Friday, May 24

"Now you must go out into your heart..." Rilke poems

Rainer Maria Rilke has been blowing my mind as of late, especially those translated by Joanna Macy.

Onto a Vast Plain

You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees' blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.

Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.

It is what you have. Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.

Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

Widening Circles

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.

I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.

I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

Wednesday, February 29

NYC dos mil once

2011 was my first trip to NYC.

We stayed with Todd's brother Scott who lives in the West Village, and had an amazing time eating and gallery hopping. Bros catching up in Scott's sweet flat:

This was a cool installation in Chelsea. There was an exercise bike that when you pedal, the lights start to lift off the ground. Look closely and you can see the cables attached to the lights.

We happened to be there during Restaurant Week, and got to go to places like Otto where I had the finest dessert known to man, while scoping out Mario Batali, who was sitting in the corner in the same room... This was the goofy look on my face the whole time while eating this dessert. We went back two more times to have it!

We also ate at Yerba Buena. Todd and I were not drinking alcohol during this trip, so desserts took it's place.

Mesa (Bobby Flay's restaurant)

and Momofuku (during the good-ol' meat-eating days!)

I wanted to see it ALL and eat it ALL, so we walked a lot. (
Having a geeky Frida moment at MOMA.)

Due to the loads of snow while we were there, our flight got cancelled, which gave us more time to spend money on ridiculously good food. In NYC, shopping and spending is what you do.

After spending in 8 days what I spent in 2 months in Mexico, we were happy to get back to Louisville.

2011, a lucky year

In order to not leave huge gaps in my blog, and to get with the present, I have to recap a few memorable moments of 2011. It's been about 20 months since I left Mexico. I think about it everyday. I miss the sunshine, my friends, salsa dancing, great food and the warm approach to life Mexicans seem to have. (Here I am with Ocha on one of my last days.)

But, all good things must come to an end – good things like funds at the very end of my trip. Coming home, I was high on life, and low on fiscal resources. Lucky for me, I'm an American and have the opportunity to come here and work. I did (and am doing) just that.

By some grace of god, the last week of my trip I had an interview from a Louisville design agency via Skype. With great references and serious luck I snagged the job, and started work almost immediately upon arrival. I went from living on basically nothing, focusing all of my efforts on travel, dance, language, food and living abundantly – to the hamster wheel of life here in the States. The consumer-driven society sucked me in. I lived paycheck to paycheck for a good while, getting a phone and then an apartment... I was officially back on the grid.

Luckily my apartment is surrounded by lush green, one of the attributes of Kentucky I missed the most.

A few months later, a small car crash had left me with a need for a different car. I got lucky once again and snagged my spaceship, the lovely Prudence the Prius.

Being home had it's difficulties. I witnessed my friends struggle. Smart folks lived at home with their parents, working at jobs they were way over-qualified for. I was lucky enough to get a job in my field of design. I worked, and continue to do so, and am so thankful for the much-needed independence it provides.


Entonces, qué pasó en 2011?
The most exciting thing that happened in 2011 was the success of our Cocoon photography series. In April of 2011, my boyfriend Todd Smith and I had a show at Zephyr Gallery. It was our second collaborative effort doing partial performance/long exposure photography. In this series, Todd would hang from a tree in a cocoon-ish white fabric at night while holding some sort of light source. Meanwhile, I would take long exposures with either a 12-24 wide or my lens baby.

It required a lot of cold, wet dark nights in rain boots in a creek in a park somewhere. It involved arguing. A lot. But somehow during these collaborative projects, when we both stay focused and determined on our individual expected outcome, the settling place of compromise lends itself to great results. Hence, we work well together and plan to do more of it.

The final products were tiny, eery 4x6 prints capturing all of our efforts.

To show the full effect of the cocoon, Todd did a cast of his body, and stuffed it with sand and newspaper. We hung it in the corner of Zephyr gallery. It was quite heavy!

To my complete surprise and amazement (almost to a point of disbelief) the efforts paid off, and the show was very well received. During Derby week 2010, a group of collectors from the Whitney in NYC came to town and not only checked out the show, but bought more than HALF of it.

