All posts in family

may the seventh

I’d had the date May the 07th in my head for quite some time.

ever since that call when I was in Buenos Aires, in fact.

May the 07th.

May the 07th.

the day I leave on my trip for National Geographic.

[if I’m being honest, I’ll admit to still not believing that – even as I write it.]

but for some reason, the closer the day seemed more familiar, which was weird, seeing how such familiarity comes with things known – or expected. but not this. even I – as full of myself can be at times – couldn’t have ever placed myself on a train from NYC down to DC to walk into the offices of the Yellow Border.

May the 07th.

it still seemed like a big day – even beyond the train ride.

May the 07th.

I called my Mother on the night of the 6th – mostly knowing she’d remind me that I was going to do great and other things that Mom’s are good at saying.

‘oh yeah’ before I hung up ‘did anything happen on May the 07th to me?’

‘to you, honey? no I don’t think so – why?’

‘it just seemed familiar.’

‘it’s probably because it’s your nephew’s birthday.’

oh… that’s right.


as many of you know, I grew up poor in Oklahoma. Dad was a pastor and so meager was his salary, that he actually took a second job – working out in the oil fields, so that the 4 of us [Alex hadn’t come along yet] could eat. this was something that stuck with me throughout the years – seeing him come home in his shirt and tie, kissing Mom, shooting a few hoops with me, grounding Ashley for whatever it was she had done that day that deserved a grounding, and then changing into his stained overalls and heading back out.

a few years later, when I got the illegal scholarship to attend a prestigious Christian school, our friends, The Richardson’s, brought over a box of nice used clothes for me to wear – since my jeans with patches and G.I.Joe t-shirts wouldn’t exactly suffice at a preparatory institution like the one I was headed to. so there I was, in a borrowed outfit, in a school where everyone else seemed rich.

long story short – we were poor.

and when you’re poor in Oklahoma, you dream of a world outside. there was this trip to Europe that the school offered and I remember the look in my parents eyes at the dinner table when they told me that $2000 was $1900 more than our family had. they could tell how bad I wanted to go – my grandpa met my grandmother while they were both working at the circus, so gypsy is in all of our blood – but I simply couldn’t – we didn’t have any money. simple as that.

we also grew up without a television, which meant I never got to see National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Lawrence of Arabia or any other films of that time that at least gave the novice dreamer some context.

what I did have, though, were parents who took me to the library every Saturday morning. what started out as Hardy Boys novels [my parents will still comment to this day how quickly I would go through them – reading one in the few hours we were there, then taking 5 more [the limit] back home for that week] turned into Robinson Crusoe, Jacques Cousteau, and anything having to do with pirates or buccaneers.

and then… one day, I picked up a periodical with a yellow border – National Geographic.

from that moment on, I was ruined. the very first thing I remember seeing were the floating markets of Thailand, then the pyramids. The Eiffel Tower and black people in Africa with things in their ears, lips and noses. at that very instant, longing to travel became an obsession, which soon led to collecting maps – something I still suffer from. you should see my diaries, a running commentary of an idealistic lotus eater – spending hours upon hours drawing points of interest and then figuring out ways to get there. could I go overland from Russia to Alaska? what sailing route could be done to hit the South Pacific Islands of my adolescent daydreams – stopping off in, of course, Easter Island? even now, as I reference a map for this post, I made a mental note to the specifics of getting a boat through the Panama Canal.

all of that and all of this from that magazine with the yellow border.

now -flash forward 20+ years and I’m rooftop in Sucre, Bolivia. I had just visited an amazing monastery and was about to post a photo from the top of it when I get a notification on my email. one of those ‘pingback’ notifications you get when someone links to your blog:

I sat there, before clicking the link it came from and lit a cigarette. I did this because there had been a rumor – a rumor– that someone, some organization had picked up my story, video and photos of being the first person up on Machu Picchu for 2012. I lit a cigarette because otherwise, I wouldn’t have known what to do with my hands.

that someone was the magazine with the yellow border.

on top of the page was the name National Geographic.

and below that was my name.

I cannot describe what that felt like, I really can’t.

