Pretty, purposeful things

Zakhar Sasim, the artist who painted the small piece in my living room had a booth at Art on the Avenue last week. I was in there looking at some of his smaller prints, and a woman asked him for the price of one of his large originals, which is about twice the size of the painting I own.

“Five hundred,” he replied.

“Five hundred DOLLARS?!”

He nodded. She shook her head in disgust and walked away. I was so disgusted by her disgust that I didn’t run after her to tell her he might be open to negotiation — he cut me a deal last year at Eastern Market.

It could be the influence of my yuppie neighborhood, but I don’t think $50o for a large original painting is exorbitant. I put a fairly high premium on simple things that delight me. I mean, I’m unlikely to empty my bank account because I’m in love with a piece, but most of the artists I’ve known have undervalued their work, not overvalued it. If it isn’t worth $500 to you, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth $500…or more.


Some artsy stuff I’ve been seeing and/or coveting:

I’ve etsystalked JMJStudio for a while — the use of color and the romance of the paintings just caught me. I don’t know when they started doing Braille paintings, but I’m a fan.

Autumn fire — all of my favorite colors in one 2′ x 2′ space…

Family trees are one thing, but how about a wedding guest tree that shows how you and your fiance are related to everyone at the party. No extra charge for snark: “Bride’s mother’s boss,” “B-list friend from junior college,” “Cousin and turnabout-is-fair-play bridesmaid.”

Take it or toss it

A few times this weekend, I heard a combination of the following:

Column A: You / Someone


Column B: take / hold onto / keep

this because

Column C: it’s nice / it’s engraved / you might use it / your children might like to have it.

I developed a mantra: Take it or toss it. It is not going home with me.

I’m not an unsentimental person. I have all my old prom photos (so did Mom) and all the newspaper clippings from the FHS Marching Band trip to London and France my senior year (so did Mom) and ticket stubs from Orioles games (Mom…well, how about two ticket stubs for her run at a national pageant title?). I have the cork from the champagne G and I drank last year, celebrating his California bar success and our reunion.

I brought home more than I wanted to, even with my mantra. I’d planned on the writing desk and my old highchair, but I’d forgotten about the rocking horse my uncle and godfather made for me. I’d planned on bringing home Mom’s china, but I hadn’t planned on bringing home even a handful of wineglasses…and I did. At the last minute, too, I found one of those old juice pitchers from the 70s — you know, the pear-shaped glass one with bright oranges and lime wedges on the outside? I brought that, too.


I refuse to take on inherited clutter. My mother had a home and lived in it for most of 30+ years — what she kept around her was her choice and undoubtedly a comfort to her, particularly in the moments when she knew at least one of us would always live far away.

But. As a person in my own right, and as an adult, I get to decide what things to keep around me, and what things are a comfort to me in my home. Mom had some nice furniture, sure, but I have no need of it and it’s not my style…not enough to make room for it in my home. I am also not in my “forever home” (to borrow a phrase from the animal shelters) — every non-consumable item that comes into my home is just one more decision I’ll have to make the next time I move.

If furniture or trinkets are not my style and don’t bring me the kind of joy they brought my mother, there is no balance to the stress of that delayed decision. And that decision is delayed mainly by guilt, isn’t it?

“It was important enough to her to keep, so it should be important to me. If it’s not, there is something wrong with me.”

Bullshit. I’m not Mom, I’m not going to be, I shouldn’t have to be, and there’s nothing wrong with just being me.

That’s bigger than ticket stubs and Christmas ornaments. I know. And guilt plays such a huge role in family dynamics all over the world. We’re taught to honor our mother and our father. For what it’s worth? That does not necessarily extend to their stuff.

Not even if it’s engraved with their initials.

Maybe it’s because I’ve moved more often than everyone in Mom’s family put together (and farther, certainly). I’ve had to pare down because I’ve had to pack and load and transport and unpack. I’ve had to get a little slicey-dicey about what’s important enough to deserve closet space, and I refuse to pay for extra storage.

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On the bride’s side

I’m truly honored to be part of Shotgun’s upcoming wedding. I’m always honored to be a part of any wedding–regardless of all the other stuff that gets wrapped up in planning The Big Day, choosing who will stand by you during one of your life’s greatest moments is never easy.

(That’s what I wish would guide guest lists, actually–not “whom do we have to invite?” but “without whom would this moment be incomplete?” Anyway.)

Shotgun picked a lovely dress for us, and a reasonably priced one (particularly given that it’s silk). It’s a color I don’t generally wear, but it’s just so pretty! I’m long past the point of caring much about what a bride asks me to wear–she could ask me to wear a D&G stamped trash sack cinched with a macrame belt, and I’d do it AND smile for all the pictures. The more weddings you’re in–particularly if one of them is your own–the more likely you are to just see your friend’s smiling face instead of the color and cut of the gown you’re asked to wear.

