guest post: week three in the azores

Azores Day 15:
I’m Getting What I Came Here For (it’s time to get deep, Blog)
 

Blog, I’m going to get all Artist’s Way on you now because today was rather rainy and my morning pages have made me aware of the things I want to do, not the things I have to do.What is The Artist’s Way? Well, it’s something that a lot more people know about than I realized. Carly gave me the book back when she was visiting in July (which I did not document because I was too busy being a blocked artists, AKA not posting at all). She had gone through it a year or so ago and had documented her progress on her very own blog. She swears by it as a way to open up creatively and artistically. Basically I’ve been writing these things called “morning pages” every day and I go on weekly “artist dates” where I basically hang out by myself and think about shit. I have no idea if I’m doing it correctly, but one thing I noticed today was that I went into Carly’s studio of my own will and made some art. By myself.

A little backstory: When we were freshmen in college, living in this no-longer-existent dorm, Carly and her art friends would do this thing every once in awhile called “Art Night” where they would get together and make art at night. They were creative in their work, but not in the naming of their extracurricular activities I guess.”Gross!” I would proclaim whenever it was Art Night. “Art is something I don’t do! I hate drawing and painting!”But Carly was fun to hang out with (it’s so nice that things in that regard haven’t changed) so I would put up with this Art Night. She tried to make me like art by introducing me to collage, but all I ended up doing was gluing a cut-out of a finger tip onto a piece of paper in an attempt to make it resemble a rocket. I felt stupid and sad and confused and angry. Art wasn’t for me and hasn’t been since.That is until I sat in Carly’s studio with her on my first evening here. She gave me a canvas, some paint, and a few tips and suddenly I was totally ok with where things were going.

I arrived in a land where dragonflies travel in packs and peacock feathers grow out of magic bubbles. Obviously.
I arrived in a land where dragonflies travel in packs and peacock feathers grow out of magic bubbles. Obviously. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

Yes, I give mad props to Carly for being patient with me and for giving me the tools with which I could create. However 11 years ago she had done the same thing and I wasn’t able to get myself to a place where I could just play with what was in front of me and see what happens. What’s different now? Well, I’m almost 30, so that’s probably got something to do with it. I’ve gone through some shit in my 20’s, like everyone, that has made me a more interesting person: relationships, jobs, traveling, drinking, crying… the usual.

But what I really attribute for my actual ability to just relax and play with the colors and paper that were in front of me is my progression with The Artist’s Way. I know it sounds cheesy, but it totally has put me in a different creative space. I’m not planning on making an art career or anything, but I’ve discovered that the bare-bones act of physically creating something right in front of your eyes is very inspiring and demonstrative of how the creative process works for other mediums of writing, acting, music, poetry, whatever. The muse can be something as simple as gravity pulling the paint to the canvas and the inspiration derived from it can create all sorts of crazy awesome shit.

So today, when I was feeling like I should go outside and explore down by the ocean and then go buy some milk and eggs for more bread pudding because that bread isn’t going to eat itself, I decided no. I was going to do what I wanted to do and that was stay in and work on some art. It felt weird, but also exciting. Carly wasn’t there to guide me or give me tips. I was doing this alone and had no one to trust but myself.

I'm not sure where it's going, but Julia Cameron would be proud.
I’m not sure where it’s going, but Julia Cameron would be proud. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

I don’t know if I’m doing The Artist’s Way right and I don’t know if I’m putting the paint on the canvas right and I don’t know if the things I’m brainstorming and writing about are right. But I’m learning not to care about right or wrong with any of it because they don’t matter. It’s pretty liberating and it’s way better than the stuffy 18 year-old me trying to navigate a collage like it was a science experiment.

OMG WHAT IF THE DESTRUCTION OF MY FRESHMEN DORM IS A METAPHOR FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF MY CREATIVE BLOCKS, BLOG?!

Only Julia Cameron’s magic spiritual art god knows the truth.



