Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Thursday, and there's a sold-out Wilco concert going on tonight at the University PAC that I'm totally going to miss. Crap.

I figured I'd make a quick update and clue some of you in to the plans I've been making lately. It seems that Europe is not going to work out after all. I planned as best I could, but in the end I realized that I just won't have enough money saved up to survive there for 3 whole months. When I checked with the airline last week to see if I could change my tickets in any fashion (maybe get an earlier return flight) they gave me the bad news: non-refundable and non-changeable tickets. So, other plans are in the works (and I will make it back to Europe someday soon).

As most of you know, I've been struggling lately to figure out the when, where and how of getting back to college for a different degree and a different life path. The answers to those questions have presented themselves over the past week, and I'm finally going for it. The University of Arizona (where Garrett is currently working on his PhD) offers a great BFA/MFA program for VISCOM (graphic design) and photography. After speaking with an advisor in the School of Art, it seems likely that after living here for a year I will be able to file for a domicile affidavit and pay in-state tuition prices to get a 2nd bachelors degree in the aforementioned field(s). So, that's the new plan. No more Portland (at least not for now). I've made so many new friends here in such a short time, and I love this place. Arizona is truly beautiful and really does have a lot to offer. My plan is to begin school not this fall, but the next (although I may take some not-for-credit classes next semester for fun). After I begin the program, it will take 3 years to complete it. I'm not in any rush, and I'm really looking forward to all of the general art courses I'll have to take for the degree. I can't help but feel like this is what I should have been doing with my life all along, but at least I'm finding this out now and not much, much later.

I should also mention that while leaving Tulsa and all of my friends and family is going to be tough, I'm really glad to be getting out of Oklahoma and going someplace new where I'll have a chance to start over again with a clean slate. Life hasn't been that easy for me over the past 4 years, and I think a lot of my problems have to do with the fact that I've felt stifled and held back by old, painful memories. I've been waiting for this opportunity for so long, and I can hardly believe that the time for action is finally here. At the end of July, I'll be coming home to pack my things, spend some quality time with everyone and say my good-byes. Of course, I hope you'll all come visit me in Arizona at some point. You're most certainly welcome to. :)


Now, on to a less "heavy" topic...

WHY does Polaroid film have to leave us? While I was in SF, Devin gave me his grandfather's old Polaroid CoolCam. I ordered two (very expensive) packs of film for it online from Twenty exposures for almost $50? Ridiculous. But let me tell you, when I loaded that film into the camera, closed the door and heard the gears click and move inside, I fell in love.

(first image - Oh, I'm so giddy!)

Now I'm kicking myself for not getting into Polaroid photography long ago, before they decided to cease production of this beloved film. Why oh WHY?? Anyway, I'm going to purchase an inexpensive SX-70 One-step cam from eBay (see image below), try to obtain one pack of SX-70 film (apparently the 600 film cannot be manipulated, and I'd like to mess around with that), and come up with a cool project that I can frame and hang up on the wall in my new place. It'll be worth the cost when everything is said and done.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm sorry to those of you that regularly keep up with my travels...I've been being a bit of a bum lately where the writing is concerned. I left San Francisco a couple of days ago to come back to Tucson for a week and a half before returning to the LA/San Diego area. I'm not sure what prompted my 3-days-early departure, but I think it had something to do with the weather. After spending so much time in Tucson where it's constantly hot and sunny, the clouds and dreary cold of SF started to get to me. That, and I'm beginning to get worn out from all of this traveling. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be doing all of this, but the tired feeling still creeps in at times.

Anyway, a quick recap of the last days in SF...

Last Saturday, Devin and I went into the city for another day of sightseeing, except that this time we drove his Volvo instead of taking the BART. We crossed over the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate, then drove up into the Marin Headlands for a different view of the city. There are a lot of abandoned bunkers and batteries in the area that were originally built to keep bad guys out of the bay, and they certainly make for an interesting photo op. Most are covered in graffiti and now simply serve as a weird place to wander around or walk your dog in. If we'd had more time, I would have loved to stay longer, but it was foggy and cold and we were trying to make it into Sausalito for lunch.

After munching on some yummy pizza and tiramisu in Sausalito, we drove back across the Golden Gate, parked, and then walked all the way across to the north side of the bridge and back. It took a couple of hours, but by this time the fog had cleared up and we had nothing but sunshine and puffy white clouds, as well as a clear view of downtown SF.

