Inspiration

I can makes a Inspiration now.

ME inspiration

Advertisements

First vacation in 5+ years

 

The last time two times we stayed in a hotel was when Brad and I first met in person. Our last time away from home was for a funeral. The only times we have taken off from our jobs since being together was for hardships or medical emergencies. Vacations just don’t happen when you’re 20-somethings trying to build a future life for yourselves. So, when we saw that we were scheduled 2 days off from work together, had our bills paid early and savings contributed to, we decided it was time for a getaway!

vacation seagull

This little guy was the first thing we saw upon pulling in to our first destination in Monterey, Ca. We pulled in to our spot, and there he was standing square in the middle of our windshield looking at us as if he was going to be our Butler for the duration of our stay. As you can see from the proximity of the photo, he didn’t budge upon us approaching. A very neat start.

So we begin: Loulou’s griddle in the Middle on Municipal Warf no 2. Explicit thanks and reference to this article for the insider’s guide to eating in Monterey, aptly titled “Eat like a Local.”

vacation breakfast

I ordered the Hubcap flapjack more for the novelty than anything. I regretted it immediately when I saw the Omelette Brad had ordered. Warf wrap with their famous potatoes, pico, jack & cheddar cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. Honest to goodness, best damn breakfast I have ever tasted. I would drive back to this spot just to order that thing myself in a heartbeat. If I ever become rich, I will also be returning to try to buy their adorably unique salt and pepper shakers to add to my collection. Every table had their own set, and I wanted ours so very badly.

vacation breakfast 2

Oreos with a milk carton. Do want.

Check in to our bed and breakfast wasn’t until 3pm, so it was time to explore the area. Next was the need-to-see tourist stop: 17- mile drive. You have to pay a $10 toll to get in and drive it, but it was worth it. The drive itself was awfully fun with all the twists and turns and beautiful scenery along the way. Granted, most of the time was spent gaping at the villas and mansions along the way and day-dreaming out loud what it would be like to live in such a place. There were plenty of stops and sights along the way. First was a slightly steep trek down to the shore of the bay where I managed to get gotten by the tide rolling in. It’s freezing this time of the year, by the way. Thank goodness I was wearing my flip flops and not shoes with socks.

Next were a few sights like the Cypress tree, a 250 year old Cypress that has somehow survived on a lone rock fixture just off the shore. The ghost tree, white from the seas winds. And pebble beach, which we stood looking over for a good 20 minutes, hypnotized by the sound of the tide rolling back and forth over the pebbles, sounding very reminiscent of those rain sticks we all remember science stores selling when we were kids.  The major downside for us was that Pebble Beach is inhabited and owned by a major Golf Course. Great for golfers, sure, but somewhat ruins the experience if you’re not into that sort of thing and feel a little scoffed upon by the super rich walking around with their expensive equipment and $100,000 cars. We didn’t see all of the beach because we didn’t feel like taking the trek through the entire course to get to it. Still beautiful though.

The drive didn’t take as long for us as some blogs I had read recommended allotting to the experience (3-hours?? How?), so we went off to the next touristy area: Cannery Row.

We stopped first at Cannery Row Brewing Company to survey the 73 beers they had on tap. Totally mind boggling. I grabbed Sea Dog’s “Blueberry” wheat which was fantastically smooth and pleasant to drink, each sip giving a whiff of blueberry muffins. Brad grabbed something on the opposite spectrum: Stone’s “Old Guardian.” Seemed awfully steep at $10 for a 13 oz tulip, but was a pretty damn tasty beer. Hoppy, but with multiple layers of flavor. The bar tender wasn’t very talky and very awkward, not paying us much attention, so we took our beers out on the patio to enjoy their lovely fire pits.

vacation cannery

Now it was time for check in. I had fallen in love at first sight of this place upon spotting it on Hotels.com and it would not disappoint the duration of our stay. I’ll summarize the whole experience here rather than returning to it throughout the blog.

