from one of my favorite writers & artists keri smith:

"it's the first moment of respite in a hectic week filled with deadlines, house renovation, taxes, and company. but i feel strangely rested and purged. i think mainly due to the fact spring has arrived and I can finally let a fresh breeze into the house. is it the spring that begs us to stop for a moment and see that everything is as it should be? at the root of my being i want to clean the winter dust off of everything, and purge my house of anything unnecesary.

how wonderful that our biological urges are still intact in this period of staring at screens all day. somewhere in the depths of our bodies the animal nature breathes and makes us want to go walk on the earth again after the thaw.

how is it that the smell of the earth is like a tonic that calms us into a calm state, even when we are surrounded by concrete and cars? the body knows more about what it needs than we do. it craves flowers and green and air that moves through the trees. it speaks to the trees and the trees speak back, but somewhere along the way we lost the ability to hear the language. but it's there. i know it.

the average child is able to identify hundreds of corporate logos, yet incapable of naming the species of tree in their own backyard. Yet they still communicate with the tree even if they don't know it. it must have something to do with the urge to build a house up in the branches, or build a fort in the roots.

just thinking about forts made me want to build one for myself. out of chairs and blankets. i want to hide a pile of books in there and sitting reading for the rest of the afternoon.

and listen to what the trees have to say."


An excerpt from a speech by Milton Glaser

There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. Gestalt therapy derives from art history, it proposes you must understand the ‘whole’ before you can understand the details. What you have to look at is the entire culture, the entire family and community and so on. Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.


i love, love, love color. i say this as i'm dressed in black skinny jeans and a black and white flowered tunic, but hey, under normal circumstances i'm usually in something bright. my room in the blue rowhouse is red. my favorite toe and lip color is bright pink. my tote is grass green. i'm excited to incorporate even more color into my new apartment. i read in a feng-shui book that you should paint and decorate in muted tones because bright colors drain your energy. to that i say, fire up the bialetti and make me a cappuccino!


home sweet home

i have a new home.

i rode my bike to the office today and signed. it's a small but cozy sixth-floor studio with big windows overlooking the doggie park. it has a bathtub (key in my book) and a full kitchen and a huge closet. hardwood floors. sunlight. and it's only for me (with the exception of john staying there in the summertime.)

i'm very happy.

how i love the weekend.

this weekend restored me. besides a little drama in the little blue rowhouse, things were perfect and worth recounting.

friday, john & i hopped on our bikes after work and cruised from neighborhood to neighborhood stopping for a couple of beers on connecticut avenue. the beautiful rainy weather allowed us to sit outside in t-shirts under a patio overhang. we hopped back on our bikes and rode up new hampshire, spinning in and out of traffic and watching people walk by. i spent saturday in a coffeeshop dreaming up story ideas and trip itineraries and drinking soy cafe au laits. the weather was rainy and cool but after a nap (and skipping yoga class) i woke to blue skies and t-shirt weather. i put on my converse sneakers and a black tube top preparing myself for an evening of sweaty, non-stop dancing. i walked to krista's apartment and she, stefan and i drank ginger vodka drinks and danced in the windows of her apartment to euro-dance music and ace of base. we walked to the metro to head to jessie's magazine party and krista and i stuck flowers behind our ears. we ate homemade sushi and talked to friends and then headed to the ghana cafe for some reggae. lots of dancing and lots of drinks. then i rode home on john's handlebars eating a piece of jumbo slice and trying not to fall off. yes, a bad idea, but the point is that it was very fun and i didn't fall off.


oh, the perils of being young.

i've been feeling more than a little lackluster about writing lately - my blogs, my journal, my freelancing, my job. i think that's just the way it is. it comes in waves.

but i refuse to just sit here and become complacent about it, so i quit a couple of freelance gigs that have been draining my energy. they required "marketing-esque" sort of writing, something that i'm not interested in and i don't think i'm good at. mainly i was just doing it for the extra money it brought in.

