Tuesday, January 31, 2017


I grew up going to Catholic school which means I was raised on the story of the Widow's Mite. For those not up on their bible tales, this is the story of an impoverished lady who makes a very small charitable donation in secret, then another guy, who is rich, makes a bid donation and makes a big public deal about it. And we are told that, of course, the tiny anonymous donation is a million times more virtuous and worthy than the big donation made publicly to impress.

And we still believe this to be true in the secular realm as well; everyone was delighted and impressed to discover, after his death, that George Michael had been quietly giving away millions to charity for years and years. And his actions were frequently contrasted with those of a president who shall not be named who enjoys bragging about how much he donates (ahem, to his own foundation--which I'm pretty sure is the same as just taking money out of one pocket and putting into your other pocket--but I digress).

All of this is preface to the fact that I feel pretty uncomfortable--like basically I am revealing myself to be a huge heel--publicly announcing my own increasingly frequent (albeit modest in the scheme of things) donations to worthy organizations. And yet I do. I've started using the hashtag #thisweeksdonation on Instgram to report and chart them (hard to believe, but no one else has apparently ever used that tag before).

The reasons for this are twofold. First, because shortly after the election I read something that really stuck with me (though I cannot remember for the life of me where I read it or who said it! and I so very much wish I could!): what do you do, someone asked, when you just can't stand to read the news anymore because it is making you so crazy and miserable? and this clever person responded: MAKE YOUR OWN NEWS. Do something that feels right to you and tell other people about it. And I cannot get over the simple profundity of this, of taking it upon yourself to first make happen and then spread the story you want to see out there.

Secondly, a number of activists of color have been pointing out lately that white people need to get a whole lot more comfortable with being uncomfortable. That our collective desire for personal comfort (physical, psychological, and emotional) leads to, and feeds, all manner of ills. And I agree entirely. So this is one tiny way I can make myself a tiny bit uncomfortable while doing a thing I feel ought to be done. As we find ourselves saying about so many things these days: it's a start.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Baby in the Mirror

Often when I dig out these old polaroids I, at least dimly, remember them. But I have no recollection of this image--of tiny Mabel making eye contact and smiling back in the mirror--whatsoever. Which of course makes it all the sweeter to find.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Wallace Collection

Though I mostly gravitate towards modern and contemporary art, I do also love being submerged in artworks from the further past. Such is the magic of the Wallace Collection, which I visited in London last Fall (yes, yes, I still have loads and loads of art from London I have not yet shown you. What?).

Above, Pieter De Hooch

Joshua Reynolds


Two more Reynolds

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Poem #21

March 8, 2003

the evening of the day that
the second iraq war started
bill and I were paying the check
in a restaurant on mission street

and heard something outside
a hubbub not a commotion a
rising susurration of feet and voices
numerous shadowy figures passing

we got up from our chairs walked out the
door across the sidewalk into the road and
joined the protest walking several blocks in
the early-spring after-dinner darkness and I

have never felt
before or since
quite that

the bitter certainty that
no matter how vehement
we would make not the tiniest
difference to history unfolding

almost fourteen years later I find this is the memory
I fight against daily as I rouse myself to take action
and more action and more as I struggle to embrace
the value of spectacle

image source is here

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Art Can Make You Happy & The Secret Art of Being a Grown-Up, by Bridget Watson Payne

You guys, this authorship thing is really happening! I've got advance copies of both my books in hand; an amazon author page; adorable author business cards! Both books are available for pre-order anywhere you might care to buy books:
The Secret Art of Being a Grown-Up: amazon, Indie-Bound, Barnes and Noble, Powell's, Chronicle Books
How Art Can Make You Happy: amazon, Indie-Bound, Barnes and Noble, Powell's, Chronicle Books

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Women's March

Much has been written--and much better than I could write it--about the wonderful empowering thing that was the Women's March; the tragedy of its necessity; the contradictions and injustices inherent in the way white women versus protestors of color are perceived and treated. I encourage you to read up if you haven't already.

