Sunday, November 24, 2013

Waking Up is Hard to Do.

Good Morning, Starshine!

The Earth and I both say hello.  We've reached page 30 of "Saturday" the book.  It's now Sunday morning in India McGreevy's world.  It was an awful week for the entire McGreevy clan, followed closely by a bizarre, wonderful, baffling Saturday.  And now, as Sunday morning begins to open up like a stranger in line at the grocery store, India is dragged from the comfort of sleep and once again confronted with consciousness.

They say that there are four stages of sleep: Three "NREM" and one "REM", which are designated by theta waves and sciencey stuff like that.  I posit that there are an equal number of stages to waking up, but these are a lot closer to the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief.  The four stages of waking up go:

Stage 1, Denial:  As in, "That hand nudging me awake isn't real.  It's just part of a dream I'm having and soon it will go away and I'll get back to flying my magic turnip through the land of Vienna Sausages."

Stage 2, Confusion:  Whu?  Wha goway, me kep sleppy time.

Stage 3, Anger:  I kill you, scum.

Stage 4, Bargaining: Five more minutes.

Stage 5: Acceptance.  There are only four stages of waking up.  Because I've never, ever accepted waking up.

In this panel, India seems to be between stages 2 and 3, based on the expression on her face.  This is a familiar phase to me.  In the words of Louis C.K.: "Getting up is this whole thing because first I have to ask myself, 'Do I really want to be alive anymore'?

And what comes after stage 4 of the Waking Cycle?  The worst stage of all.  It's an extremely long, painful stage I call "Awake-ishness".  It usually lasts for about 15 hours and can be identified by its over-abundance of human interactions, work, and precisely zero visits to the land of Vienna Sausages in your flying magic turnip.


Sunday, November 17, 2013


Ahoy, there, and welcome to this week's update of "Saturday" the book!

On this page (page 29), India is returning home.  It's Saturday evening.  The skies are a deep, dark blue that fade into inky black.  The windows of her house are lit up with that incandescent, comforting yellow:

BTW: Is that yellow not long for this world?  What will future stories sound like?  "The windows of her house were lit up with the cold, acrid, office-like glow of compact florescent bulbs, which were synonymous with feelings of warmth and home."  Seems unlikely.  Just sayin'.

Anyhoo, India's just getting back to the house, which has seen some turmoil in the past week but still feels like home.

That's a strange phrase, isn't it?  "Feels like home."  We don't really describe other places that way, do we?  No one ever says, "It feels like the gym" or "It feels like the grocery store".  But home isn't just a physical location.  It's a place where people live alongside a lot of emotions and memories.  People make emotions and memories and then those emotions and memories are like roommates.  Home is complicated because the people who live there are complicated and because the act of living is also complicated.

It has as much to do with association as place.  I guess that's why sometimes you can live in a place that instantly feels like home and you can live in a place that never feels like home.  You can even feel at home in other people's homes.  Or on the basketball court.  Or inside a book.

For me, most days feel like I'm holding my breath all day long.  Home is where I exhale.  I'm lucky enough to have a couple of different places that feel that way.  Mostly they feel that way because of the people there:


Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Learning Curve Ball, Scary people, and Unknown Unknowns


Welcome to another update from "Saturday" the book.  This week's edition lands us squarely on page 28, wherein India is talking to one of her neighbors at the tail end of a long, strange day.  When India first runs into Leon, she's terrified of him.  He's a huge, scary-looking dude.  But ultimately, she discovers her fear is only the result of not really knowing anything about him.

I've met some interesting people in my life.  Drug addicts, millionaires, people suffering from mental illness, scientists and housewives, war refugees, social workers, loggers and police officers.  Years ago,  I met a guy who could bend horseshoes in half with his bare hands.  One time, as I was walking to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives.  He looked tired.

My impulse is usually to make some asinine assumption about these people based on a cursory understanding of what they do.  But it isn't until I ask questions about who they are (and why) that I begin to understand anything at all about them.  And what I begin to understand is that people are never, ever easily understood.

I've always felt a bit behind the curve when it comes to learning important lessons.  I get things wrong A LOT.  I even misunderstood lessons themselves.  I've had this idea for most of my life that lessons are this finite thing.  That you learn a lesson and the lesson comes to an end and then you know that thing the lesson taught you.  You are imbued with the wisdom of that lesson.  But of course, that's not really true.  Not for me, anyway.  Most of my lessons are ongoing.  I never really arrive at some truth because that truth shifts and changes (usually just when I think I've got it nailed down).

It's pretty humbling.  But it's also pretty cool that my understanding will expand as long as I allow it to.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Paper

I've been drawing pretty much my whole life.  I love it.  I always have.

I love the physical feeling of drawing: the pencil in my hand, the movement of arm and wrist, and the pressure of the graphite tip against the surface of the paper.  I love the energy and life of the sketched line and the crisp, clean look of the inked one.   I love the feel of the tooth of the paper between my fingertips and the smell of freshly-sharpened pencils (which still smells like school, even decades after I've been out of short pants).

But there was this other reason I started drawing in the first place.  And it's the same reason I keep drawing and will (hopefully) do so until someone pats me on the face with a shovel:

I remember being a little kid and seeing the work of amazing illustrators like Rien Poortvliet and Chris Van Allsburg.  I was enthralled and gobsmacked that a person could imagine a complete world and then create that world on paper.  When I read those books, I wasn't just looking at a drawing on paper.  I was IN the world they had created.  Their drawings were a gateway to these crazy, limitless environments of imagination.  I could stand there and watch Noah's ark being built plank by plank, walk through the garden of Abdul Gasazi or visit the town of Chewandswallow.   I was hooked.  And inspired.  And I pretty much knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

All these years later, I'm still basically a little kid excited about drawing.  I feel pretty lucky that I get to have this much fun drawing "Saturday".  And who knows if this book will ever have the impact on anyone that those books had on me as a kid.  But it would be nice to return the favor.  Or, more appropriately I guess, pay it forward.

These panels are from page 27.  It won't be long before my posts on this site catch up with my current progress (I'm working on page 31 right now).  When that happens, I guess you'll just have to be patient.