Saturday, December 24, 2011

"...and when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse..."

      As of today I have spent thirty days here in Savannah Georgia.... thirty days with my mother, sister, brother in law, nephew and niece, all in the same house. I really wasn't sure what to expect or how I'd react, but in all honesty it's been pretty great! I have never spent more than a week at most with the kids, Nathan and Kathryn. My mom and I haven't lived together since we first moved to Arizona, and I know the last time my sister and I lived together was before she left for college and I was seven. Just because I touched back down in the States and sought shelter with family, I was not yet home and still considered this all part of the adventure.  My mom and I have always been partners in crime...crimes of fun, and having me here gave her a great excuse to further discover her new exhibits, wildlife refuges, etc. Every day it seemed after she was done with work we were off doing or seeing something new. We even took a trip up to Charleston, and our old family vacation spot of Kiawah Island. And now that she's no longer in Arizona and she's back working again, "pop over" trips are less likely to happen, so this quality time with her has been a gift. Life in the house, family life, even though I was obviously part such a one many moons ago had me more than a little out of my element. I mean being an unmarried hippie artist sans kids, a "one woman wolf pack" if you will whose friends are mostly without kids, it's a bit of a culture shock. It was fascinating to watch as I tried wrap my brain around kids, school, jobs, conflicting schedules, dropping off, picking up, who's here for dinner, who eats what and when and see everyone maneuver all these obstacles with relative grace. In the beginning I felt like Jane Goodall or actually the more appropriate analogy would be the reverse... that I'm the gorilla studying Jane's family scratching my head in amazement. As a dancer I really admire the intricate and complicated choreography that is being a family. Admire? Yes. Emulate? Not so much, unless at some point I end falling for a guy with kids and love leaves me no choice. At this point, my natural tendency seems to be as a solo artist or happy duet.
It's also been a gift to truly get to know my nephew and niece; 12 and soon to be 11. I am not a kid person in general, but especially not a baby person so I LOVE this age! I am blessed that my sister has the mom gene and is doing all the dirty work so I just get to love on and impart my worldly rebel wisdom to 2 pretty cool kids! It's kind of crazy to be able to see several little similarities between them and me, my niece especially. While kind of crazy it really helps me understand them as people and hopefully is creating the kind of rapport that lets them know as they get older that they can always turn to Aunt Courtney.
Between her unrelenting work ethic and crazy hospital hours, my sister was the only person with whom I get didn't much time. It is still my hope that one day she will be able to take a long weekend and come to L.A with all the hippies and heathens for some long overdue sister fun! 
      The last three months have sharpened my adaptation and assimilation skills to a fine point so actually the month has flown. And I will be sad to say goodbye no doubt, but I must say that I am ready to head back to La La Land and be able to finally and completely UNPACK. Normally I would say that I'm ready to go home, but recently L.A is not exactly feeling like home. I am going back with a very unsettled and uncertain feeling. That could easily be because I've been gone for four months, experienced and changed a lot, etc. It could also be because of having the seed planted in my mind that I may have to move shortly should my landlords decide to take it back for their family. I don't know who's life is waiting for me back there. I guess I'll find out in 3 days. Even my cat, Zoe has apparently fallen in love with the new guy staying with her. 
    I am however fairly certain I found a job, I have a finalizing meeting scheduled for January 4th, so I know I will at least be able to pay my rent. I contacted RealRyder International (the company that makes the bikes in the cycling studio I was previously working for) and they had an opening for an office manager at their Santa Monica headquarters. Since it is not a studio, I will not be getting up at 4:30 in the morning but rather will hold the more tolerable hours of 8-4. For my own sanity I needed to make that tweak so I wouldn't feel the oppression of saying I work 9-5 and also so I would still be able to make my yoga and dance classes in the evening. It's obviously not my dream job, but one needs a job that affords them to continue to pursue their dream career. Or in my case, careers. As I said in my very first entry, I have several fires in my belly; writing, photography, dancing, acting, and collage art. When people ask me now what I do, I will say in all confidence... I am an artist, all encompassing. 

     I wish you all a very Happy Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Festivus... and New Year! I will be back in L.A by the 28th.... so if you see someone that looks like me painting the town red on New Year's Eve, tis not a mirage ;-)


