were able to stand on the roof of the hostel and see fireworks in literally all directions (the closest of which were only 50 yards away... and enormous, and hot.) Manuel Antonio National Park had monkeys and raccoons with nefarious intentions, stunning beaches with the warmest water I have ever felt in not-a-jacuzzi, and an interesting accompanying beach town. Our shuttle from San Jose to Quepos was laden with strange and informative conversation. The Marriott near San Jose was... a Marriott. Really really really pretty (it used to be a coffee plantation) and relaxing, but that's about it. Free chocolate chip cookies! Wishing I had smuggled some here a little bit... but that's the old me. New me is strangely tempted to move to a tropical location and build an orchard/teepee/greenhouse.

For some reason, I can't email myself photos from my phone right now... and I forgot my photo transfer camera stuff. So! Imagine a number of fascinating tropical creatures here!