Tag: art

Analogy unfinished, analogy overexplained

It’s accidentally upside down.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t come back here, to a bar created by a friend but then sold to a stranger. No matter why or how it was sold, it just wouldn’t feel right. Disloyal. But my brother is playing guitar here, something he doesn’t often do, and family trumps friends, so here I am, sitting on one of the microsuede banquettes, so comfy, staring at this beautiful room.

Chandeliers dot the high ceiling. A magnificent blue oil painting is propped casually on the fireplace mantel. Originally he was going to put a mirror there, but when he found the painting it was just too perfect. Across from me, a huge blue built-in holds wine bottles and almost blends into the muted green of the walls, softening the urban feel, making it all French and luxey. It strikes me that the walls don’t care who painted them. They’re just here being beautiful.

Yesterday was mosaic class. Random people drifted in just before and just after 9am, new to each other, new to the space, new to the class. Where should I sit, at which of the many square, brown-paper-covered tables, who looks friendly, should I sit alone, is that only remaining stool too close to the next one?

I took the stool at the table closest to the cookies. Another woman sat next to me, after pulling one stool away so she could space out all the stools on our side a little farther apart. I watched her squeeze antibacterial gel onto her hands. Another woman sat down across from us. She cracked jokes about her Diet Coke addiction, getting lost on the way here, and how she was probably the only sucker to pay full price for this workshop. “I did, too,” I said, the only other non-Groupon.

Did you find the analogy? See, all these random-seeming human actions were like the random-seeming bits of glass we’d soon be cutting and arranging on our little training tiles. You watch someone placing a little green tile next to a yellow one, then removing it and trying an orange one, then going back to the yellow but snipping it in two, there that’s better…and it doesn’t seem to make sense. But when the whole piece is assembled, set in black or gray or white thinset, the pattern emerges.

By noon, we were all chatting away as if we’d known each other forever, each table of people like each tile on the table like each piece of glass on a tile, each with its own logic which is revealed in relation to the whole. The antibacterial woman works with “lots of sick people,” as she put it, so the gel makes perfect sense. After 25 years, the jokester quit smoking a few months ago, so she’s taking all kinds of classes “to keep my hands busy,” crochet and pottery and now mosaic, and the costs add up. I skipped breakfast because I have trouble being somewhere at 9am, so the cookies made me feel “safe.” Nothing random at all, except the last set of quotation marks.

The password is Perspective

skyline through a window

The benefit was grand. I heard there were celebrities there but I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t say for sure. Also, when your TV source is Netflix on Demand your celeb meter is skewed. I’m pretty sure no one from Battlestar or Slings & Arrows passed by.

More importantly, my dress was fab and I met someone who got me thinking about having a good death. About how the desire to die well, whatever that means to you, recasts every moment of your life starting now. And yes, I know I’ve heard that before, but like a MacDonalds ad, you have to see it at least three times before you robot in and buy your whatever-it-is-in-a-cup.

Talking with this new and interesting person made me realize that I’ve always assumed the appropriate pre-death mindset will kick in as my body nears the gate (assuming I receive advance notice). But this person told stories of people going kicking and screaming. Not good deaths. As far as we know. When my mom neared death, she spent weeks talking about how she wished she had the faith she’d always acted like she had in church. She was afraid, and she asked everyone from the priest to the neighbors how to get real faith. But in the day or two before she went, something changed. She grew ready. Her fear seemed to diminish as she looked closer into death.

A bunch of the speeches last night were about artistic community and how it’s all about the love. Then afterward, there were off-the-record stories of snippy comments and hurt feelings. All the same cast of characters. I think everyone was telling the truth as they saw it at that moment.

The benefit was held in an industrial-chic spot with an industrial-chic view of the skyline. Or you could consider it a depressing view. Or you could figure it was an irrelevant view, compared with the absolute, surely absolute, perfection of my dress.

Grumpy gets a surprise

photo in a frame
Zoe approved. As usual.

I was working, grumpily, in my office. The air conditioner was trying to push some cool into my back porch office with the help of a fan, but still the air was heavy. Zoe the visiting dog was asleep on my feet under the desk.

Zoe is a real dog. She could give Django lessons, if Django had any interest in learning. She wags her tail when you talk to her, greets all strangers except for mail carriers with equanimity, likes to be petted, nudges your left hand when you’re only petting her with your right. She likes to be in the room, in the very spot, where you are, and when you accidentally step on her because you forgot she was there, and you curse, “For God’s sake Zoe, move!” she wags her tail.

So when the front doorbell rang, I backed up my chair, bumped into Zoe, cursed, and patted her affable head in exasperation. “Zoe, geez.” She wagged her tail and followed me downstairs as Django watched from her chair in another room. I kept Zoe from eating the UPS man, who handed me a box. It was from Christina, a manager at the company we freelance for.

Why would Christina be sending me a package? She’s not working on our current project. We hardly even talk lately, except when I send her a particularly good outtake from a recording session or she sends me a link to new pictures she’s taken. I love her photography. Simple, striking images of details from her life. Flowers, trains, bits of statues. I even love the pictures of her little boys, whom I’ve never met and have no emotional connection to. But these aren’t precious moments sort of pictures, they’re just moments in time. Two kids in masks, turning. A boy inexplicably crying over a plate of waffles. I can relate to that.

I’ve asked Christina when she’s going to start selling her work and she’s replied that the pros don’t exactly welcome people like her. “I read a stream over the weekend about how all these ‘moms with entry level dSLRs from Costco’ are ruining ‘real’ photographers’ businesses.”

“Well, I’m not a pro, I’m your audience,” I said. “When you’re ready, I want to buy some prints.”

The box was large and flat and light. I both hoped for and felt guilty about what might be in it. A gift of photos! The first was a square unframed photo of a tree, taken during a tornado. At first glance, the tree looks out of focus, just big and round and fuzzy. Then you look closer and realize the fuzziness is the movement of leaves, branches, and trunk of the ancient tree. There’s nothing else in the picture, just the moving tree, which makes it an oddly quiet shot.

The other was some kind of metal angel or cherub against the sky. I’m not big on angel pictures, but this one is different. The figure seems somehow compassionate but also remote and removed. I’d admired it on her site, and it was even more beautiful matted and framed and held in my hands as I paraded it around the house, going, “I got a present, I got a present.” Zoe was ecstatic, and wagged her tail at every wall against which I held my new picture. We finally decided on the front hall landing with the old green flocked wallpaper.

There was also a note in the box. It said, “Enjoy. Love, the mom with the camera from Costco.”

Note: You can see more of Christina’s photos on her Flickr site.