The Three C’s

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Copenhagen, Cleveland, Chicago, and back again. My good friend, Nora, invited me to join her and her six month old son, Jack, for his first trans-Atlantic flight to visit her family in Cleveland. In conjunction with this trip, my parents and I planned to meet up in Chicago to visit my cousin, Laura, and her family there.

I finished up exams and handed in a few assignments before catching a flight to Copenhagen, where Nora and her husband had a night out together while I stayed in in case Jack awoke (which he did, only when his parents came home, very considerately). Jack is a happy little bundle of baby who smiles and gurgles and jumps in his Johnny-Jump-up. Nora and I got some time to catch up before bed, and it is always my pleasure to see her. We’ve been friends since 2000, our freshman year at college, and later we lived together in New York.

We had a sunny day in Copenhagen that Sunday and Nora and Anders and Jack and I took a long walk through Parliament and then to Tivoli, where the flowers were bursting out and families crowded the quaint walkways between carnival games and ice cream stands. I cooked a curry of beets and cabbage and sweet potato with black chickpeas and pomegranate seeds. It came out quite well, if I say so myself.

On Monday, Nora packed up all her baby accoutrements and we headed to the airport on the Metro, in true Danish style. We whiled away long layovers in airport lounges and made it to Cleveland without much of a hitch. There we had a few days of sunny weather and intense family fun with the Ziegenhagens before I caught an Uber to the bus station and traveled to Chicago. Mom and dad picked me up downtown and we checked out Little Italy for lunch before heading to meet up with my cousin in her neighborhood near Wrigley Field.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner and snuggled Laura’s babies: twin five-month olds and one very precocious 2-and-a-half year old.

Then we drove out to our campsite in a park about 25 miles outside of the city. It was a large green space with woods and well-organized sites and we shared it with only a few other campers.


Happy Spanky in Chicago – dad and the camper

I woke up with the birds chirping around 5:30 in the morning and after breakfast we headed to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. It was a tough time finding parking for our truck with the camper on the back, but we managed eventually and had a lovely stroll through the campus to the Institute.


Dad in the park


Mama with a lamassu

There were amazing artifacts and statues from ancient Mesopotamia, Turkey, Egypt, Nubia, and Persia and we spent several hours exploring the museum before looking for lunch at a nearby middle eastern restaurant. By then, the day was sunny and warm and we took our time making our way back to the truck. From there, we drove along the Lakeside Drive appreciating the blue of the lake and the picturesque parks along it before turning in to check out China Town. By then it was pretty hot out, so we took Spanky the dog with us as we strolled and she was happy to help us with our yummy Thai ice cream and an almond cookie dad couldn’t resist.

Then it was time to meet up with Laura’s family again, so we headed north towards their neighborhood and spent an hour at a playground with Tessa, her eldest. We had a lot of fun together, playing on a jungle gym and meeting other kids, and then we headed home to order pizza and await Laura’s return from a business trip. We enjoyed our dinner on the back patio in the last of the warm summery day.

I spent the night at their place and the next morning mom and dad made their way back from the campground (with some complications). We loaded up all the kids into Laura’s car and bundled mom and dad into their first Uber and met up at the local Farmers Market. It was another brilliant day and we all got food and picnicked in the shade of a tree.

Laura and her husband took the kids home for a nap and mom and dad and I walked through Lincoln Park to visit the zoo, which is free and was a popular place to be on a sunny Saturday.


We made our way back to Laura’s and got a little more time with the kiddos et al before returning for one last night at our campground. Mom and dad had discovered that wild ramps were growing near our site, so we took Spanky for a walk and surreptitiously dug up some of the trendy greens as we enjoyed forest bathing in the lush spring greenery.


I cleaned them once we got back, and dad built a fire upon which he made some sausages and we grilled some of the ramps. Mom used the gas stove in the camper to make a pasta with pesto sauce and I rehydrated some dried morel mushrooms and prepared the salad dressing.

It was nice to be camping with my parents a gain, as we did last summer in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Dinner was luscious and satisfying and afterward we all got ready for bed, grabbed our books, and packed it in for the night.

In the morning, I made an omelette with more ramps, plus spinach for breakfast, and we crowned it with avocado slices. Luckily we had Spanky along to do a solid pre-wash of our dishes. We packed up our camp chairs and the ladder my parents picked up along the way for free (their favorite thing). Dad and I poked in the sides of the camper as mom lowered it down – we locked it in place and hit the road, enjoying a sunny morning with spring blossoms just emerging.

We drove to Indiana State Dunes National Park, which we had considered a potential camping spot, and we were pleased that we’d chosen to stay in Chicago, since we’d gotten more time with my cousin and we didn’t care for the look of the camp ground in Indiana, emblazoned with signs prohibiting alcoholic beverages! What kind of camping is that? I beseech you! (to quote Bill Hicks).

We got back on the road after a visit to the beach and its intriguing (but gutted) pavilion, built in 1919. We had toll roads the whole way to Cleveland, but it wasn’t a bad drive. By the time we got to Nora’s house, it was nearly 4 pm and the sun was out in full force. I did my best to fancy up (mostly mascara) and we brought a bottle of rose, since there was a large gathering of friends and family there to meet baby Jack. He awoke not long after we arrived and emerged like Simba, to the oohing and ahhing of all.

He was a good sport as they passed him around and my parents got the chance to snuggle him, too. He is a most snuggly baby.

We left to find our campsite at the nearby Punderson State Park, and discovered we had the place almost entirely to ourselves. It was a Monday, so all the weekend traffic had dissipated and we didn’t have any neighbors at all.

Once we got our things settled, we went back for dinner with the Ziegenhagens and had a lovely night chatting and eating and enjoying the good company.

Somewhere in there, I got a sinus infection and I spent the evening taking medicines and sucking zinc tablets.

The next day we looked for a plum tree dad wanted, but to no avail. We stopped by the Ziegenhagens’ to say hello, then we went for lunch in downtown Cleveland, to a location of Yours Truly, a chain of restaurants belonging to Nora’s family. After stuffing ourselves, we went to Chagrin Falls, the charming little town near Nora’s home, and wandered around its quaint historic district.

Back at the campground, mom and I took Spanky for a long hike around the park while dad attempted to pilfer some trout lilies we’d seen growing nearby, with a spade he’d purchased for digging up the ramps.

Mom hung up a hammock and we took turns lounging in it and preparing things for dinner. I whipped up a veggie chili with beans and jackfruit and mom made cornbread in her tiny red oven, which I call her EasyBake Oven. Dinner around our campfire was delicious and Spanky again offered her services as dishwasher, with gusto.

Finally, the fire died down and it was time for bed. In the morning, we went to the Ziegenhagens’ and Nora’s mother made us delicious pancakes for breakfast. After one last snuggle with Jack, we said farewell to my parents and they were headed back south.

It was another beautiful day and we went to Nora’s sister’s for lunch and lotsa baby time. It was gorgeous out and we sat in the backyard and enjoyed the sunshine with the kids.

That evening we all went out for Darlene’s birthday and it was another big family affair with crying babies and lively conversation.

Finally the night was over and it was time to turn in for one last night in Cleveland. . . or so we thought. There was a snag in our plan when a thunderstorm made us miss our flight to Chicago and we were rebooked on a flight for next day, after eight hours at the airport. So back we went to the Ziegenhagens’ house for one last night. We were a merry party and Darlene cooked us a late dinner as we sipped drinks and told our harrowing tale.

The next day held more excitement, but we ultimately got to Toronto, where we hunkered down for hours in the lounge, which was the best we experienced, by far. Finally it was time for our flight to Copenhagen.

We were nervous about Jack, but ultimately he ate and slept and didn’t fuss too much, and slept more, and then we landed and he was still sleeping! He slept all the way home and kept on sleeping once he was in his bed. Nora and I were exhausted and her husband Anders met us at the airport to help with bags and bought us breakfast once we got home.

Because of the delay, there was not much time before my flight back to London, but we had a good time together (and napped) until I had to go back to the airport and back to London.

It felt strange not to have any babies around, strange to be  still and alone, when I had been constantly on the move and socializing for two weeks. Here I was back in my flat, which unfortunately smelled awful due to some black bananas and some sheets I’d forgotten in the washing machine, which had mildewed in my absence.

I threw out the old food and went to the store for the basics: pizza, basil, chilies, coconut milk, and wine. I spent the next couple of days sleeping at odd hours and feeling totally unfocused, slowly emerging from the fog.

Now I’m in the thick of one last paper, and then it will be time to head to Portugal for a few days of sightseeing and a couple of weeks on a dig. Then I will go to Spain and Italy, visiting friends and seeing new places. I hope to make it to Sicily and Malta and then I’ll head to France. I hope to see friends there, and then I may have to go back to the States to sort out my visa for next year. It seems quite likely I will be doing my Masters at UCL next year, so there is much I must do!

In the meantime, I am busy weaving a tangled plan of advance on the next few months! Hopefully I’ll be a more frequent blogger once I’m done with my papers (for now)!

