we cry in desperation
at the hunger in our souls
searching for absolution
fragments into whole
darkness falls to pieces
light infused with light
it comes inside and reaches
tearing down the night
(c) zoe pamintuan
i walk alone, in the still
of the storm —
the only sound…
an endless whisper
on the trees,
covering the landscape —
the evergreen colors
in the deepening, darkening mist.
(c) zoe pamintuan
27 february 1996; 1 july 1998
between solitude and communion
is the life we live —
it is a constant
rebirth into a newness
borne from experiences
retreat and return
lies the truth of our
that in the final
all we can give
and receive is
(c) zoe pamintuan
7 april 2004
Here’s the latest chapter in the Adventures of Lewis and Clark where we learn that the secret to the meaning of the universe resides in the humble hairclip. Who knew? Then again…it’s also the trip in which we learn that Nutella is dangerous…
There’s an ancient Zen saying that goes something like this: Before Zen, a mountain is just a mountain and a tree is just a tree. During Zen, a mountain is not a mountain and a tree is not a tree. After Zen, a mountain is just a mountain and a tree is just a tree.”
Well, after our last adventure: Before Monterey, a hairclip is just a hairclip. During Monterey, a hairclip is not just a hairclip. After Monterey, a hairclip holds the meaning of life and—cue theme song from “Mission Impossible”—finding the right hairclip is an exercise in futility!
Since I have short hair and the last time I wore a hairclip was probably back when I was like seven (mind you, it took three years for my hair to grow long enough to need a hairclip because I was bald till I was four; don’t laugh, I don’t have control over my genes and besides, bald is beautiful), the aforementioned incident could only involve my cousin Lanie, aka “Wind in the Hair”…But more on that later…
We left for the foggy town of Monterey on the morning of August 12 after having lunch at The Loft with Marc. If you haven’t eaten there yet, you are so missing out on some great Hawaiian food. Now Marco was supposed to go with us on this trip but, noooooooooo, someone just had to get a speeding ticket because he just had to duplicate some weird noise coming from his car’s engine that only came on when driving at high speeds.
So, mister never-drives-fast-even-though-I-have-a-Mustang just had to drive way over the speed limit in a 25 mph zone and get busted by the cops. And no amount of I’m-sorry-I-didn’t-know-I-was-speeding-and-don’t-you-look-good-in-that-uniform-and-can-I-get-your-number-officer was going to get him out of this speeding ticket. You should ask him to tell you the story sometime…it’s actually quite funny. And be sure to ask him what kind of traffic school he attended; I do believe there were some feather boas involved.
Anyways, he so missed out. If he had gone, he could have experienced the hairclip incident in the flesh and I wouldn’t be so traumatized for having had to bear the brunt of Lanie’s obsession the whole trip home! Don’t they have meds for OCD and do we get a family discount for buying in bulk?
We were supposed to leave early in the morning, that was my intention, but as usual, I was late. What can I say, I’m Filipino, we’re always late. And besides, it wasn’t as if we had to be in Monterey at a certain time or anything. Now, if we were meeting some cute farm boys out in the desert, that would be a whole different story. Although I am not aware of any farms near the desert but apparently my cousin Nina thinks they live out there. Hmmmmmmm.
The drive up was largely uneventful for the most part. We headed for PCH and stopped only for gas and snacks. You know, it’s not a real road trip until you load up on the unhealthy snacks like Cheetos, Boston Baked Beans (which Lanie had no idea what they were), Hot Cheetos (for Lanie), soda, etc. Of course, she was on my case about eating the sweets due to my roller coaster blood glucose levels, but you know how it goes; being on vacation means indulging, within reason of course.
But just my luck, the Sugar Police was pulling out her badge every time I started snacking! Sheeeesh!! All she needs now is a snazzy uniform to go with her badge. Hehehe, maybe something in pink, or fuchsia or even teal. Sorry, couldn’t resist; the visual is too funny :)
At one point, we had to stop and switch drivers since I don’t like driving at night—bright car lights in my sensitive eyes, narrow two-lane highway, scary and dangerous if-you-fall-no-one-will-find-you-cliffs on one side and crazy tourists-in-rented-RVs-who-have-no-business-driving on the other side, and frequent signs warning drivers to “Watch for falling rocks.”
