Tech Lessons

Last year I found I needed a new-to-me Macbook Pro when I poured coffee on the spacebar of my current one.  In a year of cash that trickled rather than flowed, this took some doing, but I did it, and voila – its Faster Better, Quiet, sleek and wonderful.  In January 2015 the crashing began and was misdiagnosed three times before last month the truth was finally revealed to me:  my Faster-Better-Quiet had terminal graphics card failure.  Basically the thing is on life support while I farm it’s guts for the treasures I’d buried there, but it’s definitely palliative.  Bye Bye.

I do not grieve.  We had so little time together after all, in the context of Macbook lifespans.

Nope no grief.  I rage.

My vacated chair as I follow the sage advice to those beset with tech horror:  walk away from the computer...
My vacated chair as I follow the sage advice to those overcome by tech horror: walk away from the computer

There are three books in progress on that thing.  Four short films about making art – none of which I can open on my OldTrustyNoSpacebar.  Many many GB of exploration of the #Water project and the #Paper Works project.  Songs, sheet music, arrangements, new contacts, doodles, rituals, photographs…

In one year, all of that, gathered, pondered, collected.  I thought I had four more years at least.  Rage.

The floor in front of me as I contain my rage, so that I can calmly get back to work...
The floor in front of me as I contain my rage, so that I can calmly get back to work…

All of this can be dealt with, of course.  During one of the misdiagnoses I prudently bought a backup drive – everything is there when and if I need it.  I just need to … dig.  Also, many of the projects require software that OldTrustyNoSpaceBar doesn’t have.  Not a problem, I can sort this out too by downloading updates and freeware from the internet.  I just need to … find the updates, the freeware….

[breathe.]

OldTrusty, this morning, looking game.  Bluetooth keyboard solved the garbled writing issue...
OldTrusty, this morning, looking game. Bluetooth keyboard solved the garbled writing issue…

The thing is, I’m writing and recording music for Liz Zetlin’s film, Herons and Monks.  I’m so very honoured to be asked, so excited to mix voice and cello to her images and her poem – as tastefully as she has built the latter.  It’s a lovely film.  Liz has been waiting and waiting to hear what I’ve been doing, and I’ve been busy with concerts, rehearsals, teaching, helping my folks leave the family home, but mostly in denial about Faster Better Quiet, who was getting worse and worse each time I worked – Oh! files lost just before saving, posts gone forever, poems fractured into digital soup… I took It in again to the repair guy.  And again, grim but still hopeful, thinking – when I pick It up next week I can clear the boards of all else and finish…

By then Faster Better had lost my respect and my love.  Well no wonder It died.

Meanwhile, no internet at home.  OldTrusty lives at the studio and can’t connect through the internet provider we have at home (something to do with a Snow Leopard glitch….eih?).

A clever #Selfie, learned after last year's project.  This was the little Rothfuss
A clever #Selfie, learned after last year’s project. This was the little Rothfuss

So, shrug, I read a little perfect book by Patrick Rothfuss.  And then another big one by Donna Tartt, and another by Alice Hoffman.  My insomnia disappeared for ten days.

ShoreJune9_2015

I took a holiday – the first real, healing one I’ve had in about twenty years.  Just two fantastic sleeps, with books.  I did take OldTrusty, but just wrote journal.

It’s a week since that little holiday, and I sit in the end of the cleared time, writing this on OldTrusty, since Better Faster is written off.  I have laid down at least forty vocal and cello tracks in my begin-from-scratch music for Liz’  Herons and Monks.  Dear OldTrusty has caught and saved twelve of those, but lost the rest because (as my recording software tells me fairly regularly),  cannot record.  disc is too slow.  That’s alright.  It’s making the work better.

It’s making me better, actually.  The film is about many things – stillness, patience, gathering, scattering, dancing and releasing.  All of these things have happened with me and my technology these past three days and two sleeps, while I make music fit for herons, cranes, a monk who, close to ninety, sits for eight hours a day, over nine days, to build a mandala out of sand.  Music also for Liz, so dear to me, who has waited.

Thanks Liz.  See you tomorrow morning.

Lift out

These days begin in darkness and wet.

Windsheild

We live in multiple layers of clothing against the cold damp of constant seeping rain, walk under umbrellas, and peek out from under shelter until some blue sky appears.

JonesFalls2

Then we breathe the blue and the coloured leaves, and roll in the damp ones underfoot.  We go to the flashing streams, the roaring falls, the pounding waves and we exult

..until the rain and the cloud and the pounding wind bring us under and in again.

