family, friends, humor, nature, photography, travel

LA Woman, Sunday Afternoon

“And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was
Lying still
Said I gotta do something
About where we’re going . . .”

~ U2 Running To Stand Still

When the first American social rejects set foot upon this continent, they took the time to assimilate: to eat the bounty, to migrate and move up and down the seaboard, to spread out and kick their feet up in the coastal lazy boy, living off the land (and taking it as they saw fit.) Then they had to fight for the right to hang out here, to separate from the MotherLand whose MotherTongue we’ve butchered and bastardized some, giving it much twang and Tabasco and Barbeque Sauce and Ranch Dressing and Salsa until it tastes completely different everywhere you go, but not so much in a bad way.

And after some time, those who didn’t want to sit in squalor, or dine in parlors or live in the chilly northeast or bake in the south and live off the labors of others in both places, decided they would take covered wagons and hit the prairies and brave certain death in search of a plot of land, a wide horizon, and the riches of gold and silver mining. Mostly, they went out dancing on the ever-unraveling hem of destiny naming their tune the “divine task” and kept on dancing so they could reach the Pacific and “subdue the continent.” With two left feet, they subdued it all to hell in the name of In God We Trust, trodding on the toes of Native Cultures as they went, broke the backs of animals and men and women and children and laid down rickety tracks for the rest of the tortured hopefuls.

Years later, the Wild West is still unsettled and so people continue to go, set out to mine their hearts and fortunes. Somehow, impossibly, the world is self-contained; a slow, glitter fallout, a dream-laden rosebud of a snowglobe from permanent vacationland. And even if the plane is overbooked, they are still selling tickets to the greatest show on, well, at least that side of the continent. The souvenirs are innumerable. You should at least get a fridge magnet, a bottle opener and a shot glass to put it in.

With this rich, mottled history in mind i do not have illusions of California. i do not plan my escape from the East Coast with preposterous dreams of fame, or mere brushing with it or flossing, or even fucking it. But i do hope to be near my sister, to be nearer to some idea of a creative, mosaic life, full of similar people with radiant mindsets.

Having grown up in the largely less-than-employed and often partially-educated Midwest, i can say the people may not all be bright and open-minded, but they are sometimes simple in the best ways and friendlier than most and often polite enough to hide their deep prejudices if they so choose to harbor them. Now having lived on the east coast and finding myself a bit put off by the aloofness and general chill and total peacocking of people here, i still note how long it took me to connect with the few friends i have. Sure i’ve “networked.” Of course, i am recognizable in this small town and that brings me to the part where i realize, in some ways, this town is TOO small for me. There are still clothes in my closet i can’t WEAR about and that is a delicate statement about the stodgy, conservative front i seem to sense in the streets.

Perhaps it’s the sailboat masts crowding the skyline and the deck shoes and khakis padding the sidewalks and docksides. Or the ultra-pasteurized, mega-homogenized whitebread conclave pushing strollers with better tires than my car and better fabric than my couch. Maybe it’s the local government under the current administration. i don’t know what it is specifically, and i expect to see similar, maybe even more grotesque people elsewhere, and perhaps it is only a local phenomenon, but i am just not sure i want to live or love in such a climate. i have no children, no husband, no boyfriend, not even a steady lay (if you will) . . . and no mortgage to tie me here. Don’t even get me started on the price of real estate and my complete lack of desire to be shackled to a house in this area or any. And sure, i have a job – but i can get that anywhere.

