design · goals · travel

Tra-velocity

palihouse instagram photo.jpgThere is some seed sprouting or thread emerging along my internal lines of desire for design.  Particularly hospitality design, particularly high-end boutique design.  (The reflection upon which brought startling tears during meditation this morning, but enough on that.)

J’s birthday last summer was one he’d have rather passed unnoticed but, being my know-it-all self, I clearly knew a better way, which was to visit this town he kept speaking about, San Luis Obispo.  And if we were going to visit for a 3-day weekend, then we weren’t staying at a Motel 6.

I began to research smaller, independent hotels in the area and came upon the Hotel Granada.  Frankly, I didn’t choose to research boutique hotels, because I wouldn’t have really known what that was.  I just web-searched the best hotels, and after clicking on a cute inn—that ended up looking like a grandmother’s doily collection exploded—the Hotel Granada was it.  Exposed brick walls, contemporary artistic photographs, local coffee service, the guts from a dissembled baby grand from the original hotel decoratively hung in common areas.

It spoke of lush, design, thoughtfulness, invitation, calm and sexy.  Done.

Our stay was phenomenal.

And this led us together on a path toward a few others: The Highline Hotel in New York City and The Palihouse in Santa Monica.

Everywhere we went, I ate the walls with my camera.  I documented everything, researched who was who in the creation of the hotels.  J and I spoke about how it might work to be a partner in a project like that (those brainstorming moments were some of his most alive).  By the time we’d stayed at the Palihouse, almost a year from our Granada experience, called up on my iPad were 3 interviews with a man to contact about how to get into this business.

Then J and I broke up.

Yesterday, I allowed myself a pajama day.  It was glorious.  And I watched a Netflix show called “StayHere” about how to maximize your home to host short-term rental guests.  Politics of economy and displacement aside (eek), watching the design take place was breathtaking.  Every piece carefully chosen, every photo “gram-worthy,” the copy on the website inviting and friendly.

God, how I wanted to do that!!

Each episode I had a smile on my face, there was something exciting about it.  I was inspired.  In discovering a magnet whose pole was calling to mine, I felt uplifted.

But where and how does this thread go?  Dunno!

I do know that I have engaged a financial advisor with whom I’ll meet again in September and October as she gathers my facts and future details to construct an ultimate plan for me. (omigod, thank god there are people whose JOB IT IS to do this! I was lost for a little while there.)

In our “What are your goals?” meeting in September, I intend to at least mention this seed/thread within me.  Because there is no execution without a plan.

There is something so … delicious? luscious? enlivening? in thinking about design from this frame of mind.  It’s not that I want to do it to my own home, which of course I do, but it’s about doing it for others, for another’s experience, for planning and plotting from moment one how a person is received, cared for, and set on their way.

Somehow to provide a hug to people without ever even meeting them.  Which I guess is kinda what I choose to do here.  Neat.

 

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coffee · self-knowledge · travel

So, what did you learn?

8.8.18Most vacation recaps center around, “What did you do?”  Where did you go, What did you eat, What did you bring me back;)  But I am infinitely more inspired by the question: What did I learn?

I can divide my reflections from the past 5 weeks into two categories: what was confirmed, and what was new.

Confirmed Info about Molly:

  • Good coffee is the key to a good day.
  • Compression socks are a godsend.
  • Journal and meditation (with above-mentioned coffee) are a daily imperative.
  • Spending a week with my mom is challenging.
  • Spending time with my mom is fun.

New Info about Molly:

  • I am an “arranger.”  I will adjust my surroundings to suit my needs, literally.  Need the armchair at the indie bookstore to be by the window? Move it.  Need a hot water kettle for your coffee? Buy one.  Want to sit on the dorm patio to watch the vivacious, vicious thunderstorm?  Roll in a chair from a vacant dorm room.  —  I hadn’t realized this was a habit, or quality, of myself until another teacher in my month-long PD in Amherst pointed it out as I poured hot water over a travel cone of local coffee into a newly purchased giant mug.  He reflected that I do this: I arrange things how I need them.  Cool!
  • I am susceptible to the black-hole vacuum of others’ needs.  I have tools to ground myself (going for walks, to meetings, envisioning a tree), but my marrow setting is to allow my attention, my whole interior monologue, to be consumed and overwritten by your moment-to-moment needs.  This is not entirely new information, but it shed brighter light on my relationship patterns and gave me compassionate perspective on how I grew up and how these patterns formed.  Which will in turn, one hopes, help me repair that gulf between me and myself in challenging circumstances.
  • I love where I live so much it brought tears when I finally sat this morning with my (giant) mug at my kitchen table and no pants.  (Privacy, you are a gift!!)  All here is “arranged” as I need, and I am beyond grateful for a warm place to call home in a neighborhood that provides what I need just a walk away.

