The Princess Building

3BBADC7A-9A1E-49FA-9E41-0AB51C1C1344.jpeg

Yesterday was meant to meant to be warm. My sister was visiting and we had big plans: the Cloisters, The Botanical Gardens. Drinks on a patio. Long walks through the city. We did some of this. But by the end of her stay, we still craved a bit more of the fresh spring air that collects in pools above blooming tulip and daffodil beds. We wanted to walk under the blossoms of lilacs and magnolias one more time together, before she flew of to the still-thawing Midwest.

We took the train uptown and got off into a wind of pin-prick raindrops. My sister, optimistic, had worn a sweater and overalls with the sleeves and legs rolled up, and no jacket. She rolled her sleeve down. She rolled down her pants legs. It was too cold. We were back with the winter weather, but now with cherry blossoms falling instead of snow. We had to go back inside, and watch the weather tangle in the spire of the Princess Building from behind a window.

The joy of technology

I’m slow to pick up new technology. While I recognize the many conveniences that it brings to our lives, I also worry that some joy is lost. I’m even considering taking a Mallet to my Smart phone: It is starting to feel poisonous to my life.

Recently I was introduced to some technology that I feel very excited about. I went to an exhibit of David Hockney’s, and was sucked in by his potent colors. At the end of the exhibit, a wall of screens showed his work on the iPad: the painter’s medium is now digital. I was fascinated to see how his new paintings and his work on the iPad seemed to influence one another. His pigments are even more brilliant and C7E380A2-DC7D-4067-9A8D-5BF2FECDAE97saturated than before.

E5F4BB49-B4D5-460A-BE2F-FA6E17DEE100
One of David Hockneys iPad paintings and a new [paint] painting.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the possibilities that digital painting presents. And so, I am a joyful new adapter of a technological innovation! And feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Drawing with the iPad pen feels strangely frictionless. I still have bad control over the

38E389EB-93A8-4F28-8347-C197506D33B8
My first try at iPad drawing.

quality of my line or the color. But I love that I can use many effects on one “canvas”. I’m thrilled about the possibility of being able to draw and paint on the go. And for the opportunity to share! Soon I’ll put up a painting I did with real paint to compare. I don’t think that iPad art will replace the tactile pleasure of painting with oils for me, but there undeniable advantages to having such a vast toolbox in a 2 pound package.

 

Trash

IMG_3720.JPG

Exploring the city, I attended an event during fashion week called 29 Rooms. Billed as an art exhibit, 29 Rooms showcased 29 artists, each with a small room to create an instillation in. At least that is the impression I got from my source. I was mislead.

The line outside of the “abandoned warehouse” curved around the block, creating the perfect visual of exclusivity. We moved quickly, though, and models in paint-splattered jumpsuits hardly glanced at me or my ticket as I headed through the doors and past the free Kind Bar table. The entire event was defined by long, slow lines, though I hadn’t realized that yet when I parted the hanging wall of plastic flowers that housed a perfume advertisement “installation.” The paint-splattered models weren’t effective bouncers, so I was allowed to cut that line without protest. Inside, 20-year-olds in the inevitable wide brimmed hat posed adorably in front of humongous fake peonies. I was to find this in each of the 29 rooms: an Instagram paradise of picture-perfect backdrops. Without a hat or a companion, I was ill-prepared.

IMG_3733.JPG

I soon became tired of the farce. It was clear that 29 Rooms was all about getting cute “influencers”-types to post free endorsements for 29 different products on their social media accounts. Casper, Juicy Couture, and Dunkin’ Donuts are among the advertisers. Planned Parenthood and the Women’s March were some of the activist partners that were featured. It was more than comical to me that these kids were willing to 1) pay to create free corporate advertising and to 2) wait for the privilege to do so. In fact, it was depressing. I left after half an hour, overwhelmed by the grime of having been used

I walked past blocks of littered Refinary 29 Haägen Dazs sample cups before I felt free of the cloying grasp of the event. On the Williamsberg waterfront, where a few Brown nannies tended to their white wards, I noticed a cookie crumbling on top of a broken traffic light. A smear of ketchup decorated a nearby lamppost. I wrote in my journal,

“Nothing in that refinery 29 exhibit was as beautiful or impressive as the foam popping effervescence in the greenish brown water. An oblong shadow of a ferry boat and the sun-rays sucked sucked underneath.”

I’m all for social media. But I hate to see people giving themselves away to corporate advertising. Some good things really are free: Don’t let yourself be tricked into being one of them!

IMG_3740.JPG

Perfect teeth

IMG_4717

 

As a kid, I had perfect teeth: big, straight, white teeth, with no cavities. Once every six months, my mother would bring my siblings and me on the T to downtown Boston. My dentist, Dr. Care, looked like a movie star, with wavy blond hair and perpetually tanned skin. He would blow into the room smelling of fresh mint and congratulate me on my spectacular teeth, upon which my family would be released to go outside and buy celebratory croissants. The dentist experience was painless and novel and I looked forward to it.

Sometime during college, I lost my parents’ dental insurance and, naturally, stopped going to the dentist. For many years, I rode on the idea that my perfect teeth were invincible, but at about 27 a pang of dental guilt (or was it pain?) compelled me to find a dentist on my own for the first time. I was living on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and finding a trustworthy dentist was a challenge. The dentist I chose was a friend of one of my students. She took one look inside of my mouth and exclaimed, “You have many, many cavities! You will have to come in another day to take care of all this.” She drilled mercilessly into four of my once-perfect teeth. The fillings she gave me were so lumpy that I wasn’t able shut my mouth completely for weeks.

“Come back soon. The hole in your right canine might need a root canal.”

I didn’t go back for two years, and when I did the hole was big enough to require a $500 gold filling. I got it in Harlem, from dentist who told me my wisdom teeth were ready to come out, unless I wanted to let them rot away for a few more years. He referred me to a couple of oral surgeons on 5th avenue and I made the appointment that day.

The doctors were handsome, and they told me I was brave to get all four wisdom teeth out at once, and even braver to do it with only local anesthesia. I cried before the surgery began because I was terrified. Afterwards, they gave me my teeth in a little plastic bag and I sat in a chair in the corner, coming down from the pain killers. The teeth were long and jagged, stained yellow and brown. Their faces were pitted with scars. They were smooth and milky, too. Precious, like artifacts dug from the earth, proof of a human experience. Except they were dug out of my mouth, and only prove that I drink too much sweetened coffee. Still, I think they’re neat. I kept those teeth, and thought about making a necklace out of them. Instead, I glued them onto a collage that I keep in my kitchen. Reminders that having perfect teeth doesn’t mean much. But regular visits to the dentist, that’s worthwhile.