Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Self-portrait Series Plate IV

I like to call this, "I just need to make it to Tuesday"

I find the exercise of drawing my own face both satisfying and frustrating. I want to be objective, but I find myself softening the exhaustion in my expression and brightening the corners of my eyes after a grueling day. Its hard to see yourself sometimes. Maybe there is just no objectivity to be had with the self.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Memorial Day.
I sit on the patio at Starbucks. Freedom tastes like an iced Americano. Bitter and sweet.
Ironic, my drink, this drink that GI's in WWII substituted for coffee in Italy, missing their families, and sometimes never returning home, must have been the last taste of freedom for many people. And here I sit in the shade, with a nice breeze, considering what to do with my day, something I surely take for granted.

If you haven't been to Washington since the WWII memorial was built, you should put it on your list. The fountains are ghostly and the monument itself is a stoic reminder of the price of freedom. Today, freedom might taste bitter like espresso, sweet like barbecue, cold as chilled watermelon. Savor your holiday with gratitude for the sacrifice of those who secured that privilege for you, and their loved ones.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Change of Pace

Does absence make the heart grow fonder when your blogger goes AWOL for a while? I'm sorry, things have been really crazy and I've been exploring other expressive outlets over the past few months. I probably miss you more than you miss my blathering anyway...

In the spirit of compelled expression, and since I've been drawing a lot more than writing lately, I wanted to share with you my latest project, one where I'm exploring expressing myself through facial expressions, drawin in self-portraits. I have a lot to say, but lately these emotions tend to bubble out of my face instead of flowing from my keyboard. I like to call this the 'conference call series', since usually I am making these expressions while on mute on a conference call, the way I spend a lot of my day. I find the act of drawing myself is impossible to do with any objectivity, as the overall mood and conditions have a lot to do with the subtle nuances I include. Nonverbally, I'm a buffet of 'tells', spilling out amusement, impatience, agression, and boredom at will. Each of these drawings has become somewhat of a caricature of my daily experience. Work, home, energy level, all are represented here. It's a fascinating process, you should try drawing yourself and then analyze the results.

Plate #1, 'Working on a Travel Day'

I see tired edges around unusually large eyes. I've been taking in information all day, trying to 'see' enough to prepare for the week ahead. In contrast, the mouth is very small, perhaps because I am in 'listen only' mode, or because I consider my input less important than seeing. While I might sometimes look like a gypsy, it's exaggerated in this drawing, perhaps because I'm trying to see this week's future, or conjure up the right potion for a successful training.

Plate #2, "Afternoon Training"

Here, I am focused elsewhere, maybe on my audience. I'm tilting my head to the right, which is something I do when I'm trying to listen intently since my left ear hears best. I see a hint of a smile, enjoying myself, but the slightly stern mouth means business. There might be a slight impatience in this expression, like someone has been asking a very long question and I'm ready to respond, but waiting my turn.
It's an interesting exercise to try to perceive yourself from the outside. Maybe I started doing this because of the mindfulness challenge, paying attention to things I wouldn't normally observe. That is, after all, the point.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Painted a Day Once

My morning.
Beneath yellow walls,
I sat cross-legged,
As the sun rose.

Only a glow shined,
Behind morning fog,
As steady she climbed.

My clock rings.
"Awaken, dear girl.
Your room is sunny,
When the world is cold"

By the pond, I sit
Watching blueberries
Threatening to split.

New lilies,
Fight the mist to breathe.
Gasping new blossoms,
Await dew's reprieve.
A fish jumps.
Startling the bees,
They're instantly back
Buzzing through leaves.

Twilight. Dusk.
The crickets all cheer,
"Fuck all this dampness!
It's finally clear!"

Black night sky,
The fog a memory,
A satellite travels,
It's lone arc'ed journey.

My midnight
Cross-legged, yet again.
Alone in the grass
Gazing up at my friends.

Saturn in Leo,
Thin hazy half-moon,
Rising up behind me.

Believing, while...
Sunny days, I have known,
When yours starts out gray,
To end up in this place,
You just paint it yellow.

Believing, while
Sunny days I have known
When yours starts out gray
To end up in this place,
You just paint it yellow.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Raise Your Hand If You Like Pot Bellies - Raise IT!

You know what, kids? I'm letting go of something.

