Friday, April 25, 2008

wherever we go, there we are!

where have we been?
we've been home!
(we've NOT written a blog in two weeks!)
we've been experiencing reverse culture shock,
reintegrating into
what does it mean to us
-now, after everything we've experienced-
to be an american?
we've been overwhelmed.
we've been welcomed back into our families
our communities
seeing friends on the street
or in random places around town.
melissa's been working at the salon/spa she used to work in
being a front desk girl
greeting people and answering phones;
cleaning her room (see picture below!) of all the stuff she's accumulated in years and years and years (what happens after you've had a bedroom since you were 5?~ lots of stuff!!)
carson's been relishing portland
spending time with his family
hiking in forest park
and taking the train up to bellingham,
having his picture taken randomly for (check out the april 24th pictures, scroll down!)

we've been looking for a place to live
(may have found one yesterday!)
we've been deciding what to do about those hawaii tickets we bought in january
(looks like we're going on sunday! we were hesitant because of money, and were trying to move the ticket or get a refund, but hawaiian air said no way, and our friend chino said it best:

"Do not hesitate GO TO HAWAII, you will somehow find a way to finance the trip, and at the end you´ll have more beautifull stories to tell. Otherwise all you´ll have is regret. Life´s one and only, money comes and goes, and of course you can always work over there and make some cash to move around."

thanks chino!

so looks like we're going to attend a good friend's birthday party on saturday night, and then take the 4am shuttle bus from the bellingham airport to seatac, and fly on over to the hawaiian islands! what a trip!! we just finally "decided" to do this yesterday! luckily, we have friends to stay with on both oahu and the big island, including abram, our friend from pai who first introduced us to the durian! (thanks abram!)

we'll put more pictures on soon....both our memory cards are filled up to the max right now. we are also about to begin the awesome project of writing a book about our trip, to publish and share with the world! if you have any ideas, feedback, suggestions, memories of us (if you met us on our trip, or if you've been reading about our journey), pictures of us or you with us, etc., please send them our way and they can be included in the book if you like! our email is easy, carsonandmelissa(at)gmail(dot)com

we'll keep attending to the blog too, sorry for the lapse, we just needed a little time to decompress.
happy spring! smell those daffodils, they smell so good!

carson and his bro
melissa overwhelmed by her room
melissa and her sis

Saturday, April 12, 2008


sunrise at venice beach
1. rocket and his friend brooke, surfing stars!
2. we are so cold in this early morning
3. venice beach

two days ago, we had the most perfect experience about coming home.
we were looking at our blog page actually, and to the right is a little slideshow of pictures from part of our trip. we started to watch it, and immediately began to laugh as hard as we could, which turned to tears, and then laughter, and then tears, perfectly balanced between both extremes as we watched the continuous stream of faces of people we met, food we ate, places we were in....we both had tears streaming down our faces and were laughing so hard that we couldn't breathe. we finished out the slideshow and both heaved great sighs..."we needed that!" it was a great moment of getting our trip, at least a part of it, seeing another glimpse into the long and amazing journey that we have just been on together.

i wanted to share that little part of our integration, it was a sweet moment!

carson will have to tell you about our crazy and fun experience of going to the jimmy kimmel show taping last night and seeing keanu reeves, it was a blast!

this morning we woke up at 6 to watch rocket surf at venice beach. "from venice, italy, to venice beach" we have come far... :) we got home and i fell asleep for hours. i'm a bit congested and still adjusting to the 15 hour time difference! maybe tomorrow will be another exploring day, we are going to go to the boardwalk at venice beach and walk all the way to santa monica.

Friday, April 11, 2008

a day at the beach [malibu, ca]

we had a blast today being a part of the live studio audience on the jimmy kimmel show, right on hollywood boulevard. the guests were....keanu reeves!, a woman from desparate housewives (who is also michael bolton's wife), the mvp hopeful hornets player, and a band that i don't remember the name of. it was quite a trip! they gave everyone rockstar energy drinks during the wait, then passed out candy during an intermission, and we got to applaud...and applaud...and applaud and cheer and laugh and come in strong after the commercial breaks. quite a treat to be behind the scenes like that, with the live band playing during intros and outtros, and to see keanu so up close. also made the whole talk show thing seem quite superficial and 'just for the show,' you know, but that's hollywood for you.

rocket took us out for beer/wine (my first wine in months!) and spanish tapas at a great restaurant called cobras & matadors. we had salt cod fritters with capers and aioli, grilled mushrooms, mussels and chorizo with a tasty broth, sweet potato fries, flatbread with figs and goat cheese, and a revolutionary dessert of super-delicious french toast in little slices, drenched in maple syrup with whipped cream and a fresh california strawberry to boot! wow, we have not had these flavors in such a long time!

tomorrow we wake up at 5am to accompany rocket to venice beach to watch him surf in the sunrise!

through the pictures below, enjoy our time in malibu and driving through topanga canyon, covered with spring wildflowers (and then a little LA traffic to top it all off!)

our bali peeps!