The Jabberwok Inn:

vacation inn

 

The inner and outer decor was, naturally, Alice in Wonderland themed. Upon entering, Rick greeted us warmly and gave us a tour of the building  whilst giving us the history of its ownership as well as the vision of the original owner. Wonderful hospitality. We got comfortable in our room which, may I add, was furnished with a carafe of brandy and a treat of gourmet jelly beans.

After a lovely shower in our private bathroom, we walked downstairs for some unplugged fun. Mind you, there were no televisions in our room nor in the facility. Instead, the lounge area was furnished with all sorts of board games and puzzles. We chose an Alice in Wonderland wooden chess set, and as we sat down were offered a glass of wine for their hors d’oeuvres hour.

chess

At night, the host sets out home made cookies with milk for the guests, which we chose to munch on with a glass  of sherry they had set out. Mind you, all of these are amenities included in the room cost.

Best of all was the breakfast they had laid out for the morning. Set around a dining room table with the other guests for that day, we were given a beautiful breakfast:

vacation breakfast inn

Coffee or tea, jabberwok juice (their own blend of various fruits with a touch of coconut for creaminess, amazing), fresh fruit, and that morning we had fantasmagoria (bread pudding with vanilla custard) with chicken sausage.

Honestly, an amazing bed and breakfast experience. Book your stay with some time planned to sit around and enjoy yourself and the company. You’ll have plenty of time to chat and share your vacation stories with the host, Rick, and whomever has booked their stay their.

Our vacation is far from over, believe it or not.

The night before our amazing breakfast, we picked out Monterey Fish House, this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you wouldn’t think of going into upon passing by. We went on a Monday night, and were glad we had made reservations because the little place was packed. Fresh Oysters on the half shell, perfectly cooked calamari, and Cioppino so filled to the brim with seafood that I just could not eat it all. We did not indulge, but they had a large wine list as well.

Day 2 and we were off for Santa Cruz. Quick stop on Highway 1 to pick up some giant artichokes for a friend in Castroville (I’m actually fairly certain I went to the wrong stop, so beware, there are many stands selling artichokes on the way that are not quite as big or as cheap). First stop was Kelly’s French Bakery, decent coffee, delicious macaroons. I recall watching an episode of Top Chef or one of those shows once where a chef was voted off for putting fresh fruit in a macaroon because it just wasn’t how it was done and the judges thought it made the texture off. Well, they have strawberry macaroons with fresh strawberries and it’s spot on yummy. Pricey for $1.99 a pop, but oh so worth it. They are praised for their Creamy Polenta, but we were so full from breakfast still that we just couldn’t fit it in.

Not my pic, found on yelp. But that's it! Strawberry macaroon. Yum.

Not my pic, found on yelp. But that’s it! Strawberry macaroon. Yum.

Next stop was the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. Skip the overpriced Monterey Aquarium and go here, I’m glad we did. 100% a place to take your kids. It’s not huge, but they are science and discovery geared with lots of little activities and science-y things to check out. They have touch tanks where you can touch a shark, sea stars and even a sea cucumber (gross!!). For $10 a person you get a tour around the facility where you can see their 2 research dolphins, who are very happy to see guests, as well as their gigantic whale skeleton. I was so pleased by the whole facility that we decided to get the majority of our sovenieres here: a hand-crafted whale mug and an addition to my salt and pepper collection.

The website's pic. No flash photography is allowed.

The website’s pic. No flash photography is allowed.

 

Next, we of course had to hit up the Boardwalk. Fairly dead this time of year, and many of the stands and ride were closed. The husband was too scaredy-cat to go on the roller coaster, too bad, but we did manage to grab us some salt water taffy which is a must. Honestly, not a huge fan of the Boardwalk. Very tourist-trappy with very overpriced food items that aren’t that great. But, it’s not that far from home and has a lovely access to the beach and hey- not many other places sell deep fried twinkies, so there is that. Have to at least try it once in your life cause: ‘Murica!

