Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fully Fung Shuied

My home at 1303 Sunset Avenue in Arcata Ca has come a long way from the day I first unpacked. Truthfully, I almost didn’t move in at all because of the typical college-house lack of maintenance and upkeep. In fact it was a close toss up between the Sunset House and another place on South G Street inhabited by two female tea drinking, vinyl collecting, vintage wearing, non-profit directing, masters degree studying aficionados. The place was incredibly cool and had Dia de los Muertos memorabilia and other vintage collectables tastefully on display throughout the common areas. The deal breaker was the unusually small, closet free, room with tiny north-facing window. The Sunset ghetto palace by comparison was leaps ahead in square footage and potential.

After graduating college and road tripping back up from Mexico with my Dad through the desert night at 90mph, windows fully down, and blasting a 25 year old blues mix tape with the treble turned down, I sensed a bit of accomplishment and style ahead of us in the brights of the bug filled highway. I thought to myself that if my Dad, who never finished high school can do this, live like a surfed out Hunter S. Thompson, what am I capable of, if on top of my own merit I catch all my dad's connections by proxy?

I returned to 1303 Sunset with my best friend Chris Peaslee, know by my free balling Daddio as Chrisben (short for where’s Chris been?). He was in need of a change of pace so I figured a six-week dose of Arcata would do him good. I felt bad for Chris because when we first arrived the place was completely destroyed. There was a sink full of dirty dishes, boxes and furniture scattered about from Katie’s move out, trash everywhere, mold on the walls, the whole nine yards. It was bad. In exchange for room and shared board Chris agreed to help me clean up the place and rearrange everything to maximum functionality. This is what I call “Fung Shuiing the place.”

I am aware that this isn’t the proper use of the word (I think it has something to do with the balance between earth and water) but, for my own usage I have redefined the term "fung shui" as, working with what you got to create something you want to use. Prior to our hard work, I was afraid to walk through the house in my socks and had questionable feelings about lying down on the couch. Now, I feel right at home. I even feel proud to invite my friends and family over to hang out.

Once we got the house and back patio dialed in, Chris and I moved onto the lower end of the property where the garden and green house are located. We pulled out the previous seasons crop, which had all gone to seed, weeded and turned the earth then planted. Working in the garden has been an experience I have thoroughly taken pride in. It blows my mind that every available south-facing plot of suburban yard hasn’t yet been converted into vegetable gardens. I mean, if people living in southern California only knew the value of water (and food for that manner) all they would need to do is simply utilize the land they are already irrigating and the gardeners they are already paying. Nevertheless, Chris, David and I planted more than enough to provide our house of four with a cornucopia of bounty throughout Arcata’s year-round growing season.

My roommate David and I like to say that we are “Kings living among gods.” With all these new found luxuries: kitchen table, counter space, garden, etc. Our quality of life has significantly improved. Although, almost everything Chris and I thoughtfully arranged to be used to its full potential was already inhabiting our house, now that its all put together like an up scale hodgepodge lodge its as if we are living like royalty in comparison to our previously growdy and unutilized ways.

What really took our place to a whole new level is when I was gardening one day and noticed a hot tub on our neighbors back deck. This house has been vacant for the past few months and has recently been shown off by real state agents. As I was pulling weeds in our garden a light bulb lit up over my head and next thing I know I am recruiting Chris to go on a top-secret mission to check if there is water in it. I should add that I was fully committed at this point to fill it up myself and make it happen. I first knocked on the front door by my self to make sure the ghost was clear then told Chris that if he didn’t come along for the reconnaissance mission he was chicken. It was dusk and the stars were visible. We crossed through our garden then climbed the neighbor’s staircase leading to their veranda. I lifted the tub’s cover to immediately be hit with a cloud of steam. We completely flipped our lids and jumped in. The water was a whopping 104 degrees and tranquil.

On a different night when David joined Chris and I for a soak, David and I both agreed that this confirms that we are living like Kings. Sure we are sleeping in a decrepit house with the most passive homeowners in existence and trespass to watch shooting stars from our very own private spa, but living with less and utilizing what we have has caused us to sincerely appreciate our newfound postmodern palace.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's the Green House Effect

Despite weather forecasts that made the Trinity River in Hoopa sound like a stormy and miserable time, David Chris and I set out for a Native American swimming hole called Tish Tang for a day of fun. After we gathered supplies we left the chilly overcast Ewok village of Arcata in my roommate Peter's royal blue Pontiac Vibe (affectionately referred to as the Vibe). After riding for a minute or so while still in Arcata the sun warmed interior rose doubts to why we were leaving such a cozy and warm town. This illusion was quickly corrected by David who stuck his hand out the window into the cool fog and said, “It’s the green house effect, its only warn in the Vibe.” Sure enough as I joined David and suck my hand out the window I remembered that despite the possible Thunderstorm in Willow Creek we most assuredly would have better luck at the river, where the weather has been around 80 to 100 degrees for the last month.

As we rolled along highway 299 towards Willow Creek, Chris opened an extremely noisy compostable bag of Sun Chips. With every handful Chris pulled out, an irritating racket would follow as the bag shifted in his lap. Chris being the poster boy of politeness gave David and I his sincere apologies, then while rustling the bag as if testing us says, “is this going to be a problem?” David replied, “Not at all, It’s the sound of progress.” At first I thought, really? But then it dawned on me that this new-school eco friendly Sun Chip bag is quite progressive and controversial. On the one hand it reduces landfill waste, but on the other it draws a tremendous amount of negative attention. However, this bag’s noisy nature is exactly the wake up call passive junk food eating Americans need. Now, when an environmentally conscious consumer brings a bag of Sun Chips to a Middle American potluck he or she will be put on the spot by their agitated peers.

Irritated Potlucker

“Don’t you care that you are bothering everybody?”

Conscious Shopper

(Eager to answer)

“ Well, this bag may be noisy but, it’s the future, pretty soon every bag will be like this so you should get use to it.”

Irritated Potlucker

“You have got to be fooled if you think this bag will catch on.”

This 100% compostable bag is LOUD and PROUD. It even says so on the back, “This bag is LOUDER BECAUSE it is Compostable!” Needless to say, this bag has the potential to stir up arguments on both sides.

We soon arrived to 80-degree partly cloudy river weather at Tish Tang. It was a bit of a let down for Chris because I had promised him a significant improvement from Arcata's weather. However, after getting out of the Vibe it only took about five minutes before we all were in our swimsuits and lathered in sunscreen. I was first to flop into the river with my car inner tube and float down the mild rapids. I also took a few Tarzan style rides on the rope swing, which immediately caught Chris’ attention. We had a picnic, sang some originals along with White Winter Hymnal in three-part harmony, and then took a nap.

The sun finally emerged from behind a thunderhead, this lifted everyone’s sprits. David had a close call on the swing but over came his fear, Chris was flipping off the swing, literally but may have wanted to figuratively after he back flopped from twenty feet. We befriended a group of three that was camped out next to us, and had a great time overall. On the way home we even were forced to take the scenic route because of a fire, this proved to be a blessing. As we headed back to the coast we spotted the fog that permeates through Arcata and were thankful for the warmth we had just experienced. Tomorrow will surely be even warmer at Tish Tang, and because of this Chris can’t wait to return.

Thanks for reading;)