Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pittsburgh Walk #1 Art

I took a 9 hour train ride to Pittsburgh and I have to try to convince you that it wasn't a burden. It really was a calm time for me. Being by myself and getting to rest, sleep, and work on the content for the book.
I got to Pittsburgh at 8pm and Edith got me home and fed me before I fell into bed.
It was a most gorgeous Pittsburgh day, with trees a blooming and the sun and fluffy clouds playing nice.

We met Art Noose at 10am in front of the Children's Museum. Where there is this amazing Cloud Machine sculpture that mists our clouds. Her son, did not like the spray coming at us.
Edith said her goodbyes and away we went down the street. Art noose told me after a block or so that she wasn't comfortable holding hands. And I surprised myself by saying that was ok. If she wasn't comfortable I wasn't going to push it. I know. I know it is an integral part of the project, but if Art didn't want to do this. Than we would walk anyway.
And walk  we did. we walked the North Side of Pittsburgh streets and about half way into the walk. It was great because Art knows lots about the city of Pittsburgh.We were talking about the same type of intimate things I talk about with hand holders. We talked about how she ended up in Pittsburgh, her job, her life, her child and her new home. And we talked about my dreams, aspirations...it can't remember exactly but it felt like I really was able to share something with her as we walked. That she opened up and told me serious stuff.
Art has an amazing tattoo that says "Walk It Off." i understand the boozey implications of this tattoo. But in the moment I took it differently. I myself am walking it off. What i mean is I am getting out there and just letting all of this thoughts percolate in my mind without making any decisions.
With that there was a lot of talk of the housing market in Pittsburgh. Man oh man, is it cheap to buy a house...and I am tempted to come here and buy up a 2-3 story house and make it into a gallery/studio/apartment. Very tempted. there are a lot of possibilities when your rent is 1/4 of LA rent...
Overall, it was a great walk with Art. I do wonder what it would have been like to break through her discomfort of holding hands. But I respected her choice, while respecting my choice to still spend time with her. Even though we didn't touch, something very special transpired.
As an ending note, her son, was very well behaved. He got tired near the end and a tiny bit fussy. Nothing a taboo toy like a pen and paper wouldn't stop though. :) Again I ended up with a nursing mother in public. Which I think is becoming part of this project. Advocating for women to be able to nurse in public.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Walk with Pam and Alan Walk #2 in NYC

I may be slightly impeded in writing this blog post. As I have eaten so much pizza, this weekend I may explode. This is Pam and Alan's doing as they took me to Arturo's on Friday night. :)
Pam is a friend of mine from our travels to Ghana, Africa. we both were older than the young ones on the trip. In my case just by a year or two but at the time that felt like a big gap for some of the students on the trip. Pam and I bunked together in Cape Coast. She is a musician and studies bones, as in animal bones. You can ask her the techinical name. :) She can tell you all about Lucy and in general is super smart. ranging from music, theater, art, into science and politics. Pam was one of the first people to say, SURE Paige! come stay with me! I will house you for your project." Alan is her very kind and smart boyfriend, who I hung out with at Arturo's and then on this walk.
As you all may notice I don't have as many walks in NYC as other places. That is because I got out there and saw a few museums while I was in town.  NYC is a mecca of art activity and I wasn't going to miss that. And I didn't force any walks. My cousin, Grace and I met up. But we never got to holding hands. We walked in central park. We had a very lovely dinner. But we never got to the hand holding. And this is probably just what I needed to do. As I get into this project farther, I have to rest more, as the road makes me tired. I want to have quality walks, not quantity. I am just trying to stay in the mindset that I take what comes and I am prepared. 
With Pam and Alan, we had it scheduled for Sunday afternoon from the day I got in. We all sort of hung around the house and got ready slowly. Which I really needed to do after the speed of this trip. Then we got out and ran an errand at Duane Reed on Dyckman St. We started holding hands from there. It is strange to walk in between a couple. Especially a couple that usually holds hands with each other while they walk. Along with this, I worry about holding the hands of people's boyfriends and husbands because I don't want anyone to get angry at me or their partner. This was not an issue on this walk. They both mentioned how comfortable it was to hold my hand.
We walked on a bike path that is by the Hudson River. We did a great number of amazing hand holding moves as we let bikers pass. It was fun to navigate three of us through a busy path. At some point walking the three of us became natural. Pam pointed this out in her reading that it felt like we had always been walking together. Alan relates how I became a sort of channel for the love that Pam and he already share. Which, hell, if that isn't the sweetest thing to hear. It was really nice for me to be around two people who truly care about each other. As I go through this project, I realize more and more I am observing others people's lives just as much as I am trying to get to hold hands. I am learning a lot. Including, that I shouldn't touch pizza ever again. That love is something shown through small actions and open hearts. It is in the details of planning how things will work and showing up.
There were a few akward moments, navigating holding alan's hand as he was leading and had to change the position of his hands. One time, I thought he wanted to intertwine fingers. People like to do that on walks. I had read him wrong and it was a little uncomfortable to navigate that. But that lasted about 5 seconds of weirdness. also, towards the end, he held my hand in the air while he used both hands as he took a picture. which was brillant and will be in a dance I choreograph, most definitely. Pam and I started holding hands very tightly but half way through it became more like half of our hands. It was comfortable but it wasn't the palm to palm hand holding. No judgement on this, just observing the different ways you can hold someone's hand.
I had trouble paying attention to both Pam and Alan at the same time. Sometimes it felt like I was walking with Pam and then with Alan. I did wonder what people that of us. Three adults clinging to each other's hands as we navigated this bike path. I must admit, it made me smile. :) Fuck 'em. Fuck rules. Let's walk three astride. By the end of the walk, things had come together, and it felt like we were all 
Our walk was long and very picturesque. The George Washington Bridge is a stunner. All these quirky post World War 1 spots along the river. That were not well marked but gave a great view to the river.
I have to admit. I am tired. Traveling is not easy and New York is not an easy city. I am feeling a bit lost. A bit lost while feeling the strongest I have ever felt. I am the thinnest I have been in years. I have made my art, my life. What great feelings! But I have a restless spirit and I force myself to keep going.
I keep thinking about something my friend, Tom, would tease me about..."Paige, Pages, come on. Loosen up. Go get laid." Now Tom, loves to give me a hard time. Like a good friend does. But he is partly speaking the truth. If I don't loosen up and stop taking this all so seriously. I will never let anyone in. And I will never get laid again. :)
WAITING for some awesome pics from Alan and for Blogger to upload my pics.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Walk with Maxine Walk #1 in NYC

