Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the itch that i'm TRYING to scratch

So, it's been a WHILE since I made anything outside of my sketchbook.  Which is fine...non-output has its purpose...artists I've talked to about plateaus or blockages all say that sometimes you have to stop making so that you can absorb, take in and digest new information, breathe.  But that itch has been there for a couple of weeks now, and now it's a matter of creating that SPACE for a creative process to occur.

A studio practice, when one moves into a 35 foot space with 5 other people, feels like a pipe dream.  For the past two weeks, every normally mundane aspect of survival has felt alien and intimidating and requires twice as much energy as it should.   I think we've all spent more than a healthy amount of time worrying about whether dinner will get made or if someone turned off the breaker or if I left my dirty socks under the kitchen table again or if everyone else is just OKAY.  These concerns are natural at the beginning of an odyssey, I realize, but I think we are all getting closer to finding a balance between our whims and structure, others and self, go-time and rest.  With those balances I think we are also collectively shaping our space and our individual adventures, so we may use the bus and the format of this trip as a vehicle for accomplishing what we need to to feel ourselves again and chase our personal dreams.

With that transition in mind, I can't WAIT for tomorrow.  I suspect tomorrow will bring the moment I've been waiting for...in which I fill a bag with some pens and pencils and National Geographics and the sketchbooks that contain the studies depicted here, set out in search of some quiet light, retreat into myself and explore this bag I have full of REALLY EXCITING lichen, rocks, and wood for a while.

Studies for what I think might be a journey back into a studio practice:

the mountains are always in the distance

Ahoy! Wow sorry I got distracted there for a week or so...denied internet's existence. Anyhow, now that I've got a new iphone, the group can be in better touch with everyone and everything. And find directions, because we keep gettin lost! Or at least I do.

New cities can be overwhelming for me, but I've taken a liking to this one. I find it much preferable to Philly with it's limitless amazing kind folks and creative beings and so many buskers that all the corners ring with melodious cacophonies. This is THE corner, the one that's most sought after for busking and we have made some good bucks here:

(That's Sarah in the black playing violin. She's joined us for jams and dinner-she's been playing violin for 21 years- awesome!)

I've also tried to sell crafts on this corner while busking, no dice so far, but I will prevail.
This is where we've been parking the bus for most of the last week. It's an unused gravel lot behind the music store. No one's asked us to leave so far, and it's right outside of the center of the city, so it's perfect for being in town every day. Not the most picturesque, but actually when I look out the window each morning I see a tiny sliver of mountains in the distance peering through a tiny alley. Did some laundry on the washboard here yesterday, hung the line to dry tied to the mirror and the engine. So much for not doing your dirty laundry in public...!
 Jack of the Wood, the first place we went when we rolled into town! Great local beers, I sampled a Green Man IPA, brewed here. Delicious. So far I've caught an old timey band, some bluegrass and some interesting uke-upright bass-dulcimer-drum kit music here. Nice place to chill out on week days, waaaay too packed on the weekend to even breathe.
 This is the center of town, the main drag. The little triangle park where everything happens around it. There was a free market here last weekend.
 A closer view of the little park. Nice rocks!
 I'm really not kidding when I say there's always mountains in the distance....
...always. We will hopefully get to them soon.

This is inside Firestorm, the cafe I'm sitting in now. Great vegan food and drinks!! Also a little book store and local art hangin on the walls. That's Chynna on the right in the hat. She opened her house to us for dinner the other night and it was so amazing. She lives in a communal house called the 40 house. It is sustainable, and beautiful, including a grey water system, composting toilet, solar shower in the works, community library and garden in the back. I just took my first shower in a week and a half there today, and did some laundry. Sooooo needed! I feel great now.

This is a drawing Jack did of the 40 house living room when we went over for dinner. Jay picking a banjo in front of the wood burning stove, me on the floor catching some flames, our new friend Hannah in the rocking chair, Max on the couch. The living room is also the library. It feels like an old, cozy cabin inside, it's beautiful. I hope to live in a place like this someday.

So all in all, Asheville has been good to us. I can't wait to get into nature, but for me besides the great community around us, I find comfort in my 5 best friends. I look forward to our dinners each evening which we've designated each day for one person to take care of so we can stop eating after 9. I feel happy waking up to them each morning, and happy saying goodnight each night. As we learn to live together, even when shit gets tough, I can always feel the love. There's just so much love and light. Yiiiizzzzzaaaaaaa!

loving these goddamn beautiful mountains,


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kalemonster here, coming at you with a fresh perspective.