There will be more to learn and grow from as I readjust to my life here (the least of which is the time zone!).  But as I settle in, I know that what I’ve learned of myself is one of the truest gifts of my travel.

Welcome back, readers.

family · prosperity · travel

Suicide Bird.

4.4.18

This is the fictional band name my mom used to describe the musical acts she doesn’t like on the Colbert show.  (HA!)  We were on the phone yesterday and again today about my summer plans and particularly how they might overlap with hers… as we’ve attempted for many years to no avail.

We’ve made some small trips together—to Sedona, and many times her visiting me in San Francisco or me her in NYC—but over the last few years, particularly as I have summers off now, we’ve tried to formulate a plan to go abroad together.  Neither of us have been to “The Continent” (though she’s been to the British Isles twice).

About 2 years ago, we tried to make a plan to go on this trip throughout Italy, but my job wasn’t pleased about my taking days off near the beginning of the school year, so we had to drop it.  Then last summer, I was switching schools and didn’t have the travel funds.  Which brings us to this year: Now that I’ve confirmed my summer job/professional development, I have some “extra” funds — and Molly Wanna Vacation.

When we spoke yesterday, she was very hesitant about confirming anything.  Which felt very typical.  I began to feel a little despairing of ever getting to go on a “real” vacation with her.  She’s turning 70 this year, I just had 5 years cancer-free—it felt like a momentous year for us to do something fabulous.

But, I’m learning, not everybody has the money to do something fabulous.  Or at least, a) what I consider fabulous, and b) when I want to do it.

It feels a little snobby to realize that things I want to do in life are out of reach for some people I love (especially when for so long I was the decliner); but it also feels like a wake-up call, or at least a vibrating phone alarm.  It’s not snobby to want nice things (fabulous things), and my feelings aren’t borne out of judgment (believe me, I’ve pushed into my feelings to root out that truth) — my feelings are just simple acknowledgement of the reality of my current situation and of others’.  And sometimes, those do not align.

Sometimes those with whom I’d love to adventure with aren’t available.  Sometimes that’s due to limitations of time, sometimes money, sometimes interest.  And so I’m left with the open question of “Who’s Next?”

Who are the people I’ll need to meet who can join me in adventures that are feasible AND of interest to us both?  (As clearly not every person will want to accompany me to SF Opera’s CarTUNE afternoon where they’ll screen old Looney Tunes that have an opera reference.  “Kill the Wabbit” anyone?!)

My mom and I spoke again this morning after she had some time to process, and it’s starting to seem that a “real” vacation to Europe is possible for her, for which I’m exceedingly grateful (it’s the rare 70-year old who will readily come up with “Suicide Bird”!).

But there will be times when I can’t have my cake and eat it, too — sometime soon, I may have to take my cake to go.

 

alcoholism · change · clarity · trauma · travel

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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October marks 10 years since I left New Jersey to teach
English in South Korea for 18 months. Having barely finished the icing on my 23rd birthday
cake, I rolled my newly purchased suitcases onto a JFK flight and was off to I
didn’t know where.
The process felt almost instantaneous – register with an ESL
teaching recruitment site; have an informational call with them (when they told
me you’d make more money in Korea than, say, Thailand or Taiwan); have an
evening interview call with a pre-school in a town on the outskirts of Seoul on
Tuesday; board a plane on Friday.
I didn’t know what I was getting into, and despite all the
good parts, the landing was a difficult one. If I did have it all to do again,
my life to live over again, I wouldn’t have gone.
I know people say not to regret things, and that each
experience was for learning, and certainly this one was: I met great people,
had unusual experiences, got to travel to places I’d likely never have been and
endear myself to a classroom of wide expectant faces.
But. It was not easy. And, yes, if I could do it again, I
wouldn’t go. I was too fragile when I went. I was too lost to be uprooted. Yet, I
don’t know what would have happened if I’d stayed. Korea was where I eeked
along the bottom of an alcoholic lifestyle, and I’ve often said that if I
hadn’t been in Korea, where there was little access to drugs, and mainly only
to booze… that if I’d still been in the States and on the trajectory I was on,
things could have gone a much different way.
As bad as alcoholism is, add drugs into the mix, and it
quickly becomes a 4-alarm fire.
That said. It was rough. There was a half-hearted suicide
attempt, gang rape, alcoholic stupors. There was racism and sexism and a
feeling of alienation from everything you recognize.
There were antidotes, or places of brightness, for sure. I
met some of my best friends there, ones who I’m still in regular touch with. I
dated a very charismatic Canadian who went on to work for the U.N., who’d put me
and my coworker up at his great aunt’s place in the orangutan paddock in a zoo
in Jakarta, Indonesia. I hiked up ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples; ate dog
stew, which was actually very good; planted my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
I traveled to Osaka, Japan to renew my work visa and still
remember the glint of the flat rooftops outside the city as the train barreled us
from the airport to the city center. I spent a New Years in a cabin on a dock
in the warm waters of Malaysia and partied in a sprawling, palm-encased home in Singapore the following one.
I went to Korea because I didn’t really know what else to
do. And to quote Carroll’s Cheshire cat:
“Would you tell me, please,
which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on
where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where
–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which
way you go,” said the Cat.
“– so long as I get
somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do
that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
I’d walked long enough, and I’d found something. I didn’t know
where I wanted to go, just somewhere else. Yet, despite the intervening years and nearly a decade of sobriety, as I begin now to set out
again to simply go “somewhere else,” I’m tempted to recall what happened
last time I didn’t know where that was.

