Thursday, July 14, 2011

Family Is Where the Home Is

Moving takes your life and shakes it around. It jumbles around the pieces inside until you are left lost and confused with how things have ended up. I had some moments where I was just confused towards the beginning of the month, especially around 4th of July where I just realized that I would miss holidays away from my friends and family in Long Beach. I had an amazing holiday spent with new friends from Arcata, but it was just not the same.

I booked a flight home for a one-way trip from San Francisco to Long Beach. I bought the ticket a couple days prior to leave me enough time to figure out how I would get to SF. I could get a direct flight from Arcata...but it is pretty pricey. I could drive to SF...but I didn't really want to. I found this girl Erin through Craigslist that was offering a ride through "rideshare." Its pretty much a part of the craigslist site where you can post if you are going somewhere and if you have a couple extra spots in your car to take people along. Call it modern-day hitch-hiking (which was my second option). We agreed I would pay her $40 for gas from Arcata to that part was set.

My flight was at 6:30PM on a Wednesday evening, so I had the whole day to get to the airport. Erin picked me up at my house @ 5am. She is also an HSU student and was pretty easy to converse with. She made me grab her itinerary paper which had a list of people she was picking up. She was driving down to Palm Springs and picking up more people. I saw her next stop was in Berkeley, so I told her she could drop me off there.

I LOVE the city of Berkeley. It is pretty much Arcata on a wider scale. I've always had this idea to crash a I looked up what classes were happening at UC Berkeley. I decided on this Psychology of Sleep class, which was holding its second meet day and which was in a big lecture hall. I was trying to do my best not to stand out. Then again, I look like just another student.

I settle into a chair in this lecture hall, and I am intrigued by the very first word from this professor. UC Berkeley is known for using student teachers, and she was one. Even so, she knew how to teach. I was grasping onto every word...and would take that class in a heartbeat.

After about twenty minutes, all the sleep terms were starting to get to me. I didn't want to talk about sleep...I wanted to sleep! I stormed out of the class and walked onto this grassy quad area and found a tree to sleep under. I got a good thirty minute nap in. After that, I explored downtown and the areas around Berkeley. I got a wheatgrass shot and a veggie juice at this juice shop. I kept exploring and decided to get onto the BART.

I got off at the Embarcadero and explored. I walked around and just took everything in. I found a pizza shop and got a slice of cheese pizza and just sat and watched the world unravel before my eyes.

About thirty minutes or so, I make the decision to head to the airport via the nearby BART station. As I was at the airport and on the flight home, all I kept thinking about was what it was going to feel like once I walked back inside my "home."

A short ten minute drive later, we arrive at the front steps. I open up the door and walked inside. Something was different. It did not feel the same. It did not feel like home anymore. It just seemed like just another place...but it was not home. Well... "it was" home.

After spending a couple days back in Long Beach meeting up with friends and started to feel like home. That's when I realized that home is not in any particular place. It is comprised of the people that are in your life. Family and friends are where "the home is."

Where you live will change multiple times throughout your life. You can make where you live very very comfortable to the point where you consider it as "home"....but really it is not what makes it up. It is the people that are in and around your home.

My new home is tucked away in a less-traveled part of Arcata that is a short walk away from Humboldt State. It is home because I have my friends and family supporting me every step of the way.

Friday, July 1, 2011

First of July...and The Last Full Month Before Grad School :D

The first day of July has been a day of new beginnings. A new group to cycle with, and new friends---with one of them being 3 1/2!

My day started out with a glass of fresh juice from five organic carrots and one organic apple. After I had that for breakfast I suited up in my CSULB Triathlon kit to go for a bike ride with Adventure's Edge:

Adventure's Edge is the main outdoor/cycling shop in my beautiful city of Arcata, CA. They have daily bike rides leaving the shop, with each day being either a road bike ride or mountain bike ride.

Today was going to be my first ride with this group. I've heard a lot about them...but haven't waked up early enough to go out. I woke up early this decided to go.

The ride left the shop at 9:30AM and was a group of eight other guys and two women. One of the guys from the ride was from the HSU Cycling Team (which I will be a part of in August), so we talked about the team. I found out as we went along that I inquired about his spare room in his house a couple weeks back. Of course, it was one of the unsuccessful attempts. Small world, especially up here. I have an AMAZING roommate that I'm living with that is also part of the cycling team.

