Warm home, cold home.

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

“California is MESSING WITH ME.”

That was my predominant thought as I drove through that wonderful chaos of a state. It was a little bit like bumping into your ex, I imagine, after you haven’t seen him for a few years, and suddenly you remember all of the things you loved about him, and you wonder if maybe things could work this time, if things have changed, maybe, just enough that things could work.

Where California is concerned, I am into the longitudinal extremes. I love the far northern counties where the population hasn’t yet bled over and the air is still clean and the trees and mountains are still the loudest and quietest presense around. I love San Diego, the north’s near opposite and perfect complement. Los Angeles can smog itself to oblivion for all I care; San Francisco is a total bore. But San Diego, oh. I love it.

My trip was wonderful, I had such a great time. I’m sorry I dissed LA and San Francisco, they are nice enough cities. We spent one day in LA, mostly on the UCLA campus and then up to Griffin Park at night to see the Hollywood sign (we could see it, although it wasn’t illuminated. The rest of the city was illuminated, though, and stretched on forever.) We spent the rest of our time in Oceanside and San Diego, with a few daytrips to Orange County (home of some of my biggest life lessons, 3 years back).

On my way into the state I had no idea what my reaction would be. It had been home, however briefly. In some strange way, it was home before I had ever moved there. And this was the first time that I would be back, at least to this part of the state.

Maybe because our first stop was LA I didn’t feel nostalgic at first. Granted, it felt really good to be zipping along the I5 again, but I wasn’t seized with emotion like I suspected I might be. As our time continued in San Diego, though, it began to creep up on me. I love it there, really. I had to remind myself that I was on vacation, and as fun as it was to spend entire days in the sun with some of my best friends, that isn’t what day-to-day life looks like. That’s vacation. Real life is harder, and often lonely. Regardless, I couldn’t help but thinking, “How can I get back here?” I’ve been out of college too long to just go on a whim, I would need a reason. A person can find a reason for anything, if they really want to. While I was there, I wanted to.

I had some back-of-my-head worries about returning to Wisconsin. It was unseasonably warm when we left San Diego, and I heard rumors it would be 15 below zero at home. It would be dark, snowy, and cold, and I would be depressed, I was sure of it.

Surprisingly, though, I wasn’t. Maybe I just can’t conjure up depression like I once could (what kind of artist does that leave me?) but when I got back to Wisconsin last night I felt nothing but home. I’m really thankful for that, to be honest. I may go back to California at some point, I may look for a reason or the reason might come to me unsolicited. I might stay in Wisconsin forever, who knows. I’m here now, and that’s what counts right now.

Haha, can you tell I use this blog as self-therapy sometimes?  Okay, most all of the time.

In lieu of a parking receipt.

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

My last boyfriend and I broke up over the phone.  The last time I saw him was at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, and at the time I didn’t know that we would be broken up within a month, but I was certainly upset enough just saying goodbye.  Well, the very interesting thing about that morning was when I pulled my car up to the toll booth as I was leaving the parking ramp, the attendent took my money and said with a very genuine smile, “Have a blessed day.”  Not a mumbled “have a nice day,” or an obligitory “thanks for your money, ” but, “Have a blessed day.”  My parking attendent gave me a blessing!  Maybe she says that to everyone who passes by her stand, but I like to think this was a sincere prayer for me.  Somehow she knew that my stoic face was hiding emotions much more turbulent.  Somehow she knew things would only get harder, would eventually splinter and then break.  Somehow she knew that a little encouragement could go a long way.  Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on a stranger’s life!

The reason I was thinking about General Mitchell Airport at all is because I’ll be returning there in January, this time to fly to California with a good friend who is interviewing for an externship.  The interview is actually in Los Angeles, but rather than spending our time in smelly LA we are going to stay with friends in San Diego.  I haven’t been back to San Diego since 2006 when I decided that I was too homesick to function.  I’m looking forward to the brief respite from winter, of course, and to seeing my friends and my beloved #2 state, but I am really not looking forward to flying.  The way I see it, we’ve been flying planes for something like one hundred years now.  It should not take hours and cost hundreds of dollars to get from one time zone to another.  It should not be an overwhelmingly unpleasant experience.  This is the 21st century.  But I won’t complain… we’re going to the warm-land!

