Today I felt better. Actually I felt quite good. Part of it, I think, stems from accepting that I simply will not get everything done I’ve been meaning to do before I leave for Europe, and that’s ok. Life is a work in progress and perhaps truly finalizing a laundry list of stuff before a departure makes it feel too much like an ending. It’s best to nourish the fluidity of things by leaving loose ends here and there. Besides, preparations paralyze me. I figured I’d focus on the big picture: take dog to boarding, try not to miss the flight, have travel documents. The rest… well, whatever!
I got to do at least one thing on my never-ending to-do list: I finally potted my money plants which I’d been propagating furiously in glasses all over my apartment. I thought that was a good thing to do. And it was sort of zen. The dog looked on, perplexed. But she seems to have gotten over the shock.
I also painted a big yellow painting. Tomorrow I don’t want to do much useful stuff at all as it’s my birthday! But I suppose I’ll get online and book a shuttle to the airport. Blah.
Here are some of the things that help me when I’m feeling anxious: a trip to Little India with my sister, lots of curry, papadams with tamarind (my sister says tamarind has soothing properties), painting something I like, having my sister listen to my troubles, and selling art!
Tonight I painted Betty talking on the phone. I realize I need to get back to writing her story but I just don’t know when. Then I sold The Biggest Dog in the Universe. Not the actual live beast, mind you, she’s definitely here with me where she belongs, but a painting of her I made the day I first bought her to meet Lily.
By the end of the day I was feeling better. And perhaps tomorrow will be wonderful.
Today I felt so very slow. I’m not ashamed to say I spent the better part of the day watching movies next to Bobby the English Pointer in John’s studio. I just didn’t want to move or go anywhere. Sometimes I get like that.
Later, when I finally got up, I went to my studio and made this big gold, beige, and blue painting full of circles. Abstract is still hard for me. My Escapist sister Paula Hawkins who is wise and wonderful said abstract is so hard because it contains our emotions. I suppose it’s an act of magic.
So then, if I have worked on pouring my emotions out on canvas and on spinning them into circles, why do I feel at the end of the day that I’ve done nothing? Does a daily painting still count if it’s not figurative? And why am I being so hard on myself? Why not just let myself play and explore, and yes, maybe delve into my emotions?
Perhaps I am still off after that crazy nightmare the other night. Perhaps it’s anxiety building up before my trip. Did I mention I’m deathly afraid of flying? Well, I suppose it’s good to face one’s fears. On a canvas and in real life. I just wish I didn’t have to face them by sitting for ten hours in a metal box suspended at an unnatural altitude in very close proximity to strangers. Gah!
I had a nightmare last night. It was pretty intense. It felt real and sad and weird. Someone I care about was in trouble for a crime they didn’t commit. I was trying to talk to the judge. She was eating small pieces of pork out of tupperware of different sizes. Finally her clerk told me there’d been a mistrial. She said a girl was meant to be on the jury, a girl from a Caribbean island, a girl with eyes of different colors.
When I woke up, I found my paper bracelet from Gator Country crumpled up in my sheets. John and I had been wearing these since we visited the alligators months ago. I felt sad that mine broke. I felt sad for many reasons. It took all day for the feeling to lift. Drawing myself with eyes of different colors – aren’t we, after all, the people in our dreams? – helped. I felt like I was reclaiming some of my power. But what helped most was the party at John’s tonight, and once again selling a few paintings.
Today I painted these windows, inspired by a photo Dana Stefanescu took in Brasov. I also made a big abstract piece focusing on the color green. I think I’m getting better at these, obtaining more of the effects I like.
In the evening, for my second birthday celebration in a row, I went to BCN Taste and Tradition, a Catalan restaurant I’d been meaning to try forever! The friend who helped me arrange my paintings in my studio, and to whom I feel I owe some of my recent success, came with me.