i had coffee with one of our national geographic traveler freelancers today who was full of good advice and just talking with him gave me so many more ideas of things i'd like to write. i want to get back to the part of me that can spend an entire afternoon curled up in the window with a cup of tea just writing, no agenda in mind. yes, i'm a little poor, but for gods sakes i'm twenty-three. i'm supposed to be poor, right?

i need to just myself one-hundred percent into the things i love. the money will come eventually, when i need it. what do i need it for now? grande soy lattes, chimays and expensive jeans?

lord, i'm such an american.

declare your independence.

i got this from my friend andy's blog. it's an excerpt from the book vagabonding, by rolf potts.

Declare Your Independence

By Rolf Potts

Of all the outrageous throwaway lines one hears in movies, there is one that stands out for me. It doesn’t come from a madcap comedy, an esoteric science-fiction flick, or a special-effects-laden action thriller. It comes from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, when the Charlie Sheen character - a promising big shot in the stock market - is telling his girlfriend about his dreams.

“I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket,” he says, “I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”

When I first saw this scene on video a few years ago, I nearly fell out of my seat in astonishment. After all, Charlie Sheen or anyone else could work for eight months as a toilet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across China. Even if they didn’t yet have their own motorcycle, another couple months of scrubbing toilets would earn them enough to buy one when they got to China.

The thing is, most Americans probably wouldn’t find this movie scene odd. For some reason, we see long-term travel to faraway lands as a recurring dream or an exotic temptation, but not something that applies to the here and now. Instead out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need - we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travel becomes just another accessory -a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.

Not long ago, I read that nearly a quarter of a million short-term monastery- and convent-based vacations had been booked and sold by tour agents in the year 2000. Spiritual enclaves from Greece to Tibet were turning into hot tourist draws, and travel pundits attributed this “solace boom” to the fact that “busy overachievers are seeking a simpler life.”

What nobody bothered to point out, of course, is that purchasing a package vacation to find a simpler life is kind of like using a mirror to see what you look like when you aren’t looking into the mirror. All that is really sold is the romantic notion of a simpler life, and - just as no amount of turning your head or flicking your eyes will allow you to unselfconsciously see yourself in the looking glass - no combination of one-week or ten-day vacations will truly take you away from the life you lead at home.

Ultimately, this shotgun wedding of time and money has a way of keeping us in a holding pattern. The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think that money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we’re too poor to buy our freedom. With this kind of mind-set, it’s no wonder so many Americans think extended overseas travel is the exclusive realm of students, counterculture dropouts, and the idle rich.

In reality, long-term travel has nothing to do with demographics - age, ideology, income - and everything to do with personal outlook. Long-term travel isn’t about being a college student; it’s about being a student of daily life. Long-term travel isn’t an act of rebellion against society; it’s an act of common sense within society. Long-term travel doesn’t require a massive “bundle of cash”; it requires only that we walk through the world in a more deliberate way.

This deliberate way of walking through the world has always been intrinsic to the time-honored, quietly available travel tradition known as “vagabonding.”

Vagabonding involves taking an extended time-out from your normal life: six weeks, four months, two years to travel the world on your own terms.

But beyond travel, vagabonding is an outlook on life. Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions. Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure. Vagabonding is an attitude, a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word.

Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life - a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time - our only real commodity - and how we choose to use it.

Sierra Club founder John Muir (an ur-vagabonder if there ever was one) used to express amazement at the well-heeled travelers who would visit Yosemite only to rush away after a few hours of sightseeing. Muir called these folks the “time-poor” - people who were so obsessed with tending their material wealth and social standing that they couldn’t spare the time to truly experience the splendor of California’s Sierra wilderness. One of Muir’s Yosemite visitors in the summer of 1871 was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who gushed upon seeing the sequoias, “It’s a wonder that we can see these trees and not wonder more.” When Emerson scurried off a couple hours later, however, Muir speculated wryly about whether the famous transcendentalist had really seen the trees in the first place.