 

Azores Day 16:
Military Lady Time

Well Blog, I’m drunk. Yep. I’m drunk and happy and nostalgic and excited and sad and thankful. The drunk brings out the emotions, doesn’t it? I just feel so lucky, you know? Who would have thunk that ten years ago I would be forming friendships strong enough to carry me across the ocean to where I could have a terrific ladies night with wine and chats about how we all met our significant others?By we, I mean they. I don’t have a significant other. The married ones say they like to live vicariously through me. But I like to live vicariously through them. What’s more romantic than wanting to be with someone to the point where you’d move a remote Azorian island to be with them? I don’t know. Romance isn’t something I’m too familiar with these days. It’s ok Blog. I still have you right?I don’t talk about it too much here because I don’t want to come off as a crazy single almost-thirty woman, but I am a single almost-thirty woman. Am I crazy? I’d like to think not, but society would probably dictate otherwise because I’m single and almost thirty. Isn’t that the way? It’s kind of tragic when you think about it.Today I was walking to the store when I passed by what I like to call a man-bar. This is a bar that has an understood rule of only being for men. Think townie bar, then think Portuguese, then think men only. What you get is a bunch of dudes smoking and drinking in something that looks like a box made out of plywood because they have to protect themselves from the bull fights that happen from time to time in the street.

See, the bull will get angry and ram shit with its horns. The Portuguese respond with cheers and a feeling of superiority.
See, the bull will get angry and ram shit with its horns. The Portuguese respond with cheers and a feeling of superiority. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

Anyway, I passed by this so-called man bar, and the men said stuff to me. I don’t know what they said because I don’t speak Portuguese. I don’t know if what they said was pleasant or rude, so I did the only thing my single American lady self knows how to do and I hesitantly smiled at them. I figured this covers all my bases. If they were being pleasant, I was acknowledging their presence. If they were being rude, I was giving them a limited amount of attention.Fuck it. I don’t know how to be a woman in this country. I don’t know how to be a woman anywhere.I really don’t want to sound like I’m on a feminist soap box here, but it’s true about the objectification thing. It’s what we ladies tend to be perceived as on so many levels and it does get annoying after awhile. Those man-bar dudes could have been saying “hello, nice day we have today” for all I know, but because of all the catcalling I get back home that I do understand, I default to assuming they are saying something about my physical appearance and how I can improve it for their enjoyment. (i.e. “why don’t you give me a pretty smile?”)Whoa, Blog. I just got a little political. That doesn’t happen often. All I opened with was the lovely evening of drinking I had with the Air Force ladies. But maybe that’s it. There’s an element of passion and romance to the whole marrying a guy in the military thing, but there’s also a huge sacrifice on their part. I have to remember that in order to put myself in their position, I first have to find a guy I care enough about to where I would give up everything I’ve worked for in Minneapolis. I can’t imagine that, Blog. And for some reason society tends to place a “oh you poor, single thing” on my single status as a nearly-thirty something woman because I haven’t gone to those ends. Huh.I’m not discounting the ladies I hung out with tonight as women who gave up everything and are only defined by the men they are married to. They are amazing women who know themselves better than I probably ever will. They are the ones who define their households and they have not lost sight on what they want and are getting out of this life. I am just in a completely different position relationship-wise than they are. And basically I can only surmise that on some level we all want what the other has.Ok. I’m stepping down. I don’t write in you to voice my political and societal rants. But I’m not going to quell them when they come up, Blog. Don’t worry. I know you understand. With that, I’m letting the wine I consumed tonight close this entry and put me to bed.



Azores Day 17:
The Day of the Migraine

Blog, I’m sick. Not flu sick or cold sick, but like migraine sick. Portugal is an evil place with cheap and delicious wine that taunts you from the shelves on which it sits. So you drink the wine with your girlfriends and have hilarious chats and then you’re reminded that you really shouldn’t be so irresponsible because you get a migraine that won’t go away no matter how much you try to make it. Just when you think it’s gone, you sneeze and it’s back in full force. You numb it with painkillers and use sleep as the only form of relief. Still, the headache reigns on and you are forced to just ignore it. Fine. I’ll live my life with a migraine then. So you go out and do social things like attend Wing Night on base and meet Colonels and shit. You play your guitar and put up with this dog:

Ugh. You're the worst.
Ugh. You’re the worst. Photo by Sam Veldhouse

You fill your stomach with medicine and stretch and eat and starve and meditate and hydrate and cry and still your head hurts. Then you decide to call it an early night by taking a benedryl and the last of your Excedrin. Please God let this thing be done by the morning. Pedicures tomorrow!