Anyway. Best could-not-have-planned moment of the vacation was hearing sea lions (our tour at the Discovery Center educated us as to the difference between a seal call, and a sea lion call, so we knew 😉 ) as we walked along the shore. We looked around, and decided to take a walk along the nearby warf.

There on a little observation step, was a group of sea lions resting, along with a newborn pup and its mother! We got to watch them no less than a foot from touching them.

baby sea lion omg

baby sea lion omg

It was freaking amazing. We stayed for a good 20 mins just watching them and their little social idiosyncrasies. I have a lovely 2 minute video on my phone of them barking as a new sea lion joined from the sea, and the alpha male being the outlook all the while giving the dorkiest look I’ve ever seen on an animal. The memory will last me a lifetime. I vertical videoed it though, so ain’t no one wanna see that here I’m sure. 😉

Then it was off for more beer, naturally. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery. We got the taster set along with some beef jerky which I thouroughly enjoyed, not theirs but the butcher’s around the corner so of course afterwards we had to pick up more for the road cause it was grass fed beef and just amazeballs (*gasp!* but I thought you were a…. I know, I know. Save it for my next blog.). 2oz of everything on their menu including a seasonal which was a milk stout brewed with clear hints of Earl Grey Tea. Best IPA I have ever had, so smooth. Actually, everything was yummy. Organic micro brewed beer, no brainer. Can I live here yet?

vacation beer

I was too antsy to try all the beers and forgot to take a pic before I drank half of them. 😛 $9 for that whole thing though, not bad.

Unfortunately, it was coming time to head home, so we decided to go small for dinner and went to Planet Fresh for some burritos. Tiny place, huge burritos. To me, wasn’t the best in the world but for the price you got a helluva lot of food. Plus, fresh salsa bar. Online reviews says the place was better during its former ownership and that they had horchata then… so sad face about that. Still decent though, and tons of options from the tortilla, to the flavor of the meat (and yes, they had tofu too! I chose steak which wasn’t comparable to Chipotle, tbh. )

vacation burrito

Across the street from this spot was a quaint comic book shop, filled with all sorts of things the geek and nerd would adore for that perfect little niche Christmas gift. I had to resist buying their Nightmare Before Christmas salt and pepper shakers for my collection, but I will for sure be making the trek down there when the holidays roll around.

For desert before the drive home was Penny’s Ice Creamery, also right down the street from Planet Fresh. Local, sustainable, in season ingredients make for some amazing from scratch ice cream flavors. If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, at least pop in to sample a couple flavors, I can guarantee you’ll end up staying for a scoop in their fresh made waffle cones.

And that’s our trip! Hope it makes for a good guide for anyone looking to go into the area. If you have any suggestions for our next stops to Santa Cruz or Monterey, please leave a comment!

Thanks for reading!

Confessions, changes, and goodbyes

Societal wisdom seems to dictate and encourage young people to settle down and marry after college. I can recall professors, friends, and family to give such advice repeatedly. For whatever reason, I never listened nor fully understood the pertinence of doing so, especially as a woman, until recently.

My dream in college was to ride the train of academia all the way to the top and become a Dr. of something. Research, write, lecture and do general scholarly stuff – that was the plan. That started to become difficult when love, marriage, and the maternal instinct kicked in.

At first it seemed entirely feasible to accomplish in tandem. My first husband was in college with me and had the same plan of obtaining a Doctoral degree in Psychology, the daughter field of Philosophy. So, dreams of sitting in arm chairs with a glass of fine wine in our study against the backdrop of a crackling fireplace filled our heads. We talked about that study, what we wanted it filled with. How we wanted a room for exotic animals for studying purposes. There was that connection of two scholars.

But there were many problems.

We were married and living in his parents basement along with his grandmother, aunt, uncle, brother, and two god-children. This was not how I pictured married life to be. Quickly, fighting ensued. I was getting the baby itch: he was adamant against doing so until entire financial and career security, I was set in my ways that I wanted a family and wanted it now. We didn’t have our own place to live, and neither of us wanted to live like that but neither could fathom nor obtain a job that could come close to affording such a thing while full-time students.

