July in April.

Remember my Valentine’s Day gift to you? The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal? I always find things out a few years too late. Did you know that’s Miranda July narrating? I just found that out tonight by the following string of events:

The String of Events:

General boredom leads me to click on the address bar and scroll down to see my past sites visited.

Links include the ordinary (Gmail, Myspace, Youtube, Google, Dictionary, Craigslist) and at least one which is extraordinary: www.learningtoloveyoumore.com, a web project by Miranda July and Harrel Fletcher. This website is precious, but also ingenious, and some day I think I may set about completing some of the challenges it offers.

While visiting Learning to Love you More I click on a link for the Learning To Love You More book because I love the design of the cover. I think for a moment how I typically admire any aesthetic that July has had her fingers on, particularly text aesthetic, particularly the content of that text: the sentences she comes up with.

I think about a time last year when I was in California and, waiting for a friend, found myself killing time in a Barnes & Noble. I picked up a pink copy of July’s then-newly released book No One Belongs Here More Than You. I sat myself down in an overstuffed armchair and began to read the first story or two. Some cruel-hearted employee popped a Barbara Streisand live album in and the entire store was filled for the next hour with such unpleasant sound waves. I could barely enjoy the book, and in fact, gave up eventually, left the store.  This is the memory that I think of, briefly.

I wonder if Miranda July has begun any feature length film projects since Me and You and Everyone We Know. I check IMDB. I notice a film listed in her credits: Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal–Narrator. Overcome, “It all makes sense now!” I feel I have to tell you, so I sign on to my blog.

But maybe you folks aren’t even fans of Miranda July. Well anyway, years late as always, here is my new favorite website.

Overdue: Books and le printemps.

I’ve given up on reading C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy. There are too many obscure Classical references, and my thumbs have gotten tired from checking every archaic word that no longer exists in the dictionary. Plus the second due date is approaching (I’ve already renewed) and if I don’t get halfway through a book in a month and a half it’s just not going to happen. It’s a pity–I think that somewhere in that book was something I would be wise to read.

Speaking of books I’ll never finish, I picked up three more from the thrift store on Saturday. Three (short stories) by Flannery O’Connor, The Comedians by Graham Greene, and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Well, I’m sure I’ll finish that last one at some point, but it doesn’t count since I’ve read it before. No repeats! Books shmooks. I admire my friends who can sit down and finish one (or ten), because I can’t seem to muster the attention.

Unrelated, I know we aren’t supposed to apply the word “love” to inanimate objects because it cheapens the emotion, but I just can’t help it: I love our deck! Now that it’s finally gotten warmer outside and the leaves are pushing out of their buds and the neighborhood is coming back to life, I’ve been struck by an incurable bout of spring fever. And there is no better place to suffer through this malady than on our deck. Really. I love it. I do.

(A note: Last year Spring Fever was Jenny Lewis. This year it is Belle and Sebastian. Roll down your windows and listen.)

(Another note, upon second reading: I really grabbed from the standard stock of transitions in this post, didn’t I?  It reads like something I would have blogged four years ago.  Cute, in some ways.  But there, wait, am I becoming a snob?)

Sometimes,

To be a teen in the 90s.

I was inside of a high school building today. It was live, that is, students and teachers were actively doing what students and teachers do, and I was there in the middle of it when the P.A. crackled and issued forth the following announcement: “Students are reminded that coats are not allowed in the classroom. They are to be kept in your locker, along with your cell phones and ipods.”

 

Even though I myself have a cell phone and something of an ipod, the announcement reminded me of how much space exists between the current high school generation and my own. Light years. To be a teen in 2008 is so vastly different than to be a teen in 1998. Of course this is true as any decade passes. In 1998 we had technology our 80’s teenage predecessors did not: most families had computers with the increasingly popular internet, we had CDs and Discmans and maybe a fledgling DVD collection (I was still a VHS girl). Pagers were fairly popular, and a few of the elite had cell phones, although most students saved their envy for greater things—personal cell phones were not necessary and were even seen as a bit decadent. Clueless, for all of its satire, was prophetic. (But how were we to know?)

