Thursday, May 5, 2016

Maybe I'll go to work. Maybe I'll stay home and write. Maybe I'll...

Monday, May 2, 2016

Drivel Series - One

The world is a little bit different when seen from the other side of a 2-day headache. If you simply have a headache, then you can remember what it was like when the sound of a child laughing brought joy to your heart. Even a child crying offered hope for the world in the form of a new generation. But, after the first day has passed, the memory of what life was like (before the pain behind one’s eyes crushed one’s will to be out of bed) slowly fades away, leaving one to wonder if that was ever reality to begin with – much like the over-analogized dream that one wakes from, struggling to grasp the threads of it in order to remember the details later, when one is awake – but unable to quite retain it all amidst the persistent daybreak of consciousness that flushes out the shadows of the dreamworld and floods the day with light.

Damn metaphors. Where’s my Advil?!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Greek-ish Chorus

I mentioned a couple of days ago on Facebook that my life needs a Greek Chorus. I think I was off the mark a little bit. I think that what I really need is to get my Greek Chorus into line. At the moment, they are more like what we see in the musicals Evita and Mamma Mia. Rather than a chorus talking in unison, I have a disparate group of voices chatting higgledy-piggledy. They follow me through my days, adding color and commentary to my life. When I'm feeling down they are there to echo my emotions, a sort of musical call and response. When I'm happy, we're dancing around the room, bowing to each other and lifting our glasses. If I can't sleep, a heap of them are sitting atop bed, discussing formulas for spreadsheets.

If I'm dizzy from my meds I have a very laid back guy saying, "Dude". Sometimes I'll be doing something – something productive, let's say – and I start to get dizzy. If I'm at home I generally take a nap, but if I'm out and about there's not nap to be had. I sit still a moment and think, what was it I was doing? Then we're all in the car together, happily singing along, ABBA blaring from the speakers, driving to Jerry's Artarama to get art supplies. Or, I'll be enjoying a nice cup of coffee and think about a beautiful tree outside the window. I'll consider that it is older than the building I'm sitting in, and suddenly there's all this chatter about what the neighborhood was like 50 years ago when it was all trees and fields, and how did they select this one tree to stay and lean on the railing of the porch, when they razed all of the others to make the shopping center. Sitting next to me, head-to-head, is a handsome Hispanic man and we're looking at each other knowingly, singing about the tree and how good the drawing is going to turn out. Then I take out the art supplies that I keep with me and begin drawing. Others chime in about the depth, and the need for shade in this one area and how this area is flat and they sing (in chorus) when I begin to make it better. And then the railing coming toward the viewer and taking a sharp turn, running parallel with the window I'm looking out of. Just kind of sketched in there, not detailed like the ♪ BEAUTIFUL TREE that is just outside my window! ♫♪♪

And the beautiful drawing that I'm adding to my journal, and I'm going to be able to retire from work and write and draw and a ♫ NEW EARNIE – A Rather Earnest Painter ♪ ♫ ♪ is coming into his own in a coffee shop in this wicked little town of Austin, TX.

Not quite the award-winning piece of art that my Greek-ish Chorus would have me believe, but they lost interest after about 20 minutes.

Other times they mock me. Why am I still working at this job where everybody is so mean? (In reality, the people I work with are delightful.) Why am I still sitting in front of a company computer marking time until I die? What happened to those wild dreams, when we were soaring and laughing and the Rather Earnest Painter was going to have it all? So, what happens now? Don't ask... any more. You made your bed, now lie in it. You have three novels started, you have writing skills that you've put into a drawer. At work I sit at my desk while, dancing around me, men and women sing about what I've done with my life, and more to the point what I haven't. Where is the success that would let me own a home in two towns, a place to get away and a place to come home to? Or, did I forget to try?

All in all I have to say that I like this group of singers, this Greek-ish Chorus, better than the one I used to have... or the way they used to dress? Does one lose the voices in one's head, only to be replaced by new voices? Or, do the voices age as we do? Anyway, I used to have voices taunting me about futility and ending my life. That group wasn't quite as much fun to be around. Even then I used to dream at night about being in a musical – a happy, upbeat musical that was my life and life was good. In the darkest times my chorus was there, somewhere, just out of sight, encouraging me, singing to me. I'd lose track of them and then they'd come to me in my dreams. Now, having moved beyond that other shady crew, I have with me a lovely, if somewhat bewildering, Greek-ish Chorus.

