Sunday, April 29, 2007
After complaining about the inanities of the American public's viewing choices, I though I would mention that I have been to the movies lately, and happily, they were thoughtful little films, thoughtfully rendered for grown-ups like me, who actually do not need explosions or car chases to keep her butt in the seat. The first was Miss Potter, with the terribly talented Rene Zellwiger and the not-so-hard-to-look-at Ewan MacGregor. The interesting part of this film was the society that demanded daughters absolute allegiance to her parents' wishes, and almost deprived the world of Beatrix Potter's gift. Lovely film to look at, sad at moments, tender always, just the ticket for this over-the-hill, thoroughly jaded old woman who has done her Die Hard days. Then, with my son in tow, we went to see Zodiac. I lived in San Francisco during some of the time this serial killer was doing his thing. The film had such a wonderful retro feel to it, people driving without seat belts, smoking inside, truly awful hairstyles that are thankfully behind us. Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as a boozing, drugging Chronicle reporter was cringe-worthy. He should be nominated for it, that is how convinced I was. Could be he was juiced up, of course, but I prefer to think of him in recovery. That young guy who played the boy scout, Jake what-s his-name, you know, Maggie's little brother, was suitably wide-eyed and fresh. It was fun just looking at the automobiles, which I am sorry to say are now vintage, like me.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
There are some things I just don't get. Like reality TV, for instance. It isn't real, it isn't funny, it isn't entertaining, it is frequently mean-spirited and slimy. Who watches this crap? Please, if it is you, stop it! Make those wizards in the programming department fall back on talent and innovation. Where is the Northern Exposure crowd? Probably all subscribed to HBO and watching the Sopranos. And what's all the hoohaw about American Idol? What a bunch of losers, even the winners. Okay, Jennifer Hudson prevailed, but she wasn't even the winner, was she? Most of these are Brittney Spears wannabes, and that is a pretty low aspiration, in my book. I also do not get Brittney Spears, so you can see I am really behind the times here. But the times seem to be so inane, like that science fiction story I read once, where the average IQ dropped below 80 and a tiny percentage of the population with normal intelligence were put in charge of everything. Perhaps that is what is happening here, except the morons are running things, too.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The funny thing about recovery is that I have developed this kind of internal radar regarding my fellow trudgers. There are some people that I don't really know very well, but when they walk into a meeting, I feel good about them. And the opposite is true, as well. Some people just feel icky to me, and I cut them a wide berth. I think this has to do with light and darkness. I can sense the lightness in others, a certain radiance that is peaceful and trustworthy. Others look like they are wearing a mask, stiving for that lightness, and falling miserably short. Personally, I could not stay sober if my life was still a charade. Being a human chameleon was my personna for many, many years. Please, I'll be anyone you want me to be. Just love me! In my sobriety, I learned that the person I had been waiting to show up for me was, ME! And in order to love me, I had to become lovable to myself by cutting out a lot of unlovable behaviors, like judgement, vengefulness, sarcasm, and procratination. These were things that made me hate who I was. None of these character defects is totally obliterated, I am, after all, human. But it is a lot better, and when I look up and realize I am stewing in yet another pressure cooker of my own making, I don't have to also hit myself over the head with a stick. I can have some compassion for my own humanity, the same compassion I extend to the rest of the misguided world (Geo. W. in particular), most of the time. Cleaning up my own act is the only thing I can do to make the world better, but, gee, think what would happen if EVERYBODY did that!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
My painting teacher asked me to bring my self portrait back so she could hang it in the library museum, the student's art show. This is a big honor, and if I had any remaining doubts, I am now certain that I am meant to be an artist. So I have been situated about two feet off the pavement, so out of it, I camped in an easy chair in the library today, unaware that I was sitting on someone's sunglasses. The poor young lady came up looking for them, and imagine my surprise when I stood up. Whatever, I am thinking I may have found my strength, because this painting was amazingly easy for me to execute. It came up very fast, needed a minimum of adjustment (and oils are so wonderfully forgiving in that regard), and was finished before the rest of the class, some of whom still have not finished their paintings. That means to me that this is good old HP working through me, a God-given talent, and I am already seeing it at work as I start my next painting, a portrait of a model who is graciously sitting for the class. The drawing came up very fast, and was a joy to behold. I am definitely going to to a life drawing class next semester, and continue the painting. How gratifying this whole thing is.