This, with a side of That.

everything dies baby, that's a fact. maybe everything that dies, someday comes back.

When Love Is

I am looking forward to the day in which none of us will refer to ourselves as “heterosexual” ,”homosexual”, “bisexual”, etc.

I want everyone to start calling themselves, “sexual”.  Simple, sweet, to the point.

I recently read an article on Rebelle Society, an awesome blog page that posts really incredible writing pieces from people all over the world.  Some talk about inspiration, others about becoming more creative.  My favorite ones talk about sex and anger and how to make a deadly cocktail with both of these ingredients sometimes.  It’s a very sexy page and I recommend everyone to read it.  The article I want to talk about is How To Make Love Stay.  It was, at best, a really great try from the writer to put into words what he perceives to be what women need.  I must say, he had at me #5 because it is true.  Fuck us good.  Fuck women in bed really, really good.  I use the word “fuck” because sometimes, the act of sex is beyond the emotion of love and the act of loving.  “Fuck” doesn’t have to be a negative words and in this particular case, it most certainly is positive.  You can be madly in love with someone and still want to fuck their brains out.  It’s natural, it’s instinct, it’s poetry.  No other way around it.  To some of us, what happens between two bodies, expresses what words can’t.  I personally, communicate far more with my body than with actual words.  Sex expresses unyielding emotions; it evokes the terrifying vulnerability that it causes when you tremble in the arms of someone else’s touch.  Not everyone gets to see that.  Although I have had sex with people that don’t mean anything to me romantically speaking, those that I have been in love with, get the full devotion and candidness sex is meant to help you communicate.

I try to abstain from singling out a specific sex and gender when I write about these things.  Who I bring to bed, is no one’s business, but I am sure 99.9% of the people reading this can relate (at this point) to bringing someone to bed with them and how it feels.

The writer of this article, is passionate.  He writes lovely phrases and conveys ideas that I would like for most people to be aware of in relationships.  I just feel like I should throw in a few of my own to help clarify some things about some girls that roam in this world and that you might run into, and who knows? You might actually fall in love with her.

So here it goes.

#1 Give her space.

I feel words such as “loner”, “space”, “independent”, “time out” have negative connotations when put next to a woman.  Some of us really do need breathing room.  It doesn’t matter if you are watching a game in one room and she is in the next room reading a book.  GIVE HER SPACE.  Let her breathe freely, and allow her lungs and creativity to expand as much as possible.  Forget the bullshit saying of “if you lover her let her go and if it’s meant to be she’ll come back” BLAH BLAH BLAH.  You don’t have to let her go because she doesn’t belong to you and you don’t belong to her.  You guys chose each other and you should believe that this choice act, is worth far more than all these cheesy lines.  Don’t force her to hang out with people she really doesn’t feel comfortable with. She might be like some of my friends (and even myself) and just need more time to open up and feel comfortable.

#2 Women aren’t that complicated.

We’re really not.  Some bizarre women out there are high maintenance and if you’re into that, cool.  If not, fret not.  The media is lying to you.  We aren’t all insecure little girls seeking the approval of Big Bad Patriarchy.  Some of us are who we are and that’s that.  No raisins.  No mushrooms. No seafood.  No dirty dishes before going to bed. Cup of black coffee first thing in the morning.  There.  Simple.

#3 Don’t confuse niceness with stupidity.

Goes both ways.  Never, ever take for granted someone being nice to you.  Nice people are a rare unicorn these days.  I hear they sometimes gather together and drink beer while talking about music and past loves.  Nice girls exist.  Nice, smart girls exist.  Nice, smart, and fucking badass bitches exist too.  Don’t fuck with them, seriously.

#4 Be an ally.

By ally I mean, be a person that supports women.  What I mean is that a lot of us, want a partner that will support us with female health decisions, such as whether or not to be on a certain type of birth control. Are you comfortable having these discussions? Do you make women feel safe around you?  If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, will you step up to the plate and support a child you conceive a/o will you support her decision to terminate the pregnancy?  Do you tell rape jokes in front of your girl friends and think it’s okay because they laugh? Are you a bro douche or are you a person willing to make (uncomfortable) decisions with your partner? Same for homosexual relationships in whichever way these apply.

#5 What the original writer said on his original article.  “FUCK HER GOOD”…

Sex is important.  Sorry, haters.

#6 Be vulnerable, laugh, let her in.

People, trust me.  We want to see your softer side.  Those Buzzfeed pictures we see of big, burly dudes holding puppies and kittens? YES.  THEY WORK.  Telling us about your fears and the last time you laughed so hard you farted (has that ever happened to you? it happens to me quite a bit) makes us feel like we’re part of your life.  This isn’t only about a relationship, this is key for a friendship.

 

So there.  I’ve said it all.  For now, at least.

Love is wonderful and scary at the same time.  Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it.  That’s all I can tell you.

Hugo Pratt, Femme.

Hugo Pratt, Femme.

 

 

Full circle.

Something shifted last year.

After 12 years of living abroad and only visiting for a bit here and there, the course of this ship changed and the urge to return to the place I recognize as home, took over me.

I have seen zebras running in the wild and I have seen fiery sunsets touching the savanna.  I have heard lions roar in the wild.  I have lived without electricity and cooked with fire.  I have had no running water and spiders roam in my house freely, like descendants from Ungoliant trying to feast on Malaria-ridden mosquitoes all day long.

I have been in a 15-hour time difference from the very people that have loved me the most and forgiven me the most, all my life.  I have seen a little of China and a little bit of Japan.  I have lived in Korea and loved it.  I have tried food that I would’ve never had tried.  I have had doctors take care of me without uttering a word in English, which was scary and lonely, but letting go and trusting works magic.

I have studied in depressing lecture rooms in Oxford just to be greeted by the most exquisite views from my bedroom window.

