A Natural Disaster

baking            I hate math. I hate it because I’m bad at it, and I’m bad at it because it has rules. There is only one correct solution, and infinite wrong solutions, and you’re not supposed to ask ‘why’. That question has gotten me in trouble in class more than once over the years, because I like things that you can over-think. I like things that have more than one solution, each of which leads to even more solutions. Math feels limiting, like you have to follow all of these rules that previous geniuses have come up with, instead of elaborating on their thoughts and finding new insights of your own.

The only thing similar to math that has rules that I like is baking. Baking is a science, and you have to follow the recipe exactly in order for it to turn out right. I like baking because if I can over-think a recipe, I’ll burn it. Certain artistic creativity is not wanted when it comes to cooking. Apparently tuna and strawberries don’t mix well, and throwing whatever spices strike you as pleasing into a dish altogether isn’t really a great idea. So I like baking because they tell you exactly how much of your favorite spices to put in and what temperature to pre-heat the oven to. Basically, when it comes to cooking, one solution is typically preferable.

Sometimes the desire to bake just strikes me, as it did a few weeks ago. I made a loaf of dark rye bread, although I thought I never would after a few days of trying. I had to make my own sourdough starter, which, if you don’t know, is a living thing. You have to nurture it like it’s a baby, which, well… it is. Unfortunately for me, even with instructions, I kept killing it. Yes, I’ve been told more than once that I wouldn’t make such a great mom. But after a few tries I did manage to get it right, so I finally made a nice, if a bit oddly shaped, loaf of bread. The day after I finally accomplished that, I decided to make a chai spice cake for my friend’s birthday. It turned out beautifully, and I was so proud of it. My only mistake was that I had forgotten to put non-stick spray on the pan. I didn’t think that the cake would come out of the pan, but I decided to try anyways. Well, it did come out, quite easily, in fact, but the problem was that the instructions failed to tell me how to take it out of the pan. So long story short, it broke into three large pieces, and I just barely managed to keep them all from landing on the floor.

With all rules and instructions behind me, I decided to over-think my situation. First I tried to just piece the cake back together like a puzzle and cover up the cracks with confectioner’s sugar, but then I got a better idea. I found a round cookie cutter and tried slicing out little cupcake-like pieces from the cake. The first one that I cut cracked on the top in several places, but it actually looked kind of cool, and there was no going back at that point, anyways. I proceeded to cut out about 12 pieces of cake, each of them with different cracks running through the top of them, which slightly resembled fault line cracks after an earthquake.

Light bulb. It was an earthquake cake. Or, when I thought about it even more and made punny, it became my ‘earthcake’. I lightly garnished my natural disaster with some sugar, stepped back to admire it, and thought to myself that this was one of those moments when you get to say, “It’s okay. I’m an artist.”

I’m happy to announce that I cooked dinner for my parents 47th anniversary dinner the other night, and it was quite good. Nothing was burnt, and I even got the potatoes tender. You may proceed to congratulate me now.

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Carpe Diem

The unmoving walls of the house glared at me as I fidgeted in the living room, unable to sit still, feeling watched and trapped, as if in a cave that did not want me in it. “I’m going to go mad, Mom. Mentally insane. I need to do something.” I rocked back and forth on the couch a bit more, and checked the clock three times before the minute hand moved at all. “Let’s go walk around somewhere. Let’s go to Beorne.”

“I can’t walk around in this kind of heat,” she replied, “but if you want to go to Beorne, then go to Beorne.”

I was out the door in 15 minutes. I took the short cut, which is actually longer, just so that I could drive and listen to music longer. Anything to be out of the house. Anything to see the world moving and living and changing more than watching the dust settle on the windowsills. In 45 minutes I was in Beorne, trying to find someplace to park that didn’t threaten my innocent car with being towed. I finally found an agreeable spot next to a café that I like. From there I walked down the pavement towards the center of town, stopping in each antique shop as I came to it.

