Montrealistic Part I

Evelyn and I celebrated nine years together, and six years married, on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. We meandered on up to Montreal, and explored the polychromatic city. It’s been a while since we’ve seen so many different people, smelled so many wondrous aromas, heard the quiet bustle of a city. We fell in love with Montreal. It felt like home, and our crooked path might have found a worthwhile place to settle down, in the future.

The tranquil drive down the mountains, onto the freeway, and through the border, was harmonious. After all of these years together, we can still muster out some conversations. Silence is nice, as well, and there was plenty of effortless stillness in our cube of a car; bikes strapped to the back.

When we pulled up to our B&B Le Gite Dezery, we swiftly checked in, met the host, Lilian, and unloaded our bikes to explore the neighborhood. We went one block to to Loblaws, and ate an egg sandwich, salt & cracked pepper chips, and some mixed berries. After we refueled, we headed north-east, on Rue Rachel.

We didn’t know where we were going, and it didn’t matter.  We went biking in a bike lane, where people pedaled, conversed, and (seemingly) get along. Seeing families of different hues, was exciting. Seeing locs on every tenth person, was liberating.

We were aware that there was a beautiful botanical garden somewhere, but we were just rolling along. All of a sudden, we see some Tulips. We see a finished canvas of Tulips. We hopped off of our bikes and drowned in the oil painting, temporarily being hypnotized by the scene. I snapped out of it when we saw nature continue to unfurl.

The Jardin Botanique de Montreal tripped up our spokes. We were speechless. Our plan was to bike for a while, we went maybe ten blocks. The Chinese Garden was harmonious, transporting us to another land.

The Japanese Garden was highlighted by the crooked bridge.

These bridges, according to the sign, are meant to slow you down. Walking along it was emulsifying. The sign also said that it helps ward off evil spirits, which travel in a straight line. Forget the straight and narrow path!

The First Nations Garden was my favorite. The simplicity of it all, made me realize how advanced these nations are. That’s right, ARE! The things that they are able to do, are abilities that I hope to harbor, keeping afloat in this sea of life.

Have you ever had Cedar Tea?

See there, Cedar does some amazing things!

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El Olor

As I sat there with my guampa, the waft of mate, mixed with coconut shavings and anise, carry recollections of the subtle winters, in Paraguay, on its wings. It floated into my memory banks, to deposit smiles, and withdraw interest.

Sitting in oblong circles of individuals, that oscillated like an amoeba, the gourd with the metal straw would work its way around, with ease. Communion was held multiple times, daily; with spontaneity. It still takes hold, as I sipped this concoction in the early hours of the morning.

It hasn’t let go since.

Distance and time have grown.

They have grown the same way that our dropped watermelon seeds sprouted, without effort, on the red, fertile ground.

I partook in conversations about the most mundane of topics, as well as the, hard to crack, complexities of being an affirming member of a community. Cool nights, heated by the radiation sent off from different delectable delights. Warm Sopa Paraguay, Chipa Asador, and Chipa (enter adjective), created a bed for the togetherness that ensued. The togetherness that came from the shared experiences, shared feelings, and the shared metal straw.

Meat, cheese, and grease, was a recipe for hospitality, that was chased by the sipping of the, sometimes too hot, drink. Te right side of my lips are more resistant than the left.

The welcoming of this stranger than strange stranger, into many homes, taught me what it meant to be giving.

This morning, a comfort of belonging was evoked by the impregnating scent of matecoco rollado, and anis.

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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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