Friday, February 15, 2008

Navigating the Imagination (and this blog post)

I have been super over-stimulated lately, and I think it's because of all these new things that have been coming into my life lately. For example:

1) We finally got a new (used) couch. Super cheap on craigslist and oh so comfy and huge--I couldn't believe it. I had no idea how immense modern furniture is. We've only had 1960's era thrift store couches, and to see this monster canvas slate blue sofa and chair makes me giggle and want to build a nice cozy blanket fort. The ottoman itself is about the same size as a child's single bed. All I want to do now is lounge around, writing on my Levenger lap desk and reading my amazing new Joseph Cornell book, which incidentally matches the sofa (thanks KW!!).

2) Lynda Roscoe Hartigan's Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination, a gift that found its way on my doorstep on Monday. The paper Cornellian mountain on the cover reminds me of the mountains I see in the distance when I drive towards Coeur D'Alene, which makes me remember that I actually live by gorgeous rugged topography (I forget sometimes because I can't see them from my house). This book is truly amazing--I've only managed to read the first few pages, but already Hardigan is discussing the very issues that interest me most about Cornell: how his art was inspired by enchanted wanderings throughout Manhattan during the 20's-50's. Also, there are many photos and images of his older collage art from the 30's that I've never seen before.

I can't help but think of how I got interested in Cornell in the first place. It was during the J-term of 1998 when four of us girls (you know who you are!) took the train to Chicago from St. Paul--my first train ride and excursion to the windy city. All I remember of that trip is the drinking of wine coolers in our hotel room, smoking gold-filtered Fantasia Lights on the steps of the Art Institute by the bronze lions, drooling over a cute waiter at Bennigan's across the street, giggling at sailors (it felt just like a musical), admiring all the revolving doors downtown (even Walgreen's had one!), and discovering Cornell's art in the Surrealist wing of the Institute.

I was alone--I had wandered far from my friends, who were by that time waiting for me in the cafe downstairs. I remember I almost missed the Cornell exhibit--suffering from glazed-over gallery eye, I was halfway through it when I became aware of what I was looking at. It was a strange moment of awakening--like I had found something I had lost, and hadn't realized it was missing until I discovered it. His work was so small, like a whisper, that I felt like the first person to really see it. It seemed like suddenly all my wistful thoughts and longings had found a form, and that I was looking at mysterious objects not in a museum, but in a dusty attic in an old crumbling Victorian house. I was so excited about his work that as soon as we got back to St. Paul, I gushed to my art history professor that I felt like I finally found my calling--to be a Cornell scholar. Well, I'm not a J.C. scholar (yet) but this book makes the fourth book in my J.C. library, so I feel like an imaginary amateur DIY scholar....

Anyway, I can't wait to digest the rest of the book.

3) Speaking of books, I'm trying to get through Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance for book club, but the going is slow. I have no objection to the book per se, but so far only horrible, depressing things have happened, so I don't feel much drive to finish. The writing is nice and I'm learning a lot about the history of India during the 20th century through different character's eyes, but I'm a little bored with it to be perfectly honest.

Just finished the His Dark Materials trilogy. Loved it! I want more though. I feel like the last book ended with a big question mark. Won't see the movie because I've heard it just makes you mad if you've read the book.

4) Preparing the house's interiors for new wall paint. Finally! No more black trim in the bathroom (what kind of crazy person paints their bathroom black??).

5) New private piano students. Yay!

6) New music ideas: just got a new 3-octave synth that has lots of neat-o electronic sounds on it. I just have to figure out how it works....

7) A sad note: Zuzu got bitten by an aggressive dog at dog camp on Tuesday. She has some nasty, bloody wounds that the vet stitched up, so the poor baby has to wear a lampshade on her head. It's the saddest sight ever. I can tell she's starting to feel a little better though, because she wanted me to chase her around the backyard while she carried an ice chip in her mouth.

8) Spokane is finally awakening from a deep snow-induced slumber. Because S-town has practically no budget for snow removal, the streets were a mess for a whole two weeks, and lazy ass-faces did not even attempt to clear their sidewalks (except for us-- well K actually). Schools were canceled for a whole week the end of January. It was actually kind of fun to drive by Manito park and see the little puffy figures of kids in snow suits and moon boots sled down the hill. But now, it's gradually melting, and I feel my S.A.D. disappearing.

9) Cut off a few inches of shaggy hair (now I'm back to the flapper look); Found two gorgeous Banana Republic tops at a thrift store (one is silk cashmere!): two examples of how I'm gradually replacing the dumpy high-school look for a more 30-something wardrobe.

10) Taking piano lessons from a guy whose grandma played for silent films in the 20s in Seattle.

11) Feeling renewed from Christmas vacation in NE. It was the first time I've been home in 5 years (sad, isn't it?). I had a most lovely and amazing time. The highlights include: leisurely 3-hour reading marathons with brother H (he was in a Harry Potter frenzy; me in a Golden Compass one); all-day baking extravaganza on Christmas eve, listening to some good tunes, also with H; opening gifts with the family in our pajamas; hanging out in Mom's art room, typing away on my grandma's 1970s yellow electric typewriter; dancing to a live blues band with funny and tipsy stepfather in C-town (I swear the lead blues singer was Jeremy Irons); visiting my grandmas; dancing to Wham at a high school friend's party in Lincoln (and later discussing the merits of a McDonald's filet-o-fish), and playing Rock Band (the video game) at G and C's small mansion until 5 in the morning with old and dear friends.

12) Two friends having babies this spring. My babysitting services have been offered, and I'm picturing myself making them cute little homemade stuffed animals.

13) Check out my new links. I love the layout of Posy Gets Cozy. She's a crafter from Portland, OR, my most favoritist city ever.

(This long blog is what happens when you don't post for two months).