How we're here. Watercolors, mental health, the art of being present.
Recently, a “Memory” popped up in iOS Photos. It was of Christmas day last year, when I had quietly taken a photo of my mother walking in her backyard with my sister. Our father had just died, and Mom, who’d disappeared into psychosis over summer and fall, was still unstable and violent.
I’m struck by such a feature, which assumes that captured moments are happy, and that re-contextualizing the highly personal and private in an abrupt and out-of-context way, would be benign, if not broadly welcome.
The holiday season is upon us. For my family, this also means the anniversary of Dad’s death and everything else that happened last winter. It feels like the past is slowly rising up around us, muted and translucent, a shadowy replay.
One thing I’ve been doing to take care of myself is to anchor in the present. The physical ways to do this are relatively easy: run, breathe into the belly, yoga slowly. Their mental counterparts, less so. As someone who’s most comfortable in the past or the future, being here, now, is an elusive skill. One that I’m working hard to hone.
OK, an update on music rights for my latest short film (trailer): turns out, I lied.
The U.S. side of licensing has been slow. They’re still putting together paperwork, and I’ve yet to make payments. Time of year probably has something to do with how long things are taking. People are out of the office, traveling, (understandably) checked out?
That’s OK, plenty to do.
Here are the 18 watercolors from last time:
I love the imprecise subtlety of these paintings in motion, but I did want a dark background. Much like the digitally painted placeholder which I’d like to replace:
I could mask and composite multiple paintings per frame, but that could result in a loss of organic feel at the line. Another thing I could do is paint in inverse:
then invert again in Photoshop. Something about this that feels right:
I could also just say f*ck it and keep the placeholder. Deal with the sequence being stylistically out of place. Anyway, next we meet I’ll have this sequence finalized one way or another, with music rights squared away to boot, I hope.
Until then, a photo of pre-Thanksgiving dinner with friends in the West Village:
One of Thanksgiving proper with another set of friends:
And to finish out, a few random but earnest holiday recommendations:
I love Robin Sloan’s annual gift guide. Fun fact: before he was famous we were coworkers at Twitter (when it was most Twitter).
This brinjal caponata (eggplant relish) is insane. I discovered it at an artist’s salon in Brooklyn while listening to vinyl, because of course I did. It will elevate crostini and enliven goat cheese; bring it to any fancy house party for some major points. Tough to order direct though (guiltily, I await their arrival from Amazon).
This simple cauliflower soup (vegan-friendly recipe) is a winter getaway on its own. Deeply comforting and just plain good. Perfect for holiday potlucks or snowy afternoons with a book.
For many of us, winter can be tough with the stresses of travel, work, family, and the heft of another—eventful—year about to close. (I’d no idea how much I needed a four-day weekend.)
I’m grateful for my family, privilege, health. Beautiful friends, New York City. I had a phenomenal Thanksgiving. I look forward to a warm Christmas hearth around which I’ll be able to gather soon, with people who love me.
Here’s to continuing growth and being here, now. May the upcoming year be as abundant and nourishing as the tables above.
See you on the other side.