Why do I go on? and ON?

Was questioned recently by someone about why, considering my advancing senior age status, do I continue to go on – trying to learn and do and “find myself” as an artist given my near total lack of obvious fame, success, financial gain etc etc etc to date.

I was taken aback.  Why wouldn’t I? I had to pause and give it some thought over a few days.  Is it because I need to prove to myself that I can stamp out all the lemons of my life into vintage lemonade?  Some.  Maybe.  But there is a point that enough is enough, and I might be justified in just kicking back and enjoy a bit more.  Maybe.  Is it because that after 30+ years of Buddhist practice, I have become an embodiment of the Ho’nimyo spirit.  NOT.  Maybe a little.

As truth often strikes during the most mundane moment, I was walking through my quiet house seeking coffee when I paused to look at the print of a painting by Sylvester Urquhart, friend and talented artist.  It hangs directly at the end of my hall so I can’t miss it everyday.  Then there is the one by Gibby Perry in my bedroom.  It struck me that a large part of my art collection was done by dead friends.  I walked around.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Her too.

The HIV epidemic barreled through my life starting in my mid-twenties and before retrovirals the swath it cut through the creative community was wide, relentless, and greeted AT BEST by the non artistic community by puzzled indifference.  By the time I was thirty, if I listed the top ten persons I knew, or was inspired by as an artist, most by then were dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Him too.  One reason I didn’t return to Los Angeles was that most of the people I would have liked to touch base with were gone.  Gone gone gone.  (short apology to the few who are still here and want me to visit)  By the time I left LA in my early thirties, I was a practiced, if not professional, mourner.  It was like we had become artistic orphans, those of us young uns left.  Fewer opportunities to work along side, or follow, those who inspire.  Don’t get too close.  There has to be an untouched scrap of yourself to hold onto at the funeral.

I may have been more content to exist more to sidelines and admire and support, rather than do, had the HIV virus remained an animal-only disease.  I know a large part of my struggle is powered by my need to keep faith with those whom I have lost. I am reminded of the original story of Pyramus and Thisbee (Shakespeare’s inspiration for Romeo and Juliet).  What is rather forgotten about that story is the actual symbolic Metamorphosis of the mulberry bush.  It could be titled “How the Mulberry Got Its Color”.  It seems at one time the mulberry fruit was pure white.  After the two lovers talk through walls, etc, have the unfortunate encounter with the lion, bloody scarf, etc etc they sacrifice themselves, one before the other under the pure white mulberry bush.  The roots of the bush are so overwhelmed by their blood that it turns the dark mulberry red that we know today.  I, like many others for various tragic reasons, have been likewise transformed.  There is a part of the self that is indelibly marked by catastrophic loss.  The tricky trick is to learn to go forward as a red mulberry.

I also believe our society was marked by this anti-creative tsunami.  We just don’t realize it, as we continue living in a universe minus hundreds of former suns and are used to the dark. Some of our pale little stars may shine a little brighter now in comparison.   Perhaps.  I may not have “discovered myself”.  I may still be at sixty-plus years clueless as to what my “mission in life” may be.  But I still CAN go on.    I have to muddle on because they cannot. What  could I possibly say to them when we meet again if I did not?

I Fail as a Reliable Blogger

okay – Facebook has drained my “social networking” energy.  I wonder how many bloggers are writing less now that they are spurting out their thoughts and life reports in 200-or-so character “status updates”.

Resolution – get back in habit of WRITING about what is going on rather than dribbling out my communication in random spurts.

and BTW – I have been advised that I fail as a “real Facebook user”.  evidently it is *not* about only  “friend”ing  people you would want to meet at a cafe over coffee.  I don’t update my life “enough” there either.  Evidently.
Is it a sign of aging or maturity that one does not mind being labeled “old school”?

Musings: On Riding the Tech Wave

The feeling of surprise and joy washed over me.  It took about a half an hour, but I finally found the way to activate the drop down menu on the web site, in order to post a submission.  The site design was classy, sophisticated – I admit.  However, the GUI tricks were new to me, and for one of the pencil-paper generation, definitely not intuitive.  I began to wonder – Why do I feel happiness when I muddle through the techno-gizmos of the early 21st century internet, when others are overcome by (understandable) frustration?

Perhaps it can be attributed to one of the paradoxes of creative people [1] – the tendency to be both playful and disciplined.   Seeking the solution can be as much fun and as rewarding as gaining the end result, and having the persistence to muddle on to the end.  This trait is not a function of biological age.  It can explain the tremendous surges of new work in the last chapters of an artist’s life, as when Philip Johnson delighted in the experiments of the younger Charles Moore and other (soon to be titled) “post-modernists” and designed the ATT building in Manhattan with a “Chippendale” top.  As a young designer at the time (yes it WAS decades ago), I was inspired.  The apostle of apostles of the Modernist architecture was openly blaspheming the very “principles” that built his reputation.  Perhaps the building itself wasn’t as thrilling as the Taj Mahal, but the moment in architectural history was seminal.  He rocked.  As he said himself at an informal talk I was so fortunate to hear those so many years ago – “You can’t just keep doing the same thing forever.  Life keeps changing, so so must you.”  Or words to that effect.

