Sunday, April 30, 2006

Comprehensive Exam #3: Jessie needs to work faster or she will be sitting in front of her computer forever.

My American lit. comp. is harder than I thought it would be. Actually, it's bordering on downright overwhelming. I'm attempting to discuss the arc of American literature, as it moves forward in time, in relation to the canon's evolution and its relation to Latina literature. I'm also trying to place Sandra Cisneros on a continuum of American women fiction writers that focus not only on gender but ethnicity, as well as discuss what other women writers helped open the door for Cisneros, and why her inclusion in the canon is appropriate and timely.

Say what??

Yeah, I'm still trying to sort it out, too. However, over the course of this semester, and through writing these comps (we need to do 3), I am learning something about myself and the way I write. I think and read and ingest and write small blurbs and think and read and ingest for a long, long time before I ever get anything real down on the page. Before I'm able to write the 5-6 pages necessary to pass the exam, I will have familiarized myself with the topic in at least 10 unnecessary, but profoundly interesting, directions. The last detour led me to mouthfuls of poetry that begged to be read out loud. Ahh, but at this point, I don't know if I'm moving forward or backwards.

Surprisingly, I'm enjoying the process--the reading, the learning, the trying to make sense of it all. Yes, it's all good and wonderful except for one thing: I'm working on a deadline! And my creative, Latina-literature-loving-self REFUSES to let me work any faster.

I've been sitting at this computer all day...and I've only written one paragraph. Honestly, ONE stinking paragraph! I just can't help but think how much fun this would be if I wasn't pressed for time to get it done. I feel my brain slowly emerging from the fogginess of not-yet-understanding. I catch momentary glimpses of what it is I have to say--POOF! And then it's gone. But hopefully, HOPEFULLY, the dam is about to burst. Hopefully the words are about to spill onto the paper soon. Either that or I'm gonna have to go to bed with only one paragraph on the page.

Ok--but at least I can say I've learned a lot. Ironically, that won't help me graduate. Sometimes I really envy linear thinking people--because then I'd probably already be done. But I'm definitely not one of them. Nope--definitely not.

Fine. One paragraph or not...I think it's time for bed. And instead of blundering on with my thoughts, I'll stop here and instead, fittingly, leave you with the second half of Ana Castillo's poem, "In My Country"...

i do not escape into my sleep.
Analysts are not made rich by
my discoveries therein. My
mother is not cursed for giving
birth. i am not made ashamed
for being.

In my world, i do not attend
conferences with academicians
who anthropologize my existence
dissect the simplicity of greed
and find the differences created
out of Babel interesting.

In my world
i am a poet
who can rejoice in the coming of
Halley's comet, the wonders
of Machu Picchu, and a sudden kiss.

In my world, i breathe clean air.
i don't anticipate nuclear war.
i speak all languages. i don't
negate aging, listen to myths
to explain my misery or create them.

In my world the poet sang loud
and clear and everyone heard
without recoiling. It was sweet
as harvest, sharp as tin, strong
as northern wind, and all had
a coat warm enough to bear it.


Is this love, or what?

Dear Readers, you are my witness--he signed it!

(click twice for larger image.)


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Why I live where I live

I've been calling this year "the transitional year." But, recently, I've been hearing myself say the same thing about next year, too. After selling my place and moving to town last October, I felt rootless. And, to be honest, it was an uncomfortable feeling. In December I dedicated an entire art show to the sense of loss I was experiencing. Strangely, the last pieces I painted were not of the place I had left behind, but of the place I've arrived at.

It has been raining for two days straight. Anu's been holed up in her dog house and so this morning I took her for an extra long walk. It was cold, windy, and wet, but after the first couple blocks both of us just sorta gave into it. After a while, it started to feel good. Then we found ourselves not wanting to go back home, like we could walk forever.

Since moving to town I've done a lot more walking than I ever did living out in the country. Because Anu is half wolf, half husky (and had never before been tied up, fenced in, and very rarely kenneled), I pay for my guilt in moving her to the middle of town with long daily walks. And in the process I've become friends with this place in ways I never expected.

I live here because when I returned from India I got sick and was bed-ridden for 2 months. Even after that, it was a long recovery. I grew up in this smallish town with a population of 10,000 and when I left, I never thought I'd come back. My return was all an accident--I never planned on staying. But somewhere along the lines I came to realize how much I love it here. Now it's 9 years later and I'm still here and, every day, I grow more conscious of the sadness I feel in the fact that I'll soon be leaving. This sadness surprises me. I thought the hard part was in leaving my old place. But leaving is starting to feel like peeling back layers of an onion--there are numerous layers of separation.

