So this is not even remotely NYC related. Oh, wait it is…. remotely. It’s the intial illustration I did for a recent project from my one regular client in NYC. It changed dramatically from this… went somewhere far more flat and graphic, but I myself far prefer this illo. I wanted a real sort of fashion illustration flare to it… loose and quick and impressionistic. Parts of this really work for me (other parts not so much… the energy kind of dissipates as it moves upwards, if you know what I mean… it looks a little stiff and blocky in places. But I love the shoes and the flare of the left jean leg.) Anyway, I just thought I’d post it as a reminder to myself of sorts. What I’m reminding myself of, I’m not entirely sure… I guess just that I can break out of the box every once and a while and do something footloose and fancy-free.
This is maddening. I feel like if I just extended my fingers just that little bit more, if I could just stretch that fraction more, that I would be able to brush the tips against the ghost of some grand personal epiphany. Some life changing realization, some elegant equation where Thought + Feeling + Vision – Fear = Everything. Equals Genius. Equals Peace.
If I could just sit still a moment, if I could just shutter myself away for a day or two or maybe twelve, all the bits of dust and ephemera shifting and shimmering and tilting in crazy orbits would somehow crystalize into something perfect and magical. But at the moment, I cannot sit still. I feel like an old peasant woman with thirteen and a half children clutching and clamouring and screaming to be fed. I’m all untied and fraying rapidly. This is the worst part of being an independent operator… a freelance designer and illustrator. There’s no one to turn to. No one can draw my comic for me, no one can take over all the client projects I left half complete before we took off for NYC. No one can take over my life… I have to do it. Just suck it up, get it done. And hope that the shimmering bits will still be there the next time I look over my shoulder.
I know that this must seem to you a tired refrain. Imagine then how I feel. I just want to stop a minute. I just want to breathe. I just want to be. But the world spins madly on….
I saw soooo much, learned soooo much, heard and felt and absorbed too much and it’s all more than my once absorbant and spongy, now squishy and tired brain cells can contain and I’m watching helplessly as all the stuff I wanted to retain drains away from me and spills a brillant waterfall over the lip of the countertop.
I will tell all. I will. Just first let me catch my breath. All I want right now is some asprin and to be still, to feel cool breezes on my skin and to let my brain empty and unfurl like a freshly laundered sheet on a clothesline, flapping and blank.
Photo above of a store window display that caught my eye as we were wandering about Wednesday evening, looking for somewhere to eat.
Our hotel is right in the heart of Times Square. Times Square where big screaming color rules, where an inexhaustable supply of unusual, hot aromas gasp out of the steam grates. Times Square where the billboards wink down at you, smug and cool, as you are pressed from all sides by walls of steaming humanity (or at least you are when you are my height and trying to get across the street.) Our room directly overlooked all of this and at 3:00 in the morning, I would get out of bed and sit in front of the window, shivering slightly in the hum and pant of the air conditioner and watch it from my pigeon perch, still buzzing, still alive, still rushing beneath me like a technicolour stream… Like that scene from the original Willy Wonka movie where Mike TeeVee gets busted up into a million tiny teeveee pixels and blasted through the atmosphere.
NYC overstimulates on all fronts. At the deli where we ate the first night, my salad plate was larger than my head in girth, and heaped almost over it. The sound is continuous and electric, murmurs and bangs and whistles and shrieks and shouts and something that approximates a sizzle that I swear was rising from the the sidewalk itself. Negotiating Times Square was an adventure at first… for the first two days I had Johnny Protective’s fingerprints permanently tattooed into my flesh just above my elbow where he would clutch me like a bank robber would clutch a bag of freshly heisted gold, attempting to steer me through the seething crowds. But it got easier, you learn to move with the flow, to dart and dash and get the hell out of the way. It always seemed like we were running from Times Square as fast as we could, breaking for the pockets of relative calm on the offshooting streets and avenues. One of the guys who works for Johnny Creative who had lived in NYC for years firmly advised us to stay away from the “Street Meat” (ie. the stuff served up on every street corner by the glut of street vendors… curries and pretzels and hot dogs and roasted peanuts), but I gotta say I probably would have figured that one out on my own. I do admit to one brief low-blood sugar moment of temptation, but wisely chose to duck into a Starbucks instead.
Another of Johnny Shutterbug’s pix. The dusk settling on the Chrysler Building.
Feast your eyes on one of the few Johnny pix I’ve been granted permission to post. Not as good as his shot of me, but I liked the way his red polo looked against the cranberry walls of the gallery. The Met is one of the places we will definitely return to. It’s so incredibly immense that there’s just no way you can possibly see it all in a single visit, though we gave it our best shot. What was most fascinating to me was what I ended up being drawn too the most. It wasn’t what I expected. In the weeks before, I’d carefully poured through the Met’s online gallery , trying to winnow down the pieces I most wanted to see. I was most excited about Rembrandts, real live Rembrandts. But when I was actually standing in front of them, I was yeah, kind of awed that I could just reach out and touch them (If I had dared), but not as taken with them as I had imagined. I mean, obviously they’re good… he’s a master. Obviously, I was impressed. But they didn’t move me the way I thought they would.