Wave2Oct_21

These times.  Pressured, heavy, challenged, shifting.  Some of us don’t have dancing feet.  Some have not learned to swim.

CurbPuddle

Two days ago in Ottawa a man died on Parliament hill.  He suffered from serious mental illness  – serious enough that he found himself a gun and  shot another man who worked as a soldier there.  I grieve for both men, whom we, in our culture, have failed to see clearly.

Poem for Michael Zehaf-BibeauMichael Zehaf-Bibeau, for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist, and for every single one of us who struggles with addiction and mental illness, in sorrow for this:

Broken Voice
September 24: studio

Thought can re-write history, she says
Meditative thought influences the order of things
Orders them more neatly so there’s less damage done.
and there’s the
small voice the difficulty
swallowing
the closed throat mid-
sentence, the little
alarms shot with adrenaline
the subtle gagging that
no one notices but
There’s no problem. Who

…said there was a
problem?  Mental Illness is only
addiction is only
another form of terrorism-
We just need more Security and

I think I caught something in
the subway – just a virus it
comes and goes it’s
not
permanent.

…something about bare feet, walking
about not leaving prints behind,
and if you do your feet print
history

I’m looking at them now,
the prints
but I can’t read
I’m not sure what happened.  Or how…?

I just want to drink an ocean of alcohol
passive-watch movies that siphon rage
go to classical concerts full of fury, listen to poets
who have found something
to let somebody else do the darkness
the refined, articulate hurt that they’ve managed to
filter through all of their exhausted bewilderment how
can I

Impotent. Invisible. I just want to sleep. only sleep.
it’s taking every ounce of my strength
to resist the rampage,
The terrible roar in me.

#Selfie 11 – Truth beneath the truth

This drawing took about 2.5 hours.  I erased most of the right-hand side...
This drawing took about 2.5 hours. I erased most of the right-hand side…

I’m at the stage of production for this show that’s the most intense on all levels – emotional, psychological, mental and physical.  Each piece has its’ own trajectory and arc, and I work in collaboration with this.

re-building the idea...
re-building the idea…

There are sixteen different painting ‘trajectories’ to define and follow to completion –  in 22 days –  if I’m to make my deadline of June 13.

And I shall.

One key tool I use to get this work done in a short timeframe is composite studies.  This one is a layered mock-up of the painting built from bits of the selfies posted on social media in the past six weeks.  It's about the way we build our faces before we take ourselves into the public.  Masks like filters.
One key tool I use to get this work done in a short time frame is composite studies. This one is a layered mock-up of the painting built from bits of the selfies posted on social media in the past six weeks. It’s about the way we build our faces before we take ourselves into the public. Masks like filters.

I’ve done it before, though not with pieces this large – but hey, it’s good to add a challenge each time.   Everyone has a process, or a road to completion, and mine requires utter surrender to the moment I’m in, the mark I’m making, and the reason why.  I need to meet myself again and again in all my joy and ugliness, take off all the filters and tell the truth.  Then the truth beneath the truth.

‘Clarity’ gains whole new levels of meaning.  It becomes something I can taste.

the same painting the next day with things removed and re-added differently.
the same painting with corrected drawing.  Today I will work with washes to push and pull the images, and knock the whole thing back so the final drawn images can sit on a top layer.  They should appear to float in front of the painting…

There are still bank lineups, lessons and rehearsals, concerts, meetings and phone conversations.  These are more interesting than usual, since my self-observation has become so finely tuned.  The filters I use to get simple tasks done are much more obvious to me, and I know when they’re slipping…. it’s not always appropriate to discuss the psychological effects of spring green when sunlight hits it just so with the person behind the counter who just wants you to pay for your gas.

More soberly – not everyone wants to hear a bald truth, no matter how comfortable I might be with my clarity.  Nine times out of ten it’s better to say it with paint.

#Selfie_ProductionMay20
Next up: #Selfie4: Negative/Positive – 5 feet wide by six feet tall. Should be done in 3 days… or so…

Creativity is like willing oneself into madness – the kind necessary to make something interesting out of wood, canvas, paint, charcoal and …. perception, imagination, intuition, rage, hope, love….  all that.

Just nod and smile.  Or better yet, come on over & jump in to an underpainting – I’ll provide the oil pastel & canvas.  Mind the lack of filters, though…

I’m loving this.