27 February 2007

learning is fun

in preparation for The Big Move out west, I'm learning something new everyday:

1. color-coding ava's barrettes and ponytail holders and putting them into individual snack-size baggies may not be the best use of my time.

2. checking craig's list for rental homes is a highly addictive activity. I'm a junkie, people. I don't think I'll know what to do with myself once we actually find a house. checking it seven times an hour to see if any new listings have popped up is what gets me through the day. if checking it so frequently is wrong, I don't want to be right. I have a strong feeling that I may never stop checking craig's list-- I think I'll still be checking it years from now, even if only to dream about what could've been.

3. there's always time for a movie. although it may be in one's best interest to do a bit of research beforehand, especially if the idea behind said movie is to escape and unwind. in which case, I would not recommend the last king of scotland. do not misunderstand me, this is a spectacular film-- saturated with color and fascinating at most every turn. forest whitaker's portrayal of idi amin is nothing short of magnificent. however, it's not really the kind of film you want to see at the end of a long, stressful week. or maybe it is-- depending on who you are. all I knew going into it was that forest whitaker was supposed to be fantastic and I've always liked forest whitaker (he was so good in smoke) and blah blah blah. I didn't even know it was about idi amin. that little nugget of information might have been useful to me but I've been up to my eyeballs in this whole uprooting and moving out west deal. watching others string a man up by his nipples is not the best way to unwind. at least, I think that's what happened. I could barely watch, so I don't know. the film builds brilliantly enough throughout so you know the violence is coming, you can just feel it and you can't look away. you have to know what happens. I believe this is an important story that needed to be told, but okay already-- he was sick/crazy/paranoid. all the makings of one nutty dictator. by the end of the film, I was gnawing at my knuckles like a wild little animal and praying fervently for the world in which we live. although, from what I understand, I might've been doing the same thing throughout notes on a scandal and little children (two other films I'd like to see). I doubt I would've been on the verge of a breakdown at the end of music and lyrics. something to think about.

4. old interview magazines are the best resource for collage scraps. remember the gigantic-sized ones from the 80s and 90s? again, going through magazines only to rip out a page or two here and there may not be the most efficient use of my time, but it calms me. I consider it my reward at the end of a long day. I feel that I'm entitled and deserve to unwind. and perhaps better than watching idi amin terrorize the people of uganda.

5. giving an old seiko keyboard to ezra to keep him occupied while trying to get some packing done has not been one of my better ideas. initially, I felt as if I'd come up with the most inspired plan ever-- letting him plinkplinkplink away happily while I scratch item after item off my ridiculously long to-do list seemed like parental genuis. I even congratulated myself and wondered why I hadn't thought of it sooner. then twenty minutes into it, I was sorry. so sorry. after several minutes of ezra banging the same key over and over and over and holding that same key down with a sticky, syrupy thumb while screaming DOOK! DOOK, MOMMY! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK!, I was sorry. happy that he'd discovered the magic of sound, but very sorry I'd not thought the entire scenario through more carefully.

6. it is possible to live (thrive, even) in the midst of chaos. there are boxes and piles everywhere and I am learning to live in and around the mess. I am concentrating on the temporary nature of the mess, how necessary the mess is to this whole process. though I find that I am craving order in the worst way. which is why I desperately feel the need to organize all of ava's barrettes according to color and alphabetize every last CD we own.

7. it's okay to ask for help. it's okay to cry. it's okay to stop for a second. it's necessary to breathe, it's necessary to sleep. there are going to be fires to put out and alligators to chase. deep down I know that it will all be okay.

22 February 2007

thursday love

so every thursday, I'd pull up to the childrens shelter to teach my weekly creative movement class and there that car would sit-- on the outer edges of the parking lot. every single thursday. and then sometimes, I'd see it parked at a dowtown apartment complex or driving around the fourth ward. never did catch a glimpse of the driver, not even once. which just adds a tremendous amount of mystery to the whole thing, you know.

anyway, what I want to say is that I love old cars with things glued to them. art on wheels, I say. I believe in art on wheels.

19 February 2007

funny thing is

the biggest life changes sort of fall into your lap when you aren't paying any attention at all. we didn't go looking for this and would never (never, not in a hundred years) have predicted a move out to the great northwest, but here we are. moving to portland, oregon in less than a month.

ward's been offered a job with laika and it was just too good of a thing to pass up. after flying out in january to check out the scene, and then after so much talking and crying and more talking and thinking and talking and praying and more crying and thinking and then some arguments (very thinly disguised as 'discussions') and thinking, more praying and even more talking, we decided to say yes. yes, we'll take it. yes, we'll move our family to the opposite end of the country. yes, we'll take on a monumental life change. yes, yes, yes.

I am bracing myself for an adventure like no other.

