Tuesday, August 31, 2010

more proof.

Lots of things pop culture this week!!
Just can't get enough!!
This is coming to my mailbox soon.  Ohmygoodness.
(Thanks, Nate!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gleed out.

I cried from joy at this 2010 Emmy Opening.
There is just something so truly GLEEFUL about singing and dancing and Tina Fey and Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon and Betty White! and the Glee Cast and well, even though I don't have television I sure do love youtube for giving me all things Glee.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


proof God loves me.

Rolling Stone sends me emails with images.
This one was greeting me this afternoon.

Oooooohhhh, Bruce.
I love you so.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Please, please, check out today's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Every bit of the research interviewee Matt Richtel talks about is intriguing, amazing, and something to think about.  Toward the end of the interview there is talk of what all this digital overload will do to little frontal lobes that are developing now---

There is research being done about the urgency I feel when I hear the 'ding dong' of my phone when a text comes through!  I am so thrilled scientists are looking into what this digital age is doing to our brains!

I love, also, that I'm posting this on my blog.

Irony! I love her so!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three tomatoes are walking along...

You know the joke, right?  From Pulp Fiction?  The baby tomato is being quite slow, following along behind his Mama and Papa tomato and the Papa tomato squishes baby tomato and says, 'Ketch Up!'

Well, this is a Catch Up Post.

I've been back in the USA nearly three weeks.  So much has happened in that time!  I didn't feel fit to write about all that has occurred until, weirdly, I caught up on the blogs I read.  When I set my mind to something, well, sometimes I can be quite inflexible!  So, I slowly began my blogroll of reads...and let me tell you!  I sure do love the blog world!  One blog I follow, Ms. Sheryl at BitchCakes has achieved her weight loss goal and her subsequent posts have been fabulously positive and inspiring!  Another friend, Danielle at SometimesSweet, is progressing beautifully with life, baby in utero, and home buying! Angela, at Scatter Sunshine,  has been posting some really fun faith posts and intriguing-get-my-mind-rolling goodness that has been fun to keep up with this summer.  And, finally, I posted yesterday how my favorite music blogs are keeping me excited and up to date with all things Indie & College Rock.  It's been fun catching up with the blog world.

My turn, now, I guess.

I will save this for a future 'Ode to Switzerland' post but before I left JJ had mentioned that coming home was harder jet lag to handle than arriving to Switzerland.  That wasn't my experience last year so I couldn't agree, but this year, this year, I agree..  Jet lag was intense.  Reverse Culture shock was intense.  More on this later...  I was in a plane for 15 hours, and awake for 29 (minus the five hours I slept on planes two and three, total.)  I will say in gratitude:  The long flight, London to Chicago, I was upgraded to Business Class, and YESSSSSSSSS!  Soooo roomy and lovely; it was a treat!

I arrived to San Diego with Nate as my hero---he carried my luggage, brought me flowers (I LOVE FLOWERS!) and told me I didn't have to 'be' anything to anyone.  Such a relief.  Life in San Diego is fun, and we ate delicious Thai food at 11p and with a full belly I crawled to his home, showered, and tried to sleep.

Nate and I planned a pretty epic road trip upon my arrival to San Diego with one day for us to get things together, and for me to rest.  In hindsight, was that the best idea?  Probably not.  But as my recovery, my faith, and my reliance on a power greater than myself have taught me there are no mistakes in God's world.  So, Thursday, we left for San Luis Obispo.
When did my wrinkles happen?? I am a wrinkle face!  
God is awesome, and Noriko, my darling roommate, moved out of our shared home on Aug 4--that very day, instead of flying to Chicago, she flew to SANTA ANA! to see a mutual instructor of ours.  Do you know what that means??? Goodness, of course!  Serendipity!  Santa Ana is on the way to San Luis Obispo from San Diego, dontchaknow, and Nate was willing for us to take a quick hour detour so I could have a sweet visit with my darling friend. 
I am blessed to have such sweet companionship in Noriko. 
We arrived in San Luis Obispo with a few bumps along the way.  It was during this drive I began to feel something.  I called it Jet Lag until a few days ago.  I was craving alone time, and didn't know how to get it.  I was craving home, and was surprised I wasn't feeling at home with Nate, with all the travel we had planned. I wasn't acting my best self.  
Nate is a darling road companion. 
From San Luis Obispo we drove to Mount Shasta and scored an ULTIMATE camping spot at Castle Crags State Park.  We were right on the Sacramento River---it was cooooollldddd water and quite refreshing for an early morning soak!  
Refreshing Gurgling Sweet River Water