So what am i saying? Well i suppose my formal announcement is that i plan to put operation “California Dreamin'” in full effect. It may be time to initiate the “Move-Andrea-to-CA-Fund.” Like Make-A-Wish foundation, except that what i wish is that the men in this town weren’t Flakesville or Frigidaire lovers without a clue and that if love brought me here in the first place, it should’ve damn well been able to keep me here, but it hasn’t proven able to do so; i am so tired of half-notions and false starts. i also wish that i had about $3-5,000 and i would totally evaporate from this alien landscape already. i want to look left at the ocean and right at the mountains and down into the green valley and up into a blue sky. And so to be practical, i will work like a Hebrew slave over the summer and build a meager nest egg that will give me moving money, first/last month/security deposit / rent money, and a little cushion for the bills during the employment start up phase until the money is steady. i hope to garner a few extra photo jobs or sell some prints or accept donations and make use of my PayPal account ANYTHING to help get me gone. Sadly, the disenchantment grows as i ready (steady, go!) myself to check the hell out of Mary-Go-Fuck-Yourself-Land.

So hey – buy a print! Or if you like something i don’t have available as a print, magnet, or postcard, either HERE on deviantART or any of my photos on HERE on Flickr, ask me be message or email, and i will have it put up here or have it printed personally and send it to you myself. You get a photo, i get money to plan my escape. And if you don’t want anything, i’ll just flat out, shamelessly beg! Grandma doesn’t need an operation, kitty isn’t ailing, i’ve no need to create an elaborate scam, but if i’ve ever encouraged, inspired, helped, or brought you anything useful or meaningful on this big-assed site through my meager photos or words – just send me a donation of a dollar or two – i won’t even hold a bunny hostage or sell you pixels. i just want to get to somewhere that i’ll have more opportunity to create and succeed at doing something i truly love.

So let me tell you about all the weird & wonderful happenings that came to pass while i visited my sister in Los Angeles (Echo Park, specifically during mid-February) and why i’d like to move and get a fresh start on life . . .

Ever since the U2 album, The Joshua Tree hit, it sparked a curiosity in me. In religious legends, the Joshua tree is said to be the tree that pointed Joshua, the successor of Moses, the way to Jericho, with its splayed and entwining branches. The name Joshua tree was given by a band of Mormons who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded them of that Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky. It is also said to be the “Jesus Tree” or “praying plant” with its resemblance to skyward outstretched hands.

As a child, my father was stationed in San Diego and so i saw little of the more famous natural resources other than those in my back yard. When we lived in southern California, my sister and i would play all day, run around with stray dogs in the neighborhood, ride horses bareback, avoid snake bites and catch lizard tails, slide down canyon hills on cardboard boxes, give made-up names to the plants we didn’t know, then sneak into farms and yards and pluck oranges and lemons and pomegranates off the trees and eat them for lunch. We took the occasional camping trip up into the mountains and saw some majestic Redwood Trees (Sequoia) and always, always hit the local beaches. My sister and i brought back so much sand, my father insisted we line the back seat and floorboards with towels to catch it all. On the way home, we curled and slept, folded in half, Gemini twins pinched in the middle with our feet touching, like broken hourglasses, the sand running out of our bathing suits and hair and the crevices of our golden skin.

Other than the beauty of Lake Tahoe, the most memorable trip was going whale watching. The deeper into the ocean we went, the bigger the creatures became. Mosquitoes, butterflies, crabs scuttling along the rocks, fish jumping, sea otters dog-rolling and cracking open shells on their bellies, sea lions ringing the buoy bells, dolphins following the boat and then we stood still, waiting for whale song and water movement and breeching. i felt the boat roll over a long, tall, soft wave and i looked down onto the surface and the eye of a humpback whale surfaced on the other side, peered up at me, big as a balled fist, a ruddy, glistening blue-black egg regarding me, making me wonder at the frighteningly HUGE body that must belong to an eye so impossibly large. It was beautiful, fearful, knowing, old, strange, beckoning and familiar in a way that reminded me how everything came out of the water, the cruel way we fall out of our mothers in a cascade of it, that we consist of it and are soft because of it, that we desire to see much of it laid out in a vast unending horizon, tumbling towards us, pooling at our feet, rising at our waistlines as we wade in, asking us, seducing us to come back to it: warm, wet, encompassing. The east coast has its ocean and its waterways, to be sure, but i am partial to the Pacific, and the memories still whisper to me and ask me to come back. i hear the ocean when i cup my hand and put it to the pillow every nite now . . .

