Christina Rosalie

The things that waken me

Posted on June 19, 2014

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What I like about this place where I now live is that the lines are never familiar, and because they are never familiar, I’m always in a state of wonder, always stoping with my camera, recording glimpses, taking note.

Wherever I look there is texture. Stubbled grass. Lawns rife with clover. Murals. Graffiti. Billboards. Tattoos that flirt. Laughter that lifts off cement walls. The almost unbearable beauty of blossoms. A harsh geometry of windows. Ice cream spilled on the sidewalk, and the dog that licks it up. The lengthening shadows of the blue hour. The sky after dusk, indigo and saffron. The scent of lavender and roses. Cherries dimpling the sidewalks. The next door neighbor’s lilting Spanish. The staccato of a basketball being dribbled. The grapes along the gate. The green walnuts dropping to the back deck. The people at the bus stop, yelling. The boys on skateboards. The guy with the fresh haircut. The lovers sitting, knees touching at the cafe.

All of it.

I can’t explain quite, the effect it has on me to be living in a city as beautiful as this one, other than to say it wakens me. It whets my senses. It calls me to attention, each small moment going any place is an opportunity for close noticing.

Reflections

Posted on June 17, 2014

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I noticed reflections all day, not on purpose exactly, but it matched the way I felt: a reflection of my usual self. More tired than usual, and also, I had the kind of headache that used to haunt me daily last year. I haven’t had one in a while; the kind I can’t shake no matter how much coffee or dark chocolate or tea I consume. The kind that comes, probably, from not moving enough. From sitting for 9 hours a day, and not doing yoga or running.

Of course I know better. We all know better, don’t we?

The problem with knowing is that it’s theoretical; it exists in our heads rather than in our bones. And it’s listening to that slower wisdom that gets tricky when things go fast. When days speed up, when one day after the next becomes like the crows that abrupt and sudden lifting into the air.

Creative rhythm + some time at the coast

Posted on June 16, 2014

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The past two weekends, though I’ve committed to the #5x5challenge, I’ve been off the grid. Though I’ve taken many photos, and shared some on Instagram, I’ve had no chances to slip away, get some internet connectivity and post.

There’s something that feels right about letting there be a rhythm to these posts. I like the regularity, and the commitment during the week, and also the exhale on the weekends.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about rhythm lately, and how we’ve created a culture that doesn’t allow us to exhale much. Since dealing with adrenal fatigue last fall and winter, I’ve forced myself to do that more: to step back, let go, forget whatever definitions I have of perfect.

I’m curious about how you experience rhythm in your creative lives, and in your work lives. When do you give yourself permission to leave gaps, let things go unfinished, fall to pieces, give way to entropy–and when do you persist?


Here are a few of my favorite glimpse from the weekend, getting some soul medicine on the beach with messy hair and sandy feet and the people I love.


Back to the #5x5challenge tomorrow. In the meantime here are a few of my favorites from #5x5challenge contributors this past week:

Food as art

Birthday Party

Expiration Dates

Coffee with cream

Late Afternoon

Seemingly Perfect

The place where things happen

Posted on June 14, 2014

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All morning I work at the kitchen table. The boys have off (first day of summer vacation!) and I do not.

Eventually when they’ve settled into a project, I head out to the backyard to my little studio. I always push through the door with a certain relief; glad for the fact that though it is small, it is just mine. (Virgina Woolf had it right.) The walls, bare on purpose, ready for for whatever I want to tack up. A place to spread out and make things, which I do, though not today.

Today I bring a summer peach with me, and later espresso to keep me fueled through the afternoon. Then I sit, contorting at ridiculous angles in my chair. One knee up. Then both, perching. Then I’m spread out on the floor. I love the work I’m doing, but my body isn’t made for sitting still. No one’s is, but mine, with my spring-loaded legs feels particularly ill equipped for sitting still, and I’m hankering for the run I hope to get on the beach, Sunday morning.

Today, five minutes of attention happens as I am lying on the floor waiting for my colleague to send me edits. I simply breathe. Feel the way my shoulders are holding on to the stress of a tight deadline. Look up at the way the room is framed anew with my upside down perspective.

Outside the window, day turns to dusk, and dusk to night.

Day 8: #the5x5challenge

Small noticings

Posted on June 13, 2014

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Today this practice is about really sinking into the moments as they come, with full sensory awareness. Riding my bike to work and arriving early to pour a cup of hot coffee and pull together disparate notes into cohesive sentences. Yes, my desk is strewn with paper.

Today it is about noticing small. It’s about the sun on my neck at 11 a.m. slanting sideways through the window above my head, and about walking out for lunch at 2, just in time to smell the scent of rain on dry earth as it begins to fall; ozone torn from the sky. Petrichor. How I love that word.

Today it’s about noticing the markings of this city: half worn away billboards, unexpected stencils, the tattooed arm bands on the guy that holds the door for me, the sweet tangle of wild roses along a walk and stopping to plunge my face in. Breathing, until the sweetness is inside my lungs.

