Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I know I've sentenced myself to no blogging this week, but I skipped Self Portrait Tuesday last week. I know it's not excessively creative, but I like it anyway--so there...
This is a photo of me and my best friend from high school the summer we packed up the truck, my dog, Japhy, and hit the road. We traveled the States together up and down, sideways and crossways for an entire summer.
Right now my class is watching The Motorcycle Diaries, a film about Ernesto "Che" Guavera and Alberto Granada's adventures down the length of South America on a beat up old motorcycle in the 1950's. This photo reminds me that we once took the same sort of journey. And so it's no wonder I watch that film with such longing--even after 4 viewings.
Two years ago Jess was the Maid of Honor in my wedding. This is the photo that I carefully tucked into a locket for her. She cried when she opened it. And I did too.
I've never found a better traveling partner.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I'm cutting myself off from reading blogs for a week. Actually, I'm cutting out all unnecessary reading (and definitely the tv!). I'll miss reading all of your blogs...but oy--I find that I waste incredible amounts of time on the internet. (side note: I do not consider reading blogs a waste of time because I read some really incredible and inspiring blogs--but I am easily distracted and would rather read about all of you than do my own work. If there is one thing I want out of life right now it is to GRADUATE. Sometimes I am afraid to admit to myself just how much work that will involve. I hide behind a lot of things. I am hoping that cutting out a few distractions will help me to face myself and the things I need to accomplish. To be honest, I am scared shitless that I don't have it in me, but maybe that's another story.)
While I was in India I did a 10 day Vipassana (silent meditation). We were not allowed to listen to music, to speak, to read, or to write. It was wonderful--but difficult. Asking a writer not to write?! Oh boy. So this is my self-imposed/created Vipassana since I don't have time for the real thing. I need this. No more white-noise--at least for a while.
I'll be back next week!
Friday, January 27, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
My body is vibrating from boredom. I can't stop complaining. Oh, this sucks.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
smoked 3 cigarettes.
stuck to diet (except for substitution of healthy snack for cocktails).
1st day of Lit. Crit. = 200+ bible-thin pages of the Norton Anthology of Literary Criticism (in miniscule print) and a presentation--by next week.
Monday, January 23, 2006
- quitting smoking (yes, again...for real this time) and...
- starting a diet (oh, i hate that word--ok, so what i meant to say is that i'm changing my atrocious eating habits.)
as for the food bit--well, that i am completely ready for. i've gained 20 pounds in the last year and a half--20! i have a short list of things i can blame it on, but what it comes down to is that i am absolutely uncomfortable.
and why am i writing about all this? i have no idea--maybe to keep me from going next door and begging for a smoke. oh, and if i could have it my way--i'd spend this first week sleeping. i figure that's the best way to avoid self-conflict. too bad it's not an option. :|-
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Down stairs it is warm in my little corner studio--but upstairs, where I now sit, it is cold, cold, cold. Light floods through large windows, the glass rattling with every truck and bad muffler that goes by. I listen to Cuban music to warm me up from the inside. As new faces come in I am each time amazed by the incredible characters that inhabit this town. This place draws them out from where ever they hide. Maybe it's being surrounded by art that opens the space for such satisfying conversation. I don't know--but whatever it is, this place is a little piece of Saturday heaven. I'm glad to be back.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Well, it turns out that I don't write anything on my SECRET BLOG that I wouldn't write here. But the really amazing thing is that in a world of thousands and thousands of blogs--these people are overlapping! Maybe the good thing about starting a secret blog is that I wouldn't have realized this otherwise. Such an incredibly large world and these like-minded artists and thinkers are FINDING EACH OTHER! How amazing is that?!
What an absolutely beautiful web these strands create--a web I've followed through her and her and her and her and her and her and her and her................yeah, you get the point.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
|You Are 31 Years Old|
Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.
13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.
20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.
30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
The picture in the upper right is a photo of me when I was 18 and had just moved to Oregon. I hiked the PCT almost every weekend. And when I wasn't doing that I was hiking trails along the ocean.
The photo below it is of me standing on the roof of the house I built. When we started (with the basement) I was afraid of heights. But by the end the roof rafters became my favorite place.
There's a picture of my strong-stout-Austrian great-great grandmother holding my great-grandma. My great-grandma lived to be nearly a 105 and was able to care for herself until the end. She was also the most content woman I ever met.
There's a picture of Gandhi and Amelia Earhart. There's one of Kali Ma, the ocean, and of me and my old dog Japhy. There's a picture of Buddha drawn by a Nepalese child that I was befriended by and another of when I lived in the desert. There's a photo of an owl because I was born in winter.
