Tag Archives: Travel



I enrolled in grad school in China.
After I moved into residence
but before new student orientation
my mother came to visit.
I took her to McDonalds.
It was the custom
to take a nap
after your meal
and the seats and tables
folded into beds
so we slept.
While we were sleeping
the staff collected our clothing
and hung it in a large closet.
After a long nap we awoke
but could not find our clothes.
A purple sequinned tank top
had been placed at the foot of the bed.
A woman held up the top,
pulled it over her head and walked away.
I wrapped myself in a fuzzy brown blanket
and followed the crowd to the closet where people
grabbed clothes and stuffed them into their bags.
I said, “Hey, people are stealing clothes in here.”
No matter how hard I tried
I couldn’t find my yoga pants.

*This was a dream I have not embellished.
If you want to be a Counselor, you must be ready to say, “Yes of course. I believe you completely.”
This is equally true if you plan to travel.

What we’re really talking about when we talk about missed plane connections


This post is part of a weekly series about designing your life.

When we talk about
missed plane connections,
we’re not talking about planes.

The details of that particular voyage
are of no consequence
even though we’re convinced
that’s the story we’re telling.

We’re compelled to share
the number of minutes spent on the tarmac
and how close we came to missing the flight
because they provide a shape,
a socially presentable container,
for all our messy emotions.

Anxiety. Panic. Frustration.

We’re annoyed
when we feel
our time has
been wasted.

And we’re scared
of being stranded,
of the unknown,
of things beyond our control.

We don’t like to admit this.

On Saturday morning
the line up for my flight
from Malaga to Paris
was epic.
The computer system
was down (Who knew this
could happen in an airport)
and each passenger
was checked in
by a staff member
on the phone
with an employee
in another city.
So let’s say



There was no way
our 6:50 am flight
would leave on time
and that looked bad for
my connection in Paris.

At a little cafe
near the gate
I ate a bocadillo with
Iberico ham
and a cafe latte
and tried to create
a new story
for this journey.

Needed: a new paradigm.

I asked myself
“What would Damien do?”

He would survey the situation.

What’s real here?
I’m safe.
I’m having a lovely meal.
The plane is at the gate
so this flight will
eventually depart.
If I miss my flight to Tokyo
I’ll spend the day in Paris.

Even before the plane
took off
I was asleep.

When I awoke
people were moving
to the front of the plane
with their knapsacks and luggage.
Those with tight connections.
I would have 40 minutes
to get a boarding pass,
clear passport control
and catch a bus
to the M gates.

Not probable
but possible.

Relax. You’re okay.

When I scanned my passport
at a machine, a message said:
“You do not have enough time to board.”

I asked for help.

An Air France employee
whom I stopped in the hall
directed me to a desk
that would issue my boarding pass.
A Canadian woman living in Spain
asked if I’d like to go ahead of her.
She had plenty of time
she said.
I cried at her kindness
but just a little.

Ran through the airport
forsaking a day in Paris.

Si es possible.
If it is possible.
If the universe desires.

I boarded Air France 272
during the final boarding call
red-faced from running.

The rest unfolded
as it always does.
12 hours in the sky:
Movies, brie cheese, sleep.

My bag arrived a day later,
delivered to my door.

None of this was the end of the world.

The feeling
I chose to have
on my journey
was not one of
or anxiety
even though
I’m especially gifted
at both.

I chose adventure.
{Let’s see what happens. Run!}

I chose creativity
and wrote four poems.

I chose gratitude
for finding
a balance
letting go
helping myself
and to the women and men
of Air France who got me
and my luggage

I changed my story.

An inconvenience
is not
a catastrophe
unless we think it is.

The self who missed
the flight
is sitting on a green metal chair
in the Tuileries Garden
on a sunny day in late May
deciding where to eat
roast chicken for dinner.

Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage

When I was a girl
travellers wore their best clothes
on airplanes.
Family and friends
wished them
“Bon Voyage!”

Have a good trip.

Passengers now board planes
in sweatpants
and flip flops.
We send them off with
“Travel safely.”

is the very least
of what’s been lost.

Paris. {Always a good idea.}

red umbrella

The first time I visited Paris
we lived in Mexico.
From Mexico to Paris
is not just a flight
it’s a different freaking star system.
They give you a new brain,
a chic wardrobe
and as much cafe au lait
as you’d like
but only for breakfast.

