Friday, October 29, 2010


Interior View 1

This being New England, where the natives like to say “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” over the past weeks we have had all seasons represented, from a windy chill that speaks of winter, to warm rainy grayness more suited to April or May than October, to perfect cool autumn crispness and high sun that illuminates all the fiery color in the trees. And days ago it was briefly hot and humid enough to be midsummer! But regardless of the misleading and erratic conditions, this time of year always makes me turn inwards. It is a time for curtains to be drawn, and homes to feel like cosy retreats and not merely rest stops between the places we really need or want to be. I love all seasons, but I was winter born and have always liked dim lighting and quiet comfortable surroundings, as if there were always a soft deep snowfall outside, providing the perfect excuse to hunker down and enjoy being safe, warm and dry indoors.

 Interior View 2

My last post brought up some interesting issues (and comments!) way beyond the “where did all the coolness go?” topic I had attempted to explore. I don’t claim to have all, or even any of the answers in these posts, and it does seem I end up with more questions – but I like questions, and apparently so do you good people out there! This week I’m still thinking about the world within, not just in terms of trusting and following and manifesting the inner guiding truth of who you really are, cool or not, in your professional or personal life, but also in terms of that sector of the population known (branded?) as introverts. We are social beings, yes, and crave the practical and emotional benefits of maintaining connections with our fellow humans, but some of us don’t come to it as naturally as others, it seems, and far from being sustained or revitalized by social interactions are actually depleted and displaced by them.

 Automat (Edward Hopper) 

This is another one of those learning curves I’m happy to report having accomplished in recent years, so happy I no longer complain that it took so long! It’s no fun to feel there is something wrong with you because your mind and heart just don’t work the way everyone else’s does, or at least the way everyone tells you they ought. People used to terrify me. Literal physical fear, as if they were brandishing weapons. I grew up in a very loving, supportive and relatively peaceful household and yet I walked through life shaken, fragile and on the verge of shattering if someone so much as approached and greeted me. I had a rich interior life, adventurous and passionate, and could even be a bit of a performer and comedian – with my immediate family. But with strangers, or in other words, everybody not me or the three blood relatives I had lived with since birth, I was mute, cheerless and seething with anxiety.

      Room in Brooklyn (Edward Hopper) 

                                                I can’t be bothered to catch the ring                               
                                                of the lemon-yellow window shade                             
                                                and play with the level. This staggered view                     
                                                of blank-faced buildings will have to do.                      

                                                Let the tablecloth mind its own folds and fall.               
                                                The pale vase has had its fill of artificial flowers,                
                                                the fitted corners of the wine-dark quilt                        
                                                rest uneasily as innocence thrown over guilt.

                                                But the secondhand rocking chair 
                                                and I sit in our square of sun 
                                                no one cares how gently warm or slow to inch away 
                                                or why I finally cut my hair today.

The rest of the story will probably be familiar to some of you. I learned to use my sense of humor as a social defense, earning me positive responses from the people I was afraid of, and pre-empting any harm they might do me by getting there first with my own self-deprecating comments. In my school years and beyond, little by little, I got better at being with people, but I still didn’t like it, or them. Once the fog of fear cleared, I could see that these intimidating creatures were flawed and weak and quite often miserable. I had replaced fear with disgust, but being social was still exhausting, like suiting up every day in full armor and carrying that weight around. And whenever I was alone again, the relief felt like removing that restrictive weight, and resuming the full free fresh movements of my true self again, the way your neck feels in summer right after a short haircut.

  something breaks the surface…..

So, long story short, here I am, misfit, outcast, rebel, introvert and loner still. But now I like it this way. What was once a negative thing, measuring myself by what I was NOT, has become a positive thing, taking pride in what I AM. Now I have a purpose, in the creative works that my aversion to society allowed me to develop, and with this good result, my quarrel with society has been set aside. I have the boldness of many years and survived ordeals behind me and no longer need any armor out in the world. I still prefer the interior view, content to spend entire days speaking to no one. And yet ironically it is now that I find myself in one of the most social periods of my life!  I have a few good friends I trust and respect, in whose company I do not feel as if I must carry on an exhausting performance of Gabriella, and in whose wake I do not immediately feel deflated and disoriented and in need of hours up in my own head to feel myself again. I have a partner whose presence does not pull me out of myself to perform a thousand accommodations, leaving me hungry for solitude, but rather exists alongside me and blends with me so harmoniously, I feel the same whether he is nearby or not.  And I have this new group of blogfriends, likeminded souls, fellow introverts, and yet some of the most socially selfless, gracious and giving persons I have ever met.  Wow.  Lucky girl.

 with apologies to the cover photographer, Maren Wieczorek

This week’s reading spotlight is the latest creative gem from Brazilian literary lion and brilliant painter, Caio Fern. You can find his blog here. I warn you it is not for the faint of mind.  He is as generous as he is talented, and while I have never met him face to face, his passion and intelligence pulse from the screen in all his words and images.  So, thanks to Caio, for being Caio.

