Category Archives: travel

upcoming travels

after a somewhat awkward absence of contact and passage of time, one of my oldest friends and i recently renewed our long-time friendship. basically it boiled down to, life is too short to let the stupid stuff get in the way. so we have started getting caught up with each other’s lives again, which has been a wonderful feeling.

however, during the time we weren’t in contact my friend (k) lost a very dear friend of hers who lived in holland. she’d go visit him once a year or so, and he’d come visit her here in the states. it was during her last visit a few weeks ago that he unexpectedly fell ill, went into a coma, and ultimately passed away. i feel just awful for her, because she has already had more than her share of loss in her life. i had thought that maybe i would try to visit her at some point in the next few months, and invited her to come to kc for a visit. she said that she’d like to, but was planning a trip to holland next spring for a memorial service for her friend. she casually mentioned that she thought it’d be nice if i could come along, and i agreed but kinda sorta declined, saying that i really couldn’t afford such a trip on short notice like that.

a couple of nights after this online chat, she wanted to know if she could call me. i said, absolutely, because i wanted to know what happened and how she was doing, and maybe make plans to see her. what i got from her phone call was an offer for the trip of a lifetime. her friend’s family has offered to pay for my transportation to and from amsterdam and part of the hotel expenses for me to go with her. they want k to have someone there as moral support (although i won’t go to the actual memorial service, which will involve scattering his ashes). i was like, seriously???! i’ve wanted to go to amsterdam for a number of years, but have had other goals that wouldn’t allow such a trip to happen financially. so for me to have the opportunity to take this trip is truly a blessing.

i understand that the primary purpose of this trip for me to basically ‘hold her hand’, which i am more than happy, and honored, to be able to do. but we also plan on spending a few days just hanging out in the hague and amsterdam, and maybe making a day trip to brussels or paris. this will be like the trip of a lifetime for me, as i have never left the north american continent. so, although most of the dutch speak english fluently, one of my goals over the next few months is to learn a few basic dutch phrases, and to save money like a crazy woman for spending money. however, my most important goal with this trip is to be there for my friend of nearly 25 years, because i know this last trip will be an emotional roller coaster for her. i hope and plan to be the friend that she needs for this particular journey, and beyond.


a compulsive listmaker’s dream come true

via a series of click-throughs on various websites, i became aware of mighty girl’s mighty life list, which is her listing of 100 things she wants to accomplish before the end of her life. as i am moving to columbia at the end of this month (more on that in another post, i’m sure) and turning over a new leaf, i think this is the perfect time for me to compile my own version of a bucket list for all the world (or at least my corner of it) to see. i don’t have quite 100 items here, but i’m sure it will be added to over time. some things are goals i want to accomplish, some are habits i want to cultivate, and some are qualities i want to see in myself. in no particular order:

1. get serious about blogging
2. learn to build a website from scratch
3. earn m.a. in library and information science from the university of missouri
4. master microsoft office suite, especially word and excel
5. learn adobe photoshop
6. take usda graduate school basic and applied indexing classes
7. take usda graduate school proofreading class
8. earn m.a. in either integral theory or consciousness and transformative studies through jfku (depending on what sort of work i do after library school/where i end up living; integral theory is an online program, while consciousness studies is f2f)
9. become a shaman’s apprentice
10. become more knowledgeable about carl jung, dreamwork, applied mythology
11. become involved with a gnostic community, either online or face-to-face
12. buy a small house with a great little backyard
13. take part in/start (?) an integral salon, similar to this one
14. grow most of my own veggies
15. become much more knowledgeable about permaculture and its uses in an urban setting, and apply that knowledge
16. grow a small orchard in my backyard
17. raise chickens for eggs and meat
18. learn to swim
19. take a belly dancing class
20. knit a sweater that i’m not embarassed to wear in public
21. cook dinner from scratch most evenings
22. make my own wine using fruit from my backyard orchard
23. sky dive
24. make love in a cemetery
25. visit new orleans at least once a year (if i don’t end up living there), either for mardi gras or jazzfest
26. have my home featured in a tour on apartment therapy
27. do long term volunteer work in south africa
28. vacation in amsterdam
29. have a book of my poetry published
30. have an ayahuasca experience
31. write a book on true freedom
32. take a cross-country roadtrip
33. visit turkey, including instanbul (of course) and rumi’s birthplace
34. own a viking professional range
35. begin and continue a regular yoga practice
36. get a hood piercing
37. get a mermaid tattoo
38. attend burning man at least once
39. attend sxsw
40. submit a paper to the biennial integral theory conference (possibly on integral libraries, or maybe integral applications in the organization of information???) in 2012
41. learn to change my own oil
42. visit the grand canyon
43. do a firewalk
44. make a quilt
45. learn to throw pottery
46. be a volunteer at each integral theory conference from here on out
47. visit the chapel of sacred mirrors
48. earn the majority of my income through writing and doing freelance work
49. strip and refinish my green vanity
50. give 10% of my income to charity
51. save 20% of my income
52. compost religiously
52. read sex, ecology, spirituality in its entirety
53. become a reiki master (currently at level one)
54. get a professional massage at least twice a month
55. meet derrick jensen
56. remember to love on a moment by moment basis
57. host a thanksgiving dinner
58. visit new zealand – pictures i’ve seen of new zealand’s rain forest have me convinced that it is the most beautiful place on earth
59. see erykah badu perform live
60. learn to lucid dream
61. join the peace corps when i’m in my 60s
62. grow an avocado tree from a pit
63. become a confident public speaker
64. take part in nablopomo annually
65. share my life with someone who is available emotionally, physically, and spiritually to love me
66. learn not to take life so personally