Nearly a century later, naturalist Edwin Way Teale used Muir’s example to lament the frenetic pace of modern society. “Freedom as John Muir knew it,” he wrote in his 1956 book Autumn Across America, “with its wealth of time, its unregimented days, its latitude of choice . . . such freedom seems more rare, more difficult to attain, more remote with each new generation.”

But Teale’s lament for the deterioration of personal freedom was just as hollow a generalization in 1956 as it is now. As John Muir was well aware, vagabonding has never been regulated by the fickle public definition of lifestyle. Rather, it has always been a private choice within a society that is constantly urging us to do otherwise.

This is a book about living that choice.”


there seems to be something magical about the practice of yoga that nurtures in us the courage to head boldly in the direction of our dreams, to extend fully into our lives instead of settling into a shriveled-up version of ourselves.

claudia cummins


i have felt very negative lately, like i'm holding the world on my shoulders. i wake up and i begin worrying, worrying, worrying.

what about? it goes a little something like this.

what to wear to work.. if i should buy a chai or save my money.. speaking of money will i have enough for my around-the-world trip?.. oh god should i even be moving out of my house and into my own place?.. can i afford it?.. no, i really shouldn't.. back to what to wear to work.. am i done with everything at work?.. what if someone throws something at me today that i can't handle?..

you get the picture. on and on and on. i'm not used to feeling this sort of anxiety and it scared me.

but this morning i was looking out the window at the sunrise without a thought in my head. just thinking, wow that is beautiful. and then i focused on my breathing as i walked to work. not a thought in my head. just noticed a tiny black bird with white stretched out over his wings. i noticed the smell of the air and it reminded me of early summer when i first moved to d.c.

this is the way i should feel, and it's usually the way i do feel. i was talking to my mom this morning and i said that i hadn't felt like myself for a few days. i'd forgotten how to breathe. how to relax. and she said that sometimes you just have to lose yourself to find yourself again. it's so true. just relaxing deeper into the ebb and flow.

and sometimes that means taking an hour-long vinyasa class during lunch, which i just did. ahhh...

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. If a man speaks or acts with an impure mind, suffering follows him as the wheel of the cart follows the beast that draws the cart. What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. If a man speaks or acts with a pure mind, joy follows him as his own shadow.

The Dhammapada


tomorrow is the first day of spring. i walked to work in my new peep toe wedges today and i have blisters on either side of my heels. this happens every spring. i forget that new shoes eat your feet alive.

other things in my world:

heading to ensenada, mexico at the end of april to rendevous with andrea and francis (yea!) / hot vinyasa class at inspired yoga /my parents' visit in three weeks (i cannot wait any longer to see them) / looking for a studio apartment to move into by may first / making my soy lattes at home and saving my moola / lucinda williams' "world without tears" / oogling spring dresses at the boutiques on u street

april comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers

edna st. vincent millay



we make every effort to keep things as they are, because human beings, alone, lament transience. yet no matter how we grieve or protest, there is no way to impede the flow of anything. if we but see things as they are and flow with them, we may find enjoyment in transience. because human life is transient, all manner of figures are woven into its fabric.
shundo aoyama,
zen seeds



a few of my girlfriends and i were sitting cross-legged in the courtyard earlier eating lunch when two lincolns pulled up in front of us. yes, this is national geographic but i can guarantee you that nobody (well, maybe a couple of people) has drivers to bring them to work. all of these fancy shmancy artsy guys in pinstripe suits got out. we were wondering who they were when my friend jessie figured it out. the lead singer from blur and a few of his cohorts. so weird.

i digress.

i had a wonderful weekend at about 100 miles per hour. my friends marie and john came to visit from the mississippi delta. bonkosi and joe from iowa city. from the moment they arrived we were all over the city - pints at polly's cafe, running around saint-ex, a very long walk to dos gringos in mt. pleasant, new plates at a thrift shop, an indian veggie dinner... it reminded me so much of spring in iowa city - the weather has been unbelievably gorgeous. perfect for running, biking, walking. marie and i were finally able to talk and hug and laugh in person..



letting go

The Buddha's teaching is all about understanding suffering--its origin, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. When we contemplate suffering, we find we are contemplating desire, because suffering and desire are the same thing.

