Restless

As I post this, the rain has me trapped, and it makes me upset. This is unusual. I have a mad passion for thunderstorms, but not this one. My writing has had a major distraction. Mom came by and handed me something that steals my sleep, my attempts at writing fiction, and my ability to pay attention to anything anyone else is saying, because in my mind I’m revisiting places and capturing them in magnificent detail.

I now own a 4k camcorder and 2 tripods with bells and whistles. I’ll need a couple of lenses, macro shots on it suck and those are necessary for the plethora of bugs I’ll be chasing through the grass like I’m on a miniature safari. The zoom is awesome though. My eyes have gotten so bad I can’t see birds in trees anymore, but now I can not only see them, I can save them and see them again. Also, it has an excellent microphone and I can extract the sound track of beautiful areas.

I really like what I’ve done with the blog lately, turning my ramblings into quick notes under the flash makes it a better read, and I’ve gained a few more followers that way. But this camera… it’s a game changer.

I’ve had dreams, y’all. Dreams of doing things like going camping near where Bigfoot has been seen and taking nature videos and sound recordings out there, so when I do the thing where I put on my headphones and half of me starts pretending I live in the woods, it can be where Bigfoot lives. Or I can explore abandoned places, haunted houses, graveyards, murder sites, treacherous looking sites of urban decay, and play them back late at night when everyone is sleeping. Then I can stay up writing by the light of my adventures.

Last year ended in massive disappointment for me. My adventures in Staten Island ended and the only sightseeing I managed was on the island itself. I didn’t even get to see all the cool things there (though I did snag a couple of rocks from the mansion where a mafia hitman dismembered a dude). I was too worried about having someone with me if I tried to go into the city for safety and security. I don’t like crowds. I didn’t want to deal with a toddler while I was distracted sightseeing in that crowd, especially if I wanted to stop and write in the middle of a neat atmosphere. Joe was too tired on the weekends, and the weeks kept passing until I felt so much pressure that I ended up trying to take the bus multiple times and failed. Once there was this bus/foot race until I got sick on the side of the road (running with fibro and a low level migraine sucks), and there was all kinds of getting lost or confused about the bus routes.

I had my hopes set on quite a few things, like seeing Poe’s banister, drinking with the ghost of Dylan Thomas, and walking over the bones in Washington Square park. I even wanted more of just the island, seeing more of the crumbling cemeteries, nature preserves, the abandoned hospital… sigh.

I didn’t even get to explore inside the murder mansion because a van was parked in the front so I was worried someone was inside. Probably always parked there to deter “visitors” by the same person who stuck a mannequin in the window for the ghost hunters to see when they tried to take long distance photos to peek inside. I’d show you a pic but I lost it. I lost all my Staten Island pics except what was used on the blog when I decided to be a moron and not back up my documents.

Work directly from the cloud, people.

As I was saying, I had plans, goals, things I wanted to do. I wanted these places to inspire my writing, put more color to my fiction, possibly even end up in a little dark tourism style travel writing. But no, I couldn’t get my shit together quickly enough. The disappointment was enough to shut me up about my life, and make me stick to just the tiny little stories I manage to churn out in the moments the toddler is still.

Which ended up good. I enjoy rambling about my life, but meanwhile, the place started looking more like a collection of stories, and I picked up a few more followers from it. At first, I hoped to lick my wounds and then start applying what I wanted to a local level, then I would start talking about my life again.

After all, I haven’t seen some of the cool stuff around Tulsa that could thrill me. I’m not from the area and haven’t had a car until recently. So, I was going to take my little Craig’s list freebie camera around some of the sights, like the forgotten graveyard under downtown and the hanging tree near there, when Mom told me about the 4k camcorder she bought on a whim that has been sitting around her house, unused, for about a year. I can’t believe we’re related.

Therefore, I have been waiting. Spring is here. I have transportation, gas money, and an air popcorn popper. That last bit will help with the ravenous squirrels that swarm you in Woodward park, which is next to the haunted Tulsa Garden Center, full of flowers and bees to photograph. I have not gone on this wonderful little adventure that I have been looking forward to since January, as I have been waiting on this camera and spring. Now, both are here.

