souvenirs

I have a habit that I’ve only just discovered. Okay, I know you’re confused by that but what I’m saying is that I only just realized that I have been doing something for YEARS that I had no idea I did.

I looked in my jewelry box this morning to put on my earrings and, as I scanned through my options, realized that most pairs have a very specific memory associated with them. That’s because I apparently have a habit of getting most of my earrings during trips. This isn’t a conscious thing that I’ve done, but it makes sense: they’re easily packable, and for whatever reason, it seems easier to find cute, stylish, and unique jewelry when I’m somewhere else. (Probably because I never go to cutesy or slightly pricey stores or jewelry stores where I live).

Several of them I bought at an adorable local artsy boutique in my brother’s home town, and those are my favorites. I always have to stop there and get another pair when I’m visiting. There’s a pair that I got visiting my BFF in Salt Lake City at the farmer’s market. There’s a pair that I got last time I was in Nashville. And so on. And then there’s the many earrings others have given me from their travels. The pair that my BFF brought me back from Vietnam, a pair that I was gifted by a high school friend from India, another pair from the Virgin Islands. Every time I put on any of those pairs of earrings, I get warm & fuzzies that others have thoughtfully made me a part of their journeys and adventures. I don’t travel a ton – not nearly as much as I wish I could – so all of these earring souvenirs are extra special to me.

So now I’m realizing that since it’s a thing that I do, for trips where I either didn’t have time to explore, browse, and shop, or don’t stumble upon any jewelry in my style or budget when I do make it out for a stroll, I’ll head to Etsy and shop by location for a local artist. So that at least I can still get something small and simple to remind me of that place.

it’s not me, it’s all of you

One of the joys of sharing a single vehicle is we get to discuss our mutual hatred of local radio. If I had time to Google, I could confirm that all radio stations are really just run by one single horrible algorithm (I’m talking to you, I Heart Radio, I think?) that plays the shittiest songs all at the same time and all go to commercial at exactly the same time, too. So we constantly find ourselves bopping from one preset to the next trying to find something less awful than Don Henley or Eddie Vedder or Van Hagar or…whatever. By the way: it’s a terrible day when you find that the classic rock station’s¬†playlist is actually stuff from your own adolescence rather than tunes from before your time. Related: June 2003, you still haunt me. Anyway, as we were driving around tonight, I lunged for the off button in 0.06 seconds when Rod Stewart came on.

My Better Half: “Have you ever wondered if, instead of everyone else having bad taste, YOU’RE the one with bad taste, just unable to appreciate that Rod Stewart is actually good?”

Me: “Uh, no! Have you?”

My Better Half: “God no!”

What a ridiculous question.

Unfiltered Thoughts: Artist Statements

I was listening to an old episode of one of my all-time favorite podcasts today – Wiretap, to be specific – and it included an interview with an artist whose project was living inside a plexiglass apartment in the Boston Museum of Contemporary Art for a month. Like absolutely every moment of her life on display for any wandering museum-goer. And she talked about how she did this as an exploration of transparency. The idea that was at the crux of her project was “Where there are walls, there are lies.” She said she wanted to “have the public think about what it would be like if their life was equally transparent and everyone could see what they did and would they judge their friends and neighbors” as harshly as they do now.

Fine. Good. But here’s the thing: is that what the viewing public got out of it? In the interview, the artist mentioned her artist’s statement and it made me think about how it may have colored people’s reading of the art. (You know those panels that get included in art exhibits where the artist gets to explain the driving force behind their art?) I guess I’ve always read them. (Well, that’s probably because I worked in museums for a long time, and much of that time wrote exhibit panels, so I’m a bit of a special case). But that aside, I have always read them before I viewed the art. Of course, that’s also because they’re often placed at the beginning of a gallery – a biographical statement or something to help guide the viewer’s reading of the pieces. (Actually I really hope that second part rarely plays a role, because how insulting is THAT?! That the reader, the non-artist, must require a guide to how to “see” things).

And that got me thinking “Did the public really think about the ‘walls and lies’ thing when viewing the plexiglass apartment? And did it make them reevaluate their judgments of others and reconsider their attitudes towards harsh judgmental tendencies?” Because if so, I’d hazard a bet that those ideas were colored by having read the artist statement. If they didn’t read the artist’s statement did they come away thinking something else? Like how everyday life itself is beautiful, for instance. Or how we structure our public selves differently from our private selves. And wouldn’t those readings be just as legitimate as what the artist intended the audience to think about? When you’re an artist (whether a performance artist, a sculptor, a playwright, a musician, or hey, even a writer), is the only thing you have control over the idea that you want to explore in your medium of choice, and not the audience’s reaction to that? There’s always a gap between what you think you’ve communicated and what your audience gets from it – and that gap itself is well worth some¬† exploration (but I’ll save that for another post).

