Friday, June 30, 2006

some of the thoughts i had on friday

There my thoughts went--ssshhwwooooop! Gone.

Today I decided that I am mad.

Yes. I'm mad at graduate school because it sucked the life out of my writing. I'm mad because it feels good to be mad at something other than myself. I'm mad because I DON'T KNOW HOW TO WRITE ANYMORE! I'm mad because I can't even THINK...and grad school seems like the best culprit to place the blame on.

But damnit....

The only problem is that my anger has holes in it. My arguments don't hold up--mostly because of this teacher, who helped me survive my academic struggles in more ways than he probably realizes...and also because of some really incredible people/writers/fellow students that I met along the way. I'd like to blame the past 2 years of school for my serious lack of equilibrium and my inability to write--but... let's face it: it's not completely true.

Today, as I walked down the sidewalk along the lake with wolfie pulling my arm out in front of me in her desire for squirrels, I started thinking about the many ways my life has changed since I last felt "normal." Ok, ok...I've never been "normal." By normal I mean: when I last felt like I understood myself and my position in life. Grad school would make for a great scapegoat for obvious reasons. But I kept walking down the street with my beautiful wolfie pulling me along behind her and asked myself: when was the last time I felt normal?

The image that came to my mind first was of me sitting in the camper that I lived in while building my house. I collected rainwater to bathe in and wrote on an old clackity-clack typewriter because I did not yet own a computer or, for that matter, even have electricity. I lived with my dog and my cat and spent my days building and working and writing and with a few of my very best friends.

After that it all got complicated--not necessarily bad, just complicated. And busy.

For the past month I've been working a lot, but making my own schedule. It's been a pretty serious transitional time for me and lately I've been trying to figure out who I am OUTSIDE of school. I'm trying to figure out who I am as a writer and an artist--and, well, as a person too.

Today I worked at the gallery and was amazed by how absolutely hectic/crazy/spazzed-out people are. I was just watching people talk to me--their words flying a mile a minute, their eyes darting, bodies jerking--trying to talk and do ten things at once.

Interacting with people makes me feel exactly the same way I did when I stepped off the plane after 9 months in India. The feeling: What the hell is wrong with these people? What is their hurry?

But this is the American Way. And, I'm sorry, but the American Way sucks. Uuh--it hurts to watch. No wonder I feel like I'm floating off into space. No wonder I can't keep my feet attached to the ground or my mind focused long enough to get through even one coherent thought.

Whatever the cause of my difficulties with writing lately...I've decided that I'd be a lot better off if I gave myself the space I need to work out my issues of being deathly afraid of competition, being deathly afraid of failure, being deathly afraid of not starting, being deathly afraid of....I don't know what my fears are all about or, for that matter, where they came from in the first place. I never used to be afraid of anything (except worms and snakes, that is). ha! Worms and snakes are nothing compared to these new-found fears that seem to have crept in on me when I wasn't looking. Anyway, these so-called fears are getting on my nerves. I'm bored with them and they get in the way.

Alright. Fine. My anger's gone. I'm not mad any more. Writing is good like that.

I just wish my life would slow down long enough for me to catch up with myself. But who knows--maybe that's what's happening now.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Quest for new music.

Ever feel like you're in a rut? I do. And I think the best cure would be some new-found grooves to rock my boat. Know what I mean?

I need some INSPIRATION! So I'm asking: does anyone know of any music that I haven't already heard of?

For the life of me I can't remember whose blog linked to Corinne Bailey Rae, but it's got me thinking about music and how good it feels to hear something new, something a little kick-ass wonderful.

Lately I find myself more interested in female artists (although I'm not opposed to good music by males either!).
Will you help me in my quest?

...Cuz music is even better when introduced by friends.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I visited my blog tonight only to find that the banner is missing. I don't usually think about it unless something isn't working, but what if one day I woke up and my blog was gone? Poof! That would be sad, indeed. So to guard against such significant loss I occasionally back up what I've written in Word documents. What surprises me most is that I've written 70 pages worth of material since mid-April. Good or not--that's a lot of words.

On another note, I went to my studio today to start a new painting. It was when I looked at the bare canvas that I realized that I don't actually have the skill to paint the images in my head. Some days I am amazed by just how much I have to learn. I never started the painting. Instead, I taped down a piece of paper, made doodles in black ink and then covered it in oil pastel, smearing it around until I felt my body finally relax.

The master piece will have to wait--I'm in transition--a weird state of being between trying to figure it all out and letting it go.

I'll go back tomorrow.

uh-oh...packing thoughts have already begun to interfere with sleep.

I woke up early this morning, probably because I started packing last night and now I'm on an anxious role. I've decided to do a little at a time, starting with the stuff that I know we won't need to use...but I'm an all or nothin' kind of girl and so it's hard for me not to just pack the entire house. I suppose V. and I could pack everything and then pretend that we're camping for an entire month. Maybe there would even be room to set the tent up in the middle of the living room. But no--I'll try not to dismantle our lives here completely for at least a couple more weeks. In the meantime, I think it would be best if I spent my days in the studio--painting.

