#NotMyPresident, as they say

Trump policies gif
I try to not go political too often on this blog, but this is graphic design too. I made this gif in response to the horrors of only the first few days of new policies and decrees from our new leader, Herr Drumpf.

Feel free to share it via GIPHY

Celestial navigation, dream parallels

2015-12-22 13.58.09-5Here is a tiny excerpt from a dream that I’m certain is somewhere in one of my books, but when I searched for it a couple of months ago I could not for the life of me find it. Was a long and winding one. I began writing a short story based upon it but lost the thread. Gotta track it down. It had elements that appeal to me, and potential for a magic realism story.

He asked odd questions which made it clear he hadn’t any idea what was going on, but was trying to appear cool about it. I left the answering to our shrewd Puck and tried to enjoy the misleading answers he gave. Some of the glitter was coming off, and I wasn’t at all sure i could navigate using my available stars after all.

The idea of the navigation— it had to do with solving things or unlocking mysteries in a hidden quarter of the city. Finding your way there got you your first star, and each time a thing was ‘solved’ a new star or stars winked into existence on one’s forearm, creating a map. But when outside the quarter, the stars became less ‘real’, it seemed, just glittering things stuck on, and could be lost. They made no sense on the outside.

This idea reminds me, now, of a quote a rhetoric professor friend posted recently:

At the same token, I know [that] communication is often assymetrical. Barthes quotes Freud:

“Perpetual monologues, which are neither corrected nor nourished by [another] being, lead to erroneous notions concerning mutual relations, and make us strangers to each other when we meet again.”

We’ve all experienced this phenomenon.

The shifting nature of the navigation stars— within or without the place where they make sense— is a serviceable parallel about navigating people.

Everyone requires a very specific map, regardless how similar they may seem initially (social norms, cultural norms, the outer layers). Time away from them means the territory is shifting while you’re gone.

Think how outdated your stars would be if you ran into someone you hadn’t any contact with for ten years. Exceptions to this rule are perhaps family or very close friends from coming-of-age years. People you knew while their maps were forming, or know deeply enough to anticipate the ways they evolve, so your map updates pretty readily. (The other exception may be people who haven’t changed at all. Sad.)

In the Barthes quote, the monologue is the map, which, without being nourished, turns into a pastiche of what it once was or may have been. It begins to fall apart, rendering you a stranger to the hidden city— lost, in danger of running into roadblocks, and misunderstanding local customs.

Interstitials

001Recent days have arrived with excellent weather—sunshine. Birds tracing lazy smiles across the sky. Z and I have been taking advantage of it to wander. While at home the windows have been open wide. We laugh ’til our faces hurt, cackling chickens. In between we talk about real things. Life.

Industrial streetscapes of Sunset ParkIndustrial streetscapes of Sunset Park

Industry City
Industry City

He compliments me on random things like the situation of the ice trays in my freezer. Asks before turning on the overhead (the ‘task light’), so as not to jar with its sudden intrusiveness, and combs through my bookshelves like he’s new here. He’s washing up the dinner dishes while doing birdlike vocal exercises. A peach, he is, and a proper weirdo.

* * *fishesPeriodically one of the fighting fishes responds to an unseen force— a sudden spasm, St Vitus Dance with elaborate fins. The blue one looks like he’s made of prom dress and the red one looks like a magnified splash of blood in the water. Point and counterpoint.

* * *doll
I obtained a new piece Sunday; the broken body of a bisque or porcelain doll. Not a Frozen Charlotte, but of the same period. She’s beautiful and sad and a touch creepy (as are all dolls), sharing space now with a dental cast of Z’s teeth that he gave me upon arriving. Now I can see his smile every day, haha.

* * *004
Saturday night I left the house without my phone and was okay with it, fuck it. I did some observational sketches while we were out. Maybe I’ll leave the pocket computer more frequently for the sake of my sketchbook.

005

 

This is water

I’ve just re-read the famous commencement speech given by DF Wallace in 2005. It’s a very powerful piece of writing.

If you’ve not read it, it’s here. In the course of re-reading, the segments below are what stand out the most, hold the punch, the meat of what he’s on about. To paraphrase, Your perception —which directly affects the way you feel about your experience of being alive, about living on both the minute and grand scales— is a CHOICE. Your angle of perception and the way you choose to react to what’s around you will determine whether you’re happy, miserable, selfish, angry, etc in the broad strokes of your life. Your life is the sum total of all the decisions you’ve ever made— choosing requires awareness. I’d add that choosing wisely requires a strong sense of self; of knowing who you are via your core values.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

…Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master”.

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14 February

coffee shop in the Jordaan
ceiling of a coffeeshop in the Jordaan, Amsterdam

“To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience, from Essays: Second Series

Here is a holiday which, more than most, seems to engender feelings of ambivalence (in the definitive ‘love-hate’ sense, not the oft-misused ‘indifferent’ sense). Everything is a convention of some sort or other; life remains insoluble. That’s a good thing. Shrug off contrivances— live deliberately or with abandon or both, but live wisely, live well. Happy Friday!

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the coffee is working

website
(sneak peek of site in development)

It’s another gorgeous fall day, and I ought to’ve gone out there much earlier, but when you catch some flow on a project, it’s criminal to interrupt, even for such a gift of a day. I’ll head out soon, though, before the sun’s gone. I’ve been indulging in some good walks the past few days; two and a half hours of a wander including the park on Friday; a walk to and from the Cottage in Gowanus last evening for BBQ and a few hands of Tarot. Otherwise been inside most of the weekend working on a sorely-needed redesign and rebuild of electrofork.com.

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tracing the arabesques

christmas cookies made at the start of the break

Amid the waning of the old year I had moments anxious for it to be over– or I think eager is a better word. But then on January second, in the wake of Jon and J. driving back upstate, there was the inevitable feeling of sadness or loss that the carefree time-between-the-years was over. The holiday break had come to an unceremonious end, as it must. For the remainder of that day, and all the next, I was in a slump, unable to motivate.

But now it is the sixth, a Friday; the slow start transformed into a ramping-up of productivity– meetings, beginnings of new work projects, and the nascent fulfillment of plans made. Last evening I joined the gym at the Y with Adam, in pursuit of fitness! We also had our first lesson in Italian, the second to be Saturday afternoon before the first book club meeting. (I’m very behind on reading this short novel, so tonight must be spent in finishing it.) I’ve also prepared a new batch of jewelry to be resin-filled on the weekend. January is looking to be busy, and that’s good.

Next month: Mexico! How nice to have something to look forward to so shortly after the holidays. The Fire Island crew is also making plans for our trip in the summer (rooms are already booking up!).

My last post (merely a quote) was a month ago. I’d not meant 2012 to get a week long in its teeth before posting something here, but initially there was only a Moomin wistful sadness, without words and without form; only tracing the arabesques of two small fishes from the couch across the room, or waiting for the feeling of a New Year to take hold. It’s never an instantaneous thing.