If your travels are bringing you to The Bay Area this week, or for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, be prepared for smokey skies and toxic air. It looks like we won’t get a reprieve until Thanksgiving when we are expecting a little rain – which should help with putting the fires out and clearing the smoke out of the air. The only other thing that might help is a change in the direction of the incoming wind. Until then, stock up on at least one, if not more, of the N95 masks as they truly do make breathing and walking around in this soup a lot easier. Check the AQI (Air Quality Index) often. Any number on the index above 150 is worthy of wearing a mask.
I’m sorry if this is going to be your one and only visit to our usually beautiful area. Look for things to do inside – if businesses are keeping their doors closed the air inside will probably not be too bothersome. When outdoors, walk a little slower, take breaks, and lay off the strenuous activities – you might want to bus/taxi up those hills rather than walk them.
We love it here and are waiting out Mother Nature.
The image was taken in Berkeley on November 9, 2018. We thought it would be just a few days of smokey air.
Kala Art Institute is presenting New Normal / Old Normal, a performance and panel discussion where artist Christy Chan will present a re-staging of her performance The Long Distance Call followed by the panel discussion Making Art in the Age of #45.
Expanding on her own personal experiences and interactions with KKK members during her childhood growing up in rural Virginia, Chan presents The Long Distance Call, a re-enactment of phone calls between Chan and Miss. Anne, a KKK seamstress in Alabama.
Following The Long Distance Call, Kala will present Making art in the age of #45, a panel discussion with Ryanaustin Dennis (founder, co-director of The Black Aesthetic), Guillermo Galindo (composer, sonic architect, performance and visual artist), Christy Chan (artist), Favianna Rodriguez (artist) and Dorothy Santos (writer, editor, and curator). Panelists will explore how the role of the arts and artists working in race, class and political issues has evolved since Trump’s inauguration. The panel moderator is Bay Area comedian Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, winner of the Liz Carpenter award for political humor (previously awarded to Samantha Bee) and host of The Moth in San Francisco.
Admission $10 – $25 sliding scale, available on Eventbrite.
It had been twenty-one years since The Escape Pod came into my life, but now it’s time to let her go. After hurting my back a few years ago, it became more and more difficult to drive her, getting stuck in traffic with the clutch was unbearable, and working on her myself has become problematic. It took more than one difficulty, and a very long time, for me to give up The Pod.
Not being really up for the confusing process and challenge of buying a new-to-me van is putting it lightly, but when funding finally came through, the search began in earnest. There were a few pragmatic requirements on my list of things that were required in a new-er van – it needed to have an automatic transmission, roomier in the cargo area than my VW, have enough power to go up and down mountains, be fairly reliable and must be a brand that could provide easily found parts and mechanics.
Sitting for quite a long time with my eyes roving to newer models of Ford Transits and Dodge Promasters – I was visualizing myself in vans that I could stand up in. But alas, my newly found funding did not include their price range and there was no way that going into debt (ie: payments) were an option. My second choice was something in the range of a smaller, generic, affordable, cargo van, like the ones you see running around all over town as delivery or work vans.
The search began looking primarily at the Ford Econoline vans, and then the decision was made to focus on looking for an E250 so that there would be some room in the back even though I’d still be crouching, and some travel power. It was a hard decision at first. When it comes to vans, my heart belongs to VW buses. Changing brands was going to be heartbreaking.
Then I encountered my first problem.
No one would return my calls or my emails. Craigslist and CarGurus were my go-to resources and there were quite a few for sale, but most were sitting outside my public transportation commute range for going to see them. Being able to talk to a dealer about what was actually for sale on any given car lot was paramount.
It was frustrating as fuck.
At one point I made the decision to stop looking and sat down and just asked my Universe to send me the right van and the right person to buy it from. Someone who was going to give me a fair deal and treat me like a human.
A few days later that person sent me a text message.
T. made the process of looking and test driving easy, gave me no pressure whatsoever to make a purchase and answered my many questions more than one time each with patience. He even took all of the metal shelving out of the van for me and saved me the pain of doing so.
It took about two weeks and a lot of anxiety attacks to make the decision to purchase this tank of a van. But now I have it and a new life has begun.
* * * * *
I bought the van from a dealer named Toby in Fremont, California. His company name is Kool Cars.
Sitting out my Saturn transits – and lucky me had two weird ones in a row! – I wondered if I was ever going to be able to break out and be me again in this lifetime. My life had become a constant search for lunch money, job rejections, and trying to maintain my sanity. There was no travel. No art. My creativity existed mostly in my mind and at the very most, on my laptop and in a sketchbook that I carry around with me. I felt like the universe was stripping me down to the barest of human essentials. For better or worse, I have spent the last five or six years or so stripping myself down to become the purest form of me.
A year ago on my birthday, I proclaimed that I wanted to spend the next decade traveling. I spent the whole following year visualizing it and on my latest birthday I found the means to make those first steps happen.
I knew that a shift was on the horizon. Over the past six months or so, there was a feeling in the air that only I could feel. I would tell people that I felt the change, the shift, like static. Sometimes I felt like I was getting bumped into the future, even though the future wasn’t quite ready for me yet. No one believed me. I started telling my friends earlier in the year that I would be making some changes – getting a new van, traveling some more, making more of my own work – and they would shake their heads and play along.
I knew it was coming.
When the shift arrived, even though I was prepared for it, it was overwhelming. It still is, but I’m getting used to it.
Uranus moved into Taurus on May 15, where it will stay until my birthday in 2026. That may mean nothing to you. Uranus transits usually mean nothing to most people, especially to those who think that astrology is just a bunch of hooey. But I’ve been waiting my whole life for this one. This transit signifies a freeing up of sorts, it’s a change maker for folks like me.
Where I have been stuck, I am now free. At least somewhat.
The first thing that happened after May 15th was my purchase of a new van. I love my little blue Escape Pod, but she can no longer take me where I need to go. She needs more work and restoration than I can afford right now, and it was less expensive to just go ahead and purchase a new machine. So I did.
I’m currently outfitting the as of yet unnamed monster van into a living space. All the neighbors have been around to peer in on my progress. I’m becoming less overwhelmed with the project and feeling more creative with the possibilities of what the future might hold.
Roots can be very creepy, especially when they are freshly exposed from pulling their more photosensitive bits out of the dirt. But these roots, all clean and white and fresh, all squiggly and chaotic, were not creepy. In fact, the longer they were stared at the more fascinating they became.
I found these at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market on Saturday.
There are many more of my images in my Alamy/Stockimo account that you can purchase.