It tortures me.

Ever read a book that tortures you, draws you to it until you are forced to read it every moment you get, and you are thinking about it every moment you aren’t reading it?

I haven’t had a book haunt me in a long time. But I’ve got one going now.

The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Bird.

Picked it up at the library in the new fiction section. In fact I didn’t even find it, my partner did. He handed it to me saying, “it’s set in Albuquerque”. I read the cover blurb and thought, “ok, I’ll give it a try”.

Little did I know….


Maybe it’s supposed to? Maybe that is the heart of Flamenco? To haunt those who enjoy the art? Maybe it’s all one big metaphor I’m either not smart enough or not drunk enough to understand?

I’ve learned a lot about Flamenco from these pages. I admit, I knew very little going in. Heck, I didn’t even know there is a Flamenco academy at UNM. Who knew? Lots of people, evidently.

The fact that the story is so painfully wrought, touches a *little* close to home with some of the emotional issues AND is set in Albuquerque? Oy. Torture.

About three chapters in I slammed it down and told my partner, “I can’t read this” and got snotty about it.

Then I picked it back up and kept going. I’ve been going to sleep too late every night with the “just one more chapter” philosophy that *never* works. One more turns into one more that turns into one more.

There is this negative review of the book on Amazon. The reviewer says “If you have any intellect this book will drive you crazy.” Well, I have some intellect and it does drive me crazy…but not in the way the reviewer meant. Just…crazy.

I can’t say I *love* it, I can repeat that I’m tortured by it. I remarked this evening that I can hardly wait until I’m finished with it so the torture can end.

For now, I’m about three quarters done and this book OWNS me.

Update: I finished. The ending left me….unfinished.

: scowl :

I started this blog on March 17th, St. Patty’s day. And during that time, my job was so very utterly slow and monotonous that I was able to whip out my posts every day, usually before noon. A sense of pride filled me every day I hit the “publish” button and had my post done for the day. I felt like my “real” work was done, I’d posted, and then I could jet about and enjoy the day.

In the recent weeks, a lot of things have happened. My boss went to another group. My boss’ boss (the Director) went to another group. The tyranny that reigned in my organization came to an end. We are all like prisoners emerging from solitary confinement. We blink in the sunlight of our new Director, an amazing woman with both compassion and actual “soft” management skills. She’s already done wonderful things for us….including buying not one but TWO cakes.


Celebrations and dancing and cries of “we love the new mommy” abound.

But new Boss Lady comes with a price. She took on our team, but her boss, the Vice President (in what I’m sure is his infinite wisdom) said she didn’t get to shake off her old team. She had to take us on IN ADDITION. So Boss Lady is VERY busy. Which means delegation of work…..

Add to that a new company wide project that directly affects the small team that I manage, and suddenly, we are in the spotlight with A LOT of work to do.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, to be honest.

On the one hand, this is stellar for my group and possibly the advancement of my own career.

On the other hand, when things were quieter, I was actually devoting time to my creative work including this blog.

So now I have amazing work success but it’s not fulfilling.

A conundrum.

Meanwhile, my posts have gotten spotty at best and it TORTURES my over perfectionistic soul.

I can’t let go of my creative work. It fills my heart and soul. But I can’t let go of my day job. It fills my bank account and my refrigerator (and the bowl of the hungry feline that owns me).

Meanwhile….I’ve had to switch the balance of “business” Barbie from “artist” Barbie. We both have big boobs but one of us is *really* tired and discontented.

(Ok, comparing myself to Barbie is laughable…but roll with it….)

Unsure how to solve this. Watch these pages as I’m sure this will be a running theme….

Meanwhile….back to work. Grudgingly.

Sometimes she forgets

Ok, that’s not true, I don’t forget, per se, sometimes I’m just too far away from that which I love and sometimes distance gives you amnesia. Which is a terrible aspect of the human condition.

I *know* the state in which I was raised is beautiful, stunningly so. This past week seeing some photos, familiar photos, but seeing them again brought it all back to me. The wonder, the joy, the melancholy, the homesick.

At Bellagio in Las Vegas, they are having a show of Ansel Adams work.

I run hot and cold on Adams. Some of his stuff just kills me, some puts me off, but I find him to be incredibly talented and master of striking a mood. Plus, as an aspiring amateur photographer, I am utterly stunned by his style and eye.

