Tuesday, September 29, 2009

happy new year...?

I'm a total secret Jew. this time of year always feels like a time for new beginnings. I don't know why, given the fact that the world is dying and retreating into itself in anticipation of winter -- and here in the midwest the death of fall is dramatic and the winter we are headed towards will be bitter. Maybe it's because someone decided the school year should start at this time of year and i was programmed for 16 years (about half my life) to start anew around now, when the frenetic summertime is over, when harvesting is rampant and the work of putting away food for the winter (whether by canning and preserving or by fattening up for hibernation) is immanent, that now is the time for beginning the real work that will occupy me for the winter.
Too bad i only have the skecthiest idea of what to do with myself for the next 6 months. I usually have a better plan by this time of year. 4 years ago it was to tie up loose ends and prepare to move to seattle. 3 years ago it was to take classes (actual classes) in acting and ASL, 2 years ago it was to research Kurt Cobain and gender identity (mine and his), 1 year ago it was to get Hollow Earth Radio non-profit status and start a story to imagine a life for myself in the future.
This year...
traveling to collect others' stories about how they live their lives and to accumulate experiences of ways and places to live in order to figure out what my next life will look like. Cuz I'm secretly a homebody. when I visit people I want to cook dinner with them and do the dishes. When I don't have a place to sleep (aside from a patch of ground somewhere) I get very focused on the meals of the day, using them as an anchor, a way of having a home without a place. Sharing a meal is where the heart is. for me. Eating alone is when I feel the most homeless and hard-up.
I guess I'm really just out to learn the many definitions of home. And to share 'home' with as many people I love as possible. Maybe I need to start asking everyone I stay with the question: what is home to you?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

first blog entry of the rest of your life

Never fails, put me in a moving vehicle and gimme music to listen to on headphones, and my mind starts to come alive. I've felt scattered and mute all summer. I dunno what that's about. But now it's fall and it's time to buckle down and T.C.B.

This is the time of year that i set out curricula for myself, i make up "classes" out of my artistic goals, give myself assignments to complete. I'm most prolific in the fall. Thinking back, most of my sizable works of fiction or research projects were attacked with vigor starting in the fall. Including that really depressing one set to sigur ros and elliot smith from 2003 that got lost when my laptop crashed...

I wonder if it's because all my favorite music is very fall in color and tone. Last year, right after moving into H is for House, I found the Fleet Foxes and started a story on my typewriter that i wish i could revisit right now...it was so clear and bright. Like September in Seattle--golden and sweet.

I know what it is, this is something i learned in China. When you are stationary and have no barrier between yourself and what is happening around you, you just have to live life where you are and figure out how to be in it and survive. When you can be in motion, and/or have something like headphones or a camera lens between yourself and what you are witnessing, everything is just removed enough to take a good look at. You can put a frame around your life and reflect on it--give it context and meaning. I haven't been taking myself out of my life enough to know what's happening with it. I haven't been able to tell stories about it because I haven't been looking at it as something with beginnings and endings, with a narrative arch. I have actually been meditating to try to shut off my narrator. Which is also helpful, but there is a time and a place for everything.

Here and Now is a great beginning.

Here is sitting next to Luka on a bus to Minneapolis.
Now is halfway through the Fleet foxes self-titled album at 9:30am on a saturday morning.

Now is punctuated by tambourine and a half-asleep bum, the vibration and subtle pull of a motorized vehicle traveling at 60mph, the taste of tortilla chips (breakfast) still in my mouth.

Here includes Luka's half open mouth and hands wrapped around an ipod, the sun breaking through clouds onto constantly retreating cornfields and misty woods, seated folks in their own worlds all around, the lady across the aisle on her laptop, one sparkly earring dangling in my view.

I'm grateful for all of it. For the love and sadness in my parents' eyes as they said goodbye once more at the bus station, for the uncertainty of what the winter holds for me, for the single oak tree in the middle of that cornfield out the window...

"oh, don't get careless, I'm sure it'll be fine, i love you, i love you, oh brother of mine."

