Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Let the work begin

"I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live."
~ Francoise Sagan.

At the moment I am home alone listening to the music of Susana Baca and other gifted women of the world. Her sexy, fleshy, bird-like voice slips through the window, past green leaves and flowers, and into a perfect combination of sun and cool blue sky. I've spent the morning picking up the house, sewing Asian silk patches into my 5 year old niece's jeans, making lunch, doing laundry, and generally feeling like I'm falling behind myself.



I started writing this earlier today and got distracted. What does that say about me? hmmm...I don't know except that, believe or not, my life is starting to feel like it holds the potential to find order in the haphazardness of my days. I'm looking forward to the notion of making
work time
family time
play time
writing time
art time.

Anyway, I have a thesis to write. Maybe it's just the coolness of fall in the air, but I'm finding myself ready to make a plan and have more focused purpose in my life. Getting settled has been full of excitement and stress and newness...but now I'm ready to get down to work. The best part is the sense of relief I feel to have finally arrived at this state of mind.

It feels good to have my mom back (for the first time)....

...because it's been a long road getting to now. But, I must admit, I've learned a lot in witnessing her transformation. Sometimes things aren't as they seem. Sometimes nothing is as it seems. I'm beginning to realize that underneath all the hurt, my mom has been a bird or a butterfly all along. It just took a divorce and a major step towards independence to reveal those beautiful, sparkling wings.

5 years ago I wrote a poem about her and our relationship. A friend suggested that I do it and so I did. But when I went to read it out loud in front of an entire room full of people, it caused me to unexpectedly break down in tears, unable to finish. Someone else finished for me, but I was left feeling embarrassed, confused, and mostly overwhelmed by the tidal wave of grief that had surged without warning and with such force from deep inside of me. I tried to hide my eyes behind a kleenex someone had handed me while somebody across the room said (with attempted good intention) something about how it didn't matter and that I shouldn't let that person hurt me. He didn't know I was talking about my mom. And, the truth is, no matter how horrible or fucked up they might be, mothers do matter. They matter more than anything.

Silence Held My Hand When Craziness Called
The Things Left Unsaid when Trust in Tomorrow Can't Be Guaranteed:

Dear __________,
I'm not sure what your plans are,
You've never quite said
how far you will go
But there are some things that
I have been keeping myself from saying.
Did I mention that they have begun to eat me up inside?
Well, never mind
I was wondering if it would be possible for you to
take responsibility
for your life.

Would it be too innocent of me to hope that
maybe someday you could discard
the illusions
To rise above
what the doctors or
I would like to see you as a phoenix
Just once.

I was wondering if you might laugh
so hard that your belly hurt.
Or maybe you could even smile
big enough for me to see your teeth.
I was wondering if I might ever get to see you
Throw back your head in wild abandonment
of the moment
Just some sign of life
...anything would do.

I was wondering if you would like to
have a conversation some time.
One that maybe we could walk away from
not feeling bad about.
I think it would be nice
not to want to scream
or cry every time
I hang up the phone
or leave the room where you stand
in tears.

I've been feeling a lot of anger and pain
over this and I don't think this guilt
is good for either one of us.

There is something else I wanted to ask you.
It is important.
I was wondering if it would be possible
For you to be strong.
Just once.
You see, I would really like to experience
Your Beauty.

It feels good to have a mom who, for the first time in my life, is strong and beautiful and has risen from the ashes of her own life--like a phoenix. I always wondered what it would be like to have that kind of mom...and I'm finally finding out.

Someday I hope she finds the kind of loving relationship that she deserves. In the meantime (and beyond) she's got mine.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Welcome to the NEW look!

In celebration of a NEW address in a NEW neighborhood with a NEW phone number in a NEW city where I just started a NEW job...I decided my blog deserves a new look to reflect my NEW LIFE. (whew! that's a lot of newness!!)

My husband
is a technological GENIUS and deserves an award for all of his hard work. Thank you, husband. You amaze me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

In 1:

My favorite part so far was when C., who is showing me the ropes, said: "This is where dragons end and fairies begin."

Which was when a smile spread across my face, a laugh bubbled to the surface, and I responded: "Yep, I think I'm gonna like it here."

Then came story hour...
and I haven't even mentioned anything about wizards, unicorns, poetry, or pirates.

Let's see...and who did I meet? Well...
There's Sumo, the little grey cat; Daniel Handler, the orange cat; and Trini Lopez, the black cat. And let's not forget the human co-worker named Cat. Then there's Tom-Tom, the ferret; Harry, the tarantula; and a few others too (including chickens, doves, geccos, rats, people, and ect)...but I'll need more time to learn the rest of their names.

