Rebecca Solnit, Robohontas, and the Dream-Tale (aka 2011 Sucked!)

The photo is of a business card that fell out of a book I was reading recently. My late professor, Jon Gierlich, had given us a copy of one of the chapters from Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost for a class project. I ended up buying a copy and read most of it a couple of years ago. (I’ve probably written about it on this blog previously.) After he passed away last fall I remember another teacher who had helped sort through his belongings had his copy of the book, which seemed, to me at least, almost like a talisman.

Last week I started reading this book again, which was something I had been meaning to do for several months. I’m glad I did! I love Solnit’s writing and the meandering paths that these essays take. They read like a combination of history and dreams, which is a fitting description for memories in my opinion. Partway through, the business card with a picture of King Tut’s golden mask on it fell out while I was sitting on the couch reading.

The picture is so striking and vibrant (which I’m sure was the point when Cairo Collective chose to place it on their cards) that it felt like some sort of a sign. But of what? In any case, it seemed significant enough that I snapped a picture to try and save some part of that moment.

This time I did finish the book. It has essays that are interspersed with smaller stories, each of which are titled, “The Blue of Distance.” These little stories explore the color blue and its meaning. They are almost like ocean waves lapping against the shore in a sense, at least that is what the rhythm of the whole thing brings to mind.

I rememer thinking of it the last time I was reading it as the type of book I wish I had written. This time, I didn’t necessarily feel quite so, well, jealous I suppose. Instead, it seemed more like the type of thing to motivate me to write. Not because I would write something like it, but because I enjoy reading and writing, because I need to process and record things from my life, because I finally feel like I have stories that should be told.

Of course, I have yet to embark on this writing. I forgot that it does take time and effort. It has been so long since I’ve been an avid reader, and the main things I write nowadays are emails to clients at work. But I do have a story to tell. It belongs to this world and the dream world. It is forming in my head, swirling about, trying to find form. I don’t know exactly what shape it will take, but I hope that I do get it out, even if only a fraction.

This past year has been so difficult for me personally. I keep things together at work and in public for the most part, so I doubt many people really know how dark things have been at times. I was raised in an environment that trained me to be hyper-aware of what other people might think, to always keep up a happy facade, to do whatever possible to avoid conflict.

Late spring and summer this year were very rough. The holidays also were difficult, which surprised me. My mother went into the hospital a few weeks before Christmas and died on New Year’s Day almost twenty years ago. And it was a few days after Christmas in 2010 that I learned (in a horrible fashion) my father had died earlier that month. I guess I got so good at avoiding my feelings, that I thought that was normal. But no, they still managed to catch up with me after all.

I haven’t been feeling motivated to create any art lately. For a while I kept telling myself that I was going to start up soon after taking a break, especially on my Robohontas project. Yet, I haven’t managed to find the drive. I question what my goals for making something are. Who is it for? What does it mean? Why am I making this and why is it feeling like an obligation?

But I’m thankful for the things that are starting to revive me. Bryn is a trooper, I have no idea what I would do without him. The people I work most closely with every day at my job have helped to keep me sane in the midst of turmoil. Jon’s lessons were/are invaluable, many of which I no doubt have yet to learn. And Rebecca Solnit’s writing that gives me hope.

And so, it has been more than a month now, and I’m not forcing myself to do anything. I’ve thought about writing a blog post for a while, and this is really the first task I’ve done. Probably the first step in moving towards writing my dream-tale down. In fact, I believe that this is the next step for Robohontas. The photoblog will probably come back to life at some point, but now that I’ve done so much with her over the past year, it is time to really sit down to listen and find out what she has to tell me.

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2 thoughts on “Rebecca Solnit, Robohontas, and the Dream-Tale (aka 2011 Sucked!)

  1. Google alerts brought me to your blog. I am really pleased to find that my book is having an excellent life up the coast and wish you the best for this year to come and all your writing—

    • Glad that the good ol’ internets sent you my way so you can see that your book is appreciated, thank you so much for the well wishes!

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