Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Street As My Room of One's Own

Whether we're reading the news or talking with friends, one of the most common concerns you hear from (and about) women my age is the conundrum of how to balance work and family and relationships and little kids and domesticity and creative pursuits and social life and whatever all else we've got going on.

And the thing which almost inevitably goes out the window first, we all bemoan, is Time For Ourselves.

 I've been known to make this complaint myself from time to time.

The world still being a sexist place (regardless of what anyone says to the contrary) there's a strong, often unacknowledged, undercurrent of feeling that perhaps it's really wrong and selfish even to want such a thing. 

But from Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own to a picture book I recently bought for Mabel, Baby Penguins Everywhere, literature has cogently presented how very real and essential this need truly is.

And what I realized this morning as I walked to work--contemplating in a kind of thoughtless floating way, as I do each morning, the street and the light and the buildings and the people and the sights--is that I am actually lucky enough to have such a time built in to my day already, if only I were alert enough to realize it. 

I've always loved my morning walk to work, but I never quite thought about it before in terms of a period of time each day when I am alone. And how maybe walking down the city streets is for me the place where I can best think and feel and see and breath all by myself.

What if my room of one's own turns out to be the sidewalk?

Monday, April 29, 2013

St. John Lateren

Digging back into the archives for Polaroid Monday today--to the time just a little over two years ago when we, of all things, took seven-month-old Mabel to Rome. And what a great time we all had, as can clearly be seen here in these two dears' smiles, posing in a sunbeam at the ridiculously lovely church of Saint John Lateren.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Karen Kilimnik

The painter Karen Kilimnik is probably best known for her PoMo pastiches of Old Master tropes and celebrity faces (Leonardo DiCaprio in a big floppy musketeer hat, anyone?). But I prefer her quieter, less flashy pieces--the spooky interiors and  faux-vintage landscapes--with their pallet of grays and blues.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Next Installment in the Poem Series on the Subject of the Winter of 2006

February 1, 2006
This morning I was feeling fretful again

Couldn’t stop revolving thoughts of work
and Bill told me to look at something
really carefully
as if I were going to draw it

So I cast my eye
most slowly
along the edges
of the array of greeting cards
in the green bowl in the bedroom
over the small velvet and corduroy owl
just in front of it
and along the top of the blue bookcase
Observing the way all those things line up with
and run parallel to
the various moldings high up on the wall
And I was soothed

There were two men
sitting outside a cafe in the rain
under a scant awning

one looked as if he
didn’t know
or didn’t care
that his far arm
was getting all wet

the other looked as if he knew
all too well
and had for perverse reasons of his own
chosen to martyr himself
And not just this one time
he looked like a man for whom
martyrdom was a regular state of affairs

image source is here

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Publisher's Love of the Printer

Went with a bunch of my lovely publishing colleagues to an event last night at the Arion Press. We had fun rambling around their huge space and looking at type-cases and hand-sewn bindings and the like. The awe and affection with which those of us who "make" books, without ever actually making a physical book in the traditional sense of the word, regard these age-old crafts can hardly be overstated. 

Photos courtesy of the lovely Kate Woodrow.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Working at Makeshift

There was a time--actually almost exactly a year ago--when taking a day to read manuscripts, otherwise known as working from "home," meant camping out in various cafes all day long. But that was before I was introduced to the utterly fabulous Makeshift Society. Now when I have reading to do I just tootle on down to Hayes Valley and buy a day pass that entitles me to spend the entire day curled up in a cozy window seat reading.

It was a gloriously sunny and warm spring day in San Francisco yesterday, making my walk out to get lunch extra pleasant. 

I grabbed a sandwich and iced coffee at  La Boulange,

and paused on a bench in Patricia's Green to watch the world go by for a few minutes.