I wish words were enough to give you a little piece of this place. I wish they were enough so that you could experience it the way I do. But they're not. I don't know how to turn words into weather or wolves or water. I don't know how to smith these syllables into footsteps that fall on this dark soil that I've come to know and, in so many ways, hate to leave.

I wish words were enough so that I could carry this place around with me forever--in a little book, or my pocket. That way, I'd never have to leave it behind. I suppose I could carry this place in my heart, but lately it already feels much, much too heavy.

I look forward to moving on. I just never expected it to be this hard.

rainy saturday.

Today it's raining and, as usual, I like it that way. There are so many things I want to do.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Spilling the beans...

Melba has asked me to spill 10 beans about myself, and so without further adieu...

1.) If my house were burning,
the first thing I'd grab would be my journals.
They are my most valuable possession.

2.) I feel most "me" in my old flannel.

3.) I get a kick out of seeing students' eyes light up when they realize that they have something important to say and it leaves me feeling energized in a way that nothing else does.

4.) I sniff the coffee beans every morning before grinding them.

5.) I think about returning to India every day. And it's the only thing that's kept me from starting a family.

6.) I was afraid of heights until I built my own house.

7.) Before that...I lived in some pretty weird places including a hogan I built in the high desert of Arizona and a shack deep in the woods of Minnesota (to name a few). I like living without water or electricity because I feel more connected to my life...but now I live like a "normal" person with phone, internet, and cable too...
My kitchen counter is full of electrical appliances.

8). My best friend, Abe, died nearly a year ago and I still miss him every day. There will never again be a dog quite like him.

9). I love it when I get stuck at a rail road crossing and have to wait for the train. The sound and vibration is enough to almost pull my heart out of my chest. When I was 20 I hopped freights from Minnesota to Alaska. It took 3 weeks to get there...and if I was as brave as I was then, I'd do it again.

10). One time my husband and I did an experiment to see what our kids would look like if we had any. Something went awry.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I feel compelled to write something...

...although I don't really have anything to say and it's 6:30 am meaning I should have been in the shower a half hour ago. But it's 28 degrees outside and maybe that is what is causing me to move a little bit slow. For once, I'm not scrambling to get things done before class at 8. I'm actually prepared today...but I can only hope my students are more awake than me.
...end of thought (need more coffee).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

on second thought...

...I'll substitute beer for a bath. Beer gives me a headache anyway. Grad school (or age?) has made me tame. But the plane--that one's still added to my list.


I feel like drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and jumping from planes.

Maybe I'll explain myself in more detail later (or not); for now I just want Loralee to know that she is unbelievably INSPIRING! Today has been busy, but half-lived. She makes me question all of it.

Toni Morrison, however, still kicks beautiful, literary ass. I've been begging moments out of the day to read the book I mentioned yesterday. And I'm about to give up on the rest of my list for the day. Right now it's just beer and Morrison--that's all I want. Too bad I don't have the first (although maybe my neighbor does).

And when I'm done I'm going to find a plane to jump out of.

So there.

It is truly amazing... absolutely UNsatisfying the work is that I am doing right now. I'm inching along and am, all the while, far too aware of how little any of it is doing for me. I feel like the kid in high school complaining about having to do algebra--but whhyyyyyy? And it's true--I've never once used algebra since.

I'm hiding inside of my headphones--and, to be honest, am quite close to throwing a temper tantrum. I try desperately to channel my frustration into the music, unfortunately there is enough tension in my neck to create creaking noises that the headphones don't muffle.

Once I've graduated it probably won't take long for me to miss school and all the creative and intellectual challenges that go along with it. But right now, I want nothing more than TO BE DONE!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I'm sorry...but I feel a list making compulsion coming on...