I'm going to miss my studio more than anything. I'll miss the quiet lakes and the woods too--but my studio, for the past three years, has been my sanctuary. It is a world away and is one place I'll hate to pack up.

*note to self: write more about the studio.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Life drawing.

Believe it or not, Vinny hasn't even seen the house we're moving into. I think it's driving him a little bit crazy not being able to visualize what it looks like. Last time I drove down, he stayed home with the now all he has to go on are my descriptions. Yesterday I attempted to draw him a picture of the floor plan so that I could better explain how things are laid out and what it looks like. Afterwards, I went upstairs to my office. When I came back down Vinny told me he had added a few things to my drawing. (Click to make it bigger--then click again.)

Yes--this is proof of our bless-ed immaturity. We've always done these little doodles together...and I usually keep them because of the way they tell our story...and all the abnormal truths of our lives... I should make a book of them. You know, something to give to the grandkids someday. haha!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Why do I do it?

Blogging is an interesting thing and I've been noticing a shift in my blogging style lately. I'm not sure what it is--and I probably won't be able to figure it out until a year or two has passed--when I'm distant enough from the experiences I've written about to be able to see what I actually said.

I usually feel like a lot of what I write here is crap--and I usually continue feeling that way until I look back on it a long time later and then find myself missing the person that I once was. I get nostalgic and find myself, every time, grateful that I wrote about my days and my thoughts. Lately I especially feel like I don't understand the direction my writing is taking. It feels very childish and Dear Diary-esque. Still, I continue to write here. I want a record of who I've been and in the process I've ended stumbling on a very wonderful community of fellow writers, artists, and thinkers.

In some ways I haven't quite figured out how to write for this new and expanded audience. What do I say? What don't I need to say? Some of the things I talk about need more explanation than others--but it just depends on how much you already know about me. This has created an interesting writing challenge--having such a diverse audience. But at the same time I like it that the people that have known me for a long time are getting to know me better and that such easy friendships are formed with people I meet along the way.

Right now I'm drinking coffee in a tall, skinny mug that I bought at an art festival 2 years ago. I got it for my new (at the time) office because it is golden yellow at the bottom and a hazy sky blue at the top. There is a line etched in a spiral around the mug like a path and a tiny leaf impression stamped into the mug's sky. I bought this particular mug because it made me think about following my own path. I've wanted to teach ever since I was a little kid--and the last two years I've finally felt like I was actually on the path I was meant to follow. Of course, everything leading up to that experience was also a part of that path too--and still, the path continues even though I'm not even sure which way it will go.

But anyway, I didn't intend to describe the mug. What I was going to say is that right now I'm drinking coffee. It's Sunday morning and it's quiet. I need to walk the dog and my dad's dog too because he's out of town. Then I need to go to work because I need more money in order to pay for this move. I don't really want to work today. I would rather go to my studio and begin work on the series of painting that have been simmering in my head ever since our trip to Montana. I would also like to start packing because I'm impatient and because I want to get rid of a lot of stuff and organize the mess that never got organized from the last move.

What I'm starting to realize is that time, once again, is moving by quickly and another summer will have passed. Last summer, time was swallowed up by the death of my dog and my grandpa. I was a grieving zombie. After my dog, Abe, died I didn't expect anything out of myself. He is the most important being to have ever entered my life (only riveling my husband). All movement and energy for the rest of the summer was eaten up by getting the house ready to put up for sale, then moving. Now it is a new year. I'm living under different circumstances with new hurdles to jump. But I hate to see another summer go by without having been creatively productive.

Maybe that's another reason why I blog. Because then, even if paintings are left unpainted and serious writing left unwritten--at least I've still done something. Blogging has become my space where I just show up on the page. No strings attached. Some of it turns out to be crap and some of it turns out to be my best writing.

And I guess this is what it is to be an artist--TO JUST SHOW UP FOR THE WORK.

I don't want to see life get in the way of that. Writing. Painting. It IS my life.

And by the way--the coffee tastes good today.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Work Wanted.

Now that the house search has been settled, the job search has begun.

We were graced by more good luck when our current landlord called last night and asked if we'd be willing to end our lease a month early so that he could more easily rent it for the coming school year. We were going to have to pay rent for TWO places for the month of August--but now we can breath a financial sigh of relief. Everything is strangely falling perfectly into place.

As for the job search, after being a student for the past 7 years, I find the notion of living above the poverty line quite exciting. And since I don't technically have my MA (because I still have to finish my thesis)...

I get to be anything I want!

Unfortunately, not having my degree means that teaching is not an option (yet). After the past 2 years of teaching college writing, quite frankly, everything else pales in comparison. However, I'm learning that opportunity can arise out of nothing. One never knows what might happen. Maybe I'll teach community ed. or start a writing group instead. Ok, ok...but I still need an income.

Without the necessary degree to obtain my dream job--I've found a surprising amount of freedom in how I might make money in the coming year. I find myself looking in the Help Wanted section of the classifieds under "Other" and "miscellaneous." How liberating! Not that I've actually discovered anything that is shouting my name yet, but...

