What Spain Was Like

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“She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.”

- William Gibson, Pattern Recognition (full quote here)

Yesterday morning (relatively speaking, to my current sense of time), I got on a plane in Barcelona.  It flew out over the Mediterranean, which was spectacularly blue, and then turned sharply and went directly over Sitges, a town I had visited just days before.  I wept copiously with a great sense of loss as the plane went over the entire length of the Pyrenees, until reached the Bay of Biscay and turned over the Atlantic, towards Philadephia.

I am presently too tired, too soul-lagged to tell you about it.  Indeed I may never getting around to writing a narrative of it, but I promise lots and lots of pictures as soon as I get all 500+ of them sorted and tagged and all that modern day nonsense that allows me to foist my living room vacation slide show on you.  For now my soul is still somewhere over the Pyrenees, perhaps, still dreaming of the Mediterranean.


What Spain Was Like

Spain was a taut, dry drum-head
Daily beating a dull thud
Flatlands and eagle’s nest
Silence lashed by the storm.
How much, to the point of weeping, in my soul
I love your hard soil, your poor bread,
Your poor people, how much in the deep place
Of my being there is still the lost flower
Of your wrinkled villages, motionless in time
And your metallic meadows
Stretched out in the moonlight through the ages,
Now devoured by a false god.

All your confinement, your animal isolation
While you are still conscious
Surrounded by the abstract stones of silence,
Your rough wine, your smooth wine
Your violent and dangerous vineyards.

Solar stone, pure among the regions
Of the world, Spain streaked
With blood and metal, blue and victorious
Proletarian Spain, made of petals and bullets
Unique, alive, asleep – resounding.

- Pablo Neruda

An open letter to Sherman Alexie

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Just read a line in a Sherman Alexie story about standing in line at Bartell’s and suddenly I’m so homesick I’m not sure I can live through the heartbreak of it. In my head I ask Sherman Alexie if he imagines how many of his throw away lines profoundly affect people?  I think of every word I’ve put out there, every bit of fiction I’ve written, and no one has ever come back to me with the important words, with the phrases that I labored over, they only come to tell me about the how they were moved by my fast lines, the ones that drop out, that I don’t consider at all before I put them to paper.

Perhaps the lines I don’t labor over mean the most, come more truly from me?  Perhaps there is no meaning in any of it and will just keeping spilling out words, looking for the turn of phrase that will free my soul and find it someday.  Perhaps Sherman Alexie labored over that line and still will never know will never know how his two sentences made me break my own heart.  I could write him a letter and tell him, but I would labor too hard over the words, I would lose the importance of sharing what he gave me.  I have always been writing this letter to him in my head, through out the years, every time I read his stories and poems.  A letter that never makes it to paper, to computer screen, never achieves more than some small form of therapy for me.

I am talking to Sherman in my head (can I call you, Sherman, I feel we are close enough now) about my homesickness, about how I cannot ever really understand where he is from and he cannot understand how I am from where he is now.  I tell him it is a continuum that no one but me can see, a story that can’t quite be told, but is important all the same.  And the The Butchies pop up on shuffle on the old mp3 player and I start to cry because this is more homesickness than a soul can bear.  But this makes me get up and start to cook dinner: fettuccine alfredo with smoked salmon (real, PNW smoked salmon), peas and caramelized onions.  Because I am homesick and if I lived close enough that I could call my mom and ask if I could come over she would walk to me to a restaurant near her house (one Sherman Alexie has surely been too) and I would order some variation of this dish because you don’t really find it anywhere else in the world, not the way we make it in Seattle.

And while I am chopping onions the mp3 player turns again and gives me Kevin Gordon singing Watching the Sun Go Down, and I remember how I stopped at 6:42 am, on my way to work, to photograph the sunrise over an electrical power station, and got distracted by some horses too.  I think of how the redbuds are surely more beautiful this year than they have ever been before, blooming riotously, everywhere, making the edges of every roadway glow purple.  I think of how  the heat in Tennessee makes me feel warm all the way through to my bones, like I’ve never been warm before.

