Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I've My Work Cut Out for Me

Only three weeks left of summer and I haven't cleared time for lazing about and watching some of my favorites. Am I missing anything?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Themes on a Vacation

I have several hundred pictures from the big vacation. I've been debating how to organize all of this while avoiding one giant bore-fest of a post and not taking it to the extreme of only posting about the vacation for weeks on end. But it is my blog; and my posterity (if they ever get here) may appreciate it one day. Plus, I might like to look back and remind myself of one of my favorite vacations so far.

So I'm going thematic. Today's theme: Art. The Chicago Institute of Art (July 3rd) and the Kansas City Art Festival (June 28th). Totally out of order, but I hope that this way you get a sense of my vacation. And really, chronological isn't always my thinking style.

So, I've always, always, always, always wanted to go to all of The Big Art Museums of the World. The Met, Louvre, The Guggenheim. The Art Institute of Chicago was my first taste of this goal and it did not disappoint. Mostly because I got to see a couple of originals that I've only dreamed about.

1. Georges Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Thank Ferris Buehler. Thank the Steven Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George. I've always wanted to see this in person and it is magnificent.

2. Georgie O'Keefe's Sky Above Clouds IV, 1965

This doesn't do its size justice. Maybe this will give you an idea:

Joan Didion has an essay about O'Keefe and she references this painting. To see it in person was simply moving for my geeky self. The essay begins,

I recall an August afternoon in Chicago in 1973 when I took my daughter, then seven, to see what Georgia O'Keefe had done with where she had been. One of the vast O'Keeffe 'Sky Above Clouds' canvases floated over the back stairs in the Chicago Art Institute that day, dominating what seemed to be several stories of empty light, and my daughter looked at it once, ran to the landing, and kept on looking. "Who drew it," she whispered after a while. I told her. "I need to talk to her," she said finally.

My daughter was making, that day in Chicago, an entirely unconscious but quite basic assumption about people and the work they do. She was assuming that the glory she saw in the work reflected a glory in its maker, that the painting was the painter as the poem is the poet, that every choice one made alone -- every word chosen or rejected, every brush stroke laid or not laid down -- betrayed one's character. Style is character.

O'Keefe is forever intertwined in this Didion essay for me. Seeing this painting taking up "several stories of empty light" made me understand, once again, how art begets art.

Away we go with images, images, and more images coupled with a bit of travelogue.

Next in the thematic post: the Kansas City Arts Festival. On Sunday, June 28th, before driving across Missouri into Nauvoo, we spent the morning driving into Kansas City and tracking down something fun to do. We bumped right into this arts festival which included interesting goods to look at, excellent people watching, a delicious lunch at a brewery, and the cutest little frozen yogurt bar I've ever seen. Some highlights:

That took way too long to create. More vacation posts to come (slowly but surely).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hoot Hoot

Blogger reads: Draft autosaved at 12:12 AM. I sit on the living room floor, wedged between couch and coffee table listening to iTunes, the house and atmosphere finally cooling from yet another sizzling July day. I am reminded that I should get my behind in bed. But I want to check facebook, look at blogs one more time, maybe write something on my own.

I am an entirely nocturnal being, a night owl, if you will. My circadian rhythms sound like jazz. I peak in the late evening. The evening chronotype. And I've been this way since childhood.

It kills me during the school year. The students and I spend first period together pretending we're somewhere just shy of comatose. But in the summer my offbeat schedule works for me. There are some things I simply love about a late summer night. Most relate to the quiet the night offers...

Stars hanging in the dark sky above me.
                          The crickets' screaming legs.
          Lamplight-cast shadows.
            Nothing but the sound of an oscillating fan.
  Books you can't put down.
                         Long and winding conversations.
Meteor showers.
        Thunderstorms that strike into the middle of the night.
Trains shifting and clanking 
     in the gully near my childhood home.
The moon tracing its silver fingers over passing clouds.
             The occasional car's humming doppler effect 
                                                                                                as it passes.

All things calm come in the night.  Walt Whitman, good old Walt, celebrates the mood of night much better than I ever could:

A Clear Midnight

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the
themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

What time of day suits you best? What do you love so much about it?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cleaning ADD

1. Avoid breaking neck on unpacked (but not necessarily put away) messes of shoes on bedroom floor.

2. Start cleaning up shoe mess.

3. Give up.

4. Fold towels.

5. Spot camera.

6. Forget cleaning altogether.

7. Go outside.

8. Take picture of "front porch"

Note to self: sweep stairwell.
Addendum to note-to-self: on mission. stairwell sweeping must wait.