  • grade essays
  • e-mail essay to S.
  • write up last essay assignment, plan class, and write up schedule
  • give points for rough drafts and presentations
  • pay bills
  • drop off mail at post office
  • resize photos for Sophie and make copies
  • e-mail L. about delivering painting
  • clean bathroom
  • clean out car
  • work at gallery
  • read Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark
  • read Michel Foucault (55 pages)well, I read half of it--that counts for something doesn't it?
  • read Harold Bloom (11 pages)
  • fix MLA paper
  • fix thesis statement and outline for Lit. Crit. essay
  • write American Lit. comprehensive exam (5-6 pages)
  • drop off D.'s paper at school
  • deliver flowers @ 3 (tomorrow)
I have most of this on scraps of paper that I've been crossing off since yesterday. Why type them up again? Um, yeah...I need to feel like I'm getting somewhere. I've done nearly everything except the hard stuff. But Toni Morrison--I'm looking forward to that part. As a matter of fact, today I sat on the back stoop of the gallery over-looking the lake and read the preface.

I love that old building.

...and if the rest of the book is as good as the preface, then I'll be in heaven.

I might regret it...

...but I just gave my brother the address for this blog. He's the only one in my family that reads. Well, I take that dad reads crime novels from the grocery store, but other than that...

Hi Nelson!

Friday, April 21, 2006

A good day for gnocchi (which I like to pronounce Gah-know-chee, but is technically pronounced NYO-ki)

Today reminds me of Florence, Italy. It's grey and raining and a little bit cold--it makes me think of Saint Maria's church and the train station and pigeons in the piazza that take flight all at once like small angels.

Today reminds me of when we ate lunch at the market--tucked in the corner behind a little round table next to a pop machine. It was late fall and, by that point, we had been cold and damp for days. I ordered gnocchi to warm me up. It steamed in it's paper bowl and led to a long lunch hour of watching locals and tourists drift by with bags draping from hands and lengths of bread or bologna tucked in the crooks of arms.

Afterwards, we made our way slowly past techni-colored displays of fresh tomatoes and eggplants, herbs, cheeses, fish and wine. I blissfully browsed through the market in a gnocchi stupor. And with eyes and bellies full we continued down cobbled side streets, winding, winding our way through an ancient city...and ever since, gnocchi has become my ultimate comfort food. Today the rain drizzle-falls in the exact same way it did that day in Florence. And for lunch, I think I know what I'll have:

Click for larger view: Member-submitted Photo

(Later: And look...Vinny wrote about it too.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Celebrating the Plums...

Today was filled with a bit o' the unexpected when I was informed that I received the Plums Award for creative nonfiction. Really? Me? Ok--well, that made my day!

Vinny helped me to celebrate by buying me plums. Now really, how sweet is that?

And since my good friend and writing companion, Erin, won the Plum for fiction, I'm saving one for her.

However, Plums weren't all I got... LOOK! I got more sidewalk chalk, too!

I am very excited--can you tell?

(ps. the 2nd picture is,
quite possibly, the worst photo ever taken of me [or not].
however, I am so proud of my chalk
that I have decided to post it anyway)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

In anticipation of summer reading.

Marquez has been ordered. And in approximately 2 and a half weeks summer will be mine to read, read, read until my little heart's content. This here is just the top of the stack.

I. Can't. Wait.

And since I'm posting photos...

this is Viscosa. She's a sexy little thing, isn't she...and literate, too...or, at least, she likes to pretend.

Slowly, but surely...

I'm updating my blogroll. If your name's not there, don't feel sad. I'm workin' on it. There are many blogs I visit often and I will add them at random if they're not already there. The world of blogs has become one of richness. Words, words, words...sometimes I am stunned by what I find.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I can't help myself...

I need another book like I need a hole in the head, but I'm going to order this one. I didn't even know that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had written another book until Erin told me so ...and it is true. The first book I ever read by him was Of Love and Other Demons; the first short story was "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings." I'm going to name my first born son after him--Gabriel. Gabriel Carmine Marianiello, to be exact. And, who knows, he might even grow up to be a writer. Or maybe a magician. I don't care. All I know is that
I am in love with Marquez.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: when we were wee...

In childhood, there are many places to hide. And the best are those where no one will find you. My mom remembers my sister, my brother, and me as all being remarkably quiet kids. She searches her memory and nowhere does she find the noisiness of childhood existence. And so it was easy hiding out and getting lost in these interminable stretches of soundlessness. I never minded this. My childhood heroes were Orphan Annie, The Boxcar Children, and Billy from the book, Where the Red Fern Grows. I was the middle child and never afraid of the freedom that it afforded me. I very easily lived in a world of my own creation--one that functioned ever the better with as little parental supervision as possible.

