Showing posts with label life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life. Show all posts

10 September 2012

taipei botanical garden / 台北植物園 / tái bĕi zhí wù yuán

tbotanic02today is your last day in taipei.

tbotanic03this morning you squeezed in some last minute birding at the taipei botanical gardens (台北植物園 / tái bĕi zhí wù yuán).

[nycticorax nycticorax / black-crowned night heron / 夜鹭 yè lù / bihoreau gris]

tbotanic01as you get older – as your grandma gets older – it becomes increasingly more and more difficult to leave taipei emotionally.

perhaps it was seeing the malian family unit with their grandmothers and grandfathers playing and living with their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren every day.

perhaps it was mark not being there when you came back to texas.

perhaps its just seeing how just being there and doing absolutely nothing but just that can make someone, especially someone old, so happy.

[egretta garzetta / little egret / 小白鹭 xiăo bái lù / aigrette garzette]

tbotanic04in any case, in twelve hours you’re on a plane. and depending on your energy level back in texas, you’ll connect the scanner and wrap up this taipei trip with some instax moments.

technically this trip back to texas is nothing more than a pit stop.

because soon you’ll be speaking french. just not in france.

28 August 2012

catching up in houston

thouston01you make your obligatory houston stop. austin is skipped this year because every one you know has moved. houston is where the jobs are, so houston is where your friends are.

thouston15houston is also where mark sleeps. but one cannot spend her entire time being sad.

thouston23it helps to see mark’s bestie. and mark’s brother.  you all laugh about funnier times.

thouston02this visit is the most special yet. you finally catch up with two of your closest friends.

thouston03oh, not like you do every year where you talk about school and jobs and travels and updates like that.

thouston04a catch up that is much more important.

thouston05a catch up to 2012 because this friendship, for some odd reason, has remained stuck in 2001 or some other ancient dinosaur era year.

thouston22that’s right, you guys have finally left high school and junior high – it only took seven years to do it.

thouston24it feels good to finally be on the same page and in the same year. we were always a bit slower than the rest.

you always loved this friendship. but now you love it even more.

thouston25but then its time to wake up early and drive four hours north back to dallas.

a few days rest – then back into the skies.

16 August 2012

dear mark

DSC00924at a dance party.

DSC02287  in austin.

DSC03043at double dave’s. with the rest of the art school kids.

DSC03195at your openings. you know, because you were on the road to becoming an art star.

DSC04659  in my closest. with my thrifting finds. and then we’d break out in giggles.

IMG_0441  in our apartment. well, chelsea’s. and how everyone thought we suddenly were into surfing. yeah, that apartment.

DSC02305anywhere. it didn’t matter what state or country.

mark – these are some of the places where we should have met again after graduation put us on our separate paths.

thouston06but not here. anywhere but here.

thouston07not in front of this slab of granite.

thouston11not in front of your etched name.

thouston08   i don’t know what tense to use in this letter. past or present? our friendship is? our friendship was? you might have left but the friendship is still there. i know you? i knew you? you might be gone but i still know mark. i loved you? i love you? oh, i could never put that in the past tense.

the pronouns are a bit more difficult. you never personally told me, and i’m only finding out through the internet. but it seems there is no question that you identify more as she or they. so i will respect you. and i will use the pronoun you wanted everyone to use.

thouston09 oh mark, i’m so sorry. so sorry this took so long to write. to acknowledge. to accept. will you let me explain?

you decided to leave while i was living in my malian bubble. no internet, no email, no connection beyond the text messages from my fellow peace corps buddies in mali.

you died on march 12th. the malian military threw a coup on march 21st. i didn’t find out about you until march 24st when i had internet access again.

and – something was wrong with me. i didn’t cry for you. i didn’t react. no panic attacks came. i called everyone, i skyped, i talked, i made contact with our closest friends, i did all the things one should do when grieving – except the emotions for mourning you were missing.

where did they go?

thouston10and now, five months later, i understand.

three reasons.

1. i was in the middle of reading dune by frank herbert. and there is a character (duncan idaho) that is continually brought back to life and reborn at the push of a button. because of that, i had no concept of death. you were going to come back in my fantasy world. i wouldn’t accept the words suicide or death – i was convinced that those things didn’t happen in my life. i’m sorry.

2. i couldn’t handle mali and mark at the same time. i had to get over leaving mali first. i don’t believe i could’ve functioned as a human being if i had to grieve you both at the same time. so i completely shut you out as i focused on moving on from mali in france. i’m sorry.

