Rainy Day at the IMA

A few weeks ago, on a rainy Saturday, Zoë, Ty, and I visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). We had hoped to spend some time at the IMA while it still offered free admission. (Come April, the IMA will start charging general admission.) In past museum explorations, we stuck together, the three of us. This time, however, we ventured to different floorsZoë, to the second floor, for American art; Ty, to the third floor, for modern design; and me, to the fourth floor, for contemporary art.

While the other two are far from passionate about contemporary art, I'll admit that it is my favorite. Some of the pieces are delightfully abstract. And while I'm not particularly interested in performance art, or that random piece of string, I am in love with Julianne Swartz's Terrain

The installation was actually commissioned by the IMA in 2008 and installed in the museum's entrance pavilion. (Here's a video showing its interactivity.) Since then, the installation has moved to the fourth floor, where a series of speakers and wire and hardware create, as the piece's description says, "a delicate net of wires." As soon as you step into the room, you are surrounded by soft murmurs, the voices of thirty-seven different individuals. (To create the installation, Swartz asked the individuals to think of someone they loved, someone with whom they shared a tender relationship. She then recorded the individual whispering his or her recitations to his or her loved one. The result is an incredibly sensual experience, as the whisperings are indistinguishable.)

Other popular pieces include Tim Hawkinson's Mobius Ship and Robert Irwin's Light and Space III, which illuminates the wall behind the escalators. The IMA also has some Hoppers, and some O'Keeffes. There's Monet, too, and van Gogh, and several Neo-Impressionist pieces (my favorites in the European art section).

If you live in Indy, and have never visited the IMAor are visiting the city and enjoy art and beautiful gardens and groundsI highly encourage a visit (especially when admission is still free)!

The Haircut

I sat in a hairdresser's chair, bangs combed over the front of my face. My nose tickled with the brush of hair, but I hardly paid heed to the split ends my stylist was trimming off. No, my attention was turned toward Ty, who sat in a chair just behind me. 

The stylist had taken his auburn locks and banded them into pigtails. Scissors in hand, she asked, "Are you ready?" 

But it was menot Tywho half-shrieked, "Wait!" 

I pulled out my camera from under the hairdressing gown. "I'm sorry," I laughed, "but I have to."

Tywho knew that I would be documenting the haircut one way or anotherwas unruffled. 

My stylist graciously turned my chair toward Ty. I readied my camera, and Ty's stylist turned back to him.

"Okay," she said, meeting his eyes in the mirror. "Ready?"


She began snipping and, one minute later, Ty's thick locks, which had been almost as long as mine, were laying on the hairdressing table.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

It had been two years since he'd had his hair cut, three since he'd shaved clean. Though I wasn't always a devoted fan of the lengthy hair and bushy beard, I had gotten used to the look. I'd gotten used to running my fingers through Ty's hairwhich was quite luxurious, honestlyand brushing it aside as we kissed. Whenever he was driving, he'd use the back of his left hand to push it aside, tuck it behind his ears. And when we hugged, his cheeks would meet my neck and shoulder with a familiar, bristly tickle. We—he and Zoë and I, that is—would even talk about lumberjacks, the Brawny Man, Yukon Cornelius, and Ty's alter ego, Gerald Brewster.

When someone would ask Ty, "Why the long hair?" he'd wave a hand.

"Bah! I'll cut it once I'm a square member of society."

Zoë did confess, however, that she found Ty's hair "truly magnificent."

"When I am snarky," she said, "it stems purely from envy because my hair is rarely, if ever, luxurious."

Ty received plenty of flak for his shaggy appearance, though, even from strangers. In South Carolina, at a combination gas station-Blimpie, a middle-aged man stared and stared, crinkling his nose with silent judgment. The man's distaste was nothing compared to what happened in the French Quarter, however. While Zoë and Ty and I innocently stood on a sidewalk, a mule-drawn carriage passed by. The carriage was occupied by a couple of tourists who pointed at Ty and proceeded to snap photos of him as the mule clip-clopped, clip-clopped his way down the cobbled street. We laughed about it, but wondered what the tourists' intentions were. Perhaps they thought Ty was someone from Duck Dynasty?

As Ty's hair lengthened, his cowlick became a center part. He wore a ponytail. He wore a headband. His hair grew. And grew. And grew. And it becameas some things doa safety blanket.

Once, when visiting his grandparents, his grandmother pulled me aside. "With all that hair, I feel like he's hiding something," she told me.

For a brief moment, I thought of Mean Girls. "It's full of secrets!" I wanted to say. Instead, I shook my head. "No, he's not hiding anything."

She looked at me quizzically.

I stared at my feet. Inhale, exhale, sigh. "He's depressed."

