Monday, October 27, 2008

Tag. I'm It.

Usually when I receive a chain email I conveniently forget it, which is probably why I'm not rich and haven't made whoopie in a while. This morning, however, I was "tagged" by Nichole and challenged with the following:

Where Would Your 8 Homes Be?

List them. You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains. When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.

Well okay, I said. I'm willing to take this on. I want to take any chance I can to write. What's this got to do with transgenderism? Not much, but I recently wrote more directly about a transgender subject and am still getting the taste of crow out of my mouth. Now here's the fun part: did you see the line about sending it to eight other people? From what I can see, this blog still being in relative infancy, most of my readers are also people to whom I would be sending this, so if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. (Now wasn't that simple?)

Now to it.

First of all... well poop! It's got to be in the US. Not that I have anything against the country of my birth, but I know where my dream home is. Deep (depth depending upon my degree of pissiness and misanthropy at the time I'm asked) in Bodmin Moor in Cornwall: a little thatched stone cottage with an unwalkable path. I'll be the crazy old lady in tweeds. Depending upon my mood either ask you in for tea and scones or fire some rock salt and bacon rind in your general direction.

OK. That's over.

1. I really don't have to go to Cornwall to find a stone cottage. There are plenty of viable alternatives in the Pasadena area, not to mention some pretty cool craftsman and mission revivals. One takes it for granted, but I really do enjoy this area of California. It's gorgeous on clear days looking north toward the mountains. If you're not from here, and you've seen Pasadena when the Rose Parade is televised, let me assure you that the town is every bit as pretty as it appears. I particularly love it around the time of the Rose Parade. The winds have blown the smog away for a while, the air is crisp, and the sun is bright, making me thank my luck to be born seeing in color. So I'll take one of any number of 1920's faux English cottages between Cal Tech and the Huntington Library.

2. As long as I'm in the neighborhood, I'll drive a few miles south to the Silverlake and Echo Park areas. There are parts of the Los Angeles area which are becoming "gentrified." The unfair aspect of this is that these were once areas which were affordable to low-income families, and I am sad to say that many Latino neighborhoods have been broken up because of higher rents. I don't think the current drop in the housing market is going to change that. That being said, these neighborhoods are shabby-chic with a lot of art and music going on. I recently helped the niece of a friend move into an apartment in Echo Park and was struck with envy. I want to be a twenty-year-old girl sharing an apartment with a couple of friends while I try to get my acting career off the ground. Don't we all? Except I don't want the apartment. How about that house/studio that Emma Thompson had in Dead Again? Ooh! While we're at it, can I be Emma Thompson?

3. Douglas Adams once called Malibu the only place in the world where someone would pay millions of dollars to live in a shack on the beach. And having driven the coast road during summer all I can say is, "Keep looking at that ocean view, sweetie, 'cause you aren't going to be able to get out of your driveway until after ten tonight." But if I turn inland from Pacific Coast Highway and drive north on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, I'm in just that: Topanga Canyon. Remember the opening sequences of MASH, with the helicopters against the mountains? Those shots and much of the show were filmed in that area. This is a place where people play with their homes. It's not clogged with "McMansions." And though it is pretty upscale, it still retains much of what it was back in the sixties when the "commune" scenes in Easy Rider were filmed there. This is where I'd like to build my own stone cottage: stone siding, but actually constructed from either hay bales or insulated concrete forms for energy efficiency.

If you're saying, "Hey, what's all this California stuff?" I must make a confession. I'm better traveled outside the country than in, and I can give a better account of California than anywhere else. I've was born in Tucson and lived in Phoenix for six years, and with all deference to Lori and Abby, I couldn't take another Arizona summer if my life depended on it.

So let's get on with some pipe dreams:

4. A few years ago I took my daughters on a trip to San Francisco. We stayed near Union Square, and I had decided to do a pilgrimage and walk the labyrinth outside Grace Cathedral. Following the map, it seemed not that much of a walk. I'm from LA; I didn't know Grace Cathedral was at the top of Nob Hill, across from Mark Hopkins. They were troupers, though and remained so as we tromped through China Town and over to North Beach. We saw the back of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's head at City Light's Bookstore (he was going out the door; it wasn't on display). This was another place I wanted to live: North Beach in San Francisco, still thriving with artists and poets and not commercialized. Give me a slightly crumbling one-bedroom here.

