Tuesday, November 22, 2011

•gratitude, and a sort of California barometer, revs'd•

Just grateful for all of it. The whole, beautiful mess.

Listening to Frances Ford Coppola speak through the radio and making leeky, appley greens with egg for breakfast, I am reminded: how small, this world. Absurdly small. I don't know this guy, but thirty years ago, he held my cousin when she was a baby. Tomorrow, I'm going to hold her hello, in Pennsylvania. Charlotte lives in New York, but we rendezvous in other places. "How'd you get here from Maine?" my son asked a friend of ours, just last week. He'd mistaken her for Charlotte, and no wonder. She's in the air, as is the way with certain people at certain times of the year. Tomorrow, I will be in the air.

What a tangled fascination, this life. What luck there is in the world, and what horror. Our town has made international news of late, thanks to an unpleasant decision by a police officer and various higher-ups. Like getting shampoo in your eyes only the shampoo is hot-sauce, I explained to Penn. He caught me watching the video of the row of cross-legged students in sweatshirts, the casual lieutenant spraying red into their faces. "Is those police men?" he asked. "Are they making bad decisions?"

The stories we are telling. The food we are putting in our mouths. The weather, how large it feels. How we go on, about our days, remaining calm. The moon can sweep us off our feet at any moment. The air can change. We can get dropped. At any moment.

Everything matters. Movement, especially, is key. xox

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Borrowed Earrings, and a Love Letter to my Bryn Mawr Friends

(This post was partly inspired by Bella's prompt this week for the 52 Photos Project, which was to photograph something you've borrowed or would like to borrow.)

Five and a half years ago, I attended my fifteenth college reunion, and sometime during the weekend, I admired my friend Giulia’s earrings. Giulia always has gorgeous jewelry, and this particular pair of earrings was made of green amber and silver. She gave them to me—for no particular reason, except that I expressed my love for them, and she loves me. I protested a bit, but she insisted that I take them. So I agreed to take them on loan, and over the next five years, I thought of her—of course—every time I wore them.

This past spring was an especially hard one, but it was also my twentieth college reunion, and I knew I needed to go, because my college friends are some of the dearest, steadiest, most beloved people in my life. And when I packed to head east, I made sure Giulia’s earrings were with me. I figured it was the obvious time to return them.

I’m not sure Giuls remembered that I had the earrings until I handed them to her, but when I gave them back, she proceeded to search through the jewelry she’d brought with her until she found this pair:

She decided I needed to take them home with me, and of course, this time I agreed. At Bryn Mawr, we like to joke that once we’ve done anything twice, it’s a tradition, and so Giulia and I have started our own little earring loan tradition. She picks a pair for me to borrow for five years, and I bring them back at the next reunion.


It’s difficult to put into words just exactly how much Giulia and all my other friends from college mean to me. I’ve thought of them pretty much every day since last May, and the energy of their love washes over me frequently. That love has always been there, ever since college, but I think something about this particular reunion marker really hit many of us hard, in the best possible way.

I had a moment during the weekend, in our class meeting, when I looked around the vividly familiar dorm living room, and saw all those vividly familiar faces—the faces of people who are incredibly close to me, and the faces of people I really barely know, except that I’ve “known” them in some way for the last twenty-four years. That’s more than half my life.

Faces you’ve known for more than half your life mean something—something significant. They may not be the faces of dear friends, and yet—they’re not at all strangers. They’re something more than community, even, though they’re certainly that. Perhaps they’re like an odd kind of extended family, people you feel connected to, people who share some vitally important part of your history, even if you really don’t know a whole lot about who they are, or what their daily lives are like.

And then there are the people who actually are my dear friends. I don’t know that there are really words that can adequately describe the feelings of nourishment, love, acceptance, gratitude, comfort, support that I receive from this group of people. They’re home to me.

I was stunned, several times during the weekend, to realize that these friends have always seen me, since I was seventeen, in ways that it took me many, many years to see myself. They knew what was in me and who I could be long before I did. Simply because they love me, and they were paying attention. I certainly hope I’ve been paying enough attention to be able to see each of them in such a deep way.

At the end of the weekend, a small group of us went for brunch at a local diner before dispersing to our separate parts of the world for another five years. (We’ve done this Sunday brunch thing at the last two reunions now, so you know what that means….)

