Thursday, January 31, 2008

gorgeous colors and patterns!

i totally love the new spring fabrics in IKEA. i was there yesterday and took these pictures of the displays. bought 5 meters of the top two. those stylized, colorful trees are so much fun! the cheerful, color pattern of the second one makes me smile! i'm going to use them in the writing house where they will no doubt promote feelings of well-being and stimulate creativity.

creative goals

Goal 1: make a bunch of cool art stuff. set up etsy site and sell it. by end of april.
Goal 2: submit an article to an airline magazine. by end of april.
Goal 3: retain creativity, even when i start my new job.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

charming bees

"Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras....and we become monuments to them." --as usual, Liz Gilbert, in Eat, Pray, Love

as i feel a drive to write and express myself in words, it's strange that the phrase above resonates with me the way it does. or maybe not, because it does state that all the pain, but also all the joy is caused by words. it is true that our words define our experience...even when bad things happen to me, in the core of my being, i know that i will be ok...the words i say to myself in my innermost self never doubt that for a moment. it's part of leading a so-called charmed life, or being, as someone said in macedonia (quoting fried green tomatoes, i believe..), that i'm a beecharmer. if i'm honest, sometimes i royally piss off the bees, but there are a lot of bees in my life that have been charmed. more bees charmed than pissed off. and if i really look at the ones i piss off, there is some intention and purpose in it on my part, even if only in my subconscious. it's because i know that it will force something to happen. something which will result in a change for the better. and it has proven true every time.

so what is my inner mantra? other than "win or don't come home." actually, maybe it IS "win or don't come home..." and it's actually served me well, as harsh as it sounds at times. because it's why that inner voice never doubts that i am headed for something better. and every time, i AM headed for something better. my inner fatalist presbyterian, who somewhere in her core, believes that everything of significance that she will do in her life is written down in a big book by the hand of god (or what/whoever s/he is), never lets me down. she's actually the bee charmer. and when the going gets rough, i'm SOoooo glad she's there, charming the hell out of those bees.

Monday, January 28, 2008

patience, patience

the printer is regionalized and up and running at last. it's time to start printing pix so i can start scrapping! i've been looking at websites, gathering inspiration for over a week now and i want to get started. i was stymied when i got home today by a monster headache, but now it's gone and i'm ready! except that i have to get up early and go to oslo. and i have to be dressed in the hugo boss and fresh and ready to go, all sparkling and fabulous. so no staying up late, gluing bits of paper together. it will all wait and be there when i get back. maybe the main lesson i'm supposed to learn here is patience!

Friday, January 25, 2008

7-year-old sophisticate

we just got back from sabin's birthday dinner. we told her she could pick the restaurant we went to and have whatever she wanted. without hesitation, she said, "sushi." i love that kid. so, we went to sticks 'n sushi.

during dinner conversation, she asked, "what's the difference between princeton and berkeley?" bear in mind that she's turning 7.

are we doing things right or wrong? i can't help but be proud of what a neat kid she is. at 7.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

to do list update

stuff that's done is marked in red...partially done is marked in blue...stuff there's excuses for is marked in purple

  1. figure out how to personalize my blog template.
  2. make a zillion cupcakes to take to school for sabin's birthday.
  3. shop for sabin's birthday.
  4. take husband's bike to be fixed.
  5. bead shop.
  6. learn to knit.
  7. put some paint on that big canvas.
  8. make progress in the upstairs bedroom.
  9. cook something delicious.
  10. create. create. create.
  11. go swimming.
  12. go running at least 3x.
  13. discover some new music.
  14. finish the little corner at the top of the stairs.
  15. make a hair appointment

as you can see, pretty good progress and there's still a couple of days left to this week. haven't been running or swimming because i'm battling a head cold and didn't think that it would be done any favors by a.) sweating out in the cold or b.) running around with a wet head. plus, i was afraid of running into the swimming pool nazi at the pool. a sauna would have been nice tho'. there's still time for me make a hair appointment. and put some paint on that canvas, even tho' i have to miss my lesson tomorrow because i'm taking cupcakes to sabin's school.

what's interesting (to me) about this list is that i didn't put anything on it that i'd already done so that i could check it off right away. i used to always do that, back in my old, hectic life, so that i didn't feel that i was already behind before i even started. i must no longer feel a need for that, which must mean that i'm healing. and becoming a normal person again. what a relief!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

i can't stop listening to...

