Redefinition.

It’s about midnight, I’m writing this in wordpad right now because our internet is all messed up and I’m too cheap to invest in microsoft office so I am using wordpad. Obviously, since you are reading this, we got the internet figured out so I could paste and post…woot woot.

I’m holding it in my hand – a proposal to do a piece of work I believe would truly be an awesome research venture and naively I forget, of course, that I’m not the only one that thinks of these things. Having been scooped several times now in what is actually still considered an ‘early’ career, I should know well that what I think is cool…well others think it’s cool too. Enter https://phys.org seriously – f%@&ing bane to my existence. “Researchers have just discovered…” – I toss the proposal aside, seriously – words that are going to be on my tombstone. “Researchers have just discovered…” Novelty erased, pass Go, do not collect $200, find a new angle or just start again. Continue reading “Redefinition.”

anger management…

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Gautama Buddha

I’m not an ‘angry’ person. Ask just about anyone that knows me or has known me for any extended period of time and they’ll probably say I’m pretty easy going. I usually care more about how I am making others feel and that trumps how they are making me feel. Sure I get hurt, annoyed or pist like the next person but then time goes by and it’s supposed to go away. Well, while it doesn’t consume my days and nights (usually), it never goes away. I’m still pist about stuff from elementary school – yes, elementary school. From about the 4th grade through 8th grade I was a very angry, depressed, rather morbid child and it manifested in creative ways at home and in school it did not lend itself to making friends. I was made fun of, I was bullied, I was ostracized…the kids pretty much hated me and at  the time I had no idea why.  I didn’t think  I was such a terrible person, but y’know schoolyard politics dictate who the misfits are. Which is why I am forever grateful my best friend (of 30+ years now!) stuck it out with me.

Because I was such a little shit as a child, when we moved to Hawaii and I got the chance to ‘start over’ in  high school, I made a concerted effort to remake myself and suck less as a human being. To a large degree it worked and my inner anger dissipated. Being in a stable location for all of high school helped. Going to church helped and aside from nearly getting my ass kicked freshman year of high school – I was able to make an amazing group of friends, hopefully, many of whom I’ll see this summer at our 20 year high school reunion.

When I got to college I saw kids from elementary school…they were going to the same college…they were in MY dorm – karma!? We were civil, had our own circles, wasn’t a big deal – but on seeing them, the anger came back. You think you have something resolved, you’ve moved on with your life and low and behold…

“Mother! f**@ss chomping monkey vomit son of a heartless goat sh***bag gahhhhhh…i hate you…” – No not a stream of consciousness, I think at some point this sentence actually came out of my mouth.

Continue reading “anger management…”

Goodnight Moon…

So it’s about 1:30 in the morning and I’m sitting on husband’s computer writing this reflecting on my past year. I’m actually pretty proud this post is less than a year from my last post, granted only by a month but hey – it’s progress right? I’m drinking hot limeade with honey, my own home remedy for the raging cough and sore throat that I’ve had the past several days now. Caveat of kids…when they go to daycare they bring home all manner of viral madness that you and the spouse get to take turns doing battle with…

Oh ya…so I had a baby this year.

In fact my last post on Macchu Picchu I was nearly 2 mos along. It made that trip all that more special for my husband and I to be able to travel and cross a bucket list item off my list with little peanut tagging along. While I did not relish the insane nausea that kept me from enjoying so much Peruvian cuisine the experience was nonetheless amazing.

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Following that adventure began the adventure of getting larger and larger as peanut became kumquat became grapefruit eventually on her way to small watermelon.  Pregnancy treated me well and occupied most of my year. Skip ahead 9 mos, I’m not going to go into too much detail other than to relay what I learned by 40 weeks of pregnancy:

  • naps are awesome
  • waiting for said child to debut is tedious especially when one cannot (or shouldn’t) work
  • baby movement is awesome and will be what I miss most
  • morning sickness is not awesome – even if you aren’t vomiting constant nausea blows
  • toward the end you will hear ‘Wow, ready to pop yet’ about a MILLION times!!!!! and you’ll reply ‘Nope, still XX weeks/months to go” about a MILLION times!!!
  • Is it just East Coasters like to schedule their babies? – I’ve been asked a ton of times when my scheduled induction or cesarean is and am met with surprise when I say; nope just waiting for her to come on her own. It’s like I’m a cave woman!
  • pillows are awesome
  • food is awesome
  • ice cream is awesome (husband! so you’re fault!)
  • pregnancy in the hot humid summer is not awesome
  • people smile A LOT at pregnant women – it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to know I can make someone smile just by cooking a minion and waddling past them.
  • pregnancy doesn’t have to ‘slow you down’ like I’ve been told. Long as you listen to your body the world is still your oyster! HOWEVER, if you over do it your body will definitely rein you in sometimes not nicely!

I had lofty goals of what I was planning to accomplish before heading out on maternity leave because while I had hopes, I had no delusions about the fact I was most likely going to get nothing done during maternity leave. Figured I’d be lucky to get a shower. I managed to finish up analyses so others could write manuscripts and literally the day before I went into labor I managed to submit a manuscript detailing a study I did during my Ph.D. work!

