A Study in Contrast

A long long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away–oh, wait.  Scratch that.  Let me start again.  A long time ago, I was at an APLB (Asian and Pacific Islander Lesbian and Bisexual Women) conference in MN.  This was right after I came out (but several years after I realized I was attracted to women as well as men), and I was nervous as hell.  I learned many things that weekend (including how liberating it was to shout, “Asian Pussy Power!” on one of the U’s campuses), but the one thing that really stuck out for me was that the women were putting everyone on the femme/butch continuum.  One hot soft butch looked at me, thought about it, then announced, “I can’t put you on the continuum.  You don’t fit.”

That was one of the best compliments I have ever received.  In addition, I remember another lesbian (not at the conference), a self-proclaimed butch who would go into apoplexy because she couldn’t peg me.  I had long hair, but I didn’t wear makeup.  She told me I couldn’t like sports because I was into theatre.  It probable bugged her as well that I didn’t shave my armpits or legs (I’m Asian.  I have very little body hair), but that I would dress sexily from time to time.

I don’t care.  I’ve heard it all before from people trying to peg me.  I have a very eclectic taste in music, and I enjoy flummoxing people who can’t understand how I can like, say, VNV Nation AND Vienna Teng at the same time.   I have tried to streamline my personality in the past, but with minimal success.  In the end, I realized that part of what makes me the person I am is all the messy bits that don’t fit neatly into one set paradigm.   And, to the extent that I am a contrarian, I actually embrace the messiness that makes up my personality.

Why am I bringing up this ancient history?  Well, because I can, for one thing–but also because it reminded me of my day this past Saturday.  Saturdays are my day for Taiji (tai chi) classes.  I get up around 11:30 in the morning, check my email and the general news, and then I’m gone.  I listen to NPR on the way to Taiji (Car Talk followed by Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me), and I drive with the windows down until the temperature falls below zero.   Then, after Taiji, I chat with my teacher for a bit (she’s also a friend) before I hop over to the Eastside Food Coop, which is right next door to the studio.  Then, I head home while listening to The Splendid Table hosted by homegirl Lynn Rossetto Kasper.

Yesterday was different, though.

I need to give a little more background.  Until 2010, I have never bought any art.  I like different kinds of art, but I always felt it was something only grownups did–bought their own art, I mean.  And, despite appearances to the contrary, I don’t often feel like a grownup.  I don’t have the traditional trappings of adulthood–husband, children, 9-to-5 job, house–so I tend to forget that I actually am an adult.  So, while I appreciate many different styles of art, I never felt entitled to buy any of my own.  Until this year.  A friend of mine and I went to a local art fair (near my Taiji studio), and I was immediately drawn to a painting by an artist named Linnea Maas Doyle (link is to her old site.  Her new one should be up and running sometime in February).  My friend was picking up a painting she had bought from Linnea (a robot painting, and I was drawn to a small painting with a little rag-doll like guy looking sadly down from a bridge.  He had a tear dripping into the water below.  I kept thinking of reasons why I shouldn’t buy it, but in the end (I ran back up), I had to get him.

Fast-forward half a year.  Same friend as above wanted to go to another art fair featuring Linnea because she (my friend) wanted to commission another robot piece.  I tagged along and saw a few more Babybol (that’s what she calls the series) paintings.  I looked them over, but my eye kept getting drawn back to the one I’ve posted above and to the left (with the flowers growing out of his heart).  There was something ineffably sad about him, but as my friend pointed out, the fact that he had flowers growing from his heart was a hopeful sign.  She also teased me because the flowers are pink, and I loathe the color, but that’s a story for another post.   Anyway, I decided not to buy the Babybol because I’m saving my money for other purposes, and I reasoned Linnea would do more of the series in the future, anyway.  But, I felt a pang in my heart at leaving him behind.  It’s odd that I have become so attached to the little guy because my taste in art tends to run to paintings with not-so-cuddly figures in them.  For example, one of my favorite paintings is The Scream by Edvard Munch.  One of my all-time favorite painters is Hieronymus Bosch, and I especially like his triptychs.   So, the notion that I would be drawn to a cute little rag doll figure is an anathema to me.  However, the whole series has him seeking, searching, and experiencing an aching loneliness/sadness, so I can somewhat understand that pull.