I am overwhelmed with NYC. I had forgotten how fast and how furious the people run here. It is a know your shit kind of place and watch out for pickpockets. The interesting thing is Maxine calmed me down. She told me not to worry. That if anything I would get attention for being pretty now for someone trying to rob me. And she is right, as I calm down, the city isn't so bad. People just need to get from A to B and don't really care to connect to strangers on the train.
When I met Maxine, her face shone like the brightest star. When you have Maxine's attention, you have all of it. That is a welcome sight in today's world. Maxine is a friend of my friend, Hataya. They had gone to undergraduate school together. When I told Hataya I would be going to New York, she told me immediately that she had someone that would want to walk with me.

Maxine and I met at 'Snice, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant on 8th Ave and 3rd Street. I love this part of NYC because it is very hard to get lost. And I had no problem getting to the restaurant after going to the Guggenheim and seeing the Gutai exhibit. Maxine and I had lunch before our walk. So we got to talk before holding hands. She is championing a nature center on Long island, which I was eager to here about this project. we talked a lot about my project and it's premise. Maxine is a very encouraging person and she was open with how much she finds what I am doing to be inspiring. It was really great to hear this in person and to take it in. To say thank you. To get excited. I brought that into our walk.

Maxine is a mother and I think that it is more than that. Maxine is a person that loves to help and support others. She was so encouraging and supportive on the walk. I felt like we both got to share about our lives. She told me I was beautiful and pretty. That if I wanted to, I can find who I am looking for. WOW. When do I hear that? I hear it from Hanna, my best friend. Here I had found someone that truly gave back to me.
It was great in this big hectic city to walk with someone, so ready and willing to give this a shot. I brought up past loves. I brought up current hopes. we talked about the city and travel. Maxine just kept saying wow, you are doing so great.

I take this walk as a gift. A gift from Maxine. She kept telling me how generous I was. well, Maxine is generous too. Beautiful day. Beautiful Walk. Beautiful trip to Printed Matter afterwards. Beautiful getting to meet Maxine's daughter. Perfect ending at St. Luke's Church. :)

I am having technical difficulties uploading images today. But I wanted to get the text up. Will be updated when tech difficulties are done. 