Like what am I supposed to do if a giant boulder comes crashing down towards the car? Jump out?! Yell, “watch out for falling rocks!” and redirect traffic? Start singing “Jesus Take the Wheel”? (And yes, that’s an actual song.) Swerve in the vain attempt to avoid killer rocks?! Catch the death rocks with my super duper extra strong Hefty trash bag?! I’m not bitter, just afraid for my life. It’s bad enough that something as mundane as everyday C & H sugar could kill me, but to add homicidal rocks to that equation—the mind reels!
Once Lanie got behind the wheel, she just had to practice her evasive police maneuvers with the caveat that “I’ve been trained in this, so chill, “complete with hand pointing and other hand gesticulations that I think were meant to calm me down. Yeah right! All that is just code for “you drive like an old lady in a wheelchair and we need to make up some time!” Ummmmm, newsflash…my SUV is not exactly standard LAPD-issue police car and it doesn’t even have any cool multicolored lights on it.
Not that having multicolored lights would enhance my driving experience; I’m just saying that Lanie thinks she’s in pursuit of a suspect whenever she gets behind the wheel. Besides, how am I supposed to enjoy the scenery if I drive like I’ve robbed a bank and a whole squadron of police cars are after me? Again, death cliffs on one side and killer rocks on the other side. Hellooooooo?!
And yes, Lanie was taking those famous PCH curves just short of tipping my car over. In fact, I had no idea that my SUV could drive on two wheels going around sharp turns. You know, expert driving and all. And she wonders why I was eating so many Boston Baked Beans and loading up on sugar. Anxiety gives me the munchies. So, it’s really her fault that my blood glucose levels were too high that night.
That’s right people, when all else fails, blame the cousin. That’s her dad, my uncle, likes to do when he can’t find stuff. He just blames Lanie or Marc. My dad does the same thing when he can’t find one of his tools; he accuses me of taking his screwdriver, hammer, drill, etc. The Pamintuan brothers so need a lo-jack for tools since their current homing devices i.e. children, don’t work too well.
We finally reached Monterey in one piece, barely, and settled into our hotel room. The next day, we decided to visit the Aquarium. It’s been a while since I last visited, but it’s always great fun. We walked through all the exhibits and ooohhhed and aaahhhhed over some of the really cool stuff like the jellyfish.
And we kept laughing about how uncreative the names for the different types of jellyfish were. “Oooohhh, a blue jellyfish! I wonder what it’s called?” Checks the sign…”Umm, it’s called ‘blue jellyfish.’” “Hey, what about this one? You can see right through it. What’s its name?” Again, checks the sign…”Dude, it’s called a ‘crystal jellyfish.’ Real creative,” (eye rolls all around). And my personal favorite, the upside down jellyfish. Three guesses as to why it’s called that. Just look at the photos and you’ll see what I mean.
In spite of the less than creative names, the jellyfish exhibit was totally cool. We went to another exhibit that had tuna and sharks in it and we were trying to spot the weirdest looking fish I’ve ever seen, the giant sunfish. It looks like Bruce the great white shark took a big bite and left just its head. (If you don’t know who Bruce is, watch “Finding Nemo.”) The sunfish can weigh up to 4,000 lbs! I would so freak out if I ever saw one out in the wild. Then again, I freak out if a guppy touches my foot while I’m standing in ankle deep water. Hey, you never know about those guppies. They could attack and next thing I know, I’ll be starring in the latest “When Animals Attack” video.
The rest of the day was spent doing the tourist thing, i.e. walking around Cannery Row, shopping for souvenirs, etc. We spotted a crêpe place and of course we had to eat there. Now, silly me thought that my body could handle a little crêpe. Come on now, the French can’t even spell words correctly with all those silent letters and weird accents.
