Saturday, January 21, 2006

Something from nothing

I've been so scatterbrained lately. Many blog-worthy things have happened this week, but I haven't had ten minutes to sit in front of my computer and get busy. With the Blogger I mean. I started my new temp gig on Tuesday, had a random happy hour with three different groups of people, saw an art show, got denied admission at Cryfest, was horrified as I watched my roommate's dog bite Chai, saw a play at the Lincoln Theater, entertained an out-of-town friend, and had some good conversation over Ben's Chili Cheese Fries. Mmmm.

Let's start with the art show. Friday night was the opening of Bruce Erickson's show at The Fraser Gallery in Georgetown. If you haven't been there, you should go soon because this is the last show the gallery will have before it closes its doors in February (though their Bethesda location is still open).

I have to say, I really enjoyed Erickson's paintings. He had two types of subjects up: portraits and what were sort of still-life paintings of rooms (open doors, nearly empty floors, front porches). The portraits, I swear, looked 3d. At one point I looked around to see if anyone was watching me, then moved up against the wall beside the painting to make sure there wasn't actually a prosthetic nose attached to the canvas. This guy seems to be able to create light with his brush, which becomes all the more clear when you look at the other paintings.

The link above shows a few of the door/doorframe paintings, and I think part of the reason why I liked these so much is that I happen to love those subjects when I take photos. I've always liked the way the structured symmetry of a doorframe can contrast with vibrant, creative colors - or maybe it's just the curiosity in the unknown that waits behind them. In any case, as great as the scans are on the Fraser website, they certainly don't do the paintings justice. I'll say it again, he seemed to create light from nowhere. It's not like he was using bright colors, in fact, most of his paintings were in muted blues and yellows, but more like the way a muted yellow sunset across a wheatfield can blind you. ...Yeah, I'm not explaining it very well.

His rooms were very angular - straight windows and doors and walls with measured ninety-degree angles. Inside the rooms, however, was usually chaos deftly hidden by those muted (but so illuminating?) colors - floors littered with paper, bare mattresses with stuffing ripped out of the seams. If you just whipped a glace at one, you might think it was some pretty, but contentless Thomas Kincade thing, but the sharp angles and lines draw your eye in and forces you to look closer, and then you can see it's not just a room, but that someone's been there, and it's been changed in someway by that.

Anyway, I'm not going to pretend I'm some knowledgeable art critic, but I know what I like, and I liked Erickson's work immensely. I'm a little peeved that I left without speaking with him to see what he had to say, but I was distracted at my most recent introduction to yet another person I've met through this blog, Lenny. He writes DC Art News, which I read daily and have linked to on occasion on TTtC, and he also happens to run The Fraser Galleries. I knew he was going to be there so I kept my eye out and introduced myself after I checked out the show, somewhat relieved that we had emailed earlier, so he knew my full name and I didn't have to say out loud, "Uh, hi, I'm Heather from Two-Timing the Cosmos. You know, the blog." And what a nice man! He gave me all kinds of great tips for checking out art in the city, taking advantage of some opportunites for my own photos, and even getting a legal job! You know, later that night a friend of mine was teasing me mercilessly about my blog and my "imaginary friends" (dude, he keeps a binder of his fantasy football information - with tabs - so I had some ammo of my own), but I continue to meet interesting people and find great events and opportunities through this thing. Remember when the only thing you could do on the internet was talk with crazy people in AOL chatrooms? Those days are over, my friends. Need to get out of the house? Buy an internet connection. (And then go see Erickson's show.)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Number 7

Check.

I finally - finally - opened the notebook I bought to start writing down my family's stories. I've been meaning to do this for a long, long time, but sitting down and starting was so hard to do. I hope I can keep writing a few times a week, and fill notebook after notebook, but the fact that I started at all makes me happy for now. This is the last paragraph from my first entry, a sort of explanation of what I'm planning to do:

"I suppose the point is, I'm not ready to let the memories go. I have a terrible memory by nature, so while I have vivid pictures in my head of standing in an airfield with my grandpa, I can't remember what he was telling me - about his life, about his work, about the hobbies he loved. And too soon, they'll all be gone. I'm not ready for that."

Worst. Book. Ever.

It's been a fairly disappointing evening, though I suppose, not unexpectedly so. I was given great promises by my roommates that Saturday would be the Night We Finally All Go Somewhere, as C would be returning home from a week-long work trip, the Redskins would be playing, so one way or another, J would have a reason to drink heavily, and I've become bored with our weekends on the couch searching for some NeXt or DeGrassi marathon. Of course, C & J, now having dated for a full six months, with no reason to interact with anyone outside their own embrace who doesn't contribute to the rent, and C being a man unlikely to interact with anyone on his most single of days, the two lovebirds disappeared into their room sometime around 10pm, never to be heard from again. Sigh. I had even done my hair.

I should have just made alternate plans with a friend who I knew was already out on the town, but by the time I realized my roommates were MIA, I was just tired and annoyed, so I popped in a movie (October Sky...a great movie made all the greater by Jakey-poo's recent famousness) and then settled on a book, because I was too wired off Coca-Cola Zero's to sleep. This book I now speak of has earned the title, from me, of Worst. Book. Ever. Known to some as, The Pilot's Wife.

Let's go back for a minute. Way back, to the fall of 2005. C and I had just moved into our new place on U Street, and we were now looking at a house full-to-the-brim of boxes and boxes of things with no storage space to speak of. Some of the boxes could live peacefully in the rooms in which they would one day be unpacked, but some of them were full of stuff we planned to donate or store in our backyard shed, as soon as the owners gave us the key. There was no way we could place furniture or begin to unpack until some of this stuff was moved out of the house, like one of those puzzles where you shift the small squares around the finite-sized bigger square until you make a coherent picture, except we were missing the empty square, the space-holder needed so you can do the shifting. So things had to be put in the backyard. About a week into the unpacking there was a heavy rain, but we assumed that everything in the backyard was 1) trash or 2) inside plastic bins.

Oops.

A couple months later when we finally got the District of Columbia to start picking up our trash, we went out back to haul everything through the house to our brand-new bins on the sidewalk. C then realized that he had left boxes of books outside, books that were now soaking wet and starting to mold. He didn't really care, because he was planning on giving them to goodwill, but I took him to town for not offering them to me first. I'm kind of a book freak, and will often take anything I can get my hands on. I went through a big box of novels, hoping to find something that hadn't been reached by the rainfall, when I got near the bottom and pulled out The Pilot's Wife. A few of the other books were only slightly damp, but I've had bad experience with book mold before and know better than to put my own indoor books at risk by exposing them to possible contagian. They had to go. So I took my one, lone piece of treasure inside and took the rest of the box to the trash, killing a piece of my soul as the pages upon pages upon pages fell into the bin.

Little did I know that I should not only have tossed my one keepsake along in there with the rest of trash, but that I should have lit the whole damn bin on fire after I did so.

I remember that TPW was kind of popular a few years back, mostly because it was in Oprah's book club (that great bastion of good novels). I don't always go for the pop novel, since, like pop music, they usually involve shallow writing hidden by a good beat. On the other hand, I was convinced to read White Oleander a few years ago, and that's a damn fine book. I decided not to write off TPW just for that shame of being marketable, especially since the fates rescued it from a watery death (how ironic, given the plot set-up).

So what did I find inside? Well, you'll just have to wait 'til tomorrow...

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