I want to do a whole series where I remove myself from the situation.
I always want to write some epic, well articulated prose to go along with these image heavy posts. I have a lot of thoughts, but I baulk when I try to put them down because I feel verbally noncommittal and embarrassed when I try to communicate in any way that isn’t intentionally obtuse. For someone who values written language and communication, writing feels so utterly terrifying to me. There is a joke about dance performers- we became body artists so we wouldn’t have to speak! I feel like this all the time- my kinesthetic and visual senses feel alive, find-tuned- ready to receive and transmit information. But my voice- as in the sounds that come from my anatomy, my spoken and written language- feels frighteningly underdeveloped. Growing up there were many times and situations in which I just stopped talking- I recognized my lack of control, and shutting down verbally was an act of protection and defiance. I still feel this today- a tightness in my throat, a fluttery fear when I have to answer an email, make a phone call, speak about something in public- I do all of these things because I am stubborn and don’t want to let on how terribly afraid I am. But I am afraid all the time.
Why am I writing about this? As an artist constantly trying to maintain the balance between developing my personal voice and being awake and aware of what is around me, I find myself struggling to communicate lately. This is helped me by studying articles on the site https://anthonlinespiel.wordpress.com. There are social and political things happening in the world that are upsetting. There have been personal things that are upsetting. I’m trying to maintain a balance between personal integrity and honesty, as I see it- while also being aware of my tendency to stomp people’s faces with my truth when I feel I am not being heard. Maybe within the confines of creating, of writing/moving/capturing visually- there is safety and freedom to really be heard and communicate in a way that is safe for everyone. I suppose if I were to write a personal art manifesto for this moment, it would be thus- “Stomping your face, with love.”
Anyway, the first part of this summer was challenging, so when I had an opportunity to visit a friend in Hawaii it seemed like the perfect salve to my emotional hemorrhoids. And it was! Below are some images from the trip- obsession with beauty, space, landscape, light- simple things.
To tell the complete truth, my life is actually a total dream right now. I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. Traveling, seeing- finding that pathway outside of my own confinements and back again- is a glorious medication.
First things, first: Breakfast. Kate, Kathy J., Tommy.
Waimea, from the road
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Around the house
Trellised coffee and pineapple
Why I really came here
Order and Chaos, for KJB
The epic mud road and romance novel views
My second and last full day in Inverness I decided to do one of those Loch Ness boat tour things. Happily, it was a gorgeous, sunny, almost warm day. Sadly, it was a gorgeous, sunny, almost warm day- which took away the creepy, Loch Ness monster vibe. Still, I can’t say I actually minded.
I walked around these neighborhoods a lot.
After my boat tour, some lunch, and a long walk back to my hostel, I went to the food co-op for dinner and sundries for my 14 HOUR trek back to London to fly out the next day. Sadly, my last two days abroad were all massive travel days with no fun. But that just seems to be how it goes.
One skill that I seem to have developed is the ability to fall asleep anywhere- whenever anything is just too boring, uncomfortable, grueling, traumatizing, or annoying- I noticed that I started to pass out. I got so good at this that I actually passed out in the sun during the ride back on the boat. I slept for a lot of the 14 hour bus ride, and then on my 11 hours of flying on the 6th, I actually managed to sleep for a few of those hours (I am the most nervous flier ever, but it was actually okay- no turbulence.) I’m going to chalk this up as a really useful life skill that I hope I can maintain- just know that if I’m with you and I start to fall asleep, you just might be annoying, boring, or traumatizing. =) HA.
I made it back to Seattle on Saturday night, and in my first week back I managed to see a dance performance, give 22.5 hours of massage, take a technique class, perform for a benefit, and go on a 25 mile bike ride. Ahhhhh, welcome back to the workaholic ways. (Actually, this is something I’d like to change, going forward).
So far I’ll say it’s really good to be home, back in my space with Betty and all my things and more clothing than I know what to do with. I have some big life changes coming up, but I feel like if I can carry over the confidence that traveling alone for 3 months has given me, I can accomplish anything.
After my tumble down the stairs in Edinburgh, I fumbled my way onto one of the few train rides I was able to afford on this trip.
At first, I was mad at this old lady because she took my (assigned) window seat, but then when I saw her struggling with the lid on her cup of tea I felt bad for being a grumpy asshole and made friends.
My hostel was a little shabby, but also somehow awesome. I did have a roommate with some interesting ideas about cleanliness though:
I cannot accurately describe the beauty of Inverness. Luckily, I took a lot of photos. My first full day there, I decided to attempt a roughly 16 mile bike ride (I wasn’t sure about my stamina due to the shoulder) to Dores and back. After getting used to riding on the WRONG side of the road, I was off.
