expectation clouds

but you can't see the weather; mixed media on wood board, 24 x 24 inches. The string series continues.

Four of four in a little show at Studio 330 for the month of June. I posted the first one here and the second one here and the third one here.

* * * * *

> I was just reading your blog. Do you think you're having more anxiety
> than usual, or just your regular amount?

I think my anxiety level is about normal, thanks. That said, I think today's normal is *way* too fucking high. Because everyone I know seems to be anxious or too busy or in a constant state of feeling rushed. Or anxious about being too busy and constantly feeling rushed. Like the sky is getting lower. And all of this, I think, is down to one thing, and we're all guilty of living in it: expectation clouds.

Some of this just comes with age, with coming to the high middle of our lives. Bumping up against things. Because there's supposed to be these *things* that belong -- or cluster, or condense -- to that age (job, house, relationship, children), never mind the *ideas* that should be making themselves felt, like so much rain (career, accomplishment, actualization, adventure, love, respect, satisfaction, enlightenment). We're *supposed* to have the nice balcony to see -- and appreciate, with a drink in a clean glass -- the sunsets that we've earned.

Trouble is, there's too much smog. And darkness.

A friend just wrote me (an email, not a letter -- don't be ridiculous) in which she said ...
I am going to be a sad, bitter old person with no friends if I'm not careful. I keep putting things off because "I'm busy." An expression I hate and yet I hear myself say it so often. I hate it because it's one of those catch-all excuses. I mean, everyone's busy. The drug dealer in the parking lot is "busy." The person letting their dog shit on our carpet is "busy." The person who continues to scratch graffiti in the elevator is "busy." The chores will always be there. People in your life will not. No wonder I'm still single!
And yet: I bet that drug dealer in his forties is the *busiest* of all. And probably the most anxious about his future too, because he only has so much time left to graduate to mid-level distributor.

Of course, if he could just give up his dreams of becoming kingpin altogether -- if he could just reconcile himself to his own happy street corner -- then he'd probably be much happier. And live longer.

I'm not one of those people who thinks that moving out to the country and reading Orhan Pamuk and spending endless rainy Sundays hustling cornbread at the local market will make me (or anybody else) happy. I grew up in a village with a population of just three hundred souls and I know that whole scene really only works for old people and children (and dogs too, they're *deliriously* happy ... until they get run over). Otherwise it's just dust and death.

But I do think we're all flying a lot of kites in the same clouds right now. I think we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, in the most prosperous time in history, and a great many very impressive minds have been hard at work for many years now convincing the rest of us that we need and deserve a whole lotta stuff. The entire system, remember, is built on the expectation of consumption.

For example: Canadians love their homes. But it's not just about home ownership as an accomplishment (a dubious concept already, when one looks south of the border) but realizing the *right* home filled with the *right* stuff in the *right* way. Okay. Spend your weekends at RONA. But next time you're reading a biography about someone, try adding up the number of pages devoted to the kind of house they lived in. You'll probably find more about the kind of clothes they wore -- as trivial as *that* is. Characters are not made by the houses they live in. The larger place -- the towns, the cities, the adjoining woods -- are far more important. Not to mention the clouds.


  1. Great new painting. I must be old then, cause I would love to live in the middle of nowhere, most days, baking bread, planting flowers, reading, creating and just *being* and not worrying about the *doing* so much. Although, I really can't complain, and should be thankful I'm not one of these people that waist half their lives working in a 9-5 job...or sorry 7-7 job...which is closer to the truth for a good many.

  2. i fell in love with this painting!

  3. I grew up in apartments with a mother obsessed with owning her own home. But to me buying a house seemed like the most terrifying thing in the world. What if you want to leave and go somewhere else? What if you get tired of staring at the same walls? I dont even like the idea of my one year lease.

    That's it, I'm packing.

    (I sent your postcard, I can comment again!)

  4. I love this painting! I think the whole series is fantastic together! This one is especially wonderful-the title, the story-all of it.

    And, I agree with everything you have said here. I recently read(not sure where)that people today have more, are healthier, have access to more modes of travel-just more of everything-medication, food, homes, etc... but, that people today are the unhappiest they have been in ages.

    People who lived through wars, whose babies died on a regular basis(you had 10 and maybe 3 made it to adulthood), had less(you made your clothes, had one fancy hat and were good to go), got by with whatever food they could grow in a victory garden or share at the church social were much more happier than we are today in spite of more deaths and truly sad situaions.

    I think it comes down to stress. To many expections to get this or that down NOW! And, these expectations are treated with life and death urgency when they really aren't. I NEVER see or talk to my twin sister. I love her dearly but she is just too busy. Her boss expects everything that she is doing to have been done yesterday and that she should be able to read his mind. She has 2 small children and works for a Children's Museum, yet her boss is ticked at her when she needs to leave to take care of them-what the hell is that about?

    This makes me so very mad that I just love being very "Merle" around him-I hug him and won't let go. While hugging him, I tell him all of my crazy stories. I sing to him, I sit on his lap and hug him somemore. I do this until I know he has reached his "crazy" threshold-making someone uncomfortable while making myself sick as well is so worth it-perhaps it is my calling?

    Then, he runs to my sister and is so glad that she is not me. He gives her a break for a few days which is a lot. I also like to tell him horror stories of life and death situations-real ones-the more gorey the better. This puts "move that artifact 2cm to the left NOW" in perspective-just for a few days.

    I adore a dark and cloudy day. I imagine I am lost on some fabulous Moor-Jane Austen style. I could never waste money of the "stuff" we are supposed to have because so many people throw out just amazing stuff-I can get great stuff for free!

    End scene,

  5. Hmm - this must be a very fortiesish issue, going through the same stuff over here

  6. It reminds of a class I was in recently, and a classmate was worried and horrified that the current generation was going to be the first one that wasn't going to live better than its parents had. I said, "Our parents lived without war, in houses that they owned, ate wonderful food, drove cars, went to the movies, and took vacations. How much more do we need? Where is the tragedy?"

    You're right. It doesn't matter what houses we live in. I argue, however, that the clothes do matter. Oscar Wilde knew that.

  7. The profoundness runneth over. I must go and think about all of these things. Or maybe I shouldn't think. That might make me too busy. And, frankly, at this high middle point in my life, I don't want to be busy.

    The abode is all-important, whether it is large or is small and sits on wheels. It must be filled with love. Clothes are a depressing waste of money.

  8. Ok, no cornbread.... Animal husbandry? Crazy quilting? The last art walk I participated, the person that sold was hustling kettle corn. I think food vending my be the way to go....

  9. oh... are they in love...?
    it's beautiful...

  10. Anonymous9:35 pm

    Are all the paintings at your upcoming show for sale? If so, how much will they be selling for? I would like to possibly purchase a couple of them...

  11. They're all in the $250 range. Just shoot me an email with your questions/details.

  12. 先告訴自己希望成為什麼樣的人,然後一步一步實踐必要的步驟。 ..................................................

  13. Wow, great post! It reminded me to be content and happy right now. And that I'm doing enough and having enough and that I could just put my head to rest (which I'll do soon as it is 9.30 pm here :)) Thank you!

  14. quite a lovely piece, I think of them as twins that are separated by time


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