Moonwater and Other Rituals of Navigation

Photo of a small black and white ceramic vase I bought as part of the #ArtistSupportPledge

Every weekend I open a “new post” window, and there it sits, staring at me with its blank, accusatory stare. No, the accusation comes from within.

The pressure I put upon myself, the spreading myself too thin, unwittingly, every time a create a ‘weekend’ list— I hobble myself with overwhelm! I did cross lots off my list yesterday but today I’ve been lazy, reading the sunday paper and blogs.

One of the missives from Louise Fletcher‘s Art blog + podcast had an interesting outline of “types” of artist, and it resonated with me immediately. I’m not going to put her words here with the descriptions, but it sounds like it will be a future post on her site, so look out for it there. They are somewhat self-explanatory, but she really nails them in her descriptions (The People-Pleaser, The Disciple, The Perpetual Student, The Critic, The Perfectionist, The Producer, The Artist).

I’ve decided to share my response to her below. It aligns with what I wrote last night after a friend’s zoom ritual of making moonwater for the new moon, followed by jotting ideas around letting go of what doesn’t serve you, and finding new ways to do, to be, to move forward— very timely under the sway of a pandemic which has upended our lives in such far-reaching and often devastating ways.

Continue reading “Moonwater and Other Rituals of Navigation”

A simple reading of three cards

I decided to do a simple three-card Tarot reading for myself last night: Recent Past, Present, Near Future— the most basic of formations. I didn’t do any ‘focus of intention’—life is pretty saturated with a single thread during this pandemic, so it seemed frivolous.

These were my cards in order from left to right:

Recent past 
Judgment (reversed) calls for ‘a period of reflection and self-evaluation’ and often appears ‘when the universe is sending you a message to invite you to something bigger, but you’re not listening.’ 

Present
Knight of Cups (reversed) appears ‘when a creative project is emerging but you’re not ready to act on it just yet.’ At times, this card can indicate that you’re ‘sulky, moody, jealous, or frustrated you’re not being given the opportunity to dream and create.’

Near Future
DEATH (upright) indicates ‘endings, change, transformation, transition.’ It symbolizes ‘the end of an era or phase of your life that is no longer serving you, during which you must clear away the old to bring in the new.’ In short, Death is the Marie Kondo of the deck.

Not only is this a hilariously apropos reading for the current phase of my life— it’s one that has occurred many times, so it’s more like a generalized thesis (rinse, repeat)— and for many people’s lives, not just mine. 

That it arrived during in a pandemic of unprecedented proportions, proving the Tarot has a wonderful sense of tragicomic timing*.

Okay, next post will be regarding some art news that I mentioned. This one had to sneak in immediately, obviously.

+ + +

*It proves nothing of the sort, but that read was so entertaining and satisfying I had to share it.

Summer Sunday blues

An etching of the view from the balcony in El Poble Sec in Barcelona

I’m feeling scattered and at a loss. I have a lot that I could be doing, preparing, working on, reading, and yet I’ve been sitting at the computer sort of flitting in and out, here and there— utterly unable or unwilling to choose a project or task, something upon which to focus. It’s driving me mental. Further adding to the frustration, it’s a summer Sunday that could have been a beach day, for example, yet I’ve chosen to use at s a day of getting things done, and still— nothing is getting done.

For now, I’ll offer up these two etchings that I’ve finished recently. They are very small— only 3″x3″ each, and were inspired by photos taken during my trip to Barcelona and Lisbon back in May.

Etching of a winding street in the Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon.

A Late Sunday in The Bywater 

There was this restaurant which hadn’t been on my radar as a destination, but the one we’d meant to go to told us on the phone Our last seating is at 8:45 on Sunday, and it was 8:35 already, so.

So we opted for this New American place also in the Bywater. Trendy. When we arrived it was Well, no reservation, give me a few minutes, trust me and after 15 minutes of being ignored by the bar and searching our phones for alternatives, he gave us a table that had been empty in plain sight since we walked in. It’s like they want to make you sweat and make the reservation-rule-abiders feel good and special.

Anyway we had a pretty smashing meal and a nice Alsatian blend and got friendly with our server, who turned out to be a recent-ish transplant, a singer, in love with the city, on that arc, that high note where you’re meeting people and making things happen. We talked with her at length after meal service had finished and she told us about a bar farther out that she liked, so we decided Fuck it let’s go.

Continue reading “A Late Sunday in The Bywater “

In Search of Lost Time | no regrets

А la recherche du temps perdu

When I saw how the new sun shone,
I opened all the morning to her.

When I felt the heat of midday,
I turned my face to feel her warmth.

When her exit cast a wake of diamonds on the sea,
I sailed in pursuit ’til they sank out of view.

When the moon ascended,
I traced a sympathetic arc across wide fields.

And when at length a velvet dark surrounded,
I sat alone,
and counted every star.



The calm monochrome that follows the feast days

an abandoned sidewalk xmas tree— set out to the street before xmas fully dressed (b&w photo)

These days following the winter feasts bring a quiet with them, not necessarily unwelcome. Often grey and a little lonely, or too-quiet for some, yet there is a gentleness to them that eases the emotional tumult forced by the calendar shift into a new year.

the giant pine in the yard upstate, blocking snowfall on the yard liek an umbrella (b&w photo)

When I was younger, I longed for the new year to turn at Springtide, or during the full heat of Summer. As I’ve got older, the shift has felt more accustomed and proper happening in the dead of winter— it allows a moment, at least, for reflection which those other times wouldn’t afford.

