"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment... and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn." -Thoreau

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Renewing Aurora-worship

Lately I have felt extravagantly, guiltily lazy. This morning I arose from my bed at 11:15. I wasted time on the internet. I did listen to a fairly interesting philosophical podcast, but I also idled away with alarmingly mindless facebook-ing.

I often find it difficult to become energized over the summer for what appear to be essentially existential problems.
I could go and read a book. I could stare at the wall for hours. I could go for a run. I could stare emptily at a screen.
Who cares? (No one.) What difference does it make? (None at all.)

This bothers me.

I hate mindlessness, idleness, purposelessness.
It’s the accusation I can never rid myself of. I don’t know how to pinpoint flaws; there’s nothing wrong… but nothing that’s quite right, either. There’s not much of anything, really.

I want very badly to do something. I crave purpose and passion. I have a passion for passion, but lack the substance at which to direct this energy. I am sorely in need of a mission.

It can be difficult for me to make the connection between my day’s decision (Do I read? Do I sketch? Do I… do nothing?) and the advancement of some worthy cause. It seems clear that it is preferable to embark on some task of self-improvement than to engage in obviously useless activities…
But why is this preferable? What assumptions are at hand? My behavior seems to suggest that my body contests assumptions which my mind is eager to promote.

It bothers me to feel overtaken by lethargy when I know that the pursuit of ideas is noble and exciting. Reading a book is a wonderful thing! Okay, maybe the production of this sketch is not particularly important, but cultivating a skill is a wonderful thing, and this is a step in that process. My life feels narrow and inconsequential, and yet I persist in believing that the individual is important!

How do I reconcile this? How do I “feel” better, when I “know” better? How do I convince myself that my decisions are consequential, when, at the moment, they seem so unbearably trivial?

I think this is part of the reason I am so enthralled by Walden. “Economy” and “Where I Lived and What I Lived For” are spectacular. Particularly the sections on Aurora*. Thoreau’s writing teems with infectious vigor, and I can always count on certain passages of Walden to inspire me to look beyond the seeming smallness of my life and to strive to take charge of my existence.

Yes, I am incredibly small. But I am neither wholly powerless nor meaningless.

Perhaps it’s not immediately apparent that my decisions carry weight. But choosing to create meaning in my life is remarkably powerful. Even if it’s just reading a book rather than thoughtlessly scrolling down a page- I will respect myself more for that decision, and if I respect myself I may trust myself to do important work for others. I may come across powerful ideas. I may gain valuable knowledge about myself and others. I may set myself on a path filled with strange wonders.
And that can, indeed, make all the difference.
*What follows is almost certainly the most inspiration-dense text I have ever come across, straight from “Where I lived and what I lived for,” Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. For me, reading this is to fall in love anew:

I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching-thang to this effect: "Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again." I can understand that. Morning brings back the heroic ages. I was as much affected by the faint burn of a mosquito making its invisible and unimaginable tour through my apartment at earliest dawn, when I was sailing with door and windows open, as I could be by any trumpet that ever sang of fame. It was Homer's requiem; itself an Iliad and Odyssey in the air, singing its own wrath and wanderings. There was something cosmical about it; a standing advertisement, till forbidden, of the everlasting vigor and fertility of the world. The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night. Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air- to a higher life than we fell asleep from; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light. That man who does not believe that each day contains an earlier, more sacred, and auroral hour than he has yet profaned, has despaired of life, and is pursuing a descending and darkening way. After a partial cessation of his sensuous life, the soul of man, or its organs rather, are reinvigorated each day, and his Genius tries again what noble life it can make. All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, "All intelligences awake with the morning." Poetry and art, and the faire stand most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour. All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise. To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep. Why is it that men give so poor an account of their day if they have not been slumbering? They are not such poor calculators. If they had not been overcome with drowsiness, they would have performed something. The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour. If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever."

