Tag Archives: life

What We Keep

First Bug Drawing

Last night Maura and I attended a reading, signing, and conversation hosted by the wonderfulNational Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Seriously, if you are anywhere near KC and haven’t been, you MUST go. Authors Bill Shapiro (the former editor-in-chief and founding editor of Getty Images FOTO) and Naomi Wax (whose work has appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, and the Iowa Review) were at the museum to present their latest book called “WHAT WE KEEP, 150 People Share the One Object That Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning“. Bill and Naomi interviewed people from all over the country, from all walks of life, asking them about an object that has deep meaning and then publishes images of the objects along with the stories, in the person’s own word. At the event, they did a reading of some of their favorite objects and stories, then did a Q&A answering some great questions from the attendees about their process, how they chose who to talk to, etc. They started by talking to people they knew, then took an exponential approach, talking to people that they people they knew knew. They then decided to travel across the country, seeking out people that they decided might be interesting to talk to. During their travels, they came to Kansas City, heard about the Toy and Miniature Museum and decided they had to stop in to check it out – only for half an hour or so. Unsurprisingly they ended up spending four hours there, missing an interview in Iowa.

After the reading and Q&A session, they did a book signing – before the reading, they were making their way around the room to introduce themselves to everyone. It was so great to meet them and have a brief conversation with them before the talk and at the signing – this project is obviously very meaningful to them. So meaningful in fact, that the last segment of the evening was a group conversation where the attendees broke into two groups to discuss their most treasured objects. During the break, Maura and I were naturally thinking about and discussing what objects we would have selected. Bill led the conversation at our table. He gave us a few minutes to draw the object on one side of a card, then flip it over and answer several questions about the object and why we chose it. We then went around the table discussing our objects. It was very touching, hearing these intimate stories from strangers and sharing our own.

Which brings me to the real point of this post. At the top of the post, you can see the drawing I did, from memory, of the object that I selected. Here is the actual car: First Bug Original I don’t think I did too bad, for a non-illustrator. As I was listening to the stories in Bill and Naomi’s book, I was thinking what meaning this toy car has to me.

Many of you know that I collect toy VW Beetles. Well, this is the original. I have many more Beetles now but this was the object that started me down the path to becoming a collector. I had never thought about what deeper meaning might be behind that Bug, but as I considered it last night I realized several things that I have never fully acknowledged. It was given to me by my father, early in my high school years. I have never had a strong relationship with him. He left when I was pretty young and for the first several years after that we didn’t see much of him. I ended up living with he and his second wife when I was in high school. My father came home one day after work and surprised me with the Bug out of the blue. I’m sure I had mentioned my love for the VW Beetle and that I wanted to drive one someday (I still haven’t bought one and yes, it has to be a vintage one, not the new abomination). This was one of the only truly thoughtful gestures I ever experience from my father. It was a small thing, but it meant that he had heard me and more importantly, done something about it. The majority of what I learned from my father was what I didn’t want to be as a man or as a human being. Thinking about the history of this car last night, I realized that I had learned something positive from him after all. I learned that listening is powerful, and no matter how small the gesture, acting on what you hear even more so. It’s difficult for me to acknowledge that I might have learned something positive from my father, he was pretty worthless as an example most of the time.

It was interesting to talk about it so openly last night with a table full of strangers. As we were leaving, an older gentleman who we shared the table with approached me, placed his hand on my shoulder, and told me how much he appreciated what I shared. This, I believe, is what Bill and Naomi’s project was ultimately about. Everyone has stories, they simply used a person’s cherished object as a focal point to bring out some of these stories. It must have felt like a tremendous privilege to be able to talk to all of those people as they shared theirs. I can’t wait to read the book and experience more of them!

My Favorite Albums of 2016

2016 was a both wonderfully great year and a fantastically crappy year. I celebrated my ten year wedding anniversary and also ten years at the Kansas City Art Institute. I learned a lot, both professionally and personally. Legends died. A dangerous idiot was elected president of the United States.

