01 May 2015

"today."

today i'm going to fall in love with the way i belong to myself, regardless of any situation or circumstance or commitment or outside happening. i'm going to fall in love with the way i refuse to settle for less than vibrant aliveness, less than what feeds and fuels this energy wildly. fully. infinitely. freely. because i'll allow nothing on the outside to detract from, limit, lessen, or shrink this. or me.                  -v. erickson.

(this blurb is taken directly from a text to one of my favorite CA ladies who knew just what i was trying to say - per usual.....) i've spent a lot of time lately thinking about the confidence that others always wanted me to have but never allowed VS the confidence i know i have that others nurture. i was thinking about how new people have noticed things about me that have kind of blown my mind. about being confident and bold... that other people in my life always said i should have/be but never supported. i guess that's part of it all for me in moving and meeting new people and learning how to "just be myself." maybe its easier to be yourself with someone or people who haven't seen all of your mistakes in getting here [to this point].


sometimes i don't feel the burden until its gone. sometimes i recognize how much of it i let consume me. sometimes i realize how much i didn't need it, and how i'm a better person without it. sometimes i don't tell anyone what "it" is, but i know. maybe you know, too.

we get relaxed and lazy and stop noticing things. this isn't a fault, its just that it adds up over time and instead of recognizing the big thing, its just a culmination of all the tiny little things that go unseen. maybe i don't seem brave to you because you're too hung up on my mistakes. maybe i don't seem bold to you because all you care about is what you want me to do better. it isn't that a new person is going to see me any differently - i am the same person doing the same things in the same way - but they get to form their own opinions. they get to take in whatever i'm saying or doing in their own way, unrelated to what you have thought or said or done in my life. i have these memories and these experiences, and unless i speak about them by name, they simply are thrown into the abyss of this stuff that have all changed me or left me unchanged.


in starting a new j-tree inspired project, i've been able to remind myself of the things i love about that place. and why i need it. but i've been able to talk about that so many times before, this isn't new. what is new, is the understanding that i gain strength there because i allow myself to do so. i could do that anywhere. when i just give myself the chance to slow down. and i'm doing that more and more lately. not necessarily by choice but i think sometimes nature/nurture gives us this opportunities for a reason. these new people are just as lucky to be experiencing me as i am them.


something happened to me when i was in j-tree for my birthday. when i was sitting way up high on key's view, looking out over miles and miles of land and mountains and things that were completely untouched, i thought about what it meant to live in the moment.... i'd been planning for a year to move, everything about my move was planned to a T, even though i had no job, no place to live - i knew exactly how long i could survive without needing more, and i knew exactly what i'd need to do in case of emergency. i knew that in order to leave home, i needed that stability because it was all i was going to have in the beginning.... 6-7 months later, sitting up there, after having said goodbye to two very different people in my life after a weekend that went nothing like i had hoped, i recognized that now i have the ability to let go. and this is what i had been looking forward to all along.

now i get to live in a moment that is completely unfamiliar. i can seek out familiar parts to hold on to when i need to, but as a whole i am allowing myself to make new experiences and new mistakes. i'm still telling friends about whats going on, but i'm not seeking out advice. i know where my boundaries are, i know where my limits lie. i thought that i was going to need a lot more support on a lot of things. and i think for maybe the first time since i left home, i finally feel comfortable with my sometimes lack of inspiration, my constant need to be seeking, and the way that sometimes things just happen.


familiarity is a hard habit to kick. its difficult to find your place in a new city and a new state and a new coast and a sea of unknown. i know this. i feel it every day. but i've also started to feel the freedom that comes with leaving familiarity behind. its so tempting to hide, curl up in what you know, but that's not what i'm out here to do. i knew i needed to hit bottom on a few things before i could really accept this. and now that that's happened, i get to see the entire experience in a different way. regardless of who comes and goes (or stays), or what i do alone.

there are intimate moments that you can spend with someone that make you feel just as empty as you'd feel passing by a stranger on the street. those same moments with someone else can make you feel full and force you to take a minute to understand the way things are moving around you. these moments could be as simple as a quiet conversation and falling asleep with your head on their chest, or as complicated as sharing your entire life with them over the course of months and years. i've experienced both and i'm slowly learning the difference.