For now I have FREE book "homework" and will be starting out with some young adult novels:

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
by Barry Lyga


just like that by marsha qualey

Free books? Good god, I'm in heaven. Needless to say, day 1 went better than expected. It was a rainy grey morning and I arrived a little bit early. In the quiet of the not-yet-open store, I stood chatting with a new co-worker smack dab in the middle of a sea of books--shelves and shelves and shelves of them in every size, shape, and color. If books can pulse and radiate and soak through your skin, then that is what happened as I stood there waiting for the day to officially begin.

All anxieties vanished.

I would have liked to put that moment on pause and just savor the feeling forever. It probably goes without saying that I'm looking forward to day 2.

first day of work.

i'm scared shitless. (ok, but I'll survive)

of course, I don't have time to write about all my thoughts and anxieties...otherwise I probably would. or maybe i will later. what feels like 2 days away from writing has nearly done me in.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

rocky roads lead to better times.

I brewed the coffee a little weaker this morning because my mom is here visiting for a long weekend. I'm 31 years old and this is the first time she's ever stayed overnight at my house. I feel like I'm experiencing some sort of rite of passage into adulthood. Still, I feel like a little kid trying to please my mom and make her happy. And, actually, I'm enjoying it. Interesting.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Welcome Wagon.

We have officially been welcomed to the neighborhood by Pam and the neighborhood Welcome Committee. Have I mentioned lately how much I love living here?? She brought with her not only hi's and hello's and handshakes, but healthy treats for wolfie, a $10 gift certificate for the neighborhood coffee shop, a gift certificate for free pizza, neighborhood business coupons galore, and a bunch of other stuff to help us get to know who and what is around us. We've also been added to the neighborhood e-mail list. I mean, really, I feel like I've stepped into the Twilight Zone. It feels too good to be true. And free pizza and coffee to boot? After Pam left, Vinny and I looked through everything she dropped off and whole-heartedly agreed:
We love it here.

All we got when we moved into our last neighborhood was dog poop in the front yard and our garbage can knocked over on a nearly daily basis by the crabby girl that lived across the alley. There was Tasha and Jonathan, and Tina and Neema...but eventually they moved away and we lived in a dirty little piece of hell. These days life not only smells better, it feels better.

Sure, I suppose even this place has its down-side but, whatever it is, I haven't found it yet. All I know is that when I walk out my door and run into my neighbors it almost always results in a deeply satisfying conversation.

And I still haven't gotten over the fact that we are living in the best of both worlds. We have all the extremes of nature on one side of us and all the extremes of a city on the other. Yesterday V. and I finally took our first public transit adventure and rode the bus. We got on early for the "rush hour" experience since that's when I'll need to be on it for work. We walked down our own quiet neighborhood streets to the bus stop where we timidly clambered on...and the closer to downtown we got, the more people that got on, the more diverse everything became, the more excited I got that I ACTUALLY LIVE HERE! As I watched the passing urban scenery out the window...two old men sat on the edge of a flower garden drinking coffee from man emerged from a red door covered in graffiti...a woman walked with her baby in a, concrete, grey sky...there was something beautiful and exciting about the common-place, the everyday; I looked out the windows trying to capture what I saw. Portraits. Colors made more intense by the rain.

In the past I never imagined myself living here. Actually, I always thought I'd hate it. Turns out the opposite is true...because I'm finding that I might never want to leave. I'm a country girl at heart, but this place..............mmm, this place makes me happy in a way I never, ever expected.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday weather.

It's raining. The wind blows, causing the trees across the street to take deep bows. It is a cool, dark day--enough so to make me want to put on my fleece, light candles, and cook lunch in the oven for the first time this summer. I can feel a change of seasons in the air--and it feels good. I have had my fill of hot, humid summer days and wait with longing for the leaves to turn crimson and orange, fall to the ground, and be replaced by snow. My body wants coolness and room to breathe--but today, I find myself able to wait more patiently now that my cold weather cravings have been temporarily satisfied. Others might not agree with me and that's all right. I like the idea of at least one person loving what another person hates; things have a way of balancing each other out that way. Even the soft yellow light from the living room lamp has a way of balancing out an otherwise gloomy day. Vinny plays piano in its glow while rain continues to fall in heavy drops. The leaves shiver.

I've just woken up from a nap.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ode to the art studio--a show and tell for the sake of sharing and remembering.

Once upon a time, this building was a library.
These days it is the home of the Bemidji Community Arts Center where, since 2002, I have had an art studio--my home away from home.
I have loved that place dearly.
It is where I became an artist.
It is where I started
to take myself and my art seriously.
It is the sort of place that will always hold a place in my heart
because it gave me
to express myself
to explore myself
to save me from myself
to discover myself
to heal
to grow
to be.

It was a place where I could be alone
where I could lose myself
in music,
in brush strokes,
in color.
My studio floors were made out of movie tickets.
It felt good with bare feet.

It is a place where I enjoyed the company of other creative, intelligent women.
A space where I felt

Now it is empty except for a few pieces of art.
One made by me,
one by the woman before me,
another by the woman before her,
and yet another by the woman before even her.