There was a moment I could’ve chosen to be married.  There were a few times I had the chance of saying “yes” to someone.  A part of me is aware that I am not living the life most people seem to be enjoying.  I am childless, and I am very much single.  I have a backpack ready to hit up the next place and my passport is always kept handy.  I don’t owe fancy cocktail dresses to entertain people at home.  I would probably never entertain anyone that required cocktail dresses, even though I admit to having a love affair with anything glamorous.  I have moved and seen and loved and despaired in many languages, different places, and with numerous strangers that are what I affectionately call my extensive family.

So when I felt that the time was right to come back to Mexico City, the land that has helped raise me alongside Guatemala and The United States, I felt odd.  I felt relieved that the traveling would come to a pause.  I felt that it was time to do things, but which things, I am yet figuring them out.  I have figured out some things:

1. Spanish will always be the language that links me to something deeply personal and closed off to 99% of the people I know.

2. Nothing beats Mexico City’s night lights from my rooftop at night.  No matter where I am.

3. No one is ever without roots.

Perhaps I am here to find someone to spend my life with.  Perhaps I am just here temporarily to see what else I need to absorb and think about before moving on.  Perhaps I am here to form the next chapter of my life.  All I know is that this is where I am meant to be and this is where I will be.  Being somewhere else, at the moment, feels wrong.  Intuition has been a great friend of mine for a very long time now and I am not going to start turning a deaf ear to it now.

The wind blows differently here, and the unusually blue skies we have been having lately, make me unbearably happy.

Three days ago, I woke up feeling like I was in love.  You know that feeling, right? I hope you do.  That feeling of butterflies in your belly and the anticipation of hearing from whoever has stolen your breath.  No one has stolen my heart for a very long time now, and yet.

That morning I woke up feeling happy.  I woke up feeling in love with everything around me and my the first words that left my mouth were “I am happy to be here”.  And I am.  Twelve years ago I felt I had to leave, I felt that I must leave in order to escape the very life I see so many people enjoying now.  I felt Mexico was stifling with machismo and homophobia.  Women weren’t much and every boy seemed to be looking for someone like their mothers.

I didn’t want to be someone’s mother.

I was not meant to be married at 26.  I was not meant to be having children by 30.  That was not my journey.  That has never been the plan, even though I had moments that I very much wanted those things to be my life.  To have some sort of stability that family life apparently provides.  But there is stability in change as well, and there is the sudden realization that nothing in this life is permanent, that everyone comes and goes, and that although love grows incessantly and constantly, it too, does not last forever.  We take it with us when we die and that is that.

So here I am.  In love with the place I thought I would never feel part of.  I am open for things to happen.  I am receptive and present and aware that this is life and that even for a little bit, settling the ship for a brief time, feels lovely.

Perhaps I will set sail again, perhaps not.

But for now, I am here and I would not have it any other way.

inari5

Tiananmen Square, August 2013.

Tiananmen Square, August 2013.

Andong, November 2010.  South Korea.

Andong, November 2010. South Korea.

Storm afternoon in Togo, West Africa.  July 2009.

Storm afternoon in Togo, West Africa. July 2009.

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South Africa, 2010.

South Africa, 2010.

 

한국 사랑해요

To understand modern Korea, you need to understand so much that I’d need to write an entire book.  When I got here in 2010, this song was played over and over again.  OVER… and … OVER.  On loop.  Every hour on the hour.

The reason?

Koreans love it when other Koreans are successful.  They feel they are great reasons to feel national pride.  I wasn’t here for the World Cup, as a matter of fact, I had just missed it, but every foreigner talked about the passion Koreans felt for their team.

“We could be riding in a taxi on our way somewhere, but if there was a game on and Korea scored, the taxi driver would pull over just like everyone else to look at the big screens that where placed all over Seoul, to cheer for their team.  Even if they lost, they celebrated their team.” My friend Nick had tons of stories like that, and I couldn’t quite believe it until I experienced it myself when Park Ji-Sung would score for Manchester United.  The games were always at 3 or 4 a.m. and I would wake up, go to the bar across the street, and watch the game until it was 530 a.m. and I had only a few hours left before work.

We were all on the same boat.

Korea doesn’t sleep and it certainly doesn’t sleep when the chance of making themselves proud in front of the world, happens.  For example, when this dude exploded:

There was a recent article in The New York Times that explained the culture behind the Korean bathhouses.  I love Korean bathhouses.  They are a world within a world.  For 10,000W (roughly $10), you get a spa treatment that will leave you feeling high on life and ajumma power.  “Ajumma” means “aunt”, everything in Korea is family oriented so their way of speaking is regarding each other as family.  I have never heard them refer to a foreigner with this sort of language, which is what I am about to explain, but it definitely helps you understand that for them, Korea the country comes first and then, Korean family comes right after.  No room for anything else.  Except perhaps, Korean food.  Because Korean food for the most part, is awesome.  The point is, ajummas are everywhere and they are matriarchs to the max.  In the bathhouses, in the women’s section, they are in charge of the scrubs.  These are no ordinary scrubs.  These are mighty scrubs, with mighty ajumma power, that will crub every last bit of gunk off of you and your skin will be pink with aggression all over it, but with a little almond oil, you have skin babies would be jealous of.

I am not kidding.  Ajummas at first, sound like they are talking down to you, some might, but mostly, it’s because age in Korea has a huge play in how people interact with you.  They know best.  They are doing it out of hierarchy and from the mentality that it is their responsibility to take care of you, whether you like it or not.  If you are the youngest, you carry the brunt of a lot of things.  If you are the oldest, well, back in 2010 they world would bend backwards for you.  The more time I spend here, though, the more I see that this amazing tradition of letting older people sit first or go first in line, is disappearing quickly.  Younger generations don’t really care.  And that’s a case we see all over the world.

“Korea is still trying to figure out a way to share itself with the world while retaining its identity”, said the article.  I don’t want you to think that I was in love with Korea from the beginning.  Like many things worthy in life, it took a lot of patience from both sides, a lot of emotional bruising and a lot of maturity, to grow into a loving relationship with Korea.  They are tough people.  When I first got here, foreigners were still a rarity compared to now.  It was a tough thing to adjust to overall: the abrasiveness, the unapologetic rudeness, the coldness.  I have never been in a country that was so cold and distant in both weather and cultural terms.  Korea is weary of foreigners, but in my case, it has also been incredibly generous and kind to me.

