‘Singing for the rain’

It’s been a (very) hot, quiet summer here in Tucson, AZ.  This is my second go around and I’ve learned the hard way that it’s best to avoid the peak of heat when you can.  Many a movie has been seen, gallons of iced coffees consumed and the A.C. has been working overtime in my Casita.  Fortunately, there’s been a little relief this past week in the form of rain.  Monsoon season is officially here, but thus far, it’s been a lot milder than I anticipated.

In exactly one month I will begin my schooling at the University of Arizona.  I’m anxious, but excited.  It really has been some time since I’ve studied on a college campus, and while there have been some significant (creepy?) cultural shifts regarding human interaction  (Tinder anyone!?), it’s the actual thought of being back in a classroom that I’m fixated on.  Again, I’m very excited about it though.  I’ve needed a kick in the bum for a long while and I already feel the tip of the boot, which is a good thing.

Here are a couple photos from this past week.  Hope you all are enjoying your summer!

 

‘My friend got hitched~in~San Francisco~’

A day or so after I pulled up to Tucson, AZ, I found myself sprinting off to Phoenix to board a plane.  I was tired, but also full of excitement for the week ahead.  This was a very big moment for ‘Primo,’ a.k.a. Matt Borden.  He and his fiancee May, whom I had not met yet, were tying the knot and, soon after, flying all the way to Jakarta for Primo’s new job.  Also, this was my first time back to the Bay since I left at beginning of 2016.  The area and people there hold many memories for me, both bitter and sweet, and I was curious to see how I would feel when I landed.  I won’t lie and say there weren’t some weird flashbacks had, but I will tell you that I’m absolutely thrilled I made the trip!  The wedding was lovely, the catching up with friends was grounding and I had more laughs in my week there than I’d had in the last….???

Here is some of the trip in photos, enjoy!

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‘On the road again…’

A few weeks old now, but I made my 5th cross-country road, this time from Florida to Arizona.  All in all, a really great time, highlighted by, as per usual, catching up with friends along the way.  Incidentally, a big thank you all for putting me up/putting up with me! :o)

Here are a few shots from the trip…

‘Chipmunk: Modern Warrior’

I’ve been sitting on this one for some time, but I was recently reminded of a friend of mine who has quietly been one of the more influential figures during some of my formative years. I first made Cherokee Kaine’s (a.k.a. Chipmunk) acquaintance on a shuttle-bus traveling from Osaka to island of Shikoku, Japan.  That I was even on the bus was due to me being roped into another one my buddy Greg’s schemes.  This particular one would find me as an extra in the Japanese movie…..playing a German prisoner of war.  It was pretty early in the morning when we left Osaka and the bus was very quiet, aside from Greg that is. As per usual, with me as his trusty sidekick, Greg began making small talk with a rather reserved looking gentleman seated behind me. Cherokee and I have been friends ever since.

The nickname Chipmunk was born when I was living with my friend Ackie.  Ackie had this beautiful, high-rise apartment in downtown Osaka and he was rarely home.  I used to joke that he was half vampire, half robot, because the man never seemed to sleep.  In his absence I took full advantage of the place, which often entailed dipping into his wine collection, making short work of his stockpile of ice cream sandwiches and cozying up to his piano by the window, where I would sit, try to play something relaxing and sip wine as I looked out over the city lights.  It remains a fond memory.

Anyway, the point was that Ackie had a lot of goodies most guys like me did not.  We rarely had real food in the house due to Ackie never being there and me being too lazy to cook, but one of the things Ackie always seemed to have on hand was one of those gigantic, Costco sized containers of mixed nuts.  Well, on one of Cherokee’s visits, we were sitting around playing video football on Ackie’s television and Cherokee says he’s hungry.  Soon thereafter he began helping himself to the nuts, and every time I glanced his way, he seemed to have another large handful of them in his cheeks.  Not long after that, the container was empty!  And that, folks, is where the nickname Chipmunk comes from.

Silliness aside, I have an incredible amount of respect for the man.  At first sight, you’d think Chipmunk was a bit of a barbarian (he’ll likely take this as a compliment).  He stands 6’4, has a number of tattoos and isn’t the most chatty person when you first meet him.  He is intensely loyal, intelligent and one of the more interesting friends I have.  He’s introduced me to things I would likely never have come across…things that have helped shape some of the philosophies I adhere to today.

Just the other day I sent my old friend an update, as we hadn’t spoken in a while, and he has always been one of my more spirited supporters.  Chipmunk is one of those friends that is unapologetically individualistic and honest with me, which I appreciate.  He is a firm believer that we should each follow our own path in life and not allow others to dictate our choices.  He has, and continues to do just that.