Anyways, we rode up to Trinidad (about 15-18 miles north from Arcata).

It was mixture of bumpy road, single track, and HWY 101. I've never been on such a bouncy ride on my road bike. The ride was some sprints in--and got to show off my power on the hills. Overall it was a mellow ride that was pretty much a social event. I was friends with everyone by the end of it. One of the girls that was riding with the group works at the shop Adventure's Edge...and gave me a FREE cycling kit! Free cycling jersey, wind jacket, and a pair of bib shorts (gotta wait on them...till they get my size). I haven't experienced such generosity from people I just met like that. It shows how amazing the community is up here!
After that fantastic workout and meeting new friends, I got back and did some stock trading. A little later I decide to bring a book over to Redwood Park. As I was about to head out, I get a text from a friend of mine who wants to join me. So we head over to the park and have an amazing time.  
After that we went to pick up her daughter, who is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE! I hung out with my friend and her daughter at the downtown plaza and we had so much fun. After that we went back to my place and we made dinner. While the food was cooking--I pretty much became a kid being around her. I was having so much fun playing. Here (in this Harry Potter-ish resembling picture)---she was trying my glasses on while writing on my Buddha Board!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Quest for the Elusive Perfect Sand Dollar

Today, I decided to embark on an adventure. It was going to be an adventure day! I had quite a few ideas percolating in my mind. Last night my friend talked about her experiences of collecting sand dollars on the beach. That idea stuck out to me, so I went for it.  

I thought about what to wear to this sand dollar collecting adventure, and went for a t-shirt and a pair of running shorts. I laced up my shoes...and quickly realized I didn't need my shoes as I would be walking on the sand. The idea came into my mind to run barefoot while looking for sand I put on my rainbow sandals and I was good to go. 

I got in my car and drove over to the beach, a 4-5 mile drive from home. It was a scenic drive, filled with views of farmland, grazing cows, and passing cyclists on the road. I got to the beach and parked Marco. I put my wallet + phone in my glove compartment. I slipped off my rainbows and threw them in the back seat. I got out and started walking on the amazing black sand. Each time you take a step in it, it's as if your foot is pressing into memory foam. 

I got to the tide's edge and touched the water. Nor Cal beaches are COLD!! I felt my foot getting numb from the water---similar to all ocean triathlons I have done. I put one foot in front of the other and started trudging along. I got about 30 feet before I saw this shell that looked amazing. I decided to grab it, so I drew a big circle around it with a piece of nearby driftwood. I kept going and found a 1/4 of a sand dollar...I liked this also so I also drew a circle around it. I kept going, and kept up a good pace. 

I looked around and saw a lady walking her dog, as well as a fisherman probably hunting for a crab. Aside from them, the vast beach was all mine. 

I kept walking along and noticed quite a few exoskeletons of crabs, such as these: 

I was focused on the sand. It was neat seeing a mix of rocks, drift wood, beach glass, sand dollars, and exoskeletons along the beach. It made it almost a game to look through everything to find a sand dollar. I kept running along the beach.

The sand dollars that I found were partial ones. They had been broken off by the waves or from their adventures in the ocean. 

In my mind, I compared the partial sand dollars to goals that we set for ourselves. There are many goals/plans that we have in our lives. Our dedication to that goal shows the fullness of that goal. Most goals we do not have our whole heart in, they are not what we focus on 100%. The few that we do focus completely on...are full. 

I also compared the sand dollars to people in our lives. True friends are hard to come by, much like a complete sand dollar. There are many friends...many sand dollars out there. There are only a select few that can be considered true. 

After these thoughts came to me, I decided I was going to embark on a quest to find "the elusive perfect sand dollar"!!! It was at this point (after 3 miles of running up the beach) where I focused intently and slowed down my pace so that I could focus better. It was at this point where I enjoyed myself so much more--because I slowed down to take everything in. If you let it happen, our lives will pretty much go on auto-pilot. We look for the quickest way to do things without really getting maximum enjoyment out of it. This is where I turned off my switch and actually lived in the moment. 

