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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Blue Door, Red Door

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Even under the cloud-covered morning sky, the force of the tropical heat pushes down on me, as oppressive as the heavy clouds. I walk on wet, shiny streets to Parque Central in Granada, Nicaragua, drawn to the majestic colonial architecture. On the steps outside the Centro Cultural Museos Convento San Francisco—with its own impressive Spanish colonial doors—the top of my head feels distinctly hot. I look up to see cloudless blue, the temperature and the aspect of the sky finally matching. Inside the museum and converted convent dozens of colorful wooden parrots hover between the teal blue ceiling and the ground. Folk art, all dots and waves and clear colors, is mounted on lime green walls. In one of the museum's courtyards, I stop in front of a fountain behind which hangs two colonial doors, a blue one and a red one, as part of an art installation. Which door to take? And where would it lead?

A Mug for Every Emotion

Saturday, September 29, 2018

When I want to feel more like a writer, I have the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA mug I got at graduation; when I crave sunshine, my Matsumoto's mug from Hawaii. There's my British grandma's purple-flowered mug and my "Paris" mug, where they don't drink their café crèmes out of coffee mugs but, missing the feeling of a mug in my hands, I found one in a shop in the Marais—both now graced with hairline cracks. And when my throat is scratchy and my nose is running, like today, a good, solid mug with sweet, minty peppermint tea in it.

Spring Trees

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

As I drive to the Museum of Nature and Science, trees that were once bare and brown are newly green, and not just green but blush, fuchsia, and ivory. When I leave the museum, leafing, flowering trees fill the landscape, letting off the powdery sweet smell of spring flowers. Every winter I forget what the city looks like in full leaf—and every year spring foliage comes as a surprise. Crab apple trees, hawthorns, and redbuds, cherry blossom and ornamental pear trees. And the same elfin spirit that tells them it’s time to bud—or maybe because of the trees, and the bulbs, sunshine, and chirping birds—gets under my skin, and makes me want to bud, too.

Parque Central, Granada

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Granada's Parque Central is flanked by two-story, columned buildings in Easter-candy colors. It would look like a Disney attraction or the set of a movie except for the weathering—wet, dark tracks that begin at the ground and creep upwards. The first time I saw it, when Calle La Libertad ended and opened into the park, I reeled. I'd seen this square before but only in pictures, lots and lots of pictures, and seeing it in real life was uncanny. I looked over my shoulder for cars or motorcycles and crossed the street, immediately recognizing the squat trees with waxy leaves manicured into blunt rectangles, the fenced-in fountain with its lemon yellow trim and pale turquoise water, and the coral gazebo that sits in the middle of the park like the pendant on a cameo necklace. But the weathering, that was more prominent than in pictures; in fact the heat, which my light coat trapped against my skin, and the rain, and the weathering they created, were all more noticeable than I had imagined. But they made Granada more real, more wholly itself—not something I could have ever imagined from pictures or travelogues. 

Shades of Blue

Monday, July 31, 2017

We abandon the cold tiled floors and narrow balcony of our twelfth-floor hotel room, pass the pool, and go down the sand-covered stairs that lead to the beach. The grains of sand slide and crunch under my flip-flops. My almost-two year old is tucked between the crook of my arm and my chest, one pudgy little arm wrapped around my shoulder. The sky is azure and the ocean is undulating layers of marine blue, turquoise, and teal, capped by frothy white waves.

Yet clumps of wiry, brick-colored seaweed litter the sandy beach, and waves crash roughly against the shore, causing my chest to tighten each time my toddler nears the water. My critical eye, my worrying mind, pull me out of the moment. But maybe it's a myth that beauty and ugliness are opposites, that presence and absence are contrary to each other—a myth that we have to abandon one to achieve the other.

Pink petals, spring snow

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I'm leaving the doctor's office—a routine appointment. As I walk down the sidewalk avoiding the slush, I hear the drone of cars passing behind me. Spring had come early, the cherry blossoms blooming in March. But winter hadn't left yet either. The heavy snow that fell the day before shrouded city streets, newly green lawns, burgeoning tulips and lilies, and trees in blossom. As I pass under a young tree, I look down and see its pink petals—which the heavy, wet snow had pulled loose—mixed with snow and landscaping rocks. The sun is already shining again, and I smile at the impermanence and incongruity.