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the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Category Archives: marriage

[ from a. addair who is listening to Empire of the Sun (Walking on a Dream) ]

The following is an excerpt from an entry I wrote about 6 weeks ago but never got around to posting:

“That’s the big news.  We’re tickled pink or blue.  I’m feeling so excited, happy, awestruck, grateful, full of love and totally unprepared with panicky moments sliding into every 100 breaths.  It feels similar to the way we fumbled through our engagement: really joyful but slightly disturbed because I knew we we’re walking into a dramatic reworking of life in utter idiocy and delight.

the apple of my eye (twas a good thing to get married even if it didn't make sense)

There are a zillion things to be afraid about and excited for.  My mind jumps straight to my future engorged body, then to wondering how I will paint, then to a pair of sweet little baby boots this embryo has already acquired;  then I  wonder how close the baby will be born to Christmas and  fret over folic acid intake.  In short, I can’t focus on anything.”

We are now at 11 weeks and our little embryo has graduated to a fetus.  The part where I can’t focus on anything remains though now it isn’t so much giddy fun for me.  Between the bouts of nausea and fatigue I’m pretty well missing my old energy.

Turns out being pregnant has taken me deeper into my let-it-go training.  I think I was making good progress before, but when your body tells you to stop, you really have to listen; it’s such a basic reminder that life is much bigger than my agenda.   I’ve had to slow way way down and be much more flexible and gentle with myself than I had ever imagined I could be.

the sort of things I've been working on (since painting makes me nauseous)

I recently started reading The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida, in it he says that members of the creative class, “work at times when we are supposed to be off and play when we are supposed to be working.  This is because creativity cannot be switched on and off at predetermined times, and is itself an odd mixture of work and play.  Writing a book, producing a work of art or developing new software requires long periods of intense concentration, punctuated by the need to relax, incubate ideas and recharge.”  I love to read someone else’s articulate expression which has only been a misty idea-vapor in my own brain.  Seeing it there on a crisp, published page gives clarity and a sense of validation to the thought process I’ve been swimming in.  Florida’s statement gave me peace about departing from an imposed daily work structure.

baby banner for someone else's tiny human addition (detail)

I know that the life I’ve chosen doesn’t have tidy, defined compartments.  And I’m already beginning to understand that having a tiny human addition will make the lines between work, leisure, family and craft even blurrier.

tiny human addition

 

I don’t have a conclusion.  I’m still splashing around in murky waters but I can report growth:  both in girth and in spirit.  I don’t think its accurate to say that I’m swimming in this metaphorical ocean but I am learning to float on my back which is mostly about trust.

 

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They just left my house after doing a home appraisal.  We got up early and scrubbed for hours.  It was one year ago tomorrow that we moved back home.

I just sat here a very long time.  It feels like I should recap or talk a lot.  Nope, the insight is a short one:  Explore deliberately and stick.  Stick just as deliberately.

It’s a gritty place, on a 93 degree day last day of May, and my sweaty jeans lay heavy over the arm of a chair.  New screens keep the bugs out.

Ashley is cleaning brushes and eating string cheese, about to go to sleep.  There are onesies laying on my studio chair and a book, “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?”

This is the most reckless, life out of the trunk, yellow stripe smash the dashboard adventure I need at the moment.

Don’t just stick deliberately, have the same expectancy to be amazed.

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[ from a. addair who is listening to Sondre Lerche (Faces Down) ]

Things I was thinking about as I made this painting:

celebration flag banners

“this is the beginning of a parade”

surrendering to the story

miracles and magic

flowers

whimsy

unpredictability

simple delights and surprises

fun!

interlaced plum trees

roots

foundation

hope and community

life and color

Many of the words on this list came from the wedding inspiration list which I thought was beautiful and delightfully imaginative.  It was so fun get creative with you.   Thank you for the opportunity.

I loved your vision for the ceremony, it allowed me to engage in thinking about marriage in some fresh ways.  Through the painting, I wanted to honor the unique particulars of your union and offer a perspective from our own married adventure as a hopefully useful and encouraging gift.  I think Alain de Botton communicates this best when he says, “We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failures to grow anything beautiful from them”.  Levon and I are incredibly grateful for our happy marriage,  but whenever I attend a wedding I can’t help but to remember the troublesome parts that arrived so quickly after the vows and shape so much of who we are.

The imagery is mostly taken from the setting of your ceremony: the backyard garden, Park Ridge, flags and lights draped from tents and trees and you both promising your love under interlaced plum branches decorated with fabric and family photographs.

These are the impressions I want to communicate through the painting, but I’ve kept the imagery loose and abstract because a mere depiction of the setting couldn’t capture the mysterious joy-sadness, family melding, and vastness in the atmosphere of sacred vows.

Circles are the basis for many of the elements in the painting.  The symbolism inherent in circles communicates the wholeness and cyclical nature of what a marriage can mean.   Many of the circular elements were made by painting on a plastic sheet.  Once dry, the paint circles were peeled off and either cut in half to form the flags on the banners or folded and clustered together to form flowers.  I think this process is appropriate for the ways that we function as elements made in one context and given meaning in another.  We are both parts and completed wholes as we live out our vows to not only our spouses but to our families and communities.

I find the symbolism in wedding traditions powerful because of the threads (think flag banners even) they weave over time and through generations and so I used some of those practices in the making of the painting.  For instance, I painted the white, tree cluster-cloud element as if it were icing on a wedding cake.  And I pinned the flowers onto the ground as a boutonniere to a jacket lapel.

 

 

 

“A real work, like a real love, takes not only passion but a certain daily, obsessive, tenacious, illogical form of insanity to keep it alive”      -David Whyte

This is my wish to you, Amelia and Josh.  Your wedding day was beautiful and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it and now may you insanely follow the love you declared under that 5.21 sunshine.

