Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Part, Apart

People wear me out. There. I've said it. It's enervates me to socialize. (Enervate, vt, to weaken mentally or physically.) I like alone time even if I'm out among strangers but not specifically supposed to be engaged with them.

I took this photo in Dallas, on McKinney Avenue, while walking around by myself. (FFP was getting a massage in the hotel spa.)

I realized today that I'm the right age and in the appropriate physical decline to participate in group travel. But. No. Cruise, maybe. (I still want to get FFP to try a cruise.)

On the other hand I like to be a part of things. I like to be included. As a kid I wanted to be in groups that had uniforms. I loved uniforms.

Now I don't want to belong to groups. But I do want to feel like I'm a part of things. But, you know, apart. I've been feeling a little depressed and adrift lately. I hate to feel like that. Especially when I should feel great. When, by external measures, things are going great.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

That Hair, Attention Deficit and Whatever

My head has been stuffed lately. With ideas. About 'doing work.' By which I do NOT mean dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing. Rather art. Novels and photos. Ideas abound. Action is lacking. In spite of the fact that, with certain things off my plate and the fact that I'm retired...I do seem to have some nice blocks of time. I'm very lucky.

Last entry I talked about my clothes. But. Then there are other things about our appearance. Hair, for example. Note here: it sticks up in a (somewhat unpredictable, I like the word insouciant) way.

I struggled for years. With curlers and hairdressers and hair dryers. With long and short. And, finally, I have short hair ("it makes you look younger" someone said once, I never looked back). I wash every day (every time I shower) and put some gel on and let it dry naturally and if I want to later I put some dry hair goop on it to make it stick up in even more unpredictable ways. I no longer think about it. And then, in my self-portrait reflection pictures, I'm happy with it. It's me.

Our lives are charmed. I'm starting to think about writing. And making collages. Or digitally altered photos. Or collages of digitally-altered photos. But. Right Now. I need a nap. Life is good.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dress Up

What we wear is so much a part of who we are. Isn't it? We would prefer that people looked beyond our 'rags' I'm sure. But they don't. As I type this I am sitting here in white tennis shorts and a white polo (purchased on the cheap at Costco). It is possible I stink a bit since the dried sweat is now ready to give off that metallic smell. I played tennis, finished eight hours ago and haven't changed or showered.

I still remember the first polo shirt I ever owned. It may have been the first knit shirt I owned. The first thing that wasn't sewn by my mother or grandmother. We got it at some discount store, a one-off precursor of the big box discounters of today. I remember standing in the yard of our house, wearing it. It was windy. I was enjoying wearing that polo so much. I wanted a bunch of them.

I always loved jeans. Bear in mind that I went to school for 15 and 1/2 years where pants were verboten for girls. (Worked a couple of years in business after college where the dress code forbade pants, too.) But I loved pants. And tailored blazers. I still do. I don't remember when I last wore a skirt. It was very possibly in 2002 when I was faced with the third or fourth funeral service in a few weeks time and had run out black outfits. I trotted out a black skirt which I still own. The jacket that matches it is probably due a replacement but that skirt probably hasn't been worn since. Oh, wait! No...the last time I wore a skirt was probably after that. Someone invited us to a 'white tie and ball gowns' party. No, I didn't wear a ball gown. I wore a long velvet skirt and a velvet top to sort of look like a gown.

These days I have a few basic modes of dress and with these I try to get by in the situations polite society presents. If an event is really casual I will wear jeans (a loose fit Levis Men's style that happens to fit off the shelf) and a long or short sleeved button-up blouse depending on the season. I might wear a blazer, windbreaker or leather jacket if it's chilly. Sweaters, too, when appropriate. (Which is hardly ever in Austin but I do travel elsewhere.) I will wear hiking boots, tennis shoes or loafers to fit the occasion. To be a little dressier I'll choose the black-wash jeans and loafers. If I'm just hiking around, I might wear a polo with the jeans.

