The Genie is Out of the Bottle

Digital illustration (BW): Grinning Genie 1It would be hard to imagine a person who is less the early adopter than I am. Newness frightens me even under the best of circumstances, and I am intimidated beyond words at the idea of trying to learn anything. Worst possible example for anyone’s edification when it comes to scholarship, growth, adventure, futurism, daring, and tireless commitment to progress of any sort. I’m the one you’ll find huddled somewhere in the shady corner as far back of the starting blocks as I can manage to be, while everyone else is already sprinting gleefully into the turn.

Chalk it up, pretty succinctly, to fear. My self-diagnosis, summing up my own observations and experiences with the insights of better educated therapist and doctor supporters over my lifespan, is that the recipe made by my own ingredients of personality, health, situation and resources tends to combine into a person who’s timid and easily defeated. Add a dollop of laziness to my already potent blend of anxiety, dyslexia and other perceptive and receptive oddities, and my lack of physical strength and grace, not to mention of any sort of courage, and you get an unwillingness, even a very stubborn one, to set foot into new territories, whether actual or metaphorical.

Still.

When I feel I can experiment safely and without anyone else observing me at work, I may occasionally delve into something new with a surprising (to me, at least) sense of play and eagerness. Though I’ve resisted the idea of learning to use any new forms of technology, at least until they’re far from new anymore on a general scale, even these can be both useful and entertaining if and when I finally get up the gumption to try them. So here I am, finally, fiddling around with the iPad as an artistic medium. On our recent week’s jaunt to Puerto Rico, the iPad provided a convenient way to reduce the weight and size of my baggage from the old laptop I have lugged around for the last five years, and while I found it slightly irksome to peck at the tiny integrated keypad on it to write posts, it did work for that, and as long as I used newly made images or ones in my stream of digitally stored photos, I could plug in illustrations as well. Photos taken on my iPad or iPhone do not impress me much, and I find both a bit awkward to use at this point. But with a new set of digital drawing/painting toys, I’m distracted from any such photographic and textual shortcomings by the process of teasing out the secrets of each art-related program.Digital illustration: Grinning Genie 2

Once introduced to this plaything, of course, I loosen up and lose my inhibitions gradually. Knowing that after years of such untutored play with various iterations of Photoshop, I still only use a hundredth of the possible functions and tools it offers—and those, probably, in wildly incorrect and inefficient ways—I can only imagine that there will be exponentially more things I can learn and do, as well as fail to learn and do, with these newer tools and toys. But at least I’ve managed to wiggle my recalcitrant self into trying them, for a start.Digital illustration: Grinning Genie 3

Time Circles Back

digital image from a photoIf Memory Serves

If memory serves

It serves us right

To swerve first left

And then to right

To right the ship

And shift our weight

See changes flip

Both small and great

As fools it’s true

But happy ones

And lighted through

By moons and suns

As endless time

Follows its curves

To roll away

If memory servesdigital illustration from a photo

Asleep at the Wheel

digital illustrationI’m easily cowed. I get scared at the silliest things and overwhelmed about the most miniscule stuff, things that wouldn’t give anybody else a second thought. A natural-born scaredy-cat, that’s me. And easily stopped in my tracks, no matter what I’m doing, by anything from intimidation to roadblocks to plain old ennui. Undoubtedly there are people around me who would consider that if I’m so easily stopped and put off, then I am hardly present in life. I’m like some old curmudgeon who has had a little too much sun and just plain conked out on the tractor, right in the middle of tilling the field.

But in my heart, I am, and I want to act upon this, a person who would really prefer to accomplish things and–who knows–even have a positive effect on someone or something somewhere in the world. All I can hope is that if I am careful and consistent about taking advantage of my smallest moments of motivation and motion, I can eventually put them all together into a semblance of progress. If all goes well, there may come a time when you’ll see some of my little labors actually sprout and come to fruition. Never say never! Even the old codger in me would approve, I’m sure.

Where are They Now?

