Live Aboard

This is an excerpt from a journal right when I moved from Seattle back home. Like what you see, get to know me!

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Cruising to check local surf spots in wind chop

“Live Aboard”

This topic has come up multiple times in the past month. Usually after we’ve had a couple of drinks at Sea Fresh while munching on sushi and fries. Wild combo. I know.

“Do it. Just do it,” he said with a mouth full of albacore. “You won’t regret it.”

It respectively being not only to buy, but to live on a boat.

“I don’t know,” I say.

I don’t know seems to be the only response I can give lately.

Sometimes my heart quickens at the idea–both out of excitement and anxiety.

“Megs, just imagine it. You walk down the dock. Open up the cabin. Light a few candles. Kick back. Write the night away under the stars. That’s your home.”

“When you put it that way.”

“Then wake up to gently rocking in the wind…”

He trails on and on… The seagulls, the seals, the salty air, the splashing of bait, the fog horns, the marine layers, the sunsets.

Fisherman banter.

Both sessions of mine. Banter and fisherman.

While it is easy for me to romanticize everything he says, I have this relentless realist in me.

If it wasn’t for her I’d already be packed up, yo-ho-ing my way down the dock and cracking champagne over the bow. Yep. Damn the realist.

“I know nothing about boats,” I say.

“You don’t need to,” he says.

“I find that hard to believe. The only thing I know about sail boats is don’t drill holes in the bottom.”

He takes a long slurp of his rum and coke. The way he always does. Loudly with squinting eyes looking down before looking back at me.

“I’m telling you the truth. It’s simple. All you have to do is empty the holding tank when it gets filled and clean the bottom scum every few months.”

Right. That’s all…

“But what if the toilet breaks?” My eyes avoid his.

It was a weak attempt. But it was an attempt.

“Well, you fix it?” He smirks. I hate that smirk, just as much as he hates mine.

“Of course.”

“I’m telling you. I think you will love it. You need to have something that is all yours. Something you take care of, something that you can call your own.”

It’s true. He’s right. This sailboat somehow feels like a gateway to somewhere I am being called to be. A place completely unknown. A wild place.

The past year has been been defined by both limitations and freedoms. I have felt both stagnant and infinite. It’s this caged bird mentality that has pushed me to my limit.

It’s been a great year, but I have hardly taken the time to reflect on it until this sailboat idea was presented. This sailboat is challenging me to think about my life.

It’s undeniable that the place where I was planted and thrived is now all together too small for me to keep growing in. I am being beckoned onward to something greater, yet even still, I feel reluctant to be replanted.

I have always made it a point not let fear rule my decisions. My dad always said, “You’re not nervous, you’re excited!” I think he was trying to say, “Don’t be scared.” I try not to be scared about things. Especially new things.

But there is still this lingering fear. I once was told, that fear ti often just pretending to be logic.

“Megs, you know what it really comes down to?” he says while looking at his empty glass of ice. “Not whether you can do it or not, but what in hell is holding you back from doing what makes you happy?”

Good question.

Water makes me happy, why am I not living on it?

Want to know more about me and Wild Sun? Get to know me more.

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Boating to Santa Cruz Island

 

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Uprooted

This piece is an excerpt from a journal when I traveled to Switzerland to teach English. It is about comparing the two cultures through the lens of a teacher.

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“Uprooted”

Things are good here in Switzerland. I love the culture, the people, the schools. How life has taken on a new energy and everything feels like the first time.  As if my life in the states was a different planet, a different life. But with all the good, there has been a emotional monster lurking. I can’t explain concretely or accurately. But with each breath, there’s fluttering in my chest, filling my insides with insecurity, anticipation. I have been trying to understand this feeling the entire time I’ve been here in Zurich. It attacks me at night full of energy, as if it’s been sleeping all day.

At night, I think about what I have learned from home and compare it to my experience here. I think about how different things are here. How different things are at home. How everything feels new,  but slightly familiar, slightly contradictory. Then I wonder is one way of doing things right or wrong? Do we always have to decide if there is a right and wrong way of doing things? Have I been learning the wrong things all along? Then, I think about how big the world is and how many other things there are to learn. These are just two cultures I am comparing. Maybe we are both wrong. I sink into a puddle of wine. If you can’t know anything to be true, is there anything worth learning?

