Back in the Saddle

…which is actually a really silly saying, since I wasn’t in a saddle to begin with and I really don’t like horses. I’ve been on a horse before — a fourth grade field trip, a girl scout trip, and one strange spring break in college where we spent five days on a farm in Missouri — but I think they are big and scary.

I keep reading about how blogs are dead and artists use things like Tumblr (which I don’t quite get how it works, although I have one) and Instagram (which I like very much). So it’s odd to resurrect a dead blog, but somehow it just seems like the right choice. I’m looking for more structure for posting my work, and I need a site to have on online profiles. And business cards, as old-fashioned as they are.  Originally, I set this site up in a fully anonymous way, so that I could use OL8D as a graffiti tag without getting caught immediately. I live in a small town. But the reality is that I have never once gone out and tagged a wall, so why waste such a good name.  I also set this site up more anonymously because it combines artwork and writing, and I am self-conscious about writing.  I’m seeing more and more artists do this — post both their artwork and their poetry/fiction/non-fiction — so it’s not weird and I should get over the adolescent self-consciousness.

I just finished Nell Painter’s memoir of art school Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over.  There are plenty of good reviews of the book, and discussions of the issues that the author covers, and you can Google them.  I was worried that reading this book would make me seriously look at dropping everything and going to art school. Reader, it did not. Her experiences — or, at least, her description of her experiences — made it clear that art school with a capitol A would not serve any purpose for me.  It did for Nell Painter — her goal was to embrace what it would take to considered a “serious” artist in the 21st century.  She wants to be a serious artist — one that not only sells work, but finds her way into national dialogue and, at the very least, a footnote in the art history of the future.  Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton Emerita, is a serious historian, accomplished by all measures both disciplinary and in the popular eye. She wanted that for herself as an artist, and the only way to get there is through an MFA from a “good” art school or program.   I get that, and good for her.  But not not not my cup of tea.  I want the focus and the community that art school would bring.  I want the art school library and the communal studios thriving with energy.  I do not want the critical theory BS and the hyper competitive drama.  MFA students are competing with each other and with their teachers — many of whom teach for the money and do not want to be there and do not want their students to outshine them.  The politics — art tastes, race, gender, and age (art school and the art world caters to young white males) — and the expression of the dark side of those politics would make it a horrible experience for me.   So I learned a lot from that book, and enjoyed it very much.  And I know that my own travels as an older artist will take a very different path.

The Gods

The gods invoke battle and strife, war and pain, wherever they go. They use humans as their pawns, because their immortal selves are locked in a perfect balance of power over the course of all time. Through the actions that they set into motion among humans, one or more of the gods gains an upper hand. They gamble and game between themselves for entertainment. Win a piece on the board, gloat for a century or so until the game inevitably winds its way to another stalemate.

The turtle that eats worlds still drifts through space. The earth maintains revolutions around the sun. The gods play dice in heaven and the day begins.

A scene from someplace that isn’t here

The chicken ambled about the yard in a combination of jerky motions, short flights, and rhythmic, head-bobbing steps. After the second turn about the garden, it paused and fidgeted about in a patch of scrubby grass. As are all real chickens, the ones designed to make food for our dinner plates, this chicken (shall we call her Henny? perhaps Abigail?) was ugly. Her spastic movements did not enhance her dingy white feathers and convoluted, dun-colored waddle. But her eyes were bright, and alert, and this made her worth watching by even the most impassive of viewers.

Henny (or is Abigail?) paused, intently surveying a spot on the ground near her feet. In one quick, stabbing motion, her head darted to the ground and her beak scratched at the loose soil. A moment later she returned to her full upright position, but now with something hanging from her beak. It was a thin chain, with what appeared to be a small locket. This was not a fancy lady’s locket, large and with no doubt a picture or lock of hair from a child or a sweetheart secreted inside. This locket was small, rectangular, unadorned, although perhaps at one time the flat face included some small decoration or initial. It was, in short, a man’s locket and this made its presence — here on the grounds of the famously single-sexed convent of the Order of the Righteous Bookbinderesses — all the more interesting.


I have had the song from The Lego Movie stuck in my head for weeks.

Everything is awesome
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team
Everything is awesome
When we’re living our dream

Awesomeness is generally elusive, but I did get a big box of spray paint a few weeks ago. I’d like to paint the trees in my yard, but I suspect not everyone in my house would appreciate the awesomeness of that.

The fat elf

The fat elf walked four more steps down the narrow alley and stopped in front of a dumpster. He banged twice on the side, paused a moment. Sounds of movement, then a low groan from within.

“Get up you lazy swine!” the elf yelled.

“Who do you think you are, you impudent whelp” wheezed the dumpster’s inhabitant.

“The arse-king of the alley, the dust bin patriarch of all he sees” said the elf. “now get up. We’ve got places to go. People to see. Things of that nature.”

One gnarly hand gripped the edge of the dumpster. Then another. Then a wrinkled, disheveled head emerged. “One more outburst out of you, my boy” he said, “and I’m sending you home.”

“Home!” snorted the elf. “Please, punish me more. Send me away from this cesspool of stinking humans and their stinking city. Send me back to the land of shimmering lakes and quiet elf-folk. Send me back to My. Own. Fucking. House.”

That last bit came out a bit strangled as the elf’s face grew red with frustration. Jorgen had not been home in five years. He was stuck in this never-ending mission of bungled spy-craft and pointless forays into the heart of this human world. Spindle was supposed to be his superior officer, his mentor, the elf that was supposed to be leading this half-assed expedition of shame. Instead, he was drinking his way through this rotten town, sleeping in dumpsters, and generally avoiding his young protoge. Torgen took a deep breath, and promptly regretted it as waves of stench wafted from Spindle’s unkempt body. He muttered his current mantra to himself. Calm. Polite. Controlled.

“Mr. Spindle, would you please get up and accompany me back to my apartment? We have a conference call with Central in one hour, and you don’t want to miss another one.” he said. “and if we go now, you’ll have time to clean up.”