Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the gift that keeps on giving...

waaaaay back in (i can't believe how long it's been) february 2005, the thin man and i went to a kurt halsey frederiksen show at (now dismantled?) wag artworks. the thin man even surprised me with a purchase of an original drawing "met a boy" (at left). upon meeting kurt halsey frederiksen, i was reduced to my cowering, shoegazing fangirl self and finally mumbled "can i take a picture with you?"

i pass my beautiful drawing every day and i was just wondering what kurt halsey frederiksen was up to anyway... and it turns out Rotofugi is having a show with him in june 2010. SA-WEET!

then, i noticed this sickenly saccharinated necklace THAT I MUST HAVE - available thru art star gallery & boutique in philly.

so, i ambled over there to see what else was going on and found a bevy of amazing artists, who after elaborate googling to find their individual websites, introduced me to even more mind blowing artists. i link to them below as a reminder to myself and a link loving gift to you:

jen corace

kathleen lolley

issac bushkin

stella im hultberg

jin young yu

carla bedini

polly verity

Thursday, September 10, 2009

be careful, be good, be nice...

it's that day, again...

a few nights ago, i saw a story on Primetime: Family Secrets about two sisters who also died in a tragic car accident on sept. 27th, 2006 - which would've been andra's 35th birthday. my deepest sympathies go out to the becker/caiafa families and friends. i can't imagine what it must be like for them but i know a similar bottomless loss of innocent loved ones at the hands/vehicles of careless people.

i can't believe my post above is 3 years old... i remember riding the trains and shielding myself in roaring white noise and numbness like it was yesterday... and now, 16 years have come and gone since my best friend and her sister passed away.

i started re-reading andra's letters to me about a week ago... right on schedule... the first one is dated september 18, 1989. the last one is dated february 23, 1993. they reside in a beautiful birds eye maple box that a woodworking artist/classmate made for me in college.

andra hated her senior year photo above, but it's one of the few i have where her eyes aren't closed or she isn't looking terribly annoyed, sheepish or evasive. i found it stashed in the box of letters and i'd forgotten about it, so i post it here now... somewhat conflicted... sorry, andra.

our 20 year high school reunion is fast approaching and i'm still sitting on the fence re: attending... for many reasons... foremost of which, the one person i'd want to see won't be there. ever.

looking back, high school was so traumatic and so painful for me and andra made the experience so much easier, so much more tolerable.... she was my personal spinal tap. she always reminded me that high school wasn't the end of the world and that it was ok that i didn't reach my own fairy tale pinnacle there - something as a teenager i had so much trouble recognizing or reconciling with... she knew that we didn't have much time to goof around and pretend we didn't know better. that instead of being youths, we were expected to grow up quickly and struggle to stay youthful forever. to me, time was infinite and constantly linear, but to andra it was inestimable, ephemeral and fluid...

i remember the summer before we went to college. i decided to stay in chicago and attend art school at columbia college and she was on her way to the "chilly willy world of the golden gophers", the university of minnesota - minneapolis. i was anxious about our being apart for so long with only winter and summer breaks to see each other - if we were lucky and had money and time to spare...

and then, i got a letter... her first letter is in a bright yellow envelope. my name and address are artfully and beautifully drawn in a whimsical script that only andra could have drawn. the letter, from salutation to farewell, is awash in exclamation points and CAPITALS. she was SO happy and excited to be in minnesota. she writes about every mundane thing in vivid detail... her stationery, her phone bill, her dorm room, her pretty roomate, her roomates tiresome boyfriend, the cafeteria food, her RA... she even draws a map of her room to illustrate her complaint re: some bookshelves which were inconveniently/incorrectly placed above her bed.

her window overlooked a small river which tempted her to adventure beyond the U and into dinkytown with all its shops and cafes, and the bounty of beautiful boys sprawled about. she ends the letter saying she loves me, that i am her neatest, favoritest, bestest friend. she was going to run the letter to the post office and mail it immediately so that i wouldn't think i'd been forgotten. she writes that she misses me a lot and loves me a lot and hopes i am taking care of myself. and that she would call soon to make sure i was eating enough marzipan.

her last letter is written on onion skin paper. the envelope is a bisque color and like every other letter, my name and address are exquistely printed by her hand and to the left of my name is a bear hiding in an overgrown, overfed colorful flower bush. her handwriting and grammar and sentence structure is more poised but relaxed in this letter.

she complains about another exhausting, cold winter and her sad, housebound cat (also illustrated in detail at left margin) and about my excessive drinking and well... all the other extra curricular activities i would involve myself in while under the influence... she enjoys my stories and living vicariously thru me (she was in a long term, committed relationship). she approves of seduction, but not of teasing and definitely not of settling for what was "available"...

she complains and scolds about how often i devalue myself. she worries about my future and hers... sometimes seriously, sometimes humorously... that our futures are bearing down too fast in some situations and at too slow a pace in others. she had started packing to return to illinois and it was making her uneasy. her first day back she was attending a baby shower of a mutual high school classmate and reality again was weighing heavily on her mind... she was somewhat baby phobic when in their presence, but often admired their good qualities from a distance.

the letter ends very abruptly with a few enthusiastic sentences about charlie chaplin - she watched some of his films and read his biography... feeding into her curiosity and reverence for history and nostalgia and the supernaturally talented... (i keep forgetting to pick up that biography.)

both her first and last letters to me end with "much love, Andra". however, andra usually ended her letters to me with the departing and cautionary phrase "be careful, be good, be nice, Andra". sometimes her letters were eight pages (sometimes 2 sided) long, and sometimes, i got two or three VERY BIG WORDS on a postcard...

today, my grieving feels as if i've reduced myself to a rat, scavenging thru leftover, but treasured scraps... the photos, the memories, the letters, the words, the gifts, the newspapers clippings, even a trio of soybeans i was given from the quiet, lush green, swaying field that witnessed the accident... what is it called when you're beyond grief, beyond desolate but also beyond acknowledgement or even reverie?

i miss andra so much.... i miss writing candid, earnest, loving letters to her and the excitement/anticipation of getting one in return. i miss telling her about new music i like or complaining about not enjoying a john irving book in decades... sharing with her the turmoils of being a fumbling parent or keeping a tangible balance in my life in an effort to remain sane... to retain what little i think i know about myself... and of course, there is the abundance of blessed joy that i feel in my life, that she always wanted me to have, that she prayed for and hoped for...

logically, i know i am lucky to have my letters... to see through her eyes, how i've evolved in 20 years and in what ways i haven't... but every passing year it becomes more difficult to imagine what she would look like now, where she would be living, what career/activites would be monopolozing her time, etc... it's as if i stand beside her, eternally waiting for a bus in evanston in 1993. my memory via cancelled us mail is an emotionless panorama via one way mirror.

sometimes i don't want to be careful, or be good, or be nice. i want to drink until my teeth are soft, walk slowly across a fast moving LSD and boorishly humiliate and violently injure strangers in public... but, i don't... i won't...

thank you, andra. my family thanks you. my children will read your letters one day and they will thank you and mourn your loss too... if i am granted the luxury of growing ancient and happy and look back on my life and recognize that i was half the resplendent human being you were - it will be enough.

i feel you still looking out for me from wherever you are... still encouraging me, still gently admonishing me.... thank you, bless you, i love you... i miss you so much it still hurts... it's been much too long since your last letter, please visit me in my dreams again if you can, i need all the counsel and comfort i can get...


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