Monday, July 19, 2010

I've moved!

Hi There!

I am consolidating my two blogs! You can now follow me and read my new posts at Confessions of a Travel Addict
Thanks, and take care!

Love and writing kisses

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Let's Not Say Goodbye...How Bout "See You Later?"

Dear Mexico,

Please don’t cry. We knew this was coming and chose to ignore it, like a big stinky elephant in the corner of the room polluting the air.
I want you to know that I’ve never felt this way about anyone before – I’ve never been as hesitant to leave a place as I am now, and I’ve been a lot of places, so that says a lot.
Sorry…that probably doesn’t make it easier. I’m not really one of those people who can let go easily; I always want to believe that long-distance relationships can work: that the ardor that I feel won’t fade. In fact, I think I’m probably a little too good at telling myself these things, because I’m always the one who doesn’t want it to end, while I am inevitably the one who has the plane ticket to leave.
What can I say? I’m a contradiction in terms. There’s something different this time, though. This time, my want to stay is just as powerful as my want to go. Before, I always knew that what I was working toward was important enough to leave for, but now I feel that what’s most important to me is both there and here, with you. It’s a new feeling for me and I don’t quite know what to do with it.
A friend told me once that people are put in your life for a reason, and whatever that reason is it’s important, regardless of how long they’re in your life to convey it. I tend to want them to stay far past the point when they’ve delivered their message, but I feel that there is more that you have yet to give me. This is incredible to me, Mexico, because you’ve already taught me so much!
When I got here, I was angry and didn’t know it. I was constantly thinking about others and wishing that they could see what I see. I wanted to change the world but I didn’t know how to go about it without having to tell others what to do. Much like you and your waves on the beach outside my room at night, you ate away at those ideas and gave me peace of mind that I never knew could exist.
I came here looking for something and not expecting to find it – after all, I’ve been a sort of traveling slut for more than 10 years now – smothering a place with my affections, being knocked down by my expectations, and picking up and moving on, bitter and disillusioned.
Perhaps that’s why it was different this time. I think perhaps I had finally let some of my expectations go – I wasn’t expecting to find a home, so I wasn’t guarding against the idea.
Can I tell you something I’ve never told anyone, Mexico? When people ask me where I’m from, I’ve never been able to tell them that I’m from whatever city, town, country or region that I’m actually living in. Considering I’ve stayed in some places for more than a year, it’s gotten a little ridiculous. Instead, I always tell whoever’s asking that I’m from North Central Washington: Chelan. I guess it’s the only place that’s ever really felt like home to me, even when my parents briefly moved away and there wasn’t actually a home there…until now. Somehow you wormed your way into my loyalty and for the first time in my life I’ve told people who ask that I’m living in Puerto Escondido for the summer. This may seem small, but any other time of my life I would have said something like, “I’m from Washington State, but I’m here for a couple weeks,” or whatever. I know, I know. I’m not Mexican, I’m merely passing through a town that everybody passes through, but somehow you’ve latched onto me and I consider this place more a home to me than any other place I’ve lived besides Chelan.
But besides giving me a home, you’ve also given me some great memories, and some amazing friends! Who knew that so many people that I could connect with would live in this small town on the ocean? Believe me, I’ve lived a lot of places (I know, I’m rubbing it in your face and I’m sorry, but it’s true, and it’s only so you know how special you are to me in comparison) and I’ve never felt the same sort of dynamic.
I have to go, but I’m desperately hoping that you won’t forget me while I’m gone. You see, this feels unfinished in a way that most chapters of my life have never felt, and I think I will come back to see it through. You’re under my skin, Mexico, and I’m not just talking about the new tan I’m taking home that you gave me one walk on the beach at a time.
I’ve always thought that I would end up with someone who was a friend first, and I think that’s how you got me. I always knew that I liked you, but I never knew how much until you started showing me all you had to offer. If you’d overloaded me all at once, I might have shied away and probably run – I can’t claim to always be emotionally mature or secure – but you didn’t. You were patient, you were kind, and you never gave me more than I could handle. Thank you for that.
So now, I need you to be patient once again. I’m going to go home – yes, it is still my home – and I’m going to jump back into my life. I’m going to see all my friends that I missed, even while I was enjoying your company – they come as part of the package; if you want me you’ll have to get used to it – and for the first time in my life, I’m going to admit that I don’t know if my love for you will last. I already have a lot lined up to keep me busy and distracted when I get back – it wouldn’t do either of us any good if I sat around and moped for you – but I know I’ll be thinking about you a lot.
So it’s time to go, Mexico, but let’s not say goodbye just yet. Let’s start with “see ya later” and see where that takes us.

