Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh, Heights, How I'll Miss You

It's 9:30pm, and I realize I'm PMSing, which, as all women are aware, calls for chocolate. So I head out the front door in sweats and a tee shirt (when did it get cold?!) for RiteAid, where I delightedly discover that Riesens are buy one get one free! I think the big guy upstairs was smiling down on me tonight. I head home, and I see a thousand [rather humorous] words in a single moment.

As I pass the building just before mine, I notice a man hovering in the doorway, about to enter. He is standing still, holding the front door to the building open with his left hand. His head is down, chin almost touching his chest. He looks bloody miserable. I can't imagine why, until I come nearly even with him and see what he's holding in his right hand: a bouquet of flowers. Dude's getting ready to walk in to some serious warfare. I almost laughed out loud right there in front of him. Poor fool is definitely on the couch for a week.

And that's all I've got, folks.

Siempre Buscando,

Friday, September 25, 2009


I can choose three films to put on my iphone. These could be the only films I watch for 6 months. I watch movies like crazy, people-- this is a big deal. The following are my choices, they are movies I can watch again and again and again. Which will probably happen. I love what they have to say, and they inspire me.

Sarah and I are packing yet again. We have been subletting an apartment for three months, and the lease is now up. We'll be sleeping on couches for October. Which means MINIMAL stuff. Goodbye everything but South America gear, clothing, and makeup (I do still have to be beautiful for work at the Beauty Authority...)

Cheers, Laura

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Arise to birth with me, my brother.
Give me your hand out of the depths
sown by your sorrows.
You will not return from these stone fastnesses.
You will not emerge from subterranean time.
Your rasping voice will not come back,
nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.

Look at me from the depths of the earth,
tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,
groom of totemic guanacos,
mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,
iceman of Andean tears,
jeweler with crushed fingers,
farmer anxious among his seedlings,
potter wasted among his clays--
bring to the cup of this new life
your ancient buried sorrows.
Show me your blood and your furrow;
say to me: here I was scourged
because a gem was dull or because the earth
failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.
Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,
the wood they used to crucify your body.
Strike the old flints
to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips
glued to your wounds throughout the centuries
and light the axes gleaming with your blood.

I come to speak for your dead mouths.

Throughout the earth
let dead lips congregate,
out of the depths spin this long night to me
as if I rode at anchor here with you.

And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,
and link by link, and step by step;
sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,
thrust them into my breast, into my hands,
like a torrent of sunbursts,
an Amazon of buried jaguars,
and leave me cry: hours, days and years,
blind ages, stellar centuries.

And give me silence, give me water, hope.

Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.

Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.

Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.

Speak through my speech, and through my blood.

Pablo Neruda

Picture Itinerary

On October 21st, we fly into Cancun, Mexico. We’re hovering there for a few days of beach and relaxation before the big journey ahead. Cancun Beach:

Then over to Chitchen-Itza, also in Mexico:

Next stop, Tulum, Mexico, for more Mayan Ruins and the Xel-Ha snorkeling:

Then into Belize to Ambergris Caye. It’s very quaint and they rent golf carts to get around town. Enough said.

Trip to Hidden Valley Falls, Belize. Lots of secret waterfalls and wading pools:

Now Coban, Guatemala, to Semuc Champey. There’s a 300-meter natural limestone bridge that runs over the rapids. Gorgeous?

Chichicastenango, Guatemala (how fun is it to say that?) for an amazing market and lots of culture:

Then off to La Antigua, Guatemala, for some amazing architecture and churches:

And into Honduras! Tegucigalpa for more churches, architecture, and markets. Here’s one beautiful cathedral:

Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature reserve… for a little taste of the wildlife:

Managua, Nicaragua. The capital city, so lots of cathedrals, markets, and culture:

We’ll dick around in Nicaragua a little longer, but we’re not sure where else we wanna go yet. After that, it’s Costa Rica! First to Fortuna, where we can see Arenal Volcano, which erupts every night. Also, there are hot springs.

Now into Quepos, Costa Rica, where we’ll hit up Manuel Antonio National Park. The rainforest comes all the way down to the water’s edge! Garden of Eden:

Panama City. Obviously, the Panama Canal:

Pearl Islands, Panama. Scuba diving (and yes, this photo is from Panama):

After that, we’re on a very long bus ride through Eastern Panama and most of Colombia. We don’t want to stay in Colombia, as we value our lives. We’re making a quick stop for horseback riding to some burial monuments:

Then quickly over the border into Ecuador. Hidden in the mountains is an old colonial town called Quito:

Then we’re doing the Latacunga Loop. It’s hiking and camping through the mountains for five days or so:

Into Guayaquil, Ecuador, for some fantastic markets, parks, and soccer! I love soccer!

