Sunday, February 28, 2010

Arrêtez le monde, je veux descendre !

A great old phrase comes to mind and I, for some reason, always picture Sammy Davis Jr* saying it:   'stop the world, i wanna get off'.

There's this little theory I'm working on...and I'm really struggling here:
did days used to be longer? I mean, when I was younger, were there actually more hours in a day?

24 hours in a day NOW mean about 5, plus the 7 (give or take) I get for sleep most nights.

So, let's make it an even 12.  Fine.
Still, that is half the amount of time in a day I used to have in my life.  When, it's got to be said, I was younger.

I'm not yet calling it fact, but there must be something to it.  Everyone around me feels the same way, says the same thing.  Everyone, that is, but my 6 year old students who groan, when is this day gonna be ohhhhver?  and anyone under 30 who bouncily adds,  last night I went dancing, and then I came home and did a painting, and tomorrow I have a gig.
Where the hell are they getting so many of these hours in a day?! be wasted or used, depending on age...

It's true, I do have a mighty list going at all times and each day I feel like I want to achieve everything on the list, which is impossible, so I'm willing to give it some time, but, inevitably, I end up thinking/feeling/knowing there's not enough hours in the day and THAT is why I can never get it all done.

It's not that I'm saying I think February used to have 30 days (and yes, i know, sometimes it has 29), but maybe I should be in touch with some scientist, or even Al Gore, to find out if in fact the world is spinning faster and therefore time really is zooming by unusually fast?

*(but, woofboy am i wrong about that Sammy reference!)

Friday, February 26, 2010

"editing a book" is so 1950's

It wasn't until a literary agent contacted me this past summer, that I realized having a book with my name on it as the author is something I've actually dreamed about at one point or another in this short life of mine.

We've come up with a few ideas and she's asked for a few things from me (one of them being posts from this blog).  So, I'd organized and was getting ready to send them out, when I decided I would put it all together with my idea of an old-timey version of book editor/author relationship.  I imagine that we already have a back and forth, snail mail relationship going (which, we don't... this is just the beginning and I don't imagine she'll dig out an old typewriter to fulfill the fantasy).

I admit, I often like to pretend I live in another era. Mostly to escape the idea that we live with so much technology. I like the old typewriters, record players, vhs machines.  There's no cut + paste, no photoshop, no fonts, just the keys, a pencil and an eraser.

And it took me back to a time that I used to keep in touch with the author, William Wharton (his pen name).  I was 18 years old and had just finished reading Birdy.  Then I read Dad.  When I couldn't stop, I went to the library and checked out A Midnight Clear and any other book with his name on it.

I wrote the first letter to him purely as a fan.  After that, it was all friendship.

We wrote to each other over the next 3 or so years.  His, always typed his because he didn't think I'd be able to read his handwriting.  Mine, always hand written because I didn't own a typewriter and a computer wasn't even part of my world yet.   I eventually travelled to meet him, his wife and his son at their beach house on the Jersey Shore.  Thinking I was rather clever, I brought him a small coffee mug from Fishes Eddie, with a tiny image of a pen and a quill.  We had lunch at the house and then walked to the beach.  I could hardly believe I was sitting side by side with the man that had written some of my very favorite books.  He was as cool as could be.  When I said goodbye to everyone, Mr. Wharton and I agreed we'd get right on the stick and drop a letter in the mail to each other.  But he also wanted to encourage me to keep writing to his son, Will, who was single.   He wanted to see him meet someone nice and, at the time, it seemed I would do just fine.

I love the idea of waiting for a letter.  Sending your thoughts and feelings out into the big spanse--totally relying on the US Postal service to deliver it to the right spot.  Then, waiting, waiting, waiting for a response.  I wrote a lot, a lot, a lot of letters back in the day... and I have a hugemongous box in my parent's attic that shows me lots of other people wrote back, too. 

In fact, this past Christmas I got into that big box and found some of W.W.'s letters to me.  I took one with me because I wanted to get back in touch.  I thought he'd get a kick out of me being in the ole 'paper biz' and trying to put a book together.  It'd been years and it never even occurred to me to look him up online and see what was new.  When I finally did, I found that he'd passed away just two years ago.  I kicked myself for letting time go by.

