Monday, March 29, 2010


Volcanos are badass.


There is no denying the badassedness of something that is actively creating Earth. Something that forms the inhabitable masses of bubbled up land from the center of the hot, molten rock we live on has got to command some respect. I had a chance to ponder such things last week in Hawai'i at the Kilauea Volcano Park.

It was a long, windy, and desolate ride out to the volcano in the rain to the park. Three matching plastic ponchos later and we were off for a guided tour with Pat the Park Ranger to learn about steam vents, plant adaptation, and what is really at the center of our Earth. And did feel a little like Jurassic Park.

As much as the three of us were standing there wishing that the thing would spew lava like mentos in a bottle of soda, I think we would have all run for our lives if so much as a rumble from the ground happened. Standing there on the edge of the caldera looking down at the topography of that canyon, I had the thought that we were standing on top of something that absolutely nothing else in this world, no defense system or man-made shield could possibly hold back. That is awe-inspiring and oh-shit intimadating all at once.

It was a surprise to find that the park is open 24/7, and after hearing about the glow of molten lava that we could witness during the night time hours, it was no question that we would stay and check it out after the sun went down. When else can you say you visited a volcano at night? Really...if there is one thing in life that I am striving to get right, it is taking advantage of the experiences that are within reach when they are and not waiting until next time.

From where we stood at the observation point, it turned out to be little more than similar to the the glow of a flourescent bar sign with a constant column of smoke billowing from it. Being out in the dark with people from all over the world, cameras in hand, was like being at some big community camp fire waiting for Big Foot to show. I cannot lie, I did have an urge to roast a marshmallow.

Friday, March 26, 2010

(insert evil look)

Today is a rotten day. I didn't get enough sleep, I woke up exhausted, running late for lunch a county away and not giving a damn about going to work. On my way out of the door, the straw that broke and then continued to beat the camel's back was again (AGAIN!!!) the dog hair and dander covering the couch and the handmade blanket I got at Christmas, and this is not even to mention the violent bird massacre in the garage that left feathers, a half eaten carcass, and a fat, happy cat lounging uneffected by the scene around it. As if that wasn't enough for the 11am hour, the cherry on top was the hurry up and wait update from the city council about co-workers layoffs and the never-ending political game that we call a public service career...the call never came. Limbo is the current state of events.

On my way across town, I contemplated calling in sick but couldn't justify it to myself since I JUST got back from Hawaii and I only have a 3-day work week. Mental health or not, I just couldn't bail on my team on a Friday.

After picking up my lunch date an hour late, I managed to merge on the the wrong I-80 in Sacramento, a city that I ALWAYS get lost in despite the live GPS directions that had me on the way to Lake Tahoe, which in most circumstances wouldn't be a bad idea except that I was trying to make it to the Sacramento Hard Rock Cafe's last day of business, eat, and go directly home for 12 hours of Spring Break Friday night joy, AKA, a shitload of calls for service. After landing in East Sacramento, 2 GPS units now, and another 25 minutes driving in circles, I found our restaurant and the parking garage right next to it. Remember how much I love my boyfriend? Well, as much as I do, I forget that he' is 6'8" and not the 6' 4" which caused me to nearly rip the entire roof off of him as I drove down into the bowels of the parking garage after some busybody insisted that I had enough clearance to proceed forward. Yeah, I almost ripped the top of my $50,000 car on the suckiest day ever...shut the F up busybody.

Over my Cobb Salad and being the worst lunch date ever (sorry Kelly), I actually uttered the words "today won't be a successful day unless someone shit's their pants in fear." I was done and yes, I was completley that kind of pissed off. Not a good place to be, yet I keep finding myself there. I keep considering my overall attitude in life being more than less bitchy and I just can't figure what lesson I'm being taught right now. The justified pissedoffedness and the unjustified pissedoffedness are less distingushable these days.

