perfection's flaw

:: There is no such thing as happiness. Life bends joy and pain, beauty and ugliness, in such a way that no one may isolate them. No one should want to. Perfect joy, or perfect pain, with no contrasting element to define them, would mean a monotony of consciousness, would mean death ::

Jean Toomer, from Cane


opening in theaters everywhere

for sale :: hand-painted (yes, by me)
i'm cleaning out to make room for new projects

my apprenticeship has begun

this photo posted by unspoken request.

or in other words:
after taking a phone call last night from an old friend who thought she was griping about the first snow back home (really she was just bragging), i figured she'd want to see this. i'm just beginning, so it might be years before i am ready to ink anyone else.

anyway, a picture of the final product may be furnished on request.


feel the futility?

i come from the wrong stock.

we are chicken, not beef.
we are a dime a dozen.
boiled down, we are too scared of the world and of ourselves to fly. rather, we keep our heads to the ground and scratch and peck our way to old age.

but to butcher another food analogy:
perhaps, if there is any beef in us, it is dairy, not angus. our purpose, our function, is to give a little bit everyday until we are dried up – too old to contribute any further and are then forgotten. we are branded numbered cogs in whatever industry we are herded into. we are not raised as prizes, set apart to roam and graze, while the world waits eagerly by for our one grand gesture that will be sold off by the pound.

we are companions, like my mother's milk cow, jenny...
not blue-ribbon champs, like my cousin's annual Sir Loin.

if a cow ceases to be milked, it ceases to produce, and the trend of my kind is that when we are done working, we are simply done. retirement is not our goal, it is our death sentence. maybe i need to stop expecting to be anything more than i am already, anything more than all the bulls and heifers before me said i would be, and learn to be ok with giving a little more every day to something that could be done by anyone else.

i come from the wrong stock,
but then again... the grass is always greener, right?


"be gone, j. evans pritchard, ph.d.!"

which is better: education or experience?

united states universities in the late 1800s looked very much like the boarding school portrayed in the film dead poets society, where students file into class, sit alphabetically, and recite latin conjugations or mathematical formulas. universities in this country today do not still look like that for a variety of reasons, like, oh say, perhaps it was so boring that no one, not even the teachers, could stand themselves. but consider also that with the industrial revolution, it was suddenly blatantly ineffective preparation for whatever the student would be graduating out into. at some point, those university students were graduating as full-fledged elitists, and probably almost entirely useless in the business world that had exploded while they were busy dancing in a cave in the middle of the night and writing poetry on a playboy centerfold (no, playboy would not have been part of the experience in that late 1800s, but you know what i mean... and if you don't catch the reference, what exactly were you doing in the 1980s that was more important than keeping up with all the great coming-of-age movies?). i know we all joke about how little our education now does to prepare us for whatever is next, but we are also all vaguely aware of the statistics linking income with level of education.

npr this morning mentioned the california race for governor already pits a billionaire businesswoman against a stanford professor. so... education or experience? i remember thinking getting a college education would be the key to breaking my father's family's blue-collar legacy (between my father and his brothers, they cover machining, sanitation, and mechanic's mechanic... their father was in charge of golf-course maintenance, and my grandparents both came from farming families), but i also remember feeling betrayed by my lack of the experience it seemed every employer on the planet wanted me to have before giving me a job. watching it the other way around, i have 2 teenagers in the house with much more experience in business than i had at their ages who can't get any farther than they already are (specifically, in the service industry and its quick lay-offs in recession), in part because neither has a single piece of paper that includes both his name and a fancy college seal (the academic process has never excited either of them). deep in my parental head, i'm singing the chorus "where do we go from here?" from "once more, with feeling" (buffy episode 107).

for our teens, the school/work conflict is experientially enhanced. consider:
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In damp Alabama, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge grows close scrutiny,
Where manual labor makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the paternal loins of these two bros
Education-level differences enhanced their strife;
Whether to work or study, their parents arose
With different opinions of this part of life.
But in these hard times, neither seems to prove
Better suited to weather this recession stage.
So the brothers, torn, wrestle with their next move,
In this difficult time they've come of age;
Our hope for them, their dependent ears attend,
Would be to follow opportunities until their end.

both boys are working on getting back into school, but i'm sure it is a hard decision for them, comparing the two households' differing approaches to existence that the boys have had the opportunity to observe, experience, and then evaluate. in one, there are 2 college-educated adults who are years later finally seeing the struggle let up just a little, and in the other, 2 hard workers whose not-making-it-really-at-all the boys were too young to see as part of the almost 2 decades of sacrificing family time that has turned into roughly the same place.

some with education never use it, and some without it get farther than those with it. this is not to say, of course, that college is the only way to become educated. we all know some friend or relative or coworker that is brilliant, even though he or she was lucky to finish high school, if even that. i guess the real question is whether it really matters if you get a degree or not. i'm not ready to pretend to have an answer. if the business world had an answer, employers wouldn't revise their job requirements every few years to add or remove an education requirement. as far as the after-work world, i guess it depends then on who you want to impress with what.