In the picture in the middle of the bottom row, the one where I'm wearing a white wooly sweater, I stand with my arm around a girl whose family I stayed with while in the Himalayas. She was feisty...got mad easily and one night threw pots and pans in the kitchen. Such crashing! We became fast friends and would have been happy to temporarily trade lives.
There are pictures of strangers whose lives have inspired me, pictures with friends, one that I'm hanging out the window of a train, one that I'm sitting silently on a mountain top, and in another, paddling a kayak over water smooth as glass.
There are a lot of reasons I don't throw this thing away--even if it has started to fade.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Thank you Martin Luther King!
Now it's time to get to work.
I feel myself shutting down, a listless depression seeping in the cracks. I also feel myself waking up to the realization that something's gotta change. Perhaps easier said than done, but my sister said something to me this weekend that made the air vibrate around me. She said, "Yeah, I think it's time for you to move on." Those words bounced off me a few times before sinking in, but...
I think she's right.
Friday, January 13, 2006
For a moment I hesitated, taking in all that surrounded me before turning my back to its beauty. I pulled open the heavy glass door and was greeted by silent halls. I unlocked my own dark classroom, turned on the lights, and was confronted by perfect rows of desks--desks soon to be broken up into a haphazard circle of expectant and awaiting students. Content that everything was as it should be I went up to my office where I was met by two professors who, after many, many years of teaching beamed just as much excitement as me. And I thought to myself, that it is these beginnings that I love the most--these beginnings that I hope will last forever.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
4 jobs you've had in your life:
- produce seller (sold fruits and veggies to Chris Farley whenever he was on a diet--he was an asshole)
- coffee barista (I loved the coffee as much as the people! That was a great job/s)
- floral designer (for 9 years--too long!)
- teacher (my favorite and current job)
- Herald and Maude (Herald inspired me to learn banjo. I want to grow up to be like Maude)
- When Harry Met Sally (As a matter of fact, I watched it last night!)
- Born into Brothels (my newest favorite--heartbreaking and inspiring all at once)
- Gorillas in the Mist (Dian Fossey is one of my heroes)
- Eugene, Oregon (my first big move across the country at 18)
- In a hogan in the high desert of Arizona
- In a 10' x 12' shack with no water or electricity in the middle of nowhere
- Madison, Wisconsin (a little bit on accident, but returned repeatedly)
- Free Style
- Animal Planet (which show? I don't know--the good ones)
- Friends (ok, ok, I admit it!)
- Northern Exposure (dang, why don't they produce that one anymore???)
4 places you have been on vacation:
- India (but I think I was there for too long to call it a vacation)
- Malaysia (a short, but happy accident)
- England, Ireland, France (in 1999)
- Italy (for our honeymoon in 2003)
- Samosas (oh--I'm sooooooo hungry for samosas!!!)
- Malai Kofta (why didn't I learn how to cook Indian food???)
- Potato chips (my true weakness in life)
- Dilly beans (hot dill pickled string beans--a family recipe that I've been addicted to since I was a kid)
- India (do I have to be picky?)
- Costa Rica (lounging in a hammock overlooking the ocean from a tree house, reading a good book)
- France (drinking a glass of wine or sipping an espresso)
- Gallery hopping in New York (art inspiration!)
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
But alas, it turns out that I am regular ol' nervous. Oh good--does that make me normal? haha. What's normal??
This morning I looked through photos only to find that I have almost no pictures from my childhood. But what I do have is boxes and albums full of photos from my travels. In those pictures I see a deep sense of calm; I see someone who is happy and healthy and glad to be alive. Yes, it's true, I have a traveling soul. I would have liked to collage a timeline of all my journeys, but that would take all day.
So instead, I leave you with a small moment of peace that I found while in Italy. I hope you can feel it too.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Later I headed down to the studio for some art making. When I finally came home, it felt good to be here. Tonight I spent some time writing in my paper journal. My husband gave me two more art journals for Christmas and since I desire a new beginning for the coming semester I filled a few pages of my current journal--which included making a "schedule" for the coming months. This is a habit of mine--making a schedule that I never seem to keep. But this time I kept it simple with more doodling than unattainable to-do lists. I now have a schedule that boils down to one thing: WRITING. Yes, there is the class I'm taking and the class I'm teaching. They will both get their fair share of attention, but all other moments of my life will be dedicated to one thing, and one thing only...my thesis. Oh, and walking the dog.