For the Fleet Foxes and Dee Jordan, our bus driver, carrying me into my future.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

what day is it?

oh yeah. its saturday. i just got a picture text from brunchers in seattle and their garnish boat. crap. i miss you. ive been overdosing on tom robbins since we left seattle. three books. well, two and a half. b is for beer is short and can be read in an afternoon. just finished skinny legs and all and realized it was a really good time to read it. the last message in it, when the seventh veil falls, is that we all have to figure it out for ourselves. and if that isnt why im doing what im doing i dont know what is. its so hard to find time to delve into things when you have duties and work and a life to maintain. i got a lot to figure out (as per usual) but this stuff is the stuff i need to be hanging out with myself to work on. in seattle i had a lot to figure out on how to deal with other people. ive spent three years learning over and over that i have a lot of work to do in that area, but i have done so with the price of ignoring myself. im so much better at talking to other people than writing for myself. i havent journaled (or even blogged) in months. longer. its time to find the balance of being a guest with a traveling partner and having more days than i can count to spend doing what i need to do. whole swaths of time to spend. its a little daunting. each day its a challenge to know how to fill it up. purpose. ill find it. while im searching ill scribble notes on what im doing. maybe thats the way itll come to me.

day 5 -- shopping mall-ing and movie watching

today we spent an inordinate amount of time in a shopping mall. this is what happens when you dont work and have nothing better to do. actually, we just stumbled across it, trying to find a hardware store to cut a spare key for a friend. (jack is letting us stay in their basement, but only has one key to the outside door.) we end up walking around a target, a big lots, and a dollar store, purchasing no more than a bag of gardettos (for me and my addiction) and a silver pocket watch with a hunting scene in gold on the flip front (for luka who doesnt leave their phone on and doesnt like things on the wrist). its actually a super-awesome watch, im kinda jealous. (oh big lots, how we love you)
then we ate corn on the cob raw from the thriftway (3 or a dollar) while sitting by the water. we found gillian and onyx, our uber-lovely hosts, and decided to rent a movie and get ice cream from the groc out. we rented oceans twelve and ate lemon-lime ice pops. both were light and tasty and gave me a rush.
and luka has taken to drinking instant coffee.
in trying to escape the trap consumerist america sets for everyone, we seem to have fallen headlong into it today. ah well, we were highly amused with ourselves the whole time, and wont be doing anything like that again in the near (or even far) future.
besides, being around all of those things to buy made me spend less money than my average $10/day.

day 4? --gravity music

a couple days ago i had the thought: when we come back as sounds, i wanna be that high bird-flute tone.
i was sitting in a big upper-room warehouse space (the one that used to be the old k records headquarters) listening to a group of string musicians play various notes all around the room, ranging from a resonant low to a harmonic high depending on how far from the center they were. it was random and unkempt and beautiful. and there was this one note that came to me as robin-egg blue, but pure and unflecked as the summer sky. i was sitting on the floor with my head on my knees, eyes closed for the first time in the hour id been there listening. it was fun to watch them move around, to figure out from which instrument each note was coming from, to watch one musician for an inordinate amount of time as they moved or didnt, played incessantly or waited forever to continue. but at this point i was letting my consciousness pull me somewhere else besides there, just following the flow of sounds and thoughts like a dandelion seed in a meadow breeze. the light in my head was that yellow, for some reason, even tho the evening was blue/grey and wet. i cant now remember the current of ideas that brought me to that particular sentence, i dont know that i was particularly paying attention, but i remember my thought language having a different cadence than normal and thats how it came to make sense that we could all be reincarnated as sounds. its an idea im going to keep for some time, i believe. i wished for a minute that i knew what note it was they were playing that gave me the feeling of catching a thermal and riding it skyward, that i could call it by name or catch it in a jar, but really the memory of it will be enough to find it again, and the feeling of it is what i need to carry it with me.
thanks ben kamen, for composing and orchestrating, and all those who performed for bringing it to light.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

day 3--vegan tamales=place to sleep?

there is an art to being a guest. Its about being courteous and respectful and pleasant, but its also about knowing when to be out of the way, and knowing when to leave—while they still like you and want to invite you back sometime. There is an art to finding places to sleep, whether its your friends house or a patch of grass by the water not visible from the road, its all about finesse. Im still getting my sea legs. luka, on the other hand, can do something like this: At a coffee shop this afternoon, roscoe stepped up to our table and asked if ze wanted to buy homemade vegan tamales. -Yes. Black bean and mole, please. Also, you know of any places to sleep in town? -well, there is that hostel...but I can ask at my house. I live with gillian. -casa hueso? does onyx live there too? -yep. we have a house meeting tonight, ill ask if everyone is cool with you staying. -thanks, that would be awesome. -sure, no problem.
this is my traveling partner, folks. manifester extraordinaire. this is the person who on monday, less than an hour after giving eli and erin $5 for gas money, found $5 on the sidewalk as we were walking to the dock. instant karma. or something...

day 2--hugbots and free coffee.