If an event is a little dressier I will wear a suit with pants or slacks and blazer with a button-up blouse. Maybe a covered placket blouse or some pleats to fancy it up. Maybe even, choke, a piece of jewelry or a scarf. I wear my nicest flats. I can still walk a couple of miles in them. I have one pair of lace up black and cordovan spectators I sometimes wear, too.

For black tie I wear tuxedo pants and a top with a bit of spangle or maybe really wear a tuxedo (coat, too). I have a silver turtle neck, various sparkly tops, vests, tuxedo shirts. I wear a pair pf flat 'tuxedo' pumps There are Cole Haans as are most of flats and loafers. A few of my shoes are Ballys, though.

For tennis or the gym, I wear something from a small collection of shorts, polos, sweats.

And that's it.

I enjoy wearing jeans or slacks and blazers. I enjoy having pockets. My blazers or suits are either custom-made, expensive women's wear or men's wear tailored to fit. All have pockets.

I feel sorry for women who are forced to wear certain clothing. I feel sorry for women who feel they have to wear high heels or short dresses or ball gowns. It's hard to know who is really wearing what pleases them. I empathize with men who want to wear women's wear. I understand that one just wants the clothing they want. But me? Most of the time, now, I am happy with my clothes and I also manage not to offend those around me. I hope anyway.

And I mostly get by with my sartorial choices, too. A black blazer covers a multitude of sins. So to speak.

[Photo: SoCo boutique. Me and FFP.]

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Opposite of Prosopagnosia

I am fascinated by our ability to recognize ourselves and one another from the tiniest fragments. My series of photos of shop windows and what is displayed and reflected in them plays off this fascination while making abstract art of the intentional goods for sale, the street scene, the passing parade. In this shot, almost nothing of me remains. But there I am, a crown of spiky hair. And in my mind I'm quite confident it's me. My mind is, in fact, filling in the rest of the head and face.

I think one reason I take these pictures is that, in spite of my age (somewhere in the twilight or at least the late afternoon of life), I'm not sure who I am. I want to discover that I'm fat or thin (more the former), old or young (more the former as well) and whether my spiky hair is as insouciant as I hope (yes, I think so, sometimes).

Oliver Saks has a disorder called prosopagnosia. He has difficulty recognizing faces, sometimes even his own. I think I have an ability, once I know someone pretty well, to recognize not just their faces but their voices, body language, gestures from the smallest hints.

This heightened ability that I believe I have does not mean that I can describe a person accurately when they are not present. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you their hair color or eye color accurately. The ability seems somewhere beyond description and into instinct.

As to knowing myself. All one has to go on for the physical is looking at the parts of the body that one can see from the vantage point of one's head, looking in mirrors and looking at photos. (And reflections.) Mirrors (and reflections in general) reverse the image. Is this important? Not usually, I don't think.

Examining this image we have a wire chicken (although that isn't too obvious) some circle shapes and that hair. It's me. There is an, um, emptiness. But in expressing that maybe this picture is a very accurate self protrait.

For the second picture of the day, I offer a self portrait of me along with himself. Shapes and patterns abound. FFP is in profile with tip offs of glasses and nose. Certainly it's him. But my head and shoulders? Obscured by shop window clothes? It's definitely me. At least I can see it for sure. Can you?

Are these art? I don't know what you think...but they are my art. They are Multiply Appropriated Portraits and Landscapes. I've been thinking about this for a long time. See my original artist's statement and critic's comment. There are many more entries in this blog slogging through this subject. And these entries are illustrated with what I call art.

Do I have to do something more with them? Do I have to offer prints? Make physical objects (perhaps mirror-lined, reflective glass shadow boxes with prints in them or prints sliced and made into collages)? Do I do something further with them digitally? Make digital collages of them with varying opacity or animated slide shows of them? With appropriated music? The choices overwhelm. I think I'll take a nap and ponder it.