I won’t spend too long boring you with what I find splendidly spectacular. I couldn’t tell you why I like old things so much. I don’t know why I felt like I had found the holy grail every time that I stumbled across old letters as a child, or why I want to touch all of the church walls in Europe because “I can feel the past seeping out of them”. But you probably couldn’t give me a reason for your odd quircks and fascinations, either, and, luckily, no reason is needed for them. The point is that I’m like a kid in a candy store when I walk into an antique shop. Everything is old, pre-owned. Everything has been held by someone of a different time, someone almost, but not quite forgotten by their possessions. Everything has a story, and you can only wonder about it. If you find something that you like, you can take it home and put it on your shelf and stare at it for hours, trying to piece together its history. In the process you create a whole new story in itself, a whole new history.

It’s not even the history that’s leaking out of every nook and cranny in the stores that is what completely fascinates me. It’s the store itself; the horrible ruckus of all of these things from too many times and places all thrown together into one place. It’s the dissonance that somehow creates a harmony, like finding a fez right next to a German cap. It’s the room of clocks, all ticking at different tempos and volumes, all in disagreement, arguing so harmoniously about when the second strikes. The beautiful disarray of it all is what captivates me.

But enough of me trying to captivate you with my fascinations. Like a trail of crumbs, the shops finally led me to the center of the town, where I planned just to walk through the park and snap some photos. I was happily surprised to find that an art show was going on. My aimlessness sent me trailing slowly through all of the venders, appreciating some art and mentally scratching my head at other… erm, attempts at art. Under one canopy was seated an old man with a grey braid that reached to his back, and a younger boy with a short, dark brown ponytail. Both of them were tan and exotic looking, and upon reading their signs I noticed that they were of the Sioux tribe. Having a mother who was practically raised by Native Americans, and a house full of native objects, I took a keen interest in the items that they had made. The boy, who looked about twenty, gave me a short history and synopsis of what they do, which I thoroughly enjoyed. All of their hand made dream catchers and necklaces were beautiful. I walked away with a small dream catcher, which for me will not only catch bad dreams, but inspire new, great ones.

Moving along through the open meadow, I looked back and forth until another vendor caught my eye. I slowed and turned in that direction, and the man under the canopy was up from his lawn chair and walking towards me before I even got there. He greeted me with an undeniably Scandinavian accent. “I saw your eye from across the field,” he said.

He had indeed. His art had caught it. He had paintings hung up on his tarp walls, and more in baskets on a table. They were wonderfully colorful and simplistic. They brought me over, and he made me stay. My irrepressible curiosity led me (as it often does, as many foreigners in Texas could tell you) to ask him where he was from. He replied that he was from Sweden, and he asked me a question in return, then I him, and so forth, until we had been conversing for at least half an hour. We talked about art and life, and contradicted each other about art and life for quite a while. The whole time we talked I was incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with him. At one point a woman and her daughter came to look through his paintings, and he went to introduce himself to them. I turned to go to another basket to look through his work, and I suppose it appeared as if I was leaving. “No, you, stay here,” he said, pointing a finger at me.

“Yes, yes,” I replied with a smile. The three ladies and I laughed. I won’t go over all that was said between us, because the points that we touched could inspire five more thousand-word blogs. I realized as we spoke, however, that I was standing in the middle of another moment of serendipity. He offered for me to contact him, and come to his studio to learn, or just to talk. I don’t know what I did to earn an interest from him, but I am glad for it.

“I could be sort of, a uh, a mentor to you, if you want.” I greatly appreciated hearing these words from such a kind, talented, and seemingly wise and cultured man. I departed from him with a handshake, every intention to follow up on what he had so kindly offered, and one of his paintings, which he had pulled out and handed to me. “Here,” he said, “a gift, for you.” The name of the painting was ‘Carpe Diem’.

The rest of the day led me to get hit on by some guy selling knives, who had no better pick up line than ‘you have very pretty eyes’, stung by a yellow jacket, which caused me to say ‘holy badword’, perhaps a bit too loudly, attacked by some ducks that don’t like having their photos taken, and maybe a bit dehydrated by the sweltering sun. It was all good pain, however. People with no scars have no exciting stories to tell.

