Thursday, July 27, 2006

1 day and counting...

and just a few other things...
  • Hurry up and drink this coffee. Vinny's packing mugs.
  • My life will get more interesting than this, really, I promise.
  • Looking forward to more time to write. Maybe later. Computer gets packed today. Where's that old laptop???
  • Drink lots of water and coffee.
  • Excitement setting in.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

2 days and counting...


Last night I went out. Maybe I shouldn't have done that, except that a whole handful of good friends from high school were in town. We. Had. Fun.

Now my head hurts. But I love my friends. We don't see each other often, but when we do, there's an easiness that makes it feel as though we've never missed a beat.

(from left to right) Jake, me Luke, and Jess.
I hadn't seen Jake in more than 8 years!!

Jake, Luke, Tara, and me. *Luke has a licking problem.

Jake, Luke, and Tara--awwww--aren't they cute?!.

And my very best friend in the world, Jess, and her boyfriend, Saul.

Ok, now my head hurts. But it was definitely worth it. Last night I remembered just how good it feels to be surrounded by friends that I feel truly comfortable with. We've all known each other a long, long time and I'm glad I still have them in my life--because they've grown up to be some ridiculously incredible people.

Yes, it's true--I love my friends--very, very much.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ok--let's get real here.

Last night, after a full day of packing and heat, I sat down at my desk and took a photo of myself. I have no idea why I did it, except that it I think I was subliminally inspired by Liz's recent self-portrait post. I knew how I felt on the inside, but was curious how I looked on the outside.
Oh my!

It's true. I've aged...but when did that happen? Sure, sure--I worked hard all day; I didn't have any make-up on; I didn't do my hair; It's hotter than hell. But whooaaa! Interesting. I'm filled with slight wonder when I look at this photo. I mean, really, who is that person? She looks like me. And, yet, she looks like my mom. And, yet, I have no idea who she looks like because I've never seen this woman before!

Ok--so I did an experiment and took another photo tonight. Once again--I worked hard, it was hot, I didn't do my make-up or hair...and

It's the same girl!

hmmmm....I don't know what to make of this. But I do find it extremely interesting. At least I can say that I like her eyes. heh. ;)

4 days and counting...

Oh yeah....another day, another cup of coffee. I can be glad that yesterday is done because our rather crazy and aggravating neighbors have finally settled down. I've termed this street "Rental Row" because it sucks here. People do nothing but fight, throw their garbage around, and let their dogs shit wherever they want. This place is a living hell with a neighbor that's been pacing around the apartment that his girlfriend kicked him out of--all day he did this--pacing, yelling, banging, cussing. The cops came, they left, the crazy neighbor came back--this time drunker or higher than before. All day the fighting went on just like too many days before...

The previous night, I had just laid down to go to sleep and was enjoying the cool breeze coming in from the window when I heard a POP! followed by: "Freeze! You're under arrest!" followed by the nearby scuffling of feet and running. A couple minutes later, out the window, I saw 3 cops walking down the middle of the street with a half naked guy in handcuffs. Someone else had gotten away. Ah yeah...this is the life...I am sooooooo very glad that we're almost out of here. I'm just wondering how much worse this place could get. It can't possibly get worse, can it?

Yesterday I wrote that I was going to go sit outside and write in my journal. Well, I did--even though it was hard to concentrate with all the fighting...but I've been picking up Sabrina Ward Harrison's The True and the Questions quite a bit lately and decided to make a list of my own.