Azores Day 18:
I think I got used to Europe being weird

Well Blog, I just got off a Skype call with my favorite brother. And by favorite brother, I mean only brother. He certainly wasn’t my favorite brother when we were growing up, but he’s alright people these days. He doesn’t go through my stuff and put my belongings in the toilet anymore, so I’ll accept him for who he is.Beyond that, today I got a pedicure and immediately went to the beach afterward to fulfill the one thing I do when I travel to anywhere with a beach:

I kept up tradition by writing Kerin’s name in the sand at the beachfront in Praia.
I kept up tradition by writing Kerin’s name in the sand at the beachfront in Praia. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

And then it was time to see some sights!

“Ready to see some sights?!” Carly excitedly proclaimed.
“Ready to see some sights?!” Carly excitedly proclaimed. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

Too bad we have terrible timing when it comes to venturing up mountainous hills to catch a glimpse of the island from above. Just as we parked the car at the top of Serra de Cume a pesky cloud came in to wreck the magical view; just like it did the last time I was here.

But right before it ruined my island vacation forever, I snapped this shot of a patchwork of fields.
But right before it ruined my island vacation forever, I snapped this shot of a patchwork of fields. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

Blog, have you ever had it where you’re in one place and you’re suddenly reminded of another place that is certainly not the place you are currently in? Like that one time my mom compared Venice to Fargo when she connected that both ”had a flooding problem”?

Though she did embrace the culture by wearing a hot pink windbreaker on an 80 degree day.
Though she did embrace the culture by wearing a hot pink windbreaker on an 80 degree day. Photo by Sam Veldhouse

Today that happened for but a brief moment when the road down the mountain was just narrow and drizzly enough to remind both Carly and I of England.

England.
England. Photo by Sam Veldhouse
Not England.
Not England. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013
Cat on purse. The only sensible thing that happened today.
Cat on purse. The only sensible thing that happened today.

Cat on purse. The only sensible thing that happened today. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013When this sort of thing happens, Europe no longer seems like this exotic, novel place. Maybe it’s because I’ve been here for three weeks. Maybe it’s because I’ve consistently been visiting for the past four years. I still love me some Europe, but it’s not weird anymore. I mean, it’s Europe weird and will always be Europe weird (i.e. why would eggs go in a refrigerator?), but it’s not like “OMG every little thing about this place is unfathomably weird and strange and I can’t comprehend it.” It’s just “Oh that’s right. This is the place where people walk in the middle of the road with 40 mile an hour traffic. Also, refrigerated dairy? Not a thing.”Anyway, just an observation on my part Blog. It was a nice thing to realize I guess.After some failed sight seeing and a failed attempt to attend Thirsty Thursday on base (also a place that I find strange but have gotten used to; as in “Oh, you want to go into this grocery store–err–commissary? Passport please. Also, you can’t buy anything.”, Carly and Casey and I played a nerdy zombie board game THAT WAS AWESOME!!! Of course I don’t remember what it was called and I’m too tired to go into the living room to see what it’s called, but it involved little action figures and dice and hero cards and a CD soundtrack. Play it, Blog. It’s super fun.With that, the Skype call with my brother (and adorable niece) drained most of my battery, so I’m signing off Blog. Only three more days left before I leave. Where has the time gone? Actually, I feel like I’ve been here for a long time. Probably because I’m on a tiny island that is full of grocery stores that card you and highways with pedestrians on them. Yay for overseas military!




