Sunday, June 04, 2023

Back Home


back in Hyde Park

Easter with my friends grandson

I have moved again. I know, dear reader, that that the previous post had me in acceptance mode around my  new home situation, but my Self could not abide by the many confusing and frustrating elements of tiny house village life. Like a bad relationship one knows one should leave, you keep justifying why it's still okay to stay...saying things like: well the drive isn't that bad, I can stay another year and see how it goes (a classic!), maybe I'll fall in love with it again. But from the MOMENT I moved into the house it just felt wrong all around. It wasn't a slightly off kilter feeling or a small thing bugging me deep down that I couldn't identify, it was pure flight mode limbic war in my nervous system that was a giant flashing neon sign that said STOP! TRY AGAIN! WRONG! And that is okay. Because I am so good at moving and have a low tolerance for shit that doesn't work - I gave myself full permission to move out as soon as I found something in town I wanted to move into. I started looking for apartment near my old apartment probably within 3 days of moving into the tiny house. So why did I buy it? I thought it was what I wanted. I was taking a chance on something. I knew I could afford the gamble.

I moved into Tiny last Sept and was very busy with Election work until Christmas. I went on my annual birthday trip to NYC and then visited my folks in Houston. January was going to be when I looked for a new place to live. But I got a wild hair the day after New Year's and was flush with cash so signed up for a South America-Antarctica trip for the whole month of February. When I have the time and $ to travel I can't not do it. And why shouldn't I? I hate to miss any part of winter in Texas, but I knew I'd eventually go on this trip and have to face the Antarctic as an outsider. I'm glad I went on the trip. It wasn't near as fun as last year's Viking passage (my favorite: Iceland, Greenland, all of Eastern Canada) but I needed to confront the morass of feelings, bust open the pining bubble, face the loss. I wasn't crazy about Argentina, and the Antarctic part I wrote about on my secret blog (and may do a separate post here), but Ushuaia, Patagonia and Chile were all magnificent. I had been to Punta Arenas before when I deployed to Palmer Station, but seeing it 14 years later was so wonderful. I could handle the intense feeling of sitting on the dock where the vessels were that only us few prized and special workers got to sail to the station on. I looked for the Palmer or LMGould (rusty research vessels) but didn't see them. I saw the USAP logo everywhere and felt a little sting of rejection, as I have been trying to get back every year, but when I made the decision to be grateful for the 8 seasons instead of being bitter, my attitude changed. It had to. I have a friend I worked with down there who can write one text if she wants to go back and is immediately handed a contract. Myself, and a lot of others I know are just not wanted down there anymore and I have to accept it. I am a fantastic, superstar worker, but I am also difficult to work with. I have been told that enough to know it is true, and accept it. There are places were my style fits. I'll go into the incredible PIA I was on the trip in another piece, so this will focus more on my move back to the center of town.

When I got back from S. America I dropped my bags in my house (no sleep for two days)...laid down for a minute, then drove into town for the Parlor show and a film at AFS. My routine was to leave the tiny house after morning coffee and writing time and spend all day in town staying busy doing fun stuff and coming back by nightfall. It was really hard sometimes as I had a couple of hours to kill between events and didn't want to drive out there and back. Sometimes I would drive out there just to be in my home and relax, but then I wouldn't come back out to town, as the drive back in the dark could be very hairy. It's only about 10 miles from where I sit now, but it's out in the dark countryside, with lots of traffic and no freaking lights on the roads. I had seen this adorable apartment (where I now live) in January, and told myself if it were still for rent when I got back (from my month's long trip) I would move into it. The big plusses for me were that it is a tiny complex owned by a couple that I can talk to and who take meticulous care of it. It feels well loved, and the unit I am in was specially remodeled for their daughter. My big top floor bedroom is a large square room with a giant queen bed where I can see tree tops and beautiful old Hyde Park homes. I am in the heart of Hyde Park - I can walk to two grocery stores, walk to my favorite weekend pizza joint that has daytime live music, and have a gentle bus ride to downtown if I want to see bands. It is beyond perfect. It is expensive, but everything is here now.

I realized that the first address I had in this neighborhood was 40 years ago, 1983, the year I graduated from UT. I have had 4 or 5 other apartments in this neighborhood, and it has been an interesting adjustment to move back to what was previously a student and punk rocker filled neighborhood. The homes here cost over a million dollars, and my tiny, bare bones complex is filled with working professionals instead of students. I have spent my last 7 years in Austin forming a lifestyle here that is pretty fabulous after the 6 years in a mountaintop cabin in Oregon. It was the right decision to move back into the center of town.