3. i never got to meet you in chicago. i never got to know the mark you became. just like there is american cathy and french cathy, there is texas mark and chicago mark. how could i mourn a part of you i didn’t know? so the last few months, trust me, every blog post by one of your chicago friends, every article by a fan written online, i have read their words. i have done google searches on your name for any snippets about you. i have dug up anything and everything related to mark aguhar. since you’re not there, i’m learning about chicago mark thanks to the internet.

then i needed to go to chicago. i needed to see parts of the city that you loved so much that were part of who you became. thanks to your brother, i had a whole list of places to visit you loved. i wanted to meet your friends too, but i didn’t know how to contact them. perhaps another day. i only had to imagine you were with me. i should have visited chicago sooner when you were still there. i’m sorry.

[for any friends who didn’t make it up to chicago, mark’s chicago friends put up a show for her at UIC. my visit is here and the official exhibition site is here.]

thouston12   i hope you forgive me.

thouston13   i brought you a present though.

thouston14peaches! huge peaches. lots of peaches. don’t think i’ve forgotten how i would come home to suddenly find twenty peaches rolling around on the table as you waited for them to ripen.

and when they were ripe – we ate them. we ate so many peaches. we had so many peach tarts until all that was left in the apartment were peach pits.

thouston15 so enjoy them.

thouston16 well, one peach. for you and christine to share. i wanted to leave them all for you, but then realized that rotting peaches on your tombstone wouldn’t be so nice. and nobody would enjoy them. i knew you’d be angry if i wasted good peaches like that. so i just gave them to your parents. i hope they enjoy them as much as i know you would have.

but before i end this letter, i want you to meet someone.

thouston17 remember this pattern? on a certain chair? yep, it is indeed kelly’s chair. that chair is now in her house.

and while you left this world, someone else came in to fill in part of the spot you left.

thouston18  josephine.

thouston19 death, birth, life - such a delicate balance. i’m still trying to figure it out.

thouston20  josephine is a bit unlucky in that she’ll never meet you. and you’re a but unlucky as well as you’ll never meet josephine.

but then, josephine is going to grow up with you nearby. kelly has some of your drawings around the house. and i am sure kelly will pass on your spirit, your stories, your laughs, your memories to little josephine. so i take that back about josephine being unlucky, she’s super lucky because she’s one degree away from you.

thouston21 kelly made me tostadas for lunch! it’s too bad you weren’t there to eat with us.

i miss you mark.

lots of love, and i do mean lots,

cathy xx

PS: just because you are gone doesn’t mean i am backing down from our rice vs. bread argument. i’m still determined to bake a loaf that will make you realize that bread, indeed, is, has been, and will always be, the tastier carb.

PPS: all the issues you are passionate about – LGBT rights, gender queer, femme, fat, self-love, etc. – i promise to support it all. its just, right now, i need to say goodbye to you before i can tackle all the things you stood for.

PPPS: i am a bit mad that i didn’t have a chance to tell you my brownie story. or my camping story. mark, i had three years of good stuff to talk to you about. but its okay, we’ll meet again somewhere, some day, and we’ll catch up then. love you!


visit to the dragon is the frame

dragon is the frame

mark aguhar

blogging for brown gurls / calloutqueen

uic mfa portfolio

(for mark)

mark aguhar’s critical flippancy

forest park westheimer funeral home

international suicide prevention

10 August 2012

paris plotting

tparis01 “mais noooooooooooooooooooooooon!,” you exclaim with shock as the croissant slips from you fingers and hits the table.

“mais oui! demolition is scheduled for december,”  is the response. “no more house! the owners have decided to sell it, and the new owners are razing everything.”

tparis02  you’re back in paris and it is your last breakfast before heading off to the airport.

and apparently also the last time you’ll be in this particular house since it will either be a pile of rubble or replaced by something bigger when you come back a year later.

tparis03 however, it will not the last time you see this funny face.

tparis04 he drops you off at the train station. you wanted a photo of his old car. but “vite! vite! vite! cathy there’s a bus coming and i’m blocking the lane vite! vite! vite! vite!” so it doesn’t happen.

off to the airport.

tparis05 ….with a detour first. you squeeze in one last lunch.  any opportunity to see faces you like will always be attempted. however the camera comes out only once the plates are licked clean.

here, around a table, is where the paris plotting begins.

ideas are thrown around for how an american can legally come to live and work in france. (if, by chance, one has leads or is searching to hire a certain texan, feel free to send them this way.)

the thing is, the coup threw you off your plan. you had a perfect timeline littered with experience and connections that was going to somehow land you permanently back in france. then the coup happened, and you were sent scrambling. so you’ve learned to not make too many plans. instead you will plot.

how will this plot unfold? on verra! we’ll see!

then two o’clock comes around.

time to go. no more detours.

tparis06 this one goes back to work.

tparis07 this one accompanies you all the way to the turnstile for your train to the airport.

then it’s just you, your backpack, and a very satisfied stomach all the way back to texas.

the end.