As a kid my childhood hiding places included an infamous closet and sitting in front of the shelf behind my child-size rocking chair. It was there that I lost myself in books even before I was able to read. There were also the stick and pine bough forts constructed out in the woods where I lived on the sweet sap of honeysuckle blossoms and crackers.

When my grandpa built my sister and me a playhouse, I wasted no time and "moved" in at the age of six, promptly inscribing my very first word into the plywood walls, "HOME." I had everything I needed and my parents saw very little of me from that moment on. By the time I was a teenager I had managed, quite easily, to slip in and out without being noticed. After all, near silence had become a habit in my family--but I was not unhappy with this. I had much better things to do than explain myself or beg for permission to take leave, as many of my friends had to do. My parents trusted us kids and I, for one, took full advantage of it.

I have found that the older one becomes, the fewer hiding places there seem to be. However, at the age of 18, I was luckily still innocent of this and (much to my parent's dismay) thoroughly enticed by an unlimited landscape inviting me into its game of hide and seek. There were times that no one knew where I was for weeks. I remember it, so far, as being the best and most earnestly lived time of my life. I was finding hiding places as good as any of the Boxcar Children's hideouts--yes, even including a few boxcars of my own.

I left through the back door of my imagination while sitting in the darkened closet of my childhood. It was an easy way to leave behind the drudgery of an otherwise plain and uneventful existence. I embarked with little planning on a quest that brought me to many extraordinary hideouts--following the lengths of highways and railroads to their ends where I found caves and forests, mountains, jungles, oceans and deserts tucked into an endless expanse. I followed into the now of the corner of this room where I sit writing and remembering--where I have come to enjoy the way that hiding out is really a means of diving in.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sucker for packaging...

Tonight we went grocery shopping. Just as we were about to check out, V. remembered that he wanted BBQ sauce. Of course, this meant that we had to go all the way back to the other end of the grocery store which led us past the natural foods section (a very dangerous part of the store for me, financially speaking).

We put the BBQ sauce in the cart, walked past pickles and juice and preserves...when, to the left, my attention was drawn to this beautiful chocolate bar.

Um--I don't even like chocolate that much. But how--how I ask-- could I pass up something of such beauty? I felt my hand reach out, grab it, and then start pulling me toward the cart. I could not resist the urge to buy it--even when I saw V.'s look of: what are you doing??? how much does that thing cost??

I immediately started bumbling something like: "I can't help it...look how pretty it issss. It's premium organic. Isn't it cool? I mean, wow, look at those colors. And, look, it says THE ART OF CHOCOLATE. I want to paint it."

yeah, I'm a sucker for packaging. But, come on...can you blame me???

Thoughts on Toni Morrison

Lately I've been ingesting large doses of language. Not reading, but drinking--words, thoughts, ideas, poetry, prose.... Last night I sat alone in the coffee shop with my legs curled under me in a chair that looked toward the lake. The coffee tasted good, but other than that, there was nothing but words--wrapped around me like a comfortable old blanket. The place was nearly empty and from somewhere deep inside me I felt the rearranging of molecules and the sensation of a tidal wave swelling, rolling, breaking...swelling nearly into tears because I feel the magic of words coming back like when blood returns to an appendage that's fallen asleep--a sensation of pins and needles on the inside of my skin--it tingles.

Yesterday afternoon I started work on a proposal and outline that I need to turn in for my next essay. While looking for information on my topic, I surprised myself with a connection I hadn't originally been looking for. You know that sensation that goes "click" when something starts to make sense? Yes, that was the feeling. I am surprised over and over again when scholarly writing is able to throw me into an emotional extreme. But my topic includes Toni Morrison--and her words, to me, are like honey. Since this essay is for a Literary Criticism and Theory class, my goal is to find connections between Langston Hughes "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" and Toni Morrisons Nobel Prize lecture, "A Bird in the Hand"

While in the coffee shop I read an essay by Cheryl Lester from The Aesthetics of Toni Morrison: Speaking the Unspeakable. And this is one of the things that had me nearly in tears--her writing was so incredibly heartfelt. She was writing about Morrison, but she was also writing about herself. Her words were real--and that is something you just can't fake.

I think it's safe to say that grad school has been just as hard on me as an adult as Catholic school was for me as a kid. Grad school messed me up--hard. What happened? I haven't exactly figured it out yet, but now that I'm almost done, I feel life returning to my mind, my heart, my fingertips. Words are enough to turn me inside out. And I am, once again, glad that I have found them, that I've made words my path in life. It is a strange and wonderful feeling, this coming back to life.

