Sunday, May 31

Thursday, May 28

aerial sunsets

have I mentioned how much I love airports?

this year, I have already been lucky enough to wander around in five different airports: Calgary, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. the cool, open height of these places just sucks me in. I don't even care what cheap nonsense they're selling behind those garish neon signfronts. It's the people, all of them preoccupied with luggage and being on time and getting to the right place... do they notice the smooth consistency of the buzz in the air? do they all feel the same beautiful restlessness, the layers upon layers of delicate hope and excitement?

the only thing better than airports is the takeoff. the only thing better than that is a rollercoaster.

for the rest of the flight I doodle and read and eavesdrop. little shards of different conversations collect in my mind.

on tuesday, as the sunset ran away behind us, the flight attendants pointed out mount rainier, just off to the left, rising above the rumpled stratus like a king crowned with tufts of golden-white ephemeral glory. it was gorgeous.

airports and flying are becoming as iconic as beaches have been for me in the past. there is a placeless-ness about them--an unspecified inbetween-ness. like the edges of things that hide such magic in all the fairy tales, these are spots where anything can happen. sure, your ticket is stamped and finalized, your seat is reserved and your baggage checked, but there is such possibility.

so now all I need is to find a nice airport on a beach, with any luck connected to a few more airports on beaches. wouldn't that be perfect?

Sunday, May 24

Thursday, May 21

reincarnated

this is my bedroom, my workshop, my small corner of the world, and the backdrop of my most recent confused ambitions. do you recognize the place, Marianne?
I have been playing with lots of paper and scissors and rubber cement. after waiting several weeks for this rubber cement to appear (thanks mum), I left it unopened on the desk for a long time, uncertain about what it was I had designed to do with it in the first place. but then one night it came back to me... I'm still a designer, right? why pretend that I've left some other half of myself behind in the dust of three years ago?

it looks different now. things change. as an undergraduate I presented to Dr. Cheryl Ball(look, she has a blog) a portfolio stacked unevenly in a white three-ring binder with little ribbons between each color-coded section: print design was in green, web design in blue, writing in red, editing in yellow, and art in a nice purple. i think i brought it to one or two job interviews, back in 2007. this year I dissected it, very delicately (you can see its remains all over the floor in that first photograph). I took out a lot of things, added a few, and slapped it all together again between slick black covers.


I remorselessly cut the writing and editing sections. big blocks of text do not belong in a design portfolio. we'll keep all those over here where they won't annoy anyone. and this little blog of mine will continue as a mixture of both.

don't let go of all these people

I don't exactly remember the recipe or who else was there. our hostess was Italian and she taught us how to make gnocchi. there were meatballs. there was a lot of nice cheese. and after dinner one of the guests, who was an undercover cop in the narcotics division, entertained us with allusions to the excitement and danger of his double life.

like so many of the people in this nook of northwestern Missouri, the Christensen's were newcomers, drawn by the picturesque nowhere. I met them three years ago when I worked there as a lonely graphic designer. they called on our house full of girls, invited us for dinner. we said hello to them at church every week. at the copy shop, I designed the covers for and printed several copies of Dale's book, Ten Secrets to Speaking English.

last week I got an email announcing that they've opened a bed and breakfast. look:
there is a lot of history in this green, rolling nowhere (and not just the history of a lonely graphic designer). all those nearby noteworthy sites are selling points for the Marydale Inn. personally, I'd probably take a weekend there for the red barn and the big skyful of clouds, and especially the gracious company of the innkeepers, rather than to see the world's largest Amish community 12 miles down the road. but hey, if you fancy a chance to gawk at the Amish and you're passing through the midwest any time soon, check it out.

ps: I'm guilty as anyone for such superficiality, but please don't judge the place by its website.
also: previously, about nowhere.

