No One Told the Bakeries

Communism had fallen, but no one told the bakeries. It was the early, hopeful years of Yeltsin (before he devolved into a bloated drunk) and the news agencies were reporting that Russia was flowering, backed by B-roll footage of the first McDonalds near Red Square. I was 21, my first passport stiff in my money…

The Cult of Efficiency

Once, years ago, my friend Natalie asked me, “You always say you’re too busy for stuff.  What are you doing with your time?”  There was an awkward, confused silence, because my every waking moment felt crammed with non-discretionary activity, stuff I had to do and do well.  I felt like I barely had time to…

Some Advice to My Past Self

Dear January 1st Becca, Tomorrow you leave on a six-month trip to Colombia.  I know you are both heart-poundingly excited and sleepless with anxiety.  What will Colombia be like?  How will traveling as a family go?  Will you be able to write?  You have conflicting visions of how this crazy plan will go down. In…

Old Life, New Eyes

“As surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.”  — John Kabat-Zinn One of my most vivid memories of my college summer in Russia didn’t occur in Russia at all, but instead on my first day back in the United States.  I had flown straight back to my unfurnished apartment and…

Tidbits of Everyday Colombian Life

Sometimes, it isn’t the famous sites or grand adventures that highlight the differences in culture, but the little, everyday things.  Here is a loosely curated list of what’s different in Colombia.  Some good or fun ideas, some not-so-good, and some that continue — even after almost five months — to completely baffle us… We could learn from this!…