Sunday, November 27, 2011

In Situ

 **This title is from an amazing art exhibit I saw today; Besty Cain's 'In Situ'    

     The Rover has indeed returned, although I sense the adventure is far from over so I will be continuing to blog from Georgia. We must start though with my last day in London. As I mentioned, immediately after clicking the ‘Publish This Post’ button I headed straight for the Gerhard Richter exhibit at the Tate Modern. Although I was completely prepared to either be Daniel Cortez, (saying they obviously misspelled Danielle) or say that he was my boyfriend, Danny was right…they do not even look at the card. This was without a shadow of a doubt one of the top five greatest art exhibits I have ever seen! (Ron Mueck, Robert Mapplethorpe, the Degas from earlier in the week, and Anthony Goicolea) My prior Richter knowledge was slight, knowing only his abstract ‘squeegee” paintings. His work is absolutely stunning though and so varied. He is not a one note artist by any stretch. For most of it, I had to keep rereading ‘Oil on Canvas’ to truly believe they were NOT photographs. There is one in particular of his daughter, Betty, her head turned away and wearing a red and white flowered jumper. Not only does it look like a photo but you can actually feel the texture of her sweatshirt….unbelievable! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you Danny for the use of your member card! I coasted out of there on big fluffy clouds of happy and inspired. I then made my way to the Natural History Museum where I saw the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit…..more fluffy clouds of happy. That happy slowly started to turn sad however as the evening set in and Eddie and I went to Raj’s for my farewell dinner. Milo was there, and I was definitely not the Nepalese surprise he would ever have expected. We shocked the hell out of him when I walked in, he almost didn’t recognize me out of context for a brief second. Raj’s dinner of Duck Delicioso (my term not his) was heavenly, spicy and full of heart. Later, he even did himself one better as he laid a black plastic bag in front of me. Inside was a huge bag of peanut M&Ms and several photos of him in wooden masks, a fur trimmed hood, and a butcher knife….super creepy! He remembered a conversation we’d had back at Halloween. I made a comment about being sad to miss it, and he made several somewhat disparaging comments about not understanding it. As tends to happen with me, my face gave away my feelings and he felt he had offended me by scoffing at one of my favorite holidays. Once he got back to London, he went on to read the Halloween blog where I made the request of someone saving me some of my favorite candy. I should say here that Raj is not ‘online’ at all. Yes, he has a computer but he never uses it. He does not even have email. Yet he took the time to get on and read the ramblings of lil’ ol’ me! In my book, that is a huge compliment!!! He not only willingly ventured into those virtually uncharted waters of cyberspace, but he took the time to dress up, have photos taken and actually have them developed…..AND buy my favorite candy. I was completely blown away. While it may sound simple, it truly is one of the most thoughtful gestures I’ve ever received. Raj, if you’re still reading these…. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!! I was not able to say to either Raj or Eddie everything that I wanted to because I was so overwhelmed that last night. There was almost too much to say, and I knew I wasn’t able to properly articulate my heart. I wasn’t even able to fully express to Riccardo back in September the depth of my gratitude and appreciation. My cup runneth over…..
     I left Ed’s flat at 8:30 Thursday morning, and arrived at Gary’s house, our Modern Family Thanksgiving dinner 8:30 that evening. My mom met me at the airport with hugs of pride, relief and unconditional love. My niece Kathryn, 10 going on 16, 6” taller, sassy and beautiful practically knocked me down with the force of her hug. I barely made it out of the car. Once inside the house, my 12yr old nephew Nathan immediately followed suit and soon I had acquired two new appendages, preteens coming out of either hip. My brilliant and beautiful big sister cried and held me tight. Then when we finally made it back to Wendy's house, I walked into the kitchen to find the most elaborate Welcome Home sign expertly designed, colored and glitterized by Katie Bug herself and signed by the whole family, complete with 4 balloons.  My most favorite part of the sign was the fact that both Katie and Nathan signed their first AND last name….you know, just in case I forgot or needed clear distinction from all the other Kathryns and Nathans in my life. They turned the TV room upstairs into my very own guestroom complete with another giant bag of peanut M&Ms, a brand new fluffy robe, and a basket full of fantastically girly toiletries. Chest tight, heart bursting….The love fest continued the next day as my niece, in order to settle once and for all our dispute over which of us loves the other more, made me a Keynote (think Power Point PC peeps) presentation on her iPad on why nieces naturally and historically love their aunts the most-iostest…… Hello!???? Effin’ adorable!!! It was my Facebook status for the day as I was a sloppy puddle of heart melted goo. Even my nephew has not tired of hugging me yet which I am completely soaking up because sooner than I would like he will be 13 and embarrassed by the very thought of us.