I have to say, I’m always hesitant with Spanish food outside of Spain and Catalan food outside the Catalan countries. It’s much too likely that they will serve a loose interpretation thereof, and that will be a letdown. But BCN Taste and Tradition did not disappoint! They had a lot of my favorites: cod salad, tortilla de patatas, croquettes, grilled baby squid, jamon de bellota, and it all tasted like in Barcelona! My favorite, though, was the dessert, which was doused in the thick and scrumptious concoction that is the Spanish version of hot chocolate. Made me think of Miss Vulpe!
Today I painted this big pink thingbecause I feel so very very happy. Reaching out to people for my summer travel commissions has been absolutely delightful! (Note: I only have two left!) I’m very excited about each and every person who has signed up, and I know it will be great fun to work on these paintings and to get together with the collectors upon my return!
Also, my birthday is approaching and I’ve started a series of small celebrations with friends. Tonight my friend Rachel and I went to Le Colonial, a restaurant I’d been meaning to try for a while. It was absolutely beautiful! But the best thing of all is that I’m excited about where I’m at right now in my life.
The fun continues! In between taking commissions for my upcoming European trip (Contact me if you’d like a watercolor inspired by Amsterdam, Barcelona, or Bucharest painted just for you! I’m only doing ten and they’re going fast!) I’m continuing the exploration of Houston with my sister. Today I insisted she come with me to Bombay Sweets, my very favorite Indian buffet on Hilcroft. It cracked her up that, considering she’s traveled here all the way from India, I was so adamant we have Indian. See, she’s a lot like me: we’re cosmopolitan artists who are more likely to want to try something new than long for the comfort of the familiar. But in the end, the Kadi Chawal at Bombay Sweets was oh so very good! And there was something mutually satisfying in the fact that I, who have never even been to India, knew about a place like Bombay Sweets and insisted my sister eat there.
I also had a lot of fun with my other sister, AVM, today. She helped me pin the painting I made yesterday to her studio wall and take some pictures that reflect its scale.
Bobby, of course, also helped with absolutely everything.
So how about a day when I just allow myself to play? In addition to our visit to the Menil (where seeing Rothko Baba in person made quite an impression on my sister, and for that I am glad), we also snuck in an almond croissant and a lot of painting! I remembered a commission I did this time last year, and though abstract painting doesn’t come easy to me, playing with colors in the same way I did for that commission felt natural and fun. I also felt very happy. I’ve been feeling extremely happy since Lily’s been here! And I remembered something John said: “People will buy your happy paintings. Museums will want your sad ones.”
Funniest thing that happened today: I asked my sister if tomorrow she’d like to go see the Rothko Chapel. After all, she’s been in Houston a full week and she’s not seen it yet.
“Yes,” she said. “Tomorrow we’ll see Rothko Baba.” Which struck us both as absolutely hilarious. So please, Rothko Baba, get ready ’cause we’re coming!
Other than that, I had a rather uneventful Open Studios event at Sabine Street. I sat there and painted Saint Joseph’s Church. It was quiet, but that’s ok. Tomorrow will be exciting for sure!
Today two girls, a dog. and a camera drove down to Galveston chasing the light. It was so exciting to go to the Island with my sister Lily, not just because she’s a world class photographer with a world class camera and I can’t wait to see the images she captured, but also because she’d never been there before and frankly, I believe that the first time someone dips their feet into the Gulf of Mexico – especially someone coming from as far away as Calcutta! – is a milestone to be celebrated.
A day, of course, can seem very short on Galveston Island, especially if one is taking pictures and having fun. We managed to squeeze a lot in: nail trim for the biggest dog in the Universe, trip to Tangerine and the Kitchen Chick, iced coffee from the Tremont House, a short excursion to the Strand, a glimpse of the ship channel, dinner at The Porch overlooking the water, and a long walk on the beach at sunset.
What was wonderful, though, after all these things we thoroughly enjoyed, was returning to the Heights and realizing we are happy to be back.