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Rumi is one of my favorite guys. He lived in Persia sometime in the 1200s. Very spiritual man who knew some important things. Like we are stronger together than seperately, like reeds when they are woven into a mat. My belief is that we are all connected to everything, a web of existence, and the loss of one tears that fabric. This is a time of great loss. Whole species of beings are threatened with extinction. Our species is angry and flailing around trying to find relief in violence against others. I have done some research in this area, and I know that hurting others doesn't work. In fact, it hurts me, too. It takes courage to sit through uncomfortable emotions like fear, anger or pain, but my experience tells me that these are constructs of my own making, that they are transient and will pass soon if I just have the courage to sit through them. In fact, I have developed this strategy of stepping back and saying to myself "isn't this interesting". It takes me one step away from the feelings, allows me to witness my process rather than engage with it. Then I ask for some help. Often, that is just someone to listen while I whine. Just hearing it all out loud takes a lot of the sting out of my angst. Whatever is going on, the solution is not out there in that very rude, wounded world. It is in me.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Since I didn't have to pay as much to the (*&^((%%^$!) IRS, I had a wad of $$$ in my pocket. As I strolled through Costco the other day, I noticed this big pile of iPods, nice new updated ones, affordable ones. I went home (my rule is I have to look at something three times before buying; I am a recovering impulse buyer), and thought about it. When I was visiting my very up-to-date daughter, who has had one of those gizmos for years now, I got the skinny all about what it does, and how it works, and gee, it looked really EASY. Just download iTunes and start building a library. I did that first, to see if I could. It was a snap. So I broke my rule and went back and bought one, not the really, really big 80GB one, the nice, manageable 30 GB. That means I can only store 7,500 songs. I figure at 3 minutes a song at a minimum, I can get 375 hours of music on this little machine. Of course, what I am loading is more than songs. I put on a bunch of symphonies, some opera, soundtracks, stuff like that. Now, when I come home from school, my first task is to feed the computer another wad of CD's, and plug in the iPod to sync it to my growing library. Today, it was an album of LeRoy Anderson by Arthur Fiedler, who I had the good fortune to see many times when I was young and he would come to San Francisco for the Summer Pops. Then some Verdi selections from Aida, Nabucco, La Traviata, etc., the soundtrack to American Graffiti (Rock Around the Clock), an album of Strauss waltzes, and the entire score of Bernstein's Candide. I feel right at home, bouncing around campus with my ears budding, listening to Puccini or Elton John. Music in your pocket! What a concept.
My blog got moved and I couldn't get on to post my very important thoughts! Help! I am addicted to my blog! Whatever, it is nice to be back, where I get to say my say. Everyone should have a place to do that, n'est-ce pas? Which brings me to my latest deep thought; why does everything sound better in French? Like, parvenu is ever so much better than bum. And comme ci, comme ca beats so-so every time. Sans souci is ever so much more carefree than, well carefree. Ever swearing is chic, like Merde!, which really means murder but sounds so worldly. And there are words in French that there is no correlation for in English. Jejeune comes to mind, which means young, but is usually applied to one who is older but not wise (okay, stupid). And my personal favorite, ennui, that state of angst-filled boredom, one that I visit every so often. Anyway, how lovely to be back on the good old blog.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I sent my taxes off today. Once again, I owed, lots and lots. Well, I didn't take care of business, blythely thinking that this year would be different. It wasn't. Now, I am prepared to bite the bullet and have more stinking $$$ withheld. Perhaps this would not hurt if our government would put their attention to little things like education, and alternative energy sources, and stem cell research, instead of lawless wars with sovereign nations and record profit margins for the oil companies. I have lived long enough to see the pendulum swing. It always swings way too far before it begins its next descent. Let us pray it is on that curve at this very moment. Whatever, my checking account is now unburdened of anything extra, and we are back to reality here in the little yellow house. I am not terribly unhappy. It only hurt for a moment.