So I ask myself: What is it that I want to do?
I find myself gravitating towards the arts and animals. Yes--I'm a woman of extremes. So far, the only job in the arts that I have any knowledge of, is for a university curating position that requires a PhD (which I don't have). My first reaction to most job listings is: "Oh--no, I'm not qualified for that!"...which, in other words, boils down to "I'm not good enough for that... or that...or that..." I've been making continuous attempts to remind myself that I can do anything, and that what is most important is not can I do it, but do I want to do it. If I want it bad enough--then I know I'm capable of learning whatever it is I need to know--sometimes I just get scared and forget. Actually, I've been in Bemidji for so long that now I'm a little afraid of anything new. I have a quick mind and I'm a fast learner. But I also know that I do best and feel happiest when I'm in an environment that I feel comfortable and confident in.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but life has been a little piece of hell for too long. IT HAS BEEN HARD. V. and I decided to take this next year off between graduate programs to get our bearings back, to have time to relax and create and put our heads on straight again. I want a job that will allow me to do all of those things. And, to be honest, searching the internet for a job is a bit daunting.

My sister thinks she has all the answers for us. Maybe she's just trying to be helpful--but I also know she has a knack for being over-bearing. If it was up to her, I'd be a technical writer. Uh--excuse me? I mean, I know I have a BFA in Creative and Professional Writing, but.... can you say SOUL SUCKING??? No, I'm sorry. Technical writing is not for me.

But the more I think about it, the more important it becomes that I find a job that will feed me from the inside out, one that gives me energy. I don't want to jinx myself by blurting out all my silly little desires before they've had time to incubate and maybe even materialize...but for the first time in a very long time I'm actually looking forward to the possibilities.

This move is going to happen sooner than we anticipated or planned. Both of us have never been more ready.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The story of how we found magic. Or did it find us?

I've been blogging in my head about this for the past 2 days and now that I'm finally sitting down to write I don't actually know where to begin.

I suppose it all begins with a fierce bout of anxiety over signing a lease for a place that I wasn't sure was the right one. The house in blue-collarville was nice and comfy--but it was also small and a little bit boring. Still, V. and I were prepared to take it because then we wouldn't have to worry anymore. We got home from Mpls. on Tuesday and immediately checked craigslist to see if we could find a photo of it. In the process I accidentally stumbled on a rental in the neighborhood we really wanted to live in. I told V. and we soon found ourselves confused and slightly panicked because we had already told the landlord at the first place that we definitely wanted it. We didn't want to lock ourselves into it if there was something better...but we didn't want her to lose out on an opportunity to find someone else either.

Ok...but this is where the weird part happened. V. did a search in the Star Tribune. (Why? I don't know). You can limit your search as much or a little as you want. Vinny typed in: "house, 2+ bedrooms." That's it. Only one house came up. ONE! This was a listing we had never seen advertised--and it was more perfect than anything so far! When V. refreshed the page with the same search, the next time a HUNDRED listings came up. WHOA!! Ok--ya gotta admit...that's just a LITTLE BIT WEIRD!!!

I don't mean to get hokey on all of you...but I seriously believe there was a cosmic intervention involved in our finding (and getting!) this place. Kristine wrote in a comment:
"Jessie, Hang in there! Attempt to have a peaceful sleep and I pray that God will make the direction you should go very clear to you."
First, I must admit, that I have a complicated relationship with God. I associate the name with too many negative experiences (I'm an ex-Catholic school girl. Need I say more?). But lately I've found myself praying: "Please let us find the perfect place!" I'm not even sure who I've been praying to (to the universe and anyone or anything that might hear me, I guess)...but I do know that I was grateful for Kristine's comment because it made me feel a sense of peace in thinking that it IS possible that the universe (or a higher being or whatever you want to call it) will take care of us and put us exactly where we need to be at exactly the right time.

I called.
I got a good feeling.
I drove the 4+ hours back down to the cities.

And yep--you guessed it. That's the one we got!

When I pulled up to the house I knew it was "The One." Paris Parfait commented: "Fingers crossed that you get the one you really love; that makes your heart skip a beat when you see it!" Well, that's what happened. I got out of the car to walk around (already with a skipping heart) and saw a trail leading into the woods directly across the street. I followed the trail in the light of the setting sun and found myself smack dab in the middle of an enchanted forest. MY HEART NEARLY STOPPED!!!

So where will we live as of August 1st?

We will live in a house covered in ivy and shaded by big trees on a quiet street. We will live in a house with a huge upstairs bedroom connected to a (2nd) white tiled bathroom--a sanctuary complete in itself. We'll live in a house with an office for each of us, a painting studio for me, and a bedroom just for our wolfie when she gets too hot or too cold outside. We'll live in a house that has a secret fort on the second floor. We will live in a house that comes with a piano. It is a house surrounded by magic, that has a fenced in yard filled with perennial gardens and next to the friendliest neighbors in the whole world. We'll live in a house with a cobblestone path and visiting deer; a house that over looks, not more neighbors, but a 500 acre park filled with trails, lakes, wildflower gardens, meadows, and animals. If we walk the other direction we can see the Minneapolis skyline. We can bike to down town in a matter of minutes. We'll live in a house with hardwood floors and a fireplace and all the amenities such as central air, a dishwasher, and a washer and dryer. We'll live in a house that is cheaper than anything else we looked at, but better than all of them put together and multiplied times 10.