It was SO FUN!! There were sand dunes on the beach that I was navigating, I was jumping over driftwood. I felt like a kid playing at the beach! I ran along looking for the the better of the three deposits of assorted beach items. There was one deposit that was closest to the water, another one a little bit further up, and one way up on the beach. I would go back and forth looking for which one had the most white (shells and sand dollars). I collected about 7 sand dollars and found a big shell to put them in. I got about 5 more after and found a bigger shell to put them all in. I was like a hermit looking for a bigger home. 

After about 15 partial sand dollars I picked up what looked like another partial. When I picked it up, part of it was covered with sand and a perfect full sand dollar appeared in front of my eyes. I was really excited. I found a place for it amongst my other sand dollars. Upon closer inspection, I saw a small hole on the front. IT WAS NOT PERFECT!! It was almost perfect, but not quite. I decided this was the best I was going to do for today, and headed back. I found two other sand dollars on the way back that also had small holes. But they were perfect in my eyes. Perhaps perfection is merely an illusion? Maybe there really is no such thing as "perfect."

I walked along the water, thoroughly enjoying my time on this beautiful beach. I stumbled upon a piece of driftwood that would be perfect for a game of "catch." My neighbor's dog loves to play catch with me...probably because I have more patience than his owner does. Animals really intrigue me, especially dogs who get so much enjoyment out of a game of catch. I picked up the driftwood, and added it to my growing pile:

I got back to my car and put my sand dollars, shells and piece of driftwood inside. I decided it would be a shame to leave I decided to take it all in again. 

I walked back to the beach and just watched the waves crash along the beach. I watched the owners and dogs that had arrived to walk. I admired the sky--which was cloudy. It was cloudy all along the coast except for a mile out. All along the coast the sun was shining...but not on the land. Looking at the sky it was a great mix of turquoise, sky blue, white, and just about every shade of blue and white you can imagine. I was truly happy to be alive at that moment. Sometimes you get caught up in everything you have to do...that you don't really stop to admire, experience, and be motivated by what is in front of you.

I started to walk back when I stumbled upon this:

At first, I thought it might be a whale bone or another sea creature. I examined it for a couple minutes..and came to the conclusion it must be a cow bone. There are many farms around the beach, so maybe a farmer got really attached to a cow and decided to leave this here. Who knows?

I got back home and there was my neighbor's dog! He was playing catch with a tennis ball that a passer-by HSU girl threw at him a couple times. I threw him the piece of driftwood and he left the tennis ball and ran with all he could toward the driftwood. He LOVED it! I was out there for about 20 minutes with him playing catch---enjoying it too! 

On my quest for "the elusive perfect sand dollar" I never really found a "perfect one". I ultimately found one that I deemed to be perfect. I found the below piece of artwork as I walked back to my car. In the many that have tried, I wonder how many have found a true "perfect" sand dollar.  
Perhaps we will be looking forever? Or for "infinity" as the above symbol made up of partial sand dollars suggests?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rainy Day Man #1

Today marks the first day of rain in this city...the first that I have experienced in my close to two weeks here. This city fits me perfectly. It is a city of redwoods that is right on the beach. I live in between them!

Deciding upon a future graduate school was no easy task. I applied to over 20 schools!! It was a lengthy process--taking (& studying for) the GRE, filling out application after application, finding ways to articulate my life in short Statement of Purposes, asking professors for letters of recommendation, and so on. I am glad the process is over, yet I'm sure I will be doing the same two years from now. HSU will be a gateway for me. A gateway to a greater future. I'm considering Law School or perhaps another Masters after my experiences in Arcata.

It's difficult to pick up everything and move to "the unknown." I know only a handful of people in this city (one of which is traveling via bike across the country!!) This girl is absolutely amazing! In these last few weeks, I have established myself within the city, and have been welcomed by its great people. I have met many GREAT people along this journey to my new home. I have also explored many of the trails that are in my backyard. 

I have visited this area many times before. This may have influenced my decision to move here. I loved every visit I had here. My family used to camp in the redwoods, typically Richardson's Grove State Park. Those experiences I treasure. 

This blog will bring insight as to my life in this secluded city. I will blog about my dilemma from moving from a big city to a small one, my experiences in graduate school, and my summer of FUN! :D

I am rainy day man, about to go get wet in this rain. I'm off for a run!