Treasures

I’ve been geocaching lately, and to be honest, I’ve been a little disappointed in the items I’ve found. I had always imagined geocaching to be like this scene from Amelie when she discovers the treasures a little boy had hidden in her apartment 40 years previous, and decides to return them to him.

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YouTube Direkthttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHpzIRKw5N4

In reality, most people leave things that I doubt ever had an real emotional significance, such as mardi gras beads and stickers.

To me, geocaching should be about making a connection to a stranger and sharing with them something that really could be treasured, something with meaning.

As I’ve been pondering this and creating my first item to be geocached, I was inspired to go through some inherited treasures of my own. Over the years, I’ve collected a small trove of clip-on earrings, bracelets, broaches and necklaces from relatives who have passed, and while many are beautiful and interesting, I don’t know what to do with them.

Here are some photos, suggestions most welcome!

This is a jewelery box from my great aunt. I love the hand-painted scene, and it’s filled with the same little keepsakes many of us have — coins, stamps, odd beads, safety pins and so on. It’s sort of profound to see an entire life of tiny treasures left in the world without explanation. After we’re gone the strangest things stay behind as our testimony.

Assorted clip-on earrings.

Unique broaches — there are a few you can’t see of other types of animals.

I love the little suitcase charm, I wonder why she had it.

Clip-on earrings shaped like clocks!

Anyway, I haven’t decided how to best use and honor these little keepsakes. I’m toying with the idea of using some of them to embellish picture frames, but I just can’t decide. If anyone has neat button and bead ideas, send them along!

For the romantics

The Beatles, I Will

Yesterday Jeff was playing the Beatles song “I Will” to me, and the lyrics just spoke to me in a completely surprising and delightful way.

Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to I will

For if I ever saw you
I didn’t catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same

Love you forever, and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart

And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you
To me ah, you know I will
I will

I’ve always found it to be a sweet and endearing love song, but this time it just hit me that it’s about the beauty of animals who pair bond for life.

There is a little bird singing his song, and there’s only one other little bird in the whole world that hears his song and thinks it’s beautiful. And though those two little birds may not know much else, they know they’re a pair, and they’ll be together for life. And every spring, they will sing their little bird songs together, until they grow too old to sing.

Today in the park I saw a male bird singing and displaying his magnificent flying skills in hopes of finding his mate. He was ducking and diving, swooping and swirling, and singing his little heart out each time he alighted.

I hope he finds his duet partner soon.

My love affair with TED

Lately I’ve gotten back into watching TED videos and I had a few I wanted to share. Despite being a humanities major, I have an unquenchable love of science, and these two lectures do a great job at explaining cutting edge science, and how it informs our human experience.

The first video is a lecture a primatologist gave at Stanford University about what makes humans unique from other animals, and he is both inspiring and entertaining. (skip the intro and start about 5 minutes in).

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The second video is from a neurobiologist, who talks about some of the most interesting breakthroughs in the understanding of the human brain, and how the study of the mind is teaching us more and more how connected people really are.

I love both these speakers so much, because they are both humble about how little humanity differs from other animals, but also reverent of the infinite potential we have in that small margin of difference. Their message is that we are all connected, and though we may feel we can’t individually make a difference in the world, we are morally convicted to try. Watch and be inspired!

Dreaming of boytoys and rappers

People who know me well know that I have bizarre and entertaining dreams almost every night, but this one was too funny not to share with the general public. It goes like this:

I was at some sort of large party that my family was throwing, and had a boy problem. I was with my current boyfriend in the dream, and an old flame of mine came to the party. Long story short, they argued over me quite viciously, and I eventually ran outside to cry rather than choose between them. While outside, rapper Lil Wayne and his whole crew came over to me. Lil Wayne gave me a hug, and told me to just cry it out. Then they stuck around while I attempted to do handstands backwards.

Um…. what does THAT mean? In my humble opinion, it just good for the lolz. That, or foul-mouthed, prison-sentenced Lil Wayne is my fairy godmother.

On Dandies

As a lion hunter would study his lioness quarry, I have recently been pondering the fascinating creature of the dandy. To my surprise, there are several websites and articles attempting to dissect, discuss and celebrate (with the appropriate distance and dignity requisite of a dandy) this unique form of masculinity.

I thought I’d share some snippets from an article on dandyism.net, the definitive blog on dandies. They have explained and analyzed dandyism to a degree I couldn’t hope to do myself. And so, I give you their abridged definition of the dandy:

We agree with Barbey d’Aurevilly that dandyism is as difficult to describe as to define. We can opine about effortless elegance and sparkling wit, but dandyism is ultimately characterized by the nearly indescribable effect of the dandy’s appearance and demeanor on the spectator. The French call such effect a je ne sais quoi; in Hollywood it’s called having “it.”

The magic of dandyism resides in the interplay between the dandy’s temperament and his appearance. Yet it is not a question of simple harmony, for one dandy may combine severe dress with a jocular demeanor, while another meshes cold aloofness with colorful and audacious dress.

The common characteristics dandyism.net identifies among dandies are the following: physical distinction, elegance, self-mastery, aplomb, independence — ideally financial independence; wit, a skeptical, world-weary, sophisticated, bored or blasé demeanor; self-mocking and endearing egotism; dignity/reserve; discriminating taste; renaissance man; caprice. However they add the following caveat:

Because dandies are an enigma wrapped in a labyrinth, and because dandyism makes its own rules, the final quality is the ability to negate all the others.