Azores Day 19:
The Fernando Island Tour

Blog, tonight was the “Fernando Island Tour”. Basically, I rode in a Suburban with quote: “Portugal’s only redneck”. That would be Fernando:

This is Fernando.
This is Fernando. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

It is 4:30 in the morning here. An ungodly hour that is begging me to sleep, so I will give you this short rundown of the Fernando Island Tour.Fernando has this Suburban that he got when he was living in the States, but brought back with him to the Azores. So now he’ll pile his American Air Force friends into it and drive them around the island to little dive bars that you’d never think to go to otherwise all while blasting stand up by Larry the Cable Guy. I wish I were kidding about the choice of comedian there, but it’s true. Thick southern redneck humor blared out the windows as we maneuvered our way to Angra for dinner. I drank Azorian honey flavored moonshine and ate a fish that still had its eyes attached to it. All in all, it’s been a good night. One of those where you stop and ask yourself how you got into this particular situation.

For instance, why are we fake-eating bad taxidermy in a fluorescent-lit bar?
For instance, why are we fake-eating bad taxidermy in a fluorescent-lit bar? Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013


Azores Days 20 & 21:
I’m Falling Behind Because It’s All Coming to an End

Blog! I missed blogging yesterday because I’m the absolute worst! Just like this dog:

The Worst.
The Worst. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

More Dirty Curls songs were played at Praia Rock and I realized that Terceira has no comedy scene whatsoever for the Americans who are stationed here. People came out, Blog. People came out just to hear some Dirty Curls tunes. How fun is that? Pretty fun. This German guy who said I was “aw-way-some” last week was back this time and bought me a drink while I was on stage. Couples came out to spend their Saturday night with some erotic bluegrass. Courtney, there is an untapped market here. Islands need comedy too I guess.Tonight is my last night on the island. I’m going to miss this place so much it hurts. I feel like I have a life here instead of in Minneapolis, despite my love for the city I call home. I know once I get back, I’ll fall back into the rhythm of work and friends and shows and whatever else comes my way. I’m terrified of checking my voicemail though. I haven’t talked on a phone in three weeks.



Azores Day 22:
Bye

Well, I cried multiple times today Blog. There are pictures on cameras thousands of miles away that I will post once I receive them. Until then, I’ve decided that I hate airports. They are places where people who mean lots to each other have to say goodbye and that’s just the worst.

It's even worse than The Worst.
It’s even worse than The Worst. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

My last days on the island were kind of scattered. I played more Dirty Curls songs at Praia Rock on Saturday night and it was a success. Characters who I’d gotten to know on the island came out just to see me play. There was the German guy who wore his shirts half unbuttoned so the chain around his neck mingled with his chest hair (I know, right?!). It was so European I couldn’t even stand it but it was so European there was nothing to do but accept it. There was Baby Shaw and the Sutherlands and a certain Senior Airman who has taken a particular liking to me. There was Sergio and James the African and Roberts. There was a vet who writes poetry and a couple from base. And of course Carly and Casey. Alabama Dannon bought obscene amounts of beer for everyone. Dale sipped on a straw that wasn’t even in a drink. There was a four year old Portuguese girl who danced to Joe Biden like it’s been her jam years. Courtney, your songs are a hit with the kids.Earlier on Saturday Carly and I spent the afternoon at Quatro Ribieras where we were hit on by 13 year olds who whistled repeatedly at us and said random things like “I like boobs”. Then they threw themselves off the cliff into the water so we would be impressed. As per usual we were horrified.We even bought ice cream from the mysterious blue-eyed surfer man at the snack stand where they have my favorite novelty: the oddly-named Choco Clack.

One Choco Clack please.
One Choco Clack please. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

Sunday entailed more Quatro Ribieras with Carly and the certain SrA who has taken an interest in me. We invited him to dinner. With Megan. He said yes, and we were once again horrified.

This was not the worst thing she did to him.
This was not the worst thing she did to him. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

The man is a fucking champ.And then there was today where I cried. I cried because I have really, really, really great friends who I love and are like family to me and they live far away from me all the time. The worst part is, I don’t know when I’ll see them again. I don’t even know where I’ll see them again. It could be here in the States, it could be in Europe. It could be in the winter or the summer. It could be me seeing them or them seeing me. I don’t know anything other than the fact that one will more than likely need to fly on a plane to get to the other. People are always saying goodbye to each other and crying about it and it’s always happening at airports. They’re the worst.Then again, my sister in law was reunited with her family yesterday and it involved an airport and tears–the happy kind.

