Monday, August 29, 2011

September Manifesto

Because I didn't have to, I spent the weekend working in my studio. Since January I have been working on a series of self portraits in an effort to give myself a vehicle for experimentation beyond my daily work. I began by taking photos of myself and then making paintings using water colors. In the beginning the paintings were small now they are bigger. I have never been adept with water color but I did it anyway. Each piece has resulted in a satisfying surprise. Needless to say the creative process or the process of making something is mysterious. You never know how things will turn out and often this uncertainty stops me from making anything and based on the number of self help books on the subject I am not the only one. I am still trying to keep connected to my morning pages and the self portrait series has given me some clearly defined parameters in which to make visual work. I bought a bunch of wood mounted Linonelum blocks a few months ago with a mind to create some lino-cuts but the mood never quite struck me until a few days ago. The pieces above are some of the results. I intend to add 2 more layers to the piece which will involve some type. I am not sure how I feel about the cartoon-ish nature of the drawing but I do like the authentically thoughtful facial expression. The main thing about these pieces is to not question them too heavily. I am trying to accept first that they are valid because of their mere existence and I will think more deeply about them once I have a lot of them to consider.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Humanity Failing

I feel my faith in humanity slipping away. I am speaking in the most general terms of course. I feel old as I think this, but the youth today are completely lackluster. They are poorly dressed, soft, and dull in their thinking. They are easily led and prone to violence.

On our annual camping trip I overheard such a youth speaking. She was the female of the species, voluptuous but otherwise physically crude. She had died hair, pre-straightened for the outing to the lake. She was with friends, another couple and her companion who was another stellar example of the point I am trying to make. They were messing around as young, drunk people will do on hot summer days, on remote lakes. They were talking as they messed, floating in big plastic inflatable rings, oblivious to the majestic natural setting. He noticed she had a tattoo stretching the length of her exposed side, dipping into and out of her white over-taxed bikini, at both ends. It was some sort of script, not English, not an Asian dialect, perhaps First Nations but not entirely. He asked her what it said. She said " I forget" then giggled a bit "I got it a long time ago". I wanted to yell at her "You better make something up to tell people otherwise you're going to be exposed as a complete idiot for your whole pathetic life!" I thought better of it and went back to ready my book.

Later on at the same spot some young people gathered with their kids and dogs and chaos for the afternoon. The dogs fetched and were obedient for the most part but at the end of the day when they had all packed up and slowly disappeared, one little dog got left behind, just left behind. One little dog named Duchess sitting there sort of bewildered but perhaps a little relieved to be free of it's negligent caregivers, grateful to not be eaten by their Pit Bulls.

I'm worried there are multiple generations of people who were not raised by anyone with any sense. The spawn arrived, was wrapped in synthetic blankets with Disney motifs and then left in front of televisions and dog bowls fighting for crumbs with Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas. In order to survive, the girls got sexy and the boys got violent and no one learned to read or plant a garden. I saw these people at the County Fair pushing their baby strollers, tattoos on display. The women all looking vacant, the men looking mean and sure enough the night after we were there, there was a shooting in between the midway and the milking displays. No one was killed but a young gang member was arrested. It was shocking in a non-surprising way. Walking on the midway while my kid road the crappy rides I felt like I was walking through a horror film where the art director had done an excellent job of finding all of the most-malformed and horrific examples of this sub race of humans. Only it wasn't a movie set, it was real and that's why I feel sort of sick at the moment.

I foolishly read some of the comments left on the story about the shooting. Of course the conversation went very quickly to issues of racism and immigration. I feel the problem stems from a feeling of deep hopelessness but not the sort that I suffer from which is only one side of a coin, the other side of which is filled with incredible options, kept separate solely by my own apathy. These youth live in a world without the smallest knowledge of any of these options, their hopelessness unrecognized as even a state beyond their own reality and the realities of those around them.

They need support, someone to raise them up with compassion and expose them to a world where they matter. I am not sure how to do this but I am going to think about it. Yesterday I apologized to a young man who upon hearing my apology told me to go fuck myself. I was sort of surprised but also felt for him. What a world to live in where you can't even accept the smallest of kind gestures. I felt bad for a bit as I walked back home feeling like the world was changing and that I would never want to walk along my road again. I don't want to make that choice. I want to be out in the world with the freaks and the malcontents so I will go again and when I see this guy on the road I will wave at him in my friendly way because that's the world I want to live in.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Looking forward

I was in this place again with my little family feeling all grateful and happy like eating a comforting and healthful soup. No news, no internet, no endless facebook updates, no regrets. Another summer is coming to a close, like a good novel it had it's ups and downs. I am still fragile, more so than I probably care to admit but I think change does this to me. Things are changing. Fall is coming, the kid is changing, the old man is changing, my parents are changing, it's a lot to reconcile in 2 short months. Fall is a time of renewal too and I am eternally optimistic about everything, including my ability to rebound to the person I want to be again. I have plans to reno my bedroom, sewing projects, knitting projects and more portraits that perhaps I could show somewhere, someday. I really believe that we can all be happy in spite of the trajectory we are all on, hurtling toward infirmity and sure death. As long as there are calm lakes to swim in I'll be fine.

Friday, August 5, 2011


It was 45 minutes before he began to be responsive. We ate our hamburgers because we didn't know what else to do and they were cooked. One of us would get up and check on him periodically. The time passes slowly and initially you are calm and do what has worked in the past, but then more time passes and we began to think maybe this is it, this is how it ends but you don't stop yet, you keep reacting just in case. We were moving around the house not really talking to one another but in our minds we were both concocting strategies for what to do. Eventually the ER was the answer and that's where Mark took him, only by the time we called an ambulance and arranged to meet them just inside the Canadian border he was coming around, nicely. He squeezed my hand when I asked him to but would not speak. In the car as they pulled out of the driveway I waved at Eddy and he waved back, like nothing was wrong. He was fine but the trip to the emergency could not be aborted and so Mark kept on, making up for the other times when we did not take him perhaps. At midnight they were back home and we were there to meet them, having cleaned up the dinner dishes and crossed the border into Canada, with the dogs and everything else.

At the doctor today Eddy sits looking down and we talk about him like he isn't there, but he is there. He looks mad at times, and scared at other times. He says very little or nothing. We learned from the doctor that when he has one of these episodes we need to elevate his feet. This is good simple advice and it makes me feel empowered for when this happens again. Mark is not so sure and he requests a change to some different meds to try and avoid the seizure all together. We went years without any of these episodes and now they are quite frequent. His state is precarious, his circulation poor, he is slow to respond to much stimulus, he is forgetting how to eat, but he's alive. So we go along with him moment by moment, ill-equipped as we are, our resolve propping him up. It's all we can do.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Because you have all been so good and have not stood too close to me, and have not been too needy in general, I have made a painting. I actually had a strategy with this one but it does not behoove me to explain it to you. Because you are wise enough, you might intuit it. Wise you are and good also. I am calming down nicely, doing some things around the house again, feeling less out of control, noticing how much I like order and putting things into an orderly state, engaging my hands. Whatever it is, a mania, an obsession. I never go too long doing things, allowing myself to be distracted away from my work and other commitments. I designed a whole book in 4 days. That has to count for something. The in-laws came to stay at the weekend and they are such good company I was really cheered up and I have been sewing again. Words are difficult just now and the stories are not stories, rather they are disconnected lines and I wonder if I should just stick to pictures. I swam in the lake yesterday while the dogs thrashed and barked and it felt like how I dream summer should be.
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