I started trying to title my blog in my head when I got home, as I always do. I wasn’t having much success until I looked over and saw Bjorn’s painting propped up against the wall where it was waiting to be hung with a frame. “Carpe diem”, the soft blues again sang to me. Of course, I had seized the day, and in doing so had gotten the opportunity to seize many more days to come.

Note: The artist’s name is Bjorn Sjogren. I encourage you to utilize Google and take a look at some of his work.

We Wrote a Story

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Dear Friend,

 I’ve already tried writing this out in my head many different ways, many different times. I’ve come to the conclusion that only a letter will do, because we started this summer together with a letter, and it’s fitting that we may end it with one, too. You said to me that it made you sad to read my blog and know that the references were for somebody else. You know that wasn’t always true, and this one’s just for you. You also kept saying throughout the summer that we should write a story together. That is exactly what we did.

 No two people read a story the same way, and no one will ever understand ours the way that we will. No one else was there in person to see how the sun beams laid a gentle hand on your cheek when you turned to look thoughtfully out the window, coffee cup in hand. No one else has sat through the many cups of black coffee that we have, or shared our many, lengthy, inspiring conversations. No one else played chess in a graveyard with us, no one else sat through and enjoyed black and white vignettes with subtitles, or drove home in the dark with the windows down and the music way too loud, the car moving along to the rhythm of the song, with us singing to a vast and empty darkness, filling the silence with the lingering resonance of life. I could use all of the pretty adjectives and elaborate syntax techniques that I want to, but no one will ever understand our story like we will.

 When it first began, I told you that I felt guilty. You had a girlfriend, and I felt like it was her that you should be sharing these moments with, not me. But you assured me at the time that everyone knew the truth of the matter, and it was completely platonic, and completely okay. Of course I could feel it when the atmosphere changed, and see it in your eyes when your attitude changed, every time. But I believed you when you assured me that it was fine, and took on an attitude as if it was. I thought we both knew that there are some things that linger in the back of your mind, and whether because they hid there, or because you pushed them there, that is where they stay. I think that you thought the same in the beginning, but you’ve been slowly changing your mind.

 No one else will ever be able to understand the understanding and sadness that I felt when you told me that we should stop hanging out, as I sipped my bitter coffee. No one else will understand how beautiful the silence sounded when we danced in the kitchen of the closed coffee shop that night, how when we hugged, I was hugging you for everything, hugging you goodbye, or how beautiful the ceiling and the past looked while laying on the floor, your head heavy on my side. No one else will ever understand all of the emotions that flooded through me as we sat on the front porch in the dark, counting the seconds between cars, watching the embers of some wanderer’s cigarette grow bright and dim in the distance, and sipping sweet chai tea. No one else heard you say, “I think it’s nice when there’s nothing left to say, and…” Or me finish with, “Nothing left, and it’s okay.” No one else will know how that said it all.

 My night was like my beverages – it was bittersweet. I’m sad that we won’t get to spend more time together in the future, but I’m glad that we spent the time together this summer that we did. The glossy tears in your eyes when you spoke to me convinced me that you felt the same. According to you, my biggest flaw is sentimentality, and it is the best flaw that I could have. I suppose you’re right, because it’s thanks to this flaw that I can say these things this way. It’s thanks to this flaw that I can tell you that we did write a story. Maybe there will be sequels, but only time can tell. You’ve been my best friend this summer. There are many things that I want to thank you for, but I think that thanking you for being my friend encompasses most of them.

No one else had to kiss you on the cheek and say goodbye, or watch you drive away, repeating in their head the mantra, ‘the only thing constant is change’. True friendships can be physically far apart, but they always remain close at heart.

 There’s nothing left to say. Nothing left, and it’s okay.

Be happy, my friend. 

