This is a picture of my living room.
I am about to leave it for several weeks, as I normally do in the summer. This year, I am going to a conference in London, spending a week in Cambridge, then setting up headquarters in Bilbao for a few weeks of research and writing (I NEED to finish a book), cavorting through northern Spain, and gourmet exploration–otherwise known as Pac-Man fieldwork.
It sounds, and probably will be, blissful. But it’s causing me anxiety! First, anxiety of the unknown: I usually spend summers in Barcelona, my adopted city, where I know so many people and places, not to mention the language(s). I’ve been to Beautiful Bilbao several times, even for several weeks, but I think I’m going to feel a little displaced (to begin with, I only know two words in euskera: thank you and congratulations). Second, separation anxiety. For some reason this year I don’t much feel like leaving NYC. First-world problem, acknowledged.
So I thought maybe it’ll be fun to try writing about/during the trip, to feel like I’m keeping in touch and share the experience with friends (and possibly strangers too–scary). To use blog-writing as a trigger to book-writing (in the belief that it will spur concentration and creativity better than Facebook) and, in the process, to find out whether this is a genre I enjoy and if I’m any good at it. At this point, it feels odd to publicly write anything but academese, despite the fact that I already pontificate for a living. Hopefully my friends will butt in and make it more fun-interactive than insufferably narcissistic.
I’ve never tinkered with a blogging tool either, so with luck it will be “technologically” illuminating. I should like it better than Instagram or Twitter because I am, let’s face it, verbose (long posts like this one will not, however, be the default mode).
Plomaipel is an inversion of Pèl & Ploma. As usual, when prompted for a username or title I can’t think of anything, and take whatever’s nearest: the words are right there on one of the prints on my wall (reflecting also, curiously, my silhouette–SO Velázquez!).
The image is by Catalan artist Ramon Casas i Carbó, and Pèl & Ploma was the title of a modernist journal (1899-1903). Ploma means pen (well, quill) and pèl means hair, although it also sounds like pell: skin, or perhaps parchment or vellum. It all seemed appropriate, especially since my writing days are generally bad hair days as well.
So here it is. Plomaipel now exists. Maybe someone will read it. And send some useful Basque vocabulary.