Friday, April 16, 2010

Um... whoops?

Dear Reader, I am clearly and 100% incapable of holding to my word when I say I'm going to write. I'd show you my sheepish face, but my camera's over there and I'm over here and I'm pretty sure I haven't brushed my hair in a few days.

I have no topic today other than what it is I've been up to. Obviously it's half-past April, not so obviously, unless you live here, the weather has been flat out wacky, full stop. Two weeks ago we had several days of 80-degree weather, back to back. Mom and I took Ro down the canal trail to look at turtles and let me tell you, don't wear mohair socks in your hiking boots when it's hot out. That's a life lesson, kids. Needless to say, all the flowers are up (forsythia! rhodies! dandelions! violets! creeping charlie! magnolias!) And the tulips are already in bloom and I have no idea what that means for the Tulip Festival this year, but I'm still planning to take Ro, like usual. It's not May without an obligatory splash around the Moses fountain. (Charlton Heston, eat your heart out. I prefer this guy.)

Easter came and went without too much crazy. Ro's sudden obsession with Hello Kitty had us in the clutches of a far more character driven holiday than I'm normally bound to gun for. In her Hello Kitty basket she had Hello Kitty pajamas and in her Hello Kitty shaped eggs she had Hello Kitty socks. Oh, God bless Target. (No, really, have you seen the Liberty of London line? Forget about it. Goodbye, paycheck. I knew you, once.)

...Oh right, hah. I don't have a job. Silly me. I guess sending out three resumes a day is just a hobby.

We spend a lot of time at the playground now that it's warm out. A lot. Ro makes roughly three single-serving friends with every visit and I wonder if it's a good idea or not to do that to her. But when I see how well she does socially with other children- (very talkative, engaging, patient, doting, and so sympathetic when they fall down and get hurt.) I keep thinking serious, serious pre-school thoughts. Obviously rethinking the homeschooling idea all together. Oh well, no denim jumpers and prairie skirts for us.

As well as playgrounds, warm weather inherently means it's gazebo season. I helped JG put ours up last week and now that the furniture is all situated inside Ro's been busying herself with making fairy houses by the old tree stump and getting yelled at when she ventures beyond the shed towards the road (of course!) Oh, to live on a quiet street in a set-back neighborhood, oh to have a fence. Me, it's a repeat of last year- sitting out there with my sewing basket and hand finishing the edges and trim and embroidery on umpteen SCA garb projects in anticipation of War of the Roses at the end of May.

This year Ro is getting a new kirtle (unbleached muslin with grey wool trim) and surcote (soft pink linen with chartreuse mohair trim and a tiny pewter button shaped like a bee.) Both are slightly oversized and will probably fit her until she's seven, undoubtedly. She's also getting a black wool hooded liripipe capelet, lined in chartreuse silk. My stuff is mostly finished, I worked on it over the winter. I have a beautiful cream colored cotehardie, a longbelt embroidered with tiny vines to go with it, and a forest green velvet cloak with a chocolate mink collar and bright gold buckles to close it with. (Yeah, Salvation Army curtains!) Photos to come, most assuredly.

(Those of you wondering where the photos of the snow queen I said I was making are, she's not done yet!)

Nothing much else to say other than the fact that I made a pretty bangin' stromboli for dinner, full of hot sausage, pepperoni, onions and peppers. Man, I love the versatility of pizza dough.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The meaning of home.

(I used to long to see my city's skyline, heart aching. The sparkle of it from over the river, looking from a hilltop in East Greenbush. I'd come visit and get teary-eyed when I drove by, without fail.)

"They say you can never go home again," Amanda said to me the other night as we perched on the edge of her bed after not seeing one another for a little too long. "I know so many people who have gone back to where they grew up after being away, at that college age, and it's not the same, and the people they were friends with are totally different and it's like 'what happened?'"

What happened?

I acknowledged to her that she and my mother are the only reasons I would stay if I were inclined to stay, but I'm not. I'm not.

I can't believe how different it is, here. And I'm saying that publicly for the first time. In my heart, New York was a very different place. The reality of New York is that it's a brick that I carry and refuse to let go of for sentimental reasons. I love her, this place. I love New York and I probably always will, but the truth is, I outgrew New York, and I should not have encouraged my husband when he asked me how soon we could move back here.

But I did, because I wanted to come home, and maybe I needed to know the cold and bitter truth, that 99% of the friends I thought I had here are actually just acquaintances, and as fond as I am of them it doesn't change the fact that they're not enough to tie me down.

Here is what I know. I did not go away to college, like in Amanda's example, but I did go away, and I was away during that same squishy college age where you form your adult self and turn around one day and aren't sure who you are or how you got there. Instead of going off to college, I went off to become a grown-up. I moved into a house, had a baby, got married, became a woman, with different priorities and different values than the teenager I'd left behind.

