No, no, not really. I was not lost in ruminations about family, or years gone by, or wistfulness for the days when everyone lived just down the street. Although,it is true, I do miss my family and wish I could see them more often, or at least for one meal a year, all together. Our Thanksgiving meal, and the whole day, was a bit odd, the best thing about it being, perhaps, a very labor intensive casserole, which was much enjoyed as today’s dinner, with enough left for tomorrow. But this evening, just as the sun was going down, we went for a nice long walk on top of the Elysian Park. It has been a while, and the dusty green of summer eased into the entrancement of the deep fall, without us knowing. Red berries, the cool and the stillness, and within a short while, glimmering of the city on the way into its evening were all magic. Strangely, I kept wishing we were actually elsewhere, some place I didn’t know, as if pretending all this were not minutes away from our house and dinner. But then, i did wonder what is to come next. Where are we going to be? Why? So different are our dreams, from month to month, year to year…And the following year will be marked with an altogether unfamiliar reality of having a child…Already I try to envision how that will shape what is necessary. The evening got thicker and thicker, and the ball players down in the park lit fires in picnic grills, looking wonderful and eerie in the dark. Autumn is so special here in Los Angeles, and this was a very precious glimpse of it. At home, it was warm, dinner quick and tasty, and the whole experience lovely enough for me to break my blog silence. Because…what if I forget?
At last I am here, to report from the wet woods. It’s lovely and lush, and the water in the forest is milky blue. We have been here for almost a week, venturing out to check out local towns, sample tasty organic meals…about everywhere, including the Tandoori kitchen in Santa Rosa. Evenings are spent in our hideaway in the woods, feeding the stove, reading, watching movies. All around us are mossy green trees, random mushrooms , water gurgling and running through the mud between the rains. The life here is bewildering in its difference from ours, and makes me wonder how and where we’d fit in. It is a real, tangible, cold footed fear that is puzzling to me. Meanwhile, there are delightful and gorgeous moments of recognition, be it a flourishing artists community, sights of sheep and goats that just make my heart jump and sing in a silly exaltation, yummy food cooked and uncooked and, of course, the delicious nature. And the fear, above the survival concerns, is of the quiet and the beautiful, of the other way of living that i haven’t tasted perhaps since my childhood summers. Of losing a part of myself that is a true blue urbanite, meandering, feasting on the contrasts and on the faces. My fear is that having found, hypothetically, that perfect place to work I’d just feel too content to scream out, and not convinced that serenity is powerful enough to spend my time on.
We really warmed the house up by now. The rain has been steady and forceful, reminding me of a rush hour pedestrian traffic in midtown Manhattan. Being enveloped in nothing but the sound of water falling on the roof, on the ground, on the trees is strangely muffling from the rest of the world out there. Yet there’s an urgency to it, and the need to decipher so much. I haven’t been able to draw a single thing on this trip, but took pictures, which seemed more justified. I see it as a somewhat purifying time, though, feeling as a human lava lamp with things changing places as they should.
As I was skinning the chickpeas for the soup that bubbled on the stove this evening, my mind went to some article I saw today in an art blog. In it, someone shared, in passing, how they learned in art school that nostalgia was not a good thing.
I kept going back and forth from the whole “nostalgia for artists” perspective to how it can go sour or stale. Not sure which is worse. I also thought of memories that failed to produce nostalgia, and decided that perhaps the incompleteness was what created the essence of the feeling. Now Wikipedia has an article that elucidated me further about how the rest of the world views nostalgia, not just me a little before dinner, and I thought it was fascinating for it to have once been considered a disease. Anyway, back to the artists and whether and why it touches them one way or another.
The Wikipedia article describes the term as missing an idealized version of the past. The way I see it, there’s beauty in every day and many connections we make. Sometimes, we miss a moment or a person in that aching beauty as they are happening to us. can it be nostalgic even in the present? To me, some moments lost their beauty as they were played out eventually and their fragility has dissolved. Some balance has been achieved and nothing more to tell. Some, while initially holding nothing of the story but a blurry backdrop, are still alive. One of those odd examples is going to New York twice in a gray fall of Baba’s death. I don’t miss the cold or the wind of those days. Perhaps, at the moment even the sadness wasn’t really there as we didn’t know what was coming. I think back to worry, her still being with us, maybe not being perfect in everything we said or did…what? That sadness never resolved itself. Her death did, somehow, but not the chaotic, unknowing, loving but never enough place that family brings us to. Probably, there is a great context that would somehow explain it away…but could it also be the intensity of the feeling that we are returned to? I think back, again and again, to days of blind wondering of my twenties, painful but also enchanted with feeling present at all times. I think of snow and of waiting for the train, of just pulling through sometimes, or drinking in all that New York had for us. Is it idealized? No. but there is a beauty…and I was reminded of running, at intermission, to see the little models of stage sets in theatrical lobbies. Seeing that other world so small and so visible was true magic to me. And, surely, it didn’t hold sadness, maybe just a little, as nothing was happening there and no music played. I was so taken by that magic that had to try it myself…it became other things. It wasn’t the same.
