Wednesday, December 28, 2016

winter in vermont

Years ago, my sister posted this Buzzfeed article to my Facebook wall. She read it out loud to my mom this past Christmas Eve; at which time I confirmed that their explanation of 28 may actually be true: Whew—28 is the best year of your twenties. Not because of the spectacular partying (see: 22) or because you’ll magically have everything figured out (see: never), but because 28 is the year when you’re finally able to accept that no one actually “feels” like a grown-up and it’s OK that you don’t either. This is also the year I've been able to appreciate the past decade of experiences (see: blog archives), and marvel at how each one will always be mine.
And let's not forget that time's not up yet! Yesterday, for instance, I went skiing for the first time ever. How can that be, you winter sports enthusiasts may ask? Well, my parents sought sun-and-sand vacations, and I don't find laborious hobby-prep all that appealing (—I have been snowboarding thrice). But, Deanna fell in love with skiing last winter and my aunt (who made the introductions) gifted her last-minute lift vouchers to a private mountain with a December 31st expiration date. Enter, a two-day sister-ski trip to Vermont...
Although we both signed up for lessons upon arriving, my day one was pitiful. I just wouldn't recommend learning to ski at 28 (versus, say, 8)—skis are awkward, slopes are steep, and adults are inherently too aware of risk. My saving grace was Nancy's patient humor and good balance (namaste). Dare I say day two was better though! Nancy coached me once more and I managed to link wedge turns, etc. and it was fun. My sister was so proud, ha. We're that much closer to fulfilling her ski-chalet-NYE dream.
Hopefully I can hit the slopes in 2017. For now, I'm grateful for our charming one-on-one time: in addition to skiing, we dined and heart-to-hearted at Cask & Kilnbnb-ed at Shearer Hill Farm, and road tripped with ESM sandwiches. Learning and cherishing, best.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

sunday in california

"At first sight, the visitor is surprised not only by the purity of the sky and the ugliness of the dispersed and ostentatious buildings, but also by the city's vaguely Mexican atmosphere, which cannot be captured in words or concepts." That's Los Angeles for ya.
Mind you, these photos are from Northern California, Half Moon Bay, to be exact--because I thought it to be simultaneously romantic and incredibly creepy (Happy Halloween?), what with the pervasive fog and agricultural sprawl and imperious cliffs... but I digress.
I'm writing from Sacramento (where I first delighted in California's fall) and reflecting on my annual visit home (to see autumn in all its glory) and contemplating the frequent "so how's L.A.?"-s I received there. I wish I could tell you (them) I love L.A. Not quite.
But when my Aunt MaryAnn pressed the explanation further, and I mentioned that its the city's very Mexican-ness (as Octavio Paz described above) that makes me love being there, I realized the extent to which that's true. From there we went on to finish two bottles of wine and discuss the disgusting comments Donald Trump has made and inspired towards Mexicans. Apparentlys she's reminded her sons (my cousins) that he might as well be speaking about me, my father, my siblings. A fact that has not been lost on me.
I'm sure I noticed difference as a child, but I didn't understand it; not like I was made to learn later. How could I have possibly known that inner city-dwellers are black, and black men are to be feared, and Muslims are natural terrorists, and Mexicans are to be hunted?!
I ask the facetious question above in agitation to emphasize that what we desperately need, here and now, throughout this country, (Universe), is neither political correctness nor meek tolerance but the acknowledgement of our shared humanity. And a vote.
When I then told my aunt how it felt to grow up monolingual in our Italian-American town where Central American landscapers were "Mexican" and when Latina meant gold jewelry and outspoken sex appeal, she was surprised. She hadn't realized. She couldn't relate.
And of course this would be news. Although I expect each one of us feels the pressure of a world that dictates "what we are" and "what we are not", the sentiment is obviously felt on an individual basis. It can just as likely incite ambition as it can resentment; and understandably so. We are at the same time such resilient and fragile beings. And nearly every morning, when, from my L.A. home, I overhear my neighbor speaking Spanish in a familiar accent, I'm put at ease.
I'm reminded why immigration policy as well as higher education and reproductive rights are so important to me. We are the products of our experiences, our experiences matter, and so do the issues we're drawn to as a result. What you do on November 8th matters.

Monday, September 19, 2016

beautiful british columbia

I'd heard Vancouver is beautiful. I was also told it's expensive, with one of the best qualities of living; that many of its residents are active; that it's home to an outstanding number of cultures, ethnicities, and languages, as well as a visible socioeconomic divide. But, having only ever been to Montreal and Toronto, I still wasn't quite sure what to expect from Canada's westernmost seaport city.
So let me tell you, it is beautiful—and not just because the clouds hang artfully across the not-so-distant mountains and the air is deliciously fresh and the trees are just beginning to change and the water shines clear and bright in the sun; though I did get exceptionally lucky with the weather. My personal experience in Vancouver was made beautiful by the warmth and generosity of the community I'd flown there to work with; a religious organization that raised ~250k to provide care and opportunity for thousands of people they'll likely never meet who've been placed under inconceivable circumstances. A definitive hell yes for humanity.
And if the festival weren't awe-inspiring enough, I also received a great deal of kindness; like the woman who treated me to gelato after she overheard the cashier apologizing that they didn't accept US debit; or the elderly couple with whom I exchanged stories, who remarked at my "beautiful Spanish last name"; or the bartender who made me feel at ease in her Saturday local bar scene; or the airbnb host who gave me ferry tickets to explore the city by waterway; or the places and friends the darling Gillian directed me to.
I enjoyed my time in Vancouver immensely. There's an incomparable sincerity and calmness to the beauty I came to know there; one that isn't acknowledged enough in the daily grind of our stresses and responsibilities. It feels silly—naive even—to say that I crave this kind of evidence, proof that there's goodness in people and strength in our connection to one another and considerable potential in the impact we can have on the world; and yet, to be perfectly honest, I still do. Forever grateful for this past weekend.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

sunday in temecula

I've lived in the state of California for more than two years. Two. Years. + How did this happen? Why?! The simple answer, of course, is that I took a serendipitous job opportunity and refused to let it be a mistake. The reality is infinitely more complicated than that.
Nevertheless I've come to fully appreciate this place founded by pioneers and dreamers and those who couldn't quite fit into the communities they were born to. L.A. itself is a haphazard assortment of creative ideals. SF is SF. And I might finally be thriving.
I ventured to La Jolla for work in early August—an appropriate memory to recall on a Labor Day weekend, no? I was instantly and unexpectedly charmed by San Diego's wild beauty and laid back reclusion. The event itself ran smoothly. And the day following, driving back with a colleague, I noticed signs for Temecula; a city I recognized from my recreational study of California wine regions. I suggested a tasting. We lounged for hours at Mount Palomar Winery. I was so pleased with my spontaneity and the Golden State.
If life in Los Angeles, CA seems painfully far from the people and things that matter most to me... it is, somewhat. And yet there are phone calls, and plane travel, and weekend visits, and afternoons (like this one) that bring every place I've ever loved within reach.