1. jesse and margot
2. kamon the ninth house mascot
3. "man, i love this little house." -carson
4. wes and carson
5. the ubud riders
6. faith, ali and melissa on the night before nyepi
7. susie
8. kamong
9. katie, jessa, timshel and melissa at kafe
10. chloe <3 (thanks for inspiring us to come to bali, chloe!)

this is LA!

from mellow bali rice paddie walkers to hollywood boulevard strollers, your faithful travelers continue to have diverse adventures around the world.

in these pictures, you can see the hollywood sign, the sunset fading over sunset boulevard, the hand and foot prints of the three harry potter stars (fitting, because melissa just read the entire harry potter series on this trip), carson eating a delicious cream puff (he also ate one of the same brand in bangkok with jeromi) and melissa and carson waiting for a bus (yes! taking public transportation in los angeles! what a concept!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

things you didn't know you missed

a hard pressure hot shower!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


guess what!

here i am. here i am listening to my favorite billie holiday CD again, but this time the songs are moving through a nice speaker system, filling up this LA appartment full of bright LA sunlight streaming through the windows. opening up the sliding door does not give me the warm tropical breeze my body and mind are so accustomed to, but a frigid early april feel that gives me chills. my jeans are something i can wear, indeed necessary in some ways, and i know when i go out that i'll be wanting a warm jacket, and a scarf, and maybe a hat, and some gloves. and some sunglasses too. we went through customs last night and saw the 'welcome to the united states of america' signs, and a woman asked me if i was a citizen of the US and i paused not sure what to say. of course the answer came eventually but i'm so used to be a foreigner in a country, coupled with months of conversations about the state of the US and my own ideas of what it means to be a citizen of this country changing, it took me a second to perk up to the correct response. Hold hold, here here! let me bring you up to speed first before i get to into what it is like to be here now! we left bali at 4 in the afternoon. we had breakfast at kafe that morning with chloe, to be met later by katie and jessa. it was a fitting last meal, seeing people that were so familiar to us, yet we'd only known for 2 weeks. i acknowledged chloe for bringing us to bali, and what a difference that made for me! in the true style of our trip being so open to whatever possibilities we felt drawn to, it was fitting to be hugging goodbye the person who opened up the last 5 weeks of our trip to be what it was. we went to bali buddha one last time, sped down the road to our house and found that our airport driver, nyoman was already waiting for us. we went to the ninth house, and packed up all of our things last minute style and said a big goodbye to made (pronounced mah-day), and he told us 'the ninth house loves you two, you are always welcome here'. kamang and nyoman grabbed our packs and carried them back away from the ninth house and down the path. one last walk through the rice paddies, one last salumet siang! good afternoon! to all of the painters doing their thing on the path. we put our things in the van and said goodbye to kamang, almost crying at leaving him and made and our home. we pulled away and sped down the road towards the airport. a typical drive of dodging dogs laying all over the road, other scooters that just veer to the side of the road in the wake of bigger vehicles. sand piles that are just dumped in the street, rice drying in the sun, familes talking in the road, woman on the way to ceremony--there are no sidewalks, everyone just drives around it all. the whole way there was basically new territory as we never really explored the south of the island. it made me really appreciate where i was living even more! we got to the airport, checked in, surreal surreal, ...we had been given an offering by made and after buying a few last minute treats we went looking for a temple in the airport. i was surprised to see they didn't have one, but all of the stores had incense burning and offerings just outside their spaces. two women were encouraging us to go and have a drink in their lounge, and declining, we asked if we could leave our offering with theirs. visibly touched and delighted, they of course said yes and we set ours down next to theirs--it was a perfect moment. and when we were finally boarding the plane, we were greeted going down the tunnel to the plane with a group of balinese people singing and playing instruments and wishing everyone a good flight. we started crying at this point, tears of gratitude at how amazing and open and generous these balinese people are with their land and hearts. we flew to hong kong. sitting next to a very chatty and great woman from northern norway. i got kind of tipsy on 3 free beers! coming up to the city near 9 pm, it was dark, and from the southeast we arrived over the sea..mysterious lanters floating in the water-- fishing boats perhaps? and came upon the lights of hong kong. the clouds were puffy and fluffy and the city shone through them, black and white..towers reaching up to the sky, the massiveness of the place stretching and groping on and on. a nasty head wind on the landing made the plane jump and bounce not just up and down but side to side which was slightly terrifying. a few uneventful hours there and we're off on our main flight--a whopping thirteen hours flying through the sky --almost 8000 miles coming all the way across the biggest ocean on earth. the plane was a double decker and equipped with some fancy seats that had computers on them including 150 CD's, 50 movies, tv shows, documentaries, 100 games, language programs etc.. the time...passed. slowly at times, 9 hours, 7 hours, 5 seemed like forever and then it was just over. after the hour long customs entry and we grabbed our packs, walked outside and met our good friend rocket! the first time we have seen someone that we knew from home since jeremy in bangkok, 6 weeks ago. we sped through the streets of la, hopping on I-405, whoa! i called my brother and sister and heard their lovely voices for the first time in three months. we talked to our parents soon after and checked in with everyone..i dodged questions about the future..laughing them off as something that isn't right now and that i won't think about until later (the scarlett o'hara syndrome as my mom calls it). i stood at the window and looked out at the big lights of this sprawling mass of city, and dead pan in front of me loomed a giant i-pod billboard, yellow in the background with a dancing woman silhouette. that is when i knew i was back. i took some herbal sleeping pills last night and only woke up once, at 2:30 am, momentarily horrified that i wouldn't be able to fall back asleep, and through exhaustion i managed to until 9:00 this morning. 9:00am LA time equals 12 midnight bali time. i feel good now! i've been plotting and scheming a lot about how to beat this jetlag thing, and i think i might have conquered it! only time will be the test of that though. for anyone wondering..we left at 4 pm from bali, got to hong kong at 9 pm, left at midnight, and then arrived in LA 3 hours before we left at 9:15 pm. it was completely dark in hong kong, then at some point was light, and then just before arriving to LA the sun was setting again. it is very trippy going from dark to light and through a whole sun cycle in just 12 1/2 hours. we are adjusting to this world by landing in the heart of american pop culture for four lovely days. we will be in seattle on sunday and then down to portland. three days there for melissa and a week for me and then up to bellingham. we will still be blogging, so please check back often to see how re-entry is, reverse culture shock, settling back into a wonder-full, vibrant, alive experience of being here will be. we are full of inspiration and perspecive and excitement right now, and we can't wait to see everyone.