I just have a few things to add:

I have now sung We Shall Not Be Moved, in Spanish, along with Joan Baez. This is not something I thought I'd ever get do--let alone ever need to do--in my lifetime.

I am normally not a protest person (stay tuned for a poem about a at different march years back was the most powerless I've ever felt in my life), but this may have changed my mind.

My little girl does not yet get most of what's going on, but she gets, and stands firm, with the conviction that only a six year old can stand firm with, that we must not go back to the olden days when things were (even more) unfair for women. Because that's not fair. Even a child--especially a child--can see that.

All the things of the past 40 years that we thought, or others thought, were maybe the thing that defined our generation (irony, apathy, 9/11, the first black president) -- I think now maybe we were wrong. I think this, this horrible new political reality and, even more importantly, our resistance to it, might actually be that thing.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pajama Sunday

It comforts me, somehow, to know that the three of us have been having Pajama Sunday--which consists of hanging out in our pajamas, cooking a yummy breakfast, reading the Sunday funnies, and etc.--together for over six years now.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Raymond Pettibon and Marcel Dzama at David Zwirner Gallery London

One of the many magical things I saw when I was in London last Fall (the number of which was so large that I still haven't gotten around to telling you about all of them!) was the Raymond Pettibon and Marcel Dzama show Let Us Compare Mythologies at the David Zwirner Gallery. Though each of these two artists has a very recognizable style, the way they created the work for the show--pasting up collages of joint work and then drawing directly on top of them and on the gallery walls--made for such a dizzying and delightful mishmash that it truly felt like a brand new thing, created by the collaborative entity Pettibon/Dzama. Great fun.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Poem #20

June 2010

walking to work about
eight months pregnant
I entered the crosswalk
and a car turned into it

a man in a garish shirt
leaned out the window
of the car behind the car
and hollered indignantly


and though yes of course
I was offended at the bitch
and judged his intelligence
for the fat I was also weirdly

thankful Most of all it
was the funniest thing
that had happened in
the past eight months

I tried to tell this story
to people all the time
for a while but no one
appreciated its humor

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Letter to the Editor

I like this letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune so much that I reprint it here in its entirety. An excellent reminder to all of us in the media and publishing:

December 11, 2016

The Chicago Tribune must remain an independent, investigation-driven news organization no matter how much pressure a President Donald Trump puts on the news media to normalize his demagogic behavior and publish his constant stream of lies. In the press, lies must be exposed as lies. It is not enough to report what Trump says. The fact that what he says is a lie must also be reported. Every time. No lie can be left unexposed. 
Never forget — Trump will be a minority president. He lost the popular vote. He has no mandate. These are facts that should inform your response to all of his communications, his initiatives, his actions. When his words or his deeds are bad for America, the press has a duty to expose those truths.

The people will be watching your coverage in the months to come. Show that you are independent. Show that you are skeptical. Show that you will not simply repeat whatever you are told. Our democracy depends on news organizations like the Tribune to take these stands. 
—Karin Evans, Forest Park

image source is here

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Fourth Year of Pies

2016 was Bill's fourth year of making a pie each month (previous years are here, here, and here -- where you can watch my photo-taking skills devolve as you go back in time, fun!). By now he has gotten really really good at it. His crust is a delight every single time. And, as people who've attempted pie crust know, that's saying something. This project is an inspiration to me every year he does it (not to mention nicely filling my belly). Here, without further ado, is what he made:

(above) January: Chocolate Chess Pie

February: Grapefruit Meringue Pie
(inside the exquisite pie storage and transportation box I had made for him for him by woodworker extraordinaire B.R. Laramie)

March: Peanut Butter Icebox Pie (with decorative pi for pi day)

April: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

May: Plum Custard Meringue Pie

June: Hersey Pie

July: Blackberry Pie

August: Plum Poppy Seed Custard Pie

September: Honey Fig Pie

October: Halloween Fudge Cashew Pie

November: Sour Cream Raisin Pie

December: Cranberry Sage Pie

Monday, January 9, 2017