Vacation is always such a great unraveling of the mind. Usually, it takes me a few days, but I inevitably come to a place where I’ve sloughed off enough dead weight in terms of daily bullshit to really get down to it — that mossy dark place of, “so tell me how you really feel.”
When I get to this place, it reveals itself through some type of artistic expression. I tend to go in phases with painting, drawing, writing or playing guitar. This time it’s drawing, or more precisely, sketch noting.
The designers at Atlassian are completely and utterly to blame for this. I follow some of them on twitter and whenever they go to a conference, they post the sketch notes they make. If you have a look, you might also find some inspiration in them.
When I’ve gone to conferences or listened to brown bag talks, lately, I’ve been sketching things out. In school, I chalked up a lot of success to the fact that I would take notes the old-fashioned way — I wrote them out. There was something to do with the physicality of writing things as I listened that helped me process information, make connections and remember it all later. Sketching has a similar result which I learned about when I watched this brief you tube from Jeannel King called Visual Notetaking: Why What You Draw is Good Enough!
Flashback to this past Winter: every Monday, I would sneak out of the office and drive up to San Francisco where I would take a fiction writing class. We discussed a lot of fiction, but none of it was the stuff I read in high school. In one class, we watched scenes from Pulp Fiction. In another class, we talked about how the opening chapter of a book or the opening scene of a movie sets the stage and, if done well, is a microcosm of the plot.
One such movie that accomplishes this is a favorite of mine, Thelma and Louise. In the opening scene, you see Louise waiting on tables. She gets the eat-shit-and-die look after she tells a table of young girls that they shouldn’t smoke. She then goes to the back and takes a smoke break. Thelma’s husband, makes his entrance by screaming, “Goddammit Thelma! Don’t holler like that!” If you can’t tell, this movie is all about the voicelessness of women. It is also one of the ultimate road trip movies of all time (up there with The Endless Summer) If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest checking it out.
Since my writing classes have ended, I’ve been reading the books and watching the movies that we talked about. For some of them, I’ve even done some of my own literary analysis. In the case of Thelma and Louise, I got out my sketchbook, and did some drawing. Note that for some of these, I paused the movie to capture some extra detail. This is, after all, vacation!
I’ve always liked this movie, but after paying some attention and tracing what happens along with what is said and the song lyrics that come out, I like it even more. Learning how to speak up for yourself can be messy, and this film takes us through that mess for these two women. For some reason, I’m reminded of the Weekend Testing session I hosted on close reading. I guess this counts as close watching, and is certainly more fun than reading through java stack traces.
Excuse me while I go find some Wild Turkey.