please write to us if you feel inspired to do so, especially for all of those people who have come across our blog that we don't know, we'd love to see who is reading this..we've had over 2000 hits on the site.

much love to everyone, and thank you soo so much for reading and supporting us on this journey!

carson (and melissa)

memories from an already distant land....

1. carson with the blanco gallery birds, lookin' like a pirate
2. drinking turmeric juice
3. us with made, the man of the ninth house
4. jessa, susie and timshel with the yellow turmeric tongues
5. us with jessa and katie at the orange warung

Monday, April 7, 2008


the day is here...
the last day of our trip (pretty much, though we still have 4 days in los angeles)
but it is the last full day of being so far away, and of being out of the USA.

i don't really know what to say.  there is so much to share; i feel like i've been a bad blogger here in bali, not really writing a whole lot about our experience, but little snippits instead. it feels like we are leaving a home.  bali (ubud in particular) is so special because travelers come here and stay for a *while*.  like pai in thailand, where people come for two days and stay a week (or 6 weeks, like we did), but even more so here.  people come here for a month and stay for three, and on and on, and then they come back the next year, and the next.  so there's a rich community here, both within the beautiful balinese people and the web of travelers and clothes designers and belt designers and jewelry designers and other artists that make this their second home.  and so, the friends we've made here are people who we've spent most of the days of our time here with, in large and small amounts, and they all feel like friends we've had for much longer.  the ninth house is also the place we've stayed longest on our trip; i wrote down all the beds we've slept in on our whole trip, and the ninth house is #50!  it also feels like our home; our room, the yoga space, margot and jesse (who left today!) and all the people who live there and help out to keep it such a nice space.  last night we had a potluck/dinner there with about thirty people who are friends of margot and jesse and us.  we bought 10 vegetable curries, 10 vegetable lawars, 3 chicken perlalas and 3 large salads from lala and lily's, one of our favorite restaurants where wayan and ibu, the women who work there, are just perhaps the sweetest women we've ever met (another na's kitchen experience, for bali this time).  carson, jesse and i carried all the food back on our motorbikes and had a feast with our friends at home. 