..Yael Naim's New Soul, that great song used in the new Macbook Air ad:

I'm a new soul I came to this strange world hoping I could learn a bit about how to give and take. But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear finding myself making every possible mistake.


it's a lovely combination of lyrics, Yael's voice and a brass band. the brass band is quite unexpected in pop music today and adds a pleasant element of nostalgia, without crossing into kitsch. her accent is charming. in all, i can listen to it again and again. it's a song of self-forgiveness and of trying to find one's way in the world, even tho' we make mistakes all along the way. it captures some of the ways in which the world is bewildering, at the same time as you have to have a sense of wonder of it all. sometimes a song just captures the mood of a certain period and this is definitely my song of the moment.

This is a happy end cause' you don't understand everything you have done why's everything so wrong.

This is a happy end come and give me your hand I'll take you far away.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the color in my life

after going over to the dark side over the past year and wearing black and grey all the time, i find that whenever i wander past any store that has a colorful display, i am totally drawn to it.

today, it was a lovely little yarn shop on klosterstræde in copenhagen--bette design. i took this picture of the gorgeous yarn on display there. and the woman who runs the shop was lovely. friendly, kind, ok that we were just beginners. so encouraging and positive and full of good advice.

i bought a gorgeous ball of rainbow yarn that i'm going to turn into scarf as my first project. she had one in the window and advised that it would make a great first project and it would give me confidence to move to the more difficult "swiss cheese" scarf draped on the mannequin next to it. also in rainbow yarn, but only in the blue and green hues. i think it will be wonderful, working with such gorgeous materials--the softness of the yarn and the richness of the colors. i can't wait to see it begin to take shape on my #5 knitting needles! monica, can you cast on for me!!! now, now, NOW!!!

the queen of multi-tasking

sabin made dinner this evening from her children's cookbook (thank you, kevin woodford for planet cook!). here she is, assembling the risotto pandas. they had mushroom ears, eyes and mouths and were hiding behind asparagus "bamboo." they were precious and the creamy risotto, laced with pine nuts, was DELICIOUS!

big bravo to sabin for being a great little chef in the making. in between stirring more chicken broth into the risotto and tending the mushrooms, she had a stamping project going on. talk about multi-tasking! i could seriously learn so much from this child and the way she embraces life. she lives fully in every moment, making the most of all of them. at one point, she even had aunt monica casting on a new knitting project for her on the #5 needles. she's knitting a scarf for her build-a-bear. what a kid! we must be doing something right! but, i don't even feel i can take any credit, i just stand by in awe and hope some of it rubs off on me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

boundless spirit of creativity

i so admire sabin's ability to throw herself into a creative project (here's a picture of what she made). this evening, i got out all of the paper and stamping and scrapbooking materials in order to make a new banner for my blog. sabin pulled up a chair right beside me and dug in straight away, asking me for bits of this and that paper and "mommy, can i try this gold leaf stuff" and "shouldn't i use some of that japanese paper for a sun" and "i can cut it so it looks like grass, mommy." and then she was so mad at me, because i sat there with all of the papers and bits strewn out in front of me, paralyzed in the face of creativity, as usual. "mom, you're not inspired to paint, not inspired to make anything."

but she's wrong about that. i am inspired, i'm just blocked. perhaps afraid. perhaps paralyzed by being in a very non-creative place for the past three years. maybe i'm just stifled and need to break out. and i am breaking out. but for some reason, i need peace and tranquilty in order to settle in and do it. i need quiet in my head before the bits of paper or the paints speak to me. all of the things that have been whirling in my head for, especially the past year, are the polar opposite of peace and creativity. i'm beginning to be back in a place where i can be creative and settle back into myself, but it takes time and it only comes back incrementally, a step at a time and sometimes i'm the only one who can see those steps.

but, i vow to appreciate sabin's ability to jump in head first. if i can give her that and help her keep it, i will have done right by her. and if i can learn from it, even better. and embrace it and eventually, maybe a month or so from now, be able to do it myself. abandon myself to the creative process, let the paint sing on the canvas, let the bits of paper fly and land in meaningful arrangement on the page, realize some of the pictures in my head--pictures involving bits of driftwood, beads, rocks, wires, vibrant colors and meaningful words. even if only meaningful to me, because they help me find my way back to myself and represent the healing of my soul and perhaps bring a bit of beauty to the world along the way. and maybe i'll even have sabin to thank for it. i am so grateful for her boundless spirit of creativity. i will tell her tomorrow morning when she wakes up how very much i cherish and admire it.