Love and heartache kisses

Friday, June 11, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

I remember telling a friend of mine once that when I was in Australia I kept thinking about what I would do when I got home, and she looked at me, shocked. "Not really," she said. "You don't really spend time on your vacations thinking about when you have to return to 'reality.'"
I think I probably pointed out to her that traveling and vacationing are very different activities, but that just shows that I missed the point. The truth is, it's hard for me to focus on where I am NOW and not where I'm going to be LATER. I have said, many times, that I felt like I was frustrated, wasting time, spinning my wheels until the next adventure came around. I don't think I'm the only one who loses track of the moment, but considering that I have been to a lot of places that most people haven't, I am now realizing that the only time I ever wasted was the time I spent thinking about the future instead of enjoying the present.
So obviously I've been thinking about this a lot, and since I've been thinking about it, I've been able to catch my mind wandering into the future and bring it back to the present before I've planned my retirement and what car I'll drive when I'm 60.
As a result of this new-found PRESENT, I've realized that, while I've been looking into my future happiness, I've been missing some very small, simple things that I do daily that make me happy. This occurred to me the other day when I was standing in the kitchen, listening to the waves, and eating peanut butter and chocolate chips off a spoon. I realized that I was, at that moment, thinking of nothing else besides how amazing that combination is: chocolate, peanut butter, a fan above you, a view in front of you, and nothing to do but savor it all.
So I decided to make a list of the small things that make me infinitesimally happy, regardless of where I am, how bad a day I've had, or what tomorrow is going to bring. Feel free to add your own to the list as well.

What Makes Me Happy
1) A spoonful of peanut butter dipped in chocolate chips
2) My friends, of course!
3) A roomful of girls sporting purple wine teeth
4) Jane Austen movie nights where you can't stop speaking in British English. "Shall we pause the movie whilst she uses the loo?"
5) Coffee, made with freshly ground beans and really hot water
6) The feeling of waves pounding against the beach
7) The smell of salty sea air
8) A shared smile
9) Laughing out loud
10) An unexpected personal connection
11) Warm sand between my toes
12) Walking barefoot
13) Cold water on a hot day
14) Books that make you laugh or cry and inopportune moments, like on buses or airplanes, but you can't bring yourself to put them down to save your reputation.
15) The kindness of strangers
16) Afternoon naps
17) The smell of baked earth
18) The smell of the air at dawn
19) Swimming naked
20) Sunsets
21) When someone else does the dishes
22) Fresh cilantro, on or in pretty much anything
23) The smell of lilacs
24) The sound of bees in an orchard
25) Opening the fridge and finding amazing leftovers that are just what you were craving and you don't even have to cook it!

Love and happy kisses

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Misunderstanding of Not Listening

I tell people that I speak fluent Spanish. When I say this, I mean that I can be dropped in any Spanish-speaking country and be able to find food, shelter, beer and bathrooms, barring a cultural misunderstanding. I can converse about the weather, politics, people, my life, other peoples’ lives, food, drink, and if you’re really lucky, I might even let you talk too. Being fluent, however, does not mean that I know all the words for everything.
If you think about it, this is obvious. When you take a class in just about anything, the first thing you have to learn is the subject’s vocabulary. For example, I know plenty of useless words about Latin American Literature due to the many, many classes I have taken on the subject. One thing I don’t know about, however – in English or Spanish – is cars.
Yesterday I took the truck I’m driving in to get a short circuit fixed. The turn signals weren’t working, and the gas gauge wasn’t reading how much gas was in the tank. Phil, a friend of the people who I’m house- and dog-sitting for, took me to the dusty little lot where a good car electrician worked. We explained to them that we’d already replaced the fuse multiple times and that it blew almost immediately after each time it was replaced. They told me to come back in two hours, and I did. They showed me that the turn signals worked and added that the “floater” (the sensor that reads how much gas is in the tank) in the gas tank didn’t work anymore. I used the blinkers, saw that they worked, paid them, backed out of the lot and didn’t make it around the block before the fuse blew again. I went back, told them nothing was working, they messed around with the fuses some more, let me leave and I made it to the end of the street before turning around.
Each time, they told me that the gas gauge wouldn’t work. Each time, I assumed they were wrong because it had worked before. Finally, they told me to come back later in the afternoon, so they could dig in and figure out why the fuse continued to blow. When I came back with Phil, who knows a lot more than I do about cars, I finally got that the reason the gas gauge wasn’t going to work was because the short was in the sensor, and they had disconnected it so the turn signals would work. Basically, the sensor had to be replaced.
Now, like I said, I speak fluent Spanish. Even with not knowing anything about cars, I should have been able to understand that they had disconnected the sensor earlier, because they kept telling me that they had. The problem was that I wasn’t hearing them – that what they were telling me had nothing to do with what I wanted to hear.
This wasn’t a language barrier. It was a barrier that came from ignorance on my part and from not being able to put what they were saying in context, because I wasn’t listening. It got me to thinking: how often do I really listen? What else have people been trying to tell me that I haven’t been able to hear? How much am I missing because I’m too stuck in my own view of how it works?
I can usually remember when I’m on the other side of this problem; when someone, it seems, is purposely misunderstanding me. Obviously it’s much more difficult to be able to see your own blindness with the same clarity. I can’t take back what I’ve been unable to see in the past, but I can try to see from now on with new eyes, eyes that connect to a mind that is not shielding itself from reality because it doesn’t fit into my own personal view. I’m not sure why it ever became this way, nor am I foolish enough to think that I’m the only one it happens to. None of that really matters, however. What does matter is the ability to make a personal choice to take off the blinders and try walking without them. Maybe I’ll be able to become fluent with other people in the process.

