No Guts No Glory. (Take Two)

One of life’s little wonders…the “save as draft” option in a blog forum.  One of life’s other little wonders…over-dependence on technology  and it’s abilities to auto save.  Blargh.

Jason and I find ourselves today in Wilmington, DE, just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from Baltimore.  With now two markets’ of work behind us, I can say with some confidence we are adjusting.  It helps that this time around I have managed to secure for us a corporate studio apartment in a large historic building.  Equipped with washer,dryer, and vacuum I can now return to such domestic chores that clear my head and make me feel at home.  Those of you who know me well, know what a victory this is for me. We also now have an oven.  I’ll admit, Jason can work wonders with a stove top and microwave, but oh the luxury of an oven.  Ovens mean fresh backed cookies you know?

But, equally as important as my need to clean and be a homebody on occasion is my need for nature.  Give me room to breathe, room to be alone.  It is a treat after the bustle of  New York City and ‘THE’ Long Island, as it will hence-forth be referred to as, to have a large stretching park just blocks away set alongside the peaceful flow of the Brandywine River.  Walking here each day returns the still and quiet I have so desperately lacked while in the city.

Don’t get me wrong, the fun and experience that is always to be had in Manhattan is exhilarating.  Still, inch by inch it begins to take over: the pace, the stress, the need to be always on-top-of the world, a high stakes player in a game for keeps.  It wasn’t until the second to last day in NY that we made the drive to Montauk and Camp Hero State park.  It was here picnicking on the bluffs overlooking a rough surf and a towering light house that the salty breeze and calm of seclusion began to release me.  Lying on a warm blanket I closed my eyes to listen and take in the sound of foaming waves crashing below.  Turning my head to the horizon I waked to bright blue sky meeting deep blue water.  The lines so perfect and clear I fully expected to catch the painter in the final stokes of his masterpiece.  I’ll trade the glory of the greatest city for this moment every time.  I thanked God, and imagined that Heaven must be a picnic blanket on a tall bluff above a crashing sea.  I should of course submit this sentiment to Chicken Soup for the Hopelessly Sappy.  But it’s how I feel and I must be true to this.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Camp Hero, full of old World War II era bunkers once used to defend against Nazi submarines and then in the Cold War to detect Russian Nuclear Weapons.  The most impressive was the giant Radar Tower.  It was incredible that even after abandonment, the air was still electric.  Descending steep bluffs we walked along the stoney beach gathering drift wood that we then hauled back up to land (easier said than done).  A few scrapes, bruises, and ticks, but we were not worse for the wear and it was worth the adventure.

I share this day because it has been my favorite day.  I share it because it shines as a beacon reminding me that all the other days of work, stress, loneliness, and an anonymity that sometimes finds me too anonymous, make it all worth it.  I heard Johnny Cash describe to Willy Nelson a perfect day he had with June at the lake.  So perfect he wrote a song about it.  I cannot write a Johnny Cash song. I could right a LauraAnne song but I do not have my guitar with me.  This is a punishable offense according to my Great Aunt Nona.  You are right Aunt Nona.  I regret everyday this decision to leave it behind.  So it is here that I write.

I do hope that this post reaches you in a moment of your own that makes all other not-so-great moments worth it.  Life is beauty, you just have to get through the muck.  Well that’s not all true.  It’s not a water color painting of peace and tranquility.   Life is Muck too, a lot of the time actually.  Then sometimes it’s beauty.  It’s both, and this is just something you have to know.

So here it is again nearly Monday and back to another work week in a new and always strange city.  I am grateful to be on this journey but it is no more glamourous or important than any other person’s journey.  In fact it is neither glamorous nor important (not sure that was ever a point of contention).  Nothing ever really is once you get there.  Grass is just grass, green or not.  And yes it is true Ponyboy, nothing gold can stay.

This is far too serious a blog post.  Hmm…fart, poop, boobs! There.  That’s better.

From a very well-laundered and vacuumed studio apartment, somewhere on the Delaware state line, I am sending you my love.

Toodaloo,

L.A.