Here's what I came up with:
"I seem to find myself living in moments between windows of time...
of going home, arriving home, leaving home, creating home..."
~Sabrina Ward Harrison

In My New Home I Want:
  • love--surrounding our home and in our home (not the incessant fighting of our neighborhood here)
  • peace and quiet--long evenings spent relaxing in our back yard.
  • to spend long, uninterrupted hours in my basement studio listening to good music and working on nice, big canvases.
  • a calm sanctuary in my writing room--a place to close the door and be comforted by words and sunlight.
  • to listen to the crackle of the fire on cold winter nights while playing scrabble with Vinny.
  • to go on magical walks in the woods with Anu.
  • to enjoy sparkly snow when I walk to the bus stop and drink warm mochas as I wait (the bus stop is right outside a coffeeshop--how perfect!).
  • to drink wine with my brother and sister in the back yard--and not complain about family.
  • to dream big dreams and then live them.
  • to work in an art gallery.
  • I want to read more books.
  • to create a magic room for the kids (my niece and nephew) in the eaves (our new house comes complete with a secret little room!)
  • to cook great meals with my husband and then take the time to sit down at the dinner table together to enjoy what we've created.
  • to sit on the front steps and write while I watch the deer who visit from the park across the street.
  • to get more active--play lots of tennis and start running.
  • to enjoy new friendships with like-minded creatives.
  • my days to be filled with more optimism and positive energy. I want to notice the little stuff.
I feel myself trying to counteract the negative energy that surrounds us with positive energy. I don't know if it's working, but....

maybe the early morning rain washed some of yesterday away. It (the rain) was wonderful. Anyway, it feels good to be writing in a room that is nearly bare. I didn't think I'd like this part--but I do!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

5 days and counting...

This is my morning cup of coffee. It is sitting next to the book I'm reading now (The Secret Life of Bees) and a book (Middlesex) that I found at a rummage sale on my way to work at the gallery yesterday. I picked it up because Carol, my old painting professor, insisted that I read it. And so I shall! I love the way that books dance their way into your life at just the right time.

Only thing is that I'm falling behind. This summer has not been the summer of reading that I had hoped for. I wasn't expecting to work much, but it turned out that I ended up working nearly every day. I made my own schedule, so it's my own damn fault--but now I have a stack of books that I am highly reluctant to pack, as though a magic crack will open in the universe and allow me the time to actually do the things I wish I could do in the next 5 days.

I feel myself trying to hurry up and put on the breaks at the same time. I want to get out of here, yet I still feel like there are things I want or need to do. You see, what I'm afraid will happen when I get to Mpls. is that I'll get swept up in a whirlwind of unpacking, job hunting, kid-sitting, and working. Because I have no idea what my job or my life will be like once I leave here, I feel a little vulnerable, like the universe is about to have its way with me. I suppose that could be considered rather exciting (and it is), but there's another part of me that gets nervous about losing the creative life I've so carefully constructed.

I feel a need to make schedules for my days--but schedules, at this point, are nothing less than ridiculous. I wake up and take a few extra turns through the maze of boxes before making my way to the coffee machine. I groggily try to prioritize my day as I wait for the thick brew to wake my brain cells. Pack first, paint later? Paint first, write later, pack when? Pack, pack, pack? This packing project seems like it is stretching out into forever. I feel like I've been writing about it for a month--and I can only imagine how sick you are of reading about it! I suppose packing has morphed into one big metaphor that I haven't quite figured out yet--a cover for something I can't seem to get at. Somehow I've thoroughly disguised myself in newspaper bubble-wrap--and I find it comforting and irritating all at once.

I guess my priority this morning is to sit outside and write in my journal for awhile, to work on sorting out some of the garbage before I continue with the rest of it. Relocating myself, these days, feels haphazard at best. Life is messy and, I suppose, that's I'll leave off by saying:
"Our task is to say holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist..."
~natalie goldberg


There. I said it.
Although, I admit, it might have been the coffee talking.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Thief!

The first thing I ever stole was a teaching manual in 2nd grade. Our teacher, Mrs. Nadison, had an entire stack of them on the back shelf--and I coveted them. One day, after deciding that they looked old and unused (this may or may not have been true), I decided that they should be mine.

I calmly calculated my moves...and waited patiently. I waited...through the long morning... I waited ...until finally...I followed my class to the cafeteria for lunch...ate...went outside...and then snuck back in.

It was spring.

