Waisting Away

One of the inevitabilities of being married and middle-aged is the gradual spread of one’s waistband. A souvenir of all those evenings when Patti would bring me a bowl of ice cream on the couch or we’d eat off each others’ plates like Jack and Mrs. Spratt.

Now our pantry is bare-ish. Jack and I shop on Sunday afternoon, buying just enough to provide cold cuts and fruit for  his lunches, cereal for my breakfast, a few other meager things. I shop most days on the way home from work, buying whatever I will cook that night, always a salad, maybe a steak or chicken breast for him, some veggie or fish thing for me. My favorite word these days, Jack complains, is ‘Spartan‘.

Despite these complaints of deprivation, we are both healthy and rarely hungry. I am amazed at how much less I want to eat. It began in those first horrible weeks in late March, when I simply lost my appetite altogether. But once that passed, I found food wasn’t especially comforting, and instead I preferred the gym I had just joined. For the first time in ages, I love pedaling madly on a bike or throwing barbells around. I also find I have the time. When Patti was alive, I so often felt that time spent on myself was time taken away from her (a perspective she vigorously opposed, but to no avail). Now I have the time and control of my agenda to indulge myself in new ways. Fortunately, so far, most of them are healthy.

My newly instituted regime is also a reflection of a new assessment of my age, of how many years I have left. I’d always assumed that Patti and I would march into the grave holding hands and I had no especial interest in outliving her.  Now, however, because I will continue on this march with no one to lean on, I feel I should be as vigorous as I can be. Both my parents are healthy and robust in their 70s and my grandfather just died at 98. Chances are I will be around to choose apples, tap melons, lift dumbbells and fill sketchbooks for a little bit longer.

In the meantime, I need new trousers and a shorter belt.

The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step

Jack and I have always shared certain things: pens, a love of R. Crumb, a disdain for Dane Cook. Now we have a new and more complex relationship, one that can be annoying and claustrophobic some times, rich and vital at others. We are roommates, creative collaborators, dinner companions, advisors, and dad and son. And there’s no Mom to act as a buffer, filter, and cooler head.

It can be tough living with a teenager who doesn’t realize he is shedding clothes all over the house or drinking the last of the juice. I’m sure it’s just as tough for Jack living with a cantankerous, soppy weirdo. Despite our differences, we are managing okay, crafting a new sort of life in our man cave, surrounded by chip packages and dachshunds.

Most recently, we’ve taken to sharing a pair of blue shoes that we both coveted. It’s been a true compromise as the shoes are a little small for Jack, a little large for me. The experience has proven useful, teaching us what it’s like to walk in each others’ shoes.

Death Valley Sketchbook

deathvalleyjournal

A decade ago, I did a week-long drawing trip through Nevada and parts of California with my pal, D.Price. The sketchbook I kept (only my 7th to that point) was the first step in my publishing career. When I shared it with an editor at City & Co., who liked it so much she asked me to assemble a book of my journals. Ultimately, though I ended up placing that book with Princeton Architectural Press (Everyday Matters), it was so nice to have someone interested in my work and this concentrated drawing trip was the kick-off point.
I was flipping through the original journal today and thought I’d make a little video tour. It’s also notable as several other firsts — one of my first hand-bound books, one of the first times I made a dedicated journal for one trip, and one of the first times I experimented with watercolors.

The film I made ended up being eleven minutes long, so I cut it into two episodes. You can see them both there.

Oh, and if you like this sort of thing, let me know and I’ll do more if it. (Though I am not trying to make anything technically sophisticated with these little films, I would love to know if there’s any particular information you’d like to know about my sketchbooks). I appreciate your comments and insights.

Portraits

I’ve been working on this series for a while, all in one book. They are in watercolor, pen, brush and sumi-ink. They are all drawn upside down.

I made a couple of little time-lapse films of how I drew and painted some of these portraits.
Click To Play

Jersey City


On the way to work, walking up the West Side drive, one of the loveliest additions to my lovely city. The view of Jersey is is a little dull with all its new glass box construction but it’s nice to watch the boats whizz by and pretend I live in some coastal resort like Miami or Brighton or Dhaka.

I am fiddling with an ultra cheapoid set of gouache paints Patti gave me. It came in a set of stacking disks that look lovely in the box but are chalky and a little garish on the page. Perfect for painting JC and a garbage truck.
This, the final page of my moleskine, is painted not on watercolor paper but the oak-tag end-paper of the book. I have squeezed every morsel of pleasure out of this book and it’s time to crack open the next volume.