18 December 2014

CA to AZ, on the road again.

LA at night from Griffith Observatory
I planned the living daylights out of my move across the country to Arizona. Down to every last possible detail I could think of, because, well, honestly, its just what my brain does. I don't know how to do things spontaneously - thats something I'm working on. But, I did it with the very least amount of stuff that I could handle, the most amount of money I could save, and an open mind about sleeping on friends' fold out beds and floors. I no longer own any silverware or furniture. I left my apartment seventeen weeks ago without looking back. So far, that has counted for something.

In leaving Los Angeles, I felt disappointed that there was such a small piece of me that had wanted to make it work. I had looked forward to being there for such a long time, to be with those people. But I was shown pretty early on that you can't rely on people, they can't be the reason you go anywhere. They want to help, or they say they do, but unless you have a partner or boyfriend or spouse the only person you can rely on is yourself. I'm not sure why I couldn't do that and get myself up and out of bed and out into the city like the millions of other people there, but I've let it go and its time to move on. As soon as I got outside of the city limits and into the mountains I felt better. Driving into Joshua Tree felt familiar and quiet and more like home than any day I spent in LA.

Keys View, Joshua Tree National Park. 5,000+ft.
Keys View, Joshua Tree National Park. 5,000+ft.
I drove through the park (again - yes, I was just there in October), and I was determined to find one spot in particular that I hadn't found last time. I had been up to this overlook back in February when I was visiting that tall handsome guy, it was the view that made me fall in love with California. It wasn't the city or the sounds or the lights or the way it all bustled. It was this mountain view that went on forever. It was the way that we had stood there with his arm around me just looking out while tourists and people buzzed around us, me in my black hoodie and him in his plaid shirt. Finding that spot again reminded me why I had done any of this. None of it had been pointless, even those days that really truly felt like I was just fighting myself for the sake of fighting.

I drove away from LA with a huge & messy new pile of motivation, inspiration, perspectives, and as many cliche pieces you can list. But I'm taking them home with me to use as I see fit. And don't think that I won't, because as soon as I'm comfortable the badass in me comes back out to play. She's a little dusty from being packed away for six weeks, but ready.

Joshua Tree holds so many strange emotions and memories for me already - the three times I've been there have all been during incredibly different circumstances. But the thing I like the most about it, is that in all three cases, it has been the most peaceful and easy place I have ever been. And its always seemed at just the right moment, when I'm right on the edge of that breaking point where I'm like WHAT IN THE HELL AM I DOING. #1 - a visit to the tall and handsome guy across the country after having spent little to no time together in person for a get-to-know you snugglefest because all I wanted to do was leave my hometown and get away from snow (and yes, it was a great trip). #2 - leaving AZ for CA with little to no idea what to expect, heading into the big city with a full heart and a nervous stomach. #3 - heading back to AZ, the place I've decided to call home, after a trying six weeks. 

J-Tree is one of those places that solidifies for me, no question: my heart belongs in the desert. Did I have the brief thought while driving through the center of town, such as it is, on the way to Palm Springs, that I'd want to live there - hell yes. I looked around at all of the little homes and knew that I could live there. But, as with any place, what would it hold for me? Jobs? Social life? I'm already pulling myself out of the most populated and opportunistic city in the country to a small mountain desert town. Whats the difference? But, the thought was short lived, or at least bookmarked for another day.

Palm Springs,CA
The fun part about this whole trip back to AZ is that I can turn up all of my loud punk jams in the car and just drive. When I got to Palm Springs I realized that I was in a totally new place - nobody familiar, no sights I'd seen before. Hallelujah. A very brief break from life. One overnight to myself without roommates or friends or foes. Give me all of the hotel bar cocktails and a swanky room with a king sized bed. The town itself seemed relatively uninteresting to me (lots of shops and it was a rainy day so I even skipped the thrift shopping I had planned on doing), but the ACE hotel was A+. It was quiet that night so there weren't many people milling about (a whole other story in the morning when I was checking out!), and I had hoped maybe there would be a fun person to meet and hang out with, but the introvert in me was content to enjoy the room I'd paid for and rest up a bit for the five hour drive ahead of me.

Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
The decor made me feel right at home in all of its eclectic retro minimalist glory - and I even googled the company that made the $64 worth of shampoo & conditioner in the bathroom because it smelled that good. I got a deal on the hotel room, and decided that during all of this transition and rationing of funds and figuring things out I should TREAT YO'SELF. So, I treated myself. I ate all of the candy out of the mini bar and didn't feel guilty. If the weather had been warmer (and not like 55deg) I would have gone in the pool (not that I could have even remotely found my swimsuit in the car packed away with everything else I own). But I walked around the grounds and photographed everything before it got dark. I took the longest hottest shower I'd taken in months. I slept in the cotton hotel-provided robe and reminded myself how much I love white sheets and don't like television. I readjusted my sails.
Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
I pushed things to the back of my mind, like: the anxiety I felt doing simple tasks like driving downtown to meet a friend for lunch. I left one of my movies at the tall handsome guy's apartment. How his hands felt just the way I remembered. The promise of a visit when the snow has melted and the sun has come out in the spring. The fact that I don't have a job lined up yet and have been unemployed for almost three months. I'll be away from my entire family for Christmas. The way I will have to re-acclimate to living in the middle of a family of six for a little while again. I haven't sent my Christmas cards out yet. You know, all of that stuff. 