Serendipitous Days

            I wasn’t too happy about sitting in the dark room with the flashing lights that made me blink incessantly, wearing somebody else’s tank top and an over-used cover-up that looks like the top of a dress. Senior portraits aren’t fun, but I couldn’t tell the camera man that when he asked why I looked so dull. All I could do was smile and say ‘cheese’, change positions, and do it again.

            When I walked out of the darkened school I was immediately assaulted by the scorching sunlight. I fumbled in my bag for my sunnies to put on before I was overwhelmed by sun sneezes. Once I was looking through the vintage tint that the lenses create, I could see the heat waves rising off of the pavement and the hood of my car. Today is August the first, and the dog days of summer have begun.

            It was still mid-morning as I pulled out of the parking lot, and I knew that all of my mom’s friends were still at my house playing cards with her. I didn’t really want to go home and be quiet so that they could be loud, so I hit my signal and turned left. I didn’t know quite where I was going until I remembered that there was that one thing that I wanted to get for that one person, which can’t be named in this blog for the sake of surprise.

            Driving with the air-conditioning on, the window cracked, and singing along with the music loud gave me chill bumps when the hills parted and the misty valley peeked out at me. Chill bumps, even on the first dog day of summer. That’s what poetry can do to you.            

            It didn’t take long to get to the thrift store and find what I was looking for, so I decided that I would just pop over to the lake, considering how close I was to it, and how I still didn’t want to go home. Being in a thrift store, with $20 in my pocket (no, I’m actually not trying to make a reference to the song), I walked over to the clothing isle to get something less nice than my picture-taking clothes. I grabbed a top, a pair of shorts, an old, ratty Jansport backpack with two straps (which I later proceeded to convert to one strap, via my superior ingenuity), and the aforementioned unmentionable gift – all for about $10. God love thrift stores.

            With my new old day gear slung over my shoulder, I went out in search of a gas station, knowing that I would probably get lost and need more fuel than what I had. My card only works for Exxon, but I couldn’t find one of those, so I had to resort to using a $5 bill to get whatever I could in a different station. After I filled up my Yaris (which I want you to know I pronounce yar-ee, since a mispronunciation named my car), I went into the store to get an apple, a water bottle, and hair bands, and change into my new old clothes.
            Feeling like a first class hipster, I hit the road. Not sure which road, but I hit it. Let’s just pretend that I had some slight idea of where the hell I was going. In reality, I didn’t, and I just followed roads that looked promising until I could catch a glimpse of the lake, and then I took more roads that looked promising. When I started thinking that the lake was just some sort of mirage, and I would never be able to reach it, I saw a sign that said ‘Park’ on it, with an arrow. An arrow! I’m saved! More arrows pointed me down more winding roads until I finally came to the park entrance. The sign in front of the entrance told me that walking in was $1 cheaper than the $2 drive-in fee. I pulled up to the window and asked the grisly old man who came to it, “I don’t suppose I could park my car here and call it a walk-in, could I?” because I’m cheap.

            “No, because then I’d have to charge you for my parking space.”

            With an ‘oh, well then’ and a smile, I handed him the two dollars and drove through. I parked in the first shaded spot that I came to and walked down to the water with my makeshift bag slung over my back. The crisp, cool, blue water could not have been more inviting if I had just stumbled out of the Sahara desert. I waded in up to my thighs and splashed water on my arms and neck. I was alone except for one other family, which was preoccupied with themselves, except for when I heard their little girl say, “Jeremy, why do you keep staring at that woman? Are you in loveee?” I ignored the meaning of this remark, and instead focused on how odd it is that a little girl was calling me a ‘woman’ as I walked up to a shaded grove and picnic bench. I wouldn’t consider myself a woman. I might never consider myself a woman. To me, I’ll always be a girl, une fille. A little girl who gets lost, be it on a bike or in a car. I’ll always be a girl, even when people call me a woman, and ‘ma’am’. And I’ll always be a little girl to my parents, and to the rest of my family. To others, however, it seems that the adjectives and nouns which I denote are evolving.

