Monday, September 14, 2009

never impossible just a lot harder

I think I used to value flexibility a lot,
but 1 month into Costa Rica, I'm starting to wish things were set in place...
My airline tickets to be exact.
The slow speed connections had taken their toll on me and constant calls on skype to verify that transactions that had taken place outside of USA were indeed made by me.
The internet may be global, but the computer you use, is still very much local.

If there is one thing I have learned by this point of the trip, is that though indecision does´nt make things impossible, it does have the potential to make life increasingly difficult the closer it gets to the decision date.

Welcome to grown up life, May, I can almost hear Polina saying...

Other random things I have learned on this trip...
- Don´t wait to do something tomorrow when you have internet today, it may not be working tomorrow.. for days...
- Always plan your return trip before setting off.
- Ask questions, many of them to as many people as possible, because some will be wrong, and you really do want to get on that 9 hr bus ride as early as possible.
- Being cheap often costs you fiscally, emotionally or physically or all of the above... you know that sagging foam mattress will have you aching the next day.
- Always look at the bright side of things, even when everything is going hideously awry... because anyway you look at it, I'd rather be here sitting in Costa Rica in conumdrum over how to get to Peru after a day of weeding the farm, than back at my cubible, any day of the week.

Friday, August 28, 2009


It's been pouring in Costa Rica and everything is wet
the clothes won't dry, pages from the books are limpidly damp
I too am damp and honestly pretty yucky at the moment
Not to mention smelly, for as much as one tries to shower here
inevitable rainspells and high humidity often mean you smell
less than lucious within minutes of your hard earned shower.

It is exciting to find things that you need here,
it is like finding prized needles in haystacks...
so far the hunt has involved,
The Bolivian and Brasilian Embassies for my visas,
- all done with every ounce of 5 days of Spanish classes
Mosquito netting, neosporin in powder form,
electrical tape and a 4GB memory card -
all testimonies to an ill-planned trip and
unexpected travel needs.

Looking back, I barely believe where I've been
and where I'm going. To think I was in Cuba 2 weeks ago,
desperately finding my way around in a Spanish speaking world.
and that now I've been surfing for a week and a half,
and chatting to my neighbour about her day and her family in a newly adopted language.
still blows my mind.

This is all rather surreal and I struggle for words or photos to capture the spirit of this trip. Except I know I never will be able to, because travels of this magnitude are a very personal education of the mind and soul, a horrible meeting of yourself for the longest stretches of time, and beautiful meetings with other kindred travelers who too, have left home, braving cold showers and bunk beds and manic mosquitoes, to see a world beyond their own,
beyond the sterile tour buses and immaculately planned intinaries.

It is all quite fascinating - meeting other crazies from all over the world, who for brief moments in time, share tables, rooms and stories, and the select few who will share their stories with us for the rest of our lives.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Time without consequence

Missing Mirrors

If Maui was about feeling at home in my skin,
Then Andros Island was about the beauty of inconvenience

I had the luxury of riding in many cars
Some without mirrors, some right hand drives, other left hand drives,
And one which had to be jumped into half a block from home because there was a swarm of bees buzzing around the drivers’ side door.
The van I drove to pick the girls up had half a key stuck in the ignition and
a power seat that was jammed, nothing a simple pillow thrown behind me wouldn’t fix

The day I picked up Ebony from her work place, the car ran out of gas
And though we were at a gas station, the lady at the grocery store kindly informed us that they had gas, but the pump was not working.
We sat in the van waiting, not really minding much,
for help from family, which came in the form of uncle Tibby, who drove half the island with a canister of gas, and after topping up the van, drove off again with barely a word, suggesting that this was a rather routine occurrence.
We later found out that the gas pipe was leaking, draining the car of gas.

