Tuesday, June 28, 2011

you can't beat a man at his own game

we were walking through walmart yesterday and cut through the infant department, an aisle we normally eschew. when bob asked why we were going that way i quipped "because i want a baby" to which bob quickly replied "what for, to sacrifice to satan?"

touche, sir, touche

Friday, May 06, 2011

shakespeare but just this once

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


mascara makes me pretty, but bob's photography makes me beautiful

Sunday, January 02, 2011

yeah zombie dress-up!

it actually makes sense...jesus was a zombie, after all...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


elevators make me uneasy. this single thought is on repeat in my mind as i glide silently upwards to my nameless destination. as the doors slide open, i close my eyes, prolonging the sensation of falling i feel in the pit of my empty stomach. i step blindly from the elevator, hands outstretched, the brilliant white light piercing through my thin eyelids. i hear the keening wail of what sounds like a child in pain, a sound that causes me to snap open my unwilling eyes. standing before me in an otherwise vacant space is the largest male peacock i have ever seen. the high-pitched shriek i had heard was his. i am mesmerized by this bird, and for a moment we stare at each other in silence, a silence so large it seems to come from more than just ourselves. i rip my eyes away from the peacock, allowing my mind to explore this space. a vast expanse of white barrenness seems to extend in all directions as far as i can see. no sights, no sounds, no smells interfere with the perfect void that is contained within this unknown room. suddenly the peacock shrieks again, dragging my attention back to him as he slowly advances upon me. i realize i have taken several steps toward him as well, my feet making no noise on the white ground beneath my feet. as he meets my eye, his tail suddenly explodes to expose the full iridescence of its plumage, the sound of the feathers snapping into place seeming like the sound of a thousand doors opening, and fear takes hold of my soul as i realize the peacock is growing, expanding, doubling in size, filling the previously empty room with his plumage. i gasp audibly and the sound is so loud it provokes another shattering shriek from the bird. as i stumble backwards through the still open elevator doors, i drop to my knees in nameless fear, wondering if the peacock will follow me, overtake me, somehow manage to stuff his body into this elevator with me, but the doors slam shut mercifully, cutting off the sound of one last wail from the gargantuan bird. the last thing i see is the brilliant, piercing single eye of the monstrous bird, peering through the crack of the door in what - rage? curiosity? hunger? nothing? i close my eyes, grateful for once for the sensation of falling that tells me the elevator is retreating from this bizarre empty room, from the peacock that surely held some significance, but what? what did it all mean? 

note: white room photo by katherine du tiel

Monday, December 27, 2010

no tears for spilled paint

            Though time casts the shadow of uncertainty over our lengthening memories, certain events stand out like neon signs in the streets of our minds. I no longer recall the color of the sky that day nor the dress that I wore, but my first experience with injustice looms large over my secret memories of childhood. In retrospect, it seems like such a trivial incident, not a thing to be remembered after twenty-five years, but we humans tend to paint our own problems in the boldest of colors, convinced that our own troubles must certainly be more significant than those of other people.
            I can still remember the joy I felt at finally being allowed to attend school. Kindergarten was a long-awaited privilege to me. I was one of “those” children – the miniature adult trapped in the uncooperative body of a child, with an enormous vocabulary and solemn temperament that belied my emotional immaturity. Making friends was a bit of a challenge as I recall, since to my peers, my prim demeanor and serious nature probably seemed more like a character from a Victorian novel than a modern child. My best friend was a slim girl with smooth brown bobbed hair and a cheerful disposition. Her name was Angie Penterman and I worshiped her. So much so that six months later, when my normally overly attentive mother was otherwise engaged, I got the sewing scissors from their hiding place and chopped off my waist length hair, much to the horror of all who knew me. But that is a different story of a different problem…
            The story of this problem began on an ordinary morning during what was referred to as “free time”; that part of the school day when we were allowed to quietly play in groups in the classroom. At the time, I was one of the only kindergartners who already knew how to read, and I often read aloud to my little friends when asked. On this particular day, Angie Penterman and I decided to read during our free time, and we crept under the large painting easels kept in the corner of the classroom, taking our book with us. They had recently been used, and several sloppy paint pots in various states of fullness still rested in their holders. Angie and I carefully climbed under them and began to read. I remember we were very pleased with the way the easels served as a private sort of tent just for us, and for a time the only distractions from our storybook were the cracklings of the paintings, still drying on the easels from the morning’s art projects, as they rustled in the breeze from the open window.