"full is not as heavy as empty my love, not nearly my love, not nearly..." - f. apple


"...bring me your drunk, your stubborn
your clenched fist
I will bring you mine
bring me your impatience
your stranger, your ghosts
wring out the silent screams
soaking your pillow
bring them to me
bring them all to me
you do not have to
repent for the parts of you that
don’t see the daylight
you do not have to burn your old self
to the ground just to make room
for me
bring me your bad, your worst, your loneliest
I will kiss them each where it hurts
if it does not help
I will turn the other cheek
I will put out the fire
bring me your rickety bridge
your 400 foot fall if it breaks
I am not afraid of you
I am not afraid of you"
- C. Siehl

20 April 2015

and ah, my love remind me, what was it that i said? i can't help but pull the earth around me to make my bed;

we drove up the side of the mountain after brunch, not far from where i went on my own a couple of days ago, out in the woods. and we talked about how different places have different energies (or at least they sometimes seem to mold themselves around yours). i talked about how much i love that little desert town with the funny trees and how when i first went there i felt like i’d lived there in another life. like somehow the emotional struggles i’ve dealt with on all of my trips there that have been soothed by the sunshine and the constellations in the clear sky, are healed there because in some other life i’d struggled there too. he didn’t bat an eye and said, “maybe thats why you made it all the way out here.”

in the same weekend i spent the day with a stranger, and booked an overnight for next month in j tree (in a cabin i'd always wanted to stay in). 

the last month or so has changed my perspectives on so many things, even when i didn’t want them to be changed.

my phone stayed in my bag almost the entire day (though i did send a couple of I’M OKAY texts to friends). i didn’t take a single photo. i’d thought about it a couple of times in the woods when we could see the mountains in the distance and some folks went by on horseback… but i was trying this thing where i’d wanted to be in the moment more than i usually allow myself. i’m not good at it, but baby steps. the good thing about the beginning of things (whatever it is), is that i can begin however i want to. it is never too late to do things differently than you’re used to. isn’t that what moving across the country really has been about, deep down?

we talked about what its like to move around and try to find your place. he told me how bold it is of me to do what i’ve been doing for the past six months, and he’s not the first person to tell me that. but honestly, it doesn’t feel bold. i don’t feel bold. a lot of days i feel like i’m just getting up for work and living a life and making a living. but i know it goes further than that and i suppose at some point it will feel bold. i still feel like i’m floundering a lot with the emotions that have come along with the whole process. everyone’s experiences are so different but its so easy to find things in them to relate to. that feeling of figuring yourself out when you’re traveling alone and how sometimes you don’t like what you learn. the opportunity it gives you if you accept it in. the places you can go and the things you can see and the freedom you can have.

knowing that in another month i get to drive through j tree ALONE is the only thing i need to get me by. i'm looking forward to going back and gathering up the things that i love about that place and taking back whats mine - after my last trip there i feel like i have a little bit of reminding myself to do. i need to remind myself why its important for me to be there and why it feels so good. the cabin cost a little more than i had wanted to spend for a night, but sometimes life seems too short to save the fifty bucks. i'll have the whole first half of the second day to visit the park and get a drink at my favorite coffee shop and stop for some photos along the way, before heading into LA for the rest of the weekend. paramore with my soul-sister after being in j tree? if that weekend doesn't leave me blissed out, i kind of feel like there's no hope for anything else in life. ;)

each person that i meet, each experience that allow myself to have, each sunrise that i appreciate brings me one step closer to understanding what any of this has been for... it isn't about finding myself out here. i know who i am. its about finding the best way to be it. 

i have plans for another quilt that i'd LOVE to whip up in time to get back to j tree. i won't have anyone to help me photograph it, so i'm wondering if i have to rush to do it.. but the concept of it is fitting and there's something i love about having my projects out there with me - if i could afford to rent a cabin for a week solely to work on my quilts out there with the doors and windows open and that hot sun coming in, i'd do it in a heartbeat. i feel like having my projects there gives them a little bit of life - a little bit of what i put into them in the first place. no matter how many times i wash the quilt i had with me last time (that was designed around all of my other trips), it will always have a little bit of j tree dust on it. its kind of like how i have a pine cone in the console of my car to remind me of where i came from, no matter where i go.