Monday, May 18

the new microcosm

I don't know exactly, but something about those shelves... the shelves where they stack all the new books. the cool books. the famous, the favourites, the sponsored, the special. these shelves are supposed to get my attention first thing, and they do. they set things spinning and flying inside me, these full-frontal, generously spaced, wonderfully lit rows of beautiful books, their paperback covers curving out, their bodies tilted back just so...

last week on the campus that is not my campus, in a library that is not my library, a large hardcover full of color and shadows peeked at me from behind a few textbooks. in that impetuous, spasmodic, book-addict way of mine I pulled it down and smuggled it with me to a chair not far away. I knew I could not take this book home. I was not a student there, I had paid no fees and I had no library card. I had no right to this book. but as long as I was there on that campus I was determined to make friends with it, so when I saw it again I would know.
I had told myself that day that I would spend my time in this foreign library writing. I have a short story to finish, an illustrated nightmare... and I did work on it. I had my notebook. I had a handful of pens. I had those characters drilling holes in my skull, kicking dents in my mind.

inbetween short, scribbled paragraphs I flipped the pages of Ms. Barry's neatly bound collage. her own short, scribbled paragraphs dug right into me like plastic spoons into soft ice cream. this is not merely a book I need to take home from a library, I decided. this one just might need me to visit a real bookstore.

I reluctantly left the gorgeous thing sitting on the desk, gathering up my notebook and pens and fidgeting characters into my bag and going on with my day. as soon as I got home I looked up this new title in the library catalog and reserved the soonest available copy for myself.

today it arrived. I will keep it as long as the library allows. if it still speaks to me after I have wandered back and forth through every last inch of print between its covers, I will somehow acquire my very own.

{image courtesy some kind soul on flickr}

Sunday, May 17

Wednesday, May 13

what now?

my nephew, who is not quite two years old, repeats everything. this is pretty normal for a not quite two-year-old.

I accompanied this nephew and his family to California last month. whenever I finished tying his shoes for him or helping him eat his piece of sandwich, I would ask "what now?" to fill the emptiness of having finished, and he would parrot it back to me, his cute little voice mushing the question right out of it, leaving nothing but the sounds.

what now?

it's a good question.

I have several answers, shuffled like an old deck of flimsy playing cards in my hands. perhaps the four or six or jack of spades is missing. but there are enough options here to build a little house of cards. a nicer one than the one we built out of pink fake-sugar packets at the buffet place, while the nephew watched in tense and giddy anticipation of the inevitable collapse.

but every house of cards you build has that potential to collapse. everything changes. nothing is perfectly stable.

what's going to happen to us? what's going to happen? this is a different question than "what now?" it has nothing to do with "now." this is a future worry. it is overstepping its bounds, reaching backwards to poke at us where we are, pestering us about what we cannot see.

is there no way to know? is there no decisive method for pulling into today the shapes and shadows of tomorrow or next year?

a deck of cards. a crystal sphere. the lines across the palm of your hand. the shape of your skull. the superstitions of a thousand generations, faded so deep in the bright light of the present day. those don't really work, do they?

have I devised my own tarot, or my own code of tea leaves? am I putting together a book of horoscopes, pasted from small observations, instances of answered prayer or matching miracles? will I be able to tell, from rereading the past, what will happen to me next?

I might. or my splendid house of cards might topple, erasing all my theories, leaving me to start all over again.

Monday, May 11

browse

today I came across this little note today, tacked onto the side of a column on Locus Magazine:
Note: Design issues with this blog in Internet Explorer will be addressed shortly. It displays as intended in Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari.
it was a surprise, because usually you see something like this, the complete opposite:
Page is Best viewed in IE6 or IE7. Some elements may not work in other browsers.
as seen at the bottom of the website for this little theatre in West Yellowstone.

it amuses me to see Locus's slightly uncommon preference for everything but Internet Explorer in contrast to the Playmill's blatant ignorance of everything but Internet Explorer. how fitting, the pleasant, encouraging manner of the first as opposed to the inconsiderate sloppiness of the second.

I am on principle, even as a mere amateur web designer, required to prefer browsers with lovely names like Firefox and Opera over the default-sounding, default-looking monster that is microsoft's Internet Explorer. but that is not the only reason I have for appreciating the designer at Locus Magazine a great deal more than whoever is in charge over at the Playmill. I have many memories of headaches endured while trying to make a certain slice of code function properly in as many browsers as possible. the note at the bottom of the Playmill's website reveals that whoever designed it must have come up against the same headaches and given up. or perhaps they simply avoided the possibility altogether and didn't even bother attempting cross-browser compliance. it's disappointing on so many levels. on the other hand, Locus gives me the assurance that they know just what those cursed web-headaches are like and they are patiently hacking away to make it right. that's the kind of thing I want to hear.

