Wednesday, July 2, 2014

There are six reasons I haven't updated this blog since New York City:

  1. I was enrolled in a summer class in the Roski School of Fine Arts at USC, so I was busy doing a lot of reading and writing and attending class.
  2. I was in Mexico City for said summer class.
  3. I got violently ill after Mexico City.
  4. I resented said summer class [mostly the Roski Dean[s?]] for taking up my time and making me violently ill even though I opted to enroll in the summer class and even though realistically my illness had nothing to do with the summer class other than I got sick because I went to Mexico. But it made me not want to write about the summer class or about Mexico, ever.
  5. My reaction to said summer class threw me into a crisis of [academic] faith, from which I still haven't fully recovered.
  6. I decided to come home to Colorado to digest #1-5, to relax, to replenish my physical and mental wells, and something about making this decision to come home grew larger than this simple summer decision, transformed into a statement about what it is, exactly, that I want in my life and where it is I want it. [But that very last bit is for another post.]
So. Here are some photos and some explanations and some tangents:

I've been going to Mexico since before I was born. My parents used to take us there almost every year, if not every single year, actually, from the time we were in the womb. We always went to the Yucatán to places like Puerto Aventuras and Akumal and Xel-Ha and X-Puhá and Tulum before anyone else really knew about them, back when they were one set of shacks and a local dive shop and a single restaurant. And I've been to Cabo once with friends right after I graduated college. But I've always wanted to go to Mexico City. And the first full novel I read in 2014 was Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives and so much of it takes place in the D.F. and once I finished that book this January, I immediately made the decision to find a way to get to Mexico City this summer, no matter what. I noticed USC was offering a class called Art in the City, taught by a professor I really admire, and it included a free trip to Mexico. So I signed up. And we went to Mexico. And it was amazing but totally overwhelming and there were too many conflicting things and places and theories and art works and people and histories to think about and digest and we were just constantly go go go with not much sleep and so many art museums and taxi cabs and questions none of us had the time to even ask, let alone answer. 
El Sol, Teotihuacán
La Luna, Teotihuacán
La Gruta, the cave where we ate lunch one day
Torre Latino Americana
Palacio de Bellas Artes
MUAC
In MUAC
In MUAC
Post-MUAC
La Basílica de Guadalupe
La Basílica de Guadalupe
La Basílica de Guadalupe
La Basílica de Guadalupe
La Basílica de Guadalupe
Anarchist Archives
Dead scorpion on the roof of the Anarchist archives building.
Outside the Jumex
Outside the Jumex
Outside the Jumex
Inside the Jumex
A Dalí reflected in a pond outside the Jumex, outside a giant shopping mall.
The Tamayo had an opening the last night we were there. So we went.
And it wasn't the Mexico City of Bolaño. Because it wasn't a novel and we weren't in the 60's and 70's and we weren't visceral realists in search of our poetry mother. And I think I was wound up so tightly because of the circumstances and the itinerary that I became a knot, not a web, and nothing could filter through me. So all I really have from that trip is a series of images and some feelings like ghosts that I can't really articulate. I do remember that I had nightmares though. Every night I was in the D.F. One night I dreamed my late grandfather was in some half living, zombie like state at our house in Colorado and that he came out of our garage and murdered my father and brother on our driveway and chased me with a blunt object and was trying to burn our house down and I called 911 and the operator made fun of my emergency, you think *that's* an emergency? he said. Oh, poor wittle girl needs 911. Do you know how many other real emergencies we have to deal with? he scolded. That was my first dream. The dream I had the night after we hiked the pyramids at Teotihuacán was also awful and my dad was the king and he had to kill me and my mom and I tried to plan my escape and when they put me on this platform to be sacrificed, I had to sneakily slip off and slide down into the sewers and navigate the dark, wet passageways out of the city to escape my murderous father. People always tell me other peoples' dreams aren't interesting to anyone else. But I'm telling you all this because that was my trip to Mexico City. Something energetic that I can't explain but that felt like an impenetrable and yet all too penetrable force field around me. On the first night, I kept saying how much I loved it, how much I wanted to move to the D.F. I don't know if I'll ever go back there.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
Coatlicue
Frida and Diego's house, Coyacán
Trotsky's House, Coyacán
Our hotel, 4am
Coyacán
Coyacán
Coyacán

The day after I returned from Mexico City, I already knew I was getting sick, but I didn't realize how bad it was, and the World Naked Bike Ride only comes around once a year, so I took some Imodium and got naked, got painted like a peacock, and rode my bike 15 miles through downtown Los Angeles with hundreds of other people in the name of cyclist visibility, human powered transport, and body positive values. 

That last photo foreshadowed a little too perfectly what the following week and a half held for me. I got some sort of parasite in Mexico, and once the Imodium [that I never should have taken] wore off, I was in hell. I couldn't leave the house, I couldn't eat or drink anything that wasn't water, apple juice, chicken broth, and occasional crackers. I ended up at the school urgent care getting IV fluids one day, then at the emergency room in the middle of the night the next day shitting blood and in more pain than I've ever been in in my life barring that time I had a kidney stone. But even that pain didn't last as long as this did. None of my friends were around or available at 10pm when I had to go to the ER, so I took an Uber there. And there is a cluster of like seven hospitals a few blocks from my house in the East Hollywood/Los Feliz area and I wasn't sure which to go to, so my mom Yelped them for me. The 21st century is so weird and confusing. The only time I ever regret living alone and not having a significant other is when I'm terribly ill and physically cannot take care of myself. But fortunately my best friend rushed down from Topanga Canyon after her theater rehearsal and stayed in the hospital with me most of the night. They tested my blood, urine, and poop and to this day the results are still inconclusive. One of the funniest moments was after N left and I was on Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger or something at 2am in my hospital bed texting my other best friend who is currently on the other side of the world in the Peace Corps in Indonesia and who was, at that same moment, also suffering from a terrible stomach problem that had very similar symptoms. But because of cell phones and internet, we were able to be in the exact same pain together from thousands of miles and multiple time zones away.

