Monday, July 30, 2007

Random 8.

I've been tagged by Mardougrrl and Megg to spill 8 random fact about myself. So, without further adieu...
  • We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and they should read your blog.
Creating these lists about myself always makes me feel much more normal than I actually am. Or maybe I'm less random than I'd like to believe?

Last night I dreampt that I was sitting in a coffee shop where there were storyboards advertising a new movie. Reading the words, it dawned on me that the movie was about me...except that they spelled my name differently and got the facts all wrong. Rather than get upset about it, I came to the conclusion that there are many perspectives to the same story--mine being only one of them. Which left me my life really as I percieve it? Or do I have it all wrong?

I'm almost done reading Dog Years by Mark Doty and I don't remember the last time a book made me cry so hard. That book induces actual bawling. Or maybe it's just that Mark Doty speaks my language.

My favorite part of the day is in the morning when I make myself a strong (very strong) cup of coffee and sit down for 15 minutes to an hour to write, check my emails, and sometimes read a few blogs. I need to write before starting my day. It is my most important meal.

I stepped in dog poop this morning.

Sometimes love scares me. Although I am not afraid of death, I am keenly aware of love's mortality. Why is this? And when did it begin?

I work with a 19 year old art student at the garden shop. He is the most random person I know. Sometimes we laugh so hard that we cry. I like working with him because he reminds me a lot of my 19 year old self--the self that lives life with a touch of happy abandonment.

My husband and I dream of someday opening up an adoption center and sanctuary for abandoned and unwanted dogs. We would not keep them kenneled or in cages, but instead would have space for them to play and live freely as they might do if they had a real home. I am inspired by this woman and this woman and these people.

*In the spirit of randomness...8 random people, please surprise me by continuing this tag. Oh giddiness...who will it be??

Thursday, July 26, 2007

suspension of disbelief.

It's late. I got home from work, ate a quick supper, ran errands for a couple hours, quickly cleaned parts of the house and *WALLAH!* It's already after 11pm. What happened? Well, no matter. I'm here now, writing words, and that's all that really counts. I've brewed a fresh pot of coffee (decaf, of course), Louis has just konked out at my feet, my little cat has fallen asleep on the very tip-top back of my chair, and my other cat is meowing loudly for my attention. All of this love and sleepiness and simply being home feels good.

It has been hot enough at the garden shop to make my brain cells boil. Today, as I sat as still as possible in an attempt to keep my attention focused on the hot breeze coming from the fan, I found myself fantasizing about walking in the woods on a cool fall day. It's been weeks since I've taken any long walks. It's just too hot, too buggy, too ugh... Sometimes, in the evening, we make it as far as the lake, then follow the shady trails of the creek back home. But those days have been coming fewer and farther in between. This heat and the drought that has accompanied it is wearing me thin. Winter. Sweet winter. Where are you?

But enough about the weather.

I've been thinking a lot about my last post and feeling the need to fill in some of the blanks. Actually, I considered deleting the post was so damn optimistic and I feared that my lack of explanations were also misleading. Then I thought better of it and decided to leave it up because, hell...what's wrong with being optimistic?

So here it is...

New House:
We want one, but we can't afford one. Nope, nadda. Not even a crack house in the bad part of town. BUT... I am not willing to give up, which leads to...

New Job:
Here's the deal. I love it at the garden shop and the bookstore (yes, I'm still at the bookstore), but I think it is safe to say that both places have served their purpose in my life. They were the temporary "dream jobs" that I wanted in order to decompress from grad school. Well, I think it's safe to say that I have hereby decompressed (thank god!)...and now it is time to move on. I have absolutely loved it there and have gotten to know a lot of really great people in the process. But now...I don't know. I'm starting to feel the dead-end-ness of it. And I don't like that feeling. I also feel a lot of stress over the fact that the place could sell any day and that, if that happened, I would more than likely either get my hours cut or lose my job. Financially, that would swamp our boat in a very serious way. But what it comes down to is that I am ready to challenge myself again. Being the happy garden shop girl is great in theory, but...

Anyway, meeting with a mortgage broker last week snapped me sharply back to reality. Not that I wasn't realistic about everything before, but let's just say that seeing the actual breakdown of numbers subtracted from both our student loan payments subtracted from both car payments subtracted from the day to day cost of living...well, it was a major kick in the ass to get motivated and start looking for a new job. This, however, is the part where I am earnestly trying to maintain optimism. Hey, why not?