There is a quote by Toni Morrison that especially caught my attention last night. In it, she is referring to the old woman in her speech. She says:

Word-work is sublime, she thinks, because it is generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference--the way in which we are like no other life.
We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.

She later writes of the old lady's young visitors:

. . . Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong?. . . Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being creatied. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your worlds that they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. . . For our sake and yours forget your name in the street, tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul.

Read it slow. Savor it. There is a bird in our hands called language--and what we do with it is up to us. I am beginning to remember how powerful that little bird is--and, at times, it is staggering.

Friday, April 14, 2006

one morning in the middle of april...

I slept in late today, until almost 9. And when I looked out the back door from the kitchen, wolfie was looking in with pitifully patient eyes. I promptly took her for an hour long walk...down the alley, past the church, through the park, along the trail, and then to the lake. We walked along the water for quite a ways before turning home, taking a slightly altered version of the same path. It felt good to be in my own skin.

On the way back we passed the old folks' home--an apartment building for partial care residence. Now that it's warmed up, they've been sitting outside a lot lately. There are two benches facing each other outside the entrance and, often, they sit in a row with arms and legs touching--they could spread out, but seem to prefer the tangible feeling of companionship. They wave when I walk by with Anu, or when V. and I are on our bikes. So thirsty for life--they wave and smile and wave. And this is when I become aware of my own strong legs beneath me, carrying me easily wherever I want to go. I look up towards the windows of their apartments--they are open and, for some reason, make me think of hummingbirds. There are thermometers stuck with little suction cups to the glass and, here and there, a brightly colored silk flower sticking out from a vase on the sill. There are ruffled curtains pulled back as far as they can go--and, somehow, the sunshine seems to come out of the windows, in just the same way that it goes in.

While the people on the bench try desperately to slow down time, to soak up every last bit of happiness, I see them seeing me...remembering themselves...when they could move as fast, as easily. And, for all their "oldness," they are absolutely alive. The wings of their minds and hearts beating in hyperspeed, like little hummingbirds, their feathers shining in the sunshine. I think they would make good friends--because, for them, there is no such thing as tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

exhausted and obsessed: these are signs of spring

I've spent a considerable amount of the day in a complete daze. It's been in the 70's all day, including this morning at 5 am when I took wolfie for a walk. The warm weather feels wonderful. I've been enjoying the comfortableness of a tank top, capris, and flipflops. But, unfortunately, I am not a warm weather person. My energy level is completely zapped.

I barely made it through class, and then office hours, and then running a few errands before slipping into an afternoon stupor that ended in a nap. It was a glorious nap (there was even music playing in my head--beautiful music, nonetheless). While picking up a few essentials at Target, I splurged and bought myself a silk eye pillow filled with lavender. It cost a whopping $4, but caused me to sleep like a baby. It was worth every penny. I put it in the freezer first, so it was cold. Then I opened all the bedroom windows (after first going outside and ripping the plastic off). The soft breeze combined with the relaxing smell of lavender was very close to the feeling of heaven.

Since the nap, I've spent the rest of the day obsessing over lost items. I've been looking for the adaptor for my bike tires so that I can air them up (damn hybrid bikes!) and my hacky sack. I found the hack after several hours of looking. It was in a shoebox filled with banjo strings, christmas bells, guitar picks, and extra computer cords. The tire adapter is still at large. And this is the problem with moving. I am still disorganized even though I moved way back in October. At this point, the only reason to organize anything is to make the next move a little easier. I've already decided on having a few more rummage sales. I've got junk coming out of my ears. And there are those half dozen boxes or so than I never dealt with the first time around that have now come back to haunt me. They are "junk" boxes and hold all the things I'm usually looking for when I can't find something--although not always (like today).

Finding the hack, however, resulted in game #2 with the neighbors. Too bad they're running off to Europe this summer. We could use the practice. :)-

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: a little blubber about real life.

Real life is rarely getting more than 5 hours of sleep a night even though, every night, I tell myself I'm going to go to bed early . It's spending 3 weeks and 15 hours on 3 1/2 pages worth of writing, but learning a lot in the process. Real life gets in the way of writing about real life--but eventually, it happens. Real life is always running late and falling behind.