I thought I was going somewhere epiphanal with this post. I certainly woke up with that on the brain. Just remembered - I usually travel a lot when I have time off, but have signed up for two different classes that meet 3, sometimes 4 night a week. I am feeling trapped and unfree (ancient, trauma-track response), but I have been telling myself for YEARS that I need to take advantage of the riches around me for learning new stuff. I used to be a prolific painter who had my stuff hanging all over town. From the late 80's until 2003 or so I just drove my art from one location to the next - I sold a TON of it - and have a couple of "collectors" who have several of my pieces. I never took my painting that seriously, it is easy for me to do and I insist on finishing a painting in one sitting. Ironically (because I don't consider myself a serious painter) I use oils so I can keep going back and touching up and working on things. I do tap into that incredible creative place when the painting starts to reveal itself. I dont  draw or do sketches, just throw paint directly onto the canvas and see what happens. But unlike a lot of my painter friends, I do not crave painting or do it at home when I'm alone. It's only exciting when I'm doing it surrounded by other painters. So I signed up for this no instruction studio class where we just paint together and the teacher engages with us if we want to. The first class was a joy...that creative person in me just dying to get out...and not just with the process of painting but the interaction with the other artists. These other folks are serious painters. They had chops, and photos, and giant landscapes, while I'm doing my fat dragon babies that I hope look edgy but end up looking like cartoons. Oh well! No matter how much I have tried to quash and hide the soft and cute and whimsical side of me, she always shows up. Yes I drove big farm tractors in Antarctica with the men and was known as the resident badass city girl (the other women had grown up on working farms) who took to operating a front end loader like I was born in one. But the side I am always trying to hide shows up on the canvas - I will do a painting and think it is really dark, Eraserhead-ish (which is what I am ALWAYS going for) and then have some nice West Lake Hills lady buy it (and several others) for her toddler's room.   The brush doesn't lie!

Unlike painting, I think my real voice comes through in writing. This is purer, easier to do (yet harder to start), and puts me into the same delicious zone. Writing is like sitting down with my wizened old self (or like a pencil in the hand of God as Mother Teresa said), and painting is more like being tossed into the unknown and working my way through to the other side. I always start panting when the painting starts to come if my soul is trying to get my heart and mind to catch up with it. So, the painting studio is one evening a week, and I signed up for a filmmaking intensive for 6 weeks that will take up a lot of time. The classes will be in the same building where I got my filmmaking degree in 1983. It's stirring up a lot, as making films was really hard. Not the creative part or the story telling, but the technology (and mostly, the working with others). 

My apartment is directly behind a little backyard house that I lived in with my mom and sister in the mid '60s when my mom was single, between husbands. I have very few memories of that time, but they are seem somewhat sweet - I see that little house everyday when I walk down the alley, and wonder why, me of all people, who wants to be as far away from everything she knows for as long as possible, has moved back the spot where she was born: a few blocks from the actual birthing hospital, and a rock toss from the shack home. It seems like I am always searching for a October of 2004 when the C-17 touched down on the Ice Runway I felt more at home than I ever had. I am the type of traveller that feels most at home in a city I've never been to before. I am never at home. I am always at home.


Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Tiny House and Thirty


I just bought this tiny house - about 6 weeks ago. In that 6 weeks I have gone through a huge gamut of emotions and some serious buyer's remorse...over the past year I have curated this very interesting life: lots of rock and roll shows, lots of juicy contact with new friends that I see when I go out, good movies at the film society and epic, epic travel! I went on a 24 day cruise that circumnavigated Iceland and traipsed through Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador also. It was just incredible - very fun all of the time. I got back from that trip end of August after a brutal Texas summer...I was so miserable and was so happy to be somewhere cool.

When I got back from that trip I had my September Taos painting workshop looming on the horizon but I didn't feel like going. I hadn't had that much fun in May, but I had had a deep process in the painting. I thought about it for a few days and then decided to save the money and not I was looking at two weeks before my job started and I came out to look at the tiny homes here at the tiny house village that I had been looking at for several years. I looked at a few for re-sale, then I came and toured ALL of the brand new homes for sale on the Farm side and was seriously thinking about a couple of them. I went home and mulled over all the info...and just felt like I wasn't ready...none of them seemed perfect enough. But I had seen this one house that had a for sale by owner sign and no one was talking about it - so I was sitting around my apt trying to figure out what to do when I saw that I had taken a photo of the sign and called the number and a guy who the owner hired to help out (not a realtor) told the price and I gasped - it was 30-40K less that than the brand new ones, and had some add ons that are pricey and I really loved. When he sent me the photos I was like I Want to See it Right Away! Short story long: I saw the house on Saturday a half hour before the open house was to start, and on Monday I was at my bank wire transferring the $ to the owner's bank account. We both had a week off of were getting everything buttoned up FAST so it was the next day it was my house. She handed me the keys and a giant binder with all the manuals and I had met some neighbors...for a solid week before work I moved carload after carload of stuff over there...bought a bed and a little couch and made it live in ready. It was adorable, but something didn't feel right...

