The End

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Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. (sidenote: great article on an Art Basel project involving this painting, Lady Gaga, and Robert Wilson).

Work has been… work. As much as I try to be grateful for a job – and I don’t absolutely hate it – I can’t help but wonder if the life I am living is “worthwhile and good”. Is what I do important? Not really. Does it bring me joy? Nah.

While it is nice to make money and be comfortable, life is short. When I try to come up with jobs that would bring more joy and purpose into my life I get stuck – because none of those jobs actually make money. While I don’t need much to live, I do need to eat.

The reason all of this has been on my mind is because I’ve found myself thinking about “The End”. As in – death.

I am not particularly fond of the macabre. I hate haunted houses and tend to shy away from darkness. But, after being present when my father passed away in 2013, I cannot stop thinking about the last exit. Why is it so terrifying? Why as a culture have we demonized death if it is inevitable? Try as we might, we cannot stop the march of death.

I just finished the book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty (also known as the lady from Jezebel’s Ask a Mortician feature). It details all the banal (and often gnarly) tasks that go into preparing the dead for burial/cremation. At times horrifying, it was incredibly refreshing. When we pass away, the bodies we leave behind are shells. I certainly saw that with my father – he was gone. His body was white and small. My father as I knew him had left the building.

Doughty shares more information – including fascinating historical facts about death – on her site The Order of the Good Death. Her writing really makes me think about what it means to not only have a “good death” but how to live a good life. To my mind, if your life is satisfying then death is a little less tragic. You did something with that gift of life. You made yourself happy. You contributed something. It wasn’t all about suffering or just muddling through. When it is time to go, you can leave in peace knowing you did your bit.

Along these lines, this article in the NYT on Zen and the Art of Dying is a great read. Instead of thinking about the past or the future, this hospice like center focuses on the present moment of the patient. I strive to be more in my moments constantly – and I certainly hope that as I grow older can I do so (even as Death starts to stare me down).

On the flip side, this NYT article discusses new approaches to grief. While sadness is human, getting stuck in grief can be crippling.

Sigh. I’m still on the journey of figuring what my “worthwhile and good” life is. Maybe that journey never ends. At least until death, anyhow.

A New Day

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It’s Thursday! Which means it’s almost Friday! Which means 2 whole days of glory (aka the weekend) are fast approaching!

Sometimes it feels like I spend all my time counting down to weekends. Sigh. But how do you stay in the moment if it’s a moment you don’t particularly want to be in? For example, that moment at work when your weird co-worker starts talking about how much they love workshops on negotiation technique (true story).

I’m working on it, but sometimes being present consists of counting down the seconds for something to be over. It’s like yoga – the pain of holding the pose is worth it once you straighten that knee and get a flush of accomplishment and relief. Gotta keep that in mind – sometimes the reward comes once you’ve made it through.

A good reason to get excited about Friday – this Nina Simone documentary premieres on Netflix.

Looking forward to actually using a farmer’s market buy this weekend with this recipe.

I love Linda Rodin! I am going to take her advice on more sleep to heart this weekend.

I am obsessed with this swimsuit… it’s on sale… decisions, decisions.

Alright – another 24 hours to make it through and we’re all FREE!

BTW – lovely painting by Clyfford Still.

The Sorrow and the Beauty

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A little Helen Frankenthaler for your thoughts?

Listening to the radio this morning, I was hit with a wave of sadness. There was brief coverage of the services in Charleston and the grief smacked me right in the face. Shitty things happen all the time. For some reason, this tragedy in Charleston feels different. It brings fresh sorrow every time I see a photograph of mourners or hear a family member speak of their lost loved one.

Something has to change. How can we as a country live like this?

I don’t have any of the answers. I don’t know what the next steps are. All I know is something is wrong and (unfortunately) I don’t think we, the American people, can rely on government to fix it.

For now, I am keeping the people of Charleston in my thoughts and in my heart. I hope they can feel the love so many are sending their way. Even in the face of such terribleness, there is always love.

Some brighter notes from the day:

This tragedy is opening up some very overdue dialogue around use of the Confederate Flag.

Yes – more Nina Simone. 

Wish I was in Paris for this exhibition. 

