Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel..."


Dear God...

...out of the many, many questions I could ask you, let's try this one: Why have you cursed only certain areas of the earth with the most terrifying and dangerous animals and insects? I mean, in comparison with South America, North America has it golden. A scorpion here and there perhaps, a cougar, a bear. But an insect that sucks blood from you while you're sleeping, leaving parasites on your lips to infect your bloodstream? Where have you come up with this, God? A spider a foot wide who could kill you with its bite? You're enjoying a dip in cool water and suddenly your feet are voraciously attacked by a terrifying fish with razor-sharp teeth? A rodent 4 feet long and 2 feet tall? (and I thought we had R.O.U.S.s in NYC...) Why gather all these creatures into specific areas of the earth where all of those people must live in fear-- while other countries sleep at night without the fear of stepping on gargantuan spiders on their way to the bathroom? Not fair, God, not cool.

If I hear anything scurrying around at night, I will be in Sarah's bed like a shot. She better get used to cuddling.

I predict lots of squealing/screaming in South America.

of Terms and Titles

I was talking with my sister today about not being Mormon, and about this blog. She mentioned that she disliked the title. She feels it smacks of ex-Mo bitterness. Allow me to explain:

It started as a joke of Sarah's. But I liked it. So we kept it.

I don't know about Sarah's self-identification as a Jew. But I do know that I am proud to be an ex-Mo. Choosing to, and then actually extricating myself from, a religion and lifestyle that wasn't healthy for me, and from something that was taught to me as the Truth, wasn't easy. It was taught to me alongside my ABCs and primary colors, and accepted just as easily. At the time. And then when I started to doubt those Mormon precepts, it was like doubting that the sky was blue. I am not exaggerating. There were some things I counted on, that I had to let go of. There was the massive disapproval that I knew was coming for me from 50% of my world. There was rediscovering the world as a different place, with different possibilities, different fears.

And though this ball started rolling years ago, my emergence from such an all-encompassing religion/way-of-life is still resoundingly new. It's a huge part of who I am today, Wednesday the 26th at 12:43 in the morning. This departure is the best thing I've ever done for myself, and perhaps the biggest decision I have made in my life. Bigger even than my decision to choose Actor as a career. So yes, the first thing strange readers know about me is that I'm an ex-Mo. And I'm ok with that. I grew up with an intense religion, I found problems with it, I extricated myself from it, and I am un-baptizing myself every day in the waters of New York City.

I don't know how many of you are Mormon, and how many of you aren't. I do my best not to upset anyone, though people are bound to bristle at something I say. So I heed Polonius' words, "to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

And if you really have a problem, stop reading.

Monday, August 17, 2009


So we finally made the big investment (aside from plane tickets): our packs. Want proof? One wildly unflattering photo, coming right up!

We both went with the Gregory Deva 70. We got fitted and then put them on hold, and the next day, I picked them up at Paragon Sports in Union Square. At 5pm. On a Friday. Please, for one moment, appreciate the wretchedness of carrying not one but two packs through the Manhattan subway system in rush hour traffic. It was bloody miserable.

Anyway, mine is sage green - awesome, because green's my favorite color. Laura got stuck with the mauve (she is less than thrilled), because it was between that or the green, and I told her we couldn't be cavorting around South America trying to maintain a low profile with matching packs.

I get home and can't wait for Laura to arrive. As soon as she does, the two of us are sitting on the floor playing with our new toys like kids on Christmas morning. Zipping and unzipping, adjusting, rearranging velcro, trying to decipher the mystery of our PacSafe wire covers.

Sixty-three days and counting, kids.

Siempre Buscando,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day

"I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes

I certainly haven't been spreading myself around,
I still only travel by foot and by foot, it's a slow climb,
But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so
I can't stop changing all the time


If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day
You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay
I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and say,
I've been getting along for long before you came into the play

I am the baby of the family, it happens, so
- Everybody cares and wears the sheeps' clothes
While they chaperone
Curious, you looking down your nose at me, while you appease
- Courteous, to try and help - but let me set your
Mind at ease


If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine."

~Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple

I was listening to this song at work today-- how apropos for the post I was planning.

My favorite bookstore in the whole world is McNally Jackson in Soho. Sometimes, if I have a few free hours, I will just go there and read travel books to my heart's content in preparation for our impending journey. Sorry, McNally Jackson, no I do not buy anything. But I am oh so tempted. In these travel books the authors often mention the possible reactions of one's family and friends to one's travel plans. And how it is often negative, pessimistic, or worrisome. And I am here to tell you that is exactly right. Be prepared.

Sarah and I hatched this crazy plan in April, May, June... I can't remember. Sometime in the spring. It was rainy. I kept it under wraps for a while, as I was hoping to buy tickets before I told my family. They therefore could in no way forbid me to go because the damage would have already been done, and maybe I would stave off some of the advice. Well, that didn't work out, and I ended up telling them in June when I happened to be home for a couple of days, and wanted to ransack my parents' camping equipment. The response was not that positive. They were all, obviously, worried for my safety, my future, my sanity, etc. Friends' reactions were varied, ranging from full-on support and encouragement, to "Wow.......".

But familial duty, vs. friendly affection, bears some weight, and family members feel it is their moral obligation to let you know when they think you are doing something ridiculous (stupid). And they have.

I would like to now briefly introduce you to my family. For the purposes of this blog they will remain fairly vague, as this is my privacy I am sharing with the internet, and not theirs. Suffice it to say, I have 9 siblings. There are 8 girls, 2 boys, and I am lucky #7. Yes, that is the fun fact I frequently use when introducing myself to groups of strangers. Though it was not such a hit in Utah, land of the Mormons. And yes, they are all Mormon, as far as I know. I am the only black sheep. Baaaah. I love my family. There. All of cyberspace knows now. My family often objects to the way that I write about them on my original blog, they think I convey a negativity surrounding them. I disagree, but just to cover all bases, my family is a huge mess of lovely. Who worry very much about my well-being.

From family and friends I have gotten a couple of very concerned phone calls about the trip. They have not ended successfully, on either side. I have received many emails about all of the things that could possibly go wrong. I have used them to help prepare myself for such misadventures. I have received one whopper email which alluded to the boredom and disappointment in my life that I am apparently trying to escape via ill-advised exploits south of the border. And my questionable relationship with Sarah, despite little actual knowledge of girl or relationship. I was troubled by this last one, hurt even, though I can see that where there is concern, there is care for me. Nevertheless, I don't have anyone close, like Sarah does, who is totally supportive of this journey. I wish I did.

My point for this post is that when you go traveling, know why you're doing it, and keep those reasons close. Or the overwhelming negativity that comes in waves may knock your feet out from under you. I am so confident in my choice here that none of these calls or emails have seriously deterred me. I know Sarah and I are crazy. But it's the good kind. The kind that creates stories, learning, legends, and memories. The kind that creates lives.

I am different from my family. It's funny, growing up, I felt like I could never do anything unique in a talented, intelligent gaggle of 10. I remember, soon after moving to Fairfax, at 8 years old, sitting in a fort of boxes in the dining room. I was hiding. Anxious that I would never be different or get noticed. Being 7th of 10, I figured that anything I did, someone else would be able to do it better. And I just hoped and HOPED that I would stick out in some amazing way. This became a standard part of my subconscious for life. When I was responding to the whopper email, I was wondering why it was that the writer was so off-base. Why they didn't get my reasons for the journey, why it was important to me, and why I was making it a priority in my life. And I realized, it's because I am different than most if not all others in my family. And definitely different than the writer. And so they don't naturally get it. Or don't choose to. Or compact my complex nature into condescending remarks about youthful follies, because that's how they choose to see me and logically explain my illogical (according to standard American action) behavior. I feel like my loved ones keep brushing off these words of mine as just words, but they are sincerely how I feel, and I hold my actions up to my own high code of morals and beliefs, even if these differ from their codes. I am different. There are many of you out there who are different like me. But I guess I got my 8-year-old wish. I am different from those 9 siblings in many ways. And I can sing with a gorgeous vibrato (another childhood wish).