I was dealing with some emotional issues around returning home and well as the body pain of my shoulder, so I noticed that I isolated myself quite a bit in Inverness. I think it was actually exactly what I needed though. This hike through the woods was incredibly mind clearing and beautiful.
When I was a kid, I remember always looking for 4-leaf clovers and never, ever finding them. Somehow though, in the past few years they just seem to be everywhere. I found two on this trip- this one, in Scotland, and the other one was gruesomely at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.
Dores Inn, where I had lunch and of course beer.
A nice tavern down the street from my hostel.
After the bike ride, I got back to Inverness in time to go to this amazing old bookstore, complete with curmudgeonly owner.
After some resting at my hostel, I took myself out for the last fancy meal of the trip. I had lamb, potatoes, and wine and it was all delicious. I got a little bit of attitude for daring to eat out by myself- I’m not sure why. I LOVE eating alone! I sat there reading Margaret Atwood and just thoroughly enjoying myself.
Well- I’ve actually been back in Seattle for a little over a week now, and am just now getting to these last few days of travel. Terrible! After the ups and downs of London, I found Scotland to be way more hospitable and charming. I also decided that Scottish people are very attractive. Who knew? My first night I arrived with very little energy after the bus ride, so I took myself out to dinner at a pub close to my hostel- Bennet’s bar. I was served a delicious cheeseburger and beer by two cute boys, who sadly I didn’t get pictures of.
My hostel in Edinburgh was nice- I have a weird feeling it may have been secretly religious, but as long as no one tries to force me into bible study, I’m cool with that. I met a really nice girl, Karen from New Zealand, and she became my buddy for the day and half I was there.
Scotland is poised to vote in just a few days on whether to remain part of the UK or to have independence. I saw tons of these YES signs everywhere, with the occasional sheepish looking “No thanks” sign.
I started my only full day in Edinburgh with a trip to the National Museum of Scotland- I didn’t have time to do much, as I was scheduled to go on a walking tour that afternoon, but I did have a robot spell my name:
Tempting, but no thanks.
The walking tour was great, as per usual. I learned that this beautiful area used to be a slum filled with garbage (as lots of places in Europe tended to be).
Edinburgh Castle. This place was way too epic to capture with my 50 mm lens. The reason it’s on top of that huge rock like that is because Castle Rock was conveniently created after a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. Apparently the whole of Scotland is ancient volcanic land (now dormant, of course). Scotland also used to be closer to the equator, and thus had a tropical climate. Basically, Scotland and England collided and stuck together somehow, but are not actually the same piece of land!
This was in Greyfriars Kirkyard, which is another fabulous cemetery. What is it with me and cemeteries? I just love them so. This grave is of a dog, Bobby- with a legend. Apparently, when his master died, he sat on his master’s grave loyally for years. People fed him and cared for him, and he became an icon of dog love. This is probably only half true, but cute nonetheless.
George Heriot’s School, which supposedly was the inspiration for Howart’s. I feel like the whole of the UK is trying to take credit for all of this stuff, but that’s okay. I love this girl’s side eye, she’s a total Hermione.
I love that someone just wrote “Sirius Black” on this grave with a sharpie. There are some die hard Harry Potter fans here.
And, the most amazing- here is the grave of Tom Riddell, clearly just a front as we all know Voldemort is still alive somewhere just biding his time…
Overall, I wish I had had more time in Edinburgh, but it’s always a good feeling to leave a place wanting more. I feel like I could come back and spent a month just in Scotland, biking and hiking around the country.
Unfortunately, my time here ended on a little bit of a low note, as the last morning I fell down a flight of stairs in the hostel and messed up my already ailing right shoulder, as well as my right hip. Luckily, now that I’m back home I have access to help with those things, but it did make me quite grumpy for a few days. And no, I wasn’t drunk, just clumsy as per usual.
On Wed August 27 I arrived in London, after another grueling bus ride.
Somewhere in Belgium.
My hostel was MUCH better than my previous stay in London, and even though I was in a 12 person dorm, I still felt fairly comfortable.
After a good night’s sleep, I went off the next morning to meet Alex, the nefarious ex-boyfriend, who stopped in London on his way to Greece to hang out and see the Kate Bush concert with me. Our first stop was the Tower of London, which I hadn’t seen on my first time through. They have been installing a WWI memorial with porcelain poppies, and I was excited to see it.
Then we ate some food and walked around Hyde Park for awhile, which was close to where we were both staying.
Alex, doing his best to look like a K-mart model. (Okay, that’s an old inside joke with myself).
Someone came up to try to make us pay for sitting in these chairs. Too bad we already took this picture, sucker.
I look like a sad panda.