Monday, August 22, 2011

On Portraiture

If I could draw to satisfaction, I would draw portraits.

I think it would be a wonderful challenge to try to capture someone’s essence on canvas. So many fascinating questions present themselves! If I were to go about drawing (enter name here), how would I do it? Where would I place them? What colors would dominate the interpretation? What would the lighting be like? What of their posture? How would I dress them? Would they be looking out, staring off, or intently studying something? 

Lately I have been pondering portraiture of a different sort. I have been contemplating a self-portrait. My medium is perhaps slightly unconventional, however.
I have attempted to draw myself using the colors of literary heroines.

The project is a very confusing one. Of the many characters I am drawn toward, how many do I sympathize with because we share similar characteristics? And which do I admire because I earnestly wish I were more like them? Tricky, tricky.

I have two “hues” (maintaining this artistic metaphor may prove tricky…) which I deem fairly reliable for the project. They are strikingly different. One would probably be something of a forest green; the other… perhaps a soft lilac. But as I stand poised before the canvas, all sorts of unforeseen complications arise, and I can’t seem to figure out where to put the strokes.

At first, I believe the matter is a fairly simple one. I feel like I have a Kel-ish exterior (allusion to Tamora Pierce’s ridiculously amazing Protector of the Small series. Go read her books!) and an Anne-ish interior (Anne of Green Gables. Do it!).

Kel is my exterior. My reserve. We present ourselves to strangers in the same way- with blank faces. I recall my many moments of fear and awkwardness, of feeling out of place or unwanted or like I simply don’t quite belong. I remember trying to find strength in Kel’s manner: the blankness of an unrippled lake or a flat stone. Remain neutral. Do not betray yourself. Do not overreact.
I slip out of rooms to shed tears. I reserve turmoil for the private lines of handwritten pages.

Sometimes I find it a bit…amusing when I realize that I have been standing in line somewhere for a large period of time, appearing very neutral, when inside my mind have been raging all sorts of passionate arguments, comical debates, or wild daydreams.
Sometimes it surprises me when my closest friends remark they have no idea what’s going through my head. I have to remind myself that however noisy the internal dialogue may be, there is silence on the outside.

So perhaps I have some of Kel’s reserve… but what else do I have of her? The question seemed simple enough when first picking out my tools, but suddenly it seems nearly impossible. Kel is a doer. She has a strong sense of justice, and she acts upon it with resolution. She doesn’t overthink things.
I don’t think I can say the same for myself. I love ideas. I like working with abstract things. I often find myself wishing I did more.

And how exactly does Anne-ishness comes in?
Hmm. Well. Anne is associated with lovely flowers and daydreams… wonderful, light things. Anne is poetry and dandelion-wishes. So… perhaps I am Anne-like when… When I am perfectly at ease? When I am alone? When I am with my dearest friends? When I dream? When I gaze upon pretty things or bask in golden happiness?

What of idealism? Am I idealistic in a Kel-like or an Anne-like way?
I share Anne’s desire for loveliness, but I want Kel’s sturdiness. Sometimes I am as sentimental as ever the kindred-spirit-seeking redhead can be, and at others I am sensible in the way that only Kel can be. Wait. Sensible? Hmm. Am I sure it’s Kel I want, or would I do better with Austen’s Elinor? Now that I think of it, am I not perhaps more of a Jane Eyre? Plain and reserved, but nonetheless filled with a passion that is not immediately apparent...

The more I ponder the issue, the more all sorts of pesky questions and suspicions begin to crop up, and, soon enough, I find myself sitting before a blank canvas with a very bemused expression on my face. The problem seemed clear-cut to begin with, but at every step I find myself wandering uncertainly or running into dead-ends.

Perhaps instead of drawing a single portrait to capture someone’s essence, I would like to draw various snapshots.
Perhaps I would draw them amongst a group of strangers. Sitting in a classroom. Engaging in their favorite pastime. Puzzling over a problem.
Perhaps I would capture their expression when they feel alone.  When speaking about their innermost dreams. When looking at someone they love.