Korea, I love you.  I may not have always liked you, and I definitely did not make it easy for you to like me.  I am so sorry for all the times I did some shitty eye rolling or heavy sighing in frustration.  From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry.  Like a child learning how to walk in a new land, I didn’t understand many things.  And you, like anywhere else in the world, are not perfect.  The thing is, we got to know each other intimately.  Your people saw me in the hospital, in the work environment, etc.  You left me to my own devices, but you also protected me when I needed to be protected.  You gave me things that my own country, has not been able to give me.  When one gets to know a country intimately, and my goodness Korea, you know how to keep yourself concealed from foreigners.  There are parts of your culture that belong to you and Koreans alone, and that’s that.  Of course every culture has a link to its people, but with you it feels different.  With you there’s a lot of history of being trapped between the Chinese and Japanese conquerors, and yet you held your ground.  Fiercely Korean, fiercely you.  And even though you are divided into two, to you there is no “North Korea”, there is just Korea.

Yesterday, 3.1.2014 I went to the veterinarian that has taken care of my Korean treasure (Vimba) for the past two years.  She was not there, but her lovely manager was.  He gave me free food for her, and only charged me for the carrier.  He asked me if I was happy about going, because that’s what we feel we should ask people when they say they are going home, and I couldn’t lie.  “I’m sad,” I said.  For some reason, my eyes began to water.  He asked me why, and I just said “because Korea has been incredibly kind to me.” And he understood.  And he was grateful to hear a foreigner say that.  It’s not an easy place to fall in love with, but once you do, you’re fiercely loyal to it.

I spent the entire day going around Seoul with a group of friends that for some reason, The Universe has blessed me with.  I sometimes wonder what I have done right in this life, to be worthy of such good people.  I had my nails done and a beauty session with one of my favorite people.  When they found out I was leaving, they gave me coffee sticks to take on the plane with me in case I wanted some “nice coffee”.  Gestures.  This place is full of gestures.  They told me how pretty I look when I smile, and how I look like Puss in Boots when I give them the sad look.  You have to laugh at these comparisons because they are totally unique.

And they can totally make your day, too.

Here’s my confession to you, Korea:

After getting used to your quirks, life got really comfortable and really good here.  There is beauty in being comfortable, but my heart knows it’s not time yet for me to be “comfortable”.  There’s yearning inside of me.  There’s things I have to do, and that is exactly why I chose to leave now, on a high note.  The time came to say goodbye, and what a lovely time it has been until now.  Tonight, I leave my third and last apartment here.  I will be an emotional wreck.  I will see some people for the last time, and  I know how life is with surprises.  I might see them all again.  I might come back, but for some reason, something tells me this time, I am not to come back to Korea.  This time, something else needs to happen.

It’s a new chapter´s turn, and as eager as I am to experience it and write it, I am also incredibly sad to put yours behind me.    Monday will be an emotional ordeal.  I will turn my ARC card as I cross customs, they will ask me if I am coming back, and I will have to answer, “no”.  I will go to my gate and wait for my plane.  I will probably update Facebook.  I will cry a lot publicly, which is something I have grown to embrace.

You have made my vulnerability crack open, exposing its belly to the world.  You knew I was tired of pretending being cold and distant, you knew I needed to learn to make amends with my sensitivity.  You did it.  You showed me that being vulnerable, is being strong.  That there is no shame in emotions, and you have taught me that no matter how angry I can be, I can still find the love to say “I love you”.

I love you, Korea.  Thank you.

 

Korea, 2010-2011: 몰라요!!!!!!!!!!

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”

Joan Didion, one of my favorite authors, said that.  I could’ve created a fancy meme with this quote.  I could’ve posted it right next to the perfect picture with the perfect filter.  I would look nostalgic, and the caption would drive home the point to anyone looking at such a perfect moment.

Life is a series of perfect moments that no camera can capture.  It is your mind, your eyes, and your heart that snap a shot of it and bury it deep in your memory’s album.  I hear people argue all the time that there is no such thing as perfection, that we should stop aiming for ridiculous standards of the “perfect life” that the media depicts.

Although I agree that what the media sells is utter shit, I do believe life has perfect moments.  There’s a moment that the sunlight hits a room just right and it floods you with happy memories.  How the light reflects is a huge memory trigger for me.  Sunsets, a particular breeze, a scent.  These things can transport me back to other places in a matter of seconds.  We all have a time traveler machine within us when it comes to happy triggers like that.

We go back.  We always seem to go back.

In eight days, I will be boarding a plane towards Mexico.  I will leave behind four years of, well, everything.  Heartbreaks, random trips, summer nights of drinking in the park, teaching, learning, getting frustrated, laughing, crying.

In order to create great memories, one has to live a great life.

Here are the first batch of pictures.  I can’t get enough.  Man, I was surrounded by extraordinary people.  Some people are meant to be our friends for life.  Some come along, and keep us company in the hardest times, but we never hear from them again or we part ways.  And you know what? That’s okay, because sometimes, life is all about surviving.

Sometimes, it is only about surviving.  There were incredible people around me.  The Universe definitely has taken care of me and I can only hope that it will continue to do so.  New faces, old faces, new love, old love.  It simply is.  I am ready.  It breaks my heart to leave a place that has been my home, but it’s time.

Korea, 2010-2011: I drank Soju with my Principal.  I have never had such a foul drink, and I promise you that no hangover will ever compare to the ones Soju can give you.  I went to a Penis Park, I took my 6th grade students to Costco to eat pizza, I had an awesome St. Pattie’s Day, even though I went to bed at 3 and had to be at work at 8.  I had the best group of friends.  White-water rafting, an amazing birthday, tea making… Chilling at the park and being put in a video.  The DMZ…  It was really a great year.