We'll live in a house owned by a 77 year old man named Barry who still works full time passionately running his printing business and his partner, Linda, who already feels like she could be a second mom. Both of them were full of smiles and hugs and handshakes and assured me that they aren't your "normal" landlords. There was something special about them that I fell in love with the second they stepped out of their car.

We'll live in a house that has been inhabited by artists--where creativity and inspiration nearly SEEPS out of the walls. We'll live in a house that is quiet and beautiful and has plenty of space for all of our endeavors.

We'll live in a house that feels like HOME.

We have found MAGIC. And I am so grateful that I feel like giving the whole universe a big hug. But even better, I feel as though the universe has wrapped its arms around us. We have been taken care of.

I am thankful for all of you who have been putting your energy out into the universe with thoughts and well-wishes for us. I know--here I go getting all hokey again--but I believe that all of that energy helped us find the perfect place. Maybe its dumb luck, maybe its persistence...but maybe, just maybe...

it really IS magic.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

We found magic! ...much more of it than we ever expected.




And now it is time
for a peaceful sleep
so that I can wake up in the morning
and tell you
about it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ask and you shall receive (something, hopefully)....but don't read this if you're not willing to subject yourself to ridiculous ramblings.

On Sunday I had a dream. I had no intention of fulfilling it until yesterday at about 1:00 in the afternoon while standing in the shower, when V. came in to talk and I asked if he wanted to go. A quick shower, a couple phone calls, and 45 minutes later we were on the road headed toward Mpls. And yes, per dream, we made it to my nephew and niece's lemonade stand in the nick of time.

Did we find a place? Yes.

Well, yes and yes. CONFUSION!!! Yes, I'm suffering from great confusion and some anxiety too--but I'm good at that, right?

We found a place in blue-collarville in a neighborhood approximately 2 minutes from my sister and 4 minutes to downtown. It's a house with a yard, 2 bedrooms, an office, and a finished basement. It's a half-mile from a kick-ass trail and near a few others as well. It is owned by an incredibly friendly woman who is about my age and loves dogs. She's happy to let our animals move in along with us and is flexible about leases and deposits...and even though I was reluctant at first, V. talked me into it...(but don't get the wrong idea...I'm pretty stubborn--V. can't talk me into anything that I don't actually feel on my own). The place felt warm and cozy and homey. No awe inspiring architectural details...we'd have to bring visual interest TO the house with us. But it felt a place you could call home.

She agreed to e-mail an application and all the necessary pamphlets and what-nots and we are pretty much as good as in as soon as we're ready. YAY!!

Then we got home. I checked craigslist to see if I could find a picture of it (she said it had been listed there)...and in the process of tracking it down I found a NEW rental that was just listed TODAY at 3:17 in the ACTUAL neighborhood we want (the other one isn't, but is nearby)...RIGHT NEXT to one of the biggest, best, most beautiful park in the cities!!! #UUUUUUCK!

Now I'm not sure what to do except drink calming tea and wait until tomorrow. The place in our favorite neighborhood is actually cheaper and sounds more interesting and and and...shoot. And besides the park, it is actually walking distance from my sis's. But the park, oh the park!!!

I haven't even talked to the guy renting it yet though. Maybe he'll say NO to 3 pets. Maybe there won't be a yard. Maybe, maybe, maybe.... who knows....but damnit, the cities is 4 hours away! V. and I spent $100 in gas in the past 2 days. And we get decent gas mileage! But I'd drive down again tomorrow if the other one seemed like it might actually work and like he'd actually rent to us.

I think I'm spazzing out on my blog. I am, aren't I? :[-

PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE...I just want to find a place! I want a place that makes me feel good and inspired and where my husband and animals are happy too. I just want a signed lease and a guarantee and to know where I'll end up so that I can relax and start thinking about other things. In many ways I love change...lately I just want to know where it will take me.

My weary head wants a place to lay down. I guess I should be thankful for ABUNDANCE!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Bed... (with a view).

I've been putting off the Sunday Scribblings prompts too often lately (this week's promt is "Bed"). I can never be sure of the true workings of my own mind, but I've come to the conclusion that it is either: A) because I haven't been in the right state of mind to write on the topic given and therefore write a bunch of crap that I later wish I hadn't posted; or B) I am sometimes blown away by the small treasures of writing that are written by others--which leaves me feeling intimidated and lacking confidence in my own writing abilities. Ugh. I'm getting sick of both feelings, but mostly the second one.

However, last night while sitting outside at 2 in the morning I found what felt like were the perfect words along the perfect mindset to write . Maybe I was tired or maybe it was the way the street light in the alley illuminated the feather tree (as though lit from within)--but something strangely wonderful happened as I sat there and observed the way that I was able to discern every sight and sound as a seperate and isolated sensation. There was a breeze blowing through the leaves causing the softest sound--one that can only be heard when the leaves are in their most perfect state of pliable. Each and every shift and movement of the night was distinct from the next. While wolfie dreamt sweet huffing dreams at my feet, I felt contained in a momentary bubble of magic. Unfortunately, by the time I made it to my computer to write it all down, exhaustion set in and sent it all slipping away like water under my feet. I gave into the sensation and crawled into bed, paying particular attention to its deliciousness on my skin.

