Wynwood, Miami, home of political murals. And naked lady murals.
Spontaneous Unsolicited Upgrades (aka Coincidences (maybe), aka signs of Forming)
So this past weekend I went to Miami for the School of Womanly Arts crazy annual international weekend. On arrival I experienced a spontaneous, very much unsolicited downgrade when I tried to check into the hotel and the luxurious room we'd been promised was replaces with a basic room with one bed. (For three women.) Because, well, because they were full. I don't operate a hotel, but it's hard to understand how they can confirm a room that disappears two hours later.
What we are doing here:
Dwelling in mystery.
Luxuriating in pleasure.
Seeking the hot tracks.
Glorying in the pageantry and spectacle of the phenomenal world, and gracefully negotiating the contradiction between revelry and spirituality. (If there is one.)
And: asking What else might be possible?
It took some work before we got semi-upgraded to a room with two beds, but it wasn't spontaneous. It left me sweaty. Next year, the Raleigh, The End.
Also it was a horribly smelly dump, this place, so I missed the sign posted outside that they were having a free show that night with Bebel Gilberto headlining. Because I had basically curled into a ball of Ohgoddontletthevibeheretouchme.
And Bebel Gilberto would have been a pretty notable Spontaneous Unsolicited Upgrade. So I just report this lest anyone think my life is all free champagne and such.
But there was our visit to Wynwood, Miami, a semi-industrial, semi-hipster district home to many blocks of murals. The art was even better than I'd heard, most of it of course heavy on the clothed men and the naked ladies, but some of it really exciting, and! Panther Coffee, where we had a perfect breakfast. Panther is a place where they wanted everything to be beautiful, and it is. I don't know how their site, which looks lke an old dry cleaners or possibly a machine shop, managed to retrain the huge shade tree outside, when there was no other vegetation for blocks around. Seeing it was like spotting what you think must be a mirage, but turns out to be the real oasis. Where the cute barista presses free pastry on you, and it turns out to be the best almond croissant you've ever had.
Then when Mr Jones picked me up at midnight on Sunday and drove me home, we saw one of those overpass signs that usually say something like Welcome Home Sgt. Smith!!! But this one said Welcome Home Everyone!
And that is one good thing I can appreciate about Boston: You are just not going to find that kind of sign very many places, and it seemed quite sincere to me. I felt distinctly welcome, which, um, I don't always, in New England. It was sweet.
Updates on past experiments
I know three or four things about travel that you might like to consider for yourself. Here there are.
When you're on holiday you're in a holiday frame of mind, and that is the best place from which to consider your next holiday.
Just like it's really hard to reinvent your wardrobe if all you've got is clothes you hate, and you're wearing your feelbad clothes as you stand in front of your closet, wondering what might feel better. Answer: Anything, but also kinda nothing. Better answer: Take off anything that's making you feel bad, and reconsider the question.
So sure, Aspen sounds good if you're toiling away under the fluorescent lights in Houston. But contemplating the question of what comes after Aspen might be answered best from an Aspen frame of mind.
My Zen teacher once said to me "Have the next retreat booked before the current one is over. This avoids the awful circumstance of going years between retreats while you forget what was so important." Excellent advice for any serious practitioner of an awareness tradition.
If you're a good little toiler-teacher's-pet-gold-star-whore/mule (<- me), try replacing the word "retreat" with the "holiday." That's 86,000 times better.
Oh, and "booked" means "booked," not "identified," "hoped-for" or even merely "planned."
On not forgetting what was so important, anyway: Take notes. Every time I go on holiday I take notes on a page titled "When Home." Under it go items like
- add cucumber and mint to the water pitcher
- make it a nice pitcher instead of a bestickered Google canteen. Since you have some.
- set a timer for more dance breaks
- add new songs x, y and z to playlist
- stay more in touch with Sister Goddess X, Special Agent Y and Classmate Z
- swap the rug in the living room
- replace the mattress, dear Heaven!