            I thought of this as I sat in the shade eating my apple, and of other things. Sometimes I was thinking, but sometimes I was just enjoying. The breeze picked up and carried to me lulling notes of the water, laughter of strangers far down the beach, and motors which were speeding people across the lake. I sat like that for a good while, just being.

            When I felt blissfully content I headed back to my car and attempted to remember the way back out of the maze I had gotten myself into. I couldn’t remember, so instead I made another maze. When I again felt hopelessly lost, this maze led me to, you’ll never guess… an Exxon! I was sorely needing the fuel at this point, and sorely needing directions. While my car filled up I walked into the station to ask the cashier where I was going. He was very helpful, and with a few turns I knew exactly where I was. I felt very content as I drove myself home. I was thinking about it, though, and considering that my favorite necklace is some 4,900 miles away in the safe-keeping of a friend, I think I’ll invest in one of those nifty compass necklaces, so that it can always point me in the right direction.

            I passed the school on the way back, where my former fellow band members were still at practice. I had a moment of relief, because I realized in that moment that I was right. I do not, and will not regret what I did. What I’m doing now is what makes me happy, and I’m glad that I made the right choice.

            I pulled into my garage at home with a light heart. Today was a day of serendipity, and my soul is no longer restless. I hope to find more serendipitous moments in the future, and next time, hopefully, with a camera. 

Poetry For Poetry’s Sake

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Be it dark things, or things that glow.

It’s poetry. Everything is poetry. Everything that you can see, hear, smell, or touch – it is all a poem. Words are the murderer of feeling, for they cannot be felt, only heard. But poetry is art, and art is anything that is felt by the heart. Be it sun, be it  snow, be it dark or things that glow, any picture of the earth is a certain poem. Any song, fast or slow, is a perfect verse of poetry. Your green eyes, her rosy lips, those strong arms, and those curvy hips. The smell of a storm, sea spray and foam, the smell of your letters, wet paintings, and home. All of these compose a a new poem, the lines of our lives, lived out to the last, and read, often, a little too fast. So slow down, take the slow lane. Watch the scenery, not the road signs, counting how many miles are left. Watch the clouds grow, smell the sweet rain, remember that your life is a gift. Sit in the subway, but don’t take the train. Watch the people walking so quickly, and wonder where they’re all going, what they have to do, and what it means to you. Write a poem. Not by paper and pen, but simply by taking all of it in. You could use every word in existence, and find a few to repeat, but no combination would ever say the right thing. Life itself is a poem – the only poem worth living.

I Am Autumn

I can feel it all around me –
the future, and the love, and everything I want,
in the framework of the wood,
and the strings that grace the chestnut gloss of the violin next to where I stood.
In the hairs of my bow, shivering with eagerness to cry out the notes of the next song that he will compose.
I can feel them everywhere, the feelings that I cannot share,
the longing, and anticipation, for everything I want.
I can feel them in the canvases that drape my light blue wall,
teasing me with autumn colours, and the places I wish to haunt.
My candle flickers promises, which tell nothing, which tells all.
Sweet notes fill the silence, and my eyes with heartfelt tears.
Chills run across my skin, and turn the eastward wind cool,
where it will blow through the years.
And I  can feel it, this moment that stands still, as it always will.
In this moment I am autumn.
My dreams will make the leaves turn, my waking make them fall.
My nostalgia will make the grass grow, and my remorse will make it burn.
I can feel it all around me, all I want to know,
and wanting, someday, will be enough,
because wanting makes it so.

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A Courageous Misunderstanding

            ‘On The Rainy River’ is a chapter in ‘The Things They Carried’, a very eye-opening novel about the reality of young soldiers that were drafted into the Vietnam War. In this chapter the main character runs away to the Canadian border after he receives his draft notice, where he stays for a couple of days, pondering his choices. He desperately wants to go to Canada in order to ensure his safety, but he is more afraid of disappointing everyone than he is of dying. In the end, he breaks down and cries, because he knows that he will not make the right decision. The last line of the chapter says, “I was a coward. I went to the war.”

