A few weeks ago I was hurtling across the Saguaro Desert on a train trip. Part of me feels like I still haven’t arrived back.
The bumpy, rattling movement of the train (somehow soothing). The curious other passengers (eclectic cross-section of folks travel by train). America going by outside the viewing car (desert, cacti, power plant, river, airplane graveyard, more cacti). We must have passed through a dozen different tiny towns, all with the same 3 things — bar, junkyard, train stop.
We got our Colombian waiter in the dining car to wear my headdress costume. We listened to our luggage attendant talk about how much she hates LA traffic (always end up talking about that no matter where I am in the world). We saw a spectacular sunset in Tucson. We watched an electrical lightning storm during dinner. We laughed til we couldn’t breathe.
But my favorite part, the best part, was this man I filmed from afar during the sunset. While everyone else was scrambling to take photos of the pink sherbet sky, he just gazed out the window, stoic as a sculpture, obscuring everyone’s photos of the sunset, not caring in the slightest. His energy was heavy, lonely. But maybe I’m projecting that, and he was perfectly happy, enjoying the minutely disruptive act of messing up everyone’s photo.
I like how in the video he’s observing nature, yet is separated from it. Perhaps that’s just a thing I think I should say. Seems like something you’d read at a museum.
Actually, the best part was hearing the train whistle all the time. It’s the best sound in the world. Full of romance, full of longing. The 9 hour trip was worth it just for that.
Last night I told a group of strangers about my past in beauty pageants. It was The Moth, and I got picked to tell a story! (thanks to @ebschiller signing me up because I was late because I’m always laaaaaate). The theme was “Beauty” and here are the highlights of my story: ⚡️There’s an urban legend in pageants about the girl whose onstage question was “Who do you most want to meet, dead or alive?” And she blanked and answered “Definitely alive!” In other words, being a beauty pageant contest is perhaps the most vilified, misunderstood thing a woman can do in modern culture. I was one of those women. From age 17-24. An adult decision. ⚡️But it was one of the most empowering, positive experiences of my life. And I won. More than once. Because your highest and lowest scores are thrown out, which means because I was strongly mediocre, I won. I was consistently whelming. ⚡️My mom never wanted me to do pageants, but it ended up being a way we bonded, driving to rehearsals and dress shopping. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was something we did to get our minds of chemo and the heaviness of her condition. ⚡️other stuff other stuff ⚡️Act 2 where I shared details and anecdotes, to be honest my story lost steam here. I always spend too much time on the set-up.⚡️more stuff about not having a tragic life story and it kept me from winning the ultimate crown … then I connected this to my moms illness but what’s the line between catharsis and exploitation? So I never talked about it in pageants.
⚡️When she passed away, I still felt I couldn’t “use” her death to “get ahead.” I did move back from New Zealand to do one last pageant, Miss Las Vegas, before I aged out. But I lost to a deaf Cher impersonator / flutist. ⚡️Then I kinda didn’t know how to connect it so I said something like “When I look back, the times I felt beautiful weren’t having a crown put on my head, but the times I shared with my mom, that in the last year of her life we had something fun we shared.”
I got good scores!! 🙏 Thank you Mom for being okay with me talking about your illness then, even though I didn’t, and finally making the pageant connection, 13 years later. #themoth #storyteller #futuredreams
I edited this yesterday while relaxing at a river swimming hole. Sometimes nature and technology can be friends. Happy (belated because I’m always belated) Fourth of July.
Shot and edited on an iPhone 6 by me. Poem “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski, by way of a Levi’s “Go Forth” ad I’ve always loved.
This is the trailer we never released to a movie we never finished writing. It was 5 years ago, and we wanted to make a love letter to Sayulita, Mexico, where Beth’s family had a house. She’d been taking me since we were 15, she’d been going even longer. The film’s theme was about running away, literally and metaphorically. Our characters were living an idyllic expatriate life in Mexico, but discovering that even paradise has its trappings. We wrote dozens of pages and outlines, but the script just never came together. We couldn’t crack it. There was a foreboding about “commodifying” our friendship, and the town we loved so much. Maybe it was meant to be a lesson in the creative process, that some stories just aren’t meant to exist on the page. Her family has since sold the house, and anyway Sayulita has been quite “discovered” by now. Vaya con dios, movie that never was. Thank you @machetebangbang for putting this edit together. All the way to Pluto and back. 💫
My nephew is two. He has ignored me for his entire existence, until last weekend. I get it. I had little to offer. I didn’t provide him milk or a cozy bed or anything other than “Hi, you’re so cute.” I don’t know how I earned it, but suddenly he loves me. Like, can’t get enough of me. Such a gift, albeit an exhausting one. I was reminded of this piece I wrote when he was born, and wanted to share it again (however I edited it a bit, this is the power of perspective to make your writing better). Marveling at how much has changed in just two years. Marveling at how I rarely cry and rarely talk about it when I do, yet a lot of my posts are about me crying. Funny that.
For the last few years, I sorta rolled my eyes when people gushed about Tulum. Now I’ve been there twice in two months. Just something about that place. Two weekends ago I was there swimming in a cave. This weekend I’m doing laundry, driving in traffic, and holding space for sick family members. Life is funny like that. The balance of yay and meh. But back to the cave. It was an underground river system called a cenote. A sacred place. Turns out cenotes are sink holes circling the crater created by the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. And because this was an exquisitely curated gathering, we reached the end of the cenote to find a guy playing a sitar surrounded by red candles. A. Freakin. Sitar. This was a “peak experience” to say the least. How do we then integrate back to our normal lives, with its obligations, rules, and general unsexiness? I used to start planning my next escape, asap. Now I’m finding balance in the obligations and rules. Finding sexy in little pleasures like hot coffee, fresh laundry, and good rest. I think perhaps that’s how we become warriors. Finding contentment no matter where we are, because at least it means we’re alive.
Shot and edited on an iPhone at @our_habitas. “Man in Nature” by Alan Watts.
You know what they say, “it’s the journey, not the destination” // the ultimate modern cliché. // I’m supposed to be all zen and believe it, but hey – I’m human. I’m goal oriented. Sometimes the journey is really fucking annoying. And after all, who are “they?”
When I was younger I just wanted to party. Now I want to keep my car clean, and my teeth, and my room. // Do volunteer work, be a better daughter, less of a jerk.
(sunglasses emoji sheepish emoji lightning bolt emoji)
What about those of us who don’t wax poetic? Who can’t bemoan the journey OR the destination? // They progress little by little, they have no choice. // Their goal is less than Bali, fame, Rolls Royce. They don’t move mountains, or even move a rock. // Their goal is just the right to breathe, to speak, even just to walk.
To you I say – you inspire me. To get up day after day, when progress is so minute, Facing yourself like that means you’re a true warrior. More than all the medals, “followers” or loot. So is it the journey or the destination? I don’t know and I don’t care.
(shrugging emoji rolling eyes emoji sleeping emoji)
I’m writing poetry, up late at night. // I journeyed to this destination, and it feels pretty alright. // I’ve got air in my lungs. Cheap wine and good weed. Old friends and new lovers. What more could I need?