Crying does not come easy for me.  It’s not that I don’t try to display my emotions in a measurable way.  I guess that I am just an emotionally moderate individual.  I can’t recall the, second to, last time that my tear ducts were overcome with a flood of anything.  I worried that my eyes were desolate; ducts depleted.  Yet,the phenomenon took place at the culmination of our time out west.

The summer in L.A. concluded as abruptly as it began and continued.  Visiting friends and family, learning new skills and eating, longed after, food, all sandwiched with traffic, city stress and different characters, left me spent.  Two weeks would have been sufficient.  After two years of peace (corps) and one year in this tranquil mountain range, the hustle and bustle of L.A. was overwhelming.  Two months was a lot, to say the least.

Returning to the lacrimation.  The catalyst of this change was my mother.  The dark morning, as we packed the last bit of our things, was calm.  I gave my mom a voluminous hug.  I was going to miss my mom and wanted to make sure that she knew it.  We embraced under the sheathed stars, with much emotion.  As we separated, I felt how, I assume, she was feeling.  A healthy concoction of sadness, happiness, anger and worry.  I am coming to realize that all of these emotions are important and need to be balanced in order to be beneficial.

Barely seeing someone, especially my mom, for three years helps me realize how much value I place on them and our relationship.  I, wholeheartedly, cherish my mom.  I only, have yet to figure out how to display it without it getting lost in translation.

So that’s where the dam was opened.

Since then, there hasn’t been much precipitation falling from the dark clouds of my eyes.  The few times that I’ve noticed a drizzle coming in, are usually after reading an emotional part of a book.  The tears and the feelings that are evoked are ones that have been worded in such a way, that they resonate with something inside of me.  Joy, sadness, surprise…

Stories can really unlock the things that are suppressed due  to different factors.

The latest story being “Sahara Special” by Esme Raji Codell.  I was reading it to figure out what would be read in class this year with my fourth/fifth graders.  The situations, the love, the hurt and the humor that was relayed hooked me and pulled me in.  I cried at parts that some might look at and think I was crazy.  I can’t tell you what parts, because I don’t want to ruin the story (but really, I don’t want you to think I’m too sensitive).

I read Maya Angelou’s autobiographies this summer.  She had me laughing and crying, living and dying with her tellings.  “King Leopold’s Ghost” by Adam Hocschild, evokes an anger so deep, that I have yet to finish it, for fear of not being able to climb back out.  So I supplement with books like, “The Kite Fighters” by Linda Sue Park, to see if a trip across the Pacific and back in time could lift me into the windy sky.

I’ve gone all over the place, here.  Tears, my mom and books.

In conclusion, It’s not as hard for me to cry, but I still have a long way to go across these salty waters.  This is probably a surprise to Evelyn, because the expressing of emotions is is not high on my list of aptitudes.  But she needs for me to do more of  that.  Being a late bloomer, when it comes to leisurely reading, is a blessing.  The stories that are out there are innumerable and I hope to download an innumerable amount more.  And, Mom, I love you and miss you and can’t wait to see you in November!

Wisdom, strength, tolerance, patience and love, ya’ll!



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A Bee Student

On Wednesday, darting down the road from my Schools Attuned workshop, I was enjoying my bike ride after a long day of new information.  Gliding over the smoothly paved road between the 134 and Griffith Park, I was enjoying the subtle downgrade that made the task a little more palatable.

“Oh, what’s that,” I thought, as I saw a bird maneuvering through the air.  There sure were a lot of people sitting in their cars on the side of the road, encroaching on my bike lane.  “They better not open their door at the last second!”  And then I noticed a black dot, entering stage left as I was going towards the stage.

A collision ensued and I thought nothing of it.  I pedaled a few more rotations and then I felt a new sensation, one that I’ve never felt before.  “(Expletive)!” I shouted, “What is this?”  I pulled at my teal tank top at the epicenter of the feeling and kept pulling until I felt like I got it, whatever it was, out (I still don’t know if I did).  The sensation of pinching, with the heat of fire and the numbness of Novocaine made me stop.

My left anterior abdomen area was tingling and I didn’t get to see what decided to impale me.  My best guess would be a bee, because, you see, I believe ’twas a bee!  But I will never know.  Three days later, and I still have a red, itchy irritation to commemorate this act.

Going back to the, week long, workshop on how to effectively teach different types of students, I looked back to my own pupil experiences.  I was a B/B- student.  I made it through school doing what it was that I needed to do.  I never stressed about academics and I had a pretty good balance with the other aspects of, elementary through university, life.

If I had more teachers that tried to meet me on my level and assisted me to figure out how I learn, I wonder how I would have fared as a student.  Maybe I would have known how to re-calibrate in a class that I didn’t find interesting.  Perhaps I could have learned how to fortify my strengths, as opposed to highlighting my shortcomings.  Who knows? From what I learned this week, I will do my best to implement some new strategies, in order to assist young learners in their education.

Evelyn Update:  This whole week, while I’ve been in class, Evelyn has been living the life!  Continuing her dance classes, meeting up with friends and family, “girl talk”, receiving a Thai massage and flaunting her new up do.  I won’t attempt to share what experiences she had, but she’s having a good time and radiating her radiance, which very rarely retreats.

