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05 June 2010 @ 11:32 pm
My brother, Joe, came over last night and brought Joshua a statue of Zeus that he'd bought at the Parthenon on his recent trip to Greece. Joshua cleared a space on his bookshelf for the king of the gods. This morning he asked me how many gods there were. I explained that it depended on what you believe. The ancient Greeks believed in a variety of gods, but Aunt Liz and Uncle Sean believe in only one god.
"What do you think?" I asked him.
"I think there's hundreds of gods like a god of the forest and a god of snakes."
I smiled. I'm raising a polytheistic pagan. How nice. Then he asked me who god's enemy is so I explained that if you believed in the Christian god, it's Satan, but if you believe in the Greek gods the enemies could be monsters, men or other gods. He nodded as if this all made complete sense, and he was considering the information.
I'm devouring the books on Arthur Rackham I bought at Powell's book store, and I've added him to my list of heroes and influences. Most of the folks at art school look down on illustration, but I would be happy and honored to be an illustrator. Even at half the caliber of Rackham, I would be proud indeed. He made stories come alive.
It's funny that all my life I've felt urges pulling me to write, and now I'm feeling a similar restlessness about art. I always thought I could give up drawing if I had to, that it was a nice hobby that perhaps I could make into a career with the small amount of talent I possess, but I think it's becoming a habit, like the writing - with a purpose beyond the surface product. My fingers have been itching to draw yet I haven't found the time as the theatre schedule has been demanding.
I realize I'm on the cusp of forty, and there's still so much I want to do with my life. Give me at least another 40. Is that too much to ask? Ye gods of fate hear my plea or face the wrath of a creator scorned. Like Joshua, I want to live forever.
Current Mood: creative
24 May 2010 @ 08:58 am
Phil phoned the other evening, and our seven-year-old son Joshua took the phone with him into the laundry room. I thought perhaps he wanted to talk privately, but it turned out that he was fetching a piece of paper he could crumple into the receiver while saying, "What? I'm sorry. I think you're breaking up" as if it was a bad connection. After he hung up, I laughed for a few long minutes before asking where he'd learned that. He grinned and said he saw it in a cartoon. He's such a clown.
I know it's been forever since I updated this on-line journal. This last semester at college was a killer and I was running on five or six hours sleep a night, stressed, depressed, frustrated and all the rest of the emotions that come with too little sleep and too much to do. But now I'm off for the summer and am looking forward to long, lazy days with the opposite problem of too much sleep and too little to do. That sounds like bliss.
29 December 2009 @ 12:48 am
Even ten minutes late to work, I was incapable of feeling ruffled or unhappy about anything. Emerson sat at the coat check counter, looking a tiny bit flustered, when I breezed in and gaily announced my presence. A series of small delays conspired to make me late, and well, there comes a point when you just have to accept it as you're helpless to remedy it.
I drove my son out to St. Helens to stay with my sister after my parents left for California on Christmas Day. The cessation of bickering and slamming doors lifted my spirits, and then experiencing a glorious drive put me in a state of ecstasy. The fragile winter sunshine shone as hard as it could and drenched the entire land with fleeting warmth. Mount Saint Helens stood clear and detailed, rising above the horizon, and if I were a giant, I could have used its flat top as a stepping stone to heaven. Another mountain, I can't recall the name of, glowed white with snow and ringed with strange, dark, undulating lines. It took me a moment to realize that those lines were strings of migrating birds, several V's long, flapping and dancing in the air. Joshua composed songs about frogs in the backseat, and the day was nearly perfect.
Mom complained to my sister the other day that her diabetes is out of control, and she can't afford the extra insulin so her kidneys will probably give out soon. I could only sigh and roll my eyes. It's her own fault her diabetes is soaring off the charts. She lies in bed 90% of the time, does no physical exercise and eats sugar as if she doesn't have a condition in which she should watch her sugar intake. This woman snacks every single day on marshmallow pies, fudge, candy bars and cinnamon rolls. She loves playing the helpless victim at the mercy of Dad, her finances and her health. I think that's her hobby.
My brother, Joe, Dad and I had a silly conversation in the car the other day about adult shops. Dad claimed they cater to perverts, it's all just pornography and that they probably murder people in a back room. I burst into laughter at the idea of sex industry workers killing people in a secret closet like mobsters. I asked how he knew such a thing. He said with a sniff, "Experience."
"Oh, have you been in one?"
"No," he said. "I've just heard things."
"Ah, that old second-hand experience," I grinned. "If anything is going on in a back room, it's probably lap dances."
Joe said he's never been in an adult shop. I've been in a couple, and it's not the videos or strange devices I don't comprehend that pull me in. It's the lingerie - stockings and corsets and pretty, lacy outfits. I couldn't help thinking that if my parents aren't willing to feed their love life, it's no wonder it died such an inglorious death and now their marriage is a cruel joke. They are plain mean to each other and make each other miserable. They aren't husband and wife. They are two people who hate each other but are so co-dependent and intertwined that they continue on as one monstrous, two-headed beast at war with itself.