this is enough for now; there will be more… 🙂

california dreaming, part 3: love

the trip last week to the bay area was my first since 1997. back then my world was a much different place. my mother was still alive, as was a favorite cousin who lived in fairfield, located in the east bay. that last trip i also made with the man i still thought i was in love with at the time, and i was hanging onto any little shred of hope that he might not be gay. we had made the trek to the city the previous two summers, having gone through a lot as our relationship morphed from friendship into a romance into some sort of fresh hell. the previous year we had voluntarily gotten bumped from our flight, which allowed us the tickets we used the following year. i had wanted to go to alaska, but he wanted to visit san francisco one more time (perhaps this should have been my clue that he was irrevocably gay :). if this had happened in 2008, i would have just said fuck it and booked the next flight to anchorage by myself. however, this was in the mid to late 90s and i had no sense of self and even less self esteem. so here i was in the city once again, because i didn’t know what else to do. fortunately i loved the city, but still because of personal circumstances, it was a strained nine days.
my trip last week was so very different from that last visit, or the two visits before that. i wonder if i could have made this most recent trip if i hadn’t made the previous trips, which gave me a vague familiarity with san francisco. maybe, but i don’t know. yes, i’ve traveled alone before, but with this particular trip, there was something different in the air, something that was – i hate to say this because it sounds rather cheesy, but it was paradigm shifting for me. i feel like a different person upon returning home, more so than from any other trip i’ve ever taken. i’m not sure if i can pinpoint why this is, other than, first of all, attending the integral theory conference, which in itself could be considered paradigm changing. and then doing the informational interviews, which i had an inkling beforehand that they would likely result in my making monumental changes in my life, and now i’m seeing the ongoing results: i am in fact making plans to make a huge transition in my life over the next few months.
also, and this is not to diss kansas city, but when i compare the two cities, there is no comparison. the trips in the 90s, when i returned home to columbia, well, columbia is a college town that knows it’s a college town. i didn’t compare the two places, because what would be the point? i was happy to return to a slower, sleepier pace. however, kc would like to think it is a big city. it’s a medium-size city that has some big city amenities, but it ain’t big (the sprawl notwithstanding – kc is the 36th largest city population-wise but the 13th largest when it comes to square mileage.). i compare the hustle and bustle of san francisco to kc, and i feel like i’m in a one-horse town now. apparently i’ve turned into a city girl at some point. 🙂 i love kansas city for what it is, and i’ve certainly grown by leaps and bounds having been here. however, i feel like i’ve accomplished what i came here to do, and my trip out west confirms that for me.
san francisco and i have a history, and this trip was also about revisiting that history and then moving on, whether that possibly involved my living in kc indefinitely, or actually relocating to the bay area, or something altogether different (i’m also in the midst of a love affair with new orleans). a couple of years before my mother’s death i was able to bring her along on one of our trips to san francisco, something i am so very happy now that i was able to do back then. i remember her saying that she was thrilled that she was getting to see things she never thought she’d ever see, such as viewing the golden gate bridge from the vantage point of being on the bridge itself. so, on this recent trip, while i never even got a glimpse of the bridge’s orange towers, i did make a point of visiting at least a couple of the spots we had seen together during the 96 trip.
one of those spots was ocean beach, pictured above now in august 2008 and also as it was in august 1996, with my mother trying to keep her pant legs dry. what was really odd for me was when i first stepped onto the beach this time, and looked down to my right toward seal rock and the cliff house. it felt so familiar, like i’d been there all along, and yet it was a bit of a shock, like “am i really seeing this?” it made me really happy though, walking along the beach, my thoughts being drowned out by the waves, but still being able to replay memories of my mother, and my older cousins who lived in the area but are no longer living, and the relationship that first brought me to this place.
upon my return, i told a friend of mine that this particular trip was like visiting a friend that you had lost contact with over the years, but now you were reunited and after a few awkward moments (such as my noticing that there were police everywhere, something i had not noticed in previous trips), it’s like no time at all has passed. that’s exactly how it was for me. i fell in love with the city all over again. and i don’t know what’s going to happen with us this time. i mean, i am planning to work towards a doctoral degree there, meaning i’ll likely be there at least 3-4 years, but what will happen after that? new orleans, perhaps? ultimately the answer to that doesn’t really matter because i’m just going to let the universe play this all out while i watch. however, i’m going to do my part, and not let san francisco slip from my grasp this time. i’m running towards it, and fully believe that it is going to meet me more than halfway, and then some.