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

Depression is a sneaky bastard. At first, it drapes itself over your lap like a blanket, protecting pieces of you from the cruel world. But, after awhile, you realize that you're still vulnerable, that you're still cold, and that the pain might subside if you just pull the blanket up a little higher, a little closer. You actually don't remember when you pulled the blanket up under your chin, or over your head, but it's there. You don't remember when, exactly, you started to suffocate.

Depression is tricky, too, in that you can feel some things, sometimes, but not have enough energy to carry yourself through the necessary actions. This includes showering. Eating. Wanting to talk to an old friend. Getting a haircut. Feeding your pet pterodactyl.

At other times, you can go through the motions, but not feel a damn thing. You have no self-esteem. You have no self-confidence. You think you're not a good friend. You believe you are worthless. You believe you are nothing. You are afraid to try anything, anyway, because you fear you will fail.

Ty's fears kept him from taking action. Furthermore—and in his own words—Ty was "emotionally crippled." He quit cutting his hair back when we used to Skype until four in the morning, when he'd text me and ask, "Can we talk?" Back then, he told me that he needed to "sort out [himself] first, before introducing anyone else to [his] madness."

"Ty," I said, "I want you to know that both Zoë and I are here for you. We're your friends. We're whatever you need us to be, and I promise you that we won't give up on you. No matter how broken you think you are, or how broken you actually are, we're still going to love you."

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

In her post "Depression Part Two," Hyperbole and a Half author Allie Brosh wrote, "It's weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it's frustrating for them when that doesn't happen."

Brosh, who has suffered from depression herself, knows that the illness is devastating for both an individual and an individual's loved ones. Her description reminds me of those old Cymbalta commercials, the ones in which a woman's cool voice asked, "Who does depression hurt?" (The answer? Everyone.) The idea that depression hurts everyone is a painful catch-22. When someone is depressed, their misery makes their parent/sibling/partner/roommate/child/pet pterodactyl miserable and frustrated as well. In turn, the depressed individual feels guilty for making their parent/sibling/partner/roommate/child/pet pterodactyl feel such frustrations in the first place. Personally, I have felt forgotten and unimportant, too. Really, though, it's almost expected. It can be difficult to have a relationship (romantic, familial, or otherwise) with someone who is unable to fully return affection.

A few weeks ago, my struggle to remain patient culminated with a phone call to Ty's best friend.

"Well, you obviously still love him," he said, after listening to me cry over the phone. "But let me ask you this. Given everything you just said, why are you with Ty?"

With the back of my hand, I wiped the tears from my cheeks. "Because I know who he can be."

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

I met Ty five years ago, when we both worked at the student newspaper. He kept his hair short, then, and his facial hair to no more than a few days' scruff. He was skinny, too, and tall, and, my God, was he pretty.

The newsroom was located on the second floor, and you could always hear the echoing slam of the ground-floor door, which meant that someone—or a group of someones—was mounting the stairs. I remember working the copy desk one night, at a computer that faced the door to the stairwell. I heard the familiar bang of the door, and the trudge of shoes on steps. When the door opened, I found myself looking at a dapper sort of young man wearing a herringbone coat, and I thought to myself, "That's a good looking gu- oh my God that's Ty." Had he noticed me right then, he would've seen me blushing, cheeks as red as ripe strawberries.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

Back at the salon, Ty's severed pigtails were still on the hairdressing table, as limp and feeble as a pair of deceased ferrets. His auburn locks were practically no more; the stylist had cut, buzzed, and scissored onto the floor a carpet of hair.

Ty watched the stylist in the mirror, his face set, unflinching.

He'd told me, just hours earlier, that he was planning a haircut. He'd told me, too, that he was going to shave clean.

At the time, I'd said nothing; I was stunned into silence. When I had managed to speak, my first word was, simply, "Why?"

"It's time," Ty had said decidedly. "I want to do it before I change my mind. And I thought you might get a bang out of watching."

I had been surprised. I'll admit that the comfortable rut in which Ty had settled worried me, and that I thought change would come gradually, perhaps glacially. But the haircut seemed ... well, it seemed like a step. With each snip of the scissors, Ty's face resembled, more and more, the narrow, handsome face I'd first seen five years ago.

I closed my eyes. "Because I know who he can be," I had said.

I thought of our shared past at the student newspaper. I reminisced about editing sessions, when we'd accidentally-on-purpose sit next to each other, stealing glances at each other's work and throwing rolled-up candy wrappers at each other's foreheads. There were the nights that we ended up at Harry's, too, just the two of us, sharing conversation and sweet tea vodka over the sticky, dark wood of our booth. As a hater of straws, Ty would bend his over the edge of the plastic cup, fingers pinching it into place. In contrast, I would hold mine between my middle and index fingers, like how you would hold a cigarette. Like how you would inhale nicotine, not Firefly. And, oh God, there was that fish net thing, too. That little green fish net that the photo desk had for some reason, and that Ty and I used to pass to each other, alongside notes and flirtations. I'd slide it under his office door, after he'd gone for the night. He'd slip it into my backpack two days later, with a cheeky pun.