One final note: last night was a new moon and I had the strangest experience. It was a sort of psychic visitation that’s a little hard to define. Sort of like a waking dream. I’ve never had such an experience before (well maybe once long ago), so either I was delirious and imagining things or maybe I had a meeting in the liminal space between sleeping and waking.

I do so love a little fantasy in my life. And I’m almost too busy for real relationships lately, though I did make sure to enjoy the beautiful weather on Tuesday and took notes for my paper at a sidewalk cafe before shifting to the canal, where I brought some rose and one of my sturdy charity shop goblets and lounged on the median by the locks.

I’d been there only once before, with my ex, nearly four years ago now. But honestly, I don’t feel so haunted by him anymore. I feel clarified, purified, justified in my choices and standards. I enjoyed my rose and reading till the sun set behind the burgeoning buildings. Then I met up with my friend Saltanat for a chat and some of my standard curry (that makes it sound unappealing, but it wouldn’t be my standard if it sucked).

And now to focus on finishing my work and preparing for the next step in my journey.

I’d better get to it!

Love and miss,




Love and Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about time travel lately. Not in the personal sense, but as a device in stories. How to facilitate it, how to make it believable, interesting. I’ve always liked stories where a person is living in one world and somehow crosses into another. Perhaps I crave these tales of crossing over because I have never felt I belong in this world. I’ve learned its ways, to some extent. But so much of living is navigating between the inner and the outer spheres – how do we let out what we experience on the inside? Do we?

I met a woman at a campground where I stayed in southern Crete a few years ago. She was friendly, smiling, traveling alone as I was. She came from northern Greece – Thessaloniki – but she talked about how special Crete was, how the water, “Kriti water,” was good for your teeth. The campground where we both stayed was just across from a pebble beach and we would lounge there in the heat of the day, sipping orange juice or the iced coffee slushies they like in Greece. In the shade of the trees which grew along the beach, we would talk about our lives, about our interests, about traveling, about love.

“Have you heard of this story, “The Valley of the Roses?” she asked me. I told her no, I hadn’t. She told me the story in her pieced together English: a man in Switzerland in the 1920s fell into a coma-like sleep and awoke in a different body, at a different time – about 1500 years in the future. The people spoke a language he didn’t know, but they recognized his German as one of the “old languages” and soon they put together that this was someone from a different time in the body of their friend and colleague.

I googled the story, but didn’t find much on the internet. Eventually I figured out the name of the man who had this experience and documented it – Paul Dienach. While he was in the future, he could not sleep, instead staying up every night to write down his experiences and thoughts, what he learned from his conversations, what he remembered from his own time, how different the world of the future was.

Last summer when my parents visited me in Seattle, I told my mother about the story and we discovered it had been published in English. Then I got so swept up in moving to London and starting school that I forgot all about the book, until Christmas this year, when my mom brought along the copy she purchased and passed it along to me.

It is one thing to do what I am doing in my studies of archaeology and look at the past. The past already has patterns we can analyze and interpret – it has lines to read between. The future is another matter entirely, where the lines are not yet drawn and we have little to draw upon but our hopes and fears, our desires and dreams of what the future might hold.

When I read Tarot cards, I always tell people that the future cards will make a lot less sense than the cards representing the past and present, matters we are already familiar with. We can think back to the past, reflect on the present, but the future is conceptually impenetrable – opaque.

These days I can’t seem to get beyond the three of swords. Whereas 3’s are normally a lucky number of growth, the three of swords is different – it bears a red Valentine-looking heart pierced by three swords, a rainy sky in the background, viscerally representing pain, shock, surprise, love-triangles. This card has been showing up in my readings for at least the last month, if not longer. It isn’t the sort of card you want to see in a reading, least of all in the future position.

It is a card I have gotten twice when I was blissfully happy in a relationship. Both times, I was riding a high of love and sex and believed no clouds were on the horizon. And then I read the cards, and the three of swords said something was being hidden from me. Neither time did I think to ask my beloved if there was something amiss. I preferred to dismiss the meaning, obvious though it was – to hope that it could mean something else – that the cards were wrong. Both times, I soon found myself out in the cold, the blissful feeling gone, along with my beloved, and my heart. It sounds melodramatic, but I do not love lightly. Perhaps that is part of my problem.

Paul Dienach was like me, though. A person who’s soul cries out for love above all else. A romantic. A victim of longing.

Paul had loved a young woman who was forced to marry another and died in childbirth. He held onto the sadness of losing her for years, never seemingly attempting to replace his dead love, but mourning her loss in perpetuity. Now, living in the future, he finds love again. The people of that time are more true to their emotions – they do not deny them, hide them, fear them as we do. The people there were guileless, accomplished at a young age, childlike in their fascination and appreciation for nature, beauty, and deep emotions. People love and admire each other for their capacity to feel and show love. That desire to merge with another is held sacred – people do not conceive of themselves as automatons or robots, following blind desire, trampling hearts. The basic starting place of all relationships is respect and empathy.

The Greek woman who told me about the Valley of the Roses was in the throes of new love when we met. She had found a “very handsome man” several years her junior, with whom she’d fallen madly in love. She had the gleam and excitement, the magic one exudes when everything seems possible. I hope everything worked out for her.

Love seemed to be all around me then, at the camping ground. A cute couple pitched their tent near me: an American guy and a European girl, looking happy and free together, and I couldn’t help but think about the man who’d seemed to be mine just a year before. I had envisioned similar happy adventures with him. I felt jealous of that joyous couple; I imagined that in some other version of events, that might have been us.

I’ve spent so much of my life mourning for the past. Holding onto sorrow because it was as close as I could get to love. Instead, on that trip, I was dogged by men who tried to get close to me, at least in the physical sense. They came on in fast sequence: first, the father of my friends (someone at least twice my age), then the restaurant manager in Santorini, next an English backpacker in Bodrum, and then a Turkish tourist guide in Ephesus. I was mostly left alone in Lesvos, then there was the personal trainer at Delphi, and finally a musician in Istanbul. Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

It all added to the feeling I had that something had gone wrong somewhere. Somehow the magic had left my life and I wasn’t sure if it would ever return. I remember the feeling as I looked out over the harbor below Delphi, the twinkling lights of a distant village, the sky heavy with stars above us, and there I was with some stranger I’d met on the street, who’d invited me to dinner and driven me to this romantic lookout spot on his motorcycle. It was clear he wanted to kiss me next to that ancient sparkling abyss, but all I felt was the deep feeling of loss.

In the two and a half years since I was in Greece and Turkey, I have released a lot of that old sadness. It took time and work and a fair amount of distraction and self-love. Moving to Seattle seemed to help me to leave behind some of the pain of what had happened. New York had become a city of broken dreams and any new place was a respite from those old memories.

Now I’ve returned to London, where once things felt so right. But my presence here hasn’t meant a rebirth of that old love, though it looked like that was a possibility, for a brief moment. On the contrary, it seems to be a sort of final coda, tacked on to the end of an old song.

To return to the idea of time travel, I recently watched a series called The Outlander, in which an English woman is transported from Scotland in the 1940s to the 1740s. She is unable to go back to her own time for long enough to fall in love with a handsome Highlander, and then she doesn’t want to return, preferring to stay with him, in his time, than to return to her life and husband in the 1940s. When the two of them are unable to prevent a battle which they know, historically, led to the death of nearly all Scottish fighters, her husband tells her she must return to her time, and keep the child she is carrying safe. So she does, and twenty years pass, during which she assumes her true love died in that battle and mourns him, raising their daughter with the man she had been married to before her travels. When her child is grown, she learns from some old documents that he survived, after all, and she decides to return to the past, to look for him.

In The Outlander, the time travel is a device to tell a wonderful love story about two people brought together across hundreds of years and the cultural divide that comes with it, but it is what makes the story satisfying for a love junkie such as myself. Even when the two are separated by (apparent) death and time, they don’t let one another go. They can’t. I know it’s just a story, but it resonates with me, because that is the sort of connection I seek.

Of course, the world is full of people, but I don’t enjoy the hunt. I’m too single-minded for the games of love people play. I’ve had my fill of flakes and phonies, philanderers and fairweather folks. I’m fortunate to have found great friends in my life – women and men I will love as long as I am able. All I seek now is that pinnacle friend, a fellow follower of the one true faith: love. For too long I’ve felt myself a stranger in a foreign land, far from  home, even in the place of my birth. I’d hoped by now to have found my fate.

Finally, I seem to have cycled back through all the false starts I’ve made up till now. I’ve learned much about my own faults and fears, grown through my mistakes and felt the depth of my ancient pain. I’m ready to find my own family and to release the failures of my past.

I haven’t learned the secrets of time travel and the future is still a mystery to me, but at least I’ve made peace with the past. The task before me now is simply to feel my freedom in this present moment, and to move forward without fear.

I see in my own family the example of what not to do: in January, my aunt Elisabeth died alone in the shell of a life she might have left long ago for greener pastures. Love for her was found and lost in Miami, and she lived with its ghost for the rest of her life, forsaking other paths and embracing a past full of empty boxes, far from family, focused on her pain and what she’d lost.