(of france 2012, that is.)

15 July 2012

moving out of the paris apartment, a music festival in évreux, splitting paths

tfinp01after having bought that important bottle of fresh milk, you scurried off to gare du nord to the eurostar platform to pick up your favorite londoner. and then whisk her home for a lunch à la bonne franquette. a meal completely unprepared, but improvised by whatever is in your fridge.

you’re happy because what is better than having a meal on your balcony is having a meal on your balcony with a friend.

tfinp02the camera is passed from the square window and the photo is reversed.

tfinp03since you are moving out, you haven’t properly stocked your fridge.

but there is leftover pâte sucrée.

also a handful of cherries.

into the oven at 180C.

then you notice some liquid cream – but unfortunately, no whisk to make it a crème chantilly. regardless, some sugar is stirred in, then it’s poured over the baked cherries.

cherry pits are all that remain.

tfinp04also a packet of biscuits roses de reims are in the cupboard – that charlotte à la fraise that was planned but never got made – oh well, no point of saving it for that pink cake now, might as well dip them in tea and milk.

both of you are meeting up with friends later in évreux for a music festival.

cathy! guess what i bought for everybody for the festival!? she says with excitement.

you can’t even begin to guess. but there’s no need to, as she is up and rummaging through her bag.

tfinp05les lunettes du soleil! sunglasses! she exclaims with pure glee.

tfinp06it’s time to head out for your last night out in paris.

but before that, you force her to be your model with a pair of the sunglasses and quite possibly the most amazing backpack you’ve ever seen.

tfinp07she tones it down for paris.

tfinp08you swing by the maison de l’afrique to visit your little photo exhibition.

tfinp09then it’s outside for some fresh air.

tfinp10a little break on the steps of the pantheon.

tfinp11then the italian says that line you love to hear so much: on mange chez moi? let’s eat at my place?

ouiiiiiiiiiiiii! is the only correct answer in this case.

tfinp13mushrooms, pasta, cream, salad – that is the dinner menu.

tfinp14stirring, laughing, slicing, talking, boiling, giggling, draining, gossiping – all these gerunds go so well together.

then the camera is put away as you all head out to some nearby bars to watch a eurocup match.

tfinp16the next day, you and the londoner wake up to your last morning in paris.

tfinp15one last breakfast on the balcony. 

tfinp17one last stroll in your neighborhood.

tfinp18you discover a hidden garden.

but what, do you think, is better than a hidden patch of green in paris?

tfinp19a burst of english orange in hidden greens in paris grays.

tfinp20you discover a wall that screams, “make a photo of me! take out your camera please!

tfinp21how can you resist?

tfinp22what’s the complementary color of orange?

tfinp23blue. with the self-timer turned on, silliness takes over.

tfinp24one last coffee and hot chocolate at your favorite neighborhood cafe before you say goodbye to the 20th arrondissement.

tfinp25then it is direction évreux.

tfinp26apéro begins. you note the growth of the avocado plant by your former roommate.

tfinp27he hasn’t changed much.

tfinp28this is the ambiance you love most. miss most. crave most.


then it’s concert time.

the camera is put away – yours at least, since music festivals are not the best place for big cameras. but also since you want to dance, not make photos.

RDTSEhowever, you do want to show one photo made by a friend: it’s when you all brought in a homemade cake and sat in a circle and ate it after singing happy birthday to your favorite tom-de-terre. 

so now let’s fast forward to the end of the weekend once the festival was over.

tfinp30it begins with waking up at noon. and realizing the boulangerie is open for one more hour. so while the others still sleep, you and the londoner tiptoe out to buy the petit-dejeuner.

tfinp31you + the londoner = a bad combination. this always happens.

tfinp32you check in on the other apartment. your former roommate still hasn’t changed much…

tfinp33hours roll by.

tfinp34it’s a lazy sunday afternoon. silliness spills out onto the streets.

tfinp35hunger starts building up for those who had breakfast before noon.

in france, in évreux, on a sunday afternoon, there is only one thing open.


tfinp38it’s the ambiance that really counts, anyway.

tfinp39then a goodbye. to the river iton. to évreux. to your friends.

tfinp40you won’t see them for at least another year.

tfinp41and now it is direction paris.

tfinp42a goodbye to the normandy countryside you love so much.

tfinp43finally, on metro ligne 4, at strasbourg saint-denis, you and the londoner split. she goes direction porte de clignancourt to catch a train at gare du nord, and you go direction porte d'orléans to catch a train at gare montparnasse.

opposite platforms, opposite directions, but this doesn’t mean your paths won’t cross again.