Basel SBB Train Station, Switzerland

Friday, January 14, 2022

We searched for Basel's train station on foot, a place I'd never been before but that was significant to me. There, where I thought the train station should be, I saw what looked like a 1970's-style office building. The sky was a patchy gray and the day cold, my cheeks red and wind-chapped. We walked around the building, and as we turned the corner, there was the train station I'd seen in pictures, a European-style train station with an arched, seafoam-green roof bordered by two broad columns. Wires from the tram tracks criss-crossed overhead. We walked inside and paused in the middle of the station. Fast-food restaurants lined the walls, and it smelled like French fries. The sounds of a busy train station reverberated off the high ceilings. Ahead was a steep escalator that led to a bridge over the train platforms. I was just looking today, but my excitement in finding and finally seeing the station matched the people walking quickly by me with small weekend bags in hand.

Volcano Masaya, Nicaragua

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.