Everyone else was out on the playground. But inside, it was quiet, with dust-motes dancing golden between the legs of the desks and the hardwood floor. My wind-breaker made loud rustling sounds and, without feeling an inch of remorse, I carried the heavy, spiral bound books across the room. I moved quickly, but the dog-eared, over-sized pages barely fit into my backpack. My hands shook until the zipper was securely closed and I had returned outside. The dust continued to float in the empty, sun-filled classroom while Jesus hung tiredly from a cross next to a map of the world.

When I got home I kept the books in the third drawer of my dresser (come to think of it, I still have the same dresser). I would take them out occasionally and sneak them down to the shop. You see, growing up, I lived above a flower shop, and at night, while my dad bartended and my mom watched tv, I conducted class in the flower shop's back office. I had a chalk board and an easel to set it on. In the dim light of an old desk lamp, I taught writing. Sentences, actually. And with the manual--I felt like I had it all.

Long after second grade it dawned on me that maybe my teacher needed those books. But even when my friend, Noel, eventually ratted me out I never felt sorry for taking them. I think I got grounded, yelled at, lectured, and had to return them with an apology. It felt dramatic--but I didn't care because I wasn't sorry. I loved those books. I was fascinated by them. Those books held THE ANSWERS!!! (not that we were even studying the material).

Twenty years later I taught my first writing class. And I still don't regret it.

*More thievery here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

a day off.

I know I shouldn't have, but I've taken the day off. I didn't mean to, it just happened. But around noon I realized there was no turning back. Doing what I felt like doing just felt so GOOD! It started out with rolling out of bed at 7:30 and going out for breakfast and coffee with my mom and brother at a local diner for old know, the kind of place where coffee is only a quarter and so weak you can see through it? Old people don't notice bed-head. It was great. After that I wrote for awhile, lined up utilities for our new place, went out and bought some new paint brushes, visited a friend at the chocolate factory, went to the studio and painted for awhile, came home and, shortly after, was surprised by a familiar voice floating through the window. It was our good friend, Josh, who is temporarily home from China. We've missed him!! Anu especially. It's hard to imagine a dog so happy to see someone--but, you see, she loves him dearly....probably more than anybody (even me? well, it's a serious long-term crush anyway!). After that I ate a wonderful dinner complete with the very first fresh tomato of the season, then I blathered myself in plenty of brain rotting television...and now...a cup of coffee and some blog roll house-keeping.

Tomorrow it's back to the sweaty, dirty grind of it all. Luckily, the day's not over yet.

no title.

lately i find myself feeling like i have no family. sure, i had one...but after my parents' divorce 2 years ago (after 33 years of marriage)...well, it just sort of fell apart. this is something that i don't normally blog about, but tonight my thoughts seemed to have pooled in my fingertips. we were never perfect-- very far from. but we were semi- solid (even in our fucked-up-ness). my family, now, is hodge-podge at best. it's flimsy, fragile, bordering on truly non-existent. it can't be counted on like it used to. actually, it counts for just about nothing. i have my husband, my brother and sister, and sometimes my mom (they count for a lot)...but, other than that...

fuck. what is it about losing family that makes one feel like one doesn't quite exist? it is the sort of thing that i just can't seem to wrap my head around or, for that matter, walk away from--no matter how badly i wish i could. it's one of those things that makes me feel worse than i care to admit...because it makes me feel like nothing. dispensable. like none of it was ever real to begin with.

tonight the sky looked like doves taking flight.

i, on the other hand, feel like i am sinking.

Monday, July 17, 2006

5 am

What am I doing up?

There's an ever so slight breeze coming in through the window. My cat was lonely. It's too hot to sleep. I just ate a bowl of ice cream. There's bird song outside. The light is shifting. I was thirsty.

I can't believe that I used to get up at this hour every morning. I used to get up at 5, write for an hour, walk the dog, shower, head to my office by 7, and teach at 8. These days I get up whenever I feel like it and then work late into the night. But today my alarm is set for 6:30 am. Day 1 of the moving sale. oh joy.

I've, so far, gotten 4 hours of sleep. Why am I up? Oh yeah. It's beautiful out. I feel rested. My cats love me.

I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I spent a long time today...


