Friday, September 26, 2008

Off the wagon

So, there's this thing I've been meaning to tell you. I've been talking about it with a few of my friends, in private, because I haven't really been sure how to break the news to people. I mean, I know you all love me, and you care about me, and you would never think of judging me. But still, this is the kind of thing that really defines you as a person, and I'm a little nervous about it, rightly or not. Normally, I feel like this kind of thing is personal, and I feel a little bit uncomfortable airing the lurid details of my personal life with you. But I care about you, a lot, and so I feel like it would be wrong of me to keep this from you any longer.

It's a bit of a sensitive topic for me, so I hope you'll understand why it's taken me so long to come clean. I mean, it's not every day that you make a big decision like this.

You see, well, there's this thing, and...

Oh, hell. No more stalling. Out with it.

I'm not a vegetarian anymore.

You know, I feel a lot better now that I've told you that. It's such a relief. I had no idea you would care so much about my dietary preferences, but I'm happy we can be honest about these things.

I've been doing my best to fit in and catch up. Check it out! I've even tried silkworm larvae -- I hear that's a fairly common pick among you carnivorous types, right?

And, while SonicLlama has already covered a lot of the details of our joint Korea trip, worry you not, I shall have details of my own forthcoming, shortly. As soon as I finish moving, and get my classes sorted out, and figure out how UCLA screwed up my funding (again!), and apply for fellowships, and...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Road trip, part 2

But, of course, meeting friends and family went fine. Why wouldn't it? Of course, though, visiting Eugene once again made me nostalgic for Oregon booze prices -- viz, the $9 pitchers that you can't quite see on the table there (am I starting to sound like a broken record about this? Sorry).

And so, camera in hand, we wound our way up the Oregon coast, on our way to Vancouver. It's been a long time since I've actually taken the time to explore the coast, and I'd almost forgotten how absolutely gorgeous it is. Alright, maybe not forgotten. But it was good to see again.

View from the Florence Jetty.

Looking down the maw of the Devil's Churn.

Gazing out from inside Devil's Punchbowl.

And then, with a brief stopoff at the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, we hopped in our car, drove across the border to Canada, and pulled in to Vancouver.

Vancouver, of course, was our ultimate destination. Well, more accurately, we were heading nine hours east of Vancouver to a tiny little town called Salmo, for the Shambhala Music Festival. We were attending at the suggestion of one of L's friends and had almost no idea what to expect. Some sort of electronic music festival, we guessed, but hell if we knew any more than that.

It turns out we'd signed up for a four-day-long rave.

After Coachella, Shamhala is the second music festival I've attended. At Coachella, at least I knew most of the bands I went to see. I explored a few new bands and overheard music from neighboring stages, but by-and-large I was just attending a lot of concerts at the same time.

So I was caught completely off-guard when we pulled through the completely perfunctory security check, set up camp, and wandered into the main stage area. We were early, and music was already playing. In fact, music was playing at some stage at the venue for the entire time we were there, 24 hours a day. Unlike the pervasive security clearance at Coachella, you had to struggle to find a non-concertgoer: beyond the workers directing traffic and the people manning the pill-testing tent, the organizational presence of the festival was almost completely invisible.

And the effect was amazing. As we wondered around the festival at three in the morning, we were sucked up and completely enveloped by the experience. Wandering from stage to stage, dancing, getting lost in the forest between stages marveling at the weird costumes. At one point, at three in the morning, I decided I wanted to learn how to hula-hoop -- a skill which I never picked up as a child. And lo-and-behold, not 10 feet from me, we found a trio of hula hoops hanging from a tree and I distracted myself until we decided to wander on to the next novelty. An enormous bunny rabbit wandered handing out jelly beans to passing strangers, in what I'm almost positive was not an offer of drugs. A wandering fairy, lost in a sea of dancers, found herself fascinated with the facepaint on my chest ("It's sticky!").

And then we played a tractor.

The whole weekend now occupies my mind as an indistinct blur of color, noise, and dancing. It would be impossible, beyond my few paltry annecdotes, to adequately express what I experienced. With that in mind, I leave you with a few pictures.

Bicycles in hand, we set out for a day of exploration.

Building spaceships out of magnets, one of the many, many random activities strewn about for the amusement of festival-goers.

All suited up and ready for our first big night out. Our costumes for night two can be seen in an earlier post.

A late-night rest stop down by the creek. Delightfully cooling by day, eerie and ethereal by night.

The creek by day. Installing that music stage by the beach was one of the festival's more inspired ideas.

And a daytime shot of the Ewok Village, one of the three or four or so dance stages we spent hours lost in. The effect of the stages was much cooler by night, although I will admit to a little nerdy giggle of glee as I noticed the Ewok houses nestled up in the trees (up to the top left, there).

And then, far too soon, we were back in our car, driving down the West Coast, and on our way back to LA. Where I've now been for the past few weeks, working and resuming what constitutes, for me, regular life.

However, I'm flying out to Korea tomorrow, so that should be pretty awesome.