So I tell Sherman that he is lucky indeed, to be able wait in line at Bartell’s, but he has to go through cold rain to get there and I am saved by the sun  and the green in spring and the sounds, all the sounds, here in the dirty South.  Perhaps I am homesick for a place that no longer exists.  A place I visited, moved through in childhood, that is just a fairytale now, I can not go back.  My adult self does not have the magic to cross back over the boundaries of the places I’ve been before, I can only go to new places or create them myself. And I’m still crying when I sit down to eat my dinner, but not because I miss anything.  I am so lucky to have been so many places, both real and imagined. Lucky to be me and to be still so full of emotions good and bad (love) about all of those places I have been and the people in them.  Even the rude lady in the Bartell’s line that you have to tell to fuck all the way off.  So thanks, Sherman, for reminding of my home, the past one, the new one, the one that is always me and goes everywhere inside my heart.  I’m certain that you never knew that namedropping Bartell’s in a story would make some girl in Tennessee break out the fancy smoked salmon from way back home and cook herself a good dinner on a night when she would otherwise have been too tired, too worn down by work, to do more than make a quesadilla.  Thanks for dinner, Sherman, I really feel like we are close now.

 

(Pictures taken early this morning in Tennessee, when I stopped, before I even had coffee, to remember that there is beauty in the world.  Even when you feel like you break to pieces because of the stress that swirls around you and puts the anxiety inside you, there is still the color purple and leaves that were not that green yesterday and sunrises.  The redbuds really are spectacular this year.)

Remember (the) Maine

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This is the mosaic of the pics to I took in Maine (click it to see them all on Flickr).  I sort of love it.  This is basically in chronological order, a few Boston pics at the beginning and end and a lovely depiction what I saw: buildings, sky, ocean, sky, ocean, beaches, forests, oceans, sunsets and sunrises. I love how the colors in the mosaic look like a whole day, bright in the middle and dimming at the end.

I had a great trip.  I feel like I should say something philosophical about traveling alone but I don’t know what.  It was great the freedom, but it was bittersweet enjoying restaurants alone.  I’m utterly i love with Maine.  I’m sure this is like when people visit Seattle and the weather is gorgeous and they gush about how amazing it is and I’m like, yeah, grey 9 months a year.  Like, clearly Maine must be awful in winter but still it presented itself to me as something wonderful.  Like a place I’d only read about in books, a place of my imaginings made real.  Which I guess it is.  I’ve filled my Amazon Wishlist of Maine things to get through out the next few months so I can keep in my head how I felt while I was there.  Especially while I was out on the water.  I miss the ocean so much.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

New horizons, new directions

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I spent a good portion of this past holiday weekend trying to prove to myself that I could still sew with some success! My last few projects have been frustrating wadders that I’d like set on fire, rather than wad up and throw on the floor.  But this weekend I produced three neatly made, wearable pieces, which maybe didn’t end up being to my taste or my style, but are definitely proof that I at least sort of know what I am doing.  Pictures hopefully taken tonight, if I can be bothered to stop catching up on Doctor Who long enough to snap myself.

♦♦♦

I bought a new leather belt.  It smells like Europe.  It was made in Canada and not China (like surely my last half dozen belts were) and I wonder if that isn’t the difference.  I mean, it smells like leather, but it smells like leather I only associate with Europe.  It’s wonderful and merely opening the box it came in filled me with fantastical memories of the streets of Florence and the amazing foothills of the Pyrenees, of shopping in Amsterdam and riding night trains through Germany.  Even if I was to never wear the belt (which I surely will) the price was 100% worth the evening of those memories.  To that end I leave you with a tiny slice of vistas I have seen.

in Barcelona Angels watch over you from Montjuic

Everything that came before now

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I might have way over committed myself in the past couple weeks.  If I owe you something, I promise it’s coming quickly.

