Hey! Sorry I’m late!
Here’s some more pictures, folks- I’ll keep ’em coming- more of the written Word to come, promise!
Hey! Sorry I’m late!
Here’s some more pictures, folks- I’ll keep ’em coming- more of the written Word to come, promise!
Poop here, reporting from the Whole Foods Cafe area, 20 minutes before closing time. Finding internets ain’t easy here in California…
Got lots of ideas in the ol’ noggin rattling around- check out the photos in the meantime! Will write soon.
Triple Beam Coelostat feat. Bootleg Soysauce
Never underestimate the restorative powers of a spa day.
Too often, we’ve put aside our femininity to survive in our daily world. Generations of women before us have done a brilliant job of progressively bringing women onto an equal playing ground with men, but I feel that through the process we’ve neglected to embrace our female side somewhat.
Many of the women in my life feel guilty indulging in something as small as a manicure or a haircut, rationalizing that they “deserve” it, that they’ve worked hard enough, so that they can please themselves. But we ALREADY deserve it, ladies! Taking a long bath, getting a massage, sitting in the sauna for a few hours (cumulatively, of course) brings us back into the physical. As women, our creative power is grounded in the physical. It’s in being physical that we regain that power, that we become sensual, that we begin again to use our senses to live, and not our minds.
You don’t even necessarily have to spend a lot of money, either. Have your friend cut your hair, or do your nails; go to the baths in your neighborhood once in a blue moon… it feels so good to re-enter your body.
Pip and I visited 10,000 Waves Japanese Baths in Santa Fe, New Mexico yesterday, and we spent a good three and a half hours heating up, cooling down, stretching, conditioning, and napping. Even though it was 19 degrees outside, we were so content with being in these pools of water, soaking and feeling our inner thermostats, that we hardly noticed the snow falling on our heads.
That night, it was 3 degrees outside- the coldest night on record ever for Santa Fe, but we hardly even noticed: the bliss from earlier that day carried us throughout the rest of the evening. Coming into your body does wonders for drowning out the mind’s chatter.
Give it a try…
It’s been five days since Pip and I have been on the train, and I do believe we’ve gotten the hang of transitory living. No one ever said it was easy living in a confined space for over 30 hours straight, but I’ve been amazed to discover just how adaptable we humans can be.
Our schedule unfolds as follows: arrive by the skin of our teeth to the train station, toting our oversized rolling baggage behind us; settle into our seats and make rudimentary sandwiches (pronounced: sammiches ) on our laps; proceed to the dining car and stare out the window for a few hours, our time interspaced with reading, chatting, or listening to music; in the evening partake in some dining car libations to lighten the mood, then return to the sightseeing lounge to look out into the dark, where the natural swaying (or careening, depending on who you ask) eventually lulls us to sleep.
Yep, life is hard on the road.
I won’t say that our first departure was at all easy- our sleep deprivation, combined with the emotional charge of the day and our relative inexperience in train travel made the first 30 hour jaunt a real psychological time- travel experiment. General anxiety about leaving home devolved into apprehension for the future, changing our minds with the time zones, until we understood that we wouldn’t have things any other way.
We hated leaving New York, but we’d hate to go back.
Going South the slow way was just gradual enough to catch the subtle differences in landscape and architecture. Pip would look up from her work to take some picture or take snippets of video, while I would nap in the sun… impossible not to notice the change in environment. The trees changed to a different shade of green; the green you don’t see until late summer, when the chlorophyll has really nestled itself into the leaves. The earth turned a darker, fertile shade of red… the houses, squat and sparsely arranged…This went on for hours until sunset, until we couldn’t see anything but streetlamps in the distance.
It was the conductor who came through the car later that night that gave us a heads up for Lake Pontchartrain as the final milestone before we arrived in New Orleans. I woke up to see palm trees (!) in backyards with bushy vegetation nearly blocking the light inside houses by the railroad. I’d get peeks of the interior design, different lifestyles, furniture, people, if only for a second. We made it!
The next day was spent walking around town with no particular agenda. Knowing we couldn’t carry any more weight on our broken backs, walking around town through the main thoroughfares was much less tempting- that is, in terms of souvenirs. It may have been the travel bug, but Pip and I had the urge to eat every 2 hours- red beans and rice, coconut shrimp, pralines, biscuits and gravy… any opportunity to stop resulted in nosh. Ready to go back to good Ol’ Nawlins already! Yum, yum
So, as you can see, a typical travel day in Louisiana. Having settled on stationary land, we found the transition out of New York much easier. But once we got on the train again the next day for another 30-odd hours, followed by a 5 hour bus ride into New Mexico, our minds got stirred up again.
Albuquerque was closed when we arrived.
Questions of necessity and intentions came up as we walked the empty streets early Sunday morning, lukewarm coffee in hand.
It’s really incredible what we can put our minds up to.
