Đezvas and Lots of Mascara
At the end of Ferhedia street, the pedestrian shopping thoroughfare, a young vendor scowled and crouched under a plume of balloons that billowed in the gentle midday breeze. It provided him shade as the temperature soared to 38 degrees Centigrade. A UNHCR banner commemorating human rights was strung high across the road. A branch of the Bank of Iran stood nearby. Sarajevans hoofed past, some in a hurry, most not.
It was Wednesday. Tables and chairs lined the streets in Sarajevo’s old city, umbrellas hoisted up. At noon, locals began to stream in, ordering coffee from traditional đezvas poured into miniscule coffee cups, where the delicious bitter black substance rests above a thick molasses of coffee grounds– the same way that Dad has been preparing coffee since I can remember.
I recently wrote about learning to eat and enjoy food in China. Every word of that post is true: living in China exposed me to great dishes, ingredients and cuisines I would never have encountered growing up in the States, and established a precedent for eating adventurously and heroically. However, there is a flipside to that coin, a side that consumed endless hours of discussion, longing, failed attempts and heartache: all the food to be found in China was Chinese food.
Now, this may seem obvious. Most food you end up eating in America is American, right? Not really. If you’re a 1st, 2nd or even 3rd generation American, you’ll of course cook and enjoy food from your parents’ or grandparents’ home culture. But even if your ancestors came over on the Mayflower, think about some foods you’ve eaten in the last week. Chipotle, I bet, or some other burrito place. Chinese takeout, or sushi, maybe a chai or bubble tea. Probably a pastry here or there, a croissant or danish, definitely pizza or pasta, and various other foods that don’t exactly have their origination on US soil. Continue reading
Did I ever tell you about the guy in my Bible study who felt that it was his responsibility to email me about how I was out of line? He wrote it as though he was writing for the group (he was not), and he cc’d two of my friends who were going to be leaders of the groups once we split up into two. The gist of his thoughtful missive was that I was too loud, too bossy, too gregarious, and could often be found “holding court” (his words, not mine) in our gatherings. To normal people outside of the church world, all of these qualities in one ADORABLE package could very well be taken as annoying. Among my friends who weren’t in the Christian bubble, his email seemed so far out of the blue. However, in certain Christian circles, a loud, bossy, gregarious woman could be viewed as sinful and she’d need to be “put in her place” by a caring “brother-in-Christ.”
Needless to say, I was hurt, humiliated (he’d cc’d two of my friends, but who else knew?), and crushed. I had been here before. Growing up as a Pastor’s Kid in the church bubble, I’d often been criticized for not being quiet, sweet, or gentle enough.
How I could have dealt with the email. Thank you, duskbunny.tripod.com
Ever since watermelons re-appeared in their prime this season, this little guy has been dancing in my head. He was chosen somewhat at random and somewhat for his form to be a beta tester of my new artmaking process. As of late, I’ve been wanting to be less of a digital colorist and more of a digital painter, a distinction that can be difficult to see in an end piece, but makes all the difference in time it takes to make something and the scope of stylistic potential that something has. I had been drawing all my outlines by hand and then coloring them digitally, a process that I have become more and more convinced has been limiting me from reaching the particular aesthetic quality I am hoping for. I’ve been itching to get away from the crutch of outlines, but have so far not found a process that let me get around without them satisfactorily. And then finally…
With this piece, I solidly made the leap—aside from the original pencil sketch, the entire thing was painted with a wacom tablet + stylus in photoshop! There is still a pretty significant learning curve left—there’s not a huge difference in the end product, but if you could look under the hood in photoshop, you’d see that this process is pretty dramatically different from what I’ve been doing and I’m definitely not comfortable with it yet. I’m pretty sure though, that I finally made it across the gap that was keeping me from travelling in the direction I really have been yearning to go: my present quest to make digital pieces that don’t look so darn digital.
(Editor’s note: For the previous installments of this novel see here. This installment continues from the conclusion Chapter Two of Part One: Before The Lines)
It brought two lines on a stick.
For the next nine days, I battled my urge to unload the burden of Cara’s confession onto our two unsuspecting friends, who assumed that the worst thing that happened that night was the infliction of the next day’s hangover. And I figured Cara would eventually get around to telling Abby and Kennedy on her own, but I underestimated her ability to pretend the whole thing hadn’t happened. This turned out to be her strategy for not going crazy, but it didn’t help me much as I almost slipped several times with each friend over the phone and at dinner one night. A dinner that Cara missed, blaming work and a new case, but I wondered if she was holed up in her apartment avoiding her own possible slip-up.
Sure enough, five days before her next period was due, she texted me: “Come over 2nite 4 test?”
I was at work, having just diagnosed a three-year-old with strep, and the clashing of the two worlds—screaming kids on my end, possible unwanted pregnancy on hers—threatened to lead to my spontaneous combustion. Instead, I took an Advil for my headache and texted back, “Sure.”