    But how am I doing with being back you ask? Wwwwweeeeellllll, it’s going to be a process… I am certainly happy to be with my family, be back on familiar soil, and make it back to L.A at the end of December. That being said, the last three months was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. Sure I had ups and down, moments of desperate homesickness, etc but I loved every minute of it!! I felt safe, alive, creative, confident, beautiful, LOVED, and magical. My dream job would be to be paid to travel and write, and then dance/perform when I’m home…. or better yet, be paid to travel and write AND travel and dance!! If Rina will still have me, I have the dance part covered. Now I just need to get the paid writing/travel part squared away…… Manifestation skills…..ON! The uncertainty of my life back in L.A makes being back a little more challenging as well. I’m not panicking or dwelling on it unneccesarily, but still…..There’s obviously the sad state of my financial affairs, current lack of job, and recently a little bird who has it on good authority told me that my landlords may give me notice upon my return. Yes, that would be notice to vacate. Apparently, they feel like they don’t know me well enough, that I seem too quiet and aloof. Ummmm, excuse me for a second while I say, ‘”Fuck that!” Oh gawd forbid I be a tenant that pays her rent 3 days early, in cash usually but is too quiet and keeps to herself! How terrible! What’s wrong with me?! Also since when do tenants and landlords need to be best friends? I DO talk to them when I run into them around the house. I'm more upset because I am soooo tired of hearing this, and equally tired of apologizing for it. In fact, I'm done apologizing. I can't please everyone all the time and I don't care to try. Yes, I am naturally a quiet and introverted individual but just talk to me and you'd see that I'm really quite lovely! DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS people! 
Anywho, nothing is for sure but that makes coming back to my home, what is supposed to be a safe haven, a little less inviting. Like I said, I’m not panicking because if I’m not meant to stay in that apartment then something better will show up. This whole trip was meant to shake up my life and shift things and this could be all part of that plan. Surrender and trust..... surrender and trust, and breathe!

    In the meantime, I've quenched my craving for the Southern staple 'Low Country Boil',  watched a great game between Ohio State and Michigan (even though OSU lost), started a new poetography book, saw 2 amazing art exhibits at the Jepson Center today with mom; Betsy Cain and Anthony Giacolea and baked the kids my famously delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies. Today's other highlight was getting to Skype with Eddie, not only because I miss him and miss talking about our days, but also because it was a minor sort of miracle. He's someone very resistant to technology shall we say, but today I took his Skype virginity, a direct quote :-) The day before I left we converted him from an old and very slow desktop to a newer and faster laptop....then he actually went out ON HIS OWN to get a webcam for the very purpose of Skyping! It was so fantastic to see him and the flat I know so well in the background. It made me feel a little less far away from my London home. While asking about how it felt to be back, he reminded me to not lose my 'fire' or the 'magic'... to fight to keep it alive. Talking to him really 'fed' me and gave me a boost for the rest of my day. Thank you Ed! 

    Tomorrow the kids return to school and Mom, Wendy and Bob are all back to work. While I will start looking for my own work back in L.A shortly, this week I plan on rereading all these blogs and making some headway on compiling them into this book fantasy I've been carrying around for 3 months.  

A very big shout out goes to 'Chelle because
Happy Birthday my luff!!

"Love is, is too weak a word for what I feel - I lurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F's, yes I have to invent...." Woody Allen -Annie Hall

Also, I have a temporary cell# while in Savannah: 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Homeward Bound...The Rover Returns

       Today is my last day in London, at least for a little while. Yesterday, Eddie and I spent the day meandering the halls of the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, and watching the last day of the Australia/South Africa cricket match. This sport fascinates me for several reasons; it's soooo civilized, I mean they actually break for tea!, it requires ALOT of patience to watch as it can last 5 days, and it upsets my American pastime mentality. 
We had a great time and were totally on the same page at the galleries as to when to linger and when to cruise past yet another room of religious art. It took me a whole week to crack that English exterior, but this American finally broke him down, haha! When you're still getting to know someone, you naturally spend a lot of time reading each other and negotiating boundaries. It's easy to end up following one another's lead and being too polite instead of just having a conversation where you put all the cards out on the table. It was nice to clear the air so to speak, even if it came at the end of the trip....better late than never! The National Gallery was really superb, especially their Impressionist collection, and more than made up for the bad taste the Tate Modern left in my mouth. The Modern's permanent collection really left something to be desired. It felt too contained. I like my modern art to be bold, loud, passionate, even if it's "ugly" I want to hear its voice. And unfortunately, I couldn't rationalize the 16 quid to see the Gehard Richter exhibit. However, Danny (one of the Kathmandu crew) came over to Ed's last night to hang out and lent me his member card.... winning! As soon as I publish this post, I'm headed back that direction. This evening, at least as of right now, we are headed over to Raj's for my farewell dinner. Raj is a brilliant chef!!!! We ate dinner there Monday night after the 3 of us went to see Snowtown (the movie about the Australian murders...damn!), and he randomly whipped up an off the cuff creation of deliciousness! I think Milo will join us, he doesn't even know I'm here because he's been out of town but Raj informed him he had a Nepalese surprise for him.....

