riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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10+ Tips for Rural Living

Huyck Preserve, Rensselaerville

Huyck Preserve, Rensselaerville

September 9th marks my first anniversary living in rural upstate New York after 19 years in Los Angeles. By now, the story of my moving here sight unseen has become a popular tale among friends. What I didn’t realize is how many people thought I wouldn’t be able to handle the isolation, the brutal winters, the humid summers, and so on. Who knows, there might have been a bet or two on how long I would last!

But I proved the naysayers wrong and adapted to my new surroundings well. For anyone considering making a similar move from the big city to a rural area, here are some suggestions on how to make it work:

Be outgoing 

Assuming you’re not a total hermit, the best way to meet people and learn information in a rural area is to be outgoing. Don’t be shy about asking for introductions. In the beginning, I met people through a few key introductions by people who live here, or who used to live here. I also ventured out on my own and introduced myself to folks. It helped to cast a wide net.

A new friend showing me and Ruby a fabulous swimming hole in Leeds.

A new friend showing me and Ruby a fabulous swimming hole in Leeds

Get referrals

One of the challenges of moving anywhere new is leaving behind your trusted mechanic, dentist, veterinarian, etc. Sometimes it takes years of trial and error to find these folks. When I moved to this area, the first thing I did was ask the guys at the local feed store to recommend a good veterinarian and bike repair shop. Others recommended a great mechanic, dentist, chiropractor, massage therapist, and more. The people who live here know who’s who and what’s what.

Classic car, Oak Hill

Classic car, Oak Hill

Find common ground

A new friend who also happened to move here recently summed it up perfectly: “I’m on a mission to make friends.” That means being proactive – finding groups that interest you, and activities where you might meet folks. It also means sometimes going out when you don’t feel like it, going out alone, doing things you wouldn’t normally do… basically stepping out of your comfort zone. I have traveled an hour or more to get to an event or visit a friend. It’s always worth it.

flying goat

Get a part-time job

Obviously, not everyone can do this… but I would highly recommend working part-time at a local business. Earlier this summer, I was fortunate enough to learn of a chef’s assistant position at a local farm-to-table cafe. I applied for it even though I’ve never been a chef’s assistant before, and got the job. Working at this popular local spot lead to not only meeting more people, but also learning more about agriculture, cooking and animals.

goats

Be “social”

There is an actual saying here called “being social” that describes when a person stops to chat with you before, during or after performing a service. For example, when my mechanic Bill works on my car, he chats with me and makes me laugh (his nickname for me is “California Niva”). Same with lady at the post office. Rarely do I just fly in and out of the post office without saying hello to Barbara, or us chatting for a few minutes. The last time I was there, she gave me a marrow bone for my dog. The point is, slow down and get to know people a little.

flowers in water

Be a good neighbor

Social interactions are really important in a rural area. It’s not just about making friends. People can also be resources, especially your neighbors. You might need to take refuge in their house when your power fails in a storm. So, get to know their names, say hello and good morning and have a nice day. When they wave to you, wave back! My neighbor Bob, who’s in his 80’s, and I became friends after he said Ruby could play in his fields. We’ve since had many philosophical conversations while standing in his fields. When his wife recently passed away, I baked him a pie and brought it over. I also helped him with his yard sale, and he lets me share a raised bed in his garden in return for my help with wedding and planting.

hanging clothes

Start walking

I’ve seen some amazing scenery while walking through my neighborhood and met people too. I also think there’s something good about being seen on a regular basis. Every day I pass this one farm where a dog lives that is friends with my dog. The owners and I don’t talk much, but whenever they see us coming, they let Bronson out so he can play with Ruby. Even the farm workers recognize Ruby and wave to us from their trucks as we pass.

Ruby and her buddy, Bronson

Support local businesses

This goes without saying. Local businesses remember their customers, and will greatly appreciate your business.

