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.
In early may we took a trip to Barcelona, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal; along the way we made some day trips to other cities nearby. Here are a few selects from our day in Girona, Spain. These images are of the monastery, the cathedral, and the remains of the medieval wall that once girdled the city.
What’s missing from these are the charming streets, squares, and arcades of shops and restaurants that add to the reasons for a visit to this beautiful city of rivers and hills. I wasn’t so much focused on photographing those aspects as much as simply enjoying them.
Having spent some hours scanning through my photographs from my recent trip to Barcelona and Lisbon, with side trips to Gerona and Sintra; gathering selects, retouching, etc, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I’m not interested in creating some kind of narrative or linear story of our trip, as it wasn’t linear, and the narrative changed constantly.
So I’ve decided to start with some high-chroma and steep (naturally) scenes from Lisbon, in the Baixa-Shiado and Alfama neighborhoods, and a couple farther afield. The Alfama ones were from our Castelo Sao Jorge day— it was a grand afternoon of meandering and taking things slowly. We also met some peacocks, but that’ll keep til another day.
For now just take in the angles, colors, and alleyways and feel the sun on your face and the cobbles under your feet.
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.
Some blocks later we found the place. It had a vast high-ceilinged interior, like so many places in NOLA— always surprising as they look small from outside. It was a chill vibe, and good music playing. Some folks playing pool at the far end.
There were a couple of people in black hats and robes like witches with fairy lights on. Another with them was dressed like some kind of dinosaur or abstract unicorn, and some in regular clothes. A private party, they seemed, off at a table. We sat at the bar and ordered, were served. I got consumed with the orb lights, gradually shifting colors and making decent compositions in the camera. I wrote in my book a little.
The bartender, a beanpole sporting a hipster half shirt and suspenders was speaking more or less continuously to a chap sitting on the other side of Z. Z and I chatted here and there, but he seemed distracted. Maybe he was tired, or listening in on the conversation. I couldn’t hear anything but the rutabaga-rutabaga murmur of television scenes in rooms where music and conversation overlap.
As we finished our drinks I asked if we ought to stay or move on. Z said Move on. When we were some blocks away Z relayed to me the disturbing conversation he’d overheard between beanpole and the guy, who’d been explaining that his coke dealer’d raped someone. The two of them then went on to discuss all the many ways said dealer had fucked numerous people over in the more usual ways; money, broken promises, &c.
I dunno if the dealer had been arrested or if he’d now gone a shade too far to be tolerated by the guy at the bar; I didn’t hear any of it. Maybe he was doing that thing of fishing for a shared line or two by talking about such things in earshot of strangers who might by chance also partake. I told Z he should’ve said he wanted to leave sooner. It clearly made everything uncomfortable. Z’s experience had been nothing like my naive absorption in orb lamps shifting colors, and book and pen.
It makes you wonder about all the many conversations in all the bars and restaurants that go on all over the world— all the conversations you don’t hear. It makes you aware how much general trust there is in polite exchanges, and how separate you are from what’s behind every door, every curtain.
It reminds you that everyone has a different measure or barometer of what’s normal, of what counts as day-to-day, and makes you thankful that your version is way less fucked up or hideous than some others.
A bit of in-progress work for a travel project— a bit of an arts and culture map via watercolor. I find it sweet and endearing. But then I would; I’ve been working on it for two weeks, and have become rather attached.
Can’t explain it in full, as it’s for a small audience, but I wanted to share just a sliver or slice of what’s been taking up some of my time and best efforts. To be repetitive, I’m so happy to be working at a place that makes use of these, the more vague or difficult to explain (on a resumé) of my talents. Overjoyed they want them, now they’ve seen the work in situ*, as it were.
Don’t think I haven’t longed for it; time without writing makes a ruin of me. A mere responder rather than a decided adventurer. Time— without time to think, to write— renders me a to-do list, at best. Ugh.
And I’ve been feeling a right failure of Summer, honestly, Having had not a single true beach day at the ocean; nor any long rides on my bike to farther-afield neighborhoods. It’s made me have some misgivings about this new job, despite that I rather love it.
It’s down to habit and expectations, I suppose. I spent a lotta’ years being a sole proprietor (my own damn boss), and as a result, have certain expectations of Summer, you know. Lots, in fact.
But what I’ve come to realize (again) is that everything’s a trade-off. I enjoyed many years of beaching mid-week; of cycling all round town whenever I chose. And now the focus has shifted. It’s good, and just what I needed, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
It was a choice, and one I don’t regret. And now, after a long weekend in B’more with one of my dearest friends, my brother and his family are going to be in Brooklyn this weekend. So you see, Summer happens after all 🙂 And it’s wonderful.
Closing note: I have so much more I intended to write about, but it’ll keep. Summer pushes certain things to the wayside.
(Autumn has other promises, where rain is appropriate and welcome.)
*We haven’t failed! It only feels like that sometimes, when pressures lead us to think in term of expectations. Personally, I’ve decided to say fuckall to prior patterns, and allow new ones to form. That’s adaptation 🙂
Revisiting the April trip, zooming back to Berlin, in black and white. We begin here in RAW-Gelande, the graffiti-clad playground to artists and DJs, just over the river in East Berlin.. Feeling a little Brutal(ism) on this corner, but in person it was a rather lovely building. blue sky reflecting in all the glass.
As we approached these bristling spires, I was all anticipation, as the light was adding a kind of shadowy drama to the silhouettes.
A stunning, lyrical façade rendered prickly and sere in the fading light and surround of winter tree branches.This cathedral is a hollow shell; was bombed heavily, during WWII, but much of the exterior remains in what is now a park.
I’ll eave you with the ethereal image below— rivulets streaming down from the apex of Viktoria Park, which was neighbor to us for our days in Berlin.
On an Easter Monday back in early May, Z, J, and I went on a cycling wander with our friends in Amsterdam. Though it was chill and overcast, we had a fantastic day exploring Amsterdam Noord. Two of our bikes on the deck of the ferry A club called Sexyland in Amsterdam Noord
Edge of the beach outside at Pllek (pllek means Place in Dutch)
Entering the town of Nieuwendammerdijk
Bell gables hide steeply pitched roofs #squadgoals 🙂