One more step…


Those of you who have read my previous post know that my sketchbook was recently pooped on by a malevolent bird of evil most untold. This has me remembering.

I remember, for example, the time in high school when another sketchbook was vomited on by a sick little sister. It was mostly salvageable. The sick-covered bits of pages were cut out to preserve the precious seeds of my budding talent.

Then there was the time my husband and I came home and found our house burglarized, everything overturned, nothing taken except for a work cell phone and my laptop that contained my recently finished middle grade novel.

And it reminds me of the time my next computer, less than a year later, got a virus that wiped out another dozen small manuscripts.

And, most bitterly, I remember the time when I spent a semester in France making fat a sketchbook with drawings from every museum and café I went to and losing it on the way home. It held my sketches of “The Kiss” from the Rodin museum, the castle overlooking the beach in Nice, and a dark sculpture in the Musée D’orsay, her curves so thick with graphite I had to slice out the delicate highlights on her thighs and arms with an exacto knife. I still can’t think of where I might have lost it between Paris and San Francisco.

So, now, when something like this happens I scream inwardly something like, “AGAIN?!”

And then I wrestle. Is this a sign? What does it mean? Is this God telling me to stop? Or is this something trying desperately to make me turn back before I become too dangerous?

I mean, at this point, I think we’re getting beyond just rotten bad luck.

But I can’t stop creating. I can say, like Jeremiah, that it’s locked up in my bones like fire.

So, I imagine the redemption in my losses and keep on creating.

I imagine a group of adolescent delinquents sorting through stolen devices. Except for one in the corner, whose face is backlit by a stolen computer screen. His expression is somber as he descends into the story of four thirteen year-olds and a precocious eleven year-old as they fight the sadness and injustice of the world with humor and courage.

And I imagine a stoop-shouldered janitor somewhere in middle America sweeping out terminal A on a Wednesday when his broom nudges loose a small sketchbook. He opens it later at home as his wife fixes him a plate and all the museums of France spitting beauty and little slips of French phrases tumble all over his lap, a gift from the universe to a weary soul.

So you can steal my computer; and you can vomit on my sketchbook.

But I wrote today. So there’s that.

One more step towards dangerous.

2 responses »

  1. Oh Thank you Barbara for enduring all these losses….I really can’t imagine how you kept on after the lost sketchbook from you Paris visit…..But anyway, thank you for keeping on and reminding me of that mostly unmentioned war that artists fight (and if it is mentioned and call a war, non artists tend to put us in the category of the Chicken Little). Last night we saw the Monument Men and the story resonated within my soul as art being “heart” and The Fuherer being the enemy of our hearts. We are the lost museums that need to remember who owns us, who knit us together. We must keep telling our stories in every form possible. We are an endangered species. So glad you are not backing down.


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