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Month: June 2012

what to do

what to do

I haven’t blogged for more than five weeks.  (UPDATE:  I found some photos from some events in those weeks and have made some new entries and back-dated them since writing this post) It isn’t because nothing has happened.  On the contrary, a whole ton of stuff has happened, but that’s partially why I haven’t had time to talk about it.  I used to hint at things a few months ago and now some of that can be revealed.

I have perfect color vision!

No, that’s not it actually.  Although it is true, I have bigger news to share than that.

At the end of May Sam and I bought a property in the Hollywood Hills.  Yes, THAT hollywood hills, but, no, not one of THOSE houses.  It’s actually this.   Our first choice was West LA, but we could only afford small 1 bedroom places with problems (no AC… or 3rd floor with no elevator…or no view… or only 550 square feet… or no parking… take your pick) over there, so when we found a 1,000 square foot 2 bedroom with a big patio (about 300 square feet) facing the trees behind the Hollywood Reservoir we pounced.  Sort of.  More on that later.

Memorial Day weekend we rented a truck on Saturday morning and moved all of our stuff in one day.  It was possibly the hardest move I’ve ever made physically.  Maybe we should have called friends to help us, but we both hate to impose on people.

Did I sell my condo in the valley?  No, I didn’t try to find anyone that would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars over current market value.  Short sale?  I’ll keep my great credit, thank you.  For now I’ve been able to hand it off to a rental management company, but that doesn’t come without pitfalls as well.  It looks like I may never “break even” on the place, and (as always) tenants always find something that needs fixing.  This week it’s the AC in the 90+ degree valley heat.

But it’s worth it.  I never felt at home in my own home for the past five years.  Most people (in middle-class America) have no idea what that even means.   Now I’m living where I want and with who I want.   Oh, and while it’s approaching three digits outside back in the valley, at the new place we haven’t had to turn on the AC yet.

There is a cost though, as we’re both finding out.  The condo we purchased was “flipped” and although it was “fixed” the “fixing” was very half-assed.  Beyond that there is a water problem on our back patio that we have to fix (it’s become tipped and drains water back against our stucco, which could lead to many potential obvious future problems).  We’ve worked out a deal with our HOA to split part of the fix, but the little things on this “move-in ready” condo are starting to rack up into the thousands of dollars.

But, when it’s done we’ll be in a place we’re both at least marginally content to live in for a long time, and at a price point (although we had to struggle through six counter-offers from the seller) that will leave us in a position to pocket something if we ever sell.

Beyond that there’s a psychological problem I’m struggling with.  I won’t get into my career woes on a public stage like this, but it mirrors my artistic malaise.  Last year I was improving, but then everything stopped.  I haven’t painted anything, or perhaps I should say finished anything, since we can back from Thailand last August.  We’re leaving for Thailand again in about four weeks.  I haven’t exhibited in that time and we haven’t gone to the art walk either.  I get open ended (non-theme) art requests from the old gallery I used to show in.  I’d take them up on it, but I haven’t even made anything to exhibit in a year.  Before the move I put a lot of my paintings up on etsy, and kept lowering the prices week after week.   I got on a lot of “favorites” lists of other users, but not a single purchase, even when I dropped the prices down to under $100 for a 4’x2′ piece (I sold paintings with those dimensions in INCHES for more than that at the gallery downtown).  Needless to say, that experience wasn’t confidence building, nor encouraging to keep painting.

I haven’t written anything in my “novel” in the last few months either.  I’d probably forget I ever even started it if Sam wouldn’t bring it up when we meet people.  I know that’s her way of subtly encouraging me to keep going.

I’m not really a “soul” kind of person, but there’s something in there that kind of feels dead when I go too long without doing something creative.   We’ve got an “office” room in our condo and my easel is already set up.  Sam leaves for a two week (work) trip to China this weekend, and if I haven’t been able to do something creative within those weeks (which includes a holiday from work) I might as well give up hope.

Some of our friends are literally winning awards for their accomplishments in their field.  I’m very happy for them, but very disappointed in myself at the same time.  I don’t even know what field I could even be trying to compete in.  Maybe everyone feels like this, but most people probably didn’t take until they were 31 to find a comfortable Hobbit Hole to live in with someone that loves them and can make it easier to forgive yourself for not doing more.  As nice as that is to finally have I worry about getting complacent and comfortably numb to the larger creative vision I used to have.

At the very least I plan on taking a bunch of photographs of the new place and sharing them on here, so look for that probably early next week…. as long as I’m not lured away into being a zombie in front of our tv.

Pasadena Chalk Festival

Pasadena Chalk Festival

On June 16th, Sam and I went to Pasadena to meet up with Cindy.  We were going to the chalk art festival, but there were other events coinciding with it that day.  There is an ongoing series of free concerts in LA this summer, and one of them was going on just two blocks from the chalk art festival.

We walked past the music.

And headed up the street.

Unfortunately a lot of the chalk art wasn’t finished.  Some of it was really infantile (bad line drawings of spiderman, spongebob, etc.), but some of it was really good.  It turned out to be a really hot day, so we didn’t stay long.  Cindy kept insisting that I should participate next year, but I have a feeling I’d be smearing the chalk around with my own sweat if I tried.