I admit, my initial urge to leave town didn’t quite take hold until I was in New Orleans. Some part of me couldn’t understand, but somehow it all came together. And yet I knew that I had been living a dynamic that upset me so much that I had no other choice but to surrender to everything and let myself be carried by the tide. I conjured this idea of departure and adventure and let it unfold organically. All you have to do is plant the seed.
Having realized the power of my intent, it as both paralyzed and empowered me to explore its applications. Even the most trivial, passing thought, like a ripple, can blow itself out of proportion. As a result, I’ve been unwilling to look to far into situations and plans, for fear of what could develop. The mind is so vast that it can go in any direction it pleases. It’s up to us to direct its flow. I suppose my job now is to harness my mind’s current- and also study what direction it chooses to pursue.
Equally necessary is a detachment from, well, just about anything. Yes, in good faith I’ve tried in vain to understand and put to practice Zen principles in my life. But recently my train rides have forced me to examine my insistence on having control over my experience.
Part of what was so maddening about being on a train has been the relative restriction of movement. After about 27 hours, your patience has completely gone out the door, and you’re willing to give your right arm to just be able to walk freely in the fresh air for more than five minutes every 7 hours. It’s then that you begin to question why it is you’re so bent out of shape over such a trifle of an issue. You hear that voice that says “But, I WANT FREEDOM”, “I WANT to walk around”, “I WANT…”- many things that you no longer have control over. So you wait it out- not like you have a choice in the matter. You get irritable, tired, emotional: very much like the symptoms of withdrawal. But then, aha! That infinitely wise (or perhaps very exhausted) voice chimes in: “ I don’t NEED this” “Whassamattayou?”…You realize how miserable wanting these things so bad made you, so you let it go.
Maybe that’s why we’re all so fed up. Relatively speaking, many of us have been without many things for so long that we’ve adapted to be without. We let go. And that is our power.
“Sometimes you have to surrender before you win” – Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
Does anyone remember the Baz Luhrmann Graduation speech/song?
You know, this one:
I remember first hearing this song in the late nineties. Perhaps because I was nine years old,or maybe because I thought I knew the key to existence, most, if not all the wise words Mr. Luhrmann passed on to me in that song went in one ear, and out the other. However, one particular line in the song stuck with me:
” Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard”.
I recanted this one line in my head many, many times throughout my life, not really understanding why he thought New York was such a rough place. I was born and raised in the East Village, so living and navigating this vast metropolis has been second nature to me. It was never hard!
But now, at the “ripe” old age of 22 years, I’m beginning to understand the jist of his message.
As we all know,change is inevitable- I’ve grown up, and the city has evolved as well. My roles in society have changed, and the community I once called my extended family has been replaced by late night hoots, haws, and kerfuffles in the streets. I see people my age, walking down the street, so intent on projecting a “New York” image, that they just come off disgruntled and/or constipated. I can’t speak for every single one of us, but many of my conversations with other people living in the city, natives and transplants alike, young and old, revolve around the fact that our lives in this city can be defined more as survival than living.
And that ain’t right. Many of us have at least two jobs, and we’re working like ants, just to pay our monthly rent, our phone, electric, gas, internet bills, credit cards, groceries, transportation, storage… at a minimum, with enough left over for a stiff one at the corner bar.
That’s why I decided three months ago to blow this popstand and head out West. Over the course of my ranting, I convinced my travel partner, Pip to come along. We saved up as much money as we could, and we bought our tickets for the slow route across this fair nation on the good ol’ reliable Amtrak Rail System. We plotted, pitched and planned until all the details got entirely hashed out, and set to pack away our things for the road.
Initially, I intended to bring only that which I could carry with me, and leave the rest behind, in storage or various other places, friend’s houses, basements…
Over the course of my preparations, however, I realized just how much stuff I had accumulated over the course of my nearly 23 year career in this city. Photographs I never looked at anymore, books I had intended to read a decade ago, old love letters, prom dresses of yesteryear were hidden in various corners of my house and that of my parents. Having calculated the heft of my possessions, I realized that it would be unwise and just plain rude to saddle people with things I didn’t even really need on the road. I began to question what it is I really wanted in my life, why I was holding on to certain things…So I got rid of everything. I gave things away, took them to charity, recycled… I tried to give my things a good home, if they were wanted, and a good resting place if they were not.
Perhaps I’ve gone too far. But having reduced myself to the contents of two suitcases and a ukulele feels incredibly liberating. Pip has done some housecleaning of her own as well, and we’ve just managed to get on our shuttle to the depths of the South. We still understand that there remain a few items in our bag that we’ll have to drop along the way, but for now, we’re focusing on our journey.
What is it that we truly need to survive? What do we need to live? What things in your Closet have you stowed away, forgotten about, hidden, that could be weighing you down without you knowing it?
I don’t claim to know the answers. I just claim to feel real, real good.
So yes, heading out West now. San Francisco is the end goal. Pip and I plan to make stops through New Orleans, El Paso, Santa Fe, visit the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and finally end up in the Bay Area. Then, I suppose, we’ll see.
After all, Mr. Luhrmann says:”Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft”.