Zentangle of Thoughts

I’m not sure where I had first run across Zentangle, but I’m sure that it was through one of the blogs on my RSS feed. Though I’m a “retired” 2D artist, I still really like to doodle, and appreciated the mindful doodling that Zentangle promoted.

Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing. It increases focus and creativity. Zentangle provides artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well being. Zentangle is enjoyed by a wide range of skills and ages and is used in many fields of interest.

I found a class being given at Vancura gallery over on my side of town in Middlefield, and decided to sign up.  I brought Charlie with me, being that he’s an art teacher and everything, and I figured he could pick up some things to take back to his kids in the fall.

The best part about Zentangle is that it is impossible to screw them up: they are meant to be sbstract forms based on repetitive patterns.  Most of the time, you work on “tiles” about 3″ square, so it’s not a daunting task to complete a Zentangle.  It’s also meant to be a meditative experience, every stroke is deliberate, but you can allow yourself to go into a focused, meditative state while “tangling.”

For me, this is awesome: my brain, whether I like it or not, is always on.  Seriously, I suck at yoga, too.

I also like that the “imperfect” tangles are the best tangles.  It calms me knowing that there’s no such thing as the best tangle, and I can incorporate mistakes into the finished piece.  I am completely unable to let go of my imperfections elsewhere in my life.

With no correct answer, Zentangle offers both a freedom and a challenge. Unlike crossword, jigsaw, or Sudoku puzzles, there is no predetermined right answer. You cannot fail to create a Zentangle. At first this freedom can be a bit unnerving. Soon it becomes a freeing and uplifting experience as you realize you can create never-ending, ever-changing “solutions.”

I enjoyed that I took a Zentangle class with a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) – if you couldn’t tell, I really enjoy my structured learning environments.  But, if you are unable to attend one, you can order a kit (not necessary, really), or you can go on a few of the unofficial Zentangle websites:

Happy Tangling!

Touched by a Celebrity (Kinda…)

I’ve followed enough celebrity-esque podcasts and sent a few tweets to celebs that most of the time, they’re just not going to respond to a tweet.  It’s okay, I get it.

So when I one-offed a question to Jeri Ryan about something I’d wondered every time I saw a perfectly-manicured hand on television, I had no idea that she would actually respond!

If you had said to 13-year-old Julia that she would have Seven of Nine actually respond to a question posed 14 year later (oh my god, that was 14 years ago?), I would have geeked the hell out.  Who am I kidding, I’m still geeking the hell out!  The only other celebs I can think of who I would geek out as much to would be @altonbrown, @chefsymon, or @nerdist.

Speaking of Nerdist, check out this recently-done interview with Jeri Ryan done by those lovable nerds/geeks over at Nerdist.  I really enjoyed it, and I think you might, too.

The Dilemma

Charlie turned 30 yesterday, and to help celebrate his milestone birthday, I took him to Lola for the first time.  We had a very nice time, and his “I’ve never eaten this before” food was the beef cheeks pierogi, while mine was quail.

For the record, quail is as delicious as it is adorable.

Despite lollygagging our way through dinner (which was hard, because I know I was inhaling food like it was a last meal), we still had some time left in the evening before we admitted that we were old and liked to go to bed early.  Charlie turned to me as the bill came and asked, “How do you feel about hookah these days?”

How do I feel about hookah? I miss the shisha out of it, that’s what.

When I quit smoking, I quit all forms of smoking: cigarettes, cigars, hookah, the gamut.  I was never going to kick my addiction if I held onto any portion of it, no matter how recreational. And because I loved hookah so much, I knew that I had to quit that, too.

So I answered as honestly as I could: I miss it, but I’m afraid of it.

Some people can casually smoke, just like some people can casually drink.  People go months between hookah, people can have just one drink and call it enough.  For smoking, I’m not one of those people.  I know that I would eke back into hookah twice a week, four nights a week…the occasional cigarette…a pack-a-day habit.

Charlie was very understanding, and we opted out.  But I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to say casually, “hookah?” and for me to answer just as casually, “why not?”

Finally! A Reading List Has Been Chosen!

Penguin Books

I’d been hemming and hawing for weeks as to what my “reading list” for my second Day Zero project was going to be.  I just didn’t know what I wanted to do: hand-pick a series of books? How many? How few? Have someone else pick the books? But what if I hated them?

So I did what I always do when faced with too much data: analysis paralysis.

Until I was talking to a co-worker, who’d asked if I’d seen this list culled by indie booksellers for summer reading, which led me to a linked list about new books about explaining how the brain works.

My intrerest was only piqued by a few books on the former list, and I love the topic covered by the latter, so I culled them together and made my reading list.

I’m not going to say that each book was lovingly handpicked, or the subject is of the utmost of  importance to me, because that wouldn’t be entirely true.  These are just books that came highly reccomended by trusted (just not peronally-known) sources.

I look forward to reading each of them.

Check out more 2011 summer reading lists from NPR.

Friday Five for June 3, 2011 – Summer

Well, as Cleveland is wont to do, the majority of May was spent in the mid-40s, cloudy and rainy.  I took a business trip to Dallas, where it was clear, sunny and hot, and I did not want to come back.  …Well, both because of the weather and because I hate flying, but whatever…

The unofficial start to summer was last weekend on Memorial Day, and the weather certainly did not disappoint – sunny and sweltering.  Though I try not to bitch about the weather, I was so happy for sunshine I nearly ran outside and rolled in the grass.

And since I’m in such high spirits, I thought I’d do the oft-forgot Friday 5.

  1. What was your best summer vacation like?
    My best summer vacation was the summer of 1998.  I was 13 and had a few very good friends in the neighborhood.  That summer, my bike was my car and I rode it back and forth everyday to the pool and to my friends’ houses.  I spent every day with those girls.  The relationship was fleeting, and I went on to high school the next year while they stayed in elementary school. But I think of that fabulous summer, and that’s my idyllic summer.
  2. What was your worst summer vacation like?
    I remember spending an entire summer indoors because I was working on an anxiety problem that has followed me in some iteration or another to this day.  That summer spent inside and worrying the day away definitely sucked.
  3. What food or drink reminds you of a particular summer?
    I think anything eaten outside reminds me of summer.  This is especially poignant when I spend Sunday Night Dinner with my in-laws eating dinner on the porch.
  4. What summer-only activity do you now look most forward to every year?
    The trip out to Charlie’s family’s summer cabin, and spending the afternoon there.  I’ve enjoyed my time out on the lake and in the sunshine, and the nights around the campfire, drinking beer.
  5. What summer movie or summer reading are you most looking forward to this year?
    I’m hoping to get through a few of the books off my reading list, but right now, I’m most looking forward to The Help and to the Millennium series by Steig Larsson.