I loved this bench...but left it for D., who will replace me.
This bench holds the collective energy of several artists.
I took a picture of it because maybe, someday, I'll build another just like it.

Inspiration seeped from the floors,
the walls,
and even the doors.

These are the ghost paintings from past canvases.
They hold the story of the many things I've painted.
That bottom reddish colored line healed me more than modern medicine could ever dream of.

And now, back home, it is time to unpack my studio
in a new place where there is room
to grow.

I don't know what will emerge...
but I look forward to whatever it is
with anticipation.

I am thankful
for all I've been blessed with.

Thank you Universe.
Thank you God.
Thank you Art.
Thank you Studio.
Thank you Women.
Thank You.

Goodbye studio. I have loved you.
May you inspire many more.

Monday, August 21, 2006

revised posting

It feels good to be home. It feels good to be held in my husband's arms. It feels good to have my face licked by my dog and to feel the soft fur of my cats as they wind themselves into figure 8's around my ankles.

And so tonight I'll pour myself a glass of wine and make a toast.

To new beginnings.

because it
to be home.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

no good reason for slightly emotional.

Yesterday evening I was one of the poor suckers traveling north that I used to feel sorry for when I'd see them stuck in traffic as I traveled south. Leaving for Bemidji, I got as far as my grandparents' house where I stayed overnight, then left early this morning to drive the other half of the way in order to work at the gallery one last time before clearing out my studio.

It ended up being a fairly emotional drive this morning as I alternated between singing along with Carly Simon and finding myself in fits of tears as I reminisced over thoughts of my old place that I sold and moved out of nearly a year ago. What the hell? Where did that come from?

And I began to realize that all this moving and doing and starting over has been nothing but a whole lot of cotton wadding that's kept me separated from the things that have brought me the most heartache. The closer I got to Bemidji, the more still-raw wounds were revealed.

So I cried.

I cried because I'm sad that I no longer have the house I built with my own hands and all the land that surrounded it. I cried because, even if I would have had the money to keep it, it is not the place where I would have been able to fulfill the rest of my life goals. I cried just because. Because I miss it out there and now there is no turning back...even though "back" is not where I want to go. I cried for all the things that I've lost and for all the things that have changed. I cried because I couldn't help myself. Maybe I cried because last night my grandma asked me if I missed my old place in Becida and I said: "You know how, if you're lucky, you find the one place in the world where your spirit feels at home? That's what that place was to me. Yes, I miss it." I suppose it's possible that all these tears are just a matter of being tired. Distant emotions bubble to the surface.

As I finally made it into Bemidji, I was amazed by the amount of green and blue-sparkle from the lake and I simultaneously thought: "This place is beautiful." and "This place makes me feel trapped." I am a living contradiction and a constant source of confusion to myself as I touch the surface of more emotions than any human being should sanely attempt. In the end I overwhelm myself in a state of multi-dimensionalism--something that I consider to be both a gift and a burden--depending on my ability to cope on any given day.

It's been a long time since I've been a visitor in my own hometown. And I must say that moving away has felt like the most natural thing I've ever done. I grew up here, moved away, traveled extensively, then came back. And now, even though I've lived here for the past 9 years, I have never really mourned the idea of leaving least not like I did when I left my old place in the country. Since then, it has been a series of removals. And now that I'm cleaning out my studio, this is the final one.

My words feel disjointed. I feel disjointed.

Today I've gone through a whole range of emotions while running errands and into people I know. I wiped tears away while driving down Main Street and was alternately sad and relieved that I no longer live here.

When feeling the sadness, I remind myself that crying is a good sign because it means a place was important. Tears are a sign that a place was good.

Bemidji was good. Becida was better. Minneapolis is where I belong right now.

Life feels like a series of waves. And today the tide is high.

Friday, August 18, 2006

a brief respite from movement.

I love color. But, some days, certain amounts of grey feel good because of the way it counteracts the overdoses of excitement that I sometimes swallow.

This morning the sky is thick and heavy with clouds. It makes wolfie sleepy, and me too. The dark grey-green shadows of the living room pull me towards the couch for a mid-morning nap where my old black cat lets loose a rumbling purr in his pleasure to curl up next to me.

The house is quiet. I am quiet. The sky is still.

Today, grey offers me all that I need.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Magic Pants.


and now?

Yes, it's true--I got the phone call this morning!!

When I moved down here I made a list of places where I most wanted to work. There was one boldly labeled, First Choice, at the very tip top of the page. From there the list extended into a series of possibilities.

Well, I'm excited to say that the pants worked: I got #1!