Be a good guest

In the country, people invite you to their homes a lot faster and more often than in the city. Any time you go to someone’s house, bring something or, even better, make something.

IMG_20150814_150612_504

Nectarine and blueberry upside-down cake

Pick up after your dog

One might think that in the country, it’s okay to not pick up after your dog. Wrong! People are really sensitive about their yards and property. I always pick up after Ruby, even in fields where no one can see us. I did, however, make the mistake shortly after moving here of throwing the bag in someone else’s trashcan. In the city this wouldn’t be a big deal, but after a few times, a woman came out of the house to ask me to stop because the bags were making her trashcan smell. Noted! Now I carry the poop bag all the way home and throw it in my own trashcan.

ruby

More suggestions:

  • Invite people to visit you
  • Travel and explore the area
  • Be nice to everyone you meet because everyone knows each other!

Living in a rural area can be a fulfilling, rich, culturally diverse experience. But just like living in the city, you have to work it!

heart puddle


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When Life & Grief Come Full Circle

Finally, the whirlwind of the last few weeks is over. I was in Los Angeles for ten days, upstate with family for a few days, and again with family in NYC this past holiday weekend.

As I mentioned in the last post, the trip to LA was excellent. I saw many dear friends, made some new ones, and re-acquainted with a couple of folks I hadn’t seen in years. I had brunch with my amazing writer’s group posse, met up with my former boss and had dinner with my former film studio sisters. I had lunch with my mentor, and a business meeting with my manager to discuss a television pilot.

Then I attended BinderCon, an all female (including female-identifying) writers conference, and spoke on a panel called Death and Loss: Women Writing Out Loud, along with several other amazing writers, some of whom you might recognize.

BinderCon picIf I had to sum up the entire experience of the last few weeks in one word, it would be validating.

Being in LA confirmed certain things I already knew, but appreciated being reminded of, namely: I have a genuine, diverse and strong community of friends and colleagues there; I know the city like the back of my hand; and I always have a place to stay there. I was thanking my lucky stars every single day for these things. LA is not a place I would want to start getting to know now.

To my relief, I also didn’t want to move back, at least not in the immediate future. If I did, it would be for work, and I would want the east coast to stay the home base. It feels good to be certain of that.

Furthermore, the trip proved to me (and possibly to others) once and for all that moving to New York was a good thing. Not only have I accomplished a lot in the past six months, but also living and writing outside of the “business,” and writing more than just film and television, has made me less dependent on LA. I came back feeling more grounded and confident than ever.

Another surprise was that I managed just fine without Ruby. I missed her, but it was honestly nice to have a little break and concentrate on the matters at hand. It gave me huge peace of mind to know that she was being well taken care of by family and dog cousins. It’s good to know we have this option for the next time.

The writer’s conference was validating of both my writing and grief work. If you had told me four years ago when I was sobbing every day that I would be speaking about my grief to a room full of strangers (as a visitor to LA, not a resident), I wouldn’t have believed you. On top of that, to be in the company of such accomplished writers was a huge honor. At one point I had to pinch myself, like “I can’t believe I’m here!”

Having a

Having a “pinch me” moment.

Lastly, the trip was a significant milestone in terms of my grief. I had feared being bombarded by “triggers” the entire week – and I did have a couple of emotional moments – but in general I was more than okay. Rather than feeling tethered to the weight of my grief, I actually felt buoyed by the certainty that Kaz was proud of me. I could feel him and his pride everywhere I went.

Kaz used to lovingly call me a “soldier” after overcoming particularly difficult challenges. And that’s what I felt like in Los Angeles — like a once battle-weary soldier now returning triumphantly to the scene of battle, stronger, more focused and at peace. I am extremely grateful for him and his never-ending love, for what these past few weeks taught me, and for my current life in upstate New York.