I turned on music that didn't remind me of anything and laid in bed and relaxed. In a way I hadn't been able to do in a long time. I breathed and daydreamed about how I want to decorate my new bedroom in my new apartment I don't have yet. I remembered how some of my favorite items were waiting for me in AZ that I'd left behind. I thought about how awesome it is what I'm doing and how taking time for myself is really important and how soon I'll be back in my groove of working and creating and living in a way thats comfortable to me and how lucky I am to be able to try out all of these options. 

Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
Palm Springs, CA
I'm looking forward to blogging about quilting again. I've had so many nice messages and emails from readers here who are loving all of these personal posts, but I can't help but think that there are readers out there who are like WTF WHERE ARE THE QUILTS. ;) Its hard to blog about quilting when there's no time to quilt. When there's no place to setup and work. When the sewing thats been done in the past few months has been work for someone else. But, I've got plans. All of this stuff I've written about will be turned into quilts eventually. You can count on that. (Not to mention I have four quilts that need backs and to be finished up, and two in progress/pieces!) 

 Really I'm just looking forward to wrangling that self doubt into submission and inspiring other people again. Boom.

Palm Springs, CA
Hope, AZ
The partly cloudy but blue skies weather changed dramatically once I got across the Arizona border. Mother Nature put me through a desert mountain rainstorm unlike any I'd ever seen. Once I got up higher at about 6000ft it turned to snow, and I was like, "Okay Arizona, this Maine girl has got you gurl." I got strangely emotional and teary eyed for the last twenty miles or so, but once I came down out of the mountains and into the town I recognized and am about to call home, I felt so much better. Those tears had crept up on me, the song I was listening to was partly to blame, a certain memory hit me hard, and I realized so heavily just how much stuff I had left behind in that city of angels. A year's worth of stuff.

So now I can get started.

I have an apartment to look at this weekend. I can find my place in this town knowing that I don't need to pick up and go anywhere any time soon. This is where I originally wanted to end up, and I can't second guess that. If I've learned anything in the past six weeks, its that I have to rely on myself. So, here goes nothing...

15 December 2014

a bit of honesty on the way out.

this is not about me having come to LA to work or to sew or to stay with friends or meeting new people. this is not about all of the predictable things that have happened or all of the texts to friends back home. this is not about all of the everyday things i've already written about a thousand times before. 

the point of moving was not to change who i am. the point of moving was to stay myself in all of the good ways, and to challenge myself to improve in all of the other ways. i've become a concept - an adorable and spunky people-pleaser who is not looking to be saved by anyone's romance. a tough woman with a big inner struggle.

"love" isn't a word that gets used, because i've always known better
and this city does not hold out hope for permanence -
it makes room for opportunity and french kisses at sunset. 
but i'm made up of soft spots,
and perfect eyeliner. 
this is not my home, not my house, not my place.

but he could have convinced me of a million things.

a funny thing happens when you spend over a year talking to people from clear across the country almost daily... you start to attach emotions to them; to their words and their voices. you start to include them into your daily life in any way that you can and try to share things with them as you would anyone closeby.

for all of the talking i have done, there is so much i haven't said.

no, i didn't come to LA for someone else, or the way that they made me feel, or the way i hoped they would make me feel. but yes, part of me did. i've tried to write poems about this. on a few of these warm autumn california mornings, i woke up and laid my head on his chest listening for a heart beat with the covers pulled up over us. instead of saying, "this very second. this very thing. in all of its easy awkwardness, this is what i wanted all along..." i smiled and said nothing, pretending to sleep until he kissed me awake head to toe. (for all of those times that guys had left me before the sun had come up. for all of those times that guys had backed out before they even began.)

and the way that my throat closes and my eyes well up knowing how very far and how very little we have come in the months days years hours since that first glance. how do you convince someone from so far away that you have more to love than you could ever show them, and now that you're here how do you tell them without words?

i liked the way he looked in the 6am dawn.
because there are so many easy ways to ruin everything
when you want the most innocent moments
but your hands are shaking,
and this is one of the scariest things - to be known.

i so often have too much inside of me for people who are looking for a place to travel quietly and lightly and untouched. for people who don't want to leave a trace. i become less alluring once you know my secrets, once you know how high my anxiety can be, once you realize that i do not know how to do anything without meaning. when i'm at peace, its overwhelming. when i'm happy, its overwhelming. when i am sad, its overwhelming. its a battle to not hide inside of this sometimes shy tiny lady exterior - the one with the turquoise hair and tattoos.

i've always reminded myself that its better to feel good about yourself than it is to let someone else make you feel good, because most often i have a heart that hangs on to all of the wrong parts of everyone i come in contact with (like some kind of surgeon meticulously picking apart commitment issues and insecurities). i have stayed with a boyfriend i didn't relate to for years longer than any rational person would have. on the contrary, i have fallen for a guy at absolute first glance first word first smile - unapologetically. and it is there that i am left saying goodbye to a city i didn't allow myself to feel i belonged, because it is exactly the way he always described it to me. but maybe it isn't about the city at all.