When i planned to see California with adult eyes this time, i hoped to take it in as a mini-spiritual journey, to enjoy the sparseness of the desert instead, and so i told my sister i wanted to see the Joshua Trees, The Salton Sea and to drink wine in some part of wine country, which turned out to be, Santa Barbara, with the ocean to one side and the mountain ranges to the other . . . breathtaking!

If you’d like to see ALL MY PHOTOS from California, you can see them as a set called California Dreamin’ HERE on Flickr. Meanwhile i’ll just pepper them in as i go along.

From My sister’s room, you can see the Hollywood hills . . .

Room With A View

Hollywhere?

The drive out to the Joshua Tree National Park was spectacular! i shot some photos of the wind farms from the car as we went along . . .

Windmills

Hillside of Windmills
Twin Windmills

And the trees themselves: all these open arms (prickly, yes) but inviting, and rock piles just begging to be climbed upon . . .

Joshua Branch

one tree hill

rock - n - roll

my Joshua Tree crown
and me with my unintentional crown . . .

At one point, after a few pulls off a flask of tequila, we embarked on a Space Odyssey. This had us dressing in quasi-futuristic clothing and taking photos . . . (SEE the WHOLE SET HERE)

assembly 2

warrior type

worship II

we also stopped off at the Cholla Gardens on the way out and met a few funny shapes and ornery cactus . . .

Cholla Gardens

Then we high-tailed it down, racing against the light to get to the Salton Sea by sunset for the perfect photo opportunities. With the Matrix soundtrack driving our swift passage south like a futuristic techno mantra we arrived just in time to watch the sky dissolve into lemon yellows, powder blues and cotton candy pinks. And the pile of pelicans made it all the more interesting . . .

Salton Sea Scape

Pelicans at The Salton Sea

Salton Sea Palms

The following day my sister Racheal, her boyfriend Adam and i went to Santa Barbara (landing finally in Los Olivios) for wine tasting. We started off at The Santa Barbara Winery and took a scenic drive up to Los Olivos, this strange meld of stagecoach and upscale mountain town. You could just as likely imagine a posse riding in on horseback shooting up saloon doors as you could a pack of Luis Vuitton clad women walking a sweater-wearing poodle and clasping a wine glass with well-manicured hands.

Cross Road

Santa Barbara Winery inside

twin winos

Longoria Wines

Picasso Elf

One of my last strange adventures was taking lunch at Yang Chow in Los Angeles’ Chinatown with my sister on our last official day just before my trip to the airport.
Dragon Gate

Guardian

Offering

Chinatown Fountain

Chinatown Lanterns

i bought a black and red floral satin shirt with frog buttons and front snaps plus mary jane’s to match. There were pharmacies with boxes and jars of herbs lining the walls; groceries with bizarre vegetables, displays not in English but in character, even Chinese neon symbols, which were quite beautiful. For all i know they really said mundane things “dog food” or “we accept VISA” or “get out honkey round-eye” but those red, bended, glowing Chinese symbols entranced me from behind the glass.¬† We had a wonderful lunch and fun doing a little shopping, but two strange things happened to tip off some odd omens . . . first, when i opened my fortune cookie, it was utterly blank. There was a slick, white strip of paper with no words on either side. i couldn’t decide if this was good or bad luck and so i asked for another from a passing waiter. The second cookie was a little more cheering as it foretold “The Current Year Will Bring You Much Happiness.”

The other strange occurrence was in one of the shops. We walked through cramped isles, crowded with tables packed end to end with boxes containing dusty tortoise shell hair clips, all manner of beaded jewelry, and enough jade to festoon a hundred palaces. Suddenly, there was a light buzzing in the air as something small and fast whirred past my ear and above, trailing circles in the ceiling. It was a hummingbird! It landed for a few moments, heaving lightly in the crook of chains that held a long ballast of fluorescent lights. i immediately thought of the hummingbird i saw in August, and saw it as yet another portent a sign that my life is on the right track. Well in so much as California is a good idea of increasing magnitude. Then we came out into the fading dusk and found our car to be, not there. Not where we left it. Nowhere near where we remembered parking it. In fact, it had been towed. Dude, where’s my car. Oy.