Now, Ruby and I are decompressing, sleeping and getting re-acquainted with our humble little house and old routine. I have tons to do, including a book to finish, but I’m re-energized to make it all happen. The weather is warmer. The birds are chirping non-stop, and the flowers are just starting to bloom. It’s as if everything around is us is coming back to life with a big cry of “Onward!”

spring flowers


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Going Back to Cali, Cali

The next time I post, I will be in Los Angeles again. I’m going for a 10-day visit, at the end of which I’m participating in a 3-day writer’s conference and speaking on a panel about Writing About Loss. Before I leave, I’m being interviewed on HuffingtonPost Live (tomorrow, Thursday, March 19 at 4:00pm ET). Needless to say, it’s a very busy time, and I’m more than a little stressed.

I’m excited to go back to Los Angeles, but also nervous. When I tell people this, they don’t understand why. I’m not sure I totally understand either. I did live there for 19 years. But there’s something about going back to a place you’ve left.

Part of me is nervous that once I’m there, I’ll regret having left, like I’ll be walking (driving) around feeling homesick the whole time.

Another part of me is anxious about being asked the same questions over and over again: “How’s it going in NY? How do you like it? Are you glad you left? Are you coming back?”

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that just the thought of being in such a big city, dealing with that traffic, makes my stomach tighten a little. I’ve basically been living in the woods for the past eight months — in a quiet, zero traffic, distraction-free, practically people-free zone. I’ve been in “writing mode,” which is a lot different than “meet and greet and speak publicly mode.” Yes, I’ve been to NYC periodically, but I stay with family in Brooklyn and tend to keep my activities local.

Another source of nerves (and emotions) is that being in Los Angeles will remind me of Kaz in a way that I haven’t experienced in a while. Living in NY, where Kaz and I never visited together and therefore shared no memories of, has been a sort of respite from all the emotional triggers that come with familiar sites in a shared geographical location. I know I will be alright, but it’s the not knowing where and when I will encounter these triggers that makes my nervous.

Finally, my heart aches at leaving Ruby behind (it was too complicated and expensive to bring her). I’ve never been away from her for this long, and am already feeling the longing. She’ll be staying with family and going to doggie daycare during the day, so we’ll both be busy. But it will be strange to be apart. Our days upstate are, if nothing else, an exercise in routine. Everything happens around the same time every day. We’re nearly always together, and she is nearly always off leash, running free.

All that said, I am looking forward to the trip, to seeing all my friends, feeling heat, going to the beach, meeting many other talented writers, getting as much done as possible, visiting the mountain where I released Kaz’s ashes and more.

A lot has happened since I left Los Angeles. Maybe going back will remind me of how far I’ve come. Maybe it will remind me why I left.

Ironically, this will be my first time visiting Los Angeles. I will miss upstate NY, but I’ll be back soon.

Looking forward to sharing the journey with you, as always. xo

1797412_10153143248585930_905633499537470358_n 1625654_10153143252500930_2146440033318111921_n 11081386_10153143252670930_2881054978701582691_n 10425851_10153143252750930_7869577799848497471_n 11037701_10153143252845930_455761988349675604_n 11070795_10153143248320930_9040900565102644969_n 10314656_10153143321880930_3016769990701632249_n1531667_10153143252555930_6866255149119061765_n


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Slowing Down

Greetings from Portland, Oregon. I just cruised into this city last night and am excited to check it out. So far, the road trip has been an absolute joy. The only negative – and it’s hardly a negative – is that it’s taking longer than I anticipated. This is partly because I’m traveling with a dog and need to stop to let her do her business (and run around). And partly because there’s so much beauty that I keep stopping to take pictures.

Slowing down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this is one of many differences between this road trip and the one I did in the opposite direction 19 years ago. Back then, I had to be in LA by a certain date for the beginning of grad school. Today, I have no such deadline. My schedule is completely up to me. Which is not to say that I want to be on the road forever, or arrive at my destination a month from now. I simply don’t have to rush. 

