Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Parents

You like an intruder left pieces of yourself in my heart a long time ago so many years later I still come across buried relics and dust them off whether they are pertinent or not to the world I live in even if I disagree with what they represent I still love them because it was you who left them there

Photo: www.snellvilleumc.org


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Liar

In silence I admonish my lack of courage you are so afraid of everything so small you don't know what you are doing this is the end of the line then you ask if I am happy if I know who I am I open my mouth to confess to let it out but find it impossible to say this aloud it would not ring true

There is a liar in me and I will beat her every morning 

Photo: www.realsimple.com

Monday, December 8, 2008

Your night/my night

I envy you your sleep smooth and innocent your breath heavy your legs jerking as you dream you play soccer my nights gutted hollowed out at best short spurts of me nodding off scattered jumps in the dark short ragged episodes of different nightmares that flap like a torn up flag eight hours marked by the rhythm of your sweet deep sighs your reassuring light satisfied snores I wake up worn down worn out to see you stretch to hear you say with swollen sleepy eyes you don’t think you rested all that well

Photo: sos.noaa.gov

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A rest

I sit alone on the sofa in my living room hear the clock tick tick tick the refrigerator humm mmm mmm the furnace switch on and off on and off children playing somewhere outside I am not reading or writing or looking at email or watching TV or talking on the phone or flipping through a magazine or eating a snack or drinking tea just sitting here alone in the sofa in my living room hearing the clock tick tick tick

Photo: potterybarn.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Without me

I have trouble conceiving people’s otherness that they have lives outside of what I see do the walls of my mother’s library her books exist even if I’m miles away my father’s garden his big dining room table is it really there right now even if I’m not this is an updated version of my teacher not possibly persisting outside of the class not related to my ego being so big that it cannot imagine things beyond my own existence but rather a crack in my ability to perceive 

Photo: Potterybarn.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not poetry

Loose sentences no punctuation solid thought dust does not constitute poetry a poet has a serious job reports on the blue cup she uses at breakfast the old copper coin she finds in the grass the flower that grows right through the pavement the silver spoon with the delicate white handle the bruised pear in the fruit bowl the key once essential that no longer opens anything how a stranger looks from behind and from a distance this is just debris

Photo: www.edibleportland.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Philosophy

I've decided to pretend I have a bungee cord tied to my waist. This makes the prospect of long, scary falls sound thrilling instead of terrifying. (Economy going down the drain? I could lose my job? Weeeee!) It also reminds me of the ability we all have hidden within to bounce right back up after a calamity.

It takes just as much effort to feign invincibility than it does to fret about things that may never happen, and it at least makes the process akin to an adventure, instead of filling me with dread.

(By the way, I'm not worried about my job. It was just an example.)

Photo: www.asia.ru

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who?


Take it from me it is possible to forget your own language the most basic words possible to forget your face to be startled by a delayed recognition of her reflection on a window who is it then who is doing all this forgetting and how will she a few years from now manage to locate herself in the world


Image: www.nationsonline.org

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Who knew?

I’d like to share with you my recent communication with Starbucks – I’m very interested in your opinion once you read my letter to them and their response, both printed below.

It was my brother Pedro who alerted me to this situation.

Dear Starbucks,

I read with tremendous concern the controversy surrounding your excessive water use in the British daily The Sun published this past October 6.

(http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1771553.ece).

Rather than believing what I read in the paper, I want to ask you directly if it's true that it's corporate policy to keep the tap open with the water running.

The global water expenditure of such a policy is estimated at 23.4 million liters of water a day. Millions of families in the world survive with less than 20 liters a day.

If this is true, you could fill an Olympic swimming pool with clean, potable water every 83 minutes. 

Surely you can keep utensils clean with less water than this.

If all these allegations are true, please promise me, an avid Starbucks user, that you will abandon the corporate policy I am referring to in every Starbucks in the world, not just in the UK.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dushka Zapata

Hello Dushka,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company. We appreciate your writing to us with your concerns about the amount of water used in our stores by the dipper well system. 

We recognize that the amount of water used by the dipper well system is unacceptable and we have been working since 2007 to find a solution that balances the urgent need for water conservation with the critical need for customer safety. Recently, our customers have urged us to expedite this process. This feedback has prompted us to redouble our efforts to find an alternative method and we are committed to finding a safe alternative to the dipper well for all our markets worldwide. 

As a result, we are launching additional and expanded tests in markets around the globe. Over the coming weeks, tests will take place in the U.S., the U.K., China, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand with the goal of identifying and implementing a global solution that is proven safe for our customers, complies with regulations and effective at conserving water.

Single Use Spoon Test- Starbucks locations in China, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia will begin (or have been) testing a single use spoon procedure as an alternative to the dipper well system. This procedure involves using a spoon once and setting it aside for later cleaning and sanitation during dish washing.

Verisimo Rinse Test- Effective Friday, October 10, Starbucks locations in UK will be testing a hot rinse procedure as an alternative to the dipper well system. This procedure involves using a spoon once and rinsing it with hot water immediately after use.

U.S. Tests- Effective Tuesday, October 14, Starbucks locations in the U.S. will be testing several alternatives to the dipper well system, including the self-draining container procedure, which involves intermittent rinsing of spoons after use and then storing them in a draining container and sanitizing; and the dedicated spoon procedure, where spoons stay in the pitcher of just hot milk or soy, and are rinsed and sanitized in the same way as our pitchers.

 Each of these tests has the potential to reduce our overall water use associated with dipperwells while maintaining our standards for customer safety. We are committed to phasing in new practices as they are proven safe and effective and hope to do so in the very near term.

We do place a high priority on water conservation, and you may be interested to know that we actually have several other ways that we are currently conserving water in our stores, including:

Installing high-pressure and temperature dishwashers to clean dishes quickly; Installing aerating spray nozzles in our sinks that reduce water consumption; Using rinsers with blasts of higher pressure water to clean pitchers instead of a long, constant stream from the tap; Reprogramming espresso machines to dispense less water during each rinse cycle of the shot glasses; and Testing in stores to evaluate the latest technologies designed to reduce energy and water use.