From there, we drove out to the Haight-Ashbury area and found some fun stores to look around in for a couple of hours. We went back into Amoeba records, and I opted to buy a t-shirt since I couldn't easily transport a record in a hot car all the way back to Tulsa.

(A crazy-cute sign along Haight street that I couldn't resist getting a picture with. Yeah, I chose the [vegan] taco...I think it's healthier than the fries.)

There weren't many other major events that happened for the remainder of my stay. I'd like to say that I went out on my own on the days that Devin was at work at the bike shop and did more sightseeing, but I did not. I just had an odd feeling for a large part of my stay that didn't really go away until I left. There were many nights spent just lounging around listening to Logan, Katie and Devin play music (which was totally awesome - they're all such talented musicians).

(Devin on the left, Logan on the right)

Katie and I did go out together once on the day before I left. She brought me to this crazy place somewhere in Oakland (or was it's hard to tell) that is essentially some person's house that has a backyard dedicated to welcoming people who wish to use their hot tub in the nude. It's the ultimate hippie experience, to be honest, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You enter through a gate (that has a lock code) at the back of the house, and there's just the yard with all of the beautiful foliage, some benches, a dressing room, shower, bathroom and the hot tub. There was even a sweet little Siamese cat wandering around that I played with for awhile. So, the idea is that there's this relaxing place in the middle of the city that's intended for girls (although girls are allowed to bring male guests with them) to use to hang out nude in this hot tub, then just be able to meditate and rest in the wooded area by the patio. No talking is allowed, and the code for the gate isn't supposed to be shared with just anyone. It's strange, but there's a sheet of rules available in the dressing room, and people are expected to abide by them. I guess it's pretty successful, because I do believe the guy who owns the place has had it available and in use for many, many years. I probably wasn't supposed to take these pictures with my phone, but since there aren't any naked people in them, I assume it's acceptable. :)

So, I left SF to drive down to Oceanside 2 days ago. I had the intention of at least staying overnight at Carita's place, but since her mom was in town visiting from Alaska, I opted to just drop in for dinner then finish the 7 hour drive from there to Tucson overnight in the same day. Since I never drink coffee, all it took to keep me awake all night was one large cup. I was actually quite proud of myself once I arrived in Tucson at 4AM. It's good to know that if I have to do such a long drive at some point in the future, I'm actually capable of doing it. :) Nothing really worth mentioning happened on the road trip back here, except that I will say that driving on highway 5 through the middle of Los Angeles between 4 and 6PM is the most frustrating thing EVER. Gross. Don't do it. I wish I had timed things better, but since I didn't I'm simply happy to have survived it without any major mishaps or accidents.

(entering the mountains outside of LA on Hwy 5)

(Some annoying traffic that this picture doesn't do justice to)

(Ahhhh, Pacific coast)

I'll be heading back to San Diego and LA in 1 week, so my next update may not come until then. I hope everyone is doing well!

Friday, June 05, 2009

It's Friday, and I've been here in the SF area for a few days. I've gotten familiar with the area already, been on a couple of short bike rides and made myself at home at Devin's place.

Tuesday afternoon, Devin got off of work at 3. He took me to this really cool place called the Albany Bulb. He brought his guitar along, and I brought my cameras. Check out the link.
When we returned to the studio, Devin cooked up an amazing dinner (he's such a good chef), and then we hung out with his roommates and talked, I listened while they played music, etc.

On Wednesday I rode out to Devin's bike shop again, dropped off my bike (apparently bicycle theft is too big of a deal here to be cocky about locking your bike up almost anywhere), and wandered around some of downtown Berkeley. South of the UC Berkeley campus, there's a great place called Telegraph street that offered a lot of unique and interesting shops to visit. I didn't have my camera with me, but the iPhone did a decent job of recording the non-artistic photos I needed. I found some really great bookstores, and two record stores that made me drool with desire. At the moment I found the aisles where the vinyl records were kept, I wished for a split second that I could be employed, that I could be a responsible, working member of society so I could afford something, ANYTHING. Like, maybe the limited edition Beck ($228) or Ben Folds ($89) sets, the Sigur Ros clear purple vinyl, some Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens...whatever. In the end, I figure it's better that I'm blowing all my non-replenishing savings on this trip, and forgoing the record purchases. It'll be OK. That's what I keep telling myself.

