Tucked away with a manuscript. When I get out, here are some image highlights. Hope this finds you well. Humanity always rises up in times of suffering.
I married a master tactician and analyst. He's brilliant; he's good at everything I am not. And I'm good at the skills or controls he lacks. We are yin and yang, a rare breed of a couple. He teaches me things he learns from reading Harvard Business Review, books written by M.I.T. professors, and living inside case studies. I teach him, well, you'd have to ask him. He'd say something smart ass, like how to burn toast or how to pick up dog poo.
I do like our walks and musings. What could a business analyst teach an artist? Something simple and easy to say. It goes like this: First Things First. I'll let you chew on that.
He and I move at different paces but we both come back to one place in the end....
9:30 am Monday. I've been calling this the great eclipse "apocalypse." We made lots of jokes about the world ending. The merchandise, the emergency response plans, and the hype had been unprecedented along the "path of totality" [cue awesome drama music].
We sat on chunks of obsidian and oscillated our naked eyes between watching the light fade to wearing our NASA-approved glasses. Humans made a balancing rock sculpture. Dogs scratched at the ground. The blue hour descended with the quickness like never before.
When the eclipse got closer to totality, outside house lights switched on: the sensor had been tricked into (phantom) dusk. The bats flew and darted above our heads. The night birds sang. And we stood in darkness. Stunned. I felt like I was living inside a time-lapse camera.
The hairs on my arms stood on guard. Chills down the spine.
From deep in the forest, cheering and clapping erupted. Meanwhile, a dog remained vigilant at a nearby rock, staring and waiting for a golden-mantled squirrel to reappear.
"Good job, pups, you made the squirrel miss the eclipse," said the huz. One dog, who has a great Arctic Fox hunting pounce, looked up at him and then went back the prey's arrival.
"Okay," he said. "Back to work. The world is still here." We all walked back to our daily life with the sun opening up to its full potential and the glasses tucked in our pockets. The house lights had turned back off.
New York Times story here: A Solar Eclipse's Journey Across America.
On a recent hike, my family and I discussed the types of intelligence. There are different variations of this theory. The theory we were working from included creativity, sexual, and sensual in its intelligence list. Howard Gardner's popular version, however, as illustrated below, doesn't include those categories. Harvard's Gardner includes naturalist and musical, Here's a quick recap of Gardner's work
We talked about each of our intelligence strengths. We first had to assess ourselves and then everyone else got to have their say on your "intelligence." (Cue random insults from a family of one-up out witting each other.) Result: none of us were the same. We're an eclectic bunch. They all agreed on my strongest intelligence as creativity (outside Gardner's intelligence, apparently). My daughter said, "It's because you're lovable and weird--I mean in a good way." Later that day, I'm not sure what I said, she said, "Mom, now you're being weird, and I mean that in a bad way." Intelligence is a spectrum.
And because I am the "creative" one in the family, they are used to me being armed with a load of graphic memoirs on long airplane trips or stacking them on the sofa table to read at night. Here is BookRiot's comprehensive list of some of the must-read graphic memoirs that I've adored.
And that's an abrupt ending to a blog post. Shazam.
I have hit a new speed with a creative project: the sliver of three, uninterrupted hours a day has made all the difference in the world. It's unleashed creative output at a speed that I haven't known before. Rest and attention are paramount to tapping into the images and stories in my mind. So fun.
It's that time of year again to take a break from digital life and delve into creative noodling, finish up some deadlines, arrange new timelines, and watch things grow. I look forward to coming back with new adventures in graphic novels, sketches, inspirational passages, and whatever else I come across that hits me in the creative mind-gut. Have a good one. Find the quiet to feel the poetry....
Sketching day at an alpine lake. A good day, yes.
My daughter had to pull me by the hand to the cash register. "It's time to go," she said. "You're dangerous in a bookstore; you get distracted and stop listening." I became the child in this instant. Ooops.
We were late, and I wasn't paying attention. Blame Powell's City of Books for its selection and tall stacks. I spend as much on books as I would on an ottoman. We have a rule in our house: if you want a book, we'll buy the book. My kids never walk out of a bookstore without at least one. And they read it, hover over it, and stick it in their bedroom.
Books tell stories to you (duh, of course), but they also say something about you in that space and time of your life. It goes both ways. I can look at my bookshelves and tell you my mental state, life happenings, and the importance of that book as it has a place in my life. They are almost like photographs except nobody can "see" how they matched an interior life episode.
Here are some outtakes of books I mulled over, browsed, and couldn't wait to read: (I've hit the strange, illustrated book mode, again)...
and I went for this book at the same time. Nerd Alert in the Adult Graphic Novel section.
in the youth graphic novel section.
My daughter, off to the side, decides if the Rookie Yearbook is worth the money. Her criticism: "It's busy; I don't know where to look. I can't focus. I'll just get frustrated." She passes on it. She's ten.
My son leans and reads a military strategy book he picked up in the store. He's a middle-aged man in a tween body.
young adult graphic novel section, again
I shop around people my age
cereal but this isn't about the soggy-factor and milk. I took an image like this year's ago, so I think, aesthetically, I'm on the same page as the creative director. Trying it.