I'll work somewhere with a door within a door--where there's a purple little person door inside of a big person door. I'll work somewhere that is filled with words and art and kids and 6 cats (one, who I met, is named Lemony Snicket), 2 chickens who run around underfoot, 2 rats who live in the floorboards of the scary book section, a bunch of fish who live in the bathroom mirror (that you can only see when the lights are turned off!), a tarantula, doves, and an assortment of who-knows-what-sorts-of-mysteries-I'll-find, but am sure to meet soon.

I'm going to work somewhere that magic exists. I'll get to read stories to kids, meet authors, and write book reviews. I get to work somewhere that words and art happily co-exist. Oh joy! Oh joy! And to make it even better, they asked me if I'd be willing to do the in-store and front window art (well, uh, sure!!)--which, according to them, attracts enough attention to make me both nervous and excited!

Sound too good to be true? Well, the fact that I'll be working well below the poverty line is keeping me grounded. I'll need another job. But I can't complain. This is what I've been hoping for: a chance for language to come alive again...something to get my head out of its grad school funk.

Thank you Pants! I have a feeling that there will be much more good to come out of this than I even realize. Just a feeling, but....

...yeah, I like those sorts of feelings.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's hard to type with my fingers crossed.

Last night I went out--alone. It was wonderful. Even though I'm not big on shopping--the evening began at the mall where I went looking for a pair of slacks for an interview (I have an interview today!!). I had already worn the only 2 nice pair of pants I own while dropping off my resume and then a cover letter. I decided to splurge. 50 pairs of pants later--I found 2 that fit. Not to mention, they were both on sale (or maybe I'm just using that as justification?). Needless to say, the pants hold magical powers to help me get this job. I hope.

Afterwards, I headed over to the fabric store to browse without a bored husband following behind me. And then, the highlight of my evening: I headed next door to the bookstore.

Ahh, sweet books, the ambrosia of life!

It's been far too long since I've spent a healthy dose of time wandering aisles of books, smelling sweet book smells, savoring words and titles and book cover images--all while drinking coffee.

The whole reason behind going to the bookstore was to familiarize myself with some titles for the interview that I have in 2 hours! I'm a little nervous. Can you tell? I want to tell you all about the place I am hoping to get hired at, but.......... I don't want to jinx myself. All I can say is that I'll still be poor, but I believe it is a place that will make me very, very happy. It involves books and little people, and a little purple door. But there, I think I've already said too much.

Anyway, at the bookstore I found something that I've been wanting to read it since I first heard about it. There it was sitting on the top shelf, beckoning to me. I quickly reached up high, grabbed it and went to find a quiet bench to sit down and read. Maybe I'll write more about it later, but for now I can only suggest that you spend some time with this one:

It nearly brought me to tears.

I am in love with books again. I want to drown in them. I want to live in books forever.

My night out was good. And, today, I don't even have a hangover. Perfect.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm looking forward to having a studio again...

Yesterday I spent a long time in the basement trying to make headway on what will soon become my new studio space. Beth, the woman that once lived here, was a fiber artist-- and so the bones of a studio are all in place. All I need to do is just get all of my crap out of the way, then drive back up to Bemidji one last time to finish packing up my studio at the Arts Center. Without my paints, I feel a little bit like a mother without her child.

Art making awaits.

Lately I've been thinking about this book, Painting as a Language, by Robertson and McDaniel. It's an old textbook that I have from Intermediate Painting with Carol that is loaded with excellent painting and journal exercises. I've never made full use of the potential of this book but, these days, I'm looking forward to the possibilities. School will be starting in a couple weeks and there is something strangely liberating about the notion that, for the first academic school year in a very long time, I will actually have free time--to write, to paint, to read whatever I want. I've noticed that I've been writing about liberation a lot lately.

I still don't want to pack up my studio up north. Even so, I can't help but anticipate what will emerge from this place. I'm looking forward to our lives settling in a bit more--so that I might find out. My hands are starting to itch for my paint brushes and bare canvas.

These boxes be damned.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Rainy day Sunday...

Today it rained and rained. But early in the morning, before the first drops fell, Anu and I headed into Sherwood Forest (as I will from now on call "the park" across the street). We found a new trail today and got lost--wonderfully, incredibly lost. About mid-way through The Himalayas (the name V. and I gave to the extremely hilly trail between us and my sister's house), I veered north at the oak with the smiling face and raised arms. We followed it down, down, down a dirt trail carpeted in pine needles and smelling of darkly sweet pitch. We kept walking through cedar stands, then oak stands, past the outer gates of the wild flower gardens, down a trail bordered on both sides by swamp and the jungley sound of birds. We walked and walked and walked...until, finally, we found the lake, went swimming, and headed the rest of the way home--tired, but happy.

Since the morning felt magical, I took the opportunity, after making a cup of coffee and filling Anu's bowl with food, to sit outside and work on a cover letter for one of the places where I would really, really like to work.

You see, I was trying to sneak up on myself because this is a difficult task that's been set before me. Sometimes when I write in a place I don't normally write, with paper and pen instead of my computer, I'm able to trick myself into getting the words I'm searching for onto paper.

