Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Travel Tips for a New College Graduate II

1. Opportunity will arrive at the most surprising times.  When it does, run with it.

  2. When opportunity eludes you, put yourself out on the edge.  Take a chance.

3. It's at the edge where dreams come into reality, assisted by a secret formula of your own devising.  It involves just the right ratio of imagination to persistence, and shoveling lots of dirt.

4.  Never become too comfortable with your own success.  Watch your back.

5.  Don't be afraid to ask for help, but remember too many cooks spoil the soup...

...and that's why God created sushi.

Even so, the humblest meal, shared in good company, makes for a feast.

6. Imbibe with moderation.

7. Carry on the family traditions...

...but always remain true to your own unique vision.

8.  Time doesn't wait around.  It just keeps walking.  The journey calls for appropriate footwear.

9.  The pot of gold isn't at the end of the rainbow.

It's all inside your head.  Make the most of it.

10. Maintain your skepticism.

Don't believe everything you read.

It's your life story.  Write the very best one you can.

Oakley Chad Merideth

Bachelor of Arts in English,The University of New Mexico, May 2011

 Summa Cum Laude
Bachelor of Arts in psychology, The University of New Mexico, May 2011
Cum Laude
 National Society of Collegiate Scholars
 Dean's List
Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society
Music Assistant, KUNM
Academy of American Poets Undergraduate Poetry Prize
English Teacher, Daegu, South Korea

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Whole Enchilada

Bennie and I indulged ourselves in the Ichiban Super Premium Private Hot Bath (actually, Baths--his and hers, in the form of  sea-colored, oversize ceramic teacups) at Ten Thousand Waves, a lovely Japanese-style spa just outside Santa Fe.  We did this Tuesday evening...

 I stretched out in my big ceramic teacup, gazing at the crescent moon, breathing in the mountain air.  I felt myself swaying back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, hypnotized by the air, the soothing water, the moon.  Life is good, Life is good, Life is good.  The alchemy of the cedar-scented sauna transformed the tiniest care into drops of perspiration.   We poured water over our heads in the sit-down showers,  then returned to the teacups.  A nice rhythm was established--from sauna to shower to sweetly swaying bath.  And back again.   Life is good, life is good, life is good.  The occasion was a much-delayed (since January 2nd)  anniversary celebration, a gift of our generous children.

Afterwards we drove to a little restaurant in town, famished.  The manager, whom we'd never met, walked over to our table and told us he wanted us to have the blue corn chicken enchiladas, on the house. Now this kind of thing just doesn't happen--being offered free food, out of the blue, by a stranger, on a Tuesday night, in downtown Santa Fe.  But it did.  And the enchiladas were oh-so-satisfying.  Bennie said, "I guess this is our lucky night."  Yes, that night I fell asleep as my head touched the pillow.  I dreamed of being swayed by 10,000 waves, in a sea-colored, oversize ceramic teacup, in the middle of the high desert, under a crescent moon.

Next morning we got the phone call.  Daughter Flannery had been accepted into medical school at the University of New Mexico.  It's been quite a journey for her, getting to this significant milestone in her career, a balancing act of the highest order...

 Flannery in El Salvador, Summer 2010

At times the wait has been tedious...

Flannery with her brother Oakley
Presidential Scholars Banquet, 2008

There have been setbacks and challenges and  long distances to travel...
After her first half-marathon, 2007

But Flannery began her training many years ago, in kindergarten. Early on, she was recognized for her strong citizenship...

Every Friday she came home from school, her arms laden with boxes of Power Popcorn, a reward for her "Positive Power."

With her dad, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

And she has continued working to make a difference to this day...
With Alumni Citizenship Award, UNM, 2008

She has proven herself, time and again,  to be a young woman of tenacity, brilliance, and genuine goodness--deep down, and outwardly, in her actions in the world.

She is richly deserving of having reached this latest plateau.  Take a deep breath, my lovely, and enjoy the view...

El Salvador, Summer 2010

When her dad and I were offered free enchiladas on Tuesday night, it was an omen.  THE WHOLE ENCHILADA, with the very best trimmings, was set to arrive for Our Person...

 Chocolate Tortilla Ice Cream Enchilada with Strawberries on the Side

Dig in, Babe!  It's on the house.  (After all, you built the house.)

All my love,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Roll Over, Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893

Whoever doesn't recognize this painting, raise your hand. (I see one hand, but it's attached to the arm of the class clown, so I disregard that hand.)  

Whoever has never related to the feeling in this painting, raise your hand.  (I see no hands.)

A middle school art teacher in Santa Fe brought in a reproduction of Edvard Munch's powerful, iconic painting and assigned the students to render their own versions in watercolor.  They weren't necessarily to try to reproduce the composition but to reproduce the emotion, and to include a figure.  Here are a few of their paintings...

 The colors in this one are more beautiful in person.  Those rounded tan forms are actually gold metallic.  This young artist has a wonderful sense of color and made the surrounding landscape loom so large behind the figure, perfectly capturing that sense of panic that has made Munch's painting universally accessible.  The  facial features being rendered in stark white contribute to the effect.

 This one reduced the composition to the diagonal lines of the bridge and inserted the figure within those lines, even making the figure's head tilt, as though being pulled by the setting.  An intuitive sense of how diagonal lines can make the viewer feel unsteady seems to be at play.  Does that puff of blue mean the artist ran out of time, or simply knew when to quit?

 Another less-is-more esthetic.  The blue "river," pared down to a slice of color, seems to weigh on the figure's mind.  Just what Munch had in mind.  And what a remarkable capture of the screaming mouth--just like Munch's.

 Here the landscape seems to be transformed into a cartoonish monster, or perhaps a house on fire.  I enjoy the menacing ambiguity.  What do you see?

Another truly beautiful palette, with the addition of decorative starlike designs, and an extravagant use of purple. And still, the figure is anguished in the middle of it all.  Reminds me of how it feels to be sad on a lovely spring day.

 The teacher shared with me that this student asked if he could draw a vehicle.  The teacher said, "Yes, as long as you include a figure."  What an inventive, contemporary take on The Scream.  Isn't the shading on the side of the truck exciting?  My mind reels with interpretations.  Someone has just jumped off the bridge and the screamer is screaming for help, for example.

 I wonder if this artist has a family member who's a park ranger, or has witnessed a park ranger calling for help in an emergency, or simply has invented another very personal, original interpretation of The Scream.

 This artist paid a lot of attention to Munch's composition, with the addition of that big sun sinking behind the hills, just like we see here in northern New Mexico.  Such a perfect detail to conjure that sinking feeling we've all experienced at the end of a less than good day.

I am thoroughly impressed by the work of these students and equally impressed by the assignment of this resourceful teacher.  Middle school is a tough time.  The hormones are kicking into high gear and the peer groups can be menacing.  These paintings tell the story.