(Telegraph street)

(Yay for records - this is my heaven)

(Some humorous old books at one of the bookstores I visited)

I ran into some hippies as I was walking back to the bike shop. They totally offered me free hugs, and I couldn't really say no. Besides, they didn't smell bad, and a couple of them were pretty cute. So tell me, who's gonna turn down a free hug in San Francisco? From cute, non-smelly hippies? Yeah, you'd do it too.
When I arrived back at the bike shop, Devin put the new tires on my mountain bike. It's really the biggest treat ever. He gave me a super-sweet deal anyway, and I couldn't turn it down. By the time I rode off down the street on my way back to the studio, I was wondering what on earth I had been doing riding on those knobby-as-hell old tires for so many years. I was flying. I mean, there was no effort required. I've been spoiled, and there's no turning back.

(Devin performing surgery on my bike)

When Devin came home from work he made more scrumptious food and then we went to a local indie movie theater to watch "Sin Nombre." It was a very sad story, but was very well done. It was directed by the same guy who did "The Motorcycle Diaries", so if you liked that one, you should go see this.

Thursdays through Saturdays are Devin's days off work, so yesterday we went into the city for the first time since my arrival. It was an extremely full day, and we were pretty sleepy by the time we got back home.

We got into SF at the Embarcadero BART station around noon.

(Riding BART)

We walked through North Beach (the Italian neighborhood of SF) until we arrived at the Rogue Ale House. One of my all-time favorite beers is the Rogue Chocolate Stout, and Devin had never been to their bar, so we decided it would be a good stop for both of us. I tasted a new beer (Mocha Porter - I apparently need to have some sort of chocolate flavoring in my beer), and we (or at least I) got sufficiently tipsy.

From there, we walked down to the pier and had lunch at "The Buena Vista" and then ice cream at the Ghirardelli store. Mmmmm. I had been waiting so long to have one of their ice cream sundaes, and it didn't disappoint.

(Mmmm, chocolate sundae)

After that, we walked back through North Beach into Chinatown, I got bitched at by some lady for taking pictures of her food (those Chinatown chicks are nuts), and then ended up in the SoMA area (where all of the good museums and galleries are).
The first place we went to was the Contemporary Jewish Museum. They had a great exhibit going on called "Jews on Vinyl" as well as one about Jewish theater in Russia during the early 1900's. Marc Chagall was really influential in one of the acting companies, and so there was quite a bit of his artwork to accompany the exhibit. We shared a drink at the cash bar after we finished walking around at the exhibit, then went down the street to the SFMOMA.

I've been wanting to visit one of the MOMA's for a long time now, and the SFMOMA was amazing. They had an exhibit of Ansel Adams' photographs side by side with Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings. Since both artists were such good friends for most of their lives and were inspired by a lot of the same subjects, it was a very cool experience. There was also a collection of Robert Frank's photographs, as well as all of the prints from his book "The Americans." GREAT exhibit. Aside from that, the permanent collection was quite amazing on its own. They had two works by one of my favorite sculptors, Kiki Smith, as well as lots of works by everyone from Klee to Dahli to Kahlo to Rothko to Kandinsky. The list goes on and on. I've posted some of my favorites below for your viewing pleasure. :)

When we left the SFMOMA, it was getting dark outside.

Walking through SoMA at night was wonderful, and freaking cold. After being in Tucson with its frequent 100 degree + highs, San Francisco might as well be another world. There's at least a 60 degree difference between the two places most of the time, it seems. We rode the BART down to the 16th St. Mission stop, got off, had dinner at a small Mexican restaurant, a couple drinks at a local bar called "The Casanova", and dropped by Devin's favorite bookstore before getting back on the train around 11PM and making our way back to Oakland. What a great day.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I arrived in the San Francisco area late yesterday afternoon and I'm a bit sad that I'm away from Tucson (since it kind of became my home away from home over the last month and a half). But, I'm so excited about the possibilities that SF has to offer me during the next couple of weeks!

I spent a large part of last week packing up my things and preparing for my departure. Delphine and I got together for lunch a couple of times towards the end of the week, and since she's moving to Philadelphia around the middle of the month, she was also in the process of packing. Since that's the case, I was the recipient of a lot of stuff she didn't want to lug around Pennsylvania, such as a pair of Doc Martens, a tent, an umbrella, some Brita filters, a purse, and a kick ass coat that she wore when she was in high school in France. That girl has single-handedly given me almost everything I could possibly need to take on a good camping trip. She's amazing.