When I next go home, I'm going to pull out all the letters and photos and piece together our conversations.  He was quite a man.

Quote from NYTimes Obit:
When Kate (his daughter) met the man she would marry, The Guardian reported she called her father to ask, “What is love?”
Mr. Wharton was paying for the call, so he kept it short. “As far as I can tell,” he said, “it is passion, admiration and respect. If you have two, you have enough. If you have all three, you don’t have to die to go to heaven.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I've heeeard, as you get older, you get this undeniable feeling that you should be more responsible, your career should be in place, you should be earning a certain dollar amount, have kids, own a home, know your neighbors and participate in the PTTA. Well, okay, maybe not those last couple... but you should definitely be more GROWNUP.

This,  this GROWNUP, is something I don't entirely feel. I actually feel like, now that I know myself better, I want to REALLY LIVE.  For some reason being a grownup and really living seem the opposite idea.

Maybe it's because I was such a responsible young person.
It's time to let go a bit.
And, the proof is in the pudding:  I've met grownups that seem to be really living, but I always just thought of them as really living ...not like grownups, at all.  But definitely the kind of grownup I would like to be.

I've heard a number of my friends say they don't feel like grownups, either.  And today, everybody's version of what a grownup looks like is different. 

Along with this youthful, really living, 'grown-up-i-guess' vibe, I'm also feeling this overabundance of creativity. And not just the creativity (always got a million ideas) part, but the doing-it part, too. Thank goodness.  I'm so looking forward to the Nat'l Stationary Show in NYC this year, much more so even than in years past.  8mm ideas has really taken off this year & I've made a concentrated effort to give so much more of myself to increasing and broadening the line.  This year, I'll be offering one-of-a-kind small works of art in my booth and taking commission orders, as well.  My 'grown-up' sister and I are designing a beautiful booth with our most recent color obsessions & I'm gathering the goodies to display.  We like to give a good show at the show & will be making buttons and banners while we chat, booth-style to other 'grown-ups'.

I'm not sure why I keep attributing it to age... but I guess you could say, I finally GET IT!  I was given chances to blossom and bloom in the past and I did, to a certain extent.  But something always got in the way.  Undoubtedly, me.  I don't know that I had the confidence before now, really deep down confidence that I feel at nearly 40. 

I know that which I create is good, it is marketable, and it is loved.
(heck, a shop i love, that carries my cards, wrote about me this way:  A great series of cards from one of stationery's smart girls, Molly Meng)

So, I'll take what I've got and run with it:  I am a grown-up and I'm really living it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

'Cuz I'm A Sucker and That's Alright By Me

Another adorable pig and elephant who recently crossed my path...

(thank you RK, you do know what I love!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How a Pig, an Elephant, and a Pigeon Saved My Life

I have only just recently discovered the genius that is Mo Willems.

Mr. Willems has turned me on my head with his book characters.  I loooooove me some animals that talk.  Especially in books, where I can give them the voice I think they should have (instead of like the time that Garfield was turned into a cartoon after being in the newspaper for so many years and they gave him the voice of some 55 year old gravely, bitter, smoker guy.  ugh, that was awful!).  So, one day in the excellent Dog Eared Books, I happened upon Elephant (whose name is Gerald) and Piggie and they absolutely made me swoon!  I couldn't get over their funny, dry way of talking to each other.  The facial expressions and the simple sentences were too good to be true!

And then I found the pigeon books.  Holy Smokes.
I sat on the floor of the bookstore and cried, I was laughing so hard.  This pigeon, he drives a hard bargain.  And you can just hear the sarcasm dripping from his little beak.  I read every pigeon book they had:  one about him wanting a puppy, one about his loving hotdogs, another one about him trying to stay up late.  I mean, the premise for the books are so exquisitely simple and yet I've never seen anything like them.
I've bought three of the Piggie & Elephant books so far and am going back for all the pigeon books, too.  The book store didn't have my favorite Piggie & Elephant book available:  The one where Gerald, the Elephant, is really sad and Piggie tries to cheer him up.  Piggie dresses up as all these things that she knows Gerald likes and he gets happy, but just for a moment.  Finally, Piggie comes to Gerald as herself and asks why he's still sad.  He tells her he saw all these wonderful, fabulous, fantastical, amazing things...and Piggie's smile gets bigger and bigger and then says, 'yes! yes! yes! but then why are you still so sad?!'  and Elephant yells, 'because you, my best friend, weren't there to enjoy it with me!'