As a Philosophy student, I was also very rapidly changing my personal philosophies and finding my niche in the field. The more I studied, the more who I was before college came to change. What started as a Christian wife, became an Atheist wife shaking the very foundations of the marriage. I started living out my new morals and philosophies the more they became integrated into my core being and mind.

Needless to say, it went down in flames.

Fast-forward through the parts I’ve already blogged about (falling apart, debt to the college preventing me from finishing my education, re-marrying…)

And here I am at a similar place.

My debt is freed, my last course is completed, and my Bachelors of Philosophy is on its way. The divide that was there before has reared its ugly head and I came to a point recently when I had to chose. My philosophies and studies were not complete, and more changes occurred. The baby itch returned in even fuller force (the woman’s clock ticking away) and I have maintained an apartment and successful, albeit entry-level, job for quite a few years now. Academia and scholarship was not fitting into the model I currently had at all. From the pragmatic, not book-ish husband, to the accumulation of factors that secure me tightly to where I am, and all the way to my thesis revolving around universal doubt and how a polyamourous society frees the female self.

Do I chase my academia, uproot all I’ve built, live in polyamory and ethical skepticism? The change is too abrupt, too destructive, too painful.

When one chooses love, marriage, family, the paradigm shifts. There is a reason many a philosopher and social activist lived the independent life.

There is a reason why it is admonished to young people to settle down after their studies. The dreams shift, they must. Especially when they are exclusive and variant from their partners.

For the time being, I have chosen love and family. For the time being, this stings. Before my studies I dreamed of being a mother and living the simple life. I would work, sure, but I would thrive most in the simplicity of familial happiness and love. I had lost his dream for some time, and it has been combating the alternate dream for my attention in the background but while returning to school was not an option, it lost by default.

The pursuit of Philosophy and academia must be bid farewell. Who I am in it, is no longer who I am now. She has tried to remain, but has only caused pain and raged to uproot me from all I know and have become.

A new day is dawning. Whether the old dream will resurface, or will crash in flash, only time will tell. One must die and fall to the ground for another to rise and give birth to new life.

What would you do if….? [Ghosts, demons, and the supernatural]

ghost

So two oddly connected events, what-call-you, occurred over the past few days. After the first, I woke with this blog topic in mind. After the second, I knew I had to.

The first was a dream that got me thinking. In my dream I was plagued by this creature/thing/person who would appear at random once a month, and stab me with a knife in the fleshy part of my right shoulder and promptly disappear. After this happened a few times, I started seeking help from any one and any where I could, eventually leading me to some sort of spiritual leader. The words “I don’t care what I have to do, I’ll do anything” or something of the extent was uttered.

Upon waking, I was immediately thoughtful about it and thought to myself: “Huh. As someone who doesn’t believe in the supernatural, what would it take for me to seek supernatural/spiritual help?”

A day or two later, I was sitting on my couch doing something or another, snuggled in my throw, and started calling for one of my 3 cats to come cuddle. I look around and start calling, until I look into my bedroom where I see 2, unmoving, glowing eyes. Of course I knew this was one of my 3 cats, but the way they were reflecting were just very eery. Especially since the cat was not coming when called.

Well, I start looking around for my other cats and eventually two of them show themselves. I look back, the eyes are still there looking directly at me. I point it out to my husband, he agreed that they looked very eerie and remarks “I swear to God if it’s not Eva (the 3rd cat) we’re leaving this apartment.” We’ve come to a mutual agreement beforehand that if any bizzare, Paranormal type shit happened in our apartment we wouldn’t go the way of all Horror movies, and just leave the fucking place. I give a shy laugh, but after that kind of remark press him to check it out. Ya know, just in case.

So he gets up, looks in the dining room and says “…Honey? Eva’s under the dining room table…” My heart stops. “Are you serious?” “…Yeah…” I tell him to go look in the room. He takes his time, turns on the light….

