The following is a rerun of a blog post I wrote during the 2006 Olympics in Torino.
:060216: My captors want me to choose a favorite event. I can't do it. I love them all. It doesn't matter which event is happening, I love to watch. I can say that some of my least favorite are the team sports. I think this is because of the elimination process. If the two best teams in the world are matched against each other early on, one team gets the chance to try for gold, and the other can't get any medal at all. It just doesn’t seem fair.
At the start of each event, I always find myself rooting for the US. Every two years, for two weeks, I am very patriotic. I enjoy the victories of athletes from my country. I've never met these people, I've never participated in their sport of choice, but their victories are my victories. There is something inspiring about belonging to something that is the best in the world. It feels good to root for the best in the world.
So, although I like to root for Americans, I don't really like to root for Americans who are not the best in the world. I much prefer to root for the best in the world. Doesn't matter what country they come from, if they are medal-bound, I'll whisper my go-go-gos for them, too. I can appreciate the beauty of a sport well done, even if I know nothing about the sport. Yes, I'll readily admit that I am a fair-weather fan.
I'm also a sucker for a good underdog story. A shoddy upbringing, a terrible injury, multiple past Olympic dreams dashed, even a bad pre-competition practice will get me rooting. Speaking of bad pre-competition practices, I am of course rooting for the American, Lindsay Kildow who totally bit it on the downhill during practice, enough to land her in the hospital overnight with deep muscle bruises, and she's skiing now despite the pain. I'm also rooting for the French skier, Carole Montillet-Carles who crashed on the same run, sustaining rib, back and facial injuries. Her face is so bruised and swollen she can barely fit into her helmet.
The element of danger in so many events grips me with fascination. The athletes travel at such incredible speeds in unforgiving environments. You don't realize just how fast they are going until they fall, and you see how high they bounce. How did they get to the level where they can handle those extremes? Then it dawns on me that they start out small. Very small. They have worked for years and years to get to where they are. I not only cannot fathom working so hard on something to get so good at it, I also cannot fathom spending so much of my life focused on a single pursuit. One sport. One single idea. Every moment of your free time since you were very small.
It is because of this that I wonder what goes on in the minds of medalists on the podium. Some grin stupidly, and can't really believe that they are there. Some weep with the release that comes from years of pressure coming to fruition. Probably none of them are thinking yet, "Ok, what now?" Now that they have done what they set out to do, what they have spent every moment of their free time doing for as long as they can remember, what do they do now? These athletes are not very old. The youngest of them will set their sights four years into the future and prepare for the next Olympic games, or other competitions. Some will become commentators for their particular sport. I guess the rest will get a job.
All in all, I am a fan of sport, of friendly competition, of the top dog and the underdog, of the fastest race and of the fairest race, of the home team, of the falls that are agonizing out of pain or out of broken dreams, of giving it your all, even when you know with absolute certainty that you will not win the medal. And yes, I’m absolutely and unashamedly a fan of the "Life Takes Visa" commercials.
__The following was originally written by Rosemarie Urquico.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 am clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.
Cozy is a good way to put it.
Each time I read Alicia Paulson's blog, Posie Gets Cozy, I find myself snuggled on the couch, enveloped in the fluffiest blanket in the house. Soft, cool, winter afternoon light spills across the room, and I seem to be getting something done while doing nothing at all.
At least that's how it feels.
Alicia has a way of harnessing a perfect afternoon, replete with just the right amount of crafty inspiration, good food, present loved ones, and relaxing pace with her brilliant writing and beautiful photography.
Alicia's shop, Posie: Rosy Little Things is where you can find many of her patterns, or you can check out her book, STITCHED IN TIME: Memory-Keeping Projects to Sew and Share.
An excerpt from the blog post titled: "Knitting"
"In a strange way, I love knitting more than any of the other crafts I do. Its stitches have been harder won, and are somehow more precious to me. The fact that my dad might have thought it was cool is precious to me. I never do it for "work," the way I do sewing or crochet or embroidery designs; knitting is only for me, and only ever will be." (Photo below from the same post).