After her mother died, she had no one but her brothers, far away and preoccupied with their own lives and families. My sister, Erika, was always the best at staying in touch with her. In the last few years before Erika died, I think she managed to forge a real bond with our lonely aunt. To make her feel loved and treasured. I tried to live up to her example, though I know I wasn’t as good at it as she had been. Dear Aunt Elisabeth, wherever you are, I’m sorry I can’t go back in time and be kinder, more loving, more present for you.

Love is really the only thing that conquers time. It is what binds us together through changes and years, through progress and fears.Wherever my aunt is, I hope her husband is with her; I like picturing her sitting down to a home-cooked meal made by her mother, my Omi, with Erika pouring everyone a delicious vintage. After dinner, they’d have dessert and play gin rummy and maybe even smoke a cigarette like they used to do.

Recently I encountered a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Love and miss,





Surfacing or Going Under

I have surfaced, or else I have gone under. From rainy London town to sunny Florida. A flock of cranes soared, calling out over the backyard copse of sky-stretched pines and live oaks and the sun is bright between the sparse cotton of clouds. It took something like 15 hours of travel to make it to Tampa, through Dallas-Fort Worth – my least favorite airport in the country and perhaps the world. I nearly lost it on the last leg of the journey yesterday, having to go through security a second time, and then crunched in a middle seat for the trip from Dallas to Tampa. I came pretty close to having a panic attack – but once I made it to my sister’s house, I was in pajamas and asleep in bed in two shakes.

This morning I awoke to a fluffy white arctic fox dog at my door, ready to climb in bed and cuddle me, energetically.


Me and Elsa, my sister’s doggie

Then my sister was up and then my nephew and finally my niece. I got some time to chat with each before they were off to school – my sister is an elementary teacher. And now I have the morning and a working computer and sunshine on my shoulder.

This morning is the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre of children and the radio was playing a touching tribute to each of the victims – descriptions of their personalities and proclivities, when they were still vital. Such short lives, and it takes me back five years to when it was the second Christmas since my sister Erika’s death. I was working at Elysian Fields, as I did over the holidays for several years, and a woman who came into the shop that morning first told me there had been an attack.

She was shaky and slightly panicked and she needed something comforting. I found her a nice chunk of black tourmaline and she clutched it gratefully and didn’t want to release it. It wasn’t till my lunch break that I heard the full story about how many children had been killed.

Elysian Fields has changed enough that it no longer feels like home to me, though I still like to pop in and shop there. I no longer have the studio at my grandmother’s house to make my home for the holidays – where I would lay out my crystals on the roof for full and new moons, where I would play music late at night and make my altar around an alabaster carving of a reclining woman – one of the few figurative pieces in my grandmother’s oeuvre.  Now those days are gone, as David, my grandmother’s friend and roommate lives up there, and I stay in the second bedroom in the line of four rooms where my grandmother is in the master, my parents in the guest room, and I am in the middle room, since Erika is no longer with us. It is a room big enough for a couple to share, and when my aunt and her husband are in Sarasota, they get the the guest room and mom and dad take the middle room.

The last time I had a partner home for Christmas was 2009. Jesus that’s a long time. I’ve been thinking about that relationship lately: I met him before I moved to India in 2006 – got tangled up before I took off and carried the torch for several years after, till I was living in New York and he was in Portland.

We spent Christmas together with my folks in Florida, making our little love nest in the studio. He brought nice presents, mostly from the store where he worked, and we spent a night camping at an Everglades State Park one night, hiking, cooking veggie gumbo, playing music. But that was the last time we saw each other. I drove him to Tampa  to drop him off at the airport and that was the last I ever saw of him. We broke up not too many months later and I told him that that was his last chance, and he blew it.

Though I normally try to keep friendships with ex-boyfriends, that was the start of a  habit of cutting off communications entirely with some exes. Those who I felt had betrayed my trust in some crucial way – cheating, lying, ghosting.

I didn’t even consider contacting him during my year in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t mind the absence. He was someone I’d loved because of how I believed he felt about me. I honestly believed that our feelings had always been mutual, but in the end it clearly wasn’t. There was more he wasn’t telling, I’m sure. I’m not interested anymore.

But, it has taken years of practice to become so disinterested. I am such a loyal-hearted lover that it just doesn’t occur to me that people (esp lovers) can act so unlovingly at times. To me, that feels so pointless. I would never welcome someone back into my life only for momentary gratification, but it seems that others don’t share those simple standards. I can’t believe that all men are so inclined, so I must admit the liklihood that I am drawn to men who are emotionally incapable of requiting my affections. Perhaps the amount I care is directly proportional to their incapability to return my feelings. Since I can’t stop loving, I must therefore build a higher threshold of behavior to be met before I open those floodgates. Here is my opportunity, again.

Despite  the lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years, I still haven’t figured out how to protect myself from falling into the same traps again and again. I create unwinable situations a plunk myself right in the middle of them, hinging my happiness on the capricious affections of those who are, for whatever reason, unable to meet me halfway. I can’t blame the other: the issue must clearly be mine to deal with.

I must focus on feeling secure and loved without needing confirmation or affirmation from others. Especially those who have shown me again and again that my feelings and happiness are unimportant to them. I can’t bank on the idea that others will change, so as much as old habits die hard, it is time to remind myself that I can’t change the past with hoping and wishing. But I can change the future with my decisions in the present.

Tis the season for going into the depths and reemerging with new insights, new passion, new love in my heart, and new faith in the future to sustain me.


Celebrating my arrival in Tampa with a wine spritzer and a bikini!

Love and miss,




A New Dawn in Albion

I’ve been in London now for just over a month. It’s a new beginning for me in this country, in a new field of study, in returning to school but in a different time and system – all unfamiliar, though oddly not as strange as I’d have thought.

In the week I arrived, I managed to find a flat in Camden Town, a place where I have some experience, as I was once in love in Camden Town. It seemed like a magical place – somehow it seemed bigger then, too. Perhaps that was in part why I was drawn back here. Not the only reason, of course, because I also wanted to be near my university. Camden Town started as a separate village from London, fed by the useful Regent’s Canal and connecting to the rail system. It is still village-like, in a way, and I find that that has held true even without the magic of love to sprinkle her additional charm over it all. It just glitters a bit less now, like the sparkling sucrose crystals gone from a box of frosted flakes. The cake without the frosting, the sundae without the topping. Ah c’est la vie, I suppose, that’s just how it goes when something slips away and you don’t know why, like my dream of a houseboat failing to materialize. But I’ve mostly been too content with my flat and too occupied with studies and visits from dear friends to dwell too much on what’s missing.

The first weekend – indeed the day after – I moved into my flat, Sarah came a’calling and I was happy to have a place to host her. We explored the city in a way I haven’t done in a few years, and then I was being guided – almost never on my own and certainly not giving a tour! We wandered hither and thither, visited Camden Market and Harrod’s and Selfridges and went out one night with our good friend Kim, exploring the local pubs.


I had lovely meetups with friends who live in London, including New York friends and some friends I made at Nora’s wedding in November – Natasha and Pritish. We went out for a delicious vegan feast at a local place called Manna. It was delish and great to see these wonderful women again!

Soon I got a visit from Mary Caton, in London for a conference! What a treat to have double doses of my besties! All we were missing was Nora, who was due to have her first child any day – and did, not long ago! A joy to know that she and her beloved Anders have brought baby Jack safely into the world and their lives – all our lives! I can’t wait to meet him! MC and I had several afternoons together to roam and eat tasty meals and drink delicious drinks and just enjoy London before my classes start. She was staying very near to UCL and it was nice to show her my campus and my neighborhood. We had one last night together in Camden Town and enjoyed ourselves before going to rather early bed, as I was coming down with a cold and she had to catch a noon flight back home.


MC in town!


The Handel – Hendrix House


Bloomsbury beauties!


The Horse Stables Market

Since she left, I have been working on reading and school stuff in general with some nights spent reading at a local pub, mingling with the townies. London is a friendly town, in many ways. I’ve been drinking tea and cider and visiting my local charity shop, Mind in Camden – which I am sort of in love with. I visit on days when I do have classes and often find just what I need for my little flat – a silverware holder for the dish drier, a teapot, pepper grinder, framed print of Victorian England, crystal fruit bowl, silver serving tray – even a laundry hamper from a rather shi-shi store. I’ve also been to Brick Lane market several times and really enjoy looking through the flea-markety tables in one area – they also have some Turkish tiles and bowls I’ve been thinking about ever since I decided not to buy one!

I have gotten to go to some lectures and an exhibit about the Scythian people I have long been interested in – an excellent exhibit at the British Museum of artifacts and many textiles. It was right up my alley.


In the Park studying on a sunny October day

Friday was my 36th birthday, which I intended to be a gathering of friends (plural), but ended up a night out with my singular friend Vilde. We volunteered together in Molyvos, on the island of Lesvos, and it is good to be able to swap stories and memories about our experiences, as it was such a surreal time.


Birthday cider!

After dinner and pints of cider (and a few more pints), we headed back to my flat for a couple of Red Stripes and I read her tarot cards. It was a very powerful reading and really full of information about some major changes coming up for her. I hadn’t read anyone’s cards in a while and it felt good to do it – like visiting an old friend.

