Stones, Encaustic & Mixed Media, 6″ X 6″
When I was thirteen, my brother took me aside to impart his wisdom on achieving success. I do not remember the details of the conversation, but the idea was that I should put more effort into blending in by hanging out with the right people, dressing like the right people, and discard the kooky idiosyncrasies that made me the person I am, which was likely an embarrassment to him. Perhaps he thought I did these things as a cry for attention.
In his limited sphere of understanding, I believe his heart was in the right place. He wanted to spare me (and himself) the embarrassment of not belonging. While charismatic and savvy in the art of belonging, he rather clueless as to the person I was both then and now.
I can’t dispute that aspects of life, especially social ones, would have been easier had I taken his advice. If only I could have passed as normal, sociable, charismatic and popular it might have made relationships easier. But if I had caved to the social pressure, I probably would have hated myself more for struggling to be so disingenuous than I already hated myself for not belonging.
I don’t hold any resentment for his intervention, and I would be surprised if he remembers the conversation. He did not know much about me, but I learned much about him.
In the Smokies.
As a child, my family often vacationed in the same locals. We might go to the same area three years in a row, then on the fourth year visit a new place. My father spent most of his career traveling the southeast, and wasn’t keen on traveling further than the Smokey Mountains when we vacationed.
Had my brother’s first child not been born in Iowa, or my father not died when I was in college and my mother encouraged me to spend the summer abroud, I might not have ever left the south.
When I met my partner, he took me to places where the phrase ya’ll was not part of standard dialect and the world, or at least my view of it, grew in a way that it can only grow when one becomes truly aware things exist in practice beyond his or her sphere, not just in theory.
I have been fortunate to have opportunities to find out who I am as a person, even though that person might be a stranger to people I used to know.
Art festivals make me uncomfortable.
It’s practical to assume when one is passionate about something, one is equally zealous about things related to that subject.
Regarding my mother as a cat lady and giving her yard art of a cat lying in a hammock, is easier than thinking of her as an individual who simply enjoys the company of cats without any desire to dedicate her home into a shrine to them. She is a complex woman and it belittles both of us when I regard her in any other context.
I go to festivals to support artists, but it makes me anxious. Nervous artists hovering over my shoulder and pandering to what they believe the purchasing public desires. It saddens me creativity must inhibited so food can find its way to the table. I look in booths and see the potential for more.
People making their living this way might find my pity insulting. And they should. I do not have to make a living with art, I use it mostly to pass time. What could I really know about the practical matter of living?
On the morning dog walk it occurred to me I put more effort into building a relationship with the dog than with my partner last year. I have a laundry list of explanations why, but bulleted items are just shitty self-defensive visuals and fail to adequately defend an egregious misdirection of effort.
For the complexity and I enjoy in human relationships, there are moments I prefer the simplicity of animal companionship. Dogs and cats do not lie. They don’t feign amusement about scintillating stories, and they believe raw meat and the finest catnip buys undying admiration. They don’t trouble themselves over grammar, nor argue semantics. They simply are, as they know no other way.
Words both simplify and unnecessarily complicate communication. I try harder to communicate when there is a language barrier, and wrongly assume intercourse is easier, when details are not enveloped in thick accents or dialectal deviations. Oh, but the nuances; tone posture, shoulder position and eye contact. One element of body language neglected, strains the entire dialogue.
I should feel more remorseful than I am, but on the advice of a former yoga instructor, I am opting to observe without judgement. This is simply the way things have been, perhaps it is the natural progression of a fourteen year relationship. That doesn’t justify operating on autopilot. I should strive to be present regardless of the situation, but my world isn’t perfect, and I suspect my partner hasn’t noticed…yet.
I tool a mental health break to visit a friend. Conversation wasn’t strained, but I treaded carefully through talk of politics, and relationships. To avoid conflict impolite company, evade discussing politics, abortion and gay marriage.
I’m comfortable with my core beliefs, even the unpopular ones. I respect others who disagree….respectfully. I have no desire to proselytize, nor do I wish to be converted. I’m not passionate enough to change the world. With topics that quickly divide a nation, it is difficult to participate in a discussion that doesn’t escalate into an argument.
My beliefs aren’t the issue, nor are my friends.
The issue is my failure, as a friend, to listen attentively. I thought I was a decent listener, but now I’m not sure. I thought I understood her views about sensitive topics, but I only undertood a few facets. The rest I allowed myself assume. Incorrectly. I don’t feel any differently about her or our friendship, but I wish I had listened more carefully the first time. That is what friends are supposed to do: be present and pay attention.