Between my new position at work and a a few days out to the PNW to see Crackerjack Sister graduate, I’m wiped out. My capacity for critical thinking is surely at an all time a low, and even that is devoted to work.

I did have a great time in Seattle.  I put the pics up here, though most of them are probably only interesting to you if you’re related to me in some way.  I tagged along on many shopping trips from which I benefited greatly (new Converse, fancy new shirt, excellent new dress).  I got an awesome new laptop which is so light and fast that I feel like I can go everywhere with it, though I probably won’t, since one doesn’t need to be computing all the time.

Back in TN now, where it looks like we got a very brief reprieve from the oppressive heat.  I’m already planning to stay inside all weekend and finish projects of my own and other people’s.  At least the cicadas seem to have all passed while I was out of town!  Plus I missed Bonnaroo and CMAfest crowds, both of which are cicada like in their noisy and mass.

Obviously no sewing going on lately.  I did buy new handbags yesterday as I can’t resist a good deal.  I love Fossil handbags.  All of the ones I’ve owned except the one I’m currently using, which I got used, quite cheap and I just sort of hate it.  So I got this one and this one (in a brownish grey not depicted there) for $101 total for both!  I spent forever standing in the store trying to decide which and then made a last minute choice to get both.  Hurrah!  I should be set for a good long time now.  Both came with an extra detachable strap and I can’t figure out what it’s for.  The extra, removable strap is that same length as the strap on the bag already.  If it was much longer or something, it would make sense to me, but at the same length, it just seems weird.

So, uh, yes, there’s all the news that’s fit to print. I better get to doing something, so I’ll have something good to show off, eh?

I took these pictures with my phone to remind myself of the color of the sky after 9pm, in June in the Pacific Northwest.  One of the things I really miss is the summer light.

we work to make our dreams come true

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Well here it is Tuesday again.  Fortunately for me, this Tuesday was preceded by a Monday and a weekend, not by 40 other Tuesdays as has so recently been the case.  Talks-to-Owls and I took advantage of that first weekend of freedom and escaped the city to lounge about in a hotel room and walk in Botanical Gardens and see Museums.  Work continues apace. I haven’t wrapped my head around not working 65+ hours a week.  I am exceedingly busy this week, despite not working as much, or perhaps because I am not working as much.  This weekend I will perhaps try and organize my life some.  Next weekend I am going to Seattle for the holiday.  After that everything will become somewhat more normal.  Or become the new normal, I guess, since it seems everything in my life has changed in the last seven weeks.  Actually I’m not sure at all what normal will be now.  I am just making it up as I go along.  Although I suppose that’s what we are all doing all the time.

So, uh, yeah.  I spent the weekend wandering museums while wearing sundresses.  I’m mentally all over the place.  I feel vague, distracted, sort of unable to work and unable to think or process anything that isn’t work. I wish I  lived in museum/sundress land all the time (picture above is from my phone to capture my Saturday night, what joy! wine and a view).  Plus the heat index here is over 100°F and is supposed to stay that way until, uh, September, I guess.  So that isn’t very motivating.

(Thoughts about the oil spill and other news redacted from this post for another time when I’m making more sense.)

Flowers North and South

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I just spent a week in Boston, only to return and find that it’s really, really spring in Tennessee.  I took only a handful of pictures while up north.  And then mucked it up while uploading from my camera and somehow half of them disappeared. Oops.  Here’s the few I have left:

click to view all

Most of the missing pictures are also of flowers, since that’s all I ever seem to remember to shoot. A very European neighborhood, entirely paved over but filled with flower boxes in each window sill is miraculously beautiful!

Back in Tennessee every single spring flower in my neighborhood has opened up, so I took and afternoon to walk around and try and capture a little bit of the joy:

click to see all pictures

Stomping the Devil’s Backbone

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Hi hi hi!  It’s spring, people.  Actually, it appears Tennessee has moved straight to summer, bypassing spring altogether.  It’s currently 9pm and 81°F outside.

