Thursday, February 28, 2013


There are few things I love more than sunshine.

I love its warmth. Its happiness. The way it seeps into every corner with a delicious glow.

I love it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Details: Don't Let the Love Die

It's a vicious cycle, this nocturnal habit of thinking and writing. It's not until my body is fully exhausted and sore, that my mind decides to think and wonder and look at the world from every possible angle. It's not insomnia: I'm usually asleep before the sheets have finished rustling. "Before your head hits the pillow", my dad always chuckled. It's just a sweet, overwhelming sensation of having words tumbling around in your head, wanting to escape, begging you not to lose them to slumber's forgetfulness.

And so tonight? Tonight my mind is on the details, the gentle details, of a relationship.

I inadvertently watched a sad romantic drama tonight. I had seen posters for Blue Valentine when it first came out and, while the trailer looked charming, I'd never actually seen the film until now. So with a steaming mug of black tea and a little bowl of blueberries to stand-in as popcorn, I found it on Netflix. A little Ryan Gosling now and then never hurt anyone. The cinematography was artistic, the camerawork skillful, but my mind is still mulling over the theme: a man and wife who've fallen out of love with each other. Their days are monotonous, their interaction brief and business-like, their conversation limited to who'll attend the parent-teacher meeting and who should take out the trash. The vibrancy, the intimacy, the sweetness, the gone. The old love is dead; they've been reduced to two strangers who happen to share a history, a house, and a daughter.

Watching their tension, tears, conflict and utter apathy towards each other made me re-realize the importance of details in a relationship. The small gestures that make both of you laugh, the words of appreciation or encouragement to build each other up, the time spent to reconnect after a long and hectic day. It's easy to forget, or be too tired, or think it's not important, when in reality, nothing could be more significant. I'm reminded that it takes nurturing to create a connection that will outlast the seasons; be that between lovers, friends, coworkers, or family members. In the whirlwind of life and jobs and responsibilities, you only have the people around you, and we can't afford to overlook the details. Don't let the love die.

"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all, become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good, either. White, hot, and passionate is the only thing to be." -Roald Dahl

Sunday, February 24, 2013


There are moments in your life when you just want to pause time. Trap the smiles and sunshine in an indigo bottle you can keep and savor forever. Hold a polaroid high above you and capture the feel, the smells, the warmth in one instant shot.

This morning was one of those moments; a long, delicious moment.  Perched on the cliffs high above the crashing waves, we shared a fruity breakfast and sipped coffee as we watched surfers below. Silently absorbing the sea salt and wintery sunshine, we just were. Us and the sound of the waves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The United Fruit Co. - Pablo Neruda

When the trumpet sounded, it was
all prepared on the earth,
the Jehovah parcelled out the earth
to Coca Cola, Incl, Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the 'Banana Republics'
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness, the liberty
it established the comic opera:
abolished the independencies,
presented crowns of Caesar,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the dictatorship of the flies,
Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carias flies, Martines flies,
Ubico flies, damp flies
of modest blood and marmalade,
drunken flies who zoom
over the ordinary graves,
circus flies, wise flies
well trained in tyranny.

Among the blood-thirsty flies
and the Fruit Company lands its ships,
taking off the coffee and the fruit;
the treasure of our submerged
territories flow as though
on plates into the ships.

Meanwhile Indians are falling
into the sugared chasms
of the harbours, wrapped
for burials in the midst of the dawn:
a body rolls, a thing
that has no name, a fallen cipher,
a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Night Raptures

"Millions of people around the world report awakening around 3am for no reason. For many, it is a frustrating interruption in an otherwise restful sleep. But what if you could learn to release resistance to these mysterious awakenings? What if the night has secrets to whisper to you?"

There were words waltzing around in my mind tonight. As I focused on finishing a website, transcribing an emotional interview from Tlacuitapa, or sending the last few emails of the day, phrases and words kept surprising me with unexpected intensity. It was as if my thoughts had turned to neon signs only my mind's eye could read. Sharp, yet elegant; they exposed a subconscious that was busy pondering mysterious things. And yet, I'm here now, ready to finally listen to the secrets my mind has been whispering...but it's fallen silent. The whisps of words have vanished for now, waiting for another late night to taunt me. 

"Sometimes difficult to explain, these experiences are like catching glimpses into the perfection of everything. For those brief moments when the ego is retired from guard, we are given sudden access to the allness - a pure and sensual passion for everything just as it is. Like a giant parade, organized in its chaos, in which every last one of us is celebrating this gift of being alive." - Rumi.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My piece of the puzzle

Countless wide, brown eyes silently blink back painful stories of their childhood. Their faces are young; most of these girls are under 15. Many still single digit ages. Their beautiful eyes hide untold horrors and though their faces are childlike, these girls have endured more than most can even imagine. Violence against women takes many forms: rape, female genital mutilation, denied access to an education, withholding of resources, gendercide, sex slavery, gender inequality, structural violence...the list goes on.  In nearly all corners of the world, the reality of being born female equals a life of pain and unimaginable hardship.

I've spent the last two hours watching a gripping documentary filmed by New York Times writers Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and the International Rescue Committee. It's more than a documentary however, Half the Sky started as a book that has ignited a global awareness campaign dedicated to curbing gender-based violence. The stories are heartbreaking and powerful, especially since you know there are so many more who never make it to the pages of a book. So many voices we still haven't heard. So many injustices that have never been prosecuted.

As I watch, I'm flooded with a variety of strong - and often conflicting - thoughts and emotions. Primarily, my mind races with how I can possibly help. How can I use my studies here and my experiences here to make a difference there? How can I find the right internship or the right opportunities to find myself in circles where I can help such women and girls? I want to be there so desperately it becomes an ache; an ache for suffering peoples I can only read and watch about for now. There is so much that needs doing, so many needs that have not yet been met, and I yearn to be somewhere, doing something, right now.
However, for the first time in my life, I feel simultaneously constrained. Not by my gender, or my education, or lack of opportunities....but by my race. My background. My skin color. Having studied international development, medical anthropology, global health and the politics of inequality, I have realized that real change can only come from the empowerment of local communities. Local men and women. I, and any international organization for that matter, cannot descend into a community with our technology and "expertise", announce societal ills, and slap on our proposed solutions. It must come from within. It must come from the empowerment of local voices and local vision. I struggle with knowing my place in the puzzle knowing that I'm white. I cannot relate to these victims; their life stories are so much deeper and painful than my own. I cannot understand the complexities of the deeply rooted socio-political and economic forces at play. I cannot see the world as they do. And yet I know I have things to share, services to offer, love to give. I just don't know my place.

During my time researching in Mexico, I uncovered countless unexpected stories of domestic violence. A question we added last minute revealed painful realities that overwhelmed me as I listened to my interviewees. Many times after heavy interviews, I would sit on a streetside curb and just breathe; controlling my thoughts so as not to cry. The stories are real, matter-of-fact, "normal", and powerfully tragic. The women who are raped by their husbands. The women who are unable to leave their homes or denied access to care. The man who explained why, since wife-beating is frowned upon in the U.S., he brought a container of Mexican soil with him and his family when he migrated: when he's angry at his wife, he pours a bit onto their kitchen floor and makes her stand on it so he can beat her "on Mexican dirt".

There's a problem here. I know my piece fits in somewhere.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

To think

"The books that help you the most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty." -Pablo Neruda