Having all these new excellent faraway friends means getting lots of good mail from all over. Caio’s book arrived last week, as did a package from Patti of Missouri Bend Studio. Patti and I are collaborating on two boxes which we will be sending back and forth to each other, adding things inside and out. There are no rules or deadlines. We have enough of that in our many other endeavors! Patti and I met on Blogger and soon discovered we had many interesting things in common, not the least of which was a love of books, an instinct to collect and organize and repurpose things in a wide variety of materials, and an obvious affinity for Joseph Cornell. I urge you to check out her site. Haven’t had as much time as I’d like to give my full attention to the blue box pictured above, but my brain is humming with possibilities, and that is one of the greatest gifts I can imagine, so thanks to Patti for that.

 Flight by Fiona Dempster

Fiona is an amazing calligraphic and book artist based in Australia.See her amazing works here. I met her through Patti, and once arrived at her blog stumbled on a giveaway.  I never win anything but I won this beautiful print pictured above, which arrived in the mail this week. The photo does not do it justice – made on a wisp of handmade paper, a mere feather itself, by a process of laying the feather and string on the plate, then making a second print with them removed, it possesses a sense of substance fixed in detail, along with a strange transience and fragility. Oddly, for weeks I’ve been watching feathers blow along the corridors of the converted factory in which Brian has his studio. There are pigeons roosting somewhere outside the building or within its walls, heard but rarely seen, except for these phantom feathers that find their way indoors after windy weather. Thanks to Fiona for picking my name out of the bowl and sending me an image of flight, and continued inspiration from her corner of the world, which now does not seem so very far away!

Best wishes to all, and to all a good flight!


  1. Already some sweet greetz and a hug to let you know i'm here and reading.
    Another more extensive comment very soon dear Gabriella.

  2. I've been thinking about you, dear one. Take your time commenting. Good enough to know you're there reading!

  3. Good nourishment here and inspiration both, Gabriella....

  4. Well, it seems I'm keeping some pretty nourishing and inspiring company lately, yourself included! Just passing it along...and watching it grow for the giving. Now THAT's cool.

  5. Hmmmm your last post still has me thinking too. As did this one. Some of us are square pegs and we will never fit in the round hole. But then we often cannot understand why most people want to fit anyway.

    There is a lot to think about through the various phases of our life....

    You certainly received some interesting mail this week.


  6. Again you write so well about your life's journey,and to be able to tell about it and look behind and see the road you've gone seems very cool to me.What is more beautiful then meeting people who do not feel as if they have to follow 'the rules',people that ask many questions. Answers or not,it's about being your true self and not taking everything for granted because many tell us to do so.
    So many live in fear and hide behind an image,doing things not because they want to but they think they have to. Being popular doesn't mean being loved,or doesn't even mean feeling good. And in the end we all want to reach a point of balance,an inner peace.
    Life is such an exciting adventure.

  7. T - it's good to know my posts make people think. Too often these spaces are used for superficial nonsense, so I like to give a bit of substance. It also helps me think things through by trying to write coherently about them. That said, as the holiday season rolls around, with a couple of well-deserved trips on the calendar, and my laptop not invited along, my writing may slow to a trickle soon, so hopefully all this heavy stuff will keep you thinking through the lean months!

    Renilde - it is good to be able to look back with a positive and clear sense of the journey. But I assure you, while I was in the middle of this journey towards self-acceptance I wasn't as articulate or optimistic about the process! Now I can see what a great adventure it all is, and that I am not alone, and for that I'm so grateful!

    Have a great weekend, both of you!

  8. Lovely post! I truly enjoy reading your thoughts.

  9. Many thanks, Luis! Always good to see you here. Best to you.

  10. Dear Gabriella....I read this post with my heart in my throat....she's talking about me I much alike are we. With no close friends here, I often wake up the next morning after an evening "out" in a public event, needing pure solitude so I can gather strength back and lift myself up out of the hole. Yes, your posts are always full of power and so much to think about. All that before I saw our little blue box! Introverted as I am, I am happy to have people come on over to check out MissouriBendStudio, so many thanks! Lovely to see our little blue friend in your post, contents spilling over. Thanks so much for being you!

  11. So alike, yes! I may have come across as a little more well-adjusted than I am in the post may be that I am no better at social gatherings than I ever was, I've just found the courage to admit they are not my thing and avoid them in favor of smaller get togethers! Possibly my greatest progress is the ability to not do what I don't like to do, and not feel it's a failing or a disgrace or born of some fear that needs confronting, just not to my taste, and every bit my prerogative to say no to! Thanks so much for your kind words. And hey, anyone I can send over to your site, it will benefit them as much as you, maybe more! - your work is just awesome.