By the friday after I bought it I spent my first night there...I was uncomfortable and didn't sleep well, was cranky in the a.m because I had no coffee. I raced back to my apt and felt like I was coming back to my sweet, giant quiet apt I had live-in for 6 years....the longest I had ever rented an apt. I had never had a lease for more than one year..then I owned a house for 9 years, a condo for 4, rented in Oregon for a couple of years, and bought the mountain cabin and lived in it for 3.5 years and sold it a few years later. 

I came back Saturday to stay here and there was a loud party at the Mexican neighborhood attached to this one and I freaked out...I packed up my stuff and RACED back to my apt. For the next few weeks I would stay at the house for a few days, just JONESIN to go back to my apt. In my mind and heart that apt. was EVERYTHING to was my new Antarctica! This special, deeply soulful home for me that I needed to get pack...I went on a whirlwind of activity based in fear: going back and forth with apt. management on leaving or staying (they management sucks bad so that is why I was going to leave anyway)...looking at apts. near my old apt. so I could have my super convenient place to live. I pined for that apt. and my big bed and private upstairs like  a homesick child. I have never actually been very homesick...but I was homesick BAD for that apt. In the midst of working hard, looking at apts., having a realtor on standby to sell the house before I even moved in, I had lunch with a friend who said "you never have to spend another night there" and that made my body relax so much that I just stayed in my apt. a few days...what happened after I got that huge dose of permission is that I became curious about the house: I thought about it's brand new cuteness...the over the top beauty of the design, the sparkling new washer and dryer and icemaker, the no shared walls, my own little parking spot right outside my door...close to town, but also sort of in the country. I am sitting here now and I love it..but my heart and soul went though one of the saddest and toughest times ever with this change.

I was so afraid I was going to have to change my personality, give up my rock and roll lifestyle, sit out her and be fat and hang out with boring felt so far away...but it isn't...I am right in town..just a few miles out east...

The second issue is the front door, back door! The front porch is gorgeous and all the neighbors walk around and visit each other and gossip and they are not my people...I had been making myself go out front and hang with them and bond with them and I felt like I was supposed to be doing that. But when I come in and just hang out in my bedroom like I did when I was in my apt. I do much better and feel more true to myself. I have done somethings to try and fit in and they have made me miserable. I have to really listen to my guy and stay inside if I don't feel like interacting with them. Not all the houses have a back entrance...mine is my saving grace - I even have  a full, private back porch. I open the blinds in the morning and sit in bed, drink coffee and look out the window at people walking by...I am getting more used to it. I can stay in town after work and go to a show, movie or meeting.

The first thing that made me go in shock about this place was that a few days after I bought it a FIREPIT was installed directly in front of my house. Everyone but me loves this...all I can think of is noisy people - it looks like a KOA campground out there - fucking hell! It might be might get used in the winter and people might be quiet at it, but if they are loud, I am not going to like it.

When I decided to stay out here and no go back and forth to the apartment, things got better for me..I accepted that this is my home...this is where I live...when my job is over I will decide if I want to stay here or move back into town...or move OUT of town. I have fun trips planned next year! Taos in May, British isles in August, and I'll throw in a couple of New York and Alpine trips to boot. May fly to Pittsburgh to go check it out - but Austin has been really good to me these past 6 years...just lots of epic fun and lot of super busy going out and having a blast. I love my life.

And yesterday, I had 30 years continuous sobriety. Hell Yeah.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hard 29

Since my last post a lot has happened! Not a lot that I will write specifically about (I bet I do...wait for it!) but something happened on August 21st and I'm coming out the other side of the 3 month emotional bender feeling pretty confident and unscathed. I was in this princess play that was amazingly fun and rewarding to do. It made me realize how much I love being on stage. Originally I signed up just to be an extra or a stagehand but ended up with a spotlight solo as apparantly I am a very good performer, and better yet, a good song interpreter on the fly. 

We had our first performance in July and our second one on August 21st. I had just gotten back from a super fun road trip to NM and wasn't really looking forward to the second performance but put on a ton of make-up and fancy clothes and dragged myself to this place really far down south and had a really great time. Afterwards I felt engergized by the performance and decided to go see a band of old freinds that was at a club that I'd never been too as it's so far south. That is where the Big Event happened. Six weeks of delerious and tortuous passion. Twelve pounds lost. Many cigarettes smoked. Emotional sobriety challenged and then tipped over into obsession. I had prayed for this. Be careful what you ask for! 