And, we're gonna make it after all...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Emerging Badgers

I have a lovely smart phone holder made by my friend, the ceramic artist Jason Hooper. I'm thinking that mine is the only one with two badgers descending from the running glaze. Do you see?

If you're interested in seeing more of Jason's work, you can do so here:

e A r n i e

Friday, March 25, 2016

Broken to Beautiful

I see us becoming such a disposable society. It's easy to get sucked into the mindset; I mean, new things rock! Gifts! I love new things. I had a friend from Brazil who wanted new Christmas decorations every year. I've always thought that memories of things that you've had for years were nice; Christmas is all about nostalgia, after all. But, he wanted brand everything new every year. Trees, lights, d├ęcor... Plastic is fine; we won't be keeping it long, anyway. A different theme every season. We have starter homes, starter marriages, first car, this year's car, this year's fashion...

At the same time I see shabby chic everywhere. What can't you make out of recycled pallets? The odd thing is seeing the shabby chic things in trendy stores. Intentionally shabby? I believe they used the word 'Distressed' for it. It's crafty without having to take the time.

But, I digress. I like the idea of reusing things. Things that are broken have a special appeal to me. I've started thinking about it and it seems that 'Broken to Beautiful' has always been my way. Broken to Beautiful means not perfect. It doesn't mean 'make the best of something'; it means 'use it on purpose'. It means, Take something broken and make it into something nice. As the song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch says, "You take the pieces off the ground, and show this wicked town something beautiful and new." There are not that many new things here where I live. It's a fabulously old home with two acres of grass that is trying to take over the world, and my head spins thinking about trying to keep up with it all. Fortunately, Nameless has been here for 25 years, so he's good at it – I get to help. I'm learning to mow grass and to trim shrubs, and I'm learning that somebody my age really needs to be careful when mowing grass and trimming shrubs. (Tennis elbow is real and it doesn't go away easily.)

A small set of wooden steps rotted and Nameless moved it to the side of the building that they led into. He moved a set of cement steps into its place, and the other ones sat on the side, waiting to be demo'd and tossed out. I had today off, and I thought it would be nice to have flowers on it. So, I turned it around and propped up the bottom step. I suppose we might go back and secure it, but for the moment I'm pleased with the way it looks. I bought some new (new?) plants and flowers for it, moved a rosemary plant that has been struggling there and put it all together. I didn't buy any new pots yet; I reused some that we already had. I'm going to buy a couple, just because we don't have any small ones and I want some that size for the second step.

I have very little experience with flowers, so who knows if they will like it in this location or how long they'll live? But, for the moment I'm pleased with it. (Hopefully, the rosemary will grow enough to hide the electrical outlet.)

e A r n i e

Friday, March 18, 2016


So, I work. Like most Americans. "They" have been encouraging us, lately, to be creative. (I'm assuming that this ties in with coming up with creative solutions to problems.) However, I was off the day they delivered the tiny bins of playdough and everybody got to make a creation and post pictures of them on our company chat. But, I can do some pretty creative things with spreadsheets. I do things that God never intended, actually. I try to keep in mind the ideals of design. It needs to be easy to read, intuitive and I try to keep my formulas such that a person coming in after me would be able to follow what I was doing and carry on in my absence. This has as much to do with documentation as it does with designing spreadsheets, and I also try to make my documentation easy to follow and pleasing to the eye.

Another person who works in my office is a fidgety sort of person. She is always playing with a pen, knocking over a cup of coffee, running face-first into a wall or something to keep us amused. This afternoon she was playing with her Rubik's Cube – a miniature one that was left on all of our desks close to the time that the playdough was delivered – while she was talking with two other people, one of whom works in our department, the other works close-by. The one who works in our department didn't blink an eye as the cube fell apart in our coworker's hand. It was only a matter of time, really. The person from the nearby department was a little taken aback, claiming that he'd never seen one fall apart. (I mean, I've never seen it, either. That doesn't mean I was surprised to see it happen to her.)

Just this morning on the way to work I was listening to the soundtrack to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. One of my favorite lines from that musical – one that has inspired me since I first saw the movie – is:
That, when everything starts breaking down
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
Something beautiful and new*
So, that's what I did. I took the pieces off the ground (out of her hand, actually. They hadn't hit the ground yet.) and made an art installation. I finally got the opportunity to express my creativity in a purely aesthetic way at work. I didn't post a picture of it on our chat, mostly because that was so, like, three weeks ago. But, I'll post pictures here. For you, Gentle Reader. I call it Unrest, a collaboration.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

*Stephen Trask


e A r n i e, the Rather Earnest Painter