Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Memory of Thelma Henderson

Thelma Henderson died this morning of kidney failure in Grahamstown, South Africa. I cannot begin to express how this amazing woman touched my life. On a South African summer's day in January 1998, I landed in Derek and Thelma's Grahamstown home. During that initial year in South Africa, Thelma organized excursions, afternoon teas, and dinners to help me relax from studying or to meet some of her friends and colleagues. Over the past 10 years, Derek and Thelma continued to welcome me into their home on my visits, and Thelma always had ideas about how I could volunteer and give to the local Grahamstown community.

It saddens me to know that she will be absent on my next South African visit. She was a force of nature, and everyone who knew her felt enriched. This photo is one of the last I have of Thelma. She shared her love and friendship over that table on so many occasions.

Rest, Thelma, and feel the love of all those who miss you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ants in the Travel Pants

Spring is two days away, I just broke up with my boyfriend, and the economy is in the tank.
Ergo, I feel the need to travel.

Two fellow poets asked me last night how I made travel possible. In the past: save and spend, save and spend. I've been so comfortable with that habit. Almost every trip I've taken from the UK to Europe to South Africa to New Zealand over the past ten years happened with this attitude. What fun those trips were! Each dollar, pound, euro, rand I spent felt earned, felt like a gift I'd given myself. I stopped buying souvenirs and started taking more photos, giving myself the ultimate gift of hours in the darkroom upon my return.

Now it's 2009. Gulp. I'm about to graduate with my MFA. Six months later (November) I get to start paying back my student loans. Double Gulp. My job situation is a part-time piece meal pizza deal. I think I'm starting to feel 34.

I had some travel dreams for 2009: I would finally go south in the hemisphere and visit Ecuador. I would volunteer, refine my Spanish, and scratch a big Ecuadorian itch I've had since Tim Winkler started nagging me back in 1997... I would travel to Scotland and write in a hyper-idyllic cottage where I could scavenge for vegan food amidst haggis and other such delicacies. I would travel to New Zealand and work on The Hobbit set.

Now it's 2009. Those things are just not going to happen. Instead I'll focus on the "local" excursions. First up: a trip to El Paso this weekend to see mi hermano. Mexican border, Army base, Bush state. What fodder for poetry!

As I think back to all the trips I've taken, I realize how much I need to turn my journals, emails, postcards, and blogs into publishable essays and poems. To that end, I'd love to know what travel stories you want me to tell: a trip we took, a dinner we had, a story you've heard me tell, etc. Send me an email, post a comment, let me know how I can deal with the ants in my travel pants via writing...