I am not new to blogging. From 2006 – 2011 and a little into 2012, I posted to my blog nearly every day. The long-term experiment was called “PaperGirl” and she was among my best of friends. Wanna see what roughly six years of blogging looks like on paper? It looks like that picture up there. As I begin this iteration of my blog, I have this probably unfounded and rather obsessive need to let everyone know that I’m not new to this, that this is like drinking water, that I’m not going to drop of the face of the planet, that you can trust me.
The reasons I stopped PaperGirl (unofficially but clearly, once it had been 6 months since my last post) was simple: life got complicated. My marriage failed. I got slightly famous in a small corner of the world and wasn’t so sure how to navigate the personal and private at first. I became the editor of a magazine, i.e., work heated up. There were reasons to stop blogging and they were all excellent. It was a matter of appropriateness and responsibility, of priorities and timing. I actually prioritize nothing over self-expression, so that didn’t go away: it just went offline. My volumes of journals will bear this out, but you won’t see those. Sorry — aside from being handwritten and hard to read, I think I have a moral turpitude clause in my contract.
It feels so good to be home. I mean, back. I mean home. I mean home.
I cannot be denied: I am a lucky girl.
Several people in totally unrelated situations have said to me relatively recently, “I’d rather be lucky than smart any day.” The first time I heard this, I was appalled. How could anyone wish to be anything but smart? But if you apply it to business at least, it makes perfect sense. All the brains in the world won’t make your business succeed if the economy tanks or someone beats you to the patent punch. Ah, but if you’re lucky. If you’re lucky, there’s a snowstorm the day you debut your new + improved snowshoe and bam! Congratulations, old chap. Lucky trumps smart and you’re laughing all the way to the bank, except that it’s closed due to the snowstorm. It’ll be open tomorrow, don’t worry.
Anyhow, I am lucky to have found my current home when and where I did. It was a steal and it’s 100% perfect for me, not the least because I live close to the Chicago Art Institute. I can’t lean out my window and spit on it, not that I would, but it’s a pleasant 10 minute walk from my building which means that technically, it’s real close.[Editor’s note: Sorry to digress, but I simply must share with you what I usually call The Chicago Art Institute, how I always see the words in my head: The Art Insta-Toot. It makes me laugh, you see, to call that venerable institution “The ‘Toot.” It’s like calling your beautiful daughter “Squirt” or the Hadron Collider “Binky.”]
I strolled up with a friend to see the latest exhibit, “Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity,” and the whole thing just rocked my face off. It’s an astonishingly well-designed exhibit and I urge anyone who has it within their power to see it, see it. Please. It approaches life-changing. I took notes. I’ll likely revisit those notes again and again and you’ll have to hear about Manet and plackets and gouache from me, which is a dubious way to spend your time, but these things are up to you. Really, it’s wonderful and I commend the curators.
I learned a new word there at the ‘Toot: soutache. I saw this dress in one of the galleries and thought, “Hey! I know that motif! It’s in quilts!”
On the card next to this stunning garment was a note about how the “soutache embroidery.” I immediately thought of a sort of quilt, which, while it has variations and even different names depending on regions, makers, etc., is called “Lover’s Knot”:
See what I mean? The motif of interlocking, geometric loop-de-loops is clearly shared. So I thought, “Well heck, maybe soutache is the name for that motif. Maybe that interlocking pattern of lines is called soutache.”
Soutache is “the narrow, flat ornamental braid used to trim garments.” So it’s the trim, not the design of the trim. But that’s okay. I still learned the word. And it got me thinking about all the connections in textiles that exist. We human beings, we just love to make things. And from the prairie wife to the Parisienne, well, we love beauty, too. It was a neat connection to make in my brain and it made me feel so happy to be a person in the world who gets to see all the these beautiful creations mankind has wrested from the earth.
Toot if you love art.[toot]
Did you sleep well? You look amazing. Your hair is like, perfectly messed up. Very stylishly mussed. Do you know the word sprezzatura? It’s Italian, obviously. It means “studied carelessness”. A woman spending hours on her hair to make it look like she just rolled out of bed is working sprezzatura. That’s you right now, sprezzatura. Say “spretz-uh-TOO-ra.” Exactly.
Yes! Coffee! Here, I just made some. It’s French press; I don’t have a coffeemaker. No, because I hate appliances. All those cords and plastic; I can’t take it.
You did?? Oh no! Tell me. Oh, gosh. Oh, dear. Come here, darling. Oh, my, my, my. That’s simply awful. That’s an awful one. A wild boar chasing you is bad enough but not knowing the lines in the play on top of all that — yes, I’ve had that dream too, and it is just the worst. It was only a dream, though, and it’s over.
May I have a kiss, please? Thank you, darling. I do need plenty of kisses in the morning. Here’s the cream and sugar. Enjoy your coffee and I’ll get you a pastry. Take your time and we can think about what to do with the day. We have all the time in the world.
Welcome home, darling. I’m so glad you’re back.