Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Savannah - Exploring My Hometown Like A Tourist

We all have dreams of what we want for our lives and most often those dreams are postponed. When the opportunity comes for us to work toward that goal we are often driven by what we believe the end result will be, the money, the recognition, or whatever we believe that our lives will be like when we finally reach our goals. We are often frustrated by the road that takes us to this anticipated end, if we reach it at all. Most often, that end result is different from what we anticipated. What we forget to do is to enjoy the journey of getting to wherever it is that we are trying to go. The journey is where we learn and grow and cross many hurdles, which are small successes. Many times we see these small successes as merely stepping stones, but we need to celebrate them just the same. I want to be photojournalist and blogging is how I decided to begin the learning process, along with taking pictures of course. I know that photojournalism is merely telling stories through photos. Sometimes it is just photos and other times it is photos with words, but it is always telling a story.  I have always loved meeting people from all walks of life and I love hearing their stories.  I love celebrating their lives, the successes and the failures, the challenges and the triumphs, it is all what makes us who we are. Even though I would love to be recognized for my work, not necessarily rewarded, but I want others to see and feel what I do.  I want people to respond, to have a reaction of any sort. I have been intentionally living my life and enjoying every step of this journey.  Even the three years where I was recovering from several surgeries and all I could do was plan and research, as well as search within finding my strengths and weaknesses and asking what path am I to take.  I had to get the other voices out of my head (parents, society, church, etc) in order to hear His and I had to be Still.  Those three years I was still and I had a deep desire to live a more meaningful life.  I ask Him everyday to guide my feet, my heart and my tongue. This is where I am being lead too, this life, and I am so at peace with it. [caption id="attachment_1932" align="alignnone" width="566"]DSC_2101
View from the new mall in Santa Monica[/caption] I have wanted to explore other cultures for as long as I can remember. It actually started with this picture book my mom bought me on Thailand.  No I have yet to get to Thailand, but I have always wanted to go, and I will get there. Moving to Los Angeles gave me that extra courage I needed to make things happen and not just talk about it.  I saw people there be happy not living the status quo. I saw people make a living walking dogs. Yes, some are making over 50k per year doing just that.  Now that I am in Peru, I see people making a living doing everything. I don't see a great deal of industry jobs here like in the states. These people learn skills and market themselves.  There are hundreds of small restaurants, hundreds and hundred of shops for clothes, shoes, food, everything.  These people are entrepreneurs, they are smart, and they are skilled. DSC_5394    

Tell me about your journey or the journey you dream about?

Monday, July 15, 2013

What Happened to Flying the Friendly Skies?