For in the end there is not a code of dandyism, as Barbey writes. “If there were, anybody could be a dandy.”

These definitions and criteria certainly put the plume in the hat when it comes to the outward effects and affectations of a dandy, but I found these comments from another article on wikipedia quite interesting as well.

Charles Baudelaire, in the later, “metaphysical” phase of dandyism defined the dandy as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion that the dandy’s mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class: “Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism” and “These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking …. Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”

What I find so fascinating about this commentary on the dandy is that it elevates dandyism above the material manifestations and ways that the world perceives a dandy and gets straight to the heart of why dandies are the way they are. They love to think, to feel, to pursue their passions — all other manifestations of sophistication are mere reflections of their desire to cultivate their minds and talents.

I’m still marinading about dandies, and would like to continue expounding, but I’m almost too interested in another idea — the definition and inner workings of a female dandy, should she exist.

Hobbies

I am not a patient girl, and one of the results of this is that I don’t have many hobbies that last. For example, I started scrapbooking, but it’s not as action-packed as I’d like, and I have yet to finish even one.

At any rate, I tried my hand at some advanced origami with Jeff recently and epic failed.

Here is what Jeff made:

And here is my attempt to make the same thing:

P.S. — this was with a lot of help from Jeff. Pathetic!

In other news, I’ve had several successful geocache finds, so at least I’m making progress in some of my new hobbies!

Veggie Burgers

Yesterday while on our way to see Sherlock Holmes — Jude Law + Robert Downey Jr. FTW!! — Jeff spotted this mushroom that looks identical to a hamburger bun. I loll’d.

Meh-hee-ko

So, I’ve just returned from what was apparently my second trip to Mexico ever — I say apparently because according to my dad, I went to Mexico when I was two, and returned “all sunburned and constipated.” Oh, dads — always there to remind you that you were once as helpless as a sea cucumber and about as intelligent as one too.

At any rate, the Lees included me in their unorthodox Christmas plans of going south of the border, which I found delightful.

At the border, we stopped off to buy Mexican car insurance at a drive-thru insurance place. I don’t really understand how it is that drive-thru insurance is more legitimate than Geico in Mexico, but I suppose one has to make allowances for cultural differences.

After that, we entered Mexico through the extremely stringent border crossing (unmanned toll plaza for cars, revolving gates for pedestrians.)

Even if you didn’t have a huge sign letting you know you had left the country, you’d know from the surroundings as soon as you set foot in Mexico. I was actually really surprised by the immediate and apparent poverty when we crossed the border. Of course, China is also very poor in many areas, but their poverty and Mexican poverty are markedly different. In Mexico, poverty is linked with drugs, crime and large swaths of unemployed folks, whereas China’s poverty is mostly rural, and doesn’t seem to really breed crime. It was pretty interesting to drive through Tiajuana and see the similarities and differences it had to other third world countries I’ve been.

Thankfully, TJ wasn’t our destination — we were headed to Newport, a small lobster village between Rosarita and Ensenada. We arrived at our villa quickly, and it was just lovely! It was right on the edge of the sea cliff, with uninterrupted ocean views where we could watch pelicans, seagulls and dolphins to our hearts’ content.

Shortly after we arrived, we walked to the two-block town for dinner, which was the town’s signature lobster tacos. It was, of course, delicious, and after downing tacos, tortilla soup, chips, beans, rice and margaritas, we retired to relax, sans internet.

The next morning was Christmas. Though the Lees aren’t big Christmas celebrators, I in truth love Christmas and felt a little homesick. So, I fashioned myself a little tree and gave Jeff his presents.

I didn’t have too much time to bemoan the loss of a “real” Christmas though, because we had a busy day of nothing to do.

We wandered into town to peruse the little trinket stalls, and bought some candies at the liquor store. For future reference, don’t eat Jose Cuervo tequila chocolates if you’ve drunk Jose Cuervo before. You will have flashbacks, and for most of us, tequila is a memory we’d rather forget. In fairness, Jeff’s mom thought they were tasty, but consider yourself warned.

The town, though small, was really quirky. I don’t know what sharks and fans have to do with each other, but this was the only statue in town. Did you know that if they stop moving, sharks will die? Something to do with needing air to run through their gills, and I guess that’s kind of like air running through fan blades. Yeah, the statue makes total sense.

This was some graffiti in the town, and I thought it was kind of cute. Can’t you just imagine some thug painting that for his little brother?

Also, this is the logo for the liquor store in town — a man whose beer belly is so large, he has to carry it in a wheel barrow. Seems more American than Mexican to me.

After we exhausted the entertainment value of the town, Jeff, Dave and I walked back to the hotel along the beach, which was adventurous. The town and surrounding areas on set on a cliff that at the lowest point is 20 feet above the beach, so we had to climb down like mountain goats to actually reach the beach. Then, we had a long walk on very slippery, perfectly round, ankle-twisting stones.

All the rocks were perfectly round, great for skipping.

The beach didn’t have too much trash on it, and at least this trash looked like it could be in the MOMA.

Because the beach is so difficult to reach, I found tons of gorgeous sea shells to take home. It was pretty awesome.

After we got home we drove to Ensenada, which was filled with other white people and lots of things to buy. We had a tasty lunch, bought some things, and visited the fish market, which was remarkably odorous. Then we drove home, ready for more dinner and relaxing.

It was a short stay in paradise, but definitely worth the drive. I wish I could wake up to this view every day!