The Calm Before

I recently passed my one-year anniversary of moving to Seattle and I’m getting close to the one-year mark for my job at the Triple Door as well. So much has happened in a year – most importantly, I feel like I have made progress in my personal progression and faced down my boogie men, in some ways.

Wednesday we had a gathering in Volunteer Park in honor of Sarah’s impending departure from the city she has called home for three years now. A group of her friends gathered by the blooming dahlias and spread out wine and cheese and fruit and other yummy things on picnic tables. We drank rosé in the fading light and the waning heat of an August evening and released biodegradable balloons with messages of love and well-wishing. The leftover balloons were full of helium, which we sucked after dark, in a circle, singing snippets of songs with our high pitched voices and giggling.

The summer feels like it is winding down already, though we should have another month of sunny days, if we’re lucky.

The beginning of the month was hot and hazy, the skies over Seattle filled with smoke from the wildfires raging in Canada and Montana. On the positive side, the haze made the days less hot and kept things in the 80s instead of the 90s as predicted. It coincided with Seafair, which I recall from last year, when I was still staying with my aunt and uncle in Magnolia and Seattle felt brand new.

This year the Blue Angels roared over my tiny house in Beacon Hill and for three days in a row they made themselves known. After the Fourth of July this year, I’ve realized how much I dislike patriotic displays of war prowess.

Sarah and I have taken good advantage of our time together in Seattle. Since our outing to Victoria, we have gone to The Can Can – a cabaret in Pike Place Market – and returned a couple of times to Capitol Cider for our favorite jazz jam.We even went to Shakespeare in the Park and checked out Rumbar – a place she’d been longing to try.

Tonight we will go to the Triple Door for a cabaret singer I like called Lady Rizo and tomorrow night, Sarah will be on a flight to Columbia.

I sympathize with her feelings of inner conflict – it is hard to leave a job where you love your role and the security and the fact that you’re needed and appreciated. Even if that job isn’t what you ultimately want out of life, it is the end of a certain chapter. I’ve got a bit more time before I’ll similarly be saying goodby to things and this city, assuming all goes well with my visa. So far, so good.

Seattle has been an interesting place to live. I’ve grown to love my co-workers and the environment at the Triple Door, which is such a cool space and which has inspired me in many ways. The people I work with are – in the best possible way – freaks and misfits, in-between travelers, pierced, tattooed, rainbow-haired rebels and youths. Actors, musicians, writers, dancers. There are benefits to working in the service industry. The people are a big one.

But there’s been nothing to hold me here. Now that Sarah is leaving I feel my ties unbinding. I like being here now. But in my mind, I’m shifting. I do love my little cottage, still, and my patio is comfortable and calming, white spots of light dance reflected from the lazy motions of a string of mirrors. My tomatoes grow and peppers are sprouting, cucumbers fattening and basil in bloom.

I think increasingly of Erika, who had such a charming and effortless garden in California. I wish I had moved to the west coast when she was still alive – wouldn’t it be nice if I could simply drive somewhere to see her? Just a day’s drive away in Napa. But her garden is no longer hers, her condo still features the bathroom tiles mom helped Erika install – no doubt some other traces of her still abide, but fainter and fainter.

Her car sits unmoving on the side of my street as I wait for final confirmation of my studies in London. As I hold onto her Rav4, because it is still, every so slightly, part of her. She put most of those dents and scrapes there; she wrote about her little car in her journal. It will be the end of an era to say goodbye to it. Six years have passed so quickly I can scarcely believe it when I see the years the stretch back to our last trip together in Brazil. To fill out my visa application, I had to list all my travels for the last ten years, searching through old emails for dates, reliving the trip to France when I started this blog, glimpsing emails from lovers past, not read in years, but still surprisingly fresh. Did I come back to New York for him and was it a mistake? Am I going to London for the right reasons?

Erika once studied in London for a semester. My mom and I visited her there when I was 17 – another trip abroad I recalled in applying for my visa. For a city I am not overly fond of, many of my life’s turning point moments seem to center on it. Perhaps living there will be better than I previously thought. Meanwhile, I am looking for a houseboat to live on like Anais Nin. I love having a charming living space – it really improves my quality of life. Such a first-world thing to say. Lol!

I’m looking forward to the eclipse in a few days. I always adore the moon and her mysterious movements. I’ve never seen a solar eclipse before and though I’m not driving out of my way to the “path of totality,” I think it will be 90% visible from Seattle.

Sarah will be gone by then. And about a week later my parents will come visit and then the final countdown begins.  Looking forward to seeing what the future holds and playing my piano as much as possible before I have to let it go.

One last note, as Burning Man approaches and mom and I have discussed what sort of shrine to burn for Erika this year: I recently ended up at a park watching a bunch of grown people doing a very fun and whimsical dance in a children’s wading pool at Volunteer Park. I didn’t know it then, but I recently learned that the performance was to honor the last wishes of a dying artist who lived on Vashon Island. She helped plan the music and choreography and costumes and then these people who loved her came together and performed a joyful, magical tribute.

I’m really glad I went. Joyful dancing is the best answer for just about anything, it seems.

Love and miss,

Kira

 

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Independence

It is hard to believe we are already half way through 2017! Time does indeed move fast and each beautiful day lately is sunnier and warmer than the last.

The last weekend is worthy of writing about. Friday and Saturday evenings were spent, comme d’habitude, at the Triple Door. We had a fun campy burlesque show there (literally summer camp-themed acts).