caught up in the rapture of living

just wanted to post a few updates about what’s been going on lately:

  • i went to court yesterday morning regarding the ex parte against my sociopathic gentleman caller (from now on to be known as the sgc). of course he hadn’t been served yet, which is not surprising, so the court date was continued until august 4, two days before i leave town. oddly enough, this past sunday afternoon we saw each other twice (or rather, pretended not to see each other). as i was coming and going, he was sitting out on the front steps just talking away in a group of people, including two women, one sitting on each side of him. it wouldn’t surprise me if he was doing one (or both) of them.
  • i leave two weeks from tomorrow for the integral theory conference in pleasant hill, california. very excited about it. at some point during my visit i am having lunch with the head of the consciousness studies department at john f. kennedy university, plus i have a campus tour scheduled with the head of admissions at the california institute of integral studies. hopefully this is all pointing me in a new direction. otherwise, my last two days i plan to stay in the city (aka san francisco) and just run around doing things i didn’t do in previous visits, like walking the labyrinth at grace cathedral and browsing the shelves at city lights bookstore. i also plan to visit my favorite place on the planet, the sutro bath ruins.
  • at the workshop i attended on cosmic runes last weekend, i became immediate friends with a woman who was also attending the workshop. we had lunch sunday afternoon and it turns out we do have a great deal in common. it’s really neat when that happens.
  • i’m enjoying being able to read for pleasure again. i’m trying to read up on integral stuff in preparation for the conference. i just finished out of the labyrinth: who we are, how we go wrong, and what we can do about it by carl frankel. it didn’t provide anything new, but i like his perspective regarding what he calls the triad, or three areas of life all humans engage in: problem solving, relationships with other people and nature, and looking for meaning. frankel says where we go wrong is by usually emphasizing only one of those domains in our lives, instead of integrating all three. i have since found myself noticing the triad (or the lack of a fully functioning triad) in various arenas as i move throughout my days. anyway, i digress… 🙂 i need to find some decent fiction to read, something to get me out of my head and just enjoying the scenario unfolding on the page in front of me. i’m also happy about having the time to deep clean, and not just spot clean as i’ve been doing over the last few months.
  • miss sophia is still alive and well. i swear she gets noticeably bigger every time i see her (which is daily, of course). and she’s such a sweetheart (except when she’s not). she loves to sniff everything, and so the other night when i was preparing dinner, i let her sniff the onions, garlic, peppers, etc. as i was cutting them up. the way she scrunched her little face up in disgust was so adorable!
  • i miss having sex, but it’s probably for the best that i’m not having it. the sgc really messed with my head (and i suppose is still doing so) and i need to get over that before i think about being with someone else. on the other hand, as i told a friend the other day, i have no qualms about searching for interim happiness on the way to true happiness. i just shouldn’t seek that happiness with someone living in the same building as me.

kitty says: leap and the net will appear

i feel like i have no choice but to leap, or else i’ll end up staying on the edge paralyzed with fear. oh, there’s nothing terribly dramatic going on (other than in my romantic life, maybe) where one would think i had to make that choice, or else, but still i feel that is the choice i’m faced with these days. this morning in my email i got the great news that i’ve been chosen as a volunteer at the 1st biennial integral theory conference taking place august 7-10 in the bay area. i’m quite excited about this opportunity to spend time with other people who are integrally minded. in addition, i haven’t been to the bay area since 1997, and so plan to make a daytrip into the city just to see how much has changed since my last visit.

here’s the thing: i’ve pretty much decided to attend library school beginning this fall at mizzou. i figure this will give me the ability to get a decent paying job anywhere i decide to move, plus it would be a way of financing my true love and interest in continuing to study religion/spirituality/human consciousness at some point down the road. however, knowing myself the way i do, i will get to the conference and fall in love with the campus and all the intriguing ideas being thrown about, and will just say ‘screw library school’ and figure out a way to move there. i really am trying to be practical here, making sure i have a financially secure future, but there is the maxim ‘do what you love and the money will follow’. so maybe i should just take that leap and make my plans accordingly (and i use that last phrase very loosely). at this point, i still have the intention of library school, but am leaving open the possibility of a radical shift in my plans, depending on how the conference goes.