We continue to routinely re-evaluate our equipment, store design and training opportunities to reduce our overall water use with the goal of ultimately reducing our environmental footprint. In fact, our overall water use per square foot decreased this year.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your comments and thank you for being a customer. If you have any further comments please email us email us via www.starbucks.com/customer/contact.asp or call (800) 23-LATTE (52883) to speak with a customer relations representative.

Warm Regards,

Starbucks Coffee Company

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not me

I’ve heard this so many times people who have been together for years for decades one day you turn and see him a glance the light a washed out profile and you wonder who he is

but you You I always know have never felt I don’t know who you are I am instead surprised that after looking at you for this long I still feel I never want to look away

 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Don't go

I know what you think settled happy lucky I can’t deny it so lucky but the emptiness it’s still here I’m scrambling bewildered at least once an hour unrecognizable to myself old strong precious some day obliterated gone without a trace too much suffocates me not enough never enough a perpetual desperate search for my better self

I don’t know how to keep her here


Photo: www.realsimple.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eudaimonia

Ever so often I am overwhelmed by a feeling of well being.

And then I wonder if “well being” does a good job describing it.

It’s not a rush, like joy or enthusiasm (which fortunately I’m also prone to). It’s softer and fuller. Should I call it “Wellness”? Nah. Too clinical. This is more akin to fulfillment, to (dare I say it?) happiness.

Maybe it just needs a bit of Italian flair. Benessere.

Or, Greek. Eudaimonia.

Anyhow, the point is that, regrettably, I’ve come to discover that it’s not a feeling I can chase.  It has to come on its own. I can’t find it in good meals, in conversations with friends or the company of people I love. It’s not in a spa, even if the massage was a particularly good one. It doesn’t present itself when I buy new shoes, or finalize a good document. It doesn’t hold hands with the (delightful) sense of a job well done. It’s unpredictable. It always surprises me.

It presents itself quietly, say, when I travel and am surrounded by unfamiliar sights, smells, sounds. But it doesn’t come on every trip. It arrives when I’m sitting somewhere, not making an effort to do three things at once. When I’m just taking the world in. But if I tell myself to focus on staying in the present and just enjoying the moment for what it is, it evades me.

Is this what happiness is? An elusive, ephemeral tease of a feeling that you can’t consciously go after? It might be my inalienable right to pursue it, but if I do, I might miss it entirely.


Photo: woodgroove.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't ask

Here is a short list of questions you should refrain from asking:

Why are you still single?
When are you two getting married?
When are you having kids?
Is your child adopted?
Are you pregnant?
Does this make me look fat?
Did you have a rough night?
How can I ban a book?

Let me know if you have others for my "don't ask" collection.

Photo: www.dailygalaxy.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No way out

Two weeks ago I wrote about a television show called The Wire. When I posted that entry, I was still in the middle of season 3. Season 4, which I hadn’t seen, is about education, and I’m so affected by what I’ve learned that I have to write about this program again. I’ll keep it short.

Education is the one thing – maybe the only thing – that offers a glimmer of a way out of a near impossible to break vicious circle of poverty, crime, drugs and ending up in jail or shot on a corner.  This makes education (at least in my book) the number one priority. Despite of which our education system, here, in the most powerful country in the world, is failing all of us.

The “No Child Left Behind” initiative gives kids a free pass, “allowing” them to be in a class that corresponds to their age, not their level – which means they will always be too far behind to ever catch up. It forces teachers to give a passing grade to students who don’t know how to read, which not only means the child is forever lost in class, at best bored, at worse humiliated, with an ever diminishing sense of self worth; but that said child also slows up the lesson for everyone else. It forces teachers to impart to students specific answers to tests, rather than whole lessons, to ensure kids get a passing grade. This is done to improve statistics, to back up the claim our system is improving. Did you know this? Is this common knowledge? 

Coincidentally, in the middle of my watching eye opening, enraging, hopelessness inducing season 4, David Simon, the creator of this show, gave a talk at Berkley. I couldn’t attend, but thanks to my friend Analisa I did see the webcast, which you too can watch at:

http://townsendcenter.berkeley.edu/webcast_Simon.shtml

David Simon explains that corruption is not just government officials looking to line their own pockets, but people everywhere who look for ways to make someone else responsible. “This horrible mess here is not really my fault, because…”

I don’t know just how much the structures and institutions that supposedly bind this country can hold while we (and I mean I) contribute to the mess by looking the other way.

Photo: www.thewire.com

 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Some day you'll understand

One of Luca’s oldest friends came to spend some time with us in California. He and his three children, ages 8, 11 and 14, stayed at our house for a few days. It was a fascinating experience, sociologically speaking.

When I was a kid I solemnly swore I’d never, ever be like a grown up. I wrote this sacred vow across the top page of my diary. In fact, the diary itself was meant as a reminder to a future me; inoculation against whatever it was that possessed adults, causing them to forget all that was important.

It took me 12 seconds flat to turn into my parents.

I put these kids on a regimented schedule so I could holler “Time for breakfast! Time for a bath! Bed time!” and, my personal favorite “No, not in two minutes. Now!”

I said “shhhh!” a lot. I made them eat their fruit and vegetables before they could open bags of chips or eat cookies. To their whiny “but, whyyy?” I’d quickly retort “because I say so”.

In my defense, kids are noisy. They yell, opine, scream, complain, bang, weigh in, listen to (atrocious) music, and thump around like elephants.

They are chaotic. They each have different requirements and demands (Hot milk. Cold milk. Strawberry cereal. Banana without the mushy part. Can I please have some conditioner? My hair is all tangly!)

They are crazy expensive. They are perpetually thirsty, hungry and needy. I usually shop for two people who don’t eat a whole lot. We struggle to finish a liter of milk in a week. With three kids in the house (and an extra adult), I bought milk by the gallon. They went through a dozen bananas a day. Boxes of cereal. One day, I made chocolate chip cookies (big hit) and they were gone before the cookie sheet had a chance to cool off. I’m just glad they left before I needed to start worrying about cars, college educations and weddings.

Kids are messy (and smelly). The youngest one had the habit of walking around the house while dragging her sticky hands across the wall (which I hereby swear didn’t made me cringe – I was more amused than disturbed.) A straw was inserted somewhat heartily into the apple juice, sending apple juice squirting all over (easy to wipe) counters, floors and chairs. Their shoes smell of feet (and so did the entrance to the house, since everyone left shoes there.)

