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CALIFORNIA TRIP

An update from the belly of a blue van traveling on land in Northern California. I gave a quick facebook snippet from Chico where I opened the car to cherry blossoms and sun. Ah! That was nice. It's since gotten cold. Gah. Last night was a test. I read 27 degrees on my phone for Nevada City where I spent the night in a parking lot near the main strip. The once gold-mining mountain town climbs up and down several bending roads. It's since evolved a hundred years later into an upscale destination for enlightened artists and ecotourists. Before retreating into my frozen home vessel, I planted in a coffee shop called the Curly Wolf with swank décor, huge panals of ornate wall paper, each panal containing a gilded painting with a medieval theme. And holy shit, a coffee shop open til midnight! I drank lemon ginger tea, scarfed a gourmet brownie (okay two) and felt inspired to draw. I illustrated some poems and people-watched. Several characters came and left—hipsters adorned with fur coats and hats, talking tarot, and blinging with stones and sculpted metals.

I passed the test. I woke up warm this morning. My bed is a wood platform, massage table on top of that, laid flat with a cushion for padding. Last night I nuzzled into a sleeping bag, laid another thick bag on top, topped with two down comforters and a fuzzy blanket. I emerged in the morning from a mountain of covers, pulled back a window shade and scraped frost with my fingernail.

Before Nevada City, I was in Grass Valley, a nearby town not five miles away. I drove straight to a disc golf course at Condon Park, a wooded place with gentle sloping hills and dirt groomed fairways. I picked a picnic table, warmed soup on my portable propane stove and struck a conversation up with some locals. I asked where to find Hole 1 and they offered to take me around the course. This is the second time this trip I've gone to a disc course and been welcomed into a group. It's not a fluke. Disc golf people are notoriously open and generous to showing newbies around. We formed a multigenerational caravan of seven. A guy and his girlfriend along for the hike, and Dev, a warm-hearted older woman who could whip a disc like she doesn't take any shit, two guys in their late thirties, one of whom brought his kids, ages three and four, and a dog. Dad was a lean man with a scraggly beard, snapping his discs in between occasional hits from his pipe. We jammed throws to Nirvana, tiny children taking their turns, stepping onto the concrete teepads, taking aim and throwing ten feet with full determination to throw three hundred. They want to throw like Dad. “We talked about this.” Dev advised the kids, “You need to grow!” We played doubles. Two on two. Dev was on her own team. I played pretty well. I had a sweet throw down the gut of a wooded fairway that skipped right to the basket. Parked. Generally I'm the bogey-queen, but I earned that bird. I'm decent enough to hold my own and occasionally add to a team. We finished with an even score. Thanks Jeremy. You taught me well. I can travel to California and play.

Now I'm in Yuba City. I didn't want to do another night in the mountains. Brrr. It's a good ten degrees warmer here, though the culture is different. More agricultural with Hispanic businesses downtown. I found a coffee shop. Quiet and empty when I got here. Though slowly, it got woke. Sun is out. Be-bop jazz is playing. And I've overheard two groups of people talking about health food. I ordered a ham and cheese croissant and am happily baking in leather chair gazing out a south facing window.

The main reason for this trip was to take a trip in a warmer place with the van. The secret fantasy was to find other artists like me. So far, it's been scant, but not surprising. I haven't hit Berkeley yet. I got connected via email to a Bay area woman who teaches voice in combination with embodiment and spirituality, Lauren Arrow. She replied enthusiastically to my cold call email of “Hey, I'm an opera trained singer and body philosopher focusing on the core muscles as the landscape for exploring philosophical questions.” She responded with “Awesome! But I'm leaving tonight to go to Mexico for a week! Sad!” And I replied, “It's okay! I should still be in California when you get back, maybe we can hook up then!”

Sigh... I sometimes hate the nature of these correspondences, email and in person. I've noticed with more clarity on this trip that the default attitude of intelligent affluent youth is somewhere between happy and ecstatic. I partially blame the service industry with its expectation that employees display an eager enthusiasm to please. I was well-trained in these ways by many jobs, waitressing mostly, and it's carried over into my performance life. I'm realizing now though, how much I dislike it. For deeper than the service industry influence is a spiritual belief that humans are essences of bliss energy....happy souls...flowing flow states. Therefore, we default to happy. A lifted and expanded state of the core muscles. Happy is not the best starting place to move into a range of emotions. It's not the best inner state from which one can improvise to meet the changes and challenges of the world around us. Mastery would train a resting state—comfortable breath movement with awareness. From poise, one has potential for agility. I can move into happy, or sad, or angry. I can move freely with range, strong and subtle. We should train all of those states including the resting states between storms. The justification being that we are bodies, meeting needs to survive and organize.

Oh I'm hungry. I'll stay the night in Yuba City. Time for some chicken and waffles across the street.

Berkeley tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Madeline

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© 2018 by MADELINE MCNEILL