Monday, November 7, 2011

I dressed up as my cat Travi for the Trick or Treaters on Halloween, but it turns out no one got to see my costume. Oh well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Doodle a Day keeps the Duldrums away

Doo·dle1 [dood-lverb, -dled, -dling, noun
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), noun
to draw or scribble idly: He doodled during the whole lecture.
to waste (time) in aimless or foolish activity; to play or improvise idly
Archaic. a foolish or silly person.

Monday, Oct. 12, 2011: Mismatched nail polish

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2011: Heart-shaped Pumpkin Bread

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011: Puddle-hopping in girls' bright pink rain-boots (ask me how I got them later)

And the daily doodle updates shall continue...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Over 1 month of wearing the handmande bead string, wrapped 50 times around my wrist by a beautiful Kuna woman named Cecilia in Ciudad Panamá. I was searching all over the city for a long orange bracelet, like the ones the many traditionally-dressed Kuna indigenous women wear in Panamá. I met a woman selling handicrafts in a hidden marketplace who said she had just the thing for me, but that it was at her home and she wouldn't be in the next day before I left in the evening. The vendor said she would pass this bracelet to Cecilia, and I made arrangements to meet at her shop in another market down the road. It was just a verbal promise on both ends, but if felt so magical to acquire a piece this way. I unfortunately arrived late the next day looking for Cecilia's booth, but most of the market was closed. When I finally found her, she was sitting unhurriedly on her stool beading, figuring I had run late, but knowing I would arrive. It took her about 7 minutes to wrap the string around me, each time looping the extra strand around the prior level on my arm. We spoke about her language and her people, and to me the conversation seemed to go on for hours. I paid and thanked her profusely, not wanting to leave with all my unfinished questions. Cecilia smiled warmly and waved goodbye as I walked away with the most magical purchase of my life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy 4 Month Anniversary Costa Rica!

I have been terrible at updating about my life in Costa Rica. This is actually a good sign because it means I am busy and doing exciting things. To commemorate another monthaversary, here is what is exciting in my life about my last month in this rainy land:

Independence Day on Sept. 15th was all about the parades, traditional performances, and partying all driven by the local school children. I followed around my 2 dear teacher friends (pictured) whose students celebrated the night before with a lantern lighting parade (to commemorate how the news of independence spread around Costa Rica in the middle of the night), and with a marching band of typical tico songs the day of. Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz!

Travi, my rescued kitty, is really living up to his name (meaning mischievous in Spanish). I am in love.

Myself and my 3 best friends here (2 of them pictured above) went on a short journey to Sarchi, the artesian headquarters in Costa Rica, where I paid homage to my grandma Nana and her trip to the same town many years ago. I purchased a mini version of the same hand-painted cart she got there, that is a part of the childhood memories I have of her home.

I really love my "hometown" of Belen, here in Costa Rica. First, Belen means Bethlehem in Spanish, which is cool to say I am living in Bethleham. It has the cutest center that has a two-towered church whose front yard is a soccer field, a small, vintage train station that they converted into an artesian shop, delicious sodas (or small restaurants) with $1.25 fresh blackberry smoothies, and a Pops ice cream parlor. Last Sunday, my friends and I went to show our support for the newly promoted Division 1 Belen team as they played against the biggest/most famous team in the country. There were a total of 10 fans for Belen (including us 3), but we tied and we stayed true to our roots. Beat 'em Belen.

I still am loving it here (even with the growing hours of rain per day), and am so thankful for the great friends I've made, the amazing world-changing women I've met, and the way God is teaching me through the first adult months of my life. Pura vida.

What's a Christian to do with Binaries?

A binary is simply a pair of opposites.
Black and white. Up and down. Inside and outside.
In anthropology, we are introduced to binaries by Cladue-Levi Strauss in his structuralist theories, where cultures are based around binaries like sacred/ profane and core/periphery. He says all cultures can be understood in terms of these binaric opposites.
While structuralism in its purist is considered theoretically outdated by contemporary anthropologists-- after all, universal theory is dead too-- I still find that the United Stastian culture still bases much of itself around binaries.
From an early age, we are taught right and wrong and good and bad; the notions of nice/mean, share/selfish, obey/disobey, friend/enemy, safe/dangerous, us/them are so ingrained in concrete opposition that they become a part of our morality.
In school we take true and false tests to pass or fail the class.
We refer to movies or books or food with the comment, "You either love it or hate it."
Even in our humor, we use jokes that being with, "There are 2 kinds of people in this world..."
It is convenient for our intellects, it is a part of our puritanical roots, and it is easy.

