21 January 2015

tangled in ways;

invention came
from the need of it all.
i molded this absence
and twisted it until it took shape
of something i could hold.
i held it tight against my chest,
pretending it was the you
i'd been waiting for.
from the hollow
i falsified a life, and told myself
i was living it.
nothing cannot hold me


i came across this poem recently that made me stop what i was doing and just sit. sometimes, as a writer, i know that i can never fully say what i want to say - sometimes its just too hard to find the words. and then i read this, and knew: this was everything i've wanted to say for the past three months. and i'm looking forward to when things shift (they've started) and i no longer refer to moments as "the last time i ____ was with _____." the thing about traveling and experiencing so much on your own, is that when someone joins you for any part of your journey they become tangled in ways that make it hard to remove them. special partners in all of this crap you're trying to do. friends, lovers, voices, whoever. sometimes i can't handle everything i want to write about them, so instead i turn and write about myself and how they have affected me. because no one cares about them anyway.

it feels good to be able to look at things more positively, the different perspective is appreciated. some of my friends back home have said i "sound good." i had a really great talk with an LA girlfriend tonight - she said it made her day to hear how settled and happy i sound. that means so much coming from her, considering she was one of the last people i said goodbye to when i left california for arizona. she'd seen me in those last few weeks where i wasn't sure what the hell i was doing. i'd made the decision to leave but it was hard to know what i really felt when almost everyone around me was sad to see me go. the good news is that the next time i see all of them, i'll be in such a better place with myself. thats going to bring on some really awesome memories. (she and i are already planning a salton sea meetup, and my cali soul sister and i want to meet up in palm springs...) i'm looking forward to seeing these people with brand new eyes (paramore reference) and share a little of my love for the desert while i'm at it.

this week i've been doing normal everyday stuff like going to work, hanging curtains in my bedroom, buying a few more plants, and doing my taxes. things that seem silly and simple, but i'm really enjoying the novelty of them and how new they feel to me again. its comforting.

i'm planning a trip to the grand canyon for friday. i think you already know how i feel about that.

here's a quote from a blog post i made almost exactly one year ago on january 19, 2014. i was getting ready for my first trip to LA, and i thought that i'd be moving cross country sometime in late 2015 (i hadn't yet bumped up my date to late 2014). but i was planning and thinking and i knew why i wanted to leave.... i think so far i'm on the right track. i think now i'm actually doing better than i ever thought i would.

I want to be in a different climate, culture, landscape, place. I want to be closer to my dude-BFF instead of having to wait for late-night timezone phone calls. I love the calm there. I want to be closer to places I've never been. And its a lot to think about, its a lot to figure out, its a lot to take in. While there isn't much to leave behind here, there are big things like family and certainty. There's needing to find a job and a place to live. There's diligently paying off bills and squirreling away every extra penny and making sure it makes sense. There's trying to figure out whats really important in life and making sure not to run away.
 .....Forgiven others and forgiven myself. I'm being kinder to myself, comparing myself less to everyone else, trying to listen less to opinions that don't mean anything to me. I'm struggling the most with the last part, and I think it may be part of why I've been emotionally hibernating and hiding away from so many people. But its the most important part. To just be yourself. To do what feels right to you. To suffer your own consequences and move on. To be okay with your reasons for living and being happy. Being scared all the time that you're doing something wrong or that people won't approve is no way to live. 
I am proud of where I'm at right now in the beginning of 2014. I'm proud of my motivation and my hard work, my plans and goals instead of just giving in and feeling stuck/miserable. 2014 is all about understanding cause/effect and being proactive in finding answers to the really big personal questions instead of just coasting along. I may need to coast through the year to get there, but its a price I'm willing to pay.