And there’s Eva! My mind skips a little bit and I start “then who’s under the…” until I hear him laugh.

Needless to say, I was pissed.

However, it still got me thinking.

My skeptical mind disbelieves in ghosts, goblins, demons, and all the sort. But my agnostic mind keeps me open to possibilities, and to trust my own sensory experiences put to the test of reasonable experimentation. So in this case, yeah, if he turned on and off the light, we poked around on the patio, and the eyes remained very clearly and distinctly without a sensible material cause? We would’ve most likely gotten the hell out of there. But alas, there was a rational cause for what appeared to be very creepy: my cat.

So, reader, have you ever experienced something that you thought creepy but found a rational explanation? How about something that you never did get a reason for and scared you?

Do you believe in the supernatural? If not, what would it take for you to believe it and take drastic action?

Penny for your Thoughts?

We the Consumer: Waste more than we consume

10 years ago I worked overnight stocking for a corporate supermarket whom you can likely guess easily. One of my firmly embedded memories of the experience was witnessing the massive amount of meaningless waste. There would be times while stocking cases of soda that a case would slip, or my muscles would give out from fatigue, and it would drop causing a can to either dent or bust. No matter the status of the remaining 11 cans, the entire case would go to the garbage. This pattern followed with just about any product that received very minor damage in part or whole.

I included a dumpster diving video as an example of this corporate waste as a drop in the bucket. Youtube searching for dumpster diving comes up with countless videos of finds in various establishment’s trash receptacles.

The thought process on waste began this morning with, probably, my 10th visit to Starbucks this week for coffee. My mind has been on a trend of thinking of practical trades to learn, stuff that would aid mankind when the zombie apocalypse happens, and realizing that catastrophe can flip our world upside down in the blink of an eye at any time sure makes one think. Looking at the plastic cup of coffee in my hand, and the empty cup on the table from the day before, I could not describe here the feeling. Only, maybe, an urgency to stop this madness of excessive waste.

But…

We have become so used to it. Those who champion the plain of living a waste free life are an inspiration to some, but so far from the norm that it is odd for us to see. Yes, some coffee shops like Starbucks will happily fill your metal canister with your purchased beverage, but how few of our products can we purchase without contributing to waste? How difficult and drastic a change from the norm do we have to make as individuals to simply not contribute to our massive degradation of our resources and planet.

Food for thought. It seems to me that consumerism and capitalism has made it incredibly easy for us to continue the cycle of waste.

What do you think? Is there anything you do to decrease your waste? Is it a pressing need for you?

Penny For your Thoughts?

Can doubt lead to a better understanding of “Being”?

Can it?

Insofar as language cannot adequately describe this concept of “being,” should we doubt (that is, not accept the truth of, call in to question) what it attempts to communicate to our faculties?

The more that is denied, filtered out, and shut out, the clearer the self becomes.

The question really is, what is being apart from our acceptance of the external world in relation to objects. Can is be conceived of? If the essence of man cannot be grasped without its continual relation, than to what extent can it do so and not lose a part of its individuality?

Heidegger speaks of one finding a “nearness of being” in learning to “exist in the nameless.” What is the denial of naming but doubt? To exist in the nameless is to refuse to describe and ascribe language to. And how else do we understand our existence but through language?

Is to experience something without ascribing a name to it true experience? Should one doubt, also, the ability of our senses to provide us with the essence of a thing? Is the truth that science sheds upon an object more true than the experience of it?

To be and remain in pure being is to withdraw into oneself apart from interpretation, but how is that state to be described?

Penny for your thoughts? Because mine can do nothing but reel and abstract into abstractions far from my ability to understand them.

Utilizing a religious past/education for secular post-graduate pursuits

proverbs 22 6

As the doors into post-undergraduate education has opened, I’ve been forced to look back into my undergraduate studies for my “best writings” to inspire my applicant writing sample. There’s only one problem…

I went to a Christian college where most of my studies were in Bible. It was only the last year and a half that was spent mostly (3 out of 4 classes) in Philosophy. So looking back into essays I had e-mailed to Professors and thus remain in my storage, I find mostly topics in Christian apologetic and reconciling/criticizing extra-canonical materials.