This was my first time camping in 'Bear Country!'  We had a 'bear locker' at our spot to lock our food in and we didn't see any bears.  It was kind of fun to be in such a special place, where bears hang out too.  

For dinner, we made Macro Platters and this was my first time having Sriracha in six weeks!  YUM!  (please note the oscillating fan hair look!!! I sure love my long hair but abhor having it on my neck when I'm hot!! Hence the monstrosity of a bun I sometimes sport).  

My favorite picture of Nate from the whole ten days we were together.  His smile melts me.  
From Mt. Shasta we drove to Bend, Oregon to visit some dear friends of mine, Amber, Jared and their son, Logan. 
My first time in Oregon!  I had to stop for the photo op despite having a bit of a headache (hence the crummy face. The Sun was bright!)  
In Bend, we had dinner at Deschutes Brewery and this was a tasty Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  And, 5dl of beer was a lot for a girl used to light lagers mixed with 7up all summer....Oh yummy Panache, I miss you so!

Nate and me enjoying the fun and friendship of Deschutes!

Me and Amber, darling friend!
In Bend, things took quite the turn.  I will not go into details as they're too private for blogworld but I will say I learned so much this Saturday August 7.  I learned about myself.  I learned about Nate.  I learned what I'm capable of, and what I no longer find works for me.  I thought I already knew these things, but putting them into practice proved difficult with what I had stacked up against me:  fatigue, jet lag, beer, needing alone time and not knowing how to get it.  

I don't wish to take back what happened this night because I'm reminded there are no mistakes in God's world.  I do wish to act in forgiveness of myself, truly love myself, and ponder and reflect on how my actions affect others.  No matter my excuse--the perfect storm of circumstances leading up to crummy behavior--my behavior happened, and it affected my relationship with Nate.  I woke up Sunday hungover from behavior.  I was weak with regret and guilt and it wasn't until I found some alone time in the shape of a tearful and warm shower, I was able to get on my knees, seek forgiveness from One Greater than Me, and move forward.  

And move forward we did, Nate and me.  It was tentative and slow.  We were both hurting and hesitant what the next step of our long distance romance would be.  (I shouldn't say 'we' as I don't speak for Nate, but those were the feelings I had).  Sunday we drove to Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort and it is here I REQUIRE YOU TO MAKE YOUR NEXT TRIP TO THIS HEALING SPACE!!  

We spent three days, two nights, at Breitenbush, and it was so magical.  I had that desired and sought after alone time with my journal, I soaked in healing, warm mineral water, and washed my body in an outside shower next to the flowing Breitenbush River.  I began the loving and powerful process of forgiving myself.  And it was here, Tuesday August 10, Nate and I decided to no longer be a Romantic Couple.  Is Breitenbush the type of place I expected to break up with Nate? Ohmyword, NO!!  The day previous we saw a couple get married!  It is a loving and sacred place, and I guess that is why I find it so fitting we did break up there.  Because, remember, there are no mistakes in God's world.   

What a gift--we were grown-ups!  We talked it through.  We expressed our hurts, our tears, our feelings, and our love for each other.  We decided it was no longer going to work for us and for each of us, that meant hurting a little bit now, so we don't hurt ourselves or each other more in the future.  