("Look at what you've done, all you've accomplished," Steve said to me last week...)

I came back here expecting to embrace that teenager, see her again, remember her, her ideas, her dreams, but it turned out... she was a stranger to me. I have changed.

Back in Arizona I left a family. I was talking to Taylor about this just the other day, as we spoke about how Arizona seems to be drawing us both back, kicking and screaming. "We're family," I said to him, "whether we like it or not." And that's true.

I built my family out there with my bare hands, from my sisters to my brothers, and my nieces and nephews. Even new parental figures in the moms and dads of my close friends. There were even people I was just getting to know and love, and people I felt like I needed to get back on the ball with.

It took me the better part of four years to figure out how to live out there, but once I got it straight, I fell in love with it. Did I want to come home? Of course I did. Only I'd been so busy pining and mourning after New York I didn't realize I'd made a new home right there in Mesa. One it would actually break my heart to leave.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but I just spent two weeks rolling around in all that green grass and let me tell you how easy it was to breathe, how effortless it was to smile, how good it was to be back.


Liz, a friend of my husband's, said to me, "You can't ever really go home, as much as you might want to. The wheel keeps turning though, just as the seasons keep changing. Each step you take is a step towards a new you, a different you. But you couldn't be where you are now without the steps you've already taken."

I keep thinking of a quote from one of my favorite movies, Zach Braff's Garden State. "
You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your stuff, that idea of home is gone. You'll see one day when you move out. It just sort of happens one day and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know? You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don't know, but I miss the idea of it, you know? Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place."

My best friend Kerry, she spoke words never truer: "
Thinking about ... your musings on where is home, it's clear that these people [in Arizona] are your tribe. However, that's tricky, because no matter where one finds a tribe, that's always changing- people move, people enter different life situations... everything's constantly evolving. The magic won't ever be the same, because it can't be, because you and everyone else is different."

We are all changed, but the feelings we have for our homes and our families- blood or otherwise- will always be with us. Part of being a grown-up is figuring out what to do with those feelings and which way to turn when they blindside you at three am... or while on a cross-country journey. Love and peace are all that matter at the end of things.

(Now, I find myself wistful for the summit of Red Mountain, peeking over the rooftops of northeast Mesa, vermillion and glowing, on fire in the light of the setting sun.)

More photos from the trip.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You might notice I've been posting every other day- been getting ready for the trip to AZ which we leave for next week. As you can see by the complicated, color-coded list above, I tend to be a bit persnickety about my packing process. It usually starts two weeks in advance and comes together slowly. If I didn't do it this way- I'd forget something. Plus, this allows for emergency last-minute Amazon purchases of things I can't really travel without (rechargeable batteries for the new Kodak I got from a friend, a Built NY neoprene laptop sleeve to hold my laptop together in transit (yes, together, I mean that,) a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to have something to read on the plane qualify for Super Saver Shipping...)

Anyway, I always start to get anxious the week before a trip. Bad anxious, like airplanes are far too risky for me. (I watch a lot of Lost, okay?) Especially, this time, with 45-minute layovers. And I don't know if anyone remembers what happened last time I was towing a toddler and had a layover less than an hour long, but I wound up missing my flight because Ro took a faceplant on the escalator and I was making her run with blood gushing out of her face, had to stay the night in Cleveland on vouchers because I had no money, and Ro spent most of her time naked because I only had a couple hours worth of diapers in my tote bag (and it was the one time I opted not to carry a carry-on.)

Ahem. I hope to avoid that happening again.

We're flying Delta, which means we don't have to deal with everyone's new and improved baggage surcharge, and it turns out I really can pack for two weeks in a reasonably-sized suitcase for each of us. Remarkable! This time I won't shirk the carry-on with changes of clothes, just in case those layovers do come back to bite me, but who knows how lugging that duffel bag and Ro with her own backpack will slow us down.

I'll try my hardest not to be disappointed of we find ourselves having overnight adventures in Detroit, though I can't exactly say it's the one place I always wanted to visit. Yikes. Anyway, the whole point of this rambling diatribe was to explain why I'm less than chatty and will likely be even less so in the next three weeks. I'll post when I can, though. I'm sure to have a ton of photos, at least. =D

(Ro tries on her flower girl dress.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Always a few of these kicking around.

Nana brought a new pile of magazines with her on Sunday.
There's another month or two of reading in the tub after Ro goes to sleep. =)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Dabbler.

