“For some reason it comforted me to think of Julia’s first as happening in her garret apartment in Paris, as she spun around in her cocoon, about to hatch as the new Julia, the Julia she was meant to become.”
-Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell
i got an iPhone recently. i know, i know, but here was the reason i caved:
1)i needed something that i could connect with my google calendars (i have many) wherever i was, and i didn’t want to carry around a paper version that i would have to somehow configure to match and keep up.
2)i had lost my mp3 player, and use it to listen to podcasts as well as music-and needed a replacement.
3)the only camera i have (other than my holga) is a large, very nice but very large and heavy, digital slr. it’s a great camera, it takes good pictures. however, i often missed great moments because i didn’t want to lug my camera everywhere, and had been talking about getting a small camera for some time.
the above three, packaged in one tiny little thing that i actually Would carry with me everywhere i went, plus notetaking and voice recording for interviews, and so many other things, all together? it just made sense. sure, sure, i was lured by its pretty package and all those bells and whistles. but when i sat down and wrote the reasons for it, and wrote down what i Needed (well needed is relative i am well aware), i realized that it actually would be cheaper, even in the long run, to buy the pretty little all-in-one package than to get these items separately.
off i went, to become even more of a machead. i had moments of pangs of guilt, picturing foster shaking his “freedom of simplicity” book at me in disgust. but for the most part i have concluded the purchase to be a good one.
however. today. today, i happened to grab a book as i walked out the door to the bus, a book a friend had just returned that i read nearly every year because it’s just that good: the fires of spring, by michener. fiction worth rereading, that’s a real rarity for me. waiting for the bus, my phone died. no battery.
now, normally, on the short 12 minute bus ride to and from work i catch up on my facebook and emails, i check out what’s been fed to me on my reader, basically i surf the web.
but today i read a book. one story line, beautifully written, transporting me to another time and place. it was heavenly! it was stress relief. it was slowing down.
and i noticed: now that i also have internet on my phone, i am attached to it all the time. i wake up and i turn on pandora. i ride to work and surf the web. all day at work i’m in front of a computer, internet at the ready. my work even involves things like researching twitter for crying out loud! i ride home, surfing again. and i check in incessantly with email and facebook, all these little snippets, none of them carefully crafting a storyline together. nothing fluid. bits and pieces. disjointed, you might say.
i suddenly realized this morning that i used to be a bookworm, and now i’m a facebookworm.
so, unlike the cell phone, the internet usage has gotten UNuseful. it has overtaken parts of my life that i love, gotten too big for its britches, lessened the quality of my life.
this calls for slightly drastic measures. i am starting a new habit, a new way of interacting with internet “life.” thankfully, i have a pressing deadline for an installation for ArtPrize to help me keep in line-i don’t have Time to be dawdling online.
instead, i will measure and meter out my internet use. i will make stuff and write and read (for inspiration for the making of stuff, of course!). i will take photowalks and have conversations about beliefs and doubts (also fodder for the installation, of course!). i will sit on the porch with my husband and sip wine by anti-bug candlelit in the late hours of the day.
i will still love my iPhone. i may break up with Facebook though. he’s kind of possessive of my time. for now, i’ll just see if he’s okay with casual dating again. can you really ever go back?
yesterday, on a hot sunday afternoon surrounded by the lame attempt at skyscrapers that grace my fair city, we picked berries. it turns out that downtown grand rapids, along the grand river, is a forager’s dream.
but let me back up first, since i have discovered that many folks don’t know what i mean when i say “forage.” foraging is the gathering part of “hunting and gathering,” i suppose. it’s looking for edible plants and their fruits in a place other than your garden or your grocer. it’s walking through the woods, or downtown in our case, and coming home with a meal. foraging is a way of making good use of the bounty God naturally provides for us, and it’s also a great way to get you to your locavore goal (my own goal is to have 80% of my food source come from michigan, year round). along the way, it reconnects us to the earth and reminds us why it’s so precious and worth taking care of.
so last night, a few of us from our community went downtown and picked berries: juneberries and mulberries, to be exact. we picked enough to fill two large colanders when we got home. we passed by many others that could have been picked, if not for the “danger pesticides” sign alongside the trees. while picking, we saw lots of people walk by with confused faces (and a couple that my friend said “gave us the stink eye,”) and only a few that asked us what we were picking. we offered a taste, and got varied responses. everyone said they really liked the berries,but not many seemed to want to do it themselves. we marveled at how people can have gorgeous, free, tasty food right in front of them for the taking-and opt for a packaged collection of non-food in their grocer at the edge of the city instead.
but here we were, in the middle of the city. and though we had some curious folks stop for a minute, no one seemed to be catching on. towards the end of our venture, some folks were sitting on park benches across the sidewalk from our tree. well, i should say: they were Sleeping on said park benches, but sat up curious when we came along with our baskets. they were quiet, and watching, and so finally we asked if they had every had juneberries. showed them how to pick them, which ones were ripe, and what berry bushes to avoid. hmm, interesting, they said. and sat back down on their park bench. we moved on to another tree down the way, thinking yet another disinterested response…
but then one of us looked back-to find all four of the group picking away! one woman, especially animated as she instructed the group and ate as she picked, gave us hope that we had shared the joy.
because food, you know, is about joy. food is about sustenance and connecting with the earth and celebrating and giving glory to God. we lose so much of what food could be, when we push a metal cart around a sterilized box full of non-food. and that is why i forage, in the middle of the city, on a hot summer’s day: because i want the joy back.
today starts official “office hours” in the studio. a lot of this will be working in my journal, editing text from “take the zarzuela,” and especially getting ready for a large installation for ArtPrize. some of it, also, will surely include important ways to restore the belief in the importance of what i do. you know, things like little naps and reading inspiration like this from Danny Gregory:
“ironically, our society tends to portray artists as dreamers. but those who suppress their creativity are actually the ones living in a dream. an artist is someone who sees and feels reality very intensely. creativity doesn’t mean just making things up out of thin air. it means seeing and feeling the world so vividly that you can put together connections and patterns that help to explain reality. it means you see the beauty in the world rather than trying to hide from it.”
thank you, danny.
i need to tell you about something very exciting.
you need to check it out.
i’ve signed up to be a part of it, as an artist,
so come late september/early october, i encourage you to come on down to downtown grand rapids to join in this amazing experience. and you need to come and vote for me. because it’s all about me, you know.
well okay, it’s all about my community and this is Huge for the grand rapids michigan art community.
if you come, i’ll even let you add your own touch to my installation! because like i said, it’s not all about me, it’s all about my community.
so, yeah. i thought i was better. now i’m not. i was, in fact, in so much pain that i went to a med center on sunday night. supposedly, i should feel better by now. according to what the doctor found on the x-ray and what he prescribed me, i should have been better for a while now.
and i have to go back to the doctor post-haste. i have absolutely no faith that this will help, but i can’t figure out how to heal myself on my own, either, and this isn’t just a mild headache or something so… to the doctor i go.
this is what fills my brain, as well as things like the fact that i need to get our stove fixed already, that i need to return the space heater that already stopped working, that i should have returned my library books on time….
but what i really want to fill my head with are other things. things like processing my trip to africa. like new discoveries from the books i got from the library tonight. things like where massi and i will go on our first real vacation ever, for our 5 year anniversary this summer.
and i really want to fill my journal.
but here i am, filled with other thoughts and tasks and struggles… and yes, good, real, important joys as well.
and i’m wondering… how do we redirect to what matters when what distracts us takes over?
how do we refocus?