Yesterday, my pal, Talks to Owls, and I went hiking on one of the trails off the Natchez Trace Parkway, The Devil’s Backbone (click to see my pics from the day).  It was gorgeous out.  We had breakfast at Puckett’s, reminding me that I love living in the South because fried chicken is an acceptable breakfast food here.

We had a nice drive down part of the Natchez Trace and then hit the trail.  It was a little weird.  Pleasantly we were the only people on that trail.  But spring is really late this year because winter was so cold and long, so the leaves were hardly even peaking out.  But the air was warm and still and very much felt like high summer.  It made the entire hike feel sort of surreal, like time and space had somehow come together improperly.  Still the hike was no less wonderful for it.

Hopefully the pictures show the beauty of the Redbuds peeking out.  It really was a spectacular drive!

weekend mash up

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Gmail is advertising to me: “Learn How To Kiss A Girl In A Way That Makes Her Melt In Your Arms” presumably because I was quoting Cory Branan lyrics back and forth with TimmyMac? Hard to say. Also I’m pretty sure you can’t learn how to kiss on the internet. I’ve often wondered if it’s something that one just inherently does right. I mean, can it be learned at all?

I might consider trying to make something like this. I’m not actually sure I would wear this, but it’s called “Willamette” and something about the fabric and cut makes me think of summers at the beach with my Gramma Marge (who lived in the Willamette Valley–Mid-Valley– for those of you not in the know). I actually can’t decide if I like it or if just calls to me in some nostalgic way.

I stumbled on this posting the other day and am now actively fantasizing about winning the lottery and buying a this gorgeous riad in Marrakech. I mean check it out, it’s a steal. We should all just pool our money and go. I know things can’t make me happy, that I have to find it in myself. But I bet it’s WAY easier to look inside yourself when you live in a place that looks like that.

I know I’ve been in absentia for a while. I did post my pictures of my Seattle trip. I don’t know have much to say about it. It really was a grand and lovely trip. The weather was gorgeous. The company was fantastic. The food was great, as was the beer. I’ve been a little homesick since I got back and I keep dreaming about the ocean. Also I’m pretty proud of the pictures I took on this trip, though I think they are an unrealistic portrayal of the city. It’s that beautiful, just not that beautiful every day.

SEATTLE PEOPLE:

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When: Sept 25, 2009, 7pm-ish
Where: my Folk’s house
Why: because I’ll be in town

Most of you know the drill.  Email me if you need directions or anything.  There will be food and drink.  Feel free to bring something, but not required.  I can’t wait to see you!

do you have Prince Albert in a can?

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Today it is 100 days since I quit smoking.  I guess I can say I am non-smoker now.  Feel free to send me gifts to celebrate this joyous occasion.

Despite all the non-smoking joy I am sluggishly sitting on the couch, uncomfortable and cranky.  I can only blame hormomes.  Some times being a girl is stupid.

prince_albert

For my entertainment I am watching Victoria & Albert. It’s more comprehensive than The Young Victoria.  It is very good, but I have to confess that I liked The Young Victoria better (and not just because of Paul Bettany’s likable Lord Melbourne).  Both Alberts are handsome but Rupert Friend is more to my taste than Jonathan Firth. At least as they appear portraying Albert.  And man, oh man, after watching both films, I have something of an Albert fetish now.  He’s dashing, charming, concerned for the average man and in love with his wife.  Also he’s very tolerant.  He’s just dreamy.  If I was married to him I would have worn black for the rest of my life after he died too.  Do I have have anything intelligent to say about history or filmmaking after watching both films? No, no, no.  Just Albert is dreamy.  That’s all.

I’m halfway done with the black version of yesterday’s dress.  So far it’s great.  Only the shirring and the hem left to do, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.  I also have a skirt to finish (it’s been sitting for weeks and needs only a zipper and some finish work on the waistband to be done), I have a lot of baby sewing to do for various little nibblets (both already born and soon forthcoming) and Libelle wants me to make her a dress (which she–hint, hint–better get on picking a fabric and pattern if she wants it in time for her event).  Also I want to make the shirred dress again, this time in a print as I am pretty happy with fit, especially in the lighter fabric (the twill of the muslin is too heavy for summer dress, I can say this for sure after having worn it today).  I really need to make a list of all in progress and potential sewing projects and hang them above my work table.

