100 Porciento Boricua!

29 Sep

On Sunday, I rode my bike up to North Philly to check out the Puerto Rican Day festivities.  It was amazing, and probably one of the craziest things I’ve seen in a long time.  There were flags everywhere, lots of pimped out cars, and some serious pride on display.  Even though I was only a few miles from Center City, Philadelphia, I didn’t really feel like I was in America.  The dual nationalism and the mixture of cultures I see day after day in North Philly is surreal and I have to admit, I love the fact that my morning commute to work in el Norte feels like I’m biking to another country.  More on that to come.

Photos via Lab2112

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Mexaesthetics

25 Sep

My memories of Mexico are painted in bright and vivid hues, dashes of crazy colors swirled together, stacked in neat little piles, splashed across the sky, and cut up in little cubes.   The Mexican aesthetic is beautiful and bright, chaotic yet orderly, surreal yet existing right in front of your eyes, and so very magical.  The devil is in the details in a country like Mexico, and to truly appreciate the essence of the country, you should buy some jicama and watermelon slices tossed with lime juice and chili powder, all prepared right before your eyes.  I can still remember the subtle combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy all in one delicious and crunchy bite, in a beautiful package.  Beauty and creativity in such unexpected and magical ways, and this is just at the corner fruit stand.  Now that is what I call the Mexaesthetic.

My biggest adventure yet

20 Sep

My new home?

For those of you who know my affinity for traveling and crazy adventures like volunteering at a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez, heading to post-earthquake Haiti, or soaking up the Caribbean sun in Tulum, you will understand all the more profoundly why my latest major life shift has become my biggest adventure yet.  In the past four years since I’ve graduated college, I’ve traveled to over 20 countries, lived in countless cities throughout the world, and had some amazing adventures, yet I also have not stayed at a job for longer then 6 months.  My resume is suffering, and so, for that matter, is my bank account.  So, I decided to do something about it, and I got a real office job in a regular American city.

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J’adore Montreal!!

25 Aug

City of Bikes

Just arrived in Montreal and I have to say, this city is already capturing my imagination at every turn.  On my morning run I only saw one other person jogging, but I also saw more people riding bikes then I have in any other city, ever.  It was surreal, these orderly bike paths with beautiful blondes just cycling along, their hair flying behind then, men in full suits leaning into the turns, and everyone just being so civilized and respectful about the whole thing.  And then, half-way through my run, I stumbled across a treasure-trove of graffiti covered buildings.  Any city with beautiful bike paths is a city after my own heart, but combine that with edgy graffiti, delicious food, and a European populace, and well… all I can say is j’adore Montreal!!

Life on the Edge

2 Aug
standing on a cliff in Tulum

standing on a cliff in Tulum

For the past several years, I feel like been walking on the edge of a cliff, straddling possibilities for the future and bracing myself against what sometimes seems like an inevitable plunge into the abyss.  At times this feeling is thrilling, and the adrenaline of complete freedom from responsibilities courses through my veins as I hop on another plane to another faraway land for yet another adventure.  But more often then not, this feeling is terrifying.  Mostly, it hits me when I return home from one of my trips, and I realize that I am broke, unemployed, and homeless.

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Modern Day Servant

23 Jul

The other day, I waited on a table full of professors from our local university, considered by many to be one of the “southern ivies.”  A lot of academics and intellectuals come to eat at our restaurant, but these professors just happened to be discussing US-Mexico policy and the potential implications of the recently passed migration bill in Arizona.  It was all I could do to contain myself and not interject with my opinions as I poured their wine, but I held my tongue and listened to them spout misinformation and misinformed ideas they had probably heard about on Fox news.

I am often frustrated that I am currently forced to work as a waitress, which in my opinion is the equivalent of a modern-day servant, and as much as I tell myself over and over that it’s keeping me humble deep down inside I resent our classist society and long to become a part of the intellectual elite I serve day after day.  “I graduated summa cum laude from a top university!” I want to shout at my customers who ask me for even more lemons to put in their water when I have five other tables who haven’t even ordered yet, three cocktails to make and two more tables that need wine service.  I do not have the time, energy, or desire to bring you more freaking lemons!

Yet I was recently interrupted from my selfish reverie while waiting for my flight at the Boston Logan International Airport.  As I sipped an iced coffee and caught up on emails (yes, how very elitist of me, right? I do recognize that the simple color of my skin guarantees me a certain level of status and camouflages my lower class upbringing).  I witnessed an altercation between the manager of the Au Bon Pain and a young Latino employee.  The employee was walking out of the restaurant with a cart, presumably to go pick up a delivery, and the manager angrily yelled at him to come back and help in the kitchen instead of wandering off.  While I watched the young guy try to communicate that someone was waiting on him to pick up the coffee delivery, the manager became increasingly angry and yelled even louder.  As I watched the employee walk dismally away with a bowed head and a broken spirit, I realized that I am probably not the only person struggling with a demeaning service job in this country.  In fact, I am probably one of only millions of people with advanced degrees who find themselves cleaning toilets or taking out the trash.

At least I can communicate with my customers and my boss, and at least the color of my skin does not automatically subject me to police questioning.  As much as I hate being a waitress, I have to learn to embrace the humility of my current position and to realize that what you do for a living does not define who you are or what you are capable of.  I have also gained a greater appreciation for hardworking janitors, construction workers, and waitresses everywhere.  Just remember that you never know what the person pouring your wine has done with their life, and please, for the love of god, tip them 20%.

Exploring my own backyard

15 Jun

As a constant nomad who is always seeking out the next big adventure, I have to admit that I’ve been feeling pretty trapped in small-town America lately.  My new philosophy, however, is to stop being discouraged by my lack of mobility and lack of a vehicle and to start exploring my very own backyard.  Last night, as the sun started to set and the balmy southern night begun, my good friend M and I pedaled off down the road on our bikes in search of the river.  While the fireflies started to come out and the heat dissipated with the fading sun, we discovered a beautiful little path that wound along the river and through the woods yet was just minutes from downtown.

After our leisurely ride we headed over to a local tapas joint for some mussels, which we savored with a glass of white wine and some fabulous conversation.  When we finished with dinner, we carried our bikes across the railroad tracks and headed down a dirt road I never knew existed, with only the flickering fireflies lighting our way.  I wonder what other hidden places I can find in this provincial town, and I’m eager to spend my summer exploring them.

Photo by Bill Emory