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Posts Tagged ‘Sophie’

I’ve been having this creeping feeling lately that something big is about to happen. In a good way. I can’t be sure what is bringing this feeling on or if it is true but the last few days have found me with this exact feeling- that something important is going to happen.

Here's whats coming, James.  Checkmate.

Here's whats coming, James. Checkmate.

Upon Sophie’s recommendation (which is something you should almost always follow, particularly when it comes to books), I have started reading “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck, which is Steinbeck’s travelogue of his trip across the US in 1960. First of all, I should reluctantly admit that this is the first time I have ever read any Steinbeck, so I am taken in the same way one is when they have their first crush. “Oh, this is what everyone has been talking about.” Or maybe, more accurately, I am taken in the same way I was when I first started listening to Bob Dylan in high school and vowed to ONLY listen to Bob Dylan for at least two weeks. I called it “musical cleansing” and I think I made it the two weeks, or at least very near. If you don’t remember this, ask Gabe, because I’m sure he does because I made him listen to more Bob Dylan in that old Le Baron of his than he could have ever wanted. I feel like a world has just opened up to me.

It doesn’t hurt that the book contains so much of Steinbeck musings about journeys, exploring, leaving home, and experiences in a way that resonate so deeply with me that I often just put the book down after a passage and walk away. There have been very few times where I have had to do this in my life. I should clarify that the themes in the book are more numerous and much deeper than I am even beginning to explain, because I am only touching on the things that immediately affect me and this blog. I should also note that I only about a third of the way through the book, so if something drastic happens and I no longer like it or something changes, I will be sure to notify you. But currently the book has been turning the way view this experience on its head.

This was the same time that I went to go see the sunset but fell asleep.  True story.

This was the same time that I went to go see the sunset but fell asleep. True story.

Perhaps what I have been feeling is momentum, as the last week or so has felt as if I have taken a step definitively in a direction. What direction exactly, I don’t know, but it is in a direction.

This last week has had many firsts and changes. First of all, it rained here for the first time. Before that, though, it was foggy, as in fog descended over this whole end of the island and overtook everything. It started at night and we chose to go nightswimming in it. This was a good choice. But the next day, it was even more so. I welcomed the weather change, as the weather has been virtually the same from day to day for over two months. Also, I grew up in Colorado, which was incredibly distinct and pronounced seasons, and four of them, at that. So, I have come to appreciate having variety in weather and despite moving to New Orleans and then onto a Greek Island, I really love the cold and gray.

Not pictured: thousands of disappointed tourists.  Also, not pictured: Me.  Happy as could be.

Not pictured: thousands of disappointed tourists. Also, not pictured: Me. Happy as could be.

It stayed gray and rained for a few more days. On the last day of this, Amanda and I sat in the shop as customers walked in and out virtually unphased by the change in weather. I understand this. It is their holiday and, to be very honest, it wasn’t THAT cold, just chilly. However, Amanda and I were acting like it was the dead of winter or the coldest day of the year. We holed up, read books, act popcorn, drank copious amounts of hot tea, messed around on the internet, and pretty much did the things you do in Colorado when it is a blizzard and school has been canceled.

This is an example of a real life winter day in which one might hole up, read books, and drink tea.  We did not do that on this day.

This is an example of a real life winter day in which one might hole up, read books, and drink tea. We did not do that on this day.

Add some clouds to this and you would still not have an example of a day where you would hole up, read books, and drink tea.  We did that anyway.

Add some clouds to this and you would still not have an example of a day where you would hole up, read books, and drink tea. We did that anyway.

Also, I shaved. It was just time. It’ll grow back. Here you go. This took me no longer than a few minutes to make, so don’t judge the quality, but enjoy the product.

Although it wasn’t a first, I went to Ammoudi with Chris and Amanda one day. We swam and found a spot secluded from the mid-day crowds. It was not swelteringly hot so I just sat on this rock overlooking this beautiful place that has been so important in my time here and has seen so many chapters of my experience. I was perfectly content. Slowed down. Relaxed. This is why I came here. It felt like a first for some reason.

In case you didn't believe me, I included my foot in the shot.  I was there.

