Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Diana Athill's book (I'm about midway) is reading pleasure and writing inspiration.
Her memoirs are such candid invitations to conversation--the kind of book you keep wanting to stop reading for a few minutes to write your own--that you feel like she's right in the room with you telling you what life was like for her.
One of the things I love is how authentically she renders people, never painting anyone as saint or villain. Nobody, including (and maybe especially) Diana herself, is idealized. If pertinent to the story, she tells the kinds of things about herself that most writers (and ourselves in normal conversation) would leave out.
This book dovetails with a collage project I'm working on. Lyn Belisle's class on "Postcards to Myself" was a game changer for me and makes me see how similar visual composition and writing are.
In this class, she teaches us to just glue images and shapes onto a large mat board without thinking about where it's going. There will be ugly patches and messy bits, keep moving. Don't overthink, don't try to control. (This is the hard part for me as I tend to over-think every single thing.)
Then you stop at some point. You take a pre-cut 5 x 7 mat and move it around on the big piece to see if you can find parts of the whole that click. And voila! you find some. You get your craft knife and cut them out, and then you keep looking and looking, thinking, "I made that!"
I was always drawn to art, but for a variety of reasons only put one toe in that river and never got as deep as ankles.
Now here I am, living in my cozy little cave filled with art supplies, rarely going anywhere, staying up all hours gluing and painting and cutting. The bed, the floor, the sofa, the bathroom--every surface is covered with giblets of paper. My hands at this moment are splotched with burnt umber and green, white tempera paint on my nails.
Somewhere in this thick book of Diana Athill's (I wish I could find it), she says something like this: There is no greater pleasure than making something that without your doing it never would have existed.
The sun will soon be up and the skunk outside will be gone and I'll take a trip to get my morning Diet Coke from Percy and Andy at the Whataburger window. I'll be riding along so happy about Kamala, collages and chapters!
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Hannah Watters: the Georgia high school sophomore who posted photos of crowded halls in her school, 90 % unmasked.
Betty told me that when she was asked why she did it, she echoed John Lewis: "Sometimes you just have to get in good trouble."
She's receiving death threats but she's not backing down for the good trouble that got her suspended.
This fifteen-year-old is a true teacher of courage to her teachers, school administrators, fellow and sister students, and the rest of us.
Sunday, August 9, 2020
I'm getting to feel quite at home in the casita, cozy as a bug in a Turkish rug.
I've spent this week-end working on a little art project. I threw away my first five or six efforts, overwrought as they were, but finally it's taking wings and I don't want to stop.
That and some phone calls and a long texting session with Elena and watching some movies--it's been a good and relaxing weekend.
"I can't wait to see you and hug you!" I said to Elena.
"Daddy said we can't because of this stupid virus," she wrote back.
Then she said she had to take a shower. "Don't forget to wash your knees and elbows," I said.
She immediately fired back with an emoji of a face with one raised eyebrow: 🤨 --as if to say "Whaaaaat?"
"I'm laughing," I said. "I can just see your face doing that."
To which she sent me a quick selfie doing the same face:
One of the times Mike and I broke up, I got rid of a lot of pictures-- like a teenager in love who "hates" her ex--so I only have a few to go with the story of the best of times.
He wasn't the first man in my life, but he was the last. We had two chapters, several years apart, the second when I was 65. Both chapters had bumpy endings. But at this point in my life, I mostly remember the dance of the good times. (He's such a good dancer he made me feel like I was--which I'm not)
I remember that night in Arkansas pulling out a cigarette and smoking it. He didn't smoke and I rarely saw him drink, but it was a test: I didn't want to fall in love with a man I couldn't be my whole self with so I wanted to lay it all out. But Mike's mantra was "No rules, Baby."
We rode on his Harley and in his white truck, all over the place. If I saw something I wanted to photograph, he'd do a U-Turn before I could get the words out. He was, I gotta say, my favorite boyfriend ever.
This is one of my favorite photos of Mike--in Chapter One, about 12 years ago. He never saw a dog he didn't pet. This was one he encountered somewhere in Mississippi as we were driving from Texas to Georgia, or vice versa. He didn't get down in a squat and talk doggie talk; it was more natural than that. He saw a dog, any dog, and he reached out.
This is a photo he took of me as we were saying good-bye the first time. (I was heading to Cape Cod, he back home to Georgia.) Me in my first Mini Cooper, still in my fifties--how young we were, how happy, how free!
Yesterday, I was waiting in the cash machine line. Ahead of me was a white Ford truck with a little dent in the bumper. I got a little jolt when I saw the arm reaching out of the Ford's window, then saw the driver's all white hair.
From that angle, truck, arms, and hair, it could have been Mike--except there were no UT stickers on the back window and the white hair wasn't braided in back.
Just for a nanosecond, I wondered if Mike was in Texas?
When I met Mike in 2007, he was driving the same truck. Those trucks were meant to last; he's driving his still, though without MoJo now, his favorite dog ever who died this year.
I was traveling solo, just getting started on a long road trip to Cape Cod, when I took the Hope, Arkansas exit, and went into the train depot-turned visiting center....
The brief sighting of a stranger yesterday took my mind on a whole other trip. I might write some more about that trip today....
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Today has been a Saturday. Here's where we ended to the day--with lots more to go. I was going to try not to look before it was finished, but I couldn't help myself.
Thanks to Kate, I got Carlos, Pedro, and the plumber, Tony--and it's moving along swimmingly as I putter with some art projects and end each day reading in the casita and eating grapes and cheese.
I also feed the kitty. She's not mine, I think Jan and I share her. So far, she's not letting me pet her, but she comes a little closer each day and meows her gratitude.
Friday, August 7, 2020
Thanks to Lorraine for this story this morning!
At 40, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), who never married and had no children, was walking through a park in Berlin when he met a little girl who was crying because she had lost her favorite doll. She and Kafka searched for the doll but could not find it.
Kafka told her to come back the next day and they would look again. The next day when they had not yet found the doll, Kafka gave the girl a letter “written by the doll” saying...”Please don’t cry, I have taken a trip to see the world and I will write you about all my adventures.”
Thus began a story that continued to the end of Kafka’s life.
During their meetings he read the letters from the doll carefully written by him about her travels, adventures and conversations. The little girl loved the letters and news from her beloved doll.
One day Kafka bought a new doll and told the little girl that her doll had returned to Berlin.
“It doesn’t look like my doll at all.” said the little girl.
Kafka handed her another letter in which the doll wrote: “My travels and adventures have transformed me. But I’ve missed you and I’m so happy to be with you again.” The little girl was so delighted, she hugged the doll and happily took her home.
Kafka died less than a year later. They never saw each other again.
The little girl grew up and kept the doll safe. One day she took the doll off the shelf, fondly remembering the old man and the letters. While examining the doll she found a note tucked in between the head and the body. It said: “Everything you love you will eventually lose, but in the end your love will return to you in a different form.”
After all the planning and buying, today is the day when the coming together of all the parts reveals itself. The tiles are going up today! Carlos was here until late last night prepping and he will be back this morning to start mixing grout and arranging tiles.
I'm a little nervous when any project gets to this point. Up until now, it's all been shaping up in my mind, but now it's time to see if what's in my mind matches what shows up on the walls and floors!