there's no courage in my laughter right now, there's no backbone in the way i've been staying in bed so late in the morning out of reluctance to face the day. and this is not who i am. this was not the point of moving.

so now i am leaving - back to a place i can feel comfortable and more like myself. with changes and challenges of no previous sentimental context.

to the disappointment and hurt i have felt over obvious and misplaced expectations alike... to the new friends i met who jumped in and made the connection where others failed... to those who tried their best and those who seemingly didn't try at all... to the way i had hoped for more from everything and myself... i'm up at midnight on a sunday (but really, the days haven't meant much to me in months now) writing writing writing this - thinking about how for so long, midnight in california was 3am in maine. and how when i couldn't sleep there in the middle of the night, i always wondered what was happening here. and here i am, soon to be none the wiser.

09 December 2014

back we go.

and just like that, i woke up to start another countdown of days. i decided its time to leave LA and go back to AZ - even though it will be about two+ weeks earlier than i had planned (and part of me - and everyone else - thought i would stay).

december 16, i'm looking at you.

i made this decision for a handful of reasons, but the number one reason was a looming feeling of being overwhelmed all of the time. with daily travel - is this traffic something that anyone gets used to?!... with easy every day stuff: not having my own "room" (living in a bed loft is definitely different than a room with walls and a door and a window), not having things like closets or bureaus for my clothes and things (living out of bins for three+ months is getting old), with simple things like living with people again...

i didn't get the traction i wanted right out of the gate, i fell behind, and now i only have a week before i leave. i haven't been myself. i've been sleeping a lot, sometimes during the day. i haven't been exploring the way i like to. i haven't done a single hike. none of it feels right, and none of it feels the way i had really hoped for.

i've been overwhelmed by the emotional baggage i brought with me. my heart hasn't felt settled a day since i got here. i've been trying to be easy on myself but i really thought that it was going to be easier here. even with the friends waiting for me, i found that i couldn't acclimate. they weren't as accessible as i wanted and i didn't want to do this city alone. i tried really hard to keep my expectations in check, but it was all too much. a crazy huge new city, a new living and working situation, learning to be face to face to far away people i'd only seen once before... TOO MUCH. a friend told me life isn't as hard as i make it out to be, but in this whole thing, it has felt it. 

i have been lucky enough to make a couple of new friends during my stay here; and even just in the past week since deciding to go, i felt more accepted by them than people i've known for years. 

i am lucky, also, in the sense that the living/working arrangement was all made on a temporary basis. we didn't know what to expect, in any of it. overall i think we could have made it work - but the part of me that wants to stay is too small right now. (well, the part of me that wants to stay is actually very large, but not for the right reasons.) there's been no harm in trying. and maybe six months or a year or who knows how long down the road, i can try again. but it has to be for all the reasons i want it to be for, and it has to be solid and strong - which is the opposite of how i've felt here. 

i know myself well enough to know that this isn't the place for me no matter how much i hoped it would be. so many, SO MANY, people love it here for a million reasons. but right now, RIGHT NOW, this isn't the place for me. maybe if i had come here without other options and had absolutely no choice but to make it work... but for now, i know that AZ is where i want to be. even if it means packing everything up again and going back alone.

leaving my CA people behind hurts in a different way than i expected - now that i know them and have been able to spend time with them. coming out here, they were all i had to hold on to. leaving them, i know that i am really now going to a place of strangers (minus my best friend). maybe for me right now strangers are better. start over completely.

i like to put up a good front of being a badass pixie full of spit & vinegar and strength and take-no-shit, but sometimes i can't deal. and maybe LA was always just a romantic dream from the start. maybe it was just that thing that showed me what i don't want or what i can't handle or what my priorities shouldn't be.

as soon as i made the decision to go back to AZ, i was flooded with texts and emails. a really nice lady looking for a roomate in a 2 BR 2 bath apartment just a few blocks from the courthouse/downtown area (where all of the galleries and shops are  - and quilting shop!), 10 minutes from my best friend, and really close to my favorite hiking spot. (and she has a cat!!) my best friend has a few possible job leads for me that came up on a whim... maybe i'm crazy for choosing the EASIER and more reliable route. maybe its a cop out on this whole moving across the country thing to choose the option that doesn't take as much work. but i'm ready to be comfortable again. and not in that "i'm just visiting so i'll get kind of comfortable but still tiptoe around" kind of way - i mean comfortable in the i'm going to go buy a shitload of house plants and a new shower curtain kind of comfortable. 

fingers crossed that the apartment works out. fingers crossed i can find a day job. and thankfully i can do all the sewing work in the world for LUKE from afar.

moving for me was never about opportunity or meeting a thousand people or fitting in. moving for me was finding a place that i could call home to do all of the things i love to do. it was about being able to breathe without feeling crowded. 

things i have learned or reaffirmed and am still trying to understand:

-- as much as i love my craft and my sewing and my quilting, i need a distinction between my day job work and my sewing work. i need that line that says "here is what you make because you do it out of your heart and your body and your emotions" and "here is what you do to make money because you want to interact with people and be outside of the house." i love the idea of sharing and selling my art and being able to make a living from it, but i don't know if i'm cut out for that all-inclusive totally immersed lifestyle. i create because i have a thing inside of me that needs to, which is very different than paying the bills. am i just not dedicated enough to my sewing? am i just not ready to figure out how that all works?

