Bus Stop Series

coming soon to a theater near me

a.k.a. carpe momento

I was able to get out for a little bit yesterday and even get a little urban sketching in! It’s been soooo long. It’s been years since I’ve been able to meet up with the Urban Sketchers Prague group. I really miss working with them. It has been have such a lovingly understanding and supportive community … and oh so cool.

It sure would be grand to find some way out of this box of pain I’m in and seem to have become. All of this being said, I think I’ve just figured out a way to get some urban sketching done in a way that deals with my finicky condition.

Courtyard next to Pod Dálnici

Every corner, no matter how pedestrian is just teeming with its own unique visual poetry and sketching opportunities. Often this is true for individual bus and tram stops. Some of those even have benches or ledges on hand so a disabled sketcher might jump (hobble) off the bus and do some sketching if at that moment the symptoms aren’t too bad.

POD DÁLNICI bus stop

… I’m going to finish this post later. Right now I’m heading out to get a haircut! Maybe there will be a bus stop sketching opportunity on my way home 🙂

… well, I got that long overdue haircut 😃 but wasn’t able to sketch anything on the way home after all 😞. I almost didn’t make it through the haircut and had to hurry home where I am curled up on the couch feeling sorry for my sorry ass —almost safe from the outside world way out there outside but not from my own frayed neurons I comprise.

Regardless … I do look forward to doing more random bus stop urban sketches. I guess this is going to have to be the modus operandi that I settle for if I am going to get any urban sketching at all done. Gotta jump at every opportunity to take advantage of those random slivered moments when I happen to be out and about on public transport and feel at all able to get off the bus to sketch and sketch.

Things aren’t getting any easier and there’s no point in waiting for a chronic progressive disease to stop chronically progressing. I guess whether I’m aware of it or not, I am continuously confronted by some kind of relationship with a set of limits that confine (define?) me. As those limits become less distant and vague, that relationship needs to get more accepting and less dismissive and antagonistic if I’m going to get anything sketched out there.

Memory issues in MS

Memory problems are probably one of the least well managed problems in MS. Often physicians, nurses and patients alike assume that it is a non-modifiable entity. But it is good to see in this review that this isn’t the case.

Memory issues in MS

Memory and MS — watercolor

How’s Everyone’s Sanity and Balance Doing?

I feel a need to check in with whoever’s there. Coming across this sketch I did from exactly two years ago, and a thorny late poem by William Carlos Williams really drives home for me this sudden urge to connect with … something.

I tried to have only two things in mind back while I was nervously sketching this while listening to news about protests against common sense Covid-19 protection, namely:

  1. to think about anything other than myself and everything else that was worrying me even sicker than I was at that time. Which time? Well … chronic illnesses — especially ones causing cognitive damage — make that one kinda tricky to pin down. These were some of the unravelings happening within my “edge of one of many circles.” Past the palm at the edge of that mind the “de facto” stabilities of most things I had held my exterior to hold were collapsed or collapsing.
  2. to see how my new Canson Mix Media 9*12’ sketchbook behaved with different charcoals and inks.
GA on my mind

Many of these worries were universal, like Covid-19 (and the ways it was then being dealt with) or Climate Change (and the ways it was then being dealt with) or, say, systemic racism or the continued growth of a Trumpist fascist state (and the ways …)

A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.

James Baldwin

Other worries were more individualized. For me, the growing disability and ferocious pain that Multiple Sclerosis was doling out had eclipsed itself on every frayed fiber. There were a few times that I looked deep down into myself and swore to remember that “yes, it really was this indescribably agonizing!” so a future me would not forget when/if things ever moved past the present state.

Georgia
Georgia continued – pen & ink

That was two years ago

  • That was before George Floyd.
  • It was before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the new (hot) Cold War arrived.
  • It was before attitudes about vaccination against covid insanely became ferocious ideological and political tenets.
  • It was before almost two million (and counting) people had died of covid.
  • There hadn’t yet been a coup attempt on the Capitol and the illusion that America was not in an existential crisis was still generally held. Now democracy itself seems impossible to sustain going forward.
  • I hadn’t realized that even while having long been deeply impressed by the first part of that quote of James Baldwin about a society needing to assume that it is stable, I had no clue how blind I was in failing to appreciate the crucial remainder of that sentence All this while being an “artist” no less.
  • Oh yeah … my then lousy condition has continued to worsen.

The ways so many things have fallen apart since April 2020 — when I made those sketches — make the worried existence of two years ago seem charmingly naive.

William Carlos Williams wrote a poem in 1961 titled “Poem” where emotionally and spiritually he was also confronting the clash of madnesses of the then not too distant past with the even more terrifying madness that followed through his present; he might as well have written it today.

William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams

Poem

William Carlos Williams

The plastic surgeon who has
concerned himself
with the repair of the mole

on my ear could not be
more pointedly
employed

let all men confess it
Gaugin or Van Gogh
were intimates

who fell out finally
and parted going
to the ends of the earth

to be apart, wild men
one of them cut
his ear off with a pair of shears

which made him none the less
a surpassing genius
this happened

yesterday forgive him
he was mad
and who among us has retained

his sanity or balance
in the course the
events have taken since these days


Here’s to looking forward to a day when this poem is not applicable to that day’s then present.

In the meantime, given that the instability of everything is making itself achingly clear, I don’t know that an artist is needed to fill that role right now. Rather, I’ll just keep being aware that my search for something stable under our violent sun is futile and keep on creating images anyway.

Cheers 🥂