But with post-modernism (and post-post modernism) came the glorification of the gray, the multi-directional, the anti-binary.
This scared Christians (with the exception of a few select groups who loved Donald Miller and listen to the Outlaw Preachers podcast). If there is no black and white there is no truth, and if there is no truth there is no Jesus, is the assumption.
But is the Bible really so binaric? Is our God really so binaric?

I think the answer is both yes and no.
  • There is the heaven/hell duo (an interesting solution to the thesis and antithesis found in Catholicism's Purgatory), and Jesus saying the only way to the Father God in heaven is through Him (John 14:6).
= Binary
  • There are the foundations of righteousness/sin and thus salvation/damnation, between which Jesus intercedes, again as the solution to the thesis and antithesis.
= Binaries
  • God wants all our lives, not just a little; He wants hot, not lukewarm, all or nothing (Revelation 3:16).
= Binary

Perhaps Christian theology is so binaric because we as humans find comfort in defining our world pairs of compartmentalized opposites. But, then, if we are created in the image of God, is God Himself also binaric in nature?

I don't think our God is two-dimensional; afterall, He is above dimension:
  • The trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
= Not binaric (or even purely ternary for that matter)
  • God is love, righteous, holy, good, faithful, and true.
= Not binaric, but rather unilateral with no opposites to oppose. God's binaric opposer Satan reflects him backwards as being hate, evil, bad, cheating, and lies. BUT, since God made Satan, even he is beautiful (or at least was originally), and thus God has no antithesis (thanks for this interesting point, Mom!).
  • Jesus was both fully human and fully God (more than 1 verse here but see John 1:1).
= Binaric in concept, but not a true binary because man and God are not in opposition but rater agreement.

Basically, while the Christian theology may be binaric on the surface, God Himself (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit) is not. The gray lies in the interpretation of the complex doctrine in the New and Old Testament, where pure binaric legalism cannot result in a full understanding of the message of Christianity. They say Christianity is a relationship not a religion, and while most of this relationship is based on the various binaries of sinner/savior, of the earth/of the heavens, flesh/spirit, material/eternal, that separate us from God, Jesus is literally the go-between that solves the contradictions and changes the / for a -- ... 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thank you Pret a Voyager!

One of my all-time favorite travel blogs is . Why?

The background on my work computer, using Anne's Pret a Voyager logo.

  • Anne (the author) studied anthropology and design.
  • She documents her life as an expat in PARIS.
  • Her design principles are inspiring (even her blog's tagline, "Travel is not about where you go, but how you see the world"), and her presentations just straight up beautiful. 
I have been drooling over her blog (which means, in French, "ready to travel") for ages, and I'm so happy to announce my guest "Boarding Pass" spot on her blog, debuting today!

Merci Anne for featuring my blog and work!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Panama Pics

Panama City has everything modern urban spaces have but with a touch of its own unique Latino flair: the Trump sky scraper rising above palm trees and flying seagulls, the man-made waterfront behind the Spanish old town, the hand painted buses driving on the super highway winding over tin roofs. When I hiked up Cerro Ancón on the far side of the city, I could see all of the crazy mixture that is Ciudad Panama right before my eyes. There is sign at the summit triumphantly proclaiming the spiritual satisfaction of the discovery of this magical city of two worlds: 
"Cuantos años de incógnitos pesares mi espíritu buscaba mas allá a mi hermosa sultana de los mares, la reina de dos mundos, 

[from my Afar post here]

Created with flickr slideshow.

