Saturday, November 16, 2013
Perhaps you've been vacationing on Uranus and thus have missed the celebration of the introvert that has been trending, as they say, on the interwebs. A couple of new books on the topic of introversion -- what it is, how it's valuable -- have brought us out of the closet in droves. And now we all know more about introverts than we ever dreamed, but if you're just catching up here's the shorthand:
1. We introverts expend a lot of energy when we're around groups of people, and need to recoup afterward. Quietly. By ourselves.
2. We're not necessarily shy, we just like a lot of alone-ish time.
3. The very idea of piles of social plans can set us to swooning.
4. Staying home almost always sounds better than socializing, even when the people we plan to socialize with are dear friends.
Honestly, the consciousness-raising around introversion has been great because, as one friend noted, "I'm so glad to know it's a thing." And it's given me a quick bridge to others like me, because now that it's a thing it's also a thing we have in common, and can laugh about. There are people who know exactly what I mean when I say, "I have THREE SCHEDULED EVENTS this weekend." They're already feeling fatigued on my behalf.
Yes, I'm grateful for what I'm sure some of you will regard by now as the endless onslaught of love-an-introvert messages; frankly, we were due.
On the other hand, I want to carve out space here to say how especially grateful I am for the extroverts in my life. Without the extroverts I might be some 21st century middle-aged-woman Salinger imitator.
My dearly beloved extrovert friends and relatives inspire me. They inspire me to go beyond my apprehension and/or terror, and imagine the idea of a new social experience as having possible positive outcomes. They're good at leashing up my inner extrovert and forcing it out for a constitutional now and then. On these occasions, I breathe the fresh air of human interaction and remember that this, too, is good, even though it's good in a different way from snuggling on the couch with my dog.
And, perhaps best of all, on the rare occasion when I want to actually host a party or event, the extroverts sincerely do not mind showing up. Some of us introverts actually feel guilty when we extend invitations to other introverts, knowing that at least part of them will regard the gathering as emotionally burdensome. We have no such worries with our extrovert friends, who, as I understand it, do not start planning their escape even as they pull up to the party house. (What must that be like ...?)
So yes, extroverted friend, daughter, husband ... Your kind have ruled the world for most of history. After this brief pop-culture flirtation with introversion has passed, you will likely continue to do so. That's OK with me. Just two requests: First, please don't take it personally if I turn down your invitation to go out and do something. But second, keep inviting me anyway. Cleary, I need you.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Observe: Roscoe hangs on the red velveteen chair in the living room. There used to be two, but we had to ditch the other because one of the cats kept peeing on it and it reeked. (Sidebar: Yes, we put it out on the tree lawn. Yes, it was gone before the garbage truck came. People are strange.)
The red chair has been in this house since 1998, the year we moved in. It was part of a grand celebration of redecorating during which we killed the terrible style that came with the house: the foil wallpaper with Chinese fans and the mirrored wall and the black leather par-tay sectional and replaced it all with some combo of respectable elegance and quirky art. The pair of red chairs gave the living room, with its cherry-stained book case, a warm, clubby feeling that I wouldn't have arrived at without the help of my designer friend Chris, but which definitely balances my quirky-art tendencies.
Everyone has loved the red chairs, but the dogs have loved it best. Ramona, our beloved basset hound, perched on the one by the window and rested her drooly chin so often that a dark, shiny patina bloomed on the armrest. Pearlie, the Newfoundland, was too big for the red chairs (which wouldn't stop her from coming over and resting her butt on your lap if you were sitting in it), but now Roscoe has claimed the remaining chair as his go-to spot. I wonder if his nose picks up latent basset hound molecules.
The point is that -- well, this is pathetic, but -- part of my brain still thinks of the remaining red chair as half of "our new chairs." Put another way, when I look around the house, my eyes are burdened by signs of age. Every room cries for a paint job. The bedroom carpet is a wreck. Nothing, really, is new, except for the recliner I bought Carlo for Christmas last year.
Yet I can't account for how quickly the new red chairs became the one old, remaining chair that has been present as three dogs came and two went; as two girls turned from little kids into college women. The guy who painted this room green, who was a buoyant combination of cheerful and bitter, who I'd love to hire to repaint it now? I happened across his obituary a while back.