-- my cleanliness and organizational OCD has a really hard time living in a space with painting and construction for two weeks. thats just fact no matter how hard i tried to work around it. 

-- its okay to drive the long way to get to places if it means avoiding the highway in LA. even if its out of the way. finding a comfortable and familiar way to get anywhere around here is kind of important for me. okay, not kind of - it IS. i got lost everywhere except Silver Lake / Sunset Blvd.

-- the most comfortable moments i've had were in a totally different apartment, in a totally different part of the city, and were lazy, sleepy, quiet, and unrehearsed. waking up like that (and with that particular person) was a reminder of my visit out here last winter - a much needed getaway from winter life in maine - when i was just starting to plan my move. it was like that hope, re-lived, over and over, of "yeah, this could work. all of this nonsense could make sense." maybe it was just because other than that i haven't slept in a big comfortable bed on a fancy mattress in months and months. maybe it was because of that whole waking up with bedhead and morning breath and nobody cares. maybe it was because of the way the sunrise was slightly blinding and the breeze coming in the window was cool, but it has felt like that one place with a sense of home  to it. quiet, cozy, happy. ...and not often enough. 

so, as sad as i am about having to leave LA and the people and the hopes that i had -  i am excited to get back to AZ and do what i set out to do.

i'll be spending a day in Joshua Tree again on my way out, and a night in Palm Springs, before making the rest of the drive. i'm looking forward to seeing those mountains again {see previous post!}. i'm looking forward to chalking the past month and a half up to experience, and coming back to visit when i can. but for now - eyes ahead.

23 November 2014

too big for just one of us.

likely only 5-10% of the people reading this post will understand the details, 
will know these people, will have seen these faces. but i'm still putting this here,
 knowing that i'm not the only one. knowing that the reality of things sometimes 
is too big for just one of us....

i think that each person we meet in our lives has the potential to open up a world in us that we never knew was there, and it possibly doesn't exist until they're there to show us. i also think that each person has the potential for magic - but sometimes its hard to tell the magic from the illusion. 

a year and a half ago when i randomly met that cute, tall guy, i never expected to still be in touch after this long. i never expected to spend so many nights on the phone with that voice from 3000 miles away and feeling like i never had to say a word. even though i said thousands upon thousands. every time. i didn't expect to make a connection that became instantly important to me. 

when i came to LA last winter to visit, i had just started telling my family about my plans to move to AZ. spending time in or possibly moving to LA wasn't in the cards yet, but i still attributed everything to that one sunset we saw. those mountains. the hollywood sign. that hope that everyone who comes here carries with them. he continually told me to just do it. just jump.

sunset in Joshua Tree, Feb 2014.
he became one of the few catalysts for moving clear across the country and even when i sounded crazy he never stopped supporting me (he just told me i sounded crazy). most of my friends had no idea who he was and were confused at my bravery. there were so many things that i laid in bed at night and romanticized about - not just about that face and those arms, but moreso about taking that jump. i didn't sleep for weeks after my visit, and i didn't stop crying for weeks either. i didn't know why all of a sudden i felt like my life just couldn't move forward without this. i couldn't make sense of leaving everything i knew behind, and yet i couldn't make sense of staying.

(the first time i hiked a desert mountain in northern arizona almost two years ago, i was surprised at how far i could see even fairly close to the base. it was nothing like the dense forests of trees and roots and mud i'd hiked through in maine. i didn't have to get all the way up to the top to have a view, and that view certainly wasn't just the tops of more trees. i could see entire towns, cities, more mountains in the distance, long dusty roads, and sky forever.)

i can vividly remember the view from high atop that special spot in joshua tree/CA almost a year ago with a horizon that went on forever; and later sitting at a little diner for breakfast with desert mountains to the sides and ahead of us. i thought about how similar they looked to those i'd seen in arizona, and how at home i felt with the familiarity even in a new and strange place. i had said, "i can't wait to have a sight like that to look at every day." (i looked for that spot in j-tree last month when i was on my own without him, and couldn't find it.)

view from atop Joshua Tree, Feb 2014.
i find myself connecting with these mountains on some level that i've never experienced before. they became a constant reminder of what i hoped to accomplish and in some ways how i viewed myself just before moving. that need to face an obstacle head on, climb up and over it to come out with a different perspective on the other side, a rising and improvement in how i saw my life, some kind of strength and permanence based in myself regardless of where i was. 

and even still, that seclusion and isolation in those hard to reach places was what i think spoke to me the most. the silence at the bottom looking up, the silence at the top looking down. 