     Then tomorrow at 9am I will be headed to Heathrow, as I am finally making my way back home....It's amazing actually, that I've been away from the States since Aug 29. All my experiences at the same time feel like ages ago and 5 minutes ago. It will be bittersweet to leave London. Bitter, not only because of who I'm leaving but also because it means the international part of this adventure has come to its end. And who knows when I will get to journey back out...hopefully 'same time next year.' There are people and places that I'm already desperately missing. I have olive trees to tend to and an Italian knight's company to bask in, in Mompeo. I have Nepali festivals and family to enjoy in Kathmandu. 
Sweet, because more love than I can comprehend is awaiting me not only in Savannah but back home in L.A. I should say though, that I have experienced nothing but love these past 3 months. It has renewed my faith in humanity certainly. There will be more to say about all this once I'm back on home turf and have time to process everything. 
Hopefully I don't have the same sort of flight fiasco that I did in trying to leave Kathmandu. If all goes according to plan, I will land in Savannah, GA at 7:07pm EST and 4:07pm Pacific. 

       I just received the Thanksgiving Day plan from my mom, and we have apparently become a very modern family. My mom, my sister, my brother in law, my nephew and niece, my sister’s father and stepmom, her 2 brothers and their wives and kids. Phew! Confused? Here’s some brief backstory and family history for those who do not know; my sister (Wendy) and I are 11 years apart and have different fathers. Our mother, Amy, and Wendy’s dad, Gary, divorced when she was still very young, 5 or 6. Gary remarried Elizabeth and they had 2 sons who are my age, Michael and William. Gary and Elizabeth recently left Atlanta and moved to Savannah to be closer to their kids and grandkids. My mom left Arizona in June and also has moved back to Savannah. I say ‘back’ because she and Gary were living in Savannah just prior to their split. While Michael and William have always been lovely and welcoming toward my mother, in the past my sister unfortunately has had to split her time between her parents. Now though it sounds like there has also been a lot of ‘healing’ between my mom and Gary, and they’ve all hung out together on various occasions…. which I think is brilliant! See… we can all get along! So from the airport I'm headed over to Gary and Elizabeth’s for the big dinner. Obviously, the only person missing from this bizarrely fantastic scenario will be MY father, Bruce. Love you Dad!!! I will call you tomorrow!

      For my Cali constituents, we're making progress in the time difference, only 3 hours :-) Since I will still be without my cell, I am going to look into a super simple 'pay as you go' so we can talk and text like civilized folk, LOL! Enough of this Skype crap, I miss my peeps and want to be able to talk to you normally AND whenever I feel like it! :-) In the meantime, I can give those who want it my sister's home number. Let me know.

I am thankful for each and every one of you!!!


Dirty I come! :-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Look kids; Big Ben, Parliament"

       I managed to see and do quite a lot so far in the short time I've been in London. I saw two fantastic plays, (Jumpy and Shalom Baby! Shalom Baby! being my favorite) saw Twilight on opening day because I am as one friend aptly remarked a “Nherd” but will make up for that by seeing a film about serial murder, Snowtown, I've fallen in love with the Underground, enjoyed a bit of steeple chase horse racing at Royal Ascot, saw a brilliant Degas exhibit and am off to the Tate Modern today. And above all I've gotten to spend some quality time with Eddie and Raj. For me, a very basic but honest test of the ease and rapport of a relationship is if you can sit in silence comfortably for at least 30 minutes....and one of my favorite days was spent on the couch yesterday with Ed before lunch with friends watching cricket and then after both silently enduring the likes of Antique Roadshow and Garrow's Law before happily settling on American Dad and Family Guy. It was so simple but felt so deliciously comfortable, like I'd known this person for years and not just a mere 4 weeks. 

    However, I don’t know if there will be a word for my time in London, I don’t think I'm here long enough for one to surface. London seems to be a very short Chapter 1 in Part III, or more of an introduction really. There's been no romance, which was a scenario many of you (including me to a certain degree) had in the back of your minds, ahem… you know who you are as do I....girls :-) since according to Elizabeth's journey, Part III was LOVE. And I was too limited financially to really throw myself into the London scene as I would’ve really liked, i.e reestablish my reputation as a concert whore and dance critic.  
    What I've noticed the most or rather was reminded of is the decorum shall we say of the English, their reserve. (And I mean absolutely no disrespect by saying that)  I do realize that in most big cities people seem to keep to themselves more, but the energetic feels very different here. It’s so palpable that it makes me want to go on a hugging spree. Early on, I made it my mission to smile at as many people as I could without looking like an insane clown. I can see why it’s said that London can be a very lonely city. You can be shoulder to shoulder on the Underground, but still feel completely separate and removed. In the States, people would at least catch your eye and nod in acknowledgment. I've suddenly become starved for hugs. Thankfully, Raj always hugs me when he sees me otherwise I’d go completely crazy. And actually even Ed broke down and gave me a hug last night. It's made me realize and truly appreciate the amount of effusiveness I am accustomed to back home. I have occasion several times a day to give and receive hugs and tell my family and my friends I love them... and vice versa. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by the most incredible, generous and fascinating people these past 3 months but there was always a definite line of personal space (physical and emotional) which I absolutely understand and respect, and did not want to prematurely cross. But I realize now how open my heart has become; I've become someone that needs hugs and to proclaim my “love”.  I really do love each and every one of the people that have been brought into my life since Aug 29. Ok, maybe not Marco and Caterina from the first farm or the asshole at Heathrow Immigration, but everyone else. This realization and visceral reaction is no small thing, but a sign of major progress for me, because for a long time I was the uber reserved one. I was very cut off and held everyone at a safe distance physically and emotionally with the help of my self-imposed ‘bar flaps’. As I'm writing and processing all this,  maybe my time in London is about LOVE after all. Unfortunately though for my family that means I’m probably going to smother them that first week of being home. I can hear my niece and nephew now, “Ugh! Aunt Cooooouuuurtnnneeeey….not another hug!” and “Yeaaaaa, we knoooow…you love us…we got it, geeeez!"