But this isn't just any cover letter. Carmen, the good witch from Glinden Hills, has asked me to write it... "But don't worry," she said. "Write a creative cover letter." And she smiled a soft smile with a sparkle in her eye. ;)

Oh, if only it were so easy! I feel like I have homework--but of a much more exciting kind! I know I can do this (positive self talk here)...even if I have found myself sitting here (several hours later) asking myself how, how, how?! All I know is that it has to come from the heart. Although I can't divulge the place quite yet, let me just say that it is a very special place--and when she says the cover letter can be creative, then she means that it can be creative. I'm giddy with excitement and fear and caffeine and baklava from the Lebanese restaurant we ventured into tonight. The roof leaked water on our heads and placemats as we ate. It was a tiny little place with paneled walls and pictures of Lebanon, filled to the brim with one big family and our little family tucked in the corner by the door. It was good and I'm so full that I could happily burst.'s been a good day--filled with rain on the roof, new-found flowers in the back yard, writing bits and pieces for the cover letter, lots of unpacking (can you believe I'm still unpacking???), good company, delicious food and then more rain and mist and a cool breeze from the window.

Today has involved a great amount of color--
despite grey skies.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hereby begins the weekend.

Since today is Saturday, I am considering myself somewhat forced to put the job hunt on hold until Monday. Oh, sweet weekend. I felt a wave of relaxation wash over me after returning home last night after a full day of "selling myself" and running errands. I've given it my all this week and feel good about what I've done or not done. I have a new job hunting tactic and it's called "Being Real." Frankly, it is incredibly liberating to be in a position where I feel like I can do that (a position within myself, that is) and, oddly enough, I've never had so much fun trying to get someone to hire me--not to mention, I've met some very cool people in the process. It felt good to be honest with myself and honest with the people that I might work for. I'm also getting better at listening to what my gut instincts tell me. If a place doesn't feel right or have good vibes, then I leave it at that--because unless I get desperate, I don't want to give my energy to a negative work environment. I'm not desperate yet.

As I drove from one part of town to another, with the windows down, and listening to more good music, I began to visualize my heart opening up and my ribcage expanding open, open, open. I didn't mean to, it just happened. I smiled because I feel the molecules of my life shifting and taking on another shape. While the traffic moved at normal speeds and lights changed at expected intervals, I felt my world begin to knit itself into a different outcome. Sun sparkle bounced off of Lake Calhoun and the cars in front of me...

...and I have a good feeling. That's all I know.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Spreading the word...

Kristine wrote about these quilts and, after reading what she wrote, I spent some time drinking up all the vibrant colors, wild form, and incredible amounts of inspiration. I've always loved Crazy Quilts, but these....these are cool.

I just wanted to send these quilts and their story out into the world a little further... like passing them on from one woman, to the next, to the next, to the next...

...because this, I believe, is one of the beautiful powers of womanhood.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

20 things I like best about living here:

  1. Burning my toast because I'm having too much fun playing the old black piano that occupies our living room.
  2. Waking up early and walking with Anu through Sherwood Forest (aka "the park").
  3. Driving around in my little lime green Honda Element, dropping off resumes all over town, jamming out to Corinne Baley Rae, and (amazingly!) not getting lost even once.
  4. Having a neighborhood "market." I just like saying, in my very best sing-song voice: "Oh Vinn-eee, I'm going to the market!"
  5. Watching the cats spread themselves out on the bedroom floor upstairs, roll around, and play with each other. They are so content here. They make me feel the same way.
  6. Seeing Vinny pull up in front of the house after running an errand--even if he's only been gone for a few minutes. I just like seeing him pull up, then walk through the door--as though I hadn't seen him in a long time.
  7. The green floor, green tiles, and green ivy covering the windows in the kitchen. The color reminds me of growth and good health.
  8. The echoey sound in my writing room--complete with white walls, hardwood floors, and lots of books. This room feels calm and simple. Music sounds good in here.
  9. Speaking of white walls...every room in this house is painted white. At first I didn't know if I'd be able to handle this much white because, as an adult, I've NEVER lived in a place that wasn't rich in color. In our last rental the walls were green, grey, peach, brown, and an oddly pleasing salmon color. In the house before that, there was fuscia, orange, electric blue, cinnamon brown, sage green, red, and golden yellow (in different rooms, of course!). Turns out white is the biggest novelty of all! Who would have known? It sets off my paintings quite nicely and feels fresh and open. It makes me look forward to winter snow.
  10. The drawing table that looks out the window and into the park. I can watch the deer and draw at the same time while my cat sits next to me watching too.
  11. The gourmet olive bar at Byerly's.
  12. How friendly people are everywhere I go--or is it just because I'm in such a good mood?
  13. Listening to music in bed while I write before going to sleep. I feel contained, like I've made myself at home in a big, warm nest.
  14. Speaking of the bedroom, I love, love, love taking naps with the ceiling fan turned on high. The room is big and the ceilings slanted. I love the whir of the fan combined with golden afternoon light--perfect for cat naps that make me feel transported on a down comforter cloud.
  15. The laundry shoot in the bathroom. It's just too much fun to hear my dirty clothes go shwoop! out of sight, out of mind.
  16. Cardinals singing from the pine tree. They very, very rarely travel as far north as Bemidji.
  17. Japaleno cream cheese from Bruegger's Bagels.
  18. The Minneapolis skyline.
  19. The sky--especially at sunset. It follows me everywhere and is the one constant in my life.
  20. Going places and not knowing a soul. It feels pretty dang good being anonymous.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Slow down, baby you're going too fast...

