Sunday, August 30, 2009

And Away I Go...

 I've always wanted to travel. 
 What I mean is that I want travel adventures. I want to go to a completely foreign land and eat new foods and hang out in local bars and witness strange traditions, customs and trends that are so foreign to me that I have to unlearn everything I've been taught just to entertain the notion of them. I want to wander the world on foot with a backpack and no map. I want an endless journey of new experiences, especially those that test my boundaries and strengths. I want to fill ten journals with tales of other-worldly adventure!
 I remember being fifteen and riding on a bus with my best friend Melissa (the love of my life, if only I could fathom the idea of her nether regions in my face). We were living together that summer, both of us working our first jobs (we sold "herbal packs", pillows filled with flax seed and herbs, also know as, useless shit nobody needs). We were odd teenagers so one of our favorite pastimes was riding the bus through an assisted living retirement community and watching the various elderly riders and coming up with ridiculous story lines to fit their "characters".

 On one particular day, I remember saying to her, with tears in my eyes, "I NEED to travel. If I don't travel and see amazing things one day, I'll die." Obviously this is quite dramatic, however I beg you to keep in mind here, I was only 15.  Teenage angst aside, the feeling was very real. As I got older and "wiser" I realized that actual death would not be the true consequence of not traveling, but metaphorical death, inner death, was certainly possible.

 A year or so before this bus ride through the retirement community I have a memory of me sitting in front of the tv in my bedroom, watching discovery channel/tlc/the travel channel, or one of those, and creating a list of all the places I absolutely had to see. The list became 3 legal size pages long and a very small number of them were in developed nations. I seemed to have quite the taste for exotic travel. 
 In my 14 year old mind I really thought I was going to have this list long enough to cross each destination off. Unfortunately I was not nearly responsible enough to keep track of where I put that list for more the a week. But the knowledge that those exotic lands and cultures are there for my investigation has never left me. The specific destinations gathered from the television are long lost, but it no longer matters so much. What matters is that after 10 years that feeling of desperation, that feeling of not truly being alive until I have completely stepped out of the box, out of my comfort zone and into life altering adventure, is still nagging at me.

 Everyone always says, "work hard now and then travel when you have the money". Bullshit! I say! Why, for the love of life, would I waste my young and fervent years toiling away to pay the bills, to have an apartment in the cool part of town, to buy these things that I don't need, to buy into this whole system of, "work now, play later"? There is no such thing as "work now, play later" for the overwhelming majority of us. It's a disastrous lie that hold us all in fear of being 50 with nothing. I think I'll take my chances. Because chances are, I won't be able to hike Lake Malawi when I'm 50. 
 I realize this all sounds like the rantings of a young and naive girl with stars in her eyes, but I'm alright with that because I have made a decision. I won't put it off anymore. I won't dream of the day when I'll pack up and head out into the great unknown with clouds under my feet and stars in my eyes.  I won't dream anymore. I will do.
 I have made a decision. I WILL be leaving in April. My first destination is unknown at the moment, but it's looking like somewhere in South America.

 The plan is to WWOOF.  The basic idea is that you work on an organic farm for approximately 25 hours a week in exchange for food and a place to stay. On your off time you are free to do as you please. My free time will be spent exploring the cities nearby. 
The goal is to gone as long as possible. 

 Hopefully, this time next year, the travel pictures above will be replaced with pictures of my own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death

It is the opposite of a dark and Stormy day.

 Today is one of those L.A. days when it's maddeningly hot and the smog is so thick it burns your eyes and you can feel it caking onto the little hairs in your nose. It weighs down your lungs and the contents of your stomach threatens to come up the wrong way.