Then it was back to work in my cozy corner. A very good day indeed, and I find myself returning to the office refreshed, inspired, and energized. Plus with a crap-load of work done. Fab all around.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Riding Around on Daddy

Back when the child was still in diapers (which seems like ancient history now, but was really just a few weeks ago), her favorite game for a little while was horsey rides around the house--both clothed and unclothed. We were doing this all the time for a bit there, back in March. Though the hummingbird arm waving was a special addition just for this photo.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Art of Aging Gracefully

Wondering if I can maybe just skip over middle age and go straight to being an eccentric old lady. I would love that, thanks.

Photographs by the amazing Ari Seth Cohen of Advanced Style.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Still-Continuing Poem Saga About the Winter of 2006 Proceeds Thusly

January 31, 2006
Last night

Bill made
hot toddies

a lovely thing
all hot and sweet

yet bitter
yet sweet

and ever so
slightly herbal

image source is here

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Book Publisher's Tumblr

I've talked before about digging the online collage media that is Tumblr, but just lately I've fallen in serious like with the Tumblr of the fine publisher for which I work. Yes, it exists to promote and sell our books, but it does so with such panache, such artfulness, and such a strong overarching (yet not hit-you-over-the-head) pro-reading, pro-books (anyone's books, not only ours) vibe that you've just got to love it. It feels to me most like a magazine--where the advertising content is mixed in with (and is often just as entertaining as) the editorial content. Huge kudos are due to my colleague and pal who runs the thing--she's doing a bang up job. So, here's a little sampling of some of my recent favorite images from the feed:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Ugh. Technical difficulties are preventing me from embedding the video around which this post was meant to be built. Nevertheless you can view it here. And I can still say what I meant to say which is: that I'm utterly clueless about keeping up with music, but when one of my smarter and better-informed friends sends me something like this I can indeed still get real excited about it. Which somehow always makes me feel like a teenager (I guess because that's the last time I really did pay attention to music). I realize of course that a great many adults do keep up with these matters, and I can admire them and benefit from their knowledge--such as, case in point, this introduction to the utterly compelling work of Owen Pallett.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wearing Mamma's Hat

Two gets a bad rap. And, one must admit, this is not entirely without reason. Even a children with high proportions of sweetness and light in their natures have their occasional two-year-old moments. It's an age when the forces of will and emotion and desire and life converge in ways that, yes, can be challenging. But there is also a lot to love about the age, I personally think. Bill and I keep wishing someone would write a book from this point of view and call it Toddlers Are Awesome. For instance: with a little baby, you can stick your sunglasses or your hat or whatever on their head and laugh at them, and they'll likely grin back, and that's pretty amusing. But with a toddler, the idea to wear your hat down over their face and then take a walk down the block comes entirely from their own brain, and so the hilarity is much greater. Someone making a joke for your benefit always beating hands down your making one that they just happen to be around for.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Toddler Collage

The other day we had our official Spring Cleaning Day at the offices of the fine publisher for which I work (see very satisfying final results below). In clearing out some files in my desk I found one holding loads and loads of old images that, at various times in the past, I used to have pinned up. Years ago we worked in a different building that had traditional ugly gray office cubicles, and I made it my mission in life to cover every inch of my cubicle walls with things I liked better to look at. Point being, this was a lot of very old but cool stuff that I found. So I brought it all home thinking it would be fun to use to make collages with Mabel. Now, this child takes a toddler art class of the sort that involves lots of projects made from pre-cut shapes of construction paper, so she knows all about glue sticks, but she's never to my knowledge made a free-form collage before (I exclude our annual family Valentine project because she has up to now, only used stickers for that). So we got out our art supplies and I started showing her pictures and asking "Do you want to use this one?" and "where do you want to put it?" And damn if the girl didn't decisively select, compose, and glue down a grouping of images into the collage you see above with only very minimal assistance from myself. No one I've shown this to will believe the grid organization was her idea and not mine, but the fact remains that it came from her very own brain. This for sure gave me one of those spooky oh-my-god-you-are-really-not-a-baby-anymore-are-you? moments. Such a funny frisson, combining melancholy and glee as it does.