in driving from arizona to california this fall i experienced views of those mountains that will be in my head and in my heart for likely as long as i live. if i could have photographed every second, every frame, every inch of those 200-250 miles i would have - but it wouldn't have done any of it justice. the shapes and colors and growth and size. and the emptiness in between.

view from the Brewery Artist Lofts, Nov 2014.
so, here i am. having been in LA for almost a month, with another month to go. all of those things i romanticized about are at my fingertips. i took that jump. and yet, i'm nothing like i thought i would be. i'm awkward and loud at all the wrong times. i laugh too much and am quiet at the weirdest moments. half of me has no idea what i'm doing, and the other half is still so surprised to be here that it can barely move. my sewing machine has never gotten so much use and LUKE and i are pumping out so much good work as quickly as possible. i know that without him giving me a place to stay, none of this weirdness, awkwardness, love, or overwhelming emotion would have been physically manifested into these two quick months. 

i can see those same CA mountains from the roof of my building. i can see them when i'm driving on the crazy chaotic highway. and still, i know that i won't be staying here.

i am lucky that i can do work for LUKE from pretty much anywhere and that he's willing to enlist my help. i am lucky that i can do my own sewing work from anywhere that i can put my machine, even if its in a tiny corner of someone else's house for a while again. i am lucky that i have no limit to what i can create.

i am unlucky that again i will have to say goodbye in LA. if i had known then what i know now, the last time i said that goodbye, the struggle i felt on the way home would have been just a little bit easier. and still, i get teary eyed just thinking about it, because i know that the drive back to AZ from CA is one that i'm going to make reluctantly. did i do my best? did i try hard enough? did i focus on what was important? sometimes we do things we said we'd never do. for me, living in LA was something i said i'd never do - the appeal of it never fit into my life. i can see why people do love it here, from the outside. but its the inside that i can't get into, even with all the support in the world behind me. 

sunset on LA, Nov 2014.
so for the last month+, there's still plenty of time to make more personal memories. to do more work. to take more photos and collect more things. to keep finding that fine line between magic and illusion... i'm soaking in as many moments as i can and i'm secretly looking at those mountains every chance i get. that cute tall guy. the beautiful Cali soul sister of mine. this quilting crazyman. these are my people, and even though i'll have to say goodbye for a second time, i'll only be about 500 miles away instead of 3000. i suppose that has to count for something. i got pretty damn close. they all have little pieces of me, but AZ has the biggest piece of my heart. the whole point of moving was doing what would make me happiest. i have to do it for myself instead of letting anyone else do it for me.

17 November 2014

week two;

'The best way to find out if you can trust somebody 
is to trust them.' 

i am now two full weeks into my stay in LA. 

any and all kinds of personal centering i had when i was in AZ has left me and i still feel like i'm starting all over again, every day. i'm still getting lost any time i drive anywhere. i'm still not adventuring out on my own as i hoped i would be. my main focus has been on sitting at my sewing machine, with little breaks to walk around the neighborhood for sunshine, and pumping out enough work to cover my rent/stay here. i have spent a lot of time texting with friends, both here and back home (and everywhere in between). i have spent a lot of time thinking about what i want to do next, already. the only money i have spent here has almost all gone to food and groceries and i've yet to even have to fill up my gas tank. but, who comes to LA to stay inside? who bothers to come all this way only to miss the place they just left? i'm already longing for my AZ hikes. i'm already missing the way that i felt there: comfortable with myself.

LA has not been all difficult, though. there have been a handful of moments with friends that have carried me through each week so far. tea & brunches with my Cali soul sister, that kind of girlfriend time that you really just need every once in a while, so you can talk about clothes and hair and paramore, and relate over what its like to be stuck in a job that doesn't fit you on any emotional level. i have spent time with another familiar face in a much different capacity, but also quite the same in contentedness - waking up to a more intimate connection and domestic little tasks that reminded me what its like to live in an apartment with a quiet space to call your own. a balcony to watch the sunset, a bathtub, a comfortable bed for conversations and giggles face to face instead of through the phone. 

part of all this moving and interacting with new people (or just people you haven't seen in a really long time) means figuring things out, personally... i'm realizing i'm not always best at saying what i mean or saying what i should. i'm realizing i'm good at connecting with people and making some really great shared memories with them but i'm not always able to categorize them. i'm learning that sometimes stuff just can't be categorized. i'm learning that some things don't change whether you're 3,000 miles away or 3 miles away. i tend to get spooked by other people's advice and sometimes ignore my own gut and my own heart. i'm always so quick to assume something is a mistake.
i am still obsessed with seeing palm trees every day. i am loving the weather. 70's during the day is about 30+ degrees warmer than what it is back in maine these days, and even when it drops into the 60's on a chilly day i am still the first one out in short sleeves. i am appreciating any tiny little bit of sunshine, even if its a sliver from out behind clouds. when i wake every morning to snowy winter photos on my Instagram feed, i recognize how beautiful it looks but i am very much looking forward to not experiencing the freezing temperatures and depression that comes along with it for me every winter. 
i am enjoying making friends with my sewing machine again on a daily basis. yesterday i was able to sit down and work on a project for luke out of frustration and get a little bit of angst out - the only healthy way that i know how. because i work faster and longer and better when i'm trying to distract myself from the world around me (or sometimes just one thing in particular) - and it felt so good to reconnect with myself in that way. some people go for a run or go to a therapist, but i like to feel the fabric between my fingers and meet a deadline. sewing for someone else is an interesting experience, fairly void of any creative liberties, but it sure beats that awful 9-5 feeling where you're working all week just to get to the weekend. i've had very little concept of what day it is here. fridays are the same as mondays are the same as wednesdays. 
while i've been sewing for LUKE, i've been able to spend time thinking about where i want my own work to go moving forward. i started a new project last week which i can't share right away (incase it becomes a gift). i recognized as i started it - without sketching my usual drawing/chart first - that i had just jumped right in without giving it much thought. at first it came easily with fabric and color choice being really distinct and obvious. as i started to work on the blocks, i started to feel less psyched about it and wasn't really sure what i was doing. i took an evening to sit back and really think about what the project meant and what i wanted it to represent, added in a couple of brighter and more "interesting" fabrics, and i felt a lot better about where it was headed. 