On Sunday I had the day to do laundry and tidy up the house and my little garden patch before going to see one of my favorite bands from high school, Ween. They’re such consummate musicians and I’d hoped to see them last year – even had a ticket – but then my companion for the show ditched out and I wasn’t prepared to go it alone at a massive NYC venue. This time, I met up with my friend Peter and a group of his Ween-loving friends at his place in the International District (Seattle’s mishmash of China/Japan/Korea etc towns). Then we piled into his vintage Chevette and drove out across the great Lake Washington and to Marymoore Park, shrouded in trees of deep soft green. The sun sets late here in the summer and it glinted through the looming pines throughout the show. I sipped rosé and enjoyed the show immensely.

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It was over rather early and we all headed back to the International District for a little karaoke.

Or rather, a lot of it. I rolled out my greatest hits, as the place was empty and turns at the mic were frequent.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home, I was rather toasted, as dinner never happened. I say unfortunately, because as I climbed up into my loft, I lost my balance and fell from the ladder to my carpeted concrete floor. I knew instantly that I’d hurt myself, but I was so tired that I just crawled up to bed and hoped for the best. But the next morning, Sarah and I were going to Victoria, B.C. where much walking would be required.

The drive to Port Angeles was just a couple of hours, but I was hungover and carsick and once I looked down and my phone had butt dialed an ex-boyfriend to whom I’ve not spoken in 5 years! Christ, that took the blood from my face!

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Sarah got me an ACE bandage and I wrapped up my foot and hobbled as best I could onto the ferry where I was again wracked by nausea from the rocking of the ferry. Finally, we went to the upper deck, which was much more pleasant and I napped until I felt better and we disembarked in Victoria.

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Beautiful Legislative building – lights up at night like a carnival

It is a cute little port town, both European and American in feel. We visited the Natural History Museum and then went for drinks at the Empress Hotel (they serve a high tea there for $70 a person) – we got rosé and nachos! It was the first and last food I was able to eat for a while!

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Wooly Selfie with Sarah

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Rosé at the Empress

We took a cab to our Airbnb, a cute little apartment with a cat named Wednesday in residence. After a shower and a change of clothes, I was ready to hobble around some more!

We meandered south, sipping some wine Sarah had brought along, thoughtfully. It always makes me think of Erika when I drink wine al fresco from paper cup or water bottle. We crossed through the little Chinatown (one street, spangled with red lanterns) and looked for an open place, but many we tried were closed on Mondays.

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Finally we went to an Italian restaurant, very quaint, and they served very interesting food, but I lost my appetite again and wasn’t able to eat much. Frustrating!

After dinner, we tried briefly to find a bar to inhabit, but we decided to go home and cuddle the cat instead (not a euphemism).

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In the morning, we walked toward downtown for breakfast on Antique Row (and of course some book and antique shopping) before walking to a Victorian copy of a Scottish castle for the local coal and iron barons, the Craigdarroch family.

We spent the afternoon learning about the chateau and its long history as a music school and military hospital after it was no longer a private house.

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Then it was time to get back to the ferry. We caught a cab and made it just in time for boarding. I felt much better on this crossing and my foot wasn’t too bad. We got back to Port Angeles and then decided to check out Port Townsend for dinner.

There was another fabulous bookstore to be explored – full of treasures (and I was reading aloud to Sarah from a book of Joseph Campbell’s lectures about the Goddess as we drove, so we were quite inspired). Dinner was unfortunate again, as I ordered something far too rich and regretted it – it was drowned in a blue cheese sauce that overwhelmed me and killed my timid appetite again. Damn my car sickness!

Sarah and I made it back to Seattle just in time for darkness to set in and the fireworks to be set off! It sounded like bombs going off over my head and made me stressed and annoyed until it finally ceased. Ah, sweet silence.

I am still waiting to hear back about getting into school in London, but I am already looking forward to missing out entirely on the 4th of July celebrations. Not my bag atall. I’ve never been crazy about the English climate, but if I can handle Seattle, I guess I can try London!

Meanwhile, it was back to work for me yesterday, and luckily, my foot feels much better, thought it still definitely stings a bit and I might need to take it to a doctor. The best news is that Peter let me borrow his Chevette while my car is broken (if I don’t go to school, I might as well get Erika’s car fixed, especially as it isn’t likely to sell for much). So much up in the air at present.

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The Chevette

My garden is growing and I divided up my baby lettuces so now it is survival of the fittest. They are from a package of seed (from Walmart, no less) which once belonged to  Erika. I’ve had them for the last six years, though I never had anywhere to plant them before. Lo and behold, they’re growing!

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My sprouting garden

Strawberries were ripening more and more each day, enough to get a handful for breakfast each morning, but now they are slowing down.

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Despite my foot, I walked to my local farmers market on Wednesday and brought home fresh raspberries, blueberries, apricots, carrots and flowers to brighten up my little home.

My landlord is finally clearing out some of his art from the “groovy cottage” as he calls it – it was jam packed with objects and paintings and postcards when I moved in. Not that I minded – our tastes are pretty similar. But it is certainly more spacious- feeling in here, despite the piano!

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For last night’s full moon in Capricorn, I set all my crystals out for a sun and moon bath.

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Today, I met up with Sarah around noon and we got dolled up for a Steampunk Promenade around Green Lake with strangers! It was right up our alley, since we like playing dress-up! I’d say we both did a great job of finding Victorian-looking get-ups on short notice. We met people and drank tea and ate goodies in a lovely breezy afternoon, dressed like weirdos!

Mom and dad are planning to drive up to see me in early September, and I look forward to what adventures we might have!

By then, I will be without Sarah in Seattle 😦 What will I do?

Well, time will tell. All for now,

Love and miss,

Kira

Summer At Last!

Lately the days have been stacking up onto each other in layers of sunshine and blue skies at last, after a long and rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest – my first outside of the East Coast in nearly a decade. The flowers are still making their extended spring displays, popping up in turns like fireworks in a well choreographed display of purple, yellow, magenta, white, lavender, and pink. The gardens around my cottage are in bloom and I harvest flowers to decorate the house.

