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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday

There is a specific moment in every drawing that I do when I want to give up. It comes early on, after I have drawn no more than a handful of lines are on the page. I stop for a second to take a deeper breath in and I realize that what I have so far on the page resembles nothing at all, not the image in front of me, not the reflection of that image in my brain, not anything that I can recognize. The lines look utterly random, utterly empty of any potential for transformation. And I want to throw pencil or pen or charcoal or crayon on the floor and stomp on it; I want to go outside and burn my drawing pad and give up drawing forever.

It feels like a small miracle every time I step over this momentary despair and keep going. I scribble and trace and erase and scratch and scrawl more lines, and then the marks on the page begin to take shape; I can see a leg and the shadows on an arm and, if I squint, even a believable face. It isn't so hard to finish the drawing any more, even if it's not a good drawing. It isn't so hard to imagine myself trying again on the next page of my drawing pad, and getting better.

I get so easily discouraged that sometimes I marvel that I have gotten as far as I have with writing and drawing and learning. In grade school I dreaded those endurance races we had to run in P.E. class; I always came in last, made horrible time, and had to stand for five minutes bent over with my hands on my knees to regain my breath. I get a knot in my stomach just remembering that. The most I can accomplish are short spurts of work, and then I get tired and upset and lose faith in myself. I learned to rest for a bit, then start over. I still can't fully accept the fact that I have to stop more often than other people, that it will take me longer to get to the finish line, that once there I will need more time to recover than everyone else. But I'm trying. I keep telling myself: whatever you do, don't stop. After all, even if you get to the finish line when it's dark and everyone has gone home, it still counts.


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