            I was in band for six years. This would have been my seventh and final year. I had been considering quitting for a while, and three days ago I went to the first day of band camp, where I realized the decision that I had to make. As a leader, and a previously devoted and talented member, my directors were sad to see me go, which made it hard to say goodbye. But my lack of tears further cemented my decision.

            Although I knew it was right for me, quitting wasn’t an easy decision to make. I disappointed people, which is never an easy thing to go through. Some people that don’t understand my true motivation probably think that I took the easy way out, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If they had ever done band, or anything similar to it, they would understand. It may seem easier to quit because the hours that we practice are ungodly, the conditions in which we practice are hellacious, and our free time is non- existent when we’re in band. But it isn’t easy to leave that, because band gives you an identity. It gives you a guaranteed sanctuary, and the promising comfort of tradition and common expectations. To leave is to take on a whole new world, and it isn’t easy.

            Others find it simply sad that I won’t get the rewards that come to you in your senior year of band, but I think that is a somewhat superficial perspective. I don’t want a letterman jacket that’s going to sit crispy and new in a closet until it is crispy and old, and dusty. I don’t need people to cry over a slideshow of my pictures when it gets close to graduation, or to listen to stories of my favourite moments in band and where I picture myself in ten years. Just having those stories is the real reward. The experience, the life lessons, the memories, the scars, and the stories are the real rewards of being in band, and are the things that I will always cherish.

            I didn’t quit just to quit, and I’d like to think of it more as ‘moving on’ than as ‘quitting’. I feel that I got all of the rewards out of band that I could, and I would not have been happy if I had stayed. I’ve always been a believer that you should do whatever makes you happiest. I will continue to play my flute and be in community bands, but there are other avenues that I wish to pursue now. It wasn’t the changes that occurred in my band that made me want to quit, it was the similarities.

            There is the common fear that I will regret what I’ve done, but that is silly. I have no reason to regret my choices. The choices I have made in the past led me to be the person that is able to face difficulties and do what makes her happy, and this choice will be a factor in who I become from there. As long as I can respect and love the person that I am, I have nothing to regret, and even if I do, I can learn from my mistakes and grow out of my regrets.

            So, despite all of the negative perspectives that one might have about the decision I made, I know that it was the right one, and that’s what counts. I’m proud to be able to say that I wasn’t a coward. I left band.  

Memories of a Ghost

As I mentioned in my short introduction about myself, I like to go places. I like to go to places that I’ve always gone to, places new, exotic places, and sometimes, I like to go where I’m not supposed to.

One of the places that I like to go to is a little coffee shop on the side of the highway where my friend works. It’s a nice, quaint little place, and it’s a good place to escape and pretend that you’re not in the middle of nowhere. One day when I was sitting on the porch drinking whatever kind of iced or hot chai tea that my friend made for me and exchanging stories with him, I happened to pay a little more attention to the old house on the other side of the lot.

The place looked very abandoned, and it lacked ‘no trespassing’ and ‘keep out’ signs. A curiosity festered inside of me, and I asked my friend about it.

“I dunno”, he said, “It’s just some old abandoned house.” That was enough for me. I wanted to see its secrets, so I asked him when he wanted to go and check it out.

“Erm, probably half past never,” he replied. I stared at him with unwavering eyes, making it obvious that I was looking for a different answer. “Well,” he finally said, “If you’re going to go, then you should go when it starts getting dark.” It was obvious that he was uninterested in going, but his approval of my curiosity was enough. We chatted for a bit more before he had to leave. It was still mid-afternoon and light outside, but I decided that I just couldn’t wait to go check out the old house, and the café had already been closed for a few hours, so no one was around. I made the quick drive home, grabbed my camera, put on shoes that covered my ankles, and went straight back.

In a sorry attempt to hide my light blue car from the highway, I parked in a small, shaded grove that might have been concealing if all of the foliage wasn’t dead and barren. Getting out of the car, I tromped through the knee high grass to the house.