Something split inside of me and the protective steel wall was down and I let love in...let it in too raw and unguarded but I dove in head first as I hadn't pressed up against anything like this in many, many years. I was sunk. I was hooked. He might as well have been a tall gorgeous crackpipe. The good news is I've been single and serene (relatively) for so long that I can only handle emotional upset for a very short time before I take action. The action was a full withdrawel, a boatload of unexected grieving and tears, and a stretching of my emotional landscape. So many good things happened: I learned that I am still sexy and desirable and when I wear bright red lipstick I might as well take a giant dogcather for all the boys that come after me. It was thrilling and fun. Plus I got back into the live music groove and saw lots of incredible bands and met lots of really cool people. I was around a lot of drinking, a lot of drunks, but my sobriety was never compromised. My sanity was shaken, but I'm back almost 100% I think. 

Somewhere in there I got a 29 year sobriety coin. November 1st, 1992 is my sobriety date and I'm starting to see that that is not a small thing. My Spo keeps telling me I have a lot to offer and to say so I went to a giant packed auditorium last night and was the first person to talk and I had the group in when I heard that first laugh I was off to the races with the joking..the next 50 people that shared were heartfelt and choked up. I felt strange and separate - why do I never tear up in meetings? Well I did it and then second guessed myself for the next 2 hours whether I was a real memeber or not. C'est la vie... 

I had also gone to Taos for my painting workshop and because it was shortly after a particularly fabulous hang with Aug. 21st man I was obsessed the whole trip and somewhat miserable. I wasn't laughing...had no buddy until I met this awesome 25 year old kid who became my bud and we went to the local bar and had a blast the last night in Taos and I FLEW back to Austin (in my car) to hope to run into le person. County work started back up so I had full days of laughs and companions to talk about this ridiculously OTT crush with. They put up with me. They laughed and joshed around with me. And by mid Nov they were letting my bawl on their shoulders. Man I have a huge support network here that never ceases to amaze me. I love my work and my co-workers, I love my handful of freinds, and I love my live music scene. Covid made me appreciate this stuff even more as I wasn't able to travel for two years. I've been to NYC now 3 times since covid begain and always always love it. 

I saw Hamilton on my 61st birthday...I am still swooning after the play and have a ticket for the show here in a few weeks. During the grieving I was doing over This Thing I Really Wanted That Didn't Happen, I had some beautiful moments: really listening to songs I never listen to and hearing the lyrics on a level I never listened to music to before. I would hear a song about heartbreak and sob and feel that this person had to have gone through the exact same thing to be able to write this song. I listened to stuff in a whole new way. I had a hard time reading as nothing I would read was as interesting as what I was going through. And I was terrified of going back to my old life. 

I was terrfied to go back to the spinster biddyhood of knitting and binge watching in sweatpants. The crush showed me that. I'm still out there, in the game, willing get my heart bruised, willing to risk being a fool. I have 5 planets in Scorpio: it's how I'm made. I love risk and drama and dreams and destruction and anything that makes a good story. And this is a story that I think I should have many chapters of in my story bank but something was different about this one and I haven't quite put my finger on what it was. The depth of feeling and the richness of the emotional intimacy was brand fucking new. I cannot ever remember having a connection like this with a person. Ever. And that is a good thing. To know that I can still feel this way about a person. So what I am going to take with me is some new things to do - go out more, stay home less. Drag myself out even when I dont want to go - because how many more years am I going to be able to go out and dance like a fool much less get in the "pit" like I did last week! 

I will get beyond this. I bounce back faster than the average bear. Resilient as hell an old friend used to tell me about how quickly I moved on. And I atill have myself, my dignity intact - I didn't give away the one thing that used to be the first thing I would give away. I was honest, I showed up but didn't chase, I kept my cool and when he appeared to bail, I bailed. I fell in love with the fantasy of a life I wanted that seemed beautiful and romantic and better than the one I was living. The one I am living feels okay right now...I have some new dreams...and they are very exciting to ponder!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

West Texas (I also went to Santa Fe)

art installation in the desert

my beloved Antelope Lodge


Marfa, TX

the coolest store ever!

Haven't been our here in around 15 years and it has been a terrific couple of days
 - that old West Texas spell has been woven into my bones again...pre-Antarctica, this was the place I fantasized about moving to the most...and lots of Austin ex-pats have moved here. I could easily afford a house out here. And it feels different coming out here with more amenities and stuff to do, and with more money being poured into the area by rich folks coming in with fancy shops and re-habbing old buildings.

I went to Santa Fe first but that deserves it's own posting...or maybe not...I was with friends there so had a very different experience than when I'm on my own like I usually am when I'm out here. This is my first solo trip without Fergus...I spent more time out doing stuff than I would if he were in the car...but not that much more would have been difficult as it's not cool enough to have the windows up and it rained so much I couldn't have left the car windows open. 

