Monthly Archives: June 2010

word art

“A poem should not mean
But be.”
Ars Poetica

I’m not sure I could ever articulate what exactly it is about words that I find myself so drawn to – so incredibly mesmerized by. To me, words are absolute beauty, and I still believe words create the most beauty I will ever find in this world. Their sounds, the way they look on paper and they way they fit together captivate me, and rarely fail to produce immediate feeling, emotion and thought upon reading or writing them. For as long as I can remember this inexplicable passion has followed me; I have been collecting books, poems, quotations and lyrics and pasting them everywhere from the paint on my walls to the margins of my school notebooks.

The first book I ever (consciously) saved was a children’s collection of poetry and nursery rhymes my parents gave me from Australia. My first memorized lines came from the beginning of one of my mother’s favorite poems, Poe’s The Bells (how they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle in the icy air of night. While the stars that oversprinkle, all the heavens seem to twinkle…). I have also been writing for most of my life. Underneath my bed at home I have a box of worn and overused journals storing thoughts and words from the past ten or fifteen years – recording everything from what type of division homework my third grade teacher left me to short stories about stars and spacecars to hundreds of pieces of poetry.

Perhaps later I’ll find the courage to share some of those pieces. Today, I write to share some of the words that will forever remain beautiful to me… and to perhaps inspire an appreciation of words as well.


The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm
Wallace Stevens

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Mock Orange
Louise Gluck

It is not the moon, I tell you.
It is these flowers
lighting the yard.

I hate them.
I hate them as I hate sex,
the man’s mouth
sealing my mouth, the man’s
paralyzing body—

and the cry that always escapes,
the low, humiliating
premise of union—

In my mind tonight
I hear the question and pursuing answer
fused in one sound
that mounts and mounts and then
is split into the old selves,
the tired antagonisms. Do you see?
We were made fools of.
And the scent of mock orange
drifts through the window.

How can I rest?
How can I be content
when there is still
that odor in the world?


Explore some other well-known (wonderful) pieces and poets:

i carry your heart with me

Puedo escribir
Pabla Neruda

Knoxville Tennessee
Nikki Giovanni

My Father’s Hats
Mark Irwin

Questions About Angels
Billy Collins

The Incline

One of my goals this summer is to climb the Incline once a week. If you’re not familiar with the trail, it’s located about fifteen minutes from campus in nearby Manitou Springs. Formerly an old railway line built in 1907 to help in the construction of a hydroelectric plant, the Incline now serves as a strenuous hike for athletes looking for some pain. It’s composed of about 5,000 steps (or old railway ties) that stretch up the base of Pikes Peak. From the bottom to the top, you travel about 1.5 miles and gain 2,011 feet in elevation – it’s steep, but worth it! At the end of the trek, you’re treated to awesome views of the Colorado Springs area and the satisfaction of completing one of the most challenging staircases in the country.

Some of the best completion times I’ve heard of fall between 20 and 25 minutes, while mine hovers just under 40. I’ve never taken the Incline too seriously, but this summer I hope to get as close to 30 minutes as possible. I didn’t take my camera last time I did it due to a crazy Colorado rainstorm, but next time I’ll share my own pictures. Until then, enjoy these few shots of the Incline:

Courtesy of looking up the Incline.

Courtesy of looking down the Incline.

This is me and my friend at the top of Pikes Peak - where you'd end up if you kept going another 9 miles after the Incline.

CC Urban Dictionary

The cool thing about the way we speak at CC is just that it’s like totes legit. Because we communicate on a completely different wavelength of the English language, below you will find a short introductory glossary to CCSpeak.

totes–adv. totally, completely. That’s totes legit.

legit–adj. from “legitimate”, cool, nice, good.

ColoradoSpringsMidSizeC Springs–n. Colorado Springs. Locals (such as myself) cringe at this misnomer. It’s Colorado Springs, friends, or, “the Springs.”

Pikes–n. Pikes Peak, our very own 14er (14,110 feet to be precise). Again, call it this way and locals will give you the look, and rightly so. It’s totes Pikes Peak.

clutch–adj. totes necessary, crucial. Man, that Chipotle burrito was totes clutch.

dank–adj. awesome (for food, delicious). So during our break in class today, I picked up a cheese bagel at Colorado Coffee…it was dank.

shred–v. to snowboard awesomely atop awesomely fresh pow

pow–n. powder snow. Wassup, broski? A coating of fresh pow at Breck. That’s what’s up.