I digressed, though. Back to the artists. What I keep trying to say is, the lure for me is a strong feeling. Emotion is a tricky medium, as people feel that they mostly arrived there themselves and weren’t told when to cry. I know, I am struggling to make the connection between us all recognizing humanity and feeling personal stuff about some places or events that often weren’t all that significant. The emotion remains the same, the yearning reaching to connect and make impersonal personal. That’s where I see the artist, and have problems with the dismissal of nostalgia. Perhaps some view nostalgia as sentimental, and have issues with sentimentality? Which would also manifest in getting teary at someone else’s Grandma story. And yes, I fight it because I don’t like sentimentality and don’t want to be associated with that. While the search for conducting emotions can easily dump you off at some weepy bank.
I don’t know if any of this made any sense. To me, a miriad stories of nothing showed up, and missings of colors, weather, innocence…it is hard to tell them apart. I thought I’d be at peace with the whole nostalgic business. Instead, it dragged eternity with it, the mobius of stuff started or continued by us, made by others but had a part of us in it, and so on. Well. Melancholia overall is a powerful medium and makes us see sadness as pleasure. Perhaps through the nostalgic we feed the need for the sadness…to experience it along with the lightest of light.
Today turned out to be quite a lovely day. Not unlikely related to a chocolate binge last night…
In the morning, busy with the soup making and all the stuff I was ready to dive into, I almost felt aggravated by having to go to the jewelry class at 9:30…but not going just was not an option, so I ran to make it. It was not an easy one, with silly problems and having to stay a little longer to get everything done. But then, it was done and looked so nice, and I felt fantastic and full of energy. Just to show you…achievement is a gorgeous thing. Really amazing how it can turn your day around. And change your attitude toward your likes, dislikes and future plans. I want to learn EVERYTHING!
Yes, another week just went by. Amazingly, it is raining again and I hear loud splashy sounds coming from the big pot on the table behind me. It is quite mystifying since it really is not raining all that hard. Must be a big roof leak somewhere.
I have been reading a lot about Eva Hesse and really travelled in my head into the late 1960s, her dark Bowery loft, New York brimming with art, all the things I never knew about her and deep, profound sadness of irreversible damage and loss. I bought a book that was, while personal, still one about the artist (by Lucy Lippard) and then stumbled onto another (October Files) online that had a much more involved psychological perspective on her life and being who she was. Reading about her art as such, from various sources, is very inspiring and also pumping realness into thinking and creating art that has been occupying my mind lately. I resumed work on my wax pieces and have a few good sketches and then some thoughts I have to play with. It is really good to go back in time and steep for a while in a WHY of the emotionally driven artist. Also, female artists in the past few years fascinate me like never before…but oddly, from the old days, when the only way for them to make it was by their incredible drive and an unflinching belief in themselves.
Looks like it’s clearing up. Personally, I loved it. It wasn’t the kind of downpour that makes you worry about the ceiling sagging in before or a flood in the basement. Although I must admit, I watched a big rusty stain above where the printer used to be with a bit of suspicion, but aside from a few damp papers I left on the desk (yes, it does leak some) things were for the most part pretty quiet. It’s been drizzly and rained a little heavier at night. Most plants got what they needed, my last job prospect got cancelled and I just had this really special time with my waxes and ordering things online, as well as just taking care of some paperwork, making soup and trying to figure out what to do next .
On Saturday, we went to Westwood and saw Eva Hesse’s little paintings show at the Hammer.Spending time at the museum was lovely, though I noticed with astonishment that my head felt full just after seeing those paintings alone, or, at the very least after the sculpture show next door. They have a huge art bookstore there as well. All of that left me with many thoughts to ponder on, and finally inspired and ready to make stuff.
On Friday, I just started a jewelry class and so looked all over the internet at and for inspirations and supplies. Waxwise, I am happy to report that all the older pieces are either done or very close to it, and I worked on a new one today. I am still marveling at the volatile spirits of creativity. Of course, as soon as I started setting in with hopes for a productive week in the studio, work showed up. But I’m glad. Can’t wait to post the pictures…I haven’t written in a terribly long time, it’s good to change that.
Oh, I read and read and read and get lost in the lives, words and the weather of the pages. Something happened. Maybe it’s the spell of September, coating all and everything with this importance of simply being present, maybe it’s the random luck with the books I can’t stop buying and gobbling up…I don’t know. I haven’t been able to read like this in a very long time, laboriously searching for the fortunate winner to sustain my attention and love to see it through…and now I am drunk with the worlds of time and place, and raise my eyes to marvel at the beauty of all the people around, their froce and vulnerability, their stories and voices. How very strange!