addiction · love · pain · painting · sex · travel

Him, or His Tragedy?

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Two of my formative love experiences centered around the
tragic hero.
The first suffered unintentional tragedy by external forces;
the second, those forces were internal.
I was 19 when I met Joe in the basement dwelling of a mutual
friend, basements being common gathering spaces for teens in suburbia. Scotty
J. even had a puke hole in the back behind the water heater should the need arise, and it often did.
In the morning, Joe didn’t remember driving his Camaro over
to my house the night before, and thanked me for getting his car there safely.
… I don’t drive stick; it really wasn’t me.
It was red. Muscley. His pride, his baby, his staff and his
project. Both he and Scott would spend hours in the driveway with the hood up,
tinkering, fixing, unearthing, lubing, loving, and suping their cars. Scott was
working on a Firebird, the shell of the Trans-Am on blocks in the garage having
donated its engine to the Firebird.
I loved this. I loved watching how attentive they were to
their cars, how dirty their hands were, how much they knew. How sweaty and
excited and jargon-speaking they became when bent over the greasy machine. I
loved how the cars sounded when they started up. I loved the primal growl, the
testosterone surge. I loved that the cars and their owners turned me on.
Maybe a month, maybe less into this Summer of Love, Joe’s
Camaro was t-boned by a woman blowing a stop sign through an intersection.
Suddenly, the man-boy I had “fallen in love with” deflated. Defeated, broken,
grieving for his totaled “baby,” Joe crawled inside a bottle of Johnnie Walker
Red.
I couldn’t follow him there, into his mourning. Nor could I
really understand or have the perhaps appropriate amount of compassion for his
loss, feeling like he was turning his back on what he did have: me.
After my own very misguided attempts to grab his attention
back from the stoned, middle-distance stare he’d acquired, he finally did see
me; but this time in outrage and betrayal, and our relationship ended in
high-octane tears, screams, and pleading.
Tragic.
The second figure I loved so much I fell into that burning
ring of fire, was an artist.
Oh, this one. Andy. A Canadian I met in South Korea at age 23, another
teacher in the pre-school where we taught English. From moment one, I could smell
the pheromones of a tortured soul, and it rang straight into my bones.
There is something very particular about a tortured artist
soul. It reads like a familiar, I acknowledge you as one of my own; I see where
it is black inside you, where it is a vitriolic, white-hot, tumulting blackness, a yawning
cavern of desperate need and distopian pain. God, it’s electric.
The gaping hole, the violent, untenable ache for
validation and self-flagellation… god, you just want to walk into the center
of it, and be fueled by it. Let me stand in the eye of your self-destruction, in
the blaze of your unrest, and be transformed, be elevated by it.
It’s sick. I know. And because you know it’s sick, you
delight in it all the more. The delicious evil of it. The knowledge that you
are, together, charring a path through hell, is invigorating.
Andy was, and probably is, a painter. There was a crooked,
dotted path of yellow paint down the back alley toward his building where one
of his cans had leaked through the bag, and bread-crumbed his trail home.
His fingers were often covered in paint (like Joe’s in
grease), and his apartment had more than twenty completed canvases leaning on
the floor, against the wall. The typified artist whose greatest work lies stale
and unrealized behind walls, in drawers, in storage.
I loved the
unrealized potential of him. How he slammed his head against his self-made
cage. I hated how he “did nothing with it,” and as if I had the power to free
him from that bondage, I would look up galleries and places he could show his work. I
would read the poems he wrote to accompany his pieces, and create books in my
head for this next great artist.
The fantasy of his life, what it could have been, drew me
like a moth. A sick, misguided, gaping hole of my own, moth.
Andy had a girlfriend. He had another tragic girl he was
sleeping with. I would sit on the heated Korean floor with him and drink and
play cards and fuck and drink and intone and fuck some more.
He was never in love with me. This I knew, but tried not to
know. I wondered if I could crawl inside him and patch his broken places if he
would love me then. But he was also in love with his tragedy, and you can’t
take a toy from a child.
The men I’ve loved past these two have been thousands of
shades lighter in tragedy. And I have learned enough that you cannot date
potential, or rent love from infatuation, or demand love from one who doesn’t
love themselves. I have also learned enough that I don’t really want to be
ignited by tragedy anymore, but rather by joy, and I pass up the visibly broken
ones for hope of something different.
But in the sense-memory playground of my love life, I do
know that my heartpace quickens recalling tragedy’s twisted pleasures. 

