A note: So I'm taking this travel writing seminar, and writing a lot of freestyle stuff. None of it is plotted out, really. This is one piece - a draft, to be sure - that I'll probably put in my final portfolio. Any thoughts are super welcome. Also, any suggestions for titles?


I couldn’t believe she went to Evergreen State College. “You’re kidding”, I blurted, leaning forward, tan fingers grasping the bottle, eyes wide. She knew the streets, the bakery with baskets full of the best salt bagels to be found, the statue in the park. She knew these things, and thus she knew a bit of my conscious and memory that felt so removed from the present. If only I could remember her goddamn name. I knew it started with an “S”…or was it an “M”? Suddenly I wasn’t sure. I shook my head, thinking it would somehow clear the thought but instead it just made me feel I was swimming in a dense cloud, dizzy. The effects of wine don’t change when you’re on vacation, apparently.

Florence is a city of lights. The stars and the paintings and the plazas in my mind, all solitary, flushed and beautiful. Her name, what was it? I giggled nonsensically. It all seemed so crazy: halfway around the world, sharing an impromptu bottle of wine with perfect strangers, bonding over salt bagels. Who lives that sort of life, really?

Salt bagels brought me back to reality. They were familiarity, they were home. They were solid, tangible – her face, though, her face was blurry. Blurry yes but smoky eyes, I remember those. And she wrote in a notebook, scribbles and musings in smeared midnight ink. It was purple – or black? – and it reminded me that the sunflower-covered journal in my tent was comparably denied such lavish attention.

We began that night, Javi and I, with full intent to retire early. A pizza, a drink, and a bed. A cot, to be more precise – we slept on a cot in a tent. Traveling cheaply meant hostels outside the city center; in this case, we were perched high above the center of Florence. Tents here were occupied by a mini-society of students, wanderers and a disproportionate number of hippies. Yoga circles and the like. Wiry tree branches and iced cappucinos, and always the sun beating down. Florence simmered.

We carried books to the bar with us – he reading Angels and Demons, I reading Angeles y Demonios. A twist of irony, I suppose, considering he was the Spaniard and I the American. Pizza came, thin and baked with tomato and garlic. Basil, I think. The cold drink pressed to my forehead (pause), my cheeks (pause), my chest (pause) and then to his (repeat). “Ah”, understood in both languages. Smiling at each other, cheers it was. An early night it would be, in preparation for an early morning involving trains and planes and who knows what else.

Happy hour at the bar attracted other hostellers, equally impressed with the sight of the sinking sun, the cathedral dome and – lest it be forgotten –bottles of wine selling for four euros apiece. The tables were long affairs with benches, a callback to primary school. Dark wooden, stained here and there with coffee rings and rebellious bits of marinara sauce.

Our drinks were finished, but the sunset was not. Perhaps a bottle of wine, and then it was decided. Wine at sunset, absorbing rays and words and his hand on my knee. Why not? Glancing around, we noticed her. She was alone, and she looked nice –that’s really all the thought that went into it. A wave, and thus here we were, inviting this girl – Sarah? Melissa? – to share a bottle and pass the time. Wandering infuses the need to bond, I think. There’s some commonality in it all: the cobblestone streets are hard on all our feet; the accent makes us feel perhaps a bit isolated in all the excitement. The flurry that night – the jokes he cracked, her eyes, my smile.

Bottles on the table multiplied, and so did the people. We spoke of salt bagels and statues in parks, her and I. Portuguese words on my right, spoken slowly. I don’t remember her name either. Something Portuguese, anyway. She was chubby, with hair down to her lower back and bangs cut stiffly across her forehead. Auburn, I think. We spoke in something between Portuguese and Spanish, mingled with bits of English when the other languages failed us. I remember the husky tone of her voice, deep and it seemed so bold. She drank something mixed with raspberry flavored syrup, some mixed affair, vodka flirting with ice cubes.