Monday, September 19, 2011 is a paper and online travel magazine wonderful blend of reader-driven discussion space, jaw-dropping photography, and professional travel tips. Check it out, gallivanters! Here are some posts of mine from my most recent Panama trip:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

I never am satisfied with the toned-down, manicured aesthetic of tourist attractions attempting to play the role of a sippy-cup lid to your glass of authentic foreign experience, filtering the chunks and making sure you don't swallow more than you can handle. I, along with many other I-am-not-a-tourist kinds of travelers, are in constant search for the "real" (insert travel destination here)-- going where the locals eat, getting around by public transportation, and keeping the lifestyle of the local population. We are not easily deceived by the overpriced trinkets, not easily amused by the planned tours, and not easily content with simply being comfortable. Travel becomes a challenge, a research investigation, a game. This propels our  sense of urgency to go, go, go, get lost in a new land where no guide book can get you out of. Get lost and get yourself out. All over the world. You will never be done. You can never beat the game. Finding the "real" for yourself is overwhelming, frightening and makes you feel alive. This just furthers the wanderlust. It's like a drug.

With that in mind, here are my 3 travel secrets:
  1. Ask questions of those around you: Ask your waiter,taxi driver, hotel concierge, shop owner, and anyone you come in contact with in your new destination about themselves and their suggestions. People enjoy talking about their experiences and everyone's opinion will be different. Even if it is uncomfortable or you do not speak the local language, engaging in community with a local--however brief-- will provide useful insight and a perhaps memorable connection.
  2. Take out the headphones: Listen to local radio stations, sidewalk conversations, street noise, and cafe murmur. By hearing the vibrations of the city's soundtrack, you will be able to better understand the local way of life.
  3. Expect to be uncomfortable: Going to a new place can be a scary thing, and truly immersing yourself into a new place when traveling is not easy. However once you accept this, you will be free to push yourself to discover the best of what the new place has to offer, even if it requires conversing a language other than your first, getting lost along the way, or eating a food you have never tried.
Happy gallivanting! 
-KK (

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Family Visit!

A wonderful thing when moving to new places is for your loved ones get to come meet that new place that you love for themselves. My family came for a week to take in the pura vida. We had an amazing time together all over the city and country, especially at a remote eco lodge that we rafted to and from. 

Gracias, fam, for bringing your beautiful selves to visit me and for infusing your brilliance into my life once again. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm a real writer!

I am now an officially published professional writer on! I applied as an examiner of Scottsdale Anthropology and will be reporting remotely on various local issues related to the cultural make-up in Scottsdale. Check out my very first article:

Part 1: Determining authenticity through the Internet

Thanks for your support in my writing career :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy 2 Month Anniversary Costa Rica!

To commemorate, a list of course...

Never have I ever:

  • Driven in the middle of the jungle alone (the road to Guanacaste)
  • Thrown myself a birthday party
  • Seen a play Spanish (La Madre Coraje and Ma(d)e in Tikicia)
  • Been to beach with black, volcanoe-burned sand (Playa Negra)
  • Rafted a tropical river (Rio Reventazon)
  • Walked for 6 straight hours (La Romería)
  • Eaten so much rice and beans for breakfast (hurray for Gallo Pinto!)
  • Explored San Jose's historic district (good finds!)
  • Been to so many concerts in 1 month (thanks to the awesome shows at Jazz Cafe, a wonderful lounge-y venue with different themed music every single day. It runs more consistently than any government sector here)

And now for the big news: I will be staying in Costa Rica until the end of the year! I will be taking on a new role in the company and extending my contract. I am very excited.

2 down, 4 more to go! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Puerto Viejo

My recent trip to the caribbean beach town of Puerto Viejo resulted in a re-ignited love of reggae, the viewing of greens and forage that the English language cannot accurately describe, and the consuming of fresh tropical fruit cocktails with my feet in the sand. I went with some friends on an internship exchange program with U of A (small world!), and we stayed in cabanas complete with hammocks, mosquito nets, and direct access to the beach. My highlight has to be the Afrocaribbean culture that trickles through the pueblito's little downtown. Puerto Viejo is pura vida.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Response to "My First Pilgrimage"

Doing any outwardly religious act requires an inward response. Or it should elicit an inward response, I should say. The sanctity of a religious ritual is not the action itself but the spiritual change, enlightenment, encouragement, etc. it brings about. It is a physical manifestation of a stirring within. 

What stirring occurred in me from the romería on Monday?  
I went with mostly a secular intention of being a part of a national tradition, but I also made an intention for the trip (yoga style). I dedicated the time I had to pray and think on a few particular special people. But I in no way was in constant prayer, and while I thought of their faces when the uphill trekking got painful, when I arrived at the Basilica I honestly completely forgot about them as my intention. Would this be considered a failed mission?