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I still sometimes get snatches of the city in my mind’s eye. Familiar corners pop up as if I might see them again soon. I miss the subway and the Beauty Bar and pizza by the slice. But I also think fondly of things and times and people from years past in the city – not so much great loves, but incidental friends – my time working in the design department at my catering company, my old roommate and apartment in Williamsburg. But both have moved on. My old room is gone and Josh moved to Paris. The gas station right outside my window will persist no doubt, its owner tromping about with badly dyed hair and matching red tank top and shorts, gold crucifix glowing from the forest of his chest hair. That corner bodega I used to visit, owned by Yemeni men – I wonder about them and how they are doing. I miss all of it in a way. That French cafe down the street with the open mic where I met my North Carolinian friends.

The years pass swiftly – it all seems so recent.

But here I sit on my little porch in Seattle, the sound of planes resonating above me – accelerating engines echo from elsewhere, but it is otherwise quiet except the sound of Teri Gross’ voice on the radio.

I cut my hair recently – in part to fix the layers which got screwed up by someone else. But I was also ready for something new. So I gave myself long bangs – or fringe, as the English have it.

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Things are really shaping up in my tiny house, which is such an absolute pleasure to live in, especially now that the rains have stopped and the sugar ants which invaded me over the winter have left me alone (encouraged by poison and some intense caulking sessions around the cottage). I just bought a little device called a HooToo NanoRouter which is tiny indeed and has solved my one persistent issue: weak wifi. Now I have a solution which allows me to use my little laptop on the porch or wherever without constantly refreshing the connection. It is also highly transportable and the sort of thing I might have dreamed of while traveling in years past.

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It is hard to believe, however, that nearly a year has passed since I got to Seattle. I guess the fact that I didn’t settle down in one spot till January made it seem like I had recently arrived. But from three months here to 10 months here has gone by in a blur!

I have been playing music – my piano and of course the guitars in my life. Trying to get back to writing songs, which seem to have been hard for me after working on my memoir for so long. It’s been nice to start writing in my journal again and learning songs on the piano after not having one for years is such a pleasure! I am so glad I bought the darn thing, or rather, paid to have it brought to me! I learned Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe When I Fall In Love” and Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” – therapy songs of power and joy.

I guess I have realized – or perhaps admitted – that I have been depressed. I haven’t put that word on it till recently, perhaps because I am finally starting to come out the other side of it. I hope. I don’t think I’ve been truly, deeply depressed since I was a teenager, though I did experience a time in college when I was very anxious. And my anxiety does always seem to be centered on the topic of love. I get squirmy and rather nervous around relationship. Very fight or flighty. I seem to search out psychologically troubled people, or they respond to me – probably both. I have to at least ask how that is reflected in me.

One aspect of my low spirits has been increased anxiety around my creativity – song-writing specifically. It’s funny how something can flow so effortlessly at times and suddenly be stanched. But I think I know what happened: I put my heart in a song – all of my love and talent and spontaneity. But it did not win me what I wanted. I’ve written songs since, of course. But the problem with writing from your heart is that it sometimes feels like wallowing. So when things didn’t work out with someone I’d thought longingly of for years, I didn’t feel like writing about it. I couldn’t. I was exhausted by grief. For my sister, my lovers, myself. I couldn’t face writing my sadness into songs and then having them in my brain as evidence of how wretched I felt.

Anyway, the point is not to go on about depression, but to say that I think perhaps I am starting to feel better. Though I loved New York and miss it in some ways, I am happy to be out of there and living a different life. Happy to be considering my next steps. I’m applying to a program in London and perhaps I’ll also go to Mexico at some point – especially if I don’t get into my London thing. I hate to think of leaving my little casita so soon – and I also enjoy the Triple Door and the friends I have been making there. But I am not sure I have found anything – or anyone – to stay here for. Once my dear Sarah has vamoosed, will I feel at sea in Seattle? Who’s to say, but I recall how strange New York seemed without my dear Nora. I do so appreciate having close friends nearby. In the absence of a reliable male partner, my girlfriends have been my closest friends and partners. Companions of heart and intellect. My sisters.

For now, we are still together and Seattle is at its most beautiful and verdant, the gardens all over the city are full of flowers and plants strange to me, mixed in, of course, with recognizable things. Strawberries are ripening in the patch of earth I weeded out and I planted two types of basil last week and today, a third, plus two kinds of tomatoes, some pickling cucumbers, Thai chilies, and lettuce. Hooray for growing things!

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Last week I went for a hike up to Rattlesnake Mountain in one of the first truly glorious days of the year. We puffed and sweated all the way to the top for the big payoff: views of the valley below, Rattlesnake Lake and tree-covered foothills stretching out for miles in the distance.

On the weekend, I had a rare Saturday off and went to the Folklife Festival in Seattle’s City Center.  We had a fun evening, drinking beer and listening to music before the festival ended and we went to a park for more beer and then walked up to Kerry Park for a view from the hillside of Queen Anne, giving a gorgeous tableau of skyline and Space Needle and the Sound.

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The cherry blossoms are done blooming, but other flowers and plants still take their turn to blossom in yards and at roadside parks. I do like all the green things growing in this Emerald City.

I’ve put this blog off for so long, I think I’ll wrap it up!

Love and miss,

K

Sisters in Seattle

I was sad upon leaving Sarasota in January: sad to say goodbye to my family and sad because I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Skye over my two weeks there. With a continent between us and only a once-a-year reunion, it was enough to make me tear up when it was time to fly out.

So Skye booked a trip to come out to Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately, Florida in March is much nicer weatherwise than Seattle, but at least it didn’t snow!