Oh, stop the cuteness!

Monday, February 22, 2010

other people's photos

 I bought some of my best photos recently at the White Elephant Sale.  I've kept them on my desk for the last couple weeks because I hadn't yet fully taken them all in. 

It's a doubley-good find if there's something written on the back, as well, but as luck would have it only one of these has the scrawl of someone's thoughts...

she sure was good
one of the best sentiments on the back of a photo I've seen in a long time.

I like not having any clue to shots that are set up like this one.  Why is that woman in the window? Is she just a neighbor? His mother? How long did it take him to get his hair that high?  Were Dobermans (whoops! German Shepards! thank you!) considered dangerous back then?  Who's taking the photo?

and I love having a series of the same person, especially as they age.  I have about four or five people, in all the photos and photo-books I've collected, whose complete life is laid out before me. I watch them age through each stance they take:  childhood, first loves, divorces, second spouses, growing older all the while.

And then, there's just the simple snapshot

each person lost in their own thought.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I found these beautiful green paper border mats that are all hand drawn.  A crazy amount of work to keep lines straight and details perfect.  I only have two of them but decided to use them both right away so I don't wallow in their preciousness for too long.  I'm trying to use juicy stuff as it comes in because I find it makes room for more juicy stuff... or, at least I keep telling myself that.


And I'm still living in the details.  The tiny, tiny details that most people won't see.  In particular the sewed stitches in the back of this piece below, 'say what you will'.

I love the way the string looks tied up and how the paper is broken through.  And I get so much joy from aging things.  When I'm making a piece, I really feel like I'm back in time, I'm another person.  The more gook and handmade effort, the better.

There are so many new pieces I want to make, I would have to move into the studio and not come up for air for quite awhile.  But, knowing me, I'll try to squeeze as much in as possible in whatever time I've got.

Friday, February 19, 2010

this ones for you, hardworker

This is Tom

This is Tom's Mural

Tom stepped outside the fence, pushing his paint cart in front of him.  I stepped up to speak to him.
As my own stomach was grumbling, I asked Tom if he was going for lunch:
it's hard to work when you're hungry, I offered.
yehap...and it's a whole lot easier when you ain't, he countered. 
This is also the very beginning, the very first shots, of what I hope to be the documentation of Tom and his ever-growing mural.  He reckons it'll take him til the end of this summer.  Or maybe a year later from the end of this coming summer.  I wasn't quite sure.  Even though we talked about it twice in the half hour or so of our first meeting.

Tom lives across the street from this little private garden where there used to be another "rahlly, rahlly beautiful mural" in this same spot.  But, it got tagged and the garden manager painted over the tagging, which left a kind of raggy mural, until Tom got involved.  There is one little memento left over from the last mural, it's a tiny little animal "that moves rahlly, rahlly slow" over in the corner.  Neither of us could quite come up with the name of that slow moving animal, but I guessed an Iguana.  Next time I go to visit Tom and his mural, I plan to take a close-up of that little thing.

I didn't want to overbear, or get too excited about my Tom & his mural discovery.  I've done that before with people and they get camera shy or the story telling dries up 'cuz they feel like you're watching 'em too close.  So, I played it cool and took it nice and easy.

It wasn't until he got into the far and wide details of how this mural will grow over time that I turned to him and said, well, Tom,  i better get a photo of this processdontcha think?   He had told me, though he only works on it about an hour a day (when the weather is good), he wants it to always feel like it's done, in a way.  When I mentioned a 'before' and 'after' kind of documentation, he said, well, i don't like to think of it as before and after...'cuz it's always happening.  We agreed we should call it a 'during' photo.