your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
-bukowski

15 April 2015

little bits of real life.

it has been 25 weeks since i left maine.

it has been 16 weeks to the day since i left my two-month stay in LA.

it has been a week + a half since i left joshua tree.

i've noticed that i am still relating time to how long it has been since i have been somewhere else. i hardly ever say, "its been ____ weeks since i've been in arizona." i feel like i live here, i've got all of my stuff here, i get up and go to work everyday here. 

everyone tells me i'm in the right place. but i'm still looking for signs that i am..


in another month or so, i'll do the seven hour drive back to LA to visit with my cali soul-sister and see paramore for the fifth time. these are two of very few things (but the best things!) that will bring me back to that city again. the list is getting smaller and shorter. when i first left LA after my internship with luke, i was devastated that it hadn't worked out. these days, i know its for the best. i can say with certainty that i never belonged there.

i'm hoping that this fall, thinking ahead, i can head in the other direction and travel south-east into new mexico. i'd also love to travel north up to utah. ...but my heart still pulls me west to joshua tree. my heart still wants me to have a tiny little house there and just enough space for a bed + my sewing machine, the way it has always been. do i want to be a hermit in the desert for the rest of my life? KIND OF, YES. pipe dream...


part of me is still worrying that i won't find the connection i'm needing here in prescott. for what its worth, i'm banking up as many experiences as i can, so it will all be for something. i'm not trying too hard, some days i'm not trying at all honestly.. but i'm living in that mindset that the universe gives you just what you need when you need it - sometimes its in disguise, but its there. i know i need to give it time. 

i've had so many moments and visited so many people and places and experienced so many emotions over the last six or seven months. when i think about all of it and how much there was, its overwhelming.

but, i still do most of what i do alone. i'm still okay with that.

the list of who i can call on when i'm lonely is dwindling. as the weeks go on the urge to call on friends from home gets less and less, and as time goes on some people have stopped communicating altogether. this is really no one's fault, distance is difficult and i'm also to blame. 

in being out here and making decisions and having to stand up for myself, i've just had to say goodbye to some people who don't support me. who choose to only love in me some kind of twisted image and reflection of themselves. i didn't come this far to have someone change me. if i want to change, it has to be on my own terms. exist for yourself, that is all.

that being said, i have a handful of the most amazing friends reachable by texts (in ME & CA) than i could have ever ever ever asked for. they know who they are, and they keep me going when all i want to do is sleep. my phone is never quiet with them in my life. and i never have to think twice about asking them for help when i need it.


i pay my rent on time and i go where i want to go, because i can't be all the way out here and NOT see + do things. but now that i'm settled i have to start thinking about paying down some of the new debt i've acquired, so that in another six months or year i can reassess where i need to be.  i've still got a tiny bit in my savings account after having lived out of it since september of last year - i never thought i could stretch that money so thin. but without it i never would have had the chance to get comfortable here.

so its back to making monthly budgets and trying to cut corners.

i have some wedding sewing to do for a coworker, another coworker has hired me to dogsit for a week in may, my housemate is going away to travel for a couple of months this summer and has offered to not charge me rent while she's gone if i'll watch after the dogs here at the house. odd jobs that i'm happy to do if it means i can save up some extra cash.

really it doesn't matter where you live or end up, if you're in the same boat as i am (which is without a career and struggling as an artist), this is how you live. this is how i've always lived. i've managed to move across the country without worrying too much about this stuff. and honestly, its not really a big deal right now.. but its on my mind. with sick family members back home in maine, and plane tickets being pricey, its on my mind. 


in the midst of all of the reality that i've been facing, i'm processing a lot. some of it has been easy, some of it has been difficult. but all of it has been important. i don't think there's any part of this journey so far that i'd change - even the shittiest worst nights have meant something. when i look back on this whole thing as an old lady, i'll know that i tried. i'll know that some battles i won and some battles i had to lose. i've loved what i love without apology. it took me thirty four years of my life to pick up and go. in thirty four more, where will i be? its exciting to think about... its exciting even looking ahead to the weekend. as long as i can keep that momentum, i know the rest will fall into place.

