October has long been my favorite month for all the Halloween celebrations and fall festivities. It is often so full of activites and projects that the final days seem like a marathon where I find myself trudging through the events exhausted and depleted and only half enjoying them. I seems impossible to let one element of celebration go to the wayside though when this is the only chance all year to indulge in all things spooky and dark. Then when October ends it as if you snap your fingers and the year is over too, everything moving too quickly.
This year was different though, we started off the month with a grand adventure, heading up to Oregon and Washington. I’ve been wanting to return since we went to Portland back before we were married. I fell in love with that little city and it became a sort of dream future home. Someplace smaller and slower. This visit, we spent a little time there, but drove up through Washington to visit a few of the National Parks and just explore the whole area. Posts from our trip coming soon, as I just started to sift through the photos.
When we returned, October marched forward, we visited haunted houses, we had our Halloween marathon, we watched scary movies and spent time with friends. There were obligations and stresses just like regular life but it wasn’t overwhelming like it sometimes is. Sometimes I want to do everything and I cannot possibly do everything.
This year has felt slow and strange. I had a sort of self imposed moratorium on creative projects over the past few months as we went on more outdoor adventures and I just didn’t have the time. What I realized though, as I took the time to create my Halloween costume this year, is that I missed the simple joy of making something with my hands. It may not measure up to the experience of exploring a new place but one can’t be away from home all the time (well, that’s arguable, but it’s certainly not for me). There’s also the gratification of being able to finish something, even if it is small, which is a counterpoint to the ambiguous and drawn out completion of film projects. It’s something I had been telling myself wasn’t so important, but is really something that I need.
Last year at this time I shot my short film, Forgiveness. Since completing that project, my feelings of accomplishment have tapered off. Having any sort creative success means constantly pushing forward even when no one is looking and it’s tiring and often unrewarding. I wrote another feature earlier this year but since then I’ve been struggling to start the next script, one that I have almost entirely mapped out already. I managed to break through whatever bizarro writer’s block I was experiencing and get a handful of pages down finally. I know it will still be work to get through the rest, but having finally started is freeing in itself.
You may have noticed my intermittent dissatisfaction with Los Angeles. A big part of it is the heat. The temperatures here can be oppressive in an undefinable way. I realize it’s not so hot as some other desert places but the way it drags on for so much of the year wears on me. This drought too has been occupying a space in my mind, a constant worry in the background, one I can hardly do anything about. It seems selfish to complain about warm weather and sunny skies but there is a certain monotony to it and a certain smoggy haze too.
This Halloween we went to a party at some friends’ house and as we roasted vegan marshmallows over a fire pit it started to rain. Did I mention my costume was a rain cloud? We drove through the edge of West Hollywood to see those who were making their way to or from the parade there in their wild costumes. We ended the evening with a late night meal with friends at Doomie’s. As we drove, the gentle rain turned into a downpour. It was beautiful and such a relief.
The weather has been cool now and it finally feels like fall (though it’s going to be nearly 90 degrees again this week). I knit myself a new hat (pictured above) snuggled up in bed watching X-Files. Shawn and I walked around town while we were waiting on some car repairs and passed through a movie shoot where hundreds of bikes were set up in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard. We visited LACMA and Whimsic Alley and I started to come to peace with this city. I know it’s only because I’ve never lived anywhere else that it’s hard for me to see how special Los Angeles can be. I know crazy magical things happen here all the time, they’re just not usually the same kind of magic I’m looking for.
I’ve always been an avid public radio listener. Now it is now pretty acceptable, maybe even a little cool, but possibly wasn’t as cool when I would arrange my Saturdays in college so that I could listen to the This American Life broadcast. Such arrangements are no longer necessary thanks to podcasts, even weekly shows can be consumed freely and in bulk.
I like to listen to stories more than music while I work on projects like quilting or editing photos. Audiobooks are the best, as they continue on for ages, but it’s an expensive habit and I usually consume my one allotted book per month in no time. So podcasts it is. I’ve listened to nearly every This American Life at this point and it’s really time I broadened my horizons.
Another recent favorite is Night Vale Radio. It’s fun to follow along with the absurdity of this fictional, supernatural town. I’ve just burned my way through all the episodes and am impatiently waiting for more.
Next on my list to check out is Sawbones. Exploration of misguided medicine? Count me in!
Podcasts have really exploded in the past year or so and I love it. Even friends are starting their own podcasts. I’m looking for new material though. What are your favorite podcast?
I’ve spent the past few days sick in bed. It’s been awhile since I’ve been so laid out that I couldn’t remotely function. The strangest part was not having complete control over my mind. Everything was foggy and slow, especially words. Mostly though it was utterly boring. Unable to do the things I wanted and unable to sleep, I just laid there, watching tv and movies, most of which couldn’t really hold my limited attention.
I did manage to watch the new COSMOS, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe it was just the mentions of Sagan and the Voyager, or the story of little Neil deGrasse Tyson being extended such kindness by a great scientist, but the show really got to me on an emotional level. I’ve been fretting a lot recently about the destruction us humans have wrought on our planet and it was nice to see the bigger cosmic universe for a moment and feel small in both time and space. Not that it lets us off the hook but sometimes you just need a different perspective and a little relief.
Humans spend so much time looking forward or looking back. It’s not easy to be in the present when there is so much ahead of us and so much that we’ve left behind. I’ve been thinking a lot about roads not taken recently, mostly in terms of art. It is a topic I come back to often, having been trained as a painter and with my film studies through the lens of video art and critical theory rather than by way of story plotting and pitching scripts. I gave up painting at some point. It’s something that I occasionally feel sadness about. A tiny death to make space for other things. It’s not like I couldn’t pick it back up, but it’s the one thing that I’ve let go that I do experience remorse over. I consider what that path would have been, every time getting stuck on the fact that it’s painfully difficult for me to try to sell something that I’ve made. Which is pretty much going to be a problem with whatever I do artistically.
It is more comforting to think back on those things that I know how to do rather than those that I do not (I still need to learn to code or this craft or that), or worse the paths not explored (biology would have been a fascinating option). It’s a relief when I’m exhausted by the film industry to think about particular video art pieces that are rarely seen. The thought serves as a reminder that sometimes you just have to keep creating without experiencing any success for a long long time. Or perhaps never. Or perhaps just enough so that a girl in art school can watch a vhs of something you made in the library and never forget it.
photo from NASA, ESA, and D. Gouliermis (University of Heidelberg)
There’s been a lot of talk about what is becoming of blogging these days. It’s been something I’ve been struggling with for the past year, not so much in regards to comments or stats, but rather what I want this space to be and how I’d like to connect to readers. Balancing the personal with more creative stuff can be a difficult space to navigate. For the past year or so I’ve just been pushing forward, trying to do what I’ve always done. Only just in recent months I feel like I’ve figured out a better path for this blog in terms of what I’m comfortable with posting and what might still be interesting. I’m working on it in any case.
I find these days that the blogs I love the most are not the ones that show only pretty things or details on how to make something, but rather the ones that speak to the human experience and discovery in life. I’ve been blogging in this space for five and a half years (and writing random thoughts on the internet for longer still) and I find it increasingly hard to write candidly here. This is something I’m making an effort to change, so there is more substance here.
In any case, I’d love to hear what you think and would love if you wouldn’t mind taking a little survey I put together. Your thoughts on my blog are important to me; you’re the reason I don’t just write in a journal. I want to stay connected with you.
It seems only appropriate that a survey post should have a bathroom selfie as the previous survey I wrote did. This one was from a recent visit to The Autry.