Love and misunderstood kisses

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Monday, May 3, 2010

I Am A Writer.

It’s not an easy process to become a writer. First, you have to realize that you can write. I don’t say that you can write well, and I don’t mean that you sit down and pound out an email. Anyone with the ability to put letters down on paper or type them onto a screen is a writer. EVERYONE is a writer.
What I mean by realizing you can write is that you have to get to the point where you say, even if it’s just to yourself, “I can write.”
This doesn’t mean that everyone else tells you that you’re a writer. This doesn’t mean you humbly threw an essay into a contest and got a runner’s up award, and it surprised you “because you didn’t really realize that you could write.” I mean that you have to have the conversation with yourself where you admit that you identify with writing in much the same way that watercolor artists identify with paint brushes: sometimes, you just want to pick up the pen (or brush) and write (or paint).
Contrary to popular belief, you are not a writer when other people tell you that you are. If I had believed what everyone else had told me, I would have started calling myself a writer when I was about 10 years old. If I had started calling myself a writer when I started writing, I could say that I’ve been a writer since I was about eight. On the other hand, I am not published and I don’t make money on my writing, so I am not a writer by most peoples’ standards.
I didn’t think you could call yourself a writer until you were good at it, which, to me, meant that you were published, but more than that, I didn’t think you could be a writer until everything you wrote was publishable.
Well, that’s just crap. Even the best writers write unpublishable shit. Basically, I was waiting for writing perfection before I called myself a writer, but perfectionism should not be an aim, because nobody is perfect and you’ll stop yourself before you get anywhere if that’s what you’re aiming for.
I recently read in a blog that it would be a good idea to write down 100 accomplishments that I’m proud of. It took me two days and thirty items before it occurred to me to write down that I was proud of the ability to write. Once I did, I was surprised that it had taken me so long, but I knew why: because I didn’t think I had done anything worth being proud of with my writing yet; I don’t have any published books and I don’t make money writing; what gave me the right to call myself a writer?
When you start a new job, you get to have a title, a title that someone else wrote for you based on your job description. We never question the right to give or accept that title, but that could be because we only consider a title as important if it’s tied to a job and it makes you money. But just because that’s the way it is doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be.
So I made a decision: I gave myself permission to call myself a writer. This isn’t because I think I am the best writer there is, or that someday I will be rich and famous because of my writing. I am calling myself a writer because it is a craft that I want to spend time on, because it makes me feel good about myself when I write; because I have something to say, and because I have the guts to say it.
When I was filling out the paperwork on the plane for the Mexican tourist visa, I wrote “writer” as my profession. I am identifying as a writer because that is what I want to be. I am a writer because you cannot be a writer if you don’t call yourself one; if you refuse to admit to your aspirations, your own refusal to give yourself the title will ultimately hold you back. I am a writer because I am willing to spend the time and energy to improve my craft. I am a writer because I do it every day. I am a writer, not because anyone else says I am, but because I say I am, and I’m the one who should know.

