dying engines and embracing change


Dear reader, it is time for a confession.

I have my anxious moments. Since I’ve stopped taking Ocella and chewing ice like a sloth it’s gotten eased up a bit, but I still have my little bits of hysteria every now and then. These typically occur when things do not go my way.  Again, typical Libra.

One of my friends, John, told me it makes sense that humans are always anxious, because we are constantly dwelling over the past, trying to make the most of the moment, and worrying about the future. He’s a wise one, that John.

I read in the book Women Who Run With the Wolves, written by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, that part of life is accepting it’s various cycles.  There are times we let things grow, times we let things live, and times we let things die. The letting things die part can be incredibly difficult for me. I don’t often like change. I embrace consistency, wanting to snuggle myself deep in its fort of silk coziness. I want to light candles and not leave.  Like a sleepy sparrow, I nest. Ironic, because I love traveling.

 For some reason, driving or traveling long distances has never given me any form of anxiety.  I love the airport, and eating a packaged Air France meal while watching Jurassic park.  I love stopping at gas stations in foreign Virginia towns, only to buy a pack of a gum and some Arizona Iced Tea. I even love ten-hour drives through the mid-west and sketchy hotels in Arkansas. But tell me to drive to the bagel place five minutes down the road and I immediately start cursing to the heavens, questioning the decency of mankind because some guy in a sedan is actually going to speed limit.  (I’m currently debating this entire post, wondering if I’m simply a really, really poor example of Gen Y.)

However, when there is #traveldrama on longer trips, I am pretty solid at keeping the peace. Example.  I was going to visit Alex in NYC a few days ago. When I’ve had a really good week at the bar, I splurge and get an Amtrak ticket instead of my normal, penny-pincher bus ride.   Maybe my pours were heavy-handed, lending me to earn some extra tips that week, I don’t know.  Regardless, I could afford the train. So I bought a ticket, hastily pushed some kind folks out of the way to get a window seat, and set up camp.

I sat lazily, googling future travel endeavors and reading some things on my new boyfriend, the Kindle Paperwhite. My travel neighbor was a friendly, 30-something year-old man named Greg, who offered me Rolos and commented on my cracked cell phone screen. I think he had a wife named Dana, or maybe she was his girlfriend and they were planning on going to Barcelona in the near future.  Regardless, the combination of this calm companion, the words in my chosen piece of fiction, and the blurred landscape whizzing past me created a very soothing environment.  And then, somewhere around Delaware, the train began to slow and we came to a halt.

Did I whine? Did I kick the seat in front of me? Did I smash Greg’s laptop and blackberry, thus cutting off all communication with Dana in regards to their Barcelona adventure?!!?! If I were driving to the supermarket, I might have. However, since we were on a train, I got a beer. I came back. And I waited.

What ended up happening was that our poor little engine reached the end of its life. It was the little engine that could not.  And so we bid our farewell, and skipped over to the neighboring Acella when it stopped about thirty minutes later.

Ms. Pinkola Estes may not have intended to be speaking of travel when she wrote about the various cycles we face throughout life, but I thought of it again when our new train started to move.  The dead engine was not the end of the ride.  Maybe I drive myself crazy in other situations of “rides halting” because I don’t know when they will start up again, or if another train will come along.   I agonize over the time I’m spent waiting, because I don’t feel like anything is happening. I don’t let things die, because I don’t know if they will ever live again.

But they do. Even if it’s a jump-started engine, or a new train, or you simply need a beer to get through it all, they do. 


Here are a few travel tips for when #traveldrama pops up.

1. Get a beer.

2. Or a glass of wine.

3. Or a bag of peanut M&Ms.

4. Talk to your neighbor, if you have one. Might as well make a friend!!

5. Make a list of things you love.

6. Make a list of your favorite moments.

7. Make a list of things you are most looking forward to in life.

8. Take pictures of your boots.



nourishing the body

Image There is a play I love. It’s called “Melancholy Play” and it’s by Sarah Ruhl. Ms. Ruhl writes very whimsical things, beautiful things; things that I would like to collect in a wicker-basket of words and take on a picnic along a Northeastern beach.  Maybe we would eat lobster rolls.

In this play, the main character, Tilly suffers from constantly feeling melancholic. She falls in love with a woman who writes obituaries, and then she turns into an almond.

“Do you ever have the feeling, when you wake up in the morning, that you’re in love but you don’t know with what?

-Tilly, in Melancholy Play

I’ve recently boarded the almond train. I like almond butter, I like raw almonds,  I like almond milk.  They’re all quite versatile, and provide different yummy satisfactions.  And they’re good for you?!?!