first day in oly with nothing to do and nowhere to go back to. We find the grocery store (to eat on the governments dime—yay food stamps) the post office (so luka can mail some unnecessary things to mom) and the library (to check email and blog and charge phones). We walk around looking for a coffee shop, run into a friend of lukas who proceeds to give us free coffee from vita, where she works. Sitting at vita we see multiple other friends who say hi and tell us about events happening this week. This town is so freaking small it scares me. walking to the dock in the evening, we see a large graffito on the side of a building showing two robots with arms akimbo and the words 'hug bots'. i think im in love you, oly. also, the alamingo kids. josh is working in the garden when we arrive so we help tie tomato plants to stakes (my hands smell like them all night) and then the three of us and amina watch 'bill and teds excellent adventure' all cuddled under blankets in the basement den area. successful day, i feel.

day 1--le voyeur x2

spent the morning both waiting around for our ride and forgetting and remembering things at the last minute. i stopped by my old house 4 times to do different things, once just to pull up some weeds from the patio and sit on the hammock for a bit. in the afternoon, as we were driving away with eli and erin--who were off to camp for a week on the coast and offered to drive us to olympia--i watched my neighborhood slide past the window and thought: i dont live here anymore. first thing to do in olympia was eat at le voyeur, then call our friends and ask to sleep on their couch. then lazy reading on the dock in the sun, and walking across town with our packs. they are heavy. we still have too much stuff. when we arrived at alamingo house, our friends suggested we go to the free movie that night at (you guessed it) le voyeur. they were playing 'the burbs'. it was sooo entertaining. i yawned the whole way 'home' and crashed immediately. this new life is exhausting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the nomadic life for me

so...i've pared down my belongings to two suitcases, a two-drawer file cabinet of papers, and a crate of books, all of which i have stored in my friends basement. ive moved out of my house and into a tent in my friends' back yard. i have a frame pack's worth of stuff that i feel i will need for traveling, and a super-tiny computer for working. im ready to go.
luka and i have been talking about this since we started hanging out, have been planning and working toward it for months, and in (hopefully) a few days time, we will be on the road. by that i mean, headed to olympia to hang out with friends there for a while. and maybe in the PNW for most of the summer...but that's only the first leg in our 'journey'. this nomadic life we are embarking upon. no planning ahead, no mode of transportation, no destination, no expectations. we are just gonna go and see where we get.
i like the practice of not planning ahead. sadly, my job asks me to do so on some level. i put my availability in a couple months ahead and then they schedule me for what they need me to do. right now, im expected to work for a week in august, but i have no idea where i will be then. i guess we will just make sure we arent in the middle of the woods somewhere...
it was time to leave seattle sometime this winter. i hit my wall. when i came i was gonna stay at least 2 years, had reached 2 and a half, then signed a lease for another whole year. should have known. i dont stay anywhere that long. last time i got the itch i went traveling for a month to keep myself from moving away and i arrived home depressed and decided to move to seattle. this time im going to just keep moving till i cant move anymore. luka and i just got a ups box (like a po box but cooler) and paid up front for a year. i have no idea where we will be in a year. or where we will have been. thats the point. i dont even know what a year will feel like, living the nomadic life. homefree.

its not like im sick of seattle, tho. i have many good people here, some that i want to keep for life. (not to mention my kitty) i doubt highly that i wont ever come visit, we might even show up sometime during our 'indefinite travels'. love is a magnet that can pull you harder the farther away you get. but its time. its time to go before i cant stand it here, or before i refuse to ever leave. my love of chicago is so strong only because i moved far away from it and visit regularly.
but its hard, leaving. feeling so antsy yet dragging my feet...i came here to be settled for a while. and i was. i thought maybe i could keep it up, but i cant. and that makes me sad. i will miss so much about this town. i really grew up here. learned so much more than i expected. and made connections with some truly amazing people that space and time can do nothing to change. i thank you all for putting up with me, calling me out on my shit, supporting me, eating and drinking with me, sharing your lives with me. i am so intensely grateful.
write, email, call, check our website. give us your address so we can send postcards. if you have a hankering to travel someplace, hit us up, see if we are nearby or could meet you there. there is no goodbye here. and we arent leaving home, we are taking it with us.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


just ran across this bit of writing i did back in chicago (2004? i was living at the ice factory at the time) and realized that i just the other day threw out this puzzle piece cuz i couldnt remember why i was keeping it.
glad i still have the metaphor...

