Friday, November 06, 2020

on the threshold

most of us take doors for granted. we pass through doorways tens of times each day, without reflection. the door is, however, a powerful feature of human mentality and life-practice. it controls access, provides a sense of security and privacy, and marks the boundary between differentiated spaces. the doorway is also the architectural element allowing passage from one space to the next. crossing the threshold means abandoning one space and entering another, a bodily practice recognized both in ritual and language as a transition between social roles or situations. doors and thresholds are thus closely linked with rites de passage, the word "liminality" itself stemming from Latin limen, "threshold." this does not imply that each and every crossing of a threshold constitutes a liminal ritual, but rather that passing through a doorway is an embodied, everyday experience prompting numerous social and metaphorical implications.

--marianne hem eriksen, university of oslo
in architecture, society, and ritual in viking age scandinavia
doors, dwellings, and domestic space

this week of waiting for the results of the election has me, once again, thinking about liminal space. we're (hopefully) on the threshold of something new - a return to normalcy (if that's possible) after the utter insanity of the trump years. and i'm looking forward to stepping through that door. 

but i fear that the door won't completely shut on these years because the fact is that there are a significant amount of people who actually agreed with the way he was running things and they voted for him a second time. they're apparently totally ok with the 97 million cases of corona and 235,000 deaths. they're ok with kids in cages and more than 500 children who can't be reunited with their parents due to the incompetence and cruelty of the trump administration. they're ok with a president who grabs women by the pussy. and who has spent $142,000,000 in taxpayer money golfing. and they're ok with leaving the paris climate accord and the iran nuclear agreement. and they're ok with the more than 20,000 lies. and the self-dealing and the nepotism. and the cozying up to dictators. and the humiliation on the world stage. and did i mention the lies? and the narcissism and the petulance and the twitter. there's just. so. much. i'm exhausted from it. and embarrassed by it. and tired of the way it's weakened my very foundation and made me ashamed to be american.

and i'm at my wits' end - with relatives and friends who support the monster. and it feels like some doors may need to close there. but on the other hand, that doesn't necessarily seem like the answer either. but they don't get a pass. they have to own what their choice means - that women lose the freedom to choose over their own bodies, and good friends who are legally married may have those marriages nullified by the conservative supreme court justices trump and his cronies in the senate rushed through. that people will lose their health insurance. that they don't mind children being put in cages. children in cage. just think about that. it's ok because your stocks did well? really?

but back to doors and thresholds. i think we are really standing on a threshold here. we just faced a choice between empathy and caring for our fellow humans and more division and further erosion of democratic ideals. and only by the slimmest of margins does it appear that we chose our fellow humans. what does that say? in this moment, while the whole world balances on the precipice with a global pandemic, that the choice wasn't clearer than that is astonishing. 

i hope we stride confidently through the door with our hearts open. i'll admit mine is pretty closed right now to those who have supported the spray-tanned narcissist and it will take a bit of work on my part to open it a little bit. and right now, i don't really know how that's going to happen.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

can we get a do-over on 2020?

for several years, i've bought arctic paper's lovely calendar. one year, i think it was 2018, i actually wrote a little snippet of my day in it every single day of that year, keeping a kind of diary, though it was mostly lists and trips and what i did that day, not anything deep or philosophical. still, it was the record of a busy life. i did write intentions for every week on the page for the week, which felt like a meaningful practice, even if i didn't always keep them. it featured beautiful paper that explored the changing light and colors throughout the year, so it had a kind of rainbow theme to it. the words at the beginning were a beautiful musing on time. "time is months, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds. time is seasons. seasons are light. light is a guide through time." it was so fitting for a calendar.

they work with different design schools around europe and have young people design the calendars and they're always printed on arctic paper's own beautiful papers. it's a pleasure to page through them and write in them. this year's was no different. it is a moon-themed agenda entitled "the day begins at midnight" and was designed by students from école estienne's graphic design and art direction students. i assume that's somewhere in france.

it's really gorgeous and i love the words at the beginning, especially since i always consider myself a night person, not a morning one...(capital letters removed by me):

the day begins at midnight, when creativity knows no boundaries.
more than an aesthetically attractive calendar,
we wanted to design something that makes us challenge
our traditional perception of time and creativity.
by visually highlighting night-time in imagery
through its content, this agenda wants us to reconsider 
our notion of the day.

because extraordinary things happen in our minds at night.
we know our subconscious is active when we sleep.
and we know that some people need to relax simply
to get their ideas flowing. some even find that they are
more creative at night, whether asleep or awake
creativity knows no boundaries, not in place, nor in time.

but here, as we embark on the second to last month of 2020, which has already been pretty eventful, i find i must admit that i never used this calendar at all. i didn't write a single thing in it. it's still pristine and beautiful - blank and awaiting words or drawings or doodles, the recording of a life. and i didn't record a single word of this crazy, mad year. it's almost like this clean, beautiful calendar represents a pristine do-over of 2020, just waiting to happen. 2020, between the covers of this journal, is unblemished, unmarred by oafish, spray-tanned, clownish, embarrassing presidents, and deadly viruses, and killer hornets. it's full of potential trips to exotic places, new experiences and even scratched-down notes of wonderful meals made and eaten, friends seen, laughs laughed. in its very blankness, it's full of potential. potential for a do-over of this mad, terrible year. maybe that's what we most need right here and now. or maybe we just need this damn year to be over already. 

i'll order a new calendar from arctic paper when they release it in a few weeks. and let's cross our fingers that things get better in 2021.

Monday, November 02, 2020

on the eve of the election

i want to record this moment. to send the anxiety out through my fingers onto the page, both preserving it and dispelling it. i did what i could. i sent my vote, via DHL, just to be sure. i have proof of receipt and i voted for biden. he's a shoe in to win illinois, where i vote. i have also, demonstrating extraordinary foresight, produced a daughter who will vote in her first presidential election - in the potentially decisive state of arizona. her vote will really count and she's taking a whole gaggle of friends with her to the polls. i have done all i could.

i fervently hope that the biden-harris ticket wins and if the economist is right, they will. but whether trump and his merry band of trumpanzees will accept it or not is another story and that's probably what's causing the most anxiety for me. we just have no idea how the world will look when we wake up on wednesday. and will that child of mine in arizona be safe? there are an awful lot of guns in the hands of an awful lot of stupid people.

i hate that that thought even goes through my head. and i hope i don't regret putting it down here. i thought maybe getting it out would help dispel it. i hope it doesn't make it come true instead. not that i feel my words have that kind of power. 

i have to believe that there are more good people in the voting population who want something better - better than the lies and racism and the sexism and the xenophobia and the narcissism and the self-dealing and the nepotism (i could go on). people who want better for their children and their futures. i have to believe that most people are good and sensible and moral. because what kind of world will we live in if they're not?

i hope i can sleep tonight and stay busy tomorrow. luckily, i have loads of meetings, so i'm hoping to stay distracted. it's both a relief and difficult to be so far away. better get that application filed for danish citizenship.