Tuesday, February 19, 2008

California Grothes, I wish they all could be

Well, technically they're Gotholds but family is family.

It really is a blessing to have family out here on the west coast. Getting established here is taking time. Finding/making community, establishing healthy boundaries around the edges of work so that it doesn't become the only thing I do, using my time outside of work for doing things I enjoy rather than sleeping to rest up for going back to work. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my job and am thankful for the challenges it presents. I am positive about the opportunity for growth it provides for me, not
to mention the service it provides for others. The thing about it right now is just that it provides not only the opportunity but the necessity for growth, rapid growth, in many areas at the same time. Often times it's overwhelming, and I feel the lack of the solid support network I left in Baltimore so the little time I am able to hang out with my family here is precious as, well you know, precious stuff. Like gold and silver and little babies that try to climb into the pool backwards.

Yesterday the Christopher Gothold family, soon to be triple the size it was last year, joined family and friends at a baby shower thrown in their honor. They received munchkins, booty/ies, a transformer/carseat, a family heirloom disguised as a crib, and many other infantile gifts. We ate some great lasagna, hypothesized about possible names(Tim suggested Thaddeus, pointing out that there seems to be a serious shortage of Thaddei in the U.S. these days), and had a couple contests. One was a baby trivia quiz. Did you know that babies are born without kneecaps? Neither did I. They are also born with extra bones, 300 in toto, that fuse together later. The other quiz was a survey of baby animal names. I am proud to say that I came out the winner. Knowing what a cygnet was paid off, in a Target gift card. Who knew? I thought that would only come in handy if I ever make it onto Jeopardy. Incindentally, does anyone know what a baby alligator is called? Without looking it up on the internet? That turned out to be the stumper.

After all the gifts were opened and packed up, and the house was returned to normal, we trekked off to Chris' mother's house to eat Gothold burritos, drink tea, and distract Chris from his studies long enough to play a rousing
game of Scrabble. Kirsten, Bert(baby Gothold), and I got some quality car time on the drive out. Kirst and I did all the talking, but Bert's a really good listener.

All in all, it was a great day. A wonderful break and respite from everyday life. Since my nephew-to-be had grown significantly in his watery home since I last saw his bulge at Thanksgiving, I was hoping to feel signs of life. Alas, he was rather docile, only kicking once, though I did feel a little knee. I guess he was as calm as I was, knowing he was surrounded by friends and family who will love and accept him, even if he doesn't have any kneecaps.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

But is it Art ? pt .II

Much of my job involves driving around South Central L.A. there are many things of note in this wonderful area but these are some of my favorites so far. All the time I spent in Baltimore, none of the graffiti art was as interesting as the pieces I've seen out here. Maybe we can implement some sort of coast-to-coast exchange program or internship for imagination-less taggers to come out here and soak up some creativity. I mean, there's grant money out there just waiting to be put to good use right? Imagine Mt. Vernon or Hamden awash in the vivid technicolor designs of free-wheeling artists whose Krylon cans have been liberated from the tyranny of tagging wars, engaged in a city-wide beautification project piece by glorious piece. Or maybe not.
The graffiti art here is better than in B-more.

Previously On Charmed City...

Alright. Quick recap. A year ago life in Baltimore was moving right along (footloose and fancy-free), but it became apparent to me that something needed to change. I wasn't completely sure what, but I was near certain it was in the vocational arena. After going to India the year before and seeing the disparity between life for most there and life for most here, things were different. That's putting it mildly. I realized I needed to reassess the level of my participation in a housing industry that puts emphasis on small families in bigger houses when much of the world has large families crowding into small ones. So I opened my eyes, figuratively and literally, looking for the change I knew was coming. It seemed a long time waiting, but 7 months ago I got the opportunity to work with Habitat For Humanity in preparing for the Jimmy Carter Work Project. This year it was hosted by the Greater Los Angeles affiliate. Honestly, I never had much of a desire to go to L.A. but I figured it was a good chance to see if this was the kind of change I needed. The initial commitment was for 3 months but as I became immersed in the project, it became clear to me that if this wasn't the change I was waiting for, it was certainly a change for the better. There was talk of staying permanently, and talk became reality. So I moved across the country to be a construction supervisor for A Brush with Kindness, a rehabilitation program within Habitat GLA specializing in minor exterior repairs(mostly painting). That's the short and straight ahead version. The first picture was taken in late August on the Vermont Village site in South Central L.A. The second was taken at the same time and is me muggin' in front of the Watts Towers. A little old man built them all by himself on the nights and weekends he wasn't setting tile for a living. It took him some thirty years to complete and then he moved away. Sometimes the the human spirit is astonishing in its tenacity and perseverance.

Monday, February 4, 2008


30 minutes in the car and I can see sunsets like this any day of the week. Not quite an even trade for leaving my friends and family and portaging my life across the country, but it's consoling. I am officially moved from Baltimore to Long Beach, and shall be here for the foreseeable future. I've finished editing most of my Cross Country '08 photos and as soon as I get the pictures Steve took I'll post 'em and account for our trip. Until then, I'll try to catch up on the past several months, since I've been out here about six now and have a bunch of pictures to show for it. But not tonight.