So are the thunderstorms for the next couple of days. And this isn’t one of those waterproof type cameras. Fuck.

What this all means for the blog goes a little something like this: not much yet. I don’t even have software to edit 4k or a desktop computer at the moment. But, I can export photos and it records in mp4 at the same time, so I can share a few adventures occasionally.

However, because I like the blog being mostly a chain of stories, these posts might happen on a day other than Tuesday (which will remain flash day), when circumstances permit me to have an adventure. I may end up reviving my old blog (which was nature oriented) just for those posts and link to them here, not sure yet. For now, I will resume weekly flash stories next week, while I figure out how to use this thing and wait for the rain to end.

Also, very soon, summer is coming. My teen will be out of school, and Joe already rented a beautiful place for the family to be together again. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be going back to New York. Not to Staten Island, though I will revisit a few things I miss pictures of. Long Island this time, where there’s an active serial killer and we have access to two back yards, one with a pool. Gonna be a great summer.

I hope the move goes better than last time.

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Sometimes you have to carry your home on the inside.

I have a recurring dream, one that always brings me comfort, though to some it might be considered a nightmare. There’s a place I visit, and when I’m there, I soar with freedom. Sometimes literally, because hey, dream. I know when I’m in this place again, not because I recognize it, nothing in it is ever truly familiar. It’s not the look of the land, it’s the spirit.

I might be walking down a prosperous neighborhood, admiring the occasional flash of stained glass and enjoying thrills of delight at lawn gnomes tucked discreetly in well-tended flower gardens.

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I’m always on the move, a quiet pressure deep inside urging me away from where I was, and onward to where I am going. Looking for something intangible, looking for something I can hold, something to satisfy the desire that can’t be filled.

Sometimes, I’ll admit it, sometimes I’m looking for something to steal. Stolen treasures are even more exciting. But I never find anything. There is nothing that calls to be mine.

Maybe I enter a home, only to pass through to the other side, winding my way through backyards and over fences. Maybe I turn down an alley, or take a shortcut across an empty lot. Maybe I stick to the streets and simply make another turn, and it all falls away to something else. A new neighborhood, a new adventure.

On this street, colorful laundry flutters in the air. Cautious eyes on strained faces peek through open windows while the sweat drips from their brow. The colors of the homes change from brick to adobe, and strong spices flow from a market on the corner.

A breathless push through the excited market might turn me into a rustic neighborhood of wood and pine, or one that likes to mix up its architectural style with a minimalist modern flare. Every street has something new, everything a gleaming snapshot of the shiniest treasures that area has to offer, be they succulent or depraved, glitters of the exotic or the luxurious, the serene or the mysterious, and always, always out of reach. No matter how simple the treasure I have found might be.

Always. Be it a lawn gnome, or a family sitting down at the table together for a meal.

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I never live there, I am always walking through, and everything I see is out of my reach, therefore exotic and exciting.

I know exactly why I have this dream, and I know exactly why it comforts me. I won’t tell you every detail, but I might hint that when I wanted to live in the woods, there was a reason it might have been preferable to home. Maybe more than one reason.

Those reasons stopped in my teenage years, and so did my attempts to run off and live like a feral child. I was always caught, but those moments of freedom wandering around unfamiliar streets affected me forever. To the point that they molded my dreams.

When I started riding a bike to explore, the dreams started sometimes taking on the feel of flying, racing along in pure joy up and down the roads. Never high enough to reach the sky, or even avoid cars without a lot of effort, but a nice smooth gliding flight that I had the joy of recreating when I woke up and got on my bike again. I don’t have a bike anymore, but I still fly through neighborhoods in my sleep.

When I lived on the street, the longing to be a part of the places I passed through grew to something more intense, darker, but comforting and familiar in its own way. The dreamy landscapes I wandered through grew more colorful, more diverse, more like an entire city contained in a small area, each street a representation of the best of all the towns I’ve wandered through, secret treasures and fascinations intact.

Know what reminds me of that oddly comforting dream, that recurring expression of an emotion I know no name for other than wanderlust? That word only expresses the desire, not the blissful satisfaction of something new and exciting washing over you in waves as you experience temporary release from despair (or, more recently, mild annoyance).

