Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Adventures 2010 - Boulder, CO

Wow. Where to begin? Where to end? Boulder greeted me in the dark of night and didn't let me go for ten days. I feel as though my heart and soul has not quite left, even though I have been home for 6 days. I cannot let the dream go. Cannot get the view of the mountains out of my head. My mind refuses to give in to the sensation of 'being home'.

So many adventures. So much laughter. Sunshine. Fresh air. Freezing creek water. Beer. Friends. Cookouts. Late night bike rides. Afternoon hikes. Wine. Fancy dinners. Tours. Wind turbines. Yoga. Dancing. Softball games. Surprises. Empty bank accounts. Group breakfasts. In-house chef. Underground bars. Pool. Jukeboxes. Tubing.

I feel as though making a list of activities would somehow lessen the impact of my memories. There are, however, a few notes that I would like to make.
1. Hot Yoga is by far my favorite physical workout.

2. Old friends mixed with new friends = epic fun.
3. Riding a skateboard while holding on to a bike might sound dangerous but is in fact quite easy - especially at 11pm in the cyclist lane.

4. Zucchini themed cookouts with are a fantastic mix of creative people and dishes. Especially when an old school boom box is rockin' some Led Zeppelin.

5. 50 degree water from the mountains is not so bad when it is 95 degrees outside.
6. Don't wear expensive sunglasses when tubing. You will lose them promptly. Luckily mine were only $2.

7. Invest in a camel pack for even a day hike. Red rocks and dry heat are not a nice combination. But the view is spectacular.

8. There are a lot of free things to do in CO, including Coors tour, wine tastings, the farmers market, hanging by the creek, and late night drum circles.

9. There is snow on the mountains in July.
10. There are more small farmers market grocery stores than regular ones - and they are significantly cheaper than Whole Foods or Earth Fare.

I loved Boulder so much that I extended my trip from Thursday to Sunday. I just had to scrape together the moolah to pay the ticket change fee. Other than that I was free to simply make my own decisions. Thanks to my generous friends I was able to eat and have a roof over my head. Thanks, Michelle =)

Refreshing. Uplifting. Soul-cleansing. All words that help describe how I felt while in the presence of the mountains. Being around people that share my mindset on health, food, life style, humor, and attitude. Bikes everywhere. Canvas grocery bags. Recycle bins. Easygoing laughter. Excellent beer. It was so comfortable - like I was already home. New friends and faces greeted me at a cookout and remained in my circle of companions for the rest of the week. It was like being in Boone but with more variety and a better view.
Michelle and I ventured out dancing a few times. Some venues were hits, some were misses. It was good to dance in a new scene, although it was hard to find a fun dance through all the people being cliques. Oh well...

As the last stop on my summer travels Boulder proved to be the most invigorating. I felt as though I was truly on vacation. My hosts were very generous, I spend a lot of time outside, did a few tourist attractions, and got to know some locals.
Labor day weekend is but four weeks away. My plane ticket is all but purchased. A two night, two day canoe trip is planned. Camping, marshmallows, stars, hiking, swimming, and adventure. Hello, Colorado, you are my new destination for life and laughter.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Attachment and Suffering

"If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you cant hold onto it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change, free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality."

"Socrates, you can really be depressing, you know that? If life is nothing but suffering, then why bother at all?"

"Life is not suffering; it's just that you will suffer it, rather than enjoy it, until you let go of your mind's attachments and just go for the ride"
~Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Unpacking books that have been tucked away for over a year now, I ran across a text that has helped me refocus more than once. I opened it and began some serious meditation last night. Life with a sense of calmness and not urgency. Living with a peace and not strife. Breathe.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Adventures 2010 - Seattle

Another push pin on my map of new places, Seattle proved to be a destination worth noting. I stayed with Mike and Melanie on Capitol Hill, aka, hipster village. Surrounded by brick buildings, bikes, and coffee of epic delightfulness, I felt at home right away.

So much happened in six days that I will recount in typical list format to clarify my thoughts. My overall response to the city was that of 'comfort'. It was beautiful, clean, easy to navigate, and full of diversity. I spent a great deal of time alone, wandering around, or exploring with my handy iPhizzle maps.

1. Dancing at the ballroom was good times. We went, twice? Yes, only twice. I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone was. I only sat out the first song and then could barely sit down for all the asking. Ranging from professional to excited first timer, it was nice to smile at new faces and discover new movement to a familiar dance. The music was comparable to home. With all the hype I expected to be blown away, but instead reassured that the DJ's are about on par.
I went to Tuesday night practice with the few people that remained in town. Working on a bit of my own choreo, I was inspired by the creativity that was in the room. How refreshing.

