Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fixed pulley, the waste of time: found things

fixed pulley
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
THINGS I FOUND: This scan of schoolwork is one--it came to me this week inside a used book I had ordered online. It delights me! I particularly like the way the handwriting slants down and threatens to run off the edge of the sheet. And the way it tucks corrections or endings into lessening space. There is writing from the same assignment on the other side and on a shorter sheet of the same paper that was with it. If you cannot see the image clearly, a click on it will take you to the view in Flickr with a more readable display.

And here's the other one, a comment posted on the website of the painter Robert Genn, who offers a newsletter, The Painter's Keys and other encouragements to artists.:

"As I sit in one Back Yard location and read about your adventures around the globe, and hear the stories of world travels from fellow painters, I can only use my imagination to place me there. I wonder how much of that time getting there is wasted sleeping, watching an in-flight movie or talking weather with the person next to them. I've always kept time in the fore front of what I'm doing. Knowing we only have so many minutes, not to waste too many of them. I realized in my early 20's that I didn't like eating, sleeping or using the bathroom. All, to me, are a waste of time."
I didn't find a signature. And I know sleeping seems a waste of time and eating can be terribly repetitive, and frequent. But I guess I never thought about the time I've wasted going to the bathroom! Yet, in some ways I understand the snide or griping feeling that one gets when reading about the so-productive lives of people whom we admire very much, and who live lives of travel, servants and privilege. Today's example would be the book I just finished by Jill Ker Conway about her life as the very successful president of Smith College. A lot of this book was about fundraising and getting people together to produce good results for the college--not just about money, but about getting various vested interests to realize that the way they look at things might not be the only way, the correct way, the modern way, the useful way, etc. without making them your sworn enemies, so you cannot get anything done. The book is not only about that, but it does profile a person who sets (and accomplishes) thoughtful goals, as well as taking long walks or hikes and a daily swim, looks good, studies music and poetry, as well as maintaining many nourishing friendships, often friendships with the great and near-great. And serving on the boardS of corporationS!

The book was so interesting--I am not doing it justice, because my take-off point was the carpings of the Back Yard lady. (Just now I looked back and ascertain that I assumed the carper was a woman, (trapped in the Back Yard by a life of cooking and unpaid servitude?) but the sex is not identified in the post, and the discontented soul could just as easily be a man. That's a(nother?) bad blow for my feminist credentials . . . [Just went back, and above the place where I began to read the paragraph is titled and the author is identified; he is a fellow: Crucial time by Brad Greek, Mary Esther, FL, USA]
Back to the book A Woman's Education (the road from Coorain leads to the presidency of Smith College) it was one of those books during reading which I held a conversation with the author. I kept writing her a letter in my head, and that morphed into another letter to my former County Librarian boss, who has many of the qualities that distinguish Jill Conway, and which helped them both to be so productive. My boss has recently lost her husband to a lingering illness and I have been meaning to write to her, but not at essay-length! Jill Conway was born less than 11 months before I was, so I have traveled with her through the same world events and generational changes. My husband was an academic all his working life and is only four years older than she, so he too experienced so much of the rage, turmoil and change of academia in those times.

I have been interested in feminist issues since I was a child and, with my mother's backing, became the first sixth-grade female Crossing Guardnear my elementary school. But that is another story.

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