I was told I had to tell the story of my arrival in NYC.
So I got on the train in Boston and away the Acela Express went! For the most part I had an empty seat until we got to New Haven. A petite older woman sat down next to me. she turned out to be french. As we entered NYC we spoke some and I told her about the project. I thought what the hell this woman is excited about my project I will ask her. :) She quickly declined but wished me luck. I think this interchange is interesting because of my wanting to ask strangers...I think it is really hard to go up to someone and ask them to hold hands, for both sides. Having a friend introduce me makes it possible for people to trust me. I guess as the opportunity arises I will keep asking strangers and see what happens.
After getting off Amtrak, I was sort of panicked about Penn Station and went from one ticket station to another to get my metrocard. The metro here is $2.50 a ride (EEK) and I should have just gotten $40 worth of rides instead of $10 because I have already refilled my card twice.
Anyway, here is the funny story. I get on the A train around 4pm. I am pink faced from sun and sweat and have 25-30 pounds on my back and no place to sit. I finally sit down at around 110th (from 32nd) and I am feeling pretty good about how things are going getting to 191st street.
While I was standing I noticed a guy in his late 20s-early 30s, sitting down. White tshirt, black slacks, red sunglasses that were of the aviator fashion made with red plastic, black loafers, the slightly narrowed at the end kind that are all the rage in NYC, and tattoos gracing both of his large biceps. The tattoos wrapped around his arm and seemed to be some scene that I could only see half of. Everyone was gawking at me so I didn't think much of when he looked at me swaying on the train.
When I sat down, I was so happy. I have to admit I didn't have my "bus face" or in this case my "train face" on very well yet. I learned this face in NYC, my don't fuck with me face I wear on public transit. The look that when you pass before me I don't flinch. I found myself looking at the guy in the red glasses. He had a sculpted face and those tattoos....
I was discreet and i wasn't staring. But I was a caught out. Red Glasses and I looked at eachother at the same time. Which led to me looking away very quickly. When I looked back, the glasses were gone and I was staring into the eyes of this guy. His look said a few flirtatious things. My face probably pinker than it was before looked away. I had to smile to myself. It felt dangerous and good to be caught up in this silly game of train car stare down. But that is where this story ends as I didn't look back in any flirty way. the glasses went back on a few stops later and Red Glasses left the train. It was quite the welcome back to NYC. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Walk #5 Rockport/Gloucester Emily

Emily is Jesse's sister. I went to her wedding about 8 years ago. Her husband is an amazing computer scientist. They have been happily married and just about two years ago had a baby. Emily was eager to be a walker. The day had turned cold, cold, cold, cold, COLD! I must admit i was EXHAUSTED before this walk. I was flat out ready to curl up in a ball and fall asleep. But the thing with this trip is. I have one or two chaces to see people. And I wanted to see Emily and Niko one more time. They are dear but far away friends.
Emily took me down Marmion Rd in Rockport. A gorgeous streatch of road above the ocean. i was FREEZING. But the walk was beautiful.
I felt a little like we didn't get past gossiping on this walk. But it felt good to sort of share thoughts on old friends and my life now. Emily is energetic and really interested in the fact that I do not drive and take transit. She is someone that doesn't say "how do you do that?" But rather, "That is SO AWESOME!" Which I really appreciate. We were frozen but we had a great chat. Like most walks it started out awkward but it was very compfortable as we rounded the bend to go back to her house.
Emily mentioned who needs a therapist when you have a walk...and it is true. We let out a lot of secrets and feelings on these walks. Which is why they make me feel so light sometimes. It is the reason I am exhausted for hours after them too. So much is shared, words, energy, thoughts, and feet hitting the pavement...Every walk there is the burst of energy and every walk there is the exhaustion that comes later on.

I mentioned feeling behind to Emily. After seeing all these friends with kids. But as I sit here in NYC, catching up on my blogs. I have to say I am ok with not having kids yet. I am ok with my speed and my way of life. I will try to remember Emily saying it's ok. Now staying with Pam, I can remember not everyone has a child. (Though I love every single one I got to spend time with the past week and half.)

Walk #4 Holding Two Adult Hands Linda and Michael

Michael's Reflection
I thought Gloucester might be a sleepy time for me. But the thing is, Rochelle is really excited about my project. Which is flattering in itself but she got her family and friends all into it too. So I had another day of walks planned for my second day in Gloucester. :)

So Rochelle took me over to her mother's house. Her Mom, Linda, lives with her two sons and daughter-in-law in Rockport. Linda and her son, Michael, decided to walk with me together. Which this two person thing is a new occurrence with the project. I am a bit wary of it because I can't concentrate on one person. But this experience ended up feeling really successful.
At first, i thought that Michael was going to film the walk as he brought his camera. But he was actually integrating his own project into the walk. Which was a short film about Cape Ann. He valiantly held his camera the whole walk for a few minutes of footage.

