26 April 2007

fearless friday

i remember being in college in the mid-90s when there was this fleeting fashion trend of t-shirts with the logo "no fear" emblazoned across the chest. it annoyed me to no end -- no fear? please. the concept was ludicrous, especially as a catchphrase being sported by any and all mallrats and skateboard enthusiasts.

yet here i am, more than ten years later, considering the same topic, with gravitas: fearlessness. when did i become, or start to become, fearless? for me, this is a case of hindsight. the moments that i can retrospectively cite as being my most fearless were done with the most trepidation i can imagine. at the time i was fearful, yet decisive.

two examples that stand out were the two times i quit my "serious" jobs to go embark on "non-serious" adventures such as traveling around the world or moving to europe. both times i quit i did so without much popular support, certainly not encouraged by bosses or family to leave the stable corporate world without a return ticket back. i did it without making plans beforehand, little more than a plane ticket had delineated my future. and against the grain, bucking the trend of what had been expected of me. i had such great promise and such an expensive degree and was putting it to good use making money!

so, fearless? hardly. those are the two scariest things i have ever done, and ultimately the most formative decisions in my life. to me fearlessness is what a woman must rely on when the only faith she has is in herself. fearlessness is the power to reject other people's opinions or advice, to forge ahead with an unpopular path. and don't be mistaken, there is plenty of fear involved. it's not the shedding of the fear that is important, it is the overcoming of it.

this post was inspired by my friend joie and a book by arianna huffington called "becoming fearless."

21 April 2007

r.i.p sol lewitt

i was surprised to read today in the new york times that one of my favorite artists, sol lewitt, had died this month.

although, to be frank, i can't be sure that i knew whether he was still living before reading the article.

much of lewitt's art consists of wall drawings, in which he provides a set of instructions that are carried out by others. although this has met criticism, i have always found the results to be transcendent.

i first discovered lewitt at a retrospective at the san francisco moma many years ago. my mind responds strongly to patterns, to geometry, to mathematical ideas, and lewitt's pieces offered all three, while still being "art." i like looking at art, but i like the visceral feeling i get when a piece makes sense to me, and lewitt's work always made perfect sense.

the dia:beacon, a beautiful art space in the hudson valley is doing a show of 14 of lewitt's wall drawings through sept. 10. i'm going to make sure i get there when i'm in new york this summer. not only is dia:beacon one of my favorite gallery/museums in the world - with its sparse unpretentious presentation and the highest percentage of pieces that "make sense" to me - it has many sculptures by my other favorite artist richard serra.

20 April 2007

in other news...

ok, now that i'm done effusing about my trip, here's what else has been going on. our top stories:

hey, i turned 30! what an amazing birthday. i was overwhelmed with the amount of bday love i felt coming out of every corner: the cards, the emails, the gifts. i am truly blessed and lucky and couldn't be happier to welcome the fourth decade. i love all of you who helped make this the kick-ass birthday i promised myself it would be.

summer has been flirting with me. last night i slept with the doors to the terrace open, slightly chilly under my comforter, divine. this morning i awoke to the familiar but forgotten sounds of spanish men yelling and singing on the street. the terrace is almost ready for the non-stop party regimen of the hot months, you better get your bikini body ready!

i've been flirting with summer. i'll be back in the us for july and august and the weeks are rapidly filling up with plans. this time i'll be in the ham, michigan, new york, dc, new hampshire, maine and back to boston. looking forward to seeing you all on that side of the ocean, but we need to make plans soon because available days are almost gone! operators are standing by.

and now, a little friday list of things that have been catching my eye around the internerd:
  • thomas friedman's piece in last week's new york times magazine was inspirational. american getting its groove back by leading the green revolution? yes please.
  • slate has been featuring excerpts from

last vacation shots

the last stop on my trip was a tiny village in an area of spain known as picos de europa. these are rocky peaks, rising out of rivers and lakes as if a child had been asked to draw a mountain.

we did a hike along the cares river gorge, ten kilometers between two villages on a path carved into the side of a cliff. the mountain rose thousands of meters above and below our trail and everywhere was the most imposing, stunning, larger than life scenery i have ever seen. my guide book called it "a horizontal walk in a vertical world" and i think that is an apt description.

this is classic photos-don't-capture-it territory, folks. words are even proving to be quite futile. even the mountain goats were all like "dudes, can you believe this?" and we were all "um, no. get away from my lunch."

all i can say is that i highly recommend this walk for anybody who visits spain. it's not even that challenging, the trail is mostly flat, giving you the feeling of being among alpine peaks without all the pesky walking uphill.

check out this photo of michael resting by the side of the trail, my favorite from our trip. this was the last day of my twenties i can't imagine a more perfect ending.