This was my first time flying United Airlines, as I am very partial to Delta, for their consistency, comfort, and customer service. This was also the first time I paid extra for the seats with more leg room $75.00 for both flights, and paid $225  for a checked bag, about as much as this one way flight.  The checked bag is another story entirely, yes 81 pounds of stuff. united-airlines My first flight was a United  Airlines Express flight from Savannah, Ga. to Chicago, Illinois where I would transfer to 737 in route to San Francisco.  The flight was on a much smaller plane, even though it was compact it was comfortable.  There were two stewards on this flight that must have flunked out of the same customer service basics class, because they were without a doubt the rudest and most condescending stewards that I have ever  encountered with any airline.  I felt like I was wearing a sign or exuded something that  deemed me their next victim.  They appeared to be like prison guards on the mental ward.  It was awful. Before boarding the flight, it was being  announced that the flight was overbooked and they were giving anyone $300 along with a later flight  that were willing to give up their seat. They were also asking if some passengers were willing to check in their carry-on bag, as they didn't have the space. Well I never check my carry on bag because it is packed to capacity with camera equipment, and not packed in a way that would insure its not being returned to me in a million pieces.   In light of  the way that I would be treated, there was no doubt in my mind that they would destroy my bag and its contents. When it was my turn to board the flight, I gave the lady my boarding pass; she didn't say anything to me she just checked me in and handed me a green ticket that is used to check a bag at the gate.  Now I am assuming that she is giving me the option, because my bag is within the regulated size. As soon as I step through the door of the plane, the steward barked out, "Mam, you are going to have to check that bag."  I told him that I could not check it because it was filled with camera equipment that was not packed in a way that would with stand the jarring under a plane.  He again barked, "Well it is regulations that you check it,  you can't put it on the plane."  I then told him that it met regulations."   I do understand that some of these planes are smaller and the overhead compartments will not accommodate even the regulated size carry on. Since I was sitting immediately behind first class, in the third row, I spotted a large space under the seat in front of the passenger that was in the second row and diagonally positioned from my seat.  I asked the lady if she would mind my pushing my bag under the seat in front of her, as I spotted a medium size day pack on the floor by her feet, assuming it was hers and knowing that both bags would fit if necessary. At first she resisted, and I said thanks anyway, and she then noticed the stewards's treatment of me and reconsidered. So I was able to put this bag under a seat in first class.  This same steward addressed the lady at this time,  by saying, " Mam you don't have to allow her to put her bag there if you don't want to."  She just ignored his statement and reached for my bag. It was like he was annoyed that I had the audacity to ask a first class patron to help me solve this problem, since he was not willing to help me solve the problem.  But before I could get the bag over to the other side of the isle, as people were still, boarding the plane, the other steward came up from the rear of the plane and he barked out from about 6 rows back, "you are going to have to check that bag, because it will not fit in the overhead compartments.  I told him that it was already taken care of, and he repeated himself again, as if that was necessary. So now that bag is secure, but now there is the issue of my shoulder carry on bag.  Since I am in a seat of which I paid extra , to get the extra leg room; there is a partial partition in front of it as opposed to a seat where I could place this second shoulder bad.  This shoulder bag is  much like a large purse, and also filled with camera equipment.   Due to this partial partition, there was no place to put this bag under the seat in front of me, so the good steward  made me change seats.  Worn out from all of the banter, I started to move to two open seats about two rows back.  Just as I was moved into these seats, positioning myself to sit down and put the bag under the seat in front of me, the other steward, once again emerging from the rear of the plane, barks,  you are not going to be able to sit there, these people are moving to those seats.  I told him that the other steward instructed me to sit there, and he again told me that I was going to have to move.  Again I was forced to move back further.    So of course I moved, because this is getting totally ridiculous. Once we were in the air, I figured there would be nothing that they could do to me, but I was wrong.  As I was asleep, this same steward that normally  came up from the rear, came from the front this time, and hit the top of my seat, which woke me up. This guy had walked up and down that tiny isle at least 20 times prior, and always kept his hands up high, but not this time.  I had a hard time believing that just happened.  Little did I know, they were not finished with me yet. When it was about time to land, I had the 14" laptop which was in a zippered case and my tablet in my lap.  I had to take the laptop out for the first bag to fit under the seat in front of the lady in first class.  So the rear approaching steward told me that I had to put those two items in the bag under the seat in front of me or hand them to him to be put in the over heard  compartment.   I told him that I would put them in my bag under the chair.  Well I guess he got a bit upset because he knelt beside my chair as he started to tell me that he didn't have time to play with me.  I was mortified when he said that, and I told him that I was an adult and had no intentions of playing with him or anyone else for that matter.  He then said, "let me explain something to you", then I said, "the best thing for you to do is to get out of my face."  At that point I turned my head, he got up and walked toward the front of the plane while looking at me over his right shoulder with a fiendish smirk on his face. I really could not believe any of this was happening.  As soon as the plane alighted and the seat belt sign went off,  I stood up because  I was quite anxious to get off of this flight. About an hour later I was boarding another United flight but happily it was much bigger and more of a crew, with real customer service skills.  I told one of the young stewards on this flight briefly what happened on the last flight and of course he apologized.  When they were passing out drinks, he actually gave me a bottle of white wine for my troubles. Finally, we are about to descend into San Francisco.  I am looking out of my window and was fascinated about  how everything on the ground below me seems to be on a grid; like a puzzle, a perfect puzzle.   I have said before that I am going to research why it looks that way.  I also saw miles of dessert sand.  It was a beautiful sight, even more beautiful to me, because it means  this journey has come to an end. Well it is not over yet, because after an hour of waiting for my expensively checked bag, I discovered that it is still in Chicago.  So I make my claim and finally go on to get my shuttle, they will bring my bag out to me tomorrow.  Yes I do  have two carry-on bags, but there is nothing in them but camera equipment, my passport, and my wallet. I am sure I will survive.     Happy Fourth of July to Me!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Jake Showing Me His Hood

Jake's Hood
Jake's Hood
Housesitting is one of those way you are able to travel around the country or the world and live rent free.  Of course there is a trade off.  It could be caring for pets, staying in a house so it appears lived in, maintaining a garden, or because it is required by many homeowners policy to have someone occupy the house until it is sold; regardless to what it is, you get to experience living in different areas whether it is for a week or a year.  The more I do this the more people I meet doing the same thing.
Jak e leading me arond
Jake leading me Around
Now I am living in Berkeley, California for a month.  My trade-off, caring for a cat, Isa, and dog, Jake.  Both of these pets are up in age, so there is more feeding and administering medication than physical activity.   I am not much of a cat person but I am getting use to Isa and she is getting use to me. Jake is a beautiful Golden Retriever and very easy going.

