Time 3: Traveling

You become very, very aware of time when you are traveling.

Self took this picture in Cork, Ireland, September 2015. She has walked so far in these sneakers:

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Cork, Ireland, September 2015

One step, and then another.

We move through time so incredibly fast, always in a hurry to get to our destinations.

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Off to Destination Unknown

Finally, a really, really old thing: a remnant of an ancient Roman column. In the English city of York:

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City of York, July 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

TRASH: Sylvain Landry Week 32 Photo Challenge

Self is participating in this week’s Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge. The theme is TRASH.

She looked through her thousands of pictures and came up with something she photographed during her November 2015 trip to Florence, her first time in that beautiful city. A picture of a McDonald’s! Which she passed almost every day on her way to some museum or other with her intrepid niece, Irene!

Self isn’t all that down on McDonald’s, but every time she sees one, especially if it’s in an awesomely beautiful place like Florence, she gets somewhat discouraged. Because why would anyone want to eat in McDonald’s when there’s so much (good) local food available?

So the McDonald’s in Florence is her metaphorical image of TRASH.

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Florence, Italy: November 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vibrant 4: 2016 Daily Post Photo Challenge # 5

The past week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is VIBRANT. Self has been having so much fun with it. In the past week, she’s posted pictures of Mendocino and Venice. Now, she’s posting photographs she took during an exhibit of Chinese artists that she and her niece, Irene, saw when we were in Florence, November 2015.

The weather was glorious: it never rained. And Florence, self doesn’t need to tell dear blog readers, is enchanting.

We got ourselves a Museum Card (Would you believe, there are 64 museums in Florence?).

As we were walking towards the Duomo on one of our earliest days in Florence, we noticed this museum and went inside.

Now, self can no longer remember which museum it was, but there was an exhibition of Chinese paintings which totally blew self away: International Tour of the Works of the Twelfth China National Exhibition of Fine Arts.

The oil painting below is called “Scenery with Six-Tusked Elephant.” The artist is Lin Jianfeng.

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Lin Jianfeng, Artist From China: Seen on the International Tour of Chinese National Artists, November 2015, Florence

The second painting, self has featured on this blog before. It is by Liu Kongxi: “Hello, Birch Forest: The Records of Youth (No. 18):

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“Hello, Birch Forest: The Records of Youth (No. 18)” by Liu Kongxi

And the last painting: Wang Ke’s “Passing on Lamp”

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Wang Ke’s “Passing on Lamp”

As Jen H. says on The Daily Post, “Let’s wash the web with a rainbow of colors to keep the winter gloom at bay.”

Self thinks these three paintings do fit the bill.

Stay tuned.

Vibrant 3: Venice, November 2015

The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week is VIBRANT.

Self thinks the photos below, which she took in Venice in November 2015, vividly fit the bill:

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Throng, San Marco Square, Venice: November 2015

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Red Coat Woman, San Marco Square, Venice: November 2015

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Sidewalk Café, San Marco Square, Venice: November 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

First Adventure: Mexico on Third-Class Bus with Roommate Sachiko

Self was a grad student at Stanford.

Her roommate was an Anthropology grad student named Sachiko Hayashida. (She has tried many times to find Sachiko. She has googled “Sachiko Hayashida” and found a few who teach in Japanese universities and fired off letters. The letters always come back with a note: I am not that Sachiko Hayashida)

Sachiko and self decided to spend two weeks traveling around Mexico.

Sachiko was responsible for drawing up the itinerary. Self’s only responsibility was to keep up.

Sachiko had undertaken many trips by herself. Not self. This was self’s first travel adventure.

We ended up fighting. A lot.

Sachiko had to be carried on the plane on a stretcher at the very end. She had Montezuma’s Revenge.

One of our most memorable trips was from Mexico City to Merida by third-class bus. Once we arrived in Merida, we searched all over the city for a vegan restaurant mentioned in Lonely Planet. The name was Sergeant Pepper’s.

We finally found someone who said, “Ah! You are looking for Sarhento Pimiento!”

Of course! Sarhento Pimiento! Why had we wandered all over Merida looking for SERGEANT PEPPER?

One of the most memorable excursions we made while in Merida was to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. We took a public bus, and it dropped us off at the side of the road at 4 a.m.

Self frankly thought Sachiko was crazy, but at 7 a.m., when Chichen Itza began to receive its swarm of tourists, self thought Sachiko was brilliant. Because no one else was in the ruins at 4 a.m. (Of course, it wasn’t safe. But we were 22. We weren’t thinking of safe) We were thrashing around, avoiding lizards — some extremely large — and what-not, when we suddenly came to a large clearing, raised our eyes and YOWZA! A temple!

Afterwards, self read to Sachiko from a book she’d picked up from the Stanford Bookstore: World of the Maya by Victor W. Von Hagen.

She has it with her now, in Mendocino.

P. 12:

The Maya have been characterized as “The Intellectuals of the New World” because of their highly developed calendrics, their glyph-writing, and the ornamental complexity of their architecture. They were unique in their culture; pacific, they fought few wars; they viewed life from their jungle fastness with Olympian detachment, working out complicated calendric inscriptions that could push their history back to 23,040,000,000 days.

You need a lot of undisturbed time (i.e. peace) to be that focused on a task that complicated, self figures.