I set the alarm early this morning and should be working on something right now, but I just read Ruby's post and it has caused me to stop and think.

Ever since finishing school I've been working like a maniac. I replaced school with work and work with moving and now moving with looking for more work. I've only had time to read (and finish!) one book this summer. There is something horribly wrong with this picture. True, I've taken time to explore the woods with wolfie and to write on a daily basis...but what is this constant push? What is this persistent need to be in action?

Yesterday I filled out an hour long on-line application for a supervisor position at a big bookstore. Part of the application consisted of 47 pages worth of questions (5-6 questions to each page) used to evaluate my work ethic and leadership skills. There were a lot of trick questions: questions asked multiple times, asked backwards, or in different ways--and I imagine that back at Bookstore Central there is a psychologist analyzing my answers or, more likely, a computer that spits out my personality type and work tendencies.

In the end, as best I could judge, I probably come across as your typical Type A, all-American workaholic--go, go, go, don't stop! (just what they're looking for!) Don't get me wrong--I'm still hoping for the job. But I don't think it needs to be that way. Nor to I think it should be that way.

Unpacking photo albums, I came across V. and my wedding pictures. I can't believe how much both of us have changed in these nearly 3 years. You know when you look at photos of you parents' wedding and exclaim, "They look so young!" Yeah. That's the reaction I had. I'm ok with growing older--and, actually, I think age (and owning your age) is a very beautiful thing. But looking at those photos makes me feel as though our lives have taken an unhealthy turn towards too much stress and pressure.

Let's face it: bills need to be paid.

But beyond that I am beginning to realize two very important factors in life: attitude and approach. My attitude towards life, my perception of what success really is, and knowing how to prioritize what I truly value is what is becoming most important. I want my approach to this new start in life to include a certain amount of faith--faith in knowing that the rest will come--even though it is not always an easy feat when pressure is beating in on you from every angle. Faith is a word I've loved since I was a kid. I don't know why, but it's a word that stuck with me. These days, I'd like to make better use of that word.

This morning, as I sit drinking a very wonderful cup of coffee with my cat, Vico, looking out the window next to me, I kind of feel like crying. Well actually, there's no "kinda" about it at all. I'm not sad. I think everything just finally caught up with me.
Right now.
I'm sitting here, finally sitting still, in both body and mind, planning out my future, yet realizing the importance of the present moment ...and...well...

I want this next year to be different.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday Morning.

This morning I ironed clothes for V. to go job hunting in. I felt very domestic standing at the ironing board in my slippers...very pre-Rosie-the-Riveter, if you know what I mean. I'm not one for sticking to traditional gender roles, but as I performed my "wifely" duties I could see why some women are happy to do so. There is a certain kind of comfort in knowing what your role in life is--subservient or not. Then I started feeling sorry for poor Rosie because while she thought she was becoming a strong independent woman, in truth, she was just making bullets instead of ironing shirts--all in the name of the patriarch. We've come a long way since Rosie. Maybe I'm regressing, but I do enjoy ironing my husband's shirts. Maybe I'll be banned from the feminist movement for saying that, but luckily I'll be ironing my own suit too.

Having only 1 car between the two of us has, so far, been working out fine although we are now having to coordinate our job hunting excursions. My biggest fear is being late for an interview or my first day of work because I got lost on the bus-system. I hate to think that we might need another car, because I'm not so sure it's even in our budget. Fingers crossed for V. today--our finacial situation still has the potential to turn around (never-minding the advice that a Masters degree in English will get you little more than secretarial work).

In other news, I'm finding that we've moved to a rather wild neighborhood. We now have raccoon visitors on a daily basis. So far, I've figured out that there is at least 1 mama and her teenage baby. So much for my expectations of urban living!
This morning, the teenager is in the tree...
...where wolfie waits (im)patiently below...
...while the fat old cat, Moonshadow, oblivious to everything, sleeps soundly inside...
...and meanwhile, I continue to unpack boxes, iron clothes, and work on my resume.

