Highway 1 & the Dead Seals

20140630-101010-36610159.jpg Yesterday, we got in TJ’s truck with the only intention of driving down Highway 1, a scenic route along California’s coast. This was my idea of a good time: a loose plan, no destination in mind, and a whole day free of expectations. The weather was the warmest it’s been since I got here. By noon the marine layer still covered the sky, but we were sweating with the windows rolled all the way down. The first place we stopped wasn’t far into the trip, maybe 15 minutes in, but we saw the sign for a scenic view. Always stop at the scenic view. We pulled off, climbed down some crumbling concrete stairs until the stairs ended abruptly, and we had to climb down some rocks to the beach. It was stunning down there, made even more special by the effort to reach it. We climbed around and sat on some rocks watching the waves for about twenty minutes before heading back to the car.  I don’t know how we missed them the first time, but on the way back we passed two dead seals, decaying on the beach.I saw the first one on my right, freaked out and tried to run on the uneven rocks, and almost ran into another one on the left. TJ calmly walked on, but I was so grossed out I started to climb the rocks to the stairs way before I needed to and had to turn around and go back. It was embarrassing. Continue reading

A Summer of Reading

This may be the best summer of reading yet in my adult life. I have so much time, what else could I do, besides write.

download (1)Life After Life by Kate Atkinson — I saw this book every where — airports, in opened bookbags, and laid face down on couches. I knew I had to read it, but once I started and figured out what was happened to Ursula, I was on the struggle bus and almost put it down. I love books set in WW2, especially in England, so this was both a dream and a nightmare. Atkinson does not hold back on the horror of the war; there’s a scene after an air raid that made me cry. But Atkinson also wonderfully portrays the famous war motto “Keep Calm And Carry On” and the can-do attitude of the British. The level of research and how she uses it to create a complete picture of the time is incredible. I could tell that she knew where each character was born, where and how they died, their favorite color and every little thing about them. Highly recommend this one! Continue reading

The Way Station

Photo by Stephen Scahfer
Photo by Stephen Scahfer

1. We live in a Motel 6 in Ventura, California, which is a little over an hour north of Los Angeles.
2. The building sits on the edge of Ventura and the neighboring town of Oxnard.
3. Across the street is a gym. This seemed like kismet, especially when a day after my brother left, there was a special which waived the joining fee.
4. The Ventura Community Park has a 1.25. mile track that my brother and I discovered one day by accident. We ran, him way a head of me, every other day while he was here. Now I run alone (limp, walk/shuffle). Continue reading

My Next Step

I have been out of California now for almost two weeks, and the feeling is somewhat bittersweet. I think it could be more for the lifestyle, however, than the location. Who doesn’t want to wake up to beautiful sunlight before a morning run and a little sightseeing? While I loved California and do miss my sister, I am well aware that I need to be thinking about my next move.

Enter New York City. I have accepted a month-long engagement with a language school to begin next week. The feeling? Excited, but also nervous as well. I’ll be working with foreign students who are trying to learn English, and it will be a live-on arrangement at a University. I really like working with younger people, but I also think of how I was as a teenager: not bad, but talkative, which was not conducive to a learning environment. I’ve been thinking about the disciplining aspect of it, and what my style will be. Continue reading

California, Don’t Break My Heart — A Photo Album

My friend, Sandy, who I met in Spokane, Washington while we were both in graduate school, invited TJ and I to an impromptu camping trip in Leo Carillo State Park, in Malibu California. We took highway 1, a scenic route along the coast, to the campsite which was directly across from the ocean nestled in a valley between two mountains. The timing could not have been better: TJ never gets time off, but he had two full days, and the night before Sandy texted me, we’d had an argument that felt like the end of the world. It was good to get out of our comfort zones, to look and find beauty all around us, and enjoy being in good company.

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You could lose your heart another way or you could leave it behind you in California.