A Jack(ie) of All Trades, is that what I am? I often wonder how people decide what it is they're supposed to do with their lives. How it's remotely possible to wake up one morning and intrinsically know what you plan to spend that forty-thousand dollars in college tuition on as if it was never a question. If it'd been up to me, I'd have spent that ten times over by now, trying to perfect everything it is that I ever wanted to do. As it is, I did not ever get around to graduating high school, much less venture into the wide world of higher education. And honestly, I'm not always convinced that I envy my friends who have.

(Exhibit A: The Dabbler.)

When I tell you I have done, considered and perused everything, I am so not lying to you. If it remotely involves creative endeavors, I have sought to attempt it. Art teacher, Waldorf teacher, Adobe Creative Suite teacher, author and illustrator of children's books, toymaker, graphic designer, blogger, web designer, artist, illustrator, writer, seamstress, historical costume designer, jeweler, silversmith, photographer, interior designer, doula, midwife, professional organizer, professional organizer who specializes in hoarders...

Seriously, I have no idea what to do with myself. I ebb and flow like the tide or whatever dainty poetical term you want to call the fact that I can't ever seem to get a grasp on the one thing that I really, truly want to do. Because I want to do it all, of course. No aspirations here, just the obsessive drive to be as diverse and wacky as possible.

(Exhibit B: A sample of The Dabbler's 'serious' photography.)

I mean, I feel like somewhere in there I've been all of those things this whole time. I grew up with a remarkably creative family on my father's side, and I'm pretty sure it's just there, in my blood, and I don't have a choice. The problem is- I need to choose. I'm not going to be a Stay at Home Mom forever, not by any stretch of the imagination, but neither am I content with being a secretary for the rest of my life, you know? My lack of schooling sees to it that I am destined to never make more than fifteen bucks an hour no matter what job under The Man I happen to have. My only way of getting around this AND being happy forever, it seems, is to branch out on my own.

(Exhibit C: Notebooks.)
(I did not take this photo and for the life of me I cannot figure out who to credit for it, regardless of my Google-Fu.)

I have a stack of notebooks about the size of Rhode Island (come on, that's a reasonable size!) Because my best friend in highschool and I spent about three years writing ...possibly more than was healthy for us. Late nights, not paying attention in class, daydreaming, all attributed to spiral bound notebooks from the school store. She nurtured in me a love of writing, and it is because of her- and one other friend I happen to consider a best- that I am still writing to this day.

At this very moment in time I am thirty-five chapters into the second draft of my novel. I spend all of my free time parked right here in front of this laptop with a candle lit banging out the story meats fleshing out/cannibalizing the skeletal cremains of a story I wrote on and off for the past three years. I'm almost five-hundred pages completed and it's starting to look like a series. A whole series.

Between that, and this blog, and the frequency with which I update my LiveJournal, am I allowed to call myself a writer, now? Or do you need to be published to make that distinction? I suppose I've written about twenty informative articles (via TextBroker) that have been published on the internet and I've been paid for. So that's it, then? I'm a writer? Let me take a bow now, before it's too late.

(Now if only I didn't have to worry about my laptop falling apart at every turn. I can't keep this thing together with gaff tape much longer.)

(Exhibit D: Sterling & CZ solitaire ring made by The Dabbler.)

But wait. I've also been paid for jewelry I've made. Toys I've made. Clothes I've sewn. Websites I've designed. Art I've drawn. Does that also make me all of those other things "professionally"? When am I ever going to get a grip on this?

(Look, Ma! My bracelet, featured on Etsy's front page!)
(It never sold. I kept it for myself and passed it on a few years later to a dear friend along with the mermaid necklace below.)

So what makes a person what they are? How do you define yourself with any seriousness? How do you say "I'm a writer," without getting laughed at? I have a friend who is a brilliant artist. He worked for Marvel for two years (and incidentally went to the same college at the same time in the same program as my father.) He can now go around saying "I'm an artist" because he has the professional and educational credentials to back his claim. But what about the person who just sketches something in Photoshop every once in a while, but never had a job doing it? Is she allowed to say she's an artist?

My father worked as a graphic artist, went to school for art, has professional and educational credentials, but is less talented than I am- (no offense meant, dude, you said it yourself for years.) Does that make him more of an artist? A different type of artist? Less of an artist and more of a person who can handle responsibility manage to get more done? Where are the answers, universe?!

(These were gifts. No professionals here.)

It seems to me that I'm destined for the rest of my life to be the girl who could have been a hundred things but never got to be any of them because she couldn't make up her mind. But would I trade that? Would I ever trade that to be the person who went to college, got one degree, went out and used that degree to become one thing? I get to be fifty things! I am fifty things, and how cool is that?

Fifteen years later, "So, Ali, what do you do?"
"Oh, you know...

...I dabble."

Friday, February 19, 2010