Monday, June 9, 2014

A Curious Wonder

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: 
It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.  

This is Barbar, an artist I met in a shop, who took me to all the other shops in town to show me his work.
One thing my family may be slightly infamous for is that we clearly have a sense of wonder:   An unbelievable curiosity.  We'll talk to anyone, for any amount of time, to get their back story.  We seek out the ones whittling in the corner, or the lone soul in the shop window with just a spinning wheel and a huge bag of raw wool.

My parents represented, and were friends with, a number of artisans during our entire childhood.  This love of building things with your own hands, working in all mediums, has rubbed off on each one of my parents' five kids, as well as a huge-mongous appreciation for others who hone their craft.  We seek them out: Whether a screenprinter, a framer, a glass blower, a crystal sculptor, a weaver, a wood worker, a book binder or a woad dyer.  It's of grand interest to talk to the people who's hands are so clearly marked with their work and their know-how is something we could only hope to gain one day.  We're all trying.

My sister is doing a particularly good job during an annual trip to France.  One year we met one of the last people that know how to work a hand-run embroidery machine.

Another year, it was the woman that lived on a lavender farm and in every corner of her house, you could smell peace.  She taught us how to make soap and showed us the details of essential oil and we witnessed what life could be like if your dreams really came true.

We've met and worked with:  Woad Masters,

 Textile Experts ,

Hat makers, 

Block Printers,


and even Goat Farmers,
And that's just to name a few...

Every year, a different adventure. 
Every year, a new appreciation for what happens in another part of the world for a life, for living. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I've Changed.

It just occurred to me that, "I've changed" sounds like something someone says who needs forgiveness.  I'm feeling on the other radical side of the scale, someone that is not looking for forgiveness for being themselves more and more each day.

First clue I've changed:  Four years ago, I wouldn't have written something quite this revealing, choosing instead to find the sweet spot story, something that would make us all feel good at the end of it.  But those don't seem as realistic for a daily column.

I have changed.
I am nowhere near the person I was just two December 14th's ago.
Two December's ago, I hadn't a clue your best friend could die suddenly.
And I had no freaking insight to the fact that, while trying to walk in the reality of her death,
another one of your closest, oldest friends could go and do the same thing.

I feel like I've been walking a tightrope ever since.

I've changed.
I'm the most introverted extrovert I know.  And that's the first time I've come up with that totally true descriptive.  I can finally admit I don't just like time alone, I crave it like some crave caffeine or chocolate.  It feels parallel to taking a deep breath and exhaling outloud.  I guess because that's what I'm trying to do when I'm alone:  Take the deep breaths.  Cry the deep cries.  Go to the deep places I otherwise am holding at bay when I am out, when I am on, when I am working, or when I am socializing.

One thing that hasn't changed:   knowing that making time for reading good books helps.
Years ago, I was introduced to Anne Lamott by my sister with the novel, Bird by Bird.  I became obsessive about everything Lamott wrote.  Her novels and non-fiction writing grasped me by the heart, took my breath away and made me feel like somebody got me, right where I needed to be 'gotten'.  Then I read Elizabeth Gilbert's books and felt a similar twang in my gut when relating to many of the feelings written out beautifully, perfectly.  Since Suzanne and Shauna left, I dove into Joan Didion, who pretty much felt like my therapist for awhile there, and I'm now deep in a Cheryl Strayed feast of words that have me feeling sopped.  How another person could write, like a poet, for the shittiest of feelings, strange and common.

And so, tonight, while reading said good books, beautiful words, stories I relate to,  I realized, I've changed.  I've been stuck on truly committing to this thing that I love, {writing here}, in this space, fearing the futility of writing, the mere unimportance of all of it since Suzanne and Shauna died.  All topics felt too tiny.

So, I've had to change. 
I'm different. 
Different than I ever expected I could be and deciding to let that be the face of me.  This new person, raw with reality.  How I relate now.  That will just have to be the way I write.  Whatever I write about.
I'm taking life at face value.  Knowing that not knowing what comes next isn't a tiny topic.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

molly from the block

from Bowne & Co Stationers, nyc

i've lived on the block, up the block and actually above cocktail bars, clubs and saloons for the last 20 or so years.  I'm used to the sound of people walking by screaming drunk, the sound of people slamming their car doors, repeatedly,  or parking truly obnoxious trucks blocking my doorway.  i've lived one floor up, 3 floors up and on the ground seperated from the people by mere feet.  there was a time i thought my nyc apartment was fabulously high:  i was on equal footing with a classic big apple new york double decker bus.

then i thought, looking over half a city and over a bay into the oncoming headlights heading over the oakland bridge...i thought that was high.

both of them were much, much higher above street level than we are now.  and it's...weird.  we live in los angeles, a place most people have an opinion about.  they would either never live her or they'd love to live here. though i'd grown up in la county, i left when i was 18 and i was in the camp of 'never' land.

yet, the benefits of what comes with finally living on the ground again are creating these beyond-fantastic moments in my every - days.

the days that i wake up, walk outside with stella and sit in the sun while i have my coffee.  i watch her sniff her heart out then lay down in the grass.
the double-down days:  the days that RK and i have the same time off, and we all 3 do that together.  it feels like a vacation feels.
that heat on your skin at 8am,
the birds chirping,
the grass between your toes,
stella so happily living it up in her very own yard, it's awesome.

i think it's my cities that have gotten softer and softer but for me, feel harder and harder to take.  there's days i catch myself saying, 'ugh, there's no sun out yet, it's too gray'.  i could never survive in san francisco now.  before sf, i thought i'd live in the big apple forever.  i didn't ever long for a yard, a place to run around, 'nice' weather.  i took what nyc offered and i accepted it:  lock, stock and barrel.   when i return to that city, i still get weak in the knees.  i think i want to be back in nyc again, i say outloud that that's how i want to live, in that grand old city!

but then i open that front door to the front yard, our yard, and i breath in the warm air and i think
'i want more of this.'

thing is, i'm not really sure what that means.

does it mean less people?
i think i'd go crazy in a small place.
unless we're the only people, and our dogs.

does it mean wider spread land?
LA is as wide-spread as it gets, but my neighbors are still so close i hear them setting the table as i write this.
i think it's the land to house spread ratio, that's more where we're headed

is it a suburb?
gads, i don't think so, ...unless we redefine suburb...

i'm pretty sure it's a home in the country.  oh my gosh:  it's THAT dream.  more land, more dogs, more space to breath, more quiet.  basically the opposite idea of what i'd ever expected to want.

sheesh, give a girl a quarter yard....