Sunday, May 10

Friday, May 8

time tipped sideways


this week I have been breaking my brain over how to get six chubby calendar months to settle down together in a little booklet so I can proceed to scribble my weekly plans all over them.

at last I have done it. the sixteen little half-pages printed beautifully this morning and I stitched them up just before lunchtime. I am not sure about the cover (which I snipped out of an old gift sack), or the font (which is one of the only non-boring fonts that comes with ubuntu), but at this point it is too late for such finickiness. someone told me the other day that perfectionism is the enemy of creativity.

for the record, it's called Purisa. all lowercase, for me.

I'm already drafting plans for a larger version, one without the kinks and disappointments of this first guinea pig. it won't take too much modifying, I hope, to accommodate a whole yearful of chubby calendar months. once I perfect the design, next will be to mass produce them.

Tuesday, May 5

zebras. tigers.


there is the question of why the title of this little blog is fear, anger, and doubt. it is a rather depressing set of nouns.

at the very bottom of this page, my title gets expanded into fear for all the things i can't yet do, doubt for all the things i don't yet know, and anger enough to make something of it. these emotions overlap and blend into one another so much that I'm not sure my simplistic explanation there makes much sense. back in university these were feelings I grappled with all the time. something about learning things brings out this beautiful coat of stripes: complete inadequacy up against perilously infinite opportunities.

I've thought about changing the title. I don't really need to... but I am not in the same place I was back then. the stripes have faded.

pondering graduate school and watching friends writhe in the grasping fist of the end of their semesters has brought back vague memories. of course formal education is not the only place to learn stuff, nor to face the chasms of one's own ignorance. the fear, anger, and doubt can come from everywhere. I keep the title because they are emotions I need to accept and face and recognize. if they are my enemies, I want them close.

it is in facing and fighting these shadows that I find their opposites, after all. I cannot enjoy any peace or courage or faith if I do not also taste the fear and chaos. I need them all. fear for all the things I don't yet know and anger for all the things I can't yet do, and also doubt for all the things I can't yet do and fear to drive me out of myself to do them anyway. I can't get away from these things. I must learn to use them.

Sunday, May 3


i have a lot of these. someone think up something brilliant for me to do with them.

Saturday, May 2

curtains vs. drapes

I need a place. not that I mind sharing. it's just hard to think for yourself with so much other stuff in the way.

trussed chickens

I got a new desk.

slotted in among old copies of unloved software at the bottom of the old desk's drawers, I found my old Straylight Run album. I have been looking for it for months. having read Neuromancer, I can now taste the warm caramel sauce of trivial satisfaction on top of Straylight's lovely music, because now I know exactly where they got their name.

back when I had a job, I quoted the lyrics of Dignity and Money and pondered the demands life is always making of us.

thinking about that job today, I recognize levels on which I could have been more invested, could have cared a bit more, could have adopted the same passion my employers had for their many enterprises. I never have been very good at caring about things.

one rather famous cartoonist/marketing blogger guy once said, 'the market for something to believe in is infinite.' that makes it sound like it should be so easy to sell belief--to dress it up all shiny and sleek and labeled, with convenient price tags and bar codes dangling fashionably from its neck.

but he didn't say something worth believing in. he just said something. and we do offer up our faith in all sorts of things. it's so easy to trust. almost magic, the way we walk every day over an invisible common ground of trust, without thinking much of it. and on top of it there are all the strings of hope we tie to this tool or that accessory, all the paper chains of wishful expectation about this event or that experience. we are all so full of desire.

so a company wants to sell something people can believe in. to do that they need some salesmen to believe in it too. failing that, they might settle for salesmen capable of convincing others to believe, without having to believe in it themselves. such cognitive dissonance comes just as easy as believing.

but we want to believe and we want people to believe in us. why doesn't it always happen like that? cue up that Straylight Run song again...

there is a price for all this faith. even if our hypothetical company is trying to sell something worth believing in, and even if it is run by honest and passionate people, what creeps in is the need for money. money to feed the family. money to pay the bills. money to hire employees. money for advertising. money climbs up to the top of the list.

wanting things cannot take the place of needing things. believing in things cannot take the place of needing things. so our ideas get strung up with price tags. our greatest ambitions are slaughtered by some very sharp and nonnegotiable demands. but it's okay. they grow back. really.