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LP to LA

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Walk It Out

Yesterday evening, I decided to hike.

A winding trail, seemingly, never ending. The gradual incline provided a formidable replacement for missing my bike ride to Santa Monica.  I was out there for two hours and 15 minutes.  It took me one and a half hours to reach the summit.  The total trip was, a jubilant, ten miles in length; round trip, from where I parked.  “You do the arithmetic.  Me do the language arts.”

I winded through Brown Mountain, with the sun painting me a few shades darker.  On the other side of the mountain, I felt relief from the radiant light.  I can’t even count the number of lizards and birds that I saw.  At the beginning of the hike, I would jump a little when I heard something rustle on the side.  As I went further up, I was more relaxed and less ecophobic; taking in the different aromas and sights that revealed themselves.

With mountain bikers passing me with intense looks of determination on their faces, I briskly took my time to reach First Saddle (My destination).    It felt good to climb this mountain.  My body appreciated it.  My mind was thankful for the break.  And my soul, my soul couldn’t contain itself.  I was smiling, jumping, talking to myself in spanish and working on some Tae Kwon Do moves.  To onlookers, I probably appeared to be a little off my rocker.  A crazy mountain man with Locs on his head, they might have presumed.

There are way too many trails around the greater Los Angeles area to not take advantage of.  I look forward to more exploring of these massive lumps of earth that make me feel insignificant at times.

Ted, if you happen to read this, I’m at 14 Mountain Ache Miles; I’m coming for ya!

If anyone wants to go hiking, let me know.

Evelyn is wrapping up her ballet class and her teacher ran out and was speaking to someone at the front desk.  I overheard their conversation.

“There’s this new girl that is actually pretty good for her first time”

“What’s her name?”

“I don’t know,” burped the reacher.

This is when I intervened, “It could be my wife, Evelyn.”

The teacher responds, “What is she wearing?”

So I say, “The gray, cotton, tights and the aura, also known as the glow (go to 1:02).”

He nodded and knew exactly who I was talking about.

As usual, Evelyn is leaving an impact wherever she steps.  I’m happy to be walking with her; sometimes in front, sometimes in back but usually beside her.

With all of this walking, we’re going to have some really strong legs!

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Plié, From First Position

“I’m nervous,” utters Evelyn.  “I don’t want to be laughed at.”

These were the words before Evelyn’s, first time, attempt at ballet class.  Her excitement mixed with some self doubt, makes for the perfect concoction, which might produce the next Josephine Baker or Rudolf Nureyev.  After two days of classes (of both ballet and tap), she decided to sleep in today and attend the evening session.

Oh, did I mention, that we biked 20 miles to her class and 20 miles back afterwards, during those two days?  Evelyn wants to be a superwoman, she’s already pretty close to it; as close as one could be, if you asked me.

“How was it?” I inquired.

“It was challenging.  I didn’t know any of the terms, I was just trying to mimic what everyone else was doing.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah, but… it was challenging!”

This was after the first class.  Later that evening, after biking for two hours and changing a flat, she rested up (about 45 minutes) and went to her first tap class, as well.  She really enjoyed this style of dance.  Can you picture her doing this soon? I know I can.  As a matter of fact, if she cuts her hair and grows a mustache… she’d be a shoo-in for a Gregory Hines look alike competition.  I’m just kidding.

It’s been great getting up early and tackling the day.  Getting up before the shell of the clouds crack, to expose the yolk in the sky.  Hitting a few hills on the bike, creating abstract art under my underarms, making dark gray shapes on my silvery shirt.

Bike over car, almost, any day (I think we’ll be driving today).

We’re trying to create good routines to help us have a good summer.  Otherwise, L.A. will chew us up and swallow us!  And you know what happens after food passes through the digestive system.

We’ve been fortunate enough to see a few of our friends and family in the few days that we’ve been here.  We got to meet little Lucy and spend time, although briefly, with Our home-girl Jackie (See you at Friday Night Jazz!).  We were able to see our Uncle Tony and Liz; we shared a bunch of good laughs and tantalizing conversations.  By the way, they just came back from a three week trip to Europe, of which they have an abundance of captivating photos.

As we continue to dance through the summer, we will work on keeping the correct posture and being light on our feet.  Gracefulness is fundamental and persistence is crucial.  Our timing should be synchronized and we should pronounce our strength.  With repetition and plenty of rest, this wonderful time of the year will be just that, wonderful.

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All You Can Eat

Three nights ago, we made it to St. George Utah with the intention of staying at Zion National Forest.  Exhaustion got the best of us and we settled for the KOA, conveniently stationed off of the freeway.

All of our overnights, thus far, have been nice and cool; at times a little cold.  The refreshing climate in the north and midwest is very satiable, ideal even, for an enjoyable night in a tent.  This was not the case off of the I15.

Once we hit Southern Colorado, the cool, crisp mountain air ceased whisking through the slender window openings.  Instead, it turned to the sensation of cooking a pizza in a wood fire oven.  “It’s ok, ” we thought.  “We’ll just put on the AC.”