Next up is Mancora, Peru. Beach days, boating, and more relaxation:

Chachapoyas (also really fun to say), Peru is home to walking paths, ruins, culture, and the Kuelap Fortress, which is twice as old as the Incan empire:

Into Cusco, Peru, our base for the Machu Picchu trip. There’s some amazing Incan architecture there, too:

Machu Picchu, guh guh guh:
And of course Puno, Peru for Lake Titicaca:

Time-wise, we are a bit less than halfway through our journey. Distance-wise, we are less than 1/3 of the way through it. Ha.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mea Culpa

I know. I don't write enough. I just think that this blog should be the adventures, not the boring crap that happens every day. Because honestly, my life is pretty standard. Eat, sleep, work. Once in a while I don't poo for a couple of days and then things get really exciting. The anticipation. Haha, okay, I jest. Perhaps things are a bit more stimulating than that.

Let's see, what to write about. Ah! I had an interesting experience today on the metro coming home from work. So, the car I've boarded is nearly empty... perhaps there are ten or fifteen people scattered throughout. I'm on the express, and we've just left 59th street, the next stop being 125th. All's quiet on the western front until somewhere just before the hundreds, crazy subway guy materializes. He's a thirty-something black man, shaved head, chunky over muscular build. One second it's completely quiet, and the next, he's yelling rather loudly (to himself). Though I couldn't entirely make sense of what he was saying, I made out bits and pieces: "I'll slap that bitch in the face..." and "All the food's gone, we're in the recession..." He continued his ranting until 145th street, at which point he stopped, asked someone for a quarter, and got off the train. (I found the quarter component of the outburst pretty amusing.)

Anyway, during his [rather obscene] self-directed soliloquy, I found myself watching him intently. I mean, who wouldn't, right? But then I had a moment of self-awareness. A clarity set in. Without the thought actually materializing, I found myself hazily wondering why I was so interested. And I realized that I was hoping he'd go completely haywire. Buck wild, off his rocker, stark raving mad. I watched eagerly, waiting for him to, oh, I don't know, pull a knife and threaten someone, or begin thrashing about uncontrollably. To my dismay, he didn't. But the thought had lingered long enough for me to comprehend the gravity of it.

So, why? Why did I want him to have an outburst? I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that I wanted to live vicariously through him. I'm hanging by a thread, we're all just hanging by a thread. Who's not about to lose it? Let me be honest: there are certainly times that I wish I could completely break down, break apart, ignore the tacit societal code of conduct and freak the fuck out. I want to get on the subway and stand way too close to the businessman in his suit who's sitting down, and say, 'get the fuck up, I'm a waitress and I've been on my goddamn feet the last twelve hours.' I want to punch the Times Square tourists in the back of the head when they stop in the middle of the bloody sidewalk to gape at the big sparkly signs. I want to ask this kid I work with why, for our sake, can't he just put on deodorant. I want to ignore my bills, and just once, just one time, spend my money frivolously on myself without worrying about tomorrow. All of us, we each deal with a multitude of these trivial irritants every day... it's enough to make anyone go insane. Each irritant alone has its own miniscule impact, and its effect is perhaps imperceptible... but there are only so many we can absorb before the sanity dam bursts.

I don't know. Maybe I'm projecting. Maybe I'm the only one who's about to snap, and maybe everyone else is completely tranquil, calm, and collected. I'm just wondering if the glassy surface doesn't camouflage the turbulence beneath, and what happens when that illusion is punctured.

Siempre Buscando,

Some thoughts:

I love Sundays. I almost never have Sundays off and I am really relishing this one. Sundays in cities feel so comfortably communal to me. You can go to the park, brunch, a cafe, a bookstore, and just feel the sigh everyone is breathing on their day of rest. Saturdays are for errands, going out, running around to parties or various energetic activities. Sundays are slow. Sundays are for savoring. Sundays to myself are new to me, and the novelty is nowhere near wearing off. Especially since most Sundays I work, as previously mentioned (it's about the only constant to my unpredictable work schedule).

Growing up, Sundays were religiously centered. You woke up, took the curlers out of your hair, put on your sunday best, and spent three hours sitting in church. For many, this is an enjoyable, enriching experience. I don't think I ever particularly enjoyed it. I read a book through Sacrament Meeting for as long as I could get away with it. Which was through high school. It was always something of a relief to get home, don the pajamas, and eat our big sunday dinner. And our Sundays were definitely never communal in the larger sense-- Mormons don't spend money or go out on their holy day. We didn't even go spend time with non-Mormon friends. Sleepovers that stretched into Sunday? Not allowed. I had to leave the night before. The communal Sunday experience is limited to the Mormon community only.

My first warm, fuzzy, communal Sunday feeling was when I visited Philadelphia during a business trip in March or April of last year. I had a Sunday afternoon to spend strolling around Philly before work started the next day. I took a half hour to relax in some historical park square as the sun was starting to set. Families were out, owners walking their dogs, books were being read. It was one of those first warm weekends of the Spring that brings all city mice out of hibernation. It was a bunch of people just enjoying their TIME. Cities, especially New York City, naturally introduce a frenetic pace to your life. You have ambitions, you need to hustle to climb up to them. So when you feel this collective sigh being drawn in and released, it's so pleasant to be a part of it. And just enjoy for a day. Before diving in again. That was my first Sunday out in the world, outside of a Mormon community (A.K.A. Provo, Mormon mecca), and outside of Pittsford, where I lived for a year after college with the fam, and where I was trying to not unduly ruffle emotional and moral feathers with prominent departure from Mormon lifestyle.