It takes a long time to figure out what "Real Life" is because it never sits still long enough for me to get it straight. Real life is fickle and changes its mind too often. Then again, there's always something about it that stays the same. Real life requires lots of water and sun and fresh air--although, unfortunately, it can exist for a long time without it. Real life can exist without a lot of things, but when that happens it starts to look like the weeds that used to grow in the dark corners of my old pole barn, ghostly white and spindly. Real life is the fact that, as of 6 months ago, I no longer have that barn or the land or the house that I built with my own hands. And when I think of this, real life surprises me with plump, rolling tears because I'm reminded of how much I loved that place. When real life is paying attention, it's a close cousin to tears and laughter. I remember real life making me bawl my eyes out when I left that village high, high up in the Himalayas. Back then, I told myself that it was good if I cried when I left a place because it meant that I experienced something worth experiencing. There are only two places that I cried that hard over. I still yearn for both--and that's what real life offers, though only when you're completely open to it. Real life is built of breakable hearts. When that happens, if you're smart, you let life back in anyway because, usually, it works out. Of course, real life doesn't let you in on this until the hurt has lost its sting--and sometimes that can be a long, long time.

Real life is every single stupid, funny, depressing, happy, ridiculous, serious, and wildly embarrassing thing I've ever written on this blog. It will probably come back to haunt me. Real life is full of memories and dreams that most of the time feel more real than what is real. Real life is that goddamned alarm clock that goes off every morning. Real life slaps me in the face and then kicks my ass to make sure it got its point across. Real life is dogshit in the back yard. It's that first cup of coffee in the morning and a husband waiting for me (presently) to come to bed.

Real life is redundant. It has no real beginning and no real end. Real life is a dog chasing its tail. It's boring, it's maddening, it is pleasure. Most of the time real life is ridiculously uncomfortable, but for some reason, I'm drawn to it all the same--like I'm drawn to love, or sunrises or the Sunday paper--always hoping that it's hiding--somewhere--whatever it is that I'm looking for. All the while, it's right there--staring me right in the face.

still here, just barely

I've been hanging out in my studio, writing, lately. It's been working well--maybe because I don't have internet down there or because I don't have a phone or my cat crying for me to pay attention to her or any other distractions. There are random moments when I realize that I am absolutely focused. Of course, this realization always brings me back out of my "zone," but I'm getting fairly good at forcing myself back into it--it's a sort of mental corralling.

Still, I 'm moving painfully slow with things, but I'm thankful for the extra space in the studio. The mental decluttering has done wonders.

...and that is where I'm headed now.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Caught between seasons

I'd like to say that I got up early this morning--but I didn't. I got up at 8:30, after laying in bed for an hour thinking about how rested I felt (which I did--at least until I actually got up). The sun is coming in wildly through the kitchen window, but here, where I write, there is no sun--just the shade of an old pine tree.

I've been tired lately--no, exhausted. Maybe because of the time change, maybe because of the change of weather. My head, for too many days, has been connected to my neck and then my shoulders, with nothing going on inside--just an irritating hum-noneness.

But today I'm going to walk the 5 blocks to my studio and hunker down in my newly decluttered space and write. I feel the need for sunlight and 12 foot ceilings and white walls with random splashes of paint.

This morning, while walking wolfie in the same direction, I was caught off guard by the turning of seasons. It was cold, with a biting wind. But it was sunny, too. Water sparkled along the edge of the lake--a good 10 feet of summer light glinting until interrupted by the line of ice that still covers the rest of the lake. Red Wing blackbirds followed us on our route shouting: summer's coming! summer's coming! In Northern Minnesota, it is a slow transition--those blackbirds are so full of faith.

We detoured down the old stone steps that lead down to the water, but were both surprised by the dirty mountain of snow half way down. We weren't looking at our path ahead--just the sun and water beyond. So we slid, the rest of the way, down, down, down the icy hill. Me, looking like "The Crazy Lady," in my flip-flops, baseball cap, capri pants, and winter jacket. I hung on to the bare branches of shrubs with one hand and the leash, connected to an excited dog, in the other. I'm lucky I didn't break an ankle or my over-worked head (although the latter, at this point, might have felt good).

At the bottom, we were momentarily protected from the from life and thoughts. I felt energy return to my bones in the cool, but sun-warmed morning air.


I need to finish school. God, I need to finish. I'm in limbo--like the seasons. Too much dirty snow. I need to finish. But this is enough gibbering. It's time to get to work.