Someone from California approached me; a photographer, now I recall it. Yes, that’s how it went. He was tall, sandy hair streaked with bits of copper here and there; a caramel latte sort of hair. I came to compare so much to coffee during my year abroad – dreams of almond syrup and steamed soymilk; my Seattleite roots transparent, naked. His eyes were puffy, tired, the color of fir trees. He was board shorts and Budweiser. Brian? His photos would make him famous one day, he had a plan, he was sure of it. The beer he drank was amber colored and thick, the froth stuck to his lips. Serena – or was it Melanie? thought he was a joke, all made-up in Abercrombie t-shirts cut too small. I thought it to be so typical of an Evergreen student to say this. Our home, our upbringing; I knew this thought process. Salt bagels, my god! I couldn’t fathom that we shared a hometown and a bakery down the street, her and I. Shannon?

Looking upwards, the open air was coated in stars, blurring though they were. It smelled of jasmine and orange, contrasting with our breath, all red wine and memories of recently-consumed garlicky pizza. The wine came in drops and blurbs, half-finished phrases in syncopated rhythm. Yes, that’s how it was. There was a fullness to that night; a sense of perpetually falling forward. The rush of her purple journal, his slew of photographs, her raspberry concoction, his hand on my knee, I remember. Sleep seemed a forgotten jacket – easily misplaced, and after all, is it really that important? Suck it up, we’ll survive. Only live once, right?

The book at my side had bent corners, folded down. His shorts, bright orange with vanilla lining covered its backbone so that the cover read “geles and Demonios”. Leaning over, he whispered something in Spanish and I understood why: so nobody else would know. Pronto, si, vayamos dentro de poco. We’ll leave soon, of course. One more, and then to the end of this swirling world. Our glasses refilled, clinking echoes - he and I and she and this California boy and Portuguese girl. A bonding.

The city of Florence and its hovering dreams below us. The stars and the moon and those smoky eyes, but it’s blurry.

Drifting my gaze towards the Cathedral dome, round like the moon like the bottom of my glass. Empty. The world shifted, swaying – the lyrics he murmured “Sway with me, sway with me”. A flower in the breeze, bending, something like that. Samantha – Marissa? Urged me to write a message in her journal. Dark ink, I nodded. Dark sky, my eyes squinted. The wine on my lips, staining them dark. Yes, that’s it: it was dark by this time.

(no subject)

Well goodness..it's been a while.

I've begun entries here and there, sporadic bits and pieces, but the mouse never manages to click the 'submit' button until the moment passes. I shrug, sometimes literally, sometimes mentally, and return to whatever it was I was doing. That's sort of how I've been with life in general, lately. I didn't mean to make this metaphorical.

What I mean to say is that I've felt really scattered lately. Not lately so much in the immediate sense, but more as an overall trend for the past many months. It's definitely getting better -- it's less of a melancholic scattered sensation (which it was for much of Christmas break and around that time), it's more of a hyperactive scattered sensation.

I like to think it's because so many huge, ridiculously uncertainties are about to come raining down on me. I don't have clear post-graduate plans. I change my mind about law school roughly 4x a day. I went to see "Tommy" last night, and got down on myself (again) for not majoring in something more creative. I go to my travel writing seminar (which is pure bliss), and I plot out ways to pursue a career in journalism.

I had an interview arranged a few weeks ago for a position in Germany, working at a resort in the Alps. It was a 13th month contract. The night before, I changed my mind about the whole ordeal, and cancelled the interview. A month ago, I was 100% convinced I would try out TEFL. Then visa concerns came up, along with other concerns (perhaps 'factors' is a better word), and now I'm not sure about that.

Everything is up in the air.

This is bad news for someone who is...let's face it, kind of obsessed with having a next step planned out. This isn't to say that I'm not spontaneous -- I definitely, definitely can be - but when it comes to things like deciding where I'm living/what I"m doing/how I'm going to pay bills...there has to be some sort of Plan. There is no Plan.

