THE TENTH YEAR
The Thin Edge of the Wedge

APLOMB

 Your beautiful and generous messages on the last post went straight to my heart. I can't help myself: writing is what I do. So I welcome the second decade (how strange does that sound?) of blogging. Bring it on interwebs, bring it on!

 

 

 

 

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Sunday morning and the nine o'clock church bells are muffled in the fog that  drips from every branch. They do not wake me, as we've been up since six, awakened by the sounds of a large vehicle outside the house, along with clanking, and loud voices. It was as black as midnight and I assumed it just was our fireman neighbor getting a lift home on a hook and ladder. When the noise didn't stop, I was loathe to get out of bed but just when I put my feet on the cold floor, the doorbell rang, turning the noise from an annoyance into an alarm.

Oh lordie, I thought, maybe someone hit our car -  and then in a flash, I remembered. "Peapod! It's Peapod!"  On Friday night, I had tried to place a grocery delivery for today but the only slot left was from 6 to 8 - in the morning. We are usually up by 7 with the dogs and the last time I ordered, they didn't show up until after 8:00 anyway, so I reserved the slot without

Now that I'm thinking of it, though, that last order was the Sunday before Christmas. This weekend, it appears, they are not only on time but early as the clock says  5:56 when the doorbell rings. Mr. Pom and I run around the room like cartoon figures, grabbing at pants and shoes in the dark while I mindlessly call out, "Peapod! Peapod!" to assure him we weren't being robbed.

He ran down the stairs without any discussion as to who would open the door. (Men can pull off just out of bed deshabille much better than women due to short hair, fleece pajama pants, and t-shirts. I on the other hand, have Einstein-style hair, no bra, and no intention of going downstairs. He is such a good man.)

After they left,  accusations flew around to the likes of never do this again, how could you forget, and for god's sake can we ever sleep in? Sigh. It did not help the matter when I confessed that on Friday night I had ordered  just the minimum amount to reserve the delivery slot, with full intention to go back online Saturday to round out the order. Saturday came and went with a quick coffee trip to the city, and intense artmarking all afternoon, capped off by a sudden onset of a stomach virus that had me in bed at seven. So not only were we dragged out of bed in the dark, we still had a trip to the grocery store ahead to round out the week's needs. (On the bright side, it took us only a few minutes to put the groceries away.)

And such is life. Even when blissfully asleep, life intrudes. Sometimes we handle  these intrusions with aplomb, and sometimes we do it half-arsed. Sometimes we show up, like Mr. Pom, with 2 differently colored shoes on. But we still have to answer the door.

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Aplomb.

What a wonderful word. My word for 2013.

 

From dictionary.com:

 

a·plomb

[uh-plom, uh-pluhm] Show IPA
noun
1.
imperturbable self-possession, poise, or assurance.
2.
the perpendicular, or vertical, position.
Origin:
1820–30;  < French à plomb  according to the plummet, i.e., straight up and down, vertical position

Synonyms
1. composure, equanimity, imperturbability.