We called the number on the sign posted in the event that her car was actually impounded. It had been disconnected. We went across the street to a hideous Thai restaurant with a fountain in the middle of the dining room flanked by drooping near death plants and dark, sullied water. We asked for the number and called the local police station the tag hadn’t been reported, it hadn’t been stolen or taken in by them but they gave us the number to parking enforcement who then gave us the number for the tow yard that had her car. At first they couldn’t find it because it was so recently removed that it hadn’t arrived yet.

When they finally DID locate it by the tag, we set about getting a cab. The restaurant manager called us one and when he arrived, there was no indication, no illumination, not even a meter inside of his beat-up minivan. For a moment i thought i might have to kick someone’s ass if this random dude was carting us off to “get-in-the-hole-and-put-the-fucking-lotion-in-the-basket-land.” But it turned out he had a flat rate of $5 locally and if the trip ended up being a little more convoluted (which it certainly was, as this tow yard was in the middle of Unholy Hell on the corner of “God DAMN” and “Kill Whitey”). So we incurred a “pain in the ass surcharge” of $5 bringing the trip to a $10 fare. i tried tipping him, but he refused.

All the ever meanwhile, let’s not forget that i needed to make it to the fucking airport for my flight in the next 2 hours! As we waited in line we heard the attendants ask for driver’s license and registration. Racheal was in the process of doing her taxes and her registration was at home NOT in her car where it should be in such cases, so they would NOT release the car to her. She called a host of friends, one of whom (thank you Shazilla!) was finally able to swing by and pick Racheal up, drive her home, get the registration and come back.

“Yeah it’s off of Sunset,” Racheal snarled, then i snickered and added, “just tell her to look for razorwire and the homeless people camped out front.”

When Racheal and i got back to her apartment, we put down a beer apiece to unwind from the adventure and all too quickly, it was time to throw my bag together and get to the airport. We made good time and of course my flight was delayed 40 minutes. Awesome.

As i drifted off to sleep on my first red-eye flight, i thought of that blank fortune cookie. Was it bad luck? Should we have left earlier and been able to avoid the car towing debacle? Was it good luck? Did it mean that my future was SO wide open that i could write it myself, like a fill in the blank answer?¬† Well certainly, my life hasn’t been void, but there are some blanks i’d like to fill.

Photographer Gordon Parks wrote in his autobiography. “I was just born with a need to explore every tool shop of my mind, and with long searching and hard work. I became devoted to my restlessness.” i have indeed been restless, and i am hoping to sharpen formerly used tools. And right now, i need a bigger workshop to do it all in, and that place is California. Everything in me is tripped on and alive with the mere prospect of it all. A bit terrified too as it will be a monstrous move, but hey if the Beverly Hillbillies did it and survived the culture shock, i can too.

ANDREA that is . . .

no swimming pools
and certainly
no goddamn movie stars.

dreams, family, friends, gardening, health, love, nature, pets, photography, psychology, travel

Lust globally, make love locally

Listening to: Let It Die – Feist

:::   :::   :::   :::

I’m tired of screwin’ up, tired of goin’ down,
Tired of myself, tired of this town.
Oh my, my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress.
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come, cause I can’t stay long . . .

Last Dance With Mary Jane ~ Tom Petty

:::   :::   :::   :::

My first act of 2006, at the stroke of midnite,¬†I¬†chased my birth control pill with a glass of red wine. I¬†sure hope that is some funky premonition for love, protection and celebration. 2 weeks into the New Year, I¬†saw a Friday the 13th followed by a Full Moon Saturday – what a witchy week! And no winter white in sight.¬†It’s been strange weather in the high 50s to 60s some days, rainy with a thin veil of fog and this strange wind coiling, whispering around the boat masts, whipping the lines to into clanging night bells, making the canvas into flapping voices. Then this wicked cold moved in, more high winds and sleet, but NO snow. Global Warming anyone?