12 April 2015

driving through the desert alone.

yesterday i had a visit from a maine friend who now lives two hours away from me in PHX. being able to see a familiar face - from home - was such a surreal and awesome experience. she loves exploring and i took her out on part of my favorite desert drive. its the drive that eventually takes me all the way to CA (joshua tree/LA) - a little less than halfway keeps you in AZ in a tiny little rundown town that is smack dab in the middle of the desert, surrounded by mountains, and so quiet you could hear a pin drop. 


i had never done that drive with anyone else before. every time i've done it (whether for traveling for a purpose or just for a daydrive) i had been alone. sometimes i'd had a car packed full of belongings, sometimes it was just me and my music on the stereo. this time i had a passenger. she and i had talked before about how much i love the desert, she understood - once we started to get out of the green woods and hills of prescott and into the wide open dusty spaces of these little spots, she asked me if i was getting emotional. i guess the change in scenery changes the way i talk, the way i breathe, the way i sit at the wheel. i've recognized it in myself, but i'd never had anyone else recognize it in me before. 

even being in joshua tree with friends, i hadn't given myself that vulnerability - i wasn't comfortable enough to give in to how that place makes me feel, not with other people around. sometimes i hold these things for myself. sometimes i feel like its the only genuine thing i have right now.


i never thought i'd need the desert to use as some kind of re-centering tool. i grew up my entire life having never been in it, having never even been an outdoorsy kind of girl. i had never enjoyed hikes and camping in maine, i had never enjoyed snow or skiing or even dipping my feet in the ocean. but i had always enjoyed the feeling of the sand at the beach in my toes. the sand of the desert is different, but sand nonetheless. the last time i drove home to AZ from joshua tree, along this route, i had driven so fast and so steadily that i had barely taken a second to look around me. autopilot. i know the way but always turn the GPS on just in case (some of those turns are hidden and tricky and easy to miss), and i just wanted to get home to reset myself.

but, part of me felt guilty for having taken the drive for granted, because for some reason there are several places along the way that have called out to me since the first time. a lone palm tree standing tall in the middle of NOTHING, an abandoned building falling down around itself. i look for them each time and am reassured when i realize they're still there. i've teared up a couple of times for what felt like no apparent reason. but i know the reasons are huge.



it was 82 deg and perfectly sunny yesterday while we stopped to look around. we talked and wondered about what some of those old buildings used to be, what kind of lives had lived in them. we stopped for a minute to recognize how small we are. we peed behind bushes and had conversations about the people in our (new) lives. she said to me a couple of times, "isn't it amazing that we live here?!" we are a long way from home. she already has plans to go back to maine to visit, but i do not. i'm not ready yet. we talked about how traveling and moving by yourself, especially so far away and into such a different climate/world, teaches you a lot about yourself for better or for worse.



i know that my heart belongs in the desert. i knew it from the first second i was in it.

i also know that my heart is too trusting, too hopeful. to a fault. and when things go wrong, or things don't go the way i had hoped, my heart is also too cynical and offended. it can be hard for me to see the forest for the trees when i have very little else to hold on to. out here, by myself, i've started to make a life. a job, a place to live, a studio i can create in, people that i see every day and interact with. but so far, the feeling that the desert gives me - that i'm home and loved and that i can be myself without judgement - only comes from driving through it alone. those feelings, manifested in another person, are what i keep searching for. and i know that i won't find them (not the way that i want to) in anyone familiar to me. believe me, i have tried. anna told me that she truly believes that we hold on to people and situations and circumstances until we think we have learned everything we can from them, and that we can't move on until we've learned whatever it is. i believe that whole-heartedly.


in starting to meet new people and having conversations about myself, i've started to realize that i am two very different people.

i am the weirdo, awkward, sometimes loud, pop-punk pixie that likes to dye my hair and listen to music and is overly sarcastic and has a serious sweet tooth. i like to wear fun printed dresses to work and my eyeliner has to be perfectly winged (and big). i can get drunk off of two mimosas, i laugh when i don't know what else to do, and i think penis jokes are the funniest. i like to talk about dudes with my best girlfriends (and guyfriends), and my spirit animal is a goth teenager.