I hadn't opened this sketch journal since December 2015. During that month I found odd things to sketch, think about, and document while dealing with the raw and sudden death of my sister-in-law at the age of 44. Some outtakes:
Diagram drawn, taken from a rare book on literary criticism, 1847 published
Jen's dog in mourning
Penny kept trying to find her master.
the love life of a mason jar
using my daughter's Crayola markers + Stabilo pt 88 pen
My son's been in the hospital long enough that we know almost all the nurses and doctors. So far, while being here, we have heard the "transition chime" seven times that rings throughout the entire facility. This indicates a birth or death in the hospital. The first one came hours after I heard the intercom: Code Blue. O.R. Adult. Code team dispatched. I hoped it was a birth and not that patient needing resuscitation in the operating room.
UPDATE: As of breakfast time, we heard two more chimes in quick succession. Twins, we hope!
Today way before dawn, while reading the New York Times brief, my jaw dropped. NOOOOO. Chris Cornell died at age 52. He was such an integral part of my self-identity in the early '90s; I loved grunge music, went to the concerts, and wore flannel with a fabulous zig. :) A part of me fell on a black day. One more time. Right here. Listen up. R.I.P. He joins the other movers among the grunge legends...Nirvana, Temple of the Dog ....
My daughter said, "Wait....You liked this music?"
"Wayyyy before kids, honey," I said.
"Who were you?" she said with a drifty voice. I smiled.
Evolution of the self matters.
Here's an explore piece I wrote about the National Wildlife Refuge system in Washington. Get out and explore, and don't touch the wildlife, peeps. (Keep the respectable distance. Limit the imprinting, please.)
When I commute, I rarely listen to the radio anymore. I use the time to sit in absolute silence and be present. It's something new I've been trying for a few weeks. I use other times of the day to listen to NPR and to read the New York Times and Washington Post. But today, I had this real craving to hear that song, "Kids," by One Republic, for a reason I have no idea. So, I broke tradition, turned on the radio to the FM station, and guess what song had just started? Yes, the synchronicity made me smile. Here is it for you. In case you have the random audio craving, too. Damn, Deepak Chopra would be proud.
People live. People die. Their stuff remains in cases, lofts, boxes, drawers. I think of dead peoples' lives often when looking around strange thrift stores. I see stories in each of these slides (yup, those above), presumably taken from the 1970-1990s, the lifespan of beautiful Kodachrome.
I bring this up as I stumbled upon, read, and enacted the KonMari Method into my life. (My husband and daughter have looked at my "spaces" in the house and exclaimed, "WOW. That looks amazing. Will you do it for me?") It's a Japanese method of sparking joy and tidying up. Here are links to what it entails:
Note: I HAVE found a deep reflection with stuff per this book--I tended to toss things every six months, anyway--but this is a more Zen version. KonMari does clear up the head space for more creative time. Tidying leads to the next blog post: bullet journaling (a life-changing force for all breathing humans with fire in the belly).
I shot this gallery of images on a DSLR, which I thought was broken, but apparently, it is not! Yes!
"Morning Voice" is invaluable to a noisy day of deadlines and schedules. On certain days, not all, my eyes open, and the muse is alive (!) and talking fast across my brain to write it down. It's the best alarm clock a writer could ever ask for.
Before I even grind the beans in the low light, a dreamscape has infused a scene, a line, or title to start another day of writing.
If there is music for a morning, I am not a blast-it-loud-kind-of-gal (until approximately 7:30AM, then loud music is fair game). Until then, I think morning study is more like this: LUCHS "Chasing Cloud Nine." While I love this song, I found a beautiful little movie to the song. I adore indie, creative people doing what they love because they don't know any other way to exist. Credit goes to Nicholas Tessier, a Canadian camera operator.
As part of a vetting process, a prospective client for Pine Ridge Creative requested that I complete a questionnaire to get to know me better. I found its contemplative questions above the curve. Among a brief case study to discuss and defend, it also included:
What inspires you?
Where do you find inspiration?
What do you want to be known for? And, what matters most to you?
As I sat with the questionnaire at a coffee shop in the early evening, I thought, O Dear, do I give these people my full-tilt personality or straight business responses?
My husband called at one point. "I think I'm suppose to write my obituary, here. This is intense," I said.
"Are you being funny?" he asked.
"I'm.Not.Sure," I said.
I had that vulnerability check: I decided to put my heart onto the page. Oh man. Either the hiring panel would think I'm a total nutjob, a funny eccentric, or just not a good fit for its organization. I'm a firm believer the vibe you send attracts your tribe. I put it out there, didn't play it safe but went whole heart.
The panel called me in (I hadn't scared them away!). The company's president popped into the meeting and shook my hand. He said that he loved my responses and that they were fun to read. Weeee....
Go whole heart or don't bother. No one has time for a less-than-enchanted life anymore....
Two years ago about this same time of year, I illustrated and wrote an original comic ("Open Letter to Jenna Lyons") about the demise of J.Crew from a die-hard fan point of view. (You can find it here at The Hairpin.)
What I didn't expect with my little comic was an outpouring of national recognition and how it sparked the discussion about J. Crew in newspapers and the blogosphere.
To my surprise this week, over a morning latte and the NYT, I read "The Jenna Lyons Era at J.Crew Comes to an End."
Not sure where she's going but I have always admired her bold and individualistic style, which was just that...her own style, not a mass style. Endings are new beginnings.