The internet had been down for 2 weeks,
kocked out by a storm
In order to plan the next leg of my trip Ebony, Shiraz and I drove 20 minutes to the airport almost daily, armed with a laptop and no extra battery.
We roasted in a van in the hot Bahamian sun - squatters in a parking lot shamelessly calling the Western Airlines Terminal Andro’s latest internet cafĂ© for an hour at a time.
At home, there was dial-up – as long as the phone lines were up – and a phone book
Despite all of the seeming inconveniences, a lot of things got done,
The only difference, other than the speed,
Was the noticeable absence of stress I was more accustomed to.

I started to wonder if my suspicions had always been true, that less is more.
I wondered if we weren’t distracted by a million events in a day,
Constantly pushing ourselves to work at peak efficiency,
worried if we made it on time to 3 appointments a day,
when 1 would have been enough to satisfy
Would we trade the life packed to its gills with activities, striving perfection in order to achieve our schedues’fulfillment,
for one with a little less - but as I’m starting to see - one that is infinitely richer.

My mind drifts back to the dish washer in San Francisco
Where Katya commented, almost reading my mind,
That when you are living life out so loud,
You really don’t need a dishwasher in your life to keep you happy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Feeling Loved.. in Maui

"I'm so sad you're leaving, I miss you already."
Parting shots in between hugs outside of Borders,
where Simone and I had been hanging out
dreaming dreams, both big and little, in the travel section
"Morocco... India.. Tahiti.. Let's go there!"
girlishly laughing while flipping through Fodders, Lonely Planet and Timeout
The travel section had never been so much fun

The only thing that makes partings like this bearable
is the knowledge that we wouldn't have met
if I hadn't similarly sad partings from other special people
in a city I would soon set foot in 2 days from now

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maui Rain

Darryl closing up the day at Kanaha - photo by Catherine

Today's downpour was a welcome change from the frantic scramble to hit the beach
It is amazing how efficient one can be when not utterly distracted by the conditions of the ocean
It's 11am and I've...
walked to 3 beaches, talked to 2 people on the phone,
painted 3 paintings and worked on a new approach to the experimental food bar
This might prove to be one of my most enjoyable days yet.
Given that the spoils of yesterday are still relatively fresh in my mind.
Paradise, rain or shine, would still be paradise,
now that I realize that paradise is much more a state of mind than anything else.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That gut feeling

We stood in the parking lot talking about boards
the sun had set a while back after ushering us back to shore with a pompous pink and blue rush of clouds
Some days there were rainbows while we, addicts of the ocean played in the waves
but today it was simply another magnificent sunset to close the day

But back to the boards, we spoke of finding just the right board to suit my frame
and stopped short after a few minutes of entertaining our imagination,
by the reality that I was going to be leaving in 7 days.
"And why are you leaving?"
"Because I need to get to Sydney."
Thoughts of intense sunburns, jelly fish and great whites made windsurfing there suddenly pale in comparison to the easy windsurfing I'd enjoyed for the past 2 months here.

The ache involved with following a calling, a gut feeling
intertwined with the desire to travel
and the pain of leaving new found spaces and friends
is something that I guess will be part of my life
until I make my way to a sun burnt country
which even as I look over with google maps,
is starting to feel strangely like home

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

serious hunger...

"She's what?!"
"Planting the tail of the board for her loops."
"No ****ing way..."

If the beauty of Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships,
then the audacity of the new girl on the beach landing her forward loops
was enough to send at least 2 grown men to try rework theirs.

Gido got 4 loops today and was so grateful for my instructional help and provocation that he decided to help rescue my board and rig which had woefully gone far far downwind to the lair of kite beach.

"I don't know why I want to do these tricks so badly." I lamented to Darryl after the long barefoot walk back from kite beach, the price paid for looking for good ramps to jump off far downwind as the wind declined towards the end of the day.

