This is a portrait of Moxie, my aunt Judy’s cat.
Here’s a song and a self portrait. I first heard the song in the movie The Great Beauty (which just won best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars and really is a movie worth checking out). The scene in which the song plays is right after someone dies and the main character, Jep, is in a cafe and each person he looks at moves in slow motion and is a little bit strange. One woman takes his hand and says, “Who’s going to take care of you now?” Right after my mom died that’s how it felt to walk into a room. It still feels that way, maybe not every time, but often, and sometimes it’s almost too much to keep walking into rooms.
My cover of Everything Trying by Damian Jurado:
This is my mom in Chicago, at a cafe, in March 2012. I was asked to do a reading at AWP, so Mama and I took the train and stayed in a hostel and explored the city together. We bought knitted hats with knitted flowers– she’s wearing hers in this photo, mind is red with a grey flower.
This is my mom working on her final painting in late December 2012. She painted and drew a little after this, but this was her last finished painting. I have so many pictures in my head just like this, Mama in her overalls, a fuzzy hat, paint all over her clothes and the furniture moved out of the way, drop cloths on the floor. She had a “working face” that was serious and funny all at once. She would squint her eyes, purse her mouth, looking at the person or thing she was painting but also looking through it to the other world, the one she saw with light and shadows. Colors are just made of light.
When Mama started snow-painting (her winter sport) she talked about the specific “winter light.” There are so many colors in those greys and whites. I’m looking out the window here by my desk and I can see all these greys in the sky, and the blues, greens, peaches mixed in, so faintly. The dark branches with thin twisty twigs against the glowing light of this winter sky. Now, on these long winter days which seem like they will never end, I can see how beautiful they really are. I know Mama’s up there painting that sky for us.
This is an old comic from 2012 that feels very pertinent to Valentine’s Day. My parents taught me about love. Watching them and being part of their family is how I learned to give and receive love, how to argue in a healthy way, how to work together, how to take care of each other.
One of my favorite Valentine’s Days was in 2004. It was the second semester of my Freshman year of college, my first year living in New York City, I was eighteen and I was single. I’ve more often been single than coupled on Valentine’s day, and I always enjoyed it. So, on February 14, 2004 I took myself to H&M and bought myself a big bling-y ring (still have it) and then took myself to the movies. It was great. I was in love with New York, in love with myself and the person I was becoming.
I can really remember the feeling of walking around that evening, in my red parka and jeans, the rhythm of Union Square, the joy I felt for my life and for being alone at that moment.
Looking for a unique digital valentine to email your sweetie? I’ve just added Custom Digital Valentines to my etsy shop.
I recently drew this portrait of Chad and Sarah: A lovely couple with a sweet story, and I really enjoyed drawing them in their favorite spot on their red couch. A Custom Couple Portrait is a great gift for any occasion.
And if you live in Williamstown, MA, here’s another great idea: Big Screen Valentines
I’m kind of a scaredy-cat. When we got an opportunity to go rafting on the Futaleufu River in southern Chile– one of the best rivers for rafting in the whole world– I didn’t know if I could do it. My sister said to me, “If the only reason you’re not going to do it is because you’re scared, then I think you should do it.”
Well, I did it.
And it was exhilarating.