Vermeer, on the other hand, wow. The light in a Vermeer painting is incredible. I loved the formal almost rigid composition and how it makes his subjects look so vulnerable, isolated and human, the subtle tonal values, the mood and pensive emotion. But much to my surprise, it was Degas who drew me in the most. We’ve all seen Degas’s dancers and bathers fifty million times, and I guess I just thought it was old hat, you know? Overexposed. But seeing it in person and seeing it online or in a book are completely different experiences. I just could not get over the way he could convey the weight and dimpling of flesh with a simple stoke. It was so incredibly delicious I felt sort of lightheaded with the desire to lick the candied surface of his pieces. Which I’m fairly certain would have been frowned upon by the ever present Museum guards. And then there were the photos… o, the photos.
I did take a couple of shots of various works (which you are allowed to do as long as you don’t use your flash) but I gave up after a few. There’s just no way to replicate the experience of standing in front of an incredible piece of art, of spying a stray hair left behind by the artist’s brush and sealed for hundreds of years on a canvas and trying to squeeze it all into my lens was actually taking away from my experience of being there, so I put my camera aside and just feasted until I thought my eyes would implode with the ecstasy of it all. Here’s a little sampler of the some of images that caught me most, taken from the Met’s online gallery (they don’t have a lot of good Degas shots on there, unfortunately):
In a teeny bit more than a week, we’re off to NYC, me and the Handsome Guy. This will be our second trip to New York and it’s exceedingly hard to concentrate on anything else at the moment. Last year as I prepared for this trip, I was fully expecting New York to be completely fabulous. And I’ve got it tell you, it exceeded my expectations in 9,010 different ways… most of them completely unexpected. To paraphrase the inimitable Bluepoppy in a comment she made about my Finny photos, that city is so alive, you can feel it panting in your face.
Last year, I wrote many a post about how I was going to regale you with all manner of tales about my NYC adventure. Again and again, I promised. But as is sometimes my way, I completely flaked out and left it all hanging. It’s still all stuffed up in my head, and it’s going to have to stay there awhile. As I’ve said repeatedly in previous posts, my head is spinning with all the stuff I have to get done before we catch our flight. But in a half-arsed attempt to satisfy that part of you that is feeling completely ripped off right about now, I’m going to post some of the photos we took last summer. I promise you lots more when we get back. In fact, I went out and bought a huge new memory card for my camera so I can snap away to my heart’s content.
With regard to the photo up above: obviously, I didn’t take it . The Handsome Guy snapped it unbeknowst to me as I stood in The Met, admiring this enormous painting by Rubens. ( I added the gilt frame in Photoshop, but the actual photo is Johnny Snapshot’s) What I remember best about it is that I was so impressed with myself because even before I read the placard on the side there, I had noticed that some of the animals and figures in the painting just didn’t have the same sort of energy and vigour as some of the others. Some of the figures looked almost amateur in comparison. The placard revealed all: apparently some of the figures were not painted by Rubens, but instead were painted by his students.
As I sit down to write this, there is a nervous fluttering in my stomach, a panicked butterfly battering my insides and muttering in circular, panicked butterfly fashion “You don’t have time to do this, you don’t have time to do this, work, work, work, work, work!…” We are leaving for New York in eleven days and I have so much to do before then, it’s not even funny.
But then there is the reasonable side of me, the one that takes the long view, the one that has her priorities straight. And that side of me is saying, “Fifteen years of marriage is a milestone. Fifteen years of marriage is remarkable. Remark-able. As in something to be remarked upon.”
Know what? I am listening to her. She knows where it’s at. She is, of course, the voice that led me to the Handsome Guy in the first place, the one who knew all along that he was The One. The Everything. The Best Thing. From the moment she laid eyes on him. Well, pretty much.
I know it has been said many, many times that the happiest day of your life is the day you get married. And certainly, our wedding day, fifteen years ago was a joyous, happy occasion. But it’s not my wedding day I think about as I sit here contemplating the last fifteen years. It’s not momentous occasions marked with candlelit feasts and acres of white tulle. Not at all. It’s the little every day moments, the tiny almost insignificant details that stitch together the fabric of my life.
It’s the fact that when he doesn’t think anyone is watching, he still “airplanes” around sharp corners like a four year old, arms outstretched slightly as he banks to the left, dips to the right. It’s the freckles on his arm, the warm, sunny smell on the back of his neck, the way that when he’s playing with Finn, he sticks his arm under the bed in the guest room and pretends that a monster has grabbed the ball and he valiantly wrestles with it while Finn literally bounces up and down beside herself with excitement, waiting to see who is going to emerge victorious from this battle… the monster under the bed or her darling dad.