Would I ever produce a single image to encapsulate the spirit of the whole? Or would it be best to stroll through an endless gallery of snapshot paintings?

I think I would enjoy the stroll.   

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's a matter of ____.

Well, I have just returned from a four-day cruise, a novel experience for mia famiglia. The most notable feature of this cruise was probably the amount of reading that went on. This is not unusual for my father or myself (actually, it's pretty typical), and my sister also enjoys a good book (plus, summer reading makes demands upon her!)... but my mother? My mom does NOT read books. Ever. At one point my dad remarked that this was the first time he'd ever seen her reading a book in all the time they've been together. This is a big deal. Years ago, when I first read The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I insisted that my sister read it... and we decided to purchase a Spanish translation for my mom. Well, after much taunting and questioning and pleading, my mom announced she would be taking it with her, seeing as the rest of us were all loaded with plenty of pages of fine reading material. I will admit, I was incredibly skeptical, and showed as much. But... she finally read it. And she enjoyed it!
Could this be the start of something new? I'm not sure, but I feel pretty pleased with myself.

For myself, I was indulging in a bit of Margaret Atwood's writing: Alias Grace. Thus far, every encounter with Atwood's writing has been fantastic. The Handmaid's Tale was very good, and I remember coming across "Bread" in a literature book, and being quite struck by it. As soon as I read the first paragraph of Alias Grace, I knew I was going to be enchanted by it. I was.
The novel is based upon the story of Grace Marks, a nineteenth century Canadian maid accused of murdering   her employer and his housekeeper-mistress, whose conviction was highly controversial.
A young doctor, interested in the possibility of opening his own insane asylum, becomes interested in Grace's case, and begins visiting her in hopes of determining whether Grace has really suffered from insanity- she claims to have gaps in her memory, and cannot recollect taking part in the murder.
So Grace begins telling her story, from the day of her birth into poverty in Ireland, her emigration to Canada, the loss of her mother on the ship, her father's drunkenness and general uselessness, her efforts to look after her numerous siblings, until she is almost thirteen and finally gains employment as a maid in a local household, after which she looses her ties to her family.
Grace's life is marked by poverty and hard-work, and her few moments of happiness end in sorrow with the tragic loss of her only friend. Cue more hard-work, unsupplemented by appreciation, or any monetary or social gain. Then throw in advances from unwanted men who believe themselves free to take advantage of worthless serving girls. It's a cheery life, that's for certain, but Grace manages to retain a sense of dignity throughout her account, which all the while leads to the question-mark of a bloody murder scene.
Grace- heartless murderess? Victim of circumstance? She couldn't have done it... could she? Is she feigning? Who is she?
You should really read the book if you get the chance.

While walking around the cruise ship, it is hard to miss the numerous people hard at work: waiters taking care of plates and bringing people food... women (and men) paid to clean bathrooms and change sheets. This reminded me of my many stays in lovely Mexican hotels with my family, surrounded by such individuals paid (a pittance) to basically wait on you hand and foot. I remember walking out of my room and delivering meek good mornings and hello's to young women laden with sheets and cleaning materials, waiting for my family to declare we were no longer sleeping in so that they could return our room to a state of cleanliness.
I have never been quite sure how to back my hello's and smiles.
I feel guilty. Excuse me while I gently traipse out of my room, and could you please make sure to put enough towels in the bathroom? There are four of us, you know. I want to be grateful for their hard work. I am tempted to pity- Wait, wait pity?
Pity strikes me as unfair. Pity suggests there is something indecent about their work. Pity emanates shame.
No, I do not think there is reason for shame. There is considerable room for pride.
My mother has spent nights sweeping floors, my father has seen suns rise while delivering papers up and down in a beat-up car.
There is no shame in making an honest living. There is dignity in working for the improvement of one's circumstances.