I read and re-read the story I had written like it was the first time… and it was.

the last time I did it was when it was on this weathered computer, with nothing above my name and title but a few options for font and spacing. but this time, well… you already know what had changed.

it was thrown up online and never in my life have I welled up with so much love and appreciation for my friends and family. the comments, the shares, the reposts and retweets. the private notes sent, the silly little thumbs-up that usually seem so trivial, upped my day with each tiny hit. my Mother emailed back to say that ‘she and Dad were so proud, they were going to have a steak dinner that night to celebrate!’ [which – knowing what you do now, is huge]. different people prefaced the link with different things about my adventures – and, again, I sat there stunned.

that night, I hid quietly in the pub corner and tried to take it all in – a punk kid who barely finished high school, snuck his way into a career in radio, bummed his way around the world for a few years, lied his way into China and then spent 6 months in SE Asia, India and Nepal paying dearly for the arrogance he accrued in Shanghai. someone who splits his adult life between travel and Facebook. a kid who comes from an amazing family, has good teeth and a circle of friends who have lifted him up time-after-time in his sojourns…

basically – the least-deserving candidate to have been published in the traveler writer’s dream, but for some strange reason, I was chosen as that guy.

you know, since I can remember, I’ve struggled with religion – a large part of it having to have been forced upon me, another begin the judgement of others that follows it, the final being how unbelievably fucking dull so many that claim to worship are… but I’ll tell you one thing – you simply cannot have a life as blessed as mine, with constant gifts like the one I write about now, without knowing someone up there has an eye on you.

it could be The Man Himself.

it could be Pierre.

my grandfather.


it could be anyone.

whomever it is, though, I thank them. with as much gratitude as I thank those who have fed me, clothed me, bought my photos and read my little book – people like yourself.

the magazine with the yellow border didn’t tell me how amazing I am. the magazine with the yellow border told me how amazing I’ve been treated by those around me.

and if you’re one of those people… thank you.

I owe you many more stories like this in exchange for your kindness and generosity.

and – brothers and sisters – with my recent yellow boost, you can be damn sure there’s going to be a lot more.

and very, very soon.


tuesdays with tara – volume forty seven

Christmas is a time of year that brings out a great deal of emotions in everyone around us. I do hope you appreciate how delicately worded and understated that sentence was.

I am not one of those bah hum bug types that dreads this time of year. For me, Christmas is, and has always been, all about my family; people who I am happy to say I am rather fond of and very attached to.

Yes, I am very much a family girl. Paradoxically, I always tend to live extremely far away from them. I returned from five years in Turkey only to haul ass across the entire expanse of the nation to Oregon. One would think I were making some sort of statement. It’s not the case. It’s just how my hand has played out.

The downside to this is that my one vacation of the year is usually spent flying home for Christmas. I don’t have to go into the headaches of flying during the holidays, or the additional expense of flying that time of year. But I will throw in the added crap fest of flying into a snowy place at that time of year and the flight delays and wing de-icings and emergency road closures. You know, just because I can.

In my entire life, I have only ever spent two Christmases away from my family.

The first was the year I was married (so so long ago!). Having gotten hitched and moved across the country, we were just too busted to fly home. We decided to drive out to Salt Lake City to spend the holiday with my sister in law, who was in similar financial straits that year.

Unfortunately, Salt Lake City freaked me the heck out. So white! So tidy! Everything closes at 6! The Temple is an ever present shadow! The beer is so weak!

We gave it a go. Honestly, we did our best. But I called home and whilst listening to the drunken merriment on the other end of the phone, proceeded to unravel entirely and curl into fetal position to cry myself stupid. It was a dark moment.

The last time I didn’t go home also involved a lack of funds: my first year in Turkey. I cannot tell you how incredibly pathetic it felt to be living in a country that didn’t even celebrate the holiday I would be missing so much. At first I thought the lack of Christmas-related ephemera would be advantageous. It only added to the sense of dislocation and alienation that I felt. I remember thinking that I was now living in a country in which one of the major celebrations involved the slaughtering of animals. It was another dark moment.

I won’t be going home this year. Again, it’s a matter of funds and the lack thereof. But I’ve made peace with all of this and am determined to do my best to make the most of what I do have ( an absolutely lovely man, two sweet kitties and a cozy home) and be happy for the people I love back home. I will miss them. I will yearn to be there. But I am determined not to fall apart and sob big baby tears.

I may even succeed!

She & Him – ‘The Christmas Waltz’

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for Christmas, you should do something nice for yourself and join the ‘T w T’ Facebook page.

twenty nine and 2190 days


well, thanks, little nephew of mine.

it’s been a helluva year, since my last birthday…

let’s see:

– Josie and I spent my 34th cruising on Absurdity in the South of England, if you learn to sail, you can have her [boat].

