Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ending - and beginning again - with the alphabet

Time is stretching its paws, and trying to decide if it's motivated enough to get up off that couch... No, wait, that's me.

Motivation is my middle name. Currently, my first name is Lacking...

The opening of my Bestiary show, Where Are We Going? was a lot of fun, with kids and crayons and friends and finger food. I was grateful to Neal and Caroline, and everyone who showed up, dropping my jaw when some friends I'd believed to be in Honduras (where they live) walked through the door. I even sold a painting or two. Or a few more.

Already, I am nostalgic for the structure of the alphabet. Every day another letter, another agonizing decision (“Wombat? Warthog? Weasel? Wolverine?”), finishing the Vervet monkey painting the night before the opening. And the pressure of painting on the walls, getting it right.

I really had a good time, in spite of the stress.

I am trying to get back to writing, but I am also planning to keep up the alphabet. The fox sold, to a friend who bought it for someone undergoing Folfox chemotherapy – a wonderful thing to do, giving a totem gift.

Which leaves the doors open for another F. Fox again? So clever, those foxy eyes...

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What language have you always wanted to learn? There are a lot of languages we think we should learn, or we like the idea of, but we won't actually take the effort of making it happen.

For a lot of people, that language is French.

For me, it's always been Spanish.

The whole post-cancer-reevaluating-priorities stage has made me scratch my head about a lot of these declared desires: Do I want another Master's? Do I want to be a painter? Do I want to write young adult fiction, or write something that makes no sense at all but does something else entirely?

The answers are in flux, but it turns out that I have nothing, motivationally speaking, against learning Spanish, aside from not knowing how to go about it.

For my accidental learning of French, I went to live on a farm in Normandy with a bunch of goats, a cat, and some chickens. None of them spoke French, so I bought myself a copy of Le Petit Prince, read it, annotated it, read it several more times. Then I met my husband in Berkeley, and he finally taught me French...

So, conflating the initial act with the real cause of the end result that I now speak French, I decided I would get myself some books in Spanish. Surely, the fluency came from that first book, right?

My friends Camille Collins Lovell and Oscar Estrada gave me reading recommendations, and I have now ordered Eva Luna in Spanish (I read it in English years ago, so it will be a different experience), and La noche de Tlatelolco: Testimonios de historia oral, by Elena Poniatowska.

And, because I love Raúl Juliá (wasn't he great as Gomez Adams?), and this is completely related to my motivation to learn Spanish even though the movie was in English, I also ordered El beso de la mujer araña (The Kiss of the Spider Woman), by Manuel Puig.

Also trying to learn Old English, from Beowulf, and An Introduction to Old English, by Richard Hogg, was very kindly posted in pdf form online. I looked him up, just to send an email of thanks. Alas, he can afford to be generous, cause he's dead.

Posthumous thanks, anyway.