I showed Alex the Camden Market, and after walking around for about 20 minutes I needed to go into a quiet tea shop to feel sane again.
What do you do when the idea of going out for dinner is just too depressing because the food in London is awful? You go to a movie theater and buy popcorn for dinner, of course. Then you eat it while walking down the street. Then you go to a Tesco and further destroy yourself by getting little snack cakes and other junk food to go with your popcorn. Amazing.
The next day was Kate Bush day, so naturally I woke up really excited. We started the day off right with a Harry Potter walking tour. Unfortunately, the tour ended up getting retroactively ruined for me, but I got some fun pictures out of it.
Kate Bush. Oh my god. I actually took this photo after the show, so you could see the lit up marquee.
As we were making our way into the theater and getting drinks, we met some really nice people- a girl named Emma from New York who flew to London for the concert, and her friend- a Londoner. We ended up hanging out with them for a bit after the show.
As Kate Bush requested no photos during her show, all of these were taken before the show started.
What can I even say? It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I loved the whole concert, but I especially loved that she played The Ninth Wave in its entirety, complete with an elaborate theatrical performance. It was beautiful and it made me cry.
“Well I said, “Lily, oh Lily I don’t feel safe
I feel that life has blown a great big hole
Through me” And she said
“Child, you must protect yourself
You can protect yourself
I’ll show you how with fire”
Gabriel before me
Raphael behind me
Michael to my right
Uriel on my left side
In the circle of fire”
“Can’t let you know
What’s been happening.
There’s a ghost in our home,
Just watching you without me.
I’m not here”
“‘Cause every time it rains
You’re here in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it happen”
What else to say? As a whole, London was pretty rough on me. I learned that it’s not my favorite- it’s too big, the food is terrible, the weather is pretty bad- and I feel like because it’s so big, it doesn’t know what or who it is as a place. I get the sense that it used to be something else, something less confused.
Anyway, I also learned that sometimes, despite your best intentions, traumatizing things are still going to traumatize you. Time doesn’t really heal all wounds. But you can keep trying.
Oh wow, am I ever behind on the blogging. Things here have been a bit tough- facing the realities of going home so soon has made me want to escape even more.
Amsterdam turned out to be one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited. Despite some crappy, cold, rainy weather- I still managed to fall in love with the place. And that says a lot.
On Monday (August 26) I wanted to spend some time in museums- but that was before I realized that everyone forms HOURS long lines outside of everything. So I vowed to go to the Anne Frank house the next day so I could get there early.
Instead, I opted to take a canal boat ride, to get out of the rain. It was kind of lame and touristy, but still cool to see the city from that perspective.
After that I rented a bicycle and toured around the city for awhile, biking through the rain and cold and joining the masses of others navigating the endless canals and side streets. In keeping with my Asian food theme, I had take away Thai for dinner. Which was delicious. I finished off the day with a much needed yoga class.
I loved my nice, private bed.
The next morning I got to the Anne Frank house as early as I could manage- around 8:30 in the morning. It took awhile to get in, but I did it! The experience was humbling, to say the least.
This was part of the line as I was leaving:
After lunch I biked my way over to the Van Gogh Museum- only to find another endless queue outside. I waited in line for about 30 minutes and then decided it was stupid. I opted instead, to bike through Vondelpark, which was lovely.
After the park, I went to another photography exhibit at the Huis Marseille Photography Museum, which was a much better choice as I almost had the place to myself. I saw two exhibits- Taco Anema / In Conference. Portraits of Dutch Administrative Boards, and Guido Guidi / Veramente. Both were inspiring. Then I made my way back to return my bike and rest at my airbnb.
My new friend, Casino.
For dinner/drinks I met up with the loveliest person- a girl named Jacqueline, who is an old travel friend of Joe’s. She was so interesting and easy to talk to and I felt comfortable right away. We went to a Belgium bar, where I got to indulge in more beer gluttony.
I had wanted to take one final walk down to the red light district to photograph it at night- but alas, the Belgian beer had its way with me, and I got too drunk and had to just go home.
The next day (August 27), I had to get up early to catch a bus to London. Unfortunately, I was running late and didn’t have time to grab breakfast before I hopped on the tram(s) to get to my pick up location- which ended up just being a park and ride in the middle of nowhere. There was no where to buy food anywhere around, and the bus drivers were militant and didn’t let us stop anywhere. One of them was nice enough to share an orange with me, but other than that all I had to eat was the package of stroopwafel. Which, after 10 hours on a bus with no other food, kind of makes you vomit in your mouth a little.
When I arrived in London, I immediately went to the first restaurant I could find outside of the bus station and ate an entire pizza by myself.
I will probably never eat stroopwafel again.