In my nonexistent spare time (and at the expense of sleep) I've been scouring the internet for possibilities while simultaneously updating my resume, writing cover letters, and filling out online applications. Oh joy! Well, not exactly...but I am trying my best to not only maintain optimism, but enthusiasm as well. I won't go into this further lest I tip my fragile balancing act in the wrong direction.

Anyway, wanna know what a new job spells? N.E.W. H.O.U.S.E. Now wouldn't that be grand?! All I can say is THANK GOD that our problems have a matter how far-fetched these solutions some days feel.

Finished Thesis:
Did I get ahead of myself here? Unless you read carefully, you may have missed my meaning. I am not done yet. Nope. But I'm getting there. I've been writing 2-5 pages a week since May. Did I mention that I started over? Yes, it's true. And I've written more in the past 3 months than I have in the past 2 years. Granted, 2-5 pages as week is not much, but I am happy with my progress. You see, there is an accumulative effect that works to my advantage. I am solidly half way finished and progress continues. That alone is reason to celebrate.

Monday is my day to write and I treat that day with absolute sacredness. I allow myself no other obligations other than writing. And, best of all, I no longer allow myself to feel bad for not getting things done sooner or faster or better or whatever. I'm done being the anxiety ridden grad student. Now it is time to write. Simple as that. I write because I love it. Not for any other reason.

After high school, it took me 7 years before I made it to college. I always knew that I'd get there eventually, but I also deeply believed that there were more ways to learn than from school alone. I spent those years traveling around the world. I hopped freight trains, traveled the States like a real life Dharma bum, slept on mountain tops, lived in the desert and deep in the woods...I did a lot of things and went a lot of places. I lived fearlessly. And I did things that I never would have done had I gone the direction I was expected to. I don't mean to get all nostalgic here, but those years were, on a very deep level, some of the best of my life. I've reached a new era in my life, but why should I expect myself to be any different than I've always been? I've never been the type that moves directly from Point A to Point B.

I went to school to become a writing teacher--and I have great faith that someday it will happen. But it's not a race. Becoming a teacher is about more than simply earning a degree--or maybe I should specify by saying that becoming a good teacher requires more than a degree. I've never been much of a hoop jumper. My desire to live from the heart is much too insistent. I'll admit that my commitment to living a genuine life has some serious drawbacks, but it has its rewards, too. School aside (where did that tangent come from?)...
These days, I'm writing out of the sheer love of language--and that is making all the difference in the world.

Anyway...does that explain things better? My last post sounded so optimistic that I feared it was enough to make anyone reading it gag. Well, none of it is quite so easy as I made it sound. But I am doing my best to hold on to the sense of possibility that I felt last week. I am going to continue to swim on the surface of that feeling until I start noticing some results. I mean, really, I have nothing to lose.

I'm going to live from the very center of my heart--and, from that place, I'm going to move forward. There's a name for this, you know. It's called Magical Realism--it's a literary style that requires a willing suspension of disbelief. I was thinking that it might be worth trying out in life as well.

What do you think? Wanna try it?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

here in spirit.

Dear Friends,
I've written about a gazillion posts in my head, but unfortunately it has been over a week since I last updated my blog. Whaaa? I have been busy lately trying to tangibly move my life forward. Read: new job, new house, new business, finished thesis. So far, only one of those things have been accomplished. The new business will be "announced" soon! :)
Anyway, all of this striving has taken away from my blogging time. I miss it here, but at the same time it feels good to actually be accomplishing something. I've decided to be more proactive about my position in life--and not just in theory, but in actuality. In the meantime, dear blogging friends, you are with me every step of the way and I am with you!

Now if I can just make it through the heat of today...I'll be doing good.

All my love,

Louis sends kisses.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

dog years life love.

At the moment I am sitting at my desk and looking out the window. My old computer bummed out on me today, but luckily (oh so luckily) I have a laptop that I can replace it with. I lit incense and a candle and put on my big fat earphones to block out the rest of the world. I looked out the window just a minute ago because, although I didn't hear anything, I felt the slight shake of the house as the front door closed. V. is taking Louis for a walk. Every night we take him for a walk by himself so he can be properly trained. Anu, our wolfie, is far from trained and Louis doesn't pay much attention to us when we take them for walks together because he is so enamored by her. I can't blame him. I am, after all, enamored by both. I watched V. and Louis walk down the street and I can't even imagine being a mother. I mean, really, how can one handle that much love? I would burst. I am sure of it. Never mind that I am comparing puppy love with motherhood. There is a difference I'm sure. But whatever.

