Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving in New Jersey Misadventure

Lately, it has been all about the rediscovery of truths and necessities in my life: those things that sometimes we file away and forget, and when they are missing for too long we wander around our heads and hearts and houses seeking something impossible to find because it isn't laying about anywhere.

One of the things I love about Texas is its wide, wild, open spaces. I love driving through them: seeing barbed wire fences, cows, cactus and sunsets. Oh the sunsets! The mile markers, the Texas shaped highway markers, the vultures sitting on power lines, and the oak trees. The grass and the light. The scrubbiness of Texas countryside and how the texture of the plants and light changes as the day advances from misty morning to dry afternoon and dusky evenings. Even at night the land makes a noise as the wind blows across the dust and the weeds: when you drive with the windows down the perfume of the land blows through the car and just makes you realize where you are.

Late Afternoon Texas Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush and Live Oaks

I love driving, always have. I love driving long distances in the day and at night. I prefer the day because I love to stare off into distances and see what is coming. I love to look out at fields and notice the animals living there. I love to watch clouds change as I drive underneath them, and I am a sucker for sunsets.

Today I drove from Philly to New Jersey, to my cousin's house for Thanksgiving. I had some new records to listen to, a box of knitting projects and a snack or two and took off up I-95 towards Morris Plains. Just south of Trenton, I hit terrible traffic and crawled for an hour and a half and traveled two miles! Luckily for me, this was not caused by a truck spilling industrial chemicals all over the highway but just accidents and road work (I hope everyone is okay).

A Road at Night

After I found my alternative route, it was dark. I turned off my GPS because I looked at an old fashioned map in the Service Plaza and figured out my way. I listened, in the early dark, to Beirut's new album from start to finish, and had a beautiful drive, by myself, through the night.

A Candle's Fire

Tonight's drive made me think of all the drives I made between Austin and Houston all those years ago when that was a drive I made all the time. That drive is all countryside, while this one is almost all city...but the driving is the same. The sense of moving through space, of shifting and getting away from the day to day, of controlling your destiny more so than when you are in a plane. I love it.

I realized tonight that one of the truths about myself is I need space. I need space to drive, space to live, and space to bicycle. I need wide open sky and stars and trees and fields with cows. I need open windows and sunsets and time. Time just to be, just to listen to records as the clouds pass overhead, as the asphalt passes underneath, as mile after mile passes by and you get to where you are going.

Good to know...

Leonard Cohen has a new song called "Show Me the Place". I just listened to it four times while writing this.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Six Month Mark

Isn't it funny what can happen on a Saturday?

please excuse crappy phone photos from here on out

I have spent the afternoon making jewelry....lovely, soul-sustaining artwork in my friend Allison's gallery. I pulled out all the almost completed and old pieces from their ziploc bags and polished them, took them apart, set some cabochons, and ultimately, re-oriented how I felt about them. Tonight, they join the ranks of other pieces on the bright white shelves of Zuzu in Collingswood.

It feels good to take a look at old things that have been hidden for too long. Sometimes, it's like your eyes just forgot what something looked like, and in other cases, its as if a piece wakes up for the first time. All of  a sudden you can see it for what it always should have been.

Case in point....The Under the Sea Necklace just woke up....

The Under the Sea Necklace originally was a necklace on lots of chain with a clasp and it was very dark: very heavily oxidized. Today I cut it all apart, threw the extra pieces I was tired of looking at into the pickle pot, and proceeded to clean the oxide off the pendant with steel wool. And then I saw it and realized: this is how it should have been all the time! 

After that, I set the earrings that have been scuttling around the bottom of one of my jewelry boxes for months and months and months....these earrings are set with pictures from stereographic images....the vertically oriented ones are of a hillside in Mexico, and the horizontally oriented ones are a mountain in Scotland.....

Jewelry is an amazing force in my life: as is all creativity. Without it, I literally wither and begin to become a nutty shell of my former self. Had I known this as distinctly as I know it now, I probably would have researched Philadelphia a bit better. Had I known alot of things, I would have researched Philadelphia better. But now I know: six months in, I know what is important.

While polishing these pieces and thinking about the next six months, and the changes that will inevitably happen, the luck that will wax and wane like the moon each month, I have been dancing to The Smiths.

I have no doubt that whoever has walked down Haddon Avenue tonight has wondered why on Earth that tall girl in cowboy boots is dancing around while clutching small pieces of silver and steel wool. But that's okay. Maybe they will go home and dance around while clutching their laptops, their knitting projects, their dogs or cats or babies. 

Soon I am off to Karaoke Obscura at the Tritone, and soon after that I am off to New Jersey and New York City, and then to Maine for the holidays. The time passes by so's hard to know what to do just to take advantage of the days....

Dancing to The Smiths sounds good now, though....and singing Regina Spektor or The Yeah Yeah Yeahs later on sounds great.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Meditations on a Sunday morning

I just deactivated my Facebook profile.....I need a break from all of this constant contact. I need time to think, just to be. I have decided to suspend it for a week.

Funnily enough, I almost reactivated this morning when I woke up! As if I couldn't go through a morning without it.....that means that deactivating was a good choice.....what a strange life this one is, this 21st century life. We have so much, buzzing around us, all the's hard to know what invest your time in.

This morning, when I woke up, before I had coffee or anything else, I watched this video as it was delivered to me with my weekly BrainPickings bulletin. I find the Holstee Manifesto be very inspiring to me at the moment. Right now I feel like I am struggling unnecessarily all the time: I can't give myself a break. When I read the words of this statement, it gives me pause to think about what I am doing and why it is that my daily life is not making me happy.

Last night I went to go and see Kurt Vile and the Violators at Union Transfer: I was so tired from working all day at the Philadelphia Craft Show, but I am so happy that I went. His music is so beautiful and the band's guitar playing is so was fantastic, and made me realize how much I love to see live music. Since living here, that has definitely fallen off so I have recommitted to going to shows whenever possible.

It has been a weekend of music! On Friday, I went to a Secret Show in someone's living room in North Philly with my friend who has definitely become one of my best friends here in Philadelphia. He invited me and off we went to someone's house, sat in the living room, were hosted by a lovely English girl who reminded me of my friend Mercedes, and listened to four acts who played four songs each. We went to see the Lawsuits, but Alessi's Ark was such a surprise: her music is SOOOOOO beautiful, I became very teary-eyed during her singing. She was lovely and warbled: her mouth changing shape to echo beautiful bird sounds as she sang.

The fall is here! The ginkgo trees are bright yellow. They pop out at you from corners, against walls, against fences and trees. As I drove to Doylestown the other day (photos to come later), I was overwhelmed with color!