Northern California artist Marianne Bland of Truc d'Art is on a mission; she is creating a new piece of art every day for an entire year. All of this effort is being documented in her blog, Art Project 2010, in which she dishes up "fresh art (& snark) daily!"
Since I love me some good art, and some good snark, I decided to check it out. Marianne employs a striking variety of style and texture, and the year is just beginning...
Of all the posts so far, my favorite is Day 36. I have spent many days contemplating the twisted, stately eucalyptus trees of Northern California. Each time I return, the smell of "euks" (as I call them in my head) brings me back to memories of warm days surrounded by the trees that seemed always green and always brown at the same time.
I find it interesting then, that the opening lines of Marianne's description of the day so closely reflect my own feelings about eucalyptus trees and returning to a place in which I spent so much time.
An artist is, of course, entitled to feel anything they wish about their own art, but I think this one is a winner, and not "meh" at all.
Here is Marianne's original post:
It’s a weird feeling to drive down the streets of your hometown after a long time away. Routes I used to take every day are both familiar and odd at the same time. It’s as if I can feel the space of time, as if it’s palpable. Being here made me think of the things I used to do here. When I was upset or frustrated, I cherished my alone time in my car. I didn’t have to deal with crowds or lines or traffic or anything, it would just be me and my CD player and my sketchbook. I used to drive out to Ohlone, the community college in Fremont, and park in front of a eucalyptus tree for hours. I’d draw and write and sip coffee. I always wanted to do a nice watercolor of the trees, the way the bark falls away in strips and leaves unexpected colors in lines wrapping around the trunk like brushstrokes.
But watercolor and I have a rocky relationship. We go through phases. Sometimes it’s all movies-and-dinner and fabulous conversation, and other times it’s walking on eggshells and constant arguments that end in walking away from each other.
Yesterday’s painting took so long that I wanted to do something faster today. I drove out to some of the giant eucalyptus trees near the sushi place at 5:30 with about 25 minutes of light left.
I did a quick charcoal sketch, then came home and picked a palette of the secondaries and abstracted it a little. I feel “meh” about it, but they can’t all be winners.
Smashgirl creates "recycled art for your home" out of - you guessed it - smashed up other things! Sounds strange at first, but the mosaic effect is stunning. Smashgirl also has a blog, titled Pieces of My Life (love the pun).
While perusing her blog, I found this excellent post reflecting on what it truly means to take some time away from it all, or to take time away from it all.
While I only have 6 clocks in my house, that's one for every room, and they're all positioned strategically so I can see them at all times. Plus I wear a wristwatch, and I have worn one nearly every day for 20 years.
Here is Smashgirl's original post:
I woke up the first morning of my vacation wondering what time it was... I glanced around the bedroom looking for a clock. I got up, went into the kitchen of my beautiful Costa Rican beach house rental... nothing. I surveyed the entire place, alas not a single thing telling me what time it was.
That was the only day I thought about the time... it didn't matter. I awoke when my body naturally felt like it. I ate when I was hungry. I stopped wearing makeup, let my hair go curly, and it was freeing.
I read a whole book... swam in the ocean... played solitaire. Watched my kids open coconuts, my husband surf, and the pelicans dive.
Then I set my watch to "Tico Time". (Ticos are what the Costa Ricans call themselves). My day was measured by the low and high tide. The man selling fresh, cold coconut milk on his bike. The "Fishman" who came by each day with his fresh catch. The woman with the two small white dogs with their matching green frisbees. Kahlina, the German Shepard who stopped by each day to visit me on my beach towel. The sun setting, and the wine opening.
Then I came home and counted the clocks in my house... eleven.
Although art is challenging enough in its own right, I love a good art challenge.
Rita Squier of Squier Art & Design has created a challenge for herself, and is documenting her progress on her Blog.
The challenge is this: paint one new painting every day for the month of February, 2010.
February is just getting started, but so far she has painted at least one new one every day. There are even THREE for today, Super Bowl Sunday. Either football is really inspiring to Rita's art, or the Super Bowl gave her a good excuse to go into the other room to paint.
My favorite so far is the Forest Gems ACEO (shown above).