raybear: (chik-fil-a)
I'm sitting on [livejournal.com profile] anjiyama's couch, wrapped in quilts made by her mom. Its overcast this morning and I'm cold, but that's also because I'm not really wearing any clothes, short of boxers and an a-frame. After a warm shower and getting dressed, I will be fine, the sun will come out, I'm going for a walk. I'm on the third trip in two months: first was Miami, then the road trip to Atlanta, and now the southern California leg. One project I'm going to work on while here is transcribing the digital audio notes I made along the way (including some bits of conversations with my father while we drove around the old neighborhoods), start culling and editing footage, and also start writing out the essay I want to make about the experience. All of these final products will find there way here in some form, I'm sure, but in the meantime, I will report that the trip was really, really great. Parts of it were weird or hard or sad or strange, but even those moments I approached most often with curiosity, nothing was painful. And all of the amazing good things outweighed it anyway: seeing old friends and meeting their awesome kids (who are so much like their parent), eating favorite foods, driving all over town and revisiting places and feelings, and lots of small amazing moments of clarity during my interactions with people, about myself and about my history. The trip was exactly what I wanted and even more than I possibly hoped for. And my parents. My parents. They are exactly the same. We were exactly the same. Which is both strange, to have an 8 year gap and we never directly addressed the how/why of that, but also familiar and good, to just have interactions to show, ok, we are all the same people, we have in some ways had this same struggle all along, in that my way of seeing the world doesn't exactly fit into their way of seeing the world. No grand epiphanies happened, just more the elements of my life were brought into sharper focus, and now that I'm away from the trip, there is still pain and sadness in my heart about it at times, but for the most part, I feel ready to sort of close the door on this chapter, to call a truce of sorts. It is hard to remain angry after facing in person the pain and sadness of it all, I can't sustain anger at people who are so at a loss for what to do. But also, I will not suddenly become someone who is close to their parents, who calls and visits them all the time. They will not suddenly 'get' my life and the choices I've made. They are not the family/parents I desire, I am not the child they desired, but we are all who we are and I feel ready to just accept the reality of that, along with the reality of wanting to still participate in each others' lives in some way, there is still love present in all of its awkward desires. I will make the trip again, it won't be 8 years. It might even be almost every year, in the spring. And on the way home, I will stop in places like Louisville and Nashville where my other family is, people who make me sandwiches for the road and stay up until 1 am talking, who tell me they love me so freely that I blush when I hear it.

So that is the general summary. Concrete stories to follow in some form, at some time. For now, I'm going to enjoy southern California (and my family here) before I return home to begin the process of finding a job teaching writing.

Oh, and I ate Chick-fil-a three and a half times. The half is because I brought home 3 sandwiches, two for [livejournal.com profile] dommeyourass and one I ate for breakfast the morning after getting home.
raybear: (Default)
I was in NYC for 3 1/2 days, but it felt more like a few minutes. Most of my time was squirreled away up in the far northwest corner of Manhattan, known as Washington Heights, at the residence of one of my Ragdale spouses, and this is the view from her kitchen table:



Which of course my little camera phone picture doesn't even do it justice, but I forgot my real camera. Across the Hudson, behind the turning leaves, were the rock formations of the palisades which I had only heard referenced, had never really seen. Her neighborhood was charming too, and so when she mentioned trying to sell, I felt sad, until she said the place she wants to move to is across the courtyard, into a 1 bedroom.

I spent a rainy Saturday in the Guggenheim, riding in taxis, just like the locals do(n't), made soup and brought tea to my sick friend, wandered around and ran a few errands in places like Midtown and the Villages, both Greenwich and East, ate some delicious food and some really disappointing food, ended where we started, in Long Island, with harbors and quaint towns and Debbie Gibson's old house. We flew back today, I changed pants and turned right around to come to work. I don't have many more paid days off. There wasn't enough time, but there hardly ever is when you go to NYC, no matter how fast everyone and everything moves there. I liked that feeling of being in motion, even if I maybe needed to relax at the end, lest I become nauseous from it all. I come home to Chicago and winter fully arrived, the cold that cuts through you as soon as you step outside. It will make my bed even more appealing, I've missed it, though I slept remarkably well on various couches and pull-outs and guest beds, more disturbed by dreams than by bedsprings digging into my back.
raybear: (red)
There's a book meme that circulates about grabbing the book closest to you and turning to page 123 and typing the 5th sentence on the page. I don't normally do it because in the office with the computer, we don't really keep any books, except blank ones, or the thesaurus/dictionary/manual of style reference type. But today, I saw it on [livejournal.com profile] swampgirl's page, and I noticed I have Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet right next to me so I did it.

On page 123 it reads: "Any sunset is the sunset; one doesn't have to go to Constantinople to see it."

Hmmm. Maybe. I read the 6th sentence.

"The sensation of freedom that travel brings? I can have it by going from Lisbon to Benfica [a suburb], and have it more intensely than one who goes from Lisbon to China, because if the freedom isn't in me, then I won't have it no matter where I go."