I picked her up on Friday night and we had plans to go out to a fancy club (her former favorite past time) but she was tired and after we came home and drank some pink bubbles, we instead went to Pioneer Square and met up with the fella I’ve been seeing at the bar where Nirvana apparently played their first show: the Central Saloon. It’s got a kind of seedy old school feel and I introduced my sister to my favorite cheap local beer in a can (the equivalent of PBR or Gansett on the East Coast), Rainier, usually served in tallboys. We had a couple and headed home at a decent hour, her day having been very long.

Saturday was spent exploring Pike Place Market and the shops on Post Alley, shopping for souvenirs and checking out the funky stalls and shops. Then we moved on to Pioneer Square, where we found some South Indian food (miracle of miracles!) for lunch and then did an underground tour.

In the olden days of Seattle, the downtown sloped off toward the Sound in a way that meant the streets were often inundated by the tide shifts and roads had massive potholes, large enough to lose a horse in! Logs cut from the steep hills above were skidded down to the water on what was colloquially called Skid Road. After a fire destroyed the city, they decided to build up the low lying areas and diminish the slope of the hill, but in the meantime, they built new buildings with two first floors: one for the interim before the ground was raised, and the second floor also equipped with a front door and storefront windows in preparation for the day when the new streets would be constructed.

We had hoped to dine at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, but it was all booked up, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the gift shop and then went to the bar at the Edgewater Hotel, which I didn’t realize was made famous by The Beatles and Zappa.

We met up with Sarah and went out dancing at Havana till we were done, then we followed Sarah to her salsa dancing club and watched her cut a rug in her element there.

We didn’t have much left on our list by Sunday, but we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory and met up with Sarah for dinner and drinks. Somehow, I neglected to take Skye to the place where I work, The Triple Door, and instead we went to a place called Vito’s with live music and a swanky vibe.

Skye left the next afternoon and we made a few last stops before I took her to the airport to return to Florida and her family there.

I went back to work and back to trying to earn some moolah to make up for all we spent on our adventures.

I’m finally starting to feel ready to play music out again, after a few years of being rather retreated from the limelight. And I am trying to put my heart out on the market again, though it is hard to trust total strangers! Spring has started to unfurl her tentative shoots and sprouts and I again celebrated the Persian New Year, Nowruz. I had the day off, so I went shopping for the essentials: hyacinths, apples, dried fruit, an orange to float in a bowl of water. I found some fake pastel eggs at Target (perfect because I’m not that into real eggs lately) and Sarah and I each painted one for the hast seen table, which we set on my piano.

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The Nowruz spread on my piano!

Skye’s ex-husband brought back this amazing collapsing basket from Afghanistan and we used that to display several of the traditional items on the table: walnuts, garlic and figs. Sarah found us some sumac and I had some sprouting lentils ready.

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Sarah found a perfect recipe for a soup of lentils with pasta and spinach, combined with a yogurt and mint sauce – a traditional dish for the New Year in Iran. It came out really yummy, if I do say so myself!

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It was nice to have someone to celebrate the festival with instead of doing it alone. Funny to think what I was doing last year at this time: in Brooklyn, in the snow on the first day of Spring. And now here I await the awakening in the Pacific Northwest.

I love my tiny house, though it has recently been inundated with sugar ants from all sides. They seem to have decided to nest in the walls and crawl in to bug the shit out of me. Literally. God, they’re on me now. Die ants. Die. Sigh. What have they driven me to?

The sun shines weakly through the crack in my door, but it’s welcome – the end of winter at long last. Hopefully with the end of the rains my ant problem will also dissipate like the grey skies and the shadows of the past. I don’t want to let bitterness creep into my heart. I have always been something of a nostalgic, but I don’t want to be so backward looking that I neglect the present or the future. I sometimes feel that danger. So I must keep creating and moving and loving. Lately I keep thinking of the Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” This spring, I am garlanding my heart with green. I want to release the old flames that’ve burnt up and burned out. Those people I loved, those shining lights were sparks, not the sun itself.

I realized recently that my trip to the netherworld of myself and my psyche has scraped away so many layers of my external being that I must rebuild. It is a marvelous chance and a massive undertaking to recreate oneself. I have done it before, but it’s been a while. I recall how it feels. The pain and tenderness of new eyes, new skin. We Scorpions shed our shells to stay alive – to grow. Perhaps that’s partly why I’ve stayed single so long. It has been a decade of transformation for me. And it is hard to keep anyone close at such times.

But of course I don’t really ever plan to stop transforming. So here’s hoping I learn how to be with someone while I change!

All for now –

Love and miss,

Kira

Snow Days

I need a Carrie Fisher in my life. Specifically, Carrie Fisher as she appeared in “When Harry Met Sally” – the one who tries to set you up and keeps a rolodex of men-folk to send you on dates with.

I fell in love with “When Harry Met Sally” as a teenager and watched it again and again. It was a sort of security blanket: an affirmation that love, indeed, exists. Teenagerdom was hard on me, romantically and otherwise, but somehow I was comforted to watch these youngsters transform into adults, friends, and lovers. That love would eventually find me in New York City, on New Year’s Eve – or at some other place and time – I was certain.

It was a thing I never doubted – my favorite mystery to puzzle over. Whom would I find –  who was meant to find me??? Right at the culmination of my Saturn return, I thought I found out the answer. I practically buzzed when I was around him. I glowed, I smiled, I was happy. He saw me, in some ways I think more clearly than I saw myself. Observed things I took for granted in my persona. I wonder what he saw but didn’t say.