Louis is growing fast. His fur turns new colors every week. His legs grow longer. He responds to things in new ways. I don't know what he will look like when he is all grown up...but I am fascinated by who he is becoming. He is so full of moods, and expressions, and curiosity. Anu, in turn, has become the older, wiser, and all knowing goddess that I never expected her to become. Although she is not formally trained (other than "sit"), I am amazed by how well we move through life together--through intuition and body language alone. I don't use commands with Anu because she doesn't know them (yes, this is my fault), but she reads me in other ways. The addition of Louis to our family has made me more aware of the relationship I have with Anu and the ways in which we know each other. I always feel calmest when she is by my side. My thinking becomes more clear. Life in dog years is always too short. These four-legged animals have always been my best friends in life. It's always been this way for me. I love them deeply and am keenly aware of their mortality. Love never lasts long enough--especially the unconditional kind--not even if it were to last a billion years.

There are so many other things that I sat down to write about...but, I don't know. These days, my musings have been internal--too internal to write about? I have intricate conversations with myself that, by the time I make it to my computer or a piece of paper, become long forgotten. But it doesn't matter. I'm allowing myself quiet space. This is just the stuff in between.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

matters of perspective.

I woke up this morning with a long list of complaints. Then I came outside with a fresh cup of coffee and was surrounded, from the ground up, by dogs. The warmth of their bodies at my feet causes my world to look a bit brighter. The sky is blue, the sun shines, and there is a cool breeze that smells faintly of pine.

The world is fragile and alive and it feels good to be a part of it.

I am feeling love. Can you feel it too?

Monday, July 09, 2007

forward momentum.

I was up late last night cleaning out my studio space... and what I mean by that is that I finally finished unpacking/ sorting/ repacking the rest of the boxes from our move a year ago. Upon returning from last week's mini-vacation I realized that I am ready to start taking action on all those ideas that have been bumbling about in my head and in my journal. I didn't plan on this sudden motivation, it just happened, and I'm not about to waste this strange burst of energy.

Clearing out and decluttering my studio space is an important step forward for me. You see, I haven't done a serious painting since before I moved. Sure, I've done plenty of artwork for the bookstore as well as a rather large mural commission--but nothing actually for myself. Way back last fall I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't get swept away by any major painting projects until I was done with my thesis. I did this because, over the years, I have learned that, creatively, I work best when I keep my energy focused on one art form at a time. Not to mention, I also know that I have a tendency to get obsessed with ideas once I get started. I don't generally do just one painting...oh no... I have to do an entire SERIES of paintings! I can't help it. I get going on an idea and doing just one piece is only enough to scratch the surface. It creates an itch of curiosity and I get drawn in. The more I paint, the deeper into the subject matter I find myself. When this happens, I usually find it hard to stop. Painting becomes my first priority; and everything else falls by the wayside.

Don't get me wrong, I love writing also. It is my first love, after all. But writing and painting are two different worlds. When I write, I feel my brain working hard, shifting through language, rhythm, memory, experience, emotion. When I write I feel like I am searching. On occasion, I find what I am looking for and, when this happens, the sensation is euphoric.

But when I paint...this is harder to describe. When I paint it is easier to lose myself. A part of my brain shuts off and I am more easily "in the zone." If things are going well, I form deep relationships with my subject matter. In many ways, painting is easier that writing. Even so, I cannot give up writing. Writing is like oxygen. Painting is like water. I need both. The difficulty is in finding a balance, but I am getting better at it. I am learning that when I am focusing on one art form, I will not lose the other. I take turns with each, and it seems that Writing and Painting have, finally, learned to be more patient with each other.

Yesterday brought with it an incredible sense of accomplishment. Between gardening and studio cleaning, I worked from the time I got up until the time I went to bed (well after midnight) and in the process I was able to complete two major projects. I got started and then I couldn't stop. It felt so good to finally FINALLY be getting things done that I didn't dare quit.

These days I am on the cusp of some new adventures.
#1: My husband and I will be launching our new web design business (more about this soon!).
#2: I will begin work on 2 new series of paintings in the very near future (one of portraits and the other of urban landscapes).
#3: I will be phasing out of the bookstore and phasing in art income.