I can't even talk about how much I'm going to miss everyone and every last little thing here. really, I can't. because my eyes start to water and the waves, they start to swell and break and I just can't keep doing that. I'll never get anything done. despite the deep sadness, there's excitement-- a kind of excitement completely new to me. it bubbles right beneath the surface and whispers things like 'fresh start' and 'brand new city' and talks about reuniting with the loveliest old friends and the meeting of so many fantastic new and wonderful friends. it speaks (with conviction) about the spectacular nature of the unknown. I like that voice, I am trying very hard to pay close attention to what she says because that's how I'll be finding my way through this. when I am listening closely to her voice, I can almost hear the crack of the world breaking open for us.

all these conflicting feelings make for days with staccato-like ebb and flow. that is to say, I am giddy one moment and weepy the next. the best I can do is ride the waves and greet the change with the widest, most open arms I can manage. a close friend of mine recently told me about a saying she'd seen somewhere-- leap and a net will appear.

I thank her for sharing that because well, we're leaping. and we're hoping and praying for a net to appear. but then, that's what life is all about.

(first taste of portland is here)

16 February 2007

photobooth friday

posted in honor of the recent Day of Love. a favorite one of mine and the memory of that day ain't half bad either. (but that's another story).

why can't everyday be The Day of Love?

ah, photobooth friday is for lov-errrrrrrrs:


14 February 2007

time for valens

happy valentimes day, all you lovely peoples.

13 February 2007

try, try again

my camera is alive again-- miraculously brought back from the land of dead cameras.

which means that my 365 project is up and running again.

one thing I really enjoy about this experiment: finding that one piece of something in my day worth photographing.

I mean, there's a lot in my day worth seeing. so much worth photographing, but there always seems to be that one thing. and always something I might've overlooked had my eyes not been wide open in this way.

(I'm two weeks into it-- checkit, the set here)

09 February 2007

photobooth friday

my grandpa corrona used to take me to the VFW lounge with him. I must have been about 7 or 8 and let me tell you-- the smoky, amber basement of the VFW was nothing less than fantastic and otherworldly. something about the crack of the pool sticks and the one dim, lonely television in the corner announcing baseball scores to no one in particular. all so terribly exotic and unknown to the seven year-old me. and the sour smell of the place was something I could never quite seem to identify. it sounds depressing, I know-- but it wasn't. not to me, not at the time. more than anything, I was just thrilled to have been chosen to go. my small hand disappeared into his large brown-skinned one as we took the stairs down into this other world. I remember being helped up onto a barstool at which point I was served ginger ale. or 7-up. I loved the squatty glass the bartender set in front of me, the skinny brittle straw and the tinkle-tinkle of the ice cubes. I loved the way the barstool spun me around and around. I pretended not to listen while my grandpa talked with the bartender, which was easy to do because there was just so much to see. I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. it felt like a forbidden place and kids always know-- they instinctively know about forbidden places. for this very reason, I paid close attention to all that was around me.

it was on one of those trips to the VFW that my grandpa played a little trick on me. he gave me beer instead of ginger ale and I gagged at the taste of it. he smiled that rare, wide and generous smile and I remember how special it made me feel. I was in on the joke and everybody laughed and I felt cute and important. I don't remember him playing a lot of jokes like that. not that he wasn't funny or didn't smile, I just seem to remember him more for his reticent nature, his stubborness and short temper. I was sort of afraid of him too, I think everyone was. I've heard stories about the temper (a trait that runs in the family though I wouldn't know ONE THING about that).

I stayed with my grandparents a couple weeks each summer and one afternoon when I was bored, I stuck a bead up my nose. in my defense, that bead looked just like a genuine ruby-- red and sparkly and absolutely impossible to resist. I'd found it while digging all through grandma's big candy tin of buttons and was instantly convinced it was the most beautiful thing like, ever. I had a fabulous two-piece pajama set that looked exactly like something a genie girl or belly dancer would wear and believe you me, that bead begged to join the costume party. I didn't know it would get stuck, how could I have ever predicted that? I was a hot frantic mess trying to dig that thing out, scared to death of what grandpa might do once he discovered I'd been putting beads up my nose all the live long day. the harder I tried to dig it out, the further up it went. and then my nose started to bleed and MOTHER OF MARY, the blood and the ruby, the ruby and the blood. who could tell the beginning or the end of one or the other? that's when I broke down and told them. he was just as mad as I thought he'd be and I did my best to hold back tears. in the end, it was nothing a trip to the emergency room and a good, strong vacuum couldn't fix-- sucked that ruby-colored bead right out of my left nostril in no time. they gave me a piece of spearmint gum afterwards too, I remember that. I had survived the legendary wrath of grandpa and felt stronger for it. plus, I'd gotten a fresh stick of gum out of it. juicy fruit would've been my preference, but still. I never wanted to be on the receiving end of his anger again.