16 January 2015

the real deal / the desert

january 16, 2015
this week i got a part time job. its just twenty short hours a week but the pay is incredible and its a foot in the door. a cliche step in the right direction, which is exactly what i need right now, whether its cliche or not. it doesn't mean a damn thing when your money is running out.

i laid in bed this morning and watched the sun rise over the hilltops in the backyard. i thought about how i hardly ever watched the sunrise in maine except for when i was totally insomniatic and had no control over sunsets and sunrises and when i slept or when i didn't. i have had nights here when its been hard to fall asleep, either a lot on my mind or i'm just not used to the quiet (go figure, it was the noise of LA that kept me awake there most nights), but overall i'm comfortable. i'm restricting sleep to nighttime only - no daytime naps (which is unheard of for me! i love naps! but i want to be in a routine, i think that helps). my queen bed is big enough to stretch out - or stuff pillows down one side so that i don't realize just how big it actually is when i'm alone. i don't miss the twin mattress on the floor of the tiny little apartment, but i'm proud of how long it lasted.

i thought about how i slept in ten other beds in all of 2014 (six were motels, one was at my parents' house, one was luke's sky/guest bed, one was in my dude-BFF's house, and one was in silverlake). twelve beds total in one year is a lot considering most of the time i was alone. if you count all of the housesitting jobs i had throughout the year, you'd have to add at least another half dozen more.

just little babies so far.
i thought about the way the desert makes me feel like i need to be less tough, i can let my guard down a little. i can dress a little prettier, i can wear a little less makeup. the way the mountains make me feel a little more quiet and a little more grounded. the way i love it here and i'm so glad that for the time being i don't need to pack up and leave. for a minute there i'd been mentally repacking everything i'd just unpacked and wondering if i could find social media friends' houses to stay in on the drive back to maine to save money on hotels. seriously - its no wonder sometimes i don't sleep.

i'm making more of an effort to read at night before bed instead of laying awake on pinterest until my eyes can't stand it anymore. so far its 50/50, but i'm sixty pages into on writing by stephen king, with three other new books waiting in the wings. i think what i'm looking forward to most is for the spring & summer to come so that the temps head back up into the seventies and i can just sit outside on the weekends and read. beach time in maine during the summers was my best reading time - no other distractions other than sunscreen and strawberries. there are no beaches here, but theres a plethora of beautiful sunny spots that i haven't even found yet.

so, this part time job of mine will leave me with afternoons and weekends free for now, so the search continues for something to fill that time. until then, i'm still sewing for luke - currently i'm working on three quilt tops worth of blocks at once (thats 200 blocks, for anyone who's counting). i'm anticipating a tax refund, and am trying to make ends meet so that nothing falls behind. i don't expect to get ahead right away but i'd like to just make do. i'm happy making do. its getting easier but nothing is 100%. is it ever?
bisbee, AZ - january 2015
33° 43′ 23″ N, 113° 42′ 9″ W - the longitude and latitude for hope, AZ - a tiny desert mountain community that consists of just one rv park, one gas station, one church, and one antique store. those numbers are likely going to stay with me forever, having driven through that town twice now - once on the way to CA and once on the way back. two incredibly different mindsets, two different music playlists, two different points of view. 

lots of people have told me how brave i am. a few people have told me some of these things just don't matter. a couple people have asked, "well, what did you expect?!" and i guess i'm not sure. i looked back through old instagram posts last night and realized that hidden behind all of my skepticism was optimism, and behind all of my optimism was total fear. but here's the real deal: i'm not really trying harder than anyone else i know. i've always searched for some kind of perfection that does not exist and i can't feel burned for not having found it - but the desert is as damn close to a perfect feeling as i'll likely ever get (i can say that with certainty). it strangely filled the holes in my life that i didn't even know where there from my first step in it. i've always been self-aware, for better or worse, and this caught me off guard. maybe i was just ready to give up the empty spots. maybe its as easy as a change of scenery. 

but something about the desert goes beyond appearance for me. lets be fair, not all desert areas are pretty, a lot of them are dusty dirty and sparse. but, maybe, just maybe, its the simplicity that i needed.