Hindsight.  That beautiful word.  Dictionary.com tells me it's the "recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence." Yep.  I agree.  I am aware of the reality of what a hefty road trip can do for a relationship after such a long time apart.  I see the possibility of doing things differently now but am without that ability as Nate and I are now toeing the line of 'just being friends.'  I am grateful for reflection and the ability to learn from my relationships.  

The social psychologist George Herbert Mead coined the term significant other to indicate the one who signifies or reflects back to us the meanings of our gestures and, in so doing, develops with us our ability to act meaningfully with others.  (quote from The Spirituality of Imperfection by Kurtz & Ketcham). I find this to be absolutely true as I ponder and reflect my time with Nate.  A sweet gift and blessing he was as a significant other.  

Leaving Breitenbush Tuesday August 10 with a car packed full of gear, heading toward Chico for a few more days
together.  This is our last picture together.  
We spent two nights in Chico, California on our way back to Prescott.  Nate is a gracious, generous man, and was on board to continue our trip as planned despite our decision to no longer be Romancers.  We eliminated Yosemite from the trip, and decided after Chico to head straight to Prescott.  

I don't have any pictures on my camera after this point.  I must have just mentally stopped needing the desire for future memories and have my mind's camera to refer.  We had a great time in Chico, where Nate is from.  We went to his favorite park growing up, enjoyed a Sampler at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and I continued to enjoy Nate's great company.  

I am so blessed to have gotten to know this man.  He is super great!  And, what a gift of five months we had together, working at a long distance relationship.  He was by my side during what felt like a really difficult task--finishing and graduating Nursing School.  He is a great friend, and I feel blessed I didn't put the pressure on this relationship to be the one, even though there are so many characteristics in Nate that 'could be.'  I'm grateful I wasn't dependent on the outcome of Nate and me.  I was dependent on the moments of Nate and me, and that is God doing for me what I cannot do for myself.  

It was a 15 hour drive Chico, California to Prescott, Arizona, and we made it alive, peaceful, and still with respect for one another.  (Again, I won't speak for Nate, but I will say, I sure do respect and love him).  We decided to hit up one more Brewery, for posterity's sake, the place where Nate and I met, nine plus years ago.  After a disgustingly overpriced salad and Nate's indulgence of a super yummy IPA we hit up Annie's Attic for some dancing, and that is when the feeling of returning home hit me hard.  

I am home.  

I was welcomed home with big hugs from my darling friends, Gwendolyn and Leta.  
Leta, me, Gwendolyn before I left for Switzerland, June 2010
It was in dancing with Nate I got sad about our relationship ending.  Oh, boy! how much I want a partner that enjoys dancing and moving his body!!  Sadness aside, we danced for a while and then headed to my home. 

I walked in and was awash with stagnant air, a Sonja kitty that had lost a few pounds, and sweet Noriko's energy palpably gone.  

I began panicking and sobbing in a way I hadn't done for a couple years.  Again, Nate showed his strength as a pretty stand-up guy.  He held my hand, gave me hugs, and told me those words that help so much from a friend, "You're going to be okay."  

Eight weeks away from home is a long time.  

This post has turned so long, and so reflective!!  I had no idea I had all this in me to get out---Well, maybe I did, and that's why I've been sitting on it, not wanting to write it!  I will end here, though, and catch up with what life has been like now that I'm home.  

Thanks for all the love while I've been away.  It's been such a journey!  
And, I remind myself, there are no mistakes in God's world! 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

this is more than just a music blog...

I know it is.
I love more than just music.
I have so much to catch up in the blog world that first, i feel it appropriate to read the blogs I've been missing out on the past few weeks.
And, then I got hit with this gem. Gorilla vs. Bear has become one of my favorite blog stations on XMU on Sirius Radio and just like Aquarium Drunkard they do an amazing job of passing on some amazing tunes!!