This morning, after taking Anu for a walk, I putzed around our tiny little yard while she ate. Ever since Abe died, she loves to have company when she eats. I rigged up the hammock--one end to the feather tree and the other end (precariously) to the dog kennel. It smelled like Montana: of woodsmoke and sage. If a hammock can be considered a bed, then this is my new room and its view. Funny how, even in the daylight, this particular tree still holds such an infinate capacity for magic.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Urban Saturdays...

Today my sister called to let me know that I had missed a perfect urban Saturday. I think she's looking forward to me moving down there...but does she realize how much I'm looking forward to it?! Uh--it's almost painful. She said that her day started with meeting a friend and her dog for a long walk, then they went to the farmer's market (a new one--small, but with loads of exceptionally wonderful organic veggies), then out for breakfast, and finally to the coffee shop where they relaxed and talked until it was time to go home. Yes, to me that sounds like a perfect urban Saturday. Walking, food, coffee, relaxing. I'm ready for it.

This evening I spent a little while reading on the couch and soon found myself being overcome by sleepiness. I looked at the clock at 5:38 and woke up to look at it again at 5:56. 18 minutes of bliss. I dreamt that I hopped in my car on Monday and spontaneously headed for Mpls. to look for a place to live. My 7 year old nephew is apperently selling lemonade on Monday from 5-6pm for 25 cents a glass. He was making fliers to post around the neighborhood while I was talking on the phone with my sister (that part is for real! I don't understand it either). Anyway, in the dream V. and I found the perfect place and made it to the lemonade sale to boot. The house we're living in sold the day before and therefore freed us from our lease. We came home, packed, and moved. Life felt settled--then I woke up.

In reality, V. and I are still having a hard time finding a place that works well for us. I'm being picky because I want Anu to be happy. V.'s being picky because that is his nature (haha! no really--it's true). I'm being particular about having a writing/painting space, about living near a park to walk Anu in, and living a convenient distance (or at least drive) from my sister and brother. Dang, who would have ever thought I'd want to live so close to my siblings? Ha! But (for now) I do!

We did find the perfect place when we last visited a few weeks ago, except that it was too expensive. Now it's rented to someone else. Bummer. But talking with V. today I was reminded of FAITH.

The perfect place will reveal itself at the perfect time. Anyway, why should I doubt that? It always has in the past. Our biggest problem is, quite likely, just that we're getting ANTSY! I am not a fan of limbo.

Check out this urban art. I'd post the image, but I'd probably get in trouble. I like this one best.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Of the same mind.

I got up a little earlier than usual and took Anu for a walk. It's cloudy and, although muggy, it's still cool--cool and cloudy is our kind of weather. Anu trotted along on her 26 foot pull-out leash in wide circles and when she'd get to the furthest point in front of me would run back with a huge grin on her face and smash lovingly into my legs--then do it all over again. We walked to campus and headed for, what I call, the "observation deck," which is really the cobble-stoned roof of the aquatics lab. When we got there Anu and I stood at the railing and looked out at the lake and the woods for a good long time before exchanging looks and deciding to move on. Have I mentioned that we sometimes share a brain? Yes, we do...and I love my wolfie. Funny how, out of all the people in the world, I get along with my dog best. We understand each other better than anyone. Days like today (or any other day) I can't even imagine how boring life would be without her.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

no title, just thoughts.

I started dusting the bookshelf when my husband left to take the dog for a walk and by the time he came back I was standing in the middle of the room with it completely pulled apart and a silly grin on my face.

He said: "Wha......?"
I said: "I don't know...I was dusting and the next thing I knew..."

I still don't know what happened except that now it feels good and smells like chocolate candles. I've been doing all this work for other people and a I guess it finally hit me that my own life needed a little re-arranging. As I vacuumed, I tried to figure out why I have that need--the compulsive/impulsive need to re-arrange rooms. I answered myself: "because I'm a traveler who hasn't really traveled and this way I get to be somewhere new." And the second thought that came to my head was that my mom re-arranges stuff maybe I learned it from her (and that's that)...or maybe she has a traveler heart also, but just never traveled. It's amazing how many layers you can peel back and still reveal only mysteries while you vacuum a 3 foot patch of burgundy rug--the Asian patterns like clues into your own psyche, yet giving no real answers to anything.


Afterwards I watched a good movie--Me and You and Everyone We Know. The movie is, according to the blurb on the back of the box, a "poetic and penetrating observation of how people struggle to connect in an isolating and contemporary world." Vinny pretended that he didn't like it, but I know he did because we've been talking weird ever since it ended.

What I liked most about it was the character of Christine, a performance artist (ok--but I'll admit, I like any movie with an artist in it--but this one was especially nutty and good). She made me wish that my art was even more at the center of my existence than it already is. She made me wish I was brave enough to wear socks on my ears in department stores, to write with permanent marker on my shoes, and talk to myself more often.

Sometimes I feel stuck in my own there's a whole entire incredible universe that I have not yet discovered...that my much-to-conventional mind too often limits me from tapping into...a wonderfully surreal world that is right before our eyes and under our feet.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hung over from work.