And luckily I have a good excuse to do so because otherwise I'm pretty positive I'd let moving get in the way of all the good things in life. You see, someone asked me to do a painting. Although the details must remain secret for secret reasons, let me just say that I'm glad _______ asked me to do this because it has forced me, on numerous occasions, to go to my studio and paint. Other things could have gotten in the way, but today I spent several hours absorbed by color and was amazed by how relaxed it instantly made me feel. Music, paint fumes, coffee, a nice even light... can you say heaven? Stress and lists of things to do vanished into thin air. It felt good to be perfectly in my skin with a still mind once again. Painting is good medicine.

I think that sometimes we just need a good excuse (and sometimes a little kick in the butt) to remind us of what makes us feel good. Thank you ______. If you only knew how much I am enjoying this. :)

Sometimes I don't like weddings because I hate making small talk...but there was NO small talk at this wedding!! Is it possible to have too much fun?

Yesterday I went to my old studio mate's wedding and had the most fun I've ever had at a reception... and the highlight of the evening: Finally getting to see, Carol, my painting professor!!

This is the woman that has forever changed my life. She is also partially responsible for making it more complicated (in the best way possible, of course!). I always thought that writing was my one true love. Turns out, I was wrong--because now I have two: writing AND painting. This makes things complicated because it requires me to juggle my time and energies to include both in my life. You'd think these two passions could exist in harmony with one another...well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Either way, I can say, without hesitation, that I love how both, together, have affected my life, what they've done to me, what they've done for me. My world has become more multi-dimensional. Painting has changed the way I see things--it has changed everything.

Carol is one of THE most influential women in my life. She is, after all, the one that introduced me to painting. She taught me not only how to paint, but how to teach. God, I love her and I've MISSED her! After graduating with my undergrad degree in art, Carol moved to New York to follow her heart and her passions--to teach and work on her own art. She went looking for new opportunities--and found them. Yesterday was the first time I've seen her since she left 2 years ago. We talked and talked and talked. And she is just as wonderful as she's always been.

I can't help but like this photo because, even though it looks like I might snort (and I probably did!), it captures the throw-your-head-back-revealing-all-your-teeth kind of laugh...the one that I don't even know what we were laughing about...the laugh that felt so good it hurt...just one of those laughs worth remembering.

Last night I left the reception feeling the fullness of my life and gratefulness to have such important people in my life. Although I (very unfortunately) don't have a photo of her, my old English professor, Dr. Nancy Michael, was also there (the most brilliant woman I have ever met!). To have these two incredibly inspiring women (the two that have quite possibly been the most influential in my life!) in the same room--my god! I felt blessed and lucky. And after many hugs and goodbyes--I know that these are two women that will always remain in my life.

I count myself lucky--in many more ways that one.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fitting life in boxes.

This morning I walked Anu down to a lake covered in white-caps. We stood for a long time with our faces to the wind letting it cool our bodies even just a little. Beyond the lake it is nothing but hot pavement, dust, and slow dying trees. Anu swam and as she did she looked at me with eyes that clearly said: "Oh god this feels good. You should come in too."

Yesterday I spent the day sweating through my file cabinet and a mess of boxes from the last move. My writing room is like an oven on the second floor of this old house. I'm organizing... and in the process I've found that I have a solid 50 or 60 pounds of typed, mostly double spaced written material. Sorted from 1999-2006, it takes up one whole drawer of a file cabinet and that doesn't include any of my journals or blogging. I may not have much to show for it, but I've been more productive than I thought.

As I walked home from the lake along the hot-cracking concrete I was thinking about people who make it a goal to write their first book by the time they're 30. Well, I missed that mile-post, but decided that I'm glad I never had that goal in the first place because now I don't have to feel bad about not having accomplished it. Possibilities still exist.

In the I'll pack the basement--I'm going subterranean where there will, hopefully, be at least a little respite from this heat. 2 weeks, 2 days--and we'll be gone. It seems strange to be leaving the lake that I've grown up with, the one that edges this town--this lake sometimes stinks, but is beautiful.