In case you didn't believe me, I included my foot in the shot. I was there.

There was another first. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the start of something that later turns into a sort of revolution. We officially founded an activity called “pool skimming,” though it has been loosely and unofficially practiced for decades by rebellious teens everywhere. It involves locating, entering, swimming in, and sharing high fives in private pools. There were five people participating so it was no small task to silently get everyone in the water at three in the morning, swim, high five, and leave, while many of the pools were immediately next to rooms of the residents of the hotels and villas where these pools could be found. We did this NINE times in a little more than an hour. There is something to be said for a group of full-grown adults (I was the second youngest to give you an idea) not being able to control their giggling as they enter a pool in the same way a ten year would do as they enter any room clearly marked “DO NOT ENTER.”

This is a picture of Oia at night where you can see some of the pools glowing bright.  They were all victim to the famed pool skimmers of Oia.

This is a picture of Oia at night where you can see some of the pools glowing bright. They were all victim to the famed pool skimmers of Oia.

I decided to take a break from shaving to go pool skimming, so I looked like this as I entered private pools.

I decided to take a break from shaving to go pool skimming, so I looked like this as I entered private pools.

Today marks another change in Atlantis Books personnel. Liz left a few days ago after a FULL YEAR of traveling around the world. September 9 to September 9. Read her blog when you get a chance. It’s awesome and the things she has done and seen are remarkable. Many of the pictures on this post are from her. She also gives a good description of her last night here, which had Liz, Amanda, and me “getting our America on” after a botched attempt to see “Inglorious Bastards” at an open theater. We listened to music VERY loud in the car, sang, ate popcorn, and drank beer in parking lots of strange mini-bowling alleys

Amanda left today, though with a promise of returning in a few weeks, and Rich and Chris will leave in about an hour. That means its just me and Tony for a few days.

The constants at the bookstore are me, John, a guitar, and us tuning out everything else to play music.

The constants at the bookstore are me, John, a guitar, and us tuning out everything else to play music.

As a preview of things to come, I just booked a flight today to visit Jack in London. We will be going south of London for the weekend with some of his students and camping in the English countryside. More on this at another time.

The day I arrive back is the day that this one girl gets here. Her name is Aileen. She is my sister. I am somewhere between absurdly and unnecessarily excited about this happening.

She likes me more than it appears here.

She likes me more than it appears here.

Maybe I don’t feel like something big is going to happen soon, but I am just feeling forward movement. In “Travels with Charley,” Steinbeck talks about the Spanish verb “vacilar.”

If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesn’t greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.

One of the many reasons that pushed me to come to Greece was knowing that there is so much more in the world that what I have experienced and what I have seen. Its humbling, for sure, but it is part of the reason I was driven to do something new. I am most definitely “vacilando.” I am heading towards something, though, unlike Steinbeck’s definition, I can’t quite tell you where, but I feel my movement in that direction. Though, at this particular moment, I can’t say I’m in a rush to get there. I can’t foresee being in a rush until I understand how I am going to manage how to experience all there is to experience.

Of course, this is a question that can’t really be answered, and surely not in a blog post. It’s more of a question of how to find meaning in one’s life, which is for another post to say the least, and a question that we all answer every day. So, I’ll just continue to love where I am, learn as much as possible, and move forward thoughtfully and meaningfully. The rest, I have faith, will follow.

Greg Brown- China

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/05China.mp3?attredirects=0
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For those of you who like to listen to music while you read here is a song from an artist called The Tallest Man on Earth. I have been listening to him non-stop for the past month or so. This song might be my favorite of his.

The Tallest Man on Earth- The Gardener

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/06-TheGardener.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7cpcap6ln4Gt98VtpxgZmNqj2HfuX2TvyqbFDvKqn_jegPlAtCBVxmRWr8Ze4LEcKMfe4xJ_XxPbM1zfe1ypDPcXvwP1XFY4W7NUXzTsABq8DWBLNG8qUURe0wzC8EkfG4Q7BDHbT4GefhRxbIiHlZBGOqiOYaYDGxd3xL9kZKOwWadjp1CUIBoxvw7D1nGxVTwcSMx9nQRE-elAHPKgXG1UfowDuPlb7SWz49hQOCRzhHetPrA%3D

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I started writing this post from the Portland airport (ranked as the nation’s #1 airport, mind you) following another week+ of epic adventure with Sophie. Our days in Colorado were filled with beauty and adventures. We explored Denver’s City Park, met up with Joel and Bri as they passed through Denver, got some good family time, went to the mountains for a hike and explored small mountain towns, ate Mexican food AND went to the museum AND got ice cream AND ate thai food with Gabe and Sean, explored the mountains, and went to a Paper Bird concert.