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In the Company of Men

Across America, Motel 6 and its affiliated facilities are being renovated, a project so huge that it’s taken years. I know, because I stayed in a Motel 6 one night in San Antonio, Texas, when I was traveling across the country with my friend, Justin, during the last week of 2009. We were operating under a serious budget, staying where ever was cheapest (and relatively safest) as possible. We didn’t expect much from the accommodations, except two clean beds and a door that locked, but we were pretty jazzed to find the new chic furniture and a flat-screen tv. Fast-forward to 2012, my then boyfriend of barely a year, TJ, left his home in Idaho to work on a Motel 6 renovation in Salt Lake City, Utah,  a job that lasted half a year, and was followed by a renovation in Phoenix, Arizona. You know a little about Phoenix.

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Prince & Patrice Do Hollywood

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  1. The only request Jumaane had for this trip was to visit LA.
  2. The weather would be the best on this day than any other day while Jumaane was in town.
  3. Monet thought she could type in things like “Hollywood Walk of Fame” & “Chinatown” & “Hollywood Sign” into her iPhone’s Maps app.
  4. They drove in circles.
  5. Monet had her first cronut.
  6. California is not a place for timid drivers.
  7. Monet is not timid driver. Continue reading

Great Expectations

photo (2)This story should always begin with a question: Why? Why did we choose Little Anita’s Mexican restaurant over its next-door neighbor the Mesa Grill when even the appearances of both suggested the inevitable outcome: an outrageous tab, zero alcoholic buzz and immediate bubble guts? Why did we choose the empty parking lot over the one packed with cars? Maybe, it was the sign that said, “Enjoy a margarita with that fajita.” Or maybe it was my genuine belief  that restaurants should never, ever be judged by their outward appearances, a belief that I have since reconsidered. I don’t know why, but on the second day of our cross-country trip when we stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we both wholeheartedly agreed on Little Anita’s.

There was a moment when we should’ve known. Our waitress, Rosa, introduced herself and placed menus on the table. She then asked if she could start us with drinks. My brother and I had been talking about margaritas for over an hour in the car, so we quickly asked for one for each of us. Rosa asked for IDs and then said she would, “Just need to ask her manager to bring more wine.” It seemed like an offhanded remark, almost a pleasantry, but both my brother I would come back to that one comment over and over in the following days. Wine. Jumaane, who drinks exponentially less than me, who was quite tipsy after three drinks on his 21st birthday would remark, “Even I know margaritas have tequila in them. Right?” Continue reading

Making Marks

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I have this thing about beaches. Whenever I go to one, I like to:

a. Sing a bossa nova standard called Dindi by the water.

b. Write my name in the sand.

The first one makes sense: I’m a singer. But the second one, I’m not too sure about. I remember the first time the name writing habit stuck. I was in Wilmington sophomore year of college for a conference, and our delegation stopped at the beach. I diverged a little from the group, and then wrote my name in the sand, along with some crush whose identity is none too important now. The second time I returned to Wilmington for a Spring Break trip, I did the same thing, exempting the crush. My name stood there, alone, in the sand: Jumaane.

At Ventura Beach, I would get to make my mark yet again, but this time, it would be on the complete opposite coast. Why do I do this?

I think, for the most part, we would all like to be known for who we actually are. In me, there has been the desire to be remembered exactly as I am, and how I see myself. This wish is not unique, and it is just that: a wish, a hope. I’ve sometimes struggled to remind myself of that fleetingness. Then I saw the Fault in Our Stars. Continue reading

Seven is Ten & Ten is Seven

Every day of the cross-country trek we gained an hour as we passed through one of the four main time zones.  I’d tell Jumaane, “We’re going to drive 13 hours, but the clock will only register 12.” Or, “I know it seems early to wake up at 5:30am, but really it’s 7:30 for us coming from the east coast.” I was trying to explain to him what the time changes meant to me, how it important being back in Pacific time zone was to me, but all I could say was seven is ten and ten is seven like a mantra, which eventually drove him bonkers. He’d say, “But Monet, it’s 7 here. That’s what matters.” And we’d laugh the laugh of people who’ve been in a confined space too long. But I’m impressed that my younger brother was more mindful and present than I was — that he could be content with our current location and not be wondering about where we came from.

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When I moved to Washington for graduate school, I spent the first six or seven months obsessed Continue reading