Regardless, music is enduring. Here is a list of my favorites from last year (screw the top ten thing, I have a lot of favorites!) Featured you will find two soundtracks that I just can’t stop listening to, two albums by one band, the final albums by two of my favorite artist who happened to end their time on Earth this past year, songs about love, songs about life, songs about songs, songs about humanity, and songs just for fun. In no particular order:

  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Andrew Bird – Are You Serious
  • Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker
  • David Bowie – Black Star
  • Mac Quayle – Mr. Robot OST
  • Yello – Toy
  • Bon Iver – 22, A Million
  • Deerhoof – The Magic
  • Hope Sandoval and the Warm Intentions – Until the Hunter
  • Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
  • Jim James – Eternally Even
  • M83 – Junk
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
  • Paul Simon – Stranger to Stranger
  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Ramin Djawadi – Westworld OST
  • Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop – Love Letter for Fire
  • Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits
  • Thee Oh Sees – An Odd Entrances

Resolutions

It’s the beginning of a new year; a chance to start fresh. All of the bad habits from last year can stay in the past. Whatever. There’s actually only been one year in my entire life that I actually followed through with all of my resolutions. My friend and I set some very specific, achievable goals and held each other accountable for them. At first I wasn’t even going to bother with any, I usually don’t, but as I thought about what I would want to achieve this year, I managed to come up with a few that I could deal with. So here they are, in no particulat order:

  1. Develop a thicker skin – I resolve not to let people get to me and make my life miserable, even (especially) the stupid people.
  2. 100 pushups – My wife and I have tried this program a couple of times, but some thing kills our momentum and we stop. Not this time, this time I resolve to trudge through the arms feeling like jelly phase and eventually reach 100.
  3. Second tattoo – I already have the designs of the next two chosen, I just have to get someone to draw the third one. I resolve to finally get my second tattoo.

That’s it for now. They’re nothing big, but they are very specific and definitely achievable.

Twittering

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and I had been doing so well! I got sort of addicted to Twitter and it seems all my writing juices have been filtered into it. I promise I’ll try to do better, but I’ve also begun studying to become Leopard certified. Not a monumental task, but the tests are very detailed – like stuff I’d never need to know in the real world.

As for the Twitter thing, I’m not going to explain why. If you think it’s a dumb idea, don’t do it. If you’re mildly interested, give it a try and either find yourself totally addicted or drop it like the dumb idea you initially thought it was.

I like it because it’s like a constantly updated IM blog. There are a ton of interesting people, some even saying interesting things!

Old Friends

It’s amazing how talking to old friends, especially ones you haven’t seen in a while, can put everything in your life into a new perspective.

I don’t know if it was the weather or maybe I was sending out some kind of homing signal. Last Wednesday within one hour of each other two people who I haven’t talked to in over a year called me. Both good friends from the past – one I worked with a few years ago when I lived in central Missouri – Nicole, and the other I went to college with -Ryan. We met Nicole for dinner last thursday – it was great to see her and catch up. She and her family kept me sane through a somewhat dark time in my life. Ryan has been in school since he was five. He’s now an anesthesiologist in search of work – he interviewed at a local hospital and should know within two weeks!

I’m typically very bad at keeping in touch with people. Friendships are a two way thing, I realize – it’s not just me, but I should probably be more proactive. Even friends that live near – a good friend who lives north of the river just had his second child and I haven’t even met the first yet! As in introvert, I don’t tend to seek out a lot of people and yet the friendships I make tend to last. I lose touch with people and when we find each other again, it’s like nothing happened.

In visiting with Nicole, she commented that it was great to see me so happy. I know that I’m much happier now than I’ve ever been in my life (all due to my awesome wife), but hearing her say it made it even truer somehow. It gave me a basis for comparison I guess – this is how far I’ve come. It’s also good to hear that she and her family are doing well, as well as the other people in Columbia that I do a terrible job of keeping in touch with.

I guess my point in writing all of this is that I need to quit being quite so solitary. I need people; I need to stay in touch with those that are not near and I need to actually hang out with those that are.