Posts tagged ‘Identity’

June 19, 2011

What I Love… Russian Olives

It’s been three years since I was back home in Salt Lake City during June. Although, June happens to be my favorite month in Utah, it has been impossible to travel home this time of year as I usually end up home for holidays and family events that always manage to occur at different times throughout the year. This year, I purposely planned a trip to be home in order to smell the Russian Olives blooming in the early summer. Unfortunately, the smell was not as potent as it could be due to the atypical cold weather and bouts of pouring rain not common to the area. Regardless, I still got what I wanted, to smell the sweet aroma of the Russian Olive in the early evening the first few nights I was there. Sunday afternoon before heading back home to Portland, I was taken by surprise,  when I went outside onto the patio at my mother’s condo to watch the thunderstorm that was blowing through the valley. The sweet mix of rain and Russian Olives reminded me of why I love Salt Lake City.

Almost three years ago, I packed up my car and moved as far as possible from the state I grew up in with no desire to return, even for vacation. I fit the stereotype of a young  kid who hated their small hometown and always dreamed of moving far away and finally did after college. It was not even a year after I moved that I returned to help my mom who became ill the spring after I moved. Ever since then I find myself traveling back to Salt Lake City four or five times a year, mostly for family. At first I went reluctantly and now I go willingly, happy to see my friends and family.  Sometimes, I find it hard to leave, but the moment the plane starts to land in Portland, I realize how much Portland is now my home, even though I miss my family and friends back in Salt Lake.

Utah has a stigma and not a good stigma, from what I’ve learned when I tell people where I am from.  I usually get the same questions over and over again, the same questions that I was running away from. Yes, this used to irritate me, but now I just have to laugh. Without going into a rant and rave about where I grew up south of Salt Lake, I will say that I believe that stigma is earned.  However, I can’t say that Salt Lake is a horrible place. In fact, Salt Lake City is becoming a cool metropolitan area. Going back home over the last few years has shown me how much it has changed and how liberal, open, and tolerant Salt Lake City is becoming.

I am who I am today because of where I grew up and in spite of where I grew up. For that reason Utah will always hold a special place in my heart and the Russian Olives will forever be one of my favorite spring smells for all the happy memories it brings back.

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June 8, 2011

What I love… Tchotchke

Traveling for work can be challenging, stressful, busy, and the lack of sleep and long hours are exhausting, but still I always find myself laughing and having a great time. I contribute that to my amazing co-workers who are fun and who can laugh when things don’t quite go according to plan. Well, one such day, where things weren’t going according to plan, happened this last Saturday, while I was down in Los Angeles working.

After an early morning to catch my flight down to LA, with a short break to get a bite to eat at lunch, we were thrust into a long evening which involved the majority of our time being spent at several FedEx Office locations attempting to print labels. Attempting, is the operative word here, because it wasn’t until 1 in the morning that we were able to print a full set of labels without issue. In fact we had one functional list that we were making copies of because none of the printers were printing straight on the labels.

If I never set foot in another FedEx for the rest of my life, it will be a day too soon. The customer service was sub par, the printers were practically useless and the staff knew little about how to use  or fix the machines. Aren’t they supposed to be the printing experts? We ended up at a total of three different FedEx Office locations between 1:30 PM and 1:30 AM, all of which were an entirely different experience and not one of them had the ability to redeem themselves. The first FedEx was the worst and busiest FedEx in all of Los Angeles. While we attempted to print out our labels, I could feel the people glowering at us as we sucked up the printer’s bandwidth. I was also concerned for our safety because of the homeless man with dreads that was trying to do something on the computer was talking to himself and a few other non-existent people in the room. While I’m certain the man was harmless, you never know when someone is schizophrenic, what person they’re talking to will convince them to do something drastic involving, at that moment, us.