I thought to treat myself to finishing off my new Philip Pullman novel or watching something on Netflix, but I was both hungry and tired, so I heated up some leftovers and ate them as fast as I could and then went pretty much straight to sleep.


The Book of Dust! Already devoured it!


A red sun during a recent hurricane induced dust storm

Fridays are the most exhausting day, as I have class from 11-1:30 and then again from 3-4:30. I was out like a light, but awoke rather early this morning, feeling compelled I suppose, by the sunlight through my little window. I have had vivid dreams lately, in my London bed. Hard to tell what they signify, if anything, outside of my own desires and questioning.

I am of two minds – that of moving forward and past what’s passed and toward all that is new and promising, and that which reflects and looks back, that which still appeals to me, like a call I hear off in the distance. Is it just an echo, fading, or is that persistence a sign of something that is still pertinent, valuable, remarkable?

I must admit, I cannot tell. My heart still dwells on an old amour, yet I am simultaneously sure that I’ve gone down this road before and it led me to darkness, sadness, and despair. I thought I did my best to sift through the ashes of that old burnt out affair to make certain nothing was left to salvage. I tried to test those waters, just to make sure there wasn’t a baby hidden in that bath before I tossed it and moved on. It seemed that there was no “there” there. There, there, little heart. She heals but slowly and sometimes there is a need to return to the scene of the deed just to verify that it’s done.

I suppose I should read the cards for myself and see if they have any light to shed on me. It is funny how sometimes I encapsulate so many different things inside one being. Parts of me tend to stay hidden, though unintended messages surface. I cannot quell the part which whispers of the mystical and inquires after curiosity, clings to the arcane and eschews merely mundane explanations.

I love looking after mysteries, but still I remain one to myself. Often, my desires take aim and fire before considering the repercussions. I fell before without concerns for where I’d land, and ended up a heap when my trust fall failed. I don’t want to be untrusting, but not do I want to be a heap.

I keep thinking about the story of Eros and Psyche. It came up in classes at the Carl Jung Institute in Manhattan. Psyche falls for Eros without really knowing or understanding who he is, and on the condition that she not attempt to look at him. Everything’s happy until, encouraged by her (jealous) sisters, she peeks at his sleeping face and sees that he is beautiful, but she wakes him with dripping wax or oil and he runs away.

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Eros and Psyche

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A pot depicting Aphrodite, Eros and Psyche

She then spends years looking for him everywhere and ends up at his mother’s house – Aphrodite in the Greek myths but she hearkens back to the old Mountain Mother, who’s priests were castrati. With Eros imprisoned inside her castle like Rapunzel, Aphrodite assigns Psyche to complete four impossible tasks, which she eventually does, with help from different animals. Still, she is defeated by a trick of Aphrodite: Psyche is sent to retrieve a certain box from the Underworld – a place of no return – and told that it contains the elixir of youth. She is warned not to look inside the box, but as before, she goes against instructions, because she just has to know. Instead of eternal youth, she finds eternal sleep inside the box and passes out for good until her beloved asks Zeus to revive her.

Eros and Psyche end up happy in the end, but it is a story which carries both historical and allegorical seeds which fascinate me. The tale of her descent into the Underworld makes me think back to the story of Inanna’s descent into the Great Below, her deep sleep is the parallel for Inanna’s death at the hand of her sister, Ereshkigal, who smites her with the “eye of death” and hangs her from a meathook. Like Psyche, her curiosity, her desire for power, have led her to a state of unconsciousness – death of the soul. The butterfly struck through, stuck to a velvet lining.

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Psyche taking a close look at her love – notice her butterfly wings

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Inanna Queen of Heaven

But in Inanna’s story, her lover is not faithful – he was not the one to plead to Zeus for his beloved – it is Inanna’s friend, Ninshubur, who goes to ask for help. She is the one who keeps vigil for Inanna, while her beloved seems unconcerned with her disappearance, even sitting on her throne. When Inanna returns, she is angry with Dumuzi for his lack of faithfulness. There was a price to be paid for her return, and Dumuzi, through his betrayal of his queen, has earned himself a place in the Great Below. Through an exchange, he would return seasonally and bring the green of spring along with him,  – and when the seasons turned the women would weep for him, gone again to the Great Below, leaving the Queen of Heaven alone.

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Inanna and Dumuzi

Three years on and I’m wondering what, if anything has changed? The day after my birthday was the three year anniversary of the last time I saw the man I was in love with in Camden. I happened to see him again, the day after my birthday. It didn’t occur to me to mention it

Love and miss and happy Halloween! I’ll leave you with a pic of my pumpkin and my recent altar for the New Moon. Nice to have my flat feeling homey!




The Storm

Well, it has been a very interesting last few weeks! Mom and dad arrived a bit earlier than expected and spent two weeks with me in Seattle and subsequent travels. First, of course, I showed them around town a bit. They had already been to Seattle before, so we skipped the Pike Place Market and the Space-needle and went straight to Alki Beach – like a little bit of California transplanted to the PNW, it was a sunny late-summer day and we took their dog, Spanky, for a walk along the beach before going to eat dinner at an outdoor Mexican restaurant where Spanky could sit near us and we could enjoy the lovely weather.


Mom, dad, and the majestic spotted hound at Alki the day they arrived

In the morning I took them to Seward Park where Spanky dipped into Lake Washington and mom and dad foraged for blackberries, gleeful about such a late berry season. Foraging was a major theme of the trip!


I wanted to take them to the International District for lunch, but couldn’t think of anywhere to go, so instead I took them to Ethiopian food, which they enjoyed immensely (also the cheapness was right up their alley).

The next morning I took them to Kubota Gardens, a beautiful and old Japanese garden not far from my house in Seattle.We all enjoyed the gardens (and more blackberries were found and consumed). Spanky liked the water features especially.


That afternoon we went to Ivar’s Fishbar and Restaurant so they could sample some of Seattle’s famous seafood. It was another toasty day and we enjoyed being on the water. We visited the Fremont Troll and then I dropped them off in Downtown Columbia City before heading to work at the Triple Door.

The next day was the anniversary of Erika’s death, so we got some supplies to celebrate her: a tin pan to be our firepit, some sparkling rosé (of course), yummy bread to make her favorite radish crostinis and I had bought radishes and green tomatoes at the farmers market, so I fried up the tomatoes, just as we had done with the ones from Erika’s garden six year ago, after she died. Our feast was spectacular and then we set fire to this year’s Burning Woman effigy – a hot air balloon with a wine glass instead of a basket, which my mom cut out and painted on cardboard. We played music from her memorial and drank our pink bubbles and cried and remembered her. I still had some candles from her memorial service and we lit one, tucked into a bottle of wine from her extensive collection, now finally nearly exhausted after 6 years.


Mom building this yea’r fire


Our lovely dinner spread in Erika’s honor


Getting ready for the Burn!


Erika was present in the form of this drawing I made of her and we burned one of the candles I saved from her memorial

It felt really good to be with my parents for this ritual. I played some songs on my guitar and “The Rainbow Connection” on my banjo uke – a song mom has come to associate with Erika.

In the morning, we packed up to head out to the Olympic Peninsula for several days of camping and exploring. Our first stop was Port Townsend, where we got pizza for lunch and browsed around a bookstore Sarah and I discovered on our trip out there in July. Then we drove through Port Angeles and by Lake Crescent to Sol-duc hot springs, where we had a site reserved. I forgot to mention that mom and dad drove up in a truck with a camper on the back, so we just had to pull in and pop it up! Then mom and I went for a soak in the hot springs before foraging some firewood and eating a light dinner before heading to bed. It was a chilly night in the mountains after the heat of Seattle summer.


Mom and dad in front of Lake Crescent


Me n mama at Sol duc Hot Springs

We hit the road to drive toward La Push, but we saw signs for the Makah Reservation and decided to take a detour to visit the museum there. It was a lovely drive up to Neah Bay and as we drove, the phone rang. It was my aunt and uncle, concerned about my grandmother and sister, who were in the path of hurricane Irma in Florida.

It all felt very scary and especially so for my grandmother, who is 95 and very attached to her home. But here we were on the opposite side of the country, unable to do much but advise and commiserate and worry.

We made it to the museum and again mom and dad found some berries to forage before we went in. It was a really interesting museum, focused on the Makah people and the artifacts found when one of their ancestral villages was uncovered by erosion. It was one of the places I had hoped to take dad, and I’m so glad we made the detour.

Then we headed south toward our RV park up the road from La Push. Once we had our site, we hopped in the truck and headed to the beach, which was misty and windy, but very majestic with large driftwood pieces and stately rock islands, big enough to grow their own little forests. We collected pebbles for mom’s Party Patio mosaic and Spanky frolicked with joy along the beach, sniffing everything in sight. On the way back to camp, we stopped to get some smoked salmon from a local Native – it was over-priced, but certainly the local economy is pretty tiny, so any bit we could contribute seemed worth it.

Back at the campsite, I made dinner of morel mushrooms and green beans with pasta and a butter/wine/cream sauce. It came out really deliciously (if I do say so myself) and we had just enough time to enjoy it before the weather changed and it began to rain.