to do this week

  1. figure out how to personalize my blog template.
  2. make a zillion cupcakes to take to school for sabin's birthday.
  3. shop for sabin's birthday.
  4. take husband's bike to be fixed.
  5. bead shop.
  6. learn to knit.
  7. put some paint on that big canvas.
  8. make progress in the upstairs bedroom.
  9. cook something delicious.
  10. create. create. create.
  11. go swimming.
  12. go running at least 3x.
  13. discover some new music.
  14. finish the little corner at the top of the stairs.
  15. make a hair appointment.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

i can't hear myself think

sometimes, it's the little things that just get me totally torqued off (to use an expression i haven't used or heard since the 80s). like small people using my brand new, bright, colorful dishcloths to wash the car (which hasn't been washed in about six years). and the child and her friend blowing up 600 balloons and sticking them to the walls of her room with static from their hair (admittedly, that one's pretty amusing). this damn computer trying to have bluetooth sex with every other bluetooth device nearby (how DO you turn that off?!). when limewire can't find enough sources. a zillion and one little annoyances. some rather amusing in isolation, but when added together, SOooo annoying!!! and so noisy. i can't hear myself think.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

pizza emergency

sometimes when you cook, it just goes wrong. admittedly, it doesn't happen often, but tonight, when i made "lomo con leche" from the moro cookbook, it went wrong. the pork tenderloin (normally difficult to ruin) went all grey and tough. the milk curdled. it was supposed to turn into carmelized nuggets, but it was far from that. more like vaguely cinnamon-scented cottage cheese. warm. yuck. we were forced to order a pizza. it will no doubt be delicious. oh well. live and learn.

Friday, January 18, 2008


i did it! today at my painting lesson, i painted!!! i covered a canvas in paint. it's the one i began at the first lesson...modeled loosely on the kandinsky, a sort of a fish-like creature. i surrounded it with shades of turquoise water today. i also gave it some purple-tones and got rid of some yellow that wasn't working. i felt a faint glimmer of the feeling real painters must have, when the whole canvas is moving with the linseed oil and the pigments. i was almost, but not quite in the zone. but i could SEE the zone from where i stood, even if i didn't quite get there. and it felt like a real breakthrough.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

what IS your dosha?

toying with the notion of doing a detox and stumbled across some information about ayurvedic diets. there are apparently three types one can be in body and mind and you should eat according to your type. i just took a quiz on and found out that i am "pitta." it's a pity i don't really know what that means. but i feel a sneaking suspicion that i'm eating and behaving totally wrong for my dosha. which is probably why i need to do the detox. the dosha site led me to another site on "primordial sound meditation: finding the calm in an ever changing world." now there's something i could use! probably i would feel much more calm if i were eating according to my dosha. i just hope my dosha likes to curl up with a good book and a nice glass of wine in the evening...

sources of inspiration

as i've struggled with my blank canvas (which is currently still blank, by the way) the past few days, i have been seeking sources of inspiration and thinking about what it is that does inspire me. it's things like:

  1. colors--rich oranges and reds or deep turquoises and teals.

  2. textures--like indian or moroccan or turkish textiles.

  3. traveling--memories of the quality of the air and the light of the sunset over the agean with a plate of icy, cold melon and a glass of chilled white wine in front of me.

  4. patterns--mosaics at a ruin, the lamps in the grand bazaar in istanbul.

  5. hand-crafted items incorporating colorful beads or driftwood.

  6. maps.

  7. icons. or paintings that in some sense pay homage to icons.

  8. symbols.

  9. rocks that have been rolled smooth by the waves.

  10. music. at the moment, chick rock that borders on folk and a bit of jazz. (yael naim, feist, leona naess, regina spektor, kate nash).

  11. helleristninger (nordic petroglyphs).