"It's because you're good, you should be learning them."
The words stunned me, I'd never really thought I was good at this.
Windsurfing was always that "evil thing" that took me away from time spent with family and friends, endless moments of angst while trying to stay off the water to honor time spent with people I cared about.
That past-time that caused my parents endless grief for skin accustomed to brown hues in a fair skin worshiping society

Maybe I was really good at this, maybe this was the time to find out
how far my skills would go if I threw guilt off to the wind,
believed in the promises of sunscreen and ate as many antioxidant blueberries as I could afford,
and allowed myself to entertain the possibility that this was a talent God had given me.
I'd be a fool to hold myself back from developing it now that I'd found it.

"You're only here for 2 more weeks, I think your friends here would understand if you couldn't meet during certain times of the day since you came here to windsurf."
Amen to that Daryl. I can't deny how ridiculously happy being on the water nailing tricks makes me.
Tours to upcountry and Haleakala would have to take a back seat for a moment.

To answer a self posed question, why do you do this thing?
Because I love it, and because I can.
and maybe most of all, because it brings God joy when his creation does what it was created to do.
loop on in joy...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Work in Progress

What gives you a headache for 2 days
is compelling enough to make you sleep for most of those days
and keeps you off the water?
2 straight days of the wrong technique of forward looping
Good incentive to nail my landing soon if I'm going to enjoy
the rest of my stay here.
Water never felt so solid

keeping it simple

I've taken to drying my hair in the wind at night,
which involves standing in the junction of an almost pitch dark street
and letting the tradewinds blow past me, while looking up and watching out for shooting stars
It is so quiet here that I could hear the sneeze of a neighbor 2 houses down,
rustling coconut tree fronds in the wind as the only background noise

I know that purchasing a hair drier would probably be an easier alternative,
but how poetic would standing in front of a power socket be
while an umbrella of a universe awaited outside as a stage for my makeshift salon

For all the resources spent on building and acquiring homes,
it's refreshing to know that what's outside can be a liberating balance to these consuming shells that keep us warm and dry.

Today the folks at neil pryde kindly let me off with a free day's rental for a mast.
"I feel bad for you using gear that old", the star staff member said, sympathetic of my ill fitting mast base that was wrecking one of my smaller sails.
Whatever the logic there, I was grateful for the favor shown
"Come by again and try the mast again, I'm tearing up the paper work for today's rental."

Grace and kindness in unexpected places is such a pleasant surprise :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

don't forget to smile

"Isn't this place wonderful?" Jacek said,
nodding towards the sunset unfolding before us on another day in Kanaha
I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't noticed
my mind had been preoccupied with technical aspects of how to nail a
trick I'd been working on for years,
"I kinda prefer Barbados..."
My mind still reeling of how the conditions weren't quite right,
or how I'd set up my sail wrong and how I should fix it tomorrow

Somewhere along the drive home,
with the sun lazily coloring the sky a cast of muted pinks to my left,
A neighbor stopping to say hi to me in the grocery store,
and a myriad of stars above me my head as I took my shower to candle light,
I knew I had to eat my words back.

For all the roaches I had to kill every other night,
And the moments when I was gripped by anxiety over how expensive living here was...
If Jacek who bore a fitting profile for the locally despised Haole windsurfer could recognize its imperfections and still embrace it as wonderful and as home
Then I could embrace it too
because nothing is perfect
nor is it ever meant to be

This isn't Barbados
and this isn't San Francisco
but it is simply and wonderfully,

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hello Ho'okipa

I don't think I'd ever taken that long to get into the water... ever...
A record 1.5 hours of staring at the menacing beach break.
It didn't really matter that the swell was relatively light that day,
My mind had created a monster of a challenge before me -
Board munching rocks, razor sharp reef under the swell, light onshore winds at the launch

Knowing that I'd kick myself if I didn't get to sail Ho'okipa on a manageable day,
I tossed board, sail, inhibitions and all into the foaming mass of white water and inched my way out as best as I could between sets of swell.

