about     peas & carrots


and then the next thing you know

maura @ 10:16 pm

Oh dear, I seem to have fallen into that beginning-of-the-semester-hole again. I meant to blag all week, really I did, but I was just so tired at night and now that Dollhouse has gotten interesting it was much easier to watch than write.

Last Friday evening I met Jonathan and Gus at the MOMA to see Projects 90, an exhibition by the Chinese artist Song Dong. Since it was just before a holiday weekend I’d hoped the crowds wouldn’t be too bad, even though it was the free Friday night dealie. But it was packed and Gus was crabby, despite the gelato we bought him in the sculpture garden. Sigh, 3rd graders are not so easily bought off, I guess.

Still, Gus was reasonably content to sit in a corner reading while Jonathan and I took turns looking at the exhibit. It was fascinating, totally worth the grumpy kid. The story behind it is that the artist’s mother became somewhat unhinged after his father died, and she took the traditional Chinese thriftyness to a whole new level and refused to throw anything out. She packed it into their tiny house and it spilled out all over their yard. Finally the artist was able to convince his mother to move out of the house and allow him to create an exhibit of all of the stuff, which she then helped him curate.

The result: a wooden-framed house skeleton in the center of a room at MOMA surrounded by neatly arranged stuff: tied bundles of magazines, folded clothing, rows of toothbrushes, scads of plastic bottles, a stack of soap cakes, a pyramid of pill boxes and bottles, furniture, etc. Watch the installation video — it’s mesmerizing (as was the exhibit). Of course the stuff is just recognizable, normal stuff, but as Jonathan said when you actually walk around it all and see the arrangement close-up it’s almost like a model of a city. Here’s the crayons neighborhood, over there is where the shoes live. So cool. And, you know, full of implications for our modern lives and all the stuff we use and whether it’s necessary etc. etc. Sometimes I miss thinking about material culture, so I was really glad we got to see this before it closed.

And then this week, with the busy, and now it’s now. I’ve been doing a bunch of reading about writing lately and last weekend I got all fired up about setting aside time to write on a near-daily basis. But then this week was busy at work (and it was short to begin with) and I ran out of time as usual. I’ve been thinking all week about Song Dong’s mom’s house, just an empty timber frame, as a physical manifestation of my goal: one empty hour to write most days. As ever, the problem is partly my fault and partly not. Not my fault because, well, objectively, it’s busy at the beginning of the semester. But my fault because my list is too long to begin with. And my fault, too, because I tend to fall into the trap of procrastinating writing with other work. Yes, sometimes the other work seems to scream loudly: “pay attention to me!” But it’s rarely truly urgent, and certainly can wait an hour.

I was wondering today whether Anne Lamott would be disappointed in me since I didn’t meet my writing goals this week. But then I thought that she’d probably understand. And she’d probably make me a cup of tea and tell me that next week will be better.

les tags: , , ,

3 comments on “and then the next thing you know”

Em (12 September 2009 at 8:16 pm)

Anne Lamott would totally understand. Could you start with an amount of time so small that it would seem ridiculous not to fit it in. Like ten minutes? Not so much because you’d get a lot done but to prove you could fit it in. Then you could stretch it out when your other work wasn’t looking.

I think his mom had more shoes than I do!

I’ve thought about the tiny house from time to time and I’m not sure I could do it. But I think being smarter about what I bring into the house (because I know it’s not going anywhere soon) may be the best that I can do.

tex (13 September 2009 at 1:27 am)

For some time the strategy of setting a timer for at least 15 minutes and writing (or grading) worked wonders for me and usually stretched out. Having the timer ticking along activates competitiveness.
Other topic: I’m so happy you’re finally watching dollhouse. I had the same misgivings but yay it’s not cancelled prematurely ( yet) and the surface misogyny gets worked out. Trust Joss’s love of the tough waif.

maura (13 September 2009 at 9:47 pm)

Ooh, small time w/a timer, intriguing. This week marks the “1 hr in the morning” attempt but if that doesn’t work maybe I will go for smaller bits of time.

Yes, yay for Dollhouse! We finished it last night and I am glad I stuck with it. Did you watch the unaired episode, #13: Epitaph? Very creepy. I know they are filming more now but not sure when the new season starts, and I kind of can’t wait.

And while we’re on the kudos for Joss, let’s all do a virtual happy dance that Dr. Horrible won an Emmy!

Why not add a comment of your own?