When I get to the Sunday morning symposiums up here, which is most every Sunday at 10:30, I usually come away with my head bulging, my psyche spinning, and my vocabulary inventory blushing because of the new things/words I learn. Though I somehow completed two masters and a doctorate, I never got an education in the classics. Sad. Not that the poor old brick walls of Queen Anne High School in Seattle are to blame (curiously the school is now a yuppy condominium complex); I've had plenty of time to fill in the blanks, but never did. Now finally, in my 80's, I'm tickled to be learning a bit. Last Sunday I sat fascinated to learn that Steinbeck's characters and how they evolved were based on a concept of societal phalanxes, a concept he learned from his biologist friend studying the interdependence of species in tide pools in the Monterey bay. I came away mulling about phalanxes (any closely knit group) and which ones I belonged to. Clearly I'm not yet a part of the Oakmont phalanx; still quivering on the edges a bit. And though I've registered to vote, I'm still a stranger to Santa Rosa, relying on OnStar to lead me to anything but the nearest Safeway. On the other hand I think I'm half way accepted into the lesbian group here, Rainbow Women. I achieved that accidentally but getting recruited to the Steering Committee.
In my six months here I've taken several painting classes on the premises but failed to connect deeply with other artists. I've attended the meetings of two different art associations and joined neither. I've done everything except make persimmon cookies. Next Monday I motor down to the Bay Area to attend a workshop for two days with my old painting group, Watercolor Connection. Now this brings up another problem. I AM a part of that phalanx, ten women closely bound by their passion for painting and by the life experiences they have shared together, artistic and otherwise. Clearly we love one another. Can one ever leave such a phalanx? Should they?
One of my friends in Watercolor Connection was born in N. Korea and with her mother and sister escaped as a young child, leaving her home, her father, and everything they loved and possessed. On Meet the Press last Sunday and the news every night this week I look at the photos of the N. Korean military ranks marching in lock step, a giant terrifying phalanx. Clearly it was right for my friend's mother to take this drastic step. I'm just not sure what is right for me. I'm still hooked in so many ways to my life as I knew it before. Does this keep me from assimilating here?
Egads, I'm even having my teeth cleaned down there next week. Tch.