Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The In-Between

The last year I keep talking about this being my "in-between" year. That I need to ride out this in-between space. The fear, the emotion, the joys, the fatigue. But the longer I am here. The more I realize that this "in-between" is the juicy spot. The spot where life is. The place where I get to explore and keep growing. I don't want to stop doing that. some people judge my actions as wrong, failure, or just plain crazy and what I learned this last year is they are all wrong. It is nothing so black and white. Life is a grey area. It can be fun. It can be misery. You build what grey means to you.

For a year, I didn't have a home. On purpose. I packed everything. Gave things away. And I left LA. I traveled. Did a residency. I am still processing what I learned from Walk with ME travels. Now I am in Minnesota. And the "in-between" doesn't end. I moved into a duplex that a day in became a duplex with a leaky roof. Leaking right into my roommate's room. A lapsed landlord who didn't seem worried about any of it. Even after an inspector came out to the house. A house he shares with us. as he is our downstairs neighborhood.

Here I was, "settling down" and well my roommate and I have to move. With that, I realized with being in a very good emotional place. I wanted to live alone. Battling depression on and off for years, I have done some great work and feel ready to truly take care of myself. It is truly work. This means looking at lots of things I have covered up. This means not being co-dependent on anyone. It doesn't end. New experiences throw me into emotions I haven't let myself feel. Liking people. Romance. Things I have ignored or shunned. I am now letting in and it throws me for a new loop. All these choices about sex, love, and companionship. What do I want it to look like and how does it feel?
How does a 33 year old take it slow? How do I ask for what I want and not feel hurt when dudes just want to sleep with me?

As I walk down Second St. a butterfly lands on a flower. It is a gorgeous large yellow and black butterfly. I wait to get a better look following it's loopy journey to the next flower. So here I am in the "in-between"... realizing that life is allowing life to keep you on this edge of knowing and unknowing. Of protecting yourself while letting yourself be open. The "in-between" is also about career, family, and spirituality. I am always wanting more. Feeling less than. Than leveling out and realizing what I have is awesome and enough. Riding these waves better than ever before, now I have the job of finding out what I truly love. I love a butterfly. I love a good book. I love seeing where a path can take you.

As I walked to work, I thought about this next year alone in a new apartment as my time to see how things go. To let go. And just create a place to rest and not push. Not take on the next big project but just what see what project comes to see what men come into my life and what they can bring me. I love dreaming up the next travel adventure and asking the world for what I want. I am done seeing myself as unfulfilled because I can't afford to travel the world. But rather see what I gift I have finding adventure in a walk to work and a trip to the lake. I hope for balance. But mostly, I hope to be ok with this "in-between" that is life.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Walk with ME: Finale Walks at Walker Open Field: What a Great Night!

If I would have known how awesome the atmosphere of Thursday Nights at the Walker were. I would have asked to do Walk with ME on all the Thursdays. :) It was a great night. It wasn't too hot. It wasn't too cold. It was just right.

I got to the Walker a bit early. Drinking down as much iced tea and water as I could. For some reason I am ravishly hungry and thirsty this summer. I am not working out much so I am not sure what my deal is. I went with a slightly more aggressive approach of hanging out more zines. Also, there was just a more social feel to the Thursday night. There were three different programs of the Walker presenting events. So it was a busy night.

I went up to the Open Field Social table and handed out some zines and a woman exclaimed "Oh the hand holding project! I want to do that!" Now large companies PAY people to do that. Exclaim out of no where their excitement for a product or a person or an event, and wow! Here was a willing participant. Nicole was her name and she was one of the hosts of the Social event. I told her we would keep it short so she could get back to her job of hosting and away we went.
Pic taken by passer by couple

Nicole is a confident, beautiful woman who felt no nerves about holding my hand. We spoke about touch and our culture. She told me how she thinks it is silly we are so weird about paying for touch from massage to sex. I have to agree with her. My father thinks massages are for sickos. I get massages sometimes three times a month. I don't think I am sick. I think I am trying to balance out my body and as a single person that tries not to sleep with people outside of a relationship (and I haven't had a relationship in quite some time) massages are not sexual but they are intimate. Something I need just as much as sex is intimacy. Massage therapists give that. As far as getting paid for sex, I think there is nothing wrong with it in principle. BUT patriarchal prostitution I have a problem with. If EMPOWERED women and men could get paid to give sex to others. I think that is great. And I am sure there are a handful of sex workers out there that give just that. It is the women and men in slavery that shouldn't be giving sex for money. This is a huge topic. One I have no answers to but I agree with Nicole. Sex should be something that can be given in different contexts. Though what I am finding out about myself is that I am very comfortable with touch and cuddling many folks. I am far too sensitive to want to have sex outside of a well constructed romantic monogamous relationship. I don't know if it was my up bringing OR just who I am. As I start to date we shall see how I navigate this.

