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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Locks of luck ...

It's true, impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is falling off the page here, but then again there's something sort of poetic and right about that, don't you think?

I'm happy for the good people of Illinois -- even though I don't live there -- that their state symbol of crass political exploitation -- and bad hair judgment -- has been publicly and definitively rejected. Here in Ohio, we have a pretty good guv, as far as I can tell. He's honest, he works hard, he's trying hard to tackle our big problems, and, perhaps most importantly, he has committed no major coiff-fenses.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New thing

Hey, sketchers, have you tried glueing novelty paper (or newspaper) to your Moleskine pages? I dropped in on a store that sells scrapbook supplies recently and did a little shopping. The paper I used here is pretty, but also thick, so it's stressing the page bindings a bit, but the paper adds a nice bit of variety to the page. And, as you'll see with a later post, it can inspire what one draws.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some seem more ...

Some Mondays seem more burdensome than others, don't you agree?
The key, of course, is deciding to be grateful for them. Still, I had to have a little fun with this very Mondayish Monday.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Stuff I Have to Keep Learning

Behold: A picture that doesn't look like my usual drawings.
Well, in some ways it does, I guess. There's the Micron pen on the Moleskine, after all.
What's different is the whole made-up nature of the landscape here, which was inspired by the small woman in the middle of it, of whom I drew a version while I was doodling at a different time. She kind of interested me, and since I had twenty pages of sketchbook work to do, it seemed worthwhile to explore the idea of an invented world.
I forget that one of the best benefits of being pushed a bit harder than one is inclined to push oneself is ending up in an unexpected place.

Why do I have to keep learning that? Why, once that knowledge has taken root, don't I then push myself harder and harder all the time? It's just one of those lessons that I keep having to re-learn.

Here are a few others:

* It's so much harder to jumpstart an exercise program than to just handle it every day.
* Cake reliably gives me a stomach ache.
* The thing I am most worried about rarely materializes.
* The thing I have not bothered to worry about is waiting to bite me in the butt.
* I don't need more clothes.
* The most confident-looking, off-putting, frightening person in any given group is often the one quivering inside.
* The person who looks dismissable should be dismissed only at one's own risk.
* I can sometimes be the off-putting-looking person.
* No one is all bad. (But the temptation to demonize can be tremendously strong.)
* No one is all good. (But the temptation to canonize can be equally strong.)
* I have never returned from walking the dog and thought, "Wow, what a waste of time."
* I have often regretted losing my temper; I have never regretted holding it.
* Nearly everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, and the best of my closest friends and family ought always to be beyond the realm of doubt.
* Lighten up. Stop fretting. Somehow it'll get done -- or not. Be brave. Talk to strangers. Spend less, give away more. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President -
We sat in our TV room today and watched you make history. Or watched US - that's U-dot-S-dot - make history. Two million, they say, carpeted the Mall while the stars took seats of privilege and the ghosts of power past paid their visits and their respects. These were big moments strung end-to-end like pearls, moments created to remind us - U.S. - that we come from hardy stock and high ideals.

Personally, I need such a reminder from time to time.

So look: The ceremony, beautiful as it was, is behind us. Here we are - you, me and the rest of everyone, waiting for the future to begin. Funny, we were born the same year, you and me, though I've got a half-birthday on you. That would have meant something when we were kids - something I could lord over you.

But we haven't been kids in a good while, and - well, it's fair to say you have a few accomplishments on me. So I'm with the rest of them, those hopeful, happy faces splashing back at you like a sun-warmed surf today out there. I'm trusting, and I'm a believer. Take me somewhere better.

You're allowed to disappoint me, but please - not in the big, scary ways of the last years or in the impossibly dumb and sordid cigar-evoking ways of the time before. Disappoint me by shooting for the moon and landing on a star, as the saying goes.

By now you're maybe sick of the celebrity thing, and I say Amen. We don't need anymore celebrities, we need leaders. We need more than you in that way, but you're a start. Be a real leader in the world and in the nation, and in your own house. Those little girls are entering what is arguably the most difficult times of their lives, so help your wife keep them on a short and loving leash, would you? Trust me, it'll be good for everyone.

Stay calm. I like that best about you. I don't care if you feel cocky inside, I can live with that. The cucumber exterior is tremendously useful, as is your professed interest in getting things done in a new way. The old way, incidentally, is what has left so many like me estranged from the democratic process, so if you're getting grief for being civil to your political antogonists, I say you're on the right track. Stay there.

More than anything, Mr. President, stay wise.
I know you're smart, everyone knows it. Your political foes actually tried to use that against you, which is just another sign that our culture needs some help. But I think you're both smart and wise, and I'll tell you the wisdom thing matters more.

