Monday, September 17, 2012

Plovers, Life Lists

{In Which We Commence Grad School In Different Cities: Round II}













I. Now that we're back in real life, how do we reclaim some of that Iceland magic? The hard truth: we don't. We get back to work. We stop complaining and sighing and we pour another cup of coffee and get down to the business at hand: graduate school, thesis, launching a textile business in India with my sister. Working on new collaborations and keeping old promises. Painting. Because, as my mother reminds me on occasion, THOSE PAINTINGS WON'T PAINT THEMSELVES.

So back to work, back to school. I regard the sweet autumn clematis outside my studio with measured acceptance, and sharpen my pencils like I'm going into battle. The clematis looks back at me with a thousand anthered eyes that say it's autumn, bitchez.

And so it is.

II. I make to-do lists. I write down the things I've already done and strike them through like speared fish for a sense of false accomplishment, because you have to start somewhere. If we're being morose, we consider the metaphorical and alphabetical link between To Do and To DieWhich reminds me of what is known in the birding community as the Life List, which is, in a sense, both a To Do list and To Die list; it is the list of bird species one sees before one dies.

I think of the one bird I want to see before I die. A harpy eagle. A harpy eagle catching a motherf*cking monkey. Which has to count for extra points on some list, somewhere.

I think of the one bird I want to see while I die. Bird of paradise at the height of mating season, for obvious reasons.

I think of the birds I saw in Iceland. Was that a golden plover I snapped a picture of that evening in the lichen'd, heather'd moor? You bet your motion-stabilized binoculars it was.

I write it down and cross it off the list.

And that is how we Get Over Iceland, how we get back to work, how we embrace fall. Why we close our eyes as we pass the heady mantle of clematis on Stuyvesant Street and inhale, smiling. It's autumn, bitchez, and I crossed a golden plover off my list. Now I can get back to work. 

32 comments:

  1. Yeah! Golden Plover! Take that birds.

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  2. i suppose work is always gonna be work, but i hope you can take solace in that your getting back to work is painting and other things which seem a lot more fun than the day job grind.

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    1. TRUE on all fronts. My sister and I discuss this all the time. She yells NO FAIR YOU GET TO PAINT and I yell NO FAIR YOU GET HEALTH INSURANCE AND A STEADY INCOME.

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    2. yeah sigh, the security of insurance and income are the things holding me back from trying something else with my life.

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  3. Harpy Eagle? Bah. What about a GOLDEN EAGLE?? They push goats off cliffs and then eat them.

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    1. Crossed that b*tch of the list in 2004 in Dornod Province, Mongolia. Otherwise it would have totally been top of the list. Also, the LAMMERGEIER. Google it. If you're into giantass raptors dropping prey off cliffs, you're in for a treat. (Ladakh, India, 2011).

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  4. Clematis saying "it's autumn bitchez." Now THAT needs to go on a t-shirt.

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  5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: did you knit that hat? because imma need that pattern.

    also. in an effort to combat fall blues/ignore my ever-growing to do list: can we start a brooklyn book club, heavy on the travel literature to satiate wanderlust and heavy on the red wine?

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  6. I totally write things I've already done on my to do list, just so I can cross them off! Happy fall and happy painting :)

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  7. Well now I need to check out the harpy eagle, because up until this time I thought I could die content having seen, in person, a shoebill stork (amazing!) but now I'm not so sure?

    Also, I've been writing things that I already did on my calendar, just to mark them off, and I felt like a total loser for doing so - but now I feel like I'm part of a cool kids club.

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  8. I love your writing! Just went through a few months of blogging, inspirational lady! :) Iceland looks absolutely breathtaking...

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  9. i think that fall always makes one consider one's travelled past, mainly because of the "colder weather = bundling up in blankets + never leaving the house" equation, if i'm not mistaken. lucky that you had such a fan-freaking-tastic summer, huh? :)

    also, i totally forgot i had wild blueberries sitting in my fridge until i saw the 2nd last photo. i think i'll make them my dessert tonight...thanks for the reminder, haha.

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  10. Amazing pics - I so have to go to Iceland asap! And I love your writing -was laughing out loud while sitting at my desk in the office. People must think I am nuts :) Happy re-adjusting!

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  11. THOSE PAINTINGS WONT PAINT THEMSELVES= damn right.

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  12. ah-getting back on that bike is tough-crossing things off lists makes it easier

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  13. autumn IS get-back-to-work time and i LOVE it. for that and for other reasons. but then, i didn't go to iceland, i just spent the summer being sick and unemployed. so being back to work feels AWESOME, actually.
    and it's true, those paintings WON'T paint themselves. i say that to myself about the prints as if i am my own mother (not before i've said, "someday my prints will come." geez. i'm a regular lorrie moore character).

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  14. your mom and i would get along swimmingly, for i tend to raise my voice more than often when reminding my beloved to snap back into his creative zone ~ PAINT! NOW!

    it's all for love, and come on, every artist needs/deserves a support system of bitchez!

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  15. sweet lil! i wish it was autumn here in los angeles. it's hot as hell up in here, have you heard?

    i kind of wish the monkey would have caught the eagle. : ((

    xoxo

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  16. i like your blog, good words and beautiful photos. verily i insist you watch this clip; monkeys take revenge on the birds (from earthflight on the BBC) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPlrnWn9e1E

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  17. WOW!Awesome photos!Sounds like an amazing time!
    Love your writing!What a sweet post!

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  18. Autumn was always backwards for me. As a student work happened in the summer so fall was back to school, which I loved much more than work. I am keeping that momentum going by heading away to camp this weekend. hoooray!

    I also crossed golden eagles off my life list, saw one in Wyoming just a sittin' on a highway sign near the snowy range.

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  19. hang in there, lily lady! the best is yet to come.

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  20. you had me at birds. BIRDS. yeah! thesis! woot!

    you make me a little hyper for reasons i don't understand.

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  21. It struck me: 'how to reclaim the magic? the hard truth: we don't.' I'm always memorizing moments and feelings and sounds and smells and taking sensory pictures to draw on when I'm back from travels and faced with the grim prospect of *insurmountable work*. But the truth is, work is best met with a focused mind and I think your little pep talk is rather wise. We'd never be able to appreciate the sheer awesomeness of those magical trips without being intimately acquainted with good, old fashioned hard work. It just makes those 'ta-da!' moments all the more golden. Forge ahead, more of those moments await you....after the hours of struggle! Love the blog.

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  22. Lily- It sounds like it's time to paint your heart out ;-)

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  23. loved this- "those paintings won't paint themselves". haha- I need to tell myself this when I'm in my own studio, and not in the mood to paint...

    ps- my fiance and I were so inspired by your Iceland adventure (and after doing some extensive research of our own)- are taking a trip after our wedding next August!

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  24. You are a girl after my own heart, what with the love of giant raptors and ponies, etc., but I think you are way cooler than I am. Can't wait to see what this next cycle of work brings!

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  25. This is beauty. Thanks for reminding me that there is the getting over of Iceland, too.

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  26. Beautiful!!! Love how you went with the leopard pumps!cheap prom dresses

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