The past three weeks have been filled with a lot of wasted time. And of course it's only been in the last couple days that I've finally gotten to the point of being able to relax. I wish I would have used the time better. I let things hang over my head the entire three weeks. I didn't get anything done, yet I wasn't able to really "let go" either. I will pay for my non-productivity over the next several months. But, no matter what, I am going to try to stay calm about whatever the coming semester has in store for me. There are three things I'm promising myself to get through it all with my sanity in tact: getting enough sleep, exercise, and water (well--those things make life sound simple anyway!). I have also decided that it will be best for me to become a mobile writer, to follow the quiet wherever it leads me--whether it be my desk at home, my office, the studio, the library, or a coffee shop. I'm going to get up early, before my husband does, and write. This semester will require music, sun, and definitely a few deep breathes once in awhile.
And tomorrow--my last day of stolen freedom...I don't know, but I think I will spend the morning reading, savoring one last book of my own choosing, another long walk in the snow (and hopefully sun), some writing, and maybe even a nap.
For now, it's time for bed.
Monday, January 09, 2006
This morning I'm going to get a long awaited haircut, then make copies for the first week of class. I've got music on, I'm drinking a good cup of coffee. Wow--amazing how just a little bit of sun makes even "every day" seem extraordinary.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Before reading that I had already decided on the rolling-up-the-sleeves bit, my horoscope just confirmed it. And since, at this point, I need to feel at least a small sense of accomplishment I'm going to get my class planned. I have so far already written this semester's syllabus. Now it's on to writing up the first assignment and the big research assignment.
I want to write about the challenges in making this semester a success and about how I find personal satisfaction in getting people to enjoy writing (especially if they hated it in the past). I want to write about how I hope to someday feel like this at the beginning of each semester and about the way I hope it gets a little easier when I can focus on just teaching instead of juggling my energies between both teaching and being a student. Teaching energizes me. Being a student, lately, drains me.
I want to write about my goals for the coming semester, the way I found peace walking through fresh snow this morning, and the way it felt like going to church--only better. I want to write about finding a balance in my life--physically, mentally, spiritually.
I want to write about a lot of things--but first I'm going to take the advice of my horoscope so I can breathe a little easier and maybe even experience some of that balance first-hand.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Then again, I've started reading a book, Maiden Voyages: Writings of Women Travelers, that makes me want to leave immediately. I'm reading from the memoir of Maud Parrish, Nine Pounds of Luggage. This book makes me feel a little trapped; it makes me wish I felt a little more alive--directly, and not through a book.
At the turn of the (20th) century Maud Parrish left her ill-fated marriage and set off to the Yukon with "nine pounds of luggage" and a banjo. She writes:
"Some see life in black and white; others--and they're the lucky ones--in old-gold hues. But the life I knew then made me see red. Wanderlust can be the most glorious thing in the world sometimes, but when it knaws and pricks at your innards, especially in spring, with your hands and feet tied, it's awful. So I left. Without telling a soul."
She writes about Alaska as being an exhilarating atmosphere where "the air was electric, and the people were electric too, one hundred per cent alive..." And for a second I fall 11 years back in time--when I hopped freights from Minnesota to Alaska, bathed in wild rivers and jumped moving trains--life was bigger than any ailments of the head or heart. I look up from the book and can't help but feel a little trapped by the glass in the window.
Sometimes I am amazed by the "normal" turn my life has taken--and sometimes, yes, it feels awful.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
It's been a frustrating day of non-writing. As promised to myself, I've definitely put in the hours sitting here in front of my computer, but without luck. In search of inspiration I picked up this book. I bought it in India and it traveled in my backpack much of the way. It is well worn with thin, yellowish pages, printed and bound in Calcutta.
However, I am not reading it. I'm smelling it. (yes, really).
Page 117 smells like the white marble floors and aluminum cups of a restaurant I frequented in Delhi--the one that was 2 steps down from a busy street where endless streams of pedestrians, beggars, bicycle rickshaws, and even an elephant went by. There was a high ceiling with fans going constantly round and round, everything in constant motion. There was marble on the walls as well, grey veins breaking the monotany of white. I often went there to write, would order a mango lassi or chai. Across the street was another restaurant with the best samosas, but populated only with men--I would order them to go. And a little further away, was the bookstand where I found this book.
Page 243 smells like a small shop in Mysore where I tried on my first sari. They too had white marble floors, but the walls were covered from floor to ceiling in every color imaginable. Fuscia, teal, blue, green, orange, purple, red. Yards upon yards of fabric some embellished with gold thread, sometimes sequins. Two women helped me clumsily wrap the fabric round and round then fold, fold, fold into small pleats before tucking it at the waist and finally bringing it around my shoulders.