saguaro national park, AZ january 2015
i don't really feel any closer to most of my west coast friends even though i'm 2,500 miles closer than i was in maine. aside from my dude-BFF who now lives five minutes away, i'm still communicating with everyone by texts. there's still a time difference - AZ doesn't celebrate daylight savings - CA is still an hour behind me; i still have to do time math before talking to anyone. i'm learning slowly, as some of them fall to the wayside, that coming all this way was not really ever about being closer to these people - thats just a perk when it works out. i'd never have done this having to rely completely on other people, i had to have a little bit of faith in myself somewhere.

i think, in all honesty, its hard to explain. why i feel as though i need to be here. away from my friends, away from my family, away from just about everyone i've ever cared about. maybe i've been watching too many episodes of the X Files lately, but i think its beyond my control. i can make all the decisions i want to and do my best to make everything work, but i know right now this is where i'm supposed to be. when i returned to maine after my first trip to the desert, i described the desert as something like an old secret lover from a past life. i find that still feels true, like there are things i've seen and done that i just don't know about - and now i get to experience them all over again for the first time.

i think my heart was in a hurry to leave LA to get back here, and i think thats why i couldn't settle in there. the calm and the quiet had been replaced by the busy and the loud. part of me was being pulled back and wouldn't allow me to enjoy the city on my own. when i was with my friends, i was happiest. when i couldn't be with them i felt like i was alone in some kind of weird and scary place - with a laundry list of things i wanted to succeed at but couldn't. i'm grieving my time there, only slightly still. i'm still aching for expectations that could have never been fulfilled by any of us. 

the thing about the desert is the silence - normally silence is my biggest enemy and gives me too much space to be disruptive and self-destructive. but the quiet in the desert is soothing and so many times has given me perspective i wouldn't typically see. there have been times i've been so overwhelmed on my hikes or sight seeing that i've stopped dead, choked up and overpowered. i feel pity for those who don't get emotional or who don't feel sentimental. while they're constantly looking for the next best thing or paying no attention to what anything means, they're missing out on such a big part of what it means to be human. you can't always hide from everything.

14 January 2015

weapons of choice.

it was the kind of cloudy rainy weekend that required ten hours at my sewing machine and 11 episodes of the x-files (the first season) both days. it was the kind of weekend where i couldn't look at social media too much, the kind of weekend where my mind was too easily distracted by thoughts of what was happening without me. 

i didn't realize this until the second day of ten hours had gone by and i came up for air, gravitated towards one of the saddest songs i know, and instantly had the gluttonous need to start writing. and venturing out to photograph places i'd only been able to drive by. and running fabric through my fingers in the only way i know how. my three daily weapons of choice: pen, camera, scissors.

AZ, Jan 2015.
the things that still make me sad when i'm not careful, are the things that i have carried long before he came. he just manifested them differently. i will take half of the blame for how i feel... but only half. the rest belongs to unrealistic and cloud-nine expectations, insecurity. nostalgia. and others' inability to allow space for promises and importance. it was a lot like writing in pencil - the feelings were easily changed on a whim. ...but, i very much prefer pen.

"  you own everything that happened to you  -
if people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better.  "

he was my exception to everything, all of the rules i had made for myself. the muse i never asked for and refused to let go of. never a convenient moment and somehow thats how it always worked best, in the impossible. have you ever had the one person that just the split second thought of them in any kind of memory you can come up with, happy or sad, pries an unsatisfiable amount of inspiration out of your bones?

all of the little things that you remember still happened, but you're recognizing now that embellishments are necessary to fill in the gaps. vulnerability (meaning: eyelashes, pre-dawn yawns, confessions, spooning) VS entertainment (meaning: everything else).