  12. Top photo has a great mood and abstractness. Funny, someone commented on my photo that it looked like a Hopper painting, then I go to your site and you've got Hopper paintings!

  13. Hey, TB - nothing wrong with being compared to Hopper! Congratulations to you! So many of his paintings resonate with me as the visual definition of solitude, but not loneliness, because there's no sense of longing for something not there, everything is always exactly what and how it is, for good or bad. Even scenes that feel empty or desolate have their own strength and beauty -- and joy. Thanks for visiting - now go back, you, and take some more awesome photos!

  14. Hi Gabriella. Above it all, thanks for sharing such personal matters of your life and personality. I like the way you described your inner being as "a rich interior life, adventurous and passionate". I haven´t ever believed in labels for people´s personality. Sometimes i even mistrust in those who seems to be cheerful and extrovert all of the time, i mean, the human being have a wide gamut of feelings and emotions and is imposible to try to fit all the people into a tight concept of what normal and functional is. I now in America to have social skills (being talkative and such) and a dominant attitude plays a main role. But still, we all have to first, discover who we really are and then building our personality and believe in us as humans no matter how our personal traits could be. It is really incredible to see how people who considered themselves as shy and different, can cast such a light of self confidence, satisfaction and determination when they have finally managed to accept themselves as they are, and found the valuable soul that lies inside them. Those are the people that most of the times make the difference. It comes to my mind for example, a humble, shy, sometimes a little bit crazy, but always a dreamer, dutch painter, yes, Vincent, that with a brush and lots of color, exerted a bigger influence and created more that many other thousands of people had.

    Best wishes to you, and all the best!!

  15. Happy Halloween, Alberto! I appreciate your comments very much. I agree with you about sometimes mistrusting people who are extrovert and cheery all the time! And also about how great it is to see the former wallflowers finally step forward into the light. And Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters! Have you read his letters to his brother? People only know the crazy side of him, but he was indeed shy and humble too - and though he didn't live to see it, changed art as we know it. Thanks for visiting, and all the best to you!

  16. TT/G - thanks for your lovely words about my work - really love how you describe the paper as a wispy feathery thing. I am also loving how all the introverts find their way into blogging! I'm one who can never quite 'read' how to interact in social gatherings; if I'm responsible or in charge I can do it; if I just have to be there I have no idea what you're supposed to do. I love coming home to our mountain top and being able to breathe again. Go well,

  17. Beautiful writing and thoughts although it took me some time to read all of it, it is an enjoyment. And thanks.
    Please have a beautiful week ahead.

  18. Hi Fiona! Your work deserves my words, and beyond. I can't wait to find the perfect frame and location for your print - a context that will enhance rather than overwhelm its delicate beauty. I agree with you about social gatherings being much easier when you are in charge! I made quite a reputation for myself at my old job as the coordinator of all office social events! Little did they know I would rather set a nice table and hide in the background until cleanup time than actually attend the party and be forced to mingle in the din of a dozen superficial conversations! One on one is best. If I must mingle, my trick is to focus in on one person and perhaps one thing we can find of common interest to share a few meaningful words about and try to fade out everything else...but I do I envy you your mountain top retreat! Have a great week...

  19. Greetings, Wong! I am so glad you enjoy my writing. I will try to make it shorter next time! I was going to split this one into two parts, but things all seemed to belong together, so I went a little long this time! You have a beautiful week too.

  20. Dear and so lovely friend, Gabriella!
    Every post of yours let us readers see a little
    bit of your world.
    From your words is coming to me a warm feeling.
    And this only with written words!
    Wish you from my side of an other corner in
    Greece all my best and keep up to inform us.

  21. Monika, my friend! I am glad my writing can send a warm feeling all the way to Greece! Everyone talks about how cold and impersonal online social networking can be, but like anything else, I believe you can get from it what you put into it, and if you put unconsidered and insincere and superficial nonsense into it, well, then it will indeed be a means for depersonalizing communication. But if you write online the way you would write a letter to a beloved friend, then you can touch people in a real, honest and meaningful way! For my part, I will keep writing these "letters" and at least in my corner of the blogging world, use this modern tool for all it can be worth. Best to you, and I hope you are released from the boot soon!