What feels really different this time is that there is no urgency to moving out here...I know that when the times comes (if it does)...then I can relaxedly move out here and do my artwork and watch beautiful sunsets. But will I like that? What I've loved most on the trip is the driving...getting from point A to point B in a luxury car and really enjoying the drives...I like the intensity of these road really suits me. I notice that I like to be interacting with people a lot in shops and during transactions...I probably over-visited with 4 shopkeepers today, but I did buy something in every shop so I guess they were okay with it. There is just so much to talk about as I've been coming here so long and watch the changes.

And on this trip I've been dreaming a lot...sleeping deeply and dreaming a lot..a certain kind of dream that I haven't been having before...dreams with the same theme: of really wanting to connect deeply with someone in an intimate way...since things have opened up and we were maskless for a a few months my life was really ramping up in the going out and meeting men area. I was having a lot of really good intimate connections with people and feeling like something could happen. There was one particularly good night where the flirtations was strong and intense, but he said he wasn't "really single" so no numbers were exchanged but I ran into him a few other times at shows and meh. Then I met this tall tattooed German guy who was striking and intense, and we really bonded over some deep intimate talk of what it's like to be OLD and single. I dunno - I don't know what I want..or maybe I just haven't imagined it yet...maybe I just haven't opened myself up to the possibility that there is someone out there who wants me exactly like I am...someone easy and fun and laid back and loves to laugh. Someone Texan and goofy but hip and darling too...and most of all, someone who treats me like the one he's been waiting for all his life. The beloved. Now I read a lot of Rumi and Hafiz and do all the spiritual practices that tell me that the one I am waiting for and the beloved are MYSELF, and sometimes I really feel that. Sometimes when I'm "on the beam" I really feel at one with the universe. I feel on the beam on this road trip. I get to perform again this weekend. I get to do fun stuff and travel. I get to love the people I love. I get to drive to Alpine (via Lubbock, Santa Fe, Cloudcroft NM) and it's an easy trip...very very easy. And I relaxedly get to decide if I'd like to buy a home here. It could be really nice! But 3 hours to the airport! Oh well, that would be another road trip!


Tuesday, December 08, 2020


first mad dash
first MoMA visit in 30 years

Happy Birthday to Me!

It was a difficult decision, to decide whether to go to NYC for my birthday. I have been going the last 6 years or so and it had become a tradition that I treasured. I was really worried about traveling during covid, not worried about getting it or doing anything I wouldn't usually do, but worried about being checked up on and forced to quarantine in my hotel. I went on a huge driving trip during the big summer surge and was met with nothing but smiles and open arms everywhere...across many states. I decided at the last minute to take a chance and go...when I made the decision I was ecstatic! I was not going to have a sad 60th birthday in Austin where I can't have a gathering...I was going to do what I always do (minus seeing a play) and was going to do all the things the ny website asked me to do (except stay in my hotel room for 4 days). I took a test before I boarded the airplane and was ecstatic to be doing the airport thing again. I LOVE airports and just going anywhere really on a plane. The airport was empty, the planes were empty, and LaGuardia was pretty much empty too...I was whisked to my hotel quickly and dropped my bad and did my usual mad dash around the Murray Hill neighborhood that has started to feel like my vacation spot. I grabbed a veggie slice and then hoofed it around Grand Central, Bryant Park, Times Square and then through Rockefeller Center on the way back to my hotel.

It was different, but still wonderful. Some things were so much better: no lines at the museums or bagel shops. I had a blissful day at the MoMa where it was dotted with visitors but not the usual giant lines I see every time I walk by it. Bryant Park was bustling with skaters and open air shops and restaurants so I would sit there in the evenings and have a hot chocolate and watch the skaters (i.e.: resting my dogs). I grabbed food to go mostly except for the day Kate came into the city, where we dined at several outdoor venues...our favorite bars were closed (where she has a cocktail and I have a fizzy water and just enjoy the ambiance). We stayed on the lower east side and it was abuzz with young rowdy folks. I had gone to the Strand one evening and had a delightful time there, but when Kate and I decided to go there on a Saturday evening there was a line around the block. There was a line to get into Uniqlo when it opened, but for some reason I have no desire to shop for clothes anymore. But I was looking for something special for my birthday, as I usually buy a play ticket or something nice for myself.

On my last day my flight wasn't until 5:00pm so I had plenty of time to do stuff. I walked  up to 5th avenue and took a right and thought about going to the Park (which I never go to) as I was just trying to vary my routine. I walked in front of Trump Tower and always glance over at the heavily armed guards..and then saw some men in bright blue scarves standing in front of some construction scaffolding letting people know that the Tiffany's store was open even though it had some construction going on around it. (For the past several years it seems like every other building has scaffolding and construction going on around it). I have never gone into that store as I feel I look too scruffy for them but I saw this touristy couple go in and I just followed them in. I was gleefully escorted to the floor of items that I said I could afford (just the silver please!) and these lovely ladies fluttered around me as I looked at all the nicely made and reasonably priced pieces. I had a hard time picking something but decided to go small and got a charm that was inexpensive and small but is in their traditional design with  a modern twist to it. I hung it on the charm holder necklace I was wearing and after paying they asked if I wanted a box but I said I would take a bag. The blue bag! I skipped out of the store with the bag on my arm and felt that I had given myself the best 60th birthday present I could have ever had...and not just the bauble from Tiffany's.

