And also the truth can stare you in the face for four decades and it doesn’t matter. It’s not about whether or not the truth is easily apprehended—they were at fault not me—it’s about when you figure out how to stop listening to all the stories you’ve learned to tell yourself to explain the monster.
But when you’re a storyteller—as it’s plain you are—it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the stories you tell because they’re true and the stories you tell because you need them to be true. Is that something one ever learns to do with 100 percent accuracy? Even now as I write this confessional porn—Look at me and my beautiful wounds! Don’t I look great from the vantage point of my internal suffering?—I wonder what is honest, what is embellished. But that’s the legacy of growing up with parents like ours, isn’t it? It’s hard to be secure in what we feel, to know if our joy or our grief or our anger or our bewilderment is a true thing. We’ve been forced to be our own parents and, really, what kind of parent is a kid in single digits going to make? What kid doesn’t err on the side of make-believe?
I’ve been lately thinking about that lack of security—emotional, psychological—in terms of my arts career. I used to feel bad about the fact that I’ve—for the most part—as an adult always had a full-time job. Poetry, theater work, whatever else I wanted to do as an art practice has always been practiced in the cracks of the 9-5 day. I’ve thought for years, decades, that having a good-paying full-time job meant that somehow I lacked courage and drive to be an artist. But I’ve come to realize that when you’re a kid who grows up always trying to catch your balance on shifting sands, you crave something stable.
My natural state is chaos but I realize it’s all grounded in habit and ritual so I can keep some sort of balance. Even when I had a seven-month fellowship on the tip of Cape Cod during which I didn’t have to work a traditional job, I found rituals—walking up and down Commercial Street, singing with the church choir, making apple crisp. My somewhat traditional life hasn’t kept me from being a great artist, but instead I realize now it’s kept me alive long enough so I can keep working toward being a great artist. No, not a great artist, but an artist who reaches people whether it’s on a grand scale or not. It’s kept me alive so I can write about this shit and hopefully save someone else from wandering around in the desert as long as I have. I think that’s what you do, too, Marc.
Yes, I think it’s time I started calling you Marc…
To be continued…
“Woman Waiting” by Jason Polan from Every Person in New York (Image courtesy of 20×200.com)
I’m fresh out of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, but not to worry, I’ve still got a few of my favorite things to rave about. . .
The Blog: I discovered Orangette a few days ago by way of a can’t-wait-for-it-to-be-yummy-in-my-tummy recipe for salsa verde and potatoes. (Editors Note: I made and took pix of the recipe this weekend. Expect a post soon, by which I mean, whenever I get around to downloading the pix.) Molly Wizenberg is a Seattle-based home chef-foodwriter turned home chef-food writer-restauranteur. I love her voice and the pix she takes and generally if I lived in Seattle, I’d be pining for her to be my best friend. (And I”m not just saying that because she’s also got a thing for poetry and has spent oodles of time in Paris and now owns a pizzeria.)
The Bookstore: I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember who introduced me to The Little Bookroom, but thank you whoever you are. These gorgeous little travel books are worth buying even if you never quite make it out of the armchair and onto the aeroplane. Whether your want a catalog of all the shops in Paris selling handmade items or you want to eat your way through Tuscany or if you’ve a hankering to find out where to get the best cocktails in Buenos Aires, The Little Bookroom has a guide for you. Not to mention journals for capturing every detail and literary essays—such as E.B. White’s ever-fresh Here is New York—to keep you company on the plane ride. And by the by, they’re having a sale now so you can score bonus points for being ye olde thrifty shopper.
The Boy: Jason Polan likes to draw things. A lot of things. Like giraffes. And every piece of art in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. I first discovered Jason through 20×200.com when the $20 featured offering was photocopies of his hands. I especially loved that particular artwork because for weeks it made me debate whether or not that was art. I then spent the next few weeks kicking myself because I missed out on one of the 20×200 lower-priced editions of his “Every Person in New York” series. Since then, I’ve spent an awful lot of time wishing drawing could be my super power. Lucky for me, it’s Jason’s. And I’m hoping to snag one of his “10 Things of Mine and One of Yours” portfolios in the near future. So now you know all about Jason Polan. You’re welcome. (p.s. Click here to browse the Jason Polan editions on 20×200.com.)
So you know how I said I’d probably mention 20×200.com at least a billion times over the life of this blog, well, you can start counting.
Wednesday’s one of my favorite days because that’s when the 20×200 photography edition arrives. Today featured a double edition from Chinese photographer Shen Wei, and it was love at first sight for the first photo in the pair, “Blessing over the Rice Machine, Guiyang, Guizhou Province.” (The second half of the pair is gorgeous too, it just didn’t –to paraphrase Emily Dickinson–blow the top of my head off.)
I’ve been very drawn to industrial stuff lately, especially scenes that have a certain air of neglect, or maybe I’m responding to a sense of age, of staying power despite or in spite of. . . . In this particular photograph I think it’s especially the luminous colors that draw me in, that pop of green in the lower right, the earthy paper of the blessing. Maybe I like the idea that there is aesthetic satisfaction to be found in even the most seemingly unaesthetic settings . Something about the composition feels almost postcard-like to me, in the sense that there’s a whole story waiting to be unpacked within the borders of the frame. This is one of those images that I could be lost in for a long long time.
I think I’m going to mosy over to 20×200.com and see if there’re still any $20 editions left to order. I encourage you to do the same (but not if you’re getting the last one and leaving me heartbroken . . . )
More later, since I still have to report back on my finds at this weekend’s Handmade Mart in my hood.