Real Jardín Botánico // Last Day of September

Today is the last day of September. Sometimes time moves quickly and others slowly but right now it seems to make sense. Almost six weeks I’ve been here, six weeks of fresh days and new friends and quiet observations. Of travel and introspection and a lot of happiness.

  

I can feel the ways I’ve changed this year and it’s so much for the better. I think I am more patient and more kind. I listen more. I am able to be alone, and I like it and crave it and I value time to think. I feel I am more in the present, I can so much more easily let myself feel the good things and let the bad things wash over me like waves until they have tired themselves and I am once more at peace.

I’ve been so frustrated with myself in the past for my failure to finish projects, for not making enough art, for consuming so much more than I created. And then at the beginning of this year, I made goals and I started making them happen; I found things that I loved enough to keep up with. I made a blog–and I haven’t written daily or weekly but I do have a place in the internet with a handful of thoughts and photos and when I feel inspired I come here to create more. I have a project–and I take videos each day and if I miss one day a month it is ok, and at the end I put it all together and it makes me happy. I have a film camera–and I love taking photos and I do it, often. And I feel proud of what I make and I feel like I am finding my voice across mediums. I still soak up media, art, places; I listen to podcasts and to people speaking other languages and to friends telling me their stories, and I read lots of blogs and every modern love article and books (oh I love books!), and I look at painting and sculptures and videos and the things that I’ve made myself. And I make more things! And I think more thoughts! And every day I do the best I can to learn and communicate and to feel peace.

  

I cry easily. The things that move me to sadness make me happy to be feeling so deeply, so wholly; I am grateful to experience such a wealth of emotions upon reading and looking and observing, to derive such depth from people and places I do not know. To know pieces of people that I have not met. I like to internalize the external and I find such grace and humility in taking other people’s stories and weaving them into my own.

  

With love on a Wednesday afternoon.

Cafelito

Sitting on a comfy chair in this place, my favorite café so far in Madrid. The right amount of quiet and cozy, lots of positive energy bouncing around in this small space,. People writing and chatting and and drinking from cups on happy little saucers with warm drinks inside. It’s raining again and here they play quiet jazz with just the right amount of brass, good for these drowsy days.

I wrote my friend Sarah an email this morning and I’m hoping to do more of that. It’s a nice way to excise my thoughts and work through ideas and and easy to keep in touch.

I’m trying to practice things, to write often and take photos and strike the balance between seeing and making // listening and talking. My days are often busy but there are quiet spaces in between, in motion and otherwise.

Today

Today was windy and gray and later on the rain came. I walked home through the park listening to music, soft enough to hear droplets falling between branches shading the quiet paths. The trees are turning here and seeing leaves loose and dry on the ground excites me.

I like the way this coolness feels, the air of it whipping my hair and papers, the need to turn down cuffed sleeves. I like to be in this place, the newness of it and the freedom, the lightness the future holds. The feeling of unsettlement and the act of settling. I like to walk and to wander, to run and think and make new ideas. I need to write down more ideas.

Each day is a little bit different but mostly it all just feels like now.

All I Want

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All I Want : Kodaline 

So you brought out the best of me,
A part of me I’ve never seen.
You took my soul and wiped it clean.
Our love was made for movie screens.

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It’s finally spring. It’s spring and tonight is one of those nights when you can feel it, the newness of grass and leaves and the water compressed in the air. The wind whips as a reminder of the change and branches breathe heavy in the sky.

It’s easy for me to feel alive in the midst of all this growth. I love the smell of the rain and I love the way it feels on my face in the dark against the night sky. I love the grass beneath my feet and the way the earth moves in, just a little, to accommodate my steps above. I love finding a song and listening to it over and over and over because it makes me marvel at this singular, full, vibrating life, marvel at this selfhood that I have and forget and remember again, marvel at my legs, moving in circles on the pavement as I twirl around and around like a crazy person or maybe a person not so crazy after all. I love the big bursting feeling of it all, of being alive and alert; I am a girl in motion, I am propelled by breath and muscles and beats and the stuff of the heart.

I am a tiny part of this gigantic, pulsating Earth, in motion. I am of the universe and a universe in myself. I am love and light, darkness, I am whirling and still and tired, I’m awake and alert and I’m human.

Pictures from Alaska, summer 2011. 

TUESDAY ( & HERE’S A TIP, C/O MIKE)

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“If you’re feeling down, just go do something. Clean your room or do some German. Drink good coffee and work on yourself.”

I’m spending time taking some deep breaths. Remembering to love the ordinary, and the bad, and the good. Making plans and taking time to spend quiet moments alone. I’ve been listening to music and doing homework and submitting abroad deposits and crafting my first Observer article.

Sending out positive vibes this Tuesday. \\

Hate is heavy. Let it go.

THE WINDOW SEAT

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The thing about flying is that it’s really, really crazy when you stop to think about it. When you pause for a second in the midst of your day and your book and the uncomfortable pressure in your left ear and contemplate the fact that you’re higher than the clouds and the trees and the birds. It’s fascinating, when you’re landing, to watch the highways; to see the cars merge in and weave out, to observe the surprising clarity of the lines marking the lanes and the way that those tiny individuals will turn. I think it’s one of the most immediate and physical of shifts perspective we can experience-to be here in the sky and there, an hour later, in a car that merges and weaves. I think it’s really incredible.

