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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Month: January, 2013

Day 63: One of Those Days

You know how sometimes you wake up inexplicably crabby in the morning? You didn’t get enough sleep, you had a weird dream you can’t shake, you think you have a cold, etc.

I woke up early this morning to an outside temperature of -1 F and an iPhone stuck to my face (which is weird, because I swear I wasn’t talking on it last night). I peeled it off, frowned and made myself a pillow nest. But then I smiled. A week ago today I was in one of the prettiest places in the world—Whitehaven Beach.

Renowned for pure white beaches, Whitehaven is almost entirely made of silica sand, a chemical compound that swirled its way onto Australia’s coast through sea currents over millions of years. I’ve never seen anything like it. The sands shift every minute, so it’s a little bit different each time you look at it or photograph it (and it’s nearly impossible to take a bad picture—see below).

Thinking about Whitehaven was a day-brightener for me. Maybe it can be a day-brightener for you, too. (Focus on the positives. It exists! And you can go see it!)





Day 62: Recorded Bodies

After a three-hour rehearsal yesterday evening, some of my dance friends and I had a little self-image discussion. It stemmed out of the fact that none of us wanted to watch the rehearsal video of ourselves, just in case we didn’t look as good as we felt. We didn’t want to see what we don’t like about our bodies laid bare in a recording.

One of the things I love about dance (modern dance, in particular) is the wide variety of incredible bodies on any given stage. Wiry men and muscular women, short legs, long arms, wide hips, narrow torsos… It’s striking to think that the people who can fling their limbs around with control and pick each other up without batting an eye experience such discomfort and self-consciousness.

But I understand it. For years, I wished my shoulder blades were set farther back so my shoulders didn’t curve slightly forward. Or, that I was just a little shorter so my center of gravity could be closer to the ground. But if I had a different body, I would have someone else’s quirks, someone else’s unique differences and someone else’s wishes. I might as well just have mine.

Dancers train their bodies to be beautiful and strange, ugly and emotional. It takes sweat to power through the uncomfortable movements until they feel natural and good. It takes commitment to show up every day and learn something new. It takes drive to put on those short-shorts, stand in front of a mirror and see the potential for interesting movement, not pale legs and drooping arms.

But sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes nobody wants to watch the video.

Since we all struggle from time to time, I think we all get a pass. We all get to watch the proverbial video and see the structure and intention of the choreography, not our funny bodies. And if we don’t see the choreography, we’ll work harder and try again. We’ll try harder and harder because we love what we do, not because we don’t like ourselves.

Day 61: Airport Haiku

I arrived at LAX yesterday with a little over 24 straight hours of awake-time under my belt. With only three hours of sleep the night before, I was pretty much toast. In an effort to stay awake long enough to catch my final flight, I sat down with a soy chai and did some haiku-writing. Believe it or not, below are the most coherent fruits of my labor. (I realize these aren’t real haiku by Japanese standards; I just stuck with a 5-7-5 system.)

Advice from The Tow Truck Driver
Endangered species
should never be hit with cars.
Hit people instead.

Cassowary warning

The Couple
How can you sleep like
that, he asked. It’s easy when
you’re quiet, she said.

Necessary Evil
Underwater brain;
stay awake or miss the flight.
Where is the Starbucks?

Gate 52A
Ladies with grey hair
discuss the nearest restroom.
This way. No, that way.

Sleek white computer
lies silent on the blue floor.
Charger is lost.

Floating, spinning room.
At sea in the terminal.
Falling slowly down.

Sure Way to Get The Flu
Chapped lips. May I use
your chapstick? Yes, says pilot.
Germs make you stronger.

Hair Treatment
Sweet miso dressing
flies off the plastic lid. It’s
in my hair again.

Airport Golf Cart
Blue-shirted man says,
Can I give you a ride? No,
I say and regret.

The Long Time
Haiku writing can
only keep a girl awake
for a little while.