My daughter arrived Sept 8 – and my husband and I found ourselves in the tailspin of sleep deprived newborn stage. Thank God my mom and then my husband’s mom showed up to help us navigate for a few weeks! FMLA allowed me up to 12 weeks off my job only part of which was paid at 60% of my salary. Welcome to the U.S. land of no paternity leave and in my case maternity leave was called temporary disability – y’know because expanding your family is a disability!? But enough about my discontent with ‘the system’. Just because that’s ‘how it is’ all over the country doesn’t make it right though. And I was fortunate, there are several jobs where there’s no FMLA or anything set up for women having kids – so I have to count my blessings where I can.

My precious girl is now 4 mos old…I’ve since gone back to work, had fantasies about going all ‘office space’ on my breast pump, 

managed to see my name in print again after a coons age of languishing publications –

and as of recent, caught a nasty cold accompanied by a heinous cough – hence the home remedy I am currently drinking.

4 months…having children is challenging. Not to go all Dicken’s about it but the husband summed it up nicely with “It is the best of times, it is a the worst of times.”  And I’ll expand on that by adding some more Dickens”…it is the age of wisdom, it is the season of Light…it is the spring of hope… we have everything before us…”

We call her our incredi-baby capable of being unbelievably challenging and adorable all at the same time!

In keeping with what I learned with 40 weeks of pregnancy, here’s what I wish with 4 mos of parenthood under my belt:

  • I could bathe in caffeine
  • My boobs would automagically fill bottles during the night so I can sleep rather than pump.
  • I wish I could freeze moments of time when my daughter has a huge smile and gives me massive eyes.
  • I could find the ‘off’ button on my body and conversely the ‘on’ button when 2 am pumpings come up
  • I could be at work and at daycare or home with my daughter at the same time – so apparently I want to be in several places at once…what’s that thing called where Hermoine turns back time again so she can be in several places at once Harry Potter fans?
  • I had more tolerance. There are days when it’s just not there and I feel horrible about it.

We are getting to know our daughter and she is getting to know us and even on our most challenging days – her smile and laughter just seems to erase any difficulties. When she’s cuddly you just want to hold her forever. Currently, she’s discovered she loves to stand up – I think she may skip crawling altogether!

I’m learning to love routine, the predictable – unusual given most of my life I’ve associated routine with mundane. Having a child is teaching me the beauty of routine, the small things, the rituals, the prayers, the quiet and loud moments…

Tonight my daughter was very tired and pitching a fit as husband was attempting to get her into pajamas. I took over to give him a breather as she was hollering up a storm which can grate on the most zen of nerves sometimes. There is such solace in being able to tag-team with your child – ensures some modicum of calm which is absolutely essential when attempting to quiet a baby in the midst of an emotional riot! Part of me couldn’t blame her, she has been catching back to back viruses from daycare for over a month now! And she’s been a trooper for most of it.

I read in a book, (great read by the way – Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers by Tracy Hogg et al. ) that, in general, there are no “bad” parents and no “bad” children – just learning on both fronts. Learning each others cues, learning to communicate – it’s a steep curve but one that you master over time and can’t really rush.

I picked up my little minion still in the midst of her meltdown. As soon as I held her she started to quiet down. We went to the TV – “good night TV” and shut it off, we went to the baby changing area “good night baby changing area” and turned off the light, we went to the extra bedroom “good night playroom” and turned the light off, we went to the kitchen “good night kitchen” and turned the light off, we went to the bathroom and and looked in the mirror “good night baby in the mirror” and we blew kisses to the baby in the mirror as we shut off the light. With each good night she grew quieter and quieter. We grabbed her bottle and sat on the couch and sang as she settled down for the night and for bedtime.

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“Good night sweetheart well it’s time to go, good night sweetheart well it’s time to go, I hate to leave you but I really must say – good night sweetheart goodnight.”

She drifted off and started snoring – because lets face it she’s got my husbands genetics 🙂

I put the bottle down picked her up still singing and placed her in her crib.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

Goodnight moon…goodnight 2015.

Machu Picchu 101 – for those that have limited time and aren’t using a company

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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A hassle that’s totally worth it.

 

So I figured it might be helpful to post my adventure getting up to Machu Picchu in January 2015 because it’s not as straightforward as one would desire for such a trip. I had limited time and didn’t want to go through an expensive travel company that would book me at a budget hostel or expensive hotel that I wouldn’t get to pick and give me an itinerary and guide I didn’t want. I like to explore things on my own so being on a regimented tour is not my idea of fun.

The below is for a 4 day trip Friday to Monday. But you can do this in 3 days too…see below.

Checklist (from Lima) – I’ll elaborate below:
1. Get your tickets to Machu Picchu
2. Get your train (or train+bus in rainy season) tickets
3. Get to Cusco
4. Either go directly to Aguas Calientes (now called Machu Picchu Pueblo) immediately after arriving in Cusco or stay a couple days – if altitude sickness bites you like it bit us, staying in Cusco is going to blow royally and you’ll need time to acclimate. Given my work schedule we had to fly to Cusco at night so we stayed one night. But you can get early early flights to Cusco that’ll get you to train transfer in time.
5. Get your bus tickets to Machu Picchu
6. Enjoy.