The first thing that you notice when you walk up to this house is an old couch sitting on the front porch. It looks long-lost and forgotten, its tattered cloth and rotting cushion giving off an air of neglect and loneliness. All of the doors and windows of the main house are boarded up, but a separate kitchen and a shed were left open. An outhouse and the remains of a windmill stand out in the field, watching the absence of life in the homestead.

Every step that you take to get closer to any of these places, you take cautiously. The unattended yard has grass that grows up to your knees, and you’re never quite sure if that’s a half-buried garden hose or a snake that you almost stepped on. Something about the inside of the rooms feels forbidding, like they have created their own eyes an ears to make up for the lack of any within them.

You enter the kitchen one small step at a time, taking a moment to absorb the new perspective before you move more. At first glance the place looks wholly unoccupied. Layers of dust cover everything, the air feels stagnant, and everything generally looks like it’s been unmoved and untouched for ages. But with a little more attention, you can feel the presence of current occupants. There are eyes everywhere, and you can feel them on you as you intrude into their home.

As you move throughout the room, you try to tread lightly, promising yourself not to move anything. Apart from the unknown lurking in the shadows, there is also a sense that the objects lying everywhere have a life of their own. They feel like ghosts – abandoned, and waiting for someone who is never going to come back for them. They do not want you there. And looking at them, you start to wonder about their story, and of the story of those that lived in this place.

Whose little pink shoe was that? What happened to the child that watched ‘The Land Before Time’, or the adult who had all of the ‘Reader’s Digest’ compilation books? Why did they leave what they left, and what did they take, if they took anything at all? Where did they all go? The room gives only questions that lead to more questions. There are no answers in a place like that.

Next you go to the shed, and instantly wish that you had another light source besides your camera flash. There are even more objects in this room, and it is even more forbidding. Whatever lurks in here is not small, and it will not hide from you. The room itself warns you not to get comfy. There are chains everywhere, and a machete is kept on the ceiling. Still you want to stay, if for but a moment, trying to see all that you can see without moving too far from the entryway, to feel all that you can feel. Five steps forward is adventurous, and six makes the room unhappy. The sound of something large and mean uncoiling and starting to slither is enough to make you shiver and turn anxiously to get out.

But you can’t leave without being taken aback for a second by the beauty of the way that the light seeps through the cracks in the walls, making every effort to get in and light the room, to wipe away the dust and free the ghosts. And when you do open the door and step out, you think for a moment that you have never been happier to see the sunlight and feel a breeze.

Stepping into those rooms was like stepping into an old photograph. You aren’t supposed to be there, and you can’t wait to get out. But for the moment that you are there, there is so much to see, and feel, and wonder.

So, with one curious, old place behind me, and many more to see, I am now a professional loot-err, photographer.

I’m not a looter. After all, the only things I’m stealing are memories and shots.

Welcome to Texas

After a short introduction of myself, I would like to introduce you to my habitat: Central Texas. It is eleven-thirty in the morning as I type this post, and the temperature is already pushing ninety degrees fahrenheit, thirty-two degrees celsius, and humid. In other words, it’s already pushing blisteringly hot. Why I continue to sit outside to write is beyond me, although my best guess is that I somehow subconsciously feel that writing while submerged in painful heat, I will better be able to portray the agony of it.

People have often told me that they can’t picture me living in Texas when I’m older. As far as I can tell, people picture right. It’s not that I don’t love it here, that it isn’t ‘home’. But I also can’t say honestly that someday someplace else won’t be ‘home’, and that this won’t be the setting of my past, the place of my childhood. There is much that I love about Texas. I love the rolling thunderstorms, the smell of cool rain hitting the hot pavement, the explosion of green in the spring, the excitement of getting half-an-inch of crusty, brown snow, and most of all, the memories that I have invested in this environment.

But I can also honestly say that there is much that I don’t love about Texas. I won’t go too into detail about the poisonous and irritating bugs, the heat, the fact that six years out of ten we are in a drought, the cacti that are as tall as I am, the occasional accent that makes me wish I had a hearing aid to turn off, the animal mounts and cow carpets in friends’ and strangers’ houses, or the fact that you can’t walk through your own backyard in the summer without seeing spots and losing a day off of your life-span. No, I won’t go too into detail about any of that.

