Tag Archives: life

The Bucket List

16 Oct

“What do you want to do before you die?”

It’s a simple question, but sometimes I wonder how many people really have a good answer for it.  I have a million responses, and my journals are bursting at the seams with list upon list of things I want to do, places I want to go, dreams I want to fulfill, and languages I want to learn. But there is one list I always go back to.

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If you’re not changing the world….

9 Oct

What are you doing?

Remembering the Amazon

3 Oct

This sunset was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life, and the fact that I was witnessing it as I padeled up the Amazon river in a canoe only made it all the more amazing.  We were somewhere outside of Iquitos, Peru, deep in the jungle, getting ready to travel the whole Amazon river by boat, unsure of what lay ahead and yet so deeply inspired by what we saw around us.  As the sun slowly drifted down across the horizon, the jungle came alive with the sounds of a million forms of life, the stars exploded across the sky, and my heart stopped beating for just a moment as I contemplated just how much beauty exists in the world.

As I try to mentally prepare myself for another long week of work “inside the box,” I’m remembering all the incredible journeys I’ve taken over the years.  My odyssey years, as I call them, appear to be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean I can’t revisit all the memories from my travels.

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

Oh Sweet Solitude

10 Jun

“Everywhere, in some lights, is a Lonely Place, just as everyone, at moments, is a solitary.  Everyone sometimes dances madly when alone, or thumbs through secrets in a drawer.  Everyone, at some times, is a continent of one.” -Pico Iyer

Searching for inspiration at the public library today, I stumbled across one of Pico Iyer’s many travel memoirs, Falling Off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World.  It is an exploration and reflection on the places in the world where nobody wants to go, or in many cases, where nobody can go- Cuba, North Korea, Iceland, and Paraguay are just a few of the places he calls “Lonely.”  It turns out Octavio Paz isn’t the only one navigating the labyrinth of solitude.