I keep packing and all the while find myself measuring my life up to this point. It's a strange and satisfying feeling to pack everything up, to neatly contain myself in boxes and organized file cabinets. I know this feeling won't last long, but it gives me just enough extra space to sit down by the lake a little longer--with my face to the wind and my feet in the water.

I edge a little closer to the end of the dock while Anu tentatively swims out further, further, until her feet no longer touch the sand below. She swims on faith alone, looking at me all the while with complete trust as I cheer and sigh for her pleasure. When she joins me on the dock, I look up and see a place that has become my home for much longer than I ever intended. I came back by accident. But from my vantage point I follow the curve--where water meets land--and I am surprised by how much this place has shaped me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The good news is...

...that we sold the car within 2 hours of putting it out for sale. People were practically lining up to test drive it! Literally! The buyers DID get a ridiculously good price...but considering we only had 2 weeks to sell it before we move...we'll call it good.

As luck would have it, we'll be living near the bus-line and an extensive bike trail system. Ok--so Vinny and I will now be tied to the hip when it comes to (non-public) transportation... but I figure that:
#1. It's good for our relationship
#2. We'll be much more environmentally friendly

...and that, I guess you could say, is a good thing.

I never liked driving a damn mini-van anyway--it was very damaging to my tough grrl image. ha! Not to mention, if I want, I can READ on the bus. :) As for the new car...I no longer have any doubts that we made the right decision.

The universe works in strange (although sometimes vexing) ways. I think I'll call it a night.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What I want in a job:

{1} mental and creative stimulation.

{2} obviously, something that pays enough money (my goal is to live above the poverty line!). ok--I'd be happy with making shit loads (please excuse my language) of money...but when it comes down to it, I need more than mere monetary fulfillment (and no, I'm not trying to be difficult!)

{3} a positive work environment. I'd like to work somewhere that people like each other...and their job.

{4} something that is challenging enough to keep it interesting, but not so intense that it becomes stressful. I don't want a job that leaves me wasted and unable to write at the end of the day.

{5} something that I can pour my passion into.

{6} something that will get everyone off my back about what I should be doing.

{7} to feel energized by what I do. I want to work somewhere that I can be myself, yet have room to grow.

{8} ah hell, let's throw in happiness for good measure.

Trying to find a job sort of makes my mouth water in a sickening metallic sort of way. It makes my stomach tense and my breathing a bit shallow. You see, I'm looking for the perfect job and I haven't quite found it yet. Of course, it would be a lot easier if I was already living in the city I'm looking for the job in. Long distance job hunting is a bitch. There's something to be said for being able to walk into a place and win someone over with your smile and a solid handshake. The internet doesn't offer the ability to do that. I'm left looking through these categories:

Customer Service
Financial Services
Human Resources
Information Technology
Law Enforcement
Real Estate

...and hating the options. Where do I fit into all of this?? Why does this list make me feel so depressed? Sure, the education category looks good, but I don't have the degree to actually pursue teaching quite yet. The arts sound good too...until you click on the very scanty fine arts listings, that is. I'm doing searches in other ways also and I am trying to remain open to the possibilities, but...

Shit. I hate this.

I want to write something really profound about how it feels to look for a job...but profundity is not available to me at this time. Slight anxiety and a little dread has taken its place instead.

The thing is that this year is supposed to be about giving ourselves the time and the space to fill the creative well. I'm trying hard to keep my faith in the universe. It has worked in the past. There are all the realities of rent and bills and car payments and student loan payments and, and, and... yes, I am responsible, but when it comes right down to it...happiness is more important to me than money.

The job I'm looking for offers a little bit of both. Is that a lot to ask for?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yay! Our very first BRAND NEW car!!!

Well, today ranks up there as one of thEE most fun days this summer. Why? Because we got a NEW car!!! No, not a "new" used car, but the real deal--complete with shiny green paint and a warranty! Wow--what a strange and liberating feeling to drive something that isn't squeaking or leaking, something that will, without a doubt, get us from point A to point B without having to cross our fingers.