I had a conversation yesterday about letting negativity win. Letting the egomaniacs across the room speak louder than the voice inside that tells me to just do what I know is right and not get caught up in it. Somewhere recently, in months, maybe years, I gave up. I know I I'm in some limbo state between regaining my composure without overinvesting and finding a happy medium that will give me enough armor to get through to the end of the day without leaving me on the wrong side of "fuck you."

So what is it? Patience? Slow down? Cheer up? Look on the bright side? Greatfulness? Be Happy? Grow up? Calm down? Get back to the middle?

I can't shake the idea of quitting and running away to some little shack on the beach on an island with limited roadways, where my only responsibility is if the beer is cold for the customers and there's enough colored sugar to rim their glasses.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I ka nānā no a ‘ike
By observing, one learns.

Sometimes, words are just overratted and underheard. Maybe that's why I'm so fond of my camera...Aloha my friends.

From the top of Diamond Head, Honolulu, O'ahu:

Sunset at Ko'Olina, O'ahu

USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, O'ahu

Kilauea Caldera, Volcanos National Park, Big Island of Hawai'i

Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i

Sunday, March 21, 2010


My favorite carry-ons. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


During my 5 1/2 hour flight yesterday I thought about a lot and realized I was greatful for a lot of things in life. These are only a few of them:

I enjoy my own company.
I'm not 23 anymore.
I'm not afraid of saying it just because I know it might hurt.
My mom...I appreciate her more and more as I get older.
I live in the US.
The small handful of friends I know I can always count on. That's really a handful more than most people have and I know I'm lucky to have that.
Having a good work ethic early in life, learned from my father, that has carried me through the last year of my career when I just felt like giving up.
Not getting married in my 20's.
Western Medicine.
An Education.
A sense of humor...what a lifesaver this has been.
Figuring out you only have (1) Mom and (1) dad before it's toolate.
Sushi...and having tried it for the first time in an apartment in Germany.
Having a voice about want to do in my life, what I think about my world, and how I want to change things.

Aloha and Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Auntie: "Oh, you answered. You must be happy. I'm calling all the Irish people I know to tell them Happy Saint Patrick's Day."
Me: "Well, I'm in Hawaii right now." (7:20am Hawiaiian time)
Auntie" "Oh, then you really are happy!!! Aloha and Happy Saint Patrick's Day!"

Aloha and Happy Saint Patrick's Day my friends!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Miles that is.

I have started the Lauren 2010 odometer. My goal is to put in 50,000 travel miles this year. My January jaunt across the country put me on the bubble real quick. By the end of April, I will already have clocked 33,900 miles and more than a dozen states.

I don't know waht came first. The wanderlust or the restlessness. Maybe I'll contemplate it tomorrow afternoon on a beach in Hawaii.

Aloha my friends!

Friday, March 12, 2010


"What's really important is to simplify. The work of most photographers would be improved immensely if they could do one thing: get rid of the extraneous. If you strive for simplicity, you are more likely to reach the viewer."
~ William Albert Allard

1. I need simplicity in a bad, bad way - in the entirity of my life.
2. I need to spend some quality time with my camera.
3. Breath.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

friendship euthinasia

03/15 - I wrote this last week and then talked myself out of putting life into these words. Then it happened again...

Here's what I'm really thinking. This is what is what keeps me up at 4am. How do I call it quits after half my lifetime? When do I say enough is enough? After repeated efforts, after blow out arguments, after getting it off my chest time after time with zero results? If nothing ever changes, what do I do? What do I do?

Imagine what you will with my barrage of could apply to so many situations and relationships. But this isn't just any old relationship...this one is specific. It has a lot of background for me.

Why do I feel guilt that you have no one else? Why do I feel like this is just a phase when it seems like this is the real you? Why do I feel such attachment after this always seems to be all about you? Lack of interested until you have some free time isn't friendship. Lying isn't friendship. Playing guessing games isn't friendship. Well, OK, unless you live in the OC. No, it hasn't stopped, not even after all the repeated apologies. There are no more excuses or labels that will cover this up again.