2. Exploring downtown consisted of maps, headphones, and Minus the Bear radio. I ventured to the space needle, and wandered around the park to see the other tourists looking quite parched and over exerted. Pike Street Market was full of flashing cameras and flying fish. About 10 minutes of such a spectacle and I was off down the crowded corridor to encounter more sights and smells to overwhelm the senses.

3. Live music. Mike had a gig with a gyspy jazz band on my last night in town. So we packed up his gear and took the bus down to 1st street. A tiny French Cafe crammed in a row of tables and one booth. Standing room only at the bar, and a corner for the band. During the first set I wandered down to the docks, navigating the steep hill and tiny alleys. Although it wasn't quite the ocean, it still boasted a beautiful sunset over the water. The boats were going to and fro, wind whipping my hair, and couples strolled hand-in-hand, reminding me of a vague unmemorable cliche.
Upon returning to the cafe I found dinner in the form of a cherry sausage sandwich complete with horseradish, and a glass of red wine. The music floated over the busy patrons, infiltrating the air with melodies from decades past. Mike rocked out on rhythm guitar, fitting in with the bass, violin, and lead guitar that completed the group. I took up conversation with the people I was sqeezed between on the long bench. It was delightfully un-american to be so close to strangers in a public venue. Elbow room? Not in your dreams. We all shared menu preferences, and a basket of fries.

4. Nuage the Ninchilla. Cutest freaking pet ever. Period. The resident pet practically ran the place with his adorableness. While depositing an impressive number of droppings, he still earned a place in my heart as newest furry creature of choice. He didn't make much noise, could climb and jump like a true mountain bad ass, and enjoyed being held. My favorite moment was when Melanie and I came home to Nuage chilling on Mike's stomach as he practiced his intervals on his iPad. If there were ever a musical chinchilla, it would be Nuage.

5. Cake-eoke. Not entirely certain how this was any different from regular karaoke, but apparently it was. I rocked out some Janis Joplin and Joan Jett. Joshua had other ideas. Elton John, and another song were his choices. It was a good time supplemented by Moose Drool Beer. Yes, true story.

6. Independent streak. I have always had one, but decided to personify it as a blonde section in my hair. Melanie took my idea and did a more kick ass job than I could ever have imagined. I am still enjoying it...think it will be around for awhile.

7. I was able to catch lunch with an old friend from college, Carrie Causey. She and her her husband were in a few classes with me at Berea, and although they were two years ahead, were always nice to my very unique, punk self. They recently moved to Seattle with their daughter, Abigail. It was great to catch up and see my friends thriving and doing what they love, where they love. Memories were shared, stories told, and I made friends with the 3 year old with a glass of ice. I love kids.

8. Speaking of kids I 'adopted' a child while in Seattle. Walking up to meet M&M for a movie I was stopped on the street by a Children's International rep. Armed with a clipboard, beard, and smile, he talked to me for a few minutes. This is something I have always wanted to do (I mean, come on, I was about to go into the Peace Corps) but this moment seemed like the perfect time. I mean, I could have walked away, really, but this was just a surreal day full of spontaneous experiences that I couldn't ignore. In a matter of minutes I signed up to sponsor a girl in the Philippines for $22 a month. I spent the next day feeling quite strange and questioning my decision. Now that I am home and have her picture on my fridge, and her story in my hands I am excited. She is 7 years old, her name is Abbie, and she has two parents and an older brother. I cannot wait to receive her first letter and write back. While not ready for child of my own, I am ready to live a life thinking outside of myself.

Overall Seattle was a nice respite. I did a lot of thinking, journaling, and time alone. The dancing was high quality, the hosting exceptional, and I made a few new friends. Upon leaving I put it at the top of my list of new home choices. We will see...

In-between Adventures - LV --> Seattle

"Is it possible to put this night to tune
And move it to you?"

Sometimes the best part of life is the journey and not just the destinations. We tend to remember in groups of collected events. But what happened between those moments? What occurred during the simple seconds? What did the drive look like? How did the wind feel during your stroll down the sidewalk? How comfortable, or uncomfortable, were the chairs in the airport? Patient enjoyment of the in-between moments make travel so much richer. So much more worthwhile.

The Vegas airport held a grandmother and her 7 year old grandson waiting to go to LA for a continuation of their own summer adventure. I attracted their friendship by plugging in the iPad and using it for a couple minutes. I demonstrated a few apps and then ended up sitting with them for the remainder of our wait. He attends a Montessori school in Dallas and travels the world with his grandma every summer. She, well, travels and is an artist of sorts. She was home schooled and so was her daughter/his mother. When I raised an eyebrow she said "well we were living in Brazil at the time and didn't have much of an option" Fair enough. My nomadic childhood did not provide for many options either, so I understood her more than she might have thought.
The three of sat together, watching a movie on his tiny DVD player, and conversing about education and travel. A very sharp 7 year old is a hilarious conversation. He was so earnest. I suppose I was looking forward to solitude, but this was a refreshing and eye-opening alternative.

