Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Favorite Photo: me at 15

This picture was taken by my high-school boyfriend in his backyard. It was September 1970, so I was almost 16. I remember it being one of a series of photos, but this is the only one I have, and it's definitely one of my favorites - such a silly pose, but a happy time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Today is the birthday of Colette, the french novelist. She was born on January 28, 1873, and died on August 3, 1954.

I discovered her novel, The Vagabond, when I was in my early 20s and became a great admirer of her writing and her life. The heroine of The Vagabond is a creative, independent woman who'd rather be on the road with a music-hall troupe than stuck in a dull marriage.

Early in her career Colette was a controversial stage performer. She had both male and female lovers, and wrote more than 50 novels, many of them autobiographical, including Gigi and Cheri. Her poetic prose led her to become a national icon in France and she recieved a state funeral when she died. "What a wonderful life I've had," she said. "I only wish I'd realized it sooner!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The view from my window

The view from my window is not too inspiring, and I'm not feeling too inspired these days either. Which probably has something to do with it being the middle of winter.

It's too cold to go out and shoot photos, and writing just seems like a chore.

Here's my desk. As you can see I have a nice cup of hot tea and I'm about to play another game of spider solitaire.

My most recent accomplishment was organizing all my "to do" lists.

I listed each category of "to do" in order of importance on brightly colored sticky sheets and displayed them prominently next to my desk.

There is even a list (the purple one) for "blog ideas."

Making "to do" lists always gives me a feeling of calm - a feeling that things are under control. Lists make the things I need to do seem manageable. Doable. Not to mention that making lists is a great thing to do instead of actually doing the things you're making lists of.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm seeing faces

I keep thinking I see people I know when I'm out and about these days, which isn't likely since I don't know anyone around here.

I think I see people I used to know in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. And I'm always very briefly glad to see whoever I think it is, even if it's someone I don't particularly care for.

This is odd. Especially since I've been known to do a U-turn in a grocery aisle in order to avoid running into someone I know.

Not that I'm unfriendly, I just hate the inane chit-chat one must engage in during such situations. Especially when you're not at your best, in a hurry, or simply content to be alone with your own thoughts.

So why am I so glad when I think I see a familiar face these days? This false recognition is very brief, but also very enjoyable. Is this evidence of some sort of need to see familiar faces? Is my brain seeking them out?

Since I've been taking photos of found abstracts the last few years I've found a lot of faces, too. And I've recently learned this phenomenon of finding faces, or familiar shapes, is called pareidolia.

Examples of pareidolia include seeing images in clouds, the man in the moon, the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, or even this happy guy who I call Mr. Slice. He came out of the loaf like this!

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Education

I finally went to see An Education yesterday - a film I've been wanting to see for months - and I'm so glad I did. I won't be surprised if it turns out to be one of the best films of the year.

Based on a coming-of-age memoir set in 1961 London, it tells the story of 16 year-old Jenny, a bright girl headed to Oxford, who falls for a charming older man. He brings romance, sophistication, and fun into her dull life, causing her to question the value of academics.

This naturally leads to disillusion and a broken heart, but the story of this journey is superbly told, with wonderful period details, great music, and an incredibly good young actress. Jenny is played by Carey Mulligan, a name I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more of.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A death in the arts

I was shocked and saddened yesterday when I heard the news that the Whole Art Theater Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan has dissolved as a non-profit organization.

I was the managing director of this theater for two years (2001-2003) and it has always held a fond place in my heart. Even after I left the job and moved away I thought of Whole Art as my little theater, having seen it though a tough time.

According to the official email, Whole Art has closed due to economic hardships, but something tells me that's not the whole story. And what a shame. This was a "cutting edge" theater company, in existence since the 1970s, that had managed to grow, evolve, and consistently draw an audience in a small, Midwestern town.

During the last several years the theater had expanded into two venue's: the old storefront space that I had managed, and also a modern black box theater in an arts center. I'm glad to know there are plans to continue using the storefront space as a venue for improv and spoken word events, though I wonder how long this will last.

I took this picture of the front door of the old Whole Art space in the Fall of 2001. It was a funky little place with a lot of heart and soul, and I loved it.

The floors creaked, the ceiling leaked, and the theater seats were mismatched. Actors prepared in a small musty basement, the "office" was a room built out of flats in a corner of the lobby, and there was no technical staff. But those sure were the days.

I wasn't too thrilled at the time about the high stress and the low pay, but leaving Whole Art is the one of the biggest regrets of my life. And I sure am sorry to know its life as a theater company has come to an end.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A year of books and movies

Last year I saw 30 movies and read 19 books. I know this because of the list I kept on this blog - the first time I've ever kept such a list.

It's fun to look back, and I'm sorry I haven't always made movie and book lists. It would be interesting to look back on what I read and saw ten or twenty years ago; much of which I'm sure I've forgotten.

I'm surprised to know I saw 30 movies. That seems like a lot, and I didn't even count movies I saw on TV - only those I saw at the theater, or rented. And I regret that so many of these were movies I could have skipped. But some of them were great. I especially enjoyed The Visitor, Frozen River, Iris, Up , and Julie & Julia.

My favorite book of the year was Wonderful Town - New York Stories From The New Yorker. This is a collection of stories set in Manhattan that appeared in the New Yorker from the 1930s -1990s - though not in chronological order.

I was both inspired and entertained by these stories, written by some of the best writers of the last century, including James Thurber, John Cheever, Susan Sontag, Phillip Roth, Dorothy Parker, Jeffrey Eugenides, etc. etc.

Another great book I read this year is the graphic novel, Stitches, by David Small. He's an author and illustrator of many children's books, but this is a memoir of his dysfunctional family and his childhood experience with cancer.
It's dark, but compelling. And, as with other graphic novels I've enjoyed, the artwork is a fascinating companion to the story.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


BB and I got this fancy new Scrabble board for Christmas. I thought I might miss our old traditional board with it's brown wood tiles and wood tile racks, but I've quickly become fond of the way this new board swivels so smoothly and how snuggly the tiles fit in their spaces.

This is a photo of our first game on the new board. We've been on quite a Scrabble kick since the new year, and we've had some especially challenging, competitive games.

BB has been reading a book about the world of Scrabble tournaments, studying the official Scrabble dictionary, and browsing Scrabble sites online. As a result she's been kicking my butt.

During our last game she used the word haji, even though she didn't know what it meant. Which I don't think is fair. She's also learned that Ka, Xu, and Hm are acceptable! Who knew that?!