i like how my friend Pixie referred to herself as being on “low tumble cycle” lately. for me this feels like being quiet, having few words, a time of taking in, instead of putting out, moving my body, organising, purging, preparing for a new phase.
yesterday we rode our bikes thirty miles in the californian countryside, beautiful hills in the background, riding beside rows and rows of olive trees (crushed olives having stained the road black), fruit orchards, and wheat fields (I am in love with the sound of dry wheat). later we enjoyed an amazing meal of purple asperagus, corn on the cob, new potatoes and organic barbequed chicken. food tastes so much better after a day spent outside moving the body. the perfect end of the day was spotting two white owls high up in a tree in our backyard. I am still smiling from it.
i am in the midst of a particularly blessed time in my life and i know it. i want to savour it all, inhale every last bit of it. even the stressful parts.
there are so many things to do in the next two months, i’m not even sure where to begin (finish a book, find a home, move across the country, adapt to a new environment while meeting major deadlines, find furniture for the home). during our monthly phone conference, when asked what i would like to manifest in the next month i said to the girls, “calmness in the midst of activity”.
hints of buddha between the nerves.
it will all get done. i will breathe into every dark corner. those places where i get all tied up in knots and panicky. i have a tendency to panic about all of the details at once, it’s part of my survival technique. i am reminding myself that none of the panicking actually helps me, it’s when i sit back and breathe and calmly do a few small things in one direction (not twenty) that it all comes together.
i sit feeling grateful for all the wonderful things that come to me and continue to come to me in recent weeks. there are moments of complete amazement. all i have done and continue to do is to put myself, my energy, and my work out into the world in a constant stream. and the rest really happens on it’s own. (maybe your doubting brain is screaming at this). there is the work, going to the blank page everyday, but there is no longer the pushing of the river. that does not really work (i have proven this many times over). if it is to happen it cannot be forced. you have to be willing to float with the current in whatever direction it tries to take you.
and that means being willing to move in directions that scare the crap out of you.
my journal is a mess of scribbled to-do lists.
lists of things to do today, next week, next month.
lists of things to do before we leave california, (including the Japanese Tea Garden, Cafe Gratitude, Tilden Part (the spot where we met for the first time).
lists of things to bring to ny.
lists of things to sell or give away.
and regrettably, lists of books to read next. (read: more stuff to haul, i just can’t help it, I will have to let go of others to accomodate them.)
how to suck in the gifts of this place while I am still here? amidst the busyness. the ocean, the dark woods, the mountains, the smell of eucalyptus (can you bottle it somehow?), Berkeley, the cheeseboard pizza, cafe raj, the pub on solano, the crooked house hidden by trees, the albany bulb, the 60′s, the flowers, riding my bike everywhere everyday, california redwood trees, big sur.
luckily the thing I love most about california I will be taking with me wherever I go.
i’m sure you know what that is.
I’m taking it as a sign.
I was going to start with some overused, rather tedious cliche, somthing to the affect of “the winds of change…” It seems appropriate today. The winds of change have once again shifted and with them our lives move onto another path entirely. Yessir.
My incredibly talented and determined husband has been accepted to graduate studies at RPI in Troy NY, with a full fellowship! In the next two months we will sell all of our furniture here, pack up our car with only necessities (art supplies, books, musical equipment, and a small assortment of clothing), and make the journey back east once again. Yesterday we received the news of the full fellowship and were jumping up and down, (the tuition is extremely expensive and we had decided to go into debt because the opportunity was too good to pass up). But the universe jumped in at the last minute.
This has been a lesson for both of us, one that we thought we had learned already, but sometimes you have to go through the same things a hundred times before they really sink in. The lesson being, head in the direction you are drawn to, even if you think it’s impossible or you don’t know how you will manage. Once you make the decision completely to do something the universe will jump in to help you out. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I had been asking the universe for signs and not receiving any. We just had to sit tight, today the signs could not be any bigger or clearer. The universe is yelling.
As we rode home from the mail yesterday I said to Jeff, “There are these wonderful days when I realize I have absolutely no control over the direction of my life.” Yes I do put energy out there, but in the end it is the universe that lets me know where I am going next.
So we have let the excitement build about the new move. Things we are looking forward to:
…fall (leaves changing colour)
…affordable living (rent, food, etc.)
…being close to New York City (a three hour drive)
…being close to Canada!