Seriously, we just don’t have winters like we used to, but the Farmer’s Almanac claims it’s coming . . .

The nitelife here in my “home-for-now-town” is, umm – interesting. I¬†am living in (as the locals paste on t-shirts) a drinking town with a sailing problem. Midshipmen on the wander, plus drunken, bloated congressional types and supposed professionals making laughable passes at me, wearing striped shirts and power ties, riding power boats, power mowers and eating power lunches while I¬†try to escape and go take a power nap.

But there is an artist conclave here ‚Äď some of them are advertising successfully, playing music, photographing, sculpting, painting, recombining, pack-ratting, twisting and forming new shapes. Some of them have already slept with everyone of the same ilk, hacking the local six degrees of separation down to a fearsome three or two.

Then there are people like me, or what I¬†imagine to be the way i am perceived by the way I¬†project myself. Living in Maryland eight years, a few interesting jobs, a little bit of recognition in the photo department via contests and small tea house for sale hangings.¬†I¬†garnered a good collection of friends and acquaintances, spurned a few, stalled a few others, gave more still gigantic berth and avoidance and still, I¬†don’t feel like a townie‚ÄĒlike I¬†belong here utterly. my sense of here and now and then owing only to the people I¬†love and who love me in return. When I¬†wander down the street, we familiars nod to each other. We may not have broken bread or put down a bottle of wine or shared a secret, but we know each other’s faces.

I¬†know I’ve been less involved, but as I’ve sort of stated prior, my real life outside of my online community involvement has been so full, full of changes, and engaging.

changes and growing bring in new things while simultaneously initiating a whole exodus of others. also, i have come to realize, though it has pained me to be so upset, that i have had to go inside and question myself about all of it ‚Äď particularly the recent issues i’ve seem to run up against with personalities and people whom i’ve previously counted as friends. i have concluded that it is largely THEIR problem and not mine. all the little insults i’ve been experiencing in my life recently, the little setbacks, i now view as some sort of cosmic insistence nudging me to get out of my brain, to finish my journey within and start implementing the change without. That is to say, recognize the things i have been and gone without and the necessary psychic changes i need to achieve balance again: such as a job where i feel appreciated, friends who i respect and who love me as i love them, the places and people with which i conduct business and pleasure. some of these things have changed or evaporated or fallen away or have demanded my immediate attention over the last 6 months since my life imploded last June. oddly enough, most of this inspirational need for balance arrived as a sort of vision as i lay in shivasana, or corpse pose, after a very hot and strenuous yoga practice. during meditation, the instructor encouraged us to find and practice strength and balance both on the mat (in here) and off the mat (out there) and to remember to breathe deeply through the difficult places and painful times.

i have allowed myself the time to heal, to adjust, to date, to make a mess of things and to make sense of others, to get my head screwed on straight and the new self-focus has been challenging, but re-defining in a good way. it has been mind-blowing at times, mind-bending at others, and still mind-numbing further on. it has been terrifically magical. it has been terribly lonely. it has been encouraging. it has been disheartening. it has been more living than i have done in quite some time and i am grateful for whatever force took my little snowglobe world into their hands and shook the unholy fuck out of it to see how i would deal with the fallout. it has snowed powerful weather down on me. it has grown still. i have begun digging out and winter isn’t nearly over. i don’t want to be cold when i stand up. i don’t want to have to lay down and curl inside to feel warm. i am weary of turning on my side, of laying between two pillows like an infant with bumper pads in my crib bed to prevent me from hurting myself or in my case, to feel like no matter which way i roll over, there is always someone there. i fall asleep clasping my own hand in front of me like a prayer to myself, like a pleading gesture to the world. i find myself waking in tree poses, with one leg drawn in and knee cocked out forming a triangle, a branch to crawl up on. i’m tired of sleeping just so i can dream.

i am not utterly disenchanted with my beloved Maryland, but lately, i have toyed with the idea of moving far far away from here and wiping everything clean to get that needed change. and why not just change everything? i don’t have a mortgage, i don’t have children or a mate. i have no real ties. i can travel, i can make a plan, i can set up shop and re-invent life anywhere. i can succeed so long as i define success by tangible, meaningful terms.