It wasn't all glamorous;
there was a close call with drifting towards the rocks in the light wind
and I chickened out of hanging with the pros in the wave zone,
but I had to smile along with the flying fish and sea turtles that greeted me on open ocean,
because clumsy as its execution might have been,
I was sailing at a spot I'd dreamed of for months,
and one i would never have dreamed of sailing just a year ago

As most fears that go unrealized,
my first session at the mecca of windsurfing in Maui passed without event,
with me and gear returning to shore in one piece.
On my return to shore, I tucked the delirium of facing challenges and surviving their outcomes safely in my grin
And gave thanks for this moment that had seemed a galaxy away in the midst of my shoulder therapy

Hello Ho'okipa,
it's nice to finally meet you.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I'll be honest, my first 2 days in Maui were bumpy.
Overcast Hawaiian skies and the sleep deprive week culminating in a packing all-nighter the night before my departure did not make me too ready to embrace beauty in any shape or form.
To top it off, I realized that even in paradise, I missed San Francisco.

My arrival to this beautiful island started with sleeping shamelessly for 2 straight days. Interspersed amidst the decedent naps, the pragmatist in me cleaned my studio, and dabbed olive oil on all the door and window frames. Arlene would be proud.

Though settling into a slower pace did not come instantly for a city dweller,
other things were as natural as breathing.
Little things like:
greeting the dawn by the ocean every morning,
endlessly watching waves like none I'd ever seen in my life,
consuming heaps of gorgeous locally grown organic lettuce from Hana farms,
falling asleep to a myrid of stars outside my window
and my first session at Kanaha beach - without neoprene
I'm starting to love this place - wind, ocean, neighborhood, people and all.

The neighbors are an fun bunch - Kathlyn, who was excited to meet another windsurfing buddy, her son Hans, who missed his flight from Honolulu and pawned off 3 Bintang shirts to pay $30 of airline penalty. Steve and Nu, who drink coffee on their deck by beach I visit every morning. And of course, my landlord who had to duplicate a key for me when I lost it at the beach by mama's fish house my second day here.

for how hard it was leaving san francisco
it's nice to know that 36 hours of sleep can change your mind
aloha, i'm in love...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

grass fed beef goodness and hana farm lettuce

the living room below

jasmines from Steve and Nu's garden

yes, the outdoor shower

the new boardmobile

my favorite place in the house, the veranda, wifi doesn't hurt...

papayas for breakfast

the loft above, with sunrises in the morning and stars at night

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A pillow in the mail

rock release party, ocean beach
returning all the pebbles I'd ever picked back to the beach

They say what you do in your last moments says something about you. In between errands, I wondered what the things I was packing to ship home said about me.
The oddest things yet, a $15 antique side table from a thrift store and a pillow from IKEA. What if that pillow got discontinued by the time I get home? Horrors! That pillow is coming with me!
In the midst of learning about the qualities of breathable and wicking fabrics,
and being surrounded by packing peanuts and paintings still awaiting homes,
managing craigslist buyers and relentlessly lowering prices of my ad postings in a depressed market,
1:13am on a morning exactly a week from my departure,
brings with it a peace that confirms my suspicions
that life is crazy...
... crazy beautiful

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Allergic to suburbia

Departing Walnut Creek, Shannon and I could not stop sneezing
We had to conclude, with her just entering her 20s,
and me one year closer to exiting mine,
that we must be highly allergic to suburbia,
and gratefully greeted the grey skyline
bursting from the seams as viewed from the Bay Bridge
fog threatening to cloak the blue sky so available only minutes earlier
and probably sighed secretly to ourselves,
"I'm so glad I live here right now."