I've been waiting my whole life for wise to show up here and there. I hoped it would show up in the pages of the newspapers (and sometimes it did). I hoped it would show up in books and movies. You have to look hard. I wanted it to be celebrated and rewarded, and I have to be honest - that's been a disapppointment.
It shows up in certain friends here and there, which is reassuring, and yet somehow, at the highest echelons of fame and power, wisdom often seems to be the one missing ingredient. They give awards for accomplishment and intelligence, but never for wisdom. Maybe that's because they can't find a quorum of wisdom judges, I don't know.

What I do know is that wisdom is intelligence applied with experience and judgment. I believe you have it. I believe it matters to you more than partisan politics or fame or legacy, as it should.

Be fair. Be smart. Be sharp and informed and deft. Be human, sure, and be honest when you screw up, as you inevitably will. A smart 18-year-old once pointed out to me, "We have to remember, he's not Jesus," and had to agree - you're not. Er, no offense.

But you could have a worse role model, right? Sure. So be wise, and be love, and I'll be here, following your lead, pitching in if you need me to be and trying to stay six months ahead of you in some way. I haven't figured out how, but hey - we're both learning.

God bless America -- and everyone else, too -

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Catching Up II

I drew more than I posted this week. Here are a few pages from my sketchbook.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On the first day of school ...

On the first day of school Monday, our drawing teacher assigned us this (are you ready, sketchbook aficianados?): Twenty sketchbook pages in the next two weeks.
YES, it finally happened - someone has insisted I do sketchbook pages!
"No, no, I'm sorry, I can't cook dinner now ... I must draw in my sketchbook..."
"Yes, sir, I'm staring at you. Go ahead and drink your coffee. I'm just doing my homework."
Anyway, I went back to the Moleskine sketchbook (as opposed to the watercolor notebook or the plain notebook) because I like the weight of the paper. Don't love the very yellowish tinge, but I'll live.
I can tell I'm going to become one of those cranks who has to make her own sketchbooks after a while.

Anyway, here's the first of several pages I've done since the assignment.
Oh, and by the way -- all the lunchbox and backpack jokes have already been made, so if you were thinking of making one now, you're late.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

If wishes were horses ...

Would you have a white steed or a dapple-gray mare?
A team of Clydesdales at your disposal or just a nice chestnut colt to watch romping in a field?
Would you wish for wild mustangs, a riding pony for your kid, or would you hope for the cavalry to come to the rescue of all of us?

Ahh, well, keep it to yourself, then. Most wishes are best kept private, aren't they?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Better portraits

On a whim, I took to the bathroom mirror after the dog-walk yesterday to draw myself in the hat my family likes to poke fun at. I was well aware of my declaration, a day earlier, that I would practice portraits from photographs for awhile. On the other hand, there was something inspiring about that hat, and ... well, it's a pretty good portrait. Certainly it looks like me in a way the picture of Greg did not achieve the day before.

I'd love to know what accounts for decent drawing on one day followed by bad drawing on another. Guess that's why they call it an art, not a science.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Doing the bad portraits

I dunno. I guess you gotta do the bad ones and get them out of the way, right?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Intentions - last year's and this year's

No one other than me will likely be interested in looking back on my intentions for the year 2008 (though they can be found in the January 2008 archive if you are).
Still, I find it necessary to gloat a bit that out of 11 stated intentions, I followed through with more than half.
I say "gloat" not because they were such huge achievements - they weren't - but because around about this time, I did a story about resolutions and such, and interviewed a woman who poo-pooed the whole idea, going so far as to say that regardless of whether we call them "resolutions" or "intentions," the whole process is essentially a false construct. And that no one ever follows through. And that if you're going to do something, just do it.

I couldn't disagree more. My experience suggests that there's something powerful about writing it down.

"Well," you say, "what about your own record? What about those things on your list you didn't follow through on?"

I think those are instructive, too. One of the things I didn't follow through on, for instance, was to "fast for a day." Another was to "eat a big piece of carrot cake" (guilt free). What I'd say about those intentions was that out of 11 items, they probably turned out not to be very important to me. Instructive, isn't it? Again: Not for you, but for me. Instructive.

I also failed to learn PhotoShop and Illustrator, which IS important, though I will end up doing that this year when I head back to school.

Meanwhile, I finished my project, saw nesting eagles, traveled to New York and saw a couple of shows ... . All in all, I'm pleased with my little experiment.

This year, then, brings a lot of questions about how my days are going to shake out. If my intentions sound a tad more vague, it's because I'm feel a tad uncertain about what life as a full-time student will look like.

Still, this is what I intend. What do you intend for yourself?