For example, when I saw a sign for Lagoon Lake north of Eureka, California, I pulled off the road and drove down a hill to discover this practically empty beach.

Eureka beachEureka beach2Beach north of EurekaBeach north of Eureka2

 

In Redwood National Park, I drove 34 miles in and out of the park just to see this view.

Redwood National Park2Redwood National Park3

 

I pulled over again for this beach, which took my breath away when I saw it from the road.

Northern Cali beachNorthern Cali beach2

 

Several people told me I couldn’t leave Oregon without seeing Crater Lake, so I drove a few hours roundtrip to check it out. It was created thousands (millions?) of years ago when the volcano erupted, blowing the top of the mountain off. Over time, the crater filled with water from rain and snow melt. The little island you see in the middle is apparently a new mini-volcano growing within the old one. One day, maybe millions of years from now, it, too, will blow. 

Crater Lake3Crater LakeCrater Lake2

 

Someone also suggested I check out Florence, a tiny fishing village on the Oregon coast, and the nearby dunes. This is what we did just before driving to Portland. 

Florence OregonOregon duneOregon dune3

Oregon dune2So, yeah, I’m slowing down and soaking it in. I know there is much more ahead, and many unknowns at my final destination, but I’m trying to stay focused on the here and now. I want to always remember this trip, these images, the sounds, the energy of each place I visit. 

It feels like a luxury to slow down, but really, it’s simple. You don’t even have to leave home to do it.

When was the last time you slowed down?

 

 

 


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“I’ll be back.”

Well, this is it. Within minutes of ‘publishing’ this post, Ruby and I are leaving the Bay area, where we’ve been for three days, and heading north for our cross-country adventure (which is starting out more like up-country). I’m both excited and nervous to begin this journey into unchartered territory, literally and figuratively. As I face these huge unknowns, I wanted to take a moment to look back at all the things, places and people that I’m leaving behind (in no particular order).

My apartment. Kaz’s apartment. He lived there for many years before he met me. The place where we fell in love. Where we lived together. Where he died, and where I grieved him. I still remember the first time I stepped into that apartment, I had butterflies in my stomach.

My neighborhood. One mile east of Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in an area called “Little Armenia,” which is adjacent to “Thai Town.” Unlike much of Los Angeles, in this neighborhood everything you need is in walking distance: café, cheap tacos, cheap Thai food, dog supply store, dog washing, dry cleaning, bank, grocery stores (the small mom-and-pop kind and the large chains), gas station, 7/11, post office and so on. Many of these establishments knew me. The mom-and-pop grocery store once let me walk out with a $50 I.O.U. because I didn’t have cash and their credit card machine was down and it was 10 minutes to closing time. I came back the next day with the money. It was such a wonderful interaction. “That’s what it means to be a regular,” a friend told me. 

My neighbors. Believe it or not, I never knew any of my neighbors before getting a dog. But in the past two years, I’ve made some very dear friends on the block, mostly other dog owners. We’ve spent hundreds of hours walking our dogs together, having play dates, drinking vodka and juice on hot summer nights, having heated discussions about all kinds of subjects, and laughing until we cried. My neighbors helped me so much with the move, I honestly don’t know how I would have managed without them. Meeting these folks enriched my life, and I’m very grateful.

My dog’s friends. The summer of ’14 will always be known as the summer Ruby met her first love. His name was Capone. They were exactly the same age, born in the same year, just three days apart. They would run around and wrestle in Capone’s yard for hours. To a stranger’s eye, their rough-and-tumble play might have looked scary. But despite the bared teeth, growls, body slams and neck grips neither ever got hurt. On the contrary, they were perfectly matched in size, stamina, strength and love. Capone’s father Ivan said Capone now has two “tear drop” markings under his left eye and sent me the before and after pics. It’s true. They’re there. That’s love for ya.

