Sunday, September 16, 2012

Excerpts from Into the Garden

Skip and Rover, Photo Credit: Debra Prinzing,
Photographer: Charles Dean
I'll admit I had mixed feelings about electronic books, but after reading a few novels (and even textbooks for classes),  it's growing on me. It's nice not carrying a brick load of books. Over the weekend, I finished reading Into the Garden with Charles: A Memoir. I guess I'll share a few of the things I highlighted:

"I had no idea what I was doing, only an image in my mind of the effect I wanted."

This is an accurate description of my attitude, or feelings, in general. I think it's especially true because I'm a student, in the academia sense. Something that drives me crazy about the art & design program is its lack of technical training, and over-emphasis on concept. This line reminds me of the frustration I encountered when I couldn't externalize a physical representation of what it was I saw in my head. It's like pouring oil in an eyedropper without a very small funnel. My end product would just piss me off because it looked nothing like I imagined. It was a mess beyond the compromise of time, knowledge, and skill.  It's something like a compulsion, ideas. No one likes to be bloated with ideas. What are ideas when they're stuffed in a closet?

"Hoeing, mowing, and composting, I turned fifty without noticing how I had gotten there, paying more attention to my trees and shrubs than to myself, only to realize one day that I was at that point in my life where I had more past than future."

This is probably related to my premature post-grad anxiety, but I almost wanted to cry when I read this. The idea of being so young, but feeling so old scares me. I hate those moments when you see your parents and realize they're getting old. This might sound stupid because, of course, aging is inevitable. I'm not convinced that feeling like "you have more past than future" is purely related to age. I think it has more to do with ambition and your confidence in, at least, trying. 

Maira Kalman, Image Credit: Strand Book Store, Illustration: Maira Kalman

"I had no intention of ever finishing the painting. [...] The pictures I had in my mind were of mature gardens, generations old and somewhat untended, overgrown nearly to wildness. I wanted to see this in my lifetime."

Nothing is finished. Ever.

" 'Anything can happen in a garden.' He went back to sleep."

I really enjoyed how the idea was followed by "He went back to sleep." It reminds of the things you say (or in my case, do) before falling asleep, probably in a half-sleep already. For example, before falling asleep, I click my teeth a few times as if I'm cold. I only learned this three years ago because my boyfriend had noticed it. I'm not sure what it means scientifically, but I like to imagine it's my way of clicking my heels three times and saying "There's no place like [dreaming]." 

"He didn't get the name exactly right because of his slight dyslexia, and this made me smile. I liked his version better."

There are different versions of everything, like diversions (DI-versions). Is it more accurate to call them panversions? On a side note, Sometimes I like being sentimental. The book was easier to read because I enjoyed the cute romance. 

A few excerpts on time, I'm still trying to piece out:

"Time repeats in endless cycles of growth and death, patterns full of surprise and beauty, no matter how fleeting. The future is sun after rain, no more than that and all of that. [...] When I was a child, a summer day seemed a whole year long. No matter how many ways I found to entertain myself, from mornings bicycling to evenings chasing fireflies in our Riverdale backyard, there always seemed to be more time left to fill. Now my days go by so quickly, and my list of chores is so long, I can't find enough time."

"I no longer trusted the measuring of time in standard units. Time had morphed into a multifaceted, palpitating, unfamiliar entity, continually reconfiguring, sometimes welcoming, often frightening."

By the way, I included this illustration of Maira Kalman because it just reminded me of the photo of Skip and Rover. Something about Skip's character made me think of Maira's whimsy.

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