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?

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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.

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swiss mountains

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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

 

The Value of Ugliness

This is an excerpt about social media and journalism during my transition into Graduate School.

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Ventura Sunset the definition of beauty

I feel like this past year might have aged me about 20 years. I feel mature, somewhat organized, and yet, still completely lost.

I feel that my responsibilities have grown tenfold. This growth of responsibilities has helped me feel a weird sort of self worth. As if my “To Do List” is a reflection of my worth. Something to brag about to others, something that proves my value. Supply and demand complex.

Yet, even though my to-do list is feeding my ego, I still experience myself struggling exhaustion. Directionless energy. It’s upsetting. These emotions feel like a prison, holding me back. (Cue Anchor Man scene “I’m in a glass case of emotion!”) I often feel like my humanness is weakness. As if being tired, annoyed, or angry are flaws rather than reminders that I am not machine.

Our world is consumed, or obsessed, with beauty.  Pretty people, pretty clothes, pretty houses, pretty vacations, pretty families. We want to eat pretty food.  We want pretty things in our homes. Not only this, we want to be applauded for our pretty things. We want to share these pretty things with the world and we definitely want to be acknowledged for it. Pretty, along with busyness, equals value. And because of this we only show our pretty things, whether it is true or not

This is nothing new. Humans have been acting this way for so long. It must be instinctual. Pretending this are good. Things are pretty.

But there seems to be a new sense of gravity to this in regards to the amount of social media/communication that is available. Sure, keeping up with the Jones’ is difficult, but it seems like we are now trying to keep up with the entire world. Studies are showing that avid Social Media users are growing more and more discontent with life. And I don’t think any of us really need to be explained why this is. Being constantly bombarded with other people’s beautiful lives, makes us hyper critical of our own. Thus we react. We compete. We share our own beautiful moments. Thus, perpetuating the false representation that life is always beautiful.

The effect of beauty on us doesn’t really interest me. It seems obvious that other people’s beauty feeds envy and discontent. My question is if we are forcing so much pretty into our lives, is it silly to ask… Where does all the ugly go? What happens to it?

What happens if we lack to acknowledge the bad parts of life? The boring?

I’ve seen patterns in history. I’m not an expert, but humanity has always bonded over mutual hardships, common crises or simply confusing times. During the Great Depression, fisherman in various beach communities would offer an all you can eat crab feast to their community for free. September 11th, an entire country stopped breathing all at the same time. A country was silent. There is nothing more powerful than sitting in silence. The recent injustice of human rights have brought masses of diverse people to one spot, using one voice.

Hard times cause us to utilize diversity in wonderful ways.

Are we isolating ourselves by not publicly acknowledging that we all feel pain?

Are there consequences to this? Does this fuel a sort of self-loathing for even experiencing the mundane day-to-day life?

My ultimate question is, are we blinding rito an entire category of life? Are we pleasure seeking and discarding the bad?  And if we are, what are the implications? Was Huxley right?

And yet, as much as we love pretty, we have a dark side. We are putting ugly somewhere. The media.

I  have always been overwhelmed by how many negative stories are chosen to be shared in journalism. Shootings, corruption. Murder. Rape. Cheating. Lying. I wont lie, most news updates fuel a confusing fear based view about humanity.

While I like to pride myself of having a wild, unconditional love for those around me, recently, I there irrational skepticism growing in me. I’m sad that I am scared of my of my community. I’m sad I’m scared of strangers, who are more like me than they are different. I’m sad that I am scared that there might be more bad than good.

I also wonder what it means for us as “consumers of information.” What does it mean for our minds and eyes to be drowned in constant beauty and/or constant ugliness, and very little in-between? What are the implications? What are the effects?

I can’t help but feel that this polarization of information creates a divide between us.

The prettiness feeds our envy of others and self-loathing of our shortcomings.

And yet, the ugliness feeds our distrust in others. Our fear.

Envious and depressed of others pretty, fearful and angry of others

The mind reels. As always. And I have no answers. As always.