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
24 November 2009 @ 03:50 pm
Joshua and I walked along our favorite trails at the Tualatin Nature Park. I needed to be there among the damp trees and croaking frogs, to re-center myself after a whirlwind of a week. Joshua and I walked along whispering our thoughts. A normal volume of speech seemed too loud in the sacred temple of the trees. We tiptoed. We pointed at wildlife with a wide-eyed hush. We saw a pileated woodpecker, a young hawk and a couple of squirrels. Even Joshua's 20 minutes of foul temper at the failure of not finding bullfrogs in the pond couldn't destroy the magic I felt. I love walking in the woods with him and discovering the world's wonders anew.
I told him a bit about my childhood on the property, and he decided it sounded like a wonderful place and we should go there, buy back the house I grew up in and stay there. "Let's do that someday. Can we?" he said.
I couldn't curb my enthusiasm for the idea. I would love to go back home to the property. My eagerness multiplied his, and he started asking, "When are we going to do that? What day? Come on, let's do that."
Current Mood: contentcontent
04 November 2009 @ 10:49 pm
I had a really annoying day. I realize that being poor often runs hand in hand with the creative life. It's no shame,and there's a long tradition of debt-addled artists and writers, but if I get another rent check returned for insufficient funds, I'll be in trouble. Dad asked if I had enough, and I reassured him it would be fine, because he gets really upset and tense over money.
Then this morning at work, my boss stomped downstairs to tell me the mystery shopper dinged me for not wearing a name badge. I truly hate name badges. Why do people need to know my name? I'm just hanging coats for God's sake. I lost my badge years ago and just never replaced it. Bill acted so snotty about it that it made me angry. I don't consider a name tag even remotely important in my life. He made me one and was nicer when he came to give it to me. I don't understand his moody, drama queen antics. He and my mom should go for tea or something and compare notes.
The idea of being watched or under surveillance has always bothered me. It's so subversive and Big Brother. Sometimes I want to drop out of this societal system in order to be truly free and autonomous. I hate systems and organizations and committees and hierarchies. I'll build me a little hermit cabin in the woods. Restrictions and expectations are everywhere, and I want to live on my own terms, be an authentic human being and beholden to no one but myself.

My son, Joshua, as a demon on Halloween. Eek!
Current Mood: calmcalm
05 October 2009 @ 09:28 am
I've been pondering the direction of my life the last week or so. Not personally, but as an artist. I feel like I'm being subtly bullied into becoming something I'm not, which is a conceptual artist. Sure, I have ideas and symbols in my work, but I'm not really into "challenging" the viewer or creating for an intellectual and financial elite. My writing and my art is meant to speak to everyone, ordinary people like me who think filling a jar with rubberbands and explaining it represents the elasticity of our souls trapped in the glass gaze of society is pseudo-intellectual bullshit.
Presenting my ideas for my next print project resulted in me feeling alienated and sad. My professor looked at my print experiments with my anthropomorphized clock and essentially said it wasn't enough of an idea to "paint" with prints by using a sort of layered collage technique and be decorative. She wanted me to have some high falutin concept about time and the feminine or some such nonsense. Sometimes a clock is just a clock. I wanted to experiment with materials, not create some esoteric piece no one's going to get. She said my work is always, pause, "interesting" which I think means she hates it and doesn't get it. I have a whimsical, Victorian, cluttered aesthetic, and no matter how she wants me to be spare and minimal, it just isn't me. She called me too illustrative and literal.
The last straw happened in my Art Since 1945 class. (I've been calling it Art Since Beauty Died to amuse Jessica). A discussion on various new gallery shows bounced back and forth between my fellow students. One girl claimed embroidery is kitsch so a serious fibers artist shouldn't use it. And another guy actually said that if a piece doesn't challenge the viewer, is too easily understood and is not aimed at an elite audience, it's not really art.
Excuse me! I felt insulted for all the people in the world who were just told the pictures they make or enjoy are not art but some "bread and circuses" distraction for the ignorant and poor. They aren't worthy of "true" art.
I've learned over the last couple of years that the work I do with myth, folklore and fairytales is considered illustration. Illustration is kitsch and camp. Kitsch is an art school sin, and so, here I sit, an outsider again. All these pieces of modern art projected from slides on the wall mean nothing to me. A square of cracked blue paint and an orange canvas with a sloppy line splashed across it don't say anything unless you have years of training in which you might be able to detect some possible "conceptual" meaning in the work. If that's what you're after, I think you've failed as an artist.
I cannot be like that. It's not in me. I'd much rather be Norman Rockwell than Jackson Pollock anyday.