I have a few decades yet to reach the advanced age Mr. Johnson was on that spring day in 1978.  I have taken his life lesson forward with me.  I listen, watch, look, and read with as much interest the musings and works of the peer group of my niece as I do to those who have been sanctified as “the masters”.  The next great idea is just around the corner, and perhaps is in that discarded notebook left at the bus stop.  The journey includes checking out the texting, tweeting, and Facebooking universe.  Occasionally it means learning something new on how to operate a web site.  Success may not mean a Pritzker or a Pulitzer, but it feels good nonetheless.

[1] This is one of the ten paradoxes of creative people itemized by the psychologist Mihaly ….{cut/paste} Csikszentmihalyi

Wonderings

My experience in Second Life has been “paradigm shifting” as they say in the education and business realms. I call it soul opening. I didn’t realize how limiting the perceptions we and others have of this biological avatar we call our body can be – how deep, unchallenged – and erroneously perceived as truth. I am understanding why mask theater can be so potentially therapeutic. The mask cuts the twisted knot that binds us to our (mis)conceptions of ourselves. However, this experience is nowhere near as liberating or illuminating as that when we don the “mask” of our avatar.

In Second Life, we create our own mask, our own character, and our own scene and dialogue. We Can experiment and modify. We discover that some dreams we had were less satisfying than a Second Life cocktail , and uncover new ones that unleash passions surprising in their direction and intensity. We are attached to this avatar-mask only by our essential core of being. Without reimposing our usual perceptions of self, our core this has unfettered voice. If allowed, it will speak.

Its official – I have joined Second Life

Not just as the occasional player, or as a substitute for my real life.  I have rented a brownstone on Postoffice Street in the Galveston Island SIM, applied for an SL job at Club Sky on the eLab City West (UC Riverside) SIM. 

Otherwise, I am fair.  My Second Life has helped my first life.  It is quite a creative outlet that has the promise of future possibilities.  The stifledness of life in sluburban Delaware is then ameliorated a bit.  Quite a bit.  I feel lighter, more hopeful.  And more motivated to housework in my RL (real life).  And that is saying quite a lot. 

Lady’s eyes are doing a little better.  That is good too.  All in all – I am far off track in my original plan for this fall term, but somehow I think I am right on schedule.  I will keep on, keeping on – with the hope the road will rise to meet me.

Difficult Times

I am saddened to hear of the difficulties of Guy Ritchie and Madonna.  They are divorcing, and having to settle on their assets ($35 and $525 mil respectively).  What will the poor guy do if Madonna leaves him high and dry with only his puny $35 million?  NOT.

I am truly troubled by all the recent layoffs of my friends.  Now these are the real struggles – how to keep your only house (not divvying up your multiple abodes).  Or the friend who invested in Lehman bonds – one who is going to have to keep working instead of retiring.  I guess I am like a lot of folks, not confident at all that the financial powerhouses in the markets who have the capability to ruin my life in bad times, (yet do NOT share with me in the profit of good times), have settled down.  Personally, I don’t care what “bottom” in the market is – I just want to get it.  Soon. 

Perhaps all of my work learning street busking tricks WAS a long term investment strategy after all – I will be able to work any street corner for spare change with more pizazz than the young lady squatting reading a book on 42nd street with her sign  “Stranded – Need $12.00 to get Home”.  ~~ I was tempted to give her $12 bucks to see if she would be there when I got back.

Manhattan Musings

Was in my Vietnamese squat outside Swatch at west broadway and prince in SoHo. It was a dizzyingly beautiful October Saturday – bluest of blue skies, sunny and perfect blend of cool to warm and back again. My feet were tired after a fruitless search for a birthday gift for the 18th birthday of the daughter of one of my husbands lifelong friends. He is traveling to Great Britain just for this event. I had picked hlout a nice little something from the flea market stalls on Houston. Once my husband learned I had bought a gift, somehow that became THE gift, leaving me once again giftless. Of course he had rejected all of my previous suggestions, and had come shopping without even ascertaining her correct size. In a way that was fortunate – no temptation to buy haute couture – what lunacy it would be to spend $120 on a T-shirt or wAy more on something more substantial if one is clueless on the appropriate size. Not like she is going to pop downtown for an exchange from Kettering UK.

On the subject of couture: it is official. I am off the size charts in European couture. The largest size, 44, does not circumnavigate my big booty. It misses by about 3-4 cm. The salesgirl was so sweet- she laughed when I asked if there were sizes for big fatassed people like me It is sad. I now look stumpy; once the clothes get big enough to fit I start looking short instead of chic. The real comeuppance was my middle aged upper arm was also almost too fat to fit in the sleeve. Big sigh. However it saved me $250.00.