I initially thought this anxiety of over-thinking was due to jet lag. Jet lag has always been synonymous with irrationality. I think we all agree on this.

But this goes beyond temperamental instability right now. I feel displaced not just physically, but mentally. Like my thoughts are a plant that have been growing and thriving have been suddenly dug out. The roots, her most vulnerable and most valuable parts, naked and dangling. Exposed.

I have spent the last few months learning and growing at home. Learning how a teacher teaches. Learning how students learn. The goal was to be replanted here in Switzerland and continue learning and growing. Build upon the foundation that was started at home, add some Swiss spice to diversify it.

But this process has been surprisingly painful. I find myself more often than not trying to make room for conflicting information. Like a tooth being pulled to make room for a new one. Or maybe, this is more like braces. An outside force moving things without my body’s consent.

To be honest, traveling to Switzerland has grown into something much different than what it was originally. I am learning things that go beyond a classroom. I am learning about societies. Communities. Relationships. Language.

I was sent here to teach and observe. And now I am here to see and understand my surroundings. I am trying to be objective. But being objective is weird and certainly not a natural human skill or instinct. To be truly objective, you have to set side aside your past experiences, assumptions and views. You have to make a judgement not based upon your own personal thoughts or experiences, but as some sort of empty vessel.

Objective (adj): not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

I am trying to keep this in the front of my mind as I am here in Switzerland. Be objective. Absorb as much as you can. Don’t let contradicting ideas scare you. But with this I am placing a pressure on myself to learn as much as possible, see things through a lens that is different than a tourist. Different than a visitor. Different than a traveler. And in this process, I see details that both disturb and amaze me. It’s exhausting.

When I come across a group of tourists, I always see the same things. Fingers pointing, phones out, cameras taking pictures. Smiles and dropped jaws. They are admiring. Falling in love. Absorbing everything. But, I am not sure if I am here to admire. I think I am here to just look. And I think this is why I am uncomfortable. Tourists come to stand in awe. But me, as an ambassador, a researcher, I’m not sure if it is my job to admire. And because of this, I am anxious. What will I find? Will it fit in nicely to my already built puzzle piece or destroy everything. More things to come.

Like what you read? Check out my about me.

 

swiss mountains

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Sierra Leone

While living in Seattle I was doing a fair amount of photography for my friends. Odd jobs for engagements, weddings and head shots. My camera was always with me and I was posting a lot of photos on an old blog. During this time, I was lucky enough to connect with a few non-profits to do some photojournalism and branding with them. One of them being Schools for Salone. This non-profit has the absolute coolest team of ex-Peace Core workers who worked from as early as the 70’s to present day.

During the summer of 2010, I saved enough money to buy a plane ticket went to Bo, Sierra Leone to do photojournalism for one of their locally ran teachers workshops. I stayed in a two story building, went to the workshop every morning and walked to the internet cafe every afternoon to write and process photos. I loved it.

There are a handful of stories and letters I wrote home that I will publish in the next coming weeks. It was a transforming time for me personally as a writer and photographer, but really just my perspective on humanity. Before Sierra Leone I would like to think that I was worldly, but I wasn’t. All I knew about the world was from books and articles. My experience was limited and naive. Going to Sierra Leone launched me in a direction that I am still trying to navigate and gave me a purpose I am still trying to understand. It ultimately gave me a renewed appreciation for good education, good communication, good community and good journalism.

I’m hoping that the stories I share about this trip catalyze some sort of new thoughts for you. Stories are powerful.

Stay tuned.

Peace
Students from local village

1/1 – Elope

This is the first post of a series of poems/writing paired with a sketch. All writing and art is my own.

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Elope
Meet me where the lines meet. At sunset, behind the trees, by the water.
Let’s carve our names in the twisting bark with stars as our only witness. 


Art design was inspired by artwork from Artist Derek Myers

Things I Think I Know For Sure

This is a list of things I think I know for sure…

Like what you see here? Check out my about me! Or read more about my decision about living on a sailboat. 

