Thursday, July 15, 2010

firmament fixation

At certain times of year, I fail to keep track when, the moon tracks an arching path across my south facing windows and never fails to make me smile. Turning the corner of a skyscraper lined street to see a full moon rising above the artificial world of concrete, glass and steel lifts my soul.

You see, the moon and me, we have a history.


Stretched out in the "backity back" cargo section of my parent's small station wagon inherited from their parents that would eventually become my "mystery mazda" more than a decade later, my large green eyes were fixed in wonder on the dark night sky with just a sliver of a moon staring back at me. I resisted sleep as I so often did as a child, fighting my heavy lids in an effort to watch the Cheshire cat smile follow me home. This celestial orb, it seemed, had taken a liking to me and smiled enthusiastically at my resisted slumber. I nodded off during the 4 hour drive between Grandma's house and mine but each time I remembered to fling my eyes open to check on my friend, his smile was still beaming down, encouraging me to stay awake. I felt lucky to have the moon pick me as his special friend.


In the passenger seat I stared listlessly out the window into the empty desert on the quiet drive home. The darkness of those low digit morning hours made everything beyond the reflective mile posts black with little contrast. Bugs danced in the headlights as sage brush, red rocks, joshua trees, tumble weeds and cacti streamed by without shape or form, hidden from view. Tall canyon walls narrowed the possibilities of what lay beyond the darkness but I could summon the images of those impressive red cliffs with little effort as the driver adroitly maneuvered through the sharp curves of the freeway snaking through the canyon.

Long before dawn was due, light appeared unexpectadly on the eastern horizon. As the canyon fell away behind us and the desert opened up its wide expanse before us, the moon rose bright and massive illuminating the shadowy desert all around with an orange glow that felt similar to day. I was caught breathless at the size and color, questioning whether I was awake or asleep, feeling the privilege of such a rare sight even as the moon's out of proportion oversized mass imprinted its image prominently on my soul. It spoke to me just as it had when I was a child whispering - I still choose you.


My oars were finally dipping and rising in a steady rhythm that no longer burned my shoulders and wore out my arms in a handful of strokes, yet I was still moving slowly through the rolling waves of the Pacific. I concentrated on form and kept the other kayakers in view as I dipped my oar to the left and to the right and back to the left again. The clear blue ocean was darker here, further from shore, between a smattering of islands and it was calm, but not flat. Just rolling from my right to my left, gently lifting my kayak up and softly easing it down as the larger waves passed under me.

The sun was setting faster than expected and to my left, Coiba Island's cliffs were dripping in jungle green vines and trees with mangroves separating the land from water. Soon the cliffs were blackened as the sun bid a reluctant farewell with streams of pink and orange contrasted against the silhouetted jungle cliff. It was mesmerizing and exhilerating to be out on the water moving so serenly over this vast ocean in dusky light.

Then, I looked to my right. There, between two verdant lumps of island jungle rose my old friend - full and plump it reluctantly pulled itself up from the water's edge, sending a stream of its reflection across the ocean to greet me. I stopped paddling. Once again, caught breathless by its beauty, feeling singled out by its silvery fingers stretched across the water to touch me. The full moon gained momentum and hauled itself higher and higher into the sky as the sun bowed out with grace and reeled in her color show to give the moon his time.

Once on shore I ditched my kayak with the others and ran along the beach and across the rickety, swaying bridge to where the others stood, mouths agape mesmerized by the moon that had climbed higher in the sky and grown smaller than when it was at my level on the water but was still impressive in its brilliance. Even when shared with others, I feel our relationship is somehow deeper, richer, permanent. Primarily due to that night so long ago when the moon followed me home as a child.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

hoping for a good year

A few years ago I wrote the below excerpt just after my 31st birthday. Despite the optimism expressed, 31 was not a stand out year one way or the other. In many ways it was difficult.

But these first few weeks of 35 have been really great and I find the below excerpt uniquely expresses my optimism so I pulled it from my archives to share. I am also reasonbly sure that on my 35th birthday - like my 31st - I forgot to make any sort of wish when I leaned over the cake my mom made for me, surrounded by so many loving friends and family. With so much love and support surrounding me I just didn't think I needed anything more. Rather than feeling pressed down with what feels like a milestone birthday, I feel accomplished, confident, strong and buoyed up. I think completing a major goal like Ragnar days before probably helped.

