a salon

(noun) – Salon, from the French word salon (a living room or parlor), means a conversational gathering. Usually this is a select group of intellectuals, artists and politicians who meet in the private residence of a socially influential (and often wealthy) person.

I am interested in hearing if any of my friends and readers would be interested in starting a yearly salon. I am not wealthy, or socially influential, and the salon probably wouldn’t take place in my small fifties bungalow, but I have a few ideas of how to make it work.

Are we too disconnected as a society, as connected as we are digitally? I feel blessed to “know” so many people via my writing, and I adore reading everyone’s deeply beautiful work, and viewing the stunning art that they share online. I am not too terribly involved in my city’s local art and literature scene; usually because I am too busy with family, work, and home life. But sometimes, while I might attend a gallery showing or listen to a poet read, I come and go quietly. I am introverted. I have no desire to read my words out loud in a crowded public square; I’d rather they be read (and in book form, really). I do enjoy to hear a poet or storyteller speak, though. I saw Nikki Giovanni read this weekend and she was electric. 

But. I read this big, juicy article in The Atlantic on Friday (the print version, even) about how Facebook is making us lonely. Here is the article (but really, I urge you to go buy a copy. Your eyes and your brain will thank you for reading something in print as opposed to something on a screen), and I found it to be so beautifully on-point as to how I’ve been feeling about the whole social networking business lately. Because that’s what it is, of course: a business. And we are the product. But I’m not against the whole thing; I have an account that I use for both social planning, communicating, and for networking with other writers (and artists) for both my personal writing and for the work Katie and I do for Far Away. In fact, my relationship with Katie is quite the textbook case in what is good and right about blogging and social networking. We’ve created three literary and art journals together, we’ve formed a gorgeous, honest friendship, and we’ve never met in person. I worry though that many of us have come to rely on facebook too much as a connection point. My in the flesh friends and I don’t communicate too much on facebook; we mainly use to it to say hey, let’s do something saturday okay what time okay meet you down there love you okay bye. It’s made that sort of planning easy as a breeze; all of us are mothers, with young children pulling on our shirtsleeves. We can plan without our interruptions illustrated, we can be concise without pause. For that, I am thankful for facebook.

But there are other friends, friends in town even, friends that I’ve never shaken hands with, we’ve never so much as sat down to coffee. Part of my letter-writing project (project, habit-change, life-change) is to scoop up what’s left of the way we used to connect. Already I’m feeling that old anticipation when the mailman comes; already I’m remembering the girl I used to be on long, sticky summer days, waiting for letters from boys I met at camp.

To make a long-winded diatribe just a bit longer before I slowly roll up onto a point, I would like to start a yearly small retreat for writers and artists in my circle. The cost will be nominal dependent on your travel expenses and any outings we might embark, plus any food and drink. This would not be a sort of corporate BlogHer or Blissdom that you would have to pay a fee for. Just pay for your travel, hotel, food, etc.  I’d like it to be more like a salon, taking place over a weekend. We would use the time to get acquainted in real life, to talk about our work (or not), to share the same air for a bit, to get away from the routines of our daily lives for 48 hours.

This is all very off the cuff right now, but the little mustard seed has been in my head for a while. I’m thinking later this summer before I start my fall semester and my son starts second grade, and I’m thinking Asheville, N.C.

So tell me, if I were to be serious about this, and plan this, would you be interested in attending? Would Asheville be feasible for you to drive to, or fly to? Any other suggestions for where this could shake down? I would love nothing more to meet some of the people I have come to know so well via their beautiful voices.

Here’s to a life lived in the flesh.


20 thoughts on “a salon

  1. I think it’s a beautiful idea. I would love to come, when it’s feasible, and I’m sure that X would too. (We have not abandoned our letter writing, by the way. We just have to acquire more postage. <3)

  2. Great idea! I hope your little seed germinates and comes to fruition!
    I love the concept of a letter writing project too. I miss writing and receiving letters. I have a whole stack from friends and family from my uni days and every so often I come across them and re-read them. They are so precious as they were composed with love and thought and time. I can’t imagine feeling that way about an email? I think the problem is we don’t get bored anymore? I used to spend hours reading and writing to fill time when I was a teenager, but these days there are so many other ‘quick fixes’ as distractions: facebook, twitter etc. They kind of suck you in. Children and teenagers too are much more used to communicating by visual means. I am not anti-technology or social media, but a lot of it seems so meaningless…ok rant over! Will check out that article when I get a chance!

  3. I think you’ve made an excellent point: we do not allow ourselves to become bored anymore. Everything is so planned, so clipped, so organized. We need to allow ourselves to get lost in the woods again.