  1. Ask Good Questions- Knowing how to ask questions is good skill to learn. I learned the importance of asking good questions from having a friend who made good friends everywhere he went. Do you want to know the secret? He asked good questions. This is a good habit to make while traveling alone or at a new job. You never know when you might need to lean on the good will of a stranger and you can never have too many friends.
  2. Try to be an animal person (or at least pretend) – Find at least one animal you could be roomies with.  Animal people are always on top in life. They are happier and nicer. I’ve read somewhere that when a creature is dependent on a person for survival, it gives the human a sense of purpose which translates to your view of your self worth. So, having purpose is important, even if it is just because you have a goldfish.
  3. Brush your teeth – This is a no brainer. Your teeth are important and dentist bills are expensive. My advice? Have more than one toothbrush stowed away in different places. Keep one in your car, purse and at home. I promise this is a good idea.  You will always be prepared for any impromptu trips or a hot date. Say no to cavities and bad breath.
  4. Follow through- Honestly, you look like a dick when you don’t finish things or don’t show up to commitments. If you truly cannot manage to keep your word, write a hand written apology that doesn’t seem like a drawled out excuse.
  5. Bring Allergy pills when traveling –  You never know what sort of foreign pollen will destabilize your entire trip. Just bring a few, just in case. You don’t want to spend all your time inside.
  6. Read When you don’t read your brain becomes lazy. Don’t be a lazy-brained person. By not reading, you are living life in the dark and short changing your brains potential to understand your surroundings. There are so many great minds who have have novels full of advice and entertainment. Go read.
  7. Be a good guest- If you are invited to someones house for a meal, you either need to bring drinks or do the dishes—no exceptions.
  8. Hang out with your parents or parent-like figures- Most older people are treasures full of wisdom, life, and love. Take advantage of this while you can. Be a sponge.
  9. Walk Get outside and walk. I recommend a place that doesn’t have noise or traffic. Walking is good for the mind, heart and body. This I know for sure.
  10. Be a funny friend for someone else in a tough situation- Every decent 90’s comedy has a funny best friend for a reason. The main character is bound to run a muck, fall into a pit of tears and need to be picked up again. The funny best friend is the savior. Be that friend. Being able to make someone laugh when they are down is probably better than giving them wads of cash (unless they are crying over loosing wads of cash). Be a good friend. Ask them good questions. Let them play with your dog. Give them your favorite book, allergy pills and a toothbrush. Or just make them laugh.

That’s it for now. Check back later for more! Like what you read? Read more!

 

The Central Coast

Written years ago after my first experience on a surf trip to the remote areas in central coast. Location names are not given out of respect. 

California has miles and miles of winding road slithering along coastline. The Central Coast in my opinion is the most underrated, magical coastlines. Big Sur usually champions the central coast as the most popular, but in reality, there are several that challenge it. Most of the beaches are either private or impossible to reach by a road.

My friend Patrick, a captain and deckhand, told me about the Ranch when we first met. We were on a train from Oxnard California to Seattle Washington for vacation. One of our first of many epic adventures together. We had 38 hours of bus style seating filled with conversation over orange juice and vodka drinks.

It was only a couple hours into our journey north that he started wigging out and barking over the coastline.  “Oh my god, the Ranch. It’s the Disneyland for surfers. The happiest place on earth.” I laughed at his child-like joy. His eyes were glued to the coast line for at least 45 minutes. He named every bend and point as we passed which I failed to put to memory.

One year later and I am finally seeing the coast from the water. And God. It’s more beautiful than ever.

I’m on spring break in Graduate School. I am beyond burnt out and desperate for an escape. Pat wakes me up before the sun and hands me a cup of cheap coffee. He already has his 16 foot Radon hooked up to his truck, the engine running. I grab my bag, wet suit and beer. I get up, throw on a bikini, a sweater and my Xtratufs.

It’s morning like these that remind me why life is so sweet. Today is feeling even more sweet than usual.

I can see my breath in the dark morning as I get into Pat’s trucks. He has the heater blasting John Swift playing through the speakers. We hop on the 101 North for Santa Barbara harbor–our launch site.

After fighting through a bit of SB morning traffic, we arrive to the harbor. With the boat packed with a stack of surfboards and a cooler full of Pacificos we embark on our two hour motor north.