There was a time when I couldn't imagine that I would ever be able to afford to fly to NYC and stay in a decent hotel and just do what I want for 5 days. I mostly just walk around, but if I want to spend money and eat out every day and see play I do it. If I want to buy myself treats I do that as well...but these short trips to ny are a symbol of something big for me in my life: they are a symbol of my having agency over my own life, of me doing exactly what I want to do and psychically and psychologically freeing myself from the scarcity and stinginess that is in my lineage. Why is it any better to have money sitting in a bank rather than to spend it on small things that improve the quality of my life SO MUCH and make my mental health and self esteem plumper.

When I lived in ny I would often look at all the apartments and wonder how someone was able to afford to live there...wonder if there was something wrong with me - and I found out there wasn't. I just had to work hard for a really long time and make this a priority in my life. 

This is 60 for me- this is better than I thought it would be...


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

5009 Miles

I prepared for a few days after worrying for a week or so wether I should go on this trip at all...was concerned about covid, people's reactions to me traveling, how safe it was out there, etc...but I knew I would not be able to keep myself from blazing across the country to Oregon once I gave myself the go ahead...I needed to be with these sweet mountain people who loved me dearly...

I got up at 6:00am on July 29th and drove to Amarillo and spent the night...drove out to the Cadillac Ranch and took some photos...the next day was a long drive to Flagstaff and after checking into my hotel did a quick jaunt down town to walk around...wasn't much going on so pretty much stayed in hotel room and ate noodle bowls I brought with me...knew I'd be getting up early and the next day's drive to Atascadero was super long and stressful, but I had a friend there that I've know for over 20 years and it was so great to see her and have a nice meal outdoors on a cool patio with her and her husband. I decided to stay an extra day there and not we had a super fun day driving around the central coast and visiting all the little towns. And I stayed in this lovely downtown boutique hotel and just loved every minute of being away from Austin. The next day I drove to Rocklin (outside Sacramento) and stayed with my friend Steve and had a wonderful day where I felt just so taken care of and such a warm sensation of being with someone that I've known and loved for a really long time (I always tell people he was my best boyfriend ever). Steve has a big heart and presence and takes care of those around him well. I hung out at his wonderful comfortable home with his dog and sweet 4 year old son Jasper. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to handle staying at someone's house, especially on a couch in the living room, but as soon as that warm family glow spread all over me I knew I would stay at Steve's. I slept like a baby and awoke to his sweet doggie sleeping with me and drove to Bend, OR to break up the drive. I could have driven straight to Welches but didn't want to arrive at my hosts house too early and had heard great things about Bend. It was a mistake to stay there - Bend is a shithole and my cheap hotel's wifi went out around 7:00pm and I had kind of a meltdown which turned into a grieving session that lasted in me bawling for hours. At first it was just frustration about not having internet and really being sucked into Hell on Wheels again, but then I was forced to confront those juicy old deeply crusted over wounds/desires that seem to only emerge with a 5 day 80mph road trip. It's happened to me on every road trip: I spend most the day in euphoria/raptor like focus on the road...followed by a gradual falling apart and vulnerable period where I feel sad and weepy. All ancient grievances are re-hashed, and only when I park and get into the hotel am I relieved and hunker down for deep sleep. What happened in Bend was some familiar stuff I've been dealing with for a few years with therapists in Austin; also a love jones that had me spinning in Austin and took 5000 miles to forget about. But then something very familiar happens at the end when I think all of my unhappiness is a particular person's fault: I unconsciously open my computer and look at the McMurdo webcams and go into a zone of what it is I am really grieving - missing the place that gave me everything...gave my life 24/7 badass meaning and purpose and joy every day. Before McMurdo I dated big tattooed guys/bikers to feel badass...then I got to become that badass I tried to get on the outside...she lived in me and just needed a place to manifest...this is hard, this time of year as people start to deploy, as I see pics of people in Christchurch getting ready for that C-17 ride to the Ice runway...something I got to do 7 times (1 time was by boat)...a situation that still rips my heart out every time I think about it because I miss it so much. I have a job now that almost gives me that much satisfaction, but it barely rates in comparison. It's a familiar patten when I start to feel sad: let the feelings overtake and dive deep into grieving, cry long enough to realize I miss my home. I still apply every year for positions, but have fallen out of the loop and much younger people deploy...and I keep trying to make my life here feel like the one I had there...and I have a very good life here, but it is hard for me to accept that the best is behind me...I can't even imagine there could be something that could be that fulfilling to my being, but maybe I should start trying to believe that there is.