attaching emotion and moments and meaning to my projects is something that has really become the most important part of quilt creating for me. i have fully stepped away from making things just because they are pretty (though there is nothing wrong with that!). i have immersed myself in creating out of a place inside of me that needs an outlet, that needs to push out something i've felt or seen - just in a different way than previously felt or seen. it feels a bit like storytelling, a way to write without words or needing to sit down with a pen or a computer. these projects have become my stories. little autobiographies for you to read and interpret as you will.

i still have a piece of me that so badly wants to incorporate this style of "emotional quilting" into expressive therapies. whether it be in hands on classes or simply through analytical blog posts. i think that a lot of quilty types could appreciate the need to express their happiness, sadness, struggles, triumphs, loves and hates through fabric and thread. through color and style and shape. sometimes its just difficult to make that leap from a feeling to a pile of fabrics.
as i start to pull together these ideas and thoughts from my traveling and all of these notes on what quilting means to me, i start to understand more and more that it is less about making products to sell or creating items for money - though i do love a commission project, because i think those can be really fun to make into something special for someone. i'm struggling with that desire to make unique and interesting DIFFERENT projects that keep people on their toes (and innovating and changing as i go along but keeping true to my "style"), while still remembering where my need to make comes from. 

so, heading into week three, i'm looking forward to: starting another project for Luke (project #5 in two months), Thanksgiving plans with a friend out here, the pile of new groceries i've got stacked up in the kitchen, and the view from the roof of our building (that i just discovered today - i can see downtown on one side, and the mountains on the other!!). i'm also looking forward to whatever little things happen in between. its the little things that are keeping me moving along. 
six more weeks in LA....

07 November 2014

cross country.

well, i've officially made it across the country. after almost ten months of planning to go to AZ and seven months of planning to go to LA - i've arrived in LA in one piece (with a few little pieces still staggering to catch up).

the drive from AZ to CA was full of everything from gorgeous & moody green mountains and winding highways all around, to endless desert and blaring sunshine between a set of brown mountains on either side of me. 

i stopped about five hours into the drive to stay overnight in joshua tree - somewhere i had visited on my last trip to LA in february. one last little bit of desert & quiet before i landed in the city... someplace kind of familiar before i threw myself into what i expected to be total chaos.

....but, lets back up a couple of days. 

my last couple of days in AZ were spent packing and gathering what i thought i'd need for (at least)  two months in LA - i had no idea really what i'd need, and ended up bringing about half of my stuff  (which i'm probably going to find is about twice as much stuff as i'll actually need). i've got enough clothes here with me for probably six months and at least two dozen hott dates. 

the day before i left i went on a hike.  a familiar hike that i enjoy, except i took the hard way up and the easy way down - the opposite of the way i had done it before. one last little challenge with one of my music mixes blasting into my ears, sunshine on my skin, and a good view to clear my head. i was a sore and sweaty mess by the end, but it felt like an appropriate way to send myself off. 

i was nervous to get to CA. i was nervous to get to another place and having to start all over AGAIN - finding my place, both physically and mentally. i was going from staying with my BFF who i've known for years to staying with someone i'd only met once and knew mostly through texts and emails and social media and other people (luckily), though there was no doubt in my mind that all would be okay.  i was nervous to see people i hadn't seen since my last trip here about nine months ago whom i'd been able to keep in touch with but sometimes that extreme distance just makes it so weird and hard. mostly i was nervous about getting to an overwhelming city that i had no experience in and not even knowing where to start.

the drive from joshua tree to LA was not nearly as difficult as i'd thought it would be, and luke's place was right off the exit so i had no trouble finding it. i was once again reminded that i am incredibly lucky and appreciative to have such gracious friends & people in my life, willing to open their homes and lives up to me. to help give me a space in which to learn and grow and do things.

so here i am 3,000 miles from my home state.

