every shutter, every rooftop


I swore I would not write another blog until I finished this project I started in Rome: drawing the view from the apartment window of Nell & Jesse, who made the trip possible. You can’t tell from this panorama, but it’s almost 4 feet long, and it took 22 days of sketching, research, and buying pencils.


click for bigger version

The image you see above is actually four pictures stitched together, taken from about five feet away… which makes it look much different than the original, but y’all should get the idea.

It was a welcome distraction, a secondary activity as I came back to a life I want to live a little bit differently. They say it takes the human body and mind 14 days to undergo a transformative change in a new place; I was gone almost 20, and I return to you a slightly altered person.

I’d rather be kicked in the face by a family of bison than hear about someone’s 3-week spiritual journey, or That Crazy Summer, or how you met some faith healer who gave you turmeric that becalmed your colon. So I won’t bore you with my own, except to share a few epiphanies:

I needed some kind of brotherly spiritual program. And so I have begun one, so far so good.

As a collective country, we are both sick and numb, and I don’t want to take part in that dialogue anymore.

Which leads me to…

I don’t like the way I have been thinking about this blog, and if I’m to keep doing it, I have to relinquish my attachment to what it once was, and go back to how it started.

More on all that as the week progresses. That is, assuming any of you are still reading, and because I’m abandoning my illusions, I shan’t be chagrined if you’re not.


23 thoughts on “every shutter, every rooftop

  1. Matt

    Been reading this blog for more than 9 years now, longer than any newspaper subscription I ever had. Tonight I took a peek back into the comment archives and was slightly mortified to learn what a pompous jerk I could be at times; and on subject matter I had no business professing any certainty whatsoever. Montaigne once wrote “nothing is so firmly believed than that which is least known.” He got that right. We all grow and change over time, I guess, and in many ways that should be welcomed.

  2. killian

    Beautiful drawing(s), beautiful sentiments, please take us in any direction you care to. We are on board!

  3. Emily D

    What an incredible drawing! I love seeing the results of your various creative projects.
    I’ve read for many years, and hope you’ll keep writing. I’m sorry I comment so infrequently, but I’ll be here as long as you are.

  4. LFMD

    I feel the same as Matt. I cringe at some of the nonsensical comments I dumbed on your blog. Upon news of my death, please purge all of my comments! It is all too damn embarrassing.

  5. CM

    LFMD and Ian, you are way too hard on yourselves. I’ve been reading this for….uh, a long time, and never found anything from either of you that made me cringe. You should be proud of the community you brought together.

  6. Alyson

    I’ve been reading for almost nine years, and I don’t have the courage to go back and look at my comments. Kudos to LFMD and Matt!
    I like that the blog keeps changing its purpose and content. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine with whatever you want to talk about.

  7. dct

    What a gorgeous drawing! How does it feel to have so many talents? Keep us abreast however you desire–but everybody loves a good epiphany story.

  8. Ian

    Y’all were, are, and will remain awesome. Hope this does not come off as attention vampirism, just a philosophical rearrangement!

  9. Julie

    I have looked forward to reading the latest and greatest on this blog for who knows how long now. I hope to continue to do so for many more years. BTW your drawing is AMAZING! I wish I could have just a fraction of your talent.

  10. jersey

    Let me check for understanding – Duke bashing will not only continue to be tolerated, it will be strongly encouraged – yes?

  11. Anne

    Ian, Ian, don’t stop blogging! I do still come here, just not as regularly since I can’t get in from my work computer. (security firewalls blah blah) Xtcian used to be the way I started every day in my former longtime job — and it was better than coffee!
    And I DO want to hear about your spiritual journey. And anything else you care to share with us. Also: Awesome drawing is awesome. Seriously. You are so damn creative — art, music, letters.
    Enough fawning. I’ll await further developments.

  12. Mindy

    I couldn’t agree more with the earlier comments. AMAZING drawing! I’m both impressed by and envious of your talent. I stumbled here when I was on maternity leave after my own Lucy was born and that means I’ve been reading here for a little over 10 years. I still look forward to seeing what you write (or draw) and I appreciate the thoughtfulness with which you approach a wide variety of topics. Thanks!

  13. Amy S.

    1) dook sucks!
    2) That drawing does not. Dang.
    3) Google Reader is going caput, but I’ll put xtcian in whatever new reader I decide to use, forever.

  14. mom

    I’m your mom, so it is not just appropriate but expected that I support all your creative efforts, including this blog.
    That said, I am constantly being surprised, entertained, and overjoyed by your creativity and way with words. But I admit to being gobsmacked by your drawings, during your trip and especially by this amazing panorama.
    I hope you continue the blog for as long as you have the heart for it. The changes in direction only give it more dimension.

  15. emma

    I would like to iterate all of the above comments, but would also like to add that I would miss the commenters and the community almost as much as I missed the blog if it ceased to exist.

  16. eric g.

    Love the mural (that’s what it looked like to me, anyway). I never knew you were such a great artist. (Well, you are a great artist with words, but you know what I mean.) I would experience a personal loss if your blog went away, but what’s really important is if you still get something worthwhile and important out of it. When writing becomes a mere chore, its utility ceases.
    As Ben Franklin said, “We are all born ignorant, but it takes work to remain stupid.” Xtcian serves a valuable function, in that it helps keep the world’s needle to the left of remaining stupid.
    Write on, sketch on, but whatever it is, make yourself happy.

  17. Katie in NC

    I mostly lurk. But occasionally I get the courage to speak up — and asking you to please write on is one of those times.

  18. GFWD

    Change direction. Don’t change direction. Bring in guest bloggers. Or don’t. Use code words every other day. Or don’t.
    Just do your thing and give your friends a place to come in the mornings or evenings to share your world.
    You make a difference.

  19. m.e.

    So thrilled to discover your blog, your amazing drawing, and the opportunity to continue getting to know the many facets of the man I met in the marble rooms.


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