Walking along Ashland from the green line stop home one windy gray day, looking down I find a single jigsaw puzzle piece lying on the ground. No 500 piece box anywhere, no mates, nothing but this one that looks a bit trampled, with an indistinguishable bit of image in green on it. I step past it, trying to figure out how it got there and what I think about it, then stop and decide to go back and put it in my pocket. The metaphoric brilliance of a lonely, lost puzzle piece hanging around feels too good to pass up.
I turn to retrace my steps and retrieve my treasure when, my eyes following the line of where the building met the sidewalk, I come upon another sight to stop me in my tracks. A small, sparrow-sized gray bird is lying dead on the pavement right next to the wall. No marks of violence upon it, no blood, no ants or signs of decay. It's been a very recent death, very sudden and silent. I stand staring for a good bit, taking in the loss of life and grieving it, pondering how it could have come about. My eyes raise to scan the top of the building to see if it had fallen off the edge, knowing it was too much an adult and skilled at flying for such a mistake. As my gaze ascends it comes upon the first floor window. There, a fist-sized hole in the outer pane spider-webs most of the top portion of the glass, distorting the reflection of the gray, cloud soaked sky. The broken pieces have altered the expanse of window to make it seem as though there are many ways of looking at it—directions in which one could go, dimensions of cloud corridor to take to alternate realities. In one of those I picture a bird flying on, having found an open portal and an empty sky instead of a door of life slamming shut by acting upon a mistaken perception of reality.
My head shifts up and down, from window to bird, too close to the situation to see it all in one glance, having to take it in pieces to see it clearly. I take a step back, trying to frame everything together and failing. In doing so, I step over the puzzle piece. seeing it now differently, I bend down and pick it up. I hold it in my hand the rest of the way home and leave it at the bottom of my pocket to be chanced upon in the future, when I will again enjoy the depth the metaphor has assumed.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

battling the greige.

have you heard of the "greige" ? its the blues that you get in seattle when the weather is gross and chilly and grey and wet for months at a time and it hangs over you, with an imperceptible downward pressure, and keeps you drinking and addicted to caffeine and looking at your toes cuz the mountains are never visible, and feeling like nothing is possible. and wishing yourself away from here. battling the greige is a losing proposition every year, but then it finally lifts and sunny manic panic hits and everything feels perfect. for about three months. and then its back... its a weird way to live, but it gets you in its cycle and you have a hard time getting out...
so, we are being sucked down by the greige. i think i might battle it harder than luka. that one doesnt resist as much, generally...

this is not something to be worried about, btw. its just what happens. to everyone. and it passes. we will come out of this by april. or may. or june, depending...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

like a leaf clings to a tree...

walking home this morning in the seattle version of snowfall, with cat power singing 'wild is the wind' in my cold-red ears...

"...we are creatures of the wind..."
here 'snowing' is defined differently. just like how the rain is only slightly more insistent than misting, snow can be so small you cant see it falling and the gradual accumulation of such super-fine flakes can take forever to be perceptible.
the prolonged process of covering over the flora happens a fraction of a millimeter at a time, and makes even the lush green landscape here look blighted by the cruelness of winter. the fineness of the brush painting everything white makes for very detailed outlining of every blade of grass. when there is less than half an inch of snow it makes the capturing of footprints--animals and people--very precise. the dark concrete in bird shapes, squirrel hops, shows stark against the white...

"...you touch me, i hear the sound of mandolins..."
this visual precision brings me aural focus and i know no better accompaniment exists. Miz Power covers like the snow. the piano peeks brightly out of velvet silence and her reluctant voice shadows the delayed gratification in the weather. the clinging of her voice, the sparse piano notes, the trepidation of advancing the rhythm, they mirror my view. i become obsessed with how she lingers over syllables, leaving empty space, singing so close to the mic you hear the texture of every letter in the words she touches with her mouth. the scratch in her vocals feels just like the bare branches with each and every finger kissed frosty, the pedal sustain touches like the insistent cold creeping past your collar and down the back of your neck--elongated shivers that leave your lower back aching--the high notes come sharp as flakes stinging your bare cheek.

"...with your kiss my life begins..."
holding all the beauty in your senses makes you hold your breath in the silences, you try to keep your mind from running ahead to fill in the gaps cuz then you'd have to back up to get in step. you believe time has slowed down just enough for you to catch each individual moment and marvel at its passing...you feel as tho the world is being caressed like a lover savoring the sensation of every inch of their beloved's skin, fingertips deliberately and ever so gently stroking every curve and angle, defining the edges, outlining the shape of things. its a leisurely smothering, the most beautiful agony of slowness...

"...let me fly away with you..."
...and true to the song ending that leaves you begging for more just when you were anticipating a cathartic payoff, before we can get to actual 'snow cover' (not just a 'dusting') the temperature rises just enough to let it subtly melt away, as a dying chord lazily falls past hearing...