Addendums & Special Thanks:

To my Oh-So-Very-Sweet Husband a heartfelt thank you for putting up with my dramatic outburst at the loss of my original draft. And to many more patient moments for my dramatic outbursts to come.

Adding to my expanding Summer Travel Playlist: Boys of Summer – The Ataris (predictable), School’s Out for Summer – Alice Cooper (even more predictable, but c’mon), It’s My Life – Bon Jovi, The Joker – The Steve Miller Band, Ramblin Man – The Allman Brothers, On The Road Again – Willie Nelson, Summertime – Sublime (have-a-Corona-by the-beach predictable), California – Phantom Planet (MTV predictable),

Mother’s Day in New York City: AKA a Cupcake Kind of Day

I stare at a large pile of unwritten and unsent mother’s days cards.  Add to that about 5 Niagara Falls postcards and I am officially way behind on my correspondence.  It’s been a bit hectic, yes.  We’ve gone from Chicago to rural Pennsylvania/New York State, to Long Island, and then Manhattan.  Keeping up with our health; working out, eating right and taking time to relax; making the dogs happy, going on three to four walks a day playing tug-of-war in whatever hotel room we happen to inhabit, and eating treats (the dogs and well let’s be honest, us); and most importantly making sure the cat in our life, Boots, is healthy, safe, and content, playing with floss (he comes running every morning when I pull it out to clean my teeth), lots of chin scratching and neck rubbing, and even humoring the 3-4am feet wars we play under the covers while he is on top of the bed, attacking. Not to mention the chin scratching and neck rubbing Jason needs! So between that and squeezing in some work…I think, well maybe, I have made a good enough excuse for being behind. This is our 3rd trip to Manhattan.  Granted we did have the pleasure of driving through one extra time during rush hour on our way to Rhode Island, but officially yes the third.  I find myself more familiar and relaxed this time around.  Riding in on the train or helping maneuver traffic with Jason as he drives, we have ventured into the city the last two days. Today, of course being Mother’s day the city is full of well-wishers and families hugging and celebrating.  The lady at the toll booth on the Mid-Town Tunnel wished me Happy Mother’s day as we paid: we had no sign of a child in the car.  I was taken aback.  It seems as a woman Mother’s Day is a rite of passage.   If you are a woman of certain age, you should have a baby to call your own. What’s worse?  If you are a anyone at all, you should have a mother.  I allow at this segment of my post a brief moment of self pity, as I do each year on this day.  What about me?  I have no living mother. I have not child.  I can not have a child.  I have lost any hope of a child I have ever conceived.  But then…the beauty kicks in.  I have love.  I have life.  I have adventure. As I said when I started this, I have a pile of Mother’s day cards yet unfinished.  Ok so what of the fore-mentioned?  I do have a mother…and many more.  My mother was a brilliant–albeit neurotic–smart, passionate, HIGHLY tempered woman, with jet black hair and a smile that would knock you back.  Sometimes, even nearly 8 years later, I cry for hours remembering the loss, and grasping the fact she is not a part of this life anymore.  However, I mostly focus on what is here. Today I have lots of women on my mind.  AND no, they are not all officially mothers, or officially my mother, but they are worthy of the title and mean everything in the world to me.  From a mentor-turned-mother who has shared 5 years of strength, love, and knowledge with me, to my mother’s best friend, left behind, to continue loving me and sharing her light.  I have been blessed.  I have friends who will soon become mothers,cousins who I witness being wonderful mothers and a sister who inspires me more than anything as she parents my two beautiful nieces. Let’s face it…Hallmark doesn’t make a ‘like-a-mother’ card for no reason.  I thrive on the fact that these strong women are a part of my life.  That who they are and what they stand for usher me forward and give me courage, even as I walk the streets of New York.  I just can’t stop there.  Friends I have who are brilliant and funny, nowhere near motherhood but loving and nurturing to me and others all the same.  My grandmother who I love about as much as anyone in my life, who has shared the most intimate and quiet moments with me, she was the mother to my mother.  This cycle, this influence, today is about celebrating the woman in your life who love and give and inspire.

