The blog of storyteller and folklorist Dr. Zalka Csenge Virág introduced me to the concept of A to Z blogging– in a 30-day month, you can take one day off per week and still cover the alphabet at one letter per day.
Blog posts are work! But I made some drawings for April, in the medium I find easiest and least intimidating, which is blue non-repro pencil followed by fine-tip Sharpie marker, on 3×5 cards. My favorite was back at letter C, on a day I was busy and tired and dashed it off as quickly as possible:
Here’s the whole batch. I may do another round in June… maybe writing three-sentence stories?
I didn’t have access to Friday Five prompts when I felt like answering them today, so I started my own set: What (if anything) have you had on your walls, as a kid and now? But then I wrote until I had five parts of an answer to this one question, so I’m doing it wrong, oh well!
My mom likes French Impressionist painting, so my sister and I had Renoir prints on the wall of our room. Mine was Girl With a Hoop and my sister’s was A Girl With a Watering Can.
In my head, Girl With a Hoop’s name was Louisa and she wasn’t that nice– a bit stuck-up when we talked. I never spoke to Girl With a Watering Can.
I chose light blue when I moved into my own bedroom (formerly my mom’s sewing room) and got to pick the color. Later I wished I’d picked a glossier cream color, to go with the dark brown furniture. But I was five, five-year-olds don’t think about cream as a color or know about semi-gloss paint.
Kidspirational posters (Hang In There!) that teachers gave away at the end of the year, calendar pictures, maps from National Geographic (Space and The Crusades were my favorites), magazine collages. I think I chose the magazine portraits for size and look as much as subject, which is why Philip Glass’ face is weirdly prominent in my mental landscape. (There was also Cher and… Steve Jobs?!)
When I first arrived in Portland, my college orientation group rode the bus downtown (look for the brown beaver icon to find your way back!) and went to a cheap-imports store to get stuff for our dorm rooms. I knew I wanted a poster, but what would I not regret or tire of? Thus I spent my college years looking at a big photo of vegetables in a basket.
Now the art on our walls is mostly pieces by Sanguinity and me and our friends and family. Sang’s yarn sheepdog over the bed (soft in case an earthquake dumps it on our heads), my portrait of her and Louie the dog as Athena and owl, Sang’s college drawings of a downtown church, a painting by her grandmother, a signed Dr. Eldritch comic, 3D pieces by Bookherd and Nicole hanging inside the IKEA bookshelves. I feel very rich in art. The living room also has a world map (but you have to stand on the sofa arm to read it closely) and a laminated periodic table. I think if our house has a decor, it’s “Classroom,” down to the clock.
Just today I started listening to Iris Dement. I was raised on country music and can’t believe I missed her entirely til now. This one made me tear up– I feel like I know several people just now who are feeling diminished, but who mean so much to the people who love them.
An interview with Atul Gawande by economist Tyler Cowen that’s not in the New Yorker, so maybe you missed it? Has sound (which I haven’t tested) and transcript. I liked this bit:
COWEN: Do you feel you’ve underachieved in life?
GAWANDE: That’s a hard question. [laughs] I know objectively that it’s kind of ridiculous that I would think I’ve underachieved, and that I’m proud of all the random things that I’ve been able to be part of. But I bear a kind of chronic dissatisfaction and sense that I’ve got much more to follow through on than I’ve managed to. So yeah, I think “underachieved” is the wrong word, and yet I don’t feel I’ve achieved nearly enough, and that half of what I’ve achieved, I wish I could go back and fix.
My morning walk took me past this little wooden shed on campus. It wasn’t open for business, but the sign says it’s called “art is a piece of cake” and is an art thesis project by Daphne Lyda. Fill me in if you know what’s inside!
Since the new year turned I have been getting off the bus after work at one of the parks a mile from my house, and walking home. It’s no longer quite dark at that hour, but it’s mostly dark. Parents are pushing their children on the swingset, in the mostly dark. Every night this week I’ve heard geese honking overhead and searched the sky for the V, finally able to see it but just barely.
On Tuesday night I crossed paths with another walker by the playground, and after he had passed I could smell his fresh chewing gum. I spent a moment idly trying to ID the flavor, but it wasn’t quite bubblegum, and it wasn’t Juicy Fruit or spearmint, the other flavors that are imprinted in my brain from my mom keeping them in her purse. Still, I walked on with a warm fellow-feeling for my fellow human animals.
The next night I got off the bus at the same stop, and took the same route through the park. There was no one by the playground, but…I smelled the fresh chewing gum scent! Ghostly possibilities ran through my mind until I saw the porta-potty stationed on the other side of the path.
It was clean-porta-potty smell that had given me that glow of benevolence toward all humanity. I laughed at myself…and took a different route for the rest of the week.
Friday I got off the bus at the Reed campus and walked home past the art building. The display at the front had soft sculptures of sculptures, with signage about the hours and materials costs involved in making them. My favorite was Hirst’s For the Love of God, which Tiphany Laney made in 17.75 hours for $24.50. Here it is next to the original.
The front page of Wikipedia is one of the few websites I let myself visit without guilt while I’m at work. Most of the internet I keep blocked off most of the time with the Strict Workflow (formerly Strict Pomodoro) Chrome extension, but if I get that want-to-chew-my-arm-off feeling, Wikipedia’s allowed.
Anyway, today’s featured article is about Weather Machine, a weather-predicting sculpture in Portland’s Pioneer Square that’s been here since 1988 and I never heard of it til now. How did this happen? I knew about the green and red light on top of that building downtown, but not this?
Must figure out when I can get to Pioneer Square at noon. And actually, I’ll need at least three visits.