  12. ancient graffiti.

lamps in the grand bazaar in istanbul

contemporary rug design in the grand bazaar in istanbul

a mosaic at stobi in central macedonia

design blogs

i'm looking at a lot of design blogs. there are a LOT of them out there and what they share, for the most part, is great, inspiring photography, so i feel a bit like my blog now looks very boring. however, i'm here to remedy that. this picture was taken by me in the grand bazaar in istanbul last summer. i adore the colors and the lighting and the way it transports me back there when i look at it. it inspires me and i want to have something similar in my writing house when it's finished this summer. and in fact, when i was in cape town in november, i bought a bunch of beads for it in a wonderful bead store. i can't wait to put them together and begin to decorate my writing house.

pavlovian response

i was on the train today for pretty much the first time this month. on my way home, although i'd been in having lunch with a friend and doing a bit of leisurely shopping and then having tea in a tea house, in all, RELAXING, i got a strange bone-tiredness on the train on the way home. it hit me that it was a pavlovian response. a residue of how tired i've felt coming home on the train over the past year. my body just instinctively reacted in that way when it found itself on the train at the end of the day. i had to actually talk myself out of the tired feeling, as there was no way i could have felt tired after the leisurely afternoon i'd had. i hope it passes, as i'd like to be able to ride the train again like a normal person!


the new apple macbook air. heaven. and they used yet another GREAT song by an obscure artist in their ad. apple simply rocks. and this soul by yael naim. she's apparently tunisian, tho' when i heard the ad, i guessed icelandic. something about her "r's." apple is just light years ahead of everyone else on the design and coolness front. thinnovation indeed...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

an encounter with the authentic

on saturday, we went out to an antique place on the edge of a tiny village nearby where we hadn't been in about 5 years. it had been so long, we weren't sure it was still there. it had always been more of a furniture repair workshop than an antique place anyway, so we drove on in, despite the lack of signs on the road. it was still there and the same man with the same attachment for each piece of furniture was still the owner. he is a very special character. tall, unkempt hair, a bit stooped in the shoulders, with bits of varnish on his rough, workman's hands. it's clear from the bits of drawers held together with clamps and small wood shavings here and there, that he is a real craftsman. we were after a chest of drawers for a strange, nearly unusable space at the top of the stairs. as he showed us the various chests he had, he lovingly stroked their wood surfaces, seeing their characters with his hands. i had a sense that he could, with a stroke of his hand, call forth the stories of what they'd seen in the homes they'd stood in. there was one that was the perfect size and height for our space and we asked him a price. it took him nearly 5 minutes to respond, during which he waxed philosophical on how well-made furniture was in the 1920s. i wasn't sure he was ever going to name a price, it was clear that it would be like selling his baby to him. he did finally name a price and we immediately agreed. but we couldn't take the chest immediately, he wanted to give the top of it one more sanding and a coat of wax. so he will deliver it to us this week.

in a world where people today often seem to only skim the surface and to never show their real selves, it felt like an enounter with a very real, authentic person. one comfortable in his obsessions and unafraid to show them and to lose himself in them, right there, in front of others. a person with a real feel for his craft and a love for the objects he works on. it was so clear that he could feel the life in the wood, although the trees had been cut down years before and fashioned into desks and tables and chests of drawers. it made buying the chest from him something special and it will be special object in our home, rather than a simple storage unit, because of his ability to show us that there are stories there within the wood. he did it all with a touch of a loving hand, rather than actually telling any stories. but thanks to that caress, we are able to hear the whispers of the stories that are there within the object. his authenticity lent an authenticity to the chest of drawers that makes it worth much more than the price we paid.

he has another old set of drawers from a shop--12 big, deep drawers and 9 small ones--that we want to buy for our kitchen, to use as an island, rather than buying some soulless thing from a kitchen shop. we came home and measured and want to make it work, no matter what. i think we both feel that such an object, full of stories and lovingly restored by the authentic furniture man will create just the atmosphere we're looking where the stories of the past are there, within the object and we layer on our own stories, as we live our lives with the furniture in our midst.