148319_624664874766_3329806_n 154195_628182490436_273023_n 193054_648379754956_7600262_o 198884_10150116980637749_2431465_n 199648_10150106786050544_2479087_n 225743_10150175143922749_5552983_n 229293_10150175143372749_3658030_n 230001_762305642120_3990710_n 251355_643439769908_2882695_n 267804_10100219260986163_8131280_n 268577_715213709176_770813_n 291848_10150256811035807_732853_n 296712_533555214889_1104226_n 299989_717422140064_4777067_n 308097_10150293549260544_415885978_n 310781_10100486833558473_4469374_n 316129_740025720706_438889023_nAnd yes, that was a Penis Park.

On Dividing Art from Its Creator(s)

What does Roman Polanski and Woody Allen have in common?  Mia Farrow.  Just kidding.

They are both men.  They are both white.   One is still a mighty force in the film industry, the other one was admired.  They both have had a thing for younger women, sorry.  No.  For girls.

Roman Polanski’s movies are great.  “Chinatown” is really one of my favorite movies and I have a deep sense of appreciation for what he did with “Rosemary’s Baby”.  Woody Allen, on the other hand, has never been my “it” guy, but there are a few good movies out there that he has made and I have definitely enjoyed.  Roman Polanski was convicted of raping 13 year old Samantha Gailey in 1977.  This has Hollywood written all over it.  He was at Jack Nicholson’s house, Anjelica Huston was there, she became suspicious of what was happening, banged on the door but left when Polanski convinced her “nothing was happening”.  Polanski was found guilty and left the US and that’s the extent of all I know.

Enters Woody Allen, the neurotic, small guy from New York that is practically a relic of that state.  I have never really understood the praise he’s gotten (perhaps his humor that I somehow seem to miss all the time), but he’s a big deal.  He never married his partner, Mia Farrow, but he did marry his stepdaughter, Soon-Yi, in 1997.  She was 19 and he was 56.

Let’s marinate on that one for a minute.

Stepdaughter.  19.  married him at 56.  Sure, she’s technically speaking, an adult.  A consenting adult, at that.  I just have a hard time digesting the fact this is the girl he raised.  Psychologically speaking, that means he groomed her to be a certain way.  Grooming is a psychological term that explains how an adult isolates a child in one or another, and deliberately manipulates them into gaining their full trust and coercing them to do anything they say.  After all, aren’t we all guilty of telling children, “do as the adult says?” Of course, most of us say that when it comes to following rules, but for child abusers and vulnerable children, that means a whole other ball game.  A lot of people justify this marriage by saying “oh but she’s not REALLY his daughter.  She’s ADOPTED.”

Right.

I feel like a failing human being (in my case, a human being with feminist blood) because I look around me and I am surrounded by the art of men that have in one way or another, done exactly what Polanski has done.  You can find a good article in Vanity Fair’s 1992 article here.  We have Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”, which is an incredible book and it leaves you feeling wicked dirty and confused because for a split second there, you begin feeling bad for the pedophile.  That, I thought, was art at its best.  It was teaching me more about society and myself than any class would.  I know pedophilia is wrong and I would never justify it.  What was so well executed was the manipulation and the words the character used.  We never hear Lolita’s side.  We never once, hear her opinions or thoughts, or anything.  Nabokov himself had to come out multiple times to say he did not condone his character’s behavior at all, but that his responsibility as a writer was to show us a spectrum of insanity and human interaction.

Get’s a little more confusing with the next example, but I need to give you some background information about it first.

When I was younger, I refused to look up information about my favorite artists for a couple of reasons.  First, if they happened to be men, I would never look them up out of fear of finding out they had a girlfriend.  This would crush my dreams of ever meeting them and being their one and only, leaving me devastating.

My first crush was Izzy Stradlin from Guns N’ Roses.  I’ve always had a thing for dudes with dark hair, dark eyes, and in his case, a good ol’ case of  badass.  When I grew up a little, let me remind you I was about seven when I was Mrs. Izzy, I discovered Jimmy Page and HOLY SHIT I feel in love.  I was twelve and I constantly played Led Zeppelin III, even though I had sworn to my older brother a year before, that I would “never in a million years like a shitty band like Led Zeppelin”. 

I am still trying to figure out what possessed me to say such a thing.

Led Zeppelin is pure sex to me.  In my life, there’s been two kinds of people: those that prefer The Beatles and those that prefer Led Zeppelin.  Although I am at a point in life that I can merge both (rarely, but it happens) in an afternoon of music listening, I have always been Team Led Zeppelin.

It would be safe to call me obsessive about music.  I have spent many weekends looking up for new music from every possible source: blogs, magazines, newspapers, youtube.  I eat, shit, and breathe music.  It’s been an intricate part of my upbringing, my parents being even bigger music lovers than me.  Add to that mix two big brothers that were at their adolescent cusp in the ’80s and I was constantly listening to R.E.M., The Smiths, Pixies, Metallica, and of course, Guns N’ Roses.

For someone that loves Rock and Roll, I actually hate everything that comes with that lifestyle.  I have never been into drugs (something I slightly regret at age 30 because somehow I feel I missed out on some crazy shit), I hate crowds, I’ve never had insane orgies (I doubt most of us have) and believe it or not, going to shows is at the bottom of my list.

Let’s just say that if I go to a show, I really love the band… really, really love the band.

And here is where the trouble begins for me, second time around.

I didn’t start researching about bands from the past until the internet came into my house and I was aware of its power.  I must’ve been 13 when I realized that the huge modem in the computer room, held the key to all the dirty secrets I wanted to find out.  I was a budding teenager, hormones were already taking control of my body like a staged coup d’etat, and all I wanted to do was to look up “boys”: Brad Renfro, Twiggy Ramirez, Izzy Stradlin, Shannon Hoon, Billy Corgan, Eddie Vedder, and of course, Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page.  Oh how conflicted I am about you.

Jimmy Page can make guitars cry and laugh along with Robert Plant’s voice or carry a deep beat while Bonzo banged on the drums.  He’s gifted, no doubt.  He was at one point, a rock DEITY.  He was, practically, royalty.

