This guy is from Augustus Sherman’s collection of Ellis Island portraits. The photo is dated 1906. He’s listed simply as “Romanian shepherd.”
I looked up the May Day celebrations and rituals of Romania (nearly every country’s got some), and this apotropaic one charmed me:
“The entries to the animals’ shelters are adorned with green branches. All branches are left in place until the wheat harvest when they are used in the fire which will bake the first bread from the new wheat.”
To be clear, the fire is to bake the bread.
Definitely only the bread.
Definitely not the sad American co-ed’s bad boyfriend dressed in a bear suit.
I had food poisoning the day before my birthday, so I’m just now catching up on life and everyone’s super kind greetings from March 15, usually the best day ever (just ask this little party animal circa 1988).
THANK YOU! It was, shall we say, not a great day this year, BUT, I’m grateful for it all the same.
I think the rest of my 36th year is going to be awesome.
Here are a few reasons why:
At the beginning of the year I got accepted into StoryStudio Chicago’s Novel in a Year program. They only accept 12 writers per cohort AND I GOT IN. I have been too shy to apply for years, wary of my fledgling fiction-writing skills, but I finally got the courage last fall and am honored to now get to study under the author Abby Geni for 12 months. The program is giving me the final push I needed to finish this manuscript I’ve been tinkering away at for years. (It’s fiction about two people trying to save their hometown roller skating rink. That’s all I’ll say for now, but I love the story, the characters, and the rink.)
Justin and I are moving to a much bigger new place in the same Chicago neighborhood we’ve loved living in the past few years. It has enough room for us each to decorate our own space of the apartment (a divisive issue in our last spot, because Justin’s style is very 90s hip hop music video house meets minimalist chic and my style is very OMG DOLLY PARTON AT GRACELAND meets “never met a shag carpet or a cheetah print I didn’t like”). I’m turning the sunroom into my office and I can see Metra trains cruise by on the treeline and above the rooftops as the sun sets and, fuck dude, I die everytime I see it because it’s all I imagined a sunroom to offer. The best part is that a dear friend of mine found the spot for us randomly on Next Door and it feels like friend-fate/ the power of my home-is-inside-yourself approach to life coming to fruition IRL.
My new-ish job is chaotic but overall great. Did I post about this last June? Anyway, I got a new fully remote, full time senior writing and content strategy position at a creative studio last June and I’m doing a lot of tech writing. It’s a fun challenge to flex a new writing muscle and learn about computer science and engineering on the clock. I still pinch myself that I get to make such a great, intellectually stimulating living through writing. Writing has paid my bills for the last 18 years. Eternally grateful for the natural talent and the hard-driving teachers who got me here.
Making lots of new art. Last year I started incorporating acrylic and watercolor paint into my practice, and I’ve been obsessed with making collage animations in PhotoShop recently.- Still crushing that auntie game! I love all the little babies! I feel like kids just need a lot of “Yes, and…” when they play and I am excellent at that. I get a lot of joy out of getting to know my nieces and nephews as they grow up. Such cool people my people made!
I finally learned how to make orange eyeshadow work on my dumb face!
It’s worth repeating ad nauseam: My narcolepsy diagnosis a few years ago was life-changing and the medicine I take now to fight my extreme fatigue has been life-giving.
Six years sober in April, baby. My second birthday, as my anonymous friends like to say. Fingers crossed I won’t be sick for that one this year too.
There’s a cliche saying among writers that goes, “I don’t like writing. I like having written.” I feel that way about moving. I don’t like moving. I like having moved.
Justin and I are getting ready to move into a new place in a few months. I’m pumped for more space, a sunroom that has had me salivating with possible arrangements and activities since I first laid eyes on it in December, and — the holy grail of any Chicago spot at a decent price — an in-unit washer and dryer and central air conditioning.
Still. I am feeling major resistance to actually doing the damn thing. I envy the wealthy if only for the fact that they could just hire someone to pack up all their stuff, move it, unpack it, set it up, and hand off the keys to their velvety-soft richie-rich hands in one afternoon.
It’s not like Justin and I have a ton of stuff to move. (We live in a one-bedroom apartment and are jaded from so many prior moves that we’re more likely to throw stuff out before it’s time rather than hoard it up until we have to get rid of it.) And it’s not like we’re moving that far away. (Literally a 15-minute walk, three-minute drive.)
Moving is just one of those things that will always suck. Even for wealthy people with personal packers and Botoxed hands.
I accept this. So to motivate myself, I’m doing what any self-respecting middle-class lady would do: Pinning allllll the decor dreams for this future home on Pinterest. In my head, I’ve lived in at least five different versions of that coveted sunroom at this point. Now I’ve moved on to decorating the bathroom in my mind.
Justin and I have a macro.baby bedspread at our current joint. We’ll probably get a new one for our next place. We talked about doing a macro.baby shower curtain and clock combo too.
And that, my friends, is the key to a lasting creative partnership. Get you a lover who genuinely likes the ish you make!
We saw our families for the first time after more than a year away.
I earned the best job I’ve ever had.
I was published in one new literary journal.
I was exhibited in two new art galleries.
I was accepted into a prestigious novel-writing program.
I found a new place to live with my best friend / creative partner / husband.
I deepened fledgling friendships into true sisterhood.
I learned to boogie board in Maui, which scratched my itchy wild side in a way I haven’t felt since I quit drinking.
I celebrated five years sober. (!!!!!)
I passed through something, some darkness I have been navigating for 20 years. I have finally found my way to the home inside myself. I’ve opened the front door. I’ve stepped inside. Next year, I’ll figure out how to turn the lights on.
And, of course, I got to know Tina Turner better. 😉 This quote from the documentary TINA is my favorite of the year:
Look at what I have done in this lifetime with this body. I’m a girl from a cotton field that pulled myself above what was not taught to me.
I hope you have the very best new year. (“Simply the best,” perhaps?)
Keep pulling yourself above what was not taught to you.
The show will have more than 50 unique art objects for sale under the gallery’s Christmas tree. Two of my original embroidery artworks and a gift pack of my collage notebooks will be wrapped up all pretty under there. 🙂
The gifts will have the name of the artist who made the work on them (so guests can have an idea of what they may be purchasing) but the contents of the gifts will be a surprise.
Every gift is $300 or less and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Brave Space Alliance in Chicago.
Come in and buy a gift of artwork, hang out, and enjoy baked goods from Gingham Baking and eggnog. What a Saturday! There’s word Santa might even show up…
The gallery will be open Sunday as well so you can still hit up the tree if you can’t make it Saturday. They’ll have items available on the online shop soon too.
Chicago friends, come see two of my newest pieces in person, plus work from these awesome other artists!
The Fulton Street Collective group show Journey / Explore opens this Friday, December 10, from 7-10 pm.
The address is 1821 W. Hubbard St. (on Hubbard between Wolcott and Wood, and NOT on Kinzie… that’ll send you to the alley, and that’s not where the show will be though perhaps that’s a cool idea for next time??)
Tickets are $5 and there’s a capacity limit (because 😷), so snag yours now!