From my journal, Monday afternoon:
“About an hour and a half ago as we were walking the half mile back to the apartment from Flour Bakery and the Bee’s Knees gourmet market, Erik said this didn’t feel like a new day but more like Sunday just kept on going. I said I didn’t feel that way; to me it’s as if I went to bed on Sunday and woke in the middle of Monday with much of the day simply vanished like a dream. Which is very much what happened: we got on the plane Sunday at 9 PM in San Jose, and I slept fitfully all the way, enveloped in the big silk scarf I bought in Queenstown, NZ, and the secondhand short wool cape from a consignment store in Menlo Park, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice in my ears reading Death in a White Tie. I had been tired all day but I wasn’t sure I’d fall asleep until I woke up and Alleyn was taking tea with Troy in his flat and the last thing I remembered before that was he had decided to go to Bucks to talk to the rector. I got up shortly after that and went to the toilet and came back thinking how boring it is to try to sleep on red-eye flights. I never can for more than an hour at a time, and it makes my neck ache, yet I don’t stay fully awake even when I can’t sleep; I think I’m awake, but I’m not really. Actually this limbo state makes a five and a half hour flight go by quickly, but in the moment it is a fretful way of being — like being hatched or something: half-in, half-out.”
Outside the door of the apartment, upon arrival
(I’m not grumpy, just trying to imitate the penguin’s non-expression)
“I really like this apartment, even though it’s rather cluttered and all the bookshelves make higher darker walls than I’d wish. It feels good in here: happy, peaceful, creative. There are about a million books, mostly poetry it seems, and poems tacked up around the walls too. When I sent Mommy a photo she asked if we were in a library; Erik recently recalled that during his post-flight nap he dreamed there was a library in the building. The building itself is very spacious and new-feeling and all the residents have work displayed outside their doors, which I love; the whole place feels creative. [It’s an artists’ work-live loft building.] I was thinking maybe lofts feel conducive to creativity because of their wabi-sabi feel, their unfinished and repurposed appearance just begging more work. There’s energy; things don’t have the complacent, finished, cosmetic feel of regular apartments.
the grainy iPad photo I sent my mom upon arrival yesterday
“I was thinking when I got out of the shower (after our nap) that it feels different to know that we will be here for three months, as opposed to our shorter stays during our trip and especially this summer. As a visitor there is a sense of being merely passing through; here, I feel more of a contributor, of being here long enough to leave something behind (even if it ends up just being pieces of my heart). Plus we have been in the city before, so the newness is not so overwhelming. I like this different feeling. It’s been awhile since we could feel so settled and I guess I’ve missed that.”
From this morning’s journal:
“Erik and I both slept well though I didn’t know if we would. The curtains are translucent and a lot of noise comes through too. A convention center is near here, and there’s some big industrial-looking building immediately visible from the window, and a well-traveled road, so though we don’t hear many voices from the neighboring apartments, there’s a lot of car noise and a general dull roar of what I suppose is traffic and planes and machinery. Somehow, though, now that I listen to it, it is almost soothing, as if that distant roar were that of the ocean. There is an oceanic sort of ebb and flow to it. And perhaps, if the noise is mostly industrial, it dies down at night and that’s how we slept well.”
view from the windows
“I’m inspired by the poems hung up around this apartment — I feel encouraged to have more of a relationship with words and writing; I discover them afresh as I take breaks and walk around looking at new corners of the walls. It makes an enormous difference that the mountains of books in this place are not my books: the shelves are not an onslaught of open loops [tasks that need to be finished, like books to read or donate] but a wealth of possibility, like the shelves of the public library. Similarly the poems on the wall are like artwork; when you’re not the one looking at them all the time, you really do see them. This is why I’m thinking that when we eventually settle someplace, I want to change all pictures and vignettes regularly, as in a museum; when everything is always the same you cease to notice it, even if it is beautiful and interesting.”
on the back of the front door
“I never thought before that there could be a parallel between learning to see (a vital part in learning to draw or paint) and doing the same with words — probably because I find my relationship with the visual to come primarily from everyday life and not from artworks alone, but I’d thought (and been taught) that having a relationship with words means reading a lot of literature. But now I am thinking my word-‘eye’ could be developed as my artist’s eye has been. I don’t know what to call it except ‘eye’ though when it comes to words that’s more internal… poet’s soul maybe? Just as I constantly work to see better, maybe it’s also possible to learn to identify and express more of the poetry of everyday life; like my sketches, freewrites don’t have to become anything, though they could; the important thing is the process.
“By the way, this is why I didn’t connect with Annie Dillard’s book The Writing Life [which I read recently] even though there’s a lot of truth to it. Because for her, and she says this explicitly, process is only important if it results in the finished work. I think this is also why she describes writing as a torture: she’d rather do anything else, it’s just that she can’t help it. I’m sure this makes her a better craftsperson than I will ever be, but I intend to enjoy my life and my art. My goal is the Picasso one — of drawing like a six-year-old. But then, no one wants to read a six-year-old’s writing… still, though, if there is no joy, I don’t want to do it. Others can, but I’m not made that way and my art will be whatever it is as a result. Oh and it’s a Scanner/Diver divide too [people who are into breadth versus depth], because she also said this is why writers don’t go out and live, but instead spend their hours holed up recalling life to write about it. Yep. Not for me.”
For whatever reason this post makes me think of the second part of Leonard Bernstein’s “Divertimento.”
I want what you’re wearing in that pic!
This was an interesting post, so many titbits of information and insights I could relate to. I love unfinished things. Nothing is ever static in my house either 😛
And every time I read Urdu poetry I think to myself I should really write it down on some nice paper with a calligraphic pen….but then I forget 😦 I shall now redouble my efforts in that direction! I think it would be interesting for my guests/friends to wander about the house, reading the poems that appeal to me 🙂
I would love to see your Urdu calligraphy 🙂 And I wish I could wander about your house and read the poems that appeal to you… although of course if they were in Urdu I couldn’t do that anyway!
Thanks, Munira! 😀 The dress is new — got it in San Francisco a couple of days before we left. It is the first long casual dress I’ve had in a decade and I loooooove it. Wore it again yesterday!
welcome back to the right coast as they keep saying to me
Thank you, my dear. Sending love and creative vibes your way from the other end of the state! ❤
Surrounded by books and poetry you probably will start writing some poetry yourself. it will seep in:)
I believe you, Carla! Already I find myself moving inexorably in the direction of writing as opposed to painting (in my bedroom in San Jose I had my paintings all over the walls and that always made me want to paint; that, and the light).
I like the way you write and the picture of you with the penguin. Did you arrive with the penguin or was it there waiting for you? I have one that size; perhaps our penguins could meet during the Meetup you started.
Thank you so much, Eva! That penguin was waiting to greet us. Unfortunately I don’t have one of my own (although traveling with it would certainly present logistical challenges). I want to see a picture of your penguin sometime!