Monday, March 01, 2010

Somewhere Only We Know

Where I live in my head is a jumbled mass of ideas and impressions. Sometimes, there's a really angry troll in there trying to use a machete to cut through the overgrowth. Like today.

I keep trying to get the people close to me to understand, but unless you've been somewhere, how do you know what the landscape looks like? I have this overwhelming desire every minute of every day to create something. That's why the vines grow and the buds come out and the webs get spun. My interior life is all about solving problems and making stuff - I don't walk down the street without re-imagining what everything *could* look like. I don't meet someone or see someone in line somewhere without instantly describing them in my head as if they were a character I was introducing. I don't go through my days half asleep. My head is buzzing. All the time.

Being misunderstood is probably the most profound of all human problems. I'm pretty angry sometimes because my time to be creative is limited. That makes me grumpy. And I know grumpy gets old to the people upon whom you inflict the sharpness and bitterness of a constant grump. I've read endless biographies of artists and writers and a common theme really is the tendency to make enemies out of your loved ones simply because the constant frustration of a creative life spreads like a ratty old quilt across a bed. Lumpy, full of holes and with a tell-tale musty smell at times. I just wish everyone understood that if I could make myself be upbeat and happy and carefree I WOULD!! But that's not the temperament nor the brain I was given. I was given this rich interior space full of creativity and brimming with the ability to "see" what things could look like transformed. It's crazy-making even though I do try for sanity. The one strategy that works for me over and over again is searching out the creative struggles other people endure.

I love the Dar Williams song, After All. Perfect description of creative angst and my favorite line is:
It felt like a winter machine that you go through, and then, you catch your breath and winter starts again, and everyone else is spring-bound.

Anyone else end up being misunderstood?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Studio

If you saw my post "During the Reign of the Oak King" today on Petit Fours, and would like to see some pictures of my studio, then here they are! Most of my pictures are focused on the ideas I used to create things and the sewing equipment I've planned around. Writing really only takes up the space between my elbows.

My desk - made from old six panel doors and then painted and decoupaged. The shelf that runs along the wall has all of my favorite books. The brackets that hold up the shelf are pieces of old furniture - things like brackets from old pianos and the spine of a chair.

Sewing machine table and cabinets made out of old windows and scrap lumber. I have three machines - a Pfaff sewing machine, a serger, and an embroidery machine.

Cutting table with storage underneath. The table is a metal catering table from a restaurant. I built a folding wooden top for it and then covered it with wool blankets and a cutting matt. Very handy for steaming full lengthes of fabric. You can sort of see the rug the dog sleeps on and my mop sink seeping around the edges of the picture.

Paper roll storage - two iron window bars welded together with plumbing pipe inbetween.

Section of decoupage on the sewing table top. It's a full scene called "What the Fairy Dreamed" and it runs the length of the table. My 11 year old and I did it together.

Thanks for stopping in to tour my studio!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Chaos Box

Disclaimer: This is not my original idea. I stole it from my friend, Nicki She’ll probably blog about this as well – only in a much more beautiful manner than moi.
One of my resolutions this year is to contain the chaos. We all have it – like the dust under the refrigerator that you try to ignore. Sometimes the chaos seeps around the edges of my life and makes fulfilling my mission impossible. Let me be real – I like drama. It’s easier to engage in drama than it is to write. Drama is exciting – look! An emergency! I must attend to it! Somehow over the past five or six years I’ve allowed everything to become a drama.
Here’s the solution: chaos box. If something seems in the least bit likely to spiral into drama I’m going to put it in the chaos box and shut the lid. Typical of me, however, my first impulse was to actually make a chaos box – I’ve got a great shoebox. Wait! there’s that little metal box I’ve just been waiting to decoupage! I could get out my rust-stopping primer and some images I’ve been saving up. What color is chaos? Black? Too easy. Teal? Hmmm. Red! I could hit the fancy paper store and get a box of pretty paper to write down my chaotic situations and people to put in the box – maybe a new marker!
In the middle of this creative frenzy it hit me. Turning a chaos box into a chaos project is exactly the wrong path to take. My chaos box is now a virtual box – industrial sized for all the crap I think it’s going to have to hold this year.
Score: Me=1, Drama=0.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Poetry - The Night We Danced Sequence, II

2. Evensong

La Rosita cranks up for the after-game rush –
the heavy smell of corn oil hanging over the parking lot
drifting toward campus, slick tendrils sliding
toward the bleachers. Masa coalesces
into the hands, slippery and smooth, of three sisters in the back
who slap the balls like new babies
into the churning tortilla press. Their father handles the long wooden spoon,
leans his face into the heat of the chile verde,
testing with his nose for cumin, green chiles, garlic.
Their ears perk for the roar of the crowd’s choral
lamentation or exultation depending on the score.
This is their science: put the carne asada on the grill when the marching band
thunders into the first mournful notes of the alma mater.

We agreed to meet after the game – sit with other faculty –
bump our fingers into one another reaching for the cilantro.
Maybe the garnishes in the Styrofoam bowl – sour cream, juicy tomatoes,
jalapeƱo slices, translucent onions
make me reject the safest choices,
see in your eyes a brightness, a delight, a delirium.

Eating cilantro for the first time is an act of faith.
The small chopped leaves so like clover, the long, long stems
still with the smell of damp earth – these things should taste like the lawn,
should be grassy, sharp, bitter, but instead they infuse
spicy foods with the mellowness of morning sun on soggy fields.

And the air, as it often does with these things,
sucks itself up and away in the crush of teenage bodies
and the hum of victory dances,
when you take my elbow and steer me out into the busy night
and toward the empty campus, to the low white plaster buildings
done in the smooth, old, Spanish style, falling
against the wall under the shadow of the eucalyptus,
and into your hands, slippery and smooth,
“Come Inside. Come Inside.” you whisper.
And I reshape myself to your palms.

Notes on Evensong Evensong is an Anglican tradition dating back to the 1500's. Evensong is the choral service sung at vespers. In this poem the singing of the crowd triggers the events of the poem.