Some things from this week:

My thoughts have been with the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting and the members of that community. I have very few words, but this article does a beautiful job.

For some reason I’d never discovered First Kit’s cover of America, but it’s done been discovered now and I am absolutely in love. Claire and I have been absolutely obsessed and singing it to each other every day- “Kathy, I’m lost”, I said, though I know she was sleeping. “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”

Today I underestimated the time it would take to get to the airport and the T was having delays and I was that crazy person sprinting catch the plane as the last boarding call sounded. But it was all good in the end and during the flight I read and afterward my Nana picked me up and we went to the Olive Garden which was just perfect.

Speaking of the Olive Garden, they make a surprisingly mean cappuccino. Though I have to admit, when our kind and extremely cheery waiter Mike asked me if I’d like whipped cream on top of my cappuccino I let out a small, involuntary chuckle. The experience was so fun but it reminded me of how grateful I am to have so many trendy joints nearby/v many hip places to explore.

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT

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Today marks the fourth snow day of the semester.

It’s been cold here, recently, as winters often are; but this winter, unlike the last, has brought us snowflake upon snowflake. Flying ever so radically through the air, falling ever softly to the ground, they cease only with the promise of a quiet return. This white stuff has swallowed the earth underneath it and continued on, collecting in piles and heaps and mountains over the tired soil. We hear machines working into the night, clearing the paths we’ll later walk; they are aware, surely, of the impermanence of their relief. We are tired too, we dream not only of summer but of a world in which the grass is discernible, the skies blue. It exists, a few states, a few hours away, but we stay as we are; moving in circles abreast the ice, sketching trails onto the floors of rooms sheltered from the elements. We wait. We count our breaths, suspended in this clumsy replica of a bear’s hibernation.

And I, I have been taking this time to rest. Don’t we all need a little more respite in the winter? I’ve been listening to Bon Iver and reading articles on the internet, studying long texts in Spanish and making use of my French Press. I’ve been watering my air plants and wearing cardigans. I’ve been spending more time under the covers than not. I’ve been doing my best to appreciate this season, these bitter, unforgiving, dazzling, awakening months; I’ve been treasuring the warmth and trying to treasure the cold just as much.

Here’s to the quiet of this chill. May we take it for what it is, and let it remind us, always, of who we are.

I SAY GIVE LOVE

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It’s a week to Valentine’s Day and lately I’ve been thinking about love. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easy to fall in love-with a friend, a lover, a tree in the springtime. It’s easy to appreciate beautiful and simple things; it’s effortless to admire without seeing something in it’s entirety.

It takes more work to stay in love.

It takes work to stay in love with yourself. To keep your identity true to the things down inside you and to embrace the dark parts and to know that each facet is working to make a complete, magnificent soul.

It takes work to stay in love with your school or your job. It takes a concerted effort to cherish your classes and your readings and the hours in the office.

It takes work to stay in love with your home. To change your perspective, to focus on the things you might notice when you halt the complaints in your head. It requires effort to admire the way the snow moves in the wind and the way that this season fits in a puzzle with all the others.

It takes work to stay in love with people. Relationships are complicated things. It’s hard to learn all of the parts of a person; it’s hard sometimes to love their dark areas, in the same way it’s hard to love your own. It’s difficult, at times, to communicate; to say I hurt here, to say please help me, to say, I think you are lost. It’s hard to share yourself with a person. It’s hard to have them share themselves back.

But I’ve been thinking, and I’ve come to the conclusion. Isn’t that where the true beauty lies? Doesn’t it rest underneath the ubiquity of a veneered smile or tired faces on the T ride home, inside the bad days and disappointments and petty fights? I think that what makes us most beautiful is to look at ourselves throughout it all and to share the quiet, vulnerable, dazzling pieces; to have the courage to give love and take it. To declare, proudly, I am messy. This is me. I am here and alive and ready to grow. And I have been hurt and I have been scared and I have been buoyant and I have had happiness. Here it is. Here is me and here is you and here is us, together, trying to figure it out along the way.

I’ve been thinking, and I say give love. I say give love and take love, the both, and be gentle and be kind and be unafraid.

And to you, love, I say look into my heart. Because I have given you my soul, taken a cup and scooped it up and I have fed it to you, yes, because everyone gets sick sometimes and that’s no weakness but it’s a certainty, and my soul is mine but I share it with you any day, and you helped make it so it’s yours too, you know.

HERE’S A TIP

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Here’s a tip:

Whenever you’re feeling down or disappointed or disconnected, go outside. Start walking. Take a minute to put on your favorite song and then look up, around you, above you. Feel the wind on your face and the way your hair ruffles, notice the manner in which your feet set themselves down and come up again. See the slant of light on the buildings and the trees silhouetted against the sky and street signs, next to the roads under the bodies that travel across them. Observe the people walking around you and past you, observe your heart, observe the way your feelings change when you see those moments around you as art rather than the everyday. Take a breath. Let it out. Detect yourself in the midst of it all.