NEWS – You Can Take the Girl out of Arizona, but You Can’t KEEP the Girl out of Arizona.

Yeah, good luck with that!

So. Our move has evolved, rather surprisingly, like this:

Phase One: (planned) Back to the States (June 2013)

Phase Two: (spontaneous) Back to the Desert (November 2013)

Surprise! Surprised?!

That’s right… we’re moving in November, as in, about a month from now. According to the Taoist calendar, I’m in a CHANGE year, which I guess I might have figured out by now, anyway, even if I didn’t know it. We just decided on this move in the last, like, week and a half.

One thing’s for sure – Texas is a fun and interesting place! We agree with our friend who remarked, “Austin is a town to fall in love with.” We’ve been here for four months now. Great times have been had and awesome people have been met and there’s so much to do here, it’s just been crazy-wonderful. Our plan was to stay for a year and then decide what to do after that. We’ve had a few other places in mind, in the case that we did decide to re-locate again. The short list included Lincoln, NE and Denver, CO.

But the longer I’m back in the States, the more I find my thoughts returning to the desert, to the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area, aka the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix is situated in a vast desert valley, surrounded, as per definition, by mountains). Callaghan loves Phoenix, too. We talked about it, and then we looked around at The Shipping mostly still in boxes, and we thought, why wait?

We’re going back to the Land of AZ!

It’s not that I think that one place is better than another, because I don’t. This is simply about feeling right somewhere, which is a very personal thing… feeling spiritually connected to our environment can only be a deeply personal thing. Just as some people believe in soul-mates, I believe in soul-places.

I was born in San Francisco and raised in San Jose, and the whole 18 years I spent in the Bay Area, I never felt comfortable there… not because of the people, but because I didn’t feel that I belonged. It wasn’t my place. In high school, I plotted my escape planned my departure for the earliest opportunity (hello, U.S. Army!) and never looked back. Now, I’ll go to California to see my family and just to visit, but live there again? Not going to happen. I’m hardly alone in this. It’s a pretty common phenomenon, people growing up and leaving their hometowns. It’s like we have to wander away from the place of our upbringings in order to discover where we really belong. Often, we find our special places by accident. You arrive for one reason – school, a job, a significant other – and before you know it, it’s been decades and you’re still there and you’re feeling that content, rooted belonging feeling, and you can’t imagine being anywhere else.

That’s how it happened with me and Arizona, back in 1991. After the Army, I accepted my then-boyfriend’s (also an ex-soldier) invitation to move to Phoenix. It was August, right when Arizona’s at its feistiest. It was scorching hot, dry, and alarmingly sunny year-round with brilliant blue skies and these ridiculous sunsets you just wouldn’t believe, and alien red rock formations with holes in them and gigantic cactuses everywhere. The sky was enormous. There were haboob (dust storms), and the July-August monsoon season brought the heavy aroma of creosote with the rain and the lightning over the desert. It was magical. With the surface streets laid out nice and neat on an idiot-proof grid system, you can get all over the enormous Valley from one end to the other without ever setting tire on a freeway, but an elaborate and efficient freeway system does exist should you desire to use it.

Next thing I knew, I’d been there for 20 years, longer than I’d lived in California. I never wanted to leave. I loved it. Being there just felt right. It was my place.

Then I met Callaghan. We got married. The plan was for him to live with me in Arizona for a year, but it turned out that he had to be in Europe for his business, so after just a few months, we ditched the plan and moved to France.

By January this year, Callaghan’s business circumstances had changed, so we were free to move back to the States (he has dual citizenship, as you may recall). We both wanted to move, and our adventurous spirits tingled with the possibilities. The question “Where should we go?” carved out an enticing open door in our lives, and there were so many places that could answer it! It was easy to sweep my beloved Arizona under the “been there, done that” rug while scanning the horizon for something new. The United States was like a gigantic candy store, and we were standing in the middle of it with ONE decision to make, to start.

We decided on Austin for all the reasons in this post.

And Austin is truly fantastic! What I didn’t anticipate, though, was seeing Phoenix everywhere I looked! The similarities are real, but I’ve come to realize that the reason I see Arizona all over the place is that I want to see it. I miss it. The saying goes, “East or West, home is best.” Arizona is my home. For me, it is best.

There’s great diversity in the Valley, and I’ve lived all over it… Phoenix’s many suburbs include (but are not limited to) the municipalities of Avondale, Glendale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa. We’re going to settle in Tempe, because it’s my favorite, and I’m planning to find a job there.

We’ll rent an apartment at first, but we’ll eventually buy a house so when the BIG ONE hits and California falls off into the ocean, we’ll have beach-front property.

I can’t believe it! We’re moving in November!

Here’s a smattering of pictures I’ve taken in Arizona over the years:

 

Desert blooms in the springtime make me so happy! This was one of the plants in my front yard.

Desert blooms in the springtime make me so happy! This was one of the plants in my front yard.