two days ago we finally pulled ourselves away from the ubud bubble and took a day trip down to padangbai to go snorkeling at the 'blue lagoon.'  at first the drive on the motorbike was overwhelming, but it evened out after a while.  (jesse jokes that we should make a video game of driving a motorbike in bali, having to dodge the dogs sleeping in the middle of the road or trying to chase you, random potholes, piles of rock or sand dumped on the side of the road, parked cars, billowing clouds of black exhaust from trucks passing, vans passing you so close you almost run off the side of the road, other motorbikes, rain pelting you in the face, the sun beating down, quick turns, etc.)  we saw countless durians on the drive, and ate two (fantastic!) and did some of the best snorkeling we've ever done in the lagoon.  really, i've never seen such diverse, colorful and healthy coral as i saw there, and fish of every color.  carson and i took turns with the snorkle set that jeromi gave us, and after we were done we gave it to a group of balinese kids that were so excited to have it to look down through the water they were swimming in.  it's so incredible how just that little snorkle set can open up a whole new world.

we've been attending potlucks to say good bye to other friends...learning more intricate and delicious ways to make raw chocolate out of fresh cacao beans...dodging dogs in the middle of the night... waking up for the sunrise...drinking turmeric juice with jessa susie and timshel and taking pictures of our yellow tongues... visiting the antonio blanco art gallery and getting pictures taken with macaws and cockatoos on our shoulders... hiding out in the rain storms (and driving in the rain when we can't escape it)... eating papaya and black sticky rice for breakfast... trying to find a new environmental school with the directions of "go right, then left, then right, then left" to no avail but seeing a little more of the country side instead...taking pictures of the terraced rice fields and flower offerings and sculptures at our house to show you when we get home...savoring the green views....watching the rice fields transform from green stalks to being full of seeds to being cut and harvested to drying on the side of the road (or in the middle of the road in some cases! :) ...taking a poi spinning class with a great teacher named nick woosley...eating a 15 dish balinese buffet at ketut's place with chloe and liam and three other new friends...eating warm fresh baked blueberry muffins from bali buddha...  tonight we finally go to the kecak dance (didn't work out the other day) with katie and jessa, and then dinner at the orange warung, and then home to pack up. 

i feel ready to come home, and also not.  i feel surprisingly neutral about it actually!  just like, wow, the day is here!  it's been so long, and i bet as soon as we land and see the space needle it will feel like it was all a dream.  of course, i am excited to see my family and carson's family and my dog and friends.  it will be comforting to be home around all things familiar and comfortable and home-like.  it's also feeling bittersweet today to be leaving, all of these new friends we've made here (who are also all leaving in the next few weeks too), and this culture, the smiles, the rice fields, the flowers, the art, the land.  it's not my 'home' but it's one of them.  for me, traveling has definitely helped expand my homes, the places that i know, that i have connection to and experience with.  i am wondering how the US will feel to me, having been gone for so long (having been gone at all, this being my first International trip!)  getting back into the world of news, and elections, and the troubled economy, and the making-money-world versus spending-money-world that we've been in for so long.  i'm excited to be in a place where you don't have to worry about mosquitos (some of the ones in bali carry dengue fever) or catching some horrible sickness (several people have been getting typhoid fever here, including one of our good friends).  i'm looking forward to cooking more food, going to farmer's markets, and spending some good quality time with the people i love!  i feel ready to settle for a while again.  bali itself has also been a place of settling, here in ubud....we traveled for so long so far, it's been nice to be cozy here in a nurturing little nest and not venture far from it.  carson and i have made lists of all the things we want to explore when we get home, like studying spanish, working on a farm and creating a garden at my parents' house, playing music together and learning new instruments, riding bikes, hiking a lot in the woods, growing wheatgrass, making "man bags" (that's his :) and other various things that sound like fun.  i think a challenge and a treat will be to continue the journey, the adventurous spirit, the exploration and newness when we get home, and to infuse that energy into every day.  i feel ready to leave bali and go on to something else, but that doesn't mean i won't be looking out the plane tomorrow until i can't see the rice fields any more :)  it really is such a unique and dynamic and beautiful place here, where a culture is so alive and practiced within the development and tourism and business of every day life.  yesterday i watched a woman in the laundry place give an offering to their little altar, a stick of incense burning stuck over a little tray of flowers, she flicked holy water three times on the altar and opened her palm forward.