- be ready for Christmas and get a bag of sand for luminarias this year
- take a leaf out Agent C's book, and wear your Cavalli with your shitkickers
- watch even more serial tv
If I write them down, some of these things will actually happen. At least for a while.
It's challenging coming back from travel, but nothing's more challenging than leaving your holiday spot at the last minute so as to extract every last vacationy drop. Life is so much better if there's a buffer day to unpack, set up laundry, do a big shop and sort the mail, instead of plunging straight back into work and doing all the catchup tasks over the next two weeks.
No matter how workaday your destination, no matter how lackluster your mood when packing, no matter how overdue for a holiday you are and thus worn to a nubbin, pack these things for sure:
- two bathing suits and two coverups
- matching skivvies, the very best ones
- sparkly club clothes
You can always buy another t-shirt at your destination (they make "I'm in Miami bitch!" in quantity), but last-minute hot lingerie is a taller order.
* * *
Finally, this might be my first ever Imagine One Week, Form The Next.
Last week I mentioned my search for a winter sweater of the oversized and drapey variety. I found one in Miami, perfect match, Helmut Lang, on sale, much cheaper than the Alexander Wang version I'd been eyeing. Specificity is so helpful! Writing down your specs, also yes!
Reader, I married that sweater. I've been back in New Blighty since Monday, and haven't taken it off yet.
Destination: Date night
What has happened? Every night this week since I got back from Miami I have eaten some new thing Mr Jones has cooked out of the Pok Pok book.
I don't think I've ever ranted here about the notion of authenticity in cuisine, which I regard as a big fat helping of snobbery. Like, Oh, in the little Oaxacan village where I lived as a teenager, this is how they did it, thus it is the only real way, thus if you like it some other way, well, that's ok, I guess, for an untraveled country mouse like you. Ugh. Like, is anything important other than "tastes good"? Maybe "looks beautiful"?
That some dish has a pedigree, a lineage, a documented developing-world origin, my god who cares. Skill is what elevates a dish. Skill and love. Not snobbery and slavish replication and going to time-consuming lengths to obtain an ingredient whose chief attribute is unavailability.
Pok Pok guy Andy Ricker has a not dissimilar view of "authentic" Thai food, and it is something like this: There are thousands of ways to cook anything, and I'm going to teach you some ways that taste good without wringing our hands over shit you can't get in Cedar Rapids.
Anyway, this is another way in which my life has taken a sudden turn toward Paradise. Delicious Thai food, every night.
It kills me to think I didn't even used to like white rice.
(List compiled 9-nov-2014)
- Alden & Harlow
- Alinea (Chicago)
- Area Four
- Battersby (Brooklyn)
- Bronwyn (scheduled)
- Casa Tua (Miami)
- Coppa (for brunch)
- Franny's (Brooklyn)
- The Gallows
- The Market (closed for the season)
- Myers & Chang (scheduled)
- Neptune Oyster (why have I never been here? BECAUSE THE ALL-DAY CROWDS)
- Puritan & Co. (for brunch)
- Ribelle (ugly and harshly lit but the food! the wine! spectacular)
- Roberta's (Brooklyn)
- Tres Gatos
Then there is a short list of places I shall not soon tire of, and always want to go back to:
- B&G Oysters
- Brick and Mortar
- Miracle of Science
That should keep us busy for a while, but please feel free to suggest additions.
After 11 months of discomfort ranging from constant irritation to full-skull agony, I had another oral surgery yesterday to remove my failing implant. Turns out this particular implant fails a lot. Turns out that's why the recent agony. So the next step is to wait two months and start all over again, with an older kind of implant that has a much better track record.
Why did we not start with that kind? I don't know whyyyyyyyyyy.
But I am imagining that this much more successful kind is much more successful for me in particular. I will let you know in December of 2015.
The internet's tiniest comment link...
...is right down below. I hope you will use it to add your thoughts, report on your own Wayfinding results, or just say Hi.
It is also very cool to lurk here. I love receiving your warmth and connection, too.