 

A shot of the sky at dusk

A shot of the sky at dusk

 

I miss the giant Saguaro cactuses, too

I miss the giant Saguaro cactuses, too

 

I love these alien red rock formations near the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Gardens...

I love these alien red rock formations near the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Gardens…

 

I can smell the creosote in the air just looking at this monsoon season sunset!

I can smell the creosote in the air just looking at this monsoon season sunset!

 

Stormy monsoon sky!

Stormy monsoon sky!

 

Phoenix's Camelback Mountain

Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain

 

This was my favorite sunset, and I remember it well... I came home from work to my Tempe apartment and went straight out to the balcony to take this picture. Pink Floyd's "High Hopes" was playing.

This was my favorite sunset, and I remember it well… I came home from work to my Tempe apartment and went straight out to the balcony to take this picture.

 

Sedona. Enough said.

Sedona. Enough said.

 

 

 

 

 

Note: None of these pictures were photo-shopped, touched-up, color-corrected or otherwise manipulated in any way. Arizona’s a natural beauty.

Of Fire-Hardened Crafts and That Band with the Videos

We’re still in major stuff-organizing mode up in here. In the last few days, I’ve unearthed a couple of things.

Thing One: the miniature clay hand-painted mask a friend brought me from Venice many years ago, which has somehow survived my life so far (I hope I didn’t jinx it by writing that. Watch it break the second I post this):

 

Ronnie James with the Venetian mask

Ronnie James with the Venetian mask

 

It fits! READY FOR HALLOWEEN.

It fits! READY FOR HALLOWEEN.

 

Thing Two: the Navajo horsehair pot I’d given to Callaghan, as referenced in this post:

 

Navajo horsehair pottery, hand-made, hand-painted and adorned with turquoise.

Navajo horsehair pottery, hand-made, hand-painted and adorned with turquoise.

 

And tonight, for something different, we’re heading over to Emo’s  to see The Neighbourhood. I often refer to them as “that band with the videos,” because, yeah, their videos.

 

 

Have a great weekend, Guys!

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday the 13th!

It’s already 1:00 in the afternoon here. I woke up at 8:00, but my brain’s still struggling in the residual quicksand of a pair of disconcerting dreams. You know how it is when you wake up in the middle of a deep dream-state… it takes forever to feel “awake,” especially if the dreams were complicated, multi-dimensional and disturbing.

That aside, things of note this week!

–Pulp fiction gratification par excellence… I got my hands on Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back, and it was a kick-ass good time. I loved it. Reacher hasn’t changed a bit on the written page; he’s the same blond, blue-eyed, ugly (self-described) Reacher, bigger and more powerful than most of his huge foes, an “animal” with “extreme genetics.”

Puberty had brought him many things unbidden, including height and weight and an extreme mesomorph physique, with a six-pack like a cobbled city street, and a chest like a suit of NFL armor, and biceps like basketballs, and subcutaneous fat like a Kleenex tissue.  

Same old Reacher!

–We met up with one of Callaghan’s long-time labusas.org friends at Fast Eddie’s in Round Rock. Labusas.org is a Los Angeles-based online forum about crotch rockets, with a focus on Hayabusas (Suzuki) and Zx12s (Kawasaki).

 

Chris, Eddie and Callaghan at Fast Eddie's in Round Rock

Chris, Eddie and Callaghan at Fast Eddie’s in Round Rock

 

It was "crazy glasses" night at Fast Eddie's, so Callaghan whipped these up on our way out (literally).

It was “crazy glasses” night at Fast Eddie’s, so Callaghan whipped these up on our way out (literally).

 

He made these beer stein glasses, too, which Eddie's modeling here.

He made these beer stein glasses, too, which Eddie’s modeling here.

 

Callaghan, Eddie and me

Callaghan, Eddie and me

 

 

–As the weather’s cooling down, we’re realizing the extent of the humidity (it’s not hot, but we’re sweating). This prompts consideration of where we might land in the future, in accordance with our plan to come here and evaluate how we like it from all angles before deciding that it’s a “permanent” place. Arid and semi-arid climates do the trick for us, a fact we’re coming to fully appreciate.  We’ll see what happens!

–Our place is slowly coming together in the aftermath of The Shipping. Here’s my “office” so far (it’s a section of wall in our bedroom):

 

Sitting in my "office," and damn, I need to clean my laptop - funny how you don't see the grunge until someone takes a picture of it!

Sitting in my “office,” and damn, I need to clean my laptop – funny how you don’t see the grunge until someone takes a picture of it!

 

 

This is a limited view of my office area, basically just me sitting here as Callaghan stood in the doorway with the camera. I’ll show you a full, detailed view after it’s completed. I’m shooting for Monday.

