RSS Feed

Category Archives: Loves

Ode to Pablo Neruda.

The words ooze sensuality on the page in a way so romantic, even the most cynical person (myself included) cannot help slowly becoming a victim of the swooning.  It’s steamy tropical heat rising off the pages. Lush lyricism enchants, the hands on the book begin to sweat. It mesmerizes. It’s the highest extension of passion on paper.  It’s at once heart melting, heart breaking, gut wrenching and emotional enough to make you want to find a lost love and pour out long held emotions at their feet. It removes all sense of logic and rationalization. The feelings are those of love, the pain that comes with love, and the all too familiar feeling of loss that inevitably follows true love. That is what is so special about Neruda; he writes of the knee weakening love that should be approached with relish and passion because he is certain that is will not stay perfectly unbroken forever. It cannot. No love ever does. And therein lays the magic of poetry, of Neruda. He loves with reckless abandon and suffers the consequences. 

Certain books, especially– 100 Love Sonnets and 20 Love Poems and A Song of Despair– should come with a warning: there is no telling what you may do once intoxicated.  

 

From 100 Love Sonnets

…I loved you without knowing I did; I searched to remember you.
I broke into houses to steal your likeness,
though I already knew what you were like. And, suddenly,
when you were there with me I touched you, and my life
stopped…

From I Like For You To Be Still in Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
And you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you.
I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile, is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it’s not true.

 From my personal favorite, Tonight I Can Write In Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

 

 Unlike what you may think, I like to read Mr. Neruda when I’m floating on a sea of despair. He shows how pain can be lyrical, and also necessary.  I also know there are many unflattering things about his personal world, but they are erased from my memory the moment I encounter his words; an effect not unlike that which happens when you find yourself knee deep in love.

 

Gracias por mostrarnos su alma, Senor Neruda.

A Love Letter to the People of Costa Rica.

Pura Vida! Pura Vida! Puuura Veeeeda! I hear this happy phrase constantly, its joyful energy suspicious to my cynical American ears. It dances around me, like perfectly planned choreography, just waiting for me to catch on, join in the dance.

Pura Vida. It flows out of the lips, curling them ever so slightly into a smile, whether you like it or not. My American style skepticism is on high alert. Who are these cheerful people, throwing around such a blissful saying with such genuine happiness? I thought happy people, real live happy people, were just the stuff that myths and movies were made of? Could it be that I have found a treasure trove of happiness in this little nature drenched country?  Suddenly; there was clarity—the true key as to why Costa Rica is able to cast such a spell on those who visit, leaving a permanent imprint on the heart. The secret, my friends, is the people.

As I meander through the crooked streets, I’m met with smiles. Friendly “holas” greet me as I saunter by. Warmth radiates, hangs in the air, mixes with the landscape, creates magic.  There is soulfulness to the people, a friendliness not usually encountered in everyday life. Am I just drunk on vacation, I wonder? I must get deeper, so I set out to observe.

There is perpetual laughter in the air, a smile painting the lips of almost everyone. They throw nicknames at each other in an affectionate way. It seems as if everyone cracks jokes, exchanges glances, and “pura vidas.” 

Are they faking it? I am now on a mission, seeking out anyone and everyone willing to give me the time of day (which, by the way, is pretty much everyone). They are funny, gracious, and curious.  I find myself smiling more, the petulant American style attitude shedding more with each day.

Through many a long hour of conversations with locals, I discovered that life is not always smooth sailing in Costa Rica—wages tend to be lower than in United States but the cost of living is similar. People work long hours in hard jobs for half of the money. And yet… they just shrug this off when asked about it. They are happy to share details with you, but not once did it exit their mouths in the form of a complaint, a difference that I notice immediately. Is that their secret? I decide I need a second; third, many even tenth visit in order to further test my theory.

I later learn that Costa Rica is in the top 5 countries listed in numerous studies as the “Happiest Places on Earth.” Last year, it ranked number one in a study on the “happiest countries.”  I am not at all shocked, but I am glad I didn’t know this before I went, so there wasn’t a chance that statistics and “supposed tos” could influence my mind.

 So, you ask, what does “Pura Vida” mean?  It means, well… everything. It’s “hello” “goodbye” “thank you” “you’re welcome” “don’t worry about it” “it’s awesome” “nice to meet you…” the list goes on and on and on. It makes no sense and yet perfect sense.

As my days in Costa Rica wind up, I find myself thinking of how I can bottle this happiness up and bring it home with me. Impossible. Then suddenly, I think of “pura vida.”  If I blurt out this little saying out at home in the states, would people just crinkle up their face at me in frustration? I didn’t know, but floating on optimism, I vowed to try.