These creatures. Never. Get. Tired. After taking in their energy and bounciness I determined that the best course of action was to take them outside. We went to the beach. Played basketball. Went for a hike. Walked the dog. Had a picnic. Went bowling. They were still bouncy on the way back home. And woke up the next morning hungry again, bouncy again, needy again. As Joan Cusack so eloquently put it: “The thing about kids is that they just keep coming at you.”

I was very happy to share my time and space with these amazing characters, but was equally happy to supervise their packing and departure. Now excuse me while I go for a long walk. Alone.

Photo: me on a long walk, alone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Wire

This post is not going to be about Sarah Palin. I'm tired of reading about her. I mean, you've got to be kidding me.

I will instead tell you about The Wire, my most recent television related obsession (It's not airing anymore but you can get it on Netflix.)

The show creator, executive producer and head writer is David Simon. He lives in Baltimore (where the show is set) and specializes in criminal justice and urban issues. He worked as a police reporter at the Baltimore Sun.

Part of the beauty of this show is that it reveals things you thought you already knew and understood (but really didn't.) Such as how heartbreakingly slim opportunity really is when you grow up in the projects. (I am not claiming I now understand. Just that I've seen a glimpse of it.)

It's fascinating too because of its deliberate ethical murkiness. With a corrupt, bureaucratic police force, paralyzingly dysfunctional institutions and drug lords with a conscience, there is no clear right or wrong, good guy or bad guy. Everyone in the show is so irresistibly defective. Say what you want about virtue, but it's our flaws that make us who we are.

One of my favorite characters is Kima because she has learned to operate within a losing proposition of a system with strength and dignity, and manages to not lose sight about what her job is really about - to the extent she's willing to take a bullet for it.

I can't help but admire the rules and values the "bad guys" live by. How they look out for each other. How, functioning within tremendous limitations like poverty and ignorance, they manage to run an organized, cohesive operation anyone in the corporate world would admire.

I like Wee Bay because he's loyal and doesn't mind being in the line of fire (I mean that literally.) Deep down, don't we all want someone who'd kill for us?

If I was a woman living inside The Wire I'd fall in love with Lester because I like his perspective of the world and the fact that he's such a gentleman.

Stringer is the character that most dangerously walks the ethical line. While I'm horrified with him and his choices, I often grudgingly nod at the reasoning behind them. (He's good looking too. Lock up your wives.)

I think Mcnulty is a self destructive, egomaniacal train wreck. If I knew him in person I'd make an effort to stay as far away as possible. As the show evolves, so does my distaste for him. Since when does being good at what you do exempt you from the laws that apply to the rest of the world?

I'm fascinated by Bubbs (the snitch/addict) because I've always felt contempt for snitches and yet I think he's such a sweetie. We are nothing if not contradictions. The fact that we are strong doesn't mean we are not weak. We can be resourceful and brave and such cowards. The only thing stronger than his gift for survival is his penchant for self-destruction.

I could go on for pages about these people who inhabit my life for an hour a day. Omar and the scars that run across him. Avon, who I think gets it all wrong but might be the only one who gets it right. Daniels, who tries to be good and yet is stuck in a room without light. But the real star of the show is the expressive, foul, incredibly imaginative vocabulary the characters use. I genuinely worry that the language I hear on this show will seep into my subconscious and slip out during a client meeting.

If shows involving crime, race, violence, drugs and a consistent, complete disrespect for women don't normally attract you, just give it three episodes. After that, trust me. You're going to get got.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mori Point

This past weekend we discovered an incredible new place to go hiking (well, new for us), called Mori Point. It's a relatively recent addition to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. What makes me use the word "incredible" (besides the grassy trails, windswept bluffs and beaches and sweeping coastal views from Point Reyes to Pedro Point) is that it's a 10 to 15 minute drive from where we have been living for more than eight years, and we had no idea it was there.

After visiting, we learned that "the effort to preserve Mori Point is the story of community involvement and determination. For nearly two decades, various development proposals for the area were successfully opposed by Pacifica residents and environmental organizations. Instead of a condominium, a hotel, a convention center, or a casino, the site is instead home to red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes."

Other old, new and future discoveries in or around Pacifica:

Old: The Shelldance Orchid Gardens that sell thousands of rare orchids directly from their greenhouse perched up on the hills.

New: A great new restaurant (again, new for us) called Nona's kitchen - 8 minutes away from our house! We hadn't seen it because it's hiding away in a strip mall, next to a gothic logo surfer shop called NorCal Surf Shop. I had a great "kitchen sink" salad with vegetables, blue cheese, tomatoes and fresh corn.

Future: A just opened Pakistani restaurant right on Highway 1 (I haven't tried it, but stay tuned).

Pacifica! Who knew?


Photo: www.pacificalandtrust.org

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I wouldn't change a thing

Most of what I do is in some way related to my work. (By way of example, I'm married to a guy I've worked with for ten years).

This is why I make an effort to keep work completely separate from this blog: it's my non-work related space.

Today I want to make an exception to this rule to say I love what I do. Most of the time, maybe 85% of it, I can't believe I actually get paid to do it. (The other 15% I have deep, existential conversations with myself along the lines of "what exactly was I put on Earth to do?")

To put it another way, if I won the lottery I would still show up at the office every day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm here!

One of our closest friends was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She is young and gorgeous, a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, friend and one of the best hosts I've ever met - you should be lucky enough to be invited to her house for dinner!

The news affected us deeply for all the reasons you would expect, compounded by the fact that she is an ocean away.

Our first reaction was to go out and buy some books we felt she and her family might find useful. As a result, I’ve been reading “Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips” by Kris Carr. It’s such a treasure - joyful and inspiring and visual. It looks like someone’s journal (well, someone brilliant and very creative.) It includes many invaluable tips (from the importance of decorating the hospital room with things you love, to always getting multiple medical opinions, to finding yourself a patient advocate to help you navigate through doctors, treatments, medical insurance, etc.).

A few pages into it, it occurred to me that I (and everyone I know) should be following the advice in this book, with or without cancer.

It's not just that we could all use a support group or the creation of a sacred place or that we should be making lists of things we want to do before we die. It's that the minutia of our day blurs what we all know to be true. So here is a reminder: life is precarious and precious. We should be celebrating it more often.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ew

I never travel without disinfecting wipes.