Home by Glasser.
So perfect for where I am right now.
Exactly the song I need to hear to post again after nearly three weeks of not posting.

I am home, in Prescott, enjoying the song of the cicada and cool of the evening breeze.  I have the I'm Not There soundtrack playing and I'm enjoying quinoa with basil, sautéed mushrooms and a Dr. Praeger's veggie burger for dinner.

I've visited a spirited and lovely friend in the hospital and had an amazing day.
I'm home.

(blog note:  I promise to post more to catch up life to date. Music is always a nice segue)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Back in the USA.

This is not the travel home post, where I talk about my 29-hour day.  This is not the post about how cute Nate looked waiting for me at the bottom of the escalator when I was coming into baggage claim at San Diego.  This isn't going to be the post where I discuss ethnocentrism and reverse culture shock.

Instead, this is the post about how much Amazon and its mp3 site love me.

Arcade Fire's new album 'The Suburbs' is only $3.99!!!  Follow the link and enjoy the beauty that is amazing music welcoming one tired soul back to her home country.  (Music from talented Canadians no less!)

Hope you all are well...
More posting to come!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Edward Abbey (v. 5)

From Desert Solitaire 
If a man's imagination were not so weak, so easily tired, if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he would abandon forever such fantasies of the supernal.  He would learn to perceive in water, leaves and silence more than sufficient of the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him for the loss of ancient dreams. 
My prayers the last few days have been about releasing the outcome of what is to happen when I get home.  I am 13 days away from Prescott.  I know not what I come home to.  And, I am reminded by past experience my imagination isn't as powerful as I like to think.

Continually, I would hope for something, wish for something, desire something, thinking it the pivotal and most fabulous, and really?  God's plan was so much more cohesive, brightly colored and seamless than what my imagination could scheme and want.

I appreciate Mr. Abbey's words in this context.  If my imagination were so powerful, perhaps I wouldn't need to dream of celestial, heavenly beings creating my life for me.  Perhaps that is why my imagination is limited, so I can release the possibility of my life to God, and trust in God's great imagination to see the the larger picture.

One more quote from The Spirituality of Imperfection, a quote from William James
Suppose, for example, that I am climbing in the Alps, and have had the ill-luck to work myself into a position from which the only escape is a terrible leap.  Being without similar experience, I have no evidence of my ability to perform it successfully; but hope and confidence in myself make me sure I shall not miss my aim, and nerve my feet to execute what without those subjective emotions would perhaps have been impossible. 
But suppose that, on the contrary, the emotions of fear and mistrust preponderate; or suppose that, have just read [WK Clifford's] Ethics of Belief, I feel it would be sinful to act upon an assumption unverified by previous experience--why, then I shall hesitate so long that at last, exhausted and trembling, and launching myself in a moment of despair, I miss my foothold and roll into the abyss. 
In this case (and it is one of immense class) the part of wisdom clearly is to believe what one desires; for the belief is one of the indispensable preliminary conditions of the realization of its object.  There are then cases where faith creates its own verification.  Believe, and you shall be right, for you shall save yourself; doubt, and you shall be right, for you shall perish.  The only difference is that to believe is greatly to your advantage.  

Oh, I love this quote.  In fact, I haven't read further in the book because I've been marinating on this idea of belief versus doubt.  I adore, "Believe, and you shall be right, for you shall save yourself; doubt, and you shall be right, for you shall perish.  The only difference is that to believe is greatly to your advantage."

I believe I'll get ready to depart Suisse now.
I have lots of time ahead to meditate, journal, pray and study for that (when the heck will they give me my test code) NCLEX.
I hope I sleep and my tummy feels a bit better.  Six half slices of mozzarella isn't agreeing with me so well this morning, but I maintain the belief all will be well.



Soon, Nate.  Soon.
Like, tomorrow, soon.....
I'm excited!