They also bought a good amount of our last collaborative effort, the Light Maps series. To know that my photos are scattered all over the US is a huge unexpected accomplishment. Which makes me super excited to finish up the newest Light Map series that we're working on now in Bernheim Forest. Here's a little sneak peek – check out the new light suit!

Saturday, May 8

What happens when I have a lot to think about...

This is pear-fect for the summer heat: One ripe, green pear, 1 cup of orange juice, 2 ice cubes, 2 limes and 1 cup of ginger ale blended. Whether you decide to put bourbon in there or not is none of my business.
Simple hummus with pine nuts.A re-mix of Shelly's cookie recipe baked in the toaster over. (I can't figure out our oven.)
Mushroom, black bean and chile-de-árbol pizza.
Also, this is what's going on these days around the hills where I walk each day...

Wednesday, April 28

Sandra Cisneros is rocking my world_Part 3


If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating on this sheet of paper. — Thich Nhat Hanh

Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and murmuring like a mouth. You were the shadow of a cloud crossing over a field of tulips. You were the tears of a man who cried into a plaid handkerchief. You were a sky without a hat. Your heart puffed and flowered like sheets drying on a line.

And when you were a tree, you listened to trees and the things trees told you. You were the wind in the wheels of a red bicycle. You were the spidery Maria tattooed on the hairless arm of a boy in downtown Houston. You were the rain rolling off the waxy leaves of a magnolia tree. A lock of straw-colored hair wedged between the mottled pages of a Victor Hugo novel. A crescent of soap. A spider the color of a fingernail. The black net beneath the sea of olive trees. A skein of blue wool. A tea saucer wrapped in newspaper. An empty cracker tin. A bowl of blueberries in heavy cream. White wine in a green-stemmed glass.

And when you opened your wings to wind, across the punched-tin sky above a prison courtyard, those condemned to death and those condemned to life watched how smooth and sweet a white cloud glides.

I keep coming back to her. I adore the imagery and movement in this piece – the way you float upwards while reading, and are brought back down to life. (Currently sitting in my favorite Plaza San Fernando, soaking up the blue skies and listening to Beach House, Teen Dream.)

Friday, April 16

Photo Shoot with Gaby and TJ

A really nice couple, Gaby and TJ, hired me to take photos of them in Mayto.

Tuesday, March 30

Mayto, finally

Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance. "A New Earth," by Eckart TolleI woke up to a sunny clear day. I found my way back to the guesthouse, and was greeted by a jolly Mexican man with a pony-tail named Fernando. Dan had kindly worked it out so that I could stay in his camper really close to the beach on Fernando and Maricella's land, the owners of Riconcito Guesthouse which offers really nice rooms at incredible prices, as well as beach camping:At Riconcito, Maricella made home-made Mexican breakfast and dinner each day (complete with a daily salsa) and if you wanted to eat, it was your choice. I couldn't tell you how many times we grilled steaks and fresh fish filettes on the huge outdoor grill they built while I was there...
...or had chicken enchiladas, mole that had been simmering all day, chiles verdes, tomales, chiles rellenos, grilled lamb... All accompanied by blackened, corn tortillas and chile de arbol salsa... Mmmmm. If you didn't want to eat, that's cool – for me it would mean 2nds, 3rds.......

Fernando, Maricella and their granddaughter, Delisia.This is Rambo-Fernando at one of our many fish grill-outs.
They keep a on-going tab in a scratchy old steno-pad, and at the end of your visit you tally-up and pay in a lump sum. Remember the honor system? They have a little garage complete with a refrigerator full of beer, and when you want a cold one you just mark it on your tab. All the prices were beyond reasonable, making it economically practical for me to eat and drink everything they had to offer. The only problem was trying to fit into my clothes after three weeks of doing this. Luckily I brought one stretchy dress.

Day one I introduced myself to the current guests, and immediately met a hilarious Englishman named Dick, then a Canadian couple, Rhonda and Les, from Hay River in the Northwest Territories.