Lastly…cheaper alternatives and links at the bottom…

Elaboration:

1. Get your tickets to Machu Picchu:
So the first thing I did while in Lima was research how to get tickets into the site. They only allow 2000 visitors into Machu Picchu per day and 200 into Huayapicchu which is an epic hike up a mountain for a different vantage point of the lost city. I started off by looking at http://www.seat61.com/Peru.htm because if you are looking to travel via train – he’s the best. His train time tables off a bit though. But we’ll get to that. Tickets first! Seat 61 (and the internet in general) say buy your tickets from http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ . Now this site does not function fantastically on the English version – I couldn’t get past selecting my dates to actually seeing confirmation of my reservation. So I switched to the Spanish version which I recommend if you know Spanish. I was able to get through the whole reservation process this way and get my confirmation number of my reservation. Now here’s the kicker – your reservation is only good for 6 hours! You have 6 hours to pay and MC/VISA didn’t seem to work for me no matter what I tried on the website in English or Spanish. I assumed my reservation would be good and I could pay onsite when I got there so I left it at that. Yes, you can pay onsite – no they don’t hold your reservation beyond 6 hrs. SO, if you want to guarantee your reservation especially if you’ve reserved going up Huayapicchu (which fills up even in the rainy/low season) then go through paypal on the website instead. This option seems to work well and you can get your official tickets this way. Make sure to print them out and bring them with you. OH – and the government site didn’t work for me on Firefox – I had to use Chrome.

Cost of Tickets to Machu Picchu Only: ~128 soles/person (~42 USD)

Cost of Tickets if you go to Machu Picchu and Huayapicchu: ~152 soles/person (~50 USD)

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Because I failed on the whole only having 6 hrs to pay – we ended up having to pay onsite for tickets when we arrived at Machu Picchu Pueblo. When you get off the train – head through the market and downhill essentially til you hit the main plaza – the tourist office will be off one of the corners of the Plaza (or just ask anyone and they’ll point you the right direction. “donde esta la plaza?” or “boleta machu picchu?”).

Only Machu Picchu tickets were left, Huayapicchu was booked – it ended up being ok because apparently it’s a death hike that’s super cool at the top, but still a pretty ridiculous hike and because we were still acclimating to altitude we ultimately were pretty thankful we didn’t go.

Tickets to Machu Picchu – CHECK

2 and 3. Train/Bus and Air tickets:
So this will be fun as there are only morning trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo and only late afternoon trains from Machu Picchu Pueblo back to Cusco so you’ll have to arrange your flights accordingly. We flew LAN Airlines (which was comfortable and they give you a snack). Yes snacks matter when you’re from the US and you pay for absa-fing-everything on any flight. We close to fly into Cusco Friday night then catch the early train Saturday morning…I didn’t want to stress about delayed flights. Know that in the rainy season electric and thunderstorms are a daily occurrence in Cusco – so your flight could be delayed or cancelled. Alternatively, you can travel on the first LAN flight of the day then take a taxi straight to the train/bus depot which assuming no delays you’ll be tired, but it’ll work out. And bad weather typically arrives in the afternoon/evenings in Cusco so your flight should be pretty solid on timing.

Our flight was ~320 USD/person (LAN Airlines: http://www.lan.com/en_us/sitio_personas/index.html) and you have to book it on the English version of the site (or via Orbitz, Hipmunk…). It won’t let you pay with a US credit card if you book your flight in Lima from the Spanish version of the site. When I did the conversion though, if I had been able to book it in country on the Spanish site the price diff wasn’t that big – about ~20-40 USD. At this point if you are going to Machu Picchu you should be resigned to spend money –  especially if on a tight schedule like we were, so this didn’t matter that much.

Seat 61 (http://www.seat61.com/Peru.htm) has a great rundown of the PeruRail (http://www.perurail.com/) train options with pictures. We took Vistadome as that was the one that provided the easiest schedule for us. Remember – TO Machu Picchu Pueblo, morning schedules only. FROM Machu Picchu back to Cusco afternoon/evening schedules only. So if you want to get back earlier than the offered train schedule you’ll need to go to Ollantaytambo which runs just about every hour during the day (timetable: http://www.perurail.com/destination-machu-picchu). Then you’ll need to pay a private taxi to take you back to Cusco ~20-25 USD and could be the ‘ride of your life’ – but it’ll work. We picked Vistadome (The Backpacker is slightly cheaper on PeruRail but left earlier and well…we’re lazy and like to sleep) – cost RT 175 USD/person.

