Us

I’m really into the show Sense8. I am a person who binges on TV, but rarely on the same show twice. The last time I watched a show obsessively was Grey’s Anatomy and that was only after I had four seasons in my possession. I have one season and I’ve watched it three times because every time I sit down to watch TV (which is also becoming increasingly rarer these days) I honestly can’t think of anything that seems more interesting than re-watching this show.

The common thread in my obsessive watching of TV shows is how they make me feel. I was obsessed with Grey’s at a time in my life where I was convinced life was really dark and and painful, but I was entrenched in the idea that there were bright spots worth pursuing.

Sense8 is similar for me in how it makes me feel, but the message is a little more optimistic. There are several characters, all with their own past wounds and current struggles. Sense8’s message is that a healing life is one where we are intimately known and connected to each other. The only choice we have is to live in each other’s skin to the end that we feel and understand as if it’s our own life. I love this message because it resonates with one of my deepest core beliefs: To be known intimately and adored for what makes you authentic, is the most exquisite part of this life.

There’s a scene where Riley, one of the Sensates, is discussing her life in Iceland and the suicide rates in spring when the winter clears. She is speaking with another friend and they discuss their mutual feelings of hopelessness about life. He says something I could relate to, especially in a moment Friday when I awoke to learn about another attack in France, a week after two American black men were senselessly shot and the ensuing violence in Dallas, where two police officers were killed in response to more black killings. This is two weeks in the world. Oh also, Turkey is going through a political revolution and people just keep killing each other. I’ve stopped listening to NPR, my dearly loved news radio, because my heart cannot take it anymore.

I got to admit it, sometimes I feel this way – especially when I see how awful we can all be to each other. I don’t understand how people can be filled with such anger and rage that they want to kill strangers. If anything, I find myself feeling sad and wanting to do something good to counteract all the hurt in the world. When I start realizing that this is human nature – we’ve been killing each other since our inception as a race – I start to believe that we are the problem. We are the evil. We are hopelessly destined to continue killing each other and those of us who have any shred of compassion can’t bear the weight of watching it helplessly.

I just got back from a trip in Europe. It was amazing and a feast for my soul. I inhaled so much inspiration, beauty, awareness and perspective. One thing I noticed while we were there that many of the ancient cities had arenas built strictly for the sport of watching people murder each other. Of course now we are more civilized. We have Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds and… all the entertainment we could want to watch each other die. What is our obsession with this and why can’t STOP KILLING EACH OTHER?

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I’m not omniscient and I am willing to admit that because I have very strong beliefs about how things should be handled in our world and how poorly they seem to be handled now, that surely I can be wrong simply because there is someone out there who disagrees with me. I just so frustrated that we can’t just admit it’s broken and fix it together. We’re so caught up in blaming each other and fighting about what causes the pain, ignoring the ways in which we’ve already discovered the solution. 

I think it’s our obsession with our differences. In Europe, there’s a history of difference. We never used to cross paths with those different from us because of our ability to travel outside of a small area, relative to the size of the world. European cities are walkable in ways I have rarely found in American cities. Infrastructure used today was often built before we had any major modes of mass transportation. Many roads are so narrow that only a human could navigate its path.

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Then we discovered a way to go just a little further. We found more people like us, trying to scratch out an existence. They had made different decisions on how to thrive, had evolved in small ways to survive. We found those who were different from us, but who were still ‘us’. We invented ways to get further, to see more. We claimed land and we didn’t want to share it, assuming there were more people like us, out there to claim the land we claimed. We became obsessed with the idea that there wasn’t enough to go around, so we had to forcibly claim it as ours, even if we had no certainty there were more like us – hungry to live in prosperity, created to survive – and we knew there would be more. 

We live in a world that has been crafted around the idea of scarcity. That there is not enough to go around to satisfy every craving. Therefore, we split ourselves into our differences: the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. It creates epic struggles, deep pains and often leads to the death of some so the few can have their most important wants.

I wish we lived in a world of abundance. One where there is enough to go around because we all recognize that when pain exists, it ripples through the ‘us’ because we are more alike than we are different. The European Union is a perfect example of this truth. You have countries with strong economies who are supporting countries with weaker economies and those strong economies have expectations about how these countries who they support will behave to give back to their financiers. England leaves the EU for more independence, seemingly without facing the hard knowledge that we are all intertwined – independence is an illusion. Our economies are dependent on each other. People are  more connected than they have ever been and information is in abundance. We cannot shut ourselves away from the world, because the world forces us to be together, simply by our geography. We will never be able to be isolated from the abundance around us, while not sharing the abundance within us.
I will hold on to the idea that one day, our eyes and hearts will be clearer and we will see this world for what it truly is – one giant experiment to see if we can figure out how to love each other with the shared understanding it is our only certainty to abundance for all. When I deny love to another because of their difference with me, I deny the truth that no matter the difference, the similarity between us is still greater. We all want a life of prosperity, peace and love for ourselves and that life can only be achieved when we recognize we cannot achieve it with certainty until we ensure it for our neighbor. As they say in Sense8: ‘I am also a we’. 