Someone made a comment to me about the point of the pilgrimage being a sacrifice. Sacrificing for God, (like fasting can be) or sacrificing in honor of someone else. He mentioned that my sacrifice of sleep, comfortability, and time was greater than those who took the holiday off the next day after walking. That made me think; the point of the sacrifice is sort of a double standard: the bigger  and more outward your personal sacrifice, the more worthy others see the sacrifice being. However, the sacrifice must be first and foremost of the self, giving the broken self to God by doing away with it. But by sacrificing in a highly public fashion-- not even to the extent of walking barefoot or going on knees but actually just being a part the procession in and of itself-- you are in a sense going in opposition of putting the self last. You are putting yourself in a showy place for others to see your sacrifice or hear about it after the fact. Even limping around the office the day after the romería felt showy to me personally, as if to remind others, look at me, I'm sore because I sacrificed my muscles for God while you just slept the night away. Jesus' commandment is that when we fast, we do so in secret. When we tithe, we do so in secret. But you cannot walk in a 12 mile long procession in secret, and when saying the Our Father aloud every 10 minutes, I think others take notice. 

On the complete opposite note, I do believe that many people participate in the romería out of pure intentions, and that those walking barefoot are not all like the Pharisee praying loudly on the street corner. I felt a strong union between the other romeros, especially when large groups of people joined in singing praise songs together, or when I heard others praying aloud to themselves. This was a spiritual solidarity, similar to that I felt with the other runners during my half marathon or at with my classmates at my USC graduation, plus Jesus. Going with a bunch of other people on a self-sacrificing mission keeps you accountable to your purpose, even just through the presence of others with similar intentions. It is encouraging to witness the faith of other brothers and sisters through their own sacrifices. 

My own spiritual stirring mostly came through conviction of my judgmental mind and (as usual), my pride. The romería offered the opportunity to entertain both and it forced me to deal with them in a direct and urgent way. It is possible to be public while being self-sacrificing but it takes a heart aligned with the Lord. I am still learning what this looks like for me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Very First Pilgrimage

Almost half of the country's population—1.5 million people—travel on foot to the Basilica of Cartago to pay homage to the patron saint of La Virgen de Los Angeles every 2nd of August.
Most travel at least 22 km, but some arrive from the Panamanian or Nicaraguan borders.
My journey was 20 km/12 miles and 5 hours or non-stop walking (Well, I did of course have to stop twice to go to the bathroom, hence the 30 minute deduction).
We left downtown San Jose at 8:30pm and arrived at 2am on the dot (as we approached the plaza, we heard the church bells strike twice).

Whether to fulfill a promise to the Virgin, to participate in the ritual, to have fun with friends,
People principally go for faith; some on knees, many barefoot, more with only sandals.
There are people of all ages walking, from viejitos to babies in their mother’s arms.
It was my first time being a part of such a grand-scale religious pilgrimage, and I went with various intentions.

The roads are closed to accommodate the mass movement of humanity.
There are sections where it is wide, but there are points—like at the bridge—where you must force yourself to shuffle along like a herd of cattle to fit through the small opening.
The route to Cartago is uphill for most of the journey from San Jose to climb 1,000 feet in elevation.
This makes the journey a bit difficult after 3 straight hours in the middle of the night.

Upon arrival, devotees wait another 2-3 hours to enter the church where the original Virgin is displayed.
There are 2 entrances, one for foot travelers, one for those coming on hands and knees. The knees line was almost even with those on foot.
In the massive plaza surrounding the impressive church are thousands of prone romeros who camp out after their journeys with nothing more trash bags or loved ones for coverage.
I did not have the capacity to wait to go inside at 2am unfortunately, but I am excited to return when the action has calmed down a bit.

The Virgen of the Angeles is a stone Madonna statue that was appeared twice in the spot where the Basilica rests.
She appeared to a peasant girl first, who brought her home only to find her disappeared in the morning and back at the original place she found her.
The girl then brought her to a priest who locked her in a box for safekeeping. The next morning she was found in the same distant location.
Church constructed in her honor at a different location was unsuccessfully finished due to several earthquakes. It was taken as a sign that the Virgin wanted her church to be exactly where she appeared. It’s final location was completed in 1639 (although also partially destroyed by another earthquake years later).
I bought 2 small replicas and a rosary from a stand on the road for a dollar.