In the morning, we decided to go to the beach once more and then checked out a second  access, which (we didn’t realize) was about 7/10s of a mile hike in, but was well worth it, as mom spotted a hen of the woods mushroom (which we took home with us). There the beach was different, a fresh spring running across it and some cool anemones and mussels growing on a big rock on the beach. The tide was out, so there were tide pools and I spotted a dentalia shell in one of them – something my mother had been looking for since we saw them used as jewelry at the Makah museum. Yoink!

We hiked back up to the truck (it was harder going up!) and headed off to the Hoh Rainforest. There we picnicked and dad joined us for one small hike and then retired for a nap in the truck (Spanky was already doing likewise). Then mom and I checked out the Hall of Mosses (“Holy Moses” as dad insisted on calling it) before we continued on to our campground for the night in Kalaloch, another beach.

When we arrived and got settled, we walked down to the beach, again covered with driftwood and interesting rocks.

Then we returned to camp to make dinner of jambalaya with veggie sausage  and some of our hen of the woods mushroom, plus some black beans and a heavy dose of creole seasoning. It was very hearty and rather spicy and even my staunchly meat-eating dad approved.

After they went to bed, I stayed up a while longer to sip some wine and write in my journal. It was beautiful to be among the trees, under the dark sky and the bright stars.

The next morning we headed out of Kalaloch and made a brief stop at Lake Quinault to visit their historic lodge.

Ocean Beach to explore and have lunch. Mom spotted a place that had all manner of (fried) seafood and also happened to have a veggie burger for me, so everyone was happy (especially Spanky, who enjoys fried food).

Then it was back to Seattle to change clothes and get ready for an evening of Patsy Cline music at the Triple Door. We got a nice table at the back of the theater and enjoyed drinks and some light apps during the show. It was fun to see my dad singing along and enjoying himself – not a lot of live music opportunities in Green Forest, AR!

We headed home and spent the next day packing up the camper with the remnants of my life in Seattle – all that I wouldn’t be taking with me to London or shipping home in boxes. I also managed to sell Erika’s broken car for $300, which was a nice and unexpected turn of events!

We finished early enough to head downtown to take the Underground Tour of Pioneer Square and then strolled along the waterfront to meet up with my cousins for dinner. It had been years since they saw my parents and the only bummer was that no one thought to take a picture!

downtown Seattle tour

Me n daddio in Pioneer Square

In the morning we made tracks for Portland to visit my friend Jenna before continuing south to Crater Lake. We had a lovely brunch with her and stopped by a European meat store for dad (he needed some real sausage).


Then it was off to Crater Lake.

The drive was lovely, if a bit long, and we made it to the south entrance to Crater Lake that afternoon. As we got closer and closer to the campground, we saw smoke from nearby wildfires and my parents voiced concern, but we had checked out the visibility with their webcam, so I knew the smoke wasn’t bad at the lake itself.

We finally pulled into the campground around 7pm and set up camp and poured ourselves some sundowners (aka wine with some other stuff mixed in to make a sort of sangria) before foraging for firewood and making up some dinner. We decided on grilled sandwiches and pea soup, but unfortunately it took longer to cook than anticipated and we ended up with slight crunchy pea soup. Ah well – not every camping meal can be gourmet!

The next morning we got an early start and drove up to Crater Lake – further from the campsite than I had thought and also much bigger than I had thought! It was like seeing the Grand Canyon, filled with the clearest and purest water! It was honestly breathtaking and we didn’t even get to go down to the lake, but just seeing it and the crater left by the volcanic eruption was very impressive, and knowing that only a week before it was impossible to view because of the smoke made the sight even more amazing.


Glorious Crater Lake

Then it was time to go. We drove out of the park and continued south and east through Nevada. It our longest day of driving, nearly 6 hours. We stopped for the night in Elko at a cushy RV park with showers and a hot tub and coffee in the mornings. There we whipped up our last big camp meal of the trip – morels with more of my veggie sausage and tomato sauce served over pasta.


Mom made sure to awaken early with one thing on her mind: baking cookies!

The final day of our roadtrip, we headed to Salt Lake City (where I was set to fly out the next morning). We got there relatively early and claimed a campsite at Great Salt Lake State Park before venturing into the city for a late lunch/dinner at an Indian restaurant.


Yummy Thali in SLC – farewell dinner with my parents

I introduced my parents to the thali (and they made sure to order something they could share with Spanky after) and once we were all properly stuffed with curries we went to the Museum of Natural History to check out an exhibition on Vikings and their collection of Native American artifacts, plus some minerals and dinosaurs, of course.

After the museum we went to the center of town to check out the Mormon bit (though we didn’t feel like getting out of the truck and subjecting ourselves to potential conversion attempts (lol). Instead we went to the Gilgal Sculpture Park, which reminded me of the Coral Castle outside of Miami, which mom and I went to visit a few years ago.

It is another example of an eccentric loner making an odd sort of fervor into a stone monument to his eccentricity. It was bizarre, but more appealing than the creepily majestic Temple Square.

We bought some essentials at Trader Joe’s and made our way back to the campsite in time for one more round of sundowners while we watched the sunset.

A friendly Native man who worked at the site offered us some free firewood and I stayed up again, enjoying a bit of solitude with the lake and the stars till it was time to climb in for one more night in the camper with mom and dad.


Last campfire of the trip

I awoke around 6 am and slid out to take photos of the sunrise around the lake. It was a glorious morning and the rain that had come in the night cleared up just in time to let the sun peep through.

I had one last morning with my parents, sipping coffee and strolling on the beach one last time before it was time to head ’em up and move ’em out, as the cowpokes say.

My flight left around 11 that morning to take me back to Seattle for a few more days of work and packing up and goodbyes.


Antelope Island and the the Great Salt Lake from above

I had my last few shifts at the Triple Door and went out for some final hurrahs with friends and the fella I’ve been seeing for the last six months or so, on and off. He was kind enough to give me a ride to the airport (and help me load up all my heavy things like a champ). Nice to have a friendly send-off instead of a stressed cab ride, though Seattle gave me the final flip-off of making sure we hit nearly every red light on the way. File under things I will not miss!

I made it just two minutes before they closed check-in and some sympathetic airline employees really helped me out. Then it was just dealing with curious baggage scanners (apparently largish crystals in one’s carry-on need to be scoped out, even though they’re basically just rocks?) and walking for an eternity with heavy (crystal-laden) bags in a rush, just to find that the plane hadn’t begun boarding yet. Whew!

I earned my in-flight drinks!

I’ve met so many lovely people and had such a great time in Seattle over the past year, but I can’t say that it ever felt like home, exactly. However, I will miss many of the people – the friends and coworkers – and I even managed to date two different people for more than a couple of months each, not long distance! So hey, there was some progress from New York.

But I didn’t fall in love – not in the way I want to be – with the city or with any thing or anyone I encountered there. It was a very beautiful and inspiring way-station, however, and I am glad I called it home for the year.

And now I am in London, mostly recovered from jet-lag, registered for classes, and ready to start my year at UCL! Tomorrow, if all goes well, I will get the keys to my new flat in Camden Town – three years after I last spent some weeks there, so it still feels somewhat familiar, as does the whole city, in fact. I wonder if I would feel as comfortable here if I hadn’t lived in cloudy, rainy Seattle for a year, softening my memory of the other big city I used to call home, New York.

London’s not bad – and already I feel that I know more people here than I did starting out in Seattle. Plus it makes me think of Erika, who studied here for a semester in college, and who, I think, was always a bit more partial to the city than I.

More to come – time to wrap this one up!

Love and miss,




The Calm Before

I recently passed my one-year anniversary of moving to Seattle and I’m getting close to the one-year mark for my job at the Triple Door as well. So much has happened in a year – most importantly, I feel like I have made progress in my personal progression and faced down my boogie men, in some ways.

Wednesday we had a gathering in Volunteer Park in honor of Sarah’s impending departure from the city she has called home for three years now. A group of her friends gathered by the blooming dahlias and spread out wine and cheese and fruit and other yummy things on picnic tables. We drank rosé in the fading light and the waning heat of an August evening and released biodegradable balloons with messages of love and well-wishing. The leftover balloons were full of helium, which we sucked after dark, in a circle, singing snippets of songs with our high pitched voices and giggling.

The summer feels like it is winding down already, though we should have another month of sunny days, if we’re lucky.

The beginning of the month was hot and hazy, the skies over Seattle filled with smoke from the wildfires raging in Canada and Montana. On the positive side, the haze made the days less hot and kept things in the 80s instead of the 90s as predicted. It coincided with Seafair, which I recall from last year, when I was still staying with my aunt and uncle in Magnolia and Seattle felt brand new.

This year the Blue Angels roared over my tiny house in Beacon Hill and for three days in a row they made themselves known. After the Fourth of July this year, I’ve realized how much I dislike patriotic displays of war prowess.

Sarah and I have taken good advantage of our time together in Seattle. Since our outing to Victoria, we have gone to The Can Can – a cabaret in Pike Place Market – and returned a couple of times to Capitol Cider for our favorite jazz jam.We even went to Shakespeare in the Park and checked out Rumbar – a place she’d been longing to try.