Thailand [Part 1]

We’re back from Thailand! In fact, we’ve been back for a while, but I was too jet-lagged and distracted to do anything of consequence. My computer is on its way to computer heaven if I don’t get the new Mountain Lion operating system soon. It takes me like 45 minutes to load a page on Safari (it’s the only browser that will work with my old MacBook now). I feel like I’m using dial-up. (Edited to add: I have Mountain Lion now! It’s awesome.)

Anyway, Thailand was a grand adventure. Hands down, best trip I’ve ever been on. Lots of exciting things happened. So, let’s review with the first half(ish) shall we? After 16 hours of flying and a two hour layover in Seoul, we landed in Bangkok around midnight. We payed too much for a taxi and headed to our hotel. We promptly passed out.

The next morning (about 4 hours later) I was awoken by the repetitive speaking of someone on the loud speaker at a local temple. It was like a city-wide broadcast in Thai. Murderous rage ensued as I thundered around the room exclaiming, “REALLY?!” as I located my headphones and other sound muffling devices. Not much luck and we finally headed to breakfast and into the city to store our bags and wander around Bangkok before catching the train that night to Chiang Mai.

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We ended up getting approached by some Thai man who basically gave us a whole agenda for the day out of the goodness of his heart (or maybe a commission from his tuk-tuk driver). Either way, we were off on a river cruise!

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Ok, more like a gondola ride, but whatever. The water was quite smelly and I’ve heard it’s pretty contaminated, so I tried to avoid the splash zone. We drove by several beautiful temples stretching up towards the sky, we went past a floating market, and really just ook in the city. It was a beautiful, hot blue sky.

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Eventually, we were dropped in Chinatown where we wandered, ate, and wandered some more. I had strawberries with pink salt – very weird, kinda good? I ate my only non-veg meal of fish balls (think meat balls) and I was pretty grossed out before I made it halfway through. I didn’t really like fish when I was a meat eater, but we were hungry almost to the point of delirium and didn’t know our options as veggies. So, fish happened. Bleh.

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It was a few days after the Chinese New Year, so the city was buzzing. All the roads were filled with celebrations and we enjoyed just wandering and seeing all the new sights. It was another world, for sure. We finally headed back to the train station to take the overnight train to our first stop in our journey – Chiang Mai. We ordered train food which was slightly depressing and then just passed out.

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We were supposed to arrive around 8 a.m. in Chiang Mai, but it turns out there’s this thing called Thai Time, so yeah… we got in around noon. We quickly drove to our hotel, showered, and were out the door. I proposed just taking a nap and lounging, but Jesse had our schedule for the day out and was pretty adamant about us going to the temple we had planned for the day. I was so tired, I just threw on a maxi, put up my wet hair, and followed Jesse out the door.

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We were going to a temple called Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep on top of a mountain, so we had quite a bit of commuting. A tuk-tuk to the transport service, a truck to the top of the mountain, and then a load of steps to walk up. It was hot, I was tired, but it was another beautiful day and I was pretty filled with adrenaline. We were in Thailand and we weren’t going to sleep on a train! Hooray.

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We trucked up to the top of the steps, I covered my shoulders with my scarf turned shawl (can’t show shoulders at temples, it’s just not OK). Lots of cool things, a beautiful view of the city, and the realization we were finally on our vacation. Jesse suggested we start taking pictures now that we were officially on our trip and requested a photo from a German tourist walking by to snap us in front of the lookout point down into Chiang Mai.

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Little did I know as I was walking to the rail, Jesse had coordinated a special surprise with the photographer. We snapped the first photo and then Jesse said, “Let’s take a few more to make sure we get a good one!”

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The second photo, ended rather spectacularly. Jesse got down on one knee and said, “Will You Marry Me?”

After gaping in complete shock for a few minutes, I snapped out of my stupor and blubbered, “Yeahhhh!”

So, we got engaged in Thailand on top of a mountain. More to come.

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Two Year Anniversary

The Case Files have been pushed to tomorrow because I felt like writing this post today. Deep breaths, you’ll all be OK.

