Saturday, February 6, 2016

my Selves


the construction next door is beginning to drive me insane.  the last three mornings, the guys have started swinging their hammers before 9am.  these mornings have been preceded by very late nights at the restaurant.  i am running on less than 5 hours of sleep for the third day in a row and tonight i am supposed to play the part of sommelier.

the last two weeks have largely been spent gearing up for this night. funny thing about the title "sommelier": people expect a master sommelier.  there is only one level in the eyes of the guest: expert.  i'm pretty good but i'm not a master.  there's only a few of those in the entire world, actually, and i doubt i'll ever be one of them.  my attentions are too divided.  my first loves claw and scratch at my heart and mind.  its been hard to make myself sit and read about wine lately when i'd rather be reading Joan Didion or Jean Rhys. its been hard to sit down and study when what i really want to do is paint and crochet and snap pictures.  i was so much more prolific when i didn't have a day-job.  ;)

that's the rub.  the thing we were all warned about in art school. the difficulty of maintaining a practice once the full brunt of a full-time work week strikes.  its taken me nearly 8 years to feel the strain of it but here it is...  i really wish i could just stay in the studio all day.  i really wish i could pound these keys for a few hours every morning after i write in my diary and have that be my life.

and i know it's like that for very few people.  generally, only people who have paid their dues: finding a way to write or paint or X despite having to hold down a day job.  this divided sense of self is part of the apprenticeship, i suppose.  a proof of dedication. the ability to stay true to the calling regardless of strain or exhaustion, to go to the studio after work and put in a few more hours before bed, to sacrifice hanging out in bars with friends to go struggle with the work instead, to hone "The Talent of the Room."



walking to the train yesterday to (slightly begrudgingly) go to work, i comforted myself by trying to come up with ways to still make art despite limited studio time.  i installed the Blogger App on my phone so that i can make blog posts from anywhere, anytime.  i thought maybe i should carry around small squares of paper with me inside my diary so that i can make little drawings and it's always easy to tote along a ball of yarn and get some time behind the hook on the train too.  and photography.  why do i always forget about photography?  how is it possible for me to disregard it as a major art?  one of my favorite artists of all time is Francesca Woodman! has the rise of the selfie really hurt my love for photographic self-portraiture that badly?  or do i just need to get over myself? 

i think of Patti Smith struggling under the weight of grief to be an artist, to find some sort of outlet, for some sort of expression but having no energy or strength after the double heartbreak of her husband's and brother's death.  she could hardly summon the energy for anything.  she grabbed her Polaroid camera.  all it took was pushing down a button and, instantly, she had this little object in her hands.  an image she had caught.  it wasn't a painting but maybe that old rivalry needs to finally die.  and maybe the captured image wasn't always good or what she'd hoped for, but it was something.  it existed. she got her Art Fix.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hope.

A notebook filled. A January conquered. I go blonde. I buy a new dress. My golden camera arrives in the mail from my sister's house. These passed 10 months she has lay quiet in a cardboard box in the back of my nephew's closet. I load in film clumsily; my hands, happy novices. 

On the train to work, I smile at strangers and type these words in to the small screen of my phone. "Begin Anywhere..." I sigh within myself. The love and wisdom of John Cage. It's all fuel. All of this. Everyday the clock begins again. Everyday, a new heart. I will not allow myself to wallow. A turn of the head is all it takes. What was once a weight can now be a propeller. A January conquered. A notebook filled. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

as the snow melts...

my january blues are finally wearing off.  i suppose i should remember this for next year and try not to fake a strength i might not yet be capable of.  the thing is, i felt fine.  i really did.  i was shocked that the anniversary of my mother's death and her birthday a week later hit me as hard as it did.  i wasn't prepared.  maybe it's all the transition- moving across country and building a new home, struggling to find balance between work and my art-practice and going out to explore this fantastic city.  maybe i should allow myself to simply have a personal holiday on January 12th and again on January 19th?  just give myself those two days off where i don't have to worry about the wants of others and instead i can just go to the museum or walk around taking pictures or lay in bed and eat mint and chip ice cream. just let myself be sensitive, let myself be small and scared every now and then and tap back in to a vulnerability i kid myself doesn't exist. or, better said, that i am embarrassed of.