Breck–n. Breckenridge- a ski resort, similar to A-Basin (Arapahoe Basin) and the Beav (Beaver Creek)

garden-of-the-godsGarden–n. Garden of the Gods, an open space near to CC characterized by its stunning red sandstone formations and its past as a holy place for the Ute Tribe. Referring to it as “Garden” will confuse and subsequently irritate locals like me. Sup, Nate Dog? Wanna go climb in the Garden? Wait, there’s a climbing wall in the CC Farm? That’s odd. Oh wait, you mean Garden of the Gods. Yeah man. Ok man, do me a solid and don’t call it just “Garden” ever again. Whoa, what are you man,  a local? Yes. Yes I am.

the Libe–n. Tutt Library

the Twomp–n. well-known off-campus house, home to LAX players. So…you wanna check out the Twomp tonight?

#### [insert street name]–n. off-campus house (eg 927 Weber) Whoa, that barbeque smells dank. Where’s it coming from? Oh ya know, the Carnivore Club is grillin’ it up behind 927 Weber.

Woogs–n. Wooglin’s Deli, located practically on campus. You hungry dude? Nah, man, I just ate a dank spinach feta quesadilla at Woogs.

King Chef–n. King’s Chef diner downtown, purveyor of legit diner cuisine. You hungry dude? Nah, man, I just downed a Half-Merl Scramble at King Chef. I even got into the Clean Plate Club and got the sticker to prove it.

Rasty–n. Rastall Dining Hall. Dude, what’s cooking at Rasty? It smells dank. Ah man, I heard the got all their produce from CC’s organic permaculture garden located behind Dicky C.‘s house.

511532079_53fa04ebc1Dicky C.–n. CC President Dick Celeste. Dude, who’s that snazzy-looking guy riding on the Segway? Dude, that’s Dicky C. Wow, he seems cool. Yeah, he’s totes legit like whoa.

Like whoa–adv. seriously. Man, I’ve got a hankering for some Hot Pockets. Like whoa.

beautiful people and places

“The earth belongs to anyone who stops for a moment, gazes and goes on his way”
Colette, French Writer

Graffiti in Valparaiso, Chile

A house door in Sayulita, Mexico

Salt flats near Uyuni, Bolivia

Dark Canyon near Zion National Park, Utah

Central plaza in Salta, Argentina

Glaciar Perito Moreno near El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

River in the Pinzgau Valley, Austria

Town center in Bratislava, Slovkia

Young girl in rural village of the Melghat region, India

Wild horses on the island of Maui, Hawaii

Thanks for looking.

The Greatest Show on Earth

One of my fondest childhood memories is going to the circus with my granddad. It wasn’t necessarily the lights, clowns, and animals that stand out in my memory, but more importantly, a small, blinking souvenir that he bought for me from a walking vendor. It was blue and beautiful with a plastic tiger face and recognizable ‘Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: The Greatest Show on Earth’ tag. That fantastic night was the first and only time I have been to the circus.

So, you can imagine my great delight when, on my Tuesday morning walk to work, I saw the Barnum & Bailey circus train parked on the train tracks near school. People, the circus is in town! It has been so fun to walk past the train twice a day, observing the comings and goings of the circus crew. Every time I see it, it’s almost as if I transform back into my five year-old self.

[image credit]

I have a feeling I will do the same when us Berry women take over Disney World in August.

[image credit]

Happy weekend!