You know when you rip out a piece of paper from a spiral bound notebook and you get those fringy edges along one side? That's how I a fringy piece of paper that's been folded up and carried around in pants pockets and purses for too long. I feel tired, relaxed, and broken in...but not really like paper because I don't feel nearly as flat. I'm more swollen and three-dimensional. I've never compared myself to the leaves of a lotus flower before...but today I will, because I'm feeling generous with myself.

Last night I returned to the flower shop, after a much needed vacation, to keep working on the "renovation." I ended up staying until almost 2:30 in the morning because I got on a roll and wanted to see it through. Last night's room is my favorite one so far--the India Room. It's three steps down from the rest of the shop and easily creates a country within itself. I hope the old ladies that work there don't mind, but we've gone global to the furthest extreme.

I recently bought a gazzilion yards of sari fabric and it is now hanging from the ceiling and down the corners of the walls. I was shooting for the billowing look, but fabric is mucho expensive...still, it looks pretty damn luscious.

The room is filled with things from India and Morocco, dripping with (artificial) tropicals, and pungent with the smells of Mediterranean Fig, Indian Chai, Marrakech Spice, Ruby Guava, and Jasmine. We got new candles in and, needless to say, I am definitely feeling my throat and sinuses today! There are lots of beaded lamps, color, and mirrored bowls that catch the light. It's the kind of place where I would be happy curling up with a good book and a cup of creamy, sugary tea ...but if I'm going to daydream then I'd like the real thing in a real garden in the real India or Morocco. Too tired to go anywhere today though.

Instead I'll sit in the yard I actually DO have...the one with a big, beautiful shedding dog, a kennel, patches of grass scattered between patches of dirt, and a leaning fence. It's easy enough to enjoy what I have in reality--even though it's not perfect or even pretty to most eyes, there are little things that I love about it back the brightly swollen orange begonias and dark purple peonies, herb pots and pansies; and the crumbling sidewalk that makes me feel like I'm somewhere foreign. Best of all, there's the tree that leafed out in our absence...the one that I'm not even sure what kind it is except that it's huge and spreads up and out across the sky draping itself protectively over the back yard like a canopy of green feathers.

Today is a lounge-mode, herbal iced tea drinking kinda day. Green leaf shadows shifting beneath the blue sky...the birds are chirping like little maniacs. Today is a good day to read and feel loads and loads of love. ...and so it begins.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Home, but still in mountain time (and possibly the longest blog post ever)

We got home yesterday (Sunday) evening...and I admit that the only thing that got us back home were the animals (I missed them so much!). I could've stayed in the mountains all summer or probably all year if someone would have just delivered Anu, Vico, and Moonshadow to me. But alas, my heart strings pulled me home where I am now surrounded with love from all of my four-legged babies.

I know it's been a good trip because I've been home for nearly a whole day and almost nothing has been put away yet. I've been walking with Anu and in between walks have been sitting outside with her reading Anne Lamott's Blue Shoe because I've fallen into the story and see no reason to emerge quite yet. That's a good sign. It means I am really, honestly relaxed. Our bags can wait.

At the moment I am drinking a wonderfully real espresso made with real Italian roast coffee beans from a fragile green porcelain cup (rather than Folger's tea bags in a travel mug). Last night I slept in my bed that was as soft as down. These are some of the marvels of being home...but, at the same time, I find myself continuously seeking the outdoors. All of the windows are wide open to let in fresh air, light, and bird song. I feel a little claustrophobic inside right-angled rooms. I now hate the sound of television. Last night I ate my dinner on the front step in the light of the setting sun. Oh my god, and did I mention just how GOOD I feel? I will try to maintain this sense of balance as long as absolutely possible...and when I feel it slipping, well...back to the woods I'll go.

We left last Saturday after I finished working at the gallery and made our way across half the state of Minnesota and all of North Dakota by 1 am. We were getting tired and opted for a cheap, seedy hotel in Williston to stretch our bodies in a real bed and a hot shower in the morning to aid in a fresh start. It worked. We slept good and were ready to rumble early the next morning. Of course, we had to laugh at some of North Dakota's border town sites...
Or maybe we just have dirty minds, because it wasn't the only thing oddly sexual we noticed on our trip...
I mean, really!
* * *

It felt good to travel
I don't know what it is, but I have a thing for "big sky" country. I'm attracted to all that open space for the same reason I love winter--both make me feel like I have room to breath. I feel the shadows from inside of my head begin to lift and my lungs fill with more oxygen than usual. To me, there is nothing boring about the plains. It was beautiful as always.

We eventually settled into a camp in West Glacier. It felt good to get out of the car and do some exploring and hiking. Vinny and I stopped at the Lake McDonald Lodge and bummed around the lake for awhile trying to take it all in and feeling the muscles in our tired bodies start to loosen.

Oh joy! We made it to the mountains!!

Over the next several days we spend a lot of time going on short hikes...

Relaxing at camp... (oh sweet hammock!!)

Eating good food...

Going on little adventures...