  22. ok , independent of the reference ... this post is really cool ( independent of the cool concept too ) .
    this is one of my favorite things about autumn on north hemisphere... the promess that life and home are going to get cosy. Isn't this fantastic .
    I liked the joke of "5 minutes for weather " . hahah. Here is the same .
    is the last picture , the feather , yours ? it is wonderful.
    i will have to post this week or next this photo you took of the book's cover . briliant .
    as a matter of fact , the 2 first interior photos are wonderful too.
    Hopper was one of my early influences . I am glad you like his work .
    Gabriella ... again i arrived late to your post ... i think that i am that kind of person that when people makes a surprise party , the guy doesn't appear , or appear 4 hours later and everybody is anoyed, the party is already over . hahah!!
    Thank you for this , i am glad you both have my book there . it means a lot . really .
    Have a wonderful week !!

  23. Hey, what a nice surprise!
    Lots of greetings and all the best!

    maren (today without any apples)

  24. Hi Caio! Yes, the last photo of the feather is mine. Of course, the day I took it someone had come through the studio and sealed the cracks at the base of the wall where the feathers were coming in and I had to hunt up and down the halls for a feather to take a picture of to illustrate my point! Then I had to get down on the ground for the closeup! Ah, the sacrifices made for art! I'm glad you liked all my images. And Hopper is one of my favorite painters - so simple and so powerful. His images are so over-reproduced and yet to sit in front of one of his pieces in a gallery is to have a long thoughtful conversation with an old friend. Oh and don't worry about coming late to my party - if it's over by the time you get here, I will just start it up for an even better after-party! You have a wonderful week too!

  25. Maren, nice to see you here! I looked at your blog today and tried the Google translator and it seems to work just fine, so I'm looking forward to following you more closely now. I hope you didn't mind my re-creating your photo! It's really quite wonderful. Best to you!

  26. Beautifully written, Gabriella. Plus your interior shots are so serene. You've captured wonderful moments of quiet solitude.

    All the best to you!

  27. *awesome* my friend. I'm amazed how much I can relate to you. Many of us do. I read those words and I also think *has Gabriella invaded my brain?* I actually wish I had your way with words. Great post!!!

  28. Hi Gabriella, how are you?
    I´m so happy to read your post. There is so much generosity in yor words. A post full of good references of great artist and good souls.
    Talking about good souls, i would like to thank you for visiting me in this special day. I appreciate it.
    And your photo in honor of "Alemao" is really great :)

    Keep in touch.
    Kisses, bonita.

  29. Hey, Douglas! Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad my interior shots capture serenity - maybe this is why I love photography, the way it can isolate a moment and hit the "pause" button, in ways we too often forget to create time and space for in our daily lives. But all art does that to a degree - makes us slow down long enough to stop and really examine a face, a gesture, a street scene, a landscape or seascape we would normally rush right by. It's such a privilege to be part of the community of folks making those moments happen!

    Manon - to each his own talents, I guess! I wish I could paint like you! I've been writing poems since age 10 and keeping journals and writing letters since a little after that, and it has always been how I express myself, but also how I understand myself - I can hardly think without a pen in hand, and I certainly can't figure anything complicated out without writing about it at length! It's wonderful to know that others feel and think the same way I do, - especially you! - and that these posts, which are more like personal essays, actually reach people - who actually enjoy them! But before I start getting all Sally Field on you, simply, thanks, and have a great week!

  30. Crissant, dear - I am so glad you liked my post - and of course I would visit you to honor your new book! It is so important that we all support each other in our work, but also in who we are, especially when there is more than enough negativity out there in the world to make us feel bad or doubt our purpose! Kisses to you and many successes and happiness ahead!

  31. oh my god gabriella, again such a great and curated post, the first two photos are simply wonderfull for me, and the shot with Caio's book :-) so fantasyfull are you, I love your blog

  32. Thanks Laura! I like writing these posts, and pulling together the right photos to go with the text is not only fun, but always helps me to understand better what I'm trying to say! As a writer, I have always envied visual artists because there is a point for me at which words fall short of expressing certain states of mind - they can speak to them, and talk circles around them, but some things you must feel wordlessly, with the senses and heart alone, so I like to include images always! Thanks for stopping by!

  33. I love all the photo's of this post. But especially Something breaks the surface. It also reminds me on a work of Escher. And the photograph with the book of Caio is just brilliant.
    Oh yeah and the one with the feather is so tender i think. I love that one too. Ha! Do you see, i can't choose, I love them all.
    And surely i'll buy some of your photo's soon!

  34. Escher is such a favorite of mine, it makes me smile to think anything I do is like him! I like the feather very much too. Thanks for your comment - see you were the first to comment and now you are the last, so it all comes full circle. Hugs to you!

  35. wonderful photo of caio's book cover! brilliant!

  36. Thanks, Elizabeth! This photo was done as a lighthearted tribute to both Caio's and Maren's excellent creations, and it has gotten more attention and praise than any other photo I've taken! It doesn't hurt to have friends who not only inspire me with their works, but also have good connections! Nice to see you here. And Happy One One!

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