  • Double check train and flight schedules so you don’t miss your connections or try to arrive in Cusco a day early and spend the night, catching the train in the morning.
  • We rode PeruRail but you can check out Inca Rail too (http://incarail.com/) perhaps their scheduling might be more convenient.
  • The latest Vistadome (or any train) that leaves is at 7:50 am in the rainy season (Jan/Feb) when they do bus+train mix and you’ll arrive in Machu Picchu Pueblo just after noon – so plan your flight accordingly if you are going to come in day of your train ride.
  • The last full trip all the way back to Cusco leaves at 5:25 pm but the last LAN flight in the evening is 7:10 pm – so even if you take the first schedule back at 3:20 pm from Machu Picchu Pueblo to Cusco you won’t arrive til 7:30 pm so you’ll still miss that last flight on LAN. Alternatively, as mentioned above you can get back in time if you go to Ollantaytambo and pay a private taxi to get you back in time.
  • Also remember, rainy season = afternoon/evening lightening/thunderstorms so you could get stuck. We came back on Sunday night and flew Monday afternoon 4:30 pm flight – and ours was the last flight out – all the rest were cancelled because of epic storms coming through and our flight was also delayed because of an electric storm.
  • We stayed the night in Cusco at the El Balcon Hostel (http://www.balconcusco.com/en/cusco-hostel-el-balcon, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g294314-d318940-Reviews-El_Balcon_Cusco_Hostel-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html) It was adorable, quaint, clean but a bit of a hike up a hill to get to which isn’t a problem if you take a taxi. But we just went down to the plaza (3 blocks away) to get dinner and nearly died getting back – we also got altitude sickness which doesn’t help.  They offer Coca tea upon arrival which is awesome and tasty but unfortunately didn’t help me overcome being super ill that night. We were on the second floor and from the balcony could see the city – it was awesome. They offer complimentary taxi to the hostel when you come in, but you’ll have to pay when you leave. Cost ~50 USD/night (my review on TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g294314-d318940-r251143026-El_Balcon_Cusco_Hostel-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT)

Tickets to Cusco –  CHECK

Tickets on Vistadome RT to Machu Picchu – CHECK

4. All I want to say here is what I said above: Either go directly to Machu Picchu Pueblo immediately after arriving in Cusco or stay a couple days – if altitude sickness bites you like it bit us, staying in Cusco is going to blow royally and you’ll need time to acclimate. If you go directly to Machu Picchu Pueblo the effects of altitude won’t be as onerous and might be worth the earlier schedule – you’ll be tired but altitude sickness I think is worse.

5. Machu Picchu Pueblo and Buying your Bus Ticket EARLY!:

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The line for tickets is on the left of the picture, the line to get on the bus is on the right side of the picture. You have to have a ticket when in line for the bus – they check while you are in line.

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So in addition to all the tickets above you’ll also need to buy a specific ticket to actually take you from Machu Picchu Pueblo up to Machu Picchu itself. The ride is about 30-40 min. Cost 19 USD/person. What we should’ve done since we were in the town a day early was get the bus tickets for the following morning right away – but we waited til about 5:00 am the following morning and the line was out to kingdom come. Now this ultimately didn’t matter too much cause even though it seemed like  it was sunrise and getting super light out, sunrise actually up at Machu Picchu doesn’t get up over the Andes into the Incan city until between 6:15-6:30 (rainy season). So initially we were super bummed because we thought we’d missed the sunrise but after buying tickets then waiting in an even longer line to get on the bus – we did end up getting there just as the sun peaked over the Andes =  awesome. But know that the later you go, the more people will end up in your pictures – so if you truly want a ‘solitary’ experience – buy your bus tickets the day before and be at the bus depot at 4:30-4:45 am to get in line for a bus; that’ll ensure you are literally on one of the first buses up. The site doesn’t open til 6 am though and the first bus will not leave til around 5:30 am but the line for the buses will be insanely long so I still suggest an early arrival if you are a die hard about getting on that 5:30 am bus to be apart of the first group into the site.

Bus Tickets to Machu Picchu Site – CHECK

  • In Machu Picchu Pueblo we stayed at the Panorama B&B (http://www.mapipanorama.com/en/, my review: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g304036-d7159063-r251145329-Panorama_B_B-Aguas_Calientes_Sacred_Valley_Cusco_Region.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT). Biggest pluses: Christophe will store your packs while you explore Machu Picchu, breakfast served at 4:30 am, free bottle of wine (or beer), AMAZING view from balcony or river, quiet area of town yet close to everything. Cost ~$60/night double.
View from the front of Panorama B&B. We were on the 4th floor. Amazing view of river - very serene.
View from the front of Panorama B&B. We were on the 4th floor. Amazing view of river – very serene.

6. Enjoy. It was a hassle to plan but totally worth it.

COST SUMMARY:

  • LAN Air tickets RT Lima > Cusco > Lima: $320/person
  • Cusco accomodation – El Balcon: $50/night
  • Machu Picchu ONLY site tickets: $42/person
  • PeruRail Vistadome RT Cusco > Machu Picchu Pueblo > Cusco: $175/person
  • Machu Picchu Pueblo accomodation – Panorama B&B: $60/night
  • Another night in Cusco before flying out – El Balcon: $50/night

Total: $697/person

Cheaper Alternatives:

