stories

for the information age

 

Many of us are having unprecedented digital work, educational, entertainment, medical and communication experiences. While others are on on the frontlines, providing essential services.  

 

How we can maintain our humanity, awareness of our selves and others through this amazing evolution? After all, we must live. We must work. We must love. We must, from time to time, look up and see the moon, we must see one another. These bite-sized stories chronicle my efforts, both pitiful and successful, to keep the digital world in its place – as a fantastically powerful and useful tool rather than an all-consuming way of life.

 

My hope is that they help you do the same.

christmas motive - cross section of red


It was a cold winter evening when my future husband and I went to the Met with our figure drawing class. The night was brisk, but inside the museum's Great Hall, the air was thick and warm. Our assignment was to make a drawing of a figurative sculpture. For three hours, we sat on the museum floor, looking at a dancing, sandstone Asian deity, making fairly bad, but extremely satisfying charcoal drawings of her. We observed the thousand beads of her headdress, the wild curves of her breasts. We noted the shadows at her neckline, how the light hit her crescent-moon eyelids. We sat still as we drew, said nothing; something hallowed was transpiring and we dared not speak of it. We left the museum happy and full. If my mental faculties ever fail me, the memory of that sculpture will be the last to go.


Our subsequent visits to the Met have been markedly different. We enter, children in tow, determined to see everything. We study the museum map and chart a path. We move from Velasquez to de Goya, from Picasso to the ancient Egyptians. We walk and we walk. We see Roman artifacts, the Rodin sculpture garden, African totem poles, Dutch still lifes. We look at textiles, coins, tea sets, amphoras, armor. We point and we talk. When one of us says something clever, we nod, and move to the next image. We press on. There is stilll much to see.


Soon enough, our feet begin to throb. We become hungry, and then irritable. Some in our party want to leave; one of our children flops down onto the floor and begins to cry. I eye my husband in exasperation; I told you it was time to go. On the drive home, I try to remember what I have seen, to name a favorite image, but am dismayed by the blank I draw.


In life and online, images roll by, one after another. But it is only when we stop and really look that we see.

Updated: Feb 25


It is winter. Even in California, the air is icy and the rainstorm we have waited for all year clatters down. This morning, a respite and the sun emerges between downpours. As I pull the bedroom shade up to let the light in, a hawk the size of a well-fed racoon is busying about in a gully. Doing what, I am not certain, but likely, at this early hour, something to do with breakfast.


I hitch the window shade cord to its cleat, watching the creature all the while. It is a funny feathered thing, hopping around on the ground. But then, behold— it snaps open magnificent striated wings, spreads formidable talons wide and lifts in slow, authoritative thrusts to air— now, an illogically lithe, commanding beast that vanishes up into the trees.


This transmutation. Aren’t we all capable of it? Oh, lord, let it be.


At dusk, when I step outside to get the mail, a half-moon hangs overhead. This is January in California and the year is 2021. The Santa Ana winds are coursing and the air moves in warm, off-kilter gusts. Tangles of unkempt iceberg roses flank the old brick walk to the street. Normally, I do not like these roses; I find them gnarled and messy this time of year, but tonight, in the waning light, they nod petaled heads in the breeze. Tonight, they float, white-winged and luminous, otherworldly creatures that dip and rise in the darkening air.


It is star rise and sunset, and for one warm breath, the day’s horrors recede.


The rusted letterbox door creaks when I open it. Inside: advertisements, the water bill.