I’d been reading for months,
learning the rules:
1. Always say “Bonjour Madame or Monsieur” when entering a shop.
2. Do not pick up items in stores. {This includes everything from sweaters to oranges.}
3. Move quickly and in the correct direction in the Metro.
4. Be aware of scams and thieves.
5. Dress nicely for the butcher. {That means everyone.}

You see, I’d never been to Europe.
I wanted to be
an expert.
Later, rule number four would prove useful
in Barcelona. And in Japan,
all these rules have proved helpful
except number four
which is simply
not relevant.

In the onyx light of early morning
our taxi sped from Charles de Gaulle
to the 7th Arrondissement
{a word that has taken me a decade to master}.
As the squat houses of the suburbs clicked over
we travelled back in time. I awoke
outside our hotel, surrounded by six-storey Haussmann.
I cried.
DP said, “It’s okay. You’re just tired.”
But it wasn’t that.
It was the beauty.

From the window of our room,
the street told a story
like a movie.
A woman in a red peacoat
and black rubber boots
carried a brown paper bag
filled with long loaves of bread.

A green wooden box of red geraniums
hung below our window.

As we descended the stairs
into the metro at Ecole Militaire,
I reached for DPs hand.
People hurried in both directions
and the tile-covered walls pulsed
like a heart.
Light yellow tiles
like lemonade
or butter on toast.

At a cafe, a small girl with excellent posture
and a green velvet jacket sat with her mother
and two aunts frosted in silk scarves
and impeccable ponytails.
They let her pour the hot chocolate
into their white porcelain cups.

The Mona Lisa was not smaller than I imagined.
{I’d done my research.}
I was not fully prepared for her smile,
the pull of it, how I’d seek her out
in that too-warm room
where the guards kept
an eye
on our attachment.

Under the lights of the Eiffel Tower
we ate chocolate crepes
and took photos
of the carousel blur,
cotton candy pink horses
and their small riders.

The airport shuttle showed up
on time
sleek + white + alien.
We drove around the city
plucking other travellers
out of their dreams
and vacations.
We crossed a bridge.
It was raining.
I cried.

Paris, I think,
is a woman’s city.

train-people (with exceptions)

traingirlThe Japanese are train-people
well-dressed people.

These things are true-ish.
Except when they’re not.
(There are always exceptions.)

tableAt lunch
the young people
at the table beside me
are as loud as
school kids in the hall.
The man-boy snorts
when he laughs.
Our waitress smiles
at the sound.

tokyo towerBelow Tokyo Tower,
young Japanese man
on a motorbike
sings opera
at the top of his lungs.

On the train
three boys in small navy shorts
form a triangle,
two seated
one standing.
They terrorize each other

train no headDoors open.
Sun boards the train.

Three school girls
in navy uniforms
and small bowler hats
stand in the centre of the car.
Two with hands-ful
of pink and purple yarn
and small nimble fingers.
Spiders-webs of play.

train apartments2Transferring trains
I think about the Tokyo people
who live
the tracks
for whom the sound of trains
is constant
as breath.

The boy beside me sleeps
his phone in one hand
a book in the other.

An elderly man
rushes off the train
to return a purple umbrella
to a sweet-faced woman
while the empathy
of passengers
holds the doors
for his return.

A guy in headphones
and a brown puffy jacket
checks his seat twice
leaving the train.

Outside Family Mart
a woman walks on shoes
like skyscrapers.

I’m almost home
when two bulldogs
in matching
red Adidas sweatshirts
nod konichiwa
with the courtesy
(with exceptions)
learn living in Japan.

Live every day like you travel: 4 lessons from the road

Welcome! If you have just arrived here from my guest post at Tiny Buddha, please make yourself at home. Don’t feel shy about looking around… my blog-house is your blog-house!

If you are a regular around these parts, click here to read “Live every day like you travel: 4 lessons from the road.”


two thousand words {bangkok and paris}

{Above: Crepes & Co in Bangkok, Thailand as seen by Monna
Below: A bistro in Paris, France as seen by DP}

two thousand words is a (sometimes) weekly post featuring one photograph from Monna and one from DP. Would you be able to guess which one of us took which photograph if I didn’t tell you?