We’ve been a busy bunch.

My first weekend in Seattle, we went to Tofino. This past weekend, Jesse and I celebrated two years of dating bliss. For our first anniversary, we went to San Fransisco, visited Sonoma and went wine tasting. So, we figured since we’re in an area known for wine this year, we might as well make it a tradition. Because of the chaos with graduating and moving, Jesse kindly planned the entire anniversary from start to finish. It was exciting because I love surprises and dates with Jesse. Two of my favorite things.

We went to Yakima, Washington. It’s about 2.5 hours southeast of Seattle.

It was really cool to drive through Washington and see all the lush greenery and then, boom, hit desert. I had no clue that the rest of Washington looked like that. I know it’s naive, but I just assumed everything up here was all green and rainforesty (yes, that’s a word). When I thought harder about it, of course it made sense that one side of the mountains was green and the other was dry. That’s like geography 101.

The first night we rolled in and got checked into The Orchard Inn Bed & Breakfast. If you ever go to Yakima for any reason and you need a place to stay, go here. Karen (who runs the B & B) is one of the nicest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. The rooms are cozy, the sheets are soft, the food is delicious, and it’s nestled in an orchard. You really feel like you’re in a tiny paradise when you drive in. Plus, when Karen found out it was our anniversary, she sweetly left us some of her husband’s homemade blackberry liqueur as a nightcap. It was delicious.

We headed out on the town and ended up at a bar with a pool table. No surprise since Jesse has picked up playing pool as a new hobby and it seemed like just the type of dive meant for us.

We got hungry pretty late and the only thing that was open was Mel’s Diner, a 24-hour throwback restaurant that looked like Denny’s weird cousin. Naturally, we got normal diner fare – milkshakes.

On Saturday, we woke up and hit the road towards Prosser, a town about 20 minutes east of Yakima with a whole row of vineyards called Merlot Road. Fancy. We slowly rolled through the row as the day got hotter (100 degrees in dry heat, I loved it) tasting mostly red wine. We rounded out our tasting with what ended up being our favorite tasting, Milbrandt Vineyards.

Milbrandt does seated tastings with each taster purchasing a flight of three wines for tasting (Jeez, do I write about tasting much? I’m just going to leave it. I’m feeling lazy. Enjoy my redundancy). Jesse got the Red flight and I got the Fusion flight. Turns out we probably would have been better off just getting one because we ended up being overwhelmed with choice. They were all so good, we ended up having to have them duke it out in a head-to-head battle royale. We ended up tasting and loving a new grape called Tempranillo. If you’re into trying new wines, give this grape a try. We loved every vineyard’s tempranillo.

We also went to the local vineyard + restaurant dubbed Wine O’Clock. The name sounded a bit cheesy, but I was willing to give it a shot. I’m glad I did because I ended up having some of the most delicious pizza of my life. Granted, that could have been the hunger and a little bit of the wine talking, but it was delicious nonetheless. Also, check out that sweet sign for group therapy.

We came back to Yakima and took a nap. All that pizza, wine, and heat had worn me out! The big event was in the evening. Jesse took us to a wine, beer, food, and jazz festival! It was so fun. The weather was just perfect, the sky was warm and hazy, and the company wasn’t too shabby either. 😉

I had a veggie dog that changed my life. Yes, it changed my life. From now on, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to consider having a veggie dog without pepper jelly and cream cheese. Don’t knock it until you try it. When you try it, come and thank me. I’ll be here saying, “I told you so.”

The next morning we sat around the table at The Orchard Inn, ate a nice and filling breakfast, chatted with the lovely Karen, hit up the Yakima Farmer’s Market, and then headed back home. Patronus seemed almost as tired as we were by the time we got home. Maybe that, or he was pissed we left in the first place. Hard to tell with him sometimes.

Yesterday was the “official” anniversary date (hence no post) and it ended up being delightful with even more surprises! Jesse brought home the most beautiful bouquet of giant head-sized sunflowers (my favorite) + Beecher’s mac n’ cheese. Yeah, I know I said we’re going vegan. It’s a process. Plus, things like decadent macaroni and cheese might just have to be a treat every once in a while. It was mind-blowing.

We went out for dinner then walked home and drank a bottle of wine from the Sonoma anniversary. Thank you to Jesse for a wonderful celebration and a fantastic two years. You’re my best friend, my favorite roommate, and the best guy this girl could have asked for. You’ve helped me make my dreams come true and you’re my tireless supporter of all my crazy ideas and weird quirks. Not to mention, you’re also quite easy on the eyes. It’s pretty awesome. I love you.