Bad Timing
Warm and spicy chai.
Caffeine kicked in on the plane,
which wasn’t the plan.

How much wood could a
woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck
could chuck wood? Don’t know.

Day 60: The Best Laid Plans

Our car broke down on Tuesday. It was a trusty machine that carted us all over the coast of north Queensland, but it just couldn’t make the last few hundred kilometers back to Cairns.

We woke up early Tuesday morning in Mission Beach with plans for a packed day of travel throughout the Atherton Tablelands. After a hearty breakfast of a delicious local mango, leftover pasta primavera and potato chips, we piled ourselves back into Ciara’s ’95 Toyota Camry only to find it “sort of unwell,” as the local mechanic put it. It wasn’t going anywhere.

So after seven hours, a tow truck ride, an exciting Cassowary sighting, a thorough tour of the small town of Tully, pounding rain, a couple of good sandwiches and the sad realization that the Camry’s computer was fried, we were back in Mission Beach, car-less for the foreseeable future.

Happily, neither of us panicked, even with my 5 a.m. flight out of Cairns still a few driving hours away. We’d also received some extreme doomsday warnings about the water levels on the roads heading out of Mission Beach (“Oh you’ll float away, no question. Don’t even bother.”).

The combination of Ciara’s extremely thorough questions and rockin’ Aussie roadside assistance afforded us a cute yellow rental car, a free stay in a fancy hotel and a firm understanding that some of the locals tend to exaggerate the poor driving conditions.

I’m proud to say that even after our unexpected delay, we crammed at least one day’s worth of Tableland-ing into the last three hours of my final day in Australia. I even managed to get a land leech stuck to my leg during a hike through the rainforest. Badass.

Here’s a taste of what’s up in the Tablelands:

yellow submarine

Our new car!


Wallicher Falls, one of many gorgeous rushing waterfalls in the Tablelands.


Lush dairy farmland, which appears only moments after exiting the rainforest.


Easy-going cows, who calmly meander around and in front of driving vehicles.

Day 59: Ch-Ch-Changes

At some point every single day, I think about global warming and how our climate is changing. It’s a scary and interesting phenomenon, and the planet’s transition—both naturally and through human intervention—is becoming more and more apparent.

Traveling through this extremely beautiful Australian climate has made me even more aware of the changes happening around the world.

Parts of Australia are in a drought this year. Ciara and I witnessed the results of the lack of rain as we drove north through north Queensland and saw dry creeks, brown fields and fire warnings mixed in with the lush natural tropics of the area. And we were in the wettest part of the continent—during the rainiest season of the year. Nearly every public bathroom we visited displayed a sign just above the sink with a plea for water conservation. (Granted, when we arrived at our final destination, at a hostel just south of Cairns, it was absolutely pelting rain. But the pelting may have been due to the incoming cyclone.)

Last weekend, she and I went on a sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands and snorkeled through parts of the Great Barrier Reef. It was extraordinary. I especially enjoyed floating over the reef with my head submerged, watching an amazing world unfold underneath me while listening to the electric snapping sounds of the Rainbow Parrot Fish munching on coral. (I imagined the snapping sounds were coming from the electric, deadly jellyfish I’d heard so much about, but my fears were dissuaded when I witnessed the scraping and scratching of the coral. Fish are loud eaters.)

The beautiful and noisy reef I just met is swiftly disappearing, along with the other wildlife who are part of it.

I feel lucky to have been able to swim up close to the reef and briefly experience the water animal kingdom. And my sense of luck is paired with an understanding that the reef will not always look as it did when I saw it. It will die and disappear, much as many other species of plants and animals have died and disappeared.

With you as my digital witness, I hereby promise to do everything I can to move myself onto the positive side of the climate change equation. I pledge to be more aware of my natural environment and will act as its steward, not its enemy.

After all the natural gifts I’ve received on this trip, it seems like the least I can do.

Great Barrier Reef