If you are unfamiliar with Paper Bird, you should quickly change that. They are a band from Denver, featuring my friend Tyler Archuletta on the trombone, who spread happiness and joy wherever they go, and are currently doing so on a vegetable oil-fueled bus as they tour the West Coast. They just released an EP called “A Sky Underground.” You should visit their new homepage and/or MySpace page.

In City Park, Sophie tried to eat my face and I got mad about it.  Who wouldn't, really?  Do you want your face eaten?

In City Park, Sophie tried to eat my face and I got mad about it. Who wouldn't, really? Do you want your face eaten?

As vegetarians, Sophie and I were prepared to settle for not much to eat in a small Colorado mountain town.  Then the owner of the cafe said, "I don't have much on the menu- just quinoa burriots, butternut squash soup, and cherry rhubarb tunrovers."  "Yes.  We will have that."

As vegetarians, Sophie and I were prepared to settle for not much to eat in a small Colorado mountain town. Then the owner of the cafe said, "I don't have much on the menu- just quinoa burriots, butternut squash soup, and cherry rhubarb tunrovers." "Yes. We will have that."

Sophie was so excited by the scenery and delicious food that she smiled.

Sophie was so excited by the scenery and delicious food that she smiled.

I was so excited by the scenery and delcious food that I trampled all the poppies in sight.

I was so excited by the scenery and delcious food that I trampled all the poppies in sight.

We made our way to Portland and continued to enjoy our adventures together. We spent more good family time (this time with the Johnson’s instead of the Hamilton’s), hiked in the lush Oregon forest, swam in natural bodies of water, watched movies and Lost, ate good food everyday until I didn’t think I could walk, and got good new music. This was my first time to Portland and more than just its airport is top-notch. Leaving Portland also meant leaving Sophie, which, as you might have expected, was the hardest goodbye for me to make. This is all I will write about this sad event- the rest will remain in my head. And as M. Ward says, “Every town is all the same, when you’ve left your heart in the Portland rain.”

M. Ward, “Paul’s Song”

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/09Paul%27sSong.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7cr8i5XvuVga5t9NyhgJDUZyrrv7y8F9xzwlVvROiApn2hSF-4_5VM3JeqxFGNVG7JZj1t4dOkWGu7PaS3o0XyTw2F25YtfyIsAuS30mZngVFk5CjP01_U2xU6cjajn0RMNQxu4tU9D0advAy1FeTVmR1m0a-CL2_ftxf3q8Jzf1r0dPJaNZ2YuijeJRhA84vlgNeb_eeBwjYlT93TAGHn8UIlwaApLT9iENr4Tc0r2bmRn8iwE%3D

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Look at me and those Johnson sisters.  If someone were to call us mountain goats, it would be for good reason.  No one has done that yet, though.

Look at me and those Johnson sisters. If someone were to call us mountain goats, it would be for good reason. No one has done that yet, though.

Once again, Sophie tries to bite my face.  This time I don't seem as upset.  This is because I have been watching "Lost" and I now know scarier things can happen in the forest than Sophie biting my face.

Once again, Sophie tries to bite my face. This time I don't seem as upset. This is because I have been watching "Lost" and I now know scarier things can happen in the forest than Sophie biting my face.

This is a very rare picture because Sophie is not biting my face off.  I have entitled it "Bad Ass Brunch."

This is a very rare picture because Sophie is not biting my face off. I have entitled it "Bad Ass Brunch."