  • Stay in cheaper accomodation than we did. So our accommodation was between 150-245 soles/night which is actually pretty high but we’ve done the ‘gap-year-backpacker-don’t-care-where-i-sleep-hope-bugs-don’t-crawl-on-me’ traveling thing. We’re older, have good jobs and quite frankly like to sleep a little more comfortably. We didn’t need five star – but we didn’t want the backpacker hostel experience either (been there done that, was great when I was 23). You can get accommodation for a lot cheaper at backpacking hostels that still offer warm showers and private rooms (25-50 soles/night) – so do a little research and look at the links below on blog posts of people that did this cheaper than us. 🙂
  • Take more time – do your research and find a cost effective tour doing the Incan Trail. Here’s a blog post to get you started – your biggest concern is going to be finding a reputable group that will not rip your off or leave you stranded (it happens). http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/trek-the-inca-trail-to-machu-picchu,3268/.
  • Advice for traveling on the cheap via TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294318-i3352-k5199780-Cheapest_way_to_do_Machu_Picchu-Machu_Picchu_Sacred_Valley_Cusco_Region.html
  • Trekking – permits sell out quick, book in advance with a good company. Take a look at the reviews for these companies – many offer the Incan Trek as well: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g294314-Activities-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html. Alternatively, check out the reviews of the Incan trail and the high reviews – see if they mention what company they went with: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294314-d311715-Reviews-Inca_Trail-Cusco_Cusco_Region.html
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Post 1: First Day was travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo, Second day was Machu Picchu, Third day heading back to Cusco. Prices are a little different as her travel was in 2013. This does not include the cost of getting nor staying in Cusco prior to actually doing the trip. But it is pretty darn cheap how she did it – $115 total. She has a lot of good tips as well.  http://undertheyewtree.com/cheap-way-to-do-machu-picchu/
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Post 2: Not as informational and doesn’t list her final costs but still a good read and the more tips the merrier: http://fullofwanderlust.com/machu-picchu-on-a-budget/.
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Post 3: A GREAT blog post – again doesn’t include cost of getting to Cusco or staying in Cusco prior to your adventure  – but breaks it down lovely and end cost/person awas ~$107 USD. Bear in mind this was posted in 2009 but still super informational with pictures and advice. (http://www.chanatrek.com/the-cheapest-way-to-get-to-machu-picchu-machu-pichu-peru/)
  • Machu Picchu on the Cheap Blog Posts 4 and 5:
    Another great breakdown: http://www.drivenachodrive.com/how-to-visit-machu-picchu-on-the-cheap/ and experience: http://www.drivenachodrive.com/2013/01/death-road-to-machu-picchu/ by Drive Nacho.

Best of Luck and Happy Travels!

wandering another year later

coffeeMel

So the husband pointed out that it’s been over a year since my last post and perhaps I was due to start blogging again. Oddly, the past few years since coming back to the US from Bangkok – specifically to Maryland/DC I just haven’t really been inspired to blog…as I’m sure you can tell from the copious lack of posts freakishly apparent on this blog.

It’s difficult for me to write without a reason. I typically don’t update my teaching blog for months on end because I only update it when I feel I have something useful to relay. I typically don’t update this blog unless I have something, again, useful to mull over.

Fact of the matter is, while I may not be wandering geographically much anymore I am still very much wandering inside. Struggling with the pros and cons of my current life, debating what will really make me happy, both loving and hating what I do, turning 35 in a couple weeks and coming to grips with the decision of whether to have kids during the last portion of my 3rd decade of life because I’d rather not have them in my 40’s if I have them at all, being told I’m over thinking everything – yet that’s my nature…

I’m finally seeming to get my legs under me in this new field I jumped into during my postdoc…took awhile. Realizing the majority of what I do and how I live is to make those around me happy and accommodated; but not necessarily myself – and yet making other’s happy does make me happy, but then it doesn’t, but it does…it really is a vicious circle.

I haven’t blogged because I’ve been in limbo – eating, sleeping, working, rinse, repeat… And what is there to say when you are in limbo? “Wow, it’s been 2 years and I’m still in limbo.” – inspiring right? Not really.

I have a bookshelf and Kindle full of books I am uninspired to read, I have a book of recipes yet I am not inspired to cook, a book for programming yet I am not inspired to program, I have a basket full of partially finished cross-stitch that remains in the basket, I have a gym membership languishing, Manuscripts and blogs – yet I am uninspired to write… sounds depressing? It really is not – I’m just in limbo, internally wandering, going through the motions, until I find a renewal of passion for something again.

Mid-30’s life crisis, maybe.

I could blame my phone, those infernal addictive app games, social networking sites, LOL Cats, youtube etc…for becoming the unproductive ‘filler’ in my life – how many hours can you spend just on youtube videos or looking through buzzfeed posts, but while I’ve lost time to those at some point or another, most of my time loss stems from just ‘existing’ and being unable to put what’s going on my head into coherent form. The husband really is a saint for putting up with this by the way.

I’m not really looking for answers here. I’m not happy nor unhappy, just reflecting…yet another year later.

PS. Happy one-day-early birthday Mom, I love you.

A year later…providence or pfftttzz…

So in a random turn of events I just decided to check this blog…today is July 15, 2013. My last entry was July 16, 2012. Coincidence?