Beach time in La Jolla, I get to meet your Mom time in San Luis Obispo, Camping in Mt. Shasta, Sweet Amber, Jared & Logan time in Bend, Oregon, Breitenbush for three incredible days and two gorgeous camping side by side nights, Chico for some Nate as a Youngster time, Yosemite for my first time, and then Home to Prescott.

I look forward with excitement and anticipation to this leg of my journey, to the fundamentals we get to learn about each other and where our relationship is going.

Home is wherever I'm with You.


This afternoon, I arrived in St. Louis, France.  Yes, readers, I am in France.  And, this isn't just a plane change at Charles De Gaulle.  No, this is me, Layla S. Gigax, sleeping in France. (It's a one-night-only affair.)

I traveled from Murren today.
I hugged and kissed goodbye the sweet family that has held my company for more than six weeks.
I got on the cable car and headed down to Lauterbrunnen.  From there, I got on the train to Interlaken-Ost.  At Interlaken, I got on the train to Bern.  Bern looks AMAZING from the train.  It is a city I hope to explore more!  In Bern, I got on yet another train to Basel.  I arrived at the Basel downtown train station and Basel looks FUN. Very very chic city---I would just be so thrilled to city-explore this fantastic Country!  One day....One day.....

So, from downtown I hopped right on the bus to take me to EuroAirport, the Airport in Basel that services Basel, Mulhouse & Freiburg, among other cities.  Basel is in the north of Switzerland, on the border with France and Germany.  From the EuroAirport, I was to take my shuttle to the Ibis Hotel Mulhouse St. Louis (That's France, people).

I arrived at the airport.  And, this is where I discovered more so that language and travel sometimes need to be in sync.  And, the beauty of such small country borders.  I was on the Swiss side (inside the airport, though at the time, I didn't know this) and I found the hotel kiosk where you ring the hotel you're after, they come pick you up, VOILA!  Well, the Ibis Hotel I'm reserved at wasn't at the kiosk.  Hmm.....

Next to the kiosk was a Hertz rent-a-car counter.
Excuse Me?
I asked the young dude probably facebooking while waiting for eager travelers to rent his fantastic cars:  Do you speak English?
Yes, he said.
Where do I find the Hotel Ibis?  
He continued:  You need to go back to the bus station and go back to Basel Downtown. The Ibis is behind the Basel Downtown Train Station.

Oh.  I said, and continued.
Well, So, I have a reservation at the Ibis in St. Louis.

Oh.  He said, and continued.
You then need to go upstairs and cross over into France, cross the border, up there on the French side there is a kiosk for the French hotels.

(I walked away but inside I was grinning and skipping...I get to walk across the border INTO FRANCE! Inside a building!!!!)

So, I did just that.  I took the escalator up (heavy bags=escalating) and walked into France.
When I was crossing over I thought, "OHMYGOD I'M IN FRANCE."  I tried to contain my excitement.  To not carry on like that crazy American, "OhmyGod, y'all, I'm IN FRANCE!!" (said with way more syllables than possibly necessary).

I found the kiosk and found my Hotel Ibis in Mulhouse St. Louis, and there was no phone with which to call!  WHAT?!?!?

Good grief!

I have my laptop--let me fire it up and use Skype to call.
Great idea, except the wifi at the EuroAirport doesn't work.

Next idea?

There was a darlingly cute blonde woman sitting behind yet another car rental counter.  I walked to her and asked, 'Do you speak English?'  'A little,' she said with her envy-provoking French accent.

I explained my plight:  I don't have a phone to call the hotel, and the internet isn't working.  Is it possible I may use your phone to call the Ibis?

Of course, she said.
Oh, oui oui oui! Merci Merci!!

She dialed the number, and I asked for a ride from the airport to the Hotel.  The sweet lady on the other end of the phone directed me where to go.  "Outside, by the Taxis"  (I wish accent could be typed.  This post would be ripe with accent).