After walking in my socks across the filthy floor of the airport security line, I wipe the soles of my feet before putting my shoes back on.

On the plane, I wipe the arm rests, the tray table, and any other place frequently touched by gross, dirty fingers – remember, among other things I’d rather not mention here, people cough and sneeze into their hands - such as the seatbelt, the headrest, the buttons that control the flight entertainment, the one you press to push the seat back, the window and the wall around it, where I am likely to rest my head (which, truth be told, I’ve grown quite fond of.)

In the rental car, I wipe the steering wheel, the keys and the stick shift.

In the hotel room, I wipe all the phones (think how your sweet lips press gently against the same spot hundreds of other saliva laden lips have brushed against in the past few days.) Then, I wipe the door handles, the light switches, the remote control and the toilet handle.

I’m sure that the cleaning service of your hotel of choice changes the sheets and towels (or, am I?). But do you think the remote control ever gets a cleaning, the mouthpiece of the phone people drool into when they respond to their wake up calls before their teeth have been brushed?

(While I’m on the subject of hotel rooms, if the window doesn’t open, I sit down on the bed, take short, deep breaths, and try not to think about it. I’ll save the matter of circulated air for another entry.)

I’m convinced this wiping habit has prevented me from catching many a cold, and who knows how many other nasty, germy bugs I’d rather not dwell on.

Your turn. What won’t you travel without?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Used bookstores

I love used bookstores. I love that they are so down to earth and un-glitzy. I love that there are piles of books in corners and under chairs, that the attention is on the story line more than on the story line being in hard cover. I love that typically the people who work there have read most of what they are selling and offer running commentary on things I've chosen as they ring them up.

I love the inherent thrill of the treasure hunter, the sense of adventure in finding a book you're interested in reading. Anyone can just order something - it takes patience to find what you want in a bookstore that can never be considered completely organized or fully stocked.

I like the illusion of virtue in making a contribution to putting something back into the world. A book I buy there is not being wasted, is not sitting on a shelf somewhere, stagnant, cast aside. Its life is a kinetic journey that I'm a part of.

And, used books are such a steal. A used book in excellent condition is at the very least half the price of a nearly identical new one. I read a lot so it's good to find a cheaper way to finance my number one habit (OK, number two after making sure all doors are locked.)

I took a photo of the actual stack of books I found and bought during our last road trip (above). If you see something you like and can wait until I finish it, I’m happy to let you have it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Road Trip

I’m about to conclude my first road trip in years. I was yearning for a vacation that didn’t require standing barefoot in a crowded security line, so we decided it was time to see North California and Southern Oregon.

Road trips are my new thing.

First of all, you have a suitcase the size of…well, the trunk of your car. You are free to take with you all kinds of things you might not consider when traveling by plane (such as walking sticks, extra hiking shoes and more books than you could possibly read in a week.)

You also get to pack a big canvas tote just for the back seat. With maps, snacks, water bottles, flip flops and a tower of CD’s.

The trip becomes about the trip, not about getting there (in fact, if you never get there, that’s OK.) You can stop whenever you want. Drive for as long as you want. Listen to music you didn’t know you owned and talk to your favorite person without having to rush, summarize or even get to the point. (OK. Your favorite person might appreciate if you do some day get to the point – but it can take you several days.) You can sit in silence as you drive through the Avenue of the Giants (that would be Coastal Redwoods.)

You can explore rural America, buy fruit off fruit stands on the side of the road, spend oodles of time in used bookstores. You can walk up and down several Main Streets in a single day. If you want, in very hushed tones lest someone think you a show off, you can congratulate yourself on your incredibly good eye for really delicious places to eat.

You can make your trip as varied as you want, and in the same week visit several state parks (such as Humbolt), a Victorian Mansion (in Ferndale), a teeny coastal town (Trinidad). You can stay in a cabin in the middle of the woods in Port Ortford, hike in Cape Blanco, and then drive all the way to the jaw dropping, eye popping sight of Crater Lake (which really is as blue as the photo you see above). You can spend half a day in a restored Western town looking at jewelry made with old silverware (Jacksonville). Top it off by catching a play in Ashland, famous for it’s nine month Shakespeare Festival.

At the end of it all, of course, you’re equally free to bring back whatever you want, even if it’s heavy (such as petrified wood specimens, an Ammonite fossil and a bag of really good books you bought for three dollars each.)

Which leaves you with just one question: are we leaving yet?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hard to believe

Driving back from work there is a dangerous curve and then the wide expanse of a glittering Pacific Ocean that fills my field of vision reminds me 

I still find difficult to conceive horrible things can happen on exquisitely beautiful days


Photo: Real Simple photo gallery

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cog

I worry about my intentions being misunderstood about the inevitable distance between me and my future niece about the stale friendship that sits at the bottom of a chipped white cup about the rusted downspout that runs down the length of my house but I am a part of the action a participant alive


Photo: Wikipedia

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Inconclusive

I wonder at the very end what will remain if my husband or a family member or my work or a friend or my house or a book or a recipe or what I haven’t done but that I plan to do or someone I haven’t even met I wonder how the sentence I will use for consolation will conclude because at the very least no matter what I will still have my __


Photo: Real Simple

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How I know I love you

It’s not that I would follow you anywhere or that you are what I measure truth against not that I see what’s in your heart not that I blindly believe in you it’s that every time I am given something good to eat I know I will give you the best piece


Photo: Real Simple

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Inside

Inside my head there is dialogue constant dialogue discourse debate disagreement a promise a deal a sacred pact true my reality outside it’s all a movie a plot complex characters that unfold for months for years twists in the story good screenwriting definitely entertaining occasionally even engrossing but never real enough

Friday, May 30, 2008

Unstuck

Have you ever felt…stuck? Stuck. Frustrated by the same things. Annoyed that what annoys you is starting to both annoy and bore you. Feeling that what you want is so close, and yet not. No, wait. You don’t even know what you want. So how can you know it’s close?

Meaning to mean something and hearing with horror as the words from your mouth come out differently than you intended. The intention, twisting, spinning round and round as you see it going…down the drain. Of course you need to do something differently. But, what?