as far as the boys, is it going to hurt them to be in school for a few more years, when jobs are hard to come by and government assistance is available, on the slight chance that a degree might help them gain access to something someday? i say, of course not! but i'm also hyper-aware of the fact that in their interim, while they look around for jobs that may or may not exist, they still live at home, with us.

and as for me? i'm working on my graduate degree, because its what works for me. i believe it is part of the path of my self-creation. i want to be educated, and college demands dedication to intellectual pursuit much more than my desire alone. i think for sure i care more now than i did ten years ago, and am so grateful for the opportunity to be in classes again.

do i think education is important? vital.
do i think a degree is the only way to get educated? of course not.
do i think degrees open doors? certainly.

do i think degrees are necessary?
it all depends on what you are after.


new ink

:: i am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world and i am getting along. i am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. i am not washed and beautiful and in control of a shining world... but instead am wandering awed about on a splintering wreck i've come to care for whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions ::

annie dillard, from pilgrim at tinker creek
body art by finnley hayes


almost autumn

a bright breezebristled
nylon tent, waiting
under this curling tree

sweat and days-old
campfire smoke
woven into the threads
of a woolblend henley

dirt and moss,
soft and hollow
under thicksoled boots
and crisp air making for

breaths and deeper colors

... 'tis our season


on our own steam

"only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money" – cree indian proverb

i fill my tank 2-3 times/week.

someday i will walk to work and always drink coffee from a glass jar. we will not buy any food in packaging we cannot repurpose & recycle. we will hang our laundry to dry and grow our own vegetables and power our lives with sun & wind.


conspiracy theory 1

little did we know that all those years of group sings around the fire at summer camp were really just to instill in us the capacity for the kumbaya feelings that as adults would compel us to stay at the bar to holler what words we can remember to just one more song by the cover band... oh, and buy just one more beer, naturally.


someday saturday

some average summer weekend morning, who knows how long from now, i'll be sitting at an old gorgeously-gouged wooden kitchen table with my coffee (in a self-made mug), looking through one of the two sets of glass sliders that corner the kitchen off toward the ocean (both slightly open to let in the morning's salty air), watching the lobstahmen troll through the cove checking traps. i'll be smiling, knowing that if i were out on the dock with my coffee, they'd gladly toss me a couple soft-shells in exchange for a thermos refill. i'm working on the list of things i'd like to get done that day (get to the farmers market, finish writing chapter whatever, call editor to report that i'd finished writing chapter whatever, work on fixing the walkway where it washed out since its been on my list every saturday for several weeks already, crank up the fire in the outdoor oven for dinner that night, etc.), when jen comes into the kitchen and stands behind me, wrapping her arms around my neck and starting the whispering of our good morning routine (you know, the one that our kids mock every time we invite them to dinner with any of our friends, though you know as well as we do that they secretly love every minute of), and it'll occur to me...

this is my perfect day

this is the one i day-dreamed about all those years ago, sitting at my desk at UNA early in the morning, preparing for an inevitably unnecessarily complicated meeting, having talked to my dad on the phone for the whole hour commute about the government and the economy and how i should take more interest in what's going on.


confession: 5 golden rings

today was a 5 donut day ["doughnut" if you prefer].

i know i'm a big girl. i know my family has rampant diabetes and heart disease. i know my knees and ankles ache playing racquetball. and we all know i get winded just walking across campus... yet i still ate 5 donuts. that's a whole 5 donuts more than i needed, and if i had a partridge, or pears on a tree, i'd probably eat them too.

why? because i'm a big girl and my family has rampant diabetes and heart disease and my knees and ankles ache playing racquetball and i get winded just walking across campus.

i know it doesn't make sense. believe me, it doesn't really make any more sense to me. eat to live, don't live to eat, right? of course, i know there are psychological explanations for this terrible behavior, from eating releasing feel-good hormones, to the idea of dulling whatever the pain happens to be with the instant gratification of deep fried goodness, etc. but the psychology doesn't end there, rather continues along its vicious cycle, as i sneak the 3rd, 4th and 5th donuts. core-deep disappointment settles over me and my still-sticky fingers as i imagine the box of ice cream in the freezer at home, as well as the horror and shame that comes with thinking that someone might stop me especially because we both know they really need to stop me.

when i feel powerless, i cope by eating out of control, knowing the whole time that it simply makes it all that much worse.

i should be stronger than donuts.


[wo]man alive

"The whole is greater than the part. And therefore, I, who am [wo]man alive, am greater than my soul, or spirit, or body, or mind, or consciousness, or anything else that is merely a part of me. I am [wo]man alive, and as long as I can, I intend to go on being [wo]man alive. For this reason I am a novelist. And being a novelist, I consider myself superior to the saint, the scientist, the philosopher, and the poet, who are all great masters of different bits of [wo]man alive, but never get the whole hog. The novel is the one bright book of life... only in the novel are all things given full play, or at least, they may be given full play, when we realize that life itself, and not inert safety, is the reason for living. For out of the full play of all things emerges the only thing that is anything, the wholeness of a man, the wholeness of a woman, man alive and live woman."

– D.H. Lawrence, from Why the Novel Matters


like a nickel in a paper shredder

i sometimes get the impression i don't really belong here

practice makes perfect

quick! grab a pen and a piece of paper.
are you ready?

now... draw a blank.