Desire can be compared to fire. If we grasp fire, what happens? Does it lead to happiness? If we say: "Oh, look at that beautiful fire! Look at the beautiful colors! I love red and orange; theyre my favorite colors," and then grasp it, we would find a certain amount of suffering entering the body. And then if we were to contemplate the cause of that suffering we would discover it was the result of having grasped that fire. On that information, we would hopefully then let the fire go. Once we let fire go then we know that it is not something to be attached to. This does not mean we have to hate it, or put it out. We can enjoy fire, can't we? It is nice having a fire, it keeps the room warm, but we do not have to burn ourselves in it.

Ajahn Sumedho, Teachings of a Buddhist Monk


wow, i've survived my first full week at work in a month. between the trip and whatever i brought back in my tummy, i've missed one day of work a week for the past month. but today missed a couple of hours because i went to the doctor to find out why i'm exhausted and sick every day. (my friends have dozens of scenarios. one involving a parasite named bob marley.)

the doctor was the usual scene. very busy, exasperated, firing questions at me right and left, and then asking me if i drank the water. "yes.." "from the tap?!" "yes.." "why would you do that? it's a third world country." i don't think it does any good to berate me for doing it. i thought my stomach could handle it and i was enjoying myself and didn't want to be bothered running around looking for bottled water every day. but now in return, i'm running around to doctor's appointments and sleeping too much.

so now i've been prescribed an antibiotic that will make me feel sick (great), make my mouth dry, and does not mix with alcohol. (no wine for ten days.. don't worry, i'm not an alcoholic, but i am twenty-three and like to have a few drinks.)

verdict: doctor's offices are up there with airports and tax offices. same lighting that make you feel like you're in the twilight zone, and you want to connect with someone so badly you feel as though you might just tell the doctor your entire life's story.


read up/listen up

nyt: how to bottle a generation
slate: hell is other cubicles
npr: all songs considered with lily allen
world hum: 100 places every woman should go
thievery corporation: versions

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and, if it were possible, speak a few reasonable words." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


my town

i came across these beautiful d.c. photographs online and wanted to share.
also check out this gridskipper post.

the cold hard truth.

up until a month ago, i didn't know taxes existed. well, ofcourse they existed, but not in my world. my lovely little world of chai, bicycles, writing, and yoga class - all of which i'm sure you're sick of hearing about. so when my mom said, have you filed your taxes yet, the little bubble over my head popped and i began to panic. shit, i thought. this will require responsibility, perhaps even some extra money.

and it was true. very true.

yesterday i spent 2 hours and 45 minutes at h&r block with a lovely arkansasian woman named elnora doos-boos. she graciously helped me with my taxes telling me there was nothing to be scared of and comforting me through the entire process. then she asked me to write her a check for $331.

er, what? $331?

i'm poor, i wanted to say. i've just graduated from college. i'm at my first job. i'm living in a very expensive city. and not only does the government want more money from me, but so does elnora.

so i wrote the check and then called up my brother who met me for a very large and very expensive martini (which i made him buy because he's the cheapest person alive) and got very buzzed.

not only am i allowed to pay taxes now that i'm adult, but i'm also allowed to get drunk on work nights.

La Rama Robada

The Stolen Branch, by Pablo Neruda

In the night we shall go in
to steal
a flowering branch.

We shall climb over the wall
in the darkness of the alien garden,
two shadows in the shadow.