every time i cry, i hide my face.  even in front of brian.  and every time he asks me to not hide.  it is a hard request to acquiesce to and there are many times where i simply can't. i have to hide sometimes.  i can't show that i am wounded.  i can't show that i am woundable. it embarrasses me.  i believe i should be stronger than that.  i believe i should be invincible.

maybe that's why i've gravitated more toward the diary-work than my blog?  the space of the diary doesn't require me to be invincible.  it doesn't even require me to be strong or eloquent in my expressions.  i can be as weak as i need to be, as ugly and uncouth and inarticulate as my emotions sometimes are and feel absolutely no shame.  in the secret landscape of the diary, there are no expectations or obligations.  i can expose myself entirely.  there is no audience, no one to please, no one to let down.   there is no show, no happy-face to put on and i can finally relax.  truly relax.  between the weathered covers of a black and white speckled composition book, i am free. and the freedom to be ugly and unfair is something everyone needs...  a space where one doesn't have to worry whether or not they are "selfish" or "bad" or "ungrateful"...  all the ugly names we grow up with.

i love days like today where i can sit at the little table in the studio, draw the blinds and look out the window as i write, write, write.  first, in the diary and, now, here.  scribble scribble scribble tap tap tap.  it is a necessity.  it is a luxury.  it is grand, divine luck to have time for this habit.

i look up at the new paintings and smile.  black and white and grey. i look over at my first pair of snow boots and smile.  bright cobalt blue.  it is so beautiful here.  snow still lines the sidewalk but the piles grow smaller and more grey than white every day.  i miss Jonas and the beauty he brought our way.  i loved watching the snow come down and listening to the howl of the wind.  i loved watching the cars on the street slowly disappear below the falling snow as easily as steps on a staircase.  i loved watching the kids next door run outside in the late morning to shove each other down in the snow banks, throw snow balls at each other; entire families giggling and paying in the inoperable streets.  absolute beauty and joy!  i grabbed my Polaroid and took pictures of our front stoop.  the magic of our first blizzard frozen in gorgeous black and white.






Sunday, January 24, 2016

gardenia


should we pray, let us pray: long live Iggy Pop.






is all of life sex and longing?

and so... really only longing?


the hours of our tormented anguish for the hands of another
for the beauty of that face
hair
breath
the hours of our yearning become the hours we are most alive
be it lust or love or loneliness
we are lifted from our doldrums to relish what it is to be
simply human.


even while i am looking at brian's face, i go on longing for him.  my desire for him does not cease.  it goes on thumping within me, in time with my heart.  even while i have him, i want him.  my want for him does not expire.  it never runs out.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

in knots

a bright morning.  the sky and myself.  a return to normalcy.  a return to contentment.  a return to knowing how good i've got it and how good i will be.

i sip my 7-11 coffee and look out the studio window on to my cold street.  the trees are completely bare now.  paired with this cloudless sky, the world seems a bit too spare.  where are all the decorations?  i suppose that's what artists are for.  especially street artists.

i've been feeling a bit down as a result of the fact i haven't been yarnbombing.  the reson i haven't been is that i am trying to figure out a new way to go about it.  when i first arrived in NYC last april i got right to it.  i had my first yarnbomb up in bushwick a week after i arrived.  a week later, another.  a week after that, another.  the thing about it is they got taken down unbelievably fast.  sometimes the same day.  and, being that the work i do takes a minimum of 10 hours to make, that was simply way too fast.  it was heartbreaking to install the longest banner i'd ever made - it went from a few inches above the concrete all the way up to the base of the stop sign - and see it removed within a few hours.  all that work... gone.  and hardly anyone saw it.