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Walking around Staten Island, that’s what. The smallest, greenest borough of New York City. A variety of cultures stacked on top of each other, some streets new and shiny and some streets cracking and mossy, and all of them beautiful.

If I were forced (well, persuaded by love) to live in pollution and population filled New Fucking York City, this would be the place to stick me. Home of protected marshlands, deer, subcutaneous egg laying sand fleas, and reputedly practically the whole damn island is haunted.

Seeing the state of many of these places, once shining and now peeling with grief, crammed right up next to homes oozing prosperous promises, I can see why rumors of ghosts linger. Also, there was that serial killer with his associated scandalous hospital, then the other abandoned hospital that’s supposed to be like an entire village, the mob hitman who cut up that dude in that mansion… Anyway, you know. Fun history alongside all that birth of our nation stuff.

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I want you to take a moment and put yourself in my skin, with forty some-odd years of that dream driving your spirit. Now add twenty years of living in virtual confinement, restrained by poverty, lack of transportation, and the life of a single mother struggling to get through school (before I met Joe), followed by a new bundle of joy and the chaining to the home that brings.

Then suddenly…

I’m living in a landscape that holds some of the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood of my spirit. The landscape around me mirrors adventures that have called to me for decades. I play in unexplored landscapes and unfamiliar cultures just when I’m walking to the store. Awesome.

As pleasant as this place is, it is still New York City. Exotic, challenging, and bold. I walk, and I look around, and I feel my soul taking it in to store for later, material for memories that will become stories and dreams. My inner life grows wealthier, my need for stimulation being fed.

And Joe is talking about possibly sending us back to Tulsa.

Oklahoma. Land of flat, dull, and boring. We don’t even have basements, or homes above shops. I grew up surrounded by people who picked on me for reading for fun. People who had no idea how to eat an artichoke and had never eaten shrimp and ask you what church you belong to when you meet because it’s assumed you are Christian.

I mean, okay I get it. When it comes down to it, our current housing situation is not going to work out for a multitude of reasons. It would be less expensive to ship us off, we could save money to buy land faster, and oh boy, I do want land.

But I haven’t explored Manhattan yet, and it’s December so it’s cold and Joe’s commute is twice as long because of shoppers and tourists. I don’t think I want to face that crowd. Stuck in traffic that long with a hyper toddler, not a good idea either. If I were alone, the crowd and cold would just be part of the adventure, but I just can’t do it to her. I was hoping to visit the city with her in the spring, but now I hear I might not even be in the city over Christmas.

I had my heart set on so many things. I won’t get to tour the best graffiti, or eat a dandelion in Central Park. I might not even get a chance to see Poe’s banister before we leave. I did get to gather seashells with my daughter, and I do admit the beach was lovely (if you admire the tragedy of urban decay and can vaguely enjoy the horror you feel while you watch trash bobbing in the waves).

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I thought I would be here for a year, and that I wouldn’t have to be apart from Joe again. I wanted to walk through Washington Square park while wondering how many bones I was walking across. I wanted to drink with the ghost of Dylan Thomas. Now, instead, I may be going back to the trailer. To paint the walls in a vain attempt to inject optimism and a woodland theme into my life.

Or, as I was informed this morning, perhaps we’ll be moving to Long Island, with an actual view of the ocean. It would be longer until we saved enough for land, but we would stay together and I could continue my plans for the rest of the year.

This should be earth-shatteringly good news, a possibility to cling to, but it’s just making me worried it won’t happen.

Once again, I’m not sure of where I will be and when. The way possibilities keep popping up, then fading away around here, that might be going on for a while. In a way, it’s cool. All the possibilities have positive eventual outcomes, even going back to the land of flat, dead, and boring will lead to land, so I know I can adapt.

It’s just that, well, humans are complicated creatures and the seed for adventure isn’t the only thing in my heart. Lots of stuff lives there.

Fucking anxiety and PTSD to name a couple. Know what stuff like that doesn’t like? Instability. Unpredictable futures. Trying to get settled in, and just when you do, it’s time to move again. I totally signed up for this journey, I just didn’t realize it would jump around so much or move so fast.