in AZ it was hard to find my place because i was staying with a family of six, and shared spaces - my sewing setup was in the (big) craft room, my sleeping space was in the (second) living room. i could come and go as i chose, but often times chose to stay home and hang out with my friends, since i hadn't seen them in a year. a lot of the activities i did outside of the house were done alone (hiking, traveling, touristing), so making new friends wasn't really high on my to-do list. i met a few people here and there - a nice couple while hiking stopped me to ask me about my sewing tattoo, a nice guy at the grocery shop was there twice when i was, and one nice young woman took pity on me at a halloween party and introduced herself (mostly because everyone else knew everyone else and i was a new face). but, being in AZ was more about solidifying my surroundings than finding people. i talked to a couple of nice employees at the quilt shops i visited - and even emailed one about the possibility of teaching there in the future, with no reply.

here in LA, i already have people i know but so far i've been too timid to go out and explore alone - the total opposite of my time in AZ. i'm a little disappointed the bravery i found in myself there seems to still be sleeping here in sunny california. the first day or two that i was here i was tired, unsure, unsettled, nervous and all of those usual things you feel upon getting to a new and unusual place. but i'm trying to remind myself to say YES and to not limit myself. its early still, and i know i have time. but i also know that the time is limited and i have things to do before i decide what comes next. before i make my big plan to stay here or go back to AZ.

the major reason for being here is to sew for LUKE. to help him with whatever he needs help with. to use some skills i already have, and learn some new ones. i've been tagging along with him while he does errands, eventually he will send me on my own. i have spent the past few days working on a project for him that was way outside of my comfort zone (i constructed two others for him while i was in AZ, but they were designs i was already familiar with). the learning curve was pretty big but it made more sense as i went along and by the end of it i was pretty proud of what i had made. realizing that even though the designs or techniques are not ones i would use in my own work, it is important to see how and why others create the way they do. take away little pieces and reasons and thoughts to think about later. it took me a few days to realize/remember that this is why i am here.

i won't be focusing on my own work likely for the duration of my stay here, but that doesn't mean that i haven't been quietly brainstorming little ideas for the future. AZ held a big bunch of inspiration for me with all of the places i went and things i experienced, so i know that eventually i'll get to put that out into the world via fabric. for now, my fabric time will be based on whatever luke needs me to do. and i'm okay with that. i'm trying to just stay open to the experience instead of figuring out what it means for me right now. it might not mean anything right now, it might not mean something until later. i don't know yet.

thats kind of how i'm trying to look at all of this whole moving thing - i don't really know yet what it means for me. but, i know that so far despite being nervous, i feel pretty good. 

i've seen a couple of familiar faces here in LA. people i hadn't seen since last winter. people who's voices i've heard and who's words i've read, but ohhh i had missed their faces and hugs so so so so so much. i'll get to see a couple of friends this weekend and i couldn't be happier about that. when i got home from LA after my last trip i had no idea when i'd see these people again. my heart has been waiting all this time to reconnect with them face to face. when i think about all of the conversations and tears and decisions that have happened since the last time we were in the same room, i'm overwhelmed with what it feels like to be away from people that are important to you.

i miss my friends back home who i have obviously not been able to talk to as often as we are used to, and i know that soon some of them will be the ones i will have not seen for a year. i'm trying to make an effort though to keep in touch with the people who i know are also good at it, and i've tried to call home to my parents when i can. honestly, though, i haven't been gone long enough to really miss home yet. i'm still too wrapped up in trying to find my way. it doesn't feel like i've been gone for six weeks, but its been six weeks. six weeks of nothing but changes in scenery.

i have acquired a love for desert mountain hiking. a love for going to bed before midnight. a love for a quiet friday night in while everyone else is out. a love for leaving the big camera at home and just snapping photos with my phone.

i have learned that when i'm nervous i don't feel much like eating. that going a month without drinking a beer isn't really that hard. that i totally talk outloud to myself (and everyone else) when i'm driving somewhere i've never been before.

i've also learned that tears come at weird times. like right now, while ending this blog post and chatting with a couple of friends via social media. i am lucky, and i know it. and even if i am not adjusting quite as i'd hoped here, yet, i know that i am lucky to be here. and i am lucky to have options.

19 October 2014

colors of a different kind.

a few friends of mine from maine have mentioned that i'm missing all of the foliage and classic fall colors. a west coast friend said something like, "its funny what becomes commonplace." its not that i don't appreciate the colors and scenery of the place that i grew up in (or that feeling when fall air comes in and everything gets chilly and you start to wear sweaters and scarves). but i grew up there and lived there for over thirty years. foliage and reds and yellows and cold are sights and feelings i am very familiar with. i can't tell you how many emotional memories i associate with the leaves changing color.

i've been spending the past few weeks appreciating colors and feelings and emotions of a different kind.


i have enjoyed the typical colors that a lot of people think of when you say "arizona" - the bright oranges of sedona and the bright blue of the sky. the green, browns, and sandy tans of the desert sand and cactus.

up here in prescott and the mountains, there are so many different landscapes just within miles of each other. all of those oranges and browns and tans, but also: dense forests of deep green and sunsets unlike any i've ever seen. one of the first nights that i was here, i stood in the backyard and looked up at the sky - there were stars so bright and so much closer to any that i'd ever seen in the little city i came from.