CRA-sia: a Conclusions and Farewell Blog

Its only competition being the tumultuous New Student Orientation Week, I returned home just in time for possibly the most eventful, chaotic and memorable week of college, “senior week” as it is called and graduation time. Starting with Llamapalooza, CC’s annual spring music festival that the entire school fantasizes about all year long which happened to start about 12-hours after my return, followed by days of soaking up time with all of the people that have been such influential and important parts of my life for 4 years that are redistributing themselves around the country (and world for that matter), having critical last minute meetings about my thesis, the incredibly over-stimulating graduation schedule full of thank you’s, goodbye’s, and plenty of glasses of champagne… not to mention my seemingly incessant daze caused by jetlag and lack of sleep that was unmatched by the activities set out for all of us soon-to-be-graduates who were willing to consume ourselves with just about anything that would take our mind off the inner-freight and anxiety about leaving college-life and being thrown full-force into the scary real-world. To say it plainly, I was immediately consumed in the vortex of the most exaggerated form of life at Colorado College, leaving me dumbfounded as to how to reconcile my experience in Taiwan and be present in my life back home during such an indispensible time. It seems it has taken me until now, a whole month later, to have both the time and concentration to sit down and write, and I suppose to have even digested the experience enough to write about it coherently.
The trip turned out to be quite an adventure, with very dichotomous extremes of highs and lows. Ultimately, it ended on a very good note and I very much appreciate my experience there. The time was in a sense two different trips, which even a half-a-world away mirrored the life of the CC block plan, split into very distinct 3 ½ week  “intellectual adventures” as they call them. I would more call them “unique 3 ½ week psychological, cultural, interpersonal and intellectual adventures,” but that’s probably too wordy (and heady) to advertise to prospective students and donors on the brochures…artist promo
The first three weeks (7th block) were some of the hardest of my life, challenging so much of the reality that I thought I knew— I call it my “Murphy’s Law and Madison learns self-preservation techniques” block. At times I was convinced I could not make it, that I had over-committed myself, that I was not strong enough personally to handle the web of unanticipated hurdles, that the last $100 to my name was not going to stretch far enough, and that my immune system (particularly digestive system) was too delicate for the highly glutinous and soy-soaked cuisine. I came out of it though with some very valuable self-engineered methods to promote my own survival and happiness, as well as some new travel “do’s” and “don’t” (don’t mostly), a decent start on the research, design, and implementation of my thesis, and oddly had grown accustom to my bug-bitten body and anomalous food digestion (of which happened to be a parasite, Giardia, I discovered a week after my return home after surprisingly having no relief after I restored my meticulous gluten, dairy and soy free diet).

kung fuThe last three weeks (8th block) were absurdly busy, but in a different way than the typical CC senior back home— taking their last class pass/fail (or not in one at all) and panicking about the future, yet numbing the thought of it by partying to each night’s different themed gathering as outlined on the 8th block Senior Calendar. Rather, I call it the “Mastering the (my) World Many Things at a Time” block. I think I felt more accomplished on my last day in Taiwan, when I turned in my final paper, did a presentation on the Dance and Disable Project, and submitted my 37-page thesis all in the same day, than I did the day I graduated college!
During the last three weeks, many things changed. For one, the sun came out… which after almost a month of clouded disarray made the world of difference. Having previously contemplated the progressive hubs like Seattle, WA or Portland, OR after graduation, I now know that being a Colorado native I can never live long-term somewhere that doesn’t see the sun at LEAST every 3 days! Having the other 23 students around transformed our involuntary isolation we felt at the beginning into a need to, at times, voluntarily seclude ourselves from the rambunctious bunch of foreigners. It provided us with a variety of fresh perspectives. Visiting museums, reading and writing, accepting guidance about food and activities, and people to help resolve the language barrier, gave us the opportunity to experience traditional culture in ways that we didn’t the first half of the trip… not to mention I got to study Kung-Fu, Calligraphy and Tai-Chi, which particularly Tai Chi, remain on my “Top 10 Things I Learned in Asia” list.

dance and disable projectThe Dance and Disable project, the most unifying part of the trip, actually turned out to be one of the most significant and life-changing experiences I believe I will ever encounter. Being so ripe in the present, it has been difficult to reflect on the experience in a well-articulated way. What I do know however is that forming cross-cultural relationships, developing creative and authentic means of communication in the lack-there-of conventional verbal language, participating in a social-welfare program, and integrating movement and meditation of my own western-raised heritage into a small community within a larger culture that itself is so centered on the philosophical beliefs of social concern, spirituality, community and personal well-being generated an unmatched experience. It solidified my belief in the healing potential of movement, touch, and creative expression, as well as illuminated the direction that I would like to take my life as an artist, educator, and conscious citizen. I can’t imagine it to have been better, for anyone involved.
So what next? Well, besides working at the front desk at CC for the summer, living with the parentals and taking a breath from the crazy journey of my CC career that accelerated on until the very end, I am working alongside the local Parkinson’s Disease group that my stepmother, Amy, is part of that participates in ‘Movement and Music’ and ‘Water Tai-Chi’ classes to help their condition. It is truly astonishing and has been the best part of being home so far. As I hope to be a part of continuing and expanding the program, my time in Taiwan gave me not only experience and a heightened passion for the field, but the confidence in my ability to take on such a project. Although I do not see myself staying in the Springs much past the summer, I would like to invest myself in being part of introducing the initiative to wherever it is that I go, which is yes… still TBA 🙂
For now, I am finally beginning to connect the dots between my time at Colorado College, my unique expeditions abroad, my unconventional upbringing, and my future aspirations. My hope is that if I continue to surround myself with people and pursuits that both enhance my well-being and that of the world around me, that I’ll end up somewhere good. I suppose that’s all I can ask for— so for now, I’ll end this blogging endeavor with a genuine thanks all of the wonderful people I know who were part of my life before, during and since this adventure (especially those who made it this far in reading my slightly scattered, sporadic, and often incredibly cheesy blog). THANK YOU!
Oh and I’ll also leave you with the inspirational quote-of-the-day I had e-mailed to me yesterday that so appropriately articulates the challenge and enlightenment I experienced in Taiwan….
“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery, even on a detour.”
Mad love.
wow frog eggs