Happy Birthday, Blog!

 A year ago, I started out on this little adventure. Who would read? I thought… and I’m kind of still thinking that.

 Kidding!

It’s been a fun year of putting my thoughts out there, forcing me to be more disciplined about writing, the only thing that matters in life (Aside from travel. And cheese).

I don’t want to go all mushy and lovey dovey and all butterflies and baby kittens and all that, for fear it may ruin my surly and cynical reputation (What? You thought I was nice? You’re so silly!! Oh, wait, I want you to read my blog… ok, I am nice! Butterflies, kittens, yaay!!)

So, I’ll make it a quick little shout out.

Thank you to all my new friends who have said so many wonderfully kind, encouraging words as the days slipped off the calendar.  You really can’t imagine my joy at the positive feedback that you, my handful of readers, has given me (and seriously, the word “joy” and I don’t normally make appearances together, so really, thank you!)

 I enjoy your visits, your comments and your blogs, as I have been lucky enough to connect with some brilliant writers and artists.  Thank you!

Next post—travel back to Costa Rica with me for part 2 of my adventure!

Costa Rica, te amo (part 1)

The meandering road from San Jose to Manuel Antonio stretched before me like a dream—its curves enticing and mysterious, so different from my world. Indescribably bright flowers greeted me with silent “hellos” as we climbed through wavy hills and long stretches of green so bright that it seems a disservice to just call it “green.”  My body yawned, an involuntary response to the dry air hanging in the plane, but my mind was exhilarated, my eyes being assigned the impossible task of trying to take everything in.  The colors were jubilant; the traffic sparse, the roadside fruit stands plentiful.  A smile crossed my face as I settled further into my seat, and felt the everyday world sliding off my back.  I knew in that instant that the rules of life didn’t apply here—sometimes the fantasy does live up to the reality.

The days unfolded in an array of colors, heat and rain. The beaches, the colors, the mysterious allure of the jungle, the seamless integration of humans and nature—they all delighted my eager eyes.  The mysteriousness of the rainforest, with its secret medicines disguised as leaves unfolded around me, enchanting every last one of my senses.  Even spiders, with their ominous legs and ever expanding webs seemed relevant when in their element.  Sloths cradled themselves in trees, relaxing in the shade, and hiding from the midday sun coloring skin on the earth below.

Costa Rica is a land that seduces all of the senses—assaulting each and every sense individually. From tiny houses suspended on mountain roads to flowers so bright you think they’ve been photo shopped; Costa Rica is probably the model they based “high definition” on—vivid, intricate, colorful, alive. The nose will tingle as it discovers scents like no other it has encountered before—the lingering smell of night jasmine and fresh rain, a scent of pure romance that would fly off the shelves if someone figured out how to stuff it into fancy glass bottles.  The scented air intoxicates, romantically lulls me into relaxation so deep; I forget what day it is, throw away my watch. The humidity is a gentle touch on the skin, wrapping itself around my body only to be relieved by the chilly, crisp water enveloping me as I glide under waves—a hideout from the sun’s intense rays.  Lounging in a hammock, the eyes close automatically, leaving the ears to act in their place.  Spanish fills the air as I drift into a restful slumber, the words like a dance, filled with emotion, filled with life.  Awaking from a short nap, there is hunger, the last sense begging to be fulfilled.  On this one, Costa Rica delivers big time. An explosion of flavor awaits– luscious pineapple, pink watermelon so juicy your arm becomes sticky from the dripping juice, but you care not.  A steaming mug of coffee from fresh beans awaits– dark, nutty and bold, the taste unsullied by storage and transport.  Fresh fish, never frozen, playfully sit among cilantro, limes, onions and tomatoes in tangy cerviche, waiting to be piled on crackers and enjoyed.  Plantains, smashed and refried decorated the side of the plate, a delightful detour from the standard American side of French fries. Next to them, red meat so delicate, so tenderly, melt in your mouth delicious, it’s almost a crime.  Where on earth has this meat been all my life? The flavor is so smooth and buttery, an explosion of pure, simple beef flavor, not ruined by preservatives, cheap feed, or sadness.

I cannot go back, it is not possible after all I have seen, heard, tasted.  I will keep repeating this sentence over and over, until I am forced to face reality.

 

Costa Rica, You and I Have a Long Awaited Date.