But he also kidnapped and had sex with a 14 year old.  That’s technically rape.  She said it was all consensual, but what the fuck does that even mean to someone at age fourteen? I have no clue.  The girl’s name is Lori Maddox.  I guess at this point, though, she’s a woman.  I can write an entire paper on how this was during the Second Feminist Movement and Sexual Revolution and how, somehow that may change things slightly, but truly, they kind of don’t.  Maddox apparently went on to say she was in love with Page, but to someone who studied Psychology, that sounds like having a case of the Stockholm Syndrome.

You can read more about the Page incident over here and then do some more research.

Am I going to stop listening to Led Zeppelin’s music? I can tell you right now, absolutely not.  I don’t really feel guilty listening to it knowing that they had sex with underage girls and that’s what fucking trips me up.  Why, as a woman and as a feminist that calls bullshit on overt sexual harassment, rape culture, and child abuse, do I sit this one out and refuse to burn my Led Zeppelin records?

I am not expecting people to understand this, much less care, but for someone like me, this is a complete mind fuck, and not the good kind.

How do we separate the art from the people who create it? After all, isn’t art in one war or another, a reflection of the artist and ourselves?

Where were the women in all of this? Why did Mia Farrow choose to stay with someone like Allen? Why did Anjelica walk away after Polanski said everything was fine? Why did Maddox feel like falling in love with someone who would never really make her a girlfriend or wife or whatever, stay?

Why have these men never faced charges, except for Polanski? Why is everyone sort of shrugging it off like, “oh it’s a guy thing”?

Le fuck.  Maybe everyone should just read this and come to terms with what is.

Or maybe, not.

Adieu 2013, The Year of Adventures!!!!

What a year.

I’m not entirely sure if this year has gone by quicker than other years in the past, but it feels like it did.  I feel like Alan Lightman’s quote in Einstein’s Dreams is particularly true:

“The tragedy of this world is that no one is happy, whether stuck in atime of pain or of joy. The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone. For a life in the past cannot be shared with the present. Each person who gets stuck in time gets stuck alone.”

I remember that back in December 31st, 2012 I was trying to silently pick a word that would define 2013 for me.  I have been doing this tiny but hugely symbolic tradition since 2009 when my friend Cath introduced me to this concept.  I know you’ve heard me tell the story a million times.  We were in Togo, we were doing yoga, it was hot as hell.

These are the moments that make memories and somehow, I feel like I stopped making great memories because I somehow stopped doing some great living.

2013 was a cathartic year for me.  I chose to switch jobs, mostly out of necessity if nothing else, and I discovered quite a few things.

I learned that I love working with children… like, I seriously really, really love teaching little monsters.  I love their views of life and how zen they are about everything.  I didn’t teach them much.  I feel like they taught me everything I had missed out somehow.  They taught me how to become more secure in myself and how to not back down.  Some children are fierce with their determination and I had to learn how to encourage it or put a stop to it.  I learned that the words “I love you” can make the deepest scar heal and that the words “I am sorry” are incredibly beautiful.  I learned how normal it was to make mistakes, but how essential it was to always have a plan B.  Timing is everything, and intuition is key when you work and deal with children.  They do not operate on the same time frame as us adults.  They have their spirit, and I have done my best to stimulate it and not squander it.

My class is the best behaved, not because my kids don’t have fun, but because my kids learned when it was okay to fool around and when it was absolutely not acceptable.  They know hard work is rewarded, that lies are not welcomed, and that kindness is what makes the difference in people’s lives.  They also know that having feelings is okay, and that saying “it hurts” is not something to be ashamed of.  If anything, they also learned to never in a million years, hurt another living creature intentionally.

My kids now rescue spiders and bugs and they tell other kids to do the same.  They also know that wasting water is really bad so they wash their hands efficiently and fast.  They know black people exist and that the color of their skin is different and beautiful just like their own skin is different and beautiful and my skin is different and beautiful.  “Teacher, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white! Although, I am a little pink sometimes.”  Michael Jackson has taught us a lot, kids.  A lot.

I also learned that having a box of crayons and some paper around, solves about 99% of world issues.  I also learned that playing “Simon Says” is how dictators like Ceasar, Hitler, and Stalin must’ve ruled the world.  That game controls minds like no other.  After a while, even adults start following along.

When in doubt, color the heck out of a piece of paper.  Colors release endorphins.  Endorphins make us happy creatures.

2013 was the year when I stopped thinking about relationships as something I needed to have because I am a social creature, and started assessing them as something I actually wanted to have and that it was okay to pick and choose who to spend time with.  This covered friendships to romantic liaisons.  I said goodbye to a lot of people that at one point, were good social acquaintances, but nothing more.  They did nothing wrong.  Our friendship span just ran out and that is completely fine.  When it comes to sharing my life with someone else, well, here I am.  I know what I want and I know what I am willing to compromise on.  For the longest time, I kept hearing that “settling” is bad and that I should “never stop” until I get what I want.  Truth be told, what I want means settling, and settling isn’t necessarily bad.  It simply means that although the grass may always seem greener elsewhere, it doesn’t mean it’s good for me.  I want laughter, I want intimacy, and I most definitely can see myself building a home with someone who enjoys traveling, reading, and having the occasional weekend at home.  Good things in life come and not having “the man of my dreams” doesn’t mean my life hasn’t been worth it.  It’s never about that.  I had other good things  come into my life this year.  Things I needed to do on my own, without anyone else around to rely on because deep down, I can hear my gut telling me that some things you just gotta ride out by yourself.

Like, say, my love for acting.

It started off with Seoul’s Vagina Monologues, March 2013.

892840_10100185984138436_1642785444_oI was terrified about getting a part.  I actually didn’t want to get a part.  You know how it is: you want something so badly that at the end of the day, when you work hard to get it and you actually do receive it, you freak out.  You start thinking, “wait, I’m not ready! I am not what you want! LOOK ELSEWHERE BUT DO NOT LOOK AT ME!”