I’m back in Colorado for a few days before I leave on Tuesday for Greece. Yes, Tuesday. As in one day from now. I don’t know if you thought these last few days in the country would allow for some rest and relaxation, but you would be wrong if this is what you thought. I have barely had time to pack, as goodbyes (for the time being): Colorado edition hit full force. Also, I was the DJ and master of ceremonies at Katie and Rob’s wedding in Breckenridge for the last weekend. Their wedding was on the Fourth of July, and I am very thankful that I was a part of it. Sean was the best man and I was also very thankful to have all that time to hang out with him.

This is the point in the wedding where I played some bumpin' tunes and wrote an award-winning short story.

This is the point in the wedding where I played some bumpin' tunes and wrote an award-winning short story.

I can’t say enough about the people I have in my life, and if this move brings me nothing else it has reminded me of how exceptionally lucky I am to be loved by the people I love. Every place I have gone and every place I am now from, I was lucky enough to find incredible people who are willing this celebrate this life we share. I’m not quite sure who I’m supposed to thank for this gift I have been given but I am grateful for every one of the people that I love and that love me.

The other night, a friend told me that when you move away its like planting a garden. This was the most comforting thing anyone had told me about moving, because my friend went on to explain that in moving you have planted those seeds and you just have to let them go, never knowing quite how they will grow, or if they will grow at all. When you come back, many of those seeds have grown strong and tall, and often in ways you wouldn’t have guessed when you first left.

Like I said, I leave Tuesday for the bookstore. The next time I write I will be far from here. In this new place, I hope to plant some new seeds with new people, see beautiful things, and have an adventure or two. But know that my heart is always here- with the people I love.

Paul Simon, “The Boxer” (live)

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/06TheBoxer.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7cpl9aUz5MgCY-AmFKqKw0QgU2xZdu6rDZgwT24dviF6v5sACP4jNsEtuZQogzel9jOw4piA6oOC8Ti3cREojQHBW8uKpkQEuwB2NHA-qk29488tXRER_WIMxmknPVoSIIVHzX23IZEPuB78AGYZlAqoaGFYvAdDxCv9xjAjImSrH86EWKuh9OjKd1CXTH7U6duougU7a6YRiNnBDCVEae9HBg7xaGTxUWq-QB6UKQLyyGOBO7c%3D

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I must start by saying that the last ten days have been an absolute whirlwind. The day after my last entry (a Thursday), I said my final goodbyes to my school and most of my co-workers, got in my car, and started driving towards Tennessee. I was thankful for the opportunity to spend hours alone on the road as I was sure it would offer an opportunity to process the countless overwhelming events and goodbyes of the past weeks. I am someone who needs time to process things. I generally take at least a day to really be able to talk about a good movie. I usually don’t like to judge music on the first listen, and I rarely am able to fully engage with profound moments or changes all at once. It takes me a while to process. It seemed that the 8 hours of driving from New Orleans to Manchester would provide ample time to process- to understand everything that had just happened and everything that was changing.

And, I suppose, on some levels, I was able to do this, but not very much. Awaiting in Manchester was the famed Bonnaroo festival in all its glory. There was simply not time to process. Instead, I chose to be present in the magnificence and chaos and beauty that is Bonnaroo. I can’t begin to explain to you this festival. You must see it with your own eyes to truly understand the magnitude of the whole thing. For a weekend, I was surrounded by wonderful things- music, art, food, and games. The music was an incredible balance of personal favorites (i.e. Neko Case, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Wilco), all-time greats (Tony Rice, Bruce Springsteen, David Grisman), and new interests/pleasant surprises (Raphael Saadiq, St. Vincent, Brett Dennen). The weekend was spent with great friends (Danielle and Bryan), which really just added to the fun and, once again, the overwhelming nature of the event

An event of this magnitude, in and of itself, needs time to be processed, and compiled with my need to process events from before, I welcomed the 8 hour return trip to New Orleans with the idea that I could finally reflect on my life changes and the epic event I had just experienced.