 

We did not text, we did not facebook, we did not myspace, we did not youtube. We did not blog.

 

We were not at war.

 

Instead we worried about Y2K, stored freshwater in our bathtub and stocked our basements full of canned goods and plastic wrap. We were prepared for anything, so we thought. We were the classes who ushered in school shootings and, soon after, school shooting drills. We distracted ourselves. We argued about who was truly the “first graduating class of the new millenium,” class of ’00 or class of ’01. (’01, for the record.) We listened to some really bad music. In general, we liked ourselves, but under the microscope maybe we didn’t.

I once thought I would write a story about this, about teens who lived their teenage years during the 90’s, but it’s already been done so many times, and with much greater accuracy I’m sure, by writers who were themselves immersed in the 90’s at the time of writing. The 90’s are now history, and I’ve never done well with history. I’ve never really liked the 90’s. But that may be common, for a person to reject the decade surrounding their high school years. Is it?

The unpretty beginning of a new era.

Well, so I’ve got a lot to learn. Or at least some getting used to!

Nothing, okay? Bits of nothing.

Our internet was down at work today. I think it may have been in response to the comment I made in my last post which read, “Can you remember life before the internet? I wonder if we could ever go back to that. Hyperventilation.” It was a little bit like hyperventilation, at some points. But mostly life went on.

Today I opened new checking and savings accounts with a new bank. Before I met with a banker, the teller handed me some brochures outlining the different checking options and associated fees. I developed a slight crush on the gentlemen on the cover of the brochure, but relationships based on checking account literature are almost always doomed to failure so I put the fellow out of my mind.

I’m thinking seriously about purchasing a Wacom tablet. I’m still a little bitter about the whole Wacom phenomenon, because I know in my heart that the idea for a pen based navigation tool was originally mine, back when I was a youngin’ and thought, “Hey, these computer mice are cool but kind of clunky. Couldn’t we do the same thing with the roller ball, but like a ball point pen?” Should’ve gotten a patent.

Speaking of inventions, I need to get back to my NaNoWriMo draft… Speaking of drafts, it’s been windy but so nice out! Speaking of nice, I like you. Thanks for reading. :)

Hints at things around the bend.

I worked 13 hours today, which means I get to drink Mountain Dew after a late dinner and write in my blog at midnight and sleep in until noon if I feel like it. Ah, I love it. I don’t feel any strong desire to write right now, but I’m doing so anyway, dutifully, because these are habits one must establish if one intends ever to finish a creative project (which I intend very much so to do, someday). Probably I should be so disciplined in my painting studio and with my comic strip and with at least a dozen other areas of my life, creative or otherwise. Tonight though, discipline is being focused on the blog (which felt neglected over the weekend.)

If there was any neglect it was not out of spite, but simply for lack of time. We had six wonderful house guests this weekend, birthday celebrations, self-inflating air mattresses, collaborative art projects, pizza parties, church parties, hummus lessons, dress-up time, and finally, an art show. That last one was me, it was my art show at Mother Fool’s (or probably I should say the reception, since the show is up all month long, you can still check it out!) If you have never had an art show before I can tell you this: it is one surefire way to feel loved. So many of my friends and family came, it was just perfectly wonderful. And wonderfully perfect, simultaneously. Thanks so much to everyone who came out, down and over. Thanks again to Shawn for helping me hang things, and thanks to Emily for being my caterer/stylist/makeup artist and thanks to everyone, sheesh, just for being there or wishing you could. This is where they start playing that music which means “Okay, end your speech already and get off the stage.” Really, though, thanks!

What’s next, then? Aside from working 13 hour days at work (just kidding, that is not typical) there are some new ideas coagulating (I know that’s not the best word choice, but it’s now past 1:30–I’m really struggling through this!–and I don’t have the energy to search for the perfect words anymore). I don’t really want to spoil too many of these ideas before they are ripe for the pickin’ (again, it’s 1:30, give me a break) but one that I’m most excited about is a sweet little collaborative project, and the other is a public art project. “Everybody has a future.” Something that is not currently in the works: I would kind of like to be a part of an Art Gospel band, if there is such a thing. I’m pretty sure this won’t happen, but if I get a chance to bang on some drums in the next month or so, who knows. Maybe I’ll be overcome with inspiration. There are too many projects and too few hours in the days.