Thanksgiving, Los Angeles. 2014.
each week that passes by takes me another week away from that moment high in the northern arizona mountains when emotion finally hit me; and now i worry that i'll lose the way that felt. the way that reality finally showed up flawlessly in the reflection of a relentless rainstorm and a roaring punk rock song. the sign at the town edge of Hope, AZ read: "you are now beyond all Hope." that last piece. that final little bit of someone that never let me understand them the way that i wanted to. not real, but a perfect story.

i am envious of those women who could be more of a novelty and less like a fixture. those who could come and go without holding on or saying too much. i never wanted to leave that bed (...thats what photos are for.). my last thought as i was retreating away from the city towards the desert was: i didn't understand what kept me awake at night all of the time, but i was pretty sure it was the fantasy of knowing. 

i've created a life of boundaries. i cared so passionately about finding out what my place with him was. and now, coming up on the one year anniversary of my first vacation/trip to LA & joshua tree, i have no place at all. an entire year has passed this february, and so much has changed. i had such fond memories of visiting that city and that desert, never having seen anything like either of them before. of sitting outside looking up at the stars and trying to figure out how to be around each other very quickly. a life lesson i later learned - you never really figure it out. everyone's still a stranger to some degree. some of us stay strangers forever. sometimes its better that way.

another year from now so many new things will have happened, will any of this even matter anymore? my later experiences in the city and the desert were so much more complex, so very different.

Venice Beach, early 2014.
now, with my TRAVEL|MUSE art company, i can take photos quilts words and selfishly glorify all of the memories and fill in all of the gaps, without romanticizing the hurt. its just fabric and thread, the experiences and the i-wish's. you will see what you want to see in each piece. art, after all, is the greatest illusion - the easiest way to relay how you feel and amp it up by a million, only to be cast aside by the viewer's own sentimentality and intimacy. we all love a fairy tale, we all want to see resolution to the struggle.

my Cali soul sister told me that this feeling of being jaded will dissipate with building trust, emotional effort, and stability; and i believe her. these things will come when the right person nurtures them in me again. these things will come when i stop chasing the things that no longer want to be chased. people will not put their lives on hold for you, but they should allow you in. and you should be able to ask for that much, no matter where you are.
i recently was sitting in a coffee shop downtown with a new friend. yes, a guy. a familiar song came on in the background quietly (song for zula // phosphorescent), and it took me a minute to figure out where that well-known feeling was coming from. i was so intent and content participating in the conversation that i almost didn't hear it. its a song that i had played many many times before, mostly when i had sat down to write just before moving across the country. its a song i had attached a whole handful of emotions and memories to, and i realized there will be times when i just won't be able to get away from any of them. they're there for a reason.

this new friend, one of only two that i have here so far, asks a lot of questions and is genuinely curious about who i am and why. he's willing to share just as much about himself. he doesn't seem to have that fear of being understood. it isn't all just the basic surface information that comes with getting to know someone, some of it is the stuff that makes a sturdy & solid base. i appreciate this in ways that i can't tell him yet.

on the road, Los Angeles. Nov 2014.
i've learned that sometimes you have to keep a few things to yourself. at least until you're sure. and until then, i can put it into my writing, into my brainstorming, and into my inspiration. a small change in my direction. i have been so busy being influenced by an unorganized muse, and moved by my surroundings & these mountains, that i almost have forgotten what it feels like to allow in positivity and willingness.

other things i have learned recently: money goes quickly, no matter how long it took you to save. i have one more month's worth of savings and am still looking for a job. if, after all of this, i have to turn around and go back to maine because i've run out of resources - i haven't yet decided how that will affect me.

the first thing to do once a steady income is back in my life: a joshua tree tattoo....

07 January 2015

moving forward still feels a little bit like leaving things behind.