It was a drizzly cold Rockport day. At this point this California transplant was sick of the cold. i got bundled up and away we went. Molly the dog led the way and us three a daisy chain of humans. At first, I was so nervous I thought I would sort of short circuit. i was nervous and I was confused about how to make this work. Then I realized if i didn't calm down neither could Linda and Michael. So i calmed down. We talked about the project, we talked about heart, we talked about sustainable living options. It was hard to focus on both of them at once. But i just tried to listen to the person speaking and stay connected. Michael is a young man who had some great insight into men and trust.  Linda is a vibrant woman who was really open and truly interested in the project and my motives behind it. We all discussed the issues of men and issues of intimacy. We shared examples of how we would like to see men free-er to touch and drink girly drinks. We enjoyed walking by the quarry in Rockport. We enjoyed staying connected as we jumped over a muddy stream! It truly is art to navigate a muddy stream while holding two people's hands. Linda reflected that it was like being a child again and how much fun it was...and it felt that way. these walks just calm you down while also making you incredibly happy. What fun to do that with three people. I feel like I would have learned more about both of them if their were separate walks...and since it was a mother son duo, I was a bit more PC.
Though, by the end  I felt really open and close to both of them. Laughing and talking about personal things that don't always come out on walks.
with us being a circuit of energy, I just tried to enjoy it. As i couldn't really pay attention to the energy of just one of them...I just rolled along with our energy. both Linda and Michael were really open to the process. It was a joy to walk with them. And Michael drew the nicest drawing as his response.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Walk with Jeremiah and Oliver Walk #3

It had been a long day of walks by the time Jeremiah had gotten home. But maybe it was all of the good food Rochelle had been feeding me. But I still had some energy to walk and I was excited for the trails we were going to get to walk on. I hadn't heard much about where we were going but I had heard it was pretty amazing. Oliver, Rochelle and Jeremiah's 7 year old came with us for the walk. 
I was a little nervous to walk with Jeremiah, as he is the significant other of my friend. And it is weird to leave your friend at her house to go play with her son and partner. But she said we should get going. So away we went. The other thing is that Jeremiah is a very quiet person and I am not. I was worried it could be awkward. But what I am learning in this project is that I have a choice of how I react to sound and silence. Not judging silence or talking.
We got to Dogtown an abandoned settlement from 1641 in between Rockport and Gloucester. Both Jeremiah and Oliver both started out holding my hands.
Oliver was able to stay with me for a few minutes but then really started enjoying kicking the rocks and running in front of us.
It wasn't that unfamiliar to hold
Jeremiah's hand. If anything it was strangely familiar. Jeremiah is not much taller than me and it really is nice to hold someone's hand that is close to your height. He said that he didn't really notice our holding hands until we stepped over a rock and he noticed the level change.
Once again, I enjoyed how a man's finger nestles into the nook of the finger joint on the front of my hand. I feel like I am stealing time of enjoying this experience.
The walk was easy with the fact that Jeremiah had lots of facts to tell me about Dogtown. He was my tour guide of this. Along with the public art works commissioned by Babson in the 1930s as part of the WPA. It had large morals carved into the rocks out here in the abandoned settlement of Dogtown. It was truly a post modern project in it's appearance, this large text piece set in the background of the New England country side. 
this was a very very long walk. But I never wanted to not hold hands with Jeremiah. It was comforting and fun to scramble around pathways and go to the moral rocks.
I like how Jeremiah wouldn't let go of my hand when he looked at the map. It was comforting and reassuring in some way. And once again, when I walk with someone who I know loves someone else so completely, I feel like I stole something a bit, or that I got a special gift. I think that part of this trip is learning that it is ok to love men. That may sound weird but to let go of my fear of that. So I get to practice being comfortable with men with this project. Oliver was great to walk with because he kept us focused on the search for the art work and to make things light.
Jeremiah and I both joked about how I was borrowing Jeremiah and Oliver and we were pretending to be a family. Which for me, that is a completely forgein idea. And it was fun to play with our photos. If you looked at it, it could be a family photo. It was a new thing to think about in this project as I have never walked with a guy and his child. Just a woman and her child.