I got a Christmas present of a little extra cash in my wallet, so I decided that I wanted this Babybol, entitled, i can’t explain.  I emailed Linnea, and she emailed me back saying he was still available, and she had a few others to boot.  He’s a fairly new series, and she’s been hesitant to show him.  I can understand that as he expresses a vulnerability that is palpable.  She asked me if I would be interested in seeing other Babybol paintings, and I was.  I really liked them all, but one other one really called to me. This one.   So, I emailed Linnea and said I wanted to buy both of them and asked if she would be in her studio on Saturday.  She was.  So, I swung by The Casket Arts Building to pick up my two purchases.  I felt weird.  I felt strange.  I felt strange and weird.

I don’t decorate.  I don’t see a place as my home.  I don’t actually see anything as my home.  But, I am in the pre-pre-pre stages of thinking about buying my own home (a good time for it), and I bought this art explicitly with that in mind.  A place of my own.  With art I picked.  What a foreign concept to me–and yet, it’s one that has appeal.  A place where I can paint the walls deep, vivid colors (I don’t think I’ll do the whole house in black, though it’s my favorite color–maybe just one room), where I can NOT have a dining room table if my best friend will let me get away with it (she’s threatening to buy me one), and where I can pretty much do whatever I want with it.

And, the three paintings I’ve bought by Linnea will have place of prominence, as will the framed Dr. Seuss quote my best friend gave me for Christmas.

Be who you are…
Say what you feel…
Those who mind don’t
matter… and those who
matter don’t mind.

It’s a directive I need to repeat to myself over and over again.

After being a grownup and buying some art, I went home to eat arugula and meditate on the meaning of life.  Oh, hell, no, I didn’t.  It’s the NFL playoffs, bay-bee!  I love watching sports, and it doesn’t get better than the playoffs.  My team (the Vikes) didn’t make the playoffs.  They sucked this year, and hopefully, this will be the last we see of the diva (Brett Favre).  My second-favorite team, however (the Stillers because they wear black and because Troy Polamalu is HOT!), made the playoffs, and they advanced in a wild and woolly game on Saturday.  In addition, two teams from the Vikings division made it (The Pack and Da Bears), and they will be facing off next week.  It’s going to be a bruiser, and I’m already revved up for it.

I love watching sports.  I think it helps me release some of my competitive juices in a nonproductive but thoroughly-satisfying way.  I hop over to Balloon Juice to mix it up with the guys in the sports open thread,  and it’s like hanging out at a sports bar–without the annoying, drunken, boisterous behavior that usually accompanies said sports bar atmosphere.  I like to drool over my favorite refs–Ed Hochuli (look at those arms), Mike Carey (with Eddie Guns!  Bonus two-for-one), and Jerome Boger (he has a great voice) as well.

I sit on my couch with my blanket around my feet (I keep the heat at 62°) and my boys on my legs.  I have my laptop on my lap, and I have my beverages at hand as well as any snacks I want to munch.  Then, I sit and watch the games while I surf the net and/or play some kind of game on my laptop.  I have to do more than one thing at once to keep my mind occupied, and a trifecta of petting cats, surfing on the net, and watching a game does the trick nicely.  Sometimes, I work on a crossword puzzle instead of surfing.  Or read a book.

I used to feel weird about liking sports because I thought it didn’t fit with the rest of my personality.  But, as I observed earlier on, my personality is really not that coherent in the first place, so what’s more odd piece to the jigsaw puzzles?  I love them, by the way–jigsaw puzzles, I mean.  I haven’t been able to do them since I got cats, though.   Anyway, I kinda liked Saturday and the mix of things I did.  I may have to have more days like that in the near future.

Crossposted at ABL’s place.

2 Responses to A Study in Contrast

  1. Back OFF’s mah Troy, bitch. You’re a fan of them Favresuckers. You leave Troy to the real Steelers fans.

    I don’t “fit” either, which confuses some people. I have played the role of straight soccer mom for so long that I am very adept at fitting in wherever I am, though. I do love, love, love sports. I do not wear dresses or skirts unless there is some super special occasion, but if there is, I can rock it out pretty well. I have long hair, wear minimal makeup, very little jewelry. I despise shoes and do not carry a purse ever.

    Eh. I gave up trying to figure out if or where I fit in for real. Easier to just be me and let everyone else figure their own shit out. If they want to know something, they can ask.

  2. Killian, MY Troy. All mine! And, low blow on the Favre bit. He filed his retirement papers. Let’s hope he sticks to it this time.

    I think it’s easier just to say screw it and do whatever than to worry about trying to fit in a certain label. In addition, many times what a person thinks of you (general you) is more reflective of her thinking than of who you actually are. I like being a complicated mess more often than not.