Nicole and I went straight into the heart of the mini golf set up. Catching a few glances but mostly just cruising around. On our way down there a nice couple took our picture while another couple laughed at us. There were many pairs holding hands. The Walker First Thursdays brings out a lot of people on first dates, older couples who love art, and families. The diversity I saw was amazing. Nicole is a social worker, a thankless job if ever there was one but I could tell that Nicole must be an amazing social worker with they way she handled this unusual experience. With grace, boldness, and savvy. I felt really lucky to have Nicole be willing and excited to be a part of my project.

When Nicole and I had left, a woman had shouted out "Oh!! You are going for a walk with her!" And I knew who my next walker would be. Her name is Jessica. Very tall woman in her 30s. People dress up to go to the Walker. That is the way we treat special events at cultural institutions and I think in Minnesota people look for reasons to dress up. Jessica immediately started telling me intimate things. A fight her and her boyfriend had about hand holding! how perfect! Why she likes her boyfriend including his dimples. I love this about hand holding. That she felt ready to share right away. We walked around the Sculpture Garden and I loved watching Jessica gesture. She gestured about being together and intimate as this straight line between two people with her hands. That gesture will stay with me and i hope to use it in my next performance. I liked hearing about Jessica's relationship. It gave me hope for my own. She let there be inconstancies. The way in which people infuriate you and make you swoon. From dimples to communication we make things work because we want to. We learn and we commit. I find this amazing. Jessica had been divorced and she is doing this thing called love differently this time. How wonderful. I loved Jessica's energy. As the walk ended things shifted and I spoke a bit about my boy situation and she was supportive. After reading Jessica's notes. I could tell that she was sort of waking up to the fact we were holding hands. She started to leave the just the two of us stage and see that we were surrounded by others. Which can be frightening. She wrote that afterwards she felt exhilarated. Full of adrenaline.
I wonder what part I play in that excitement. Do I create a channel for that? By holding hands to I give you a bunch of my energy? I know while traveling. I gave it all away. I was a ball of tired by the time I arrived in Georgia.

I am much more centered now. And a friend of Jessica's came up to walk. His name is Mark. Mark is hearing impaired and wears hearing aids. He asked if it would work for him to walk with me because of his hearing lose. I told him I have done silent walks so I couldn't see a problem. We started out silent but it wasn't hard to turn and talk to Mark so that he could see my lips for the lip reading he does. It was a very sweet walk. It was easier for Mark to speak than for him to read my words. But we had a great conversation about his cats Petey and Penny. Penny the grouchy older cat. And Petey the cat that found him at the shelter.

I liked how deliberate things felt with Mark. Slowing down to understand eachother. His hand was easy to hold and there was a small hitch in his elbow but overall it felt like he was relaxed. He even when explaining him meeting Petey he showed me how Petey's face moved around in the cage, getting closer and then farther away from my face. I was so unprepared for that! And it was so playful.
Mark has never lived anywhere other than Minneapolis and one year in St. Paul. His mother died and he has lived in that house ever since. It was interesting to hear of him speak about the stress of moving. How he just doesn't handle that and doesn't want it. Which is so different to my attitude about moving and stress. I see those things propelling me. Moving me places that bring around change. I am starting to get this staying still. But I wonder. I wonder what we do when we push ourselves and we change things up, what that does for us? I like someone who has never lived outside of the state. And well that scares me. And I thought of that while walking with Mark. The thing is. Moving doesn't equate to success or emotional stability or many positive things. I really like how grounded Mark was. I liked that he doesn't believe in fate. he believes in happy coincidences. I am opening up to this view point. I explained how much I had moved and he was astonished. I don't know what I am driving at here. Maybe that it is ok to want to be where I am. That I am letting go of the modern idea that travel is where all change comes from. I think change comes from within. I am ready for some real change. I am thinking about it isn't if you can afford to travel the world. Being invigorated by the world is a mind set and a choice. Mark shook my hand as we said thank you for the walk.

Now, three walks is a lot to do in a day. Three is the most I had done in a day. Until today. I knew my co-worker was coming to walk. Which was really exciting to have that type of cross over. As I may have mentioned in my blog. I really like my job at MTN. And Jessica is someone who has impressed me with her professionalism and smarts. She also is adventurous and seems to have a full life outside of work. I envy her that. She showed up just as I had ended an interview about feminism for another awesome Walker Open Field project. I discussed how I think gender is fluid, #YesAllWomen and it's powerful message, my thoughts on supreme court and birth control, and being a woman who rides transit.