On the plane a mother with a young son was concerned that they were seated separately, so I gave her my seat and moved one row forward. Causing aisle traffic and a lot of unnecessary movement, I felt as though her discomfort would affect the flight more than me giving up my window seat.
As fate would dictate I ended up with a great seat buddy. An entrepreneur from Shanghai living in Seattle and the father of two Ivy League daughters, the gentleman proved to be a fantastic conversationalist. We discussed the raising of children, public school, and the demise of the economy. So many people recognize the lack of quality in our schools, the missing component of applied learning, and the over-emphasis on higher education in lieu of a trade that strengthens the foundation of the economy. So why the hell has nothing changed? Why are 'non-academic classes' looked down on? Why are trade high schools and colleges not as respected? We talked about our frustrations with the lack of structure and direction at an early age in American schools. However, I did learn that our graduate schools are the best in the world in terms of creativity and accomplishments. The challenge we face as a nation is to close the gap between the very low performing and very high performing. Needless to say it was a long conversation. I also got some world travel tips. My resolve to get out of the country for a summer is getting even stronger.

I found my window seat at the back of the next flight. We were delayed a few minutes due to Biden arriving at LAX and taking his sweet time getting on his plane to depart. Within 24 hours I was in next door proximity to the Pres and Vice Pres. Snazzy.

Arriving in Seattle was easy. I was finally feeling the butterflies of excitement when I got on the light rail - or maybe it was caffeine jitters - either way it was finally sinking in that I was really here.

Don't underestimate the in between. Love the silence and the noise. Be aware. Be conscious. Wonder. Question. Accept.

I am here to dance. To meet people. To live outside the box. See new sights and soak in a city a world away from home. Another push pin on my map of "Been There. Done That. Loved It."

Oh, and Seattle has the best damn coffee. Period.

Summer Adventures 2010 - Vegas!

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Sure...
Well this was a fairly laid back trip, punctuated by moments only found in Sin City. I don't know if I am in love though. I have no desire to gamble, and there are only so many people I can take before wanting quiet solitude. It was impressive, overwhelming, and very shiny.

1. Staying at the Palms was a great choice. Quieter than the strip. A bit more upscale and 'MTV generation' crowd. Almost no families - which means no screaming kids. Complete with multiple night clubs, movie theater, restaurants, and casino we didn't need to leave except for a show. The pool was swanky, with lots of eye candy, cabanas, and chilly water. Mmmmm... I spent too much time on Wed and got nice and crispy.

2. Lance Burton. Going from having never seen a live magic show (not counting Jonathan) to seeing Magician of the Year (11 years in a row) was a leap of quality. Everything from doves, scarves, fire, ladies, swords, disappearing, appearing, levitation, and skeletons. My favorite were the ducks. Especially when they started waddling around the stage in a line. Eeeee!!! I almost jumped out of my seat with childlike glee. As a person privy to a few secrets of magic due to a certain friend (ahem) I was still very entertained. Apparently he is retiring in September, so I am happy I got to see him live at least once =)

3. Cirque du Soleil - 'O'. I was told to see this particular show by a variety of people and i am glad i listened. What a display of visual and kinetic art. Because the 'floor' was a huge tank of water with moving platforms the depth of the performances were increased tenfold. Literally and visually. In dance you can only get so low - but with the freedom of the water the performers could simply disappear. With a splash or smooth slice, their instant removal from the stage freed up the choreography to move quickly. The audience's attention could be redirected with ease. I enjoyed the multicultural aspect; there were pieces with distinct themes from different parts of the world. I loved the diving piece with the three 'swings'. My biggest reaction was to the fire jugglers though. Using a warm element and a wet element at the same time was visually jarring. There were people dancing and splashing in the water while fire was being passed around in a most impressive and seemingly dangerous manner. Also, the tension created by a man being set on fire and simply walking off stage instead of jumping in the water - or being doused - was interesting.
Water evokes a sense of cold or coolness due to color and texture. Adding metal shapes in which the gymnasts were performing on added to the feeling of danger. We all know water is slippery. What a bold element to add to a show full of already the hight of technical dance and acrobatic ability. Summary? Loved it. See it if you can. Clowns can be hilarious and not scary.