And I’m pretty sure I started on this reflection. I really am. But before I knew it, I was back in New Orleans and Sophie and I were having dinner at Lola’s, a personal New Orleans favorite. Then the next two days were spent frantically packing and preparing to actually leave New Orleans. Instead of really taking this as time to look back on the last two years, I chose to be present as I spent my last days in New Orleans, in my house and room, and with my beloved roommates. This was a good choice. My last night in New Orleans was spent much like my first nights in New Orleans- surrounded with friends, music, and celebration. CJ, Justin, Joel, Bri, and I played games, laughed, and sang well into the night.

Here are a few pictures, set up as a timeline to illustrate that my roommates and I have always managed to make our own fun:

This is the first time we all hung out.  We started cheers that filled MinuteMade Park.

This is the first time we all hung out. We started cheers that filled MinuteMade Park.

We ruin every party by playing rapping games.  Luckily, CJ and Justin are good at rapping.

We ruin every party by playing rapping games. Luckily, CJ and Justin are good at rapping.

After many rousing cheers, we caught a majestic Horse Monthly Calendar at Mardi Gras- a coveted item, indeed.

After many rousing cheers, we caught a majestic Horse Monthly Calendar at Mardi Gras- a coveted item, indeed.

We were responsible for other people's children...

We were responsible for other people's children...

The next morning I woke up, picked up Sophie, and we hit the road. Surely, a road trip is a great opportunity to process/reflect/understand everything that had happened. Surely this would happen.

And, to some extent, on some level, this happened. But not a lot. Rather, I chose to be present in what could only be described as a wonderful but strenuous and forward-looking road trip. The goal was to arrive in Denver on Friday night after leaving Thursday morning. This is a twenty-one hour drive, which could easily be done but the pit stops and site-seeing must be kept to a minimum. But being present was a great choice on this road trip. I felt incredibly close to Sophie, the sky throughout Texas is incredible and somehow bigger than anywhere else I’ve ever seen, and that stretch of I-25 between New Mexico and Colorado is overwhelmingly beautiful. And, in case you were wondering, we not only made it in time to help Aileen move on Saturday morning, but we made it in time for Kyle’s goodbye get-together on Friday night.

If anyone can explain to me why the sky in Texas looks so big, I would really like to know.

If anyone can explain to me why the sky in Texas looks so big, I would really like to know.

And that essentially brings us to now- with me writing to you from my parents house, with Sophie asleep next to me. And never fully have I processed the incredible change I have gone through. I think thats okay, though. The time between goodbyes and endings to now has been filled with far too many celebrations, beautiful sights, good songs, and togetherness to not allow myself to be present. I refuse to miss this.

Prior to moving to New Orleans in June, 2007, I was an avid follower of Dan Baum ‘s New Orleans Journal in the New Yorker. If you don’t know Dan Baum, I strongly recommend you check out his writing. I think he is a very good writer and is always able to eloquently describe the elusive essence of New Orleans. He book “Nine Lives” is the best example of this. Anywho, he had been writing from New Orleans for two years and that very same summer his Journal had been canceled. Aside from his time in New Orleans, he lives full-time in Boulder, CO. I remember distinctly reading his last Journal entry from a hotel room in Amarillo, TX, as I made my journey from Colorado to New Orleans. He wrote this entry from a hotel room in Houston, TX, as he made the exact opposite journey from New Orleans to Colorado.

I don’t know if our paths crossed exactly but I wrote him that night in Amarillo and told him about our swapping of places and thanked him for his writing. He wrote me back promptly and thanked me for reading his column.

While I was as present as possible on my trek away from New Orleans, I carried his last column prominently in the front of my mind. Mr. Baum wrote of feeling in exile outside of New Orleans and missing it dearly, or “knowing what it means to miss New Orleans.” He wrote of feeling shocked by the sanitary, wide-open, corporate-run world outside of New Orleans, and how somethings feels amiss. It was, however, his focus on New Orleanians ability to be present in a moment that stuck with me as I drove- to not be driven or controlled by the dollar or the clock, but to rather simply be in a moment, for better or worse.

This lesson, this skill, is the face of the parts of New Orleans that I carry with me. It represents what I learned in New Orleans, the wondeful people that I knew and loved there and the times I was present- up to the very last night and into the wee hours of that morning. And as Dan Baum said, “It took me a while to figure out that in New Orleans the future doesn’t really exist. There is only the present.”

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