Ok, so yesterday was a good day, filled with serendipity from start to finish. To whatever limited degree you are able, witness: 


Due to mentioning, in yesterday’s post, that my wife, Nan, and I are in Napa Valley, CA, an Instagram connection, a sculptor, reached out and connected with me, saying the next time I’m in the area I should look him up. I countered that we meet on Monday just after my scheduled studio visit with Gordon Huether. Long story short, we plan on lunch at a restaurant that commissioned a piece of this gentleman’s art. 

Boom. Poor Swine 2.0. (Ed. note: ?)

You’ll just have to keep reading beyond the intro. Suffice to say this is what I was talking about a few days ago when I wrote:

“If you and I don’t cross paths in life other than via this rather impersonal virtual medium,

no fair.

It’s more accurate to call blogging one-sidedly impersonal. If you are a regular reader, you know way more about me – my life, my interests, my though process, where I live, etc., than I do of most of you. And let me say that, were you not out there, albeit largely hiding behind your anonymity, I absolutely wouldn’t be getting up to write at (checks watch) 2:30 am.

The knowledge that you’re out there, nearly universally silent though you may be, is the fuel that gets me up nearly each and every day, these days. But may I make a special request of you?

I’m talking to all of you, collectively, and that’s the issue. Frankly, I think too many of you are conveniently hiding behind your anonymity. You don’t mind me exposing myself to the world, but you?

Want to leave a more private message? Email info@andrewtirado.com. (B.t.w., www.andrewtirado.com is my portfolio website. Yeah, I know it needs updating and doesn’t work well on mobile. It’s on the to do list.)

– I would really love to find out more about you. Not just the overview stats, like which browser you’re using. Not just your nationality.

I’m interested in you. In why you read Art Regard. Are you creative? Is there something in particular that you read my blog for? Something you’d like me to write about?

So here’s part of my relatively unformed thought.

The world’s a big place, and I’ve not seen nearly enough of it.

Perhaps one day my wife and I will wake up in your home.

Maybe you’ll visit me. We’re building a couple of short term rentals.

Not all of you, and not all at once, for sure. And I ought to also add the following caveat: I might not respond in kind. Not for a while, anyway. Depends on how thoughtful your message is, in large part. Also on how many plates I’m trying to keep spinning.

But don’t think you have to write anything long or eloquent. You’d be surprised at how the littlest comment from someone, letting me know they’ve read something I’ve written, rekindles my desire to write.

And who knows? Perhaps, to quote Rick Blaine in the film Casablanca, perhaps

“…this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

And that, in a nutshell, is, at last, probably the closest I’ve come to articulating, to myself and to you – yes, you, Russia, why I get up early each day to write on a blank screen. The world’s full of rich connections, and I want to partake…”

Case in point: yesterday. Lunch found Erin, Jess, Nan, and me sitting in a ramen restaurant and eating the most delicious food over Sake, a.k.a. Japanese rice wine. Nan and I are both in our 50’s, but it was the first time either of us have tried Sake, and let me tell you it’ll be a hard experience to top: light drizzle outside. Inside, communion with friends and a couple sisters eating at an adjacent table. Amazing appetizer, main dishes, dessert, and puns (provided by Erin and me, tolerated by none). Check it:

Note that Nan wouldn’t let go of her ramen in the 3rd pic. Wise woman.

Three hours and thankfully no parking ticket later, we continued our drive to the Pacific coast. I’m intentionally leaving the names of the locations out from this post because

Some places, some experiences are too holy, too magnificent to reveal fully. Suffice to say, that’s what occurred when we witnessed what we did. It was a private showing of the most powerful display of raw, unrestrained MMA fighting in history, only this was land vs sea.

 To understand  fully, you just had to be there. However, I’ll include a few pics.

Ok, so you take the good with the bad: on the long and windy road back to St. Helena, I unused to sitting in the back seat, nearly lost my lunch. Thankfully, a late night dinner at Gott’s Roadside restored me to health, and soon thereafter, I was back in bed, fast asleep.

Meanwhile, back at home, my good man Geoffrey snapped a few pics of Joe’s stellar framing crew (see them on Instagram at @artirado1), and John Hockman of Prospect Builders, who was also on site a couple of times, texted the following:

That’s how it’s done. What I just laid out before you, like some delectable, never-ending dish, is the road map; long, winding, and at times nausea-inducing though it may be, to how you, too, might reach out to others near and far and get in on Poor Swine 2.0. (Ed. Note: sorry, folks, for all of Andy’s esoteric talk this morning. Just read the post below and the above implications will make more sense)

So, at last, at 3:46 am, wrapping up the intro to a post further divulging how you, too, can get in on the worldwide action and join Poor Swine 2.0, here, without further ado, for Pete’s Sake, is Poor Swine Revealed:

True wealth. If true wealth resides more in the connections we have with others than it does in one’s bank account, I’m well off. I’m living on easy street. I’m rich. And it looks like I’m about to get a whole lot richer.

Years ago, I was introduced to this concept via a former student who’d posted a Ted Talk by Brené Brown on Facebook entitled The Power of Vulnerability. Thanks again, Sista! 

Well, I don’t think Brené ever said that the more connections we have, the richer we are. Not in so many words. I suppose if that were the case, we could simply send “friend” requests to everyone that Facebook’s algorithm suggests for us. We might do the same on Instagram, following everyone we can, in the hopes that they’ll reciprocate. And so on.