Antonyms
1. confusion, discomposure; doubt, uncertainty.
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I shall remain poised, assured, imperturbable and not be confused, or doubt, and riddled with uncertainty this year. No matter what is thrown at us. I shall be like The Lilies In The Field. (I love that aplomb basically means "plumb". And it explains so much as nothing in my life is ever in a straight line!)
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Here's  the creativity tie-in: I've had an art project I've been working on since late October. I've been done it in spurts followed by long lags while life whipped me around in a whirlwind of mourning, holiday, and work. It's now due, due, overdue. Half done, half a mess, half scribbled notes, half on the floor, half camera ready. As I go back to bed for a little more rest after putting away groceries, blessing the dogs that they haven't made a whimper in their crates, thankful that my stomach has taken a breather from the pains and rumblings of last night, I think of the pages I have left to do.
I go online and surf a few favorite artists. I groan at how my work looks in relation to theirs'. I wish I had another month to make it perfect, to allow me to sketch, draw, paint, then collage and produce the images I have in my mind. I had so many ideas and dreams of how this would all come together in a velvety smooth blend  of hand-lettering, watercolors, and collage made only of vintage, primary-source material. Oh, and my writing shall be the most perfect expressed of distilled memories of a special time and place.
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Well, girlfriend, it is what it is. It is the best I have to give right now. And you know what? It's pretty damn good. Why? Not because I'm happy with not "doing my best". But because sometimes it is "doing my best"  that stops me from Doing Anything.
I had that epiphany this morning while the fog condensed into fat droplets that hung like crystals from the birch tree outside my window.  When I switched on the Ott light in the art room, surveyed the litter of paper snips, empty glue sticks, ephemera, scissors, pens, and quotes that covered my table top and floor beneath, I wrinkled my nose at the mess I always make when I am in the midst of it. Is everyone as messy as I am? 
Ignoring the chaos, I picked up my little gold "stork" scissors and snipped away at a rounded corner of a huge oversized cardstock tag. I cut out a Santa hat for a postcard Elvis. I ripped into strips a page out of a 1950's recipe book and glue-sticked it as a border on the tag.  Then I went back to bed with the tag and a white pen and wrote out my memories of surviving our first Christmas in the South, far from family, far from the ingredients and food that "made" Christmas for us.
As I reflected on the art of improvising, of adapting, and of creating a new life that resembles what we  left behind and reinvents a better new one, I understood, finally, that my life reflects my artwork.  In the life I've shared with Mr. Pom, we both have had the same impulsive, make do, make decisions attitude. We've been rash at times; we've veered from what everyone thinks we should do at times; and we've lived wtih the consequences at times.
But if we had waited and waited and waited until the Right Thing came along, we'd still be waiting. We have in fact learned that life is rich and lean and spare and full and austere and abundant. There's so much we wish we had. So much we want to do.  But, dammit, so much we have done, so much we do have.

If I wait until my art is perfect, I won't make any art. Under my curent life circumstances, if I wait to create the perfect artist book that showcases my best writing and my best art, that incorporates my highest thoughts, perfect hand-lettering,  delicate sketching, and vibrant, innovative painting and collage, it will remain forevermore just a picture perfect cartoon in my head.
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Instead of constantly outlining, note-taking, journal sketching, and research, sometimes you just have to start.
Instead of waiting for life to change.
Instead of waiting for the lottery so you can be a full time artist.
Instead of waiting for the perfect studio space.
Instead of waiting for when you will suddenly acquire the art skills you think you will somehow miraculously acquire.
Instead of being afraid.
And in starting, comes the doing; in the doing comes the building of one idea onto another. In the building comes the slow accretion of skills that transform into a strong foundation. It won't look like what you have in your head. But eventually, it will look better.
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Don't be afraid of giving yourself the time to make a mess.We are all so afraid of Wasting Time. I know that we have all been brainwashed to believe that preparation, scheduling, outlining, and planning is the way to live our lives in this modern, frantic world. And I know that it just doesn't always work that way.
Just sit at the table. Pick up a scissor. Grab a piece of expensive Italian handwritten ledger paper from 1865 and Cut. It. Up. Right now. (You know you have it or the equivalent in your secret stash.)  Cut. It. Up. Without knowing what the heck to do with it. Get a glue stick, a piece of colored cardstock, a photograph, a crayon, pastel, watercolor pencil, rubber stamp, glitter, or whatever is in arm's reach.
Have fun today. Play. Glitter. Glue. Stick. Repeat again as needed.
I have to go.  I have pages and pages to go before I sleep, so it's time to get out of bed. Again.
Tell me what you have to play with today.
And come to Nashville for Art Is You where we will play together and create your own The Art of Food artist book about your Proustian food memories. You'll get to use all the fun stuff you've been hoarding: washi tape; vintage ephemera; glitter; acrylics; stamps; inks; pens; and more!!

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