contents subject to whim, bashfulness, and change at any time.
I’ve been mulling on the arc, the theme, of this place. One notion was just “stuff that sparks”. But that felt loose and probably would end up being unsustainable due to lack of clear direction. Though, essentially, that may end up being important as the general guardrail.
But where I’ve really mulled and paused lately has been around stuff that feels hard, growing stuff. Becoming a mom, being a mom, all the intersections of expectation and reality arising from that. Like, holy shit: why don’t more people talk about at length about the hardness of this? The surprise of the discomfort of it all felt like a tsunami crashing through my life. It often still does. I felt lied to by anyone who ever talked to me about motherhood. Others, surely, also felt nearly drowned by their experiences.
So I thought it could speak about growing, and about the phase after phase after phase of growing up, of myself, of my child. Growth, and what it’s like to feel the feelings. What I see others going through. About women, my people, who I so often feel estranged from. To see and find and connect with others who care generally about these things.
What I propose to actually do
In the spirit of a healthy creative exercise, this place tries to have constraints. A self-expression avenue that has some structure and therefore creates its own forward momentum.
- Topically, content is growth, leaning towards motherhood. (Which, I posit, is relevant to every fucking person on the planet. You do not have to be a mother to have a relationship to mothers, to have thoughts and opinions and feelings about mothers. More on this, I think.)
- Follow the alphabet. (I’ll explain more below.)
- Each essay has at least 1 related image, rendered in paint or pencil or some other analog medium. This gives this place the job of letting me learn some other less philosophically fancy stuff: drawing, painting, talking without words.
- Share the goddamn work. (This one is for me. If you’re seeing anything, I’ve at least partly succeeded here.)
Why follow the alphabet?
It’s a predictable sequence. It’s the beginning of a learning experience. It’s a system for organization. It’s a built-in to-do list. ABC is little kid stuff, but it’s also that symbol of learning. Learning to read is learning to be a functional human: it’s phase 2 of learning language. You learn to speak and express ideas, and then you learn to interpret an abstract system that catalogs speech and ideas. ABC is about primary things, basic things, simpleness.
Have you ever thought how they organize stacks of books in China or Japan where they don’t use alphabets?
Anyway, learning, growing, changing, in 26 chapters, at least.
So really, kind of a loose set of big themes. Home, growth, children, mothers, relationships. That get expressed within specific images.
Sharing the thing
It is scary to make a thing, and to share a thing, I think. There is so much good work, good writing, such smart minds out there. What if this is just a bunch of shit? What if my ideas are trite, on-the-nose, juvenile? I guess it’s possible, which feels intimidating. This project then is also about doing and sharing and feeling those feelings and maybe coming to terms with being a little more open, and just being a person despite all the stuff.
Here are some of the books and people that have inspired me.
- Lynda Barry’s What it is
- Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library books, and really anything else he’s made
- The Book of Life. A sensitive, thoughtful look at many of life’s facets
- Havi Brooks, though lots of the good stuff is buried now
I’m [human lady person]
I’m the usual eleventy-thousand modern things: mother, married lady, worker lady, dog lover, designer, writer, painter, digital tinkerer, person who tries to think a little about what makes a good life. Gardener, lapsed cook. I swear a lot, have a short temper. Pretty sure I’m dominant function Ne, auxiliary function Fi.
Also, apparently capable of further social talents such as being cold, aloof, arrogant, a snob, negative, a terrible person. I suppose it’s all true occasionally. I guess that makes me well-rounded. And maybe misunderstood sometimes, too. I daresay I’m fun, warm, a good conversationalist, considerate, full of ideas, smart, conscientious as well. Are you getting all this? I’m tall. I have a bunch of fillings. I could go on. But instead, you know what I’m thinking? Of my favorite high-school graduation poem. It always told me, you are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars and you have a right to be here.
Why this online effort?
I was told recently by a career coach that this effort here is a bunch of bullshit, and that if I care about my child, motherhood is all I really can expect to manage until my child leaves home. It was definitely a really weird conversation. That I should just figure out over the next five years how to “rearrange my life” (give up professional career) so I can be home with my child at the age he starts worrying about social problems and decimal math.
I knew this person was eccentric going into the conversation, but even so, I think she gave me some terrible advice. I do not agree that the effort of trying to understand one’s mind and one’s life is ever bullshit. Sharing the growth-effort with others, however small, is a good thing to do. I mean, duh.
So even though the advice was terrible and actually pretty abusive, I’m still intrigued by the sentiment. She was telling me to focus, and that it’s hard to live the big life you are told you can live when you’re a little girl. She was telling me to hole up, to batten down the hatches, to get fierce and execute my main job [of being a mom] [or whatever my main deal is] instead of acting like a time-wasting dummy who wants to yank open a big, heavy cellar door and deal with what happens when light and air gets on the underground parts. It was rough talk, but there’s truth the idea of focus and that’s also part of the consderation of growth.
But I don’t wanna give up on the dream. Self-knowledge can be hard to come by when you have a job and a kid and a spouse, and patriarchal, capitalist society is up in your lady business at all moments of the day. Picking extra-curriculars worth the investment never feels easy. Honoring all eleventy-thousand agreements while still trying to find time to explore whatever wisdom can be found in one’s path can be so elusive.
Scintillus is the spark. The inspiration, the tiny idea, the flash, the insight, the little charge. Like all things, it is an in-progress thing. Bits and snips, sentimental claptrap, gallop a trot, gallop a trot. An attempt to keep the light on, the internal fire burning.