And unhinging creative juices...
There were a few pages left in my old journal, but I took a new one along because something about this trip felt like a new phase in my life. It felt good to scribble and ponder and write a bunch of nothin'. I went for long walks and thought about a lot of things in my life. I walked through cedar and pine forests trying to comprehend the many ways in which my life has changed and how much I have changed. I gave myself time and space and fresh air to think about some of the things I don't understand, but am trying to. Being so far away from home made it easier. I savored the time alone with my thoughts and felt anchored by the mountains that surrounded me.

I think Vinny did, too.

I reverted back to my hippyesque tree-huggin' days...
But can you blame me?

The place was absolute magic.
This photo turned out blurry, but I kind of like it that way--there was something mystical about this beautiful creature.
There was something mystical about the whole place.
...most definitely the home of fairies and elves...
It was damp and cool with pounding rapids and endless velvety browns and greens...
...Vinny had to keep me from jumping off of the cedar planked path and running off into the wilderness forever.

We ended up staying at the same campground all week. It was still quiet because the tourist season had not yet started. We had the place almost to ourselves...
Need I say more?
Dang, it's hard to look at these pictures and not head straight back!

But maybe it's better that we don't...
I'd hate to ruin the incredible experience we had by seeing any more stupid tourists like these yahoos!
They pulled into on-coming traffic, left their car parked on the wrong side of the road, piled out, and oggled at whatever poor animal was in the woods like idiots. I was hoping they'd get eaten by a grizzly.

At one point we considered camping at our old haunt further away from other people. But the first night, when we set up our tent, we found that something had DIED in it! Oh man, it was bad! There was nothing left of "it" (whatever "it" was) except the smell, strange colorful stains and oxidized metal. It was a nice 4-season tent...unfortunately there was no hope for it and it went straight into the garbage. With no tent we opted to stay at the one campsite where we had lucked upon a bear-box for our food and semi-comfortably slept in the mini-van at night. We were glad for the bear-box because then we didn't have to shuffle around the cooler and food containers. Instead of moving camp, we took day trips instead.

Even though everything around it had been swallowed up by a recent forest fire, our old camp-site was just as beautiful as we remember it. We were there 4 years ago almost to the day. It was the very beginning of our relationship together and so we celebrated it as an anniversary.
We had a picnic lunch and then hiked up the creek a ways.
We were in heaven.

One day we were driving up a little mountain road to go hiking and a storm rolled in. The wind was so strong that there were trees falling and debris flying across the road. It was down-right scary (and a little fun--although I don't think V. agrees)! So we headed back to camp and hung out by the lake watching the clouds and waves instead...while waiting for a tree to fall on our heads.

Our last day of camping we planned to head down to Bozeman and camp in the forest outside of Yellowstone. We packed up, hit the road, and were hit by rain so hard that we could barely see to drive. It lasted all morning and created an easy justification for stopping in Missoula to get a hotel and check out some art galleries. I was bummed not to be camping, but the five hot-tubs at the hotel made for good compensation.

We spent the day gallery hopping and lucked out when we found the Dana Gallery where a National juried exhibition of Oils was being shown.
There was some breath taking work. Landscapes, portraits, abstracts, many different styles and blow-your-mind-away talent! I left the gallery excited to get to work on the ideas that have been coming together in my mind all week.

Neither Vinny or I had ever been to Missoula. Turns out it's a pretty cool not-so-little town...with some very good food (still salivating at the thought of those gyros!). And dogs everywhere! Yep--my kind of place: dogs, art, good food. What more is there??
Vinny and I walked down rainy streets talking about how good and necessary it is for artists to travel and have down-time to find inspiration and to fill the well.

The ride home was windy and raining. We camped our last night in Theodore Roosevelt NP. Wet. Cold. Beautiful.
Rain or not, the open road still felt pretty damn good. But there's a different feeling when driving home then there is driving away from it.

We drove and drove and drove until we found the sun, until we got to my grandparents house on the river where it was quiet and lush and Minnesota green. My grandma laid out towels by the hot-tub along with luxurious soaps and lotion. On the counter there was a vase of peonies from her garden with 2 crystal champagne glasses sitting next to them and champagne keeping cool in the refridgerator. After the hot-tub, Vinny and I took our glasses of champagne and sat down by the river to wait for them to get back from a wedding they were at. My grandma pampered us even in her absence. It felt good and we felt loved. When they got back my grandpa made us steak on the grill while my grandma made salads, corn on the cob, and roasted baby red potatoes with lots of butter. They had already eaten, but sat and talked with us while we ate. By the time we were done I felt satisfied and filled in every corner of my body and being.

Since my parents' divorce a year and a half ago, my relationship with my grandparents has been strained to say the least. It's been down-right horrible some of the times. It felt so good to be welcomed and taken care of and loved so unconditionally.

...and I realized just how much I missed having that.

The next morning my mom showed up and we all headed to my cousin, Dillon's, high school graduation party. He's had his share of hard-knocks in life too. But he's turned out to be a really cool kid. Him and his friends reminded me of myself and all my punk-rock friends from high school. It was good to see him. I like who he's become.
I hope he takes some of that graduation money and goes on an adventure of his own.

I was thinking about how many unexpected turns my life has taken since graduating high school...and I am amazed. Back then I thought that the most important thing in life was to follow your heart.