– after that, I went to go see Nico [he’ll be a quasi-uncle to you] in Paris and had the time in Paris that everyone wants.

– but I got into a little bit of trouble with the U.K. government, and had 30 days to leave.

– so, naturally, I dragged Josie to Vietnam. to live.

– we stayed there for a few months, but ended up going our separate ways. she to Australia to work. me to Oregon to finish a book.

– a few months into my stay in Bend, I finally got to meet you. and that very day, I started writing another book.

– a month of so after that, I flew to Perth to see Josie for her birthday. we took a campervan around wine country. it was fun.

– a few months later, I left Bend for a month in Oklahoma and the promotional run of the book would be released. it sold out.

– a few weeks after that, I got the call that I never thought I’d get – I was about to take a job in New York fuckin City! I’ve now been here a little more than 4 months and it’s been amazing. I’ve been sending you little postcards and stuff, hopefully one day you’ll be able to check them out.

– my birthday was spent with a lot of friends. which, considering how short I’ve been here, should tell you how lucky I am.

… so there you go, nephew – it’s been a fun 34th year. you just started walking and by the time my 36th [ugh] rolls around, you might even be able to talk with me on the phone a little bit. a lot of your and my birthdays will be spent on the phone, but I’ll try and make that up to you.

so, thanks for the card and the cheeky little grin. I showed this to a lot of people here and they all thought you were amazing.

and I think so too.


Uncle Aric



fuck me, I’m drunk. most nights, it’s a nice drunk – a controlled drunk. I know how much I can drink by now, but I wasn’t expecting a late night call from yesterday. I was happily having my cigarette in the backyard of my Brooklyn residence and I get a call. it was a call, but all I remember was a laugh, a laugh that immediately brought back the nostalgia of a decade ago. were we really such assholes? so sure we were meant to make a difference that we would take too many percocet and cry – embraced – over the fact that we had done nothing for the kids? I have no idea what we were meant to do for the kids, seeing how we were them, but we were heartbroken nonetheless. it was so long ago, but not too long ago that we had big dreams – of being pilots and weathermen and whatever the fuck I thought I was going to be… we had big dreams and we were inseparable because of them. I just had to spell check ‘inseparable’ because I’ve had too much wine. I don’t usually have too much wine, because I know my limit, but tonight, after talks of airport legalities and Mexican moped rules, I had to pour another drink. I had to because too much happened during those 3 or 4 years we were inseparable [fuck me, that’s a hard word to spell]. we fought, too – once, funnily enough, because I didn’t know the meaning of a word one of them called me. I had to fight because I didn’t understand the word. we fought outside of the apartment I would be kicked out of because I spent all of my money on drugs and then, we’d Delta Force into the apartment building to try and get my golf clubs. fuck me, we were going to be big. I suppose we ended up that way, one flying planes, the other on television and me writing some book, but that laugh said it all, didn’t it? that laugh told me that we still remembered each other with big dreams. maybe that’s why we got along. there were too many pills and too many nights in the hottub to remember exactly, but we know there were nights. fuck! what was that word you called me? it pissed me off so much, I had to shove you up against the wall… you walked away and 30 seconds later, I had to run after you because I was sorry. borrowed phones, ruined ice cream sandwiches, shaved legs and arm wallets. can we get the band back together once more to remember the innocence? probably not, because there wasn’t a lot of innocence. but I heard the laugh and it was a laugh of someone who knew me before the bullshit, and I knew him. and somewhere, probably asleep, was someone else who could testify. if I wasn’t drunk, I could find a photo, but fuck… I am. and I won’t say ‘I’m sorry’ because I opened up that bottle of wine for innocent’s sake. I opened it up because I remembered someone who remembered me before it all became so serious. we did it, we did something, between the three of us, we did something. we’re still assholes, but at least we did something.  I needed that phone call today, I wrote, it was good for my soul. at this age, when memories are more of a conversation piece than something to make, I needed it. I needed it because I needed to be reminded of being a punk kid, with two punk kid pals. we were ready to set the world on fire, and we accidentally did. I forgot about my 22-year old laugh.