the love of food

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”
-George Bernard Shaw


Summer is mostly about food. It’s a simple fact of life. So naturally, this past Saturday morning two housemates and I set out in search of a farmers’ market. Our hearts were set on Old Colorado City’s opening day. Live music, artists, and farmers – trucking along cartons of fresh produce. What more could you ask for from a Saturday morning? Unfortunately, Opening Day had been pushed back a week. Determined not to surrender to heartbreak, we continued chasing our morning plans and Colorado Springs Farmers’ Markets. Much to our surprise, we unveiled a hole-in-the-wall market, if you will… a hidden gem. Being the broke college students we are, with standards a little too high for our checking accounts, we found ourselves practically dodging all of the free food being thrown at us. We stopped by a bakery on the way back and headed home to set up breakfast.

The three of us sat on our front porch for the fair part of the afternoon, eating makeshift bruschettas with pesto and asiago bread, rosemary and garlic olive oil and perfectly ripe farm fresh tomatoes. Sweet peas and peaches on the side.



“Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese – toasted, mostly.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson


warm colorado rain

You wouldn’t think one should miss the rainy, cold Pacific Northwest in the beginning of June, or crave it when they’re just being introduced to hot summer fun. Oddly, we do. As a true native of the Northwest, the rain comforts me. It has become my home – hiking with dampened dirt clinging to your new white shoes; sitting in your kitchen watching the sky water the earth; and being able to identify a real Seattleite by their lack of umbrella, even on the wettest of days. In fact, they probably don’t even own an umbrella. Sure, you have those days – namely the Fourth of July – where you beg for sun, warm water for boating and dry lawns for barbeques, but for the most part, we’ve grown accustomed to the sky’s dumping of excess water. We’ve grown to love it, and to long for it when we leave.

Back in Colorado, we transition from sunny and cool, clean spring days to warm Colorado rain. The rain here is different. After thirty minutes of torrential downpour – bucketing big, heavy drops – it disappears, revealing again blue sky and bright sun. It is sudden, coming and going unexpectedly. It is warm. And when the droplets stop falling, we are left with that thick smell of rain on the pavement, interrupted views from our windows that quickly and quietly disappear and a tease of humidity hanging around.

The rain here is different. It does not carry reminders of home, the misty Washington coast or smooth, glassy lakes on perfectly gray mornings. It is not refreshing, it does not seem essential; it does not seem like the sky’s time to water our green. It does not seem to possess an identity, a deliberate being. But perhaps these are things left to discover over the next few months – the characteristic traits of rain in the Rocky Mountain West.


Summer has begun at Colorado College. I have yet to experience Colorado’s version of the season… I have a feeling I’ve been missing out.

Eating Stuff in South Asia. And West Africa.

Unlike my illustrious colleague Sarah Berry, I don’t have a series of blogs that I follow daily, but there is one that I regularly check – my sister’s. Ever since graduating college in 2008 with a degree in political science, my sister Katie has spent her time interning in Washington D.C., working at farmers’ markets in Seattle, learning about organic farming and yoga in India, and monitoring elections in Sri Lanka.

Last farm lunch. Typical farm lunch.

This is her typical lunch at the farm in India.