Actually, I did something very much like that a couple of weeks ago. I went through the inches-thick pile of Student Safety Waivers I’ve collected since starting to work at the Colorado College, ten years ago, and, page by page, transferred names into Facebook’s search engine. If I was reasonably sure I’d found the right person, I requested their “friendship”. Nearly overnight, my list of virtual friends skyrocketed from in the 400’s to the high 700’s. 

Why? Was it a vain attempt to create some semblance, some thin veneer of popularity?

No. Well, I’m sure some part of me wants that, but really, the central thought was that I didn’t want to lose track of anyone who I’d known, who’d darkened the door of the shop, even if just for a brief amount of time. Because time’s running out. I’m transferring “ownership” of 3D Arts to some unnamed successor in a few weeks’ time. I desired to create a bridge from “Handy Andy” to “Whatever Comes Next Andy”, in the hopes that some who’ve become distant wouldn’t completely evaporate. 

There was one signature which I was both happy and sad to find. At one time, I thought, she touched this page…  

While the Facebook-discouraged attempt to request friends of virtual strangers might be an interesting artistic experiment, and, who knows, might even lead to some actual, tangible, in-the-flesh friendships created out of the thin ether, it feels more than a little bass-awkward to me. More than a little suspect. Like making the somewhat arbitrary goals of bagging all 54 of Colorado’s 14er’s or the Seven Summits – the seven highest peaks on each continent – the rubric might develop the conditions for all sorts of unimaginable “adventures”, but numbers aren’t really what I’m talking about per se.

No, what I’m talking about has much more to do with the quality of our connections with others. The depth of our relationships. The degree to which we allow others to “see” us, to reveal our messiness, our hurts, our pain. To share our triumphs, too, sure, but that’s easier. I think a much better gauge of the health and wealth of our lives is the degree to which we can truly express the former, as well as allow others to do the same with us.

But there’s one massive problem with all of this. 

As Brené Brown so expertly unpacks, both in the video linked above and in other talks, books, etc., the kind of real connection I’m talking about here – one of the chief prerequisites for a full and meaningful life – comes at a cost. Because said connection can only occur when you lay down your armor, your facade, your mask, and truly show the other person who you are. Warts, wrinkles, and all.

Unless and until that happens, it doesn’t matter if you have 5,000 Facebook friends, the maximum allowed, or so I’ve heard. If you and I only let others see the abode of our lives we’ve constructed after all our crap has been locked away in the closets and, at times, whole rooms, all they’ll ever see is the porch and perhaps the vestibule. “Nice place,” they’ll say, “May I come in?”

“What do you mean? You are in.” you’ll respond. “What more do you expect? It’s not a big house.”

“Looks bigger on the outside,” they will say, admiring the fine exterior, yet looking puzzled.

“Yeah,” you’ll nervously say, blocking the door with your body, “well, I’m having some work done right now. New kitchen remodel, new floors, and so on. How about we sit on the porch?”

_____________________________


Ok, so just for the sake of lightening things up a bit, I thought I’d reveal something of no real consequence: For the past few years, we’ve been a part of a secret club. No membership dues. No secret handshake. But there was a secret phrase, and when another member of the club used it, before too long any members who were available would convene at “headquarters”, a.k.a. the Tirado’s front porch.

The phrase would go like this: “She got caught at the end of a long line at Rastall’s today, the poor swine.” Or, “The poor swine, he forgot to set his alarm and was late for drawing studio.”

The club was exclusive (although, really, how exclusive can any club with me in it be??), and exclusively for Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Summer Seminar staff and some faculty. It was really just an excuse to hang out at our pad just off of the Colorado College campus where the seminar was held each summer. A place to unwind, to commiserate, to console. To laugh, too – and usually, it was our loud laughter-punctuated conversations that, I realized, reverberated around the otherwise sleeping neighborhood well into the night, not CC students’. We were the noisy ones. 

So here’s the revelation. Poor swine = porch wine. Or porch whine. Take your pick. No one ever really knew how the club was spelled, because it was against club rules to ever write it down. And yes, both wine and whine figured prominently in the clandestine meetings, though we tried to put limits on both.

The club was my idea, so I figure it’s my right to disband. And, after all, the club was disbanded by others, recently. There’s no need to prop up a vestige from a bygone era. 

I’ll have to come up with something new, now that all of you have been let in on our years’ long secret. Because the porch is still there, and there’s still plenty to whine about. 

I just read what I’ve written thus far to my wife, who joined me in the living room. I’ll come up with a new club, I told her. 

But she overruled me. “You can’t disband.” she implored, with a pout.

Perhaps she’s right. Only thing is, now all of you have been let in on our benign, powerless, flyover country answer to Skull and Bones.

Now, the whole world could potentially come calling, at least once the temperatures warm up enough. 

Maybe what we need is for all existing members to hold meetings of their own on their porches. If they dare, in their living and dining rooms.

I guess that ought to be the new prerequisite. Let’s open this baby up. If you want to join the club, you need to willing to host your own branch of Poor Swine, and expand the membership to your circle of friends. Why, I’d love to come join you sometime – maybe in Miami, New York, or California. Maybe even in Sweden or Italy or South Africa…

Only, in the spirit of Poor Swine 1.0, let’s not make Poor Swine 2.0 about numbers. Let’s make it about real connection.