Letter from my 48th Year (Jan 3)
It is a little astonishing how difficult it is to think of something to write every day given that there is a narrative monologue running in my head from the moment I wake up to the moment I finally fall asleep. It should be a simple matter of transcription, shouldn’t it? Perhaps it’s the idea of curation that complicates things. What matters enough to be written down? What is full-fledged enough to risk on the page? Yet, if I truly believe in and admire May Sarton’s journals, then isn’t the task of simply endeavoring to live a life noteworthy? To not exist but to live? But then, where is that line between existing and living? What does it mean to live? And wouldn’t I rather watch the last few episodes of the new series of Black Mirror than tackle that old conundrum? (Yes, a thousand times yes!)
I was up till past 1 watching Black Mirror and playing a word game on my phone and thinking thoughts that are probably still rollercoastering around my brain somewhere. I woke up just past 9, had a bagel, a giant mug of decaf, wrote a couple of journal pages, and then decided to go back to bed.
It was tempting to have one of those days when I do nothing but eat and sleep and eat and sleep but I’d planned to head out to the Phillips Collection today and decided to keep that plan as if keeping plans is a grown-up thing I’m good at.
I told myself, “You braved Chicago, you can certainly go out in this,” not knowing exactly what this was since I hadn’t checked the temps. I admit to being a wee bit disappointed that it was in the high 20s (which yes is cold, but it’s manageable without two pairs of long johns and several scarves wrapped around your face to keep your eyeballs and teeth from freezing right out of your face like they would on an average winter’s day in Chicago).
I am not a huge Renoir fan but I did appreciate Luncheon of the Boating Party much more after seeing the paintings that led up to it and the friends that inspired it. Oh, context, how you make everything better sometimes! And it was nice to visit with my old friends in their new neighborhoods (the original part of the museum is under construction). Hello Mr. Hopper! Hello Ms. O’Keeffee! Monsieur Matisse! Monsieur Gris! Mr. Lawrence!
Picasso tried to seduce me with one of his blue paintings but I’m not sure I can keep giving him a pass for being such a misogynistic asshole just because he produced such good work. With so many of the male artists I admire, our relationship status has become “It’s Complicated” as I wrestle with what everyone is wrestling with—if/how/why/when you separate the artist as a person from the artist as an artist. Genius is no justification for bad behavior no matter what century you live in. And while, yes, being an artist requires a certain level of selfishness, it doesn’t require meanness or being demeaning to others, or any other assholery. Still, I struggle with giving up Midnight in Paris and Miles Davis and and and….
Tomorrow and Friday are days of poems. Hopefully the writing of them. Mostly, I suspect, the editing of them and even some sending out. And also, I need to pick poems for my reading on Friday. I thought I’d write something new but…