I told him I'd come looking for him again when the sun is out and I hoped I'd be able to take another photo.  He pushed his paint cart away and said he'd be pleased if I did so.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

jonque, krámy, Gerümpel, avanzo, junco

Been digging lately and finding some juicy things.  My sisters, mom and I did a flea weekend.  Three straight days of thrift stores and flea markets.  Before that, I got some goodies at the Dump.  Since then, I hit up cash & carry at the SF Gift show.

The way some are for clothes or shoes, I am for 'junk' that only looks like treasure to me.

the string is so fantastic.  just a beautiful texture.  and bleached out in parts.  one of the best things i got.
can't go wrong with a tiny chinese/english dictionary... and, oh beautiful paper cutter, i've waited for you for so long...

the photos have been winners, as well.
i was at the vintage paper show a few weeks ago and met a guy who also collects photos.  we happened to sit down at a huge box of 25c. photos at the same time and both of us graciously offered the other to go first.  it's a hard thing to do, you never know what's in those boxes.  he found me later and asked me what kind of photos i collect.  anytime the conversation is about old photos, other people's photos, i'm game.

me:  i have no idea what kind of photos i collect.  anything that moves me somehow, i guess.
him:  can i see?

I showed him the 20 or so I'd grabbed at first instinct.

him: oh yeah, i see.  you collect photos that are kind of melancholy, a lonely sense, most of the photos are of one person, strange, quirky.

I'd never thought of it that way.  I looked at them again.  I always thought the photos I picked up had a lot to do with relationships, sending out some kind of message.  But, really, he appeared to be right.  And then proceeded to show me some of his 'best' photos that he carried with him in a little black book. *

him:  i collect these strange little moments in time, relationships, quirky and strange, like yours.

We talked a little longer about snaps' in general and some good finds in particular and away we went.

i love this shot.  it actually came out of the little baby boy's baby book.  i found the whole book at the dump.  amazing shots.  but the big sis never looks too happy, poor thing.  I think she'd rather be off playing with the other little girls  (one of the best parts of this shot). The one's over her shoulders...
over her left shoulder...
(i love how it looks like that one is squealing with laughter and the ruffle of her skirt is highlighted)

and over her right...

*only in the writing of this did i end up looking up the man i met at the show.  he'd written his name down and book he said i could 'find all over amazon', but i just never looked it up until now.
turns out, robert e. jackson, does more than just collect photos.... he's one of the country’s premier snapshot collectors. and this book and the snapshots contained within have been all over the U.S. in galleries and museums.
i guess i shoulda know it was serious when he pulled out the little black book.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

found again

This find seemed timely.
It was just today that I was thinking back to the day I had my bag stolen out from under me while I was at a Kinko's copy machine.
I guy was standing nearby with a huge duffle bag and I looked the other way to find my copies come out and woosh! it was gone.  He wasn't though.  He stood there and watched me freak out.  I remember him watching me and thinking it's in his duffle bag.  But it wasn't until we watched the security tape, and he was long gone, that it was confirmed.
I never saw him again.
The cops told me to take a walk around the neighborhood because often these guys, once they realize your bag is full of stuff they don't need, they start tossing stuff out as they walk.  So, I walked around and around the East Village that day and never found a thing.  The only thing that ever came back to me, months later, was an empty (save for my i.d.) black leather wallet sent through the postal service by some unknown good samaritan.

So, things that went missing?
Lots and lots of negatives that had just been taken of me.

They were head shots, specifically.  And they were probably a little wacky.  I had just shaved my head and I think for some of the poses I was in a lampshade.  I don't totally remember.  It was New York, I was young, it was a crazy time.
But, as I was walking home from work today I had the memory and wondered where those photos ever ended up?  So, while this was a good find for the story, I just don't have time to go through every one of these lost photos.

Monday, February 15, 2010

crazy beauty, global warmth

Call it what you will, but a Springtime in February is downright wacky.  Sure, it's gorgeous and I'm in constant awe as I walk by another blooming tree, the pinks just shouting with color... but, I gotta feel a little bad for the buds:  I'm sure they're confused as they blossom in 50 degree weather.