Building and opening doors

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about my tradition of creating a piece of art for any place I move into. I usually allow the dust to settle and let the home speak to me before I start creating or begin the creative process. It’s important to me to create something for my new abode because I see it as a peace offering– a way to suggest that I appreciate this new space and will take care of it. I also see this opportunity as a way to set the tone — to allow art to speak volumes of the type of energy and spirit I want to cultivate and preserve.

We moved into our duplex in early September, about two and half months ago, and I have yet to create a piece of art for our new place. However, over the weekend, my husband and I worked together to install a barn yard door for his DJ room. this experience brought us many first; it was the first time he and I actually used a drill gun together; it was the first piece of “fixture” we built and it was the first time we installed something that required measuring, screwing and drilling. Although what we created wasn’t a piece of art, the door reflected what I had hoped to accomplish with any art project-to create memories, to contribute to the home, to bring us together.

I’m reminded that every once in a while, it’s okay to break traditions as long as other traditions are made. In this case, I’m don’t mind that I’m not creating art independently. I have replaced it something better: My husband and I created a very practical and beautiful piece of craftsmanship for our new place. I couldn’t me more proud of us.

Art project

Update on the new place:

We signed our lease yesterday, and our move in date is next Saturday, which means I have roughly 14 days to pack up an entire two bedroom condo, in which we’ve lived in for three years. Of course we’ll have a lot of things to pack; three years is ironically a long time for two people to accumulate “stuff”. Just thinking about my bookshelf with hundreds of books gives me anxiety.

To get things started, my husband and I started packing up the living room tonight. I wasn’t expecting to get emotional because I have moved about a dozen times in my life, so I’m very familiar with the emotional toll it takes to move. I purposely don’t harbor attachment to any particular place; I know that I will probably leave in a few years. However, when I started taking down decorations and art installations, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. I started untwisting the hooks from the ceiling and thought about how it took me several weeks to find the exact rope and clay for my moon phase art installation. I toiled over the black and white clay to the exact proportion to replicate marble and baked it over a low setting that still set off the fire alarm. For hours the entire house smelled like burned rubber. I opened up all the windows and doors which led to a swarm of flies coming in. It took me a hour to kill all of them. All the while, I had to do this at least three times because each clay batch came out cracked before they finally came out perfect. Then I had to find the perfect string to tie around my bamboo pole and figure out how to space out and balance each moon.  Now, in my new place, I’m not sure if I’ll have the space to display it.

I’m not necessarily sad about the art installation. I’ve created art installations – small and modest– for almost all the homes I lived in, and I actually never bring it to my next place of residence– like the book page wreath I made and left for my home in El Sobrante, or the New Yorker Magazine art wall I created for only Concord, or the magnet poetry display I made for my time in Pittsburg.  I consider my space, the vibe, my overall feelings in the house and let these feelings guide my new project. Sometimes, like the time I lived in a house with three other girls in Hercules, I didn’t have the desire or inspiration to make anything. I’ve made art projects, not necessarily to beautify my place, but they were more of an opportunity to express myself through art, and to create a peace offering or welcome gift to my new abode.  

I don’t know what I will make for my new place. My process is usually living in the space for a few months and waiting for a call or an urge that speaks to me.  I’m sure, after a while, when the boxes are unpacked, the rugs are rolled out, the books are on shelves, when things feel more settled, I’ll get an impulse or a calling.  It’s not necessarily the art project, like a wreath or a moon, that I look forward to creating, but it’s creating memories- like a room filled with smoke, flies and a blaring alarm–  that, for now, will help me turn the impersonal house into my special home. 



full moon made out of black and white clay


Half moon


I’m the One!

Today I had to write a letter explaining to the owner of a potential home why me and my husband are the perfect candidates from the plethora of applicants. Full disclosure: this is probably the most awkward letter I’ve ever had to write. Mainly because I had to write about myself in a boastful yet meaningful way. It was the oddest balance. In one paragraph I had to explain how I was responsible as a human being and then the next paragraph I had to justify how I would care for the home. I understand why these explanations would be beneficial for the owner, but for the applicant, like me, it felt unnatural to sell my characteristics to a complete stranger via email. It felt so impersonal. But I did it anyway. Like I said in yesterday’s blog: the process of finding a new home is an exhausting one. Then finding the “one” and then having to persuade, via email, a complete stranger to pick you as the best potential applicant feels desperate but normal all in the same vein. Who would have thought having a high credit score, being gainfully employed and preparing a large deposit wouldn’t be the deciding factors to securing a potential house…all it takes are words, and lucky for me, despite feeling awkward about the circumstances, there’s pleasure in knowing that my letter, my words  will be the most significant factor of convincing a stranger that I’m the one. 

Finding a new home

Today my husband and I went on a search for a new home. It’s been a few years since we’ve had to do this, and now I remember why so many people complain about house hunting. It’s a very emotional process. The pictures online are very enticing but are often filtered, so when you actually see the place in real life, it’s very disappointing. The carpets are stained, the square footage is small, the yard is unkept, and the most glaringly common feature is that it just didn’t feel like home. Despite what the homes looked like, as soon as I entered,  I couldn’t picture my husband and I living there. They say that you have to see at least a dozen places before you find the one, and if that’s the case then we are halfway there. 

I know that this is not the time, nor is there ever an appropriate time to complain about a house. One should be grateful to have a roof and bed, regardless of how the roof looks or how the bed feels. There are many people who are houseless and will probably have no opportunity to own, rent or live in a home, permanently. The idea of complaining about the size of a closet or having laminate not granite counter tops pales in comparison to the real houseless issues people are facing all over the world. Just a city over, in San Francisco, I can tell you two streets that have become tent communities, meaning displaced people have congregated in public land and pitched tents to form a community.  This is common, not just in San Francisco, but as more and more people lose jobs and become unemployed and as the cost of living in the bay area continues to rise and as more and more resources become scarce, tent communities will be continue to increase. 

I need to put this into perspective the next time I visit a potential home. Sure, many of them will require me to use my imagination, which actually could be a fun experience, but if I think about the opposite– imagining the option of not having any home– then a quaint, humble, simple place to rest my head is nothing to complain about.