Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New painting: Fear

This painting is called Fear. There's a farmer man on the right taking the hand of a woman with two kids around her waist and a baby on her knee. 

TV is amazing. 

I'm halfway around the world but get most American cable channels. I was watching a show on TLC about a boy in India inflicted with a horrible physical disease. He had tumors all over his face and a giant one from his neck he had to carry in his arms. They said he wouldn't make it out of his teens. Makes you wonder what you have to worry or complain about or be afraid of. It's all extra, isn't it? Whatever I do with day to day. It's all just a big fat bonus, isn't it? I've already won the human lottery. And one day it'll be over. So what's there to be afraid of? But it never sticks, does it? The perspective never sticks. I fall back into habits and routines, and there goes fear creeping back in.

We got free HBO for a while, part of some kind of promo. I watched Behind the Candlelabra. Beautiful movie. Watching a movie like that that was done so well was actually painful. I was jealous it was so beautiful. I've never made anything like that. I feel like I'm not anywhere close. I would like to contribute something like that, something creatively, but I haven't. It's practically impossible it seems. But I still believe that it's the way for me to at least push and try, to write and paint and make things. It's what I enjoy and love to spend my time doing. So that's the important thing, isn't it? But there's always the fear that it's for nothing and that I'm wasting my time. But I enjoy it, so that's not a waste of time.

I know whatever you feel someone's felt it before. That's why I love art and books and music. I like to see the things I feel written or expressed in some way, by someone other than me. It makes me feel close to that person, to people in general. I know whatever I feel someone's felt before, but I have to be reminded, and art is the reminder. I see hundreds of faces and bodies every day and they see me. We don't interact. I only imagine what their lives are like, what these people are into, what their fears are, what they've learned, if they know something, if, like the boy in India, their perspective can help me. I think that if more people made things we'd feel more connected and be less inclined to think other people are not us. Most people are closed off it seems, won’t let themselves feel what they really feel, deny it, push it away, bury it. They think it's dark or weird or crazy. But it's not crazy. Everyone everywhere has it hard and everyone wants to be ok. Everything is just an egg for something else. Everything is just a step forward. Fear, love, anger, Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, Kim, Kanye, they're all just eggs. That's how I see it. Something on the way to something else. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Food (jídlo) and drink (nápoj) and other nonsense

I've made a commitment to writing every day for a week or so on the blog. I've realized from reading the great Hugh Macleod (more on his amazing book Ignore Everybody at a later date) that writing books is a fine idea, but writing and then putting your stuff up on a blog might just be a faster, more direct, easier, way to, etc. etc. blah blah blah. So for the next week or so I'll be putting up stuff every day. Perhaps a painting one day. Perhaps me rambling about what I think another day. Today's entry falls into the second category. Let's talk about food and beer and trying to be healthy.

I've been trying to get healthy for the last year or so. I was surprised to find out recently my cholesterol is high. Since I've lived here in Prague my diet's included healthy portions of butter and animal fat. One particular favorite is rendered pigs fat with bits of cracklings (aka burnt pig skin). Spread it on bread. A touch of salt. You're good. Another favorite is Tlacenka, which according to wikipedia is "head cheese...generally bonded with brawn - thick pigskin and hock/trotters broth - with various combinations of meat cutoffs (i.e. knuckle, head), offal (tongue, heart, liver) and fat with seasoning". Good to know! Add a beer or five and you're on your way. I'm just rambling here. I don't have a lot to talk about but I have to write something. I've stopped eating most of those delicious fatty foods I used to eat. I've started up running again in the morning. The public park near the apartment is great. The other morning at 7 there was a group of Jamaicans filming a reggae video. No joke. They had a shoulder mounted steady cam and everything. There's usually almost no one running with Marshall and me there in the morning. The few people that you see are inspiring and motivating because they're usually really intense. I don't run every morning because my knees start hurting then. On days off I'll go to the hotel nearby to swim. Today there was a man in the locker room who couldn't find his bathing suit. A few minutes later I saw him swimming in his boxer shorts. No problem. Who cares. It's the same thing, right? Last week there was an older woman swimming topless. Why not. So I get a good amount of physical activity daily. I also started meditating in the morning. Only ten minutes but I like it. I heard Tim Ferriss talk about it on a podcast. He asked a bunch of successful people what they would do differently if they could change something from their past. A lot of them said they would have started meditating earlier in their lives. I thought that was interesting so I've started it too. It helps me quiet my brain and narrow my focus. And it's also a place mentally you can go back to throughout the day just by going back into the same breathing technique. It's amazing. I've been trying on and off for a long while to completely quit drinking alcohol. It's a tall feat here because beer is basically $1 or less and it's where people meet and talk. And that's hard because it's become too much of a thing, a habit I don't see much of a benefit from. I want to meet people, just I would prefer a different way. It would be cool to meet people who are athletic and have ambition, but they don't spend their time in pubs now do they? I spent 7 long years sitting at a desk around good people who were stuck at their jobs and knew it. It zapped everything out of them, the energy they had and their hopes for the future. They loved going to pubs. So, yeah, it's tough. Anyway, wanted to write something. Wanted to try and keep it light. Most of the stuff I write on here is deadly deadly serious. Wanted to talk a little bit about life here and my experiences this week and as of late. Ahoj.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Writing Exercise 1