I find it humorous that this blog has taken the form of most of my journals (diaries) where I have fits where I write everyday and periods of no activity until one day I randomly decide to write again. I don’t particularly advertise this blog aside from the facebook linking for family and friends that might be interested and I think you can find it via google searching. But this white screen that I type into is more for reflection than anything else, if others derive benefit from that, great.

Perhaps it’s providence that I’ve decided to check my blog. My last entry was about ‘dreams’ and where I was at. Since then life has been eventful but I still struggle with what will make me happy in my work…similar musings as to my last entry. Since then, I’ve gotten married, been quite productive if not incredibly frustrated at work, been back to Thailand to teach a workshop, been to Europe to attend a workshop, started a teaching blog for things I learn at workshops, started online newsletters for my field so others can tap into what I find on the internet, finished up a teaching fellowship, explored DC during free time… Life is clipping along as it should…

Somethings I’ve figured out in the past year:

Continue reading “A year later…providence or pfftttzz…”

It’s hard to be ‘from’ somewhere when you are not

Born in Los Angeles County, CA in a hospital that no longer exists, moved from California to Washington when I was 5, moved within WA a bit, moved to Hawaii when I was 11, moved around a bit within HI, by the time I reached high school I’d attended at least 10 schools that I remember distinctly. I get asked a lot if I’m a military brat…nope, my family just went where the work was.

Thankfully we settled in Maui long enough for me to attend all of high school in one place. Then what happened? I promptly started moving around again, summers working in HI, school years back in WA going to college, followed by a move for 2 years before settling in MT for grad school, followed by living in Thailand and now settled in Maryland.

Growing up I used to say I was equally from 3 states (CA, WA and HI)–after grad school I had to add MT because as far as length of time it was up there with where I was born (CA) and the other places I’d lived (WA and HI).

But length of time doesn’t dictate if you are ‘from’ somewhere I’ve learned. Now I’ve always said my home (or where I am from) is where my family is and that’s true. I know I will always be supported and have a home where ever that may be with my folks. So currently, I am from Hawaii. Technically that’s not true though, I was born in Cali but then spent many of my formative years in Washington, albeit I hated grade school and jr. high, and then of course feeling like I actually ‘grew up’ in Maui.

Montana also had a profound effect on me, I did live there longer than anywhere else unless you count my forays back to Hawaii in between school years and my two year hiatus there after college. But MT isn’t ‘home’ to me. I have many great friends there and I loved Bozeman…it’s a great place, but it’s not ‘home’.

Is where you are ‘from’, where the highest density of friends and family are?

I used to envy kids that grew up their whole lives or most of their lives in one locale. They have friendships already rooted and as an outsider I can always come in and become apart of those friendships but never attain the life-long level that comes from being rooted I guess. And that’s ok, surprising at times when I discover I am not as ‘close’ to someone as I’d previously thought, but understandible. No matter how close I get with someone or certain people, I don’t root–never have, it’s a habit for me not to root as the likelihood I’ll ‘move on’ is usually pretty high…I do attach though (epiphytically for you geeks out there). So I’d be lying to say it doesn’t surprise when I am shed.

And wonderfully I have a few ‘unrooted’ life long friends partly due to experiences and longevity that’s super glued us for life. If I asked them to travel 5,000 miles to see me for a few days–they’d seriously consider it and try and vice a versa and I so treasure those people in my life.

Should I say I am from nowhere? Or everywhere? Well I haven’t traveled so extensively as to say I am from everywhere, so I guess that leaves ‘nowhere’. Nah…that makes me feel like I came out of a test tube. I guess I’ll just stick with Hawaii as that’s where I long to be, I miss Hawaii, I miss my family, I miss the smells, the climate…perhaps that’s why I attached to Thailand. Although, Thailand is way more hot and humid than I would’ve liked but it was also ‘familiar’ not to mention we just made some really awesome friends out there.

So my high school is planning another reunion…a 13 year reunion this October I want to say? Not sure…or maybe it’s a 15 year reunion being planned for 2014. I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion in 2007 as I was a poor graduate student that didn’t have the money to flit off to Hawaii, much as I may have wanted to. It’s interesting to see how lives drift apart and back together in some cases. Many of my high school friends and acquaintances did stints in the mainland sometimes for a decade or more and are now moving back to Hawaii. Whether you were born in Hawaii or just spent your formative years there…the islands always call you back.

In high school I used to say I’d never want to go back and settle in Hawaii…it’s expensive, it’s boring, its an island I can drive around in 8 hours (Maui)–this was my high school mentality…but then over the years I find myself yearning for the familiarity of it. While I have friends back there, I’d go back for my family and Hawaii in and of itself–having friends there is definitely a plus, having the chance to reconnect after so many years would be fun. Would I still consider Hawaii ‘home’ if my family moved from there?

Excellent question, I haven’t decided yet.

Just some general musings of a nomadic child.

Gur e m’ anam is m’ eudail

It was my love and my treasure

Short post…sentimental post. Over the past couple years I’ve neglected my love of Gaelic music. I got this love from my Mom who dabbled in learning Gaelic a bit. I remember singing along with some Gaelic songs trying to memorize what the lyrics mean while in high school, college and grad school–out of view of most people haha! My vocabulary is limited to what I learned through the music and I’m sure my pronunciation is pretty poor, but I’m slowly finding my passion for this music again.