Page 166 smells like the air in the foothills of the Himalayas. An equal combination of the Ganges, cow shit, and sand.
Page 57 smells like the guest house I spent my first week in after arriving. Fluorescent lights, Gold Flake cigarettes, brushing teeth with bottled water, an empty backpack yet to be broken in.
Page 213 smells like Kota, Rajasthan--of incense and women behind veiled windows and dark doors. It smells like the museum where I gazed at miniature oil paintings, all in a row, hanging on dark wooden walls. Historical treasures slowly, slowly rotting in the humid heat. Lower on the page, it smells like young boys running down narrow, dirt streets.
Page 282 smells like not wanting to return home.
Page 3 smells like wishing I could be there now.
So this is what I have...image after image after image. A quilt whose pieces are haphazard, random, and small--pieces I have not yet made sense of.
"Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.
The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse."
I especially like the explanation of the goad (to help "propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way") and noose ("a gentle implement to capture all difficulties."), the pen ("a symbol of sacrifice") that he broke for writing the Mahabharata (he's a writer himself!), and the ladoo (reminding us that one must discover the sweetness of the soul). These are important aspects of the writing life. It's good to have a god on your side. I'll leave offerings.
Ok...back to work!
In the meantime I am sitting here at my desk in self-created half-light drinking an oh-so-tasty cup of coffee. I got the coffee maker ready last night and this morning only had to press GO. This preparedness reminds me that I have something worth accomplishing today. Viscosa, my little black cat, weaves herself in figure 8's around my legs.
At the moment I am trying to decide how to move forward. I'm thinking about structure--the structure my writing should/wants to take. Chronological order seems like the logical choice, but the story I want to tell feels more complex than that...more like a patchwork quilt. I'm just not yet sure how to fit the pieces together--or for that matter, what kind of stitches to use to hold it in place.
It's time for a second cup of coffee.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
So here it is. That's me on the left with the blonde hair and my sister on the right. Her name is Jackie and she's two years older than me.
It's one of my favorite (and the few) photos of my sister and I--just the two of us. I like it because it shows the relationship even we didn't know we had. For the most part, we grew up in conflict. Or so we thought-- mostly because our parents somehow made us think we didn't like each other, that we were irreconcilable opposites. My mom wanted silence. My dad protected that at all costs. Therefore, even the most minor of sisterly arguments were blown out of proportion.
It wasn't until my sister had kids of her own, six years ago, that we realized just how important we are to each other. We began to understand that although we were always told we were opposites, in reality there is no else in the world that holds as many similarities.
Looking back I realize that my sister and I would have done anything to protect the other--and just like the photograph reveals--we did. Growing up, we were not close in a typical way. But as adults we make up for the lost time. There is no one that could ever replace her. And because we share a life-long history--we are different, but we are the same.
When preparing for a show in painting I am easily able to let my world turn inside out; I am able to dissolve myself, focus completely, until the rest falls away. It is an odd and wonderful phenomenon. But it's been a long time since I've taken on a creative writing project... let's hope that it works the same.
There are a few writers I've always been inspired by--One is Isabel Allende and the other Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Allende has a separate guest house she writes in. She begins each new book on the full moon. And lights candles for the spirits before sitting down to write everyday day. Sometimes she loses herself so completely in the writing that she is not sure if it is her story or if she's become merely a medium. Marquez becomes a recluse when writing a book, shuts himself off from the world completely--only seeing his wife when she brings him his meals. He speaks to no one. He has a lot of friends, but they all understand this about him. When his book is finished and he finally emerges, they are happy to spend time with him once again.
Today I've shut the door and lit a candle. But the rest... is up to me. This, today, is where my writing begins.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Starting tomorrow morning at 8am--I do not exist--not in person anyway.
I am unplugging the phone and refraining from any and all social activity. Please understand. It's not because I don't want to talk to you. Actually, I love you dearly and have enjoyed the many conversations we've had. But for now, it must be this way.
I've left the planet. Will blog.
You are a Rose:
You are creative, sensual, passionate, and bold.
You pour your heart into everything that you
do. Alluring and gifted with strong sex appeal,
you very easily draw people in with your animal
Symbolsim: The rose has always been a flower
heavily loaded with symbolism. In general it
symbolizes desire, passion, beauty, and
Which Flower are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Sunday, January 01, 2006
And now it's time for desert and a mocha.
I thought I might start planning my class for spring or write today--yeah right. Welcome to 2006.
But let me not get glum... there's always espresso.