     And let me say it here in the safety of the written word (in the order that I met you) that:
The General
Miss Margarita

….and now let me warn you that the next time we meet you will just have to endure a regular shower of my affection ;-) ... there are worse things I suppose, hahaha

...Also, it is official that I am returning to the States ON Thanksgiving. I will be in Savannah, GA 7:07pm (EST) on the 24th, just in time for dinner :-)

Trafalgar Square

"Look kids, Big Ben"

Strolling in St. James Park

Buckingham Palace

The Royal Academy of Arts where I saw 2 brilliant exhibits; 
Degas and one about Soviet architecture

Saturday at the races; Royal Ascot

I didn't bet but my pick for the first race WON....and in each subsequent race my pick placed in the top 3 :-)

Valid Reason

Friday, November 18, 2011

Changing course.....again

     I said a very difficult but temporary goodbye to the Singh family on Sunday the 13th. I cried as we were all standing at the car, it took us all by surprise but I couldn’t help it and whether they liked it or not, I pulled them each into a big hug. It was the best decision in the history of decisions to leave the Vipassana early and spend the rest of my time with them….really getting to know them, realizing we have more in common than either side probably ever expected, and sharing a lot of laughter!! Please visit Shivapuri Village if you are ever in Kathmandu for a truly rejuvenating and infinitely rewarding experience:

Cut to the airport:
     While in the ridiculously long and painfully slow immigration line, I met Roger, who would end up being the greatest travel companion ever. Seeing how the line was not moving, I asked him for the time. We ended up talking about our reasons for being in Nepal. Turns out he’d been on a reconnaissance trip of sorts as he is in the process of organizing a trip up Everest for 25 people in April that will end up supporting Nepali charities. He’s good friends with Kenton Cool, a guy who’s done Everest numerous times, and is being trained by his trainer. He was so lovely and funny that we just kept chatting all the way into the waiting lounge. He bought me coffee, water and shared his Toblerone. The day then took a very unexpected turn, due to ‘fog’ apparently all flights were delayed. I say it with quotes because flights were still landing and some taking off, so to us it felt like a totally bullshit excuse. Our flight was delayed 4 ½ hours, meaning we’d already missed the Doha to London connection. They served lunch for everyone, so we split a beer and continued to chat away the hours. He told me all about the upcoming expedition, his job, his 16yr old daughter, and his girlfriend who’s spent a month in Africa at a lion sanctuary. Please visit their website to learn more the trek: Like everyone else I’ve met on this trip, there was such a sense of ease and familiarity that we became fast friends. I enjoyed his company and laughed so much that what ended up being a 14 hour delay was not only no big deal, but a real pleasure. Thank you Roger Owen for such brilliant company!!

    I finally made it to London at 12pm on Nov 14, where I was greeted at Immigration by a Grade A asshole. He responded to my friendly hello and charming smile with a quizzical brow, a shake of the head, and the kind of smirk characteristic of a bona fide dick. I have a sneaking suspicion my American accent did not help my case. Immediately he latched on to my listed occupation as an artist; Dancer/Writer ( I should’ve remembered to just put Massage Therapist) and began grilling me about what I was doing here, the amount of money in my account, how could I prove it, who I was staying with, how long I'd known them, what they did for a living, and when I was leaving. Each answer I gave he seemed not to believe, and gave me such glowering looks of suspicion and distaste that I thought I was about to escorted to a separate room for a session of proper water-boarding. I did not like his snarky, superior attitude and copped one to match, "I see your piss poor condescending attitude and raise you one." ....which I realize was not the wisest move, but look, I can be sweet as pie or you can risk opening a serious can of Bitchy McFierce. Your choice. He ended up writing a novel of notes about me on the back of my form while seriously considering whether or not to let me in the country. Dude, really?!
         Luckily, Raj and Eddie were awaiting me on the other side with generous smiles, hugs, an Oyster card for the Underground, and a spare ticket to a play that evening.  Ah, Love!  The play that night, called Jumpy, was fantastic and in a super rad theater space…. made me really want to be up on the stage. :-) The next day, the three of us plus their friend Bernie did a bit of bus hopping and sight-seeing. That night, we went out for burgers (Thank Gawd!) where I got to meet Danny, one of the other Shivapuri regulars I’d heard so much about and a super sweet guy.