Last night I dreamed that I got a job in a little garden shop and learned metal-works on the side. In all honesty, I'm not looking for a job that I need a suit for (even though it is ironed). I'm dedicating this year to creative inspiration--suit, or not.

Anyway, according to my fortune cookie a couple days ago...

..let's hope.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday pleasures.

Today my sister called at 7:30 in the morning to tell me that she was taking her dogs, Charlie and Olive, for a walk and that I should meet her halfway in the woods. We now live within walking distance of each other and the quickest way between point A and point B is through the woods. It's hard to describe with words (at least without using too many adjectives) the sheer magnitude of magic that this place possesses.

I walk out my door, across the street, through a small break in the foliage, into a magic clearing, and down a deer trail until I meet a main path that splits in 3 directions (not including the many winding side trails). If I follow the path to the right it goes past ponds and meadows, through green grasses, under old oaks, and eventually to a lake. If I go straight it leads me to the wildflower gardens and a trickling creek. If I go left it brings me through a series of hills down a shadowed path surrounded by towering trees--this is the way to my sister's house. Each time Anu and I walk, we find a new part of the park we have not yet explored. But calling it a "park" or "woods" does the place a great injustice. Both lack something--they are words incapable of capturing what it is. No, not a "park" or "the woods" is a forest--in all magical sense of the word.

And maybe someday I'll be able to describe the places where I walk a little bit better. But for now I am too busy simply soaking it all in. These days I like to pretend I'm a sprite or a gnome...or better, I'm just a girl with a dog--happily lost in a beautiful forest.

Today was the first day that Anu walked with Charlie and Olive. Of course, that made for 2 girls and 3 dogs happily lost in a beautiful forest. And now Anu has 2 new best friends. Life is good for everyone.

Afterwards, with tired dogs and a still sleeping Vinny at home, my sister and I continued on to the Saturday Market. This is one of the things I've been looking forward to. It was grey and drizzly and a perfect day for enjoying a still-quiet city. I bought flowers and homemade organic sheep cheese for Vinny and my sister added the bottle of wine she had meant to give us earlier.

Life feels colorful and full and so well-rounded that I hardly know what to make of it.

I spent the rest of the day alternately between unpacking, visiting, cooking, playing frisbee, sitting in the back yard with Vinny, and more unpacking.

Slowly (oh so slowly) the house is starting to take shape. Despite the brief interludes of fun I had today, I managed to almost entirely unpack another room--yes, and an important one--my writing room! Well, not all of it, but the most important part anyway: my favorite books.

Welcome to a little corner of my world.

I am happy here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: "Who else might I have been?"

We met the neighbors in the heat of our first day here. Jennifer and Mark were the first to welcome us. A little later Emily brought over a plate of peaches, then Julia asked if we needed anything from the market since she was going anyway. Later that evening her and Julie knocked on our door with a gift of chilled cantaloupe soup with fresh mint nestled refreshingly atop clear glass mugs. This place is definitely a step up from what we left behind where the neighbors fought and threw things out windows instead of being friendly--or even civil.

The bringers of cantaloupe soup were quick to let us know that we've moved from one small town to another. They said, "We call this place 'Little Mayberry.'" And, so far, it's turning out to be true--although "Little Mayberry" is much more affable than Bemidji ever was (at least where we lived anyway). People actually smile and say hello here for god's sake. It is, needless to say, a welcome change.

But one thing that has come along with this change is a heightened awareness of myself. I like to wear crappy, comfortable clothes when I'm working on the house; I wake up with very scary bed-head and like to go outside to snuggle Anu when I first wake up. I'm aware of the fact that our neighbors make a lot more money than us (especially considering we don't' even have jobs yet!), they're older or have babies, and that many of these people have lived here a long time before we ever got here. We are the ones that live in "Beth's old house." For 2 years before us, a family of three: Aslam, Jennifer and Zane, lived here. Still, it's "Beth's place"...but maybe that's a sidetrack. What I'm trying to say is that they are as curious about us as we are about them. On the outside I might be judged by my flip-flops, velour capris, and hair standing on end, but beyond that...

my question is: Who am I?

What I like about this question is that starting over in a new city, in a new neighborhood, allows me the liberty to be anyone I want to be. Yet, at the same time, I am still me--I am everything that has brought me to this point.

When introducing myself to someone new, I've been noticing a pattern in what I reveal about myself. In no particular order, I might say something like:
  • My husband and I just finished our Master's degree--but I'm still working on my thesis.
  • I'm married (this usually becomes know when I say "My husband and I....")
  • I have a dog. Her name is Anu and she's our baby.
  • I worked with plants and flowers for many years at my family's floral business, but more recently I taught English and loved it.
  • I used to have a house out in the country.
  • I never imagined myself living in Minneapolis, but now that I'm here I love it.
  • My sister also lives in the neighborhood, but on the other side of the freeway.
  • My brother lives nearby too.
  • I love the woods.
  • I'm grateful to be living in a place that is more peaceful than what I left behind.
Things that I haven't said about myself, but that I'm sure will become obvious over time is that:
  • I write.
  • I paint.
  • I need a job (but hopefully that will change before long).
These are things that, in many ways, I am defined by. I've noticed, over the past several days, a thought dancing around in the periphery of my mind. Who else might I have been? Who else might I be? Right now it is a clean slate. My options are limitless.

