She had a way of staring into other's souls so deeply that she'd reach bottom, only to find herself there, staring back.
Aug 29, 2015
Scene: self at coffee shop, reading the Aug. 31, 2015 edition of the New Yorker.
Scene: page is turned to page 13, an advertisement for the Picasso Sculpture exhibit at the MoMA, coming this fall. (Member Previews Sep 10-13)
Action: I pick up my phone to mark down the dates.
Setting: I've finally gotten up the courage to look up Elvis Presley's birth date, moments before. I read Presley's biography this January (book recommended by Etsy's CEO Chad Dickerson, in an internal email chain). I'd been avoiding it for months now, but curiousity won out. Right. Now.
Action: I'm Googling famous people with my birth sign.
And then: A wild Pablo Picasso appears.
Aug 28, 2015
last night I was lost in Split/Dubrovnik, responded to an ad for a game night via a list serve and ended up, confusingly enough at a different game night, the weekly meeting of the local bdsm club. (oops). they were nice but I couldn't keep up with their jokes, the newspapers filled with lewd images were beyond my reckoning, the night ended when i couldn't remember my ATM pin, which would get me into the second round of that night's games, deeper in the pub's belly. Some nice ladies stayed out in the common room though, playing some weird form of newspaper boggle with pencils and tales of sexploits.
upon reflection it was a weird form of social psych sadism, I suppose.
I headed home early and got lost or something somehow ran into my old 7th grade friend/crush named Two who was working in the pub as a busboy and saw me there. He warned me that it was a good thing I hadn't been able to remember my pin; that the back room was dirty and dank and that it wasn't a good next level to find yourself at. I struggled for a while with the decision to somehow reassure him that it wouldn't have been the first time I found myself in dark places or that I could have handled it but decided that that was quite beside the point of it all, anyway.
Then we were escaping, somewhere still in the city, mostly just to stone benches where we could catch up on lives long since lived. He was afraid of running into his wife, but I felt something bigger looming down over us, and ran away, back to my room, at the corner of the city, built into its heavy stone walls and up above the din of the crowded streets, below.
Aug 27, 2015
I saw someone drawing on the train today, the second person this week. They were both equally talented and that old doubtful demon raised his head again and asked: how hard is it to draw, nicely, to draw well. Are we all inborn artists, just waiting for the call, the reckoning, the right smile from the right muse on the subway?
I don't know anymore, I just don't know anymore. Sometimes I think that it's just The City and that there's something in the water that changes us all to be the best at what we are and then from time to time I meet someone who isn't and is struggling and I know that I am wrong.
You were good at drawing though, you *are* (still and always, so might we all) talented but whether that proves or disproves anything is unknown and probably, as is wholly probable, uncertain. You're not a good sample set as you were and why do all the talented people end up, at one time or another, in the new york xity.
(I am nothing; I am naught. What am I doing here; I don't know anymore)
Aug 26, 2015
Aug 23, 2015
To all the single soul apartment dwellers that buy whole watermelons
And doubly, to those that finish them within the week.
To the fools with hangovers that wake up super earls.
To all the ladies making breakfast.
To all the peoples still asleep.
To all those that still start debates on the internet, like it's 1988 and we're all just trying to connect, for the first time in a long time.
Or maybe in forever.
Aug 22, 2015
Sometimes I think growing up is more and more just circumscribing things that you really want to happen in life as opposed to things that you think would be cool but aren't really a necessary requisite experience.
The growing up part is where the requisite experiences set gets distinctly smaller, and more refined.
Along with a healthy dose of not give a fuck itude. But maybe that's just the circle getting smaller, too.
Aug 21, 2015
Aug 20, 2015
as surprising as it may sound, your mental energy waves weren't the thing keeping them alive.
they didn't need you, after all.
Aug 18, 2015
How's the culture shock?
It's there. Just, there. Like the pair of woolen socks in your socks drawer in August - you don't have a lot of use for it. Unlike woolen socks, there's never a season for it.
But its good to know it's there, like a reminder of another time, so different than the present, that exists.
Aug 16, 2015
I read two books today. I cheated -- I traveled backward in time 5 hours and reclaimed each and every one of those extra hours for book cramming. The cheating was an unnecessary, preemptive precaution: I still have another 5 hours until today is officially done with.