All I will say is that I want to live somewhere that I can sit in the grass under the shade and read a book in the summertime without melting and being eaten alive by insidious insects, where I can wear my winter clothes for more than two weeks out of the year, and where I can order a double-shot espresso without getting a funny look from the barista, because I don’t want something with way-too-much sugar in it.

Texas is like the Australia of Central America. We have every known kind of poisonous snake, centipedes that grow up to six inches long, scorpions that crawl out of the drain, and spiders that can make your flesh rot and fall off. Now I must qualify with the good things: we have many beautiful plants (sans thorns), lots of nice things like butterflies, rivers that aren’t always low and stagnant, and a rich culture and history. Just the other day I was watching the most adorable baby squirrel frolic through the underbrush, and it was very refreshing. Until a hawk swooped down and grabbed it for dinnertime. That was just a few weeks after I came home from running to find my dog sitting on the porch with a fluffy tale hanging out of her mouth, her eyes and perked-up ears screaming, “Look what I finally caught!” Welcome to Texas.

Sometimes I wonder why people even live here in the first place, and then I remember. Oh yeah, you can buy a house in Texas twice the size of one in California for half of the price. Everything is bigger in Texas! But who wants to dust that much? And then of course you have to wonder why people would rather pay the extra amount to live other places. There are reasons. Welcome to Texas.

Now my opinion of the area is certainly biased, and not at all what everyone would think. Don’t let me dissuade you from experiencing the hidden beauty that hides behind the heat waves and cacti, because there is much. You will certainly get a heart-warming welcome here, in every sense of the word ‘warming’.

Welcome to Texas!

An Introduction of Some Sort

            As an impatient person, I found it very difficult to wait until I had an actual blog to start creating posts, and therefore impossible not to apply those two posts as soon as I did get a blog. So where anyone else might give an introduction in their first entry, mine will be in the third. I’m not very good at introductions, but no one is, really, except for people like Obama and Kim Kardashian. I do not aspire to be that famous (or should I say, infamous), but I’ll do my best on an intro.

My name is Not Important. I’m 18 years old, but that isn’t very important, either. What is important is that I’m happy. Someone once asked me what made me happy, and I replied to them, “everything”. Because what isn’t bittersweet? There is nothing in this world, not in the darkest of moments or deepest of depths, that creates inescapable unhappiness. Until the last star dies out, there will always be light in the world.

What is important is that I’m cheesy, and I like to be cheesy. I like over-analyzed metaphors and complicated analogies, and anything that might make a cubicle-worker or gothic girl cringe. I like exaggeration, but only in a modest sense of the word. I like to occasionally make no sense, because whatever logic that a reader applies to something unintelligible is the most true logic that they can get, for it is true of themselves.

What is important is that I want to go places, and take photos along the way. And when I say ‘go places’, I don’t just mean it in a metaphorical sense. I mean, I want to get on a plane, or in a car, or on a boat, and see the stars from a different latitude. I want to marvel at the fact that the sun goes sideways in one place, and overhead in another. I want to meet the people, experience the culture, taste the food, and feel the grass that all come together under that one view of the sky. All the perspectives of the people of any place will be uniquely their own, and I want to look at life from as many different viewpoints as I am able to in my lifetime.

What else is not so important is that I have no intentions of keeping a consistent blog. I mean this in the sense that, if you like your blogs to consistently show you pictures of Justin Beiber holding kittens, or if you want me to update you on how many cups of coffee I drink a day, everyday, then this blog is not for you. I simply write about whatever I feel like writing about. That may be a wide variety of things, from boring birthday parties to philosophical prose. And if dry wit and sarcasm are not your cup of tea, then this party is probably not for you.

What is important is life. And I am here to capture that with photos, and relive it with written and annotated memories, in the hopes that others can live through my experiences as I hope to live and learn from theirs.

What is important is not why I’m making this blog, but what goes in to it and gives it a purpose.