vendredi 22 août 2008

Contemporary art

Untitled study of dog hair on beige, 2008

Le Mousseaux Collection

Or, guess who slept on the forbidden armchair, and who forgot to put the rattan floor cushion on it so that she couldn't?

But can you really not understand the need to make art of misery? Is it not what so much art -- with the exception of Jane Austen -- has been about since before Van Gogh cut off his ear and Rimbaud debauched himself to death in the streets of London?

I was vacuuming (you can already admire my fortitude where others would long since have given up and settled to live deep in settled animal hair), when it occurred to me that I ought really document how bad it gets. In a day. An afternoon. A night, even. I go to bed, all is nearly well, or as well as it can ever be 10 minutes after a vacuuming, I get up, and I begin practicing my resignation exercises, ignoring the horror until Sam comes down.

"Mom?" he says, "the chair is covered in dog hair." Thanks. I hadn't noticed. He wanders off for a bowl of cereal while I try to ignore my environment another 15 minutes.

He returned from Spain the other day, Tuesday, full of stories that he had not thought to take the time to call me while he was there to share. I put 15 euros on a calling card for him to use to keep him from having to run up his cell phone bill, which I always make him regret, for about a nanosecond. Sooo, let's see, he called home about 3 times for an average of 6-9 minutes each time. Let's say 24 minutes at 0.27 euros per minute... he still has 8.52 euros on the card, and I think that one of those calls was from his cell phone before I signed up for the card.

(He wouldn't even have called one of those times had he not tore open the instep of his right foot on the peddle of a racing bike, when he got off it wearing only espadrilles. That was 3 stitches and 8 staples. Well, they said staples, but I think it was something adhesive, not staple-y.)

Among those stories was Lydia and Pablo's house, where he stayed in Gelsa. It was almost brand new. It was immaculate.

"Mom, Lydia would take Monday mornings off from work [she works as a hairdresser from her in-home salon]," he recounted almost breathlessly, no punctuation in the recital of the household perfection that was Lydia and Pablo's, "and cleaned the whole house and Pablo when he gets home from work he cleans the house too it's spotless not a thing out of place when I took a shower they asked me to always use this product to wipe the glass doors after." I got the idea; you spray it, you wipe it, and, shwoop!, dirt is gone!

(Okay, I made that up. He used punctuation beautifully. For emphasis.)

"Mom, Pablo is a freak about his car. Everyone there has brand new cars, BMWs, Audis -- "

"What kind of a car does Pablo have?"

"An Opel Zafira, and when I closed the car door, he would get worried and tell me not to be so brutal with it --"

"And how did he tell you that?"

He made a gesture with his hand, as though to slow an on-coming child going far too fast on his scooter, or a policeman telling you that you are passing a work zone at an entirely unacceptable rate of speed, "And he'd say something like 'Calm, calm'."


That's how I tried to feel looking around my house when I got back home and Sam added, "Mom, [that's what he calls me] they would have a heart attack if they came here." He might as well have added, "It's such a pigsty!"

"I need to be more like Lydia." And Audouin to be far, far more like Pablo. And no kids around the house, either.

("Oh, actually, they have two nephews who are there all the time. Almost like their own kids." Sigh.)

"No, you don't understand, their house is brand new. It was built in 2004, and everything is new and clean, not old and dirty, like here."

Oh. I felt much better after that.

When I walked into the petit salon to see if his camera was there, I saw it sitting next to a wrapper from his Spanish vanilla-coated Oreos, which I know he finished before this noon, when he got up, just above his cereal bowl, posed on the paper tray of the printer, Sam seated sans t-shirt at the computer playing some bubble-bursting game, IM'ing with his friends in Gelsa. I reached for the wrapper and the bowl.



"I could use you a little more like you must have been at Lydia and Pablo's." He grinned. No chance.

Kids are like cleaning ladies, they keep the house the way they knew it when they first saw it.

I gotta' go vacuum. Hasta luego.

The culprits, pictured at right. (No, I didn't yell at them.)

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