Summer string lights

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

 photo IMG_0930_zpszndwa1j2.jpg 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.

Paper Lanterns, Little Tokyo

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

 photo IMG_2613_zpsjhcm0mna.jpg I'm in downtown LA, but I almost feel like I'm in Japan. Sushi and ramen. Candy shops. Wooden structures with curved roofs. Paper lanterns. We're not sure which restaurants are good here. We step inside one. Leave. Pass another and then circle back to it. There, we wait for a table, and after we're seated and served, we feed our toddler with chopsticks. Diners at nearby tables laugh at his wide, ready mouth, and we laugh, too. On the walk back to the car, the night is warm. People talk and laugh. A man sings karaoke in the plaza. It's well past bedtime, but we're on vacation, and so I stop under the paper lanterns, point them out to my son, and in pointing them out to him really see them myself, white and red and filled with glowing light against the starless blue sky.

White Bunny, Red Leaves

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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Sitting on my back porch on a fall day, a ceramic lawn ornament framed by red leaves catches my eye. The pale gray rabbit, which I've have for years without paying it much attention, seems to have a spirit that its ceramic exterior can't contain. Maybe it's the childhood references: Peter Rabbit, the Velveteen Rabbit, and Alice and Wonderland. Or maybe it's the magic of the moment: a wet fall day, leaves turning gala apple red and yellow, the sun dropping into the mountains, a light, quick rain, and a double rainbow. And in the middle of all that, the small, still rabbit.

Ruins of Tulum

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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We arrived by bus. The heat and humidity immediately oppressed us. After visiting the expansive, air-conditioned gift shop, where we had a short break, we boarded a trailer to the Tulum ruins, which we entered through a doorway within the wall that surrounds them. First the bumpy trailer ride, then the narrow doorway, gave me the feeling of entering a place apart. As sweat formed on my forehead and ran down my face, I followed the guide from crumbling structure to crumbling structure along winding dirt paths lining cliffs. Our guide talked of frescoes, carvings, gods, and goddesses, of rituals and riches, of an observatory to track the movement of the stars and a window meticulously built to frame the sun at equinox. Nostalgia can trick us into thinking the past was somehow more special than the present, and it wasn't. The past was just different. But that difference hangs around the stone structures like an aura. It reaches out and brushes against you as you navigate the ruins, as real as the stone, as visceral as the heat.

Nights with Sebastian

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

 photo IMG_3532_zpscboapurb.jpg In his brand new, tufted and skirted bassinet, all creme, taupe, and beige, my two-week-old sleeps next to me—fed, changed, and tightly swaddled. His eyes are shut, his body is still. If I kissed the top of his head, it would feel like a peach and smell like fresh laundry. He's so close to me but separate, too. At least for now, he doesn't need me to hold, feed, burp, or carry him. He could wake up in an hour, or even ten minutes, and every hour after that. But for now, everything is exactly how I imagined it would be; everything is perfect.

Boat on Water

Friday, May 22, 2015

 photo IMG_0825_zpsw6zhmu3c.jpg At Fisherman's Village in Marina del Rey we ate calamari and drank cold white wine, bittersweet like grapefruit, and then walked along the stone pathway adjacent to the dock. The Village is years past its prime and in need of repairs, but its neglected look inspires nostalgia. To my right were a defunct lighthouse and quaint buildings painted burgundy, sky blue, and pale yellow, which housed a hodgepodge mix of restaurants and tourist shops. To my left were docked boats big and small and a collection of seabirds, like pelicans and seagulls, and the marina, where the sun glinted off the lapping waves.

Pointe du Raz

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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After a long bus ride, I stand at the apex of Pointe du Raz, one of the westernmost points in France. The strong winds blow in the crisp, salty smell of the Atlantic Ocean and whip against my hair, face, and clothes and the rocky cliffs. Waves thrash below. The Bretons borrowed the word "raz" from Norman, meaning, "strong current of water," and when you stand at the height of Pointe du Raz, the name feels both obvious and ominous. Before and below me are rock outcrops leading to Le Vieille lighthouse and, beyond that, the Atlantic. Looking in that direction, you sense the isolation that make this region feel like the end of the earth.
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