A Mug for Every Emotion

Saturday, September 29, 2018

I have a mug for every emotion: when I want to feel more like a writer, the Antioch University Los Angeles mug I got at graduation; when I crave sunshine, my Matsumoto's mug from Hawaii. There's my British grandmother's purple-flowered mug and my Paris mug, where they don't drink their café crèmes out of coffee mugs but, missing the feeling of one in my hands, I discovered one in a little shop in the Marais—both now graced with hairline cracks. And when my throat is scratchy and my nose is running, like today, a good, solid mug with sweet, minty peppermint tea in it.

Spring Trees

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

As I drive to the Museum of Nature and Science, trees that were once bare and brown are newly green, and not just green but blush, fuchsia, and ivory. When I leave the museum, leafing, flowering trees fill the landscape, letting off the powdery sweet smell of spring flowers. Every winter I forget what the city looks like in full leaf—and every year spring foliage comes as a surprise. Crab apple trees, hawthorns, and redbuds, cherry blossom and ornamental pear trees. And the same elfin spirit that tells them it’s time to bud—or maybe because of the trees, and the bulbs, sunshine, and chirping birds—gets under my skin, and makes me want to bud, too.

Parque Central, Granada

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Granada's Parque Central is flanked by two-story, columned buildings in Easter-candy colors. It would look like a Disney attraction or the set of a movie except for the weathering—wet, dark tracks that begin at the ground and creep upwards. The first time I saw it, when Calle La Libertad ended and opened into the park, I reeled. I'd seen this square before but only in pictures, lots and lots of pictures, and seeing it in real life was uncanny. I looked over my shoulder for cars or motorcycles and crossed the street, immediately recognizing the squat trees with waxy leaves manicured into blunt rectangles, the fenced-in fountain with its lemon yellow trim and pale turquoise water, and the coral gazebo that sits in the middle of the park like the pendant on a cameo necklace. But the weathering, that was more prominent than in pictures; in fact the heat, which my light coat trapped against my skin, and the rain, and the weathering they created, were all more noticeable than I had imagined. But they made Granada more real, more wholly itself—not something I could have ever imagined from pictures or travelogues. 

Shades of Blue

Monday, July 31, 2017

We abandon the cold tiled floors and narrow balcony of our twelfth-floor hotel room, pass the pool, and go down the sand-covered stairs that lead to the beach. The grains of sand slide and crunch under my flip-flops. My almost-two year old is tucked between the crook of my arm and my chest, one pudgy little arm wrapped around my shoulder. The sky is azure and the ocean is undulating layers of marine blue, turquoise, and teal, capped by frothy white waves.

Yet clumps of wiry, brick-colored seaweed litter the sandy beach, and waves crash roughly against the shore, causing my chest to tighten each time my toddler nears the water. My critical eye, my worrying mind, pull me out of the moment. But maybe it's a myth that beauty and ugliness are opposites, that presence and absence are contrary to each other—a myth that we have to abandon one to achieve the other.

Pink petals, spring snow

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I'm leaving the doctor's office—a routine appointment. As I walk down the sidewalk avoiding the slush, I hear the drone of cars passing behind me. Spring had come early, the cherry blossoms blooming in March. But winter hadn't left yet either. The heavy snow that fell the day before shrouded city streets, newly green lawns, burgeoning tulips and lilies, and trees in blossom. As I pass under a young tree, I look down and see its pink petals—which the heavy, wet snow had pulled loose—mixed with snow and landscaping rocks. The sun is already shining again, and I smile at the impermanence and incongruity.

Crunchy Leaves, Hazy Light

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's fall, a few days into October. I'm hiking Bacherlor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado. To the right is a small upslope, and to the left is a slightly steeper drop to a small creek. The sun is shining but clouds build to the west. Soon it'll be cold enough for a warm jacket, but for now the bright light is hazy through the canopy of trees. Yellow and brown leaves cover the path, and they crunch under my shoes as I walk. The creek bubbles beside me. Up ahead I see my family through the guazy light, and it's all so beautiful that for a moment time slows, almost stops.

Summer String Lights

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The news was bad today, with seventy-seven dead in a terrorist attack in Nice. It's hard to process, especially when you have two young kids at home—and when it seems to happen every week. I hear my dog scratch at the back door and let her in, leaving my three year old on the potty and my one year old on the other side of the baby gate. It's after eight pm, and the night air—not cool, not warm—envelopes me. The string lights hanging from the porch ceiling catch my eye. I feel the urge to return and make sure my kids are safe, but I also feel compelled to plug in the lights, let their soft orange glow brighten up my little corner of the night, and have one moment of quiet beauty.