We were so excited that Vinny and I decided to go on a date to our "special" place. We drove all the way to Park Rapids, almost an hour away, just so we could have supper at A&W. Awwww, how romantic! :)- We didn't even have to get out of the car.

We love our new lime-green Honda Element--yes, we do!!!

Today I feel THANKFUL.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Hotel Stories

(just so ya know, the first photo is from another market in southern India, but it will have to do until I find the one I'm looking for)

Eventually I found a guest house, but before that...

The air weighed tropical and heavy. Nothing less than I had hoped for after several days of travel by train, rickshaws, and finally the crowded bus that, after too many hours of death defying maneuvers through mountainous jungle roads, brought me at last to Karwar, Karnataka, southern India.

A layer of clouds hung in the evening sky as I pushed my way down from the bus. With stiff muscles and a cumbersome backpack I awkwardly sidestepped the muddy puddles pocketing the road. Ochre swirls from the rain-soaked Indian earth rose to my feet, while a delicate drizzle of cloud and mist fell, making me feel as though the sea itself was falling from the sky. I smelled its saltiness, tasted its sweetness. The palm trees and flora, layer upon layer, ridge after ridge of green jungle tumbled down to where I stood. Having just left the thirsting desert landscape of Rajasthan, the jungle held the power to dissolve me, swallowed whole into the belly of a whale.

Trunks of trees rose out of sight into a veiled sky. Complicated knots of climbers and creepers spread across the bark of trees, tendrils stretching in every direction of providing space. Flowers grew like misplaced ornaments in lofts of each available crook. Leaf fronds bent and swayed, dripped--their glossy surfaces creating an unbroken wall of noisy silence. A monkey hollered in the distance where, just off the side of the road, I was drawn into the secret labyrinth of roots and leaves. It was a world within itself--—a microcosm of existence, a universe smaller than my own, yet no less important. I was awed by the ferocity with which the jungle took in reclaiming itself; even in death there came from it yet another generation of life.

With another look to take it in I started for the village where I found women with large woven baskets of fish or crab carried on their heads. Life colliding with life; they milled around me, making their way home after a hard day of selling their labors on the side of the road --like fine statues, incomparable in beauty. They wore simple sarongs around their dark, almost black muscled bodies, held in place only by heavily beaded necklaces, leaving their powerful arms and back exposed. Strings of fragrant jasmine blossoms cascaded from their carefully plaited silken hair.

In the direction of the ocean the sun disappeared into the depths leaving only a Gauguin sky of orange, fuchsia, and purples to penetrate what was left of grey. The sound of waves and cawing ravens called me to the water. I would have liked to evaporate into the salty night, but I was in the main market and the bustling of locals packing up their wares reminded me that I would have to wait until morning to explore. I had, more importantly, to find a place to stay. There are rules to the jungle, but more importantly there are rules for women, especially those traveling alone in India. Perhaps it is a shared sense of hazard--this being a woman, or a jungle.

* * * * * * * * *

Several weeks later, and further south along the Western shores of India, I experienced another sort of "hotel story" (click on postcard)....

Really, there are so many of them (one story leads to the next, to the next, to the next...)--I think I might have tapped into something here. But in the meantime, you can find more hotel stories here.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Turned on to music.

Thanks to Kristine, I've started digging around in my music collection and have found my groove again. It was hidden under a little dust and neglect. Now that I've rediscovered some of my favorites, my husband keeps losing me to a set of headphones every chance I get. Occasionally I start howling along to The Bee Gees, but uhh--dang, it feels so GOOD! It's all Kristine's fault because she offered to send me a CD--which made me want to do the same for her. So what have I been spending much too much time doing? PLAYING! I've been playing music, drawing, and painting. As a matter of fact, I'm starting to feel another chalk drawing coming on. :)

As for the rest of your suggestions...I've already decided to make a compilation and put them on a CD to listen to when I need added inspiration.

In the process, the garage somehow got packed and cleaned to top it off. Dust, dirt, endless junk--V. and I worked on it all day and, believe it or not, I still have energy to burn. feels good!

Life starts to suck when you forget to play. Thanks Kristine. :)