Monday, January 14, 2008

the wisdom of a child

sabin is mystified as to why i don't just paint on my big canvas that's staring at me from the easel in the kitchen. i've tried to explain that i need to find inspiration before i can begin. she said this morning that when she paints, she only has a "tiny miney" picture in her mind when she begins and then, once she starts, the rest comes. wisdom from the almost-7-year-old. and she's probably spot on.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

dogme kassen

i'm feeling virtuous for changing our årstiderne subscription from the monstermix to the dogme kasse. that means locally-produced organic veg. and in january, it seems that it means root vegetables. carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, beets, one of those big ugly knobby celery things (i'm really not fond of those), a smattering of onions and a cabbage. i made a parsley-flecked potato/turnip/garlic mash with it last night to go with nigel slater's coq au reisling. it was warming and delicious on a wintry january evening. tonight, more comfort food--from tamasin's weekend food--cabbage in the troo style. it's a good use of cabbage. and pork mince. both produced locally. leaving me feeling positively virtuous.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

painter's block

i bought a large canvas yesterday. 80x80. it's standing in the kitchen on a large easel, staring at me with its white blankness. the ideas tumble in my head...but mostly they are ideas of colors and of fastening bits of wire, beads and some of those rocks with holes in them that i've long been gathering on the beaches of the world. i think i just need to begin already! what's holding me back? why do i feel so cramped about this painting thing? it's like there is a wall of some kind inside me, preventing me from diving in and doing this. why is that? and how can i get rid of it? is there such a thing as painter's block? how can i have it when i'm not not even really a painter yet? arrgh!!! sabin keeps asking why i don't just paint and i can't really answer the question. but i can't paint either...

Friday, January 11, 2008

constricted freedom

i learned a number of lessons at the painting course:

  1. it's impossible to immediately make the leap from denmark's most uptight environment to a painting studio on a collective. one will inevitably retain some of the uptightness.
  2. the sort of concentration i've been doing over the past, at least 3 years, is a very different kind of concentration than one needs to paint.
  3. a painting studio is not an outlook-run environment. this is a good thing, but it takes getting used to.
  4. you cannot tell anything about anyone just by looking at them.
  5. i must wear clothes that promote a sense of freedom.
  6. the hazy ideas in my head are difficult to wrestle to the canvas.
  7. the music that's playing while you paint is important.
  8. need bigger canvases.

the other students were quite a collection of characters:

  1. an older man, very quiet, very contained and a totally awesome painter.
  2. a crazy, middle-aged chubby lady, also an awesome painter, but painting with her hands, very boldly and with awesome colors. paint all over her shirt and pants, hair all up rather crazily. clearly able to hear the music of the paint and move it around the canvas with a deliberation and freedom that i envy.
  3. three old ladies who are clearly old friends, all 3 new to painting, but each very good in their own way.
  4. a lovely woman from the faroe islands who is painstakingly painting the cliffs of the faroe islands in hues of purple and grey.
  5. a 50-ish woman with an expensive haircut, painting with acrylics and a scraper on metal.

the teacher is, of course, a painter himself. dutch. been in denmark for 20 years. a charming character. very much a spirit of '68 type, with freedom to do whatever, there are no rules. he played pink floyd. that was cool.

next time, i will dress in clothes that can get paint on them and take a larger canvas. i will open up. of this i am sure. it will just take time.

imagining a painting

today i start a painting course. like with oil paints and turpentine and canvases. already, i am imagining what i will do. i said aloud yesterday that i was imagining a multi-media canvas. due to my known deep and abiding love for iPods, those who heard this immediately imagined that i would fix one or more iPods to a canvas, paint them bright pink and make sure there was a way to plug it all in. i hadn't really thought about that, but they may be onto something, instead, i have hazy pictures in my head (they haven't jelled yet) of bits of driftwood, knitted or felt decoration and beads on the canvas together with vibrant, lively colors. there are textures and combinations of the natural and the manufactured. the painting somehow addresses the question of memory which so occupies me at the moment.

there's something so exciting and anticipatory about holding pictures in your brain of soon-to-be-born creative endeavors...i am almost loathe to try to wrestle them to the canvas, as then that feeling of anticipation will dissipate and i will undoubtedly on some level experience disappointment. for while it is still in imagination, anything is possible, and once it's there on the canvas, it's solidified. yet, at the same time, i can't wait to get started. i'm in the liminal space once again, on the threshhold of something and full of anticipation to see how it turns out...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

conscious consumption

yesterday, inspired by a couple of my recent cookbook purchases...paul cunningham's madjournal and nigel slater's kitchen diaries, i started a 2008 food journal. i'm noting down there what i've been cooking and the adjustments i've made to the recipes (i can never exactly follow a recipe, it's simply not in me). i'm looking forward to being much more conscious about food--being thoughtful about the ingredients that go in--choosing organic and locally grown whenever i can. cooking more in tune with the rhythm of the seasons, learning, really learning, when things are in season and at their peak. and using them then. no more buying tomatoes from soulless dutch greenhouses all winter long. they taste awful anyway!