its been nineteen weeks since i left my apartment. its been three weeks since i left LA, and i am still waking up with twinges of weird guilt for not being there. i was so sure that was where i wanted to be, that those were the people i wanted to be with. this whole process of moving has really been so strange, in finding that fine line between making things your own and failing miserably to see the reality of the situation. i am still waking up every morning with a surreal feeling about not being in maine anymore. i spent some time with my dude-BFF yesterday, sitting in his kitchen while he made dinner, talking about all of the new experiences i've been having recently - a luxury for us since he moved away from maine almost three years ago. i was embarrassed to tell him one story in particular, and he said, "of all the things you've told me over the years, NOW you're embarrassed?!" he was right, for a second i forgot that i can tell him anything. i forgot that i have that here.
when i was in LA and sneaking little bits of time here and there to work on my own projects in between projects for LUKE, i started a quilt. a mountain quilt. i knew the day that i started it that it was not going to be a quilt for myself. there was too much sentimentality and too many emotions stitched into it, too many little memories that i had put into the thought process of choosing fabrics and the design. i left LA with this unfinished quilt in my car, folded up and smooshed into a bin with half of the other stuff i owned. last week i pulled it out, ironed it, and finished the damn thing. i quilted it so awkwardly on my small machine (this isn't my usual manageable sized quilt). i put binding on it and put it through the washer & dryer. i stared at it for an entire evening and knew deep down that it was not my quilt to keep. it was not for me. i put it in the mail two days later and sent it on its way back to LA with a note. whether or not it was a deserved gift or a well-received gift or even the kind of gift that would be understood - i knew that it was going where it needed to go. for all of the days and months that had given me support in strange ways. for all of the times that i was so sure about so many things, regardless of fighting with myself about it all. i sent that quilt back to LA with all of the remorse i had for things not ending up differently. it was, after all, those california mountains that convinced me of all the good and all the bad.
here in AZ with things starting new and fresh: this week is going to find me going to a job interview - fingers crossed. i've got regular brown hair and changed my black nailpolish to light pink. i purchased long sleeved blouses to cover my tattoos. i don't like having to fit in with the regular crowd, but i realize that finding a good job is the only thing that will get me through my time here. i've had enough jobs and paid enough bills to know that sewing will help, but it won't help enough.

this week is also going to find me working on projects for luke, as well as projects of my own for my TRAVEL|MUSE company. 

the reality of living in AZ has started to hit me.. meeting new people.. realizing i know my way around without thinking about it.. getting into a routine.. this is my life now. this is my home and where i live and where i am going to stay for now. this is where i'll go on dates and make milestones and travel from & back to. i changed my address with the post office and sent it to friends & family back home. this is the part i've been waiting for, for a long time. the getting settled in. 

part of getting settled in for me means exploring. this past weekend i drove down to the southern part of the state for a few days to visit with friends i hadn't seen since highschool. little towns and gorgeous areas. i photographed everything i saw and brought it back as inspiration moving forward. 
moving forward still feels a little bit like leaving things behind. i think i knew i'd get to this part sooner or later. the weird feeling of recognizing who you're still taking with you, and who you aren't sure you can carry anymore. i don't like to close doors, so i always leaved them cracked open, just in case. but moving forward i know that some things will just have to be different. thats just the way it is.

the good news is that in my TRAVEL|MUSE company, the photos and the little quilts will propel those memories and art and moments and places in ways that i can't. the 2014 series will pave the way for the 2015 series, which will be made up of a whole bunch of new things that haven't even happened yet. 

there's an interesting thing in meeting new people in the ways that people do it these days. social media and tinder and apps and technology based communication is so popular. the face to face in meeting people so often gets lost as the first moment and becomes the second or third part. i've fallen victim to this before, and recently - but in a new town where i know two people, i know that i can't be lazy. i want to be comfortable here, and part of that will be finding friends to do things with. part of it will be about falling in love and sharing all of these new moments with someone. its not something i'm pushing for, but i know its something important to me. i need to make connections on both basic and really personal levels.

i love doing things alone. i've really really really enjoyed going on this journey alone (with all of my virtual & far away friends following along). every single day has been a learning experience - some of them incredible and some of them straight up awful. but in being alone i haven't taken anything for granted. i've had some help along the way, but almost everything i've done i have done on my own. and i'm starting, ever so slowly, to be proud of what i'm doing. choices i am making. at 34 i'm finally finding what is important to me while so many people i know are simply coasting through a means to an end.
part of me has been struggling with social media in this first week of the new year. i've been sharing so many photos of my travels and my work, which is how i like it. but i'm hesitant to say anything too personal. in talking with and seeing new people its a little difficult to know how much to share and when. i've never been shy about sharing my experiences and about putting them into my work. but how do you explain to a new friend or a new boyfriend or a new lover that _____ project was inspired by fitful nights of very little sleep next to a handsome guy you knew, or that _____ project was inspired by holding hands on a mountain top because that was the simplest memory you ever shared with so-and-so, or that ____ project means the most to you because _____. in making my work so emotionally connected, i risk being known more than i want to be. and i suppose that is sometimes the point of art and life - to say what we can't or don't want to. on the flip side of all of this - i'd really like to start writing a book. i know. i know.....

