Monday, October 18, 2010

I could start over.

The season of unknowingness has arrived, and it's extra-ugly this year.

It's only 50 degrees out but the briskness is telling; I'm already starting to transform. The sweats are coming out. The skin is getting dry. The mood is flattening (plummeting?). Fall is stunning but it's always been too short, too ominous to truly enjoy. It's a transition. We are moving toward the BIG WAIT, but its meaning is compounded this time around because there is the oh-so-miniscule possibility that this will be our last winter in the upper midwest.

Dare I allow myself to think such a thing? Dare I allow myself to believe that we could escape? Talking to an old friend today, I explained our situation and how we really have no idea where we will end up next year. She asked, "wouldn't it really suck to have to start over again?"

My immediate, unqualified answer: "No." And I meant it.

I have come to understand that I am not built to live here. I mentioned this to Matt last night, and I've said it before. I drove past a set of empty tennis courts yesterday and thought, hey, that would be a great place for Matt and I to play some tennis when he gets back from San Diego. Then it occurred to me: when Matt gets back from San Diego, tennis is kind of out of the question. November signifies the shutting down of traditional outdoor activities in this part of the country. Tennis is a warm weather sport--do you ever see tennis players in sweat pants and parkas? I don't think so.

Milwaukee has changed me, certainly. I used to think that California was the only place to live. I now know that isn't true. Moving here made me begin to realize that our great dastardly country is absolutely chock-full of habitable cities: places with coffee shops, theaters, festivals, music, parks, markets, colleges, airports....every state has at least a few of these. Some of em are way too full of Republicans, but hey, so it goes. This is a wonderful city, and there are wonderful people here. We will survive wherever we go...and you never know, we may even find a place we love.

But in general, I've decided, the sun isn't optional. I LOVE heat. I could sweat all day. Even in Houston this past summer--which, incidentally, I'm pretty convinced is the hottest mosquito-laden hell on this planet--I made an effort to be outside, and I was happy. The sun, the water--give me a pool, a bay, a lake, some hot weather, and I will float and splash all day and I will be content. Sure, it could get old, choking on that miserable-thick air. But I will NEVER believe it is worse than 5 months of frigidity.

Even though I know these feelings might have no influence insofar as our near future is concerned, I do believe it will influence our distal outcome. The upper midwest is a niche. Those who grew up here love this place and will never leave. We have survived three years here and we realize that it has much to offer. And maybe I am just being reactionary but lately, I think the southwest is as deep a part of me as anything else I am, or do. I adore the topography; the desert and the mountains, the colors, the diversity of the people. The horses! The cow towns!!

I could start over. I've done it before, I could do it again. I have met so many wonderful people here and overall, it has been a worthwhile experience. If we stay here another five years, we will survive. But I know we won't be here forever. It's like we are just waiting to go home.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I will play the banjo, I will ride a well-broke horse through fields of butterflies, I will be happy.

I hear the crying of the hungry
In the deserts where they're wandering
Hear them crying out for Heaven's own
Benevolence upon them
Hear destructive power prevailing
I hear fools falsely hailing
To the crooked wits of tyrants when they call

I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

I hear the sounds of tearing pages
And the roar of burning paper
All the crimes in acquisition
Turn to air and ash and vapor
And the rattle of the shackle
Far beyond emancipators
And the loneliest who gather in their stalls

I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

So, while you sit and whistle Dixie
With your money and your power
I can hear the flowers a-growing
In the rubble of the towers
I hear leaders quit their lyin'
I hear babies quit their cryin'
I hear soldiers quit their dyin', one and all

I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

I hear the tender words from Zion
I hear Noah's waterfall
Hear the gentle lamb of Judah
Sleeping at the feet of Buddha
And the prophets from Elijah
To the old Paiute Wovoka
Take their places at the table when they're called

I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

Monday, August 9, 2010

Welcome to Our Neighborhood

As most everyone now knows by now, we moved. Again. We are chronically unhappy renters. If it's not the location, it's the landlord; if it's not the landlord, it's the location; if it's neither, the place is probably falling apart; if it's none of those, we can't afford it. We often browse the Shorewest Realty website, dreamily evaluating the newly available bungalows in our favorite areas. How wonderful it will be when we have our own place and we can make it what we want.

Alas, that won't be for a good, long while--negative income does not a mortgage payment make. So for the time being we have settled, yet again. But I think it's our best bad option yet!

At 49th and Lloyd, most people relatively familiar with Milwaukee would say we've anchored ourselves firmly in the hood. True--if you venture two blocks north on our very street, you might feel a bit more comfortable with a can of Mace in your purse, especially after dark. But my notion of the hood has changed drastically since we've lived here, and I think the suburbanites are a little too heavy on the generalizations. You would be very correct to assert that this ain't Tosa. We have diversity galore, we've got the occasional boarded-up home, we've even got mounted police cruising our street (which to me, by the way, is freaking awesome). But we are also one block from Hi Mount (in fact, we share an alley with the lucky folks who reside there), and two blocks from Washington Blvd; in my mind these are two of the grandest, most lovely streets in the city. Therefore, if you ask me, we are moving up in the world!

Since school is out and I'm working part-time, I feel it is my duty to explore this wondrous area. I take long, slow jogs on hot sunny days, up and down the numbered streets, admiring the homes (some grand, some tiny, but each one different, unique) and the gardens (many mature and absolutely stunning, meticulously tended). I take my time through the 50s, especially down 51st and up 53rd, then follow Lloyd up to about 68th street and turn back through the Highlands to admire what is definitely NOT the hood (I made an entry about the Highlands a couple of years ago; historic and pristine, there are no boarded up homes there). I jog back down Washington Blvd, going out of my way to run through any available sprinklers, and end with a wild and half-dead sprint up Hi Mount, enjoying the shade of the huge canopy. Before you know it, I am home:

Yes, that is our monstrosity.   It's gorgeous, but it needs work. A LOT of work.  But that's ok; we're happy.  We have either one, or six years left in this city.  But we are home.