Found some of what I’m looking for at Mood Fabrics. However I am surprised that there has yet to be a major meltdown shopping on Project Runway. It to me 2 hours to pick out three fabrics. I do NOT know how they do it on the show in 30 minutes.

I’m having a spate of heartache watching the nighttime Manhattan skyline drift by on my way out of town. Although footsore this afternoon in SoHo, I was content. I fit. Now it’s back to my bithplace and current abode where I have never fit. It is so nice not to be weird, even if it is only for an afternoon.

Manhattan Musings

Was in my Vietnamese squat outside Swatch at west broadway and prince in SoHo. It was a dizzyingly beautiful October Saturday – bluest of blue skies, sunny and perfect blend of cool to warm and back again. My feet were tired after a fruitless search for a birthday gift for the 18th birthday of the daughter of one of my husbands lifelong friends. He is traveling to Great Britain just for this event. I had picked out a nice little something from the flea market stalls on Houston. Once my husband learned I had bought a gift, somehow that became THE gift, leaving me once again giftless. Of course he had rejected all of my previous suggestions, and had come shopping without even ascertaining her correct size. In a way that was fortunate – no temptation to buy haute couture – what lunacy it would be to spend $120 on a T-shirt or wAy more on something more substantial if one is clueless on the appropriate size. Not like she is going to pop downtown for an exchange from Kettering UK.

On the subject of couture: it is official. I am off the size charts in European couture. The largest size, 44, does not circumnavigate my big booty. It misses by about 3-4 cm. The salesgirl was so sweet- she laughed when I asked if there were sizes for big fatassed people like me It is sad. I now look stumpy; once the clothes get big enough to fit I start looking short instead of chic. The real comeuppance was my middle aged upper arm was also almost too fat to fit in the sleeve. Big sigh. However it saved me $250.00.

Found some of what I’m looking for at Mood Fabrics. However I am surprised that there has yet to be a major meltdown shopping on Project Runway. It to me 2 hours to pick out three fabrics. I do NOT know how they do it on the show in 30 minutes.

I’m having a spate of heartache watching the nighttime Manhattan skyline drift by on my way out of town. Although footsore this afternoon in SoHo, I was content. I fit. Now it’s back to my bithplace and current abode where I have never fit. It is so nice not to be weird, even if it is only for an afternoon.

Mystery Solved

I am sitting here working on my taupe ombre taupe handkerchief drape top made out of georgette, and started to develop a banging headache.  Then I realized that I had forgotten to eat for about 12 hours.  I recut this design three times, and then I had several stitch ripping sessions as I neglected to test baste some construction together to see if it was going to work out the way I planned.  I’m antsy for the big reveal to see if it looks (and hangs) the way I hope.

Now I’m off to the fridge for some caloric Rx for my headache.

when is a film like an onion?

when you can keep peeling through the layers and there is more there.  and perhaps you cry a bit at the end.  Somewhat of a surprise was the film “Hancock” starring Will Smith.  Its storyline was indeed like an onion, the layers kept peeling away, surprising with more than just plot twists.  I have to give its writers/et al credit;  the ending wasn’t quite the blatantly expected obvious one … there was more than one scenario that could play out.  Of course the viewer doesn’t quite believe the title character is going to die at the end … after all it didn’t follow a usual sequence for a tragedy.  However, I have to admit my mind was racing with so many scenarios at the climax, I was forced to quit analyzing and just watch the movie … dammit.  Watching through my fingers a bit, as the ZAP POW CRASH FX were there … but there because that was how the movie was billed.  A bad boy superhero movie.  And if you were dense enough, or drunk enough, or defeatist and unsentimental enough, you could sit back and watch the ZAM BLAM show and let the underlayers go undiscovered.  It sells tickets, eh wot?

What is Will Smith philosophizing?  That we are attracted by forces of destiny to our one true mate, but if we coexist too closely together in space and time, we will be destroyed as our vulnerabilities are exposed?   A good subject for a late night latte session in Barnes and Noble, but not for this blogger this early AM.  My inner life related the most when both superheroes are dead and down for the count (or so it seems).  Life can be such shit, and then you die.  In the meantime, wear clown shoes.

One film I saw a few days ago on cable that wasn’t like an onion was “Hairspray”, the film version of the Broadway musical remake of movie of the same title.  Whoever thought John Travolta playing drag in a fat suit was a good idea has access to some interesting pharmaceuticals.  Or maybe they needed the marquee name.  The project certainly needed something.  Like my impression of the movie version of “Rent”, this was one musical show that worked a lot better on a stage.  IMHO.  Maybe some other time I , or some more cinematically enlightened person, will be able to explain how in making the stage show “big” enough for the big screen, even with a former film version as reference, the overall result was much much less than either of its predecessors.   Now here is a frightening thought … a film version of the stage show “Legally Blonde”.