The beginning of the trip--starting right with a bottle of Pacifico
The beginning of the trip–starting right with a bottle of Pacifico

As soon as get to the harbor, we quickly launch the boat and start motoring north.

The ocean is glassy and the air turned from brisk to unusually warm from off-shore wind. We are going nearly 30 knots and I have a smile that God couldn’t even erase. After about 90 minutes we make a stop at Goleta Pier to pick up Cole–a beyond frothing fisherman and excellent long boarder. He paddles out to us on his 9’6 William Dennis. We load him up and toss him a beer. The Sun is now just above the horizon.

Just minutes after getting Cole we get a from a friend on a Clean Seas Boat. Bonita are biting about a mile out. This is the life of a fisherman–the fish decide your schedule. Pat points the boat out to sea away from our Ranch destination and is going full speed towards the bite.

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IMG_8683_2 Bent Rod

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On the bow of the Radon

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First fish of the day
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Pat hooking a Bonita.

There’s a lot of hooting and hollering from these boys and I cant help but join in the fun. Within ten minutes we have four good sized Bonito. We take pictures and throw them back. It’s not even noon yet.

After the bite moved on the we headed for our first surf location–which I will not name. As we motored up, we could see there were already a few boats anchored. Cole jumped in the water before we even anchored properly. I watched as the waves rolled in. Perfect empty shoulder-high rights.

Right before we were about to jump in the water, Pat jokingly remarks, this place is also called, “Whitey’s Kitchen.” I nervously laugh and try to forget about it. I’ve never been nervous about sharks,  but I also have never been given a reason to be scared while in the water.

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Pat throwing in his 9’2 single fin. Repping Salty Crew
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Blurry photo of Cole killing it.
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A lucky shot of me about to crouch it out

After about 4 of the longest waves I’ve ever gotten I catch a mid size wave a little too late. The wave hits a rock pile on the floor, sucks up and chucks me over. I tumbled for a second then something hits me–hard, in the face. I come up for air, my nose throbbing. Mostly startled than in pain, I start to panic.

I reel in my board and get on top. My nose feels crooked, blood coming down from the bridge. “Whitey’s Kitchen” gains a new meaning. I yell for Pat. I look around. I am stuck in the impact zone. I take a few waves on the head and slowly make my way back to the Radon. My breath is shortened. I am freaked out. Last year, I broke my tooth in half. I really didn’t need to add anymore facial damage to my record.

Pat paddles over. We climb up on the boat and I take a seat. My arms hurt, my nose bleeding. I look at Pat, “Do I look like Owen Wilson?” He feels my nose and gives me the okay. I’m startled and need a beer. I tell him to go back out while I try and regroup. I watch from the boat as Pat and Cole trade off shoulder high waves with the longest nose rides I’ve seen and as soon the bleeding stops I jump back in the water.

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Getting tugged around between sessions

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After an hour of surfing, we get on the boat for some sandwiches and decide with our wet suits still on we should travel 20 minutes south to our next spot.

It is a small, clean wave. It is perfect for my 9’2 single fin. Not a boat or person in sight. The wind stopped and the three of us silently trade off waves. It is moments like these that make time stand still. The perfection in every little detail.

We catch a few more before packing up and heading home.

The magic of the Central Coast is really due to the fact that it is mostly untouched by humans. There are no buildings crowding the horizon. No highways filled with traffic. There aren’t even many homes. It is away from the noise of daily life. Away from cell reception. Away from littered beaches. It gives you reminders of how beautiful the sound of untamed nature is. I hope places like this stay protected but also can be shared respectfully. I’m not exactly sure how we can share, since the biggest joy of these places is really because you are alone with mother nature.

We pack up our things, strap the boards down, crack one last Pacifico and head home with the sun setting behind us.

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Heading Home

 

Dublin Travel Guide

Dublin Travel Guide Written for The Falcon News Paper

I visited Ireland over the weekend. And if there was any doubt, Dublin, the land of the green, the ginger, the Guinness, was well, awesome.