Anyways, the Sugar Police, aka Lanie, gave me the third degree about being okay with eating crêpe, would it raise my glucose too high, was I sure I wouldn’t get sick if I ate a crêpe, yada, yada, yada. I felt like I was on “Law and Order” under interrogation for some horrendous crime. All Lanie needed was one of those bright lights to shine in my sensitive eyes in order to make me confess that “YES, CRÊPES ARE EVIL!” All this while we were ordering crêpe. I’m pretty sure that the girl taking our orders thought we were weirdoes. Hah, she’s just lucky that she didn’t have to take orders from all the cousins.
I decided on a Nutella and banana crêpe and Lanie ordered a strawberry crêpe. You should have seen the look she gave me when I uttered the word “Nutella.” It was as if I had grown another head or something. I’m still surprised that she didn’t tell the person taking our order to make my crêpe plain. You know, nothing in it but air—yeah, it’s called the “pretend crêpe.” But I foolishly thought that a little hazelnut spread couldn’t hurt, right? I mean, it’s not even chocolate, which we all know is so bad for you.
Needless to say, I didn’t feel good after eating the dangerous crêpe. No one informed me that two tablespoons of Nutella contain 20 grams of sugar. And yes, Lanie had the “I told you so” look on her face. I’m surprised she didn’t do the requisite song and dance to rub in how right she was. But now I know, Nutella really is evil and I swear on my twin nephews’ cute round heads that I will never eat another Nutella and banana crêpe ever again. How do you say, “crêpes are evil” in French anyway?
After the crêpe incident, we met up with my friends, Adriana and Mark, who were getting married the next day. They’re colleagues and friends of mine and Adri asked me to be the photographer. So the day after the Aquarium was spent taking lots of photos of the wedding.
While I was doing that, Lanie was back in the hotel room probably playing on the computer or plotting to take over the world. I’m never quite sure what she does sometimes. I bet she’s CIA, FBI, NSA, Secret Service or something and of course, she can’t tell or she’ll have to kill us with all those guns she owns. She probably doesn’t even need weapons to do that, you know, the “my hands are lethal weapons” thing.
I was so tired from the wedding that I didn’t have the energy to do anything strenuous the next day. Besides, I didn’t even have any pan de sal, and we all know what happens when I don’t get to eat any pan de sal. But that’s another story.
We ended up going shopping and guess who spent all kinds of money on Mac makeup? Yep, so not me! Who knew Lanie was capable of spending money on makeup. Yeah, and ask her about that new Coach purse. No, that was not a typo and I’m not smoking crack. Good thing she bought all that makeup as it gave me an excuse to take photos of her. And yes, people, she was POSING. That’s right, go back and read that last sentence. Four words…America’s Next Top Model!
We didn’t do much the rest of the day and maybe we should have considering that this is when the infamous hairclip incident really started. Later that evening as I was editing my photos, Lanie was, how shall I say this, primping in front of the mirror. Next thing I know, she’s asking my opinion on how her hair looks with a hairclip. Now, everyone knows that asking my thoughts on matters of fashion or hair is like asking President G.W. Bush to speak proper English. Apparently, English is his second language, but I digress.
Needless to say, you can ask my opinion on just about anything—philosophy, art, literature, history, science, music, entertainment, movies, current affairs, politics—anything but fashion or hair. Besides, Lanie and I discussing fashion or hair is the blind leading the style-challenged blind.
Anyways, she kept fiddling with the hairclip and putting her hair in various configurations and each time asking for my opinion. How should I know? I don’t even own a comb or brush. Truth be told, I wasn’t really paying close attention since I was busy concentrating on editing the more than 600 photos I took for the wedding. I didn’t think anything of it; little did I know that the hairclip was going to make my life miserable. Thank goodness that I had a beautiful, one day reprieve from the misery it was going to cost me for not being more versed in the art of hairclip hairstyle.
On Monday, we spent the day at the Point Lobos State Reserve a few miles south of Monterey. The landscape artist Francis McComas said it best that this place is “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world.” And he wasn’t exaggerating. As you can see, photos and words cannot encompass it’s beauty. Point Lobos has now become one of my top five favorite places to visit in the world. We hiked, took lots of photos, and had an awesome time being out in Nature.
Surprisingly, this day was quite mellow; no being chased by wild animals or anything of the sort. Unless you count the teeny, tiny bugs that love to fly into your face with their annoying whine. Couldn’t Mother Nature have made them silent bugs? Isn’t it bad enough that these bugs somehow manage to fly into your nose, eyes, and ears while you’re standing out there trying not to look too foolish swatting at the almost invisible insects? You try to be all cool and ignore the bugs, which just makes them mad and then, out of nowhere, the damn bugs call in reinforcements and next thing you know, you’re in a black cloud of teeny, tiny, little insects and you’re doing the useless swatting dance.
And you’re thinking that now would have been a great time to have the handy dandy Filipino flyswatter. You know, the kind that magically makes you the ultimate bug-killing machine. So you make a run for it, trying not to yell like a frightened two-year old. Meanwhile, your cousin is just snapping away like she’s on assignment for National Geographic instead of lending a helping hand with the killer bugs.
Of course, if Lanie had been attacked by the insects, she would have whipped out her specially equipped Filipino flyswatter with some high-end laser sight and annihilated all the bugs with her sharp-swatting skills. And would then turn to me with “It’s all in the wrist, baby!” Other than the bugs incident, we had a great time at Point Lobos. Any day spent hiking around a beautiful place is always a good day. I wish we had stayed longer but we had to drive home the next day.
We packed up and headed for home and this is when the trouble began. As we were shutting the door to the hotel room, I asked Lanie, “Do you have everything?” And she answered in the affirmative. Apparently, that was not the case as I was about to find out. At our first stop, she asked me, “Have you seen my hairclip?” “Ummmmmmm, not since the other night when you were primping in front of the mirror.” That response just earned me a dirty look.
All through breakfast, she kept going over the different places she might have put the hairclip and how she missed the crucial step of shaking the covers of the bed. If I had only known, I would have shaken those covers myself till it snowed in the Sahara. So of course, before we got back on the road, she had to go through all her stuff. And I mean, ALL her stuff—computer bag, luggage, Coach bag, backpack, special bag, extra backpack (in the event of a natural disaster or something), parachute pack, survival kit, rock climbing pack, etc.
I thought she was going to go through all my stuff next. At the next stop, she looked in her cowboy boots, just in case her hairclip decided to go round up some cows or something. And as we continued driving, she would be all quiet and then blurt out some statement like “I should have followed my instincts!”
Of course, this would startle me since I was so lost in enjoying the scenery and listening to music because someone wasn’t in the mood for conversation, and I’d have to swerve to avoid hitting another vehicle. Well, that would only get me more dirty looks, hand motions, and “Easy killer.” As if.
At other times, Lanie would go on and on about how following her gut was the key to unlocking the mysteries of how her mind works. Ummmm…three words…all together now…Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Emphasis on “disorder.” I had exercise extreme powers of self-control and stifle my urge to laugh hysterically when she would use the hairclip incident as the justification for her OCD.
Okaaaaaaaaaay. Yeah, that’s just like when Uncle Marcial and my Dad would blame us kids for their tools missing; it’s our fault because (Filipino accent) “You kids are always taking things and not putting them back! When I was in the Philippines, we didn’t even have tools. We had to use sticks and stones as tools and make a fire by rubbing two sticks together. And we had to walk to school in our chinelas uphill both ways.” (for the uninitiated, chinelas is the Filipino word for flip-flops).
The whole trip home was like this. When I suggested she buy a new hairclip, I heard one of the most shocking statements of my life. Lanie said “I don’t know where to get one.” Hold up. Miss OCD who writes everything down, and keeps meticulous records of everything including her Fortune cookie sayings doesn’t know where to get another hairclip exactly like the one she lost?
I about crashed the car when she said that. She had to defend that egregious statement with “My brother’s the one who got me the hairclip.” And for the umpteenth time that day, I wished that Marco had come with us. Then I could have throttled him for buying her that troublesome hairclip.