The remaining red chair has the bits of fabric hanging shredded underneath the seat, where the cats have turned it into entertainment. Like its partner, it really should be tossed. But I probably won't do that. Roscoe finds comfort in it, as you can see. And of course, so do I.
Saturday, November 09, 2013
This top image dates back to August, and I apologize for the lameness of a)posting a throwback and b) not posting in a month.
The bottom image hints at why. I've been working hard in my non-paid-gig hours to get this wonderful show of artist sketchbooks together at Stocker Art Gallery at Lorain County Community College.
It's been a thrill to reach out to artists - several of them friends -- and spend time with their sketchbooks. They're full of gorgeous drawings, intriguing notes, the occasional misstep and even shopping lists. If you're near Elyria next Friday, Nov. 15, stop by during the reception from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
I am glad to be a part of the population who would rather spend an afternoon looking at farm animals than do a lot of other things. Also glad to have raised daughters who suggest such excursions.
It was a judgment error to let the crazy chicken stay in its spot on the page, but I had drawn her there in pencil before I drew the sheep scene. Using her as border accent seemed like a good idea at the time -- less so now.
As for the piglets, well ... There were two litters, and two gigantic sows. And I could've pulled up a stool and sat there for hours. A sign read, "Please do not pick up the piglets," which was good news, because it didn't say "please don't touch the piglets." So Lylah and I touched the piglets whenever they came close enough to the pen. I wondered whether the mothers would be upset, but they both looked too lazy or exhausted for petty protective instincts. The mothers' coats were course and almost oily feeling. The babies were softer, but their bodies, which looked plump and loaflike when they slept in little clumps, felt harder than they looked.
They hopped around the pen and took care of their mother's position as she ambled to the food trough. It seemed they had instinct enough, even at a week old, to give a thousand-pound object a wide berth even if that object was Mom.
Sorry about the scanning shadows, by the way.
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Years ago I used to write a regular newspaper feature on people and their collections. Among the memorable: a good-natured guy who collected urinals, a sweet woman with an awe-inspiring collection of interesting teapots, and the man in Westlake who became an expert in big mechanical music boxes.
Some of my ambitious colleagues regarded this as a waste of time and newsprint. (Newsroom types aren't shy about sharing their views.) I'll admit that this astonished me at first. I'd always loved feature stories, and in a way, the less event-oriented and the more personal-story oriented they were, the better. You can learn a lot about someone through the objects that attract him. Our stuff becomes, in a way, a portrait of our selves.
Eventually, even I tired of the series, though, because I started seeing a common theme. In many cases, folks who were really obsessive about certain types of collections were clearly -- even admittedly -- trying to fill some endless need. There was a difference between those who casually acquired interesting objects and the more hard-core types, who tended to have disciplined and impressive collections. The hard-core types began to seem, to me at least, a bit damaged. Every story started to sound the same.
Clearly, I'm a collector, too, though in neither a disciplined nor obsessive way. And I'd like to think that the stuff around my house says something good about the people who live here. I leave you to your own conclusions.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Saturday, September 21, 2013
This weekend I was among other people -- many of them middle-aged women, but men as well -- who love children's books. It was the annual conference of the Northern Ohio Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writer and Illustrators. I took a class with a picture-book writer who told of reading picture books aloud to her college-aged sons and their friends, and I thought, "Yes! These are my people." There were lengthy discussions about what makes good kid lit, and of course much of the the pointers are the same as would be given to anyone trying to write anything successfully, except perhaps lawyers and those writing artist statements for gallery walls. (Those are areas where obfuscation and murkiness seem to guide the aesthetic.)
Anyway, it was fun. And for you at home making lists of picture books, I give you Lisa Wheeler, who has written zillions of delightful titles and is a pretty good conference class leader, too.
By the way, I doodled my child and dog here in my note-taking notebook, then liked them enough to do them again in color in my watercolor book. I shouldn't have put the toe-licking action right there in the gutter of the sketchbook, but you get the idea.