After work in Oakland I decided to go to Emeryville to try to find a book I can't find at any of the small bookstores along Valencia. I was flat-lined by how few books of intellectual value they had at Borders and how few employees they had at Barnes and Noble. The entire experience was bookended by fantastic vehicular chaos on my way in and on my way out-- all of the roads had just been paved and dim chalk lines attempted to wrangle cars into order until they get painted. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but I'm writing about a place where sidewalks are few, one-way roads are plenty, and 6-lane ribbons of pavement connect one mini-mall oasis to the next. I was amazed by the number of cars I saw accidentally turn down one way roads (the wrong way), the sinusoidal swaggering of cars and the mayhem that ensued.
I think about the trust of car travel a lot-- about how nervous and tight-shouldered I once was when driving, my palms sweaty and hands sore from gripping so hard on the wheel. I was so nervous then, and not now. This worries me, because I'm jettisoning myself down paved roadways at high speeds in a scrappy piece of steel, trusting every person who can prove they're 17 and pass a 10 minute driving test.
As I circumnavigated the huge beige windowless buildings of Emeryville, I also started remembering about how malls used to feel, and wonder when they stopped feeling so spectacular and when they started feeling so expectational and performative. I think that there must have been a point where I started paying attention to the smaller, with less bravado, but equally epic performances that happen all the time. And I guess that once I realized they were there, and that they were beautiful and interesting, I stopped believing that they weren't in my life, that I didn't have to go somewhere to buy the experience, that I could make them happen myself.
I'd hate to push this over the edge into some sort of road=life analogy... except to say that today what I saw was a lot of people not paying attention to what actually existed, looking instead for directions (that didn't exist) to tell them how to interpret what they could have deciphered themselves. At high velocities. And this is kind of how I feel too-- and something that is certainly stoking the fire under current frustrations I have with my drawings. Sometimes it's hard to trust what I know when I'm making something to see. And sometimes it's hard to trust that I'm actually seeing what I'm making.