“How to have a creative retreat” on Misadventures

oregon9Back in August, four dear friends and I gathered a beautiful house in Yachats, Oregon (motto: Gem of the Oregon coast). Why? Because I had this vision of having a “creative retreat” and talked my friend Peter into driving us up from Berkeley, and talked Rebecca, Kenzie, and Kenzie’s friend Molly (who didn’t know me) into driving out from Portland. I wanted to gather in a house on the coast over Labor Day weekend to write, read, make art, cook big dinners, walk on the beach, read poems aloud to each other, and whatever else struck us. It took a bit of emailing, a LOT of Airbnb-surfing, and even more driving t o make it all happen, but we pulled it off!


Toregon10hen I thought, wouldn’t other people want to do this too? It really wasn’t that hard to put together, and I can think of a lot of people who need a jump-start (or re-start) on their creative life. So I wrote this how-to piece for the awesome Misadventures Magazine. They’re a women-run publication “spotlighting women who embrace creativity, take risks, and go out and beyond.” Rad, right? I thought so. All of the gorgeous photos in the article are by Molly Dickinson and Rebecca Yates.

oregon8Photos in this here blog post courtesy of Kenzie Rowlett. Thanks to Misadventures for publishing this piece and to Kenzie, Peter, Molly, and Rebecca for embarking on this adventure with me.


Weekend Highlights.

So in case you hadn’t guessed from the map of nearly 1,000 miles that my friend Orie and I drove (well, let’s be real, Orie drove the entire way), we had some adventures this weekend. In the spirit of this blog of lists and letters, here’s a list of some silly things we did this weekend:

  • Drove through the night to sleep 6 hours in an overpriced (or rather, holiday-priced) hostel in Santa Barbara
  • Oyster shooters (a first for both of us)
  • A little (aka, a lot) of night hiking up Mt. Baldy
  • Brunch in Claremont, quaintest California college town
  • Attempted celebrity sightings at the West Hollywood Urth Cafe
  • People-watching and wading on Venice Beach
  • Sand-duning in Orie’s beat-up car at Pismo Beach 
  • My first time at an In-N-Out (they have TWO veg options)

Stay tuned for adventures in Boulder, starting this Thursday! 

A Warsaw Weekend.

Another list, you say, another list! Hoorah. Here is a list of (nearly) all of the interesting places I went this weekend:

  • Pawilony, a hidden corner of dive bars, kebab stands, and Vietnamese restaurants hidden off one the busiest streets in Warsaw
  • Beneath a train station: a bar called Warszawa Powiśle. The line for the one toilet was 15 people deep and there were more hipsters than I could begin to count
  • A bar called Plan B (in English). More hipsters than previous two bars combined (difficult). We met the Polish equivalent of Lady Gaga, called Doda. Literally.
  • Brunch at Charlotte, which is conveniently next to Plan B, with these cool kids. They serve bread. And wine. That’s it. And it’s massively popular.
  • A swanky house where 10 American Marines live, for a toga-themed party. Think, upscale frat party with accents. 
  • A gay club called Delite. Enough said.
  • Across the river and back on a free bike tour.

An Atypical Day in the Life

Of a Pondicherry University Student…

Francesca says she cannot even picture what India is like. I haven’t been toting my camera around everywhere, but I always have my notebook. Here’s a day in words:

8.25 Rise & shine, bucket shower
8.40 Leah (roommate) reports on breakfast, decide it isn’t worth it because it is spongy idli
8.45 Eat banana, check email
9.00 Grab a bike from the front gate (there are blue & yellow bikes all over campus; take one, ride it to class, leave outside a building, don’t expect it to be there when you come back)
9.07 Drink mediocre, 3-rupee tea at canteen near the Science & Humanities Block
9.15 Try to stop sweating before class
9.30 The barrage of the Spoken Tamil class
10.25 Head to professor’s office for Christianity in India
10.30 Read A Very Short Introduction to Buddhism while waiting for said professor
10.45 Professor shows up, begins lecture on the first martyred Christians in India
11.00 The professor, Dr. Sampathkumar, also the Chief Warden for all the student hostels, receives an emergency call from the campus registrar. Class is over.
11.05 Continue my informal education on Buddhism in the hallway, while waiting for a lecture from an American professor to begin, that Dr. Samanthkumar invited our class too
11.30 Go to the lecture by myself; the professor, Michael De Wilde, ends up being from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where 9 students in our program are from
12.30 Tea & biscuits arrive during the talk on business ethics, meditation in education, and Indian vs. American philosophy; a good substitute for lunch
1.30 Talk ends, power-walk back to the hostel to see if any lunch remains
1.45 Lunch is slim pickings; eat a quarter of a baguette purchased the day before
1.55 Eileen tells me about a new class being offered on Indian philosophy and culture at 2.30
2.15 Bike to said class, arrive early to stop sweating
3.30 Class ends, I have 3 pages of notes with Sanskrit everywhere; really interesting material; less appealing when I found out that it meets MWF 2.30-3.30
3.45 Return to hostel; use a baby wipe instead of taking another shower
4.00 Depart for Pondy via bus (4 rupees) to attend dinner with Professor De Wilde and other Grand Valley students
4.40 Arrive in town, sticky with sweat from being packed like a sardine with all the women in the back of the bus; no need to hang onto any railings when you’re that packed in
5.30 Arrive at Satsanga, a French & Italian restaurant, after trekking through the French quarter
6.30 Talk about India, wonder where the waiter is, attempt to get more than one menu for 8 people
7.30 Depart restaurant; thanks to Grand Valley for the delicious meal.
8.00 Find Choco-la, a chocolate shop in the French quarter; share 4 desserts between 3 people
8.30 Wait for the bus to go back to Kalapet (village where the university is, technically); are directed to the correct one by a kind man waiting on the corner
9.20 Arrive back at the hostel, after a similar ride to the one on the way there—packed like sardines

Don’t expect this many words or this kind of day for a while—each one is different.

The Epitome(s) of India.

A continuing list of moments that just feel like *India*, in all of its divine chaos.

1. Squeezing 5 girls into an autorickshaw, roaring down the ECR (East Coast Road) around 11pm, tail lights blazing in our faces. I got to sit criss-cross-applesauce on Alex’s lap.

2. With Nassi, sneaking into/being invited to the cultural program of the Microfinance Conference at the university here. The program was across the street, at a beach resort. Students performed traditional dances, sang songs in Hindi and Malayalm, played Beethoven on a keyboard—all with one or two days’ notice.