The Hotel Towels Smelled Like Freshly Blanched Almonds

Traveling is fun because hotels are like rent-a-mom’s.
Leave the room a mess, where your bedsheets convincingly sketch a murder-scene strangle, your sink is water-stained by last night’s drunked attempt to remove makeup, and your soaps/towels/shampoos/etc. are scattered around the bathroom like a fucking Easter egg hunt at Willy Wonka’s C.F. (Chocolate motherfuckingscaryasfuck Factory).

….Not like I would be rude enough to leave any room fucked up like that….that’s just rude.

But for real, I’m calling out to all the hotel maids who contribute that much more to the love of travel. I take such joy in the fall and landing on freshly laundered sheets of white cotton and springy neatness. I soak in the spotless bathroom shelves restocked with “Lemon Zest Cucumber Coconut Crème Brûlée Strawberry Savarin with Amaretto Cream Scented” bath products. I thank the good almighty power that they didn’t mistake my $100 bill forgotten on my laptop at the bedside table for a generous kind-stranger tip. After a soothing lemon-zesty shower, I burrowed my face into the sweet, sensational smell of freshly-blanched almonds. Thoooooose towels. I’m obsessed with those damn towels. For their smell. That smell…..

(Guys…. hint hint.)

I’m away for my cousin’s wedding. For the first time, I’m meeting my dad’s-side-of-the-family of 235,464 Philly-native Russian Jews who were unknown to me, for the most part, from my sheltered life on the west coast. Today was that wedding. And boy, was it perfect. 75° F temp with sunny-and-pretty-white-clouds-weather all the way through in scenic Brooklyn Botanical Garden. The bride sported a lovely white dress with a classy heart-shaped corset with a layered chiffon bottom–it glowed in the beaming sunlight and swayed with elegance during the bride-and-groom’s first dance. The giant greenhouse that sheltered the reception after-party from the elements (barring the sunshine) was perfect for its natural lighting and decoration (various trees and plants seen through the clear walls) provided well for photo opps. I finally connected with my half-sister and got down to the boogie and the hollering of songs we both loved. I met many lovely relatives who–EACH–never failed to remind me that my father was crazy, wild, and reckless when he was my age up to my birth. I noticed some more discreet….sadder things, too. My aunt, who was as happy as ever with her first daughter finally married, now has shaky hands… She blamed it on the “drugs”. I know this doesn’t say much, but it hurts to see your direct relations and the ones you love seem to jump years when you see them from so long ago…. You want them to just pick up where you left them. When you left them.

The wedding ended at 4:30pm. Good food. Great band. Genuine people.
I feel whole. Less introverted.
Ah, families…

Heading back to the hotel, I saw a post by a late professor on Facebook of his Asian dish-out at Japan. Recognizing the bitter melon I loved to hate when my Chinese mother cooked it for dinner, I made a note asking why some people bother to eat bitter foods at all. He responded, “Acquired-taste.” Less-than-pleased with the answer, but inspired so, I researched. And I picked up a delightful post by a UCLA alum on how we evolved to eat bitter foods. I learned…[more on this]

[More about Chinese Moon Festival and Navy officer Ronald’s discussion on Chinese language and learning]

[Add in from previous post on multiple other universes that depend on other rules, not physics]



To Question Our Existence…

After watching TED talk by Jim Holt: Why does the universe exist?


This following is pretty much a thought-porridge of my reaction to the video. Please disregard any careless errors–it reads like my thinking process, bare and unedited.

I’ve had many thoughts about the birth, purpose and fate of our existence as conscious beings…. Perhaps there are a multitude of other equally or rather more conscious (and therefore intelligent) forms of life that exist in other moving mounds of rock hurdling through the fabric of space and time. And perhaps the reason we, specifically Earth humans, exist is to ponder about our own actuality… But what if there are other (and the more conscious) creatures inherently born with this dilemma resolved and continue with their existence with a higher purpose? To do work. What kind of work? Work that accentuates the good in life and attempts to keep the bad influences at a minimum? Is that work? Are there even types of work or is work a universal term for doing anything?

If a Zambian girl, who’s reached menarche and is denied more schooling based on her “dirtiness”, learns of a better country where girls are allowed education after puberty, would this be cause for her to question the system of her backward government/country? Would this questioning lead to higher forms of thought–ones that eventually lead to questions of her own existence?

Our kind isn’t born to immediately question life. If we don’t go through the copious amounts of schooling, like the tedious geometry equations that lead our whiny teenage brains to question the most important thing in life–“Why do I even have to do this?”–then many of us would not have gotten to the point of questioning. THIS is what’s good for us. Thrusting upon our young the concept of labor until they question.

Or maybe not. Maybe we could approach this another way–by highlighting the beauty, the ugly, the evil, the good, the black and whites of the world to our young and gently guiding them toward “What is life and why do we live it?” questions. We could just as well constantly direct these questions to our children through their maturation–they might not fully understand the meaning of the question nor the thought process to the “right” answer… but, really, who does? There isn’t a right thought process or understanding of the question beyond the comprehension of its basic message. The “imagination”, or unbiased, thinking of our children (unpolluted by the structured system in our schools today) may lead us toward more answers… and thus more questions. Perhaps the reason music and art and writing seems to plateau in originality is due to the evermore organized system in our schools that influence our scholars. They hinder creativity and identity, and breed harsher definitions by categorizing and forcing students to choose one or two majors that will define their careers/lives, like “Marine science” or “Mathematics”. Brown University, at least, is making the effort to diverge from these hindrances and permit its students to essentially create their own curriculums.

Other life forms may have higher purposes, intelligences, consciousnesses, whatever you label it, but WE have our own: To question. To be curious. To learn.

Why does a dog not question his own presence? Or a fish its own? Or a goat, or a fruit fly, or a parasite or a tree or a venus flytrap? They are different levels of consciousness. From simple to complex, the humankind seems to take the highest reign of consciousness on this planet. But are we really that complex? What more could a consciousness question, observe, or learn in another world or life form?

I once read a cartoon that pictured a child ant with its mother ant. The child ant observes humans walking around, and the mother ant simply responds with “Don’t bother. There is no sign of intelligence in that species.” We are as ignorant of our surroundings as we are willing to accept intelligence from any form of life.

Every time I finish a TED video, I have a flurry of thoughts that I don’t bother to write down. Thoughts that might help me get somewhere and cure this incessant want for answers. Writing helps. Writing also hurts. It continues this process by helping me pick up where I left off in thought and further my thirst for knowledge.

“As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” –Albert Einstein.