Friday, August 21, 2009

Julie & Julia Essay Contest Winner!

While choosing just one of the great essays we received for our Julie & Julia Essay Contest proved to be difficult, we finally have a winner!

Congratulations to Anna Deligio from Louisville, Colorado!

Anna's essay can be read on our website as well as below:

It has been suggested by some that I am flakey. There are those who will hint at and murmur ideas that I am a woman easily swayed by her environment, a woman who flits from career to career, lifestyle to lifestyle with little conviction and no discernable plan. There are some who, lacking either the curiosity with which I move through the world or the strength of character needed to direct their judgment towards their own lives, will raise eyebrows and exhale dramatically when I share the details of my next career move, geographical move, relationship change, or educational pursuit.

And, yes – certainly – with degrees in Art History, Special Education, and Social Work, former addresses in Denver, San Antonio, and Tucson, careers that include, but are not limited to, free-lance writing, working in a bookstore, waitressing, case managing, teaching, community organizing, and census taking, and orientations that have moved from straight to lesbian to bi and back to lesbian, one could make the case that I have wiled away a good many of my nearly 36 years with little to show for it save for a relationship with the Direct Student Loans office that will endure for decades. Weaker cases have been won in court, it’s true.

Despite my bold talk of curiosity and whimsy, this judgment does not fall without impact. Many a dark moment for me is shrouded in questions about my plans, wonderings about if I will ever just have an established career, a permanent address, or a resume that doesn’t take elaborate stories to connect the pieces from one entry in Experience to the next. Sometimes, in these dark nights, I try to convince myself that I need to just settle down and get on with the drudgery of life. I question every choice I’ve made and try to wedge myself down into a pre-cast mold of home ownership, 30 years in a career, a couple of kids, two-week vacations, and dismal weeks punctuated by a TGIF mentality.

It was during one of these dark, between-career times – one of these moments when I was trying to decide which part of my soul could be amputated so that I could fit in the jobs listed in the newspaper – that I ran across an article in the New York Times about a new movie being shot involving Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I loved them both, so ignored what appeared to be a chick-flick narrative and clicked on the story link for more information. I read about Julie Powell, I read about Julia Child, I learned of the book, and I felt that familiar spark of inspiration bounce off the dark cavern walls currently holding my soul. A quick trip to the library and one week later found me finishing the book and lit up about my next project.

Unlike previous bouts of inspirational movement, this one was not going to impact my job search, residence, education, or relationship. Unlike previous moments of divine spark, this project was not going to be boundless and lacking discernable direction. This project was going to last for one year. It was going to involve a daily activity. It was going to be publicly accountable. I was 34 at the time, which put me past Julie Powell, but well within Julia Child’s timeframe to find myself some recognizable rhythm and create a thread that pulled me through to steady.
And so I did. For one year, I created a collage that reflected my day, complete with an image of the Virgen of Guadalupe, on 4x4 ceramic tiles. For one year, I wrote a blog about these tiles, creating a public circle of support and accountability for my latest project. When we traveled during the year, I packed the materials to create tiles on the road (only giving up two bottles of Mod Podge to TSA the whole time). When we camped, I created tiles by lantern light on the sloped, splintered picnic table at our site. On the rare nights that I hit my bed exhausted without having done a tile, I dragged myself out to create the tile for the day.

That year ended this past May 21st. And still I “make a Virgen” each night before bed. And still I blog about those Virgens. Not wanting 365 more small ceramic tiles in need of storage, I moved from ceramic tiles to a journal, but otherwise continue. In retrospect, this project pulled together some of my more disparate but interesting pieces and wove them into something tangible. I’ve always loved to write, but was never able to keep finger to keyboard with any consistency. The Virgen tiles had been something I made as gifts for friends for a few years, but were just another moment of art that I enjoyed but didn’t feel like I could or should do regularly because I should be doing something more lucrative and productive.

Unlike either Julie or Julia, my project has not resulted in fame or fortune. I could identify every one of my blog readers in a lineup, and despite the blogging about them, the tiles are personal and don’t benefit any outside of my head. Those dramatic exhalers with raised brow mentioned earlier might take this opportunity to say then that this project, like my other “flights of fancy”, is a failure and more testimony to my flakey character. Thanks to the steadiness I’ve found through maintaining this project, though, I can now match their raised brow with a shrugged shoulder. Through this project, I have silenced fears of flakiness and now know in my heart that, like the good German art I studied as an undergrad, my life can have both form and function. It matters little that I am the only guaranteed beneficiary of these creations. If not me, who?

No comments:

Post a Comment