Hope explained to me once that black flies, those things that are dark and draining are attracted to the light. i have always tried to maintain my childlike approach to things, to live lightly and to be a beacon of positive energy for myself and for others, to truly believe that i lead a charmed life no matter how high or low i exist, and to understand that all things come to me and through me when they are needed, even minor and major tragedies are blessings and have reasons. this is so much easier and sweeter than spitting in the face of fate and choosing to NOT imbue my life with meaning. people who don’t appreciate my honesty, my kindness, my bluntness, what i consider my lucky charm, my good fortune, my powers of gentle persuasion and genuine openness, my willingness to accept, to forgive and also – my occasional quick-snap judgment when i remove someone from my life because they cause me grief or harm me – i do this now to protect myself. like a mantra i have to tell myself i am not a bad person. i do not need to be punished. i am good and worthy and deserve more for myself and i expect others to treat themselves the same way. anyone who chooses to be a victim, to victimize themselves, to victimize ME and to make anyone in their surroundings miserable as a result needs to get the hell out of my way and off the path i’m cutting.

I¬†have no need to take on broken people as pet projects, as I¬†am my own work in progress. I¬†studied psychology to understand human behavior, to avoid the pitfalls of lower thinking and feeling and to learn to be more human, more flexible and better adjusted, and how to recognize when someone is NOT and to escape those trappings. Though I¬†often attract friends and lovers who need fixing by some general impetus that drives me to help and to heal, I¬†still prefer people who can swing with it and be happy in themselves, and NOT blame me for their own social/emotional shortcomings when things don’t work out for them.

People are generally uncomfortable with bearing their emotions and being honest with others, especially themselves. There are, however, exceptions to the rule . . . there is a website that updates every Sunday called Post Secret. Frank Warren, the man who created the interactive art project began by printing 3,000 postcards with a message that invited their finders to write a personal, anonymous secret on the blank side and mail it back to him. He left the postcards in art galleries, restaurants, between pages of library books and on subway seats. And as the postcards started trickling back to his mailbox, he began posting a few of them each week at what has become one of the web’s most popular blogs. (Ranked 55th among BlogPulse’s top 10,000 blogs.)

Even after they 3,000 were in, they still kept coming. They arrived from all over the world in many languages ‚Äď even in Braille type. The project combines art, poetry and psychological candor in ways that few other endeavors have, and that’s what makes it so fascinating to Warren, a self-described “accidental artist.” (Some secrets on the blog, where about 20 new cards are posted each week: “By the time you read this, I’ll be drunk again.” “I’ve been giving oral sex to a pastor for the past 5 years. He’s married. I don’t believe in God.” “I am a breast cancer survivor. Sometimes I wish the cancer had killed me.” And on a New Yorker subscription card: “I think it makes me look smart to subscribe. But I only like to read the cartoons!”).

He still collects them, and continues to invite people “to anonymously contribute ‚Ķ secrets. Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything – as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before..”

Instructions are to “Create your 4-by-6-inch postcards out of any mailable material. If you want to share two or more secrets, use multiple postcards. Put your complete secret and image on one side of the postcard.

Please consider mailing in a follow-up email describing the effect, if any, the experience had on your life.

Tips

Be brief – the fewer words used the better.
Be legible
– use big, clear and bold lettering.
Be creative
– let the postcard be your canvas.”

Post Secret Exhibit

I go to the PostSecret website every Sunday like a newfound religion. Recently, the cards were assembled into a book: PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives and then put on display as an exhibit in Washington DC.