9. Take pictures of stuff you've meant to take pictures of in backyard.

10. Melt in sun.

11. Go inside.

12. Stare at towel

13. Take "raw" self-portrait sans
makeup/good lighting.

14. See picture, consider showering.

15. Decide against showering.

16. Back to shoe mess.

17. Stare aimlessly at shoe mess.

18. Create good will pile.

19. Color coordinate 1/2 closet.

20. Give up closet.

21. Blog.

22. Shower.

23. Finish closet.

24. Stare aimlessly at shoe mess.

25. Find shoe solution at Wal-mart.

26. Create safe walkway in bedroom.

27. Organize shoes.

The end.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Waiting Place

Lately I feel like I'm trapped in that awful place Dr. Suess writes about in Oh, The Places You'll Go! If you haven't read the book to each of your classes at the end of the school year as I have, here you have it:

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

Lately I feel like I'm there.


Now, in the rest of the world, I'm the norm. 28. Single. Career-oriented. But in my fine state of Utah (a state I love and consider home), at this point I should have a house, a husband, and 2.5 kids in order to fit within the spectrum of that norm. So, before you go off on how young I am so why worry, realize that is the context from which I am basing all of this. Marriage and family is major here. Currently on my fridge there are three wedding invites, two baby announcements, a baby shower invitation, and I haven't even checked the mail today. The truth is that at this point, I didn't expect to be a Miss.

And so we begin.

Singleton Status is laced with blessings: stellar friendships, a good job, family, travel, a chance to focus on my own testimony-building, the entire closet all to myself (and oh, do I use it), the entire bed all to myself (and oh, do I use it). Being single offers liberties that the married do not possess. For these blessings I am grateful. I am grateful I can go to the movies on a whim. I am grateful I can sleep solidly through a single night without disturbance. I am grateful that I eat my food while it's hot, conversing without interruption. I know that one day I would give anything to have those simple pleasures back. But sometimes I'd also like to give all that up.

I hope what I write today isn't misunderstood. I'm not writing for a pity party. It is like this: being single is an act of waiting. Anybody who tells you otherwise is lying to you (and maybe themselves). I don't mean to say that I sit sad and unfulfilled in my pitiful basement apartment. I hardly have time for that. I don't mean to say that my job, my family, my friends leave me lonely. They don't. What I mean is that somewhere in the back of one's mind there is a sense that all of this is (hopefully) temporary. There is this sense that your life as currently lived isn't quite settled down. Yet. Everything comes with that caveat: yet. That next critical step in life is somewhere out in the time continuum. Its status still pending.

And so, somewhere strange inside of you, you feel yourself standing in this queue with no clear end in sight. Only rarely is this queue consciously acknowledged, but at all times one foot keeps your place there as you go about life.

So here I've admitted what lies down deep inside of me gnaws into my impressive capacity for worry: I fear I might remain in the queue forever. Which isn't my first choice, but it is a possibility. You see, with all those marriage and birth announcements hanging on the fridge, there comes a point where the notion of "plenty of fish" becomes laughable. My particular pool has fallen victim to overfishing.

And I'm unabashed in my metaphor mixing, I know, so now let me talk about my next thought--which is how I get myself into a space where I can find peace in all of this. And that place is bedded in trust. Trust in a plan and a purpose I feel is out there for me. I believe in a divine creator. A Heavenly Father who, though he can't control the choice and agency of man, does watch over me and sees beyond my vision, my perspective. All of this waiting is good for me, I know, because I feel blessed in my path thus far. I feel lucky I've had this much time as a single person. I know myself. I know what matters, what I like, what I want, what is important. So, I have to remember to trust this journey as it comes. I look back and see a path that has been intentional. So I have to trust that what lies ahead is just as purposeful.

Even if it involves perpetually standing with one foot in a queue while fishing even though I don't like seafood.

Pictures of the vacation to come eventually. Until then, you'll have to wait.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Big Bang Theory

It is no surprise that every generation has its fashion mishaps. We all have looked at old snapshots of ourselves and thought "Sweet Mother-of-Pearl, what was I thinking?" Tapered acid wash jeans, shoulder pads, the mullet. My own favorite mistake was The Big Bang (aka "The Wasatch Front" aka "The Venus Fly Trap" aka "The Claw Bang"). Mine were so bad I was picking residue crust of Salon Selectives (FEEL, like you just walked out of a SAL-O-O-ON!) hairspray out of my hair until '97.