Not what we're wearingBecause that’s how this works.

To be fair, though, the dress is really, really pretty.

She also found shoes that I should hate because they’re gold and they’re strappy, and you will find neither of those things in my wardrobe, generally. But they’re adorable! And interesting! And comfortable! And they won’t make me taller than my date. These were also reasonably priced and came in wide-width for my weirdo, mismatched feetsies.

On top of all of this, I can state unequivocally that Shotgun, as a bride, has been a piece of freaking cake. In spite of her fair share of wedding planning stress (more, one might say, than her fair share), she has never once gone bridezilla on us. Not once. And the wedding is less than three weeks away.

(I’m not just being nice because I know her mom reads this sometimes (Hi!). I think Shotgun will back me up when I say I’m never “just being nice” with her.)

So it galls me to support traditional Wedding Industrial Complex nonsense when my dear friend has done such a remarkably good job of caring for her attendants. If your dress is over a certain size (and that size is one lower than the national average for women), you pay extra. The galling bit is that you then have to pay to have it altered, even though they took your measurements before making the gown.

Pay to add fabric, then pay to have it taken away?

This is also how it works.

It’s not the amount of money–it’s the principle. I may also just be jarred by the general rudeness in this particular bridal shop (that’s how they roll, though–they’re known for it). My friend is classy and well-mannered and they ARE NOT.


Poll: On the big screen

The new TV comes in today. Assuming I don’t need to call in reinforcements to help me lift the thing to its perch and hook it up to the cable and DVD/VCR, how should I test out its features this weekend?

40 inches of Farsi!

Y’all, I finally gave up and ordered a new TV. And because I would very much like this TV to last as long as the one it’s replacing (which I bought the summer I moved in with Tammy in Dublin–1998?), I spent some cash on it. It was on sale, there was free shipping, but it’s still got “Sony” on the box and cost about as much as I had hoped to be spending on a puppy this summer.

tvIt’s a 40″ LCD with the trimmings. HD. HDMI cables. You know. All that stuff. And take a good look, because it is unlikely that this image will ever appear on my screen once it’s hooked up.

Unless I wind up hosting a Super Bowl party or something, but, in the event that someone who cares about football does not step forward, I will relinquish the remote and reserve my attention, as I do with any football-focused event, for the munchies.

What I’m most excited about, aside from being able to view programming and movies without extra pink or green tinting in the upper left quadrant, is hooking up my laptop and using this monster as a monitor.

I’m expecting this to be particularly useful, now that my company’s education and training database, which I can access online, anywhere, at any time, now offers the COMPLETE ROSETTA STONE COLLECTION. Instead of watching Law & Order reruns, I could now learn to converse with the world.

If it comes down to Emma or a Spanish lesson, though, I think we all know I’m going to pick the Jane Austen flick. I mean, really.

If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?*

I have never missed my grandparents’ farms as much as I do this week.

I am totally comfortable with the natural food chain. I grew up on and around farms, and I can look into a cow’s face, scratch it behind the ears, and eat it for dinner (I’ve only proven that with a rabbit, though). I know plenty of people go in the opposite direction — they can’t eat something with a face, they don’t believe in killing just so they can eat — and I can respect that (although there is an argument to be made that killing is killing and broccoli would scream if it could). It just had the opposite effect on me. I went in the direction of thanking an animal for converting all that grass into protein just for me.

I’m comfortable being a carnivore (omnivore, really) because I grew up on and around farms. It smelled like shit, but it taught me where food comes from and what it looks like. I understood from an early age that some animals were pets, and some animals were lunch…just as some plants were for looking pretty, and some were for salad.

So I don’t have any personal ethics preventing me from eating other living, sentient beings. It helps that virtually nothing grosses me out (also thanks to my farmy upbringing).

I do have a personal belief in nature, evolution, and balance, though, and that’s why Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma is getting to me. It’s not the first book I’ve read about the industrial food chain — nor will it be the last — but the perspective is hitting home in a very real way. It turns out being willing to benefit from murder (tasty, tasty murder) is not the same as not caring about the hamburger in question.


…Hold on…


…I’m trying to reconcile a cow’s right to be a cow with my right to eat him…


…This may take a minute…

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SEO: “similar to “graham web” [sic] making waves”

Sorry, dude. My stylist told me at my last appointment that it’s been discontinued. and you’re the second person to get here looking for it. There are still places to get it online, though — Amazon still had it, last I looked.

On the recommendation of Maggie Mason over at Mighty Girl, I’ve switched to Tigi’s Catwalk Curls Rock. It works best on wet hair, it gets a little stickier than I like, and I’ve had to start using a blow dryer again, but it definitely does the trick.

Best of luck…


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