4. To waste time on Thursday afternoon we went to the theater in the Palms and saw Twilight. Yes, you can laugh. I consider myself to be much deeper than those movies - and I did laugh at times that were not suppers to be funny - but they are entertaining and appeal to the hopeless romantic deep inside. However, the books are much more revealing of each character. I am not a fan of the actors to say the least. Oh yeah, and I am totally Team Jacob. Helloooo??? Sense of humor, fit, and expressive. Edward (as depicted on screen) needs to develop a personality. There is only so much strong sullen silence that can go on before I want to shake him.

5. Did a lot of walking around and gawking at the lights, people, and buildings. Damn, everything here is enormous. Shopping, streets, hotels, and boobs.

6. Playboy Club!!! Although Wednesday was a slow night we headed up to the fifty-something floor to the Bunny suite. It was very classy and 60s-esque. The dealers were dressed like bunnies, and so were the waitresses. I tried to get a pic with two girls but it was so dark that it didn't really show up. Boo iPhone! Either way we enjoyed the view, I had a couple drinks, and we watched the few people that were there with great amusement. Yeah, it was baller. Straight baller. I just wish I could have been able to grab one of the bunny tails...they were just so...inviting...and fluffy...

My last day here has been spent alone due to a flight booking mixup. Yes, silly me. However it is nice to get some solitude. I have been with people nonstop for the past couple weeks and am looking towards a new place for 6 days of new people. Yoga, pool, and some Starbucks (meh) have gotten me through the day. My flight leaves tonight for Seattle. I am ready to get out of Vegas and onto a place with less extravagant prices, clothing, tans, and noise. Adventure. Freedom. New city. Here I come.

Summer Adventures 2010 - Austin, TX

A new city to add to my list. Guessing from my travels as a child I have probably Been to Texas before - but not long enough to remember or think much of it. I think I will go back soon...

1. Dancing at the East Side Showroom was a highlight. Our first night and best night of lindy hop. The band was ridiculous hilarious, and energizing. I wish we had more weekly music in the ATL - or at least more hot jazz in general. Snagged a bunch of great dances and got to meet the local crowd.

2. Rent party/Jam session. I admit that i was hesitant to go to a party that was not for dancers and was going to be all jamming and beer drinking. Luckily I was totally wrong. The musicians were awesome and the variety of faces made it quite comfortable. Terrace picked up the jug and joined the band quite readily. After a few beers and words of encouragement i joined LG on vocals if i knew the song. A dance and conversation on the porch made it an evening that made me want to move to Austin. Not that i am going to any time soon - but it is an option.

3. Blacks BBQ!! I am not a big BBQ person but the 45 min drive and 20 min wait was worth it. I am a believer.

4. Game night and Karaoke. Once again we had a social evening with the local 'crew'. I think this is the first time I a long while that i actually enjoyed playing games. And what can be bad about 2am Karaoke?? Nothing.

Those were the high points. So much happened and it was all quite delightful. Ours hosts were fantastic - thanks Bp & J =) Despite the antics and allergies of Wingy I loved seeing them. I am going to make a concerted effort to visit sooner than later. Next time maybe with a car and more time to explore and visit other Texans.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


  • This is an old journal entry written on my flight home from Massachusetts. It is a reflection on gratefulness, and an interesting conversation I had with my Aunt.

    When you want to grumble about the woes of your finely picked life, the carefully sorted minutes that make you so safe and comfortable, realize that someone, somewhere is praying for rain.
    The elegant vanilla sky viewed from above does not speak of the disastrous storm below. Instead, an unexpected range of delicately spun water droplets. So easily sliced through. So dangerous to mere mortals beneath their cover. Effortless beauty.
    As with most things such as flavor or sock height, life boils down to perspective - or preference. Your reality of normal is just that, yours. Granted, it has probably been uneloquently placed upon your psyche with such a vengeance that you realize nothing else as acceptable.
    There is freedom in change. Freedom in finding a new viewpoint. So why do we stay in our comfortable little shells of reality? Exactly. It is comfortable, and we are creatures of comfort. We dare not to stop coloring our hair for fear of the discomfort it will cause those around us, and how that will reflect upon ourselves. How selfish. I suppose so. In other ways it keeps us connected. Emotionally dependent as a society. By caring about them we care about ourselves. So are we truly caring about others for the sake of them? No, it is a selfish care in which we seek the reflection of anthers friendship to fortify our ego.

    Not that coloring ones hair is the downfall of mankind. Rather, a manifestation of our endless vanity; the conflict of our self-seeking nature and communal dependency.

    So, create your own reality. Be in your world. Be a part of it. Serve your fellow humankind. Do not be enslaved by such petty realities. Be yourself in all your amazing and unbelievably honest unique self.