I was sitting in the diner booth, stirring my coffee and listening to Giulia, who was sitting next to me and telling a story in her inimitable, animated, gorgeous, larger-than-life way. I turned to look at her, and it took my breath away. Every bit of her was so familiar and dear—her beautiful face and smile, her mannerisms, her speech patterns and laugh. I know them so well that I can call them to mind in a heartbeat. Just thinking of her calms me, makes me feel loved and joyful and lucky.

And I’m incredibly fortunate. Because Giulia isn’t the only friend I feel this way about—I have a whole pile of friends like that where she came from. And I won’t list them here—I’ll let Giuls stand in for them all—but I trust they know who they are. And I hope they know how very, very, very much I love them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Just a snapshot of just a piece. But it's shaping up into a warm little nest that fits me well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

•get on to the bus•

Soul Coughing, and red velvet, and peering out at the large world through large windows. Those words remind me of Pittsburgh. To your commute, on this Tuesday! xox

Monday, November 14, 2011

•happy monday•

We could do worse than have a slightly manic one. I'll take mine in Purple Haze. xox

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

•teeny tiny art•

The one that got away. "Mustard Sally" didn't make it to the teeny-tiny-art exchange on Sunday, on account of some frothy growing glue that got out of hand. But it's nice to have her here, at home. (Note to self: don't test a new glue on an otherwise done project.)

Back in the summer, my friend Julie hatched a plan to get all of her friends to make more art. Inspired by Art-o-Mat, she decided to host a "tiny art" exchange in November, amid cocktails and appetizers and friendship. The art would be palm-ishly sized, and everyone would get to ooh, aah, and bring home treasure at the end of the night. Well, that night was Sunday the 6th. And oh, was there treasure! Gobs upon cookie-swap-gobs of it. Beautiful stuff, all. Fortunately, I only needed to pull one all-nighter to get my tiny pieces ready for the final reveal, because.... everyone in my family, as it turns out, is completely absorbed by art! Penn spent the weekend writing and drawing and stapling and taping, Troy made origami caterpillars out of old maps, and I pasted and cut and pasted and cut. It's not exactly news. We've arted in our house before. Supplies live on the windowsill. Houses and carports and Boba Fetts and snowmen are drawn and finessed and decorated and recreated on a daily basis. But this weekend was different. We couldn't stop making art.

It was fabulous.

It might just be the new house order.

The icing on the teeny, tiny cake: my brother Art was among the participants. Undaunted by the country between us, he sent his box of teeny-tinies in the mail. And I sent his swapped collection back to New York yesterday. Very much looking forward to Skype-ing when he opens it! We would have Skyped on Sunday, but oh, the wicked EST to PST time change. It works much better in the reverse.

More art that came out of the teeny-tiny-splosion:

Penn named this "air heart." It makes a little puff on your cheek, if you squeeze the poof.

An homage to... well, I suppose it doesn't even matter.

Now, for the clean up. I'm not daunted by the task, but I don't exactly want to put the supplies away... xox

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I just bought a vacuum cleaner, and I'll say this for the carpeting in my new home--it certainly does hide the dog hair well.

And on the down side, it certainly does hide the dog hair well. Yikes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More Self Portraits

Last night, prompted by a conversation with a friend about her daughter's Halloween makeup, I felt a sudden need to draw all over my face with eyeliner. I've been thinking for some time about taking self portraits that incorporate some sort of fantastical makeup design, but somehow I never bothered. Because apparently, I was waiting for a really convenient time--like 10:00 at night on a night when I'd had the flu for several days prior. When I had to be up early to go get a U-Haul van so that I could move furniture into my new home. (About which, more later, once it's safely through the "worse before it gets better" stage of moving in chaos. The one in which cardboard features heavily as a decorative device.)

And then, although I hadn't exactly planned to take pictures last night, once I had all that makeup drawn on me, I couldn't very well waste the opportunity.

So here you go, in keeping with my new (but apparently ongoing) obsession with ethereal, fairy-like characters and candlelight in my self portraits. (I have no explanation, really. I was not particularly an ethereal, glitter-and-fairies sort of child. I'd love to think these current ethereal fairy-like creatures have a certain Shakespearean forest creep factor, but it's entirely possible they're just glittery. But whatever. They keep presenting themselves. I think I've decided my job with creative obsessions is simply to play them out to their natural finishing points.)

The last one is hands-down my favorite. I think I now also have an obsession with editing my photos to look like paintings. Yum.

The texture I used on this one can be found here. Honestly,
I wasn't really that into textures until I found this guy's
textures. They're really saturated and painterly and beautiful.