Asheville is a synchronographer's wet dream.  Every thing is bing-bang-boom, presto manifesto!  We came crashing into town Monday night.  Literally.  On our way to our couchsurfing organized supposed parking spot, after hours of struggling up the mountains, brakes burning rubber, and missing a turn, Loki's fat ass took out a sizable portion of a chain link fence at 2:30 in the morning.  After a police report and a few scare stories from the neighbor who's yard we so violently sodomized, we arrive at destination nowhere.  Apparently we had been led on a wild goose chase.  So we said fuck it and parked on the side of the road for the night.  3 am dinner and CRASH.  I woke first and, deciding to take Cindy's advice, (author of the greatest zine ever Doris...check out #15 the Anti Depression Guide...it might save you) jumped out of bed and ran out the door for a walk....just before the darkness started to creep back into the corners of my consciousness.
West Asheville = garden, prayer flags, hula hoops, camo trailer w/white board (Dale & Trixie live here!), southern red fence painting, 20 more RV's, green bus, tree house, Ohm.
Green bus contained a delectably rugged tree doctor named Forest who was kind enough to help us find a space to park for the night.  An evening of hot soup, bonfire, and much wine had us soaring high on Asheville's tail feathers.  Yeah....I think we can get into the pudding here.....

An over-caffeinated morning:
   Schizo brain static
      riding the buzz til I burn down
 I am many
 I contain multitudes
    TOO MANY to keep track
          never ending flip flop upside down
          twitch tweak exploding heart technique
I am vibrating TOO HIGH
    it's TOO MUCH
as my hand shakily reaches out
   to grab my mug
More stimulation
   creating crests after each
          crashing break
          breaking crash

Just when I realized it would probably be a good idea if I put some solid nutrients into my contracting abdomen...as I started walking toward the door to see if I could catch the Food Not Bombs meal in the park....stopped/struck down...Barista says "Did you find a place to park you bus?" Well sort of...in a lot down town...haven't been kicked out yet....Interrupting Barista #2..."Are you in the space bus...because I was JUST responding to your couchsurfing request before I came to work! there's this great space on Gaston..."   Oh wow! Well...that's great..I mean..yeah how do we get there?  Interrupting goddess.  "Oh you need a place to park...well I have this driveway down the street (from Barista #2) and let me just talk to my roommates...and..." Pulls me aside...the rapping starts..and half an hour later the bus is careening down the steep incline that leads to a driveway in a quaint/cute residential area next to a park.   So that's Asheville for you.  I can dig it.

Dear Grandmother

Asheville, NC is where we are parking the bus for the next couple of weeks.  We are already very involved in the creative community here, who is incredibly open to dialogue with "strangers" and go out of their way to lend a hand or advice to us.  So so so so many people have offered us space to park our bus, have extended invitations to get-togethers happening in their homes, or have pointed us towards a good corner on which to sell our crafts or play music or have small performances.  Several new friends have offered to take us out of town in their vehicles for a hike (the bus doesn't do well pushing up mountains, so we have to avoid them whenever possible). 

The bus community is beginning to find its rhythm...we are learning to take space away from each other as well as to keep communicating, working together, practicing patience.  We are all growing a lot, becoming stronger, more motivated, better support systems for each other, and very creative.  Morale is high, and it seems to go that whatever energy or ideas or enthusiasm we have to give to a community is generally returned in the form of meals or a place to do laundry or a hot shower or a new network to tap into.  Thought we haven't had to ask for any of these things, they are abundant thus far.  I imagine the west coast will be even easier to navigate, though who knows when we will reach it.

These mountains are beautiful.  I've never seen such sunsets or as wide a sky every day.  The people here maybe reflect the beauty of their environment?  Healthy, happy, giving folks.

Are you well?  How was the sun and the sand and the sea?