but i am also the shy and quiet thirtyfive year old, that writes to calm down and figure it out, that sees the world in colors and shapes (triangles, you know how it goes), and thinks the most important thing is to connect. i like the quiet before bed, looking up at the stars, and feeling like i'm grounded. i like comfort, i'm not afraid to let a view make me cry. i like to work with what i know and what i feel. 


so, i'm continuing on with trying to meet new people, hesitant and skeptical but open to whatever kind of experiences life seems to think i need. i think people are put in our lives for a reason - sometimes its to stay, and sometimes its to show us something and move on. but its a struggle to get out there when i'm not sure which side of myself will come out - the strong and fun side, or the quiet and scared side. 

i know that i'm out here for a reason. lately i've been feeling like i need to give myself six more months in this town i've called home and then reassess. i'd like to be closer to the desert and/or joshua tree, but the desert doesn't have jobs. i feel like i'm supposed to be there but i haven't figured out how to make it work yet. maybe its supposed to just be a place that i'm supposed to be sometimes, and not all of the time. but i've got more processing to do. and i'm trying not to look too far ahead because i don't want to miss something thats right infront of my face.

there are no joshua trees closer than five hours from here, but two hours from here there are a handful of yucca trees, and on days like yesterday thats close enough.


i like this town that i'm living in. its the perfect landing strip for someone like me that needs support to come home to at the end of the day, no matter how much driving or getting away i've done. it has all of the everyday life things - a normal dayjob that pays decently, a bar with a rooftop deck for a warm summer night, and i'm in close proximity to places and people i enjoy to the south and to the west. what i don't feel like this town does is feed my spirit and who i am, and i have to be mindful to search out hikes and spend days in my studio to do that for myself.


i had an inspiring conversation with a faraway friend a few nights ago, about duende. (in art/music)  "all that has dark sound has duende. that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain." a passion, a physical response. i have that when i'm sitting down to create a quilt - from the second i start to think about making it, to sketching out the design, to putting the last few stitches in, to photographing it and writing about it. sometimes i try not to, but it just comes. i've learned not to fight it - and recently i've learned that not everyone will get it. and not everyone has to. i don't feel quite like i've got my inspiration back but i know where it comes from when i'm ready. when i can get the words out of my head.

i get the same physical response when i'm on that desert drive. which is how i know i'm not quite where i'm supposed to be, but i'm getting there.

07 April 2015

jtree35.

(theres a lot of stuff that i want to share about my weekend in joshua tree, and a lot that i don't want to share. but, over 400 photos ended up on my camera and phone, either by me or by my friends who had joined me. after sorting through them, i'm left with just under 250. i'm certainly not going to share them all, but here are some sneak peeks + quilts + pretty things + people... we found that photographing quilts outside in the high desert wind is a struggle, but i'm really happy with the images i brought back with me.)
my time there felt quick. i got there in the evening on thursday and left sunday late morning. friday and saturday were a blur. there were so many things i wanted to do that fought with wanting to just sit around and enjoy the days. i found myself wanting to rewind it all so i could restart as soon as it was over.

the cabin was comfortable and quiet, i'd stay there again anytime (i'm already thinking i should try to head back out there again in the summer for a couple of days). there was no shortage of music, cocktails, sunsets, and naps.

[click on each photo for better quality version]







i spent my first morning & afternoon on my own styling a couple of quilts and goodies i had brought with me. the lighting there was perfect and i liked the idea of knowing i'd photographed some of my favorite little things + projects + works in progress, there...

i got to see two familiar faces and all of my favorite spots. if i could do it over again i'd probably do some of it differently, but i was thankful to have friends with me to help me get a little bit older. sweet beautiful emma is a fairly new friend in my life but one i am so grateful for regardless. all of my girlfriends are either way back in maine or hiding out in california, so the fact that i've been able to see her twice in the past month has helped with the girl time i've been craving. there was no one else i could imagine modeling this quilt for me..
we finally were able to properly photograph the JOSHUA TREE DREAMS quilt that i finished up just before heading out on the road. i knew that i wanted to shoot it by this colorful hippie bus that wasn't far from the cabin. from the first second i saw that bus, the colors had played a part in designing the quilt. the desert itself isn't always the most colorful place (unless you're walking through while everything is in bloom), but i've always been drawn to the colors i have been able to find - the sky, the sunrises + sunsets, the quirky shops and bars in town, the park itself with joshua trees and mountains for miles and miles.

