I was going to tell you about the perfect summer evening. Of the cerulean sky. And how I feel dead honest when I write cerulean, entitled to that word because I was a painter, and if I had my tubes right here, cerulean would be the one I would choose. Maybe now you’ll think of Bob Ross and van dyke brown or titanium white, fan brushes, happy little trees.

The summer after college I worked a two-week stint for a small but renowned oil paint maker in upstate New York. Archival quality paint, the stuff they use for restoration work at the Met. The paint a young painter does not need but thinks she needs. I labeled tubes and they paid me in paint. It was boring and bucolic. Twenty years later, I still have some tubes with the life squeezed out of them, congealed linseed oil sealing the tops shut forever.

I was going to tell you about the perfect summer evening. Geese flying against the cerulean sky. My view from the library window. I was going to tell you how I should be walking the beach with my husband and daughter. Instead I’m here, pulling Adrienne Rich off the shelf, and then Kay Ryan, only because she’s right next to Adrienne Rich and the cover art of her book is Joshua trees in silhouette. A deadline looming, and I’m reading poetry.

I never meant to tell you about the paint. The way turpentine smells like drunk youth and dreams.

The way this writing project feels like an excavation of self. Like so many hours of nothing but dust, for the rare days I hit bone.

(Post 223 of 365)


Threads: 69/365

It’s an odd process finding one true thing to say about myself every day. Truth can be simple but doesn’t come easy. Possible threads drift through my thoughts daily, but I don’t always want to write into them. I was twelve years old the first time I ever boarded a plane alone. I believe that singing a song you love at the top of your lungs can be a form of prayer. I talk to trees and plants. Zoos and other places that imprison wildlife make me weep. One of the reasons I stay home with my toddler is so that she can be in the dirt and fresh air, on the beach and under trees. I struggle with the way writing pulls me away from my daughter and my husband. When I was twenty-one, I visited Cezanne‘s studio in the south of France, crouched on a hillside with my canvas while the wind blew dirt and twigs into my oil paints, and I painted my own Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Tiny Details: 22/365

I’m pretty good at painting tiny details. It feels meditative and relaxing. I made this today for my beach-combing, rock-collecting valentine.

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The design I painted here is an inexact copy of the artist and illustrator Phoebe Wahl‘s 2016 valentine. I adore her work! Phoebe just won the Ezra Jack Keats book award and I can’t wait to get her new book Sonya’s Chickens.

Since I’m emphasizing scale, perhaps this photo makes more sense.

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