I went outside and waited by the Taxis.
About ten minutes later, a very nice Frenchman came to take me to my hotel.  He put my heavy bags in his trunk and away we went.  The song that played from his car's radio was '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' by The Rolling Stones.  Oh, Mick.  To hear your ironic voice at this lovely time!  I smiled, and peered out at this French city life.  So near to Switzerland, and busy with streets and cars and buildings older than my native Arizona eyes know.

I made it to my hotel and the driver asked me, in French, 'Parlez-vous francais?'  'Non,' I said. 'Anglais.'  He said, 'Enjoy Paris.'

I laughed, and checked into my hotel.

My room is delightful.  I have a bathroom shaped like a pod and clean floors and a very comfortable bed.  I have an internet connection.  It's raining here and I ventured out to find some food.  Dinner didn't start until 1900 and I was HUNGRY.

I found a market and bought the YUMMIEST tofu ravioli, dark chocolate rice cakes and sweet sesame crackers.  All Vegan!  YAY! Vegan snacks!!  With the help of my darling Whitney I translated the dinner menu via gmail chat, and it was all meat choices for me, so I thought some snacks would be nice to have--I could go into dinner and just have a salad, that would be perfect.


Walking around the French-speaking streets of St. Louis was so fun.  It was raining, and the streets are cobblestone.  I sploshing in puddles and giggling at the fact I'm adventuring in France!!! Even though I know so little French it's embarrassing and I'm so in love with all things French I should know more French!

I came home to my cute little room, chowed on my yummy food, and enjoyed some solo time.  At ten of seven, I went down to the hotel restaurant and asked the cute little French only speaking server if she had any vegetarian, vegetable only salads?  She said, OUI! The Italian Salad would be parfait!'

I ordered a glass of almost too sweet Pinot Gris and enjoyed Desert Solitaire while I waited for my Italian Salad.

And it came.

Six slices of tomato layered with six slices of mozzarella cheese dressed in a pesto dressing and three, yes, I counted, THREE lettuce leaves as decoration in the center.

And, you guessed it,
I ate the entire thing.

I thought once, "Yikes, I hope this doesn't upset my tummy for tomorrow."  And then I took another bite.
It was delicious.

I finished my dinner with an exceptionally dainty and delicious espresso.
My only regret is I didn't take my camera to dinner to exhibit proof of such amazing Frenchness.

If they have croissants at breakfast tomorrow, I don't think I'll be able to resist.

So, that's my Vegan Tale in France.  I love it here, and I'm only 5km from the border of Suisse.  Not Paris, but France nonetheless.

I leave tomorrow from EuroAirport at 1225 for London.  London greets me with the long flight, London to Chicago.  Then, Chicago to San Diego.  I land tomorrow night at 2205 in San Diego.  I will be tired, stinky and ready for a huge squeeze from one Nate B.

We begin our adventure on August 5.  More to come on that!

Me! With a world-traveler's new found way to curl her hair, and the yummiest dark chocolate rice crackers ever.  
Oh! I want to leave you with the coolest, most lovely and awesome video.  This song is the first in my iTunes playlist, titled, 'the Swiss life 2010.'  The lyrics follow the video. This song rules!

Modern Drift by Efterklant

I can keep my head inside
when the modern drift is all I have.

You can pull my head aside
but the modern drift is all I have.

When the moment dies 
and I come to you
with a broken lie 
that I made for you.

If I wait to see you
with the living ghosts
will they catch your sight
or the back of you?

I can keep my head inside
when the modern drift is all I have.

You can pull my head aside
but the modern drift is all I have.

We appear so strong
but we're all afraid.
They will play your hands
like a puppeteer.

And the dreams aren't true
but we know it—we know that tune
that the angel sings to the hollow death:

"I can keep my head inside
when the modern drift is all I have.

"You can pull my head aside
but the modern drift is all I have.

"It's all I have". 

Good night, France.  
It's been an unbelievable pleasure.