I know everyone has that part of their body that they hate, it's too fat, or too flabby, or too big or small, or too pasty, wrinkly, disproportionate... No matter how many hours on the treadmill, or personal trainers, or in some cases, plastic surgeries, you can't let it go. Well, I'm done. I'm done with the kind of self-loathing that makes every touch of my waistband a reminder that my pot belly hangs over my trousers and I'll never escape the dreaded muffin-top.

I'm just done. We all prescribe to an ideal that a certain figure is right, thin, svelte, even curvy is acceptable, but there isn't even a faction of the public that finds a beer gut sexy. I want to change that. I declare from now on, pot bellies are IN. In one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, the sneetches fight and ultimately destroy themselves by wishing their bellies were different. Adorned or not, they wanted something else, well I'm done. I'll never have sculpted abs, because genetics and my lifestyle make that out of reach. I'll never have a flat tummy, and instead of resenting it each time I eat too many german pretzels, swallowed down with beer, I'm going to love it. And encourage others to love it too. Have you seen it? It actually is quite lovely when I'm not looking down upon it... Not only does it look nothing like it does in my mind, it's a beautiful reminder of the things that feed me in life. I'm well-fed by love and tasty food, good wine, great literature, excellent music, and I've soaked all of those things up into a little pillow of happiness behind my belly button. The times in my life when I haven't had a belly have been empty of those things. I don't need to go back.

We should all step away from the things we hate about ourselves. Self-loathing is for anorexics. I want to replace my own loathe with love, and here's how I started. I photographed myself in full potbellied regalia. This is what real women look like, lumpy and pale, and usually hidden from view. You should try it, take a piece of you that you hate, stand in the mirror, and snap a pic with your phone or camera. See it through a lens and see if you can find something beautiful about it. Mine makes me want to paint a star on it like the sneetches, and wear it out for everyone to see. I'm starting a beautiful belly club. I dare you to start a beautiful nose/thighs/love handles/back fat club. I'm not feeding that kind of self-loathing anymore, but I'll cook anyone dinner who is willing to love the extra flab I'm feeding.

I understand - from Maria DeMedeiros' character in Pulp Fiction, at least - that some societies find pot bellies sexy. Let's make ours one of them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Adrienne Rich Dives One Last Time

We lost a poet today. Adrienne Rich slipped into the deep from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, another one of these badass autoimmune disorders. She takes with her an era of pure thought cloaked in controversy. I really admire a lady with the kind of balls she had, unafraid to talk about women's rights, motherhood, love between women and even war. She contributed to the 20th century repertoire, some of the most hauntingly metaphoric poems I've ever loved. Read them. My favorite:

Diving Into the Wreck

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers

the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
abroad the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it's a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or week

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
and I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
Obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to the scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Adrienne Rich

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Belong Among The Wildflowers

I'm somewhat infamous for my penchant for the dramatic...

I know it. I'm an introspective gal. I have this curious habit of marking places in my life that feel different, like a rough cuticle over smooth silk... snagging and catching along the otherwise even and unchanging landscape of my life. I passed another one today, and thankfully, for a few hours was stuck there.

I may have told you on our desert trip that at some point I switched my camera on full manual and never looked back, and the few times I have gone back to 'auto' I've been disappointed by the results. That was a big deal for me. I don't use a fancy camera, mine is 6 years old, I bought it well-used, and I'm using a kit lens that came with it. There have never been any smoke and mirrors involved in my photos, since I'm a 'tard at editing and can't afford a better rig. So the day I became happy with the photos I produce, without help, is a big deal. I am not a photographer. My husband is, and a very talented one, at that. I've been involved in the business as his event planner and organizer - sometimes backing him up at events. But today, I shot some things I'm proud of. And because I'm a 'tard at editing, you'll get to see them raw and untouched. I'm even too lazy to crop. Feel free to take a stab at cleaning them up for me. I said they were my best, not the best.

This weekend I had the opportunity to wear the right kind of eyes and experience the Texas Hill Country for its rugged magnificence. Most of the day on Saturday, I drove winding roads up and down hills through land adorned with wildflowers so beautiful they would make you cry. I cried a lot. Mostly at the fact that I had left my camera at home and couldn't look at them later. So today, I packed up my camera, waited for the end of the work day and fought Austin traffic out...

I only posted a few here, find the rest in the gallery.

P.S. Picasa is an asshole, so I can't organize the gallery... enjoy chronological order in the gallery. Grr.