Now my thoughts flash back to Grace Marks, to suspicions of how much those hardworking, humble, helpful Mexican workers are paid- or not paid, to questions of justice and dignity and mobility.
I don't feel guilty because I see those men and women before me. I feel guilty because I fear I will see those same faces two, five, ten years from now, and I wonder why that would be so.

In the last four days I accumulated a good bit of email. Nothing terribly exciting. But then I came across one alerting me about "Target's rape factory". Young women working in factories, trying to make a living for themselves, trying to feed their families... Raped. Abused. Worthless serving girls.

My heart is heavy. Sad. It wants to be angry, but more than that, it wants to tend to bruises, to soothe haunted eyes, to hold hands.

This is a matter of... Of what? Just wages, equal opportunity, human dignity, basic decency, economic mobility, safe working places, education? Yes. Yes, it is all that.
It is a matter of chapped hands, tired backs, swollen feet, stiff necks, cracked nails. It is a matter of bright eyes, warm smiles, soft baby's feet, silky hair. It is a matter of stories, of jokes, of confidences; of hopes, fears, and dreams; of getting lost in someone's eyes, of watching untroubled sleep, of looking after a sickbed, of endless hugs of greeting; of trembling first steps, first kisses and final farewells.
It is a matter of looking at someone, and seeing them.  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

People-watching: awesome. People: cool. Annette? Strange.

There’s something intriguing about coming across another person’s writing.
When a friend lends me a book to read, I secretly hope that there will be a few markings in the pages- be they underlined words or exclamation marks in the margins or reactions penciled in alongside provocative paragraphs- or a small scrap of paper, once tucked in between pages and then forgotten, containing some enigmatic set of words… a shopping list? The records of a vaguely remembered dream? The corner of an old homework assignment?  (Once I did come across the remnants of an almost-forgotten dream, and it brought me no end of delight to puzzle over the bizarre fragments!)
Those few words, those markings, offer me a strange insight into the mind of the writer. Perhaps I do not receive enough information to understand the thoughts of that far-off moment, but the glimpse is fascinating.

A short way down my block there is an abandoned house, and every time I pass by it I recall my girlish fantasy. I imagine myself peering in through the partially-curtained window of the front door, hesitating for a moment, and then trying the door. The door would open quietly, and I would slip into the old house just as noiselessly. I would find myself inside a homey kitchen, faded but still charming, still filled with the spirit of meals prepared and shared lovingly. Then I would come to a table-- a relatively small, circular, iron-wrought table--  and there! There I would find a priceless, romantic treasure: a collection of journals penned by a lovely maiden.
After this point the dream isn’t very firmly set. Certainly, I read the journals and became very attached to the authoress. But I wasn’t sure whether I ever pursued this maiden, and if so whether we became dear friends. Or perhaps she had long since grown old (perhaps even died). Or perhaps she was nameless and never to be found.
Perhaps I was a strange child… (Er, am a strange child?)

Generally speaking, I love listening to people… perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I love catching soul-glimpses.
 I enjoy overhearing tidbits of the conversations of people in line at the grocery store. When sipping coffee thoughtfully at a coffeehouse, I love observing my fellow coffee-consumers and wondering what thoughts are going through their heads, why they brought themselves to drink coffee at that particular hour of that particular day… in that particular place. I love listening to people talk about what really matters to them; I may not be very good at “small talk” (I suspect I am too awkward), but I will listen to someone express their honest thoughts with the most sincere interest.

Once in a while a friend of mine will grant me a rather interesting opportunity to catch a glimpse of their soul: they will recommend (or gift) me a favorite book (or some other “favorite” which contains captured ideas), expressing their closeness to a particular character, or mentioning that the ideas presented within the book impacted them tremendously.   
Suddenly this book acquires double significance- not only do I get to explore the thoughts of its characters (wonderful in itself), but I am able to explore my friend’s perspective. I will find myself smiling because I am reminded of my friend when that particular character says or does something, or I will find myself slowly reading interesting passages and wondering what my friend thought as he or she read them…what did they think of this? How did this change them? And sometimes past conversations will become much clearer- things previously only partially understood, or even misunderstood, will suddenly fall into place.