But even while I dreamed that this was “the one,” unseen wheels turned, lies and unspoken things spun out and around us, filled my head with visions of what we could be as I spun like a top, off to Europe with my living sister and then to Burning Man to memorialize my departed sister, thinking that surely I’d be returning from the trip to claim my love prize at long last.

Of course it wasn’t to be. Hard to believe that was four years ago already. Time passes swiftly and maybe I stood still in New York a bit when I came back around. I immersed myself in a new life and it was bearable, though I feel I got it flipped backward. I wish I’d lived that free life in my twenties instead of working in offices all that time. I just thought too conventionally, I suppose. It’s taken me time to break free. C’est la vie!

Anyway.

This year I missed Christmas with my family for only the second time in my life. The first was 2006, when I was in India. Then I spent Christmas on a beach in Kerala. This year I was working a Nutcracker-themed burlesque show on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. For the holiday, Sarah and I had planned to go to a local hotel in a converted school. Our friend Marie joined us and we had a yummy dinner in the hotel restaurant and then proceeded to drink various drinks at the various bars on the premises.

Unfortunately, the saltwater swimming pool was closed, due to a fog which formed in the enclosure.

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Sarah, Marie, et moi.

We had fun, regardless.

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At McMenamins – priestess style

I spent New Year’s Eve packing my things to move, at last, to my permanent residence in a small converted garage – a cottage or tiny home – with a lofted bed and my own four walls. I was excited about the change, but hadn’t intended to have so little time to move my things between houses. Though I travel light, I bought some furniture that made this move a bit more intensive than the last. I finished moving what I could, met a friend out for a glass of bubbles at midnight, an drove home in rain that was turning to snow for an hour of sleep.

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Spangled for New Year

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With Marie on NYE

Early on New Year’s Day, I awoke and got a cab through two inches of freshly fallen snow to the airport. Despite the early hour, there was mucho traffico on the route, so the driver dropped me off near the train to the terminals rather than waiting in the backed-up lanes.

It took our plane three hours to take off, due to the unexpectedly inclement weather. Fortunately, I don’t have claustrophobia and none of the 6 babies onboard freaked out. By the time I got to DFW, my connections had been missed, so I had the pleasure of hanging out in the airport for several hours. At least there was booze!

When I finally arrived at Tampa it was after 10 pm, but still mom and dad and my sister Skye all came to pick me up at the airport, though it was past their bedtimes. The weather was especially warm this year, ominous, but not something I minded terribly after the sunless winter of Seattle (I say, a bit unfairly, as the sun shines here even as I type).

I had nearly two weeks in Florida to spend time with family and friends. Skye’s kids were with their dad for the weekend when I arrived, but we went to pick them up and I got to spend a few hours with them before heading down to see my grandmother in Sarasota.

Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s

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Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s

I was pleased to see that Cam was enjoying the keyboard I gave to him and his sister just over four years ago. Cate’s bedroom had blossomed into unicorns and rainbows. She looks remarkably like my sister Erika, though my mother and I both noted that Cate is solid muscle where Erika was bird-like and featherlight.

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Catelin and her Aunt Kira

Mom and dad and I (accompanied by Spanky the spotted hound) headed down to Sarasota to spend the week with my grandmother, Mutti, now in her 94th year. We got in time at the beach interspersed with dog walks and and hanging around the house with Mutti.

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Daddio

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The back yard looked verdant and well-tended, as usual. A new tenant took over my former stomping grounds in the studio above the carport, so I no longer had my separate space to occupy. My happy place. But one benefit of arriving after the holidays was that an actual bed was available for me to sleep in – not one of the ancient twin beds my mother and her siblings slept in in the 50’s.

I got in some good time with Lara and her entourage of dogs – and John, my oldest friend in Sarasota aside from Lara. I love being with those beloved friends from my past. It makes me feel grounded. Unfortunately, the passage of time seems to remove once-close friends, one by one. So many of those who affected me the most are no longer in my life at all. Just last year I reconnected with an old friend and was heartened to think that sometimes the shedding works the other way around and friends come back. But then it all went sideways or backwards. Anyway, I realized I’d been wrong to think that this was a renewal. It was a farewell.

I feel I’ve really said all of the farewells that need saying at this stage. I’m exhausted by it, and frankly, a bit scared to go out into the world of people again. Funny, there is this trend in the last ten years or so toward “positive thinking” among the American zeitgeist. Suddenly everyone advises us to just be positive and ask the universe for what we want and it will “manifest.” As someone who has tried to increasingly put this notion into practice, I can tell you that life does not work quite so simply. Perhaps for some, it does. They manifest the future as they want it to be.

Somehow, for me, envisioning happiness does not make it so. People change unexpectedly. I am not so inclined to change, emotionally anyway. But then, our patterns in relation to love and emotions are formed very early. In the last several years, I have explored my own inner psyche and early emotional formation. Indeed, I’ve found that the roots of my own attachment tendencies are deeply mangled.

Looking into the abyss of one’s own dark places is heavy work. And, as I have learned, it is a journey one must take alone.

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With mom and Spanky at the St. Pete beach before my flight back to Seattle

I sleep well in the lofted bed and I finally have a piano – since I don’t have any stairs to cramp my style! I found one for free on Craigslist and just paid a couple of guys to deliver it. My landlord has lived in this little cottage for years, so it is full of his things, but I packed away what didn’t please me to make room for the piano and my other rearrangements.

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I can’t wait till summer comes, but meanwhile, the cottage is cozy and it was kind of enchanting when it snowed yesterday and doused the garden and my bamboo with white.

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Snowy yard

I stayed home and painted, avoiding the Superbowl hullaballoo on Sunday, though I was grateful I went to Trader Joe’s before the snow so I could nestle in and paint yesterday.