I developed a fascination with all things foreign, exotic and travel related when I was just a young teenager.  While other girls were thinking about prom and cheerleading, I found myself thinking about backpacking through ancient Europe, Caribbean palm trees and making my way through the primitive ruins and jungles of Central America. Of course, this didn’t serve my social life well, and I ended up with more hardcover friends then human friends (which resulted in the previous post, naturally).  It was also during this time that I developed an unbridled obsession with a little country called Costa Rica.  At that time, it was a still undiscovered explorer’s paradise. It was a place where ultra cool hipsters went, fell in love with the lifestyle, never went home and became ultra cool expats who ran surf shacks and coffee bars. This was probably the first time I also fell in love with the romantic idea of shrugging your shoulders at the known world and giving it all up in search of new adventures. I was sure Costa Rica had it all.  I needed to be there.  

Sadly, it was hardly in my 15 year old budget to get myself there, but I never forgot my first love, as is usually the case. I kept Costa Rica close as the years past, letting her hold onto that special place in my heart, reserved for all first loves.  Her name stayed in my head for years, letting off tiny whispers in my ear every now and again, but I had to keep turning her down year after year.  Thankfully, relentless is a word some have used to describe me, and after so much anticipation, this year, I finally hopped a plane headed for the rich coast. I was nervous. What if I built this up too much? What if my little Costa Rica disappointed me? Would it change the way I thought about things forever?  Would my obsession deliver? Or would this be like most other things in life that we obsess over, but in the end fails to deliver? Would the grass really be greener on the other side? Could Costa Rica be the anomaly in this crazy thing we called life, subject to all stupid “rules?” Would Costa Rica break the rules?

 Stay tuned…!

Hopelessly Addicted To… Books!

I have a problem with books. A serious one. To call me a “bibliophile” would be a dramatic understatement.  I have piles upon piles of books. I buy them, I rent them from the library, I steal them (mainly from others, not the store, which makes it ok, ok?).  I have names of books scribbled in all my notebooks, on random pieces of paper, on my phone. I have books on shelves, in piles, packed in boxes. They live in my car, my house, they are with me, in some form or another, wherever I go.  I read fiction, non-fiction, research, history, poems– pretty much anything that I can get my hands on, anything that will charm me with smooth writing and beautiful prose. I read them 2, 3, sometimes even 4 at a time. Oh, please, you say, you couldn’t possibly pay full attention to each of them when you read that many at once! Not true! Not true at all. I love them all, I love every minute of each one, devoting my mind wholeheartedly to whatever title makes its way into my hands, whether or not it’s my one and only or a fling among many. I love them all, truly, possibly more than anything (ok, slight exaggeration).  I love their beautiful covers, the way they smell, the thought of what secrets they hold, the thought of what they might teach me.  I love their ability to whisk me away at a moment’s notice.  Open one and I am in India, with the heat, the noise, the impossibly bright saris lying against dark skin scented with spices and mystery. Open another and I feel the cool breeze off a New England shore, the smell of melted butter and boiling lobster in the air.  The next one reveals life advice from a Grandmother I never had, the next –a heart retching account of woman’s struggle with multiple loves, the next– a vivid picture of the bleak suffering of Depression Era America, the next –a peek at the intricacies of another country, the next—love poems… it goes on and on and on, and endless stream of information, stories, happiness, pain, advice, and so much more–all of which I cannot get enough.    

 

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours.” — J. D. Salinger

I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading.” — Thomas B. Macaulay

In Search of Inspiration, I Wander.

 

Sometimes it’s tough to be a writer. Never mind the steep competition and the lack of pay and the undying urge to put words on paper, those are just minor idiosyncrasies.  We suffer from an endless stream of words swirling through our minds, our brains working overtime to try and string them together in a way that makes them stand out, in a way that takes other people to the moment, gives them a connection. We are emotional, guarded and always thinking. We are constantly in search of new inspiration to keep our thoughts fresh and original.  It is sometimes a love/hate thing, I must admit, as being an office drone sometimes impedes my thoughts, stomps on the inspiration.  I know you’re thinking, what, those beige walls don’t inspire you? Impossible! But yes, friends, it’s true—I need more than beige walls and ugly carpet to get the creative juices brewing.  So, when even my favorite muse can’t come through for me, I go searching. I wander to old places, new places. I explore, and lately, I capture it on film. The still shot of a moment etched in a photograph enchants me. I love the simplicity, the way time is frozen on film. There are no detailed words, only images, feeding our imagination, letting our mind feast on the unknown.  An endless array of thoughts and questions come to mind. Was it loud there? What time of day was it? What aromas filled the air? Who walked by? Did anyone walk by? What did the air feel like? Was the sidewalk silent? Busy? Were there snippets of conversation floating around your ears? The questions go on and on and on….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.