Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nocturnes

I don't watch professional basketball unless I can't avoid it. I think pick-up games on the street are much more fun than what I've seen on TV. But I feel sympathy for all you sports fans wrapped up in the NBA finals tonight.

I spent the evening reading and thinking about a Whistler Nocturne I have to write about, and listening to Chopin's Nocturnes for inspiration. I've loved these since I was a teenager and they only improve as I get older and more "complicated." They are especially perfect for summer nights, when there's a soft breeze coming through the window. I'm listening to Rubenstein because that CD was easy to get to, but my favorite recording is a very old one by Dinu Lipatti. He was marvelous' died at 33.

I used to have this awful little book about Whistler that I kept above my desk during the many years I worked at the MFA. I don't know why I bought it, since I was only mildly interested in Whistler. It was filled with precious and petty quotations of his, from around the time of his lawsuit with Ruskin; he must have been an annoying person. I went looking for it tonight. I spent a good 10 minutes squinting up at my dim, high shelves and poking around behind books on lower shelves in case I'd hidden it. After all those years of seeing it on the shelf just above my head, I can picture its green and orchid cover clearly in my mind's eye.

But I can't find it. Did I get rid of it? It didn't take up that much space. And I have plenty of even worse books. I have The Bridges of Madison County, for example. That is actually an excellent book — for opening to a random page and reading aloud in a dramatic voice. Try it when you're feeling mildly depressed or sad. You won't be able to stop giggling.

It's also fun to open Ayn Rand books to a random page and search for the word "destroy." I give myself three chances to succeed and I usually score. But I would never own an Ayn Rand book. I've been trying to get my husband to toss his for the past 15 years.

So, anyway.... is that Whistler book still above my MFA desk, which I vacated 10 years ago? It's possible. And it's going to drive me crazy until I can ask someone tomorrow. There are still other books of mine there, so I hope I abandoned it when I left in 2000, never guessing that I'd want it for an MFA project in 2010.

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