Just when we needed a little temperature relief, we discover that the vents only delivered the same heat that the windows were providing.  But we just laughed it off, rolled ’em down and embraced the blasts of inferno that we yearned for last February in Lake Placid.

We got to our site in the middle of the night and proceeded to set up the tent.  The weather reminded us of those hot summer nights in Paraguay, minus the humidity.  Oh, and the little cucarachas dancing at our feet, brought back memories as well.  Different climate, different vermin.  One night you’re batting mosquitoes from your face and the next you’re hoping that a roach didn’t sneak in your tent as you entered.

We didn’t really rest well, but because Evelyn pushed our journey that day to the limit, our drive in the morning would only be two hours to our next destination; Las Vegas.

When we arrived, we immediately called up an ex-pat friend of ours that we met in Paraguay.  Karen was just as mutually excited to see us, as we were to see her.  We were able to meet her youngest daughter and we spent the greater part of the day enjoying each other’s company.

They took us to a little hole in the wall restaurant that was showing the first game of the world cup on three big screens.  The only thing is, we were the only ones there and we weren’t necessarily interested in watching the game.  Except for one of the four of us, who shall remain unnamed, who was interested in how gorgeous the Brazilian futbalistas were.

The spices of the food and the flavor of the conversation, made for a good afternoon.

We later met up with an old neighbor of mine and caught up with him.  After midnight, all you can eat Korean BBQ buffet.  I tried to keep up with the James’ appetite. I failed immensely.  Evelyn was done after a few bowls of rice and a few strips of beef.  She was exhausted from our trip, at that point.

Playing ping pong (I was dominated in that, just as well as the eating competition) with James, watching him play in his adult league soccer game and meeting his girlfriend, were definite highlights of our trip.  Congratulations on your one year anniversary!

We were well rested due to the unmatched hospitality of our Aunt Adi.  We woke up the next day, with the “itis.”  We were preparing for the final four hours of our trip.  The plan to leave early was postponed due to a delicious breakfast, with strong coffee and a great conversational interchange.  We must have been talking from 10:00am to 3:00pm.  Thank you for your inspirational and empowering words, and your open ears Aunt Adi.

It is a wonderful blessing to have friends and family of different magnitudes.  Counterparts that live life continually growing and empowering others.  It is one of the greatest feelings when I can go 2 years without seeing someone, only to encounter them as if we didn’t skip a beat.  All of these types of experiences would be non existent, if it wasn’t for these people.

Well, now, here we are in the greater Los Angeles area and we have about a month and a half here.  Here’s to a wonderful, renewing, break and more exciting adventures and encounters with friends and family.

I’m sure Evelyn will put up some photos that we took (We didn’t take too many) soon.

This was a true bonding session, seven days in length.  We have grown a little stronger and are looking forward to continually strengthening our love.  She is a great road partner and I look forward to doing more sporadic and crazy things like this in the future.

Happy Summer!

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Hanging Lake

We woke up this morning at the White River National Forest in Colorado. We wanted to experience the difference from the campgrounds we’ve been staying at. We really enjoyed it. Evelyn and I have been really enjoying one another’s company. After Evelyn took the book that we’ve been reading together on and off during the trip, we had a full, nine hour, slumber. When morning came, backtracked up the I-70 to go to Hanging Lake. This was a recommendation from our Peace Corps compañero, Chris.

When we were heading into Denver, we remembered that Chris called this place home. We called him, and he obliged to wait an extra hour so that we could meet him for lunch. Over some deli sandwiches, we discussed what we had been up to over the last year, following two years in Paraguay. We were happy to see that he was happy. He has a cool new job, utilizing his accounting skills; he also has a super cool boss. Chris told us that they, him and his boss, just went on a mountain bike trip. Not everyone can have such a relationship with their supervisor. Add to that, Colorado is a really beautiful place.

After our lunch, Chris advised us to go on a nice hike. He gave us directions and we were off. It was good to see a member of our volunteer group outside of Paraguay. We’ll be back to Colorado to visit again.

Ok, back to our hike…

The whole hike ran alongside waterfalls that fall from many different directions. There were stairs of rocks; some natural, some positioned strategically.  These climbs kept us conscientious of our breathing. It was a steep climb, but it wasn’t too taxing. It was similar to a hike that we have on campus, that we call Balanced Rocks. Only instead of two huge boulders (placed there by glaciers), there was something different. Once we reached the final destination, we saw a sight that seemed surreal.

Again, waterfalls, spewing cold water from giant cliffs and little holes, alike. The clear fluid congregated into a still pool, filled with a clear, blue hue. The colors were brilliant and played joyfully with the sky, trees and bright red of the mountains. The fish, the birds even the little arachnids, were at home in this beautiful ecosystem.  Evelyn and I just took it in and smiled the whole time.

There are some whimsical places out there, people to meet and experiences to be had. Even if it takes a challenging, steep hike to get there, we look forward to exploring more.

We’re here in Utah now, set to stay at the Zion National Forest. We’ll see what’s out there. See you soon!


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