I still believe that.

And right now, heart feels like it is exactly where it wants to be.

I am thankful for the mountains and everything in between for slowing me down enough to see where I am in the first place.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Thank you Mountains.

Well, I snuck down from the mountain and am now sitting in a coffee shop in Columbia Falls sipping an iced mocha and typing on this here computer. What a strange feeling.

It's lovely out here. No, I mean more than lovely. V. and I have been spending our days hiking along lakes and rivers in pine and cedar forests. Today we drove to Timbuck-3 to have lunch at our favorite camp spot that we discovered exactly 4 years ago in the infancy of our relationship. A forest fire burnt much of the surrounding area, but miraculously not "our" place.

It's strange not having anything to do. I get easily bored until I remember to occupy myself. I'm enjoying scribbling in my journal and reading that slim little Marquez book that I just haven't seemed to be able to get around to until now.

I'm remembering what a good outdoor cook I am...much better than my indoor cooking skills. I look like hell from a lack of shower facilities.

And best of all, I feel better than I have in a very long time.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Goodbye for now....

Ok...I wrote that last post much faster than I should have...but in exactly 2 minutes we're

thank god.

Sunday Scribblings: Earliest Memory

One thing that I've noticed is that I've had a really hard time writing lately. I sit down and am overwhelmed by a flood of thoughts. Last night I layed in bed thinking about what I might write for the prompt...I was thinking about this memory and it led to one thing and then another and another and another. It brought me to the things that I'm trying to make sense of these days and to the endless threads that tie me to my past. These days, my writing feels muddled. But no matter...the memory itself still shines clearly.

My earliest memory is of me sitting on my yellow plastic potty chair in my yellow room. The room was filled with sunlight and my dad was sitting in front of me, reading to me. In my mind, it is an image that could just as easily be a photograph I once saw. Maybe it isn't a memory at all. It seems like an awfully early age to have a memory of. How old was I? Maybe 2? But I do, indeed, believe that it is a memory. And, to be quite honest, it is one of my favorites. After that it gets more complicated--and there isn't quite as much sunshine involved.

And even though I don't remember my parents ever reading to us, except for that one memory...I attribute my love of words to that moment--although I'm sure it runs much deeper than that. In my mind, it is where my existance starts.

But there isn't much to say about this tiny snapshot of memory (without going off on a zillion tangents)...because, after all, that is all it is: a tiny glimpse into an innocent world. I loved my dad and my room and the sun and words. But what I love most about that memory is the sense of comfort and safety I felt--my world contained in that little moment.

Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to ever again experience that feeling so completely.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Yes, that is thunder I hear. Thunder and lightening--dangerous weather to be blogging in. Storms always make me want to write.

So, I bet you all thought I already left. Nope. Not yet. I haven't had anything to say or, for that matter, time to say it...well, not until all this electricity in the air created a sense of risk anyway.

The bags are packed. They have been since yesterday. They are sitting by the door waiting to go to the mountains of Montana and Idaho (or wherever else we end up)...and will continue to wait until 4 pm Saturday when I'm done working at the Art Center. Did I mention that I'm about jumping out of my skin with anticipation? And first of all, I must point out that I never (oooooh, REALLY big THunDER!!!)...uh, where was I?... oh yeah... I never used to pack until 15 minutes before walking out the door. Actually, this whole packing process has made me realize quite a few changes my life has taken.

I used to drive a pick-up truck with a topper. In the cab behind the seat I had a blue plastic tub with all my camping gear. On top of that I had my cook stove and on top of that a pillow. On top of the pillow was my old dog Japhy (named after Japhy Rider in Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums--one of my favorite books, by the way). He was a black border collie mix--very nimble and able to get comfy in small spaces. He was my constant companion (oops, there I went off on a dog tangent again). Anyway, my point is that my life was packed--at ALL times. I could get up at a moments notice and go. I'd throw a few clothes in a bag, but other than that, everything else I needed to live was neatly tucked behind the driver's seat.

Yesterday I pulled that beat up old tub out from under a bunch of junk that had accumulated on top of it down in the basement. Everything was just as I had left it--gas lantern, cooking gear, extra shoelaces, ect, ect...(yeah, you get the point). And then I started adding to it. Tent, sleeping bags, food crate, misl. crate, more misl. more misl...good god, you'd think we're moving!!! So my question is: What happened??

Not to mention, I had to make a couple dozen phone calls to let this, that, and another person (pet sitters, parents, realtors, business reps, art directors, ect, ect...) know that we'd be out of town. Ridiculous. What sort of responsible adulthood has my life come to???

Anyway, we're leaving Saturday and will be back in a week (...or so). The bags are sitting next to the door because WE CAN'T WAIT!!! We don't even have anything to eat (because we packed it already).

But one question I have is: Can I live without internet??
And my second question is: Is that really what my life has come to??

Did I mention that something weird has happened to me lately?...That I've been doing a lot of thinking but, like Moose, I've done very little reading or writing. One of these days soon I might write about that more...but for now I'm going outside to smell the rain. I think letting my brain temporarily melt is a good thing. The trick seems to be in not not letting it stay that way.