Overall, we had a good time hiking around and I really enjoyed Babson's moral rocks.  I also pulled out some old geology knowledge with remembering what moraine meant. :)

Walk with Katherine Gloucester Walk #2

After walking with Rochelle, having some lunch, and writing my blogs about my last few days in Boston, Rochelle brought me over to Katherine's house. She is a neighbor of Rochelle and Jeremiah's. Oliver went down the slide there a few times and then we said good bye to Rochelle and the kids. We just got right to it. She opened the door and had her son on her back. We said "Nice to meet you." And we grabbed each others hands.

Katherine took me to a local cemetery and showed me her favorite grave. This may sound weird to non-New Englanders, but in New England there are lots of old old old cemeteries to wander through. Gloucester has at least 3 cemeteries in it. When we were there, people walking their dog. Katherine told me that this was a normal sight, as the cemetery was one of the largest open spaces in Gloucester. Her favorite grave was that of a child. And interestingly enough, i also find children's graves interesting as they are so mysterious and do not usually tell you much information about the child's life.
We spoke about our travels to other countries and the different ways these cultures deal with touch. How in Bulgaria Katherine would see men touching each other and it was the norm. Also, about hos women in romantic England time could loop arms and hold hands. Which were really interesting thoughts for the project. Her son just sat in his little carrier and was content to hang out back there.
As we left the cemetery, it felt like Katherine got a little nervous. Gloucester is a very small town. I am sure it is a little strange to see some girl walk around town with someone they don't recognize or know. We spoke of the bombing and we chatted away back to her house. She asked if anyone had ever not finished a walk. Which made me nervous. But we kept on walking, only letting go of our hands when we passed a woman with two dogs while on a tiny sidewalk. I was so impressed that she stuck with the walk even while being nervous. We had a great chat while having tea afterwards. She told me that she felt comfortable walking with me because of my short stature and my nature of being welcoming and open. That if I was taller she probably wouldn't wanted to walk with me. We spoke about how when we were younger being open came so much more naturally and that as we age we have to push ourselves to these edges of being comfortable.

Gloucester Walk #1

On Sunday, Jesse, Jenny, Opal, and I went out to Rockport to visit with Jesse's sister, Emily and brother-in-law, Niko. I got to meet their daughter Daphne and walk down to the beach. In the fashion of my first week on the road. There was a gun scare. As we past a house a teenager popped his head out of a window and said, "There is a man with a gun down at the beach! Don't go that way!" Then some cops showed up and told us to go the other way...
Niko mentioned feeling that we probably would be fine going to the beach. That everyone was just a little jumpy. Which in the end seemed to be true. But when a cop tell you to turn around. You do. About five minutes later the cop drove to where we were walking and told us the situation was under control.
After this exciting walk, I just keep thinking about fear. About how it will make you jump to it and run the other way...
After getting more kid time in and chatting with everyone, Jesse, Jenny, and Opal dropped me off at Rochelle's in Gloucester. Which is surprisingly close to Rockport. I am amazed at how close everything is on the East Coast.
Rochelle is a friend from when I studied in Florence, Italy. She was a grad student when I was a young twenty year old. We had intense conversation at school, and I would wander the painting studios of the upper level painters and give unsolicited crits and encouragement. :)
Rochelle has set up a few walks for me to hold hands. When I arrived Rochelle she gave me the biggest hug and I felt very comforted.
After a nice night catching up, Rochelle, Lucy, her 2.5 year old, and I got out the stroller walked down to the water. We started holding hands here. Rochelle mentioned in her observations that she was worried a bit about what people would think, since Gloucester is such a small town. But I hadn't even thought of it as we clasped hands. Rochelle is a very comforting person. It was reassuring to have her clasp my hand so assuredly.
It was cold and windy near the water, but it was very lovely with the water rolling in as we strolled Lucy and held hands. Rochelle was so adept at it I never noticed that she was pushing the stroller. We joked about me finding a fisherman husband. This walk was a joy because it felt so natural and everyday.
We walked up to the state park that is at the end of the promenade/boulevard. It was a gorgeous site. We talked about light and heavy topics, like friends. It sort of feels like I am this flighty thing that has come into Rochelle and her families life and I get to flight out. And that Rochelle looks at that flightiness as a positive. As I look at her with her gorgeous little family, I am envious of it. How there are things to anchor her to her reality. Sort of like, what am I doing, being so light? Love is actually a heavy thing.

 As we reflected Lucy drew. As we walked back, I got to hold Lucy's hand for awhile. It was a lovely lovely walk. After the longest week, with all that terror and sadness, the walk with Rochelle was an energizer. It was great to get out and walk with a dear old friend.