This particular exhibit had a side room with many of Adams’ personal effects. Family photographs and personal letters were a highlight for me. Learning (and then viewing) his wonder for the natural beauty of New Mexico drew me in all over again. I’ve been a half click off kilter since. Missing my home state this much will do that to me. I have a foot in both my lives. That of a New Mexican and that of this new life (I still call it “new” after almost ten years).

I learned more about Ansel Adams in the two hours I spent at the exhibition. One of the best things I learned is that he was quite a writer. Personal letters to friends and family had me captivated.

A fave quote I took away from that day was from a letter from Adams to Nancy Newhall dated July 15, 1944. In it, Adams is pondering himself and his talents. He creates a whole list of things he’s not. It’s both wry and thought provoking.

He ends the letter this way:

“I am really like those very old headstones in New England – demon angels with X for eyes and perky wings. I ain’t so soft, but I am amusing.”

I keep thinking I should steal that for the tagline of my own life: “I ain’t so soft, but I am amusing”

I like it.

Here’s some of my faves of the New Mexico shots. The ones that drilled right into my bone marrow and made me melancholy until I see New Mexico for myself again.

For those living there today, don’t forget to look out your window at the beauty that’s readily available and give thanks you get to live there. I often neglected to do that. It’s easy to take for granted when it’s there every day.

(These are reproductions found on the web and do nothing to enhance the glory of the actual photographs….)

“Ghost Ranch Hills, Chama Valley, 1937

“Aspens, New Mexico”

Perhaps the most famous, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 (the audio feature at the exhibit told a great story of how he got this shot. It’s captivating.)

Ok, best to stop staring at photographs and get my maudlin self back to work……

The high price of popular art

As an artist in my own way, it always hurts me to see squabbles over how to price the stuff of well-known artists. Recent mind-boggling accounts of auction prices for Van Gogh paintings come to mind….

You know, I’ve never been much of a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe, a shocking admission, I know, for a New Mexican. Actually, that’s not true. I think many true-bred New Mexicans aren’t real partial to her work and less partial to all the hubbub made about her stuff. It’s an out of towner, Santa Fe/Taos trying-too-hard art society thing and I’m just not in that groove.

But I’m saddened to see the recent squabbles between the State of Tennessee and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe over a particular painting called “Radiator Building— Night, New York” (1927). A picture of this particular painting can be found at the end of this post.

Near as I can put the story together based on an ABQjournal story is that a deal was struck with the cash strapped Fisk University for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to buy the paining for $7M. That’s a nice tidy sum of money, actually. I don’t know what kind of funding the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum gets but I’m certain that’s a substantial chunk of change to try to bring Ms. O’Keeffe’s work back to the State of New Mexico. It was originally a donation to the university so now they stand to make some money, which works out great.

Since the deal was struck and approved by the Tennessee Attorney General (who looks over charitable donations and such), and I guess since news got out about the deal, there have been a variety of offers from art dealers and the like for substantially more money. Like around $25M. Wow.

This makes me sad on both sides of the table. Fisk University needs the money. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum wants the painting for obvious reasons. Meanwhile I think the damn Attorney General is being greedy, and that makes me grumpy.

While this argument languishes in the courts, the school is still floundering for money, the museum is anxiously twiddling it’s thumbs, and the attorneys are getting their rocks off jumping up and down and getting paid by the bounce.

Boy does this make me steamed.

I, of course, didn’t know Ms. O’Keeffe but I’d bet she would be a bit steamed by all this too. She was, by all accounts, a humble woman. I’d like to think she’d like to do what’s best for both sides. In cases like this it’s hard to know what is best.

As a negotiator for a living, I’d love to see this one get settled without the courts. Could the university and the museum get together and agree on a new price? And could the frapping Attorney General just agree to abide by the deal they strike?

I say get them all in a room with coffee and bagels, cater in lunch, and let them hash it out. Good people tend to make reasonable decisions. Just keep that frapping Attorney General out of the room. You know how them law dogs tend to complicate matters…..

Anyhow, here’s to the memory of the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. I’ll bet when she painted the canvas, the thought of a squabble over money never crossed her mind. Here’s to all the struggling artists of the world who’d give their eyeteeth for twenty-five bucks for one of their pieces.