anyway. i’m also very excited because i have a new kitten, miss sophia. she is just the most adorablest, sweetest, most wonderful kitten to have ever existed :), and is also quite annoying. we share the same birthday (february 28), so i’m already planning a big blowout party next year. hopefully a celebration will be in order, as perhaps she will finally have calmed down some. 🙂

other good things have happened since i last posted here. a couple of weeks ago i returned from what seems to be my annual trip to new orleans. this time i worked a couple of days with my friend amy and the organization she works with, the brethren volunteer service. amy has taken more than a year out of her life to live in new orleans, working basically as an administrative assistant in handling other volunteers that come in for a few days at a time from all over the country to help with the rebuilding of new orleans. i helped with some of the painting on the home that will host the volunteers (at the time i was there they were staying in fema trailers), which should be complete by now. and then of course, amy and i went to jazzfest, this time on the second friday and sunday. we had planned to see stevie wonder on friday, but so many other people had the same idea that we couldn’t even get to a place where we could see the big screen, so we saw the electric marva wright and the bmws instead. (we also saw richard thompson and brett dennen earlier on friday.) saturday we just walked all over the french quarter much of the day and evening. however, sunday was for me the highlight of the trip, as i got to see the legendary santana perform live (and the neville brothers a little later in the day). it was one of the best shows i’ve seen in my young life. that’s all i can really say about it. 🙂 it was a great ending to what was overall a very good trip. i’m looking forward to my next visit, which might be a quick weekend jaunt this fall, or it may not be until next april.

so overall things are good, but there could be (and will be) some improvements. there are personal issues i’m dealing with on a couple of different fronts, and i’m sure they will work themselves out (or they won’t). in the meantime, it’s time for me to get back to doing what i do best, leaping off the sides of cliffs. i know there’ll be a net waiting to catch me this time, as there always has been in the past.

zaadz qar: you’ve got one month of complete freedom. what do you do?

i’d get my butt over to europe, first spending several days in istanbul and konya, rumi’s birth place (which i know is not in europe). then i’d go up and spend a few days in venice, then a few days at the italian intentional community damanhur, and finish off in amsterdam, taking part in all that amsterdam has to offer.

this post is my response to zaadz’s questions and reflections for june 7, 2007.

mississippi goddam

thinking about the post earlier this afternoon about making love with life has got me to thinking about this love affair i’ve had with life over the past few weeks. yeah, i’ve had my moments, such as today’s headache or being irritated by coworkers or being worried about loved ones, but overall, life and i have been on cozy terms.

part of this experience of course has been my recent trip to new orleans. about three weeks ago, at the beginning of that trip, we drove through and spent the night in mississippi. i lived in mississippi in the mid-80s, and as a result of that time, i swore that i would never spend another night there again, unless i had to stop there on the way to new orleans. well, um, that came to pass, and i was actually a bit worried about it. i’ve been to and through the state a few times since i lived there, but had not spent the night in many years. i had friends (who, by the way, have never been to mississippi) express concern for this portion of the trip, and even express derision about my going through the state. however, my concern was not so much for my personal safety per se (although, as a black woman with dreadlocks traveling through the south with a lesbian and an old hippie, maybe it should have been), it was more of a wondering how things had changed since i lived there and if i would find it recongnizable.

we spent that night just north of jackson, and honestly, it was familiar, but only in that way that any interstate exit in any part of the country is familiar. driving through jackson, my main thought was that, wow, i didn’t remember jackson’s skyline being this, um, nonexistent. however, it was as we were traveling south of jackson, on a four-lane highway headed toward the gulf coast, where the beauty of mississippi (and of this world) hit me in a way i never expected.

as we were driving through this forest, i had the overwhelming urge to jump out of the car, and hug each and every tree in it. it was as though the trees and i recognized one another, and i figured out what they knew all along: that we are all made of the same ‘stuff’. (thankfully, my travel mates were unaware of this epiphany.) however, the most interesting thing i found was i felt the pain that the earth felt along with all the trees that had to have been cut down in order to make that very road we were on. i felt the loss of all the individual trees and the life forms that were dependent upon those trees. i felt the pain each tree must have felt, as well as the pain of the earth as a whole, in having those trees removed. i also thought about the toll of human pain in this area of the country, the pain involved with slavery, of the people being treated as less than, much as the trees of the forest were and are treated as less than. yet, in the midst of this pain, i still felt an overwhelming love, a connection to the earth and to the people supported by this earth. i renewed my commitment to help people, one person at a time, see that the earth is as much a living being as we as individuals are, and that we need to learn to treat her with respect and honor (as well continue to learn to treat each other with respect).

mississippi goddam is an awesome song by nina simone, and i can definitely relate to the sentiments she expresses in it. however, i have been blessed my travels through this maligned state. i have no desire to live here ever again, but i am open to learning where i can get it, and i learned a little more about myself and this world because of this experience.