My dog’s daycare. A dedicated bunch of super professionals who loved Ruby as if she were their own (and whom she loved just as much). Whenever I left her there, I knew she was in good hands. On her last day, they gave her an entire bag of dog treats for free. 

My dog’s vet. Though across town and a little pricey, the level of service was excellent. Again, she was in good hands.

My dentist. Remember when I came back from Vermont with a loose front tooth? My dentist gave me a brand new smile and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg. He was kind, patient, gentle, thorough and professional. As a bonus, he was also young and handsome. He was my favorite dentist thus far in life. And, as we all know, a good dentist is hard to find. 

My mechanic. In a city like Los Angeles, your mechanic is almost as important as your dentist. I had the same mechanic for 19 years. He was a handsome, middle-aged, white-haired, Persian Israeli man named Eddie. He was like a second father figure, helping me maintain the four cars I’ve owned since moving here. He would always shake his head when I would bring in my ailing vehicle, “Why don’t you bring it to me sooner?” Of course, I brought my car to him before the road trip for a total tune-up and new front brakes. He hugged me goodbye, “Please call me when you arrive. I want to know you got there safely.” That’s a good mechanic.

My therapist. I changed therapists this year and really liked the new one. I liked the old one too. In any case, I’ll miss them both.

My friends. I have the best friends in the world. The only thing that makes leaving slightly less painful is that a few of my closest friends have also left L.A. in the past few years (one just the other week). But I still have close friends in the city, and I will miss them dearly. The good news is a few have promised to visit, and now with social media and Skype, it’s not as difficult to keep in touch. But still.

No list would be complete without mentioning the weather, which is so consistently sunny and pleasant that it’s almost the only thing you can count on in L.A. (other than the traffic). As a friend recently told me, “There is more to life than sunshine.” She’s right. But when I’m shoveling snow in sub-zero degrees I can almost guarantee I’ll be thinking of balmy L.A.

Finally, I will miss my father, who didn’t live in Los Angeles but six hours away. Even though we didn’t see each other more than once or twice a year, it was reassuring knowing he was fairly close. Now, I will be joining my siblings on the east coast. 

I’m sure I’ll miss more things and people, but these are the first things that come to mind. 

As our former governor cum action hero once famously said, “I’LL BE BACK.”

Now it’s time to hit the road.

Los Angeles (view from Griffith Park)

Los Angeles (view from Griffith Park)

 


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Touchstones and Purging

After three weeks of packing, sorting, moving and saying goodbye, Ruby and I are FINALLY on the road. The last time I moved across country was exactly 19 years ago (August 1995). I remember it being hectic, but not quite as massive as this current move from Los Angeles to upstate New York. This moving process has been nothing short of revelatory.

In sorting through journals, letters, cards and photos (many of which pre-date my move to Los Angeles), I revisited past loves, relationships, friendships, as well as periods of grief, mourning, anticipation, travel, professional highs and lows, new beginnings, family milestones and family strife. Some of my friends suggested getting rid of these mementos. “Who needs them? They’re your past! You’re embracing your future!” Another friend reminded me, “There is only now.”

I did throw out a lot, but none of the journals and only a fraction of the letters, cards and photos. As a writer, especially one attempting to write a memoir, I feel like these touchstones are important, like little flash cards of life. This is when you did this. This is how you felt about that. This person loved/hurt/confused/helped you. When I get to NY, I plan to organize some of these items into chronological order. This way I can easily access my original recollections of specific time periods, people and events.

Other things I kept: favorite books, artwork, coffee mugs, office supplies, paperweights, notebooks, DVDs and clothing. I also kept several items of Kaz’s. Some things I plan to give to his family. Other things I plan to hold onto as long as it feels right.

I’m proud to say that I got rid of much, much more — over half of my belongings. Whatever I couldn’t sell, I either donated to a local church or threw down the trash shoot. It felt like a great purge.