The Basilica has 3 different sections that have been restored and expanded since the 19th century.
The front section is the most commanding, with its Byzantine-era architecture that resembles the cathedrals of the Greek Orthodox.
At night, only the front is illuminated, giving it this flat, doll-house quality of cartoonish perfection in front of a backdrop.
When I first saw the structure as I emerged from the carnival street leading up to it, I was amazed by its large scale and clean walls. Nothing else in Costa Rica is as big and white as the Basilica (not even the gringo tourists).

My highlights of the night are following a guitar-carrying youth group singing worship songs;
Being inspired by the faith of others displayed in a way I have not previously understood;
Eating a red frozen gelatina (frozen jello in fat Otter Pop plastic) and discussing world politics with my companions;
Feeling a part of Costa Rican culture in a profound way.

Monday, July 18, 2011

23 Years

I feel really godo about 23 so far. I'm a blank slate for the new year, a white page. To honor having lived 23 years today, here is (of course) a list (!) of the top 10 things I"m thankful for since July 18, 1988:
  1. 1.       The goodness, wholeness, messiness, silliness, craziness, beauty, loveliness of my entire King, Sering, Vaught, Theis, Tomlinson, Kirkland, Meyer family. I love you.
  2. 2.       God being good, but not easy.
  3. 3.       My many best friends throughout the ages who make this entire life worth living. I mean it really is incredible how many people have changed my life with their friendship.
  4. 4.       The ability to experience life with all 5 (+!) healthy senses.
  5. 5.       The fact that I have 17 years of diverse formal education under my belt and 23 years of learning the harder way.
  6. 6.       Knowing what a sunset looks like over Antarctic & Alaskan glacial waters, Pacific & Atlantic coasts, Sonoran & Chilean desert sands, Midwestern & European planes, Rocky & Andean mountains, rainforest & pine trees, and knowing what it looks like to be flying over the sunset.
  7. 7.       Shalom.
  8. 8.       What my body has been capable of in years past and what it is capable of now.
  9. 9.       The fact that I will never be _____ enough.
  10. 10.  All of the little opportunities that have lead to big opportunities (example #1 being my current position).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy 1 Month Anniversary Costa Rica!

As per my tradition, some musings of being in my new home for 31 days...

-When I wake up in the morning, I see this:

-Where there is a nice-ish apartment complex, there is an adjacent grassy field. Where the grass in the grassy field is shorter than 3 feet, there is a soccer goal.

-It rains every afternoon (since we are in the rainy season), and I find it refreshing and reminiscent of my Indiana childhood days.

-Office life is not as dreadful as I imagined, and I have TED, the Vicky Cristina Barcelona soundtrack, and the delicious (and free) coffee to thank in part for that.

-As I have learned before from living in a new place, if you are not in a practically constant state of uncomfortability in the beginning, you are doing it wrong. I am pushing myself daily to make the most out of being here; starting conversations with strangers, exploring a new part of the city by foot and by car (and subsequently getting lost), asking tons of questions, and in general just trying brand new things. As I told my friend, you have to just embrace the difficulty to the maximum because it's the only way to make the most of it.

-The people I have met here have shown me the artsy, bohemian-y spots I had been searching for. Word of mouth is very influential in Costa Rican culture, whether it be through office gossip or where to see the newest theater performance. You absolutely must listen to and know the right people to get the most out of San Jose. 

-This time around, I am at peace with not transforming into a local; no need to lose myself again in the impossible process of complete assimilation. 

-I am finding my "wake up at 6 and run, drive to work from 8 to 5:30, and come home and cook for myself" life rather... nice. I let my crazy out after dinner (as it brews internally up until then), but this adult/"real world" life is not so bad. The only thing is that I find the routine numbing in its steadiness and comfortability (my made-up word again), and I can see how it can be easy to fall into the trappings of its security. But I don't buy it. 

-I need to really commit to consistently "serving the poor"/volunteering somewhere because my heart is needy for it.

-I miss the fact that all my family is in Indiana together and I am not.

-I am doing fun things. Here is an example of one, in which I zip-lined upside down across the rainforest canopy:

Also, Pura Vida is real!