i'm also noting in the journal how things turned out, how i felt while i was cooking, where the inspiration came from for the dish, who was there when we ate it. i just feel starved for a consciousness about food...for too long, i've been too busy to think about it or to enjoy cooking. and cooking has always been a relaxing, soul-nourishing activity for me, but that was another thing i lost when i was too busy over the past couple of years. i lost the consciousness of the activity itself--the act of cooking. i hope this new journal helps me regain that.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

of and by siblings

hilarious op-ed piece from the NYT by Elizabeth Gilbert & her older sister, Catherine Gilbert Murdock:

worth a read and worth thinking about writing something together with one's sister....


you can't pick up a newspaper or a magazine today without being hit over the head with report after report of how stressed everyone is. and now i found out that there's a name for it: affluenza.

affluenza: extreme materialism which is the impetus for accumulating wealth and for overconsumption of goods; also, feelings of guilt and isolation from the dysfunctional pursuit of wealth and goods. (

i would further add that the relentless pursuit of the perfect life--perfect career, perfect family, perfect friends, perfect holiday--is the problem. and is the main symptom of affluenza.

a british psychologist named Oliver James has written book about it and may have coined the term. amazon, here i come!

more musings on memory

...this time the musings come from an article from the Guardian:,,2235514,00.html

a good reminder of the way that literature has long been preoccupied with the nature of memory...which is probably why i am...


i feel a strange sense of melancholic longing...for a ruin. one of my favorites is stobi, in central macedonia. there is just something about walking among the ancient columns and crumbling walls during the heat of the day, with the hot wind blowing across my face. the wind brings with it a sense of the those rocks and columns have stood and will continue to stand long after i leave.

when i'm in a place like that, where it's quite deserted and one has it to oneself, i feel that if i listen carefully enough, i can hear the whispers of those who lived there. the echo of their footsteps and of their voices. the bustle of the activities of their lives. filling their jars at the communal fountain, praying in the temples, bathing in the baths. all of the flurry of activity that must have been a roman town in the first and second centuries. i feel all of that whispering there in the timeless winds and the relentless sun.

i feel the same about ruins in turkey...troy, pergamon, alexander troas, the athena temple perched high on a hillside overlooking the aegean, ephesus...i hear the whispers of those who were there and can very nearly feel their robes brush against me as they make their way past, i hear the roar of the crowd in the amphitheatre, i feel the wisdom of sophia gazing down on me. i long for that feeling right feel connected to the past and a part of something larger and more enduring....

staying afloat

"All of us swim in the one sea all our lives, trying to stay afloat as best we can, clinging to such lifelines and preservers as we might draw about us: reason and science, faith and religious practice, art and music and imagination," says Thomas Lynch in a book review of David Reiff's book on his mother, Susan Sontag, in a recent LA Times.

what life preserver(s) am i clinging to these days in the stormy sea that is my life? sleep. books. cooking. family. friends. a reawakening creativity. my belief in fate. an overwhelming feeling of being guided towards something better. sheryl crow. alanis morissette. regina spektor.

Monday, January 07, 2008

memory and forgetting

still working on those's a LOT of books we're talking about here. and i'm remembering so many things about who i was. i was a person who wrote a 32-page scholarly paper (that got an A, i might add) on madonna. for that purpose, i bought books called things like deconstructing madonna and the madonna connection and from hegel to madonna. it was quite fashionable in the mid-90s to write serious, scholarly cultural criticism on people like madonna at arizona state. there were elvis studies departments at major universities. ahh, those were the days. as i recall, my madonna paper was really more about me than her, but i digress...

i also was a person who read (and extensively underlined) slavoj zizek. he's still churning out books, one every 3-4 months, but i can't keep up anymore. i used to purposely feed my inner homicidal maniac with doses of dostoevsky. i read balkan history for fun. i paged through coffee table books on the world of art movement. i used to dream that i was alive and at my prime in 1913 (who knows, maybe i was...but that's a whole 'nother posting).

i was totally into postmodernism, but didn't agree with jameson that it was the cultural logic of late capitalism. i thought it grew more directly as a reaction to modernism and my explanation of how it came about had more to do with russian formalism than anything. ostranenie. making strange, now there's a word i haven't thought of in awhile. the constant search for the new...aren't we still doing that?