I mentioned before that I'm reading a book about writing called Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg. There are some exercises in it and I thought I'd do some of them here on this blog.
"Think of some event that happened in your life that made a real emotional impact on you. It can be any emotion - anger, fear, sadness, nostalgia - but let yourself remember the event fully, so that you can feel the emotion all over again. Set a timer for ten minutes. Write from that place of feeling. Draw on all your senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. Do not work up to how this event occurred; do not consider what it meant or how any aspect of it might appear to other people; just jump right in the middle, with it happening to you."
Here's my exercise. I did clean it up a little.
It was my first time spending a summer away from home. We were on an island, a private golf club, 25 of us first time caddies. We'd seen the shirts on the older campers around the camp. It was the same white shirt with a pimply green monster on the back with the words  "I met the legend". When we asked what it meant. They said not to worry, we'd find out soon enough. There were whispers here and there of what that meant. Bear, a broad shouldered and freckled redhead from Andover, said he heard our belongings and our beds would be torn up and thrown out on the 10th fairway. Skeelo from Revere said we'd be jumped by the older campers. The only thing all the stories had in common was that it would happen at night. The night did eventually come, towards the end of the summer. Gomes, our short, round Latino camp director, called all first-years out to the flag pole. He was wearing aw dark rain coat and was carrying a flash light. The air was cool but dry. No sign of rain. Why the raincoat? We had just finished dinner. No one spoke. Gomes pointed his flashlight into the darkness off the 10th fairway. We marched single file through into the dark toward the scrub brush. We followed him to the start of a narrow path. The path pitched down into the dark and continued straight for a ways with scrub brush along both sides waiting to grab you. We'd all been in the brush before to shag lost balls and left marked up. Gomes shined his light down down the path and told us to walk, one at a time. I walked slow and to let my eyes adjust. The branches There were dark figures along the path. I picked up the pace. I was running now. They reached for me. I shook past them somehow. I reached the end of the path. There was a hooded figure carrying a pink drink pitcher from the mess hall. He handed me a cup and said drink. It was thick. Bitter. Sour. Spicy. Hot. There were chunks of something you had to chew to get down. When I was done I moved on to where the other guys were standing. Gomes led us all to the back single file toward the camp. As we approached I noticed it was quiet back at camp. As we got closer I could see the rec room was empty. The tv was off. The constant tick-tocking of a ping pong game was missing. Where was everybody? I expected our beds to be strewn across the fairway, but everything seemed to be how we left it. Gomes led us to the back of the mess hall. The lights were on inside and we could hear a commotion. He opened the door and told us to go in. The entire rest of the camp was sitting there. All the older campers. All the counselors. They stood up and clapped. We smiled. That's it? It was over. No beating. No destruction of property. They handed us our own monster shirts and we wore them proudly. We'd met the legend, and that's just what it was. It was our turn now to relay the story the following year, to build on it where we could, to scare the bejesus out of all those little bastards who'd be coming after us, and see them through.