Well there, three paragraphs ought to do it. Can you remember life before the internet? I wonder if we could ever go back to that.  Hyperventilation.  I need to find a way to open an individual yogurt container without little bits of yogurt spitting onto my shirt.  Be blessed tonight or whenever you read this.

Loving something not quite human.

I’m beginning to love Paul, in a way that I never really loved Frances, but still no where near the way that I have always loved Bud and Jumpy and Olga and Anya. If you have no idea what I am talking about, that is okay, I’m being intentionally cryptic. Maybe upon first reading you would think that all of those names belonged to people, but really, they belong to comic strip characters that I have created over the years. So here is what I did, for kicks mostly, but also for posterity: I have created a Bud Ralphy website. This is nothing fancy at all, just a place to showcase the evolution of a comic strip character, created by a 7th grader and still fiercely loved by a college graduate.

Check it out if you’d like. The Bud Ralphy Archives.

Now that cork is a thing of the past.

Doesn’t anyone use staplers anymore? Is this somehow related to the Going Green movement? Here is what I know: today I set out to do some postering for my show on Sunday. Thinking I was one step ahead of things I tore my house apart trying to find a stapler so that I could staple my fliers to all of the community bulletin boards. I thought I was being so clever. Only once I was out in the thick of town did I realize that there are no bulletin boards anymore, everyone simply tapes up fliers. Tapes them to windows, tapes them to kiosks, tapes them to any kind of surface. I didn’t have any tape–I had a stapler. What is this about? What happened to bulletin boards?

*Oh, an edit:  I forgot to mention that I did come across one bulletin board in all of my travels today, at the laundromat down the street.  It was my last stop before coming home and I used at least six staples to hang that flier up, which was, of course, more than was necessary, but what can you say to a girl who has been yearning all afternoon to staple?  She just has to staple.

American Idol Worshiper (or Focus, part two).

If something does not draw me closer to God, it brings me further away from him. There is no standing still. Everything is an action. If I have felt a distance from God in the weeks since Easter it is because I took an action to turn my eyes away from him. I don’t want to be so simplistic to say that giving certain things up for Lent was my way of drawing near to God, but, while it did afford me plenty of time to instead meditate on God, what have I done with my free time since then?

I have spent hours poring over my music and looking for new artists, I have spent hours watching movies and reading books that are unhealthy for me, I have spent hours worrying about my health and human relationships, I have spent hours watching stupid videos online and hovering around pointless websites, I have spent hours sleeping while dishes lay dirty in the sink and laundry collects in a heap on my floor. These are all active choices, and why don’t I call them what they are: they are idols (at least for me in my context). And I am an idol worshiper.

This is no revelation. I’ve always suspected music was an idol of mine, which is why it felt good to give it up on the times that I have. I probably should have suspected all of those other things were idols too, and while there are plenty of things in the human experience which I don’t idolize (fashion, television, celebrity, intellectualism, material accumulation – generally) a single, tiny idol is one giant idol too many. This morning I was reading in First Samuel the story that takes place right before the Israelites demand a king for themselves, where they are being afflicted by the Philistines and Samuel offers a sacrifice to the Lord to bring deliverance. Right before he makes the sacrifice, Samuel says to the Israelites: “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” It couldn’t be clearer. I need to get rid of these idols. Everything eternal depends on it.

Yes, yes, just when I was starting to sound fun again I go and ruin it by writing a post like this one. But let me clarify something (I feel like I clarify this a lot). I don’t think there is anything wrong with music or movies or comics or romance or naps, and I don’t think God is expecting me to cut those things out of my life completely. But they need to be rightly ordered. I’ve gone through extreme phases where I thought entertainment in any form was inherently evil, but I’m certain now that it’s not. We are meant to have some fun in this life. Music and film and all of those things can bring glory to God, and often does! But it can also suck me of my devotion. It comes back to the matter of focus, I think, and it comes back to the line I opened with: If something does not draw me closer to God, it brings me further away from him. It’s about time I reordered a few things.

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