change · gratitude · TEACHING · travel

Gung Hay Fat Chance

(*have no idea if this will go there, but I had to use that
phrase!)
I didn’t graduate college “on time.” All my roommates and
classmates were getting their tassels aligned and family convened, and I was
lining up for Seroquel, my family convening in a sterile hospital cafeteria.
So, when that episode was over, I got a rinky-dink job at a
local drug store, and when that was enough of that (and my hair had grown back
somewhat), I got a job as an admin in an insurance claims company, finished my
degree with night classes, and graduated in May of ’04, instead of ’03.
That summer, I applied for the Birthright program—a program
which sends Jewish teens and 20s to Israel for 10 days for free if they’ve never
been. I applied and was accepted to the “graduate” program, the older group of
folks, between 22 and 26. I spent 10 days in a dusty bus gaining some of the
most incredible experiences, and information—nearly all of the people on the
bus were “doing something” with their lives. One worked at a magazine in New
York City; several were in law school; one taught high school English in a
Catholic school. I… was a claims adjustor.
When I got back to my cubicle, under the fluorescent lights,
I decided it was time to call this episode over, too. Incredibly, my dad had met a
woman on his commuter bus who was an editor at a New York magazine, and through
a short interview process, I was hired as their Editorial Intern.
It was amazing. It was probably the job I’ve enjoyed most of
any I had. The differences were drastic: although I was working longer hours with a much longer commute, I was coming home more “happily tired” than simply
exhausted, as from the claims job. I loved
the work. Writing copy, coordinating with off-site editors, proofreading &
editing. I even wrote my own article about Bill Nye The Science Guy’s endorsement of a new
brand of contact lenses.
I loved the pace, the investment I had in the work, the
creative input I was able to have. The respect I had of my superiors for my
intelligence and ideas. I loved working at 6th and Canal, walking the street
vendors at lunch, earning real dough, even for an intern.
But, summer ended. It was a post-9/11 market still, and small
optical trade magazines didn’t have much of a budget for an editorial
assistant. So I went back on the market.
The market was bare.
My aunt suggested I go teach English abroad. She’d done it
in Taiwan, and there were plenty of recruitment companies to choose from. I
found one, and in conversation with them, found out that although there were
plenty of South East Asian jobs, the most money was to be made in South Korea.
So, after a 9 pm phone interview with a school director
outside of Seoul, two days later, I’m buying my first real luggage at Target. Two days from then, I’m on a plane to a place I’d never been to work with
people I’d never met in a country whose language I did not speak, to remain for
the next 18 months.
Sure. Why not?
My experiences were wide and varied and not always pleasant
in that peninsular country. I won’t engage the story here (I’ve got to
leave for work), but the school year always ended and began around the Chinese
New Year, a.k.a. today.
Today would be the day you would be assigned or reassigned
to a classroom of sometimes wily, sometimes endearingly shy 5 year olds. Today, as
the cherry blossoms bloomed outside and streets were hung with red paper
lanterns and students’ parents handed you red envelopes full of “thank you”
tips, you listened to the 5 year olds who had cried at the start of the year,
“Teacher! Water!,” ask you, “Molly Teacher, I’m thirsty. Can I have some water,
please?”
It was more beautiful than the blossoms. 

action · adulthood · adventure · dating · family · forgiveness · Jewish · letting go · life · travel · willingness