Image

This, is were the cupcake comes in.  I ate–well, shared–a giant cupcake (the Good Guy) of delicious proportions today with Jason in the West Village near SOHO.  It was divine.  Made of confetti cake with cream in the center and frosting coated in sprinkles, I don’t think you could get more decadent.  I ate it and I loved it.  I loved the day.  I loved the weekend, I love this year, I love this life.  As a true gypsy, my job is to come and go from place to place and adapt and blend. I hope to leave behind a trace of something good, something genuine, if not kind.  If I do this I succeed.
So for my closing notes to this somewhat scattered message I would like to share my favorite part of the weekend. In a record shop today I found and purchased a very rare copy of an original pressed vinyl Velvet Mood album by Billie Holiday.  Now, I have had a love affair with her since I was a teenager (I am nearly 30 now you know) and to have found this as a new vinyl collector is most certainly a highlight.  The kicker?   I have no idea when I will be back to my, or anyone else’s, record player in the near future.  So, although it is in my grasp, it’s melody still elludes me.  This of course only adds to the elusiveness and excitement.  For I know the moment I put it on with a really great cocktail in my hand no doubt, I will melt and savor the moment.  I look forward to it Billie…I really do. Side, side note.  When you drive several hours a day 5-7 days a week, you listen to a lot of NPR, books on tape, and music.  Well, at least I do.  Currently I am working on a summer music travel mix.  Here are the titles I have so far (and in no particular order)… 1.Tom Petty: Last Dance with Mary Jane 2. Frank Sinatra: Theme from New York 3. Patty Griffin: Moon River 4. Miranda Lambert: Easy Livin’ 5. Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys: Empire State of Mind (thank you Dana & Matt) 6. John Coltrane: I’m Old Fashioned 7. Billy Holiday: Nice Work if You Can Get it It’s Been Swell, L.A. P.S. A special thanks to the New Jersey Police department for making my traffic pull-over well worth it.  For, two out of state plates in a row and a border that apparently experiences a lot of drug trafficking, this was your moment to shine.  I only hope I didn’t disappoint, with my legit reason for being here with work and my adorable Schnauzer who, although you worried might, did not in fact bite you or threaten your life.  God speed in your quest.  May your future pursuits yield better fruit than me.

Missing You is a Part of my Daily Routine

ImageI’ve always prided myself on my complete genius for coming up with snappy phrases that I am sure would make me millions if I worked for, say, a greeting card company.  For instance, my homemade line of ‘Some’ cards would blow at least one, maybe two minds.  So, when this new jewel hit me today as I was thinking about my sister, seemingly millions of miles away from me in Germany, I thought if I could send her a tailor made card, it would read, “Missing you is a part of my daily routine.”  That got me to thinking.  I have missed my sister, two amazing nieces, and brother-in-law for nearly two years now, but now, now living on the road again those near and far are constantly on my mind.

Jason and I feel blessed to have friends and family scattered all over this lovely country of ours and, as-fore-mentioned, our grand planet.  No matter where we live, or work, we are always missing someone or more accurately someones.  Leaving Colorado, our home for the past 5 years, required us to say good-bye for now to yet another set of brilliant and fabulous people we have come to know and absolutely love.

We are coming to the end of our time in Chicago.  All our work has been neatly wrapped up and after exploring the city and catching up with this sector of friends, we are readying ourselves to pack up and head on to the next.  Chicago, always having been one of my absolute favorite cities, has treated us well.  What it lacks in fabulous weather it makes up for with fun people, amazing food, and beverage.  Which brings me to my next point, beverage, beverage, and more beverage!! I tour the city by drinking my way through it (and subsequently peeing my way through it too). Be it coffee, tee, cocktails, Izze, water in large portions, I’ve seen the inside of most bathrooms from North to South, East and West of this city,  But more seriously we have encountered incredible restaurants, bakeries, bars, lounges, rooms, nooks,corners and pads.  From cemeteries to record shops, the living and dead alike have made our time here valuable and meaningful.