(sweetheart, such a dark star follows us)


partly, that's just the nature of the beast.  when you work on the street, you accept a loss of control.  the public (and the authorities) can and do stake claim.  i can't do much to prevent the fact that people are going to snag these things.  at least not here.  there seems to be an ordinance is effect that the poles of stop sign remain free of any sort of other signage.  what i can do is come up with a new method... and that's where the struggle is.  i've been wracking my brain trying to come up with a new and different way to go about making this work but i'm caught up on the fact that i really, really love the look of this work.  i love that my work (especially this work) is black and white.  it's a rarity in the yarnbombing world, as is working exclusively with text. 

i'll come up with something.  i've got to.  i miss working on the street too much.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

birthday letter

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you would have been 60 years old today, mama, and i would've finally started teasing you about being old.  :)  but i bet it wouldn't have made much sense because i bet you'd still be wearing hoop earrings and yummy plummy lipstick.  i bet you'd still be just as uniquely stylish as you ever were.

you would still be you. 



god, i don't want to write to you like this.

it's sad.

and it makes me feel stupid and small.


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' "You have your wonderful memories," people said later, as if memories were solace.  Memories are not. Memories are by definition of times past, things gone.  Memories are the Westlake uniforms in the closet, the faded and cracked photographs, the invitations to the weddings of the people who are no longer married, the mass cards from the funerals of the people whose faces you no longer remember. Memories are what you no longer want to remember. '

joan didion on page 64 of Blue Nights, her book about the death of her daughter, begun about 5 years after her loss.


it's been 5 years since my mother died and i still do not look at her photographs.  i don't look at them because i don't want to.  they don't offer me any comfort whatsoever.  they don't offer any solace.  if anything, they evoke such a tremendous sweep of yearning and sense of loss that looking at my mother's image is nearly unbearable.  i don't torture myself that way.  the images that flood my mind after looking at her photographs are images of her death: her skeletal body, her face distorted by tumors.  these are not images that i welcome.  there are days i do not need to re-live.  i am not made better by flagellating myself with these things. besides, i don't need photographs in order to remember her.  of all the faces i know, hers might be the face i know best.  i lived inside her body once.  her body was my body too.  there is a certain kind of knowledge in that.  something irrevocable.  something death does not erase.  i have her same eyes.  her face lives below my own.  i see it flash back at me in every reflection.  i see it everywhere i go.

this, too, is a hard thing and not necessarily a comfort.

 
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there have been so many times in the last 5 years when i have needed you so damn badly and you weren't there.  where the fuck are you?  where the fuck did you go?  i am so goddamn mad at you for this! i don't give a shit how "good" or "bad" you were at being a mother, i still needed you!  i still need you now!  where are you?  WHERE ARE YOU?!  enough of this now! COME BACK!

.


i fucking hate this.


i hate this so fucking much.


i want to call off work today but i won't do that.  i'll take the opportunity to be around other human beings, to smile at them and maybe even get a hug or two.  i'll take the opportunity to breathe hard, to breathe deep, this seemingly simple action that i can't help but take for granted: breathing.


.


for your birthday, mama, i'll count my many blessings and remember to be grateful.  i know what grand luck has found me.  i know the many gifts i have and have had the unbelievable hubris to squander. for your birthday, mama, i'll give you a bright and happy daughter.  i'll give you a smiling face.  i'll catch myself.  i'll pull myself up.  i'll wash my face and get on with the day...

did i tell you i taught myself your favorite stitch?  i did!  the granny stripe!  i'm using it to make a sweater.  it's hard to make sleeves in that stitch but i think i figured it out.  i can't wait to finish it and wear it around here.  it's really starting to get cold.  it finally snowed the other day.  brian threw a snowball at me the second we got outside.  :)  you'd love him, mama.  you really, really would.  you'd love hearing him sing.  it wouldn't surprise me if you two would've found a reason to sing together.  i'd brood in the kitchen and kick myself for not being brave enough to join in with you.  ha!  you definitely would've felt compelled to start playing your guitar again.

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if you hadn't died, would i have found the courage to take charge of my own life?

if you hadn't died, would i have learned to value the brevity of life?

if you hadn't died, would i have started learning what love might truly be?





if you hadn't died, i wouldn't be writing a letter like this.

i would much prefer to not have occasion to write a letter like this.

i would've made it to new york without you having to prove the point, mama, that life is overwhelmingly painfully short.  i would've somehow found the courage to pull the triggers i needed to pull.


i really wish you could've seen the statue of liberty.

i really wish you could see me here. now.


i really miss you, mama.
there's no way to say it adequately.
there's no way to say it that is big enough.


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