Blessings and thank you,

ashley

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Ashley is in front of a canvas this morning and that is no simple accomplishment.  Nausea, once it comes once, seems to associate with the same situation.  Our house makes her nauseous.  I make her nauseous.  She told me the other day that the only way she could consider working was if I built her a new studio out in the yard, in the garden and away from the house.  I told her that the first trimester would be over in two weeks and she’d feel better. I couldn’t pour a footer faster than that.

Emotions will be high in today’s work.

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A month ago I was preaching about taxes and organization.  (Our Qualified Joint Venture blog) Ashley and I have a very complicated tax situation, nobody wants me to drag it out and explain it, but I emphasize that it’s very complicated.  Thats why I bought the army file cabinet and promised not to fill it with shoe boxes, but use folders rather, and intermittently affix staples and paper clips.

That’s not all it took.  The local bank has been easy enough to let Ashley and I conduct our regular business through our alter-identities: those being the fake names Levon Walker and Ashley Addair.  Truth is, there are no such legal persons.  Maybe you know my real name, which indicates our relationship predates 2008 when I adopted the name Levon from the 1971 Elton John hit song “Levon” from the Madman Across the Water album.

(note: “Levon” like “Levi’s.”  Say it: LEEEEEEE, not leVon.  end of note).

As for Ashley, well, she took “Walker” back in the summer of 2004.  Addair is maiden.  Dawn is the given middle.  We go to the local bank I where I used to work, nobody bothers us about it.   I’m getting to my point, after this one.

An artist is a small business like any other self employed entity in the great city of Knoxville, the county of Knox, the state of Tennessee, and the U.S. of America where the artist may be regulated and taxed at each level by its respective authority.  That being the case, and in the spirit of owning a large, green file cabinet, we finally decided to organize.

We opened a small business entitled “Ashley Dawn Addair and Levon Walker,” obtained the city and county business licenses, applied for the state sales tax I.D. number and finally opened a commercial bank account.  Our fake names exist now as a legal entity, although the owners remain the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. R Walker.

All of this babble has not been coffee shop conversation.  I thought it worth sharing in part because having just gone through it, I’d be glad to assist the steps of another fellow who needs to get it done.

Also, for the story begun in this blog, it’s important to note the full circle.  I’m back to the days of walking away from the desk (actually several of them) and classifying it all as “that stuff.”    “That stuff” doesn’t go away just because you want to be a songwriter.  True, if one stays broke they aren’t forced to look at much of it.  Unfortunately, ignorance is prohibiting.

Business principles aren’t the first thing I think of when focusing creative energy.  I think of Jack Donaghy.  No seriously, when I’m squandering I don’t do good work, or at least I can’t get it to stick.  It takes an organized effort.

Especially when taking the last, tender step away from part time jobs and trying to stay off them.

I’m going to be a dad soon, and at times I think about going back to what some would call security.  What I’ve learned most clearly in the last couple rambling years is that security exists, but it has nothing to do with the external.  You can be secure in yourself and that is all.  Beyond that you need faith, and when you can’t find faith, look for hope.

When I worry about it, I remember what David Johnson told me recently, “If it’s good for you, it’s good for your kid.”

Ashley and I are going to do this.  Life is going to change, oh yes.  But it won’t change to anything that doesn’t align with where we are now.  And, we have a file cabinet to tell us where that is.

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Ashley and I teamed up this last weekend and over the last couple months to help with a fanciful wedding in the new garden of David and Travetta Johnson, over in the nearby Park Ridge historic neighborhood.  Their daughter, Amelia was wed to Joshua and they have now run away like newlyweds will do.  I’d like to tell you about the event.  As far as weddings go, I’d say it was a dandy.

Travetta’s blueprint

The framework, the garden that is, was installed by chief landscape architect Mitch Stewart, owner of Terra Landscapes.  Mitch is one the best there is, I worked for him last year and witnessed his repeated excellence.  Lindsay Winters was the wedding director, and she went as far to learn music theory to cue bridesmaids on a C#m.  My darling Ashley was the wedding designer, making hand sewn programs, banners, lights, and a painting to match.

I was asked to assemble a band, and we’re now booked up for the rest of the summer.  No, but they are great musicians and were willing to meet several times to pull it off fantastically.

Neighborhood wildflowers and a special portrait of Amelia and Josh were done by Knoxville Artist, Leann Cooper.

All Souls Church Pastor Doug Banister married the pair under two plum trees.  Each tree was dressed up in mason jar tea lights and fabrics, with framed family portraits held in the branches.  Two family trees.

I get nervous playing at weddings.  Anytime I think I’m going to be nervous, I wear my special socks that Dustin got me.

And that was irrelevant.

I know I’ve left out names of people who worked hard on this wedding.  Actually, most of our friends spent long workdays to get it together.   What better way than a wedding celebration to begin the dream of Park Ridge’s new home for the arts, the barn behind David and Travetta’s house.

The rest of the night went like this:  a jazz band in the barn with Joshua and Amelia swing dancing like pros.  A tail gate full of sweets (cake + 14 pie baking friends).  Lots of food. I’d like to thank photographer Adam Brimer for his patience in telling me what camera settings to pick.  Like for these golden highlights:

And how to “ghost” things.  This is Lindsay, who was in charge:

Adam and I eventually found ourselves in a duel.  I said, “Let me see where you shot me.”  He won, hands down.  You’ll have to go check out his work to see how bad of a draw he is.

If you want dancing at your party, invite Sandy Greek.  Even if you don’t know her.

Sister of the bride, Betsy is another photographer that I bother.  I tried to be considerate that her sister was getting married.  Betsy shot some photos for our  winter Good Packaging issue.

And then Amelia and Josh were off.

To happily ever after.

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