5. OK. Out of state. Six years ago, I spent a week with my dear friend Stacy, guest lecturing to her psych classes at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. It was early March. Once I learned that one does NOT put one's tongue on the flagpole, I was right at home. I was charmed, really. It was a bit like a smaller, homier, Mid-Western San Francisco. I would love a big, old, hard-to-heat Victorian on the banks of Lake Superior.

6. I've got to say it. I quote Thoreau and Emerson too much not to say that I'd love a 200-year-old farm house in Concord, Massachusetts. Having not visited there, though, my images are shaped by calendar photographs and Currier and Ives engravings. If you're from there, please don't tell me that the area is all covered over with shopping malls. Leave me to my dreams.

7. Twenty years ago, my ex and I to a trip to Vancouver and then over to Victoria. I'd never seen forest extend all the way down to the sea. I've just looked at a map of that area, and there seem to be enough islands to accommodate one little English-style cottage.

8. There's an unassuming, white 1947 clapboard bungalo in San Gabriel, California... I wish the circumstances were such that it had never been necessary to leave. Two people I love very much still live there. The third is across town in Santa Monica, in her first apartment, making her way in the world.

I'm glad I took this challenge. It's nice to go home.


Nichole said...

Actually, Jill, I was in Concord about a year ago and there were no shopping malls directly in the borough, in fact had to go a reasonable distance to get a soda that wasn't outrageously expensive!!

Nope, it's not exactly like Thoreau and Emerson saw it, much too yuppie-defined now for that, like boutiques and fasionable restaurants.

But, I think both Henry and Ralph could still find their ways to the Alcotts and The Manse and Hawthorne without much trouble at all.

I mean, even some rendition of the "rude bridge that arched the flood" remains just beyond the Manse.

I'm glad the tag didn't disturb you. And I'm alwasy glad to have a new post of yours to read. Whether I'm mentioned in it or not! :)

Gillian said...

In my oodles of spare time, I looked Concord up on Google Maps, and, using the street view, took a stroll down Main Street, which looks pretty much how I expected it to look. I think a pilgrimage is in order: to Concord for Trannies (Transcendentalists, of course), Baltimore for Poe, Philadelphia for Franklin, oh... the list goes on.

I am very, very glad, by the way, that you are my friend. (I find myself saying that quite a bit lately and more is the joy.) You are a very special woman. I also take a deep pleasure in reading your thoughts and am absolutely tickled and gobsmacked that you enjoy mine.

Sonora Sage said...

Although I could never live in Pasadena again for a variety of reasons, it was the first place I ever stayed in the US, and I got to know it very well. I had a good friend who got her PhD at CalTech, and only a couple of nights ago I found some photographs of my mother and I attending the Rose Parade. Those faux English cottages may not be the real thing, but they do have character!

My grandfather retired to Victoria in the 1950s. I suppose some day I should take myself up there and see if I can track down any traces of him. You do make it sound nice.

I'm with you on the moors of Devon and Cornwall too.

So, you'll be visiting Tucson outside of the summer months, then? :-)

Gillian said...

I've got cousins and the last aunt of my parent's generation whom I have been neglecting. And you have added further impetus. I now have three more very good reasons to visit Tucson. My schedule and finances are such that it might not be until after the first of the year, but I would love to meet you, Lori, and Abby face to face.

After a youth spent in the throes of anglophilia, I first visited Britain in 1978, then again in 1980, both times were university-sponsored study tours of Arthurian sites. Naturally we spent a great deal of time in the West Country. For all my muttering about misanthropy, I was enchanted by the moors both there and in Yorkshire. I can see how they influenced Daphne Du Maurier and the Brontes. And McVitties half chocolate digestives with Devon milk with the cream still in are the food of the gods.