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Part of my cute little house

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Sunflower watercolor

Yesterday evening, I met up with my dear friend Sarah at Capitol Cider, where I sang with the improv jazz jam that happens every Monday night.

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At Cap Cider with my Saddah Diva

Sarah and I have been doing a good job, if I do say so myself, of getting out into the world. We have been to live music, storytelling and theatre since I’ve been back, in addition to some yoga and dancing.

And I feel like maybe – just maybe – I’ve been able to make it through the darkness and I’m emerging out the other side, despite my lack of a Carrie Fisher to drag me back out there. It can’t rain all the time, or so said my favorite 90’s goth movie, The Crow (to mix my movie metaphors).

Working as a waiter in a fast-paced theatre environment is stimulating and living in my tiny house for cheap rent is a dream.

So far 2017 is a good year, despite our disgusting political situation, which is barely worth writing about.

Love and miss,

Kira

Homage to a part of her

The other day as I left the house, the sun cast a rainbow onto the sky, arcing high over trees and mountains and bruise gray clouds. Rainbows are my sister’s calling card, ever since we drove into one, chased it into the rain on the highway heading back East from California the day after Erika’s memorial. Her little kitty Rosie was in the car with us, tucked scared and dazed in her little carrier next to me.

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Rainbow in Seattle – Erika’s calling card.

After I spotted this recent rainbow, I called my mother and she told me that she had just been in the process of writing an email to tell us that Rosie died the day before.

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Sister Skye cuddling Rosie in Erika’s condo the week she died.

They had found her curled peacefully outside in her little enclosure, where it had been a warm day and she she looked like she had been napping in the sun.

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Plugged in to recharge!

Rosie was a troubled kitty. She was a lover – a tiny Siamese with creamy short fur and delicate diamond marking on her brow – but she was also a pisser – and shitter! My first encounter with her was when I stayed with Erika in San Fran in 2007. Rosie had gone into my suitcase and peed and pooped on top of all my things, befouling the lot of it. Her gaze registered nothing but sometimes I wondered if there wasn’t a shadow of defiance hidden behind her cloudy blue eyes.

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Rosie squinting happily.

But Erika loved her. And she was cute. Erika had such patience for an animal who might otherwise have been euthanized long ago. She was traumatized by an apartment fire before she came into Erika’s possession and we’re not sure now how old she was. She outlived her savior by a bit more than five years. She lived with me in New York for six months before I decided I needed to leave New York and Rosie returned to my parents in Arkansas.

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Erika with our niece Catelin and Mojo the cat.

I loved her, but her proclivities were maddening and my cat allergies were unfortunately raging. Still, it was like having something of Erika with me – this creature she’d loved and nurtured. I took her to the vet and bought her nice cans of food. I bought her a water fountain and mixed canned pumpkin in with her food. She often crawled under the covers of my bed or curled on the feather puff at the foot of it. She didn’t poo or pee at first, but then she stayed with my cousins over Christmas and pooped on my cousin while she was sleeping. That was the end of the good behavior.

She had a blissful period of living in Erika’s and my old room before she befouled it so terribly that she was banished to the basement, where they furnished her with cushions and all the amenities, plus an enclosed outdoor area. Her first owner had declawed her, so she was pretty defenseless. I know she missed beds, though. Whenever I was home, I brought her up to sleep with me and she was on her best behavior (though my cat, Ivy, who also lives with my parents, was not amused by her presence).

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My little Ivy kitty curling up for me.

She pounced and padded and rolled around on the bed and her enjoyment was palpable. When I brought her to the porch if it was sunny out, she only wanted to be in the bedroom! She had simple desires: a soft bed and yummy food and sweet cuddles.

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Erika was always sympathetic to the needs of the voiceless animals. She had such a heart full of love. I’m glad we kept Rosie the problem kitty, in the spirit of my kindhearted sister, who sent a rainbow to remind us she’s not gone – she’s just existing differently than before.

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Erika and Rosie forever in my heart.

My dearest sister is now riding the skies with her sweet celestial Rosie. She’s already a part of the tattoo on my shoulder, held in Erika’s arms. I think this year I’ll have her colors darkened when I get my tattoo touched up.

Love and cuddles,

Kira

 

Birthday Wish

It’s been a weird stretch of time for me, since September when I moved into my temporary but cozy home here in Seattle. I’m staying with a friend-of-a-friend in a house south of the city about 15 minutes (with no traffic, which is rare). It’s just what I was craving – a fireplace, a yard, laundry in the basement and cheaper than New York. I’d thought before moving to Seattle that it would automatically  be cheaper than Brooklyn, because, really, how could it not be? Imagine my surprise then, when I arrived to find a city with rents skyrocketing from the recent tech boom.

It was through the grace of my good friend Jenna, whom I met traveling in Rajasthan ten years ago (! My, how time flies), that I met Jenn, my housemate. Jenn is very fond of rosé, as am I, and I got to enjoy the back yard in full fruit – a massive grape vine full of purple grapes that hang in heavy clumps, more than we can eat, even with the birds and squirrels helping. I harvested some, as well as some leaves of the right size to make dolmas (dolmades, as the Greek say).

Jenn has clear blue-green eyes, not unlike mine, but bluer where mine go green. She’s blond and pretty, which makes an interesting impression on people, because she probably defies most presuppositions. I like people with hidden depths. We have spent several long chilled evenings by the fire, drinking wine and chatting, or sitting on the patio on pretty days. Traversing the beginning of September is always somewhat challenging, and then it’s gone and October is nearly done, now, too. But not before my birthday.

I hate to say it, but I think I’ve come to dread it. It isn’t my fondest anniversary, in fact. Age is immaterial – it isn’t the issue. Aging is better than the alternative! But since 2014 my birthday has become something of a painful reminder, where it used to be rather a joyous occasion. I loved my sleepovers and parties, dinners and gatherings.