Love and writer kisses,


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parenthood: You Don't Have to Go It Alone

A couple months ago, one of my best friends gave birth to twin boys. I have to admit that at first I was more than a little skeptical about the idea of kids for one of my closest friends, primarily because I am terrified of the thought of children, mine, or apparently, anyone else’s.
Truthfully, to the woman who has traipsed all over the world alone, finding her way in and out of other countries, cities, cultures, people, there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of having someone else so dependent on me that they can’t eat without my help. Even dependence on a much lighter level makes me shudder. Judge me all you like, invisible audience, but the people who are closest to me have already forgiven me this fault. More than a fear of dependence on me, however, my fear is a person’s dependence on only me. My fear is not ever having someone to pass off the torch to; no one to say, “no problem, Morgan, I got it this time; you go get some rest.” My fear is not having someone to take part of the burden; my fear is doing it alone.
I am not afraid to be alone. I am not afraid of traveling by myself, buying my own house, planning my own retirement or having to arrange for my own care when I am old. I do not feel that I am missing anything, and I do not wish for a partner on a day-to-day basis. The idea of being a single parent, however, literally gives me nightmares.
I realize that most people do not take on parenthood with the idea of having to do it alone. I realize that I could do it if I were forced to, and that I would probably not do the worst job on the planet, because I am aware of the sacrifices that need to be made, and I would make them if I needed to. Regardless, I don’t ever want to have to be there by myself.
All that being said, the choices are not parenting alone or no parenthood at all. Thankfully, there are men out there who make you realize that it is not necessary to do it by yourself, who pick up the slack even when they aren’t asked to. There are men out there like Nick, Mindy’s husband and the proud and more-than-capable father of twin boys. He’s not the only guy I know who can handle it – most of my friends, thankfully, are in relationships or marriages with men that will be supportive, responsible and amazing fathers – but Nick is simply the first one that I got to see up close and personal within hours of becoming a dad. Had him ask me if my hands were clean, watched him make sure not only that the boys were doing well, but that his wife was comfortable, too.
It makes me happy to see my friends in these types of relationships: with men that pick up their share of the chores, the joys, and the sleepless nights. It reminds me of something very necessary, something easy to forget when you trek around the world solo like I do: that there is more than one way to forge a path, and you don’t always have to be the one breaking trail.

Love and dual parenting kisses,


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Progress Report

It has been almost exactly a year to the day that I wrote my first blog from Camano Island, where I moved after quitting my job in Bellevue. Yes, that means that it has been a year since I started this crazy adventure to write for a year and see where it got me. I feel like a lot has happened since then, some of it expected and some of it unexpected, so I figured now would be a good time to mark my progress.

A year ago, I wrote that the year to come was all about creating time to write. “My dream is to be able to dedicate myself to writing – as much time as I want to and all the creative energy I have.”

Well, I’ve done that. I can basically write whenever I want to. Sometimes I’m more interested in writing than others – the more settled into my routine I am, the more time I dedicate to writing. What I’ve been writing is what has changed over the past year.

So here’s what I’ve accomplished in list form:

1) Confessions of a Travel Addict – done. Needs to be sent to more publishers/agents.
2) Started a serious novel that I got the idea for while traveling through Australia. Have now written 48,000 words – roughly 162 pages.
3) Started a funny novel about dating in your twenties. Have written about 19,000 words.
4) Wrote a short story called Jim’s Wedding, about 22,000 words.
5) Started a project to create a recipe book that pairs local wines from the Chelan Valley with recipes from the area. Now have a graphic artist designing the book, a watercolor artist’s work on the front page and dividers, recipe contributors, recipe testers, a photographer to shoot pictures of finished recipes, a bunch of wineries involved and a bunch of businesses willing to sell it once it’s done.
6) Joined a writers group.
7) Trained for 2 half marathons.
8) Ran 1 half marathon.
9) Took a week-long road trip to see Jasper and Banff.
10) Went to Oaxaca (Mexico) with my parents and managed to get myself a 3-month house sitting gig there for this coming summer.
11) Have already skied more this winter than I have in all other winters put together, minus the winter I was a ski instructor.
12) Realized that a year is not enough time to finish all these projects that I’ve started.

The hardest part of this year was allowing myself to give my writing priority. I have to admit that, even after a full year, I still have the most difficulty with that part. Once I’ve actually sat down to write I’m usually fine, but getting to that point is hard when there are other things on my plate that I could be doing instead; I am much better at prioritizing something that I owe to others than prioritizing what I want to be doing. Discovering this about myself has led to the most important thing that I’ve learned this year: I will never be happy doing anything for someone else. Whether I’m writing, compiling a cookbook or something else totally arbitrary that makes me next to no money, I am much happier working for myself. If there were nothing else that I could take away from this year, it was worth that realization.

Love and writing kisses