16 April 2007


(vacation photos will resume shortly)

i don't like it when news of the us appears on spanish television. it's always something bad.

it's weird, i read the news every day and every day i think that there is something extremely wrong with this world. americans die in iraq every day, by the tens and dozens, both military and civilians. students and other innocents dying of disease, hunger, and shootings cover the front page on a daily basis. so is this worse? is the news today more f'ed up than usual?

i'm not looking forward to going to work tomorrow, or being asked to explain by any non-americans why such an unthinkable thing can happen in our county. and seems to happen with some regularity.


i sold my car two years ago, before moving to europe. the advantages are numerous. i mean, besides not paying for gas, insurance and repairs there is the self-satisfied feeling of not adding to global warming in one small little way. don't even get me started on parking. however, the benefits of having a car are not lost on me. one of the best parts is the freedom of your own wheels, the freedom to go anywhere there is a road.

and during my vacation i felt that freedom again, a whole week with a rental car, free to explore the backroads and little villages of spain. here are a few pictures from those adventures.

i love fishing villages more than regular old landlocked villages. perhaps because they remind me of rockport and gloucester and other towns in massachusetts where i grew up. i just like those colorfully painted boats and the salty men who own them. also, of course, there is the sea, never more forboding and full of potential then surrounding a town full of fishermen. and even though they say that the freshest fish in spain is in madrid, fish never tastes better than from where you can smell the salt air and meet the guy who caught it.


my guide book called coruna the most underrated city in spain. interesting, i thought, how can something so old and established be underappreciated? either something has changed in the sands of coolness, or there is some barrier stopping people from loving this place as it deserves.

and in the end, i can't say i found either of these cases to be true, and coruna is indeed one of the best cities i've visited in spain. maybe having santiago close by but infinitely more famous keeps the city slightly hidden in plain view?

it reminded me of san sebastian: modern, surrounded by water, with a kick-ass beach right in the middle. it reminded me of san francisco: can any city surrounded by water on three sides not be stunning? it reminded me a little bit of new england: the fishing boats sitting sleepily in the harbor, a breakwater you can walk along, even a building that is an avatar of one in boston.

but ultimately, coruna was completely unique and seemed perfectly appropriate for its location. you were never more than a few steps from the water in every direction. seafood bars and restaurants lined those windy medieval streets. cathedrals and plazas appeared gracefully, without seeming dominating or imposing. if a place can be energetic and laid-back at the same time, coruna is it

11 April 2007

what, no easter bunnies?

easter in spain reminds me that i live in a foreign country. first of all the holiday occupies more space than at home, taking up four days that for a teacher stretches into a full week off of work.

however, long weekends aren't so rare around here. the real spanish-ness of easter is its religious/secular duality, much like the country itself. i've heard it quoted that over 95% of spain is catholic, yet i've never seen such a group of christians come off so liberal, so laid-back. in essence, spaniards are catholic in name only, yet the architecture and rituals of christianity are deeply ingrained in the culture.

and nowhere more so than during easter week. spaniards use jesus' death as an unequivocal excuse to go on vacation. there could not be less religious significance to the holiday. however, no trip to the beach during holy week would complete without watching a procession, an ancient and quite spooky parade of virgin statues escorted by hooded bearers and haunting drum music.

in the context of something modern and secular you have a throwback to medieval rites. and all around it, before and after, the people spill out of the bars into the streets, drinking, being spanish, celebrating easter by enjoying their days off.

castle rocks

if a child drew a castle it would look like this:

and if you were a child you would want every castle to be exactly like this. empty, rocky and pointy. with slits for shooting arrows and a tower to scale. no guardrails or roped-off areas, no restricted access. not to mention free. well done, portugal, yet again.

10 April 2007

check out portugal

hey it's me. i'm back. a little older and slightly tired. lots to show and tell. first of all, i have lots of photos from my trip. the last week has been a whirlwind: cities, villages, beaches, mountains. since i'm not going anywhere for a couple of weeks, i'm gonna kick back and relax around here with some photo posts.

first we went to oporto in northern portugal. oporto is on the douro river and is famous for port wine and cod. i like it because the buildings are dirty; it makes me think that although they are doing their best to support a tourist industry, they aren't going so far as to polish off their buildings. despite the greyness washing over everything -- years of built-up exhaust and grime -- the city stays colorful. the red tile roofs, the charcoal bridge, the odd yellow building, the blue tiles. i also dig the setting of oporto, right on the river and near the sea. the bridge through the center of town is perfectly beautiful and useful: elegant, convenient and multipurpose.

we walked up hills and climbed a tower -- setting the template for the rest of the week's activities. windy medieval streets, check. stairs, check.

well there's lots more but my pictures are being uploaded to blogger at a snail's pace. more asap.

01 April 2007

vacation message

my bags aren't packed but i'm on my way. tomorrow i leave for a week's vacation to portugal, galicia and asturias. i'll have my computer but i doubt i'll get around to blogging.

but before i go,

an early shout-out to my friend paul, whose birthday is tuesday. paul is my bff, except when he isn't. he's the best customer of my terrace hair salon. and although he calls me kiddo, he's still younger than me. happy birthday, beavis.

also, my friend joie has a new website along with her group of writer friends. check it out: crutial minuiae. joie is a writer and a thinker and i'll be checking out her kidz today column every wednesday.

see you when i'm 30.