Winter is not yet gone,
and the apple tree appears
suddenly changed
into a cascade of fragrant stars.

In the night we shall go in
up to its trembling firmament,
and your little lands and mine
will steal the stars.

And silently,
to our house,
in the night and the shadow,
with your steps will enter
perfume's silent step
and with starry feet
the clear body of spring.



after lying in bed feeling sick for a week, i made this my weekend of rejuvenation. the jury's still out on whether i feel completely better or not, but hell, at least i tried. yoga thursday, friday, saturday, sunday. a bike ride in flip flops on saturday morning to dos gringos for a delicious bagel and chai. a run to adams morgan last night.

saturday night i went to a hot yoga class at the inspired studio on u street. kyra, who led the retreat in jamaica, taught and it was wonderful to to be led by her voice again. with my eyes closed and the room at one-hundred degrees, it was easy to imagine that i was still in the caribbean, eventhough i was sliding all over my mat and thought that i might crack my chin open.

i think i go to yoga to stand still, and i don't mean that literally. almost the entire time i'm there i'm moving, but i'm able to step away from my daily life of habitual email checking, doodling, and my bouncing mind. on my run last night (the first run since christmas eve) i remembered that this is why i run too. i started running in high school because of a desperate need to get away, and though that need isn't so desperate anymore, it is why i run. it's why i write. it's why i meditate. stepping away from my life and then stepping back into it gives me the chance to refresh and take in what is around me a little more clearly.



it's a melancholy sunday - despite the blue skies and crisp air. i needed a slow day like this, a day of solitude and quiet to feel a little sad on purpose because i kind of like to feel that way.


pet obsession

i used to be obsessed with having a guinea pig. when i was seven, i would walk to the glenwood public library once a week and check out a book about caring for your pet guinea pig. though i'd failed miserably at taking care of my turtle toto and hamster (also named toto; i liked wizard of oz) i thought that having a guinea pig would cure all of life's shortcomings.

today after a long bike ride with my brother i came home to an envelope from my parents. it was filled with photographs and notes, one being this plea to my parents for a guinea pig that i wrote at age seven.

Guinea Pig

I want a guinea pig because they are fun to have. From what I have read, it says guinea pigs are very clean and not smelly. I will clean the cage every 3 days. I am paying for him and what it needs. I have a cage and a top. I will crush it's hair and if it gets a teensy bit smelly, which it won't, I will clean it. I will also exercise it. I have people to watch it when we go on vacation. One reason I want it is becaues it will be fun to play with when I'm bored, but even when I'm not bored I'll still do everything I'm supposed to. I didn't like my old hamster, ToTo, because he was too small and active. The turtle had claws and you couldn't cuddle him. I know I'll like a guinea pig because they are very quiet, tame, and the perfect size. I will feed it every day at the right time. I will take care of it all by myself. I will have wood for it to gnaw on so his teeth don't get long. Please let me get a guinea pig.

-Mary Beth LaRue, age 7


song of myself

i am the poet of the Body, i am the poet of the Soul,
the pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
the first i graft and increase upon myself, the latter i translate
into a new tongue.

walt whitman, from song of myself

happy march first.

amanda and my feet celebrating cinco de mayo on the iowa river

alright, enough moaning and groaning. it's almost spring. no more of this being sick, moping around. i thought i'd come back from jamaica feeling radiant and recharged, but instead i've been half full, one-quarter sickness and one-quarter nostalgia. i've got two whole days of empty space ahead of me and i'm filling them to the brim in hopes that i can fill myself to the brim too.

watch la dolce vita/go on a bike ride with my brother/eat at dos gringos in mount pleasant/take kyra's yoga class at inspired/go for a run/take a bunch of photographs/write freelancing pitches at a coffeeshop/finish fear of flying/have tea on my lovely little deck/prepare for marie & john's visit (yea!)

and according to the weatherman, i just might get to throw a thunderstorm into the mix too.