At day’s end

Posted on June 12, 2014

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It’s the end of the day, and for a while I feel as though I’m barely here, barely within my skin. It is the feeling that results from a day of intent focus, and of conversations I have in my head with the people I dream about at night.

Does that ever happen to you?

You dream, and upon waking whomever it was about feels close all day, so close you could nearly touch them. Breath, laughter, exquisite tenderness all plays itself out out within the strange, improbable landscape of the dream, and when you waken and try to reclaim it, only the feeling of it remains. A certain almost indescribable intimacy, more real than real life.


Tonight I’ve climbed into the hammock in the back yard under the pear tree and the apple, with a glass of wine. Immediately, the rope webbing hugs my weight, and I feel my body give, gratefully into its keeping.

Above the sky is blue and cloud-spun and the evening light is milky. Crows, three of them tussle on a telephone pole. Each one claiming their space, each one claiming some piece of the other. “Mine!” they squawk. But in the end, just like us, each one will fly away alone.


I sip wine and watch the light shift and deepen, and try to feel my own heart’s tempo between the yelling of the boys, the piecemeal conversation with T, the crows, the neighbors, the greening trees, the bluing sky. On days like this one the world feels hyper-saturated in hue and tone, and I am at the edges, thin skinned in spite of myself, absorbing everything.

Happening in between

Posted on June 11, 2014

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In between the time we come in through the front door and I drop my bag and the little one’s backpack on the couch, settle the heft of a grocery sack on the counter, and drink a glass of water, the tempo of story is sounding out a quiet staccato in my head.

In between the time I cut up the purple onion and sauté it with thyme, adding the other vegetables, sweet Italian sausage and hot pepper flakes; and the time I slip out the front door away from the sound of the vacuum and the banter of the boys (Sprout constructing Lego structures, Bean making origami ninja throwing stars) words begin to scatter like raindrops at the beginning of a storm. No plot line, no finished sentences, just the ideas arrowing down in quick succession.


In between the time I sit down on the front stoop, noticing the way the light filters through the big-leafed tree above me, and turning my lens to find its flirtation with shadow, the orchestra is tuning at the back of my mind. Discordant, but persistent. The timpani, the saxophone, the violins striking out, querying, querulous. Nothing makes sense yet but this much I know: a book is in the offing, as inevitable now as the predicted rain. Here it is, happening in between, even as the ordinary moments continue.

The challenge, of course, is to pin the ideas down. The challenge is finding the steadfastness to listen hard, and then to show up at the page.

These are the moments that make things real

Posted on June 10, 2014

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“The former secretary of state.”

“What this means for you….”

“Do you have an espresso preference?”

“Do you have the resources you need?”

“In two or three days….”

“Coffee for here.”

“I hope. Things are pretty interesting right now.”

“What can I get for ya?”

Each line a story.

I’m sitting at the end of a wide planked table at a coffee place I rather like a couple blocks from where I work. It’s morning, though not early. Just the right time for a chocolate croissant to eat slowly, and a cappuccino, dry.

A man comes in wearing a blue checked shirt, Vans, dark jeans. He stands by the water cooler, checking his phone. A tattoo peaks out at the cuff of his shirt. Behind the counter, one girl wears a beanie, a nose ring, earrings, and a tattoo collar and sleeves. She has a bright, unguarded smile when someone familiar comes up to order. A family comes in: a girl and boy and their mom and dad. They’re clearly traveling from some place or to some place. The dad had olive skin and shaggy hair; the mom’s a freckled brunette. The little girl won’t come to sit at the communal table until the whole family does, and so she stands, hopping from one foot to the other at the counter.

Beside me is a Japanese man with a goatee, a purple belt, tattoo sleeves of waves, and a MacBook Air that matches mine. A girl walks in, a brunette with dark bangs and big hoop earrings. She beams at him. I offer to move, but they say no, they’ll find a different spot, and then they do, opposite each other at the end of a tall table made out of an old drill press.

When my friend comes what he notices first are the acoustics, having spent much of his life in a band. The high concrete ceilings and bamboo planks on the walls that please my eye for their geometry and lines, are terrible for sound apparently. Whenever I spend time with musicians, I’m always struck by how differently attuned they are; always listening to a different rhythm and echo and tone.

Listening to the conversations rise and fall around me I’m suddenly reminded of a film I watched in the early 90s, by myself in a movie theater in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I was 16. It was the first film I’d ever watched without a date, and far too indie and emotionally complex for me to like it at the time, but the images inexplicably stayed with me: Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould. I love the memory I have of it: like a a few dozen nearly picture perfect snapshots, and one is of Gould composing in a cafe, finding notes and harmonies in of what other people hear as noise. The lilt of voice and then another, the clack of cup, the clink of spoon.

These are the moments that make things real.