Wednesday, July 6, 2011

city as software

There's something about lots of people working together that I really find compelling. They're all doing different things, but it's all part of the bigger picture. If each were working on his own it would take much longer. And each can work according to his abilities: farm stock can lift the slabs of concrete, anemic bookworms can scoot stones, can plant the vegetables. Can paint signs.

This is my last submission for the cyborg book, and it's bittersweet. Truthfully I could have worked for several more (full) days on this picture and would have liked to. But it's also been a long time (a couple months longer than it was originally), and it was time. Things were delivered, paperwork was signed, last minute tensions were graciously ignored, and another piece of this chapter comes to a close.

Weirdly: the end of this project, much like the end of the last project, does not feel like a completion so much as a surrender. That's not the most satisfying of feelings. Anthony was doing happy dances for me and all I can feel right now is drained. I wonder if that feeling ever goes away, or if it's the mark of a brave artist to keep slogging through those feelings and carry on.

In any case, if this becomes a regular thing with me it would behoove me to have an exit strategy. When you fall and skin your knee you have a method, right? You check for debris, swab, apply pressure, disinfect, affix a bandage. External things we have down pat. What about internal things? That's harder. If I get overwhelmed with anxiousness or frustration, I usually try and get outside and bring nothing with me. Or play with blocks. Or watch something light and silly. Revisit the children's book shelf here on the floor with a quilt. There are many things I do. This isn't a fix the sad situation though, this is a you finished! feeling that I'm just not having yet. I need a ritual to signal the switching of gears. A new playlist, for sure. I am embarrassed to admit how important playlists become for some of my activities, though maybe you'll remember my day job is housecleaning, and I spend a LOT of time with my iPod. I have a "to battle" playlist, to get hyped up for big houses (and, originally, to get myself psyched up for a job interview). I have a "down and out in Portland" playlist, with the Hobbit theme and the Happiness Hotel and old songs about how money doesn't by the clear blue sky -- a playlist I play when I'm feeling broke and need to not feel down about it. Light driving, (for Sundays), heavy driving (for blowing-off-steam times), an hour of really energetic stuff called "Clean up this mess". But I don't have anything for a victory lap. So probably my finishing ritual can start there.

In small ways I have tried to signal that we are back to a clean slate: the huge stack of sketches has been moved from my desk to a sorting pile near my desk. The interminable checklist is gone and in it's place a lovely blank sheet of paper waits patiently for instructions.

And of course this time I have a very clear pallet-cleanser: we are as I speak packing up for the Oregon Country Fair, and for the next week will be in the forest with all the other muppets having a grand old time. I think nothing will wash the dear robots out of my head like a week of port-a-potties and forest time.

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