Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Astoria ... Priceless

It's now been almost a year since I quit working at a regular old 9-5 bullshit job. The last one being 7:15 AM to 5:45 PM, 4 days a week, commuting 25 miles each way, in L.A. On the freeway. Which means your life is run by road rage and sitting in the air-sewage blithely called smog. As an underpaid drone for an international corporation. The 1 year anniversary of my liberation is coming up on December 3.

So here I am in Astoria, having chosen to move here to be a "starving artist." Not that I could get gainfully employed in this town, anyway. I'm way too overqualified, which is the local polite way of saying, "I don't know you, my mother doesn't know you, my neighbors don't know you, we only hire friends and relatives, and you're too damn old, anyway."

Now I don't mean to sound bitter, because I'm not. I knew I probably wouldn't be able to get a job before I got here, and actually experienced the Astoria Employment Debacle personally. I figured that would force me to get creative and start my own business. Which I did.

However, now it's almost winter. The tourists are gone. There is no more Sunday Market. There are no more cruise ships. And there's nobody to peddle my photos to. It's going to be a long, hard, winter.

As much as I dread it financially, it's also liberating. This old Yankee is finally free to enjoy my first fall in 22 years. I am almost giddy from seeing leaves changing, and feeling the nip in the air again after 22 years of arid L.A. no-season desert.

Every time I get worried about money, I just walk out the front door and smell the air. It doesn't smell! I can actually see the sky! It's crisp and invigorating. I look south up the hill and see the colorful leaves, clouds sidling by, and all those incredible Victorian houses outlined so precisely against Astoria's own special light.

I go back inside to the kitchen, and look out the window north, and the rolling vista of Washington across the river. To the west, the Astoria bridge, and perhaps a passing ship. Another hillside, the changing trees there, and more enchanting fairy-tale houses. A view so amazing it still makes me wide-eyed with delight.

Like they (whoever "they" are) say, "Money ain't everything." And living in a place like this is beyond priceless.

Astoria Photografpix

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