Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Daughter

Oh. I'm not sure who she is, this nine-year-old. She listens with a very familiar half-lidded gaze, focussing on a distant planet. Sometimes I snap at her, thinking she hasn't heard, but she has. She absorbs me. This feels dangerous as I don't know how fitting a substance I am to be taken in. I never meant to make my campaign to be anti-fashion, anti-pop culture, anti-advertising. I just always thought it was all dum and couldn't find the time, though I sometimes mean to bone-up, but don't ever. Somehow, though, I heard myself in her answer to her aunt's question, who do you think the most beautiful celebrity is? Well, you may well know that her auntie is a shameless swiller of Pop, and she may well have had People magazine in her clutch. Em wearily answered, "Oh, Jodes. You know I don't care about celebrities. I think my mom is the most beautiful. You are second." Let me die now because this is the most perfect moment in my mothering career.

And she understands my art. She knows it's partially sad but mainly hillarious for me. For us. She came into my studio last night when Dan and Boo fell asleep on the couch, the television talking to itself once again. She closed the door and sat down to observe, telling me she loves to watch me work. Shyly, she said she would like the kind of sketch book I use someday, the big square kind. I put my pencil down, reached up to my cluttered supply shelf, dug out a book I bought at Pearl for myself last time I was in the city, and handed it to her. Really? she asked, those beaver-teeth prominent in her open-mouthed glee. Really, I said. She helped herself to my pencil tin and started sketching right away. This book, she said, will show me what really goes on inside her head. I believe her quantities of previous sketchbooks have been bound up in the propriety assumed by the books' presentors of a nine-year-old girl's imaginings. Squirrels and bunnies with flowers and nuts ensued. Houses with chimneys. Girls with their hands folded in front. This new sketchbook then holds the promise of being special because she knows it was mine and that I marinate in a barely disguised impropriety with my work. We laughed together at the new panel I am working on which depicts a nude office scene. Water cooler, fern, secretary with baggy breasts at the computer, boss with a baggy bum on phone. And how about my smoking forest bears? Delicious for us. Just for us.

Straight away, she set to work on a sketch of forest bunnies who have just happened upon a piercing-gun. Can you imagine? Oh, yes. The bunnies are enjoying cigars, naturally. This is our world. Emmie knows that to expose this book to the air where commonplace expectations of kids hang languidly about the shoulders would be to invite scrutiny and trouble. But if she brings that book into the studio and closes the door, we can inhabit a place where I believed once I was the sole human kicking around.

There's a new kid in town.


Anonymous Rocky said...

That every mom and daughter would "absorb" each other as you have described. I don't know what makes you what you are Ms. Brooklyned. But whatever it is, it is most certainly warm and welcoming. Thanks for the post.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

This post is breathtaking.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Errorista said...

You've got something special with that girl. She's got something amazing with you. I envy your connection, it is beautiful.

2:19 PM  
Blogger newbrooklyner said...

Thank you, Rock. Coming from you, that means a lot.

And rebekah? How nice. Thanks.

Error, you have something amazing with the girl too. You'd better get here quick. The very day that I wrote this entry, she decided she didn't like me anymore (I had to pull her out of Science Lab to go to the dentist). The anger persists longer than usual. I need to turn her over to her auntie.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Unintelligentsia said...

Your realism is my escapism. Thank You.

The last couple of weeks have been an introduction to blogging for me. This has included loitering silently watching you paint your life out for us to see. I finally decided it was time to tell you that you have become a favorite and I am listing you as such on my blog.

Paint on with your beautiful strokes.

10:20 PM  

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