 You sit at this bus stop in this city where nobody rides the bus, and realize why. You've been passed by no less than three express buses and the only #14 to come by in the past half hour just blew past you without even hesitating as if you weren't there at all. Some crackhead has abandoned his ill-gotten, overflowing shopping cart with god-knows-what in it, but the sun is baking it and the stench has reached your nose and is now mingling with the caked smog.
 Finally another bus. Amazingly it's stopping for you. You climb aboard and begin to dig for your change to pay your fare in silence, wishing to be left alone. But the bus driver wants to chat. You know that if you had been anyone else he wouldn't have given you the time of day, but you're a young, attractive girl and young, attractive girls aren't allowed to just be left alone. This bothers you, but you're friendly and smile because somewhere in your mind you know it's not his fault. 
 You take your seat away from everyone else and pull out your notebook and begin to right down the day when the Hassid three seats down moves closer to you. He smiles his bearded, yellow toothed smile and begins speaking to you in hebrew. This has happened to you before. He's seen the hebrew tattoo on the inside of your wrist and assumes you're from the homeland.  You politely tell him you don't speak hebrew and continue writing, hoping that he'll leave it at that, seeing that you are obviously engrossed in what you're doing. 

 He doesn't. As you knew he wouldn't. You struggle to understand him as he struggles to make himself understood but you have to ask him to repeat every line at least three times. Since your skin is brown and your not Israeli he assumes you must be Mexican. This poor old hassid is so lost in his over the top religious world where if you aren't one thing, you must be another. 
 You step off the bus and dread the mile long walk home. You could take another bus, but this is L.A. so they don't have bus to bus transfers so it would cost yet another $1.25 on top of the $5 you've already spent on the days travel. You could have bought yourself a delicious burrito with that money, which reminds you of the tired, old beans and rice you have waiting for you in the fridge at home.

 You walk down Santa Monica, chin high and eyes straight ahead with confidence in your step as a lifetime of city living has taught you to do. 

 You pass a car of young boys parked at a meter. They call out to you but you act as though you hadn't heard a thing, as, once again, a lifetime of living in the city (and being a pretty girl) has taught you to do. 

 However, as you pass, one of those little shits says,"I like your tits". How extraordinarily original. The fact that you have great tits doesn't give this little dickweed the license to disrespect you. And before you've even thought about what you'll do, you've turned around and walked back to the car. The windows are all down so you place your hand in them and lean into the car. The boys are now looking off in another direction so they're surprised to hear your voice so close when you say, 
"What did you just say to me?" 

 The look on the kid's face says he's never been confronted like this before. Never had a real woman that wasn't his mother look him dead in the eye and confront him on his childish stupidity. 
 "I didn't...", he stammers.

 You hold his eyes in a stone cold glare for a few seconds. You don't yell, you don't curse, you don't act crazy. You simply say, 
 "Don't be disrespectful", and walk away without another word and without looking back. 

*The first photo is compliments of google, but the second is one of mine.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Let's pretend it hasn't been that long

I feel slightly ashamed of my prolonged absence from my blog. I say slightly because I'm sure that the 5 of you that are following me didn't really notice the absence. Anyway, here I am!

It would seem that the last post I made with the photos gave me a bit 
of a photography bug because I can't seem to stop taking pictures. Since I last wrote I have acquired no less than 5 different Polaroid cameras and 3, 35mm film cameras. Oh golly gee!

These are two of my favorites. There are many many more but I'm feeling like holding out on you. Build some tension, maybe? Or at least convince myself that I'm building tension. Honestly I think maybe I'm just lazy and this seems like a good way to get a few posts out of what should be one.

These were shot with a Polaroid Spectra. The film was expired which would account for the dull color.

The first photo reminds me of a dream I once had. It was just a single image of a crystal blue ocean at low tide. I don't know how many of you have seen this before but there are places where at low tide you can wade out into the water, never going any deeper than your knees, for miles. This was that kind of ocean, and it went so far without interruption that you could hardly tell where the sky began and the ocean ended. Just a little ways off shore there was a swing made from a single plank of wood and two ropes. Just an ordinary swing sitting over the ocean. When I looked up I could see that the ropes went on forever.