Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Every Port, an Anchor

The cabin pressure makes a dramatic shift, and the precious cargo in the belly of the beast all feel a tension between their ears and their skull. They work their jaws, rub their temples. A barrier of clouds is noisily pierced by the nose, then the body, and finally the tail, and from out the window a new patchwork quilt of a world is revealed.

There is no substitute for this moment, when the body clenches in a spasm of uncertainty, anxiety, and every pore (real and imagined) gapes wide, waiting to see what is on the other side of this waiting. There is a world outside the reinforced glass and recycled air habitat that has housed us over the past however many hours, and every synapse is twitching with the promise of it.

But for a few hours, the tiny space on this vessel has held me comfortably, cradled my body as I’ve written, sketched, slept, and read. My shoes are tucked away, and I’m swaddled in my own wrap, a cashmere/silk stowaway adopted on some other continent. This seat has been a sort of home to me. There is a twinge of nostalgia as I gather my belongings, prepare to make a home in some other unfamiliar place.

A good friend once told me that he felt confident that I could fashion myself a home on the surface of the sun if I so desired. And there was truth in his compliment. Throughout childhood, my family moved from one rented house to another, occasionally crossing state lines, one circumstance or another guiding the course for the rest of us. Consequently, there is no ancestral home that stirs up a sensation of belonging in my breast. My sense of home is an oddly-shaped, distended thing.

Imagination and desire will erect strange monuments to normalcy when they feel deprived of it for too long, and so that is what happened. I developed a “home fixation,” a desire to put down roots somewhere solid, somewhere mine, somewhere safe.
I imagined, at 17, moving to Mexico, that I would find a home there.

I imagined that I would know it, a psychic thronging that would reverberate through my very soul, screaming “You’re Home!” at every turn. You can work yourself into a proper lather seeking this untenable seat amongst the chaotic shifting of sands that composes a world.

Something happened along the way, an unexpected and dear device probably borne of one survival instinct or another: my heart claimed the earth as its home.

The wet-pavement-come-alive smell of encroaching rain twists my cells into a peace that few other things can. The windows of the kitchen obscured by the moisture of a fresh loaf of bread baking. Rice paddies, challenging every other shade of green to a duel and winning, flickering through the bus windows. The spicy hints of sandalwood and bay rum, the sensation of my own breath ragged from exertion, the taste of a copper penny blooming in my mouth.

Home is not a place, never. It is a sensation of calm, of familiarity, and peace. It has nothing to do with what I own, those possessions that own me so utterly. Home is a flash of red earth, a familiar bird song, or a queue of sullen cows on a distant dirt road. Make a home on a motorcycle for a few months, and soon enough a stand of redwoods becomes home. Make a home out of a handbag and suitcase for long enough and eventually the rich cup of drip-brewed coffee at a ramshackle cafe will become home. Dip into a well of solitude for a seeming infinity of days, and a smile from a stranger who doesn’t share your language becomes home for a moment.

Home is anywhere but where my things live. This is just a station, on the way to the next place that makes my heart entire. This relic of a heart is more than just a metronome. It is a jigsaw puzzle that my movement through the rest of the world pieces together for me.

Technology Ruins Everything

I'm having an angry and resentful day, which is actually uncommon for me.

My gripe is this: technology makes communication so effortless that everyone seems to decide that if it is without effort, it probably isn't even worth it.

Maybe I have no right to write something like this, but to be frank, it is my prerogative, and that gives me the right to do whatever the hell I want in my little corner of the internet.

What is the encoded message here: I'm introspective because of the failure of people who have known me my entire life to send something as simple as a 2 line "congratulations" email when I graduated. Dude, it's the internet. It takes, like, 20 seconds.

And yet, the simplicity of that 20 second message seems to elude most of us.

I think a lot of these more nuanced bits of communication have fallen by the wayside because the ease of it all has bred complacence, or worse yet simple negligence. All of the bells and whistles that our little lives are nested into seem to just trivialize the truly important things, by overshadowing them with shiny noise.

So, the moral of the story: we would all be better off living in a bygone age where letters had to be premeditated at length, transported by ship, rail, and pony, and were remarkably prone to loss.

That way, no one would ever expect a 2 line email and be disappointed by its failure to materialize.

Wow, I swear it's not even that big of a deal. It just makes me wonder what in the world the "family support system" role is in a globalized world where few people have the inclination to send one another emails, let alone letters. Maybe we'd be better off born in incubators and issued to parents who have passed all the tests and earned the parenting license. Eventually old-fashioned reproduction would be outlawed & there would be nothing but the nuclear family to bother with. No more huge family gatherings or awkward interactions with people who you share nothing in common with but a little DNA.