Jake enjoying a little sun
Jake Enjoying a little Sun
 Since it is his neighborhood and he is such an obedient dog, he walks around with no leash and everyone around here knows and loves Jake.
Market Mall
Market Mall
Pete's Coffee & Tea
Pete's Coffee and Tea
Busy Place
Busy Place
Patrons offered blankets on cool SF morning
Patrons offered blankets on a cool SF morning
I am living one block away from Market Mall on Fourth Street where I had some really healthy  Mexican food at Vino's.  I ordered the Ranchero Relleno because I know that is a safe choice, but it was much different than anything that I had before.  This shell was really light like filo, but it was not filo, and it was filled with avocado, squash, and other goodness.  It was really light and tasty.  I have unfortunately taken to getting my morning coffee from Pete's Coffee & Tea.  No, there is no Starbucks.  I was first introduced to Pete's when I moved to Los Angeles  8 years ago, but developed a daily two year addiction to Starbucks anyway.   Also on Fourth Street is the fabulous Bette's Diner of which there has been a wait every morning.  The morning I went there was a 40 minute wait, and everybody just waited.  My wait was not so long because I was a party of one and could sit at the counter.  I must say it was delicious.  This was my first time having potato pancakes.  Again, the food was light, but filling and quite tasty.
The Ark Toystore
The Ark Toy Store
Real Toys
Real Toys
 There is one other thing you rarely see anymore is a real toy store Yes real toys, not Toys R Us where just about everything is made of plastic, and made in China. This store was fabulous and I will go in when there is less of a crowd to get something for my granddaughter.  To think that all of this life is in the center of an industrial area, where there are warehouses, abandoned train tracks, and even backed up to the well used Amtrak train tracks where the trains blow through a few times per day.

You Can;t Go Back

Moving to Los Angeles eight years ago was quite exciting to me. I was newly married and we were going to  embark on this fantastic journey together, moving from Tampa Florida to Los Angeles, cross country, what an adventure.

 Nothing went as planned, not even the marriage, but there were a great deal of beautiful lessons learned in those eight years that has sparked personal growth like I never imagined possible.  Now that I have experienced this growth, which was at times both painful and beautiful, I want to continue to step outside of my comfort zone, more than I have already. I embraced it all. The result, my life resembles nothing of the life I had 20 years ago.

I recently decided to go back to my hometown because I wanted to be there for my daughter when she became a mother for the first time. I spent the better part of a year in Savannah as my daughter got use to motherhood, and learn to make decisions for two instead of just one. I loved being there for my daughter and my granddaughter. I even thought of moving back to Savannah to be closer to family, especially that grandbaby, but also for my aging parents.

I discovered that the latter was a bit premature. I learned two things from this experience of returning to the place I called home. First, home is where your heart is, where you have built a life and a lifestyle. When you do go back, you unfortunately step right back into your life as it was when you left. Yes you discover that you have probably changed quite a bit, but what you left behind is pretty much the same. Yes even the people, and that is the discouraging part. You assume that people have grown at the same rate that you have and you don't give it much thought until you are forced to do so.
That doesn't mean that people don't change, it is just the way in which they change. Often times they grow deeper into the type of person they were before, their complacency, jealousy, or hatred just festers.

 When you grow in a direction that is much different from most of those that you know, especially those that you may have grown up with, then you can't go back, you can't pick up where you left off, your core values may still be the same, but your life's experiences has forever changed your perspective. It doesn't mean that one is right and the other is wrong, it is merely ones experiences that molds them or lack there of.

 For a few years now I was really missing home and family.  A great deal of that was because I had been sick after having several major surgeries, and realized just how far I was from all that was familiar to me.

On my last visit and I met up with an old friend, Snappper, that convinced me that it was probably time to consider moving back to the east coast. I felt like I could do this, that I could come back to Savannah, because I was a changed person, and my perception of things was different, my perception of Savannah was different. So the timing was perfect, my daughter was going to be a mommy and my parents were getting older.
See Snapper was not just an old friend, he was an old boyfriend.  And for some reason whenever we would run into each other, regardless of the amount of time that has passed, the sparks would fly, and we would talk about getting back together.  It would never happen, for the same reasons that it didn't happen many years ago.

Then in the blink of an eye Snapper died from lung cancer, at the tender age of 53. This was the third of my friends that died from cancer in three months, all while I was back  home.

 You just can't go back.