I hope spring will wait for me just a little longer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

One of those dreamed landscapes...

Today I bought a box of sidewalk chalk. I'd like to write wild poems at night--the length of entire blocks--just a little gift to people who walk.

And drawings? Maybe a masterpiece.

I feel a bit of color coming on.

April 4th, 2006...

...was sunny and warm, just like it was 4 years ago today, when we went out for lunch--a silly little kiss--and we've been together ever since.

Who knew?

Well--we did.

Happy Birthday Vinny. Here's to 4 little years.

...and all the birthdays to come.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Guess whose birthday it is!!!


{well, not until tomorrow--(Tuesday)--and if you don't see him out and about, you can find him here}

~I love you!~

with luv,
yr wife

A Room of One's Own

Yesterday I started cleaning and rearranging my studio space. I finally worked up enough nerve to ask my studio-mate of 2 1/2 years to move out. It was nothing personal--just that she has not paid in almost a year and a half and hasn't even stepped foot in there to do artwork in more than a year. Needless to say, I'm glad she was cool about my request. And now--now I have SPACE! It is downright lovely.

Even though I should have been preparing for a presentation, I couldn't help but dig in right away. The place needed some love.

I swept, I dusted, I rearranged. I stacked canvases and books and stretcher bars. I drank coffee. I moved stuff. Then I moved it again. I listened to really good Middle Eastern music. I ate a little bar of chocolate and painted the frame of a large corkboard orange. I turned the drafting table into a desk and put the corkboard behind it (where it awaits inspiring images of India and beyond) . And, after all of this, I still have an empty corner for a chair when I just want to read or think. Oh, sweet SPACE!

There's still a few finishing touches that need my attention--like the clutter and dust under my workbench and the search of some really cool fabric for curtains. But I'll have to save that for the weekend. Details, schmeetails... What matters is that now-- now I have a writing space--my very own, private space to think and create and let words find their way to paper--without interruption.

Yesterday I stood there in the middle of my mess and realized that, for the first time, art and writing are receiving equal amounts of attention in my life. I took another sip of coffee and reveled in the feeling of this new-found balance. I've waited a long time.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: a rambling fantasy

What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

If I knew that I wouldn't fail, I'd pack my bags and head for the nearest exit. I'd get on what ever plane was leaving the country first and let fate decide my destinations from there. That is how I often traveled while in India--although only by bus or train (not plane). I'd go down to the station and buy a ticket for which ever one was leaving first. Sometimes I chose destinations simply for the odd sounds of their names. (Ok--but we're not reliving the past here.)

The fantasy: My backpack is empty except for a change of underwear, a bottle of aspirin, malaria pills, a journal, pen, camera, a few tubes of paint and some paint brushes. My baggage weighs all of 5 lbs. and anything else I need, I plan on picking up along the way. I'm on a mission to capture images of the world. I'm in search of stories. Having utmost faith in both myself and the universe, I've just spent my life's savings (which isn't much).

I end up in some odd and beautiful places--in populated cities, dense jungles, poor neighborhoods, vast deserts, 3rd world, 1st world, highlands, lowlands, quiet villages, hectic streets, in cold places, and warm places...I travel slow, taking my time in each place. I paint. I write. I watch.

Some say that, if I keep it up, I am destined for failure. They say that traveling is a waste of money and a waste of time. I'm getting older--I should be working on an MFA, a PhD, or how about getting a real job. I should be spending more energy on being a good wife. I should be saving my money. I should be thinking about a 409K or homeownership or babies--not travel, for god's sake!

Oh, but the beauty of this little escapade is that buying that first plane ticket ends up being the catalyst for my success--financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually. The experience ends up getting me into school, into jobs; it gets me published; it gets me art shows... my travels make the rest of what I want to happen--HAPPEN. And if failure (ending up jobless and poor) were not an option-- I think that, maybe, I'd already be gone.

*image by Laini
@ Sunday Scribblings

Unnecessary Time Change Thought:

I was feeling guilty for sleeping in. It was 9:00 when I looked at the clock. But my computer is smarter than me--it says that it's 10:20. Damnit. I better walk the dog.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Peeking Robins...

Today, for an entire 5 or 6 minutes, a robin sat on the roof of the neighbors house and stared at me through the window. It was a plump little thing and nosy too. But, I admit, I stared back.