But wait, I was writing about my road trip, which was one of the best trips I have every I get to Welches at about 10:00am and my host is playing golf and his wife is gardening. I have a lovely little room in their beautiful home on the river. I am euphoric driving over to the RV park I lived in and just traveling that familiar little road in the beautiful forest...I was so unhappy there most of the time but I love going back...what I didn't realize when I moved there was that I would form this community of people that I love - that I feel so close to - that can't wait to see me and welcome me like a beloved relative. I spent 10 days at my host's home and it was delightful...I saw so many friends and went to Portland and then when I left I had another exciting road trip with some wonderful discoveries: Helper Utah and Canon City, CO...two fantastic little towns that need to be visited again. The joy of the trip has evaporated with some realities of being back in Austin. I am happy to be in my apartment and be free for a few weeks, and then back to work for this insane presidential election.

I was so happy for the 3 weeks I did this trip. It could not have been time I just need to make it longer...I had been planning to do this ever since I got the gently used Lexus as a gift. She performed beautifully. I had a mission, a goal, a destination, and all of it was wonderful...I just feel so loved by that mountain. I just can't live there full time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Nineteen Eighty Four - Rego Park, Queens

It's fall of 1984 and I'm living in a basement apartment in Rego Park Queens. I found it by looking in a newspaper, finding an agent and giving my parameter of $500/month rent max. I still remember this unusual guy and he said "I have a PALACE for's an enormous PALACE! He drove me to this kind of ugly 3 story newish building in the heart of Archie Bunker style Queens houses. He took me to the basement, and it was indeed, enormous - enormous and fully furnished with a vintage 50's stereo cabinet. There was a little window over the bed that let in light from the backyard and he sold me on the value per square foot. Also it was close enough to a subway stop to get me to my job at 61st/Madison so I signed a years lease. Without going in the stürm and drang of my first few months in the city, here's the cliff notes: I moved to NYC upon graduation from UT in late summer of 1983. I stayed on the Upper East Side with G for a few months and decided I needed to live on my own. I had mailed out tons of resumes to film companies and got a few letters back, and some calls (pre cell phone and internet days kiddies!). I ended up getting a job with a high end watch wholesaler who had been handed my resume because it said I spoke French, and the company was based in Paris. My boss was a chain smoking, smolderingly handsome Portuguese man named Carlos. This was my first non fast food, first big girl job, AND it was in NYC and I was excited/nervous. I wanted to be perfect and was terrified of authority and of making mistakes. A condition that would haunt my work life for many years.

For six months I went to work 9-5 every day in stomach clinching fear, mostly hungover, and not knowing how to do my job very well (and not knowing that I needed help or how to ask for it). I had only an electric typewriter, and my boss would yell at me constantly and was always on the phone schmoozing to people in French or Portuguese, wrapped in a cloud of cigarette smoke. He was trying to get his watches in all the high end retailers in the city and I was writing the letters to the head buyers. He said they looked like crap and made me redo them. I sensed that he liked me and was trying to have a jokey and fun time with me but I couldn't go there. I was a highly boundaried (not in a good way) employee who felt I was so below a boss, and deathly afraid of making mistakes. I can't even really remember why I was so scared but I think I had to do a lot of accounting stuff with an adding machine (10 key by touch!)...and I am not confident with my math abilities so when I didn't know what to do instead of asking a question I would just get scared and hide what I had done. Carlos would eventually find a mistake and blow up at a me. After he blew up he'd be over it and ready to joke and laugh...whereas I would be completely traumatized and would not be able to recover until I plunged into the Irish bar across the street from my office every evening. (The antics at this bar I could write a book about - I had to stop going because of how much trouble I got in).

It was unfortunate that it took a very long time (my last boss I was terrified of was from 2000-2003), but I no longer cower with bosses. I have several male bosses now and I get up in their faces and bare fangs if they overstep. I say NO a lot. And it works. They respect me. O the suffering I could have avoided if I'd learned this lesson as a wee one. Punch back at the bully. But to continue...

I hated going to the office and just got sicker and sicker fantasizing on how I could escape or quit. It never occurred to me that I could just quit - I was so obedient and conditioned to focus on a powerful and scary person's needs and to squash my own that that was how I was at work. Outside of work I had boyfriends, lovers, friends come stay with me from out of town, wild debauched early 80's new yorky stuff (white) all around me and had what I thought was fun at the time, but looking back I think I was pretty lost and just didn't know it because I was so busy feeling like a trapped animal by day and going wild at night. I recently told a friend who knew me at this time (he was in grad school at NYU) what I was doing on my weekends and his mouth was hanging open in shock. He got serious about his studies after we hung out my first few months and I was off onto the dark after hours underbelly at night.