Digging around Youtube I came across Julie Fowlis and posted one of her songs that I absolutely love. It’s a love song. A friend asked about the lyrics…haha, I had to use google translate for most of it to concoct the rough translation, then dug around Julie’s site and found the actual lyrics, they are posted below in Gaelic then English.

I love re-discovering parts of me that were lost in the fray of life.

I love re-discovering love.

My source for this is: www.juliefowlis.com/songs

The youtube video where you can actually hear the song if you aren’t one of my ‘facebook friends’ is: http://youtu.be/ez1O5swf1IM

Bothan Àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach (A sheiling on the Braes of Rannoch)


Gur e m’ anam is m’ eudail
chaidh an-dè do Ghleann Garadh:
fear na gruaig’ mar an t-òr
is na pòig air bhlas meala.

O hi ò o hu ò, o hi ò o hu ò,
Hi rì ri ò hu eile
O hì ri ri ri ò gheallaibh ò

Is tu as fheàrr don tig deise
de na sheasadh air thalamh;
is tu as fheàrr don tig culaidh
de na chunna mi dh’ fhearaibh.
Is tu as fheàrr don tig osan
is bròg shocrach nam barrall:
còta Lunnainneach dubh-ghorm,
is bidh na crùintean ga cheannach.

An uair a ruigeadh tu ‘n fhèill
is e mo ghèar-sa a thig dhachaigh;
mo chriosan is mo chìre
is mo stìomag chaol cheangail.

Thig mo chrios à Dùn Eideann
is mo bhrèid à Dùn Chailleann,
gheibh sinn crodh as a’ Mhaorainn
agus caoraich à Gallaibh.

Is ann a bhios sinn ‘gan àrach
air àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach.
ann am bòthan an t-sùgraidh
is gur e bu dùnadh dha barrach.

Bhiodh a’ chuthag ‘s an smùdan
a’ gabhail ciùil duinn air chrannaibh;
bhiodh an damh donn ‘s a bhùireadh
gar dùsgadh sa mhadainn.

It was my love and my treasure
who went yesterday to Glengarry,
the man with hair like gold
and kisses that taste of honey.

You suit your clothes
better than any man on earth;
you look better in your garments
than any man I’ve ever seen.

You look better in stockings
and comfortable laced shoes,
a dark blue London coat
that cost many crowns to buy.

When you arrive at the fair,
you’ll bring my gear,
my small belt and my comb
and my little narrow fastening
head-band.

My belt will come from Edinburgh
and my marriage head-dress from
Dunkeld,
we’ll get cattle from the Mearns
and sheep from Caithness.

And we’ll rear them in a sheiling
in Bràigh Raithneach,
in the brush-wood enclosed hut of
dalliance.

The cuckoo will sing
its song to us from the trees,
the brown stag and its roaring
will wake us in the morning.

Cheap enough to say ‘Phuket’ I’ll go, and other notes on a move.

Perhaps, I’ll title this blog after I’m done writing. Yeesh…last post was end of March and it is now May! It’s been an eventful April/beginning of May to say the least. For those who are unaware or just joining ‘us’ now…after living in Thailand for 2 years Tyghe and I have now relocated back to the U.S. abandoning our somewhat transient lifestyle for 401K’s and adventures we fully intend to have on the outskirts of Washington D.C. For instance this weekend we are heading to Virginia Beach, VA to take a final joy ride in our rental before giving it up for public transit–our foreseeable future.

I have mixed emotions with respect to leaving Thailand. We made an amazing group a friends there, I loved my work; while living there wasn’t the ‘constant’ adventure that many people envisioned us having every day we’d made it our . Albeit hot and humid home, but home nonetheless and I find myself missing it.

Times like this I find it useful to make a pro/con list or rather things I miss and things I don’t miss:

Things I miss:

  • Our friends, I’d write this several times in the list because we really did connect with another ‘family’ while out there and it was amazing. So many times I’d come across people I worked with that were counting the days til their time there was over and many times its because they hadn’t hooked into a network of friends that fueled them like a second family. If we go back to Thailand to visit, 90% of the reason will be our friends, 10% would be the see the parts of the country we missed seeing while living there.
  • The fact I can stuff a 6’5 man full on about $1.50. We now live in one of the most expensive counties in Maryland—DOH!
  • The ease and cheapness of traveling with SE Asia. You can’t beat a $30 roundtrip ticket on AirAsia…sure the airline is like a Thai bus, I think they’d have people standing in the aisles holding handles if they could. Sure Tyghe never fit in the seats as they were made for people not over 5’4 so he had to sit sideways. But you can’t beat $30 to get out of the city for the weekend.
  • The convenience and ease of public transit, the skytrain, subway, bus system, taxis everywhere, motorbike taxis everywhere, rapid bus transit system…if you wanted to go somewhere you really had no excuse–you could get there so really the only thing holding you back would be your laziness or it could be the 104oF heat and 50-60% humidity…ya that’d promote laziness for sure!
  • The smell of fruit, flowers or right before a storm. There were some amazing thunderstorms. The first year we watched them as they passed along the Chao Phraya river which we had a view of from our apartment…on the 12th story I believe that’s where we were. The second year, in our apartment on the 2nd floor you could see the lightening bursts and the trees outside our window would go ballistic, it was pretty cool.
  • Thais are happy people that will honestly try to help you even if they don’t understand a word you are saying.
  • Frisbee and frisbee tournaments..I hear the parties were pretty awesome too but in the two years I went to tourneys I succeeded in making only ONE party–doh! It’s the laying down after my shower while Tyghe showers that gets me every time.
  • The beaches…oh the beaches…the islands (except for Phuket, I strongly strongly dislike Phuket). Though I am amused by AirAsia’s ads for going to Phuket which by the way is pronouced (poo-ket)…but playing off how foreigners pronounced ‘Ph’….