Ok, I can get behind it, since he's not saying there's no point in travelling, he's saying there's no geographical cure for your inner lack of freedom. Also, there is something to be said for approaching your daily life with the same open eyes and wonder we apply when travelling to new places. I'm lacking some inner freedom right now, which is probably why I'm so fixated on this Miami trip this moment. Don't get me wrong, there are other pleasures and benefits and it will be great, but right now it has nothing to do with the trip itself, it has to do with my state of mind. One of the things I've been sort of parsing out since paying closer attention to my feelings and body and states of mind is separating out "sad" from depression, and for me, depression is extremely physical. There is the stage that sits in my chest, then there's the version that I have had for much of this week, which permeates my bones, which tingles all over my skin, and if I think about moving or doing something, it clenches up all over and I want nothing to do with leaving the house or anything really that doesn't involve lying on the couch in my office. Or possibly staring at the computer while compulsively playing scrabble or downloading music. If I had DVDs to watch, I'd probably be doing that. I don't even feel particularly sad the past few days. In fact, I've been downright clever, amused, hopeful. It is not my mood that is clouded with depression, it is my body. Last night at work I had it at 8:45 pm and for a moment panicked that I wouldn't be able to get myself home, that for a moment it seemed more appealing to just curl up under my desk and not leave, rather than be outside and sit on a train. I took a breath. I sort of intentionally forgot that I froze up and moved anyway and obviously made it home.

It is strange. So I do things like force myself to the gym (yesterday) or force myself to write (today) and sometimes I stare out the window and watch the snow and eat a pear. I also listen to the Yeasayer album All Hour Cymbals, and revel in its serendipity, with songs called "Sunrise", "Wait for the Summer", "Wintertime", and the final track "Red Cave". I'm in my red cave right now.
raybear: (sunglasses)
[livejournal.com profile] killerjoe just made a post about scarves and heartbreak, and I have been avoiding making one of those posts myself, but now I don't have to! Over thanksgiving, I left my scarf in L.A. I thought perhaps it was left in the house or car of [livejournal.com profile] wearemany and [livejournal.com profile] fmangel, but assumed that really it was probably left behind at Brite Spot at breakfast. I was almost tempted to call them and ask if it was in their lost and found and if so, could I sent them a FedEx package so they could send it back to me? Because really, I love this scarf that much. But I never called, I resigned myself that it was gone, and I have done half-hearted scarf shopping since then. We had a few mediocre scarves in the house, so I didn't want to settle on buying a new one I didn't love love love, when I could settle for free. But then today, through the magic of a medium called text messaging, great news was heralded down to me by the archangel [livejournal.com profile] wearemany. My scarf has been found! My heart rejoices.

Now let's hope it doesn't get lost in the mail.

I have this plan for December and January and February, that involved finishing my novel by the 31st of this month, sending it to readers on January 1st and not thinking about it for 30 whole days. Then in February, I go someplace far away from Chicago, and prefereably warm, like Miami or Arizona or maybe just Austin, and retreat for a week to sit and write and rewrite it all. But, why did I think I could push through and do my hardest writing in the hardest month of the year? Well, maybe December isn't always the hardest. January and February are usually a blur of bleakness, while December does often have some bright moments. Writing has been slow, I always underestimate how exhausting it is to deal with the feelings that come up, and how as much as I need to be alone in it, it gets lonely and exhausting and I need extra recovery. Digression! Digression! So, the writing deadline has been amended to January 15th. I can still maybe take a trip in late February with this plan. It will probably be Austin because I have a friend with a house with extra rooms, even though the average high is only 65 and the average high in Miami for February is 74 (according to googling). But maybe I can dig up [livejournal.com profile] stuey from hiding and I could go to Tucson and save Miami for a trip with DYA. Arizona is maybe not as warm, but the idea of desert is highly appealing to me for a writer's retreat. Any opinions on these locales during the winter, or in general, are welcome.
raybear: (Default)
I made a phone from yesterday afternoon, but I hung up at the end so it posted privately. And now it seems to be gone. Ah well.

I'm in Echo Park, sitting on [livejournal.com profile] wearemany's couch, contemplating a nap. I had 3 hours with [livejournal.com profile] thebrownhornet yesterday which was great alone, but even better because it also involved Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles and then a manhattan at a dive bar that was well made. It is not sunny enough here, but its still morning, it might burn off. I am broke because a deposit hasn't gone through but two checks did, and I'm trying to not freak out about it, because really, I'm here to see people and the rest will sort itself out. Last night was a spontaneous small group gathering and mix of friends in the living room over wine and whiskey, which helped remind me of that. Also, that in a room of eight people, there will be at least two ways in which you are somehow one degree of separation connected to everyone.

Happy early Thanksgiving!!
raybear: (flaming gorge)
On Friday morning I was scared I couldn't make it out of Chicago. I missed my flight by mere minutes because of long lines, residual of weather cancellations, but I made it standby onto the next flight without much issue. I arrived with enough time to still eat brunch with another Antioch writer friend before meeting up with the CrAcc folks to drive up to Ojai. Even with traffic, it only took about two hours and it was sunny and almost warm, so much so that immediately after checking into the hotel we all changed into swimsuits and went to the pool. I was the only one who jumped in, not caring that it was cold or that it was a little dirty. It was clean dirt. Bits of leaves, nothing smelly or slimy. Mostly it felt good to have sunshine touching so much of my skin. I am not quite completely comfortable and confident walking around in merely shorts and no shirt, but I'm getting better.

After a trip to the store for supplies (food for dinner and snacks), we hit the ground running with the retreat. In 36 hours, we did five seminars, a workshop, two 'open mics' and two writing sessions. There were handouts and gifts and seven bottles of wine. There was Lollipop Theatre and a nap and a pitcher of margaritas. And there were creative revelations. Lots of them. The order of everything is mixed up, but it doesn't really matter.

Driving around L.A. this weekend, I kept getting the strangest feeling. At first I thought I was sad that I didn't live there. But later I realized it was almost more nostalgic sadness. Part of it might be that I was just in need of some travelling and change of scenery and I only got small dose of it. Luckily, June is only two months away. I need to look into plane tickets.

Tomorrow begins the Three Week Challenge, a plan created for us all individually in overcoming our writerly obstacles. Oh-HI!!

group picture!! )

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