Mom? Is it really you? (Thanks to Justine Conover for the photo!)
Mom? Is it really you?
(Thanks to Justine Conover for the photo!)

I’m not in the military, but sometimes I feel like it with all the saying good bye I have to do. How did I end up with so many military things in my life, Blog? On one hand it’s cool to have access to places like England and Italy and little Portuguese islands in the Atlantic, but on the other hand those places are all far away and are where my friends live. Lame.So now I’m here at Logan International in Boston awaiting my flight back to Minneapolis. I keep thinking people are either Portuguese or in the Air Force when they are clearly neither. I’m annoyed with the conversations I overhear because I can understand them. I looked out the window at the street for a full 30 seconds and was overwhelmed by the advertising I saw. Welcome to America.Home is home though, and it’ll be nice to focus on my life in Minneapolis. I don’t know what I’m doing there Blog, but I should probably stop avoiding whatever it is by hanging out at beautiful swimming holes and drinking caipirinhas with my friends from college. Time to be a responsible grown up. I think I see a bar over yonder that serves wine. Here’s to reality!



[In Conclusion] I’m Feeling Landlocked, but I Think I’ll Be OK

Greenway you’re no ocean, but you’re just as fun and dangerous.
Greenway you’re no ocean, but you’re just as fun and dangerous.

Greenway you’re no ocean, but you’re just as fun and dangerous.Wow Blog. Yesterday was hard. I think it had to do with a combination of my island adventure ending and The Artist’s Way. Julia said it was going to get hard by week 4, and I thought “yeah, hard like ‘oh I don’t feel like doing this anymore’ hard”, but no. It’s hard, Blog. Emotionally difficult. I’ve never gone through therapy before, but I imagine it would be something like what I’m going through right now. And all I’m really doing is morning pages. It’s crazy what half an hour of stream-of-consciousness writing every day can do to you after a month. But don’t worry about me. It’s all for the better. Being back has been hard, Artist’s Way or no, though. I miss my friends on the island and I strangely miss the ocean that I also fear. It’s like it’s this character in my life that is both strong and dependable, but also crazy and dangerous. Carly and I at one point compared it to one of those friends that you have an amazing time with, but who are so crazy and intense that you tend to keep them at a distance for safety reasons. Like, “Oh ocean! You’re so crazy and fun! I have such a good time swimming in you and jumping in you. But sometimes you’re unpredictable and a little too spontaneous for my liking and knock me off a rock and I scrape my knee and almost drown.” You know, Blog. One of thosefriends.But I’ve never felt landlocked before, and today for a split second I got an idea of what that feeling is like. I for a moment had the realization that land was beyond me for thousands of miles in all directions. The ocean; my crazy but wonderful friend was thousands of miles away from me. Last week I could literally sit up in my bed and see it out the window. Now it’s just trees and buildings and roads and people everywhere.But hey, Target is here and that’s something we can all appreciate. I bought a storage bin yesterday for 6 dollars, Blog. 6 dollars.I walked around Uptown this afternoon to run some errands and by the time I made it to Calhoun Square I was feeling pretty good. This is my city after all. If I’m going to live in this country, then I’m going to live here. Minneapolis has been good to me, and I appreciate that. I have autonomy here. I know my way around and where I can go for sunglasses or groceries or bike repair (because I stupidly over-filled my back tire yesterday and consequently popped it). Courtney McLean herself stopped by this evening and we dished on the roof for a bit about boys and shows and travels. Yes, it does feel good to be home after all.



11906350_1490144624615609_112073370_nSamantha Veldhouse is a writer and actor working in Minneapolis. Originally from Finley, ND, her high school graduation consisted of 15 people.  She loves cats.  She probably has one of those weird brain parasites that mice give cats, that cats give to people and make people do their cat-bidding.  Playing make-believe postman as a child, her brother would “live” in the tree house, and she would come by with the mail (i.e. rocks) and “deliver” said “mail” by throwing rocks at her brother. They get along better now. Find Sam and blog at  In the Veldhouse: Blog and Sam, documenting life.

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