     While I physically arrived on Monday, it took me till Wednesday to arrive mentally and emotionally as well. I had Wednesday (and Thursday) all to myself to find my feet, master the Underground, and really get my bearings. I’ve realized my pattern is that it takes me 3-4 days to react to my new surroundings and settle in. But since I’ve been gone from the States for almost 3 months now and have lived through several different chapters of this journey, frankly I’m running out of steam. This became clear on Wednesday, and I began to wonder about being here for an entire 18 days. It felt daunting in a way. There are almost too many options of things to see and do in this city; their Time Out magazine (like L.A Weekly) sent me spinning. I've flipped through it 4 or 5 times and still can't seem to absorb any of it. London is a very expensive city and because I was initially supposed to be farming and not spending any money, I’m more than a bit limited. 
Also it takes a certain kind and amount of energy to continually be a guest, and live out of a backpack.  That’s in no way saying that I haven’t felt more than welcome in all my various homes on this trip, because I have. (Eddie has told me several times to really make myself at home and leave my mark) but it’s still someone else’s space that they are generously allowing me to inhabit. Then seeing all the holiday decorations, I became quite sad at the thought that I would soon be missing Thanksgiving. I walked around with all these feelings and thoughts on Wednesday without over analyzing any of them, just acknowledging them and allowing my truth to surface. Then upon checking my email Thursday morning, I learned that for various reasons I would not be receiving the money I was expecting from my sub letters for December. That seemed to seal the deal.  It’s not that I was allowing finances to make my decision, but the truth is that without that cushion I really can’t afford to stay the 18 days.  It was the extra nudge I needed I suppose. I’m fairly certain this is the first of many visits either here, in Nepal or even possibly in L.A. which is the only thing that makes foreshortening the time with Eddie and Raj a smidge easier.... because it will certainly be hard to say goodbye next week.

     There's a part of me that thinks I must be crazy for going back to the States to spend a month with my family in Georgia. There's a bigger part though that says it will be quite nourishing because the reality of my 'real life' will be waiting for me as soon as I step off that plane in Savannah; the bleakness of my bank account, the fact that my rent will be due 3 days after returning to L.A, and my lack of a job... so having their support and unconditional love as I reacclimate will be a gawd-send. If I'm being 100% honest, going back scares me a bit....ok, quite a bit. I'm scared that the magic that has been with me throughout this whole journey may not follow me home. What if it was just some kind of 'International Magic' plan that doesn't have coverage in the United States?!  *sigh* 
I realize that I have no choice really but to just surrender and trust that it will, because so far that's the formula that seems to get the best signal :-)

     In other news, I'm writing this in a Costa Coffee (because apparently I drink coffee now, or at least while travelling... go figure) after just having seen Twilight; Breaking Dawn Part 1.....very exciting! And tonight Eddie, Raj and I are headed to see another play with 2 of their friends which is equally exciting.

So that's where I'm at ...... 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ok, I was wrong....THIS is the last Nepal entry :-)

     I had a fantastic last day of sightseeing!! I headed to the Buddhist disctrict to see Boudhanath (pronounced Bo-da), one of the holiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal, and it’s ginormous! While walking around, I recognized a woman from the Vipassana meditation, Susanna from Germany.  She and I were actually had been the first ones to arrive the first day for registration, and got to talking while we waited. She was glad to see me because she obviously noticed I had left, and I was curious to know what her experience had been. She actually really enjoyed it. I'm not surprised though, I remember seeing her sit in the next row and a few seats up, she never moved. Gawd bless her! It was both of our last days to sight-see and she was headed to Pashupatinath after the stupa and invited me to join her. 
"Pashupatinath Temple is regarded as the most sacred temple of Hindu Lord Shiva in the world, Pashupatinath Temple's existence dates back to 400 A.D. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple, that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings."

     But the most interesting part is that it's located on the Bagmati River and is where they perform their cremations.... which you can actually sit and watch from the opposite bank. We saw 4 of them. It was amazing! (No, it did not smell like anything other than a giant bonfire) I took pictures which I've included, but if you're squeamish if may wanna bypass them. I however, found it truly beautiful and emotionally rich. I personally prefer the idea of cremation to burial. It was especially powerful to see it done outside, and see the smoke carry the spirit on to their next life as it's believed. If I had not run into Susanna I never would have known to go there.... love it!


