I came across a reference to photographer/artist Chino Otsuka recently and I was so intrigued I made a note of her name to pursue later. (Although this is nothing out of the ordinary. This is how I read these days. I sit down with an ugly stack of lemon post-its beside me to jot down titles or references to be researched later).
I have great plans to purchase a tiny notebook for this purpose, maybe even a Moleskine, but as I write today I continue to find curled, yellow, origami projects in my pocket that provide a delightful intellectual surprise on laundry day.
Chino Otsuka had a exhibition a number of years ago called Imagine Finding Me in which she has combined photographic images of herself from the present with those from childhood and various times in the past. The result is strangely moving and slightly unsettling. There is also a series of sparse but potent accompanying words in which she refers to herself as a “tourist of my own history.”
Reminded me of Scrooge but you know, with Photoshop.
I have been between books for a while now partly because I have a new job which has required a massive learning curve (and I’ve been steadying myself of an evening with the cozy perfection of Nigel Slater’s food writing) and partly, because I recently completed (she said, not without some pride) the entire series of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s non-fictional “novel” series.
Fortified, I then pressed onward with the entire Neapolitan volumes written by the hauntingly hard-to-read, hard-to-put-down, hard-to forget Elena Ferrante whose work I now admire immensely.
These books are like opulent, rich meals – with dessert – and beg to be savored not gorged, since they are certainly not easily digested afterwards. With Knausgaard particularly, it was troubling to decide if I applauded what he was doing (writing frankly about his life without any filter and thus exhibiting a total disregard for anyone else’s feelings) or despised it; however, what intrigued me most were his descriptions of the everyday and the banal which he chronicles from childhood to the present day; the expression of a cashier he might never see again; the certain feel of a day; the outside weather echoing what he felt within himself; his documentation of a parent’s sharp, throwaway, put-down which crushes him. Continue reading
Every fall, The General and I earnestly promise to attend one of the local agricultural fairs – and then somehow it doesn’t happen. Usually, I’ve had to work and then we forget or get absorbed in the minutiae that comes with keeping the house going. In other words, it hasn’t exactly been a priority.
But lately there has been so much sadness around us. The kind of sadness that presses down on you, making it hard to take a decent breath; it presents itself upon awakening, I can feel that tiny jungle drum in my heart, warning me that nothing in life is static or safe. I know this feeling well and I understand that it has been re-ignited by the passing of friends and family of friends, lately, by world news, giving “fresh hell” a whole new meaning. But in order to be happy now, right now, I can only focus on the everyday things that delight me. Obviously, we’ve all heard this before via Oprah, the Buddha himself or those dreadful Facebook memes but it’s still valid.
Which brings us full circle to the agricultural fair. Continue reading
When my parents decided that we would move to the UK when I was but a blossoming ‘tween, one of the (many) propaganda stories they hinted at (along with the acquisition of a pony, our own stables and a chuckling brook round the back) was that many young Brits-by-the-sea enjoyed “beachcombing” as a very suitable pastime. (I expect that these badass individuals spent the rest of their time modelling cabled sweaters on knitting patterns … just saying). The allure of a metal detector may or may not have been mentioned at this time but even at the advanced age of 13 I realized that this was severely uncool and was just not going to happen on my watch. Continue reading