Two books for today: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and Yes Please by one Amy Poehler. I've been wanting to read H for months and was beyond thrilled when the Heathrow airport had it on the shelf. Amy Poehler's book was a chance encounter -- and at "buy one get one half off" hard to pass up.
Amy's book was delightful, though quite par for the course in the self-deprecating, life-celebratory memoir category. Definitely worthwhile.
The Hawk book, also a memoir, was far more ascetic and personalized. Well written, with a clear story arc than Poehler's, but lacking some of the jolting wit. They're not fair comparisons, but it's hard to keep from making what with their temporal proximity and categorical similarity. The images in hawk are so vivid that it's not a book I feel I'll read again -- the mental portrait I have of the author and her hawk have been indelibly inscribed on my memory.
Aug 5, 2015
Let me tell you what I have learned about the Medici in the intervening hours since I arrived in Florence 10 hours ago. There were 6 ruling Medici 'kings' (or 7?). They are buried in a grand, Michelangelo designed and (mostly) built crypt of sorts in the middle of Florence.* I say "of sorts" because the crypt is entirely above ground; it is reminiscent of a chapel. In the main cryptic part, there are 6 sarcophagi, one for each of the Medici kings. The room of Sarcophagi is large, rotundular, and covered from top to magnificent bottom in the most wonderful colors of granite and precious stones. There is more lapis lazuli inlaid in the tilework of the sides of the sculphercher than I have ever seen in one place. The gorgeous blue literally robbed me of breath.
I learned that Michelangelo was the put in the Medici's care as a youngster (teens, maybe younger?).
Things unrelated to the Medicis (or maybe tangentially related) that I know now: I now know what marble looks like when carved. I know that most Renaissance carvers were kind of shit at women's, erm,topography. (If I *see* another man thigh on a woman, ech. Or maybe women were more manly 500 years ago... yeah right.) I know what poor quality carved marble looks like.
Back to the Medicis: I know that there were (at the very least) 3 Cosimos, 2 Ferdinandos and 1 Francesco (all of whom are grandly entombed at the family crypt). Their crest is of 5 ugly red globules topped by a 6 ugly globule, except in lapis lazuli that contains within itself 3 golden florets. The Medici were patrons for a shit ton of art. They paid for the glitzy, multi'colored Duomo church (3rd largest in Christendom, if Rick Steves is to be believed) and matching baptistry, and matching bell tower. And probably also paid for a large number of the galleries and carved marble sculptures that literally litter the streets of Florence.
I also know this: the Medici are dead. They have been for centuries. But people (self included) still pay good dollars to see the detritus that they left behind. Years ago. The wealth and gardens and such of the Medicis was such that it exists. Still, today, largely preserved by, what I can only imagine, is the people of Florence and, in a more basic sense, the morbid curiosity of people such as myself who pay into this system, and buy into the grand history that is, and continues to be, the Medici. Because the Medicis, may they rest in peace, are probably one of the richest dead families in the world. The gold and precious stones and man hours and carved marble that makes up their physical kingdom is unreproducible. No one can buy it. And there may not be enough lapis lazuli left, untouched in the world to populate yet another dead man's crypt.
All this to say that I can't help but think of a passage from Finite and Infinite Games where to the player of the finite game, the victor plays the game such that the game cannot be played again. The victor wants the game to end, for the only game that has been played to be the one that he has won. Then the trophy that he has won will be his forever; his role shifts from that of a game player to one that makes sure that no one else can win the game such as he has won it.
If, in some sense, riches were a game, I would say that the Medici, may God let their soles rest easy in their marble tombs, have come fairly close to holding their trophy, even into death.
* Michelangelo ran off to Rome at some point, presumably after one of his patron saint Medicis died. Or maybe he went with their blessing. At any rate, he left for Rome, leaving in his wake several unfinished sculptures, most notably, in my mind at any rate, the faces of Day and Night, on two of the alters of the Medici crypt.
Aug 2, 2015
I changed my mind about Ellen Ullman's By Blood. On a whole, the narrator reminds me more of Humbert Humbert in Nabokov's Lolita.
The myopia was limited to a particular passage. Overall the style is jagged, it changes as the narrative focus shifts from the process of analysis to the girl's origin story.
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