how could i have forgotten that person? lost touch with her? life clearly took me in another direction. and i don't regret it, but i do wonder how i've lived without her these past few years. but i am happy i can stroll down the memory lane of my bookshelves and get in touch with her again. because she's right there, within me, just waiting for me to pluck down baudrillard or bourdieu or kristeva or maybe even zizek from those shelves. better yet, how about some of that dostoevsky...

the tacit pleasure of the book

i spent the day today arranging books on the shelves upstairs...i really love working with books, it feels so wholesome and good. i love handling them, remembering them, and just gazing at them there on the shelf. they just make me feel very good somehow. many of them conjure up memories...of classes where i had to read them, of airports where i bought them and sat and read them for hours, of holidays where i carried them around in a backpack, of libraries where i made notes in the margins, of helping my father-in-law with his translations of his work on technolution (a field of study he invented and was the first professor of at lund university), of bookstores i wandered as i lovingly selected them. i love paging through and looking at what i've written in the margins or underlined or where i've put a little sticky note to mark a passage. it's like a flash of insight into who i was at the moment of previous reading. i surely wouldn't be that same reader if i reread the book today...i would underline new passages, as surely new things would speak to me. i even feel that way reading recipe books...i look at the recipes i marked in the past...totally dependent upon the mood of that day and very often i mark a whole new set of recipes as i go through. it's rather fascinating to think we can be one reader one day and another one the next.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

of organic lemons and plump chickens...

i just stuffed two lovely, plump chickens full of organic lemons and sage. why is that simple act so satisfying? it is especially satisfying as the delicious smells of the lemony, sagey chicken begin to waft from the direction of the oven. it's so nice getting back in touch with my inner cook. i've missed her!! and it seems that everyone else has as well...

Friday, January 04, 2008

identity regained

when you leave a job, you feel as if you are losing some part of your today's world, we so much ARE our jobs, they define us and consume us and our world revolves around them. so i was a bit sad, thinking about losing my identity, but already now, i realize i haven't lost who i am at all...but in fact, i'm already regaining it. one lost identity: regained.

liminal spaces

i've long been attracted to the notion of liminality--the condition of being on a threshold or at the beginning of a process. with it there is also that sense of being in between. i've been suspended in a liminal space for nearly ten years outside the country of my birth--i feel less and less that i belong in the u.s. and actively resist entirely belonging in denmark. while it can be a lonely feeling, mostly i feel it with a sense of expectant anticipation. i go through life always feeling that something is on the verge of happening. the same with being between let go of the last one and look expectantly towards the next one. you hover on the threshold, not knowing what's ahead, but know that it must be better. it's tied for me to my ingrained presbyterian upbringing's notion of free will/destiny. although i must actively seek the next thing, at the same time, i am guided towards it by a firm hand (whose hand that is, i am not sure, but i strangely trust in the guidance). it remains hazy and unclear as of yet, but i feel in the (now) calm core of my soul that it is a brighter, better place. i feel also that it will become clear and then i'll be on the threshold of whatever is beyond. it's not really so bad, this liminal space which i inhabit.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

cook, read, sleep

i think my own version of liz gilbert's book would be "cook, read, sleep." that seems to be how i'm getting through this. making my way thru nigella's feast cookbook and paul cunningham's madjournalen and tamasin day-lewis' good tempered food and the first Moro cookbook (waiting impatiently for #2 from amazon). cooking with a glass of south african pinotage in hand, what could be better? other than curling up in bed with a good book, a mug of fragrant tea and then a small snooze. how better to rejuvenate one's soul? especially when my overwhelming feeling is one of simply being run down and bone tired. i gave so much for so long and i'm no longer sure i was getting enough back for it to have been worth it. but it feels good to return to myself, through cooking, reading and sleeping...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

eat, pray, love

reading elizabeth gilbert's "eat, pray, love." or should i say re-reading. just finished it and am reading it again. i read too fast and don' t remember so well. so re-reading is in order. it warrants an immediate re-read. it's good stuff. and soooo exactly what i need right now. although i do NOT want to go to india to get past this one....truth be told, i'm not fond of india. but i could do italy and indonesia. no problem. it's an excellent book to read if you're feeling run down and your soul is wounded and has been for a long time and for some strange reason (the volume of emails in your life?) you didn't really notice....