Last Thursday, my English friend Emma and I took an early morning train from the Lake District in Northern England to Manchester Airport. We boarded a RyanAir plane for a 30-minute flight to Ireland. It goes without saying that RyanAir is most likely one safety code violation away from being grounded, but regardless, it is a smart and cheap way to fly abroad. Just remember not to check luggage if you are looking to save money. While tickets are roughly 20 pounds, checking luggage is about 150 pounds.

After roughly 5 hours of traveling we reached Dublin at 10 AM; Emma was ready for tea; I was ready for happy hour.  Fortunately for me and unfortunately for Emma, we were not able easily find our Hostel in the maze of unfamiliar cobblestone streets. We ended up chatting with some local Irish who funneled us right into the perfect pub, Kehoe’s. Kehoe’s is just off Graftons Street, next time you just so happen to be in Dublin and have a decent appetite–Kehoe’s is where you should go. It’s the place where the locals linger and has the best bacon and cabbage ever.

When both Emma and I were both finished eating, we managed to waddle down street and find our Hostel. For the weekend, we were staying at the Abigail’s Hostel, which resides right on the riverfront street and in the center of the city life. A perfect location for the walking tourist and poor college student—only 15 Euros a night, which translates to about 20 or so bucks. Abigail’s was not only clean and full of diverse travelers—ranging from young families to solo travelers—but provided you also with a continental breakfast and a fridge to store food in.  

Anxious to explore the city, we dropped off our luggage grabbed a map and headed to the nearest bus stop. Being in Dublin for only a few days is probably one of the best tests of self-control. There is so much to do, see and drink that it’s hard to not completely run a muck.

When looking at the map of Dublin, there are historic sites, beer factories, bookstores, art festivals, bike tours, and more pubs than clovers. The best way to maneuver your way around this is to treat it like how I treat an Ice cream store—taste test everything until you get kicked out.

However, Emma wasn’t so keen on my “we have to see everything” attitude and talked me into making a list limited to 5 places for the long weekend.

This was our list and our take on them:

First, the Kilmainham Gaol: This is the oldest and largest unused jail in Europe. This place gives creepy a whole new meaning. Kilmainham Gaol played an important role in Irish history during the first part of the 20th century by housing and executing some of the greatest Irish revolutionaries such as Maud Gonne, Y.B. Yeats former lover. I highly recommend going on the tour (only 4 Euros for students) and learning more about its haunted history. I promise you that it completely surpasses “Current Day Haunts” on Discovery Channel. Currently it has been converted into a Museum and pub, the perfect combination  for a thirsty-ghost enthusiast.

Emma n Jail
Emma in Kilmainham Gaol

Second, the Dublin Castle: It’s about three times older than the United States  and more regal than our very own bald eagle. Tours are a little spendy and depending on who your guide is, can actually be quite dry. But if you’ve never been in a castle before, this is worth trying to fit into your budget. The ornate decoration and grandeur rooms are breathtaking and incomparable to anything back home.  

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Sneaking a photo in the Dublin Castle

 

Third, Guinness Factory: Need I say more? I don’t think I do. Just do it.

Fourth, Secret of Kells: If you’re like me and get your ya-ya’s from Illuminated manuscripts check out The Book of Kells at Dublin’s Trinity University. It’s the first illuminated manuscript ever and way cooler than what Google Images makes it out to be. Congrats on finally beating England to the punch in something, Ireland.

Last, Pick a pub, Any pub: Now, if you are not interested in any of the previous recommendations you must at least wander the streets until you hear drinking songs loud enough from the inside of pubs that they echo down the streets. Then you must go into that pub and order a pint. My most memorable experience was walking into The Audlin Dubliner to live music and a sea of drunk Irish. It was 8 pm and we were just hoping to burn some time before we were to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at a local theater, (yes, they do have little theaters playing classic favorites year round). But what we got was so much more than that.

We pushed our way to the bar, ordered a drink and watched the music and the chaos unfold. There was only one man with a guitar but everyone was singing. Every song was introduced as an ”Irish Song”, even though they definitely were singing”La Bamba” and “American Pie.” 

Old Irish drinking songs were belted from beer filled bellies and as the sun went down, the lights dimmed and the space grew sparse. I don’t think I will ever find anywhere in America that will match Ireland’s standard of community. It truly was a like finding a four-leaf clover.