Sometimes I will discover fascinating things about people I hardly know. Sometimes I will discover fascinating things about people I know very well. Sometimes I am brave enough to tell these people- you are interesting, and surprising, and I appreciate you. But often I am not, and I am thinking that should change. I can think of a great number of people whom I admire and respect and would love to learn more about, yet who have no idea that this is the case because I fear they might find it strange that I bother to remember the little interesting things I discover about them.

So, a challenge: write someone a note expressing your appreciation.
No, really. Pause for a moment. Think of at least one cool person whom you know. Now think for a moment. Why are they cool?

Now go tell ‘em.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Literary Splendor: A Brief Glimpse

Let's talk about books.

In the last few days I have managed to finish two novels, and it struck me that I have yet to profess my love for reading. This must change.

I love reading.

[I will leave it at that for now, for I'm sure this theme will be a recurrent one. But that really needed to be said. Now a bit about those books I read...]

The first book I finished this week was Nabokov's Lolita. For quite a while the intention to read Lolita had lingered in my mind, and I finally resolved to do it.
I'm not sure what exactly I expected when I started the novel. I think I expected something... something very cold and modern, explicit and dark and twisted... fascinating in a terrible sort of way. But the expected feel was detached... cold is really the best term I can use to describe what I anticipated.
But Lolita was quite different. Far from being cold, the book is tender and warm. Tender and warm to the point that you aren't quite certain what the impact upon Lolita is... Humbert adores her... and you are almost willing to grant the possibility that Humbert's little nymphet delights to be in his loving arms. And then you hear her sobs in the night, every night... and you wonder what has been done to the beloved Lolita.
If you haven't read the book, I would recommend it. Lolita is spectacularly, impressively well-written... I still cannot believe that Nabokov's native tongue was Russian- the book feels so very English. At least, I was impressed. It is a very interesting read. If you have read it- thoughts?

The second novel I finished was Anne of Windy Poplars. This summer I have set about re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and it has been nothing short of delightful. To quote Mrs. Montgomery herself:
"An old book has something for me which no new book can ever have -- for at every reading the memories and atmosphere of other readings come back and I am reading old years as well as an old book."
Reading about Anne is like revisiting my childhood... No, it's more than that. It is revisiting old, beloved friends in old, beloved homes. Anne holds a very special place in my heart and has become a part of my soul. She has an incredible ability to recognize beauty, and has inspired me to do my best to be a small source of happiness in the world.

I could talk about how awesome Anne Shirley is for hours. From her beginning as a ridiculously talkative, imaginative, dramatic, red-headed orphan continuously getting herself into very amusing scrapes, Anne develops into a kind, graceful, warm woman with a great deal of insight and a healthy sense of humor, all the while retaining a delightful Anne-ness about her... Her love of trees and flowers and brooks... her kindred-spiritedness...
Anne is amazing.
If you haven't already, you should meet her. I think you'd like her.
And if you have, you should consider going for a visit.

Or, perhaps, you would prefer to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with other interesting characters. This is acceptable (though I still recommend adding Lolita and Anne to your list!). I simply encourage you to retreat from earthly chaos in the golden splendor of literary lands, explore strange new worlds, celebrate joys and triumphs or weep over sorrows and injustices.

Immerse yourself in a good book. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tacos and Kings

There's something delightful about summer.

I love long, warm evenings of golden light and contentment... I love frolicking without thought of jackets or sweaters... I love the feel of floating through perfect warmth.