Healthy food gets a bad rep. I think this is because healthy eating often seems boring, or like you aren’t “living your life to the fullest” when you turn down donuts in favors of a breakfast smoothie.  (Don’t get me wrong. I love donuts. My favorite is the ultra-unhealthy, saturated fat laden, vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.) But lets not neglect the breakfast smoothie. It’s over there, waving its little blueberry arms, yelling “HEY I TASTE GOOD TOO, OKAY?”

While one type of food nourishes the soul (microwave nachos, I’m looking at you), the other nourishes the body. Like almonds.

Nourishing the body is so important. I don't think eating healthy foods makes me boring.  No, like a nude photograph of David Bowie, it makes me feel alive. It even sometimes makes feel like a beach dancer with a hula-hoop and the enthusiasm to climb a coconut tree.  The taste of raw almond butter comforts me, and yet I don’t fall into a food coma shortly after indulging in its bliss.

I like almonds in Sarah Ruhl plays. I like them plain, and maybe with a bit of salt.

I like almond butter stirred into my oatmeal, making little tidal waves throughout the creamy oats.

And I really really love love love almond milk in my smoothies.

Espresso Breakfast Smoothie

½ cup greek yogurt

1½ cup ice

½ almond milk

1 tbs. cocoa powder or carob powder.

1 shot of espresso

1 large banana

1 tsp. vanilla paste

1 packet of stevia

(I use stevia because I use unsweetened chocolate, yogurt, and almond milk. If any of these ingredients are already sweet, you probably don't need the stevia at all. Or you could use honey. I like things sweet, because part of me is still a child who mixes Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kettle Corn and calls it dinner.)

Blend everything together in a VitaMix or blender. Taste and adjust if needed; smoothies are personal things! Some people like them icy, some prefer smooth.  This makes one medium sized drink, perfect for one.

Enjoy with David Bowie music and then go dance in a pair of knee high socks.

Occasionally a quote will make me feel inspired, and also emotional

I have a difficult time with patience. Maybe it's a trait of being part of Gen Y or maybe it's because I played too much Oregon Trail growing up and am used to things happening instantly. Regardless of the reason, I find myself tapping my fingers at traffic lights and glaring at tea kettles when they should be boiling.  I am not a patient person. When I was working at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, I was randomly assigned a roommate named Kate. This turned out to be an amazing combination. I am 99% positive Kate is my female soulmate. Our room was decorated with scarves, tapesries, and self-illustrated drawings of mermaids. We bought a rug together and watched Gilmore Girls while applying makeup. We ate Chinese food and drank gas station ice coffee.  And occasionally, on calm nights, Kate would read excerpts from  Women Who Run With the Wolves aloud in the moments before we fell asleep.

Come the end of October, our contract ended and the mermaid room was packed up. Partially because of our evening reads, and partially because I was curious, I purchased my own copy.

(I strongly recommend it every woman and man out there. It's a gorgeous read. The prose embraces you, guides you across the room and allows you to sleepwalk into a safe while simultaneously scary territory. When I read it, I feel special and sacred. I want to kiss oranges and wrap myself in an afghan blanket.)

The third chapter is entitled "Nosing Out the Facts: the Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation." It begins with a fairy tale, or urban legend. The Doll in Her Pocket: Vasalisa the Wise. In short, Vasalisa is a Cinderella-esque character, sent off into the woods by her wicked step-family.  They ask her to ask for fire from the witch Baba Yaga, secretly hoping that the old woman will eat Vasalisa and they will be rid of her forever. When Vasalisa arrives, Baba Yaga instructs the girl to perform several seemingly impossible tasks before giving her the fire.  At one point, Vasalisa wants to ask Baba Yaga a few questions. The old woman consents, but advises Vasalisa to be careful, for "too much knowledge can make a person too old too soon."

There's so much more to this story than just this little nugget of information, but I find it beautiful nonetheless. In her analysis of the story, Clarissa Pinkola Estés connects this to the idea of time. There is a time when we let things live, there is a time we let things grow, and there is a time when we must let things die.

"There is a certain amount we all should know at each age and at each stage of our lives." Clarissa Pinkola Estes. 

It is hard for one not to get addicted to knowledge. Experience is intoxicating. Learning is an emotional process. And sometimes I feel like I have to know what certain people will be and what will happen next.

"I realized I had just entered an interesting chapter in my life. I had outgrown the boys of my past and not quite grown into the men of my future." Carrie Bradshaw

Accepting these phases is difficult. The whole, "let live" and "let die." I tend to want things to grow quickly and live forever. Or for as long as I want them to.

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” Lewis Carroll

I suppose like good produce, everything has a season. Good night, friends! Happy Christmastime.