Volcano Masaya, Nicaragu

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A paved road leads all the way up to the crater, the one the Spanish baptized “La Boca del Infierno.” The landscape changes from lush and verdant to dry and rocky, only short, little patches of grass and a few stubby bushes managing to survive. When I get out of the van, the sulfur smell makes me recoil just as the volcano draws me in. I reach the crater quickly. When I peer over the rock wall that borders it, I feel awe-struck at the sight. Giddy and woozy and awe-struck. The crater descends quickly, rocky for several hundred feet, and then a huge, gaping hole with gases rising out of it in a thick, constant stream. The massive hole glows red at the bottom, where the lava seems to undulate like waves. My eyes sting, and I start to cough, and I realize I can’t stand inside the cloud of gases much longer.

Notre-Dame at Night

Thursday, June 18, 2020

We managed to see Notre-Dame on our last night in Paris. I had visited it years before as a college student, but that felt like a long time ago. We approached it by crossing a bridge from Île Saint-Louis, the custardy taste of mille-feuilles still in our mouths, and then passed by a long partition. This time around Notre-Dame was both an iconic attraction, an 850-year-old sacred site, and a construction zone. When we reached the front and crossed the street where suddenly the chatter of people and blare of traffic were louder, there she was lit up in nearly all her glory. It was simultaneously magical and heartbreaking because we got to see Our Lady, and I was able to see it again after all those years, but it was post-fire and the spire and roof were gone. Still, I stood in the crowd and soaked it all in because I knew I wouldn’t be back for a long, long time—also heartbreaking.

More Doors

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Blue Door, Red Door

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Even under the cloud-covered morning sky, the force of the tropical heat pushes down on me, as oppressive as the heavy clouds. I walk on wet, shiny streets to Parque Central in Granada, Nicaragua, drawn to the majestic colonial architecture. On the steps outside the Centro Cultural Museos Convento San Francisco—with its own impressive Spanish colonial doors—the top of my head feels distinctly hot. I look up to see cloudless blue, the temperature and the aspect of the sky finally matching. Inside the museum and converted convent dozens of colorful wooden parrots hover between the teal blue ceiling and the ground. Folk art, all dots and waves and clear colors, is mounted on lime green walls. In one of the museum's courtyards, I stop in front of a fountain behind which hangs two colonial doors, a blue one and a red one, as part of an art installation. Which door to take? And where would it lead?

A Mug for Every Emotion

Saturday, September 29, 2018

When I want to feel more like a writer, I have the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA mug I got at graduation; when I crave sunshine, my Matsumoto's mug from Hawaii. There's my British grandma'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 a mug in my hands, I found one in a 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.