I am not someone who does sitting still very well, so the week that I had to spend doing practically nothing at home was miserable. I couldn't even really write or work because the computer screen made me dizzy. So did reading for long periods. So I basically just watched Friday Night Lights, complained on the phone to people I love, read in little spurts, took small walks around my neighborhood, drank water and apple juice, and went to the bathroom. Fortunately, the day my birthday arrived, June 24th, I was basically recovered. So I woke up early and hiked to Griffith Observatory with my yoga instructor/good friend M, then returned home to find that some advertising people hung bags of tiny boxes of cereal from all the doors in my bungalow complex. I discovered the Time Warner guy at my house for an appointment I didn't actually make, but it worked out because he ended up giving me 3x faster internet for $20 less per month. After that, I went to my first yoga class since before I was sick, taught by M. I was born at 3:27pm Mountain Time on the 24th, which is 2:27pm Pacific Time. So at the exact time of my birth 26 years later, I was in final savasana on the floor of my yoga studio in Hollywood with one of my closest friends, closing out a wonderful hour of practice, after which I was reborn into the world, finally not sick, finally rested, finally relaxed, finally at peace. After yoga, I grabbed some real people food quickly, then met L at the spa in Ktown for the best 3 hour spa experience ever. We rushed home, showered, changed, and my best friend rocked up to my street in her red hot Mini Cooper and drove me up to meet all my friends at The Alcove in Los Feliz for dinner. We closed the place down. I ate three desserts and nothing bad happened to my stomach. It was a miracle. I've had a lot of amazing, wonderful birthdays, but in so many ways, this one was the best and the most important because it was the most relaxed, the most down to earth, and I was the most stable and happy I've ever been on a birthday. No alcohol was even needed to celebrate [which is good because my stomach wouldn't have been ready for it]. It solidified my life in LA in the best way.
Observatory overlooking all of Los Angeles
Mah girl, who is my heart
Griffith Park
Griffith Park
FREE CEREAL
My tiny baby
Drive to the spa
Drive to the spa
My BFF got all dressed up punk style for my birthday because she is the best.
I dressed like a princess with polka dots and a poofy dress and sparkles.
The Alcove, closing time
I have the best friends who give me the coolest things
So that was June. For the most part. Except it was so, so much that I realized I needed to come back to my mountains to digest. I won't go into much detail here about my career freak out, but let's just say the one thing I've always had, the one source of stability in my life, has been school and my pursuit of a PhD in Literature. I don't have any marketable skills. My only other paid jobs in life have been: room service attendant, waitress, frozen yogurt swirler/cashier, and senior caregiver. The only skills I have are ones related to writing and reading, publishing, and scholarship. I never gave myself an out from academia because I didn't want to have anything to fall back on because I didn't want to fall back. But this summer class has me questioning a lot of things about my chosen profession, and that scares me. I've been lucky enough to get a lot of great pep talks from my colleagues, but what I wish I had most is Jake to talk to. But since I don't have him and since I'm feeling really, really burned out, I decided to come home to a place where my mind and body have more space and time, fewer distractions and opportunities, to the place I grew up and the place Jake lived in the hope that I'll find here a way to hear my own voice again and to remember why I do what I do. And it's been everything I've needed so far. I have my lovely bedroom and kitchen table and front yard and backyard where I can read and write and think and do the CodeAcademy classes I committed to doing as part of some extra summer funding I'm getting.  I have my parents to give me a different kind of company, so many of my old high school and college friends and their children to spend time with, and most importantly, all the fresh air and outdoor space I could possibly need for yoga and cycling and hiking and exploring in a way that is never loud or overwhelming. I get to spend 10 months of the year in Los Angeles, and I love it, and I love that city and my home and my friends and my life there, but I only get a little time off every few months to spend here in the place where I was born with the people who've known me the longest. And I woke up one day in the midst of my sickness and realized what I needed most was a return home.
Walking around Pearl Street in Denver after my belated birthday dinner.
Went to Fancy Tiger's 8th birthday wearing an outfit I bought from them two
summers ago.
Mornings. With my cat here, we now have a house of three people, four cats,
and a dog.
Workspace #1
Workspace #2
Workspace #3, complete with dog
Evening walks around the neighborhood with the pup.
Mom & Dad made me take them to Dairy Queen one night even though I still
couldn't have ice cream because I was recovering from my parasite. What jerks.
Drive home from the airport.
Belated birthday dinner at Sushi Den on what was actually my Tiny Brother's
birthday.
My sky.
My girl's boy.
More walks with the pup.
Took parents to a craft fair where we bought a ton of pastries. 
Denver
Backyards...
...were invented for Colorado summers.

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