Not ironically, within an hour of driving out of Los Angeles I started experiencing body aches, exhaustion, fever and nausea. Was it psychosomatic or something more serious? “Patient checked for Ebola in Sacramento!” a friend texted me. I told myself it was food poisoning. In any case, I couldn’t keep driving. I pulled over in Lost Hills, a tiny, dusty town off the 5 Freeway, and checked into a Motel 6. I slept for 14 hours, waking only once to walk Ruby and puke my guts out.

That was the day before yesterday. I’m feeling better now, and currently in San Francisco visiting my father for his 85th birthday. The road trip officially begins when we leave here this weekend.

I decided to take the Northern route: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York. I’ll be visiting Redwood National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, and many more places. If you have any other suggestions, please chime in. I’ll be blogging the entire trip, and meeting some bloggers along the way.

One more update: the Vegas production gig has been postponed (for the third time). I’m not going to mention it again until they send me a ticket. 🙂

Looking forward to sharing the journey with you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Where Do You Live?

I’m trying to figure out which route to take on the cross-country trip  in August. There are so many sights I’d like to see. On the Southern route, I’d love to swing through the Grand Canyon (which I’ve seen once before) and Monument Valley in Arizona, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, Austin, TX, New Orleans, and take a river tour on the Mississippi (if they allow dogs). I have friends in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. On the Northern Route, I’d love to see Yosemite National Park, visit friends in Southern Oregon, maybe see Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. I also have friends in Minnesota, Chicago, and Pittsburgh.

The move is probably going to be temporary, so I’ll be driving there and back (with several months in between). I would love to meet some fellow bloggers along the way if possible. Would you be interested in meeting me and Ruby? I know that DSWidow is in Wisconsin, LB is in Virginia, and Caitlin Kelly is in New York. Where are the rest of you? Not asking for street addresses, just city and/or state. If you’re not in the U.S., I’d still love to know where you are, but I won’t be able to meet you on the road trip. 🙂

Have you ever driven across the U.S.? Would you recommend I see any particular town or sight?

This is a great big country! I can’t wait to see more of it, and meet some of you.

[mapsoftheworld.com]

[mapsoftheworld.com]

 

 

 

 


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Alive and Well

Hey good people! A quick word to say sorry for the extended absence. All is well on my end. It’s just been a crazy time of too many things happening at once… including multiple classes and a trip to Athens, Georgia! Lovely, small, quaint town, beautiful University of Georgia campus (lots of columned fraternity houses), amazing food, very friendly people. I wanted to check out Atlanta too, but only got to spend a couple of hours there. Next time I’ll go for longer than 2.5 days.

Hope everyone is good. Can you believe the year is almost over? I can’t! 

More soon. Peace.

 


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My Rural Fantasy

When I first arrived in Los Angeles, an eager 24 year old film student, my life fantasy was to make meaningful, financially successful movies that would be nominated for awards and win little gold statues. (Yes, I used to fantasize about my acceptance speech. Every film student does.) These days I have a different fantasy.

I yearn for a life with fewer distractions and more opportunities to dig deep into the things most important to me, and I also yearn for a life with a lower cost of living and a lower need to earn a mountain of money. A rural environment provides all of these things. – http://www.thesimpledollar.com/why-i-prefer-living-rural/

Catskills roadEver since living/writing in Vermont in January of this year, I have fantasized about moving there. If not Vermont, then some other rural environment where there are seasons, real people, animals, open skies, long stretches of road without stop signs or lights, less traffic, and less noise. And not forever, for a year or so. Enough time to detox from 18+ years of living/working in Hollywood, finish writing my memoir (and a couple of other projects), and reacquaint myself with Me.

It could actually happen.

A friend has a spacious, sun-filled, second floor apartment for rent in a big, old house located in the Catskills area of New York State. Two bedrooms, large eat-in kitchen, plus a living room. There’s so much space, I could rollerblade from room to room. There’s so much light, there might be too much light (a problem I’d love to have). It’s 30 minutes from Albany, and 2.5 hours from New York City.