even in the most prosaic of moments, he was something to look at. velvet burning eyes and hair the color of the blackest night. his hair never changed color either, even in later years and we pitied anyone who dared tease him about it. heaven help the fool who insinuated that a shade of hair like that could only come from a drug store bottle. I do believe this caused steam to come from his ears (and I'm being kind, if not a tad dramatic). again, even when he was sitting in his favorite chair with his feet up (watching benny hill or gunsmoke or hawaii five-o), he was something to see. he smoked a pipe (like all grandpas should) so he always smelled sweet like tobacco. and always just a little bit like home-fried fish. several years ago, when ward and I were in italy, we visited a tiny, colorful island near venice called burano. there was a neighborhood fish fry happening the afternoon we arrived and I wanted to cry big salty tears over the thick scent of it. in that moment, I was transported back to my childhood and my grandparents' home in southern illinois-- back to the living room with the dark pine-knotted walls and I could see him sitting there, legs crossed, pipe in hand. I wanted desperately to tell him all about italy-- he was so proud of who he was, where he came from. funny, I grew up thinking we were italian, only to find out later that we were, in fact, sicilian (which is a very, very different thing according to family). all the same, there I was-- halfway across the world, wandering the streets of this sleepy italian island and he was everywhere I looked. but most especially in the scent of the fried fish that wafted past hanging laundry and all through the narrow alleyways that afternoon. he was right there, he was all around me.

so many photobooth friday stories this week, my friends:

scrumdillydilly (last week)
scrumdillydilly (this week)
the whole self
nessie noodle
woof nanny (last week)
woof nanny (this week)
acumamakiki (last week)
acumamakiki (this week)
matt (last week)
matt (this week)
bobby choice

(and please do not forget the photobooth friday flickr group, lovely peoples)

08 February 2007

ava thursday

I've hijacked ava thursday again. she made these for me recently-- taped them over my workspace with a roll of scotch tape she found somewhere.

and I whole-heartedly agree, I do. I like colors that rhyme. I like bubbles.

07 February 2007

self portrait #41 (black and white)

if I squint hard enough, I can barely see the deep circles under my eyes. the dirty strands of hair disappear and all I see is me and that strawberry ice cream cone. we got caught in the rain that day-- me, ava and ezra. we'd been to the book store and got caught in a sudden downpour. we ducked into the nearest shop to keep dry, which just happened to be an ice cream parlor. we were bored, so we started to play with the camera. we took photos of each other, of the floor, of our ice cream, a speck of paint on the table, wadded-up napkins, our feet, the rain outside. in that moment, I didn't want to be anywhere else, with anyone else, doing anything else.

that's a good and solid sort of memory. but I'll tell you-- when I look at this particular photograph of myself for too long, something strange starts to happen. like when you've said the same word out loud too many times and it begins to sound completely foreign to you. like a word that belongs to an entirely different language. which is not so much a bad thing-- just disconcerting. it's as if I am barely recognizable here. again, the deep circles become more prominent, the texture of my skin, the shape of my face, my nose, the hair pulled back tight (save for a few dirty strands). I start to think about how boys in junior high used to call me cow eyes. I feel like I am looking at a creature from a different planet. I feel like I'm looking at someone I don't really know.

which is all just a little too existential for a wednesday morning.

(the self portrait challenge for february is black and white-- more to see here)

05 February 2007

pree coo

that's what he's been saying these days. you know, if he thinks something is pretty cool. pree coo, he says. das pree coo!

I am a mother rendered numb by infinite cuteness.

01 February 2007

thursday love

cupcakes are an easy sell. though that doesn't make them any less deserving of my love. I bite into a cupcake and I remember every childhood classroom party like, ever. do you remember? someone's mom always bringing in homemade cupcakes for special occasions (neatly packed in tupperware containers the color of avocados). and then we were all so painfully aware of the EXACT location of that tupperware container. oh, and the torturous scent of vanilla and chocolate permeating the room, the slow tick of the giant clock above the chalkboard. nothing like the promise of a cupcake.

but then there was always that girl who watched as the rest of us inhaled ours (we couldn't eat fast enough, nevermind all the crumbs, nevermind the frosting everywhere). she was the girl who waited until the very last possible minute to eat her cupcake. yes, this was a deliberate move on her part. all we could do was sit and watch her. like fools. big fools with globs of chocolate frosting on our chins. she was the kind of girl who peeled the foil liner away slowly, who looked around the room before she took the first bite. she was also the kind of a girl who saved the frosting for last and WE HATED HER FOR THAT. well, hate is a strong word but that's who we were. school kids throw around the word 'hate' like so much confetti.

I eat my cupcakes slowly these days, though I am nothing like that girl. at least, I hope not. I think she might've gone on to torture kittens and taunt senior citizens. I eat slowly because I have the sense God gave a goose but also-- I just really love cupcakes. as ava would say, I INFINITY love them. which just means that I love them a lot and I love them for forever and ever.

(madness, this is a little bit for you. go forth and bring the magic of your cupcakes into the world, my friend)

more thursday loves here.