Friday, April 26, 2013



Through a serendipitous turn of events, my travels continue. Although I'm back stateside, going home to LA is not on the agenda for a while. In June, grad school will begin in earnest (summer fieldwork), but until then, I plan to WWOOF on a farm up in Washington State.

Last weekend, the journey kicked off with three days of car camping at The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Some friends were down from Oakland with a spare ticket. The headliners this year were decent, but for me, Alt-J and Grimes were the standouts of weekend 2. Check it:


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To The North Sea

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Flashback to mid-March. Out of LA's urban roar, into the utter quiet of an island in winter. I am standing on Texel (pronounced Tess-el), the westernmost and largest of The Frisian Islands in The Wadden Sea. This archipelago stretches northeast from The Netherlands to Denmark, with a population of roughly 80,000. Texel itself is composed of seven villages, economically dependent on primarily Dutch and German tourism in the summer months. 

But it is winter now, when I love the sea best. I haven't seen a soul all afternoon, save for one weathered fisherman hauling in up the beach. Now, the wind whips across my face and howls over honey-colored dunes. A single lighthouse stands in stark relief against the gray sky, calling to mind the myths of childhood. There is a loveliness to this lonely place, in the melancholy cry of gulls and the distant moan of freighters passing.

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The Backpack

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This time last week, I was cruising at 38,000 ft, hurtling across the sea from Paris toward California. Thinking of my backpack- that cumbersome friend- mummified in plastic and carelessly tossed into the airplane’s hold, I couldn’t help but wince. We’ve forged a sort of Tom Hanks and Wilson-style relationship now, as I’ve grown accustomed to the hulking thing taking up the space beside me.  

Here we are on the train to Cambridge. Maybe I should put a hat and some sunglasses on it, eh? 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Stylistically Speaking

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An excerpt from my travelogue, April 2nd

"It is a bright gray afternoon in Paris, and I am perched quietly on a side street near Notre Dame, watching the people pass. This is not the city I had imagined; a world of quiet culture and detail. In part, the discrepancy comes from the tourists, who flock to the city center in droves. Not surprising I suppose, but then where isn’t touristic anymore? Can I find the authentic Paris, and for that matter, what is an authentic travel experience?"

This is an issue I dwell on: What does authentic travel entail? Is there even such a thing?

Well, first off, how do you define authenticity? If it’s “undisputed credibility” that we’re after, then every experience must be equally authentic, because each is a product of internal and external stimuli processed in the human brain. We take in signals. We react. We live. 

So although all experience is equally authentic, I find travel most rewarding when I get off the beaten track. Leave the guidebook behind, because the good stuff isn’t in there. The good stuff is in a fragmented conversation on the metro; it's in the dark swirl of cream and coffee, taken in some back alley cafe; it's in a day lost and found, far from home. 

Travel is an attempt to glimpse the reality of life somewhere else. For me, it’s about learning the character of a place, getting out of my comfort zone, and expanding the definition of normalcy. Challenge is implied and welcomed. It isn’t always comfy, and it shouldn't be.   


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Back Again

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After five weeks away, I am back in Los Angeles. My time in Europe was in turns enlightening and exhausting, but I can't succinctly summarize it. There is no singular way that travel has changed me; no one overarching theme here. 

Would summarizing this experience even be accurate? Perhaps not, because a summary can’t capture the intricacies of the every day, and that’s really where the stories are. So instead, I’ll use the next few posts to share the big ideas of March and early April. Hopefully that will be a more realistic reflection of this most recent journey.