[breezyhillinn.com]

[breezyhillinn.com]

The rent is cheaper than what I pay now and includes utilities. Forget about the cost of moving there for a moment. The cost of living there would be far cheaper than living in Los Angeles. Plus my friend/possible  landlord lives in NYC and only comes to the house every other weekend. So most of the time I would be alone (with my dog), ideal for someone who wants to write all day.

So what’s stopping me? Well, money and fear.

The whole point of the move would be to focus on writing, not to spend ten hours of my day in some office, or in my car commuting to work. If I were to take a year off to go live in a small town, I would live off savings for a few months, then look for part-time work. How realistic this is, I’m not sure. When I was young, I used to do all kinds of work – shovel snow, clean yards, babysit. I even worked as a horse carriage driver, where I had to clean and tack up my horse and carriage before and after a 10-hour shift. (You know you’ve been working an office job for too long when you start reminiscing about shovelling horse manure.)

Horse and Carriage [queenvictoria.com]

Horse and Carriage [queenvictoria.com]

But I wouldn’t mind doing something completely different than what I do now (executive legal assistant), or what I’ve done in the past (production manager, assistant editor, writer/director/producer). Maybe I could be a part-time farmhand, helping to pick crops and/or take care of animals. Or I could run the cash register at a local coffee shop. Or help paint a barn. Or find a way to make money writing (gasp!).

Then there is Fear. What if I get there and hate it? What if I get cabin fever and go crazy? What if the house is haunted? What if I don’t like being alone all the time? What if I still find it hard to concentrate because now it’s too quiet? What if I can’t find any work anywhere, use up all my savings and end up homeless in the Catskills?!

I recently shared my rural fantasy with a friend who’s leaving Los Angeles soon for her hometown of Pittsburgh (for the much more noble reason of being closer to her ailing parents). She thought it sounded like a great idea, “As long as you’re not running away from something. Because if you are, whatever it is will be coming with you.”

Wise words. Obviously, if I were to really do this, I would have to think it through very carefully and come up with a ship-tight plan. Right now I’m still in fantasy mode.

For more insight into the city vs rural debate, click on this cheeky yet informative article by Heather Long and Jessica Reed at theguardian.com.

Heather’s reason #5 to move to the country:

You don’t get suspicious when people are nice to you. People say hello and “how are you” and generally mean it. You go to the grocery store and have a decent chance of seeing at least someone you know. Your doctor actually calls you back the same day you call with a concern. People don’t size you up constantly based upon your job, social status or income. Volunteer work isn’t something you do for your resume. You feel a part of a genuine community, not just one peon out of millions.

Jessica’s reason #3 to move to the city:

The entire world is (almost) on your doorstep. I don’t know about you, but it would be a shame to die on the way to the hospital – or give birth on the side of a road. Which probably won’t happen in the city. You can order anything from online stores and – miracle! – receive it the next day. Museums, galleries, libraries are easily accessible, a lot of them free. And food: enough said. Who likes to have the choice only between a grim pub serving dismal burgers or fish-and-chips and the local Subway branch at the back of a derelict mall?

Have you ever moved from city to country or vice-versa?

[apartmenttherapy.com]

[apartmenttherapy.com]


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The Excitement Never Ends

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, including a motorcycle ride with my old Harley Davidson instructor and a trip to New York City for the Labor Day weekend. I’ll replay the highlights here as best I can.

My first moto ride, almost a year ago

My first moto ride, almost a year ago

To the right is a pic of the first time I rode a motorcycle on my own (not in class), in October 2012. Since it had been so long, I was pretty nervous about getting back on two wheels.

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Everything came back to me easily, and I remembered why I love this new sport. Riding a motorcycle makes me feel more alive than anything else. It is definitely scary, but in a way that exhilerates and keeps me on my toes. It reminds me of Kaz in a visceral way, the closest I can get to his tough but sweet energy. I used to love sitting behind him on a motorcycle. It boosts my energy and confidence through the roof.  I am now ready for the next step – buying my first bike. More about that later.