I might post some of the writing I've been doing in this seminar. Not sure. It's all free write stuff, nothing plotted out..just pen to paper, and off we go.

As a sidenote, I have no idea who (if anyone) I'm writing to. So, if you happen to read this, will you let me know? It may motivate me to post more often.

Also, I just rearranged my closet big time. I'm wearing a slip and robe from the 1940's, my hair is all poofed (when left to its own devices, it definitely is far from straight) and I'm feeling rather like I should be sipping a Manhattan or something equally glamourous.



Balls, papers and elves!

I'm definitely not doing well on the updating thing. Up until a week ago, most of my time was spent either at work, studying, in class or sleeping. Not exactly the image of fun. I did go to a ball on December 10 - yes, a ball. (To quote my friend Shane, "they still have those..?") It was tight - there was a group of 8 of us. My date and I drove up with another pair to the Quinalt Lodge, where the event was held. It's this very wooden, solid lodge in the rainforest (near Kalaloch) on the Washington Coast, about 35 minutes from Ocean Shores. Gorgeous. The lodge features huge staircases, a piano (!), a massive fireplace, amazing hot-buttered rum, and a massive porch and lawn that leads right onto Quinalt Lake. It feels secluded and serene - no other way to describe it. In the morning, the ground is frosty and the lake seems to let off steam. Bunnies run around on the lawn. :)
We arrived by late Saturday afternoon, and Laura (my old roomie, and current lovermuffin) got ready for the ball together. It all felt very prom-esque, which I suppose is appropriate considering I was wearing my prom dress from senior year highschool. It's a bronze-copper color, shimmery, with a halter tie, low back, deep v-neck and (Caitlin will understand this reference) a "really really poofy" skirt. Laura was wearing a burgundy-cinnamon dress of loveliness. Met up with everyone in the dining room, where we had full access to a buffet: salmon, salads, chicken pasta alfredo, etc etc...drank some wine, yadda yadda.
The ball itself was pretty small - couldn't have been more than 2 dozen guests. The DJ was legit; my date and I requested swing music and frolicked about to that. We've been taking lindy hop classes (which is a style similar to swing) since September, and also took classes throughout most of sophomore year, before I went off to Spain and such. Laura and I rocked it out to "Lady Marmalade", I requested some sappy songs to bust out some ballroom moves, and in the end, my date and I were voted King and Queen. This entitled us to free strawberry daquiris and a sweet tiara. My date gave a speech (upon request, that is) and we danced about to Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing". The rest of the night consisted of almond champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Balls need to happen more often - there's nothing like a big dose of dancing, poofy dresses and wine to raise one's spirits.

As we were driving back to Seattle the next day, we stopped in Olympia to have dinner at my parent's house. I had called my mom just to let her know I'd be swinging by to pick up a box of stuff I had left there, but she suggested we stick around to eat. My family typically eats dinner around 8 or 9 pm - by the time we arrived it couldn't have been much past 5 pm, so in my mind I wasd picturing making a few peanut butter sandwiches or something. Wrong. David Buckland - a family friend who we've been close to for about 15 years, had driven down from his houseboat in Seattle. After hosting a dinner party the night before, he had tons of leftover food. So..he called up my parents, told them to get some more food together, and by the time we arrived there was baked chicken, grilled shrimp, grilled flank steak, a very Spanish-influenced rice with chorizo and saffron, asparagus, yadda...more wine. :) We left for Seattle an hour or 2 later, completely stuffed on good food and better conversation.

So - got back Sunday night, and jumped right into a silly final paper. On Monday, I turned in a final paper for Spanish - loosely speaking, it was about justice and the legal system in the movies "Traffic" and "The Border". Tuesday, I had an in-class Nutrition final. Wednesday, I had a research paper for my Human Rights in Latin America class - wrote about the ineffective practices of the Mexican government (and international human rights community) in response to the murders of women in Juarez, Mexico (right on the border).