Melting Boxes and Falling Cards

I may or may not have a date this weekend with a jew I met
on okCupid. We had made tentative plans for Sunday, but I had double booked and
asked to meet up on Saturday instead, and haven’t heard back yet. We’ll see.
I’m talking with another CupidJew; jdate, I have a coffee date aligned for next
Friday, but I’m not entirely enthused on this one – and let another thread fall
when I realized I wasn’t really interested in meeting this other dude. 
Who knows. It’s like the job applications. Send stuff out –
see what sticks. I do feel like I’d like to apply to more teaching jobs though.
It’s really funny. Maybe 6 or so months ago, I met with a girl friend who works
with Expressive Arts Therapy, and she asked how “teaching” felt in my body – to make a
motion or movement – that would express what being “a teacher” would mean to
me. Then, I contracted and constricted my body, on the tack that teaching is a
sedentary, stoic, geographically uninspired profession.
Surprisingly or not, I don’t think I feel that way anymore.
Maybe I’d express it a little more wiggly now – maybe because it is a little
more (or a lot more) wiggly than I’ve previously boxed it in. I also would like
to apply outside of the Bay a little more. I know that moving costs a lot, and
yadda yadda, but, in the spirit of “what do I know about Fate,” I’m willing to
throw my net wider, and my seeds farther, and see what sprouts, … or is caught.
… You get the idea.
What a concept – pushing my ideas out of the proscribed
boxes in which I’ve held them.
Interestingly, my mom comes to mind. “Mother,” lord, what a
“concept.” What huge, enormous expectations and qualities we – or I – hurl upon
such a word. My ideas were formed way back when – she’s crazy, unavailable,
manic-depressive, and dying of her own neuroses – and these have kept pretty
calcified over the years. She’s better now (G-d bless medication), but it’s hard for me to allow that.
If she’s not crazy, if I don’t mistrust her, where are we? How do we engage? Obviously, similar questions can be brought about my dad, and even my brother.
… and more broadly, myself, you, the world, etc. Boxes. Boxes with a label,
Discard After 1987, or maybe after 1996. Certainly, way past their due date by
2012.
I think of this about my mom today in again reflecting on
the agingness of my parents – having seen them both two weeks ago for my
graduation. They’re getting older. They’re not going to be able to do or go or
share or be what they had been. And so, I wrote my mom an email yesterday I
titled “If you build it, they will come,” and in it I simply wrote, “Sometime
in the not too distant future, you and I should go to Paris. That is all. Love,
Molly.”
My mom has never been, nor have I. I’ve been clicking on
this contest prize for a trip for two to Italy for a few weeks now – because,
you gotta buy a ticket if you want to win the lottery, right – and I realize
that there are some things that if I want to do with my mom, I better start to
do them now. Sure, I have no idea if something like a trip to Paris or Italy,
or anywhere, will take place, but the time is getting shorter when they’d,
she’d, be able to really traipse about. Traipsing is a young people’s – or
younger people’s – pastime.
I am glad that the boxes in which I’ve held my parents are
disintegrating like so much wet cardboard. It’s a little scary. But, rather,
it’s not scary, as much as new.
I wish I could let the boxes around myself melt as much. One
of the dudes I’m talking with on the dating site is very encouraging and
interested in my bass playing, though I keep on telling him it’s really a lack of bass playing, and a lot of me being silly and
denying myself (although, surely, I didn’t put it quite that way – impressions,
you know!) 😉
But, it’s another box. My girl friend I was supposed to
speak with about her bass playing, our phone call didn’t happen, and I haven’t
rescheduled. Although I am having two info interviews around theater next week.
One in person with a friend of mine who is an active actor (but has a “real”
job, too), and the other by phone with my former acting teacher at school, who
is the casting director at a local renowned theater company. So, there’s that.
There’s a lot. And as I was telling someone yesterday, a
house of cards must be taken down very slowly and carefully. Not all at once. I
don’t think I’d much like being shaken all the way down to my bonsai tree nubs.
Or pruned, I suppose would fit that metaphor better! But point being, that
dismantling old beliefs and behaviors takes patience, practice, and an ability
to leave it alone for a while.
It’s not some jenga game I have to finish in a proscribed
period of time. (I’m ripe with metaphors today! ha! enjoy or apologies, either
way!) There are time-sensitive matters – my parents’ aging, obtaining
employment so I can feed and house myself, but even that one is a little fluid
right now, although surely top of my mind – I do have this temp work I’m doing,
which I’ll be doing for likely another 2 weeks. I’ve been applying, and we’ll
see. I’d like to apply to different avenues, and we’ll see. I plugged “jewish”
into my searches on the dating site, and we’ll see.
“…and action is its key word.” Amen.