Out of the 5 years spent in undergraduate education at this private college, it was only the last year of it that I was a full blown Atheist.

This has been leading to bouts of hopelessness and feeling as if years of my academic life were for naught. After all, what doctoral level programs would accept someone whose “best work” is a thesis for accepting the book of Enoch into the Christian cannon? Or for reconciling modern science with theism? (Towards the end, I was more an agnostic theist than anything, and tried to sneak doubts into vague “i’m playing devil’s advocate here” term papers to my very-much-so Christian professors.) Not likely in a highly esteemed secular university where philosophy of evolution, metaethics, and philosophy of language are the hot topics.

My extra-curricular activities included a year long internship as a youth minister, converting people to Christ in a church-funded tent set up in our local county fair, the occasional sermon shared boldly on the subway, and repenting for sexual thoughts over who I was dating.

I intended on concluding this post with some theories, or at least something thought-provoking, but alas I’m at a mental impasse and very discouraged. So a venting blog it is, with a little peer into the author’s past.

What do I believe?

 

hume wise

As I’m beginning my morning read, happening upon an article on Phenomenology I’m clouded by my knee-jerk reaction of hatred and despise for the theory and field itself. Eventually, this forces me to stop reading and ask myself why? Then, what stance do I take.

Many who have discussed issues with me have pointed out, quite accurately, that I don’t take a stance on issues, I merely dissemble and attack arguments. When asked what I believe, or if I slip out something along the lines of “I’m an empiricist” I’ve been known to destruct what I claim as well.

As far as I am concerned, everything can be doubted. Am I a nihilist, then? No sir, that’s not practical. Pragmatist? In practice, sure (ha!). Does holding that the conscious thought of others cannot be proven make me a solipsist? Perhaps. But how do I know I exist but in the mind of a god?

Ah…

It rings of Descarte’s meditations, but without accepting that I am because I think I think (repetition intended). Or at least, that it is un-doubtable.

So, do I exemplify everything that is despised of philosophy? Believe nothing, doubt everything? Perhaps. At this point, until proven otherwise. Every argument seems to have its fallacies, everything can be doubted. As such, I suppose I believe in doubt.

Is this useless? Bullshit? Everything that is wrong with philosophy? A phase?

Penny for your Thoughts?

What is Philosophy?

 

Google’s dictionary, everyone’s main source for information nowadays, defines Philosophy thus:

the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.

A little too brief of a description, I say. And what’s with the “especially when…”? Sure, we mainly recognize philosophy in its academic context, but any Phi101 class will admonish that anyone and everyone can, in fact, be a philosopher.

It’s the fact that we still return to the question of “What is Philosophy” that best defines us. When I become frustrated by the amount of writers people around me are quoting that I do not recognize, or miff over the new terminologies that are coined, I return to the starting point: introspection. What is it, exactly, that I do and want to do? What does my philosophy look like? Can it be defined by terms and philosophers? How do I express it?

So I returned to actual starting point, the very first book of philosophy I ever read in college: “Does the Center Hold” by Donald Palmer, and I found this piece of knowledge very enlightening:

Philosophy poses a series of questions that it then tries to answer and one of these questions is “What is Philosophy?” The fact itself tells us something about philosophy because it informs us of philosophy’s self-reflective nature. It is part of philosophy’s task to think about itself, because philosophy is an activity whose purpose involves questioning the assumptions of every system of thought, including its own.” pg. 5.

As such, it isn’t the philosopher who can quote the most, name-drop the most, or confuse the most with elaborately described concepts and terms, but the one who can turn around to one’s own assumptions and question the foundations of everything they believe. After all, isn’t that why people think we are so absurd?

But what do you think? Is philosophy a waste of time? Does it address the big picture? Is it an academic field, or something the layman can engage in?

Penny for your Thoughts?