Tag Archives: changing perspective

Paint in White

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I painted this using a pocketknife and white paint on white paper, in very dim light. Its inspiration was a suffocating, grey, bitter cold day not unlike the long stretch of days prior to it. In an effort to find beauty somewhere, anywhere, I extended my mobile phone out of my front door and captured an image. This one:

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I chose white because white can be terrifying, and I needed to feel something, anything, amidst the dismal winter. I used a pocketknife because it was near and I couldn’t be bothered to search for a brush. Chipping away at this tree, scraping paint, and building texture, I remember losing myself in the cello and Radiohead and then the cello again. Had the day been filled with yellow sun and blue skies, I wouldn’t have learned the beauty of white on a bitter grey day.

I keep this painting displayed alone on the large grey wall of my office to remind me how to manipulate what is near and transform it into something beautiful. It teaches me to just sit back and absorb the everyday.

Choices, Choices!

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I sit here, at a desk, typing about choices. Why do I type and why haven’t I chosen to walk to the shed, gather an axe, and work at felling the evergreen across the street? Why am I not strumming a banjo? Why aren’t I honing a furniture-making skill? Stealing money from an unsuspecting victim? Painting a woman’s fingernails? Painting a red tree with fingernails as leaves? Painting my portrait? Painting your portrait? I could paint your portrait, all you have to do is ask. Painting your portrait with spray paint on the street? Painting “I love broccoli” in Hindu on the street. Or on my house. On a man’s fingernails. On broccoli.

Sit still for this one moment and consider what you are doing. Are you sitting, standing, wearing a skirt, chewing tobacco, tapping your fingers, rolling your eyes at my words, eating jellybeans? Now, think about the trillions of other possibilities that exist, that you could choose to do, right now. You’ll blow your own mind.

Who Are You? A Little Monday Introspection

Sit back and take a few minutes for yourself:

What sort of person did you expect you would be? Have you become that person? In what ways are you different than expected?

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Does Everything Become Ordinary?

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I am consumed by the question, “Why do we tire of things?”  We tire of music, however shocking and original it was.  We tire of people who were once the brightness in our day.    Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring will never produce another riot.  A mini skirt lost the ability to offend.  We don’t notice art after being subject to a masterpiece for any length of time, even a terrifying Calder.

Alexander Calder painted a seven-legged dog with furious red teeth and eyes.  When I first positioned this animal adjacent to my couch, I had trouble sitting still.  While trying intently to read a page or nap in the sunlight, my eyes were pulled in the direction of this primary-colored dog. Always conscious of it, terribly afraid of it, I ended up abandoning the living room and took my reading and napping to the tiniest room in my apartment which, not coincidentally, was the farthest room from the Calder beast.  To avoid crossing its path, I began exiting my apartment through the back door, just in case.  Just in case of what I’m not sure, but since I’m incredibly reasonable, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Arriving home was a different story.  I’d carelessly bounce up the flight of stairs, let the door fly open, flick on the light, remove my coat and shoes, walk thoughtlessly halfway into the living room preoccupied by this or that, and stop dead in my tracks.  There it was.  The sneak attack.  That damn primary-colored snarling animal floating on my wall.  This happened for weeks, until I outsmarted it.  I learned to leave a nightlight on, to peek around the corner before disarming myself of my coat and shoes, just in case.  Just in case of what, I still wasn’t sure.

Gradually, its pounce began losing its punch.  I began exiting through the front door without fear, arriving home without a nightlight.  I napped deeply on the couch after particularly tiresome days, waking without fear.

I’ve since moved, and the Calder dog followed me.  There it hangs in my living room where I nap without hesitation.  I go days without noticing it.  Somehow, its teeth are not so sharp anymore, its eyes with earthly depth, its primal nature quelled.  I miss the terror I once felt of this now tamed creature.  I miss the mystery of such few colors and crude shapes.  I miss the ridiculousness of avoiding the beast.  It was exciting and new and unpredictable then, and because of this, I ask, does everything inevitably become ordinary?

The Implication of Now

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I am fixed on time, on the notion of now being the only moment in which we exist.

Watching the snow fall, I sense motion.  Listening to my bulldog snore, I hear motion. Sitting at my desk, completely still, my body is in incredible motion: cells dying, living, splitting. Synapses firing, ceasing, firing.  Plaques and tangles forming.  Skin flaking, hair falling.  Thoughts racing, forgetting, creating.  Stan Getz vibrating my eardrum, coffee stimulating olfactory senses, blood rushing, mitral valve failing, information gathering, fingers typing, erasing, revising, second-guessing, muscles degenerating, skin oiling, capturing a moment, remembering it differently, creating a fancier moment.