And then, suddenly, inexplicably, you’re unstuck. You speak, unsure of what to say, and watch in awe how it comes out…right. Things you used to swim against the current for drop. On your lap. Free. Your lost friend calls you. Your business prospers. What used to matter doesn’t. Really. You suddenly – oh! - understand.

I’m not sure what causes the change. I think it’s a current, an invisible current that we have no control over (although we like to think we do) that runs through everything. When it switches direction you marvel at the consequences it leaves in its wake.

Or maybe it’s that life is like a kaleidoscope. You look through the eyehole, rotate it ever so slightly, less than a fraction of a millimeter, to find the picture has changed, the prisms, the colors, everything has shifted, and the world looks better now.

Photo: bindweed.com

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why

An orquestra from inside the orquestra me conducting a priceless violin a lot of work a vacation on a beach the unexpectedly loud sound of waves beating against rocks the fact that I started reading again a lot four books a week discovering a new favorite author losing something I had found finding something I had lost learning remembering how much I love to learn so hungry for learning having many questions without answers watching one of my favorite movies ever needing to look inside to listen to myself not knowing what to pick having too much to say nothing to say nothing to add feeling kind of blah and then feeling motivation new fresh knowing you misplace people along the way but feeling regret despite the knowing wondering if it’s just a scrape or a deeper crack something irreparable watching things unfold hurting someone I really didn’t mean to hurt recovering an incredible stroke of luck a fantastic restaurant salsa negra feeling like it doesn’t matter it never mattered

Just a few of the reasons I haven’t written

Photo: Wikipedia

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Without me

I'm out of town this week, and my husband is at home without me.

Luca, who likes coffee but drinks tea, who sleeps on his left side, who likes black beans but not peas, who yodels when I make eggs for breakfast, who loves Springsteen but not Bocelli, whom I love with the unvarying strength of the summer sun, will be home alone.

I predict he'll eat well under the minimum daily requirement of vegetables and more pizza than anyone would recommend. He will watch so much calcio his brain might ooze out of his ears. He'll listen to a constant stream of music, as I suspect he's not too fond of silence.

I will come home to a relatively organized house but a really messy home office, papers strewn everywhere. And piles of smelly laundry. He'll forget to water the yard.

I wonder if he'll feel the weight of the spaces I leave empty. If he'll come home and shout a greeting despite knowing there is no one there, like I do. If he'll stick to his side of the bed or stretch out. (He'll use all the pillows. That's for sure.) If he'll prefer to read than to watch television (I guess it depends on the sports programming.)

He'll finish his big fat book and I won't be there to witness him proving me wrong (I told him it would take him a year to finish it.) He'll use my bathroom to shower, but his body wash, because he refuses beauty products that are not specifically designed for the male species. He'll forget where he left things, like his slippers, and he'll wish that I was around to tell him where they are. (Hmmm. I should have hid them.)

He might secretly enjoy looking at his computer screen for 18 hours straight, free of interruptions. Finish the ice cream. Leave things that belong in the fridge out on the kitchen counter. Refuse to unload the dishwasher.

I hope he misses me, but I hope he doesn't get lonely. I hope he discovers what a pleasure his company is. I think so, anyway.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Whole



I woke up this morning
I could barely breathe

Just an empty impression
In the bed where you used to be

I want a kiss from your lips

I want an eye for an eye

I woke up this morning
To an empty sky


"Lonely" is not the word I would choose to describe how I feel when Luca is away. It's more caustic than that. It's a gnawing, a crawling, a primal contraction, unclassifiable. It's closer to fear than to isolation.

It was on Luca's latest business trip that I finally realized this sentiment is ridiculous. Not because I love him any less (never) but because love demands that you be better for it. But it’s hard to shoot for personal improvement when you are focused on trying to breathe.

So I went back to the most basic truth: for all my shortcomings (higher than average), I was created whole. Nobody's absence can possibly render me incomplete.

My life is enriched by the fact that I share it with Luca but on my deathbed I would regret the waste of wanting to skip the parts where he is not with me.

So he went to Australia, and I stayed behind. I rediscovered how much I like being alone. I enjoyed the silence, beauty and symmetric order of my house. I slept in the middle of the bed, diagonally. (Eureka - the antidote for imprints left on mattresses). I went on long hikes, read far into the night, discovered a spellbinding new author (and bookmooched all her work after reading that brilliant first one), went to lunch and coffee and visits with friends I hadn't seen (one in eleven months), attended a cozy housewarming/birthday party, bought flowers and plants for my yard and cooked elaborate meals for myself. I'd never bothered to cook for one, but, you know what? I'd be hard pressed to find a more appreciative audience.

This might be nothing to you, but when I woke up on Sunday morning and lay still to feel the cadence of my heartbeats and knew I had a beautiful day stretched out before me, I wanted to tell Bruce Springsteen that my sky is blue and crisp and anything but empty.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Drunk under the lamppost

My friend Nikhil recently told me the following joke:

A drunk loses the keys to his house and is looking for them under a lamppost. A policeman comes over and asks what he’s doing.

“I’m looking for my keys” he says. “I lost them over there”.

The policeman looks puzzled. “Then why are you looking for them all the way over here?”

“Because the light is so much better”.

We all look for things where the light is better, rather than where we’re more likely to find them. In words of Anais Nin, “we don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are”.

If this is true - and, who am I kidding? of course it is - I worry that we all stagger around, destined to be misunderstood. Or, worse. We’re all methodically, apocalyptically misunderstood, and it’s too dark to notice.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The instant karma of bookmooching


Bookmooch is a simple to use book swapping site. You register and give away books and in exchange mooch books from other people. You only pay for the price of shipping a book when you send one, which is how you collect points. In this way, receiving a book you’ve chosen is free.

I’ve commented before that books deserve a better life than to live on a cold shelf. Most of us read a book once, and then abandon it. In this way, a book fulfills its destiny: it’s held, appreciated and read by one, then passed on to be held and read again, indefinitely.

Sharing books also saves resources. Why buy a new book when what you want is lying around somewhere, unused?

I can’t promise I’ll never visit another bookstore, but I’ll definitely go less often now that I can mooch.

Friday, April 4, 2008

It's not about the wait

There is this balding, red haired guy in a building that I frequent. He's short and has a potbelly, red, wind burned cheeks and bloodshot eyes. He's missing a few teeth and usually has a two-day beard and a wrinkled uniform.

