Wednesday, June 25, 2014


So this is what it feels like to fall back to sea level. Who knew 40% more oxygen could be so stifling. The city has a way of occupying all your senses, strip you free of your identity and the dream you thought you dreamed. Still, what was seen can't be unseen. What was felt, I knew, was real.

Week three of the eight-week internship. I'm preoccupied by busy work. The thing is, time flies whether or not I'm having fun. It passes the same for everyone, without exceptions. Time passes and opportunities are lost. I see it. I don't like it. And there's nothing I can do about.

I get the unsettled feeling that there's something more I should be doing, something that would guide me to my true calling, some kind of life altering step, somewhere I should go, someone I should meet. I don't know what I should do or if I should be doing anything at all. I have no answers and for the majority of the time I don't even know what the questions are. I feel like I'm not doing enough but what is enough? I don't know. I want to watch the stars with someone who understands, in silence.

When he asked me, what are you thinking? I said, I don't think. And it was true.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Weekend

Efrain was in town to visit his friend, who's been in the hospital for the last two months waiting for her second heart transplant. I don't have the first clue on what to say to someone waiting for a new heart. There's nothing smart, humorous, or profound. I can't even say I understand because I don't.

Despite all that, we had a beautiful weekend together. There dinner at my favorite Peruvian place, Pio Pio, followed by dinner on Saturday at a great Cuban place, Guantanamara, and then Ravi Coltrane at Birdland, an evening stroll, an impromptu look at Saturn's ring, late night key lime cheese cake, talk until exhaustion. I got up at 5am on Sunday to run Queen's 10K. I gathered a variety of foods for a very New York picnic on Sheep's Meadow.

We laid under the sun on the first day of summer. At some point he put his arm around me. It felt good, almost as good as sitting with him the nigh before at Birdland. Sometime from now I won't remember what the music was like but I will remember the feel of his heartbeat against my skin.

Me: you need to go to the airport
Him: another half hour

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Other End

Days turn into weeks. Weeks will go into months. Before long, we will become strangers again. And before I forget, I want to remind myself that it was real and not a dream. 

Maybe what I'm looking for isn't a suitable career or something I want to do but rather a way of life. Maybe we've been approaching it from the wrong angle. Maybe I need to focus on how I want to live and do things that would enable and/or contribute to the lifestyle. Just a thought.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunset in Red Hook

From Anna's roof we watched the last ray of sunlight fall below the horizon. How odd is it for the mountain people to never see such thing? I waited for the stars to appear but only a handful came. How different is the big dipper in the northern hemisphere. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Life

This is the life I would have killed for ten years ago. Now that I'm here I just want to be killed.
But that's not true. As much as I despise the white walls I know I can excel at this just as I have before and just as I have with other things. I'm a cat with nine lives. There's the musician, the dancer, the tangoera, the runner, the traveler/adventure seeker, the corporate climber, the law student, the zen practitioner, the homemaker, the writer, the lover, the introvert, the extrovert, and whatever else I come up with. I'm not sure if I could ever be content with any particular one, although I'd like to think I would be willing to trade in many things to lay under the stars. Frankly I'd trade in everything to watch the stars with my guide.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pretty Girl

The door man, not my door man but the building next door, said, "hi pretty girl." It made me happy.


I cried all night last night. The rain took over this morning, unrelenting rain. It was the Monday of all Mondays. I spent five hours in traffic today to and from NJ. I wasn't in a hurry because I had no desire to go where I needed to go. The thought of going to the office suffocates my soul. How many times does it take for me to put my hand in the fire before I learn that it burns? I cried on the drive back. I don't think people understand. I feel misunderstood these days and that makes me feel lonely. I feel trapped in my own world, unable to express how I really feel. I have no one I want to talk to. I wonder if this is clinical depression.

I want to be seen and understood. I feel like things are so out of wrack that we can no longer feel the pull of gravity. I want someone to look up to the sky and be just as shocked to not see any stars from here. I want someone who knows what a real conversation sounds like outside of text messages. I want to feel real.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tango on the Pier

Me: I loved the mountains in Peru. I want to move there.
Ale in BA: but you fit in so well here with your red dress.

That's the problem of being in two polar opposite worlds. I'm never quite satisfied in a particular place, at least not for long. 
This evening, I traded in my hiking boots for tango shoes on the pier. The breeze felt amazing but I know what's better than DiSarli in the sunset. It's not here.


I woke up this morning and thought how unfair is it to have to miss someone who is the embodiment of the stars, mountains, ancient walls and endless trails?

There are always those me-s in alternate universes that stayed in Buenos Aires, or married, or had babies, or went to Peru and never came back. How is it fair that we're only given one life to live out all of our inklings?

Non-attachment and letting go is the fundamentals of zen practice. I sat for 30 minutes today but I don't want to let go. I find myself clinging to images, memories, sentiments like a child with her favorite toy. I don't want to let go.

On the last leg of the trek we walk 10km along the railroad from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes. He handed me a rock he picked up from the ground and said, this is what the Incas used as to carve out stones. I felt its weight in my hand and never sat it down. And as I hold it in my hand now, I never realized how much life existed in a rock.

When something bad happens, when you step into the quicksand of your own anxiety and doom, when your thoughts begin to race, fear strangles your breath, despair wrenches your heart, and doubt suffocates the light right out of your day, pick up a rock and hold it in your hand. Yes, any old rock will do. Any old rock will bring you back to the here and now. Faith in the here and now is faith that never leaves you. Besides, what else do you have to go on?

