potentially useful information, sketches say it all, things I love




gingerbread houses from years past…


a page from my journal…


a sketch of the farmers market…


from the Piazza San Marco, Venice…

There’s nothing thoughtful or orderly about this, just a stream of some photos I’ve been looking at. Quite like my thoughts – they’re all mostly random things I let percolate to the surface then string together and try and make sense of or bundle into some thread…

I’m thinking of somebody I met on my Europe trip named Robert who was/is quite an accomplished artist. He went to fight in the war in Iraq and lost his inspiration to create there. It breaks my heart to know that the world can do that to you, that the casualties of war run deeper and in ways you’ll never hear about on the news. People go fight knowing they’re potentially sacrificing their life, few know they might only just lose their heart or their passion even if their body comes home sound.

I think of him often, the kind words and encouragement he offered me as I sketched buildings and things to record my journey, telling me how much he liked my style and use of colors. As much as I enjoy drawing, rarely, if ever do I sketch that way at home. He saw a facet of me that really isn’t how I live – I’m all over the place, always. Mostly it’s thoughts about recipes, miscellaneous doodles as I’m thinking of something else. I purposely pick media I’m uncomfortable with and have no idea how to really work with; cooking is no exception. I wonder if I have a fear of accomplishment or mastery of anything, of getting to some point of thinking I have nothing left to learn about it, or that I’m somehow complacent with where I am, what I can do. I’m not sure why that should scare me. Maybe it’s something I need to try and outgrow so I can look at those skills as a building block for something better and bigger, as most people seem prone to do. Or perhaps I should just accept that my work will always be imperfect, unfinished, experimental.

I’m not sure what any of this has to do with Robert. Maybe it’s thinking that what inspires me most isn’t expressing anything, it’s just seeing if I can figure things out. Or maybe it’s thinking deep down I’ve always had some bit of that creative void that he’s only now discovering, and being an ‘amateur’ at almost everything gives me an easy out. Sometimes when I think about trying to bring order to it or see use in it, I disappoint myself by knowing I haven’t been able to see it that way completely.

I’m thinking of Paris lately too. I grew weary of it after a few days alone at the end of my trip. It’s no particular fault of Paris, it’s simply a city much better suited to enjoying with companions. Paris revolves around a social orbit – cafes, eating, sipping wine, sight seeing – all of which seem a little strange when taken in as a solitary traveller. It wouldn’t be such a problem if Paris were in Austria I’m thinking, because making friends there is impeccably easy. A quick stop in a pub turned into many rounds of beers bought for me by locals, a round of apple schnapps on the house – a wristwatch from a drunk man sitting next to me… 4 hours later I finally was able to check in to my room… Paris, I later learned, is a place where one should never walk down the street making eye contact with strangers and offering random smiles, which is the way I normally stroll. It’s an indication that you’re not well in the head, or something close to crazy – a virtual guarantee that no one will sit near you in a cafe, sip wine with you, or see the sights…

Lately I’ve had strange and redeeming dreams of my Parisian experience. I went there, wanted to be there, mostly because I was intrigued by the food and notions of it being such a romantic and sophisticated place. It was all of that, but it’s not what held my interest as the days went on, certainly not the thing that wakes me at night. I’m intrigued, utterly by the order of it. The strange and organic spiral of arrondissements that define the ‘neighborhoods’. Mostly though, what I love and can’t get out of my head about Paris is the Metro. It’s a strange mosaic of lines that are defined simply by their endpoints. Créteil to Balard, for example. Further clarified, of course by a color – a sort of lilac hue for this one – and a number – ‘8’. The lines don’t actually go straight between end points – they zig and zag – this one takes detours by going north of Seine, out near Gare de l’Est (without actually going there) and then skips back down…


I love this because I’m completely naive about its origins or the logic of it. I simply look at this and marvel at the seeming arbitrary connection of endpoints and all the other stops along the way. It’s brilliant and easy to use – everything, everywhere in Paris is connected in a matter of 15 minutes it seems – even with having to change a train or two – which connect at points that intersect at random places going different directions yet again…

I love this, I know, because it makes me look at life so much differently. It’s the perfect metaphor for it – life is just like the Paris metro – a strange mosaic of experiences, times, places and things that make up who you are. You can connect any points you want and make them into whatever you want. No one thing defines you or makes you everything that you are.

It makes me realize sometimes that the worst thing anyone can do when it comes to creativity or inspiration is to be too sensible about any of it. It doesn’t matter why anything connects or relates at any particular moment. Sometimes it just does and it all works so brilliantly. And when it doesn’t you can get off at one stop and head in a different direction on a different line. Eventually you get there.


2 thoughts on “…mosaics…

  1. …you are creatively wonderful and ever so special!

    Posted by angie | December 9, 2012, 12:53 pm

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