You walk around a stupa clockwise
and spin the prayer wheels


People chillin' with some sacred cows

By 10:oopm tomorrow I will be in London thus beginning Part III :-)

Till next time, XOXOXO

Friday, November 11, 2011

   I've had a very fun, relaxing and productive last few days. Prajunna's good friend came to visit from Darjeeling, and he was delightful! The three of us went out one night for a bit of window shopping, beers, snacks, good conversation and lots of laughing. 
Since I am the queen of bartering, I managed to do a wee bit o Christmas shopping for the fam as well as ship all my shorts and tank tops back to the States (since it's only in the 40s and 50s in London) all for under $100... probably only about $85! Score! Totally winning! 

    Today is only Saturday, I don’t leave for London till 12:55p on Sunday. However, today is 11/11/11 and is in my mind a very auspicious day.
I, like probably many of you, make a wish whenever the time reads 11:11. I keep wishing for the whole minute, and today we get 1440 minutes of wishes!! AND 1440 adds up to 9, a very powerful number in numerology. In my pranayama sessions, all the number combinations of the breath cycles added up to 9….no coincidence there :-)  I won’t bore you with all the woo-woo details, so look it up if you’re truly curious. I’m choosing to write my last Nepal entry today because this trip (so far) has been one continuous string of wishes come true,  most of which I did not even think to make. It has morphed and evolved into something beyond what I could have ever imagined in the beginning.

     I think the word for Part II is Community…. because Family almost feels too immediate, too limited. Community is more accurate because it’s more expansive, all encompassing.  There were of course elements of Pray and Retreat, but the wisdom and beauty of my Italian experience clung to me tightly as this Nepali group of people completely adopted me. …. and I let them!
     Having a sister 11 years older, I was more or less like an only child. And being quite a serious kid, I have always erred on the side of quiet and solitary. Being alone has never bothered me, often times I prefer it but if one is not careful it’s becomes like a coat of armor….at least it did for me.  I also have had an issue of trust since childhood; trusting others, the universe, sometimes even myself. Until recently, within the last year or so, I rarely, if ever, asked for help of any kind. I commended myself for my ability to suffer in silence, tough it out, and go it alone.  In Italy, in order to leave that unfavorable situation of the first farm, I had no choice but to ask for help. I had to swallow any sort of stupid pride and email a man I barely knew and ask him to rescue me, plain and simple.  And he did! Riccardo is not only a gentleman and a scholar, he is a true Italian knight in shining armor accompanied by the equally regal sidekick Baldo. To know that I could return to Mompeo at any time and be welcomed with open arms is a gift of which I almost feel unworthy. Riccardo (and his animal menagerie) are the first members of this new family I seem to be creating.
     The same goes for my time here. I have seen next to nothing of this country or even Kathmandu itself because my time was either spent in Shivapuri, at the meditation center or here at Prem’s house…. but I have fallen in love with Nepal because of the people I’ve met.  These people just tucked me into their lives without a second thought, thus tucking themselves deep into my heart. We all laugh now because at first they all thought I was very aloof (the story of my life) and wanted to be left alone because I was practicing yoga, etc and writing all the time.  Both sides have hilarious versions of one another’s first impression.  We’ve come a long way since that first week; Prassana and I discussing culture, religion and politics, Prajunna and I watching episodes of True Blood, hanging with The General, and drinking Johnnie Walker Black while watching Prem and Co. play cards.  The Singh family motto seems to be all about making friends over money, creating network and lifelong relationships. I have no doubt this was my first trip of many, and September is my return date goal. I see now why Raj, Eddie and all the rest of their friends have been coming back for so many years. Yep, Nepal’s word is definitely Community.
    And in a day and a half, that community is taking me to London to once again knock on the doors of people I would certainly call friends, but who I still hardly know.  This is so surreal! I have no idea why South Africa fell apart and/or why diverting to London was so easy that it was literally served on a silver platter. I am excited, but honestly at the same time equal parts nervous because this is sooooo out of left field and so not a part of the original plan. That being said, I’m shutting down all the ‘What if’ scenarios as soon as they surface because learning to just ride the wave has clearly served me quite well so far.