I am finally getting to point of this long (yet endlessly interesting to me) and rambling post: one Sunday about six or seven months into this job I decided I was going to call in sick on Monday. I had never called in sick to work (and now, 36  years later, can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I have called in sick, and most of those times I was not actually "sick"). Something in me just said fuck it I need a break from this relentless cycle of hell of this confusing job world. I was nervous all day planning how I was going to do it and what I was going to say, and early Monday morning I left a message on the office answering machine that I was feeling ill and wouldn't be in. Then I unplugged my phone.

I had noticed one of those old art deco single screen movie theaters in my neighborhood and that was where I was going to spend my day. I decided I would go to the afternoon feature no matter what the film was. I was a terrible film snob at the time and did not see current Hollywood fare but told myself I was gonna go no matter what was showing. I walked to the theater and bought a ticket for "Footloose". I remember how cheesy and goofy the film was and how silly the music but I didn't care. I had decided I gave no fucks for Carlos and his stupid watches and this Monday was my own and he didn't own me. I wish I could remember more about the day but what I do remember is going back to my basement apt. and seeing the red light on my answering machine blinking a bunch. I had about 14-30 messages from Carlos. He had been compulsively calling me all day, utterly dependent on me and my cheap labor (I had looked at the file of applicants when I applied for the job and they had all asked for twice to three times as much money as I had). His calls were ridiculous and creepy...acting like he wanted me to call and talk about what I was doing (so weird to me), but he was scared I wasn't coming back. He needed me. And I had flipped him off by being not contactable.

I did not call back, and don't remember exactly what happened when I went back but shortly thereafter I got the euphoric news that the company was being sued and they were high tailing it to LA in 6 weeks. I had an out! Carlos begged me to move to LA and offered to buy me a car and partly subsidize an apt. I said no, but that I would go out to set up the office for two weeks. It was a hideous/hilarious two weeks of me staying with some friend of his (and her kids) in Beverly Hills, walking to work dressed in all black, having to hide in the home as there was some ex driving by threatening to shoot everyone in the house. I hated LA and knew that I would. My last day of working for Carlos ended with me treating my hostess to dinner, and while at this fancy restaurant she was telling me a story about a recent date she'd had (I had just drained a giant smoothie from a glass-this is important), she was describing his physical appearance saying he had a "lump" and I said where was the lump? And she said no, what is the word for it (English was not her first language) and she stood up and pantomimed a person with a bum leg. And I said do you mean a "limp?" And she said YES, A "LIMP!" We started laughing so hard that I started gagging...I still had smoothie in my throat when I started laughing and the gagging turned into I was going to throw up...she looked at me in alarm and held the empty smoothie glass under my mouth for me to hurl into. I filled up the glass to the brim. Goodbye LA! Never heard from Carlos again.

Yesterday when I was thinking about this memory before my writing class I started googling stuff in Rego Park, and I think I found the little theater I went to. Just like before I moved where I am right now, I have getting very very sentimental about a place I have lived before...looking at the house I lived in on google maps and seeing my subway stop. I don't know why this memory is so compelling to me but this is the 3rd time I have written it out in several feels like time again to jettison the cobwebbed Austin life of the known and move across country again. And why not? I never lose anything when I do this -.  I just seem to gain, and I must be wired so differently than most people as they say they cannot imagine "uprooting" and moving somewhere and leaving all their friends. This is my soul's magic place...gleefulling getting rid of my stuff, packing my car and moving across county. If I have ONE friend there I am good - I will start forming a tribe or life pretty quickly...the clan I left behind in Oregon are some of the dearest people to me on earth. Six years in Oregon - only fond memories (though my diaries from that time show a screeching internal hellscape).

As a solo movie goer for my entire adult life, and as a daughter of a mother weaned and raised by solo theater outings (she has told me she went to the movies every day after school) it was (and still is) a solo act that has seems to have a high feminist and self care component - it's an act of courage for people who say they could never go by themself, and in these times especially, a few hours that one is utterly unavailable.


Some other things that happened at that first NYC job: I was sent on missions to interesting places all over the city for various errands. I slinked around inside what felt like the walls of Grand Central Station to find this ancient darling man in an ancient dusty office repairing and tinkering with old timepieces. I was sent to Hell's Kitchen (early 80's, scary) with a suede briefcase filled with expensive watches handcuffed to my wrist up a rickety walk up next to an abandoned building to meet "some guy" who wanted to buy "some watches." I was sent to luxurious high rise offices with views of the city that made me swoon. Carlos' famous finance (main model on the Price is Right!) came to the office and Carlos called to tell me to hide his condoms and cigarettes in his desk. Janice glided in and threw her mink into my arms. These are the things that stick with was all good - the horrible and the beautiful. I almost miss being that naive and young and being so besotted with a place that I would put up with anything to be there.