When doing the dishes becomes a not-so-natural disaster

There are moments when everything changes, and in an instant, your world – or at least your kitchen – becomes a very complicated place. Last night, at exactly 9:43pm, something happened that made everything up to that moment seem so manageable, so innocent. It was something I’ve seen coming for years, “only a matter of time,” as ‘they’ say.

Doing the dishes after watching a documentary on the awesome perils of constructing the Panama Canal, my mind was full of hydro engineering, spillways, and human suffering – all of which would soon cross a continent and a century to turn my kitchen into a perfect diorama of disaster. Clearing the drying tray, I leaned over the counter to toss a Tupperware lid up to the top cupboard shelf, but it didn’t quite make the right sound. It was too loud, as if instantly echoed. Then I felt it, a cold, clammy liquid seeping through my long johns and woolen socks. I knew right away what had happened. I looked down, and time stopped.

Sure enough, my shirt had caught the edge of the George Foreman Grill (brim full!) drippings tray and yanked it off the counter. Brown and sludgy, the watery fat had exploded… everywhere. I thought of Panama, of the flooding and yellow fever, and I thought of the men and women who had battled far deeper demons than the greasy mess I was facing. But I couldn’t blame the mosquitoes, or the weather, or even the French, it was my own fault for leaving the stupid thing so close to the edge.

After a very brief (but entirely necessary) mourning period, I stripped down, tossed my socks in the sink and got to scrubbing. There I was, nearly naked, on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, scouring the linoleum. In a moment my evening had changed from routine to grim nightmare, but compared to Panama, I suppose I really don’t have shit to complain about.

Blank Canvas Sampler: A new species of Urban Anas to add to the genus of dabbling ducks

Historically, samplers began as a way to record and collect needlework stitches and patterns for future use and adaptation. When a needlewoman saw a new or intriguing piece of stitching, she would quickly sew a copy onto a piece of cloth. These samplers evolved organically over a lifetime, the patterns spreading outwards with the deceptive randomization of fractals, as the needlewoman’s collection grew in variation, texture, and complexity.

After borders and alphabets were added in the 17th century, along with religious and moral verses, samplers became more deliberate, organized, and methodical. No longer a collection of tactile experiences, samplers became a showcase for skill and were taught to young girls as a “sign of virtue, achievement, and industry”.

Sound familiar? Our 21st century culture celebrates those who channel their energies into ‘profitable communication’. Everything we do has become a demonstration of skill, rather than a collection of knowledge and experience. But humans are not efficient, or perfect. Our stitches are brushstrokes, not pixels. When we allow our hands to record our world, a new honesty surfaces in our observations. The Blank Canvas Sampler is a collection of true life images and people, overheard tidbits and cultural commentary. Let’s bring the sampler, and our lives, back to their root humanity.

Click here to discover the Blank Canvas Sampler

Note: This matching winter morning couple made last Friday’s walk to work feel a little less like a walk to work

How to turn your morning commute into an impromptu S&M adventure

I find Doctor C waiting for me when I get into the office this morning. Our receptionist appears utterly entranced by my friend’s glowing – today it’s coral – smile.

“I was thinking about what you did to do those dishes,” says Doctor C (I’d told her about my trick during one of our elevator chats), “and it gave me an idea for another assignment – if you’re interested.”

As if she has to ask! We step into the hall and she gives me the details. She wants me to use my storying technique to give a Blank Canvas Living client a new perspective on her grueling daily commute. And since it’s the same client who was thrilled with my bondage themed sketchbook cover design, I know exactly what angle to take…

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Transit. Transition. How do you measure the space between A and B? Time. And we only have so much. Why devalue these precious minutes by dragging A and B closer together with handheld distractions? Are we really so terrified of giving up control and letting our senses direct our attentions? What happens when we submit to the moment?

The bus hits gridlock at 7th Ave and 4th Street. Ms M despairs. Her toes are already tingling painfully, pinched between the black leather straps of her high heels. It’s hell mornings like this one when she’s almost tempted to wear runners to the office – almost. What’s the point of trying to looking sexy when every other head is bent in reverence over tiny bright screens? They’ve chosen their distractions, and she, even with her stellar legs, apparently can’t compete with wi-fi access.

The bus jerks forward and Ms M teeters dangerously. She reaches across the aisle and grabs onto a second rubber strap handhold to center herself. She knows people don’t usually double up like this, but then again, people don’t usually wear 5 inch heels on public transit. The spread eagle position makes her feel immediately conspicuous, but no one looks up. She reaches both hands through the loops and twists her wrists to wrap the rubber tight to reduce the play. May as well go all the way, she figures, and lets her fingers hang free, her new handcuffs keeping her stable. The bus jerks again, with surprising violence. Pain shoots through her shoulders and she glares at the driver in his rearview mirror.

He’s smiling at her wickedly. Bastard! But then she realizes why. She’s locked herself into an impromptu S&M session and now he’s the one taking it all the way. Ms M feels her face flushing bright red. The other passengers, with their sensible shoes and iphones, disappear. The driver winks at her and she grins back. Her pinched toes become part of the game. She bends her knees to give over control of her body to the mercies of the driver. He pumps the gas and jams the brakes, taking obvious delight in watching her reactions.

The other passengers begin to look up to see what’s changed. Then the bus stops too quick, dead. The driver’s face goes white in the mirror. He’s hit the car in front.

This is a Story Thread post – Click to read more…