Category Archives: Sidewalk Faces

Do It Now – Foil the Inner Critic

There’s been a lot of road work in the neighborhood; lots of large metal sheets covering the plumbing underneath. I pass by one with a turquoise paint splotch and the color catches my attention. I stop and stare. There’s already an obvious eye, that’s promising. It would need another one, something kind of big, the little seeds in my purse aren’t going to get the job done. I glance around but don’t see anything useful. I’m in a hurry to get to work. It doesn’t matter. I don’t need this face.

A few feet later I come across a chain and hook, probably used to lift and move those slabs. Not this again. I don’t have time to monkey around with a cumbersome object and I already learned my lesson about taking stuff like this home. I’m not assuming responsibility for the next two years. I walk on.

Wait! It hits me. The hook could be the eye and the chain could be the nose for that splotch. Okay. You win, imagination. I’m turning around and doing this.

The lesson from the two year bike chain saga (chronicled in the Bags of Crap Series which you can find on my home page) is that you need to act on opportunity right when it first walks through the door. What you do, gets done, what you don’t do fades like fog on a hot day or becomes a big headache. I’ve trained myself to get to it and get to it quickly. No over thinking, just get her done.

Besides the lack of nagging dissatisfaction that missed opportunity often creates, I usually get something really unexpected from acting quickly. I most certainly didn’t pre-visualize this anxious fellow. The hustle forces me to bench my inner critic. No time to consult him. He’s such a drag anyway. He only approves of things the world has already vetted, meaning, he only likes what other people like. Too much originality makes him nervous and then he starts chattering away in my ear, blowing my confidence. For example, he might say, that hook doesn’t look like an eye to me. What’s going on with the bottom of the nose, there’s no shape there. Too bad you don’t have any darker sticks. A shame you threw them all away when you were cleaning out your bags.

Stop! This is not helpful!

Is this a portrait of him? I think it is! He doesn’t seem to like it. Too bad. Go away if you don’t want your picture taken. No one invited you on this walk anyway.

That’s mean. I am sorry. Let’s be friends. Why don’t you enjoy the stroll and help me out when I get home and we’re trying to select the best picture to post. You’ll be good at that.

Why is that critical people are always the first ones to get there feelings hurt? I could ask myself if I really cared to hear the answer. Moving on! Gotta get to work.

I didn’t leave this face in place, not good for car tires. I put the chain on some road work related stuff so it could be retrieved. You’re welcome LADWP and thanks so much for keeping everything in good working order!

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Black Hole Sun

What else could I name this angry, rotting, agave stump with a decaying corona? He is very upset, and I am only nominally responsible for making him that way.

I was social distance hiking with one of my oldest, dearest and bestest friends. Kristina has known me since I was 18 when we bonded night after night at the Cornell University North Campus Dining facility. It was an all you could eat situation, so we were there for hours. Such magic, finally having the conversations I had longed to have but wasn’t sure were even possible while also sampling every entre on the specials board. We gained weight and we gained lifelong support.

We were huffing and puffing up Runyon Canyon’s outer trails, talking about impermanence, accepting change as a constant, trying to figure out the ideal lesson to learn from these difficult observations. Mostly we concluded that the lessons learned never change but still have to be learned anew every day. I don’t know why I can’t seem to retain the wisdom of yesterday for more than a few hours. Here’s a major one that I should know by heart given how many times I have “learned it”: Anger poisons everything. It’s an ineffective tool. Not like using a banana as a hammer which, while it wouldn’t work, also wouldn’t cause any damage, just a mess. It’s more like using a hammer to remove a splinter. The thinking, assuming there was any “thinking, would go like this: If I beat this thumb to a bloody pulp, the splinter will no longer have a place to be lodged.

I don’t have a terrible temper, but it could stand improvement. And improve away I do. Just like I exercise regularly but never get more fit, I practice keeping my temper in check and manage not to do real damage.

So that brings us to this very upset fellow. While hiking I spotted a few promising face making items but not wanting to interrupt our flow, I made a mental note to come back. But then Kristina pointed to this agave stump and asked if I saw the face in it and had I ever made a face here. No and no. Although the first no was easily turned to a yes by giving it my full attention. She started hunting for the needed elements and located the one that made her vision come to life, the bark tongue. Kristina is also the person who suggested the handlebar mustache for the bike chain desert face. I wonder if I could stuff her in my dog walk satchel. She’s really handy! Thanks Kristina!

When I read the first paragraph to her, she felt you needed some additional information. I called her because I couldn’t remember what we had talked about on the hike. I knew it was really meaningful, but what was it again….? She was making choux pastry. Isn’t that funny? Would you pick up the phone if you were making choux pastry? She’s so awesome. She wants you to know the dining hall also had a full desert bar. Let that sink in; an all you can eat desert bar. Thank goodness the next year we rented a small apartment and shed the freshman fifteen because there was no one to cook for us. Most often we ate something called fried potato sandwich. It’s two ingredients, maybe three if there was mayo. She wasn’t making choux pastry back then.

And now for the final thing that husband wants you to know. There are more covers of Black Hole Sun on Spotify than any other song in the known universe. You should sample a few of them. Here’s my current favorite.

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