Recently I've been contemplating changing all the illustrations for this blog to things I draw pathetically myself in Paint. Not so much because I think it would be visually appealing (stimulating, perhaps), but more so because it brings to mind the fond memory of the time that I sent my friend M* a particularly choice piece of Paint art.
M* was, at that time, in her first job outside of college, and had let me know that she was so bored that she would drink glass upon glass of water, simply so that she would have to get up and go to the bathroom, such that she would have something to do. I have experimented with this singular piece of genius myself from time to time, and let me tell you, it works (an aside: the bathroom in my building has become a uniquely entertaining place. Today alone, while I was in there minding my own business, a woman went into a stall all the way at the other end and started saying "Ron? Ron?" and then Tsk!-ing wildly whenever this Ron did not respond, and angrily rolling out copious amounts of paper. I left in haste)!
So, I suggested that in order to alleviate her boredom, M* ought to start laundering money from her company, such that she could retire at age 25 in a glorious tropical paradise. The picture that I sent her was my interpretation of her, in a solid gold bikini, dancing in a rain shower of her laundered money. And yes, of course it was glorious.**
My other thought lately was to purchase a digital camera, and though that option may be less outstandingly! creative than drawings in Paint, it is a bit more pragmatic. For example, this past week Dave*** and I were in New York, where we did many wonderful things, including attending the wedding reception of my friend Sarah. I would dearly have loved to document that event, and many others, but since I don't have a digital camera it became impossible. I did later discover that Dave brought his camera along specifically so that I could take pictures of things, but he never once mentioned this to me until after we had returned to Chicago****.
This was the first time I had ever met Sarah's now-husband Ben, but he did make a good first impression when he immediately got into a heated discussion with me about Cormac McCarthy's new novel The Road. I know that I'm a bit late getting around to reading this novel, and that because of Oprah, 90% of humanity has already shoved at least one full copy of this book into their mouth to show proper affection, but that's just not the way I do things.
I won't get into the finer details of our conversation, partially because beer was involved and so I can't recall the whole thing. But I will say that the book thoroughly occupied my attention and reminded me of how easily McCarthy can alter one's sense of beauty to include within it the terrible and the diasporic.
The back of the book, I believe, calls it "Perhaps [McCarthy's] most personal work yet," and I thought that statement actually sells the book a bit short. When people think that they are getting into an author's heart, they seem to think that they are getting what they deserve. But The Road, while I'm sure it contains many elements of McCarthy's mind and memory and soul, seems to me to reach beyond that - beyond the desolation of a single human heart, and into the desert that humans all share.
That is what a good reader***** deserves from a masterpiece.
*Name withheld to protect the innocent
**Though not so glorious that I didn't forget to save it when my college deleted my old email account. What you see is a bastardized reproduction. Curses!
***Dave is not innocent, which is why I never try to protect his name. In fact, I don't know why I chose to start doing that in this post at all. I suppose it's because I recommended money laundering to someone I later depicted in flimsy swimwear.
****See? Not innocent! J'accuse!
*****I'm very much fascinated by the idea of a "good reader," and while I do believe they exist separately from bad and mediocre readers, I have yet to convincingly define them for myself. I do recommend, as a meditation on the subject, Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.