Getting into Georgetown on any given evening around happy hour to park and entertain oneself is always a logistical nitemare. And the nite was already a carpool all over town posse, picking up friends who had other commitments for dinner and nonsense later in the evening. But I¬†rolled up and got rockstar front row parking, then we looked at the 2 block long queue stretching around the building. The two women I¬†was with who lived 30 mins away in Annapolis balked at the fact we’d probably wait over an hour to get in and move through the exhibit. I¬†frowned and said, “right, well, I’ll take you all home and come back myself.” I¬†was dead serious.¬†This was my mission now.

This mission had a hitch when I realized I was low on fuel and got a little twisted around on the way back (DC will disorient you). I coasted into a station on fumes, got back on track and continued my necessary & epic journey. I tore ass through the neighborhoods, made rolling deliveries of my stunned friends who were muttering soft apologies as i waved my hand away and dumped them at their doors. Then I high-tailed it back for the last hour of the exhibit and by then, the line had become manageable.

It was a moving exhibit beginning with cards posted 3 deep and many across on two stretches of wall, then hanging on clothesline, snaking around like dirty laundry left out to dry in the open air, some of them were printed big as billboards, 4×6′ canvases hung in adjacent cubbyhole-like rooms, shouting at you along the way. in these rooms people sat at a line of tables under the big canvasses and wrote down thoughts and talked together. this opened up to a squared off area where the secret postcards hung four or five high on string and several deep, twisting in the air as people walked in between them, turning the cards to read them, looking up at them, into them like a dark rainy sky full of questions and answers. Finally there was a wall crowded with all the envelopes the secrets had arrived in to protect the artistically done post cards. There were two tables nearby with flipboxes full of post cards that people sat at, looking through them like recipes from their grandmother’s kitchen.

Near the exit, there was translucent mailbox created by Washington DC artist Mark Jenkins where people could hand deliver a personal secret. And at the last long table, a book where you could leave thoughts and reactions to the exhibit just as fascinating as the display itself. Frank Warren himself sat there. It was the last day and the last hour of the exhibit and i don’t think anyone recognized him as who he was. I¬†wandered over, said hello and he struck up a conversation with me about the bag I¬†was carrying.

I¬†have a black and red tote bag bearing the picture of a little girl yelling “F*CK F*CK F*CK!” He asked why I¬†had an angry bag and “where are all the joy bags?” so I¬†explained myself.

My sister, Racheal had sent me the tote after after Brooks broke up with me. Inside was a card she had sent that reminded me how we all carry baggage but should do so lightly and instructed me to “Carry your anger inside the F*CK bag. Leave your shit in there, not inside.” ¬†I carry a regular purse most other places, but¬†I¬†take the anger bag to Yoga with me, where I¬†unload the little daily insults, bad thoughts, pains, pressures & residual griefs and so I¬†thought it would be appropriate to take it with me to the PostSecret exhibit where I¬†could air out and relate my emotions to some of these brave, beautiful and creative people.

Frank Warren inscribed my book for me. It reads:

To Andrea,

Sometimes art and healing are the same thing.

Be Well,

Frank

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Creativity and sharing love with people is what makes life purposeful for me. Through a friend, Andreas, I¬†had the rare opportunity to go see Bono speak on Friday, February 3rd at the Washington Hilton & Towers as part of the 2005-2006 Nation’s Capital Distinguished Speakers Series. His theme was The Future in Front of Us: Living a More Involved Life.. He shared the cover of TIME magazine with Bill & Melinda Gates as Persons Of the Year. He didn’t sing, but instead took the stage to talk. the blurb i read about it on the informal side stated, “His topic is quite simply the future of the planet. This is nothing new for the U2 lead singer. He regularly consorts with the Pope, the President of the United States and other dignitaries. He is that rarest of rock stars, one who can change things in the real world too. Bono’s activism is directed against the AIDS epidemic and reducing the debt burdens of the poorest countries. Like a rock and roll Robin Hood, Bono doesn’t take money from the rich and give it to the poor. Instead, he tries to assist the rich in changing their world view so that they realize that to help the poor is, in fact, to help themselves. Join him at the Hilton where he will talk about how one can have more of an impact by living a purposeful life.

