with oma in petaluma


This summer when I went back to the States, I spent a few days hanging out with my sister, Oma, in Petaluma. We met out at the converted chicken coop that used to be my dad’s music studio — Studio Um — but which is now used by my sister and my mother for painting. It has now become Studio Om, and the studio definitely had a different feeling inside. My dad’s instruments have been moved into the back of the studio, and new space has been opened up for canvases. Also, the walls have been painted and redecorated and the studio is now brighter than I think it’s ever been. I like the new art life of the studio a lot — transformation and change are the goods of our human time on the planet.

My sister and I didn’t really do anything special together, but we did spend time hanging out with friends, we went out for Mexican food, and I took her out for a birthday dinner. But doing nothing special is what one wants to do with those that are close, right? I would rather have the time to talk and live everydayness with someone that I haven’t seen for a long time than to concentrate on an exterior spectacle that is ‘exciting’ and ‘new.’

I wish that I had brought some of my sister’s incredibly funny and terribly weird comic art out to Japan so that I could scan it and post it, but unfortunately it’s all in storage in Oakland. (Hey Oma, you want to send some new work out my way so that I can scan it and post it?) My sister also writes poetry, paints, and studies organic farming — and if that’s not the definition of the Northern California good life, then I don’t know what is. Northern California has a disproportionately high concentration of non-commercial artistic and aesthetic production, as well as a strong sense of the place of land and landscape within local community culture — there’s the Sebastapol apple fair, the Sonoma County harvest fair, Butter and Eggs Day in Petaluma, tons of microbreweries that use local hops, and of course the deluge of grape growing that’s covering Sonoma County like hair.

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