Anyway, on Friday night we all got together with Garrett's group of friends for dinner at a good sandwich shop / bar on 4th avenue, and I got to say most of my goodbyes. Garrett and I went back to his place to watch a movie that night, fell asleep, then woke up the next morning to do our last hike together.

Sabino Canyon's "Seven Falls" hike was probably the first hike we had discussed doing together, so it was strangely appropriate that it ended up being the most (technically) easy and final hike we did in Tucson. Notice that I say "technically" easy (not generally easy). It ended up being the hardest hike we did, in my opinion. My reasoning behind this is that we ended up going during the hottest part of the day (stupid, STUPID) and I totally got dehydrated and nearly passed out at the end by the falls. The nice thing was that there was actually some running water there, (despite the fact that Tucson is currently in the middle of its dry season), and I could soak my feet and relax for awhile. We ran out of water right at the end of the hike when we got back to the trailhead. I guess we'll know better for next time. :-/

That night, Garrett and I met up with Matt, Sarah and Casey for the "Third Annual Night of New Orleans" at Hotel Congress. They had some great live music going on outside, plus a big table set up where you could get some spicy crawfish and shrimp. Garrett got me a dirty martini with extra olives, and that one drink was enough to put me away for the night and make me eerily giddy and giggly. We all had some good (and stupidly hilarious) conversation. Man, I love martinis. Following the concert, all of us (except for Casey) went down the street to have a late late dinner at this totally cool restaurant called "The Grill." After dinner we parted ways and Garrett and I went home to get some sleep before my big road trip the next day.

I didn't get as early a start as I would have liked on Sunday morning, but since the trip was only 7 hours as opposed to 9, it didn't seem necessary to wake up much before 11. The trip to Santa Monica was fairly uneventful, and I'm glad I chose to drive into town on a Sunday night as opposed to a weekday night. That traffic is insane, and I'm almost certain I'm in no position to navigate an unfamiliar highway in a place as crazy as Los Angeles (especially during rush hour). I stayed with some nice couchsurfers who had moved to the US from Haifa, Israel two years earlier. They were very friendly, and provided me with a good dinner, a hot shower and a cozy bed to sleep in. Couchsurfing is so wonderful.

The next morning, I had to wake up early since my hosts had to make it to work. I hit the road around 10AM and did an even shorter drive on highway 5 to Oakland (6 hours?). Again, the drive was uneventful enough that it doesn't really need any explanation. The only thing I can say is that about 80% of that drive between LA and SF is boring as fuck. I mean, leaving LA is nice (mountains and a couple of lakes), and the last 60 miles before SF are nice (rolling hills, trees, wind farms). Everything in between? Complete shit. Oh well. I feel sorry for people in Bakersfield.



Anyway, I arrived in Oakland around 4:00PM and found my way to Devin's house without too much trouble. And really and truly, it's not a house. It's this large warehouse-type building called "The Dome" and it's the coolest place I've ever stayed at in my life. I'll take some pictures soon. When I arrived Devin was still at work, so one of his roommates let me in. I spent the remainder of the afternoon unpacking and chatting with his friends. I found out that his roommate actually has the same year and model VW as I do, and he's promised to let me drive it sometime before I leave (I miss mine so much).
When Devin got home from work we immediately left for dinner. Some of his friends (Abe, Megan and Tony) picked us up and drove us all to a really nice Indian restaurant in downtown Berkely. We had a nice (and utterly hilarious) conversation, and then they drove us home afterwards. Devin and I stayed up late and attempted t0 watch the movie "Eagle vs. Shark" on the projector screen in his bedroom, but the disc had a scratch (dammit!) that prevented us from completing it. Whatever the case, you should watch it. The parts I saw were so funny, and it has one of the band members from "Flight of the Conchordes" in it.

(the wall by the registers at the Indian restaurant - the black sticker is interesting)

This morning, we woke up and rode our bikes to downtown Berkely where Devin's bike shop is. He's at work until 3, and I'm just enjoying some free Internet and a smoothie and scone here at Yali's coffee. Oh, and I'm getting smooth tires put on my mountain bike today, so I'll have something more like a road bike (I guess I can call it a hybrid) for all the long treks through the streets of San Francisco.