Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.
George Saunders

Saturday, September 24, 2016

shuga

I remembered that I've forgotten to watch Shuga, an online series out of Lagos, Nigeria. MTV produces it so it skews young, but I enjoy the flavor of day to day life in a part of the world that most of us will never visit. Bonus: a transcendent Lupita N'yongo in what must be one of her earliest roles.

In a similar vein, here's a new-to-me show advertised as the "Sex and the City" of Accra, Ghana: An African City.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

choco holick


Perugina Luisa.
Heard of it? Better yet, tasted it?
This was my absolute favorite chocolate bar when I was a teenager. And I ate a lot of chocolate. The word chocoholic does not even come close. My sister and I were legit connoisseurs. We bought imported bars, mostly, tasted and wrote notes and kept a folder holding the wrappers. I re-discovered the folder this week, as I was cleaning out a closet.
Noted in pencil on the front: 107. We sampled 107 bars of chocolate!
And I'm not talking Hershey's, or any other American chocolate, although there are some vintage Ghirardelli wrappers in there, the label funky and with a 70's vibe, complete with phonetic pronunciation.
Perugina Luisa, tho.
Italian chocolate, smooth and round in flavor, with notes of vanilla and barky darkness. It was a thicker bar, too, a real chunk. I don't think they make it anymore (although maybe?).
I leafed through the stack and found other gems--tiny wrappers of German chocolates, telling the story of Rotkรคppchen (Red Riding Hood). One from Expo '86 in Vancouver, made in Israel. Several from Callebaut, still a favorite. Droste bars, labeled in determined fonts. I've dallied with other chocolatiers--La Maison du Chocolat, notably. A particularly luscious French bar made by Bonnat. Theo's, from just down the street, is admirable.
Chocolate was my passion, back then. A hobby that combined treats and imagination and travel. A way to escape an anxious life, to go somewhere else, if only via my tastebuds.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

So long

On Monday I said good-bye to the trailer my Mom helped me find a few years ago.
The cozy little Majorca travel trailer dwelt on my lush acres for a dozen-plus years, a shelter from rain and wind and sun, and haven for about a million ants, and the odd mouse. Lately though, the floors sagged, a pair of tires cracked and went flat; moss grew inside the window frames and after the March windstorm where four cedars toppled, I began to worry about the trailer's long-term prospects.
Over the summer, helpers and I cleaned out the interior, hauling carloads to Goodwill and recycling, and last week I posted the photos online, hoping to find a new home. Twenty-some people e-mailed me, many ignoring the details in the post (nope), some saying they'd re-hab and sell it (sorry, also nope), but one person wanted the trailer for an organic farm property north of town. We e-mailed, I made clear the Majorca's fragile condition, she reassured me she was a farm girl and could figure it out.
So on Monday, we all met up and headed out to see if the trailer could be safely removed from its home. I was nervous, worried, and sad, honestly, thinking back to the day Mom and her husband and dog brought the Majorca. A rainy, overcast day, struggles to get up the gravel driveway, a muddy bottoming-out, and finally, success, the truck's engine over-heating and the smell of burned rubber lingering. The experience Monday was much more peaceful. The farm-ers came prepared, patching the tires, raising the jacks, applying duct tape where necessary. After barely an hour of work, they snapped on the hitch, and about twenty-five turns later, were rolling down the rocky, twisty hill. I did shed some tears, but this feels right. The Majorca is off to be useful somewhere else, with people who can properly take care of it, and I have opportunity now to do something more permanent for myself, too. It feels momentous.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Change is change is

So much is in flux at the moment, and I don't just mean the big bad world.
Preparing for big changes out on the coast, letting go of a treasured object because the object is failing and because if I don't, there will never be room for improvement.
And...I'm moving in a few weeks. Two rent increases over the past two years of 30% are kicking me out the door. I found a new spot, it's smaller but in a more vibrant, arty area, so I'm trying to be okay with it.
I've been cleaning out my closets, donating clothes and shoes to Goodwill, recycling and composting and leaving treasures in the laundry room downstairs.
Among the old mortgage documents and receipts and mementoes from past travels, I discovered documents from a painful time in my family's history--documents I'd forgotten I ever even had.
Words from the past, excuses and evasions.
I found my mother's wooden jewelry box and opened it. I touched a watch and a pair of earrings and her perfume wafted out and I breathed in deeply.
Then I closed the box up tightly, not wanting that familiar smell to fade away.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

20000 mile club

I'm back! Exhausted, broke, a little sunburned, but otherwise in good shape.
First to a family reunion--all of us gathered together in Colorado but a beloved cousin--then a return visit to Kisasa Primary School, 10 years after my first trip to Tanzania.
In both cases, I was not well prepared for the actual experience.
There was a curmudgeonly family member I hadn't seen in awhile and wasn't sure how to approach.
The situation in Tanz was not quite what I had imagined either--instead of a group build, it was two or three of us at most. Instead of enjoying a relaxing time catching up with old friends, I felt alone, misunderstood and sometimes attacked, for my American-ness, my lack of religion, for being me.
It was a time to dig deep, to remember why I travel, to suffer cold water showers and endless digs with good humor and sometimes calm replies.
In the end, I renewed some relationships, and made some terrific new friends.
I traveled twenty thousand miles, mostly by myself, including a 9 hour bus ride (watching ripped movies and enjoying a Stoney Tangawizi ginger beer) and arriving after dark, which meant a confusing mission at Ubongo Bus Station to find a cab to take me to my sort-of-obscure hotel.
That first hot shower tho!
And the return journey on Emirates.
I feel alive, I feel challenged, I feel ready for new decisions.