I was nervous to walk with Jessica, she is a very pretty young woman. Though we are co-workers I am aware how so much more prettier she is than I. We started right out to the Sculpture Garden. She told me though she has been in MPLS for 3 years just a few weeks ago was her first time at the sculpture garden. Our conversation was pretty nervous and about work. Then we spoke about the garden itself. How Jessica hadn't been there. We didn't look at each other much. But holding Jessica's hand felt familiar and easy. She wore stripes. She spoke about the arbor and the glass house arboretum and it's similar structures as tunnels. I loved that.
We looked at the flowers. Talked about an amazing project some folks in Rochester are making to help new Minnesotans understand that park land is public and free. What they can do with their children in those parklands. Like bike ride, look at flowers, picnic, etc. Towards the end we took a photo of ourselves in front of the Spoon Cherry. Me discussing how when I was younger I thought the spoon cherry was the WORST. Being an art student, I didn't see the profound importance of it. Now I think it is great, it gets people who are not into art, near a museum and maybe they will learn more about art by looking up Oldenberg.
At the very end, Jessica opened up about herself as we walked through the Jenny Holzer part of the park. It reminded her of New Harmony, IN. An Utopic tourist destination that I almost accepted a job at. We talked about her family connection to the chapel there and how she had dreamed of being married there. It was a small glimpse for a reserved person. But that place is magic and I like that we both know of it.

It was a great way to end the walks, walking with Jessica. She wrote that she felt energized afterwards! And that it was so nice to walk with someone her own height. That is probably why it felt so easy. I am fortunate to start a life in Minnesota where I work somewhere that has openminded adventurous smart people. People who even support my art. Doesn't that feel great?
This night was a great way to end the stint of Walk with ME at the Walker. I enjoyed talking with Gabi and Laura. I enjoyed listening to Balkan music after my shift. I enjoyed the one glass of wine I had to come down off the high of walking. My cold summer squash sandwich. I am settling into Minneapolis. I am letting go of expectations. I am trying not to set too many goals. I let the night air cricket, rippet, and rustle me through Loring Park and to my bus stop. I am tried to reach out to someone I care about. And I have to be ok when they don't want to connect. I am going with the flow and I know that each day brings me love and surprises I can't be ready for. I walk now with a confidence I didn't have a year ago. I feel my feelings and I know that they come and go. My effort remains the same to give what I got and to smile, cry, and touch with extreme passion. I feel very lucky to be alive.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Walk with ME @ First Free Saturdays @ Walker Art Center