He's the guard on duty in the morning, and likes to stand with his hands behind his back against the elevator button. As I rush in, I can't push it at will. I have to wait instead until he decides to summon the elevator for me.

If, as I enter the lobby, one of the doors is closing, my impulse is to rush to push the button and stop the elevator, but, (you guessed it) with his body as an obstacle, my reflex must be suppressed. I have to stand there while he lets the car in question go, waits a couple of beats and then invisibly, so that I can’t be sure if he's done it at all, calls the next one.

I know what you're thinking, and I've openly admitted that patience is not one of my strongest characteristics. But this has only a little bit to do with the wait. This man relishes the fact that he alone dictates the rhythm of the people who venture into his territory.

We all trot in, clueless, out of breath, holding our briefcases and gym bags, balancing coffee cups and Blackberries, phones and Bluetooth headsets, and as he stops us in our tracks I turn and catch in that sad, haggard face an oh-so-slight lilt in the corner of his mouth, the faintest hint of a smile.

Photo from www.industry.org.il

Friday, March 28, 2008

What I should do

I live in a constant, heated battle between what I fall into doing and what I think I should do, which doesn't get done even when what I think I should do is something I like.

I'll illustrate my point with a series of examples organized chronologically.

I should get up early every day, even on weekends. Instead, I hit the snooze button during the week and on weekends I wake up early and invariably go back to sleep, even as I think get up get up get up you'd have more weekend time if you started your day now.

I should eat only extremely, supremely good-for-me food because I like how it makes me feel (not just healthy, but virtuous), but drinking coffee, having sugary, crispy things and white flour is...well, I don't have to tell you what it is.

I should take a multivitamin but I only manage to do so two times a week, despite the fact the big bottle sits between me and my computer at work (meaning, I stare at it about 9 hours a day.)

I should take better care of myself now that I'm pushing 40. Regular facials and visits to the salon. But, there are so many other things I'd rather do with my time (and my money). I suspect that when I'm old I'll be well traveled and wrinkly.

I should be better about updating my wardrobe, knowing what looks good on me, and using make-up. My younger sister even knows how to make purple eye shadow look totally cool.

I should be more patient. It's just that I'm surrounded by completely exasperating situations. You try calling United.

I should exercise every day. Not only that, but do a variety of exercise, such as aerobic, weights and stretching. I'm doing pretty well on the aerobic part but I usually only manage to do weights twice a week because I don't like to exercise indoors. And, for some reason I can't even come close to understanding in myself, I never stretch, even though I find it delicious. Ever.

I should have less stuff. I'm clutterphobic.

I should worry less. It's not like it's effective in warding off what I worry about. (...Or is it?)

I should write in my blog like Miguel does. Frequently, generously, outpouringly. I manage a pretty consistent entry a week but I wish I was more like my prolific friend.

I should read more - which I definitely love -and watch less TV. In fact, I should read the classics. But TV is so darn entertaining, particularly when I'm watching it with all the things listed above that I shouldn't be eating. American Idol and ice cream, anyone?

Friday, March 21, 2008

La Nonna Pina

My husband’s grandmother is 98 years old. She says she doesn’t know “why God has kept her here for so long”. She’s tired of living. She’s outlived so many people she loved, in particular her husband Carlo, Luca’s grandfather, who died 15 years ago.

As luck would have it, she’s healthy as a horse. She’s rail thin. She never gets sick. She lives alone in an apartment one floor below Luca’s parents, keeps it clean and organized, cooks for herself and walks to the grocery store and the hairdresser.

She’s proud, independent, rigid, frugal, an introvert, set in her ways. She spends most of the day in her apartment, refusing to “invade” her son’s life. She usually eats by herself, despite daily invitations, and was often found sitting in a chair with her arms folded on her lap, looking out the window.

It wasn’t until recently that she began to concern Luca’s parents. She’d leave the house and forget why she had done so. She’d show signs of not remembering recent conversations. (Both symptoms I frequently experience, but I’ll stick to the original subject.)

They began to worry that they couldn’t risk leaving her alone. What if she left the stove on? What if she went somewhere and forgot how to get back? A visit to the doctor revealed initial signs of senile dementia, which, although normal for her age, placed an enormous burden on her caretakers.

Luca’s parents decided to hire someone who could stay with her a couple of times a week, to give them some freedom and less cause for apprehension. She was furious. She said she preferred to go to a home rather than have someone in her house. At first, this was received with horror and guilt, but gradually it was decided that this was indeed what needed to happen. The event was so traumatic that Luca flew to Italy for two days to lend an ear.

A home was found outside Milan where she’d have a beautiful room with high ceilings and a view of the park. When the day arrived that they had to pack her things and drop her off they were sad, anxious and wracked with guilt. Stories abound about how these homes are where people leave their family members to die.

Instead, Luca’s grandmother took to it like a fish to water. On her first morning, upon waking up, she took a fitness class. She now shares meals with people who are much younger than her (80), watches movies, plays bingo – a far cry from sitting on a chair and looking out into empty space, waiting for death to finally arrive. She goes to the chapel, and then takes tea every day at 5:00 p.m.

Luca’s parents drop by twice a week, and have reported she has put on a couple of pounds. On their last visit, they noticed she was tan – she had spent the day in the park with her new friends.

I know she speaks with Carlo every day. I know he hides in the shadows where only she can see him, and that she yearns to be with him again. I know too he is happier now that time will go much faster for both of them.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Whispers

In my (inexpert) opinion, there are two types of archeological sites. The first one is rigid, monumental, imposing, interesting, reconstructed. It’s become a contemporary statement of a past civilization, largely zapped of its whispers. Chichen Itza, gorgeous, grand, trampled, is a good illustration of this, my first category.

The second is crumbling piles of rocks under dense vegetation. Due to a perpetual lack of government funds, reconstruction is minimal, so that it still stands, but barely, a defiant example of time’s utter lack of mercy.

Tall trees grow on the pyramids, the tangle of centenary roots proof that the elements that destroy a structure are often also what hold it together.

During a visit, as you scramble up hundreds of steps, you silently refute the guide’s explanations because you have your own secret hypothesis of what that room was once used for.

In this second category, you feel a gust of fresh breeze on a hot, humid day and hear, beneath the rustling of leaves, the faint echo of footsteps, the unintelligible whispers of former inhabitants.