What's in Hay River? I asked.

, Rhonda told me. They were only living there because her boyfriend, Les works for DNR. She rolled her eyes and said, He's a fish cop.Dick and Lis were one of my favorite couples and we spent nearly 2 weeks hanging out as they were camped out on the beach. I guess there are worse places we could be, aren't there? He would say with a British accent. Dick is a jolly, sarcastic Englishman, and Lis an incredibly-sweet but quick-witted Englishwoman. Together they have traveled the world and like a walking British sketch comedy.We would make bonfires at night in front of their camper, lean all the way back in their fancy-pants recliner chairs while drinking rum and coke, blasting Pink Floyd, and gazing at the amazing view of the stars and the milky way. I really missed their energy when they left, but I know we'll meet again.Here's the view from the guesthouse tables: After meeting and greeting with the current guests for a while, I decided to head to the beach. My jaw hit the sand. Complete Desolation.As I was standing there gaping, Dan walked up. He said, I wasn't kidding about this place, huh? Dan and Holly's ranch is very short walking distance away, and he said to come by anytime. The hospitality of some is really inspiring.

Basically, I lived between two beaches: the main beach, and Lover's Beach:Now, if I would have known I'd been living on Lover's Beach alone for three weeks, being the only single as couples from all over the world rolled in and out, I would have at least looked into anti-depressants before leaving, or doubled up on caramel suckers... But no, it was a total surprise to me. Luckily I had brought a great self-help book, Eckart Tolle's, "A New Earth." This book was a lifesaver and I dove into it with tenacity – and to avoid jumping off of la terraza of Riconcito.

Speaking of the terraza, I would go up in the mornings and do yoga... Here's a view of my camper and Lover's Beach from up top. (Check out the solar panel.)"A New Earth" is all about ego, and basically puts into action a lot of things I've been reading since my arrival in Mexico, a lot of eastern ideas intermingled with science and daily practices to work on. It sounds cheesy and cliche, I really don't care, it made a few things clear to me that I didn't realize: Like that if you are somewhere, let's say for example a hypothetical beach, and you at times feel, let's say, sad because you're there alone, or guilty because you're still not quite sure how you managed to score this... It's all thanks to the ego. Here's something I copied down in my journal that not only jarred my attention, but sort of set the tone for the way I spent my trip:"Who you think you are is also intimately connected with how you see yourself treated by others. Many people complain that others don't treat them well enough. 'Nobody loves me,' 'I am a needy little me whose needs are not being met.' This basic mis-perception of who they are creates dysfunction in all of their relationships. They believe they have nothing to give and that the world or other people are withholding from them and what they need. Their entire reality is based on an illusory sense of who they are. It sabotages situations, mars all relationships. If the thought of lack – whether it be money, recognition or love – has become a part of who you think you are, you will always experience lack. Rather than acknowledging the good that is already in your life, all you see is lack."

Being in a pop-up camper on a beach alone in Mayto is about as good as life gets, so why feel any different? I decided on the first day to set an intention for the trip, to realize each day that I was so ridiculously fortunate, to keep in mind I have close friends who are struggling, and to soak in every minute of the experience as a single, happy gringa... Even if sometimes I felt alone, or questioned my worthiness.

After all, Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.
What came of this recognition was an amazing and abundant three weeks. Being 45 minutes from good internet connection and phone service, I spent a lot of time interacting and making friends with travelers that would come and go. I was reading a ton. I started helping Fernando and Maricella serve the other guests and clean up afterward... I became very close with Fernando and Maricella's daughter... In the end, they all seemed like family. I hung out with the goats on Dan and Holly's ranch. By letting down all the walls, life poured in.

Six new baby goats were born on Dan and Holly's ranch while I was there.

This is Chewbacca, the billy goat. He's trying to get in the gate to eat the entire garden.From Dan and Holly's property:
Delisia, who I may or may not have kidnapped.
A sunrise through my camper window:
Cuervo and Coco racing down the main beach.