Hmm, after V&A I am going to watch a documentary on the Moors in Europe.  And maybe make many lists.  I am super behind on list making.  Maybe I need make a list of lists that need making.  This is an indication of how much better I feel in general, as rather than feeling overwhelmed, I am actually feeling mildly thrilled at the prospect of organizing things.

I think I am going to try this meditation for 30 days.  I meditate periodically (and recently less frequently than I’d like) but maybe having a focused list like this and only a short time commitment will keep me inspired to keep doing it until I am focused enough to meditate more seriously.

gathering the pieces

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maters!

Cherokee Purple is my favorite. The weather hasn’t been great for them this year, but seriously, Tennessee has the best tomatoes I have ever eaten.  So many kinds.  So much deliciousness.

This cracks me up so much:  It landed only on you.

I can’t really guess how much these are manipulated, but these shots of Barcelona are INCREDIBLE!    Especially this fantastic shot from one of my favorite vantage points in the city on Montjuic.    I lost a good part of my morning to these pictures.  They are like perfect images of the fairytale Barcelona that exists in my head.  Or the Barcelona of The Shadow of the Wind.

The smocking on this dress is fantastic.  I doubt I’ll ever be that much of a seamstress. But wow, wouldn’t it be amazing to create something like that?

Emily on Poetry Daily.    Fantastic (both the poem and Emily).

Oddly enough I get a bunch of joy from this anti-drunk driving/speeding campaign: We’ll Be Everywhere, Man. Oh, Tennessee, never change.  (that link is the Windows version, click here for Quicktime.)

Wearing Mayan garments in Moorish castles

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I am listening to loud, smart blues rock and drinking coffee to try and reset my equilibrium after being woken up by the Jehovah’s witnesses.  Still feel a little off kilter, was having long, vaguely unpleasent dreams about books, work, the mafia, drving, moving, being unsettled, love and weather.  So, um, I guess dreams mostly about what I write about here?

Last night I was image searching for some art ideas I have and got totally waylaid looking at Moorish and Moroccan tile and design patterns.  Hours were lost to this venture.  And then I found the perfect Keds.  Someone put that “design your own shoes” thing to great effect.  If I had any money at all I would totally buy them.

I find life strange in it’s weird connections. When I moved to Tennessee, Libelle and I drove across country and stopped as we could at the classic Americana roadside attractions.  Including the Corn Palace in South Dakota, which is an example of  Moorish Revival Architecture.  I’m not sure I knew this when we were there, but it is insanely obvious when you look at it.  It also makes me think, as I often do, of all things I want to be doing.  Almost every single one of these things requires a fair amount of cash and a lot of free time–two things that feel almost mutually exclusive.  (Many of these things I dream of involve roadtrips, writing, international travel or a level of dedication to learning a new skill that requires one not to have another job).  How great would it be to drive around the US, seeking out examples of Moorish Revival architecture, taking pictures and writing short stories to go with each location?  Perhaps stories that tied Islamic culture to American culture throughout the past?

Unrelated, but related: Lately I am strangely obsessed with Huipils.  Not only the culture and history of the garment, but the beauty of it too. I would love to have seen this exhibit.  Really I would love to spend a year with women who make hupils in the old style, learning to perfect the weaving and the embroidery and decoration and learning the status associated with changes in style and how that displays the wearer’s marital status and where she comes from.  I would learn to embroider huipils that told the stories of each woman’s history and her family and the life she lives now  (see above, all my ideas requiring money and time).

I should make a careful list of all the fantastical trips I would like to take to learn more about art and life.  It would probably just depress me.  Or inspire me.  I have hardly any money right now, I guess it wouldn’t matter where I was in the world, if I just upped an went.