29 December 2014

...until we're called home. || year's end.

We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.    (-TWLOHA)

dedicated to anyone who ever wonders if i am writing about them: i am.

i keep revisiting my photos from my recent trip to joshua tree and palm springs, thinking about the night i spent at the ACE hotel (photos above), and how i felt more like myself that day than i had in weeks. alone. by myself. quiet. i ate in the hotel restaurant alone. i showered alone and wrapped up in the hotel bathrobe. i looked over the day's worth of photos and wrote about leaving a tiny piece of my heart on that mountaintop in j-tree.

it was suddenly the same distance that used to kill me, that strangely now brought me comfort on the way out of CA. even though driving back to AZ felt like inching away from all of the things i thought i wanted, the distance from those things was at least something i knew how to handle.

but i miss those CA people. a lot. i miss going to brunch with them, waking up next to them, having dance parties and pity parties and dress up parties with them. i miss their terrible jokes, their adorable smiles, and their keen fashion sense. but. it wasn't all like that and now i have to move forward with all of them outside of arm's reach again.

its those lessons i knew i was going to learn. ...knowing it ahead of time doesn't always make it any easier, but at least what i felt was not surprising. i knew that i cared too much, that i'm not a big city girl, and that i don't always say what i mean. but those are not things about myself that i feel like i should change. (i also knew that i was the bomb at driving in foggy mountain snowstorms, somehow, which was good because i had to do that too.)

coming up on the end of 2014, i'm revisiting all of the stuff i wrote towards the end of december in 2013. all of the resolutions i wanted to make, all of the ideas i wanted to flesh out. i was just on the verge of deciding to move but hadn't yet made the choice - i really just wanted to travel. i had recently taken trips to AZ and CO, and was secretly pining for a long weekend getaway to LA (which i made two months later instead of going on the paramore cruise, which i had really wanted to do too, but the handsome LA guy won that toss-up). i was struggling with friends and family and myself. it seemed the only thing i wasn't struggling with was my creative work, and i fought hard with myself about whether or not it was okay to blog mostly about personal experiences instead of quilting (which is why you're reading this post).

i had let go of a lot of things in '13, physically and personally, and above everything else i think that is the one thing that has gotten me this far - clear across the country. i traveled with a minimal amount of hurts, i moved with a small amount of suffering, i carried only what i chose to. i was starting to understand what life felt like without having to explain everything - what it felt like to live for myself and with less. it wasn't about owning fewer belongings. if you have followed along here AT ALL this year, you know this.

in the past year i turned 34 and did some really great things. i met my beautiful and talented life hero! i finished nearly almost dozen quilts (mostly for other people/customers). i celebrated change with all of my friends and family. i drove/moved 3,000 miles from home. i sewed for a (brief) living in LA. i saw the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. i blissfully spent a handful of nights with someone who meant something to me. and i (just) moved into my new apartment space in AZ in a town i love. 

that is some serious real life bucket list type shit. 

and to know i get to take all of that and keep going another year... i can top it all, somehow. its like a totally blank slate again. granted, i probably won't get to hang with hayley again, so i'm not sure i can actually top that part...

just as i was adjusting to living with my friends again, just as i did when i first left home, in a busy household of six (at least this time i knew what its all about and there were no surprises), i found an apartment to live in. i got to move in the day after i saw it. it happened fast and i was ready.