Tonight we will go to the Triple Door for a cabaret singer I like called Lady Rizo and tomorrow night, Sarah will be on a flight to Columbia.

I sympathize with her feelings of inner conflict – it is hard to leave a job where you love your role and the security and the fact that you’re needed and appreciated. Even if that job isn’t what you ultimately want out of life, it is the end of a certain chapter. I’ve got a bit more time before I’ll similarly be saying goodby to things and this city, assuming all goes well with my visa. So far, so good.

Seattle has been an interesting place to live. I’ve grown to love my co-workers and the environment at the Triple Door, which is such a cool space and which has inspired me in many ways. The people I work with are – in the best possible way – freaks and misfits, in-between travelers, pierced, tattooed, rainbow-haired rebels and youths. Actors, musicians, writers, dancers. There are benefits to working in the service industry. The people are a big one.

But there’s been nothing to hold me here. Now that Sarah is leaving I feel my ties unbinding. I like being here now. But in my mind, I’m shifting. I do love my little cottage, still, and my patio is comfortable and calming, white spots of light dance reflected from the lazy motions of a string of mirrors. My tomatoes grow and peppers are sprouting, cucumbers fattening and basil in bloom.

I think increasingly of Erika, who had such a charming and effortless garden in California. I wish I had moved to the west coast when she was still alive – wouldn’t it be nice if I could simply drive somewhere to see her? Just a day’s drive away in Napa. But her garden is no longer hers, her condo still features the bathroom tiles mom helped Erika install – no doubt some other traces of her still abide, but fainter and fainter.

Her car sits unmoving on the side of my street as I wait for final confirmation of my studies in London. As I hold onto her Rav4, because it is still, every so slightly, part of her. She put most of those dents and scrapes there; she wrote about her little car in her journal. It will be the end of an era to say goodbye to it. Six years have passed so quickly I can scarcely believe it when I see the years the stretch back to our last trip together in Brazil. To fill out my visa application, I had to list all my travels for the last ten years, searching through old emails for dates, reliving the trip to France when I started this blog, glimpsing emails from lovers past, not read in years, but still surprisingly fresh. Did I come back to New York for him and was it a mistake? Am I going to London for the right reasons?

Erika once studied in London for a semester. My mom and I visited her there when I was 17 – another trip abroad I recalled in applying for my visa. For a city I am not overly fond of, many of my life’s turning point moments seem to center on it. Perhaps living there will be better than I previously thought. Meanwhile, I am looking for a houseboat to live on like Anais Nin. I love having a charming living space – it really improves my quality of life. Such a first-world thing to say. Lol!

I’m looking forward to the eclipse in a few days. I always adore the moon and her mysterious movements. I’ve never seen a solar eclipse before and though I’m not driving out of my way to the “path of totality,” I think it will be 90% visible from Seattle.

Sarah will be gone by then. And about a week later my parents will come visit and then the final countdown begins.  Looking forward to seeing what the future holds and playing my piano as much as possible before I have to let it go.

One last note, as Burning Man approaches and mom and I have discussed what sort of shrine to burn for Erika this year: I recently ended up at a park watching a bunch of grown people doing a very fun and whimsical dance in a children’s wading pool at Volunteer Park. I didn’t know it then, but I recently learned that the performance was to honor the last wishes of a dying artist who lived on Vashon Island. She helped plan the music and choreography and costumes and then these people who loved her came together and performed a joyful, magical tribute.

I’m really glad I went. Joyful dancing is the best answer for just about anything, it seems.

Love and miss,




It is hard to believe we are already half way through 2017! Time does indeed move fast and each beautiful day lately is sunnier and warmer than the last.

The last weekend is worthy of writing about. Friday and Saturday evenings were spent, comme d’habitude, at the Triple Door. We had a fun campy burlesque show there (literally summer camp-themed acts).

On Sunday I had the day to do laundry and tidy up the house and my little garden patch before going to see one of my favorite bands from high school, Ween. They’re such consummate musicians and I’d hoped to see them last year – even had a ticket – but then my companion for the show ditched out and I wasn’t prepared to go it alone at a massive NYC venue. This time, I met up with my friend Peter and a group of his Ween-loving friends at his place in the International District (Seattle’s mishmash of China/Japan/Korea etc towns). Then we piled into his vintage Chevette and drove out across the great Lake Washington and to Marymoore Park, shrouded in trees of deep soft green. The sun sets late here in the summer and it glinted through the looming pines throughout the show. I sipped rosé and enjoyed the show immensely.


It was over rather early and we all headed back to the International District for a little karaoke.

Or rather, a lot of it. I rolled out my greatest hits, as the place was empty and turns at the mic were frequent.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home, I was rather toasted, as dinner never happened. I say unfortunately, because as I climbed up into my loft, I lost my balance and fell from the ladder to my carpeted concrete floor. I knew instantly that I’d hurt myself, but I was so tired that I just crawled up to bed and hoped for the best. But the next morning, Sarah and I were going to Victoria, B.C. where much walking would be required.

The drive to Port Angeles was just a couple of hours, but I was hungover and carsick and once I looked down and my phone had butt dialed an ex-boyfriend to whom I’ve not spoken in 5 years! Christ, that took the blood from my face!


Sarah got me an ACE bandage and I wrapped up my foot and hobbled as best I could onto the ferry where I was again wracked by nausea from the rocking of the ferry. Finally, we went to the upper deck, which was much more pleasant and I napped until I felt better and we disembarked in Victoria.


Beautiful Legislative building – lights up at night like a carnival

It is a cute little port town, both European and American in feel. We visited the Natural History Museum and then went for drinks at the Empress Hotel (they serve a high tea there for $70 a person) – we got rosé and nachos! It was the first and last food I was able to eat for a while!


Wooly Selfie with Sarah


Rosé at the Empress

We took a cab to our Airbnb, a cute little apartment with a cat named Wednesday in residence. After a shower and a change of clothes, I was ready to hobble around some more!

We meandered south, sipping some wine Sarah had brought along, thoughtfully. It always makes me think of Erika when I drink wine al fresco from paper cup or water bottle. We crossed through the little Chinatown (one street, spangled with red lanterns) and looked for an open place, but many we tried were closed on Mondays.


Finally we went to an Italian restaurant, very quaint, and they served very interesting food, but I lost my appetite again and wasn’t able to eat much. Frustrating!

After dinner, we tried briefly to find a bar to inhabit, but we decided to go home and cuddle the cat instead (not a euphemism).


In the morning, we walked toward downtown for breakfast on Antique Row (and of course some book and antique shopping) before walking to a Victorian copy of a Scottish castle for the local coal and iron barons, the Craigdarroch family.

We spent the afternoon learning about the chateau and its long history as a music school and military hospital after it was no longer a private house.


Then it was time to get back to the ferry. We caught a cab and made it just in time for boarding. I felt much better on this crossing and my foot wasn’t too bad. We got back to Port Angeles and then decided to check out Port Townsend for dinner.

There was another fabulous bookstore to be explored – full of treasures (and I was reading aloud to Sarah from a book of Joseph Campbell’s lectures about the Goddess as we drove, so we were quite inspired). Dinner was unfortunate again, as I ordered something far too rich and regretted it – it was drowned in a blue cheese sauce that overwhelmed me and killed my timid appetite again. Damn my car sickness!

Sarah and I made it back to Seattle just in time for darkness to set in and the fireworks to be set off! It sounded like bombs going off over my head and made me stressed and annoyed until it finally ceased. Ah, sweet silence.

I am still waiting to hear back about getting into school in London, but I am already looking forward to missing out entirely on the 4th of July celebrations. Not my bag atall. I’ve never been crazy about the English climate, but if I can handle Seattle, I guess I can try London!

Meanwhile, it was back to work for me yesterday, and luckily, my foot feels much better, thought it still definitely stings a bit and I might need to take it to a doctor. The best news is that Peter let me borrow his Chevette while my car is broken (if I don’t go to school, I might as well get Erika’s car fixed, especially as it isn’t likely to sell for much). So much up in the air at present.


The Chevette

My garden is growing and I divided up my baby lettuces so now it is survival of the fittest. They are from a package of seed (from Walmart, no less) which once belonged to  Erika. I’ve had them for the last six years, though I never had anywhere to plant them before. Lo and behold, they’re growing!


My sprouting garden

Strawberries were ripening more and more each day, enough to get a handful for breakfast each morning, but now they are slowing down.


Despite my foot, I walked to my local farmers market on Wednesday and brought home fresh raspberries, blueberries, apricots, carrots and flowers to brighten up my little home.

My landlord is finally clearing out some of his art from the “groovy cottage” as he calls it – it was jam packed with objects and paintings and postcards when I moved in. Not that I minded – our tastes are pretty similar. But it is certainly more spacious- feeling in here, despite the piano!


For last night’s full moon in Capricorn, I set all my crystals out for a sun and moon bath.


