Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Know I Can’t Spell!

I would like to thank all of you that have corrected my spelling over the years. I am so glad I have humored you with my ignorance. No really, I do hate it when it’s pointed out that I can’t spell. And the message is always delivered in the same tone, the tone you use when telling a friend their zipper was down during their entire presentation or a booger was hanging from your nose on a first date. The message is delivered as if my inability to spell is a gentle secret that I don’t already know, but they want to spare me further embarrassment. It seems like people want me to respond (in a whisper) “oh, really I can’t spell? Well golly, thank you for telling me I will start getting every word correct from now on.” I WISH it was that simple.

I usually want to say something in reply along the line of, “do you think my complete inability to spell words beyond a basic few is a fact that has escaped me over my thirty plus years on the planet?” But I don’t, because everyone is just trying to be helpful, and I know that.

In all seriousness, I’m thankful and simultaneously embarrassed when someone pulls me aside and tries very nicely to tell me that I am using the wrong word. I always know what I mean - even if the page doesn’t always reflect that. I try and use words that I know I can get correct but I get frustrated because my vocabulary is bigger then my ability.

I don’t know where my spelling education went wrong but it was early on. I remember being petrified in third grade at the class spelling bee. The top five finishers got a lollypop from the lollypop tree. I will now admit that once in a fit of frustration knowing my goal was just to survive the first round - let alone allow myself to dream of a top five finish - I took a lollypop after class. The lollypop was rootbeer flavored and that was my first conscious “fuck you” moment. Fuck spelling, I didn’t want to spell their stupid words anyway (insert stomping foot like a small child). Funny, I always knew how to spell fuck – thanks dad – but that word was never in the bee.

My biggest issue is I have no idea when the word is wrong. In my brain it’s correct. I know what it’s supposed to say…my problem is I don’t always know what it says. I admire all you lovers of words out there. You know who you are. The people who enjoy the nuance of silent letters and find it charming to see the Latin root of a word alive in the current English, oh please. Well you all can start a meet up group and enjoy it together because I am going to start my own meet up group. I am going to find others who got screwed by experimental education and we are going to get loaded and blame our mothers for not running our flash cards often enough.

I learned to sound everything out but I somehow missed the lesson about that method being a completely ass backward way of teaching a language as complicated as English. Oh and don’t even get me started on conjunctions and hyphens, I really don’t want to go there (or is it their? – I don’t know they sound the same to me).

Now, I don’t want you to think I don’t want your help. If you see something that is more then a typo please let me know, all I wanted to do is let you all know this is not a dirty little secret. I own it. I know it, and I am grateful every day that spell check exists.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three Old Friends

I visit the Three Musicians every now and then. Pick a random day and stop into the MoMA and say hello. This painting is a story I have always understood and it impacts me every time I see it. The size, color and characters fell like a party. A deconstructed party, but aren’t all the best parties deconstructed? I first saw it in an art class when I was in 5th grade. I remember the image illuminated from an old slide projector in a classroom with window shades that did not keep out the light. I remember it being faintly on a screen, but I saw it very clearly. We have been together ever sense.

I don’t know why it stuck, I could not point out one other image from that slide presentation, and I certainly never imaged being able to see it in person, but the Three Musicians has always been mine - a work of art that hits me in all the right spots. It makes me feel happy or it lets me be sad. It is calm, but also frenetic. It is serious and whimsical. It is a mess of contradictions but in the end makes perfect sense. When I stand in front of it, as close as Picasso once was, I feel comfort in the idea that art can be everyone’s friend.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This is Me?

I don’t claim to know what is going to happen to me when I die. The heaven idea sounds really good, but not too realistic. The hell idea sounds really bad and completely realistic. Purgatory, well that just sounds like a version of how most people live. There is the whole – nothing happens but death theory, which does not bother me in the least. And then there is my favorite idea about life after death – reincarnation!

What is not great about that? The idea that we are all just recycled souls getting a new go time after time - that sits very well with me. One lifetime I’m a Japanese farmer during the Ming Dynasty and the next I’m a cowboy settling the old west who’s shot in a bar brawl, no matter where I land in the history of time I get another chance to live again.

I think about this every time I see the painting Bohemas au café from 1885 by Jean-Francois Raffaelli. I distinctly remember the first time I saw it in 2005. I turned a corner at the Monet museum is Paris and there I was. It popped into my brain instantly, “that’s me”. I had never seen the painting, I had never heard of Raffaelli but I was looking at a picture of myself from 1885. It sounds completely hokey, I understand. But I believed in that second reincarnation was possible and I had been a pipe smoking fat man with a cane and top hat outside a café in Paris. Great!

Really, I don’t know. But this is the type of stuff that comes to mind when I am out and about seeing what the world has to offer. Maybe I was just seeing me now, switch the beard and pipe to a glass of red wine and lipstick and you got Kristen circa 2010 New York. No matter, I still like the idea that I come back over and over. I just hope my past and future selves enjoy their life as much as I am enjoying mine.