    The whole letter writing project was kind of spurred by these Arcade Fire lyrics:

    (From We Used to Wait/The Suburbs/Arcade Fire)
    “I used to write,
    I used to write letters I used to sign my name
    I used to sleep at night
    Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain

    But by the time we met
    By the time we met the times had already changed

    So I never wrote a letter
    I never took my true heart I never wrote it down
    So when the lights cut out
    I was left standing in the wilderness downtown

    Now our lives are changing fast
    Now our lives are changing fast
    Hope that something pure can last
    Hope that something pure can last”

    Thank you so much for visiting! xo

  4. I love the idea of this, though in reality, travel is sometimes tricky for me. I wish travel was easier for me to plan in advance (my schedule is always changing and uncertain with adjuncting)….what makes you think of Asheville?

    Maybe I can Skype in :).

  5. Travel is tricky for me, too. Gary’s work is so scattered, we just never know either. It might end up being an on the fly sort of thing – I might say, okay, who’s in? And if folks can come, they can.

    I think of Asheville because (1. it’s close-ish to me (2. It’s lovely (3. I used to have recurring dreams about living there (and the first time I visited I could tell details before I rounded corners (4. It’s easily reachable from many places in the midwest, east, south, etc. (5. It’s artsy and pretty.

  6. Yes, I’ll come! YES! Let me look at the logistics of cost, but I can’t think of anywhere that I’d rather be.
    I agree with you in respect of social networking – our friendship is a good example of how it can achieve pretty wonderful things, but I am exhausted by the idea of ‘marketing’ myself. It feels incredibly unnatural and unhealthy – I can’t walk a beautiful street without thinking of the photo I ought to take, or the status update it could inspire, or the blog post it might be connected to. Social networking makes us live indirectly – rather than expierience a thing fully in the moment, we experience it as the future projection of how others will respond to it. Weird, strange, shit.
    And no matter how easily we can communicate online it is not the same as the warmth you feel when you are in the same room as someone you love.
    See you soon ma belle x

  7. I looked it up, how much it would cost. You could fly into my town and we could drive there, or you could fly into Asheville and we could meet there, but either way it’s spendy, my dear. We will plan this, though. We will.

  8. Gosh, I would love to do this! And actually had mentioned something similar to my friend Tori’s whose Very Bloggy Wedding I recently attended. I am working on actualizing at many of my bloggying friendships as possible. One of my friends from the Cleveland area is going to come visit Sara and me in the next couple of months.

    My issue–for now–would be cost–as neither Sara nor I are working. And if Sara does get a job, it will likely take us out of the country. I would offer my home, but don’t know if Lexington is an attractive location or if you are committed to Ashville. We do have a large house in downtown Lexington (as you know), if that were to interest you.

    I’m in if at all possible!


  9. That is so tempting! Your house is so beautiful!

    Will be curious to see where you both are headed next…I see more and more fascinating stories from you, Kathy!

  10. This sounds like fun and I love Asheville but travel is tricky for me too. I see very little travel in my future for the next couple of years….Hope you do get it going though and that I might be able to join you some day.

  11. I’m a mother with a young child pulling on my shirtsleeve 🙂 I would definitely come to a salon 🙂

    Nobody’s Goddess

    I am
    nobody’s goddess

    I have
    childbirth scar
    safe family car

    I have
    disapproving looks
    always in
    journals & books

  12. This brought tears to my eyes. You have just verbalized what I have been struggling with for some time. I completely agree that all these tech ways to be “connected” have caused a major disconnect in our lives. I thought I was the only one feeling this way! We are losing so many of the traditional foundations that friendships are built upon, and we’ve traded them for artificial, superficial ways of feeling connected. I love your ideas of returning to some of these old ways of communicating! I would definitely be interested in meeting in the “salon!” Thanks for always inspiring me with your beautiful words, my friend!

  13. Wow, what I wouldn’t give to be able to do something like the salon, Chrissy. I know I couldn’t do it, however, as I can’t even afford to drive to the neighboring state, ha, ha, let alone get any vacation time from work for more than a weekend. However, I’m with you in sentiment agree whole-heartedly with the article about FB. It’s too much and too “all the time”. I’ve made a choice to leave my computer completely turned off over the weekend, and I love it. Such freedom! Good luck with the salon gathering!

  14. Chrissy, if you want to come visit the Central Coast, please do let me know. I have a guest room, a bunk bed in Maycee’s room, and would love to meet you! Sincerely! There’s so much to do and see here-it’s beautiful. 🙂

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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