Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This is my favorite sculpture in the whole world:

And if you want the experience complete with Italian birds chirping:

I mean just look at that goddamn thing. He's called the "Appennine Colossus," and was made by this Italian guy named Giambologna in 1579. After all these years, he still squats there like a petrified god all day long, in the sun and rain and snow, just north of Florence.  Dude is 36 feet tall.

He kind of reminds me of this 150 pound Saint Bernard I almost adopted when we lived in Montana.  He made such a scene when they tried to bring him indoors that they just left him outside in the exercise yard of the Humane Society all the time.  He was so handsome and sweet that I considered bringing him home until he sat in my lap while I was petting him, and I realized I couldn't get up.  He was beautiful and majestic and he seriously had me pinned under him like a tiny moth. Bryan had to pull him off me.  Our romance just wasn't tenable, and neither, probably, is my love for the Colossus.  But I love him anyway...

Barnacles and all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Third Option

I woke up this morning and it was raining. At first I thought it was the sound was my humidifier gurgling, but nope. It was rain--the sort that sloshes out of the sky like a bathtub overflowing. Wall-to-wall rain, all day long.

I had outdoor plans that were necessarily cancelled, I took Odessa to school, I called a friend to wish her happy birthday, I went to yoga class only to find I had read the time wrong. Thus thwarted, I drove to the studio, and in the car I decided that today could go one of two ways:

Option 1: I could cry.
Option 2: I could to buck the fuck up.

But sometimes you don't get the choice. Sometimes the rain is your event planner. I haven't cried today, nor have I bucked up even one tenth of a fuck. That's just winter for you, if you 're me.

So, in the parking lot of Dessa's school, I talked to my cousin's husband for a minute.

"I hate this weather," I said.

"You and everybody else in your family." he said. "It's weird, because didn't your people come here from Ireland?"

"Some of them did, but you'll notice they left.  Anyway, in Ireland they were probably drunk all the time."

"Some of you are still drunk all the time."

That's true, but unfortunately I'm not one of the drunk Shieldses. So, it seems like my best option for today is to listen to mournful music and write about how gravity works in space.

Join me?

There's a lot of stupid Australian banter in the beginning of this, so skip to 1:20.

I'm sorry if that ruined your day.  No really: I'm so sorry.  I should keep the third option to myself.

Update: Chester just messaged me: "well that was depressing as hell. thanks for the mood boost babe."

I'M A MONSTER. I'm sorry.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Great Loves

A couple months ago, my friend Hank told me that he heard once that in Life, only three things matter:
  • Doing great Work
  • Having great Friendships
  • Being in great Love
So there you go--there's the answer.  And if you've figured it out by now, nice work.  

But here's the kicker: the same somebody-or-other also said that one mortal human can only truly excel at two of those things.  You can't perfect all three in your lifetime, no matter how old you get.  Bummer.

So, of course this got me thinking about Me.  Obviously, I'm never going to do Great Work--I just don't have it in me.  And I do have a lot of Great Friendships that I value very much, so that's definitely one of the two.  But mostly I'm a person of Great Loves: baroque, ridiculous, Las Vegas-style Loves.  It's actually one of the major blessings and nuisances of my life.

And here's how it happens: I feel or see or hear or taste something--a voice, an expression, a particularly well-exectuted kale salad, a pair of boots, a circling hawk, a melody, a room, a color, a certain rustling of leaves on a tree, the texture of a wall, the sound of a particular snare drum, the look on a child's face...and I absorb that thing, that person, that animal, that tree, that music.  I take it right into my heart. It's unbelievably inconvenient.

Because it's not an allegiance like Friendship--a compassionate, relaxed attentiveness and shared good will.  It's a feeling of possession and belonging that can be uncomfortable in that it feels really good at times--because what feels better than Love? But it can also feel really bad. 

Like that one time I got dumped? It took me six years to get totally over it.  SIX.  I was young, but still--six years is stupid.

But it's not just in relationships with people--everything in this world is temporary, right?  I mean, what if that restaurant stops making that salad? That circling hawk is going to fly away in a minute. If I don't buy these too-expensive boots right now, somebody else will.  If I listen to this song too much, the magic is going to drain right out of it.  That Thing and I belong to each other, and belonging is painful stuff.

Good news: as I've gotten older, I've devised strategies for dealing with Great Love.  I can't enumerate them here--but call me, we'll talk.  But it doesn't mean I don't fall in love with stuff--it just means I can deal with it better once I do.

Like yesterday I fell in love with Elvis Perkins.

But I'm remaining calm.  I suggest you do the same.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Physicists' Foreheads: A Gallery

I'm writing about Richard Feynman today, for work.  He was the physicist who came up with the theory of quantum electrodynamics while playing the bongos in a strip club.  He was also one of the most skilled lecturers in history. Interesting guy.  

Anyway, I've been reading a bunch about him lately, and every article has an accompanying photo.  And after seeing about 30 pictures of Richard Feynman, it dawned on me that the guy had a pretty sizable forehead:
I mean, pretty big, right? And THEN I stumbled upon this guy's forehead: 

HANS BETHE, one of Feynman's mentors and also super-physicist

Now that's a forehead.  You could use that thing as a doorstop.  You could put about three other normal sized faces on that one surface. 

And so this morning I've been doing some light Googling, and realized physicists in general just have real big foreheads.  I guess because they've got to have a place to put their real big brains.  Here's a sampling:

MAX PLANCK, originator or quantum theory

But no fair, you say! He was bald, you say!  Here's some Max Planck with hair:


ERWIN SCHRODINGER, creator of quantum mechanics

WERNER HEISENBERG, other, warring creator of quantum mechanics

What he lacks in height, he makes up in girth.

ALBERT EINSTEIN, maybe the only physicist you know about. Also, not a bad forehead.

Okay, I could go on, but I have to write this thing.  For real.