Periodically changing circumstances necessitate reevaluating who we are, what we represent, or simply what we possess. Sometimes these conclusions are drawn due to some vague feeling of discomfort, and others the sign is more obvious. Like an actual sign on a pressure treated post planted in the earth.
Most mornings I walk the dog before the sun rises. The traffic is lighter and distractions for the dog are fewer. It became my habit to walk the paved cart path at the local golf course. There wasn’t much chance of my disturbing golfers, and most mornings I was gone before the grounds crew began work.
I justified my trespassing by reminding myself of the things like the town owns the property, and leases it to the country club for a ridiculously low amount (something like $1 per year plus property taxes), so if it belongs to the town it should be okay for me to walk the cart path. I told myself since I wasn’t interfering with daily operations, bagged and removed my dog’s waste, and turned in a found wallet to the club office my daily walks weren’t harming anything…. but none of this changed the fact I was trespassing and aware of it.
Last month the first posted sign appeared, and I abandoned the cart path for the public sidewalk. Reluctantly.
It takes so little time to claim something as ones own. But that isn’t all this post is about…
It’s also about the almost meditational effect walking in the quiet artificially natural setting had on me. It was quiet and peaceful, surrounded by quiet residential housing and public parks. Most mornings the path was illuminated from reflected light. There were yard lights from adjoining properties, but on the best mornings the full moon illuminated the path. I watched I watched the orbits on Venus and Mars change in relationship to the moon. One morning I even saw the remains of a meteor shower (though at the time I just thought it was time to get my eyes tested and have my contact prescription adjusted). I songbirds go through mating rituals and raise young, counted bunnies, startled deer. From I distance I cautiously watched a fox cross the fairway into a residential neighborhood.
I don’t condone trespassing. I have haven’t returned since the signs were posted. Technically, I stole these memories, and yet I was rewarded by learning how important it is to be present in the moment.
This week’s submission is brought to you by the word, sauce, the color, brown, and the number, three.
Since I don’t have time to produce anything new, I’m brown nosing by pulling three illustrations I completed for my recycle bins a few years ago. A few months after I created twenty four illustrations to identify my sorted containers, the recycle center changed their policy regarding separating materials eliminating the need for multiple containers.
Sometimes an exercise in organization shape shifts into an exercise in futility.
delayed submission of last week’s word, chain.
First, shed. Untitled poem, or random thought? You can decide, I’m feeling non-committal.
Pieces of me fall away in a seasonal fashion,
obsolete, no longer defining who I am.
Shedding like skin,
Once purposeful, now unnecessary.
Change, the only constant.
Last week’s word, chain reminded me of grade school, when classrooms would compete against each other to prove who had the most “school spirit”. To declare your “spirit” you brought in pocket change to buy paper links for your classroom’s spirit chain. Links cost a nickel or a dime, and the classroom with the longest chain won the spirit award.
I can’t remember where the money raised went. Maybe cheerleading uniforms, or decorations for the homecoming dance. In retrospect it seems like a horrible scheme designed to extort milk money from gullible children.
This was a small private school that relied on car washes, magazine and bake sales to operate, so its possible the money put books in the library or toilet paper in the restrooms. First world problems, but how is ingenue supposed to know without an education?
Neutral Cause Paper Chain in White
mixed media on colored paper
This week Lynnea offers up ghost for Poetry Friday’s inspiration.
Through the years I have accumulated an obscene amount of art paper. Ordering excess art supplies, I feared one day living hand to mouth and choosing between ph neutral drawing paper and minimum coverage car insurance. Based on that criteria, I pronounce my life so far a success. With all these paper choices, I steal paper from the printer to do preliminary sketches for Poetry Friday. Not the package in the closet, or the office supply box on the floor, but the actual printer drawer. Don’t know if I am lazy or
This weeks submission is pencil on printer paper, with digital color adjustments and highlights. The model is the dog we adopted in January. I envy her confident easy-going posture.
It’s Poetry Friday and for the first time in uh, I dunno months, my submission is complete upon the due date. The word this week is screen.
Basically this is just an excuse to go braless in the name of art, not that an excuse is necessary. For a while any given Tuesday was sufficient. After staring at functional lingerie for twenty minutes, it occurred to me maybe I should focus more on clothing for subject matter. It eliminates the need for a contrived narrative and tells its own story without wasting words.
Years before I entered a physical relationship, I overheard a women say, when shopping for lingerie, you should always base your final decision on how it looks on the floor, because thats where it spends most of its time.