After that, I went to New York for the weekend, leaving Ruby behind for the first time and miraculously not feeling guilty about it. She stayed with a friend whom she loves, near the beach, in a house with a yard and another older, female pit. No classes, no training, she could sleep and/or play all day. She was on vacation too! And frankly, it was nice to get a break and another reminder: I am more than just this dog’s mom.

To celebrate my first few moments of freedom, I had dinner at Encounter, the spaceship-shaped restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport. If you ever have some time to kill at LAX, this place is worth checking out just for fun.

Encounter exterior

Encounter exterior

Encounter interior

Encounter interior

View from Encounter

You can watch planes take off from inside

I flew the red-eye, so the next morning I saw my father, who had driven across country from San Francisco to NYC in his now infamous, new Porsche.Porsche  At first, he said he wouldn’t let me drive it because he didn’t trust my driving. I was actually prepared to accept this, but about half an hour later, he changed his mind!Driving the porsche

Words cannot express how nervous I was behind the wheel. Not only is this car less than a month old and (as I was reminded repeatedly) worth A LOT of money, but it’s also REALLY powerful and loud. I don’t think I ever got over 30 miles per hour. But what a smooth ride. I definitely have to go visit him in SF soon to take it for another spin. Preferrably on a highway.

Once my father left, I spent the rest of the time with my sister and her family in and around Brooklyn. I was there for the re-opening block party of Sunny’s Bar, a dive bar in Red Hook that dates all the way back to the 1890s and was almost destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  

Sunny's bar 2

I saw a performance by Syrian musician Omar Souleyman in Pioneer Works, a large gallery space in Red Hook owned by artist Dustin Yellin. I haven’t danced that hard in a long time, and am definitely now a fan of Mr. Souleyman’s.

Omar Souleyman in Central Park, 2011 [photo source: David Andrako]

Omar Souleyman in Central Park, 2011 [photo source: David Andrako]

Below are two pics I took of the large Dustin Yellin piece that was standing in the lobby of Pioneer Works. From the front it looks like a 3D statue, but from the side you see that it’s actually a multi-layered glass structure.

Dustin Yellin piece (front view)

Dustin Yellin piece (front view)

Dustin Yellin piece (side view)

Dustin Yellin piece (side view)

I had drinks in the Red Hook Bait &Tackle bar, which looks like this: 

Bait and Tackle interior

And brunch with fellow blogger Caitlin Kelly of Broadside at the Spice Market in Manhattan, which looks like this:

SpiceMarket interior

I was both excited and nervous to meet Caitlin. A) I’d never left the matrix to meet another blogger before, and had no idea what to expect from a real, live person. B) Right before our scheduled time, I discovered that I’d left both my ATM card and my driver’s license in a different purse. Yes, I had driven to the meeting, in my brother-in-law’s car.

Again, turns out I had nothing to fear. Caitlin and I ate, drank and gabbed for a total of 8 hours; the one credit card I did have covered my share of the bill; and I didn’t get stopped by the police on the way home. Very lucky indeed, since I ended up taking pictures on and around the Brooklyn Bridge.

Driving Brooklyn BridgeDriving Brooklyn Bridge 2

One screening of The Butler and marathon session of Project Runway  (all of Season 7) with my 11 year old niece later, and it was time to go home.

Unfortunately, that IS where the excitetment ends, as Los Angeles does in no way compare to NYC. Still, it’s good to be back with Ruby and back in our routine. Here’s hoping I can ride the momentum of this trip for another few months, or at least until I get a motorcycle.

[in response to the Daily Post: Tell us about the last thing you got excited about — butterflies-in-the-stomach, giggling, can’t-wait excited]

What was the last thing that got you can’t-wait excited?