He said he had come to talk about three things rarely in balance with each other: “music, politics and business.” And also of “tragedy, opportunity and adventure.” He described the “kafka-esque labyrinth of NOs” that we run into everyday of our lives an what we can do to turns those walls and boundaries into YESes. he talked about the situation of starvation, poverty, AIDS and death in Africa, likening it to the Holocaust and how we can choose to effect change on such issues. He was very specific to differentiate that it is not a “cause” but an “emergency” he is discussing and advocating. he said that all the attention of the death toll in the recent tsunami happens every month in Africa ‚Äď one tsunami a month worth of deaths and it goes uncovered in the news. he was funny, serious, compassionate, told anecdotes about Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Michael Gorbachev and snickered, saying that when sitting between President Bush and several priests, monks and holy figures he ordered a Bloody Mary. he talked about Ireland, about his love for America not just as a country, but as an idea, about ways we can make ourselves shine again in the world community.

At the end of his speech, there was a short question and answer session as taken from a box left out front of the venue. He was very delicate about religion and politics being in the nation’s capital, made jokes about lobbyists and when asked what the role of god and religion took in his music and activism he said he didn’t trust anyone who talked about god too much, that it is a private matter and that he wasn’t particularly the poster child or advertisement for such things. “what if i were snapped crawling out of a club my hand and knees, I¬†am after all a rockstar.” his comments were met with loud applause and laughter.

A question came from a 14-year old girl who asked what young people can do to bring awareness to AIDS, poverty, Africa free market trade, and debt forgiveness of poorer nations. Bono asked her to come up onto the stage, he kneeled, kissed her hand, hugged her to her great surprise and told her and the rest of us about The One Campaign. whether or not you agree with Bono, his vision, his politics, his movement to help, whether you see him as a saint or an annoyance, a rockstar with a big mouth or a person who is using his position to inspire goodness and action, indeed, he is leading an exhaustive and purposeful life.

I¬†bought tickets to go see Feist on Wednesday, February 8th at a club in DC called The Black Cat. I¬†also won tickets from my local radio station, WRNR to see her as part of their Emerging Artist Showcase. it’s an afternoon, pre-show private performance before the concert that evening. Feist’s big song is called “Mushaboom,” and she’s also played with Broken Social Scene.

lately i’ve been dreaming of kissing strangers, of sitting on the curb while i watch my house and all the things in it burn in leaping, licking, gorgeous, garrulous red flames; i’ve seen myself changing faces by pulling them out of white porcelain basin, a bowl of water. clearly ‚Äď something needs to move in my life. something is requesting to push through. something is asking to be destroyed and to be set anew.

Odin in the Ivy

I started with my houseplants. I cut a few back pretty hard and they responded with new, bright growth. The space around my desk looks like a little jungle now. Even Odin leaps out from around the pots and green plants, stalking like the wild thing he was and still is, somewhere in there.

me and the orchid

I¬†also bought a beautiful orchid. it’s an Oncidium Intergeneric called “Pacific Sun Spots.” brick red, deep orange and butter yellow.

Oncidium Branch

Pacific Sun Spots

like a California sunset . . .

. . . which brings me to my trip to Los Angeles February 17th-21st to see my sister, Racheal. I’ve never seen the Salton Sea or a Joshua Tree in real life. It’s time I¬†took some of my own photos.¬†I’ve never taken a wine country tour as an adult, and this time,¬†Ithink we will go not to Napa, but some place small and eclectic‚ÄĒto Santa Barbara. Nothing sounds finer to me in the midst of a cold winter month than to take in some breathtaking visions of desert sand, sea foam, waving palms and sun glinting off all things while¬†I¬†sip wine and release the shutter, both on my self and my camera.