It made me think more about avoiding reading the artist’s statement when I go to another exhibition until after I’ve viewed the art, and then perhaps revisiting each piece after having read it to see if it changes how I think about the art. It also made me think about the presentation of art in online exhibitions. Many times the artist’s statement is presented either in the copy that introduces the exhibition, or comes up first in the gallery, or is used as a means of a caption for each image displayed. What comes to mind is the most recent one I’ve explored the “Artists and their Monsters” gallery on NYTimes. What if instead of having the artist mediate for me what their monster is as it does in each caption, let me work out its meaning for me on my own if I wish. I’d be curious to find unmediated exhibitions online. Ones where there is no artist’s statement provided. And no, I’m not talking about online catalogues where you can curate your own collection, but I mean ones where the works have been selected to be displayed together but where you can “opt out” of the artist’s statement if you wish. I’d be more inclined to seek those out to see if they somehow allow you to be more thoughtful about assigning your own meaning to the art and the viewing experience. If you know of any, please let me know.

Chicks Who Rock

I was sitting in the driveway rocking out to “Goodbye Stranger” when My Better Half came out to see what the hold up was. When he saw I was rocking out he said “Y’know Supertramp is ALWAYS on some station, isn’t it?!” I said “Maybe. But this is on the iPod. It’s on the ‘Chicks who rock’ playlist.”

My Better Half: “Uh…you realize Supertramp is dudes, right?”

Me, jamming out to the falsetto section: “Is it? Is it reaaaaaly?”

By the way, Queen is on that playlist too.

Unfiltered Thoughts: The Workday

Am I the only one who views the workday as an impediment to the sh*t I want to and need to get done? Instead of sitting here for 8 hours I would rather:

  • finish my Photoshop Mother’s Day project
  • finish the art I started 7 months ago for my daughter’s nursery
  • finish start at least one of the three books I got from the library
  • watch another episode of Luther
  • nap

And, for those of you who are counting, in addition to the pet projects I would like to get done, I also need to:

  • fold and put away laundry
  • buy a robot vacuum / floor cleaner mop
  • figure out something to make for dinner that isn’t one of the 5 same old, same old recipes in my repertoire of late
  • nap.

That is So R-tarded

I know that there are words that need to be excised from my vocabulary, especially with Baby getting more acutely aware of language. The obvious ones: the F bomb, for one. But I have to confess, I routinely use the word retarded. I know that makes me all Michael Scott ca. 2006 and I should know better. Still, I love that word. I use it as an all-purpose term for things that are stupid or flat-out ridiculous. I would never, EVER use it in a derogatory fashion to refer to someone who is developmentally challenged. That would be wrong. But I never realized how much I use it until My Better Half told me this morning: ” You have GOT to stop saying that, or once she talks, she’ll be calling all kinds of people and things ‘retarded!'”

Uh-oh. It’s true. Look, I’ve become cognizant of its less friendly iteration that I use (f*cktarded) and stopped using that. (Mostly). But I hadn’t realized just how much I throw around the R word. I need a substitute term. And fast. My usage of it is not *intended* to be offensive at all but here’s the thing: I have no control over how someone might *hear* it when I say it. Any suggestions on substitute all-purpose terms are welcome.

 

blech. sick.

My life since last Thursday can be summed up as: alternating between tylenol and sudafed every 4-6 hours. I feel awful. I think it’s safe to say that I have been more sick since Baby was born than any other time in my life. Even though I managed to get a few catnaps this weekend and barely did anything besides lay around moaning, I stil felt straight up awful this morning. But I decided to go to work anyway because I have no sick time anyway and thought I could at least tough it through the morning with more sudafed and tylenol, like I did last week.

So I was sitting around literally counting the moments until I could bail, feeling just shitty, when my boss asked if I could go to the training workshop today in her stead. Why? “I feel so sleepy! My cats kept me up ALL night!”

I’m sorry. What?

Your kitty cats? You mean the ones that require constant vigilant supervision, feeding, bathing, entertaining, diapering, and soothing? Oh, wait, no. That would be my nine month old. That I took care of all weekend with, I’m quite certain, the flu. So pardon me if I’m out of give-a-shits.