Time to recharge

Personally, I don’t take holidays; I go on trips — Martin Parr

This week, I get to take a break and go on a trip. There’s field research involved but it’s a trip and I’m looking forward to it.

The trip is almost jammed pack with things to do but there will be moments where I can hopefully just chill out. I’m not sure how good I’m at chilling out, though. I think my definition of chilling out doesn’t necessarily jives with everybody else’s. And that’s fine by me.

By doing something different, I’m recharging my batteries. And I find that to be the best way to chill and to get out of my head, in my humble opinion. Being in a different part of the world helps with that, too. You just get to focus on what you need to do and not what other folks need you to do. Fuck that.There will be ample opportunity for that when I get back.

Then there’s the fun of getting things squared away before heading off on a trip. Getting laundry done. Taking the garbage out. Making the sure the fridge doesn’t have anything that will turn into a science experiment while you’re away. Give the plants enough water so they don’t die. Yep, the details of life.

For the trip, I’ll be taking two books with me, plus an audiobook. And maybe a magazine about psychic phenomenon. I do have a lot of reading to catch up on. But then, I have my writing project to work on, too.

Wow, I just might be too busy to do everything I want to do on the trip. Well, it’s better than not having enough to do and let boredom settle in. I do better being over-stimulated than being under-stimulated. It can lead to nothing but trouble.

Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, I think, is the saying. Trust me, you really do not want my hands to be idle.

It’ll be good to get all the extraneous shit out of my head for a little while. It’s always fun when all that stuff overrides the focus of your true intentions/callings/needs. I think I’ve figured out the fine line between life and writing. But, we shall see. It will always be a balancing act that requires me to be fluid and flexible.

Doing something completely different and something that will be in the service of my creative goals makes me happy. I’m looking forward to this trip. I’ve talked with friends about it and they’re just plain excited that I’m off to somewhere warmer. The warmer weather is a side benefit. I’ve had one friend check out on Google maps the exact location of where I will be doing my field research. He was curious and, possibly, looking out for me, in his own little way which I appreciate.

Looking forward to the adventure that awaits.

Need more stamped pages in the passport

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought — Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Research can be fun. And you might be asking yourself whether or not I’m a glutton for punishment or have a bizarre definition of fun.

If you’re doing research for your job, then okay, fun might be questionable depending on what it is you’re being asked to look for and examine. Right now, I’ve been unfortunate that some of the research I’ve had to do for work has been interesting and enlightening.

But I’m not really focussing on work-related research right now. I’m more interested in the research related to my writing. Recently, wanderlust has been attempting to settle itself into my bones. As much as I would like to pick up and leave right now to regions unexplored, it’s not going to happen just yet.

Work on the current writing project has me wanting to explore a specific region of the North American continent. The flight has been booked and the only thing I need to figure out is how much ground can I cover once I’m there. Nine days doesn’t seem long enough because of time constraints so it’ll be jam-packed if I do this correctly. If I had my druthers, it would be three weeks of field research, not nine days. Oh well.

I relish doing this kind of research because it addresses my wanderlust. But then I forget how tired I can be after doing something like this. Invigorated but tired. Working vacations/field research tend to have that effect. But I think I’ve factored in enough decompression time that I won’t be telling colleagues when I return to work that I need a vacation from my vacation.

I told my best friend about the research trip because who doesn’t want to escape for a little while. She wanted to come with me but her life is pretty busy so it’s not going to happen this time. One day, we are going to travel together to some fun location and have the time of our lives. Still have no idea where that would be since she’s travelled to more places than I have. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind having a few more stamps in my passport. Well, maybe a lot more stamps. Hopefully, it will happen. Travel is on my top ten list but not the top five. Not too concerned about it right now.

Another field trip. It gets the heart beating a little faster. It refocusses the energy. Yep, I’m ready.

Sink into my bones

Generally, my writing is influenced by living, by absorbing everything that happens to me and my actions — Graham Nash 

The last ten days —this excludes travelling time — I did a lot of absorbing. Like a sponge. No, I’m not talking about alcohol or anything illicit in nature. I’m talking about knowledge (although it could be considered illicit depending where you come from). Learning new things and letting that knowledge slowly and positively manifests its way into my life and into my writing. I’m excited to see what my imagination conjures up.

I met new people and strengthened bonds with new friends. Overall, it was a positive experience. It was something I needed for my creative health and inspiration. I am inspired and I can’t wait to start writing again and working extensively and intensely with my two lead fictional characters — the pair I affectionately refer to as ‘my two boys.’ I might refer to them by name one day, but I can’t see any justification to do so. Not until I’m ready to unleash them out into the world.

There is so much to say about the trip but I need to collect my thoughts. There are some things I may discuss in future posts… like far-into-the-future posts.

What I can say, coherently, is that if I had to eat Mexican cuisine for the rest of my life, I would happily do so. I have yet to experience the Mexican version of horchata but I have discovered a drink called atole. My taste buds give it an enthusiastic two-thumbs up. Me encanta! It is made with corn masa, unrefined sugar cane or piloncillo, cinnamon, and vanilla. It is sold as street food. Atole is the drink of choice if you are going to eat a tamale. It is a popular drink for breakfast, or any time of the day, I would guess. And it’s great for the holidays like El Día de Los Muertos and Christmas. I’ve found a couple of recipes to try and as soon as I figure which one I like better, it’ll become a staple in my home.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker these days simply because my body doesn’t get along with caffeine all that well anymore. But during a food tour, I had a sip of Mexican style coffee from one of my fellow tour foodies because they were just surprised by the taste and couldn’t get enough of it. Well, I had to agree with them. Muy rico. No need to put in milk or cream into this coffee.

If I remember the method correctly, the coffee is made with coarse coffee beans cooked in a sauce pan with water, molasses, piloncillo or dark brown sugar, and cinnamon. It can be made with cardamon instead of cinnamon for an Arabic-style coffee. The brew is poured into cups through a fine-mesh strainer. It really is a good way to start off the day.

The Mexicans are really lovely people. Yes, there is a huge gap between rich and poor but they do seem to remain, fundamentally good people, kind people and generous people. And they love Canadians. I learned a lot about Mexico’s social history during my field research. I’m not a history buff, per se, but understanding the history of a country and its people in the context of my research has been fascinating. I think the only way you could get me interested in history is to give me a present-day social issue to look back to its origins and see how it arrived to where it is now.

There is so much to say and so much I still need to let sink into my bones. It has a been a great trip. It promises to yield so much in the future.