I am not reacting well. Thankfully, middle age doesn’t just come with wrinkles. It also comes with a lifetime of experience and skill sets to stave off the waves of panic attacks that would have been hell in this situation when I was younger.

And I have a brand new, shiny skill set that hasn’t even gotten boring yet. Bullet journaling about organization, a routine, pain solutions, family meals, standard life skills that will remain consistent no matter where we live or what we are doing. That helps.

I mean, I just got a new journal for 2019 a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve at least started notes on collections for more than half of the pages, so apparently it’s helping quite frequently. I have to say though, copying recipes from Pinterest into my BUJO is the most white girl thing I’ve ever done. At least I don’t think I’ve been so drunk that I’ve lost a shoe in public.

P.S.- I finally caved and got Scrivener, and had one of those moments where angels sang in chorus while light radiated so hard my hair blew back. I’ve already started a bullet journal page with custom icons.

P.P.S. – Posting Tuesdays now. I tried posting when my views were at their peak, apparently that is not a good strategy to get more views on my blog.

She’ll grow up people watching while I feed the birds in parks.

What a relief. For a few weeks now, I’ve been diligently indulging my creative process, but writing just wasn’t happening. Only one or two days a week have ended up with me writing more than a paragraph or two of actual fiction since I moved here.

Not for lack of trying. I filled my head with the symbolism of Raven, Yew, and the lyrics of Poe. I listened to mountain wolves howling in a thunderstorm, imagined the setting around me back in Poe’s time, and kept my writer’s journal within quick reach.

When occasions to write did pop up, they were brief and distracting. Too many days of errands. Too many frustrations and complications settling in to a new home and routine. Too energetic of a toddler testing every tiny dangerous or irritating thing in her new environment.

I was writing, a little, but all my ideas seemed empty and none of them shined any more than the others. My focus just stuttered and fizzled, and nothing seemed to be developing into anything worthy.

I finally had one of those moments though; when something so obvious hits you that you feel embarrassed for missing it for so long.

I’ve already been wanting to go to cool places to write, to creatively express certain atmospheres. I’ve been thinking of it as a tourist activity, my family keeping an eye on her while I jot down some notes inspired by the location.

But why do I have to wait for them to be with me?

We take a lot of walks. When Princess Tomboy starts trying to see if the curtains will work as a swing, or what the loudest banging noise she can find might be, a long walk is just the thing to settle her down. We spend most of our morning on strolls with my Craig’s list freebie camera at the ready for interesting natural treasures.

 

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So why on earth haven’t I been stopping places for a quick little picnic and some light writing? If I can find a way to keep her entertained while she’s safely strapped into the stroller, then I will have the ability to focus on something without worrying about her.

I mean duh, field work is basic routine exercise for art, photography, and writing. I enjoy them all, and have been doing different kinds of field work since I was a teen.

Right now, my monsterling will only stay quiet for a minute or two while I try to grab a quick bumblebee close up, but if I work with her enough we might find some ways to extend that to a few minutes to write, or even start doing some sketching on location.

I know several places I’d like to revisit, including numerous cemeteries that seem to be hidden all over the neighborhood.

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One in particular has stones half hidden in the grass, stones so old the names faded away, a spot that dates back to the original Dutch settlers of the area.

But wait, there’s more.

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Abandoned places eaten by vines and graffiti. Moss-covered stone walls flanked by polished stone lions. Homes that tell the story of decline over the generations as new homes rise up next to them bursting with prosperity.

Crumbling nooks and crannies full of moss and twisted trees pushing up patterns in the sidewalk with their roots, reminders this was once all old growth forest lush from the ocean air. Were there wolves still sometimes roaming the edges of the city back in the time of Poe?

Places that tell stories. Places where I might have to plop down on the sidewalk to spend a moment with my writing, but I certainly can do so, as long as the toddler is content with where we are.

Just knowing that I’ve found a way to protect my writing time was enough to get my inner muse talking smoothly. The realization happened in the morning and by the evening several shallow ideas clicked together into a shiny multifaceted idea quite worthy of illuminating Grim.