i can't put it all into one entry...the integration process will be a process for sure, and i'm curious what it will be like for both of us.  the ways we've expanded and grown, the things we've learned about ourselves and each other and people and places and the world in general are all things we couldn't have learned unless everything had been exactly as it's been.  i'm excited to put some photos online when we get to los angeles so that you all can see where and who we've been for the past five weeks!

bicycles carrying an overflowing haul of cleaning supplies; ducks waddling together down the rice field and squishing their feet in the mud and laughing their quacking way together; the warm welcoming face of wayan as he opens the gate for us every night and says selamat malam (good evening); komong's smile when we greet him each morning and say "apa kabar?" (what's up/what's the news)  and answer "bagus!" (good!) like clockwork every morning, i love it, sometimes we raise our voices high or lower them deep to have fun; living in a town so small that you run into your friends every day, sometimes several times in a day; balinese people walking down the street in their ceremonial clothing, women carrying towering tall offerings on their heads; a dead chicken hanging upside down from someone's hand as they drive home on the motorbike; a lineup of motorbikes and cars all the way down the street from the gas station because of petrol shortage; fluorescent blue fish; women walking towards me with a stack of sarongs on their head, "for good luck"  "good for me, good for you!"; the smell of a durian; a circle of new and old friends holding hands and wishing each other well on their journey; rain so hard like a waterfall, rivers in the streets, and all dried up an hour later; red hibiscus flowers placed in the palms and behind the ears of stone deity statues; the view of the rice fields (really, there might not be many more things as beautiful as the bali countryside); a white heron resting on a tree; two giant glass containers filled with lala and lily's vegetable curry; a monkey holding it's little baby in it's arms and nursing; the string of "lasts" that we'll have today, saying goodbye to friends and places and favorite dishes of foods and views and sights and smiles and routines and little bits of home that have sprung themselves up all around us here.  tomorrow we head out at noon to drive down to the airport, and jump on a plane to hong kong, have a three hour layover, and then fly on over to los angeles to be rescued after the long journey by our good friend rocket.  it will be nice to have some time to recover from the 20 hour journey and the 15 hour time difference~ and what better place to do that then los angeles, wow!  not a better place for american reverse culture shock, if i do say so myself!

carson is off getting his birthday massage, a gift from chloe and liam.  i'm going to go meet him, and we'll make our rounds.  we look forward to seeing you all again soon!  it *has* been a long time.  there will be so much to share and to catch up on.  lots of good long hugs and sighs and happy little sounds too.  it will be a blast!

see you soon!
melissa & carson

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


water drained from the fields
to let the rice seed
met daily by rain
illumined by lightening
in the afternoon
formed into the perfect size
to be shaken out
of the hull
and dried flat
on a tarp
on the side of the road
on a side street
in a short-cut field.
this is what we eat every day
(this is what they eat every day)
this is where it's grown
terraced green beauty
irrigation masters
let the water in
or out
depending on what you want the plant
to do.

every day they leave burning incense
and little baskets of flowers
at all the entrances.
orange, lemon yellow, heart pink
with a prayer.
every day
the sun wakes us
sky blue
and every day the clouds
indigo gray billowing
carrying water
carrying sound
(like the sky cracking open)
carrying slow down
go inside
every day
the clouds pass

(in the past two days we've bought three monster durians)
(We watched a beautiful movie called 'born into brothels' about children of sex-trade workers in india...given a camera, it's stunning what they took pictures of, the windows into their life...highly recommended!)
(we have less than a week to go~!)
(what will it be like to enter the US again after being gone so long? how will our eyes be different? what will we notice? what will we see? how will we be different to you, and you to us?)
(we are grateful to be gracefully prosperous in all aspects of our lives....a mantra given to us by our friend alaya to welcome abundance instead of being afraid of money)
(lots of little thoughts and recollections...always lots to share...sometimes hard to do it in front of a computer screen. tonight is an indian food buffet with some friends of ours, and then a kecak performance (the monkey chant!)