Continue reading “The calm monochrome that follows the feast days”

And just like that: Autumn

Brooklyn Bridger seen from DUMBO in the rainIt arrived with that kind of grey rain that settles in for a few days, so you just have to settle with it.

I was out all day Sunday and into the night; eight miles of walking in the rain, and when I got home the apartment was clammy like when it rains at a beach house during vacation and steals away some of the fun. 

I had to put on pajamas for sleeping. The beginnings of Fall.
A little park in the ruins in DUMBO
A little park in the ruins in DUMBO
A street lined with an arched tunnel of Locust trees in Greenpoint

india ink blotsI remember when I was younger there was a sort of general consensus around the idea that New Yorkers* were among the most self-obsessed, narcissistic assholes on the planet, especially artist and academic types†. And, I don’t know, maybe that was true.

Things have changed though. Through the power of technology (smart phones, social media, &c) now nearly everyone is a self-obsessed narcissistic asshole— it‘s a goddamned epidemic!

Have you ever run into someone, and you’re like ‘Hey what’s new?’ and they start telling you about some ongoing saga in the middle, because they assume you‘re up-to-date via their posts on Facebook or whatever?

Now that is some self-absorbed narcissistic shit! And it‘s pretty common! Here‘s some homework you can do, in case you‘re feeling a little guilty.

Repetition in ink of "I'm self-absorbed as fuck"

*LA must have been a close second.

†My schoolmates and I (yes, art school) found this notion hilarious and kinda‘ leaned into it for awhile; it seemed a very Fluxus thing to do.

Having to wear shoes all day in summer feels like foot binding

gull on the wing at Brighton BeachMy feet are shredded; torn up and abused by the shoes of summer. It’s not that the shoes are uncomfortable per se, but most (cute) summer shoes are too flat to wear often, and the others I counterbalance with: too constraining.

Opposites, each feels a relief after the other, yet compounding irritations alternately. It being a hot summer, sweat and humidity conspire— abrasions result, and blisters. Picture a ballerina’s bruised little hooves; that’s how mine feel.

The truth is, I’m not accustomed to wearing shoes for so many hours at a time. All the years working from home, I rarely wore shoes. Only to leave the house.

And despite my need for walks —2-3 hour stretches a few times a week to go thinking, when I was my own boss— my erstwhile feet were still more lithe and nimble; never sore or stiff. So I put it down to too much time constrained, even (perhaps especially), when idle.

Having shoes on all day puts me in mind of foot binding. What an effective approach to make people* stay where they were put— first the pain, then the twisted-up appendages, unable to do what they were made for.

I took trains with the shortest walks home tonight, which I never do, and pain was why. What utterly avoidable nonsense.

 

*women

Summer hid a whetstone in the slender paths between cornstalks

Seneca, the paint quarterhorse
My brother and Seneca in the ring while I was up at the Farm in July.


Summer
! It’s been too hot. It’s rained a lot. It’s been busy with work, and (half Fridays notwithstanding) I’ve still not gone on a date with the Atlantic Ocean. Haven’t cycled as much as I’d like.

But it’s been good, after its own fashion; taking its own shape. Clarity and focus with my work has (mostly) made up for my extreme lack of drawing and writing. Solid, meaningful visits to and from family and friends have shored up scattered edges.

What it all has in common: that fleeting quality that I will ever associate with Summer. Happily, the meaning lasts, even if the sunshine doesn’t.

And life without meaning is little more than a series of actions or motions.

drawing of a wall needing art, w measurements
My mathy diagram of K’s wall, before we hung all the art!

Just over a week ago there was an unprecedented electrical storm —very local to my apartment. To the extent that my building was hit and I lost a few small appliances; modem, router, speaker, and the aquarium pump. What a nuisance. Amazon: order replacements. Brazenly, decadently easy to deal with such a blow in these times. Nearly everything was back to rights by the weekend.

The electrical storm seems to’ve been a metaphor for things at large. I wasn’t even upset at having to drop over $200 at the damage that ensued; indeed, it felt like a doorway. An entrance stone had opened, to quote Murakami. I took it as a sign. Old things, old equipment, can be let go of easily with the help of a catalyst. Particularly when it suits the story.

Just last year, my printer died, apropos of nothing. I was irritated, irate at first, but at length it dawned on me that the thing was 11 years old. Then I felt grateful it had endured so long. (Few have such a resumé these days.) I practically well-wished it as I left it on the doorstep of the electronics recycling center a month later. A solemn good-bye, with a wink: So long and thanks for all the fish!

I digress.

drawing of electrical wires
A drawing of the occasional above-ground wires of New York City

This summer has been the most disruptive I’ve had in a long time, and probably—definitely— overdue. I’m good with it, have found a way to be settled with it, despite not having had my sand and salt respites at the edge of the world; despite not having spent (yet*) enough time with friends in our erstwhile carefree summer ways. It’s a new chapter, demanding of change.

At Springtide I sensed it, (sortof) accepted it— was fine to wait for Summer. But it’s different now, and it’s on account of so many factors I cannot list or name them all.

I’m still absorbing, but for the first time in a long time I’m not afraid of Autumn. I’ve even taken to listening to the Shipping Forecast as a soothing interlude, a doorway to focus, or just to sleep— a horoscope of rain and barometrics, always rising more slowly.

Photo of the pagoda in Patterson Park, Baltimore
The pagoda at Patterson Park in Baltimore, when I visited K

*ever the optimist!