By cleaning out my studio, I am giving myself permission to return to painting. And you know what? It feels good. Ever since waking up this morning I keep sneaking downstairs to take it in. The space is clean, organized, and much more open. The only thing it's missing is the smell of OIL PAINT. I'm even thinking about getting some fish for V's abandoned fish tank and putting them in the studio so I have something that needs my attention on a daily basis. Since fish need to be cared for, I will use them as lure to get me down there, even on days when I think I am too busy. Anyway, I think fish are beautiful. Maybe they will even inspire a series of fish paintings?

I spent the morning and early afternoon tying up a few more loose ends, cleaning the kitchen, and finally putting away the accumulated piles of books and paper in my writing room. This, right now, is a blogging break. Oh, how I love a good blogging break!

What next? Well, the rest of the day is dedicated to working on an essay for my thesis. To stay sane, I have started working in 2 hour blocks of time. 2 hours at the table in the back yard. Then a break to walk the dogs and eat dinner with V. Who knows...I might even lay in the hammock for a little while and soak up the warmth of the day. Then I'll pack up my laptop and papers and head to a coffee shop for a couple more hours of writing. Oh, sweet, blissful Mondays!

Today, my life feels new and the possibilities actually feel possible. Even though forward movement is rarely more than a series of many small actions, this is how momentum is gained. Today, my heart feels wide open. And this moment...this particular moment is the beginning of what happens next.

My mood: passionate. and hopeful, too.

Friday, July 06, 2007

too many things to blog about so this is what you get instead.

"The lake."

Early morning with Louis.

Foggy morning.


Louis, the water-dog, in his element.

The past 5 days have been relaxing to say the least. We camped out on my mom's lake lot and the photo in the last post is one that I took upon waking and stumbling out of the tent. It stayed foggy most of the day and so, aside from a long hike in the nearby state forest, I spent the day reading next to the fire.

Louis and Anu played hard, swam hard, and slept hard. I thought that bringing both the dogs might end up being a lot of trouble, but they couldn't have been happier. I alternated between reading, swimming, lounging in the hammock, sketching, cooking, and taking short walks with V. and the dogs.

I spent a lot of time listening to the call of loons. And thinking.

If I had a computer and internet out in the woods I might have spent the entire time blogging all of those deep thoughts I was having. But I've come to realize that there is something to be said for temporary silence. I brought nothing with me that was thesis or work related (I wanted to, but didn't let myself!). Maybe it was the hammock or the soft breeze from the lake or a combination of a lot of things, I don't know--whatever it was, I did a lot of thinking. The funny this is that now that I'm back I'm not even sure what half of those thoughts were. But what I do know is that the second I got home I finally took action on some things that I have been thinking and thinking about for months now.

But there's too much to write about all at once.

( I'll begin by saying that) I started work on the front yard. This is important because I've been obsessed with finding a home of our own for so long now that I have been starting to drift out towards a placeless limbo. These past weeks I have been working on my thesis which revolves around the notion of how, as individuals, we are continuously redefining our "sense of place." But lately I have been feeling my own sense of place slip from my grasp. I have been neither here nor there. I have been searching for "something else" rather than making any attempt to be present in my own life.

It's also important to note that I only started work on the front yard because the landlord came over yesterday and asked if he could hire me for the job. The perennial gardens have been neglected for a loooong time and getting them back in shape is no small task. As renters, we weren't willing (or able) to spend our own money (or thankless time) on the project. But hey... money motivates, ey? And if he was willing to foot the bill, I was more than willing to do the work.

And so yesterday I, quite literally, dug in. Once I got started, I couldn't stop. I pulled weeds and raked and got seriously dirty. At one point, while in the middle of an especially thick patch of weeds, I found myself sitting on the ground totally absorbed in the moment. I was pulling at a tough lace-work of roots and, for the first time in a very long while, I too felt rooted. V. and I haven't given up on looking for a place of our own, but I think that, on a very deep and subconscious level, in the process of connecting with this little piece of the earth that we live on, I made the decision that we will be here for just a little bit longer--and that, no matter where I am, I feel a great need to invest myself into the place (whatever place) I call home.

I want to be present in my life. I've been spending so much time and energy trying to visualize what I want my life to look like in the future that I haven't been able to appreciate the way it is right now. The rest, I do not doubt, will fall into place soon enough. For now, gardening is my meditation. Dirt helps to keep me grounded. I need to feel roots, however temporary.