In a couple of generations, so much change! It seems to me, at this point in my life and the tiny spot where that life sits in human history, that change grows ever speedier, as well, but I can only guess at that. I do know that within the memory of my own family and friends, what was common knowledge and something like a cultural vernacular at one time within those groups disappears with the rapidity of birdseed down a squirrel’s gullet.

When I was growing up, computers were still [refrigerated] room-sized and full of punch cards that represented their binary data in concrete form, and any private individual owning or knowing how to operate one was generally a subject for science fiction and fantasy. You might think the magnitude of the gap between then and today’s ubiquity of such techno-wonders as laptops and smartphones and their ilk would carbon date me, but no, I am still alive and kicking (though not nearly so high as, say, a Rockette), and I expect that today’s marvels will have become equally quotidian and us, equally blasé about them almost before I can blink my diode-wearied eyes.

One of the more obvious markers of the speed of our cultural shifts has been our costume, at least since we started wearing clothes. I can, to be fair, imagine that–once there were more than a couple of people around wearing leaves and animal skins–there was immediately somebody on hand checking out whether the prognathous brow next door was adorned with a groovier piece of saber-tooth fur than her own, and some other body busily rearranging his gunnera leaf cape because he’d noticed with some envy that the cave dweller across the way had added another leaf to his ensemble for a hat, giving him a little more screening from the notice of passing pteranodons.

So eventually, we arrive in the present day, when there are still a few ladies alive who can remember wearing middy blouses, and their granddaughters instead wore midi skirts. And in the course of my life, I remember a number of fashions and popular items of clothing that have ranged rather widely and sometimes even circled back to repeat a generation later, when the young and trendy are distant enough from their original appearances to be unaware of how ridiculously out of date the New Thing looks to the people who knew it as the New Thing thirty years earlier. This tautology of togs can be amusing, mystifying, a tad mortifying, or possibly just inspiring to those who kept the ‘offending’ garments in their attics for just such an occasion or at least out of laziness and apathy. In any case, we find ourselves seeing the past replayed despite our long-ago vows to never revisit such awful and embarrassing gaffes of taste, expense and/or comfort, and as much as we might revile them on their reappearance, it’s not entirely unknown for us to readopt them along with the crowd, when they’ve become familiar again.

Where are they now? Probably right where we left them, waiting to be picked up and worn once more. Much as it pains me to admit it, you will probably eventually find me wearing, again, such vintage garb as elephant pants, soap-and-water saddle shoes, paper dresses, bobby socks, a matching crocheted vest and tam, dickeys, or perhaps just a tasteful voile pinafore over my dress. Not sure if I’ll go as far as a bustle or a farthingale, but since everything old is eventually new again, I can’t say for certain that I won’t, either. Safe to say I think it highly unlikely you’ll ever see me wearing a girdle or V-boots or armor, even if those should become familiar personal accoutrements again anywhere during my life, but I rule nothing out–weirder things have happened. And I’d hate to get too out of sync with my fashionista neighbors, don’t you know.digital illustration

Learned over Smoked Meat Sandwiches

Very Delicatesse

A liver-spotted gentleman

Is preferable to younger, when

The latter thinks himself too suave

To say a simple ‘Mazeltov’

Or serve you brisket with a pickle;

Such young bucks are cheap and fickle.

I prefer the well-worn style

That does a mitzvah with a smiledigital illustration

Let Us Drink to the Lady

Tasting Danger

She made us cocktails, bright and cold and brilliantly tasty

And nearly great enough to save all humankind,

Though possibly we could, in slurping them, have been less hasty,

For Thursday, carelessly it seems, she lost her mind.digital artwork

Electricity

Strung more tightly than violin strings, the two sweeping the darkened, smoky room in a feral arc know a dance that defies all others. Piazzolla provides the backdrop of sound, but the pulse is found far deeper inside–somewhere near the center of two souls, perhaps. Will the world implode in this, their passionate spin? Love, darkness and brilliance compel their moves; time will race or freeze and stars may blaze or die, but as long as the dance goes on, the night will be filled with mystery and animal joy that only these hearts could possibly make. Let the music stalk on, and learn to live and die of love: here in the night, the tango burning in these two will keep a world of beauty pulsing long beyond their lives.

digital artwork