It reminded me of how all I had to do in Tulsa was set up a desk all of my own. The next thing I knew, everything started clicking into place and my notebooks filled quickly.

I finally hear the cracking of an egg as a young story is ready to emerge, and it will be nurtured as I explore the city. I will learn to take my protected writing space with me, adaptable and persistent.

I have totally got to get my hands on some native seedbombs for pollinators and wildlife to leave around me while I explore. I’d have a blast doing it slingshot style.

P.S. – On the top menu is a link to a new page, inspired by too many sessions of fumbling around for links to text curious relatives and neighbors that want to see my writing. The Guided Tour lists some of my favorite bits of my blog.

Gettin’ my cultural groove on.

I adore the new home. A wall of solid mirror makes the living room feel huge, and there are floral stained-glass accents throughout. It’s all polished hardwood and gleaming.

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We have the ground floor, there are apartments in the basement, and on the second story. We’re on a quiet street full of homes with their own hints of stained glass and modest architectural flourishes, with small well-groomed yards that often display skill with attractive edible landscaping. There are plenty of shade trees, and the birds don’t seem to be intimidated by foot traffic.

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In short, Joe did a good job finding a nice place to raise a family. Most blocks end in a small selection of shops. Each one looks like a convenience store, but inside is full of treasures.

Prickly pear, papaya, fresh fish, and a selection of staples that give a taste of cultures the locals once called home. Mom and Pop corner stores at home never offer fresh produce, real shopping within a pleasant walk is a relief.

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I haven’t placed the accent of my favorite store owner (the one right on the corner in the pic), but he typifies the atmosphere of so many of these shops. Warm, friendly, accommodating, and somewhat bursting with pride. He’s teaching my daughter to anticipate a free lollipop every time we leave.

I mentioned to him that I’m more comfortable in the country, and he said that to him, this is the country. Calling anywhere in NYC “country” seems laughable, but he kind of has a point, a little. Life is close enough together that it’s stacked up on top of itself here, but we do have areas overgrown with vines, areas with fireflies, even deer a few blocks away.

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You don’t tend to find murals in the country though. And when I say we live in a quiet neighborhood, I mean you only see one or two people walking down each block, and though cars are parked everywhere, there’s also a few moving around at any given time.

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Here the homes sometimes house several generations, the oldest grandparents barely understanding English. The accent thins down to imperceptible in the smallest, most wide eyed and beautiful youth. Here live the people who came to America hoping for a better life, and they did so.

Here, in this city, lives the American Dream. I mean, of course it’s everywhere in America, but here it doesn’t seem as jaded.

Let me give you some specifics. The other day, it was too late for most food options. Our trusty GPS led us to a parking lot surrounded by a decorative iron gate and lush, carefully pruned hedges. Christmas lights in the form of angels lit up the trees.

Three shops stood next to each other, and it wasn’t until we left that we realized they could be owned by the same man. A martial arts studio lay next to an IHOP, then on the other side lay a sushi place. I have got to go there sometime when the sushi-hating Joe isn’t dining with me and my son.

We walked inside IHOP and right away I could tell something was off, but I couldn’t immediately place it. I saw pictures on the walls of a martial arts grand-master, so I figured the students from next door ate here after practice. Then I looked around and saw the subtle “off-ness” was due to a slight Asian flare to the architecture, making it a little different than most IHOPs.

Then the coolest thing happened. An older version of the martial arts grand master stood next to his poster and welcomed us to his restaurant. He wore shorts and knee length socks in a style that reminded me of a tourist in the islands, and suddenly the whole place felt like a tropical island, especially with the faint ocean feel to the air. I regretted not taking my camera.

He was charming, and radiated pride and love for his establishment. His presence and the atmosphere of the place made it an IHOP I will never forget. He helped me realize what it was I was seeing in the community around me, immigrants with true pride in what they’ve accomplished.

Yes, it’s everywhere across the nation, but here it radiates in a way more intense than I’ve ever run across. It’s an excitement that’s a little contagious, and an unexpected treat in this whole big city experience thing.