14 September 2009 @ 09:47 am
I'm not thinking. I'm just doing and sometimes the doing gets messed up by the lack of thought. I've hit a pinnacle of exhaustion. I stood at the coat check counter at the theatre listening to electronic beeps sounding at regular intervals with an overdub of manic laughter, like a pack of rabid children had sprung loose from a youth sanitorium and were rampaging through the lobby. Like mad beasts, the laughter swirled around the rotunda as patrons milled about, waiting for the time-based art festival to begin. The festival is always one of the strangest events of the year - bizarre, experimental contortions they call dance and fuzzy black and white films with no plot. In the state I was in, standing there, I felt as if I'd fallen down the rabbit hole and gotten stuck in a surreal dream. Like bugs get caught in cotton candy. It doesn't seem as if spun sugar should be a death trap, but sometimes it is.
I stumbled into the Park Blocks on my way to work and envied those bench sitters and lawn ornaments with their "nothing to do and nowhere important to go" lethargy. I was tempted to lay my burdens down upon the grass and stare up into the sky with them. Forget work, finances, school and social obligations. Let me be a mushroom with my cap pulled low. That way I could moulder in silence and not snap at those in my world who aren't to blame.
I've got miles to go before I can sleep.

25 August 2009 @ 03:53 pm
Phil's running late again and not bothering to call so poor Joshua has been sitting on the couch waiting for 45 minutes. Dad postulated that he fails to phone just to annoy me, but I know that's not true. That would require too much forethought. He's always been inconsiderate that way. It's part of his basic makeup. I just wish he wouldn't let Joshua down.
I spent the entire Wednesday modeling at Rock Creek. The first gig I spun slowly in a circle, moving a fraction of a turn every thirty seconds with a female skull on my lap for reference. The sculptors were making portrait busts. None of them really turned out looking like me, though come of them were very nice, but some were like caricatures of old women with bulging eyes, large noses and sloping chins. I don't think they were even trying to capture my likeness. It's okay though, because some of those weird, little characters were interesting. Ben booked me for a few Fridays in the fall semester, which means I'll miss a few of my writing classes, but I needed to take the gigs for my financial and career well-being.
In-between gigs I ran home to sift through old family photographs with Liz and Mom. They want to stitch a quilt for grandma for her 75th birthday - a sort of memory quilt with photos printed on the squares. My only rule was that no photos of me between the ages of 12 and 18 would be included. I went through one of the longest awkward periods known to mankind. We spent an hour laughing and remembering.
Then it was back to Rock Creek for a drawing class with Tim, who thinks my poses are beautiful. That extra five pounds I've put on since June makes me really self-conscious, especially about my tummy. I hope it comes off again with the start of the busy school year and theatre season. It's been stubborn, and normally losing weight is not difficult for me. It must be another one of those lovely aging qualities. Much to my chagrin, I must admit...I'm hungry right now.
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians
11 August 2009 @ 01:48 am
I've been a mess lately. I'm a mess right now to be perfectly honest. I wrote a huge entry in my "real" journal, the paper one with hard covers and not this electronic one full of tidbits. I then started to realize by the end of the entry with all its tears and self-pity that I'm less depressed than I am angry. I rarely allow myself to be angry and let it show. I convert it into something less likely to hurt others. Something more acceptable. But now I admit it. I'm mad.
But what should I do about it? I'm so used to doing nothing. I just ride it out until it numbs, fades or goes wherever bad feelings go when they wear themselves out. I've been letting this haunt me more than I should perhaps.
I can't sleep. I keep thinking of jealousy, manipulation and people's secret intentions to harm but they put a big smiley face on it and pretend all their actions are innocent. Hate is starting to brew in my belly, and I've never been one comfortable with hate.
Current Mood: cynicalcynical
03 August 2009 @ 03:46 am
I awoke at 5 a.m. thinking about death and how inevitable it is. I always knew that, but it really hit me with unbelievable force that everyone will die - not as a concept or far future event but in reality. No exceptions. It's an unknown but a personal unknown, and that's what makes it truly frightening. Other unknowns like "is there life on other planets" or "does Bigfoot really exist" aren't personal. They are collective.
And trivial unknowns like where we'll be working ten years from now are easy to accept as they unfold in due course, bit by bit, and don't burst upon us all unawares with no signposts indicating the path. Death is the final and most permanent unknown of all. It's a change of the most fundamental sort, at the basis of existence, and I became truly terrified at the thought of it in those wee hours of morning.
People spend amazing amounts of time, energy and resources trying to avoid or keep it at bay a little longer, but it doesn't matter. It's there, waiting and will get you in the end. It gets everyone. There's all these beliefs and theories to comfort people, shield them from the unknown, but I'm so open minded that comfort is hard to come by. All theories seem possible, but then again, none of them. Mystery is simultaneously intriguing and scary.
I probably thought about death because Portland descended into the fifth ring of hell this week. Record temperatures of 103, 106, 110 degrees. I stood in Laurelhurst Park, modeling for painters and being eaten alive by bugs. One of the painters gave me some organic, non-chemical insect repellent that instead of keeping the vicious blighters back caused them to stick to me so I walked around with their corpses a crusty layer on my skin. I survived, but I came home each day with a headache and a grouchy demeanor. Brad came nearly everyday to spend my lunch hour with me, laying on a blanket in the grass. That was lovely.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative