I’ve been feeling a little bit of blogging fatigue lately, as shown by my failure to post something Tuesday, July 14. (It’s only the second Tuesday of the year so far that I’ve missed!)

My fatigue, however, isn’t because I’ve run out of ideas to post about. The reality is, I have a lot of ideas for this blog. I have lists and essays and links round-ups and so much more.

But I’ve been having trouble making a coherent post on any one of these ideas. Six, nearly seven, months of consistent posting is surprisingly exhausting, and that exhaustion is making it harder for me to blog. (Incidentally, I don’t think I’ve ever posted this consistently for this long on this blog before; normally I do bursts of blog-every-day challenges, then go down to almost nothing immediately after.)

So I’m going on a little bit of a break. I want to give myself some time to relax for a bit, take it easy, and work on some of these ideas behind the scenes for a while.

I won’t be completely absent, though.

A few weeks ago, I spent an ungodly amount of time re-reading my own blog. (I needed the ego boost that night, yes.) I spent hours re-reading the archives, going way back to those very early months when I had no idea really why I was blogging, I just was.

And I found that there are posts that I actually really enjoy, posts that I’m proud of. Re-reading my blog basically from end to end helped me see my growth as a writer and a blogger and a person, but it also reminded me that I was doing alright when I first started.

So, for the next few weeks I’ll be re-posting some of my old blogs. I’m going to try and get a good sample of different topics, different styles, and pick posts from throughout the full two years and eight months I’ve been posting. This will go on for a few weeks, and I’ll probably still post original content here and there, but for now, there will be reposts.

Thank you very much for reading! I will be back in a few weeks with even better blogstuff for you.

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The remains of a landslide that happened just the other night after heavy rains in Sydney.

The remains of a landslide that happened just the other night after heavy rains in Sydney.

I used to be the kid that used to give my parents grief because I didn’t want to come inside for lunch, I didn’t want to come inside for dinner, and I didn’t want to come inside when it got dark outside. I wanted to ride my bike around the entire neighborhood instead of just around the small cul-de-sac our house was on. I was that kid.

I haven’t been that kid for a long time. I’ve invested my time in electronic pursuits, in Internet fodder and constant inundation of information that, in the larger picture, doesn’t matter. And a day trip to the Blue Mountains reminded me that I need to be more like that kid that gave my parents grief.

While on the trail, we encountered a place where there was a sudden patch of missing trees, like somehow a seam was ripped in the even fabric of the treetops. Our guide explained to us that this area was filled with trees, much like the area surrounding it. But the heavy rains that fell on Sydney the night before made that entire strip of land fall down, taking the trees with it.

It was the most interesting wake-up call. I’ve always been aware that the natural world, the world that’s devoid of steel, concrete, plastics, and whatnot, is so strong. But to be reminded of it in this way was really something else. All of this happened just because of wind and rain. No bulldozers could make it up the steep slope, no plow would stand a chance. And yet water and the rapid and collective movement of air particles was enough to push an entire strip of trees off the side.

It has been a long time since I’ve done anything truly nature-y. Walking through Central and Prospect Parks in New York, while beautiful, don’t count. They don’t have the same feel of being raw and rough and wild; Central Park was entirely man-made and Prospect Park is rather well-groomed. Hiking through the Blue Mountains like this, no matter how brief, was more than good. My legs felt like they were actually doing what they are meant to do. This was more than walking. I like walking; I prefer walking to class than taking the bus on most days. But there is always something detached about it, my mind wanders too much. Doing this hike, I was forced to pay attention to where my feet were going. I was forced to orient my body to maneuver around the uneven ground. I like hiking.

I need to go outside more often.


I’m reposting some old blog posts until I get out of my blogging funk. This was originally posted on March 16, 2013, and was my 77th post on this blog. You can read the original here: Go outside.

Caroliena Cabada:

I’ve been following Milkwood Permaculture on their various social media channels for a while now, and I decided to write a post about them. They’re a great organization that is always putting out interesting content about permaculture and regenerative living, so definitely check them out!

Also, I’ve been trying to come up with new content for this blog and get better about posting consistently. If you have any suggestions or feedback for what you might like to see, please let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Originally posted on Food Forests Forever:

A screenshot of the Milkwood Permaculture website, taken on 8 June 2015. A screenshot of the Milkwood Permaculture website, taken on 8 June 2015.

What is Milkwood Permaculture? [1]

At Milkwood we are all about helping folks to cultivate community. We want everyone to become skilled, active, knowledgeable and motivated to create the futures they need.

from Milkwood’s “About us” page [2]

Milkwood Permaculture is an organization dedicated to providing resources and educational opportunities to aspiring permaculture designers, gardeners, farmers, and community members. They hold courses in Sydney, Byron Bay, and other parts of Australia [3], and are highly accessible and informative for people of all skill levels.

What do they offer?

Milkwood offers resources both online and in-person.

  • Courses [3]. Milkwood offers courses throughout the year, from animal raising to mushroom cultivation. Most of the courses are one or two days, with the exceptions being their two-week Permaculture Design Course and their…

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It was in the dead middle of summer after my first year at college. Those days, I slept in until past noon unless I had an errand to run or work to finish for my part-part-part-time seasonal job at my old high school. I would spend hours with my laptop open and scrolling through endless pages of Internet fodder. I would spend hours with my laptop lid closed and a notebook open, and then hunting for a discarded and empty notebook to fill when I reached the second-to-last page. I never really slept unless I had to, and then I would overdose on sleep. This routine was enough to content me for a few weeks. Then I started to feel my brain getting smooth from repetition. It was nice, but I wasn’t.

The entire semester before that summer, every accomplishment sent my heart into a syncopated frenzy. I embraced the arrhythmia that was waking up, shaking off the steady, even breaths of sleeping. The skipping beats were stones on still water, and every skip was a ripple that I could read the future in.

The end of the semester did not bring that skipping feeling.

I remember reclining on the couch and reading a book I was able to find online and planned to add to the hefty stack I had completed so far that summer. It was a biography about a homeless man that took me by surprise. I’ve never been into biographies; they always seemed to either glorify the person or degrade him or her. But either way, the person was always larger than life. Biographies always read like extended tabloid stories, outlining the events that came before their big contribution or a personality quirk that would show up later on in life. I have no interest in the actions of the events in people’s personal lives, I want the consequences.

That biography gave me the consequences.

After a while, my eyes began to droop, a sign that I needed to change activities. I set the book on the floor next to the couch and opened the nearby notebook to a blank page and uncapped my pen. A few minutes later, I capped the pen and closed the notebook, setting them on top of the book on the floor next to the couch.

Bored.

Something in my brain told me that weird stretches were necessary so that my body didn’t get too comfortable in the conventional poses of sitting, standing, and walking. I pulled at my left ankle so that my left knee was bent and the toes on my left foot were in line with my shoulder. I pressed my abdomen against the back of the couch and pushed the backs of my shoulders towards the bottoms of my feet, knees and back bending. I laid belly down and twisted my hips so that they stacked oddly on top of each other, my feet flat against the wall behind the couch. A contortionist’s dance, only I’m (still) nowhere near as flexible. Just strange and (still) unable to keep to whatever code my body tries to keep me in.

My heart beat a little bit faster from the physical exertion; holding yourself in weird poses when you’re not exactly in the best shape of your life is hard work. But the beats were still even, just accelerated like the slowest of crescendoes; indiscernable until the sound gets unbearably loud. But nothing out of the ordinary. I always did this when there was nothing else to do. I writhed on flat surfaces, stretching my limbs at odd angles and clenching my fists like I was trying to grasp something just out of my reach. Always, always, always out of my reach. My heart would sink when I opened them up, empty.

I ended up sitting inverted on the couch, my legs where my torso should be and my torso where my legs should be, my hips acting like a pivot point, my head and vision upside down.

My mother used to get flowers for no reason. She wanted things to spruce up the room, add some beauty to the house. But this house can never keep a plant alive; multiple trials yielded the same results.

But on this day, there were roses in a glass vase filled with water. They were a rusting pink color, a shade unsaturated from the original blushing pink, and the tips of the petals were browning.

I saw a petal drop.

I pulled myself off the couch so that I could sit up properly on the floor, an off-beat heart contraction snapping me upright. I can’t even tell you where the petal fell from. The area within the circle created by the outermost flowers was already littered with fragile and crumbling petals, a clue that the petal’s fall was inevitable. But my heart still skipped a beat anyway.

There was no drama in it. Just gravity overpowering the forces keeping the petal bonded to its brothers and sisters, making it fall the short distance from ten inches above the tabletop. It didn’t flutter. It wasn’t carried to any other place except right below the node that it dropped from. Still, though it didn’t make a sound my physical ears could discern, in my head its contact with the table cloth echoed. A drum mallet dropped suddenly on the pulled-taut skin of a timpani.

I can’t tell you where in the bouquet of roses the petal fell from, just like how I can’t tell you the x, y, z coordinates of where a raindrop fell from inside a cloud. But I am never surprised by rain. The clouds are too obvious an indicator; my skin prickles in anticipation, an imitation of a raindrop falling on my cheek.

But I was surprised by this petal dropping. What are the chances that I could have witnessed this event happening? What are the chances that I will ever see that again? The experience was singular, singular in the sense that only one petal dropped in that split second, and singular in the sense that I feel like I will never see just one single petal dropping ever again.

I tried to look for other things that placed that particular moment out of the ordinary. But it was the same sunny day that had happened for the past week. It was still the same empty house with just me in it for the afternoon. It was still the same table, the same bunch of flowers, even the remote controller for the television hadn’t moved from its place in the holder, the same x, y, and z coordinates from the previous night. The trees still swayed in the same predictable way outside with the light breeze through its branches. The same children played the same types of games in the front yard next door and were called in for lunch at the same time as the days before. I was still reading the same book from yesterday. I woke up at the same time as yesterday. I still did the same non-routine stretch that I always did. There was nothing obviously extraordinary about this day.

Though maybe that’s why I found that spontaneous but inevitable drop to be so out of the ordinary, instead of just physics. Maybe I got too used to constantly living my life with eyes pinned open to take everything in that I forgot that small things can take your breath away too.

I am still catching my breath.

These are not the roses described, but they are pink roses that I did receive from friends after a dance event during freshman year that fit the description.

These are not the roses described, but they are pink roses that I did receive from friends after a dance event during freshman year.

Inspired by the Writing Challenge: The Devil is in the Details. Written in one sitting with very little editing.


I’m reposting some old blog posts until I get out of my blogging funk. This one was originally posted on January 27, 2013, and was my 56th post on this blog. You can read the original here: One moment.

My little hobbit hole.

My little under-the-bed Hobbit hole.

I’m home for winter vacation and this is where I will be spending a majority of my time for the next month or so, reading books, writing stuff, and studying ahead in Organic Chemistry. It’s a little nook my dad helped me put together during my senior year of high school. It has this old desk that’s been in our family since we lived in Japan, little shelves that used to be under the bottom bunk of this bunk bed, a purple butterfly chair piled with blankets, and several old knick knacks.

It hasn’t changed much since the last time I saw it. The desk is still in the same place, the books are all still there. And there are a lot of books. It’s hard to see in this picture, but the back edge of the desk against the wall is all lined with books that I had to read for high school English classes. Then behind the chair there’s this large cardboard box stood on its end and acting as a sort of mini bookcase that has some of the books I had to read for college as well as most of the books I read during the summer of 2011. And then not pictured here is another bookshelf that is filled with more knick-knacks than books, but it has all of the Harry Potter books as well as some more books I had to read for college and other books I’ve been reading the past few years. And then in storage in the basement I have other books that I packed away because I believed that I was finished with them. I may dig them up again and look for some old favorites. And then there are the books I brought from this past school year, most of which I bought in the last few weeks of the semester when I took several study break trips to the Strand. Books, books, books. And I have the most comfortable corner in the house to read them all in.

Reading is one of the few things that can get me through times like these. Vacations are always tough for me, I must admit. I’m always in a down mood, no matter what vacation I’m on. I’m like Harry when he’s away from Hogwarts; I’ve become so used to the splendor of school that it’s difficult to go back home and not perform any magic. Even though during the school year I’m not as rigorously academic as I should be, I get E’s and A’s with a few O’s in some classes that I have a natural talent for. But the entire time I’m away on vacation, all I can think about is, “I gotta get back to Hogwarts.”

But when I’m reading, I can forget about the fact that I’m not happy and dive into another world created by another person. This is one of the reasons why I have a lot of respect for writers, particularly fiction writers. Very few things can bring me out of the messed-up, dark place in my head, and writers create one of the few things that do just that. Even if the story is sad, even if the story makes me sob my eyes out, even if the story gives me this weird pressure and pain in my chest for days after I read it (I’m looking at you, Atonement), it’s not my sadness that I’m thinking about. And that’s all I ever really wanted, anyway.

I wrote a list of things to do this vacation on my study abroad blog, and I’ll focus on these things this break. I won’t get depressed this vacation. I promise that to myself and anyone who would care to take me up on that promise. I will not get depressed this vacation. That’s not what vacations are for, anyhow.

I hope everyone is having a good winter season. Stay warm, if you’re in a place that’s cold, and stay cool, if you’re in a place that’s warm.


 

I’m reposting some old blog posts until I get out of my blogging funk. This one was originally posted on December 25, 2012, and was my 30th post on this blog. You can read the original here – Tuesday: I’m home for the Holidays, but my head is not.

Caroliena Cabada:

This past June I completed a Monthly Travel Challenge put on by The Traveller’s Notes. This is the round-up post of others who have completed the challenge, and it’s amazing to see what people can still find in their towns, even after being there for several years.

You should definitely check out the other bloggers, as well as the Monthly Travel Challenge for more inspiration!

Originally posted on The Traveller's Notes:

To all participants of the Monthly Travels Challenge. Thank you for taking part in the June 2015 theme.

I have browsed blogs of all who voiced an interest in the challenge, looking for your posts. I have decided to change the rules to adjust visibility for us fellow participants and readers. The changed rules are in the first posts, but the changes are: obligatory Monthly Travels Challenge tag and link back to the monthly rules post you cover. Starting from July summary I will only feature in the summary posts those who fulfilled the rules so make sure you understood them correctly.

June 2015 Challenge

  • Discover a new (for yourself) place in your town or region.
  • Your first visit there should have been (at least) in June 2015.

June 2015 Challengers

  • Kama from The Traveller’s Notes (aka me), the host of the challenge. Done 1/1 [1/12].
  • Caroliena from Polyprotic Amory

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As I’ve mentioned in several of my posts within the past few weeks, I spend a lot of time around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. And, as a result, I keep coming back to photographing it whenever I go for a jog in the morning. No matter how many times I travel the circuit, I never get tired of the color of the sky or the reflection of the buildings on the water.

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I have so many pictures of the reservoir that my work computer is now a slideshow that scrolls through a few of my favorites. Even from the same exact spot, the scene changes day to day and can make a picture seem completely different within the span of 24 hours.

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But, even I will admit that too much of the same thing puts me dangerously close to being a boring person. Routine has its limits. I feel the weight of the “shoulds” on my shoulders. I should be doing more new things, I should be doing something different, I should be tired of taking pictures of the reservoir.

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I’m not tired of it (yet), and so I’ll continue to take pictures of whatever strikes me as particularly interesting. Routine may have its limits, but it’s better to be constantly inspired by my surroundings than stifling that interest in an effort to do something different.

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So here’s to the reservoir. I’m sure there’ll be one day where I will stop taking pictures of this place, but today is not that day.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Muse.”

I live pretty close to Central Park, close enough to jog around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in the mornings. However, besides these jogs around the Reservoir, I don’t spend as much time in the park as I should. (It’s right there, for crying out loud!) So I was determined this month to explore as much of the park as I could.

When I studied abroad in Sydney over two years ago, I always wrote about how just walking around a new city was one of the best ways to really get to know it. My biggest study abroad “pro-tip” was to go for an early morning jog to really get to know a place before the crowds filled the streets.

A few weekends ago, I took my own advice and wandered around Central Park to find areas I had never been in before…

And I ended up getting lost for three hours.

The places I stumbled upon, however, were gorgeous. I’ve said before that there are parts of Central Park that make you forget you were in Manhattan, but I hadn’t felt that in a while (the chicken wire fencing along some of the paths I’ve traveled recently have been reminding me that I’m still in a city). This time, some places I found on my walk just felt downright enchanted.

One place in particular that I had been trying to find for a while was the Shakespeare Garden. I first heard about it last year in passing. But suggestions like these always get lodged in my brain (that’s how I got it in my head a few years ago that I absolutely needed to go to the Cloisters, just casual suggestion). I found it accidentally as I was trying to get back home, and it is a gorgeous garden filled with flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s writing.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to find these places again. I got so turned around that I have no idea where I would even begin to try and find these spots now. And I never seem to find whatever I’m looking for unless by accident.

But these places in Central Park exist, quietly waiting for others to stumble upon them.

Many thanks to The Traveller’s Notes for the wonderful Monthly Travel Challenge!

When can I call myself a

For the longest time, I refused to call myself a writer. A “writer” was someone who viewed this pen scratching as more than a hobby, but had it at the center of their life. A writer was someone who took more seriously the writing process than I ever did, someone who made their living by putting pen to paper.

Even now, after having decided that yes, I am a writer, I find myself still refusing to use the term to describe myself. In all my professional, public profiles, the writer part of me is severely downplayed. I don’t mention it at all anymore on my resume or LinkedIn.

And yet I cling to this personification of myself because I do write. Every day. If I don’t write in a given day, it’s because I more or less chose to; I spend the day with friends or set aside a specific day to leave my notebook alone. But I’ve gotten to the point now where I have to plan a day to not write, otherwise I fill up every spare moment with it.

Does this make me a writer?

Most of my writing has never been seen by another human being (unless people have been sneaking peeks over my shoulder in coffee shops). And much of this writing will never be seen by another human — I believe the term for this is called “woodshedding.” (I have no idea why.)

I have only ever taken one creative writing class, and even though I have been toying around with the idea of signing up for a class with the Gotham Writer’s Workshop, I probably won’t go for it — I want to see what I can wring out of myself first before I present it to others.

Does this make me a writer?

When I did finally acknowledge that I am indeed a writer, I actively did my best to avoid writer stereotypes. For a while, I didn’t seek out Moleskine notebooks, instead opting to rip out pages of old class notebooks, the notebooks that were mostly empty because I gave up on taking notes about a third of the way through the semester. I used any pen that I had in my desk, never mind if they weren’t the same color or brand or type of ink. I didn’t make a huge deal out of my writing tools. And I didn’t try to hole myself up in a room of my own, nor exclusively write in coffeeshops. Instead, I conformed to another writer stereotype and simply wrote everywhere.

(Let’s ignore the fact that I now conform to nearly all of the stereotypes about writers that I previously avoided; I like Moleskines and get them when I feel like splurging, I have a designated pen that I get refills for all the time, and I write best when I’m alone at my desk with the window open and video game soundtracks on in the background.)

Does this make me a writer?

For a while when I was on the verge of definitively declaring myself to be a writer, I agonized over this question. Am I a writer or not? Part of me was inclined to believe that because I was thinking so much about writing, and wrote so much about writing instead of writing about other things, then I couldn’t be a writer. Then it occurred to me that as long as I wrote about something, I was writing, and therefore a writer.

We all have ways of evaluating whether or not someone is the real deal when it comes to writing. Many famous writers have very quotable definitions of who a writer is and what a writer does.

For me, determining whether or not someone is a writer boils down to two questions that must be answered, in some way, in the affirmative:

1. Do you want to be a writer?
2. Do you write?

One year afterI’ve started this piece several times. Every time I started I’d get part of the way through and feel uninspired by what I was writing, or I would get interrupted and come back to it unsure of where I was going.

But I’ve thought about this past year from every possible angle. I have completely analyzed my experience all the way down, thinking about how it fits into the larger picture of life. I have recorded everything of note in more than adequate detail.

Still, for all this analysis and examination, I cannot come up with a single, cohesive way to characterize this year. And maybe that makes sense; it has been only a year, and this time immediately after graduating is supposed to be one of rapid change. Recent grads are thrown into completely new and different lives, and it takes a lot of back-and-forth, a lot of teetering on a tightrope, to find a good enough balance.

When I graduated, I didn’t have a solid idea of where I wanted to be within the year. I was so focused on passing my classes that I had to put serious thoughts about the future on the backburner. The summer after graduating, I cast my net wide in a frantic search for a job, and I didn’t think about what I wanted just that I got something.

Now, I’m doing a decent job at staying afloat. I’ve been making my bill payments on time, I’ve been building up my savings account, I paid my taxes (well, more like got my tax refund), and I’ve more or less matched every challenge that “adulthood” has thrown at me.

Regardless, in the one year since graduating, I am still a work in progress. The illusion that I’m fairly well-established is just that — an illusion. And this, I think is the reason why I feel like it has been so difficult to write about this year since graduating. I’m in the middle, and being surrounded by my ever-changing present is making me blind to what this year has really been all about.

So what has this year since graduating from college been like?

Ask me again in a year.

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