Sunday, December 30, 2007

Laundry: Chapter 2

When I found my laundrymat closed, I panicked. What would I wear to work the following day? Then I remembered having heard something about a trendy laundry place near campus.

I drove downtown, peering through the freezing fog -- and there I found it: Laundry 101. The place is bright and colorful. They serve beer, espresso and little pastries. Numerous are video games, televisions, and undergraduates engaged in magnetic pre-mating gazes. I approached the barista for tokens.
To be continued on Thursday.

My friend Marianne convinced me to add this rejected drawing just for comparison. Now that I see it here, I'm not sure which one I like better. Each has problems. Each has strengths.

In the meantime, you might enjoy listening to a Hafez poem in farsi (persian). He writes here about seizing the day. Read the whole thing and you'll see why the 14th-century religious leaders felt threatened and exiled him. In Iran, poetry and music two sides of the same coin, so the recording starts with a melody.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Laundry and 14th-century Persian poetry

Laundry is a thorn in my side. First, because I never learned to do it well. Second, because I suffer from low-grade agoraphobia. I dislike the smell, lighting and general feel of the laundr-o-mat. But I had run out of clean clothes, so on Wednesday night, I gathered my laundry, bundled up, donned my big boots, and grabbed my purse.

*This on the recommendation of From the Faraway, Nearby, a fellow admirer of Iranian culture. He recently asked me to consider the merits of Hafiz (or Hafez) over Rumi. I was looking forward to an hour of discovering this 14th-century Persian poet while my laundry ran its cycle. But when I got all the way out there, the place was closed for holiday break! to be continued

Monday, December 24, 2007


During a biting snowstorm the other night I walked up the street to my wine bar/cafe. As soon as I sat down to draw, two men came in and took a table next to mine. The banter was an out-and-out wealth competition thinly disguised as a friendly conversation over a glass of wine.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Office Holiday Party

Our office pod voted to forgo the usual fattening holiday restaurant meal in favor of a field trip to the local bowling alley.

It was fascinating to see that the place was chock full at 2:00 in the afternoon. I always imagine that life shuts down while I am in my carpeted cubicle.

We got our shoes, ordered greasy food and cheap beer, and then got down to brass tacks. I didn't want to intimidate the young people in our office, so I played an easy game and let them win. My high score: 64. Their average: 250.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Democracy, Last Chapter

The next day people told me not to hold my breath, that politicians are all the same, that we are all going to hell in a handbasket. But I really felt good about the listening event that she provided. She seems like a regular person, a real person who is committed to the democratic process. She listened really well.

So on the morning of December 15th, I was happy to see the news.

She has joined forces with Robert Wexler(D-FL) and Luis Gutierrez(D-IL) to press for immediate impeachment hearings against VP Cheney. Read the very good short letter here. Send encouragement here before Nancy Pelosi's people get to her.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Democracy, Part III

It was moving to see so many regular people sitting together, taking turns speaking before our Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. What a contrast to the version of governance that has passed for democracy over the last seven years. I made a mental inventory.

We have a leader who hears God tell him what to do. Check.

We have a leader who soils the Constitution every few weeks. Check.

We have a leader who makes planet-threateninig decisions without the courtesy of offering a vote in the House or Senate. Check.

I text-messaged my Pakistani friend. She replied that since the election was rigged, it is a dictatorship. I text-messaged a friend from Saudi Arabia. She said that smells like a constitutional monarchy.

But the dominant American culture is so....distinct. It doesn't take anything fancy like that to seize power.

One more chapter to go. Thanks for the fun comments and e-mails and water-cooler conversations.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Democracy, Part II

Congresswoman Baldwin, standing in front of the podium, called on each speaker and then listened actively. She nodded, took notes, and sometimes asked for clarification. Ninety percent of the speakers expressed strong opposition to the occupation of Iraq, and urgent support for impeachment of Dick Cheney and George Bush. One timid man stood up clutching a small copy of the Constitution. He spoke haltingly and quietly. I was so proud when Luminiferous Ether stood up and delivered a point-perfect description of the crimes that this administration has committed.
Her final remarks were quite simple: "Withdraw, impeach."
To be continued, I think.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


This image won't publish any larger. Click on it to see what Suzy is knitting....or just to see the details.
To be continued probably.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What say you?

These are a few more drawings from last week's performance of "Twelfth Night." Cape and Tights suggested that sketches are just as much fun as final drawings, so I've tried to show a bit of process here. During the frenzy of gender swapping, I had the sudden thought that Shakespeare would have embraced Gloria Steinem's adage that "femininity is women in drag." Women played men, and women played women. We all play gender roles to some extent.

The flickering quality of the teenage actors added another layer of play. Sometimes they seemed like children, and then suddenly like fully-formed adults.


Thanks to Scout (Viola) for a really wonderful performance and also for helping me name these characters. I wish you all the good things in this world. (Photo by Scout's father).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Fluffy snow fell all day long today. If my calculations are right, this is the fourth big snow we have had this season. By noon it was still snowing, and we had almost five inches already.

At lunchtime a cube neighbor and I went out to walk in the woods nearby. We walked over logs and under branches. We heard snow and silence and a cardinal. Both of my boots got filled with snow. My wool jacket got pretty wet. But it was exhilerating.

The drive home was objectionable and harrowing. I warmed up and wound down with a candle-lit bath. Click on the drawing for better detail.

How now?

On Saturday night I walked up the street through falling snow to attend a performance of "Twelfth Night" by the Young Shakespeare Players, one of two top-quality children's theater groups in our city. I listen better when I am drawing, so I sketched my way through the amazing performance.

Complex scenes are new to me. I'm not wild about this one, but I think I captured the feel of the moment. Practice will get me closer to my goal. Here's a sketch from my notes:

Insomnia provided me with the opportunity to color it in just now.

My apologies to Sparkly Sea Cow, Mother Sea Cow, and Father Sea Cow for having missed the last performance of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." I thought I had one more week.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


A friend asked me about the horizontal line in my drawing of Michigan Avenue. I carry this small Moleskine with me everywhere I go, taking visual notes and filling free time with practice work. Usually I take a sketch and use up to 15 sheets of paper to develop it into a drawing for this blog. In the case of the complex sketch of downtown Chicago I decided to ink it and color it right there in my sketchbook. That's where the line came from.

PS: If you have never owned a Moleskine, you are missing out on the Mercedez-Benz of notebooks. Here's an astounding mini-exhibit of artistwork (invented word) in Moleskines.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Welcome to Chicago and Turkey

Last week a friend and I drove down to the Turkish Embassy in Chicago. She was applying for a visa to visit "the land of the undotted i," as my friend David calls it. When you visit an embassy you actually leave American soil, so it was a free and very pleasant one-hour trip abroad.

The people there were so warm and welcoming, and the view of Michigan Avenue was just spectacular.

Here's how you say "welcome, please sit down." "Buyurun, oturun ."

Click here for some nice Turkish saz music.

I took the opportunity to sketch a few images in the waiting room.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Last Chapter: Cubicle

I always underestimate the amount of time it takes to get from one place to another. So I was late coming back from lunch. Everyone else was hard at work.

Saturday, December 1, 2007