My father and I, 1992

March 29, 2011

Today is Day 1 of my Spring Break trip home to California with my daughters. This morning I found this photobooth strip in an album, and it made me cry.

I would have been newly 14 in these photographs. My dad would have been newly 40. My mom thinks this was taken at the Del Mar Fair.

He is so dark. I know he spent so much time in the sun, but they do say the Welsh are dark. Look at my striped shirt! Madchester! That was the year I tried to do without bangs, an experiment that didn’t go too well. Later that summer, right before school started, i think I finally chopped my hair off into a bob.

My father died in August of 2009. I loved him so much. We had a tenuous relationship throughout most of my adulthood, but I miss him and still grieve for him.

Do we look alike? I find myself searching the images of his face for signs of me.

In so many ways I am so glad to be home. I’m remembering a lot about what has made me me.

If I were to live within sight of the interstate, I would like to have a bed as comfortable as this, sheets as white as these are, pillows piled high for me to rest my head upon, and a window with glass as wide and thick as that one is so that I could see the cars streaking by but not hear them.

I remember when I was half as tall as I am now the three of us took the train from San Diego to somewhere beyond Kansas City, my mother, my younger sister, and me.

I remember using the toilets on the train, bleary-eyed and knocked from side to side with the movement of the train cars on the tracks. When the toilet flushed I could see daylight, I could see the hot desert ground rushing beneath the train.

Did they really flush to the ground like that? It seems unallowable, but that is a truth that I remember.

I guess I felt very lonely

February 13, 2009

Because apparently I wish to feel embarrassed, here I present excerpts from the journal I kept on my vacation to Hungary last year, in which my narrative voice sounds far too similar to an over-privileged 19th century Englishwoman fretting while on holiday in Italy with her stuffy aunt.

June 6, 2008

Arrived in Budapest this morning. After showering and dressing at the hostel I set out, with the intent to see the Danube and explore the Belvaros section of town. Within 20 minutes a Lebanese man asked to buy me a drink. I declined.
I just saw the Holy Right Hand at St. Stephen’s Basilica. It’s a beautiful church, but the relic is gruesome. I wanted to buy a postcard but the trinket shop was closet.
It is very humbling to be alone in a city, not able to speak the language. I have been relying on smiles to get me through this afternoon.
I don’t know if I’m just tired or what, but I feel myself teetering on the edge of panic about being alone. As this is only the first day, I have quite a number of solitary days ahead of me. I started walking after going to a museum and having coffee, and I just intended to walk and wander and walk, but then a bird shat on my sleeve when I went to lean against a building to consult my map. So I went back to the hostel to clean it off and then, against my inclination, took an hour-long nap. Now it is evening, and I am waiting for the sun to go down so I can walk along the river and see the lights shining from Buda. I’m doing exactly what I would do at OCSC, sitting alone at a bar with a beer. I want to try the famous palinka but am too terrified to order it because of the language barrier. Thus far, Pest seems much smaller and less of a world-class city than I had expected. But it seems like a great town to walk in – so many of the buildings are absolutely beautiful.
This seems like a really important time in my life to learn how to be alone, so I want to tell myself, “What better place to learn than on vacation in Eastern Europe?”

June 8, 2008

Today is my birthday, and I feel much calmer today about being alone, though I have had two moments of panic about missing my girls.

June 10, 2008

I was right in choosing to spend my last two nights at a hotel. I forgot how much I like being alone at a hotel, holing up in my room in my underwear, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer while reading a book and listening to BBC World on the television, and then spending too much on drinks and dinner at the hotel restaurant. I knew I would be tired of tramping all over town pinching pennies, so now I am letting it all hang out and just secluding myself. I will not feel guilty. Enjoying a hotel, regardless of location, is a time-honored leisure activity. It is delightful to sit on the hotel terrace waiting for dinner to arrive – I can see the apartment blocks of Pest across the river, and there is one of the bridges immediately within view across the street, and the trams are going by. Tomorrow I will spend a bit of time walking around this part of Buda, and then I will spend time taking the waters at the spa, and then I will drink and eat too much again, and then the next day I will fly home – HOME! again to the U.S.A. Of course it will only be NYC and not my real home with my daughters and my friends again, but still, how amazing it will be to just be a mobile phone call or text message away from all who are dear to me again. I like traveling, and I am glad to be in Hungary, but I have trouble with the solitude. I have been taking this as a learning experience, and I truly do hope I have learned something from being so alone.

my Jamaican girl

May 7, 2007

My sister took this video when we were driving to our cousin’s wedding in Missouri last March. I love how Matilda at the very end says “stop!”

in the big city

December 19, 2006

I went to New York City last weekend, and Roman took pictures.

July! July!

July 17, 2006

(picture from a set on Flickr someone else took…so pretty)

I saw Camera Obscura play a show here in town last Tuesday. I was all concert-reviewed out so didn’t write anything about it. It was lovely, as I expected it would be. There’s a reason they are one of my favorite bands. And OH! I have such a girl-crush on that Traceyanne Campbell.

An…interesting…weekend. Not quite the best, but certainly not the worst. I had a major decision to think about, just when I was getting to a point where I wasn’t having to think too hard about underlying issues, and that’s got me back into thinking too hard about said issues. But I read a lot (completed Coupland’s latest novel in one evening, started three other books), dorked out about music with Sean, and spent time with my children. They are getting pretty heavily into their fantasyland now – it’s very awesome to watch. They play together with their dolls, for hours on end, taking breaks to come back to the real world and eat dinner and interact with their parents. They have the cutest little mannerisms right now, it’s quite fascinating. On Sunday, Sean needed to take some practice GRE tests, so I took the girls out on a long Sunday drive to Roxboro. We drove up 86, stopped in Hillsborough for lunch, and then continued onward to Roxboro. I had no purpose in going there, I just wanted to see what was there. It’s the county seat of Person County (North Carolina has exactly 100 counties, so there are many county seats within a short drive of Carrboro). There is a court house surrounded by an exquisite early-mid 20th century downtown, a couple blocks’ worth in either direction, that was completely EMPTY. I don’t know if it’s just because it was Sunday or what, no it couldn’t be, because most of the store fronts were empty as well. It was really sad, yet beautiful (I got really excited driving into it – Oh My GOD, this is exactly what I was hoping to see!!!), especially considering that this beautiful old downtown was surrounded by suburban hell (parking lots, multi-lane roads, chain restaurants, Wal-Mart, etc.) and people obviously have money in Roxboro (i.e. it’s not just an empty, dead town). It’s the same old story. This country is dotted with failing downtown cores, and littered with too many big box stores. That is what Smalltown America has become. Roxboro is about an hour drive from Carrboro, quite an enjoyable drive. Along the way I saw a million tiny churches (predominantly Baptist), tobacco fields, farmhouses of both the 19th century Piedmont vernacular variety (kinda like this or this) and the 1920s bungalow variety, tobacco sheds, falling down, grey-weathered barns, corn fields, farm animals (the kids loved the farm animals), modern mini-mansions plopped down incongruously among bare fields, woods, old boarded-up general stores and gas stations, and the red, red earth that still fascinates me. (Dirt’s brown where I come from.) It was fantastic. It would have been perfect if I could have found a farm stand selling blueberries or a barbecue joint or something, but there were none to be found.

Too bad gasoline is so expensive these days. I’d love to be able to explore more like that, take long Sunday drives in the country.