I haven't done much since last Wednesday. Had the last lindy class of the year, baked and decorated cookies with Laura, went to Jackie's cocktail party, house party at Justin's, lots of hanging out with Caitlin and way too much time spent watching Food Network. On Sunday, I woke up at 5 AM - went to Jackie's at 6:15 AM to eat pancakes with her, Jaime and Danny and then headed with them to the Eagles Hall in south Seattle. (Thank god it was right near a Starbucks..) We spent the next 5 hours volunteering at Sea Mar's annual Children's Xmas Holiday party. Sea Mar is a non-profit health clinic that mostly serves the Spanish-speaking community. It was pretty sweet - we spent the first several hours helping to set up chairs, tables and all that jazz. Assigned ourselves :) to put up tons of decorating stuff - tinsel, silver bells, etc. I filled an unspeakable number of punch cups. The last hour or so was spent helping with registration - we were blown away by how many people showed up - easily 800. So many adorable little kids, all dressed up to see Santa. Nearly everyone was speaking Spanish. We served food for awhile, and then decided it was time for us to jet. I figured I'd come back and pass out, but for whatever reason (um, probably the coffee I drank) I couldn't sleep. I've been super chill since Sunday - spent lots of time cooking soups, stuffed peppers, vegetable dishes, southwestern-style couscous and beans, etc...Sunday night I watched "Aladdin" with Caitlin and made candy cane brownies. I swear to god we're resorting back to being little kids :)

Last night I saw "The Santaland Diaries" - it's one of David Sedaris' many (MANY) essays, and arguably one of his best. It's this absolutely hilarious true story about a Christmas season spent working in NYC as an elf in Macy's Santaland. He definitely brings the funny, but it's also laden with social criticism and some slightly serious moments. By and large, though, it's just a hell of a good time.

Tonight I'm headed down to Olympia. Going with the family to visit my grandparents in Cannon Beach/Astoria December 24-26; back in Seattle December 27-28 to work; then probably back to Oly for a few days.

Here's to Christmas break, the Food Network and cozy socks. Holla!


While abroad, I wrote a lot. I want to put some of it - not all, but certainly some - in here, to make my experience more concise. Even though I don't write in this journal as often as I used to, I definitely do value it. I'm able to look back over years of writing in literally seconds. Anyway, so when I get around to it (hah) I'll be posting a lot of rambling stuff written from airports, hostels, beaches and beds. It should be a trip :)


El Sueno de Morfeo ~ Amor de Sal

Cuando el mar
Se comió al sol
Tus mejillas conservaron su calor
En la arena
Tú y yo
Y oleadas de caricias de los dos

Cuando en esa playa me enseñaste a amar
Una marejada nos llevo a un lugar
Donde me quiero quedar
Amor de sal

Toda historia tiene su final
Que hoy se clava en mi nostalgia una vez más
En mi cara vuelven a rodar
Lagrimas saladas solo al recordar

Que es en esa playa donde quiero estar
Y sobre tu espalda un mapa dibujar

Para volverte a encontrar
Amor de sal

Donde la arena nos envolvió
Aun respira allí mi amor

Bellingham for the weekend

I think Bellingham would have been a really good match fro me. It's a bummer I never looked into this school when I was applying for undergrad. It kind of reminds me of U of Montana in Missoula - big town, but definitely smaller than Seattle. Liberal environment, not as reliant on public transportation and stupid dinky apartment buildings near the freeway.
I was thinking about this last night, however, and realized that if I had gone here, a lot of areas of my life would be quite different. I would never have roomed with Theary, thus would never have met any of my future housemates. I would never have experienced the house in all its sexiness and force. I would never have lived on Lander 4 and thus would never have met Josh, thus would probably have never ventured to Montana or Germany. I would never have gone to Cadiz and thus would never have met Javi, Jackie, James, Josh F and all the bunch. I would never have worked where I work, never have interned at the Mexican Consulate or volunteered with the UW Language Exchange Program. Who knows if I would have majored in Spanish or anything related to human rights. Maybe I would have stuck with music. Who knows. It's kind of neat to think about how one choice leads to so many more, which in turn leads still more....

un poema

El Otro Lado - escrito por Ruben Martinez

(sorry the computer won't allow me to make accents marks...hopefully ya'll will still understand)

I read this poem for my border class a week or 2 ago and became strangely enamored with it.