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Durham to Asheville

     The crew is in Asheville, NC now, still trying to get our bearings.  We arrived in town around 3am a couple days ago, and the trip was no less eventful than usual.  We smelled the brakes sticking right after Max and Jay switched driving duty, pulled off, put the blocks down and Max wriggled behind the front wheels to see what was up.  He and Jay thought it must be the pedal, which had started feeling sticky in the past week.  Called my uncle Smokey, mechanic extraordinaire for his thoughts and suppositions, and he confirmed that probably all that was needed was a lot of WD40 in that pedal.  Additionally directed Max to the spot a mysterious bolt has dislodged a couple days back...the starter.  Starters only have two or three bolts keeping them attached to the engine, so we are much relieved to have it back in place. 

    We're struggling to find a place to park the house in Asheville.  The street was okay for the first night in residential West Asheville, but neighbors weren't too keen on us staying after that first day as construction vehicles were trying to pull into a driveway right across from our spot.  We made some new friends that day...Forrest lives on an International mid-size green bus, currently in his friend's mom's front yard around the corner from whee we were the first day.  Elan has spent a lot of time on sailboats so can relate to the lifestyle.  They both put their heads together and found us an abandoned driveway around the corner where we stayed the second night.  Most of the crew hung out around a fire near Forrest's treehouse and shared stories and wine late into the second night.

     That night we ran out of water for the first time and the water pump mysteriously wouldn't turn off.  Max had to remove the fuse so it wouldn't drain the battery, and in the time he spent down there noticed a bulging septic holding tank.  A dump was imperative...we'd lost track of how much water we'd used, and apparently the greywater isn't separate from the septic as we'd thought.   That brought us down to Wilson's RV Park on the bank of the French Broad River yesterday.  The drive down the steep hill of Peace Street was a little nerve-wracking but the airbrakes held true. 

     The site turned out to be a beautiful calm spot to regroup.  Moved the dish operation outside (one soapy bucket, one fresh for rinsing to give out holding tank a break, Max got in touch with an old friend who may be able to help us find work in the area with local farms, and then Max and Jay and I walked six miles or so into town to check things out.  So tired once we arrived that it was about all we could do to get ourselves some food and do the necessary grocery run.  And of course, just as we were beginning to dread the walk back, a friendly looking pink-haired lady and her really funny companion Jeremy asked one of us for a light and ended up giving us a ride home.  Serendipity just keeps happening to us.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Durham, NC

Eno River State Park

This is one of our new friends Esteban! He found us on couch surfing and let his stay in his amazing house with his awesome roommates for a few days. Good to make new friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

They keep on comin'

Yay! More creations for sale! Hope ya'll like these.


The Art of Solenoid Maintenance

We've been learning a lot about mechanics and vehicle maintenance in the past three days.  The most recent adventure under the bus was the solenoid, which stopped working when we hit the Roanoke Rapids Food Lion.  If you consider the time we spent in the parking lot asking people for help a fair survey, it's safe to say that South of DC the percentage of people who understand the vehicles they drive increases, significantly.  We learned so much about the innards of Loki in the matter of a few hours of hearing out speculators as to what they thought could be wrong.  My uncle Smokey answered his phone and gave me a very detailed picture of how an alternator works when we thought it might be that.  Ultimately, it was the solenoid. 

When Jeff, Max and Jay finally ran across the street to Autozone to see if anyone knew anything or if they could try trickle charging the batteries there for a couple of hours, a kind employee told them "you go right outside and aks my husband in that truck over there.  He's a diesel mechanic."  The guy soon had Max contorted around the engine plunging some piece on a spring in to the starter with a screwdriver and moving a miniwrench in between two pieces of metal that should have been flush but had corroded to the point we had to force conductive material between them to connect the electric to the starter.  Sparks flying, the occasional whirring noise and then she started up.  

We are going to take the corroded part out today and sand it smooth then put it back and there shouldn't be the same issue again.  But this is how we have been starting the bus up for the last two days.  Jeff and I have been spotting Max...when his shirt comes untucked someone has to grab it out of the way of this belt that spins real fast when the engine starts and Jeff always makes sure his crotch and legs are clear.  But the wrench got stuck when we were trying to get out of Eno River State Park (the wrench got too hot and stuck a little), and he got a little tunnel vision and used his lower body for leverage to try to yank it and got WAY too close to that belt.  I was directly behind him, so to me it looked like HE was stuck and I imagined he'd hit the belt and passed out or something.  Jeff thought so too apparently and grabbed his hips straight up and away from the machine and Max emerged with the wrench looking fine but a little surprised.  I felt nauseous.  But all was actually fine.