when things are that easy i'm generally wary that it must be too good to be true, but i'm pretty much all unpacked and ready to settle down into life again. just. like. that. #thatnewAZlife  part of me knows that it happened this way because thats what i needed. i have my own bedroom - an actual room with a door and big bed and closet and window! - and a second room with plenty of work space. i have my own bathroom. these are simple everyday things that i have been waiting for, patiently.

after a thanksgiving spent with friends & lovers & strangers, and a christmas spent with a family of six where everyone was so sick that all we did was pass around hand sanitizer after opening gifts.. the holidays meant something a little different to me this year - as new year's will, too. away from my family and the routine of thirty-something years gone by, i found that tradition is important and keeps people together, but it also isn't necessary. yes, i missed my family and swapping gifts and hugging everyone. but i received a little glimpse into other people's lives, people who were willing to share the day with me as if i part of their family. you can't wrap that up with a bow. (you pass it a mimosa, though.)

i've learned this past year that if i am not in the right place, if i am not with the right people - i shut down. i literally give up, wave my white flag, and just sit on the floor drinking a whole bottle of wine. i felt this at the beginning of the year, and the end of the year. its a defense mechanism, not a defect. i burrow myself underground until its safe to come up for air again. sick of a lack of signal. it feels like crawling out over a withered version of myself, a little bit taller and a little bit stronger each time. i always snap out of it, but its difficult sometimes. i can turn into an emotional train wreck on the inside in 60 seconds, even if you can't see it on the outside at all.

last year i had a list of little goals i had set for myself, little new year's resolutions.... i think i did a pretty damn good job at checking off everything on this list. i even finished more like almost a dozen, rather than a half dozen, quilts (and kept two for myself!). they were pretty broad & vague things, but i know what they meant:
  • finish up half a dozen quilts and get them into my (new) online shop
  • travel wherever/whenever possible - photograph the heck out of it
  • continue to be proud of good life choices - keep growing personally
  • keep my heart close but don't be afraid to give when it feels right
  • set reasonable goals, be okay with being patient
  • organize the tiny little apartment into a better/functional working/living space
with a unique assortment of songs that make me feel badass blaring in my headphones, i never question who i am. no matter where. no matter with whom. no matter what kinds of decisions i have to make. its the songs that remind me to go with my gut. no matter through calm or tornado.

i'm not making any new year's resolutions this year coming - because i think finding a job and continuing to sew are just kind of obvious right now. same goes for: making new friends, going on more hikes, not forgetting my friends back home, and generally just making a life for myself out here. that will also include but is not limited to: possible roadtrips around AZ and maybe back to CA to visit. my goal is the same as it always is - i just want to be happy. and now that i have my clothes hanging in a closet again, i think its possible.

its cold here in the AZ mountains, winter. and i'm already ready for spring. but i have a lot to get done before it gets warm out again. 

so many creative projects of my own in the works, projects for other people, and the start of taking commissions for the year. bring it!

somewhere in between moving across the country and unpacking my boxes, i've had a lot of people contact me to tell me that i'm "inspiring". i've got to tell you, honestly (and my LA roommates can attest to this after spending 6 weeks in the house with  me), i have had many MANY days along the way where i have felt anything but inspiring. i've had some really crappy days. i've had days where i didn't get out of bed, and if i got out of bed i never changed out of my pajamas. days where i had to remind myself THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED, YOU WANTED TO DO THIS! and only a few friends really truly know how low i was feeling... but the good thing is that even with the crappy shit i felt, i walked away with something good. either peace of mind or a memory or a do-over. this applies for many days & experiences before moving as well... i may think too much, or feel too much, or never say the right thing - but my heart means well. and that, i think, is worth everything. 

and the cool thing is that when i start meeting new people here, no one needs to know this shit about me. i can not introduce myself by saying OMG I'M A MESS. i am in no hurry to get to that kind of get-to-know-you level with anyone right now. (and i'm not a mess. i'm actually feeling great. but, you know. we've all got a little bit of a mess in us.)

happy new year to you, wherever you are & whoever you're with.

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 mini-bar candy bars 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. 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.