You're not a person I would call at 3am if there was an emergency. You're not the person I would call at 3pm for that matter. I am only at the top of your list when you don't have a man in your life, and that's just pathetic. I don't count on you for emotional support. I can't count even count on you to make it to dinner on time or stay until the end of the meal. I don't count you as someone I trust with the serious things in my life. I don't see you standing next to me when I get married.

You drain me. I cared until I couldn't care anymore...I did. I promise you, I talk myself out of caring now because I know it is a wasted emotion. I talk myself out of caring because I have to start caring more about myself.

Have you even noticed? Have you noticed!? Look. I'm right here in front of you. I'm on the other end of the phone. I'm not just a bunch of words in an email...just stop and look.

I stopped responding to you when you told me about your latest outlandish plan. I stopped asking questions about your new relationship that is riddled full of holes and waving more red flags than a battleship game. I stopped giving you my opinion, my congratulations, and my feelings. Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows that is a sign that something is not right. Do you even notice? Do you care?

I've been a good friend. Actually, scratch that, I've been a great friend. I've been a better friend to you than I should have been. I don't want repayment, I just don't want to be your door mat anymore. You can't only talk to me when you need something and ignore me when I don't agree with you. That is not how it goes. You're selfish and childish. You don't even know who you are and that is the most frightening part of it all. If you're friends are mirrors of yourself, I don't want you reflecting back on me.

But why do I care if you read this? Why do I care that this is a truth that might hurt too much?

I can't do this anymore...maybe we can pick up again after some time has passed, but I have to take you out of my life right now. Too much damage has been done. It's not because I don't care about's quite the opposite. I care too much.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Slow down woman, you're driving too fast!"

Those are the infamous words I've been hearing about since I was a kid. Apparently, I was in the back seat at 2 1/2 and shouted that to my mom as we were driving down the street. I've been giving directions all my life.

As I heard the clack of my heels echoing through the midnight streets of Chicago tonight, I thought of that and smiled. I found myself once again wandering a big city alone for a few minutes after hours in seek of some good night shots. I made it through a few dozen before my fingers were too cold to find the camera button as I stood on one of the city's many bridges over the freezing cold river, feeling gusts of even colder wind rush by with every taxi.

Listening to my heels get closer to the hotel lobby, I was doing two things...listening for any other footsteps coming up behind me (too many years with cops and a traumatized childhood have made me super cautious even in my non-chalance for the hour). The second thing I was doing...just listening. When is the last time you had enough free time or space to listen to your footsteps or the sound of your breath?

Not frequently enough that it isn't a foreign sound. As much as I am planted securely in my own driver's seat, I feel like I'm living life in the fast lane. Too many hours a slave to insomnia and then spent sleeping in after the sun has come up, I keep hearing that one thought rattle around in my head "you only have this one life to live."

I came to Chicago for one reason see Alicia Keys in concert. I could have very well stayed at home and waited for her to come to me, but I would have had to take a Saturday night off once she got there. Yes, it has come to this...flying 2,000+ miles to not miss a day off for a concert. Be not mistaken, it is not for the selfless love of work, rather than the abysmal lack of paid time off. I used to dream about the time in my life when I could get on a plane just to go see a concert. I'm here. Hey kid who used to dream about those things, you made it.

On chance, Tyler Perry and Madea herself (yes, I love, love, love me some Madea) were here at a near sold-out live musical and there were two seats with our names on them. If a Tyler Perry movie is like Bible study, a live show is like being IN the chior. It was beautiful, funny, moving, inspiring, was like the warm embrace of the extended family you know you can always count even though you don't always see them there, the family you're not ashamed to cry in front of. There were too many messages in that show to count...forgiveness, redemption, love, family, making your time matter, doing this life right. Do this life right...I'm listening Madea. I'm listening. You and that little girl are telling me the same thing, I know. Listen to your footsteps...hear yourself breath.

"Slow down woman, you're driving too fast." I hear ya kid.