Currently living in Japan, where he has been for well over 10 years, he is now a husband and a loving father of two cute kids.  Due to logistics, we haven’t had a chance to hang out in a couple of years, but I hope he knows that while he continues to forge his own path in this life, he is simultaneously inspiring me to do the same with mine.  Chipmunk, this one is for you!

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‘Float On’

My brother Cody had been talking about it for a while, but when we tentatively planned to go a few weeks ago, something came up and it never happened.  This time, however, I didn’t have any excuses, so we made an appointment in Tampa for an hour and a half in a ‘sensory deprivation tank,’ also known as an ‘isolation tank.’  For those of you who haven’t heard about them and want to learn more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolation_tank

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Yep, it’s every bit as ‘mystical’ inside as it appears on the outside.

Basically, you strip down naked, rinse off and then slide into a coffin-like tub filled with epson salt, and other things.  You then put in your earplugs (optional), shut the capsule’s lid and do your thingso long as your thing doesn’t involve adding your own fluids to the tank.

According to the wikipedia article above, these torture devices were first introduced in 1954 to study the effects of isolation. Apparently they are getting more and more elaborate as their popularity grows, including light shows, music and other goodies, but the one we went to was of the basic variety.  Incidentally, this is considered the purest form of the practice.  It’s you, your thoughts and a lot of salt, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the individual.  My brother claims it helps him relax and recalibrate.  My experience was a little different.

The very first thing(s) I felt were claustrophobia and fear.  I immediately began to think of every possible negative scenario and pictured how many different ways someone could lock me in this godforsaken thing, which lead me to this thought….

If my life as I know it were to have ended in that moment, would I be go satisfied?  Well, I like to think I’ve been pretty fortunate thus far and have lived a relatively interesting life, but the short answer to my own question was an emphatic NO.  There is more of my story to be written; much more I hope.

Once I got over the initial panic, I settled in and attempted to focus on my breathing.  As a rule, breath is more labored inside the tank, it being a closed off, incredibly humid environment.  My thoughts were all over the place.  I’ll not mention the details, but let’s call them ‘interesting’ and leave it at that.

Around an hour in (I think?), I got disinterested of laying completely still and began very slowly pushing myself from one side of the tank to the other, because the sensation was so foreign.  This is quite common for the beginner apparently, and the young guy working the counter seemed to take great joy in pointing out how amateurish my behavior was.  The gentleman went on to explain that the more times you ‘float,’ the more deeply you are able to relax and reap the real benefits of the experience.  He himself was a regular ‘floater,’ and told us that his max time in the tank was around 7 hours or so, which immediately made me wonder if it were possible to hold off peeing for that long.  Hm….

I’m really glad Cody made me go.  If it weren’t for him, I might not be questioning the value of my life right now!  (j/k, hermano)  To be fare,  I did feel super relaxed after it was over and would do it again if the price were right, but I don’t know that I’ll be running out and spending a small fortune to purchase a floater for myself.

‘Beach Day (& a gratuitous shot of Eddie)’

I remember very clearly the last time I actually stepped foot in the ocean. It was June of 2014 and we had just finished up with our Peace Corps commitment. Before we went our separate ways, my buddy Justin and I spent a week in Bali to unwind and attempt to process what we’d all just been through.

Last Friday, my friend Jared and I spent the day at a beach in Clearwater. It took nearly three years, but I’m happy to say that I once again know what it feels like to submerge myself in the ocean, and how did it feel?? Cold…VERY COLD! The water was one thing, but the worst of it was when we got out and the wind hit our skin. We’d spent most of the time throwing the football and running around on the beach, but I honestly don’t remember seeing a drop of sweat on my body the entire day. It was really a perfect day to be out there, so long as you weren’t looking to lounge in the waves.

I’m really happy we made it. It’s so easy to get caught up in whatever you are, or aren’t doing, and leave it at that. It’s extra challenging when many of your friends are married and/or have children to care for. Any moment you get to spend with them is most welcome.  I want to thank J-Rod for making the time to meet up and provide much needed break from the heavy stuff. Let’s do it again soon!

‘2016: a year in rear-view’

It’s now 2017; Feb 12th to be exact. Being back in Florida has been interesting to say the least, but I am happy I’m here right now. This is a post, not on 2016, but on what’s transpired so far this year. My writing is a little on the rusty side, so I thought I’d just throw a few photos up and let them do the talking.

I hope everyone’s 2017 is off to a happy, healthy start!