I have to admit to melancholy. Maybe it is momentary – a sense that I was so close to having what I wanted. A sense of the passing of time. I’ve been immersing myself in ancient history of late. Somehow I’m as passionate about it as I am about this sham of an election, but I can’t even get into that here.

Funny, I just teared up a bit, listening to my new favorite local radio station, KBCS. And then the song “Can’t Cry Anymore” by Sheryl Crow comes on, taking me back to high school when I would drive around to her CD – I think I had the single. When you grow up in the styx (sticks?), you take what you can find.

I wonder if everyone has that one person they thought they would find eventually? That ideal person you kind of feel out there. I thought I met mine, 10 years ago or so.

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Fresh-faced moi on the train in India, heading north to Rajasthan with my three French boys, met on the set of the Bollywood film.

In fact,  I remember walking around in Mumbai, flooded with the feeling like I was going to meet the love of my life. I had no real idea who it could be, since I didn’t know anybody in Mumbai, but I guess you never know who you’ll meet before you meet them. That is the kind of magic of other people.

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The Bollywood recruiter who hired me for my first gig.

Someone did enter my life, the very next day. We met early in the morning, in front of McDonalds in Colaba – we’d both been dabbling as extras in Bollywood and were waiting for someone to come pick us up, but they never showed. Instead, the two of us wandered around Colaba and wound up by the Gateway to India, playing my guitar and talking till the early morning. Then we went 8 years without seeing each other again. I know we both lived in each others’ minds and hearts, though we both fell in and out of love with other people in the intervening years. In August 2014, we met again, and fell in love for real, or so I thought. Others thought so, too, and remarked on how in love we seemed.

But like all modern romance, it was complicated. Now it’s nearly two years to the day since the last time I saw him. An unfortunate memory to coincide with my birthday. I’m rather strong in the memory department, for better or for worse. It is hard to believe that it is just two short years ago – yet so much can happen in that amount of time.

I wanted so desperately not to be heart-broken again. It seemed such an ignominious ending after that magical Mumbai beginning. I wanted not to mourn as I am sometimes inclined to do. But of course I have. I lost him as a person from my life, but I also lost the fantasy I had that we would travel and explore together – build life into some new, exciting, complete shape. I lost the idea that I had found someone who unquestioningly, instinctively, chose me for me.

I suppose I was waiting to hear that it was all a mistake. That he regretted wedging me out of his life. That he still thought of me.

I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t hold my breath.The sad thing is, I’m not even sure what happened to us – he never deigned to clarify, so I am left to guess.

Meanwhile, one of my nearest and dearest is getting hitched in a week! I can hardly believe it’s nearly November, but I can’t wait. Nora and her Scandinavian beau are tying the knot in Sonoma and we’ll all be together soon. Life moves on.

Ah well, a new year is upon me. A new year to be more fully myself and maybe even find someone who appreciates me for it. Wouldn’t it be nice?

I’ll make that my birthday wish.

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Well, since my birthday is now officially over, I’d better wrap this up!

Love and miss,

Kira

Burning, Turning

As Fall approaches and Summer prepares to fold up her many-colored tents, Burning Man is mostly emptied by now. Five years ago I flew to Reno to say goodbye to my sister Erika. She was in the hospital after a catastrophic cerebral edema. She looked just as she had in life, but now her life was perpetuated by machines.

Just a couple of days before, she was doing yoga on the Playa with her boyfriend. She was cooking a curry, drinking a Corona, riding her baby blue beach cruiser through the swirling columns of alkaline dust – to the ethereal architecture of the Temple of Transcendence.

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Erika in 2010 at Burning Man

Erika’s edema coincided with the burning of the Man, occurring on the Friday night of the festival. As she was inundated with water, the man was consumed by flames. Now, every year as Labor Day weekend nears, we think of that desert and the flames and the celebration, which coincides with our memory of the day we got the news.

I’m living in Seattle now. Four years ago, I came West for Burning Man and stayed here for a time in the aftermath. Being here again, on the anniversary of Erika’s death, can’t help but remind me of all I was dealing with then. The specter of an old amour even reared his head not so long ago, but otherwise the past seems to be quiet. It is only in memory that I am haunted.

Friday night I was training for a new job as a server in a music venue/dinner theater. Saturday I took the day off, feeling tired and overwhelmed by all the movement of late. I had the feeling as the end of the month approached that I needed to find shelter and prepare for the coming storm of grief. Like a cloud of dust that swirls around one, causing time travel – whisking one away from the present and into the past.

Saturday night, I bought sparkling rose and cheeses. I bought dolmas, which I remembered my love for at Burning Man in 2012. Sarah came over and we feasted and toasted to Erika with the lovely peach-colored bubbles, of which I’m sure she would have approved.

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Erika the Red

In Arkansas, my mother made an effigy of a cat with arched back for her annual Burning Woman ceremony – she said the theme this year was “the year of the cat.” In Florida, Skye and Erika’s friend Lara burned a paper mache lucky cat in their ceremony. I was unable to have a proper burn, as a friend of a friend was using the outdoor firepit to burn a large pile of paperwork and prevented our making use of it. Ah well, at least some sort of purge took place!

The weather has already pivoted toward Fall here in Seattle and I’m staying in a cute little home south of the city. There are all manner of trees in the back yard: figs, walnuts, even a fruitful grapevine. The squirrels are quite numerous, as are the crows.

But this is just my home for September, as I continue to look for my forever home (or at least my “for 6 months” home!). I don’t like living out of suitcases. Sigh.

I’ve been getting the hang of Seattle, taking the lightrail downtown for work.