This year, this performance, changed that.  I want to be looked at.  I want to accept the good things in life I work hard for because no one could ever say to me that I am a hand-out girl.  Nothing has ever been served on a platter in my life and I am proud of that.  So what did I do? I dug my teeth into this play and made it bleed.  I brought the most I could and despite being rusty, I had an incredible group of women that supported me through thick and thin.

One never forgets that.

Which is why, I decided to take an even bigger risk back in October 2013.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast was perhaps, the highlight of my year.  Sure, you can think that it was “just” a shadow cast and that “I didn’t really need to prepare”, but if you’ve never done it, you have no idea what you’re really saying.

1384374_10102757884334517_1375620921_nI had to overcome quite a few things in order to become the one and only, Frank N Furter.  I had to be half dressed on stage, which as a bigger girl than most twigs in life, was a bit of a challenge.  I also had some really blatant sex scenes and those were fun, not going to lie.  I felt liberated, I felt happy and I finally felt like I was expressing something much more than a character with lines.  I felt like I was becoming part of a cult movie tradition and the positive feedback (the incredible positive feedback) reassured me that yes, this is what your heart flips for.  It wants a stage, a character to become, and it most definitely wants the acting.

Meeting incredible people helped.  I had such an amazing time with this group of TRHPS.

Dear 2014, please give me more opportunities to act.

Around the same time TRHPS was happening, Halloween began to creep up on all of us.  I am a devoted Halloween lover, but I hadn’t dressed up in a long time.  This year, because working with kids means you get to act like one too, meant I got to dress up and live up to my Halloween dreams:

IMG_20131031_102554_20131031205419474It was SO much fun!!!! I got to scare a ton of kids too, who love being scared by a teacher because that’s what kids want.  They all secretly want to see the adult involved in jovial behavior.  Since I am a perpetual sixteen year old trapped in a thirty year old body, I had NO issues fitting the bill.

Tell me, Snow White.  What is your biggest fear?

Tell me, Snow White. What is your biggest fear?

But the biggest adventure of all, the mother of mothers, was traveling.

I saw Beijing and I saw Kyoto.

How to even begin explaining the love I have for these two places? I can’t.  All I know is that I need to keep traveling and I need to keep seeing things and meeting new people and having those moments that catch you by the throat and move you to tears.

The moments that remind you that you’re so alive it can kill you.

1094763_10100283102033396_1353639954_nI know going to The Great Wall isn’t that big of a deal anymore, but to me it was.  To me it felt like I was on top of the world, that I was not part of a very small group that was lucky to see such incredible beauty.  And to be honest, Chinese people were nothing but awesome to me.  So there.  Go if you can.

inari5But Inari.

I cried.  When I saw the Inari Shrine and walked through them and reveled in the stillness after passing most of the tourists, I cried.  No, it wasn’t because I was sad.  It was because I was doing something that I had wanted to do for a very long time and I was reminded of how beautiful it is to set goals in life and then meeting them.

Next goals are:

Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and hopefully Bali.  And hopefully, I’ll get to do them all in one go.

2013 was a good great year.  I am sort of excited about 2014 because I seriously feel it will be a complete transformation year.  2013 saw me grow more into myself, turn 30, live up to my own expectations, reclaim my independence as a woman who loves to travel and not give a fuck about what others might see.  I am happy, I am blessed, and I am taken care of.

I hope the people reading this, find themselves smiling.  I hope you had a good year as well.  I hope 2014 brings you everything you need and washes away everything that brings you down.

I chose the word “adventure” NYE last year.  It panned out to be an excellent year.  I leaped, I laughed, I learned, and I cannot wait for more.

2014 already has a word.  Pick one for yourself.  I promise you, it will be worth it.

Remember, it’s about making memories.  CREATE memories.  But in order to have those amazing times, one must do some amazing living; even if you don’t realize it sometimes.

Make it a good one.  Happy New Year, everybody.

The-hobbit-unexpected-journey-quote-4

21 Books That Changed My Life

Don’t take too long to think about it. List twenty-one books you’ve read that will always stick with you.

21. “Middlesex”, Jeffrey Eugenides

20. “A Man Without A Country”, Kurt Vonnegut

19. “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, Ken Kessey

18. “A Fine Balance”, Rohinton Mistry

17. “The Namesake”, Jhumpa Lahiri

16. “Rayuela”, Julio Cortázar

15. “Wuthering Heights”, Emily Bronte

14. “Anna Karenina”, Leo Tolstoy

13. “Persepolis”, Marjane Satrapi

12. “Mrs Dalloway”, Virginia Woolf

11. “The Catcher in the Rye”, J.D. Salinger

10. “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, Jared Diamond

9. “The Corrections”, Jonathan Franzen

8. “White Teeth”, Zadie Smith

7.” Anil’s Ghost”, Michael Ondaatje

6. “The Year of Magical Thinking”, Joan Didion

5. “Charlotte’s Web”, E.B. White

4. “The Hobbit”, J.R.R. Tolkien

3. “To Kill A Mockingbird”, Harper Lee

2. “Pedro Páramo”, Juan Rulfo

1. “El Señor Presidente”, Miguel Angel Asturias

vonnegut

2013 AND ITS BEST MUSIC

I can’t believe 2014 is going to be here in two weeks.  What the actual fuck? Did I really graduate high school 13 years ago? And what the fuck happened to college? That was eight years ago?!

Anyway.

Getting new music in Korea is a bit of a challenge because iTunes is blocked and I am not allowed to purchase things immediately.

2013 was a pretty decent year for music.  That, or I have rekindled my love for discovering new music fervently, instead of waiting for people to pass along information and suggesting I check something out.

I have to start with Queens Of The Stone Age (QOTSA) and their new album …Like Clockwork.  

qotsaI can’t give you a professional take on this album because that is simply not what I am about.  All I know is that it fucking rules.  Some of the best lyrics I’ve heard from QOTSA and the music simply flows.  There’s no weird song that makes you wonder “what the hell where they thinking?!”, which usually happens to me at least, whenever I hear something new.  There’s always that song that ruins a good portion of your day.  Nothing like that happened with this album.  From start to finish, this is a solid album and I think (in my very humble and amateur opinion) it is one of their best.