If it’s in the past, did it exist?  Is now a compilation of fictitious nows that form a fictitious past? How divisible is now?  Is it a Planck moment?  A whole universe grew in a Planck moment.  Where was I then?  Was I then?  If I was then, I always am.  The whole universe could fit inside my box then.  I wonder if I want it to fit inside my box now.  What is the implication of filling it?

A Necessary Expletive, Right Here and Now

On one particularly miserable night, I told Santino, a tall, lanky, teenaged recovering addict, twenty years my junior, to fuck off.

Santino and I were in a room, a tiny box of a room comparatively, filled with pizza ovens, dough stations, sauce stations, slicing stations, televised sports stations, stacks of pizza boxes, refrigerators, garbage cans, and rows of shelves stocked with ketchup, olive oil, soap, and all sorts of essentials.

I was standing amidst a fat, grey-skinned man who regularly poured cornstarch into his shorts on hot days, two dirty water splashing dishwashers, a team of coming and going cursing and bitching waitresses, and a few teenaged boys who neither added nor subtracted anything from my life.

Despite the amount of time I’ve spent in this room, I’ve no idea of walls’ color, the nature of the floor and ceiling, or even if it had a window.  I don’t know if that matters.

Besides, I’m not there.  I’m here, seated before two windows.

My space is lovely.  I sit at an old wooden desk situated before two oversized windows that look onto the neighborhood.   I see the weekender’s backward American flag powered by wind from the South, piles of oak and maple leaves, hydrangeas dying to be trimmed before the frost, an old blue Ford pickup made completely of metal driven by a young smoker, two squirrels, bobbing evergreen branches that I will cut for a Christmas wreath, women with dyed hair and too much make up knocking on doors to discuss Jesus, the shadows shrinking so quickly.

To my right is a mirror image of this room.  Instead of a desk before the windows, my dog drapes himself over the back of a couch to keep watch on the neighborhood.  My dog sees the same two women, but he doesn’t know about their made up faces, dyed hair, or that they want to discuss Jesus.  He doesn’t even know who Jesus is.  He sees two squirrels corkscrewing up a tree.  He enjoys relieving himself in the pile of leaves.  He watches a stray car pass, a robin hop along the fence, a fisherman carry his pole and bucket.  I know that the pole the man carries is used to catch fish, but he sees a man who is a potential threat to his home.  I see squirrels playfully run up a tree, he senses their scent and perhaps he imagines a chase.

On a particularly depressing night in the box, I cringed at the thought of leaving the box to deliver food to people who I didn’t care about, in exchange for money.  With tomato sauce lodged under my fingernails, a variety of food splattered on my sneakers, reeking of garlic, dirty dishwater dripping from my legs, I cringed at the thought of the imminent and perpetual meaningless small talk with people I didn’t care a bit about.  For money.  Not to mention, I was standing incredibly close to the man who regularly poured cornstarch into his shorts.

Somehow, at that moment, Santino, the recovering addict, twenty years my junior, saw the misery in my face and crossed the room.  We had no business together, but he made me his business.  He told me that at that very moment, there is nowhere else that I’m supposed to be, or could be, than right here, right now.

I had no time for this chit-chat.  My mouth thanked him, but in my head I told him to fuck off, in the meanest way possible, of course.  I took my filthy, smelly self into the dining room, delivered food, spoke about nothing to people I didn’t care about, and retrieved money.  Fuck you, Santino.

That was a long time ago, and any more times that night, that week, that year, I returned to the box to deliver food in exchange for money, and many more times Santino’s words ran through my head. He was right.  I was supposed to be there, right then, just as I am supposed to be here, right now.  I am always supposed to be exactly where I am.  Even if I’m in motion, I am still right here, right now.  You are too.  You’re here reading this, telling me to fuck off in your head, or high-fiving me, or telling me to learn to write.  Everyone who is right here, right now, will see and experience something very different.  It is up to you to create the essence.

Santino taught me to see and experience my dirty job and pieces of my life from a new perspective, just as my dog sees the same neighborhood from another set of windows.  I worked hard and I did my job well.  It was not glamorous, but it afforded the simple and meaningful life I still appreciate and desire.