Um – I love this list and I love how wrong Fox was about a film with a female protagonist.

Lianne La Havas? Yes, please. 

I can’t claim to understand it all – but gotta give Taylor Swift props for standing up to Apple. Girls got balls.

In The Thick Of It

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Who has the time for anything?

Since moving and starting a new job I feel like when I’m not working all I can do is move my body and rest my brain. Great for my butt – not so great for my mind.

Full disclosure – I am not a Dali fan (maybe it’s the headache of how many fakes there are out there). That being said, this melting clock – I get it now.

So how do we deal? Be present. Ugh. Just be present. I’m working on it. Those delicious little moments you find can last forever if you stay with them. Remembering to do that though is the tricky part. My mind is trained to leap forward and plan the upcoming hour for maximum efficiency. The problem with that being I miss out on those wonderful in-between parts of the day that are actually the most joyful.

I will say this – Seattle certainly encourages being present. It’s so beautiful here. It’s hard not to stop and take a breath when you realize a huge mountain is looming in the distance or a breeze brings the briny sound air to your morning walk. I am working on treasuring those moments and holding them with me through my days.

Le sigh. The work never ends, does it?

Below are some neat things – mostly art – that are keeping me present.

When to close your eyes. 

This is fascinating – I certainly believe how I eat contributes to my state of mind. 

Just finished this book – a deeply moving story of how life can change in an instant.

Sufjan Stevens newest album Carrie and Lowell is a work of art. 

Mack The Knife

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It’s been awhile. Work, life, more work all kept me away too long.

I googled peonies (because I have a lovely bunch on my counter right now) and found this picture of Martha Stewart and it felt right. So here she is.

Apparently, a pregnant great white shark is making its way to NYC. As soon as I read that headline I started humming that old ditty about Mack. What started out as a harmless little hum turned into a Wikipedia rampage. Did you know Mack the Knife, aka Die Moritat von Mackie Messer, is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper? What?!?!

The older I get the more I realize I don’t know anything. This is true about pretty much EVERYTHING, except about myself. The one thing I can really check in with and get on the same page on is myself. I don’t always like myself a lot of the time, let alone love myself. But at the end of the day, I’m kinda all I’ve got. Even if knowing myself means knowing that everything I know right now I might not even begin to really know tomorrow. Sigh. Getting older just makes you see how much more there is to learn. It’s exhilarating and scary – probably why that fear of death starts to kick in.

One thing I doubt we’ll ever TRULY know is what foods will actually make you live longer. That being said, I’ll happily believe this study that found coffee is really good for you.

I stumbled across this article trying to answer my own questions about acupuncture. I love acupuncture and have had some amazingly good sessions lately.

Still trying to find a good wedding guest dress. Found this delightful little store. Mostly I just want to lounge like this at a wedding.

This man LOVES his chihuahua. I totally get it, dude.

Alright, time to put the internet to bed and get (much-needed) sleep.

Le Sigh

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Wishing myself back to in time to the James Turrell exhibit…

Spring is here. It’s official. It’s great.

The photographs accompanying this article gave me chills. Velasquez paintings come to life. 

This article really resonated with me – perhaps it is because living in New York you are constantly dealing with loss because you are constantly dealing with change.

I heart Tony Hale! 

I like the idea of a work uniform – but then I feel like you’ve got to be impeccably groomed for that to work. Impeccably groomed I am not.

Art has the blues. 

The question of art and boundaries – especially with children – will always be a gray area. This article was fascinating. I felt myself jumping to judgements and then reminding myself I don’t have kids. I cannot even begin to relate the complexities of Sally Mann’s relationship with her children.

Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall for the win! 

Rejoice – Tuesday Is Over!

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One day I will own a telescope. And I will see amazing things. And I will be able to call myself a “sky-watcher”.  Sigh. So dreamy.

St. Vincent will you puhleaze just be my best friend? Sigh. She is just too cool.

I think I want this? Or do I just want more art? I cannot decide if this kind of technology is good or bad for art…

Loved this album. Now loving this album.

This is a great article. What a neat lady with such a neat job.

My body is crying out for some chocolate right now. Is this a healthy choice? 

And so the Serial serial continues…