Favorite song: Not gonna lie, hearing Homme say “I blow my load over the status quo… here we go” makes me super happy.  So, it goes to “Smooth Sailing”.  Dirty rock at its best.

Next, and quite unexpectedly, I have to give it to the misunderstood, complex, and sometimes annoying but nevertheless entertaining, Kanye West and his album Yeezus.

yeezusLook, I have been a hater for a while.  A hater.  Some of his songs have caught my attention but never something to be all over it.  When this album came out, I don’t know what the hell happened, I didn’t just “like” it, I fucking loved the shit out of it.  I feel like I respond much more to artists that access their inner beast and raw nature than say, artists that sort of hide coyly behind a marketing tool.  I think I have a lot more respect for those that can exploit that marketing machine and put out something brutal and full of emotion.  This album, is exactly that.  Kanye is pissed and in love and raw.  He also gave us access to the best fucking parody I’ve seen in many moons with Seth Rogen and Jamie Franco.  That was hilarious.

I ate that shit up.  I admit it.

Favorite Song: “Black Skinhead” HANDS FUCKING DOWN.  When he says “pardon I’m getting my scream on” something very guttural happens within me and makes me want to fuck shit up.  You go, Kanye.  You’re ace.  And I hope I catch your concert at some point.

The next one, is rather a quiet one no one seems to have on their radar.  That’s cool.  It’s Sigur Rós, Kveikur.

sigurros

I love this band through and through and I was able to see them live in Seoul earlier this year.  Sigur Rós is known to put shows that can either bore the hell out of you, or keep you senses fully engaged.  I saw them back in 2006 when Takk had just come out.  I saw them in Boston.  They were really fucking good, but I didn’t miss anything if I closed my eyes, which is what I do when I listen to their music anyway.  This time around, Sigur Rós came with a vengeance of awesome music and a great light show.  I didn’t close my eyes once.  The energy was different, and I love it.  They still make me want to move into a cabin somewhere in Iceland and become friends with Bjork.  Obviously, that will happen one day.

Favorite song: “Isjaki”, which apparently means “iceberg”.  Yes, I am one of those people that look up certain words in Sigur Rós lyrics.  You’re fucking welcome.

Finally, the one that really hit home.

savages

I cannot even begin.  Where? How can I explain this? I don’t know what happened here.  Smart women playing instruments really well to the surprise of a male dominated arena? Powerful lyrics? Fierceness? Take your pic.  Savages is the band that made me drop everything I was doing and find out everything there was about them.  I want to be friends with them.  I want to be in a band with them.  I haven’t felt like that since, perhaps, I discovered Joan Jett… who is cool enough, but not cool as Patti Smith.  Let’s be honest.  Anyway, that’s a different argument.  The point is, shut up and listen to this:

There, that does it for today.

Honorable mention: Pearl Jam’s “Lightning Bolt”… look, in my eyes, Pearl Jam can do no wrong.  They just can’t.  I owe them my adolescence and my heartbreaks.  Other mentions: M.I.A., Vampire Weekend, Grumbling Fur, and apparently Beyoncé’s new album.  Everything I’ve heard so far from these artists, I love.

There, that’s my take on this year’s music releases.  At least, the ones I can access here.  Here’s to 2014 and hopefully more music to check out.

South Africa, revisited.

All I see are Jacaranda trees and blue skies.  Purple and pink with bright green leaves.  Sapphire blue skies.  Fire sunsets.  I can see and smell all of these things.

Roads.  Long roads and hours on the road.  “Your country is huge,” I remember telling him while I gazed out the window.  I was in love with his country, with him, with Africa.  In a way, I was home.

A lot of emotions are stirring within me today, most of them are beautiful and terribly real.

South Africa holds a very, very special place in my heart.  It is the land that healed me in 2010, the land that gave me one of the greatest love stories I have to share with the world, and gave me friends that are one of a kind.  From the streets of Pretoria to the deserted fields in Four Ways, Johannesburg to the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains…

South Africa, you own a piece of me for ever and I am mourning with you today but at the same time, I am celebrating the fact that I got to hear this man’s name mentioned many times in my house under a positive light.  I am proud to be part of humanity because of him.  I know a lot of people will never understand this, and that is okay.  My path is very different from theirs, my experiences, are very different from theirs.

But I celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life as I simultaneously mourn the loss of a titan.

Hay veces que es difícil para mí poner en palabras lo que siento.  La ventaja de hablar varios idiomas, y entender dos o tres más, es que uno navega las emociones un poco mejor.  Uno entiende sutilezas que la persona con un idioma simplemente no lograría entender.

Mi español jamás ha sido perfecto ni lo será.  Crecí hablando el Inglés porque todo mundo en mi casa se comunica mejor en ese idioma.  La única vez en la que el idioma me sale, es cuando hay algo extremadamente emocional sucediendo o cuando hablo con alguien a quien sinceramente quiero.

Es el idioma de mi corazón, por más ridículo que suene.

Hoy, es tal día.

Por primera vez en mis 30 años de vida, he visto ver a un ícono morir.  Un titán.  Por lo menos, en mi casa siempre se le trató como tal.  Siempre se habló de un tal Nelson Mandela de Sudáfrica.   Un hombre que pasó 27 años en una prisión antes de salir libre en 1990.  Recuerdo perfectamente ese día.

En mi casa solamente hay una televisión y estaba en el cuarto de mis papás.  Tenía prohibido ver la tele al menos de que fueran programas educativos o culturales y muy pocas veces logré ver más de una hora de caricaturas.

“Nena,” oí que mi mamá me llamaba.  Era Febrero 11, 1990.  Claro, yo no sabía esto en aquel momento.  Lo tuve que buscar en Google en estos momentos, pero recuerdo perfectamente la voz de un corresponsal para ABC News.  Habían olas de gente negra, blanca, y todo aquello que caía entre esos dos extremos.  Lo único que recuerdo es haberle visto semejante sonrisa a un hombre alto y ya grande.  Un abuelito en mis ojos, porque cualquiera que tenía pelo blanco, en mis ojos de niña, era un abuelito.