I woke up in a much better mood to walk this Saturday. I knew that a few folks were planning on coming and I had slept better than the week before. Also, I had decided to give the walk a specific time and have an open time of 12-3pm. I got to the Walker Sculpture Garden and it was HOPPING with families out for First Free Saturdays.  
Here is my awesome spot. 
I got there early and set up the zines and books. A few folks stopped by and I told them about the project. What I found amazing were the people who came near my lovely shaded tent and I would say hi to them and they wouldn't say anything. Literally looking in my direction and they just....stood there. Now, I have mentioned in other posts that I feel like Minnesotans are reticent about this project. I thought maybe I was making it up. That I was just nervous to be home and that I was over exaggerating. I KNOW there are people in LA that would scoff at this project and think it strange. But here I am in an art garden and people are freaked. In LA, I feel like folks that come to art things are a bit more ready for this type of experience. I know I have glorified LA and I am scoffing at Minneapolis' ability to be open. But I am starting to get some data that supports that hypothesis. 
BUT that makes it EVEN MORE EXCITING when folks say YES to this! Gabi and Laura helped me recruit for the 130pm and we all struck out. I approached a good 15 people and not a one would come over. Then a new friend of mine, Carlos showed up. Boy, was I happy to see Carlos. Even if nothing else happened today. I could walk with Carlos. Gabi is an awesome intern at volunteered to walk. So I sent Gabi and Carlos off on a walk. 
During the half hour before the walk was meant to start I spoke to a few groups of folks. They took zines. I begged to young adults to walk. They were not into it. My friend texted saying that her and her crew would come Thursday night for my last walk with me. So I was like "Well, one walk is good enough for me." I don't want to bribe, beg, or bitch to get walks. I want them to come to me a bit. Those are the best ones. So up, walk two kids and their Mom. And the teen girl was wearing a M tshirt. And I just knew that M stood for Minnetonka. Minnetonka is where I grew up. So I said "Hey you guys go to Minnetonka?" "I went there!" I explained the project expecting the rejection I had gotten all day from families. And the Mom, Maria, turned to the kids and said, "Well, hey, do you want to walk with the person that created this project?" They said yes, we took a walk around the pond. Mr. Stranger, (the character Cameron had created at another First Saturday event) and Macie. We spoke of where I went to elementary school. If I went to West or East. The concerns of teens. I asked them how they felt walking with me. Fine. I don't feel like I imparted any wisdom to them. I was a bit nervous to walk with kids. As an adult, I always want to make sure I am appropriate with them. My life is not filled with kids. I didn't want to swear or say anything too liberal. I exclaimed how jealous I was that they got to go to Excelsior. As I love Excelsior. We got back to the table and there was another family there. I explained the project and the mother looked pretty shocked. So away I went on a walk with Maria. 
Maria grew up in the city but has moved into the western suburbs. We talked about what diversity was. As a city person, she went to a school with a lot of different races. But we hit upon an interesting concept the diversity of a western suburb school. That now there are kids from all over the world that end up in those schools and that folks she went to school with never leave their hometown. She was speaking to openmindedness. That maybe color is not the only type of diversity. As people she went to school with never left their neighborhood. I think it speaks of class. You can move around and become a more tolerant person if you have the money to feel comfortable in those moves. But I agree with her that being open to diversity is something that you learn and embrace or you do not. It was very awesome to hear that where I grew up is expanding a bit with kids of different races being more blended into the upper middle culture I grew up in. I am so glad that this amazing woman takes her kids out of Minnetonka and brings them to meet crazy artists like me. Crazy artists that end up being from the same place. When they all left I told them not to take everything too seriously. Which maria probably thought was kind of funky. I just remember the pressure out there. to be perfect. To fit in. To say the right thing. I hope those kids stepped out of that for a few minutes while we walked and talked. I applaud Maria for leaving her comfort zone of the city. Caring for her kids' education. And integrating the city with the suburb. 

When Maria and I got back Gabi and Carlos had finished their walk. I was jazzed by how things had played out. I don't win any audience participation awards but I was very true to my art form and I didn't dumb it down for the kid audience. I felt supported by Gabi and Laura and I enjoyed meeting another artist who has ties to LA that I had wanted to meet. 

Carlos finished up his writing. I have to mention I didn't walk with Carlos, cause I was worried he came with some romantic intentions. Carlos can refute this. But I avoided that situation, because I am kind of madly interested in someone else. I told Carlos when I met him that I was seeing someone. Which is a bit of a lie. As the guy I like and I, have not discussed that future. In all honesty, I wish this person I have feelings for would have been at the Walker yesterday (distance is a factor). Anyway, I felt super honored that Carlos had come AND I hope that Carlos and I can be friends. What an awesome guy to show up to a crazy ass art project! So Carlos and I had some coffee, lunch (Jasmine Deli the absolute best), and checked out my friend's art show. Carlos was kind enough to drive me home. Both of us are going through a major transitions, we were able to talk about some serious things and just have fun. I had a great time chatting.
The most amazing things always happen after walks and the amazing thing that happened yesterday happened while Carlos and I stopped at the Quatrefoil Library to return my VERY VERY overdue books. Andy Strudevant and I had gone to the Quatrefoil Library so I could become a member in June! And my books were due in July. And here it was the beginning of August. Two amazingly fun gay men were the volunteer libraries that late afternoon. Jean and well, he joked that is name was Wayne, so that is what I now have to call him. Wayne was wearing an amazing Espirit belt and looked like an elderly GQ model if GQ models were super skinny men. He wore white, red and blue and it looked fashionable not like a fourth of July outfit. Jean looked super familiar, like he goes to my mother's church or something, in a plaid button down tshirt. No matter, we all got to talking and I told them about Walk with ME. By the end of it, Jean had volunteered to walk with me! And he said he thought other folks involved with Quatrefoil would probably want to walk also. THIS WAS SOMETHING I had WANTED to DO!!!! I had put up a road block that I needed to contact the Spirit on Lake people and do it all formally and here is this guy saying "Hey! Let's do this!" All causal like. Nothing wrapped up in bureaucracy. Ahhhh when things fall in place. Let's hope my walk with Jean happens. I truly hope it does. I want to hear the stories of Jean's era of being gay and I want to honor it and write about it. Here's hoping! 

Laura and I before the walks.