At any rate, I'm facing 35 with an optimism I can only equate with my 25th year. A birthday I celebrated my first summer in New York City. And that year certainly brought about some amazing opportunities and changes.


The lights went off, the singing started and two trays of cupcakes with far too many candles approached. Someone yelled "make a wish" as I closed my eyes, sucked in as much air as my asthmatic lungs would allow and blew as hard as I could across the first tray of far too spaced out candles as another onlooker advised me against spitting on the cupcakes. . . I ran out of air. There had to be nearly 40 candles and I maybe got 20 in one puff. Maybe the rule should be you are only the age of the number of candles you can blow out on the first attempt. Maybe I hit 25.

My failure to extinguish 31 candles (plus the others that were for "good luck") in a single blow means my wish won't come true. But what happens if I got caught up in the moment and forgot to make a wish? I know what the wish would have been, what it should have been and what it always is. It is the same wish I trot out upon seeing a single star twinkling in the sky, the first star I see at night - when I manage to look up past the neon lights, past the skyscrapers and find a little strip of sky with a star (not a plane) strong enough to stare back. It is the same wish I repeat without thought when I read some silly email forward that promises me my wish will come true if I just answer their very serious questions honestly and pass the email to my 20 closest friends. The same wish that creeps to the forefront of my mind and tugs at my heart, unnecessarily reminding me it is still there even when I don't have so much as a wayward eyelash to wish upon. Waiting. Hoping one day to move out of the closed-off, heavily guarded area at the back of my mind reserved for secret hopes and fantastic dreams to settle into the open forefront where sunshine and laughter will welcome the wish into reality.

I just failed to think it. I forgot to make my worn-out wish.

So maybe my failure to take a moment to aritculate the tired, over used wish means this is the year it will come true because I forgot to spring it from the lock-box, dust it off and use another set of candles to help my wish along. Maybe a forgotten star is already working on the wish and it has slipped out of the box without my noticing.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

4th of July

Oh, hello there. Remember me?

June was pretty crazy for me if you must know. I am pretty sure I spent at least half of June on the road. Not to mention the fact that I finished May traveling as well. I'm not necessarily complaining. It is just that I was gone a lot. Which means by the time July 2nd rolled around and I was able to return to New York and a long weekend, I had no desire to leave town. Luckily, I have some good friends who were willing to come to me. And one of those friends was kind enough to capture the whole thing in written images. I don't really have the mental capacity for that (I'll blame the heat wave), so here are some photos - some even have bonus captions!

my fridge after cleaning out everything rotten (everything) after a month of travel - not exactly ready for guests

my fridge after the magical grocery delivery fairy came by - online grocery shopping is my favorite NYC convenience

my guests, excited to experience the thrill of The Shark

hot, sweaty me, hoping to get wet - no such luck

I wish I had a soundtrack of the laughter that goes along with this photo because it is one of the best laughs you will ever hear

the vuvu, the viviz, the err, Vesuvius!

my friend Sheldon in Puma City - Go Spain!

After a hot walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and a lengthy line under the baking sun, this was the most delicious pizza ever - Grimaldi's is famous for a reason. Why did it take me 10 years to return? Oh, right the lines. The lines are bad but move quickly. I recommend a quick stop at Mr Softee for a chocolate dip before waiting in line to fend off hunger.

Not your typical picnic spot - on the sidewalk near broken glass and dried up puke (no exaggeration)

But I don't think the food could have been better

but I am a little biased since I made most of it . . . except for the impromptu corn salad Tiffany made in about 5 minutes
"my watermelon looks like a star!"

I've never been so happy to receive a bubbling glass of Diet DP as I was sitting on that sidewalk after the crazy stress of aborting our rooftop picnic plans. Long story that essentially boils down to Tiffany taking the whole thing in stride while Ryan and I nearly melted down completely.

different perspective on my street than I have ever had before

Yay fireworks!

yup, that's the entrance to the West Side Highway we were squatting under

see all those little screens? it was weird how many phones and cameras were recording the whole thing - it is like we only really experience something if it is captured digitally to share later (ahem, like here)

my photos never quite captured the Saturn, cube and smiley face fireworks

we opted to take the stairs back to my apartment (no worries, only 10 flights) to avoid the lengthy line in the lobby for elevators

I'm sure these poor people had a much longer walk home - living on the edge of the City has its advantages at times. The subway may not be convenient but river access is.
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