El otro lado,
the other side,
that's where I'm from,
el otro lado,
that's where you're from,
the other side.

Over there! Where it's free,
por alla, sin impuestos!
You know, las calles de
Good Housekeeping oro,
rascacielo-hielo dreams.
Wall Street!
The Street of Walls!
Wall of Neon!
Wall of Mall!
Wall tall!
Ya lo sabes, ahi te espera
todo bien chico...
Que what?
Never! Not on the streets
of Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula!

Ay! Pero como te deseo,
aqui, desde este lado,
come, cruza la linea cruda,
veni, veni, come, come,
how I want you on this side!
Let me suck your otherness!
Now, outside of history!
Are you? Are you
outside or inside, playing
the neo conquistador
and I el suberviso,
a plaything for them?

Deseo-desire deseo-desire deseo-desire
y este deseo acaso real
que se mezcla con quien putas
sabe que verdad
political economic cultural
deseo desire deseo desire deseo
tu saliva extranjera
on this side, but here I
go over there, al otro lado
past your arms to the other
sea and your land
is my water, salty now
with my absence in your

Baby, where are you now?
En Valparaiso?
In Washington DC?
En Bogota?
In Norfolk?
En Panama?
In New Orleans?
En Guatemala?
In Santa Fe?
En el D.F., guey?
In Las Vegas?
En Zacatecas?
In East L.A.?
En Chihuahua?
In San Clemente?
En Tecate?
In San Diego?
In San Diego?
En Tijuana?
In San Diego?
En Tijuana?
In San Diego?

Now. At last. Here.
Far from the mortars,
the hungry cities, the false treaties.
Aqui. Al otro lado.

We will finally have each other.
In spectacular contorsion.
Deseo! Open me, close me,
here, on this side,
in the exhibition cage
before us and them,
on "Nightline" and "24 Horas"

But tomorrow, it's back
to el otro lado.
Me serving you your breakfast,
your jumbo margarita,
wiping the guacamole off your trousers.

Me oyes?
Over there, por alla,
hear me?
Here, me!
This me, this me,
desde este lado,
on this side, este yo
y no el yo del otro,
not your me.
But this me, the one
that wears all the colors
of the continent!

Operadora? Operator?
Me oyes? Hear me?
No, note oigo.

(no subject)

I need to figure so much stuff out. I don't know what to write in here lately because my life seems so bizarre to me right now. I'm having fun (most of the time), don't get me wrong - this is not me whining. I really really like both of my jobs and I honestly find every class I'm in to be fascinating and worthwhile. I'm enjoying feeling the independence again - working, cooking, even the menial tasks like washing dishes and clothes feels refreshing after a year of being so taken care of.
The flip side is that I am having a bit of trouble getting back into the swing of things. The daily pace and activities doesn't always seem like reality....this may not make sense, it's really just ramblings, but it seems like there was so much movement and new experiences during my time abroad that coming back to all this familiarity is equal parts comforting and confusing.
Added to this is the stress of figuring out what to do post-graduation. Before Spain, I still felt I had tons of time to decide which 'path' I wanted to pursue. Now, bam, studying abroad has happened and I'm back with one year to make plans.
I have literally always been one of those crazily indecisive people who has ten thousand hobbies and interests. That wasn't a problem back in highschool, but it is something of a problem right now. Work, grad school, Fulbright, Teach for America, law school, Peace Corps, move to Spain or elsewhere, become super domestic and spend a lot of time making cookies and snuggling? I can't exactly 'dabble' in these and then make a decision.