I think home and summer have become mentally intertwined since venturing off to a land of seasons and cornfields. Christmas felt strangely (wrongly) summer-esque after leaving a home of snowy whiteness in favor of a home of mild-climated "pompous palm trees" (as Brynna terms them).
But summer fits home (real home) perfectly.
Driving down PCH with gorgeous, dramatic, coastline views can only make my lips smile proudly and my heart delight in the beauty of home; catching a glimpse of blue, shimmering, watery vastness never fails to make me happy. Home may not be perfect, but it's home... and it's beautiful.

The last few days have been wonderfully summeresque.
Sunday evening there was a very happy bonfire, complete with storytelling, discussion of life-plans, a brief bit of sand-waltzing (note: sand is a terrible surface for waltzing), nonsense songs, and delicious s'mores. T'was merry and warm and delightful!
After the bonfire a group of us decided to travel to a popular taco truck (yes, that's right) and gorge ourselves on very, very tasty carne asada tacos. The few outdoor tables and chairs that were available were, of course, taken. So we opted to stand and eat off the trunk of my car instead. As I watched my recently-washed-and-therefore-unusually-clean car become littered with pieces of onion and tomato, I could only laugh at the odd picture our feasting forms must have made to a casual observer.
The tacos were delicious and the rendezvous delightful. Ahh, summer! Ahh, home!

Yesterday afternoon was also fun and summery. I met up with el señor Lubbers at the Coffee Cartel- a cozy, beachy-chill (dare I say hipster-y?) café bedecked with unique art pieces, obscure books, a suit of armor (why?), and comfy-shabby couches perfect for lounging and enjoying the company of friends…whilst sipping coffee, I suppose. Actually, the barista who was working there when we got there was extremely amusing, if not altogether present. I quite appreciated his appreciation of the word melatonin (“Say it. ‘Melatonin.’ Isn’t that such a cool word?”), his inability to remember whether both or neither of us wanted whipped cream (“I knew it was both yes or both no. They’re such similar words. They both have three letters. Don’t start with the same letter. Have no letters in common. Makes it so hard to tell them apart. Umm, two, three- it’s the same thing. Less than four letters. ‘Yes.’ ‘No.’ It just makes it so difficult to distinguish between them.”), and his assertion that the day's special contained unicorn blood and was nothing short of magical- yeah, he was a fun guy.

But the activity that took over the Coffee Cartel reunion was not coffee centered.
No, a different activity consumed us.
 Much to my consternation, Lubbers forced me to play chess. I begged, I pleaded- to no avail. Against my protestations, the chess board was promptly brought out, set up... and before I knew it I was engaged in battle.
Now allow me to provide some background.
For reasons I can't quite fathom, I had never actually played chess before. I had distantly watched others play... I had a basic understanding of the pieces... But throw myself into battle? Nay, not I! 
This almost makes no sense. Chess seems a pretty... thoughtful, intense game- just the sort of game I would enjoy. And as I found myself trying to decide on moves and thinking through how to save myself from death, I did indeed find myself enjoying the game immensely. It was just the sort of focused thinking I tend to relish. But then I recall my state at the beginning of the game: I had no idea what I was doing, I felt stupid, I desperately wanted to evade a situation which could only result in embarrassing, bloody massacre... in short, I was terribly, cripplingly afraid of the sense of shame and failure that one risks when trying something new. Afraid to the point that I would plead for a different activity. And then it makes sense.
Okay, so I lost. But it was not a bloody massacre (er, right Lubbers?). I made a few short-sighted errors, but it was okay. It forced me to focus and think and do my best, and I loved it.

Something causes me to suspect there may be a lesson in here somewhere... It will probably take a few more (many more?) classes for it to stick, but at least it's a small step in the right direction. Hopefully I have a few more friends willing to ignore my initial protestations and to be supportive when it counts.

Oh and a note on drawing- I'm pretty sure I achieved the zenith of my artistic career yesterday. I pretty successfully managed to capture the slender, flowing, glorious beauty of a nymph statuette which I have admired since girlhood. Annette is very pleased.

Oh, summer! Warm, carefree summer!