uncle aric and gaige

if you’ve ever wanted to drive me nuts – I mean, nuts – say something like ‘remind me to tell you something later’. I’m serious, that phrase alone, or one like it, does my head. I go crazy trying to figure out what it was, or what I’ve done wrong. same goes for me, I can’t keep my own secrets – even at Christmas, my parents have to buy presents for everyone else from me, less I end up telling them early what’s in the box.

it’s bad.

in fact, it’s so bad that I can’t even not come clean about the book I’ve started.

the other one is almost done, due early April, so please buy it – my self-validation is still dangerously in the balance.

but this one, this is one I kind of feel I was meant to write – as upmyownass as that might sound. but it’s true and I can’t keep a secret any more.

see, the birth of my nephew affected me so profoundly, I knew something special was happening. and then, this past Christmas, where I finally got to see him in real life, well, it became very, very clear to what my magnum opus was to be.

it’s called ‘dear nephew’ and, due to a certain amount of adult content, it’ll be given to him on his 18th birthday. with each place that I travel, with each fascinating person I meet, with every experience that shapes me and with each mistake I make, I’m writing it down in letter form to him. and, a quick look back on my first year of his first year on this earth will tell you I’m not with lack of content – be it for destinations or screw-ups.

and the best part is that I’m writing it to him and only him. in this last book, I wrote to an audience of friends, but this one is simply uncle-to-nephew… and I’ve never been more excited to write something. granted, I get to spend most of the chapter talking about myself, but in all honesty, ‘me’ is probably the only thing that will hold my written-attention for the next two decades.

and who knows? maybe that’s why I’m here – not just to live it, but to write it down for someone I love.

it’s somethin’ to help me cut back on the whiskey nights and chemical sunrises, that’s for sure.

an early year in review


I had a rather exciting year.

and, as of last Sunday, have spent this past 12 months literally around-the-world.

if this is your first time here, I feel the need to preface this with sure, from the surface, I might come across as an adventurer, which is great – no one hates being called an adventurer… and I do love a good adventure, but if you’ll take the time to read the stories and not just look at the pictures, you’ll see how surrounded I am with very generous, very kind and very tall people who let me stand on their shoulders to see The Big Show…even if that means that they’ll miss it.

and therein lies my gold.

but yeah, 2010…


14 countries.

32, 168 miles.

and many more highlights that I’m sure are being forgotten.

it was a good year, as was the last. and the one before that.

but, as stated, if you look closely, you’ll see that I had very, very little to do with it.

pack. repack. but, stay for a while.

I live between a theatre room and a chicken coop. there’s really no other way of describing it.

bend_6 bend_7

4 days ago, I was stabbing my way through the streets of Saigon on a motorbike. and now I’m here, between a theatre room and a chicken coop. in Bend, Oregon.

jet-lag takes great pride in smacking me. what was it Spalding Gray said?  ‘I refer to jet lag as ‘jet-psychosis’ — there’s an old saying that the spirit cannot move faster than a camel.’ and I’m feelin’ it, lemme tell you. if I hadn’t had torn down all the mirrors one night in a friend’s apartment and then stood in front of them whilst pissing myself asking ‘what is the matter with you?’, I’d be tempted to drop an Ambien and wake up refreshed – but does anyone feel bad for me?

you shouldn’t, as I’ve only described a small part of the new chapter.

I’m with two of my best friends - no, hang on, I use ‘best friend’ term a lot and, while I mean it when I say it, the two people I’m living with are so far beyond that – they’re family. so I’m living with two extended members of my family in the most ridiculous house I’ve ever set foot in – my room’s location should be an indicator of that. walk out past the theatre room and there’s a fully-stocked bar. to the left is an old arcade game that plays all the old arcade games. and then there’s a breakfast nook where I’m sitting as we speak. behind me is a view that I’m actually holding off on photographing until it’s absolutely clear, just so you can understand the ridiculousness of it.

okay, no – I at least have to show you what it looks like from the balcony at 7 in the morning.


so yes, I left Ho Chi Minh. it was fine and I was making money and 6 months there would have made me more than enough for the big sailing trip next year, but one night, Josie and I had a wonderful grown-up talk about her not really liking it there and, while we were fine – more than fine, actually, we were really good – there’s no substitute for happiness in the place where you are personally and I cherish finally being of the mental maturity to not take something like that personally. she’s doing a great job of documenting her own journey and I highly suggest you delve into it a little.