On Breaking Bad and Jedi Cookies

Well. It’s been over three days since The Shipping arrived, but we’re still negotiating around piles of boxes and stuff. However, there’s a reason for our lack of significant progress in unpacking and organizing. We have no self-control. In the last few weeks, Breaking Bad has happened to our lives; once we started it, we quickly realized that it’s as addictive as the drugs it’s about. The more we watched, the harder it became to stop watching. We finally caught ourselves up, and then this morning we hopped online as soon as we woke up (I admit this to you with no shame whatsoever) to see if we could access last night’s episode. We could! So that was the first thing we did today – we watched Breaking Bad while drinking our coffee, surrounded by the mayhem of boxes.

It’s a fine way to start any day, as far as I’m concerned.

In the last year, several television series have taken us delightfully hostage with their excellence: American Horror Story, The Following (brought to my attention by one of you awesome readers), House of Cards, Homeland, Damages and Game of Thrones. Stunning works of art, all. Cute fluff such as Hart of Dixie mildly amused and entertained us. We discovered Arrested Development and greatly enjoyed it… up until the newly released episodes of this year, which did not inspire hilarity the way the prior seasons did. (We felt that the momentum had been lost, and the revised strategy behind it somehow resulted in awkward and left the jokes sitting outside, where they went stale.) And somewhere along the way, we found ourselves inexplicably sucked into Pretty Little Liars, which made no sense at all on any level, but it provided a steady stream of light and cheesy entertainment for quite a while. Purpose served! We’re not above it.

But Breaking Bad? Genius! 99.9% Pure genius. Everything about it astonishes… the writing, the acting, the direction. The character development, and the story, itself, it’s all just phenomenal. It lives up to the hype better than anything I’ve ever seen. We’re glad that we waited so long to start watching it, because starting it when we did brought us seamlessly up to the Final Season now airing. Our timing was perfect, albeit at the expense of making a swift job of the unpacking and organizing around here.

So that’s our status today. Surrounded by stuff, but current with Breaking Bad and waiting impatiently for next week’s episode, along with the show’s hundreds of thousands of other addicts.

On another note, the kitchen being buried in boxes precluded cooking for a few days, so on Saturday night we called in for Thai food from a mixed Asian cuisine place. I found fortune cookies at the bottom of the bag, which excited me. I never eat them, but I open them, anyway, because I enjoy reading the fortunes. The superstition is a remnant of my childhood. I like to believe in these things.

The problem is that in the last ten years or so, fortune cookie “fortunes” have become platitudes more and more, rather than predictions. “Everything happens for a reason.” “This, too, shall pass.” Like that. Still, I feel a hopeful thrill when I see a fortune cookie. Maybe this time it’ll be an actual fortune! I always think.

I brought the two cookies to Callaghan, opened one, and read: “May the good spirits be with you always.”

“That’s not a fortune cookie. That’s a Jedi cookie,” Callaghan said indignantly.

Fortune from the Jedi cookie.

Fortune from the Jedi cookie.

Hmm… better to think of it as a Jedi cookie than as a non-fortune, right? That eases the disappointment somewhat! A Jedi cookie. I like that.

(Happily) Buried in Boxes

Yesterday brought the long-awaited moment when everything we own arrived from France.

Luckily, I found three guys in the parking lot.  Three VERY NICE guys.

 

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They were happy to help carry all the boxes, bins and suitcases up three flights of stairs to our apartment. Then we brought everything inside…

 

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…and out on the balcony, and in the storage closet….

 

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Nounours made himself scarce during the upheaval, but Ronnie James made himself at home.

 

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See you Monday, when I shall emerge with actual text!

The Shipping is Coming! The Shipping is Coming!

We’ve now been back in the States for three months, and our things – what we’ve taken to calling “The Shipping” – will arrive tomorrow. Yes! The Shipping actually arrived from France in June. It’s been chilling in New York all summer, and tomorrow morning, it will ride into Austin like a long-lost unicorn on 18 wheels. (This is what a unicorn really looks like: a pile of boxes and a scratching post cat tree.)

Three months doesn’t seem unreasonable for international movers, but because of the company’s initial indications to us, we were expecting The Shipping to arrive around mid-August. In reality, the end of the month arrived with no communication from the shipping company people until the very last minute when they called to give us a window of the 29th through the 3rd. Long, riveting story cut short: they couldn’t narrow it down to an actual date, but the driver called on the 3rd (the last day of the delivery window) to say that they would be here on Thursday the 5th.

So, tomorrow.

Once The Shipping gets here, we have to figure out what to do with it. It’s a lot, and we’re in this small one-bedroom apartment. Minor details! We’ll work it out.

After all that excitement is over, we have some concerts to anticipate this month, and then the month of October. October is going to be amazing, because American Horror Story comes back on the 9th! Season 3. Coven. It’s going to be EPIC. Look at this cast!

 

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…which gets me thinking about Halloween, because the time to start thinking about what to be is now. My only criteria are “creepy” and/or “strange,” and the creepier/stranger, the better.

 

Halloween 2008. I went to work dressed as Samara from The Ring.

Halloween 2008. I went to work dressed as Samara from The Ring.