Erin asked for a painting of her old greyhound, Zooey, in exchange for the copyediting work she did for me. She sent some photos and a couple cellphone clips. I collaged a couple stills from one to use as reference for the painting. I cut up two pieces of cardboard, put the painting between them, taped it up, and put it in the mail. A couple weeks later she still hadn’t received it. Then it showed up back in my mailbox. She’d moved and I didn’t know, so I sent it to her old place. I pedaled up to Andersonville and delivered it in person. She was surprised to see me at her door, though we’d scheduled it a day or two before. There’s a lot of that happening now—people’s sense of time has become a lot more elastic.
Sophie was turning sixteen, so her mom, Wendy, commissioned a painting of the view out her window for a birthday present. She sent a bunch of photos for me to use and I did my best. It’s always strange to use photographs as a source because they’re so impersonal. It’s also a room I’ve only been in once or twice, so there’s some imagination and muscle memory involved. The low building on the right is the Open Books annex. It helped me that I know that place while I was making this painting.
I’m finishing up work on the new cab book. I bought an ISBN number, wrote the Library of Congress for a reference number from them, and got in touch with the printers in Michigan. One final read-through and I’ll send it out. I’d thought that it would come out next year, but with this block of time to myself, it turned out to be the perfect project to lose myself in. It was the perfect proportions of clerical and creative. Because I was reshaping and reediting old material. Still, I think I’ve made a new thing. Or, at least a thing that will replace a couple of old things. So, close enough.
Saturday I rode up to Firecat again to talk to Stan about my show there in August. Chicago will start allowing gatherings of up to ten people in a couple weeks, so it should be feasible to put on an exhibition. More than ten people in that room and they’d be in each other’s way anyhow.
Stan has set up his desk in the middle of the gallery to draw. I spent a couple hours with him, shooting the shit and drawing. It was good to spend some time with him, but afterwards I looked forward to being alone again. It’s a feeling I always have around others. Sooner or later it’s time to leave, to get back to my own life, which is mostly solitary. This is why I’ve told friends I have nothing to complain about during this plague. I could vent about the orange-faced gaslighter and his enablers making a bad situation worse at every opportunity, but everyone with a conscience and a working set of eyes and ears already knows that. But when I get home and get into whatever I’m in the middle of working on, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
The other day it occurred to me that maybe the painting and writing I do is meant for another time. Maybe someone will discover it one day and get something out of it. I hope so. In the meantime, it’s what keeps me going.