It’s his eyelashes, his laugh, the way he just gets it. Gets me.
And that’s kind of astounding given how different we are in many respects:
He is tall and darkhaired and skinny, and well… I’m just not. We’re kind of like Bert and Ernie. Only I’m a girl and he’s not yellow or unibrowed.
He likes routine and structure and is frankly freaked by the idea of running his own business. Not me.
He’s a capital “T” team player while all I’m interested in is the individual events.
He knows how to do math and what our bank balance is and how much stuff costs. I couldn’t care less.
His weakness is salty starches, chips and french fries and stuff. Mine is sweets, chocolate and cupcakes.
He’s much better at city driving, but when it comes to highway driving, I take the wheel.
He is more self-conscious, more reserved, markedly less chatty. I will yak your ear right off your head if you let me.
But the secret thing that no one knows, but I am telling you now, is that underneath all that, we are exactly the same in all the ways that matter. We share the same world view. We share the same heart. And the fact that I know this about him, and that he know this about me, and no one on the outside would ever really get how completely identical we really are, never fails to delight me.
Back in our college days before we were married, or more precisely during one particular three month span when we were back at our seperate family homes for the summer break, we clipped out and sent each other the exact same editorial cartoon and mailed it to each other on the exact same day. And this happened not once, but TWICE.
We both have little round brown moles on the soles of our feet. Mine is on my left foot, his is on the right. A matching set, more or less. Except that his feet are ten times bigger than mine and (I’m sorry, honeyhead) but his feet are quite a bit hairier than mine.
We find the same things outrageously funny. Like a couple weeks ago, laying in bed watching Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Ricky Gervais talked about how the British press has dubbed him the “Chubby Funster.” We laughed about that for a good solid thirty minutes, laughing so hard I was actually in danger of wetting the bed.
I can’t think of a single movie that we didn’t agree on completely. We may be the only two people on the planet who hated Shrek 2 so much, we turned it off. We may be the only people in the world who truly despised Old School.
We may be the only people in the world who remember an old British kids’ show called “Chico the Rainmaker” which was about this severed Mexican head named Chico who bounced around in the bike basket of his kid companions, all wrapped up in a red bandanna whilst (whilst!) they pedalled around from adventure to adventure and occasionally made it rain.
Years ago, I sent him a card which said, “Do not walk in front of me, I may not follow. Do not walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and tell me how cute I am.” That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. And pretty much what I plan to do for the next 15 years, walk beside the man I love, prompting him to tell me how cute I am.
and LaLaLaLaLa means I love you…. my heart, my all is yours. Now, then, forever… always. Happy anniversary, Johnny Handsome. You are the everything.
We have finally finally resumed some sense of normalacy in the doggity department round here. This week, we were able to resume our regular every day walks in the park. They are very leisurely strolls, sticking mainly to the flat paths and trails, they are less than half the length of the pre-injury wolf walks, but they are doing the trick. I am no longer constantly treated to the winsome, pleading visage up above.. the “Come out and PLAY with me, puhhhhleaaase!” expressions. The fixed gloomy puppy expression that so clearly communicates”Why are you being so cruel to me?!”
It’s been a long haul and we have to go easy, but I think we’ve rounded the bend and are well on the trail to complete recovery. There’s been some muscle loss in the broken leg as you can see in the photo above. Her left leg is clearly skinnier than her right. Some of that is because it was shaved and the fur is just coming back, but much of it was because the cast imobilized her leg long enough that the muscles atrophied a bit. But every day, she gets stronger and stronger. And now we’re working on shedding some of the extra poundage we gained with all the inactivity. And by we, I mean both of us. I packed on a few myself, although not as much as I had feared. Five pounds. I can lose that easy peasy and my clothes, though a bit more snug, still fit. O. I know. I could have kept up the walks without her, but it just seemed like the worst kind of betrayal. It just felt wrong.
I didn’t really appreciate how much I missed our walks until we resumed them this week. Day in, day out, for over six years no matter what the weather me and my furry shadow have walked for at least an hour, sometimes two and very occasionally three. That’s a whole pile of walking. Then suddenly, eight weeks of none of that. At. All. Today, I finally felt the iron fist clenched tightly around my sternum release it’s grip and my whole world righted itself again. I felt more peaceful, more content, more relaxed than I have in weeks. Simple, green hued, pollen dusted, tongue lolling, unfettered joy. Cliched though it may be, a picture speaks a thousand words (and three pictures speak volumes more!) Can I just say that I love this furry black beastie with my whole heart?! ‘Cuz I do. She brings so much to my little world, more than I can begin to return, more than I ever thought possible.