one of the things I understand least is self appointed guardians of culture
has there ever been a historical moment when someone wasn’t decrying how tastes were going downhill and culture was on the brink of collapse and aren’t those the same historical moments we remember and celebrate centuries later because we’re not myopically stuck in our own decade projecting irrelevant and arbitrary judgments on the things we create
(the judgments of the future will be just as irrelevant and arbitrary as ours but perhaps they’ll at least have the distance to see some of our folly)
a better shot of paul’s birthday drawing
If I have become a lot more insufferable because of the number of self portraits I’m taking, it’s because I’ve lately realized that the body I exist in isn’t anything I ought to apologize for, and so I will gladly accept the accusation of arrogance or narcissism or whatever anyone can think to charge me with.
weird portraits with my dolls are kinda my thing right now
I was in fourth grade on 9/11. We were sent home around midday on buses with no explanation, and each of us was given a Jolly Ranchers lollipop (grape) as we stepped off the bus. I remember being surprised at the sight of my mother - and the rest of the cul-de-sac - waiting to greet us. I remember crowding around someone’s television, Dennis’s, maybe, as I saw and only partly comprehended images of a smoking building onscreen.
This was suburban New Jersey, where plenty of families had a commuting parent. Francesca lost her father that day. For the rest of the year we all treaded around her with special caution after a teacher had her step out of the room to address the rest of us and try to make us understand. The image I have of her is sitting, a little bit forlorn, brown hair pulled back, long lashes fluttering in bursts of childish glee that would recede back too quickly. I always see her clutching the teddy bear our teachers allowed her to keep during class.
In the cul-de-sac, Yusef and Omar started emphatically telling the rest of us kids that they were the “good kind of Muslims” and my grandmother shook her head grimly that they had to justify themselves in any way at all. I thought nothing of it, but they moved away not long after that.
My mom sends over a photo of me forcing a smile in front of Cloud Gate, my eyes squinted in the daylight and the cinch around my waist tight. I’ve been fitting into size sixes lately.
I think the dress hides the last vestiges of my corpulence well. I think my mother does too. She’s been offering to buy me new ones, shooting once-overs at me as if tallying the days until I she can throw jabs at me about being skinnier than her again. Until then, it’s a steady barrage of fitting room trials and “let’s not buy that until you actually look good in it”; “let’s get it in a size up, you never know”, as if I might accidentally bloom back into gluttony without her ruthless scrutinizing.
She’s not wrong. People are kinder to a slender young woman. If nothing else, it is practical. Minimize the odds that someone will assume the worst about you when you already have slanted brown eyes and ineffectual bones.
We get a call back from my grandmother almost immediately. She tells me how pleased she is that I am lately looking so “energetic”. Jin shen. There is a tactical dance around the word. Fear that one too many words of encouragement one way or another, and I’ll be ninety (or was it one hundred and ninety?) pounds again and either way, not the shape I should be. I put a laugh in my voice politely and tell her that I am feeling much better.
Been thinking a lot about how people physically relate to paintings. This might become a bigger series.
More film scans. A window at night in midtown.
from the first roll of film I shot (I wouldn’t recommend developing the stuff at a chain pharmacy though. Scratches everywhere, and the colors are wacky.)