The irony is not lost on self, that one of the first widely-read accounts of the Mayan civilization was William H. Prescott’s The Conquest of Peru, who made a hero out of Francisco Pizarro, “a man who couldn’t even read his own name . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Regarding Travel Writing (And Self Sincerely Enjoyed Teaching It Last Weekend)

This past weekend, self taught her second travel writing workshop at the Mendocino Art Center, where she also taught last year.

It was an exciting weekend, with participants writing about Grenada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, New York City (just to name a few).

Self does really love teaching this workshop.

How else would she learn that Vegemite tastes like “dirty socks” or that New Zealand’s national candy is something called a chocolate fish? How else would she learn about Pascal’s pineapple lumps (in New Zealand) or about “contracepting elephants” or about “wild game sausage” or that there are hop-on/hop-off buses in Uganda? Or about the delayed reaction time to sand fly bites? Or about Burmese sunblocks made from ground tree bark?

Anyhoo, she used the Best American Travel Writing anthologies for prompts. The 2013 edition was edited by Elizabeth Gilbert and here’s what she says about travel writing in her introduction:

  1. There is no story in the world so marvelous that it cannot be told boringly.
  2. There is no story in the world so boring that it cannot be told marvelously.

Isn’t that such a neat quote?

Self’s next class at the Mendocino Art Center is:

ONE STORY SIX WAYS

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 6 -7, 2016
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Mendocino Art Center
Tuition: $200

To enroll online, go here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Optimistic 2: 2016 WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge # 4

From Krista on The Daily Post:

To stay optimistic at -30 degrees, I try to imagine spring in full detail: tiny perfect oak leaves sprouting, bird radio increasing in volume, water lapping on red granite as the ice rots and recedes . . .

So, here are three more examples of Optimistic:

David is about to slay Goliath. Self would say that’s being VERY optimistic.

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Michelangelo’s David: Saw it for the first time, November 2015. (Look at the tracery of veins on the man’s ARMS, OMG you can almost feel them!)

Sign sprouting above self’s head. Indicates the direction she is headed.

Florence was a trip that called on self’s low supply of OPTIMISM and increased it 10-fold (Yes, dear blog readers, it IS possible to begin a trip with low energy and end it with energy to the nth power)

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Florence, November 2015: Niece and self, armed with 3-day museum pass, are determined to hit all of Florence’s 64 museums, in 3 days. Nuts!

Finally, Csilla Toldy hosted self in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015. Csilla is a poet, novelist, and documentary filmmaker. We first met at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, 2014. She has written a novel and a collection of poetry, as well as filmed a documentary on the celebration of Bloomsday (June 14) in Dublin and Hungary.

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Csilla Toldy went over the Green Wall when she was just 18. Here we are celebrating in her current home, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Alphabet 3: 2016 WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge # 3

London is one of self’s faaaavorite cities in the entire world!

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London cab: Summer 2015

And Kepler’s Books is one of her favorite bookstores in the entire world!

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Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park: Still Around, After 30+ Years! Self has given a couple of readings in Kepler’s over the years.

And this man was very resourceful, she thinks dear blog readers will agree! She spotted him at the 53rd & Lexington Subway Station, New York City:

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53rd & Lexington, Just outside the subway station, New York City, March 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Selling Lingerie to the Egyptians: Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, Aug. 10 & 17, 2015

Self finds the Peter Hessler essay in The New Yorker, “Learning to Speak Lingerie” absolutely fascinating.

She started reading Hessler because he wrote about his two years living in China (as a Peace Corps volunteer) in River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. Self is a graduate of   East Asian Studies, concentration in Chinese, hence the feeling of connection.

Moreover, Hessler is a very very very good writer.

He wrote his essay about Asyut, in Upper Egypt. Here, in this very conservative place (“Virtually all Muslim women there wear the head scarf”), there is “a Chinese Lingerie Corner in a mall whose entrance featured a Koranic verse that warned against jealousy.”

Along a “three-hundred-mile stretch,” Hessler reports he found “twenty-six Chinese lingerie dealers.” Their product? “butt-less body stockings, nightgowns that cover only one breast, G-strings accessorized with feathers, see-through tops . . . Brand names include Laugh Girl, Shady Tex Lingerie, Hot Love Italy Design, and Sexy Fashion Reticulation Alluring.”

Clearly, this is an essay that demands self’s full and unfocused attention.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Weight(less): 2nd WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge of 2016

Self is very intrigued by this week’s WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge: WEIGHTLESS.

“Show us the effects of gravity in your photo this week.”

Funny, she actually thought the theme meant the opposite: to show us the things that exist in defiance of gravity.

Anyhoo, here’s a building in New York’s Soho district. Self has been fascinated by buildings for a long, long time. The small black cube within the larger edifice — all self can think of when she looks at this picture is: JENGA!

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Weightless 1: New York skyscraper, Soho

And here’s a longer view of the same subject, showing how it fits in with the surrounding cityscape:

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A longer view of Weightless 1

The third picture is a detail of the facade of the Cathedral in the beautiful Italian town of Siena, where the Palio horse races are held every year. Siena is divided into 17 districts, each represented by a different animal. Animal effigies like this lion (in mid-roar: fabulous!) are carved into the facade of the Cathedral. Since this lion is made of stone, the fact that it’s jutting out of the Cathedral wall like that is, in self’s humble opinion, awesome:

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Weightless 2: The Cathedral of Siena. The facade features carvings of animals representing each of the districts that make up the city. The districts compete against each other every summer, in the Palio horse races.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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