Okay, maybe that wouldn't be as awesome as it seems.

I hate technology. Although without it, how could I find an audience to complain about it to?

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Curse of Kindness

I was always that little girl who would go on long bicycle rides on windy days after a spring storm, when the air was crisp and clear, nourishing to the lungs, making it feel like you could keep riding for days. I would come home, breathless and hunched, tiny fledgling birds tucked into my shirts, always saying, "Mom, we have to take care of it!"

She would grudgingly accept our new family member, and I can proudly say that we successfully raised about a half-dozen babies over the course of my childhood.

Not so much has changed.

The past few days, the worried choruses of birds have drawn me outside, where I have stalked, looking for all the world like a crazy woman--hair like a halo of messy flames, braless beneath a ratty T-shirt, striped socks beneath my clogs reaching half to my knees--seeking the felled baby.

Raising baby birds is a full-time endeavor, and I know that mother birds are far better suited to the task than I. So, in the past week, I have placed multiple fledglings in trees, by a multitude of techniques ranging from tossing to climbing.

I have a cat, you know? A cat whom I adore, who is my right hand fella. But he's a killer.

Today, he caught a house sparrow. House sparrows are invasive, greedy little bastards. But I love them. At first, I convinced myself (upon seeing blood coming out its beak) that I needed to just let him finish off the job. But seeing him toy with it in the periphery of my sight as I gardened began to eat at me. And then the little thing flew a few feet, and I had to intervene.

I pulled Dingo off of her, and held her in my hand, examining her body. She appeared undamaged, and after a minute or so I let her go. She perched in the crook where a tree branch met the trunk, leaning against the bark and looking very tired.

I hope she lives, but wonder if I just prolonged her suffering.

I've also been protecting a little baby blackbird that for whatever reason has decided that my yard is home. We have made the yard a sanctuary for birds this year, finally landscaping and installing feeders at every turn.

Now I feel like I am luring them to their deaths.

I've seen hungry cats hunt, and eat their kill entire in a matter of seconds. This playing with the thing for ever--I just hate it.

How, oh how do I keep my cat from killing birds?

In training news, today I rehearsed the sprint triathlon: 1/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike ride, 3.5 mile run. It took an hour and 45 minutes. And I'm okay with that.

My legs feel like achy jello. But I feel good, like I will actually finish the event. I don't want to win, just to finish, really.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I just love the future!

Nowadays, we don't have to bore our friends and families with endless, self-indulgent slideshows of our recent journeys.

With no further ado, I present you my Flickr account:


where you can gaze upon my mediocre photography of exotic places at your leisure. Enjoy!



You can't be serious

QUESTION: What is the lamest thing about being a Landscape Architect?

ANSWER: Receiving offers in the mail for subscriptions to "Interlocking Concrete Pavement Magazine"

*rolling my eyes*

I can't believe there even is such a magazine, but there it is, in all it's mind-numbingly lame glory:

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I'm really slacking on pretty much everything.

This is fated to be quick and newsy, I'm afraid. My lust for writing has really dropped off these past few weeks.

Graduation came and went. I wore the regalia, as indicated in this lovely image taken by my mother:

Shortly after this photo was taken, I gave a little speech to satisfy the masses at the College of Architecture and Planning. That was fun, and people--I LOVE public speaking. It is one of my real gifts in life. If you can think of a career that would utilize this skill, I'd be grateful.

Mom, Dad, Paul, and a dear, dear friend Angel came up to celebrate with me. I was extremely happy to be surrounded by some of my most beloved people in the world, even if I was slightly disappointed that my frequent-flying grandparents did not make it.

Our family has never been known for nostalgia. I'm beginning to see where I get it, that weird familiar detachment thing. It is positively genetic.

A few fine gifts included an incredible, awesome camera (that really intimidates me)from Mom, Dad, and Chip, this insanely beautiful pen set from Angel and Colin:

and a few monetary infusions which will eventually add up to a new computer (I love my battleaxe, but she's a little worse for wear these days.)

Now, I just have to finish a bunch of coursework, like my thesis, so that I can graduate for real.

I've been working in the garden, even though it is gray, drizzling, and cold outside. Sadly, I've exposed myself to a great deal of poison ivy (while pilfering flagstones from the burned-out house next door), so I am off for my second round of vigorous scrubbing under extremely cold water.


Much love from the chilly Midwest.