There's a certain freedom in all of this newness. I could easily be someone else if I want, but oddly, I find myself fitting more comfortably than ever into who I really am. It feels good to be in my own skin, to be me--all of me--containing both my past and present and whatever is to come. Here I am moving forward from the middle of myself and, for the first time in forever, I feel my movements originate from my center as I step out into the newness of who I've been all along.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A slow start...

This morning I stiffly drifted in and out of sleep until 10:30. When I finally got up I grabbed a cap to hide my crazy head of hair and went to sit outside in the yard with wolfie. It rained last night and all day yesterday giving the neglected perennials that circle the back yard a second chance. Everything is bright green, purple, orange, more green, and yellow. But the best part about today is cooler weather. After surviving the heat-wave, 75 degrees feels a lot like heaven. I can only hope that it stays this cool for awhile. Needless to say, I've already caught myself (all too often) dreaming of fall weather because, to be honest, I can't wait for days that require me to wear a sweater and light candles for an illusion of warmth. I'm looking forward to seeing the ivy that covers our house and windows turn to red and orange and taking long, cool walks in the woods across the street.

Over the past few days I've managed to get the living room, dining room, and kitchen nearly set up (or at least in working order). My favorite time of day has been in the morning when I make my first cup of coffee (and today, one for Vinny too). My other favorite time is late at night, when it cools off (even just a little) enough to take Anu for a walk. I've been busy (and deliriously tired) during the day--unpacking, running errands, doing whatever needs to be done--but at night, I let my world slow down; at night I let myself explore the magic that surrounds me--and I'm beginning to think that there will never be an end to my discoveries.

As for today, I feel like slowing it down a notch (or three). I'll take a long walk and then start digging into this pile I call my office...but for now: nothing. The rest will come avalanching soon enough.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Moving in triple digit heat is NOT advised...and since my brain is still recuperating, here's a few photos instead of coherency.

Friday: Anu and I went for our last walk along Lake Bemidji in the early morning light. I knew we wouldn't have time the next day, so we took full advantage of everything we'd be leaving behind with an extra long walk.

We were rewarded for getting up ridiculously early with an incredible sunrise--and a little bit of "God Light" thrown in for extra effect. I took it as a good sign for our move to come.

Anu swam. Then we just sat at the end of the dock while I tried to memorize everything I was leaving. Impossible.

On the way home I walked past my studio, stopped, turned around, and took this photo. I'll miss my studio too--that place has been good to me. I learned a lot about myself there and count myself lucky for ever having an art studio at all.

Saturday: Moving day--after a night of sleeping on a blow-up mattress and wicked thunder storms, the alarm went off at 4am. Vinny was kind enough to drive to the 24 hour truck stop for some coffee. Tasted kinda weak to me--but it's the picture I'd been waiting to take all week!

The day before we packed this 26' U-Haul to the brim--packed tight--but, please, tell me: how the hell did we acquire this much stuff?? We baked our brains while loading it. I might never be the same again. (*ps. Did I mention that I'm getting rid of half of it--that's my promise to myself. I've already started the purge--holy hell.)

I like to think of our little house at 1018 Birchmont Drive as a transitional place. It wasn't hard to leave, but I took a moment to say good bye anyway.

The house, very clearly, said good bye to me also.

I followed Vinny in a car also filled to the brim--mine with cats and plants. You can imagine how much fun that was.

At first I was nervous for Vinny driving the "big rig"...but everything went smoothly and eventually I just gave myself up to the morning sky. It rained most of the way, with sporadic surprises of blue.

The scenery made me glad I wasn't leaving Minnesota.

After another long day of UNloading in MORE heat, I headed north the 4 hours back to Bemidji to clean the house we left and meet with my very untrustworthy landlord to do a walk-through. After more heat, a very clean house, and incredibly sore muscles, I headed back to the Cities again with not only my deposit, but Anu too. She was at the kennel while we moved. We missed each other! But she thought I had left her for good--poor girl. It was the longest trip she's ever been on, but she did great despite being crammed in between the last load of too much stuff. After being left behind once, she would have went anywhere with me under any conditions.

She is my sweetheart. I love her completely. Why can't people be more like dogs?

Monday evening: We followed the rainbow all the way to our new home.

Tuesday (today): And by the way...I love it here.

I'm alive!

...and connected to the internet!...but also very, very tired. I look forward to waking up in the morning, making a fresh cup of coffee in our new kitchen, and catching up with myself and all of you.

sweet dreams.