Now, foolish me thought that if we buy another hairclip, the OCD gods would be appeased and Lanie would return back to normal (whatever that might be), so we ended up at the mall. Oh, if I had only known what I was getting myself into. Here I was thinking that we would go find one of those cutesy hair accessory stores, find the hairclip and this particular shopping trip would be done and over with. Sadly I was mistaken. Again.
Good thing I had some food before we got to the mall because Lanie had to go to every store, that would even remotely sell hair accessories, at least three times. We walking so fast that I was practically running. I felt like a millipede trying to run the New York City marathon. If I hadn’t eaten, I would have passed out due to sheer exhaustion! Meanwhile, Lanie was on a serious mission and if she failed, someone was going to get hurt—meaning me.
We found lots of hairclips of all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. I kept suggesting that she think outside the box and go for the glitter adorned pink hairclips, but that just got me more dirty looks of “If I hear you say glitter one more time…” Sheesh, I was only trying to help; then again, the image of Wind-in-the-Hair wearing a pink glitter hairclip was worth the dirty looks.
Besides, it would so match Lanie’s Mac Viva Glam V lip gloss. All she would need is some snazzy, pink outfit complete with a tiny, yippy, miniature Chihuahua with matching outfit and she can go hang out with Paris Hilton! Oh yeah, and some oversized Jackie O. sunglasses would so complete the entire outfit. Again, I digress. Anyways, after what seemed like hours, Lanie gave up the mission. For the time being. She’s probably on the Internet right now trying to hunt down the perfect hairclip.
Okay, I better stop now, considering that Lanie could still hurt me. You know, the my-hands-are-lethal-and-I-can-kill-you-101-different-ways-with-my-bare-hands-and-no-one-would-find-your-body-when-I’m-done-thing she’s got going on. Or she could just whack me upside the head with her Coach bag. Well, needless to say, we had a great time and from now on, when I need to find the meaning of life, I’ll simply ponder the wisdom of the lost hairclip.
Sedona is one of my favorite places to visit and have been there several times and once again decided to spend my Spring Break there. Lanie and I left late Sunday afternoon and since it’s a 6-7 hour drive, we would be getting to Sedona pretty late.
Then again, Lanie will tell you that the drive took so long because I was driving too slow. She’ll say that I was only going 55 mph but that is so not true. I had it on cruise control at about 75 mph so I don’t know where she gets her information from. Just because she drives like Mario Andretti and has been trained in evasive police maneuvers doesn’t mean I drive like an old lady!
Anyways, we arrived in Sedona around 2:00 am and to add to our tiredness, I was a little lost and it took a bit of driving around to find the hotel. It didn’t help that Lanie was calling me names for not having the correct directions. Like who needs the pressure at 2 am?! Needless to say, we finally found it and collapsed into bed, glad for the rest and looking forward to a relaxing week.
The weather was perfect for hiking and photographing. Sedona is a photographer’s dream and thank goodness that I finally bought a digital SLR! Otherwise, I would be burning so much film with all the photogenic spots around this awesome place.
Cathedral Rocks is supposed to be the most visited place in Arizona and it’s easy to see why. Of course, Lanie will tell you that she has better shots of this place than I do. And she does, sort of. But that’s only because she didn’t call me over when the clouds were all dramatic over the rock formations. By the time I got to the scene from a different place, the clouds were all gone! She still likes to rub it in that she got better photos than me. Whatever!
I wanted to hike up to the top of Cathedral Rocks but we decided to eat dinner at a great Thai restaurant and by the time we were done, it was too late to be hiking. We could have done some night hiking, but that would entail the possibility of running into Sedona’s famous “havelinas.” The town even has sculptures of the havelinas all over the place. Just a fancy name for wild pigs. I have seen one and they are quite scary! So, don’t laugh…wild pigs aren’t exactly the friendliest looking or sounding animals and being chased in the dark by Porky Pig on crack is not exactly my idea of a good time.