The Big Bang. Exhibits A-F.

Fashion mistakes reveal themselves over time. It happens to even the most fashion-forward among us. Sometimes we see it coming a mile away, sometimes we are the victims. With what I call The Big Bang Theory (i.e. everything in fashion eventually goes the way of The Big Bang), I'm making predictions. Today I cast my bets for what will be some of the most remorseful trends during the 2005-2010 half-decade.

1. The Astronomically Large Brain Squeezer

Folks, it is one thing to make your own fashion mistakes, but making your children pay the price of your own sins? Come. On.

2. Ed Hardy and Other Overly-Vivid Graphic T-shirts

Seriously? Do you really think in 10 years you'll look at that and say "SO CUTE!"

3. The Return of the 80's

Most of us in the adult-world know the 80's were a mistake the first time around. But that isn't to say that an entire generation currently in high school won't wince at their own mishaps sooner than later. Heaven bless them. It isn't all their fault. They weren't even born in the actual 80's, so how can they really know the difference? Unfortunately for us all, this one might last beyond 2010.

4. Emo Haircuts

Three words: Flock. Of. Seagulls. You look ridiculous, not to mention that you might accidentally bump into things considering that your bangs double as a blind spot. One day, not far from now, you will laugh at yourself. Trust me.

5. The Fringed Scarf

Is it a bib? A throw-back to John Wayne? We don't know, but I'm certain regret will soon follow.

6. The Metallic Pant

They day they show up at my local Lane Bryant, it is all over.

7. Twilight Paraphernalia

My brilliant, wise, bookworm of a niece might be offended by this. But trust me, Jolynne. One day you will shake your head at your own obsession. Once upon a time I had posters of Joey McIntyre and the entire NKOTB crew posted around my room. I wore their pins on my jean jacket. Yes, you will laugh at yourself.

8. The Overgrown Goatee

This isn't exactly high fashion. Frankly, most of us already find this facial shrubbery grotesque. But I pray that at some point, not long from now, this wretched mistake will end. Bon Jovi figured out the hair era was over. Maybe these guys will realize their Overgrown Hanging Moss Movement never happened.

9. Babylegs

This goes back to my comment on #1. Babies' legs are adorable, nearly edible with all that chub. Babylegs, on the other hand, are just plain confusing. They're not really socks. They're not exactly pants. They're not tights, either. What are they? What purpose do they serve? One day, friends and brethren, your children will look at photos of their babyhood and ask you WTF were you thinking?

So there you have my predictions for fashion regret. What out there do you find suspect for future mockery?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I ♥ a good book

And The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society did not disappoint. I had a book of my own I'd intended to read over my vacation. I had even started it. But, as book stores often do, the shelves of an over-priced airport bookshop called to me while I waited to board my flight. And so I perused, thinking I'd just take note of books I might like to check out from the library or purchase in the future with a discounted price elsewhere. Silly me, I had travel money and time to burn. This quote inside the front cover stopped me with a feeling of rightness all around it:

I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.

How could I not purchase that? This book had a homing instinct right into my hands and I loved every minute of its epistolary structure. The setting and time are tragically beautiful, the characters exquisite and real. I think I'm slightly in love with Sidney Stark and Dawsey Adams and the whole group of them.

Read. This. Book.

I stayed up too late to finish it last night. I went to bed glowing and the contended feeling of it all hasn't stopped. If you don't believe me, just read some of the words written:

"I've shoved a writing table by the biggest window in my sitting room. The only flaw in this arrangement is the constant temptation to go outside and walk over to the cliff's edge. The sea and the clouds don't stay the same for five minutes running and I'm scared I'll miss something if I stay inside. When I got up this morning, the sea was full of sun pennies--and now it all seems to be covered in lemon scrim. Writers ought to live far inland or next to the city dump, if they are ever to get any work done. Or perhaps they need to be stronger-minded than I am."

It is a good, clean summer read. For me it came at a perfect time.

Up next?

Why, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, of course. I can hardly wait.

Oh, and has anyone read The Time Traveler's Wife? I am debating whether or not to go there next before the loveliest Eric Bana appears in the soon-to-be-released film version. I heard there was a lot of sex from someone I didn't know at all at a bookstore. That worries me. I'm prudish in the sense that I won't read a graphic Harlequin romance (because anything "quivering" or "torrid" or "peaking" is just repulsive, frankly). However, when the sex is not gratuitous or it serves a specific purpose or function in the story, I don't mind. Call me hypocritical, but that's my stance on literary smut.