I shook my head a little, smiling at the memory. When I opened my eyes, I saw that Ty had been watching me in the mirror. His stylist was finishing up; she trimmed one side, then the other.

Almost done.

Ty and I found each other in the mirror's reflection. He smiled, albeit a bit sheepishly. I smiled, too.

And blushed.

As full and as red as the night he'd walked into the newsroom, I flushed. 

Christmas at the Zoo

While scrolling Facebook, I saw a Fowl Language comic that depicted "the two stages of winter." The comic described December as a "magical wonderland of lights," and the rest of the season as "a cold, gray, bucket of suck."

Said bucket of suck is currently dumping snow, ice, and hatred upon the streets of Indianapolis, and has been since yesterday. Last night, while carrying the Christmas tree back out to the garageand nearly dropping an ovary in the processI slipped on the ice. By desperately flailing my arms in a windmill-like fashion, I managed to stay upright untilWham! My feet flew up and my back hit the ground. I lay there for several moments, regaining my breath and cursing the snow, ice, and hatred that bled through my coat and jeans. My fall was similar to those seen in Home Alone, except in my version of the beloved classic, there are less tarantulas and plenty of toothbrushes approved by the American Dental Association.

Okay, so, January has been a little unpleasant so far. We've had, I believe, just two days of clear skies since the month started. (Because nothing says "Happy New Year" like gloom, doom, and seasonal affective disorder.) But December? I'll have to agree with the comic; it was pretty magical.

A few days after Christmas, I invited friends Lizzy and Raina to "Christmas at the Zoo," an annual event held at the Indianapolis Zoo. According to the zoo's website, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the United States to feature a holiday lights event. (The zoo started the event in 1967, just three years after it opened.) Since I had acquired a few free passes, I thought it would be fun to head across the river and admire the twinkling glow of lights.

It was cold that night, too, and windy. Fourteen degrees, tops. We were bundled in hats, scarves, and gloves, and, beneath our jeans, we wore leggings and two pairs of socks. Oh, it was cold. It was cold and crisp and my nose ran and my fingertips went numb and I didn't care because the zoo was beautiful. It twinkled and sparkled and flashed, and we laughed at the playfulness of the penguins and sea lions. We spied on sleeping orangutans. We paused at a light display that resembled a hot dog stand and wondered, "Why? Why a hot dog stand?" ("Why not a hot dog stand?") We allowed our frozen toes to thaw in the conservatory and said, repeatedly, "It's so stunning! Everything is so amazing!" And we reveled, childlike, in the magic of it all.

2014 Ornament Swap Showcase

Fa la la la la la la la la. This year, more than eighty individuals (including my mom) participated in the ornament swap. Swappers from six countries--Australia, Canada, Romania, Spain, the U.K., and the States--participated, and twenty-two of the fifty U.S. states (including Alaska) were represented! I wish to extend an enormous thank you to everyone who traded ornaments. Thank you for taking part in something that encourages networking and holiday joy. I hope that everyone enjoyed the experience, and I hope to "see you" in a future swap! 

Merry holidays, and the happiest of new years! 

from Sarah to Megan

from Megan to Sarah

 from Cassy to Charlotte

from Charlotte to Cassy

from Shona to Tegan

 from Emily to Juj

from Juj to Emily

 from Sarah to Jackie

from Jackie to Sarah

 from Rose to Courtney

from Courtney to Rose

from Lisa to Brandi

 from Amy to Raina

from Anabel to Meagan

from Meagan to Anabel

from Lynette to Anca

 from Anca to Lynette

 from Arielle to Wendy

from Wendy to Arielle

from Bridget to Blaire

 from Chloe to Jenn

 from Connie to Cassandra

 from Corey to Sacha

from Sacha to Corey

from Lisette to Deborah

from Deborah to Lisette

 from Haley to Abby

from Ioana to Danielle

 from Danielle to Ioana

 from Joanne to Nicole

from Nicole to Joanne

 from Karm to Alexandria

 from Keri to Chris

from Lori to Faisal

 from Megan to Rachel

from Megan to Melissa

from Melissa to Megan

 from Megan to Sharon

from Sharon to Megan

from Meghan to Shannah 

from Michelle to Neltje

from Neltje to Michelle

 from Rachael to Margherita

from Margherita to Rachael

from Rachel to Megan

from Lucy to Rhianne

 from Rhianne to Lucy

from Shannah to Meghan

 from Shary to Terri

 from Terri to Shary

 from Tia to Heidi

 from Victoria to Ayla

from Ayla to Victoria

 from Zoë to Heidi

from Heidi to Zoë

 from Jo to Lindsey

from Lindsey to Jo

from Elissa to Michelle

from Michelle to Elissa

from Blaire to Dawn

from Dawn to Blaire

 from Jessica to Dawn

 from Dawn to Jessica
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