my heart belongs in the desert, and i've learned that on several occasions. i can't explain it to you because its something i've never been able to put into words. someday i really hope that i can, because its a really amazing feeling. i feel a calm on my desert hikes that i have never felt anywhere else, ever.

i'm finding that when you get to a new place, new things become important to you.

i'm finding that when you get to a new place, its important to say YES to things.


last week i started a little project for myself - a reminder of these new/YES things. i was inspired by a purple sunset, some art from a bar downtown, driving up and down the mountain everyday to get home, and the gorgeous combo of dusty desert sand and sparkling stars above.



so many times my art has been inspired by someone else, or feelings for someone else (good and bad). even if you can't directly see it in the project, its there - even if that just means that i was upset one weekend about something and decided to work nonstop on a project to distract my mind.this projet become really important to me really quickly, as i decided that i needed to make something for myself that was inspired by myself. by the things i have chosen to make important this past month, the first month away. 

i have felt twinges of guilt for not working. i feel like i should be doing more because everyone else i know is doing more. but i'm learning that the glorification of busy is overrated.

i'm finding that i miss the structure of getting up every morning with a routine. i feel like i should be doing something else, because thats what i've always been used to. but, i'm reminding myself that i knew ahead of time i'd be without work for at least the first couple of months while i'm moving around (i go off to LA/CA in just a couple weeks!). this month of adjustment and ease was planned this way.  i'm reminding myself that eventually i'll be back into the grind of a dayjob and wishing that i had a vacation. so, this first month is my vacation that i earned over the past year. i worked hard to save the funds for this. i worked hard to get here. i'm reminding myself of that.

hard work deserves positivity. it deserves beauty and flexibility. it deserves time off.

i've been balancing hiking and sight seeing and playing tourist with sewing for LUKE and sewing for myself. these are the things that have become important to me.

say YES to stepping outside of your routine.
say YES to being okay with change.
say YES to being okay with feeling uncomfortable and working through it to get to where you need to be.
say YES to staying in touch.
say YES to driving without your gps when you have a chance to go off the grid.
say YES to finding places that you'll need out of convenience.
say YES to finding places that you'll need just to get away.
say YES to being okay being alone.
say YES to being okay with getting help if you need it.
say YES to sewing for money.
say YES to sewing for fun.
say YES to letting people see you for how nerdy you are.
say YES to letting people see you without makeup.
say YES to starting over in a new place and doing all of the things you wished you'd been able to do before - even if its difficult.

these may seem like easy things to say YES to, but some days they're not. this isn't some magical journey where everything turns out incredible right off the bat. but, i didn't leave everything behind to not try. i didn't argue and cry or leave my apartment and my pets and my family and my friends and my job to just get here and do what i'm used to the way i'm used to it. and yes, some days i feel like i wake up with things to prove to people. but mostly i just want to prove it to myself.

i've never been a hiker - i hiked in maine a few times and found it difficult. lately i've been thinking that i just wasn't ready for it. hiking here has given me a freedom that i've very much needed. i've never really even been much of an outdoorsy person (except the beach!!!), but again i just don't think i was ready for it. i have space for it now. i have a reason for it. i saw little pings of it in my "previous life" when i realized how much i loved gardening and getting my hands in dirt. i do, infact, have a bit of a green thumb.

i emailed one of the local quilt shops last week about the possibility of teaching there in the future. introduced myself and my skills. i haven't received any word back, but i know that just making the first move is as important as the response. you can't move forward if you don't try. rejection is a normal part of life, and as a friend from home wrote in a little note to me, "its business and not personal 100% of the time."


i have a lot of very different things in common with my friends. some friends i love because we share a passion for music. some friends i love because we share a love for sewing and fabrics. some friends i love because we share that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling for the desert. some friends i love because we both enjoy photography. some friends i love because we simply met at the right place at the right time.

not everyone is going to care what you're doing or feel as awesome about what you're doing as you do.  the cool thing about people is that we all like different things, for different reasons, at different times. sometimes we connect and sometimes we don't. i'm learning that balance from afar. i've received a couple of notes in the mail, some photos sent by text message, and a phone call or two from home. but for the most part, voices from the east coast have been scarce. sometimes not everyone is going to care what you're doing - but if they do, sometimes they don't have the time to say so.

i'm learning that trying to stay in touch can be tough, but i've been trying to tell friends when something reminds me of them.

i'm also learning that i can live in the fall months without that usual fall feeling that i'm used to. i'm finding those familiar fall colors in different places now. i'm walking around with less of the emotional baggage that always came with the changing of the seasons heading into the winter months.

in a couple of weeks i'll be off to los angeles and i imagine i'll probably go through all of this yet again. getting used to another living situation, different people and their routines, finding my place to fit in. i don't know what the future holds for me there - whether i'll find a dayjob and stay, or if i'll just sew for LUKE for a couple of months and then head back here.

i'm loving the desert mountains for the quiet they allow me. LA will be a whole other thing (but remember: say YES). there will be a whole other set of colors to inspire me there.

...but i've got a couple more weeks of quiet and exploring to do first.