Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Floors of Silent Seas

Photo by Carissa Gallo

The Japanese have twenty different words to describe rain.  Of course, as is in English, they have a word for downpour (‘niawaka-ame’) and sleet (‘mizore’) but unlike English they have three different words for varying degrees of a drizzle ('kirisame', 'biu' and 'kosame').  They have 'yudachi' which is rain that falls in the evening, 'kisame' (kiss-ah-me is how I like to think of it) drips from the ends of tree branches, and 'kaiu' is rain that falls mixed with dust and pollen. Seasonal rains also have their own words; there is 'samidare' that falls in the spring, and  'shigure', which is rain specific to autumn and winter.


Often, I have thought of my own emotions like weather patterns. Specifically, sadness, which is most like rain. It helps to think of them in that way since the weather is always changing, always passing. A sudden storm cloud mushrooms – the color of a bruise – and causes a curtain of rain to fall, in between your toes, against your bare legs, soaking through your knit sweater causing your teeth to chatter. And then, almost as quickly as it began, it stops. The only sounds are that of the gutters digesting water, cars whooshing past – their tires slicing through puddles and gravel, dropping into manholes. And I remember:

In St. Paul we sat on the window ledge of the high-rise on the 37th floor. From there I could see snippets of the Mississippi winding through the city. Above it yet reflected in it, the clouds moved quickly in bulbous formations. I could see the patches of city where they blocked the sun, causing shadows here and there. I noticed the areas, too, where they were not, where the sun spooled onto rooftops, between buildings, and into streets . It struck me that the people standing in those places had no idea that, in that exact moment, just a few miles away were others in the shadows unaware that others stood in light.


In the fall the crisped and curled leaves skittering across the pavers in the wind reminds me of the part in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when T.S. Eliot says:

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

If the leaves are sea-crawlers then the clouds are thoughts that cause the sadness. A use of the transitive property that my tenth grade math teacher might understand but ignore, wiping more chalk on her black trousers absent-mindedly as she gets lost in another x-y graph. “This,” she might think to herself “is a cleaner way to be.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Loving this opulent, carrot-colored tree near my apartment

Watching... the Mockingjay trailer on repeat because once isn't enough, and

Listening... to this song and this song from the Mockingjay soundtrack

Craving... this sweet potato shepherd's pie (I might use Kabocha squash instead!)

Lusting over... this outfit (those boots!) and this sweatshirt from Madewell's Sézane line

Reading... this deeply moving article on the difference between a happy and meaningful life
(and this sweet how-to guide on loving someone)
(and this courageous speech by Brie Larson)

Wishing... I could go to this sleepover at the Academy of Natural Sciences in March

Contemplating... these ten simple ideas that can change the way you approach your life

Inspired... by this former video game designer who chose to dance to the beat of a new drum

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cheaper Than Therapy

I'm not sure how "normal" it is, but I take a bath almost every night. After getting home from work it is usually the first thing I want to do besides raid the refrigerator for anything that resembles sugar, cheese or carbohydrates.  My love for "salt baths" began in college after an eccentric and wise homeopathic doctor once recommended that I soak my face in warmed salt water every evening. (Though it's significant to note that I also blame my angel mom who says she would stick me in the bathtub whenever I was upset because it was the only thing that would calm me down. Reason #5,467 which supports the theory that I was once a mermaid/sea lion/merman/fish/fisherman in a past life.) I followed his instructions and soon felt intuitively compelled to hop onto the bathroom sink and soak my feet as well. Because lifestyle clashes with roommates in the first year of college aren't awkward enough, I decided to compound the situation by being that roommate who was bizarrely perched on the bathroom sink every night soaking her feet next to a giant canister of sea salt. I am not sure though what annoyed them more - the fact that I was using our communal sink as a foot soak or that I was taking up the bathroom for an extra 10-15 minutes.

At any rate, I continued with these foot soaks off and on throughout my college years and when I first moved out of my parent's house after college where I resumed the ritual at my apartment. Soon though, only soaking my feet wasn't enough and I needed a full body salt soak. The benefits of salt baths (and just warm baths in general) are profuse. (As is often the case, I find that it is usually the most prosaic and simple habits that can improve our health: i.e, getting adequate sunlight, taking baths, stretching, walking, sleeping, eating real food in moderate to small amounts, etc.) Because of its unique chemical compounds, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths have been noted for their ability to both relax and calm the mind while soothing overworked muscles.
"Stress drains the body of magnesium and increases levels of adrenaline. When dissolved in warm water, Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy packets made in the cells. Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week helps you to look better, feel better and gain more energy. Magnesium ions also relax and reduce irritability by lowering the effects of adrenaline. They create a relaxed feeling, improve sleep and concentration, and help muscles and nerves to function properly." Source
I usually go through about a  bag of Epsom salt a week, which can be easily found in most pharmacies. If I am out of Epsom salt I will sometimes use plain sea salt from the kitchen which works just as well since sea salts contain many minerals and nutrients that are beneficial for the skin. To my baths I add about 2 cups of Epsom salt along with a ½ cup of baking soda. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an excellent addition to baths because of its chemical properties which detoxify and alkalize the body by reducing acidity. Some other favorite additions to my baths include:
  • Essential oils (I use lavender, which smells heavenly, to unwind and black pepper to detox although I would not recommend mixing the two.) 
  • Aura Cacia Clearing Foam Bath (Ok, it’s for kids, so what? Stuff is amazing.)  
  • Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (the good acid which cleanses and clears the skin by regulating pH levels otherwise known as the acid/alkaline balance as aforementioned) 
  • Lush bath bombs! They are fun, colorful and smell incredible.
  • A great book which I do not literally add to my bath, obviously, but to my bath ritual along with a favorite candle or music. 
So, to answer Mindy's question as posed above, yes. Yes, everyone is probably hanging out without me as I linger lazily in the tub, losing gravity and examining my toes in the milky-oily liquid, but sometimes I am OK with that. Sometimes alone time is the best way to improve the most important relationship you will ever have in your life: your relationship with yourself.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Life Lately

Some cirrusly sublime clouds (well, cirrocumulus to be exact) 
A great cause to support, and a pretty cute top (on sale too)
Uniqlo finally came to Philadelphia, "normcore" hipsters rejoice!
The new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk boasts magnificent skyline views
Très amigos looking angelic in front of some stainless steel wine drums
René posing in his chocolate shoppe, RIM Café in the Italian Market
(promise me you'll go and get the chocolate-covered cannoli made by Belle?)
Kreutz Creek Vineyard grapevines, in West Grove (tasted like muscadine grapes to me)
Just some of the group from the wine tour at Paradocx Vineyard