—Paradise in Plain Sight

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Long Walk

There are no stars here. Instead, I turned my futon facing the windows to pierce into the lives of all those who live in the red brick building across the street from me. On these nights, I like to open the windows to indulge in the cool evening breeze. There's nothing more satisfying than to sink into the couch while propping my feet on the window ledge. Last night I feel asleep here. Maybe I'll do the same tonight.

I went for a long walk along the river today. Every now and then I run into people who despises New York, calling it a concrete jungle. This place looks like an oasis compare to Shanghai or Seoul. New York is beautiful. Even Manhattan is bigger and greener than most people realize. I fall in love every time I run in Central Park. I can walk all day without seeing a skyscraper.
Along the Hudson you can see people pushing their kids, pulling their pets, a loon with a silvery fish, and me with my Ospray Exos 35. I love the feel of the weight of my pack on my back. I wonder if this is how a snail feels. It feels like home. I had lunch at Riverside Park and continued north until I reached Ft. Tryon just after 2pm. I plopped down on the first flat patch of grass and napped under the blazing sun. I was hot but I was more tired. I miss being out in the elements. That's where I belong.

On my way to the subway station on 190th, a man sitting on the park bench asked what was in my pack. I tried to explain to him that I was simply carrying some weight for a walk. He was perplexed. His lady companion didn't share such puzzlement. I told them I just came back from Peru. They immediately became intrigued. The man is a retired lawyer, the lady, an ageless Russian beauties: blond hair and big translucent blue eyes. I lingered with them for awhile, sharing with them my enthusiasm for seeing the world while concealing what really happened out in the mountains. No amount of nature should bring this much joy, at least none that I've experienced. At the end the man asked for my contact and said, "thank you! You are an inspiration. I wish I was like you."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Revelation

I lost my first toe nail today. It wasn't painful. I earned it. I know it was real because I woke up with more blackened toe nails than before.  My calluses got thicker and my heart grew a little stronger. The plane took off and landed. Somewhere between 55 degrees I made a revelation greater than all of the world's wonders combined.

I've always been more of a get-out-of-my-way kind of person. I have faith but not in organized religion. I like to tour but have been known to drop out from organized ones. I went where my heart took me and I waited for no one. The idea of being led and the desire to follow is so foreign to me I've never even contemplated their existence. And yet, just when I least expected, somewhere in the mountains of Peru I found my guide.

It was only later did I realize that I would have followed him to the end of the world, blindfolded. All of the sudden I understood why believers followed the messiah and soldiers followed generals into battle. I would go anywhere with him. This is what blind faith feels like.

I don't know if or when I'll see him again. What I do know is that I am capable of such feeling and there is at least one person in the world who could invoke it. With that I am happy and grateful.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Thousand Goodbyes

It's four in the morning. Richard and Ashley are getting ready to be picked up for their Lares trek; Adam is taking the bus to Cachero to embark on a 7-day trek through Choquequiraw; Herlin is making his round to pick up the latest batch of tourists to go on the Inca trail; I am leaving for New York. All roads lead to Machu Picchu yet sooner or later we must all go back to where we came from.

As the taxi sped out of the old town I turned back and took one last glimpse of the white cross. The focus went away as my vision blurred with tears. I took a deep breath. Out of all the uncertainties the only thing I know for certain is that I never want to stop falling in love, even with the sadness of a thousand goodbyes. Some people can't learn; I just won't learn. My name is Liren and I am addicted to falling in love.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mass and Pisaq Market

It was still dark when he left. I didn't realize how early it was until I looked at my fitbit later. I had lost my phone by then. 2am. I couldn't go back to sleep, not that I was sleeping before. I buried my teary face into him as he got dressed. He put his necklace on me and said, come back when you can, I will be here. And with that, he was gone. I locked the door and laid motionlessly in the dark, drowning in incomprehensible thoughts.

I didn't want to stay there but it was too early to go anywhere. I had no idea where I was or if I would be able to get a taxi if I went out to the street. I tried to focus on my breath but it was hopeless. Still, I tried. One to ten. Just get to ten. I drifted back and forth between verge of hysteria and unconsciousness. Finally at the first glimpse of daylight I got into the shower. The water wasn't really warm but anything was better than trying to lay still. I got dressed, took a quick assessment of my mental state and decided I was going to be fine.

An unmarked car came by. San Pedro. 3 soles. I opened the door and hopped in, thinking, this is too easy. I'm beginning to recognize the streets by now. As he came up to the market I told him to pull to the right. I got out in front of the cathedral, draped in the sunrise, crimson as if it was on fire. I've been wanting to attend a Sunday service. This is perfect. I found my place in the last row and followed the others as they stood up, knelled down, and returned to seated position. Somehow being there made me feel closer to him. Later a young man took up the empty seat next to me, reeked of alcohol. I had no judgment for him here. We're in the house of god. Even if everyone dies I still don't know if I would I get my turn. Besides, I'm just as fcked up as he was. On my way out I dipped my fingers in holy water and made a sign of cross.
It was still early by the time I went back to the hostel. I didn't want to go back to my room to wake everyone up. I had some tea in the common room and grabbed a book off the shelf. Adam walked by and was surprised to see me there. Good morning! I smiled, what's the plan for today? I need to get to the bus terminal to get my ticket to Cachero for tomorrow. How do you say for tomorrow? mañana. What about tomorrow morning? Mañana por a la mañana. I have no plans for today. I'll come with you. We can go to Pisaq from there.