…exploring New England more (it’s one of my favourite places)
…Berkshire Farms ice cream (the best in the world)
…Flatbread Pizza (in Northhampton)
…teaching at an art college (there are a few in the area)
…Jeff studying with some of the great artists in the field of experimental music.
…having my own garden again.
…studying Troy’s incredible pre-victorian architechture.
…the absence of leaf blowers (I currently hear several going at once)
…having my own workspace again (working on my new book projects).
While we will miss California greatly, we know that we will return again at some point in our lives. But for now we will make a home in a city that is finding it’s feet again after many years, (culturally and socially). There was a great article about it recently in the New York Times which speaks about the wonderful buildings (remarkably untouched for the last hundred years), and about how Vonnegut wrote the novel “Cat’s Cradle” amidst these buildings, (it takes place in Troy). There are an abundance of public gardens growing, a bookstore (necessity), and a reputable coffee shop, (oh yes). I cannot wait to leave my mark in this new place.
Until next time I remain, creatively yours…
I write with a new pen bought at an art supply store. Today I took my time wandering around and testing the various things, feeling the texture of the erasers, inspecting journal bindings, making circles on a white pad with a yellow marker. I find myself smiling at the different shapes of ink bottles, I like the green one with the black chinese writing the best. But I don’t buy it as I have enough ink at home, even though I want to.
I am alone for a couple of days. It is the weekend of “the final shave”. bare skin, cheeks that haven’t seen light. My husband has been filming a documentary about nine men who stop shaving for six months. I look forward to the return but for now I will enjoy my alone time, (and work on my taxes).
Tonight I will enjoy Maltese dinner (as taught to me by my friend Steve who is maltese), which consists of tuna in olive oil, boiled new potatoes. some form of steamed greens (rainbow chard), sliced tomatoes and bread. It is one of my favourite meals, (my husband is not a fan so i have it when he is gone.)
Currently I sit on the front porch of a cafe sipping green tea and eating an oatmeal raisin cookie (my current fixation, I can’t get enough of them). A man in a navy blazer talks on a phone and sips white wine. A group of women at a corner table giggle intermittently, one has beautiful curly blond/grey hair and intense eyes. I secretly long the join their lively conversation. An older couple sit quietly eating matching ceasar salads with bread. Few words are exchanged. The woman has the eyes of an apple doll, sweet, yet resigned.
I have a long (eight inch) golden thread attached to the blue button on the left sleeve of my jean jacket. A remmnant of one of my worldly adventures (as opposed to the non-worldy ones). I watch it blow in the breeze. I like it there. I want to see how long it will last.
I return home to a quiet house, the men have left bits of themselves scattered through the rooms, which comforts me somehow. an unneeded tripod, a suitcase too big for the woods, an empty equipment bag. I miss them as I unpack my groceries. It is so quiet it is as if time has stopped. I can tell that lots of men were in my house because the toilet seat is in the upright position.
I put the potatoes on to boil and sit reading. This is the time of day when the sun hits my bookshelf just so and my favourite books become illuminated, as if they are the most important things on the planet.
stories of warm weather and after dinner walks. of massive rose blooms in every corner of this town, I have never seen so many blossoms in one place. everywhere the air is scented with jasmine. the streets have come alive with spring and bodies that have been indoors for too long. the warm air invites them out for dinners on patios, wine and conversation. laughter over the din of cell phone ring tones.
overhead there are cries of white owls, heard but not seen. except.. for an occasional glimse once the sun has set. owl spotters have good eyes. mine are not so good. i scan the treetops anxiously. hoping to spot one of these incredible animals. their secrecy makes a sighting more of a gift.
there is the story of new book deals in the works. of negotiations and papers floating about my room in a flurry. papers with complicated wording and numbers. the opposite of creativity. all business. the details are secret. for now. are you curious?
there are travels across mexico with the whisky priest and Graham Greene. white knuckled scenes. waiting to be found out, fighting with a dog for food, searching for red wine, praying. the intense heat one of the main characters, (appropriate reading for this part of the world, today it will be 90). i think he is one of the greatest story tellers who ever lived.
will my memories of california be marked by the books I have read here?
there is the story of having too many big decisions to make in one week. of new directions and not knowing which are the right ones. I spose i should take the word ‘right’ out of that last sentence. i ask the universe for a big noticable sign but see none. i guess it is left up to me to decide. us. back and forth, back and forth.
back and forth.
(*this image was created in my local bank. they have a stamp pad for finger printing, a kind of invisible ink that doesn’t stain your fingers. so i use it to my advantage every time I go in. ed emberley would love it.)