Campeche is, inexplicably, the least visited of the Yucatan states. Among other things (fantastic food, lovely people and a town so beautiful it’s considered a World Heritage Site), it holds perhaps hundreds of Maya ruins that belong squarely in my second category, which Luca and I explored in utter, complete, absolute solitude.

Calakmul, the largest of the sites (a 72 square km expanse that has been minimally restored due to ecological regulations), is found a few miles into Mexico’s largest biosphere reserve, in the middle of the low jungle.

Maybe you can go visit one day, and hear for yourself the whispers I speak of. With any luck, you'll make out the words and come back and tell me what they are saying.


Photo by Luca
Calakmul

Saturday, March 8, 2008

10 things always in my to-do list

Do laundry

Iron

Straighten house

Water plants

Write a blog entry

Go to the supermarket

Cook something with all the food acquired in supermarket

Call my parents

Call a friend I haven't spoken to in a while

Remind myself that just because I spend all day with Luca doesn't mean we've connected


Photo: Real Simple
OK. I'll diversify.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

10 things I'd love to do for a living

Writer

Teacher

Interior designer

Painter (if I could paint)

Singer (if I could sing)

Architect (but I flunked the only subject that ever came close)

Dog walker (I’d walk one at a time)

Coach (if anyone would listen)

Doctor (if I wasn't squirmish)

Anything that requires having a loudspeaker in my hand and a whistle around my neck


Photo: Real Simple

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ten

My sister invited me to do two things.

1. Visit a fabulous blog made entirely by entries that list ten things (ten things the author of the page has in her refrigerator, ten things she’d love to receive as gifts, etc.)

2. Make my own list of ten things.

If you know me at all, you know list making is a delicious, irresistible compulsion of mine, so I headily accept.

In turn, I invite you to make your own list of ten things. You can either do so in the comment section below, or in your own blog (and then send me the link.)

And now for the first of a total of three lists of ten things.


10 random things I remember from when I was very little

1. My red velvet dress

2. The risers of the stairs at the house in Las Flores, which were at eye level as I crawled up

3. Making bread with my mom, or squishing the flour between my fingers (and toes) while my mom made bread

4. The “I think mice are very nice” poem I learned in first grade

5. Seeing my father's house for the first time

6. Waiting for my mom's husband to come home (he always got me something enrapturing)

7. Beads, shiny things, and the smell of oil paint and thinner

8. Going to the toy store every Sunday to pick whatever I wanted (but only one thing)

9. Swimming in the Pacific Ocean in Puerto Vallarta, which forever hooked me on the Pacific Ocean

10. The Auch Arauch song (which involved walking barefoot in our pajamas over a cobblestone street)


Photo: Real Simple

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fight, flight, fright

This past Thursday, I had a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles at 5:00 in the afternoon, scheduled for arrival at 6:00. Due to a cancellation and seven subsequent delays I didn't get to my hotel in the City of Angels until 1:30 a.m.

Little did I know that would be the easy leg of my brief journey to Southern California.

My trip back from Los Angeles to San Francisco early Saturday morning was delayed more than two hours. Once over San Francisco, the pilot tried for 45 minutes to land in what he called "severe turbulence." But turbulence is bumpy, jolty, jumpy. This was a skidding, sliding, whooshing, out of control sense that the plane was a matchbox in the hands of a storm, not a solid jet in the hands of a person.

During this time, people were screaming, crying, praying and throwing up. I was sitting in an aisle, and in the window seat was Alex, an 11-year-old boy traveling alone (with his family several rows behind.) The woman in the middle row was sobbing and vomiting, and I was giving her wet wipes and airsickness bags and asking Alex if his seat belt was on tight and if he was OK. I’m so grateful he was there. If I hadn’t been so intent on not scaring him, I would have been crying too. I thought I was going to die in the frigid, grey waters of the San Francisco Bay with Luca an ocean away; just a week short of visiting my family in Mexico.

After at least five landing attempts, and again a few feet above the runway, the pilot raised the plane again. He came over the loudspeaker. “As I’m sure you’ve noticed” he said, “we can’t land. We need to fly to Sacramento, await instructions, then fly to San Francisco in a few hours. I’m sure you all have many questions. We’ll get this all figured out from the ground”. Alex was way ahead of him. "I am not getting on another plane” he told me quickly. “My family and I are renting a car as soon as we land, and driving to San Francisco". I was impressed by his lucidity (either that, or his clairvoyance) and decided this was my kind of guy. "I'm coming with you" I said.

We landed in Sacramento, at which point I, a die-hard agnostic, turned to the heavens and said thank you five times. I got out of the plane to stretch my shaky legs, bought a banana and a bar of chocolate (how could I not think of food at a time like this?) and then set out to find Alex and his family. After brief introductions, we waited for their luggage, rented a car, and drove to the Bay Area in the rain (which made me feel grateful for my new friends again, and for the fact I didn't attempt the drive on my own, possibility I had briefly considered).

Michael, Won, Alex and Andrew dropped me off in Marin, where I caught a bus to the San Francisco airport (taxis would take longer, I was told.)

From the San Francisco airport I took a cab home.

I got home at 8:00 p.m.

The Great Wave
A Ukiyo-e print by Hokusai, Wikipedia

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sick of me

In case it escaped you, I haven’t really written a truly dedicated blog entry for a while. This is because I’ve been too busy complaining.

The last three weeks have been out of character for me. Generally speaking, it’s not in my nature to complain.

It began with the rain. Then, unexpected complications indirectly related to a home remodel; a series of irritating work related events and catching a bad cold. All this led to tentative, recreational complaining. Suddenly, there were more things to complain about. Which caused insomnia. Which resulted in me complaining about sleep deprivation.

It all peaked on February 14, when I realized late in the day that I had done nothing but complain from the second I got up until that evening. I got so sick of listening to myself I would have left me if I’d had the option.

So here is what I have discovered:

That complaining is obsessing about the negative, and that the more I focus on the negative the more negative I see. This habit grows deep roots fast.

That by putting into words (an insatiable, exhausting ocean of words) what I don’t want; I neglect to put into words what I do want.

Whenever Luca would say “Jeez, hon, really. Lighten up!” I’d respond “well, isn’t it healthier to vent than to keep it all in?”