Okay, at this point you are probably wondering what this has to do with my love of tschotchke. Yes, I realize this story seemingly has nothing to do with my recent found love of tschotchke shopping. However, it was what lead us to Mercado La Paloma, a small “world” market near our hotel. It was a random chance find when we were trying to get dinner, before setting off to yet another FedEx print more labels. When we first walked in, we were over taken by confusion. The space was a giant warehouse, filled with different restaurants including a Thai and Mexican restaurant and small Mexican gift shop. Lesson learned, never judge a place by the setup. We walked out when we weren’t sure what the food would be like, but then our rumbling stomachs and lack of time forced us to return rather than hunting for somewhere else to go. We were greeted by an older gentleman, I’m assuming he was the owner of Chicken Itze where we finally ate, who told us to sit wherever we pleased and he would bring us menus. The food was amazing and the people were incredibly sweet especially after our nightmare at FedEx. Although, I do think that any place where someone was helpful at that point would have seemed amazing in comparison to what we experienced.

I ended up buying a pair of earrings and a tiny Dia de los Meurtos skull at the Mexican market, which broke later as I was trying to pull out my key card. I was a wreck, but I can’t help but laugh at that whole day, while I was stressed, I was still amused. However, on the way out, I saw another amazing black and white ceramic skull that I immediately fell in love with and had to buy. It is no surprise to me that I would love the items that this small shop was selling for the Day of the Dead, being that I am in love, yet terrified, with the idea of souls returning or even lingering here on earth. I even once loved horror movies, but have had to take a break after watching Paranormal Activities. Someday I will be able to watch horror movies again, but maybe not for awhile.

Purchase at Mercado la Paloma

This is what made me happy that day, great food and something to decorate my life. Why is it that all of a sudden I have a fondness of buying trinkets to put in my home? I have always lived my life with the theory that simple is better and the idea that a little goes a long way. I find that it makes life easier and organized. I strove to be feng shui. Although, I wouldn’t call myself the most organized person, I like to keep things tidy. It helps that I don’t have a lot to clutter my life with. As I was recently unpacking, I realized how boring everything was. I do think that part of this has to do with my nomadic lifestyle. Where moving every 1-4 years my entire life has taught me how to purge and always think twice before I buy something that may be difficult to move or add to the pain that is moving. I realized though, that I felt boring and my home was not a reflection of who I was and what I loved.

Sometimes I feel like I tip toe through this world without leaving an imprint. I’m quiet, reserved, and don’t always say what’s on my mind. I don’t own a lot and try to be a minimalist – I do have a lot of clothes, but clothes are easy to move and cheap to ship. I’ve always thought that it was keeping my life uncomplicated and yet simple. I may seem like a simple person, but I’m not, I’m just really good had hiding my complexities. There’s this burning in my soul, a desire to free myself and to make an impact, on my life and on those in my life. To share my love, my passion, my thoughts, my wisdom, my joy, my sadness with all those in my life, is something I have pushed back on, even feared.

What does this have to do with tchotchke? I think what people buy to decorate their lives is a reflection of what they love. I am not saying that you are what you own, but what you own can show what you are passionate about. I hide myself and my passions, even from myself sometimes, but I’m letting go of that strange notion that it matters what other people think about what I like.

Recently my good friend told me that the advice her mother gave to her when she first got married was “share everything”. Meaning share everything that’s on your mind with your partner, but I also feel that we should share more with our families and friends, within reason. I come from a family where hardly anything is shared and sometimes it breaks my heart not knowing what’s going on in my families’ lives, but maybe I’m the one that has to help break that cycle knowing that I am part of the problem. Basically, I’m not good at sharing myself and I think that shows in my style, something that is changing on spiritual, mental, and physical levels.

There is no reason to try to hide who you are from the people you love. There are certain people you may choose to keep things from for whatever reason, such as professional relationships or acquaintances, but those whose relationships you hold dearest should be shared.

Now I’m buying tchotchke and art, where I used to be the person who was always walking around a store or art walk unsure of what to buy, I know what I want and don’t care if someone else doesn’t like it. Where things once never held meaning to me, which is why I never bought anything, everything holds meaning now. Everything in my life matters to me now. Life with passion is a life about caring, whether its for people or jobs or causes or even random trinkets.

Every time I look at my Dia de los Muertos skull, I will remember that little market in LA and that silly day and even now it makes me smile.