she left for a beach and I left for some cold mountain air. the book is the priority as it’s going to pay for my little trip – more on that in a bit as well.

but if we’re going to talk book, then I should mention something that’s been a huge catalyst for my constant revisions of this little memoir I’m penning. see, ever since I was given a nephew, I’ve started realizing who, and what, is important… and it’s him. and while Uncle Aric might have been able to sell 1000 more copies of the book if he left in the original amount of drugs and sex, 1000 copies is nothing when you consider his parents might [rightfully so] not want him to read it. so it’s being cleaned up and I can’t wait – mom and dad will be happy with that. as will some of you.

does this make any sense, this entry? it kind of does to me, but I’m also walking under water right now, what with living in the mountains, being surrounded by people I love, and people who love me, and mircobrews that would make even a non-drinker weep.

so yeah, I’m all over the place.

but the more I write about it, the less I think it’s jet lag.

in fact, I’m sure it’s not jet lag.

my body is just experiencing another vicious case of fortune.

mission l’impossible

we had this one night in Paris

someday I’ll say

and then try to explain everything that went on.


but it’s not today.

I can’t write that well.

fortunately, my man Nico was taking a few photos.


none of the 4am bike rides through the quiet streets of Paris

both of us in tears - some for a friend, and some for the bikes.

the most unfortunate accordion player is just a blur


as was his switching from Edith Piaf to Radiohead without missing a note.

earlier macaroons

and even earlier petanque.


so you get the pictures.

and can fill in the blanks as you go.

because, well, that’s basically what we’re doing.


tuesdays with tara – volume fifteen

[not taken by me]this is quickly becoming the most popular visit on this little blog. and I feel the need to explain to the new-comers. it ain’t me, babe, this is Tara Noble writing. and gosh, can she write. she has 433 books in her head [studies have been done] and is nice enough to share a few chapters with us. not to mention her music is better than your music, meaning you should listen up as well. listen to Tara. then listen to the music. then re-listen to Tara while re-listening to the music. shit starts to make sense then. there are now fifteen ‘tuesdays with tara’, which is more than 4 months worth. fifteen is also an arbitrary number used to refer to a large quantity of things, but that’s neither here nor there. the funniest part of all of Tara is that she and I have never met – and I seriously can’t remember how we met. I just know we did. and I know how happy I am about it.


Every now and again, we all earn the right to just blow it out.  This feeling can erupt suddenly or it can be a creepy sneaky thing that pokes its head around the corner and retreats, only to come back when you least expect it.  When we feel as though a little celebration might be in order, it’s important to first recognize how beautiful that feels; that piece of knowing.  It’s a something that deserves to be savored because it encompasses so many things.  Maybe it’s a lot of hard work that you’ve put into a project.  It could be that a lot of sacrifices you have made to some end have finally produced fruit.  It may well be the satisfaction that one feels when they understand with absolute certainty that they “finally get it.”

Epiphanies are surely as good a reason for a little celebrating as anything else.

When I was home for Christmas, my father tried to have one of his words-of-wisdom talks with me.  This usually happens about every five years or when I seem to have fallen off track a bit too much for his comfort.

What he said to me this time around was that his greatest wish for me was that I could take some time just for myself to think about what I wanted out of life and not allow someone else to dictate the direction in which I moved (literally and figuratively).  I knew what he was saying, of course, and it hit me like a ton of bricks, but instead of reacting like an adult who appreciates the knowledge and love of her father, I got overly emotional and acted as though I had missed the point entirely.  And my dad is a pretty typical guy in that once the waterworks start, all bets are off.  He backed away and we rode in silence until the subject had dissolved into the air.

I’ve just recently come to the realization that I am presently doing exactly what my father suggested that I do for myself.  Not only do I have the luxury of time for self reflection (in my currently unemployed state), but I have the benefit of people in my life with whom I can relate these discoveries and victories.

The long and the short of it is that I am feeling pretty darn good about myself these days. I am beginning to feel validation about my most recent life choice to give up the comforts of life abroad to come home and start from Square One.  It took a lot of courage, but courage I have always had in spades.  What feels so glorious about now is the fact that everything seems to be falling into place for me and I have a sense of harmony that I may never have truly known before.  Years of crying and struggling and confusion and paying my dues in ways I never imagined have all apparently paid off.

The Head and The Heart – ‘For The First Time It Sounds Like Hallelujah’

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