Here is my reply to that: that I have wasted vast amounts of precious energy, because I let off just enough steam to release the power that propels me to do something about it. I’ve complained myself into paralysis.

So that’s it. I’ve had it. I’m in a complaint fast. And I’m going to start by not complaining about my complaining.

Photo: Real Simple Magazine

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Switch

Through the years, Luca and I have unintentionally, organically split chores. Nine times out of ten he drives. Once I throw out junk, he sorts through our mail and makes sure the bills are paid on time. I usually cook, do laundry, make sure the fridge isn’t empty and manage anything to do with keeping the house organized. He takes out the garbage and changes the light bulbs. You get the picture.

From a purely logistical standpoint, it would be an effort for either one of us to operate without the other for a long period of time.

How healthy is it to divvy up responsibilities? Should we switch back and forth just for practice?

I laugh at the thought of him ironing his shirts. Maybe we should switch back and forth just for our mutual amusement.

(Photo: Amazon.com)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Baring it all

In locker rooms of gyms nationwide, there is a strict, unyielding rule: do not look at other locker room dwellers when they are not wearing clothes.

I experience tremendous difficulty sticking to this rule.

I always steal glances from the corner of my eye.

First of all, I'm fascinated by how different women's bodies are. I know and you know we all have the same equipment, but really, variety is so vast. I can't believe we have such a narrow concept of beauty when most women look great in the buff.

I'm also quite intrigued by how different a woman looks when she walks out of the shower compared to when she's dressed and ready to walk out of the gym. It's a complete, magical transformation that goes way beyond her appearance. It gives me a disembodied sense of pride that the female species is so gifted at pulling together a look.

Finally, I'm completely shocked by how much longer it takes most women to get ready in comparison to how long it takes me to get ready. I've never had such a large number of subjects to compare myself to, and it's been quite a revelation.

I jump out of the shower, wrap a towel around my head and get dressed. I have short hair and it's curly so I let it be. And, I don't wear any makeup. So, while I'm thorough when I dry off, specially between my toes, and apply yummy smelling body cream, face cream and leave-in conditioner, I notice other women spend hours parting their hair and blow-drying sections of it with brushes of different shapes and sizes. And, they carry around huge bags filled with makeup, which they proceed to apply meticulously – and, to my deep admiration, quite expertly.

I take, on average, about half the time others do. And, I'd be much faster if I wasn't so busy noticing all of this in while pretending not to look.

I could go on with other things I've noticed about large numbers of naked people of my gender, but I think I've gone as far as I can without making anyone too terribly uncomfortable.

(Photo from Sephora.com)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mystery, solved

A large volume of you, my thorough blog readers, have asked me why on Earth I was packing all my things and putting them in boxes.

O.K. Two of you have asked me why on Earth I was packing all my things and putting them in boxes. Was I moving, perhaps to London?

The truth is not all that exciting. (Well, not to you, anyway.)

I finally decided to make a seven-year-old dream of mine come true: to rip out the carpet in my house and replace it with hardwood floors.

I initially managed, with an artfully conniving blend of bald-faced lies and sprinkles of strategically timed denial, to delude myself into thinking it would be a piece of cake. And then I got hit with the very things people tell you are going to happen when you do any kind of remodel: complications.

The carpet could be ripped out, and wood put in, but I’d have to pack up the house. No, I wouldn’t be able to move things from one room into the other, but rather would have to remove them entirely. And, of course, I’d have to strip out the floorboards and replace them. I’d need a painter, obviously, to retouch them once that job was done. So, eureka, I’d freshen the paint in the whole house, while I was at it. And, once the aforementioned, undesired carpet was yanked out, it was revealed, in an alarming twist of fate, that the entrance to the house from the garage was concrete – not wood – and therefore I’d have to use tile, which I’d need to select, along with the right color of sanded grout.

So, initially I convincingly persuaded myself that the job would take about two weeks, three at the most, and instead our things have been in boxes for almost a month – and we have at least another few weeks to go, since the varnish on the floors has to dry, and the floors themselves have to rest, take naps, settle and go through a curing period before painters can traipse through with their drop cloths, blue tape and heavy boots.

So you’re wondering, am I at all repentant for embarking on a complicated venture of these proportions so soon into a New Year? Do I feel guilty for dragging my unsuspecting husband into this mess?

No. I feel ecstatic. The father and son team of contractors who are working on the floor is dreamy: punctual, respectful, courteous, talented and best of all, they argue with each other loudly and in Polish (while Luca and I liberally contribute with commentary in Italian). The place looks amazing in bamboo (Luca would not hear of anything that was not ecologically responsible, the scoundrel).

When I come home in the evening, I open the door and, despite the fact that everything is covered in the finest veil of dust and the project is not even finished, I feel as if the house were the architectural equivalent of a loving dog, luminous, welcoming and happy to see me. Which is, I’ve decided, the least you can expect from the place you live.

I was, in addition, very disciplined about what went into those boxes I packed, throwing out and giving away many things (despite protests of a certain someone who shall remain nameless but who lives with me), so I feel cleansed and purified after having concluded a pretty drastic re-haul. As an added bonus, our bed is currently in the kitchen, which gives new meaning to the words “breakfast in bed”.

So, is making the extra effort to be happy with your space worth it? Yes. Never underestimate the power of surrounding yourself with something beautiful.

Friday, January 18, 2008

And the miracle of Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson was a climber who became a nurse just to do something between one climb and another. An unsuccessful attempt to summit K2 almost killed him. He got lost (or so it felt at the time), taking the wrong turn and ending up in an isolated village in Pakistan called Korphe.

Grateful to the people there for their graciousness, their generosity, and for nursing him back to health, he promised he’d return to build a school. He has dedicated the rest of his life to doing just that. He's built 50 schools in an area often considered the most dangerous place in the world for an American to be; not to mention, a location where the most unimaginable obstacles have to be overcome in order to get anything accomplished.

You can learn more about Greg Mortenson if you read his book "Three Cups of Tea". An inspiration, because:

- It proves Luca's theory that your destiny will come find you even if it has to nearly kill you to get you to pay attention.
- It demonstrates that a single person can (and does) change the world.
- It reminds you that there is a little bit of Greg Mortenson in all of us.

(Photo by Greg Mortenson)