I am all about BRUNCH. What is more divine than a relaxed, glowing, happy, lazy, delicious brunch with people you enjoy? Invite me to brunch, I will say yes every time. Even the very word is delicious to say. My favorite day to eat out is Sunday.

And on the South America front, what more can I say than 37 DAYS?!?! We are excited and scared. Sarah's almost done shopping, though I've still got to buckle down to some important shopping tasks. Why are stylish but not girly, practical, multi-purpose, not-denim pants so difficult to find? If I'm going to be wearing these pants every day for 6 months, I damn well better love them.

Cheers, Laura

Talented Friends

I have a truly talented friend, her name is Elizabeth. She is a playwright. She is also an artist. She told me the following drawing was inspired by myself and my situation, so I couldn't resist posting it.
And then this one is just one that I love.
Elizabeth once painted me a picture, and gave it to me, framed. That was right after I graduated college. I brought it with me to Denver when I went for the month-long Intensive program at the National Theatre Conservatory. It was my first solo trip outside of the world of BYU, and the picture was a real comfort. If almost all of my belongings weren't in storage, that picture would be sitting on my desk right now. I wish I could post it here. You'll have to be satisfied with other Elizabeth works you can see on her blog. Or her art blog.

I love my friends. They make life so interesting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Adventures in Beantown

The virgin voyage of our packs was destination: Beantown. I had never been to Boston, and my sister Lindsay was starting graduate school there. Therefore, my mom was on hand to set her up in style in this uber-charming New England city. In an effort to ease my mother's trepidation about our impending journey, Sarah met the parents. Well, a parent. So we had a little holiday from Manhattan and hopped on the Megabus. A steal at $15 there, and $1 return.

Sarah was apprehensive about the bus situation, as she suffers from motion sickness. But I arrived with Psi-Bands in hand and I am glad to report they were mostly a success! Our Megabus was a double-decker, complete with howling baby on top level (we were on bottom), bathroom, and wireless internet! I must say, I don't think either of us have ever enjoyed such a luxurious bus trip.

We were both completely charmed by Boston. How quaint, quiet, and clean! We spent 5 or 6 hours meandering along the Freedom Trail, the tourist must-do. Because after all, how better to experience a city than walking it? And Boston is oh-so-walkable. I did not appreciate how the Old Corner Bookstore has now disappeared (publisher of noted authors such as Dickens, Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorne...). But I did find the trail, or red brick road, leading around the city immensely helpful. If only we had one of those running through South America.
(Our new Chacos! chosen footwear of a Jew and an Ex-Mo for adventuring. Time to break these puppies in.)

(Warning: first of many tombstone pictures yet to come. There were some awesome old graveyards along the Freedom Trail.)

(Beacon Hill. Charming incarnate.)
(I loved the old gothic engravings on all the tombstones. Puritanic background frowned upon much artwork in life, so tombstones were one of the only places where art was allowed to flourish.)

(Statue to commemorate Irish Potato Famine)

My favorite area was the North End, Little Italy. As we passed Paul Revere's house, I suddenly had a small heart attack as I realized my iPhone was not in my pocket. Now allow me to set this up for you: I have an obscene love of my iPhone. It's slightly ridiculous that a material object should hold such an exalted place in my heart. But it was my first large solo purchase, it was an exit from the family phone plan, it has my entire life in it, and it's just so pretty. So Sarah immediately sent a text message to the phone saying that I would gladly purchase a new iPhone for whomever had found my old phone in exchange for the return of it. We returned to the park where I believed the phone had slipped out of my pocket as I flopped onto the grass. We called my mom and lo and behold, someone had contacted her. My phone and I were reunited at Mike's Pastry Shop and we took it as a sign that God had led us to this heavenly, vintage, Italian bakery overflowing with sugary goodness and we therefore had to buy a cannoli. And it was the best cannoli either of us had ever tasted. We had a three-way with Paul Revere's ghost, eating that cannoli outside of his house, in a peaceful, cobblestoned square. We also had a sugar cream cookie and a cupcake. A little much? Yes. Especially when we climbed 300 stairs to the top of the Bunker Hill memorial.

(*BING BING BING* "You've won! Forgiveness! For 10 Sins!" I really wish you could hear my voice right now. )

(How Edward Gorey)

By the time we made it back to Lindsay's sickeningly charming abode we were ready for family dinner, cheesecake, and a movie. Cue: fire alarm. Unfortunately none of the firemen were of the steamy kind.

The next day was rainy and we spent most of it in a cafe in the North End. Great neighborhood feeling. Lots of people collected to watch the soccer game. Steaming mocha and another cannoli for Sarah. Reading. Cozy. On to a bit of a pub crawl as Boston has more than its fair share of Irish pubs. We met up with an old high school buddy of mine, boarded our bus at 10:30, and arrived back in NYC at 2:30.

Good times. On to the next.

Cheers, Laura