  • The food, even though I couldn’t eat more than half of it because of the spiciness–I still tried.
  • Our apartment, it definitely had quirks but it was spacious and we could easily have friends over. Our apartment now in Bethesda is nice, though not as spacious–we have a den/office which is pretty cool…it’s very….white. I’ll need to remedy that when our boxes get shipped from Thailand. But it’s in a nice safe building that has a gym, business center, concierge, one parking spot in the garage and is almost spitting distance to the metro and bus stop.
  • Board game nights. I think it’s funny that when we left Thailand and posted everything that we had to get rid of, our friends were all worried about what would happen to all our boardgames–who gets custody of our boardgames since they knew we couldn’t take them all back. We managed to bring back Killer Bunnies, Pandemic, a chess game I bought (now we need to learn to play–well play and not suck so much at it, haha).
  • Dinner nights. In Thailand you don’t normally cook as its so hot, basically no one has an oven. Most have hot plates and a microwave. Food is so cheap on the street so that’s what most people do, but their dinner on the street on the way home. And that’s what we did, it was expensive to cook anything western and more expensive to go out and eat western food. Plus we loved Thai food so it wasn’t a big deal. But there were nights I just felt like cooking and often we would invite our roaming bachelor friends or couples to come join because I have a habit of making too much food anyway.
  • The Thanksgiving we had 20+ people over.
  • Inexpensive maid service you often times just ‘get’ with your apartment rental, after moving back I was like “wow, the dishes and laundry aren’t magically getting done!” That spoiled us.

Things that make me glad to be back in the U.S.

  • No language barrier, in Thailand though the majority of those in Bangkok spoke a modicum of English–when you live there you have to deal with things like electric bills that are sometimes late, internet that may not be working and you have to get serviced, banking, public transit etc…that makes getting things fixed a definite challenge. By the end of our two years Tyghe and I were functional in Thai–ie. could get ourselves around via Taxi or public transit, order food, hold basic conversations that included a lot of hand waving and ‘arai na?’ (‘what?’).
  • The heat/humidity. Now I lived in Hawaii a long time and traveled to Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador… so I thought I was prepared for what Thailand might bring. I actually prefer heat and humidity to cold and dry–I survived Montana to the hum of a humidifier. I thought I was prepared…not in the least.
  • The smells. Sometimes they were awesome like cooking food, but many times walking down the street you’d come across an odor that could corrode steel.
  • I will not miss sweating. Sweating when? ALL THE TIME. Sweating midday, ok understandable, sweating during frisbee workouts–sure of course, sweating during my morning commute to work at 7am–ok a little annoying, sweating at 2am in the morning–say Wha??? Yes, literally. I got up at 2am to leave for my flight and it was 95oF and 60% humidity. That’s messed up. I will not miss sweating so much.
  • We are closer to family. We had some unfortunate things happen within family during our two years in Thailand and living abroad makes it challenging to respond to such things although NOT impossible as we demonstrated by getting back to the states within 24 hours taking a series of direct flights with little to no layovers.

Overall the move was a smart decision I feel as it allows me to gain experience and grow in my own career and Tyghe gets the chance to hold a normal job again which was frustrating for him living in Thailand. I’m sure you can imagine the ire of a computer programmer who can’t program because the internet keeps going out at his apartment and is no more reliable at a coffee shop and he can’t get it fixed because the technicians can’t narrow down what’s wrong and of course the language barrier. Upon moving back he found out we could get 3 to 4G on phones and Verizon FIOS at our apartment and probably had a small orgasm—oh computer geeks.

Now that we are more or less settled I intend to pick up the blogging again. Interestingly I checked my google analytics and since starting this blog in April 2010 I’ve had 990 page views…that’s not to say that amount of people actually stayed on the page but 990 people have been directed to the site and that’s pretty fun. I have a friend that just got over 1000 pages views which was really cool for her. Her blog is actually really neat–so I’m going to shamelessly plug it. Lately it’s encompassed adventures in serving tables in Hawaii. Her anecdotes are priceless and she’s quite a good storyteller so head over there when you get a chance.

http://upsellyoursoul.blogspot.com/

Our adventure in Thailand has concluded…our adventure back in the states now begins…