Today, I met up with Sarah around noon and we got dolled up for a Steampunk Promenade around Green Lake with strangers! It was right up our alley, since we like playing dress-up! I’d say we both did a great job of finding Victorian-looking get-ups on short notice. We met people and drank tea and ate goodies in a lovely breezy afternoon, dressed like weirdos!

Mom and dad are planning to drive up to see me in early September, and I look forward to what adventures we might have!

By then, I will be without Sarah in Seattle 😦 What will I do?

Well, time will tell. All for now,

Love and miss,


Summer At Last!

Lately the days have been stacking up onto each other in layers of sunshine and blue skies at last, after a long and rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest – my first outside of the East Coast in nearly a decade. The flowers are still making their extended spring displays, popping up in turns like fireworks in a well choreographed display of purple, yellow, magenta, white, lavender, and pink. The gardens around my cottage are in bloom and I harvest flowers to decorate the house.


I still sometimes get snatches of the city in my mind’s eye. Familiar corners pop up as if I might see them again soon. I miss the subway and the Beauty Bar and pizza by the slice. But I also think fondly of things and times and people from years past in the city – not so much great loves, but incidental friends – my time working in the design department at my catering company, my old roommate and apartment in Williamsburg. But both have moved on. My old room is gone and Josh moved to Paris. The gas station right outside my window will persist no doubt, its owner tromping about with badly dyed hair and matching red tank top and shorts, gold crucifix glowing from the forest of his chest hair. That corner bodega I used to visit, owned by Yemeni men – I wonder about them and how they are doing. I miss all of it in a way. That French cafe down the street with the open mic where I met my North Carolinian friends.

The years pass swiftly – it all seems so recent.

But here I sit on my little porch in Seattle, the sound of planes resonating above me – accelerating engines echo from elsewhere, but it is otherwise quiet except the sound of Teri Gross’ voice on the radio.

I cut my hair recently – in part to fix the layers which got screwed up by someone else. But I was also ready for something new. So I gave myself long bangs – or fringe, as the English have it.


Things are really shaping up in my tiny house, which is such an absolute pleasure to live in, especially now that the rains have stopped and the sugar ants which invaded me over the winter have left me alone (encouraged by poison and some intense caulking sessions around the cottage). I just bought a little device called a HooToo NanoRouter which is tiny indeed and has solved my one persistent issue: weak wifi. Now I have a solution which allows me to use my little laptop on the porch or wherever without constantly refreshing the connection. It is also highly transportable and the sort of thing I might have dreamed of while traveling in years past.


It is hard to believe, however, that nearly a year has passed since I got to Seattle. I guess the fact that I didn’t settle down in one spot till January made it seem like I had recently arrived. But from three months here to 10 months here has gone by in a blur!

I have been playing music – my piano and of course the guitars in my life. Trying to get back to writing songs, which seem to have been hard for me after working on my memoir for so long. It’s been nice to start writing in my journal again and learning songs on the piano after not having one for years is such a pleasure! I am so glad I bought the darn thing, or rather, paid to have it brought to me! I learned Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe When I Fall In Love” and Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” – therapy songs of power and joy.

I guess I have realized – or perhaps admitted – that I have been depressed. I haven’t put that word on it till recently, perhaps because I am finally starting to come out the other side of it. I hope. I don’t think I’ve been truly, deeply depressed since I was a teenager, though I did experience a time in college when I was very anxious. And my anxiety does always seem to be centered on the topic of love. I get squirmy and rather nervous around relationship. Very fight or flighty. I seem to search out psychologically troubled people, or they respond to me – probably both. I have to at least ask how that is reflected in me.

One aspect of my low spirits has been increased anxiety around my creativity – song-writing specifically. It’s funny how something can flow so effortlessly at times and suddenly be stanched. But I think I know what happened: I put my heart in a song – all of my love and talent and spontaneity. But it did not win me what I wanted. I’ve written songs since, of course. But the problem with writing from your heart is that it sometimes feels like wallowing. So when things didn’t work out with someone I’d thought longingly of for years, I didn’t feel like writing about it. I couldn’t. I was exhausted by grief. For my sister, my lovers, myself. I couldn’t face writing my sadness into songs and then having them in my brain as evidence of how wretched I felt.

Anyway, the point is not to go on about depression, but to say that I think perhaps I am starting to feel better. Though I loved New York and miss it in some ways, I am happy to be out of there and living a different life. Happy to be considering my next steps. I’m applying to a program in London and perhaps I’ll also go to Mexico at some point – especially if I don’t get into my London thing. I hate to think of leaving my little casita so soon – and I also enjoy the Triple Door and the friends I have been making there. But I am not sure I have found anything – or anyone – to stay here for. Once my dear Sarah has vamoosed, will I feel at sea in Seattle? Who’s to say, but I recall how strange New York seemed without my dear Nora. I do so appreciate having close friends nearby. In the absence of a reliable male partner, my girlfriends have been my closest friends and partners. Companions of heart and intellect. My sisters.

For now, we are still together and Seattle is at its most beautiful and verdant, the gardens all over the city are full of flowers and plants strange to me, mixed in, of course, with recognizable things. Strawberries are ripening in the patch of earth I weeded out and I planted two types of basil last week and today, a third, plus two kinds of tomatoes, some pickling cucumbers, Thai chilies, and lettuce. Hooray for growing things!


Last week I went for a hike up to Rattlesnake Mountain in one of the first truly glorious days of the year. We puffed and sweated all the way to the top for the big payoff: views of the valley below, Rattlesnake Lake and tree-covered foothills stretching out for miles in the distance.

On the weekend, I had a rare Saturday off and went to the Folklife Festival in Seattle’s City Center.  We had a fun evening, drinking beer and listening to music before the festival ended and we went to a park for more beer and then walked up to Kerry Park for a view from the hillside of Queen Anne, giving a gorgeous tableau of skyline and Space Needle and the Sound.


The cherry blossoms are done blooming, but other flowers and plants still take their turn to blossom in yards and at roadside parks. I do like all the green things growing in this Emerald City.

I’ve put this blog off for so long, I think I’ll wrap it up!

Love and miss,


Sisters in Seattle

I was sad upon leaving Sarasota in January: sad to say goodbye to my family and sad because I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Skye over my two weeks there. With a continent between us and only a once-a-year reunion, it was enough to make me tear up when it was time to fly out.

So Skye booked a trip to come out to Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately, Florida in March is much nicer weatherwise than Seattle, but at least it didn’t snow!

I picked her up on Friday night and we had plans to go out to a fancy club (her former favorite past time) but she was tired and after we came home and drank some pink bubbles, we instead went to Pioneer Square and met up with the fella I’ve been seeing at the bar where Nirvana apparently played their first show: the Central Saloon. It’s got a kind of seedy old school feel and I introduced my sister to my favorite cheap local beer in a can (the equivalent of PBR or Gansett on the East Coast), Rainier, usually served in tallboys. We had a couple and headed home at a decent hour, her day having been very long.

Saturday was spent exploring Pike Place Market and the shops on Post Alley, shopping for souvenirs and checking out the funky stalls and shops. Then we moved on to Pioneer Square, where we found some South Indian food (miracle of miracles!) for lunch and then did an underground tour.

In the olden days of Seattle, the downtown sloped off toward the Sound in a way that meant the streets were often inundated by the tide shifts and roads had massive potholes, large enough to lose a horse in! Logs cut from the steep hills above were skidded down to the water on what was colloquially called Skid Road. After a fire destroyed the city, they decided to build up the low lying areas and diminish the slope of the hill, but in the meantime, they built new buildings with two first floors: one for the interim before the ground was raised, and the second floor also equipped with a front door and storefront windows in preparation for the day when the new streets would be constructed.

We had hoped to dine at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, but it was all booked up, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the gift shop and then went to the bar at the Edgewater Hotel, which I didn’t realize was made famous by The Beatles and Zappa.

We met up with Sarah and went out dancing at Havana till we were done, then we followed Sarah to her salsa dancing club and watched her cut a rug in her element there.

We didn’t have much left on our list by Sunday, but we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory and met up with Sarah for dinner and drinks. Somehow, I neglected to take Skye to the place where I work, The Triple Door, and instead we went to a place called Vito’s with live music and a swanky vibe.

Skye left the next afternoon and we made a few last stops before I took her to the airport to return to Florida and her family there.

I went back to work and back to trying to earn some moolah to make up for all we spent on our adventures.

I’m finally starting to feel ready to play music out again, after a few years of being rather retreated from the limelight. And I am trying to put my heart out on the market again, though it is hard to trust total strangers! Spring has started to unfurl her tentative shoots and sprouts and I again celebrated the Persian New Year, Nowruz. I had the day off, so I went shopping for the essentials: hyacinths, apples, dried fruit, an orange to float in a bowl of water. I found some fake pastel eggs at Target (perfect because I’m not that into real eggs lately) and Sarah and I each painted one for the hast seen table, which we set on my piano.


The Nowruz spread on my piano!

Skye’s ex-husband brought back this amazing collapsing basket from Afghanistan and we used that to display several of the traditional items on the table: walnuts, garlic and figs. Sarah found us some sumac and I had some sprouting lentils ready.