The next day, Lanie and I hiked to the top of Soldier’s Pass. A great hike and the scenery is unbelievable. At one point, we lost the trail and it seemed that we had to turn around. In fact, we ran into a few people in the same predicament, but they gave up too easily. Tourists! Since “Lewis and Clark” were just about ready to bushwhack through the wilderness with our machetes, we kept searching and voila! We found the trail and eventually ended up at the top of the pass. And yes, I had my requisite pan de sal so there was no fainting on this hike. I don’t remember the total distance, but I think it was 3-4 miles roundtrip.
We were rewarded with beautiful scenery. Nothing is better, except may hot chocolate on a cold day, than hiking on a beautiful day and no one else is on the trail. Our lives are way too busy and we don’t make enough time to simply slow down and just be. Hiking in Sedona is one sure way to slow things down.
On the way down from Soldier’s Pass, we passed by rock formations called the Seven Sacred Pools. So named by the Native Americans because when water was scarce in the summer months, they knew to come to this spot for some water to help a thirsty traveler. In one of my photos, Lanie is actually giving me the finger. How rude! She is such a dork sometimes. I’m sure Ansel Adams never had to put up with rude cousins on his photo hikes. And his cousins probably called him over when they found some cool stuff to photograph; unlike someone I know, but I’m not naming names.
Anyways, in some of the photos, we are actually being nice to each other and posing for the camera. We were still at the Sacred Pools and even though you can’t see them, there was a crowd of people above us and being all “touristy” (as if we weren’t) and it took a while to set up the shots as these people kept getting in the way. The nerve! I had to use the camera’s timer and then leap over a yawning chasm in order for me to be in the photo. Okay, so it wasn’t quite a chasm but it could have been with my short legs and all.
To get to the next place, we had to do some off-roading. The road was rough and it felt like I was driving on a series of speed bumps. We hiked up to the Devil’s Arch, which is about 200 feet off the ground and in some places, the trail was quite narrow and steep, but we made it up there. When we got to the top, Lanie wanted to do pull ups off the side of the arch! Wonder Woman wanted to hang 200 feet in the air and do pull ups! And we know she would have done it too had not the voice of reason, me, spoken up.
Well, it was more like me begging and pleading with Lanie not to risk her life while other people looked on because by the time we were done with our discussion, we had quite the audience as we were yelling at each other across the chasm. Our conversation went a little something like this (and with me getting panicked by the minute that she would actually do it.)
Lanie: “Dude, do you think I can do a pull up over the side?”
Me: “Dude, I know you can so you don’t have to prove anything to me.”
Lanie: “No, dude, I know I can totally do it. Easy.”
Me: “Dude, I know you’re like Wonder Woman, She-Ra, Supergirl, and Batgirl all rolled into one, but no. Please no pull-ups.”
Lanie: “Whatever, you just don’t think I can do it.”
Me: “Dude, I know you can so let’s just say you did and we can move on with our lives. Seriously, you’re not allowed to die before me and leave me.”
Lanie: “Aw, come on. It’s not like anything’s going to happen.”
Me: “Look, I don’t want to have to explain to your mother why I’m bringing home your dead, bloody, and broken body. And I’d have to drive, by myself, all the way back home with your corpse.”
Lanie: “Dude, you’re such a drama queen. Okay fine. I won’t do pull-ups if you’ll come and sit on the edge with me.”
Can you say emotional blackmail. As soon as she said that, I had visions of my dead, bloody, and broken body! But, if sitting on the edge meant that she would let the pull-up idea go, then so be it. And yes, even though I detest heights, I sat pretty close to the edge for the photo. That’s right folks, no Photoshop trickery going on here; that’s really me at the edge of a place called Devil’s Arch. Not exactly a name to instill confidence in anyone.
The rest of the week went by without another Devil’s Arch incident, thank goodness. Although I did learn that apparently, emotional blackmail works as I still can’t believe that I sat on the edge of that stupid arch. And yes, I even dangled my feet just to pacify my crazy cousin.