Monday, April 6, 2009

An unanswered promise

In the midst of listing all the items for sale on craigslist and ebay
one item stopped me in my tracks...

my surfboard - the one that I'd driven to Santa Rosa to pick up, the one that had contributed to my shoulder injury, and the one I still didn't really know how to surf yet.
scribbling down the dimensions, I stuffed her back in her bright white bag along with my ambitions of learning how to surf in Nor Cal.
Untapped bottom turns would have to be learned elsewhere, on another board

I humbly admitted to the score
Ocean Beach =1, Me =0
and passed on stewardship of a board I'd liked to have called my own, for just a little longer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The weight of my dreams

So this morning I bit the bullet and weighed my life.
Boards, bags, pants, shoes went on the bathroom scale
nothing was spared
An interesting observation occurred 2 hours later
Weight of my board and sails - 74 lbs
Weight of my everyday shoes and clothing - 64 lbs
My dreams weigh 10 lbs more than my everyday life.
I like that :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Feeling loved

There is something ridiculously satisfying about driving home from Tahoe on a Wednesday afternoon. A car packed with good friends and lots of winter garb, to a place I've called home for the past 5 years.
It almost made worth,
every thankless overtime night I had ever pulled,
to be feeding guests with home grown vegetables and hacked risotto
and polishing off the most incredible peach pie shamelessly, effortlessly

As a perfect day of laughs and memories drew to a close,
Boards and bags swapped cars, and goodbyes said
I was left with a peacefully sweet feeling that somethings never go away
even if everything you know does

Of how our interactions shape us
and how you'll never really leave your friends behind
because you carry bits of them, in the ways you think and laugh,
wherever life takes you

Here's to algae-fed eggs and closing out northstar on snowshoes

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the simple kind of life

Isn't it incredible what we do
we buy, then spend time looking after our purchases
we earn, then pay back to heal our bodies

my mind returns to a period of time 6 years ago
when traveling europe involved a tiny backpack
and only 1 set of fancy clothes
and 2 pairs of shoes
it was heaven

"I wish I could just rear chickens and vegetables to sustain myself"
I mused during physical therapy
"and how would you afford your boards?"
"I'll barter trade them, that's a lot of chickens..."
my plans fall a little short, revealing newly found trouble in paradise

How a surfer can live a simple life, when traveling involves hauling
an obscene amount of fiberglass or epoxy
breaks my little vision of a bohemian existence
At least I have figured out how to get spinach and bak choy growing
even if moving boards across continents is going to present an interesting challenge shortly.

For as lightly as I do live and travel, it's all that I can't leave behind -
a quiver of 08' neilpryde sails and a custom quartro wave machine *sigh*

Monday, March 9, 2009

A lifetime ago

Today I had a fight with my shoulders
"Don't you want to go to Davenport today?"
Daisy, my right shoulder grunts "No."
Betsy, my left, retorts back,"Daisy gets all the attention."
She's pretending that she's perfect, but from the mirror I can tell that they are both in the wrong position, dysfunctional in their own ways
"Come on, just a little cat stretch?"
Obviously repetitive physical therapy exercises have facilitated a vibrant imagination

I think they are both pissed from being overworked in the water yesterday
even if the rest of me is delirious from being dunked in cold water
memories of slipping down pink sunset waves dancing in my mind,
building up a new resolve

"Oh yes you will stretch...
And don't think you're not going to Davenport either."
continues the soliloquy as I push unyielding muscles to foam roller.
I'm talking to my muscles, oh dear...

Thursday, March 5, 2009


"it's cool to have mismatched clothing, it makes for better photos"
The sales associate said as
she handed me the remnant 'xs' pieces from the sale rack
This is going to be good, as I imagined the orange storm jacket joining a random array of hand-me-down bright olive pants from Kim and other discount goodies.
"besides, if you get lost, they can find you more easily," she smiled.

Yesterday I finally embraced the fact that I had been laid off...
and ran with it.
scrambling down cliffs of sand by ocean
in sunshine on a bright Wednesday afternoon
dreaming up a future without my right arm constantly on a mouse
or my back constantly in pain
I don't think I've ever been this excited or happy in my career
than knowing that this is a great time to re-engineer life
now that former constraints have all dissolved

So today I ditched the cooperate garb mentality
and walked out again in the sunshine, this time in bright olive pants
and loving every second of it.

This is not going to be good,
this is going to be great.