Have you been to summer camp before? Cool, then you already know exactly what an ashram is like. There is the same waking up early to a bell and singing songs together and then eating group meals in a rackety dining hall and doing some physical activity during which someone inevitably cries and then using your one free hour a day to run around your communal living area like a complete maniac and scream and yell and get up to crazy hijinks and all with no alcohol. Some of specifics are different. Instead of singing fight songs about wagon riding you are chanting Hindu stuff in Sanskrit while a bunch of hippies around you get extremely emotionally absorbed in drum beating and head nodding. (Tamara: Do you ever have moments here where you feel like you’re in a cult? Jo: You mean like last night when I looked down at my hands and saw I was banging a tambourine to Jaya Ganesha?) The food is less grilled cheese and bug juice and more Keralan classics reinterpreted to be “purely vegetarian” which means garlic/onion/spice-less to avoid any heating of the blood that could lead to impure behavior. And I don’t even know what people were crying about during yoga class although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because they were afraid of being eaten by an orca whale (true story from my camp counselor days). But, the crazy time—that is pretty much the same as summer camp. Our last night there was a talent show (seriously) so we spent our free hour prepping our skit that was one you have definitely seen before and might have felt a little bit stale back in the States, but we totally killed it because that is a easy thing to do when your competition is Indian teenagers singing devotional songs. The winning was only in our impure hearts though, because I’m pretty sure Swami Sivanada doesn’t believe in that kind of competition. (That’s my bunk in that picture up there.)

 Here is her bed at the ashram, where she did yoga.

I decided just to leave that “spiritual name” portion blank.

This is some paperwork she had to fill out at the ashram – it asks for her spiritual name, which she decided to leave blank. Our parents didn’t provide either of us with spiritual names.

Anyway, if this doesn’t sound eclectic enough, Katie is now traveling through Senegal and is about to start working for Tostan, an NGO in the Gambia. Tostan’s mission is “to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.” She will be there for the next six months.

While this outfit may not be the most flattering, it was NO ACCIDENT that I wore sailor pants and nautical stripes the same day I took a ferry. Themed dressing—get with it, guys. Île de Gorée, Senegal

This is her in Senegal.

Since Katie is usually at least 2,000 miles away from where I am, her blog is essentially the only way for me to know what she’s doing. It’s called “Eating Stuff in South Asia. And West Africa.,” with its name arising from a somewhat humerous conversation that her first blog details: 

One time I was at a party with old people and one of them decided to corner me and ask me about my Plans For My Future (as old people love to do) which of course led us to me going abroad and then to how when he’s abroad he really likes bird watching. Just is super into it—lots of books, binoculars, the whole deal. Cool. That’s great for him. We should all be so lucky as to have something we’re that passionate about. But then the conversation took an awkward turn.

“And what kind of activities do you like doing when overseas?”

“Uhhh mostly just wander around and eat things.”

That being said, the blog documents her time in India, Sri Lanka, and now Africa. It’s mainly comprised of photos and short tidbits about what she’s up to – often with a focus on food, obviously.

I may have to write a Venture Grant to go visit her during winter break…

Play that (funky) music

I give credit to my friend Meg for her sweet music blog entry idea. And so, shamelessly, I’m going to copy her and share with you some of my fave music.

One of my two favorite artists, Laura Veirs,who happens to be the daughter of a CC professor, Val Veirs, is based in Portland, OR, and writes and performs music that I’d describe as indy-folk-rock. She has performed at CC and also in nearby Manitou Springs, sponsored by CC’s radion station KRCC. Her recently-released album “July Flame” is awesome, possibly her best yet, and features a number of gems including a song by the same name:



My other favorite artist, Lila Downs,

is a Mixtec Mexican-American singer who performs songs she’s written about the struggles of women, immigrants, and other groups in Mexico, in addition to singing and re-vamping classic Mexican rancheras and cumbias.

Lila’s song, “Ojo de Culebra” has by far the most plays in my entire iTunes library. It gives me chills.


Lila sings of the psychological chains she feels:

Se me cae se me cae, como a la culebra,

yo lo tiro yo lo tiro, todo este rencor

Se me caen se me caen, esas falsedades;

así yo me limpio también del dolor.

It falls off me, it falls off me, like the skin of the snake; I throw it away, I throw it away, all of this rancor. Those falsehoods fall off me, they fall off me; that way I cleanse myself of the pain.

I love this song so much that I sang it with my friend Juna (who just graduated) in CC’s mariachi band, Mariachi el Tigre.


Finally, my favorite-end-of-the school-year song award

goes to “Night Vision Binoculars” by Passenger. The pottery instructor at CC, Greg Marshall, always has Radio Paradise playing in the studio, and this song came on and got me hooked. The next day I had it stuck in my head and so I searched RP’s playlist page frantically to find it and was well-rewarded:


Click here to listen to Radio Paradise in your iTunes player.

Well, that’s all for now. Coming up: an entry about the house I’m living in this summer. Then, an insider’s guide to CC Lingo. It’ll be totes legit. I’ll catch ya at the libes. Later.