Un “tata”.

“Ver como salió de la prisión con tanta dignidad después de lo que le pasó,” me contó mi papá hace ya unos años, “eso que le pasó era para romperle el espiritú a cualquiera.”  But he walked out with his dignity and his willingness to politically change South Africa for the best.

And, as an amateur political observer, I think he actually changed the world.  At least for a little bit and hopefully, someone in my lifetime, will match his spirit again.

At that time, though, it was just an ordinary day as a child.  Who was Nelson Mandela and why did everyone care? Why was it important to walk free?

Y pasaron muchos años antes de que lograra entender la importancia de ese día en mi casa y en el mundo.

Desperté triste con la noticia sobre la muerte de Nelson Mandela.  Lo primero que hice, fue pensar en todos los nombres que se han mencionado en mi casa.  Ninguno sigue vivo.  Nelson Mandela siendo el último hombre que nos quedaba como símbolo.

And yes, before you jump in.  Allow me to jump right in before you.

What made Nelson Mandela extraordinary, was how he took all the poison in the world, including his own, and turned it into fertile ground for dialogue and peace.  Nelson Mandela was certainly not perfect, nor did he ever pretend to be.  We didn’t build a man from dust, he built his legacy himself.

Siento mucho ver a esta leyenda irse de este mundo material, pero que gran ilusión es saber que el ya es parte de las estrellas, libre.  Libre de enfermedad, libre de su pasado, libre de todo.

Vuele, y no regrese.  Ya es usted parte de las estrellas.

Buenas noches, Señor Mandela.  Buenas noches, Sudáfrica.

Makube njalo! Kude kube nguna phakade.

nelson

I Concede.

So much to own up to and  little courage to do so.

How does one come to terms with happiness happening in the present tense, while lingering nostalgically over things that were and most importantly, the things that could’ve been? 

I am trapped in a sticky substance called time.  Nothing is really present, past, or future.  It is all one giant ball of memories and events and particles and atoms that have collected different emotions, faces, places, and words.  I am a cluster of particles that have added up to nothing and yet, they have made me.  In a very simple way of thinking, they are sort of my everything.

Am I nothing and everything, then? Philosophers have argued over this question since a method to measure intelligence was discovered.  People have tried owning this redundant question as their own rite to intelligence.  It’s always something pedantic like, “yes, but do you feel you’re part of this universe? Everything is so mundane anyway…” and you feel a lot lonelier and about a tenth dumber after interacting with such types.  Sometimes, you don’t want to prove your ability to keep up with philosophical banter.  Sometimes, you just want someone to hand you a beer/coffee/bottle of wine with the simple phrase, “I understand.”

I. UNDERSTAND.  That is music to my ears.

I don’t want to pretend to be something I am not.  It’s exhausting, no one is really paying attention, and quite frankly, I don’t really think I am sure of anything anymore.    At least, not in regards to my immediate future.  Then again, I have never been sure of anything but life has taken care of me thus far, and therefore, I have good reason to believe that all will be alright.  Except that, sometimes, I remember a few things saturated in the past, present, and future.  The bitterness of guilt, with a sweet glossy cover, and the promise of the best coming is too much to handle sometimes.

I remember knowing a few (sad) things.

I know I will die.  How or when, I do not know.  I do not know if I will get to live a long life with beautiful and terrible memories woven into one another.  I do not know if I will be assaulted by an unforgivable disease that will kill me.  I hope not.  That thought alone makes me really sad, but I cannot manipulate the natural events that will take place.

I also know that everyone who actually matters to me will die too, and those that don’t matter at all, will seem to live too long.

In a world where everything is interconnected, I wonder how a lot of us still manage to be so clueless, so incredibly isolated, from one another.  I feel that because we have such immediate access to the people that like us, that care about us, we forget our most basic manners.   We don’t say a polite greeting anymore.  We’re all too busy on our phones.

In recent months, I have noticed that my level of intelligence has dwindled.  I am dumber than I used to be, and that is a horrific admittance.  I have never been able to pride myself as an intelligent human being; I know I love to read books and articles.  I don’t speak to people with words that are confusing or daunting.  I use “fuck” a lot.  I make spelling mistakes and I prefer to put extra commas everywhere, than omitting them entirely.

I love Facebook a little too much and sometimes, I find myself checking my email at 4 am.

My parents have every right to be angry at my life style.  A part of me wishes they could take my computer and phone away like a permanent punishment, but another part of me simply doesn’t give a fuck.  I am so cynical about my generation as of late that quite frankly, becoming a little bit dumber seems appealing.

Notice my writing.  My friends used to love reading my blogs on Myspace (RIP Myspace, you are missed).  Now, I feel like I can’t write two coherent sentences.  I feel rewired into a humanoid.  I cannot properly function without technology around me.  If I forget my phone, I feel vulnerable.  I feel like I am missing an arm.  How dare I compare a phone to an actual, valuable part of my body?

Well, I dared and the sad part is, I actually believe in what I just said.

All these atoms, these thoughts, these tiny little crevices between synapses are deteriorating into nothing.  What could’ve once been amazing connections, what could’ve been an amazing rewiring of habits, has become nothing but dust.  Nothing gets done because deep down, nothing wants to get done.

The worst crime I have ever committed against my own self was indifference.  I do not care to do much these days and I can’t even say I am depressed.  Disillusioned? Unmotivated? Unresponsive to environmental stimuli?

Maybe it’s the season that makes me so strange.

I really think I should’ve done drugs when I was younger.  Now I can’t.  I have genuinely lost all possible validity in trying drugs.  I missed the boat and I am sort of bitter about it.

Perhaps I should stop reading Jonathan Franzen.  Maybe I should stop reading all together.

Or maybe, I just need to fucking accept the fact that these mood swings were cool when I was a teenager and now are really bizarre as a thirty year old.

No one told me being an adult would suck so much.  I want permission to be a moody teenager back.1460176_386378318131472_260025290_n

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