Life on the road is returning to me and it’s amazing how easily I pick it up again.  My plaid rubber boots (I walk the dogs morning, noon, and night) are placed, as in years before, by the front door of the hotel room, as if I had never skipped a beat. I might touch rather lightly on the actual happenings in the city or daily discoveries of the road, but that’s only because the lasting impressions, for me at least, are the little things.  My boots by the door, the daily walks Jason and I take with the girls, snuggling Boots in bed, and avoiding death each time we drive around the city, daily life, and that of living it.

On the horizon is a new day and another town, city, gas station and many potty breaks to come.  But all I can think of is the title of this post.  No matter where I go or what I do, or who that makes me become, for all those I carry in my heart on this all be it lonely road, “Missing you is a part of my daily routine.”

Listen to Music & Eat Lots of Donuts,

L.A.

A Long Days Night Drive

Twelve hours on the road and (drum roll please) Chicago! Domestic bliss is ours for the next 3 weeks at the Staybridge Suites in Oakbrook Terrace.  Let me just say it’s pure magic…simply magic!  Free laundry, a gym, and Tazo tea bags in the lobby; its clear that it doesn’t take much to please me.  And she wrote, “This back-to-basics life-of-freedom is soothing my restless soul.”  Alas, on a counter note, is it now a socially acceptable thing to run around hotels and their lobbies in bare feet?  This seems to be a growing trend/epidemic as we have encountered multiple sightings in multiple cities now. I think I’ll try it, maybe take my pants off too, wear a goofy hat even.  Anyway, a couple of days and we are settled in and ready to get some work done.

The best part of today, hearing an Edith Piaf song while eating at a French restaraunt.  “OHHH!”, you gasp, “Well-a-la-ti-da!”

A tip of my (goofy) hat to you,

L.A.

“A sake a day keeps the doctor away, unless you’re the doctors wife.”

ImageWell, we have officially left the mountains of Colorado to embark on yet another stint on the road.  Moving day couldn’t have been more perfect and as we waved good-bye we watched the snow-capped mountains fade in our rear-view.  Jason and I have spent 5 years here, and now embrace a new journey that leads us away.

Image

Ok, so our first stop is Lawrence, KS for a little time with friends and family and an hour drive to my great uncle John’s storage facility in Olathe.  Everything we own now tucks somewhat-neatly in a 10×15 metal room.  Not sure when we’ll decide to find a permanent home again.  It’s kind of freeing really, knowing you are where you are and nothing is final or set in stone.  Of course, finality is a frame of mind.  I am only as free as I allow myself to be, but this certainly helps.

I guess I’ve always been one who longs to wander, and that lust, along with a pretty unique and fairly obscure job, has allowed me in past years to go basically all over the US of A.  Also, my recent solo trip to Spain made me feel like an ‘O’ fficial world traveler.  I shan’t use this blog to bore with details of every stop I make or explanations of how fabulous my life is on the road.  No, this blog (here is where I inevitably define my purpose…wait for it….) will be used to document the reality of life on the road and my observations of people and places along the way.  It’s not always glamorous, but it’s real.

Image

So with that lets begin at the real begining, oddly enough, our second stop, Pryor Oklahoma.  After more that 6 years of being away I have returned to my roots.  Not only the place I said “I do” but the place a mere three months later, I watched as my mother was buried in the ground.  The significance of returning holds many keys, but visiting my mothers grave was one of them.  As I drove the John Deer Gator around my grandparents 90 acre ranch I stopped to pick some wildflowers to adorn her grave.  Gazing up at the Oklahoma sky I reconnected with the beauty of the land and the reason why I know she is at rest here.

Now, I sit comfortably on my brothers couch at him and his wife’s home in Tulsa,Ok, the place where I was born and raised.  I sip a Jack and coke and feel glad that my husband and my brother are playing video games together, while my lovely sister-in-law works on her computer.  My schnauzer sleeps next to me and I understand the the first lesson of our trek, that old adage, home is where the heart is, and right now…I’m there.

Phew! I’m glad that’s over with.  I hate introductions.

Best of all things,

L.A.