Plus I’m living in the same city as one of my best friends, Sarah. It’s been fun to spend time with her and see Seattle through her eyes.

Summer is gone so soon and time flies fast since July when I left New York. I drove through Cleveland and stopped to stay with the lovely Ziegenhagens before heading south to spend some time with my daddio. Mom was in Florida at the time, I’ve been so constantly consumed with “devoirs” – duties. But I had a few days off this weekend to wander some local parks with Sarah and we even went to a movie!

It might be a pattern I’ve set up for myself over the last five years: become exhausted in early September either from travels or fashion week or both. It is a sort of ritual, echoing the time after Erika died when I spent many nights wakeful in her little back yard.

Now it feels like things are clearing up a bit. The storm has passed. I heard the song “The Eye” by Brandi Carlile this year as I was driving back to New York from Florida, post X-mas, having hatched the plan to move to Seattle six months on.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl_eNu4NUVI

I’m glad folk music is making a comeback. I’m hoping it makes a comeback in my own life.

All for now,

Love and miss –

Kira

 

 

Closing a loop

Since 2008 I have called New York my home. I’ve now had two separate lives here, with a hiatus of several months in between. The first four years were rather markedly different from the last. I stepped away from my former full time job and slipped into a different sort of life, writing full time and working odd jobs as a waiter, a model, a painter, a tarot reader.

My friends have changed in the last four years as well, as some left the city and others joined my circle. I have changed. Oddly, I have become more fearful, though I feel I’ve faced down so many challenges in the last five years, not at all the least of which being the loss of my sister Erika. This September will mark half a decade since she departed from us and it is hard to believe. So much has happened, and yet here I sit in this little apartment which I’ve now occupied for just over three years.

Funny, I’ve come so very close to the things I’ve desired, but did I ever break the skin of those dreams, or just rub up against them?

No matter. It’s strange how things have changed, but it isn’t sad. As Joni says, something’s lost, but something’s gained in living every day.

Four years ago, I was doing a different version of this same dance, though I was more distracted with goodbyes then. This time I’m taking things a little easier, trying to be more incremental than before. Selling off beloved items to new homes and packing up books and clothes. Luckily, I purged not so long ago and so there was not so much to get rid of as the last time, and no romantic intrigues to distract me from my task.

I think about all I once dreamed of doing in this city, and how it has been open to me in some ways and closed in others. I dream of other cities and other ways of living, now that I’ve had my fill of this one.

As a strange omen for my upcoming travels, I’ve recently discovered two dead mice in my apartment: one was stuck in my box fan and when I shook it out, he was just a hollowed husk. The other I found last night as I thought of inspecting a mouse trap (no kill) I hadn’t set lately. Inside was a dead mouse, already starting to smell, so who knows how long he was in there. I threw out the trap, mouse and all, and I hope no more grisly surprises await me.

I’m ready to say goodbye to New York, a place I have loved. A place I could almost call home forever. Perhaps I will realize I can’t live without it once I’m gone, but without the promise or potential of love to lure me back, I very seriously doubt it!

I am ready to enter a different phase of life. I’ve just got to follow this tide as it drifts.

My plan for the trip is remarkably similar to the trip I took to Burning Man in 2012, the year after Erika died there: I’ll drive to Arkansas (this time via Ohio instead of North Carolina) and from there up to Minneapolis and over to Seattle.

In fact, I’ve taken so long to finish this post that I am already in Arkansas, having moved my things out and said goodbye to the city. I feel surprisingly unemotional about it, but that could be a side effect of my constant motion of late.

I had a nice stop with my friends the Ziegenhagens in Ohio and made my way through several states to get home to Arkansas. In a couple of days, I’ll head north and west to find out what life has next in store for me.

Love and miss,

Kira

 

 

Cameron Takes New England

It is my moving karma to be set upon by other visits and trips not long before my other obligations set in, ensuring that I have to run a sort of obstacle course of fun while trying to take care of responsibilities at the same time.

I recently hosted, for the second time, my nephew Cameron. We could be a little more relaxed about New York, having done such a thorough job when we were last in the city. We went to a couple of comedy shows and ate exotic repasts – we even went to a Broadway show: An American in Paris, featuring Gershwin songs, which Cam is partial to.

On Thursday we made an excursion to the Edison Laboratory and explored it as fully as possible before heading back to New York for the second of our comedy shows, this one at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in the East Village.

When the weekend came, we drove out to Boston and explored the historic downtown in search bahn mi sandwiches, which we ate on the Commons before checking out the duck pond and the cemetery where Samuel Adams is buried.

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We found my friend Alexis’ house in Somerville and we got vegan tacos – delish! – before going to Cirque du Soleil.

The next day we made our way out to Provincetown on Cape Cod in time for a late lunch of lobster rolls for them and a veggie sandwich for moi. We walked out on the dock and explored the small town.

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We drove to Eastham, about half an hour away, where we had a room for the night. After a dip in the pool, we met up with some of Alexis’ friends who lived nearby with their three young sons. We had a typical Cape dinner of lobster and steak (for everyone else), potatoes, corn. Cameron loved it.

We drove back to Boston the next day and spent an afternoon there at the Boston Tea Party Museum.

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We dropped Alexis off and drove back to Brooklyn. Cameron kept saying “No sleep till-” and he read to me from the Oliver Sacks book I gave him, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat.”

We got back to my neighborhood, parked, and had late night tacos at a nearby restaurant – I made sure Cam tried a tamale with mole, because that shit is tasty, and the boy has quite the palate.

In the morning, we got bagels and headed for the airport. They let me go through with him to the gate and I did my auntly duty and got him on board.

It was hard to say goodbye to my sweet boy, but it was another great trip.

Now on the the hard work of packing etc. Sigh.

Love and miss,

Kira