the thing about making these kinds of projects, is that the viewer is inevitably not going to see what i was picturing when i designed it. they aren't going to feel what i was feeling, they aren't going to interpret it the way that i intend. i'm okay with that - these projects are subjective, personal, and i don't always feel like i have to explain 100% what each piece of fabric is meant for. i don't have formal design training, i just make what i feel. making emotionally inspired pieces that are also functional quilts means two things: a) i get to design my work based around whatever i am remembering and celebrating or mourning at the time,  and b) i get to give people their own space to enjoy my work however they choose to, whether its the colors or designs or fabrics or style that they relate to.

i always know that even when i can't quite capture a photo correctly or in the right light, my mind remembers what it looked like. and thats where i create from. its a culmination of all things.


the second project i really wanted to photograph was my THAT MOUNTAIN QUILT, one that had left my possession in the first week of this year and i had not photographed beforehand. the mountain quilt was made as a gift - blue/day & black/night skies contrasting with orange/arizona & brown/california peaks. its a design that started out as extra-large half square triangles, which after being sliced and rearranged form spikey little mountains. its not an original pattern of mine, and likely not one i'd make over and over, but i enjoyed the process of learning something new with a fun outcome. 

i've been spending some time since getting home readjusting. rearranging a little bit. there have been circumstances that have left me feeling uninspired.

i'm unsure of this book project because it seems like i'm not really sure if i'm qualified for something like that, i feel like i need more time. i feel like i have to be inspired to write about inspiration.

i like what i like and i do what i do without apology - its not always the most educated or the easiest way, but i'm me and i'm not anyone else. stubborn, yes - but human. so i'm taking a step back. i have no quilt projects lined up right now, although i've planned a few that i'm setting aside. i'm just not sure what comes next, if anything.

i'm waiting for that spark to come back to me.

i want so badly to be further out into the desert. i do love the drive, but five+ hours is a long time in the car to get to my favorite place that i can only stay for a couple of days. i'm not sure, after settling in here for a while now, that i'm in the right place yet. i want it to be right but it doesn't feel that way. i know i need to give it time and be patient but i'm trying to look ahead a little bit.
a couple of weeks ago i was feeling very motivated and very happy. currently i'm feeling slightly empty and very unsure.

yesterday was the first day that i actually thought about wanting to go back home. i don't want to, but i miss the comfort of some things. i have to make my own comfort here, which can sometimes be exhausting. i need to be comforted, i need to feel settled. even with all of the fun driving around and trips that i've taken, people that i've met, a job that i don't mind getting up for every morning - i'm still feeling a little lost. i wanted to be back in my tiny little apartment, drinking beers with my tattoo buddy, hearing the first signs of spring outside. spring is lost to me here - the changing of seasons is neutral and barely noticeable. i signed up for that when i decided to leave winter behind.

i'm not looking for sympathy. i make my own choices. i am on my own path.

but, sometimes its the ones we want it to be the easiest with, that its the most difficult. maybe we want to change each other. maybe we don't know each other at all. but we watched a big fat bright shooting star go across the night sky while we said our goodbyes, and i realized how many goodbyes i've had to say in what feels like such a short period of time.
its hard to imagine how one person in your life can break down every bit of fragile confidence you've accumulated over the past six months, year, two years. just when you think you're feeling your best and strongest, they can so easily point out your flaws. ...when people show you who they are, believe them...

i never thought this would be easy, and i never thought i'd leave maine. i never thought i'd find a place that i loved so much. i never thought i'd be collecting far away sisters. i never thought i'd be so disappointed and so loved. but this is just a hiccup along the way. i know it is.


i listened to this song while driving through the park before i headed back to AZ, and i felt so empty and so full and i wondered how this was even possible...