Imagine Finding Me – Which I Just Found

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.

 

Reading Matters

 

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 with no 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

A Day at the Fair

 

 

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

Mother’s Day

A week has passed since Mother’s Day but I still wanted to blog about it because there are very few perfect days in life and this was one of them.  It’s strange too because it was free of most of the things I have enjoyed in previous years, such as breakfast in bed and lacy, velvety cards with the sort of tender  doggerel that can swiftly lead to a sad afternoon on the couch contemplating one’s own mortality if you’re not careful.

But there was none of that.

Since no one fancied trudging from one restaurant to the next only to encounter long, winding queues of angry, red-faced fathers who had forgotten to make brunch reservations (just like Frasier and Niles had, to be fair) The General suggested that everyone come to ours, and he would prepare his somewhat famous Eggs Benedict.  I was briefly rattled (as I always am by spontaneous, sudden plans) but the boys seemed very excited to come and the house was soon filled with warm, delicious eggy smells, deeply savoury slices of ham frying gently on the stove and the booming notes of male voices as they laughed easily and regularly with one another and were generally having a great time. I studied each face in turn, knowing and loving each one so much and watched expressions from childhood pass fleetingly: a dimple in someone’s cheek as they were smiling,  the mannerisms and cadence of speech I recognize as my own; the sheer symmetry of Niles’ girlfriend’s gentle face, flawless as a bone-china teacup and eyes that shine between violet and navy; And The General of course with his well placed one-liners and a touching effort to re-fill coffee cups and make sure additional heated, croissants kept appearing.  With jam.

(Can I say that kindness and handsome-ness are, for me, an unbeatable combination). Continue reading