Marissa, have you missed me?

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I’m getting to know some of my audience here at Easel Ain’t Easy. There are still surprises, from time to time, someone I know will reference something I blogged about and I will remember that this is out there, in the public realm, and just about anyone could read it. Which is good, don’t get me wrong, and it’s fun to have those surprises. But there are a few people whom I can always count on to read, and read with regularity, and recently one of these loyal readers called me out on the fact that I haven’t been writing lately. Well, I could counter with excuses about how busy things have been with work and art and social events, but no one wants to hear excuses, let alone read about them, so instead I’ll just jump back in, as if nothing has changed.

To this friend who reminded me that I was neglecting my duties as a blogger, I promised that my next post would be about her, so as to soothe the soul so troubled by my absence (thought I would get liberal with my syntax there, you know, stretch the atrophied writing muscle a bit). So here, M____, here it is!

M____ and I hung out one day, back when I was living in San Diego, back when she was visiting our mutual friend Sarah, back before she and I were technically friends yet. Sarah had to work one day and so M____ and I made plans to get touristy a bit while we waited for her shift to end. I happen to have a brief document of this moment in history, thanks to my now-offline blog entitled “Pacific For Now.” You will notice that I changed M____’s name at the time of writing, which was a precaution I was taking at the time due to an unrelated incident (details unimportant here.) Anyway, I later told M____ that I had blogged about her and changed her name, and she naturally wanted to know the name I changed her to. I couldn’t remember, at the time, and so here for the first time, M____ and all the rest of the world, is the post that started it all:

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Today [Marissa] and I went to the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, and later to the Jenny Holzer lecture at the MCASD in La Jolla. Jenny provided some great insight into her work, and on top of that she was very humble, which is not something I tend to expect of any world-renowned artist. It was a very artful day, and the end result is that I’m jumping out of my skin to be an artist. I would love to. One of the docents at the Museum of Art talked with Marissa and I for a while and I mentioned to him that one day they might have one of my paintings at their museum, and he just kind of laughed and said that they might have a whole exhibit of my work.

I actually spent a fair part of the day painting yesterday, but there is still much work to be done. It’s been really aimless so far, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s definitely at an awkward stage. I’m taking pictures in progress, so I’ll post those here when I’m all done. And then someone can make me an offer, and be the proud owner of the first thing I’ve painted in California! What a deal! Everybody wins!

And here is what I love about blogging. A) I had completely forgotten that M____ and I went to see Jenny Holzer after the art museum. That’s something I shouldn’t forget! And now, thanks to an old blog, I won’t have to. It also triggers other memories that I hadn’t blogged about, such as when we went to dinner at the little strip mall cafe in La Jolla and flirted with the waiter and then left him Sarah’s phone number. Remembering things is fun! And B) that painting of which I so cockily predicted its sale (though I’m sure I was more ironically poking fun at myself) actually did sell last year. And someone is now the (hopefully) proud owner of not the first thing I painted in California, but so far the only thing I painted in California. If you don’t blog already, you might want to consider it. Who doesn’t get endless amusement from checking the past against the present?

Anyway, today was Ascension Sunday, and the message in church was pretty great, and later today I had a conversation with a dear friend that was similarly great, I mean, really encouraging. If I had written M____’s post yesterday I would write about these other things today, but as it is I think I’ll save them for Monday material. Knowing this, you can plan your day accordingly.

(Edit:  After publishing, it occurred to me that maybe M____ wouldn’t care to have her name included here, so I went back and took it out.  M____, if you’d prefer to have your 10 minutes of blog-fame, let me know!)