     Now here's an interesting kicker, as I was thinking about all these amazing people, it suddenly occurred to me that they are all men .... Riccardo, Prajunna, Prassana, Prem, Prem's friends (Sashi, Sheeva (sp?)) The General, Raj, and Eddie. Some of them are married and the women are lovely and equally kind, especially Prajunna's wife Usha, but I just did not develop the same sort of connection. On the whole, I've had less interaction with women on this trip, save my frequent check-ins with Mom and Rochelle, and my fabulous Roman weekend with Muriel! (for which I am still enjoying the memories and am humbly grateful!!)
I guess I really should not be surprised. I have a very small handful of women in my life as is, and those friendships have really only come into the forefront and become my mainstays in recent years. Almost as a rule I always had more guy friends... I'm lucky to know some really great guys back home!! 
On Raj and Milo's last night, several of Prem's friends came over and we were all sitting around drinking and shooting the shit and one of them asked me if I felt uncomfortable being the only female. He seemed impressed I could hold my own and hang with the boys. 
    Allora, It was just an interesting 'Aha' moment that I thought I'd share because unfortunately in Western society (or maybe it's just America) men get such a bad rap....they're selfish pigs, etc. The truth is though that men are incredibly generous people, happy to give and share if really given the opportunity and space to do so! Riccardo is one of the most thoughtful men I've ever met and a true animal whisperer that would probably take in every stray he found. The Singh men have such sweet and deep connection to their wives and are 100% hands on with their kids. I will learn more about Eddie and Raj soon, but I already know they have hearts of gold. We women need to let down our guard a bit more sometimes and let them in. Remember my realization of there being strength in vulnerability? Now sure there are men that are selfish pigs, assholes, liars, etc....I've even met a few, but I've met a few of those women too! 
I don't know why I'm surrounded by such amazing men on this trip, but who cares I'm just grateful because I've never felt so safe and taken care of in my life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

London Calling

     As I mentioned in my last post, the South African horse ranch could no longer host me, and the 2nd farm previously said he did not need me till December. Right away my heart said, " Go to London!" But I emailed Brett at Mountainview Organics anyway seeing if he would be willing or able to take me early and for the 3 weeks I would be there. Then while talking to Rochelle, the truth came out. I was really hoping that he didn't need me, and if he did the only reason I would even go at that point is because of the money....the ticket was already paid for, and with the work exchange everything else would be taken care of. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, we both laughed and she said, "Yeeeeaaaa you're going to London..... and so it is" 

   Yada, yada, yada... a day of online research and a phone call to Cheap Tickets, I was not able to change my existing ticket since it was a partially used one way. (Rome to Kathmandu and then Kathmandu to Cape Town) I would have to buy a brand new ticket... not only to London but back to the States.....ouch! But my heart still kept saying, " London, London, London". I double and triple-checked with Eddie that it would be okay to do a bit of couch surfing and reassured him (and Raj) that I would be the world's best guest. He sent back, "Don't worry bout a thing....cause every thing is gonna be alright" ..... and that sealed the deal. I let go of the financial fear factor completely. Prajunna and Prassana immediately started making calls to their travel agency connections to get me the very best deal. I went to bed that night with a smiling heart.

   This morning I woke up to send another email to Brett amending my previous request and a response from him was already there saying that he currently had 3 WWOOFers, and while he felt terrible my plans had fallen through he could not afford to host anyone least not till the middle of December. I just laughed. I then called Cheap Tickets again to cancel my one way from CPT back to the States...and as it turned out I was able to get a FULL refund! I couldn't believe it. I was convinced that at most I would get a credit with Turkish Airlines to be able to use within the year, I never in a million years expected to get my money back! Talk about validation! The guy even said that if I call back the next morning to cancel the leg of the trip to CapeTown from here that he was fairly sure I would be refunded that amount as well. Are you kidding me?! Fan-fucking-tastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THEEEENNNNNN after breakfast, Prajunna found me a ticket from Kathmandu to London to Savannah for almost $300 less than the total of my refund! I just got back from the travel agency, E ticket to Heathrow burning a hole in my pocket! I haven't stopped smiling all day! 

    From Day 1 of planning this trip, South Africa for various reasons has been sketchy. You may remember in most of those early posts, when all the Italian and Nepal plans fell right into place I was always saying that South Africa was still up in the air. I had to keep pushing at it, and yet I wasn't able to let it go. While I wasn't able to let it go, at the same time the closer I got I really couldn't see myself there. I was supposed to start taking my Malaria antibiotics on Nov 1st, but I didn't because I just had this feeling I wasn't going. 

   This is the most perfect way for me to start Part III, the 'LOVE' part of my adventure. A few of you may know how much I love England, the UK in general, but especially England. The first time I stepped off the plane I felt I had come home (except of course for my stupid American accent that makes me feel like a country bumpkin) There is an old and deep resonance there for me....I can feel the energy of past lives. I remember sitting on the plane with my mother after my first trip and crying like a child because I had to leave.... But now I want to cry tears of joy because I get to return....
I have no idea why this is all working out as it is...... but I don't care because I am soooo happy and so grateful! 

     I arrive in London this Sunday the 13th and will depart for the States on Dec 2.... I did not want to outstay my welcome right off the bat and 2 weeks felt appropriate...... but who knows? If I've learned nothing else from this whole trip, I've learned to STAY OPEN!