Thursday, June 30, 2016


The last time I was on this flight from Munich to San Francisco I sobbed silently at takeoff.  Not because of fear of flying, which I definitely suffer from, but because I was hit with a wave of emotion and in that instant I knew my relationship was over. No more pretending an alternate destiny was possible, no more head in the sand. I had gut-level certainty that the next step was a breakup, a chapter change, and the pain that comes when a love that once flourished must be laid to rest. I was grateful when the seat belt sign was turned off and I could go to the lavatory for a real ugly cry, with nobody around to witness my scrunched up face or hear my wailing.

That was in March, nearly four months ago. Now it is the last day of June and I am on the same Lufthansa flight headed home from spending some time in Italy at my grandmother's house. I cried again, but only because I watched an inspiring film (Joy with Jennifer Lawrence). It's amazing how much has changed in this short period, how different I feel.

Unlike the last time I was on this flight, I am not dreading coming back to California (even though I know divorce papers and the slog of moving my things from one space to the next await me). I also don’t wish I had stayed in Italy, although it was tempting to extend my trip after a successful beta experience of organizing wine and culinary tours with a childhood friend and a fabulous group of ladies as guests. It’s nice to feel a balance of saudades for the place I am leaving and the place that is my next destination.

I see myself coming into a new phase: one of being single and independent, having multiple jobs I create for myself, and with no clear primary residence. I’ll be bouncing between the Bay Area (the work-live artist space I’ve created in the basement of my mom’s house), the Italy-Slovenia border region (where my grandmother was from and her big, uninhabited property awaits its destiny), Houston (where my best friend lives), New Mexico (my dad’s place), and who knows where else in between. I envision lots of geography, lots of change, wearing lots of hats. Just how I like it.

I am trying out the elevator speech about my life as I meet people on the plane: “I am a jeweler, artist, translator, traveler, writer, and dancer.” Yes, all of those things together in one complex ball of self-employment and creativity and travel. Interdisciplinary, interconnected, international. Untitled for the time being. Following my gut. Seeing where the road takes me.

Monday, June 20, 2016


This girl and I have been traveling around the world together for 15 years already, and I hope we never stop. This time I brought her to Venice as a surprise. So far it's been pretty perfect.



Drawing to Overcome Fear of Flying


For as much as I love traveling, I am a fearful little flyer. Last week on the Lufthansa regional jet from Munich to Trieste, I could feel myself freaking out during takeoff.

My involuntary reaction when I think the plane is about to drop out of the sky is to throw my arms up in panic and then grab onto the armrests for dear life. I'll white-knuckle it for a few seconds, get my shit together and release my grip, take a breath or two, and then sit on my hands or fidget with my hair or something until I feel like we're about to fall of the sky again and the whole flail-grip-regain control routine repeats itself.

My row companion was pretty nice about it, but I felt supremely awkward grabbing all over the place and wanted to get my behavior under control. So I took out my sketchbook and started a weird mix of nervous doodling and contour drawing of the inside of the plane. It worked quite well to manage my phobia, as I could concentrate on reproducing the lines and objects in front of me to distract myself, and then just let the pen go crazy in the moments of acute stress.

You can see the balding head of the guy in front of me, the window, the seatbelt/no smoking sign, the overhead bins, the curtain separating first class...and me intermittently losing it, translated into shapes and squiggles.

In all, a useful exercise I'm sure to repeat on future flights and in other moments of fear and uncertainty - of which we sadly have an abundance of these days. At least I have a funny drawing and a story to share as a result, a concrete transformation of negative emotions into something positive. 

What do you do to cope with fear?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Amici di Ballo

Tonight I went out with a group of new friends to a salsa, bachata, and kizomba party. It was in a town about 40 minutes away from Gorizia, and we caravaned there in the pouring rain. It was super fun to go to a party and have an adventure, even cooler to be doing so as part of a crew.

My friends - miei amici - are the people I've met through the dance school I found on my trip here back in February. It's called Arte Danza and they have a bit of everything - latin ballroom, zumba, pilates, breakdancing. It's been a lot of fun going to classes, and good exercise too.

Dancing salsa, bachata, and kizomba with a bunch of Italians has been an interesting experience. Most of them have learned at dance schools/courses and are firmly familiar with a set of patterns and partners. My observation (both from being a sometime student in said classes, as well as on the dancefloor tonight) is that this tends to cause weaker male leads and lots of female back-leading. Consequently, it can be hard to follow if you're not part of the in-crowd...but still a ton of fun. Also contributing to the challenge is the fact that most people here are learning Cuban-style salsa (as opposed to salsa de linea), which for me is way harder to follow and make flow.

In all, a very worthwhile experience. I imagine at the end of the month I'll feel a lot lighter on my feet, more in sync with my dancing friends, and more like I know what I'm doing.

And then, likely, I'll come back to my Bay Area salsa/bachata/kizomba scene and feel a little off! Hahaha...

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

My Airport Style

For the first time in my life I just spent 3 hours in an international airport and bought nothing. Why? Because I came prepared. 

Empty water bottle to refill at public fountains? Check. Snack of two boiled eggs and red grapes, carried in an empty cottage cheese container (recyclable and easy to leave behind)? Check. Books and mints brought from home? Yep. 

What else could a girl need?

Ah yes. Free wifi to complete the SFO experience!

And I'm off, headed to Italy and Slovenia for a much-needed month of decompressing and wine and good food. It's been a rough ride these days even though I am happy and feeling on the right path. Nothing like travel to make it all better. 

ETA: I've arrives in Munich airport after a smooth but long flight over the top of the world. With all that cash I saved by bringing my own everything at SFO, I was able to indulge in a lovely welcome meal here, essential to pass the 4-hour layover till my flight to Trieste.


I sat in a cute cafe and tried to get a cappuccino, alas the coffee machine was broken so I was "forced" to have a prosecco. My meal, not pictured, was a salad assortment where I chose marinated octopus, seaweed, and peppadews stuffed with goat cheese. It was fabulous, but now I need that coffee. For real! I can feel the jet lag creeping in already.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Where I Started and Where I am Now

Getting ready to cross the bridge-less Rio Lucite in Manica Province, Mozambique. 2005.

I started this blog in 2005 while living in Austin, Texas. I was about to move to Mozambique to work as a freelance consultant with some friends I'd met while in business school in Brazil. (There's a lot of geography in my life story!)

Initially my blog was a way for me to keep in touch with family in friends while in Africa, but it soon became much more. I met hundreds of people through my writing, many of whom were also moving to Mozambique and looking for support, many of whom became friends.

Over the years I chronicled my work in international development, my growing passion for making jewelry, my marriage in 2008, our move to California in late 2009, my decision to apply to art school and change careers, my experience starting my own business, and now the most recent chapter: my life as a single person, with many exciting unknowns, lots of travel, and a heart full of love to share with the world.

Contemplating what's next while on the ferry from Isla Mujeres to Cancún, Mexico. 2016.