Tuesday, November 03, 2009

One Month

It's been a busy past few weeks here in Casa Cali. Most of my time and energy was focused on applying for art school. I spent countless hours preparing a portfolio of my jewelry (involved learning how to photograph my pieces in a way that does them justice), went through the humbling process of trying to do observational sketches (only to later find out they weren't necessary for the portfolio), and then presented everything to an evaluator at the California College of the Arts portfolio review day. The verdict left me very pleased: "solid jewelry work, high-touch, craft-making" was his feedback. We had a nice chat about my creative process, and my portfolio was officially accepted for admission.

That's just step one, though. I worked very hard to prepare an essay that captures why I am taking this leap to become a full-time jeweler. It took me a couple of all-nighters, but I am seriously happy with the final document. Since CCA does rolling admissions, I should know in about a month whether or not I've been accepted for the Spring 2010 semester. Fingers crossed!

Now that my school application is finished, I feel like a massive mental space has been freed up. The ideas are flowing, I am excited to get my business properly set up, and I literally have to carry around a notebook all the time to be able to capture all of my thoughts. It's exciting, but the size of my to-do list keeps me in line. ;)

Rico and I spent a few days in New Mexico last week, which was very nice. I'm still trying to get over the fact that it only takes us 2 hours to go visit my dad, and that we can go to Albuquerque more frequently than once every 1.5 years. Living closer sure changes the dynamic of trips to visit family and friends, that's for sure. I'd almost forgotten what it's like to just hang out and not have to squash every single thing into an 8-day trip.

So we've been in the US now for just over a month and I'm still processing through the transition, the occasional bouts of culture shock, the saudades for Mozambique and our lovely life in Maputo. It's just as bitter-sweet as when we said goodbye, which is strange considering all that we are excited about and that we have to look forward to here in our Casa Cali life.

My friend Jose said, after moving back to the Bay Area after 1 year in Mozambique, that it felt as if he were in a black hole the entire first month or two he was back. I definitely appreciate that. It's been quite the transition. Only now do I feel rested enough, adjusted enough...ready to do anything but errands and school applications and sleep. I want to be social again, see my friends that live in the Bay, meet some new people, go to a Pilates class, start dancing Nia again, go hiking, purchase jewelry supplies, set up my studio, print business cards, design my website, work in the garden, cook delicious fresh meals...

Before I sign off, a couple of generalized observations about coming back to the US:

- Americans tend to be very casual, both in appearance and in speech...from the grown-ass women who go to the DMV wearing pajama bottoms and slippers, to the guy in line behind me at the grocery store who told me all about his son being evicted as if it were no big deal to chat with strangers about his family's private life, the level of "comfort" definitely stands out.

- Milk is a completely acceptable beverage to accompany a meal. Any time of day, any cuisine.

- There are coupons for *everything*. I find it hard to believe that there are people out there content to pay full price when it is so easy, with just a few minutes of searching per day, to find discounts. You do have to be organized, though, to take advantage of the savings. Nothing worse than arriving at Home Depot only to find you forgot the MiracleGro coupon on the kitchen counter.

- Infomercials are still going strong. I'm tempted to buy the fresh-forever tupperware kit, and curious about the prices I'd be offered for my mismatched jewelry.

- This country is in the throes of a severe Blackberry and iPod addiction. Many times I am the only person on BART not talking or listening to music. Rico and I still haven't set up voicemail on our cell phones, and I'm amused by the number of people who think we're out of our minds because of it. I suppose nearly 5 years without voicemail has made me forget about it as a communication tool, although I've become an avid text-er in the meantime.

Now that I'm carrying around a notebook, hopefully I'll be able to record more of these cross-cultural musings more accurately. ;)


Meg said...

We don't even have cell phones, so you can imagine... People are less casual about clothing in the south, but even more casual about conversation.

Mbini said...

what a difference. PJs and slippers should never leave the door of one's house. I'm a true African.

Glad you are done with your school application.

nola said...

Hmm - I haven't seen milk served anywhere for a long time, maybe since I lived on West Coast. Wonder if that's a regional thing, or I just don't notice because the thought of drinking a glass of milk nauseates me.

Yes to casual dress, definitely. I remember being on a Liberian refugee camp and no matter how I tried, I always looked like I just rolled out of bed compared to war refugees. Humbling. And I was sort of contemplating today staying in my pajamas to go to the library and district court, but you've convinced me otherwise. :)

My godson who is 10 is addicted to infomercials which I find amusing. But I'll tell you - those green bags really do work. I haven't had to throw any produce away since I got them (used to be a real struggle for me).

I get overwhelmed with coupons and discounts.

Best wishes on acceptance!