Sarah found a perfect recipe for a soup of lentils with pasta and spinach, combined with a yogurt and mint sauce – a traditional dish for the New Year in Iran. It came out really yummy, if I do say so myself!


It was nice to have someone to celebrate the festival with instead of doing it alone. Funny to think what I was doing last year at this time: in Brooklyn, in the snow on the first day of Spring. And now here I await the awakening in the Pacific Northwest.

I love my tiny house, though it has recently been inundated with sugar ants from all sides. They seem to have decided to nest in the walls and crawl in to bug the shit out of me. Literally. God, they’re on me now. Die ants. Die. Sigh. What have they driven me to?

The sun shines weakly through the crack in my door, but it’s welcome – the end of winter at long last. Hopefully with the end of the rains my ant problem will also dissipate like the grey skies and the shadows of the past. I don’t want to let bitterness creep into my heart. I have always been something of a nostalgic, but I don’t want to be so backward looking that I neglect the present or the future. I sometimes feel that danger. So I must keep creating and moving and loving. Lately I keep thinking of the Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” This spring, I am garlanding my heart with green. I want to release the old flames that’ve burnt up and burned out. Those people I loved, those shining lights were sparks, not the sun itself.

I realized recently that my trip to the netherworld of myself and my psyche has scraped away so many layers of my external being that I must rebuild. It is a marvelous chance and a massive undertaking to recreate oneself. I have done it before, but it’s been a while. I recall how it feels. The pain and tenderness of new eyes, new skin. We Scorpions shed our shells to stay alive – to grow. Perhaps that’s partly why I’ve stayed single so long. It has been a decade of transformation for me. And it is hard to keep anyone close at such times.

But of course I don’t really ever plan to stop transforming. So here’s hoping I learn how to be with someone while I change!

All for now –

Love and miss,


Snow Days

I need a Carrie Fisher in my life. Specifically, Carrie Fisher as she appeared in “When Harry Met Sally” – the one who tries to set you up and keeps a rolodex of men-folk to send you on dates with.

I fell in love with “When Harry Met Sally” as a teenager and watched it again and again. It was a sort of security blanket: an affirmation that love, indeed, exists. Teenagerdom was hard on me, romantically and otherwise, but somehow I was comforted to watch these youngsters transform into adults, friends, and lovers. That love would eventually find me in New York City, on New Year’s Eve – or at some other place and time – I was certain.

It was a thing I never doubted – my favorite mystery to puzzle over. Whom would I find –  who was meant to find me??? Right at the culmination of my Saturn return, I thought I found out the answer. I practically buzzed when I was around him. I glowed, I smiled, I was happy. He saw me, in some ways I think more clearly than I saw myself. Observed things I took for granted in my persona. I wonder what he saw but didn’t say.

But even while I dreamed that this was “the one,” unseen wheels turned, lies and unspoken things spun out and around us, filled my head with visions of what we could be as I spun like a top, off to Europe with my living sister and then to Burning Man to memorialize my departed sister, thinking that surely I’d be returning from the trip to claim my love prize at long last.

Of course it wasn’t to be. Hard to believe that was four years ago already. Time passes swiftly and maybe I stood still in New York a bit when I came back around. I immersed myself in a new life and it was bearable, though I feel I got it flipped backward. I wish I’d lived that free life in my twenties instead of working in offices all that time. I just thought too conventionally, I suppose. It’s taken me time to break free. C’est la vie!


This year I missed Christmas with my family for only the second time in my life. The first was 2006, when I was in India. Then I spent Christmas on a beach in Kerala. This year I was working a Nutcracker-themed burlesque show on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. For the holiday, Sarah and I had planned to go to a local hotel in a converted school. Our friend Marie joined us and we had a yummy dinner in the hotel restaurant and then proceeded to drink various drinks at the various bars on the premises.

Unfortunately, the saltwater swimming pool was closed, due to a fog which formed in the enclosure.


Sarah, Marie, et moi.

We had fun, regardless.


At McMenamins – priestess style

I spent New Year’s Eve packing my things to move, at last, to my permanent residence in a small converted garage – a cottage or tiny home – with a lofted bed and my own four walls. I was excited about the change, but hadn’t intended to have so little time to move my things between houses. Though I travel light, I bought some furniture that made this move a bit more intensive than the last. I finished moving what I could, met a friend out for a glass of bubbles at midnight, an drove home in rain that was turning to snow for an hour of sleep.


Spangled for New Year


With Marie on NYE

Early on New Year’s Day, I awoke and got a cab through two inches of freshly fallen snow to the airport. Despite the early hour, there was mucho traffico on the route, so the driver dropped me off near the train to the terminals rather than waiting in the backed-up lanes.

It took our plane three hours to take off, due to the unexpectedly inclement weather. Fortunately, I don’t have claustrophobia and none of the 6 babies onboard freaked out. By the time I got to DFW, my connections had been missed, so I had the pleasure of hanging out in the airport for several hours. At least there was booze!

When I finally arrived at Tampa it was after 10 pm, but still mom and dad and my sister Skye all came to pick me up at the airport, though it was past their bedtimes. The weather was especially warm this year, ominous, but not something I minded terribly after the sunless winter of Seattle (I say, a bit unfairly, as the sun shines here even as I type).

I had nearly two weeks in Florida to spend time with family and friends. Skye’s kids were with their dad for the weekend when I arrived, but we went to pick them up and I got to spend a few hours with them before heading down to see my grandmother in Sarasota.

Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s


Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s

I was pleased to see that Cam was enjoying the keyboard I gave to him and his sister just over four years ago. Cate’s bedroom had blossomed into unicorns and rainbows. She looks remarkably like my sister Erika, though my mother and I both noted that Cate is solid muscle where Erika was bird-like and featherlight.


Catelin and her Aunt Kira

Mom and dad and I (accompanied by Spanky the spotted hound) headed down to Sarasota to spend the week with my grandmother, Mutti, now in her 94th year. We got in time at the beach interspersed with dog walks and and hanging around the house with Mutti.





The back yard looked verdant and well-tended, as usual. A new tenant took over my former stomping grounds in the studio above the carport, so I no longer had my separate space to occupy. My happy place. But one benefit of arriving after the holidays was that an actual bed was available for me to sleep in – not one of the ancient twin beds my mother and her siblings slept in in the 50’s.

I got in some good time with Lara and her entourage of dogs – and John, my oldest friend in Sarasota aside from Lara. I love being with those beloved friends from my past. It makes me feel grounded. Unfortunately, the passage of time seems to remove once-close friends, one by one. So many of those who affected me the most are no longer in my life at all. Just last year I reconnected with an old friend and was heartened to think that sometimes the shedding works the other way around and friends come back. But then it all went sideways or backwards. Anyway, I realized I’d been wrong to think that this was a renewal. It was a farewell.

I feel I’ve really said all of the farewells that need saying at this stage. I’m exhausted by it, and frankly, a bit scared to go out into the world of people again. Funny, there is this trend in the last ten years or so toward “positive thinking” among the American zeitgeist. Suddenly everyone advises us to just be positive and ask the universe for what we want and it will “manifest.” As someone who has tried to increasingly put this notion into practice, I can tell you that life does not work quite so simply. Perhaps for some, it does. They manifest the future as they want it to be.

Somehow, for me, envisioning happiness does not make it so. People change unexpectedly. I am not so inclined to change, emotionally anyway. But then, our patterns in relation to love and emotions are formed very early. In the last several years, I have explored my own inner psyche and early emotional formation. Indeed, I’ve found that the roots of my own attachment tendencies are deeply mangled.

Looking into the abyss of one’s own dark places is heavy work. And, as I have learned, it is a journey one must take alone.


With mom and Spanky at the St. Pete beach before my flight back to Seattle

I sleep well in the lofted bed and I finally have a piano – since I don’t have any stairs to cramp my style! I found one for free on Craigslist and just paid a couple of guys to deliver it. My landlord has lived in this little cottage for years, so it is full of his things, but I packed away what didn’t please me to make room for the piano and my other rearrangements.


I can’t wait till summer comes, but meanwhile, the cottage is cozy and it was kind of enchanting when it snowed yesterday and doused the garden and my bamboo with white.


Snowy yard

I stayed home and painted, avoiding the Superbowl hullaballoo on Sunday, though I was grateful I went to Trader Joe’s before the snow so I could nestle in and paint yesterday.


Part of my cute little house


Sunflower watercolor

Yesterday evening, I met up with my dear friend Sarah at Capitol Cider, where I sang with the improv jazz jam that happens every Monday night.


At Cap Cider with my Saddah Diva

Sarah and I have been doing a good job, if I do say so myself, of getting out into the world. We have been to live music, storytelling and theatre since I’ve been back, in addition to some yoga and dancing.

And I feel like maybe – just maybe – I’ve been able to make it through the darkness and I’m emerging out the other side, despite my lack of a Carrie Fisher to drag me back out there. It can’t rain all the time, or so said my favorite 90’s goth movie, The Crow (to mix my movie metaphors).

Working as a waiter in a fast-paced theatre environment is stimulating and living in my tiny house for cheap rent is a dream.

So far 2017 is a good year, despite our disgusting political situation, which is barely worth writing about.

Love and miss,