            Then the boys came along, as the boys always do, and spoiled our peaceful little reading tent. They were noisy and they were obnoxious, and of course we alternately hated their attention and fought to be the focus of it. Although I no longer recall the particulars of their intrusive games that morning, it is easy to imagine they probably involved plots to steal our book and the overuse of the word “cooties”. Also easy to imagine is the ultimate outcome of kindergarten boys playfully harassing two little girls under unsteady easels with open paint pots. Of course after a few minutes of skirmishing there was a crash, and wild streaks and splashes and spatters of primary colored paint lay in swaths across the carpet like a Jackson Pollock painting. There was a momentary silence as Angie and I looked at each other, still under the easels, paint dripping on our heads from the tipped pots, and then there was the sound that strikes terror in the hearts of children everywhere - the sudden rush of air that means a very large and very fast moving adult is rapidly approaching.  It is at this point that we come to the introduction of the villain of the piece: enter Mrs. Foster.
            Mrs. Foster was, of course, The Kindergarten Teacher. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have a lovely, kind, encouraging kindergarten teacher to usher you into the sacred halls of learning, someone who inspired you to become the wonderfully fulfilled person you are today. Some of us were not so lucky. Some of us had kindergarten teachers who were perpetually cranky, unjustifiably bad tempered and smelled funny. If there were a country composed of crabby kindergarten teachers, Mrs. Foster would have been its leader.
            As Angie and I waited for our impending doom as it crossed the classroom toward the art corner, we realized the real culprits in this paint pot fiasco, the boys, had bailed like rats from a sinking ship, and we would be left to face Mrs. Foster alone. She accused, shouted, pointed skinny gnarled fingers of blame, and generally was unreasonable and unreachable, and I could not for the life of me find it within myself to protest. I waited for Angie to say something, to explain that we had merely been reading, for the boys to step up and acknowledge their actions, for the sound of my own voice to say “I did not do this!” but ultimately I crumpled under the weight of her false accusations and meekly obeyed her instructions to fetch paper towels and water to clean up the biggest splashes of paint.
            I remember crying as I trotted back and forth to the sink with wet paper towels, dabbing ineffectually at the garish paint stains on the carpet. Angie stoically did the same. There was no greater consequence than the cleaning of the carpet that I recall, but it was not the punishment that has made me return to this day in my mind so many times since the incident occurred all those years ago, nor was it the shame I felt at being castigated in front of the entire class. Quite simply, up until that day I had never been blamed for something I had not done.
            Of course in the ensuing years since that day in kindergarten, I have seen myself behave similarly when faced with other problems. The patterns of my personality established themselves early, and I have frequently accepted blame and punishment for situations that were not mine to own. This martyr complex is a problem I contend with on a near daily basis, and may never be resolved to my satisfaction, but at the very least I am self aware enough to recognize its origins in a kindergarten classroom long ago. Paint stains may fade, but the memory of injustice is raw forever.

Friday, December 24, 2010

little things

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
~Henry David Thoreau~

To put it simply, I didn’t have much, growing up in that land of swimming pools and movie stars and sunshine and smog known as California. Bags of wilted hand-me-down clothes from churches and mysterious canned goods from community pantries were simply a matter of routine in the sparse apartments I shared with my mother and older brother. The secret laws of childhood friendships always seemed to elude me, and I spent more time with the books I horded from yard sales than with humans my own age. We moved frequently, and it seemed I forever had to winnow down my meager childhood possessions into ever smaller boxes each time we packed up the car and drove to the next tiny, temporary home.

Necessity, then, drove me to find intangible things to treasure: the smell of city sidewalks after rain, the way a bird painstakingly builds its nest from the litter in the streets, the sight of one lone star shining through the lingering haze of pollution in the night sky, and the power of my own childish mind to create something that could never be taken away from me.

To any poverty stricken child of intelligence, the public library is a sort of heaven. I first read a battered library copy of Thoreau’s Walden when I was ten or so. His story of a solitary life in a simple cabin built by his own hands in Massachusetts in the 1800’s, where he had the time to reflect on the implications of life in a Capitalist society, seemed strangely relevant to a poor young girl stranded in the twentieth century urban wasteland of California. Although at the time I failed to understand some of the political messages it contained, I immediately internalized this particular passage, identifying deeply with Thoreau’s emphasis on the importance of nonconformity, self-reliance, and the simple pleasures of nature and knowledge. In time, this passion for "the essential things of life" grew to encompass not only the literature and art I observed but the creation of it as well. Painting, writing, photography, critical thinking and the sharing of philosophical ideas, all the essential parts of my life as I now define it, stem from the seed planted by the reading of this simple idea.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

*cue elton john song*

that's right kids, after a much needed hiatus, the bitch is back, and i have a brand new site to serve as the reservoir for my art: japchan art & photography will house my paintings, photos, and visual creative projects, while japchan will continue to serve all your sarcastic and nerdy literary needs. you can access the new blog from the link above or from the permalink in the sidebar here at japchan.