When I reflect on my previous six decades of existence, the one theme that comes up is who am I and what is my purpose here on this little blue ball? I know that I was a disappointment to my parents, who wanted a baby of the male persuasion, and got me, instead. My mother named me after my father, probably as an apology, the dimiunutive of his name, at least, and I could have gotten away with that had I remained small (I was just a peanut when I was born, barely 6 lbs.). But I didn't. By second grade, I was a head taller than all my classmates. At 12, I reached my current height, 5 ft. 9 in., and went around shaped like a question mark trying to blend in. That didn't work. I have never blended in anywhere. And, because they were unhappy with me, my parents did their best to mold me into a more acceptable me. This had the effect of totally confusing me. My real self, the one I was born to be, disappeared beneath a lot of criticism and advice. After flailing about a lot, in my 30s I went into therapy, and the true quest began. But, how could I become something I have never known? In the end, all I could do is invent myself from scratch. I became watchful, taking in the various personnas that I encountered, looking for examples. Audrey Hepburn was a possibility, but so was Coleen Dewhurst. One was facade, the other all substance. Which led me to my battle with form and substance. I love the former, like all my stuff and do my best to put forth the appearance of goodness, and the latter, well, that's harder to live up to. In my current metamorphisis, I am all about substance. I wake up each day with the intention of being a blessing to the world. Sometimes that means just not sniping at the poor counterperson who is making my non-fat latte. Even the doctors take an oath that includes "above all, do no harm". If that is the best I can do everyday, well, so be it. But, hopefully, there will be a moment where I can bring some light into another's darkness. This means that I must be fit, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. That is the goal I seek today.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
That about sums it up. Break is more than halfway gone, sigh, and the sum of my accomplishments dwindles daily. I am getting cozy with The New World Symphony, which I think is just delightful, though it still resembles movie music. My shoebox drawing is nearing completion, thank HP. I didn't like this project, don't like the drawing, and will be just thrilled when it is behind me. Tomorrow, I will be painting some eggs. No, not on the eggs, but an acryllic of brown eggs in a bowl, an homage to Julian Freud, who did an absolutely transcendental painting of this very subject. Also, I really need to mow the back lawn, and now that I look at it, the front one as well. That always seems such a daunting project, yet, when it is all over with, I am always happy with the result, a neatly trimmed up yard. So, I think I will curl up with my new trash novel that I picked up at the Salvation Army thrift store yesterday, while I was prowling and looking for furniture. And guess what! I get a senior discount there, 1/2 off! Now, there's a good reason to get old. Right.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Ah, spring break. While the kids are off to exciting parties in exotic locations, I am happily sitting here at 11 AM, in my sweats, piddling away at the computer. Adieu asymptotes. Ciao Caravaggio. Toodles tenebrism. Plans are to work in the garden, eat lots of good food, do a movie or two, walk more with the dog, and yes, write a report for art history, do some algebra homework, and finish the dreaded shoebox drawing. Slooooowly. No hurrying. Like they say in Hawaii, by 'n by, brudda. That is such a luxury. Anyone who says money can't buy happiness ignores the true value of it. Money can buy time, the one thing we never seem to have enough of. Time to watch the flowers bloom (roses are out, so sweet). Time to sip the coffee and stare off into space. Time to prop up on many pillows and read trashy novels. Okay, it's not exactly exhilerating. I've been there and done that. It got me into a lot of trouble. So, I'll take the backyard over Ft. Lauderdale any day.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Easter has not been my favorite holiday since I grew too old for my Aunt Theresa's backyard egg hunt. I did that for my kids, of course, later, and learned that it is good to count the eggs before hiding them, so as not to be surprised on Memorial Day with petrified or putrified remnants of Easter. I do think that Easter is a good reminder of the fact that life on this little blue ball is transient. I like what Nate said on Six Feet Under, when asked by a grieving woman "why do we have to die?" Nate said "To make life important." That's a good thing to remember. And I think we do, even if we don't think we do. The daredevil defies death with every circuit of the track, the devout sacrifice pleasure for the promise of a better existence, and the dilletante rolls around in pleasure for its own sake, and frequently dies sooner because of it. Me, I just try to savor each day. It is a task, too. My natural state is misery. I lived in my martrydom for most of the first half of my life, and while I was not griled like St. Lawrence or shot full of arrows like St. Sebastian, I do have scars to this day. So I have to often bait myself to get out of bed. This week it was pumpkin pie for breakfast. Food is my passion these days. Some would think that sad, but food will never forsake me and walk out just before my birthday. Food will never tell me I am fat, even if it was the instrument of that condition. And, anyway, once it gets me out of bed, I am off for other pursuits, like education, which I find eminently pleasureable, and sometimes really difficult, too. Whatever, this life is much more because it will end. And that could be any moment now.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Getting old is so interesting. I am blessed in that I do not look my age, though I am not sure anymore what 62 should look like, anyway. And the real blessing is that I don't feel my age, either. I have just a tinge of arthritis, in my right thumb, probably as a result of jamming so many times in softball when I was a kid. Coordination has never visited me in any phase of this lifetime. And I get sciatica once in a while, probably a result of sitting crooked when I drive, which I seem to do a lot (got to get out there and wave at those cows, you know). I am an impatient person, and want to get going without paying attention to my posture, so HP gives me a pain in the butt to remind me. Sigh. What really irks me is this thing about forgetting stuff. I have gotten a lot better about noting the placement of my car in lots, and especially in that hella-huge parking garage that just opened at the college, but still can occasionally be seen wandering helplessly around pressing the red button on my keyless remote, with a dazed expression on my face. That is, if I can find my keys at all to get out to that parking lot. Lately, I have made a ritual of putting them, and my sunglasses, both of which are essential for walking out the front door, in a drawer in my little roll-top desk. That has worked really well. But then there's my cell phone. I use it seldom, and it tends to live in the car, where it rests perfectly in a little niche in the dashboard connected to the charger that goes into the cigarette lighter socket. Occasionally, I stick it in my bookbag, or my purse. When I went to look for it yesterday, it wasn't in any of those places. It also was not on the kitchen table, here on my (admittedly messy) desk, on top of my bedroom bureau, on the floor by the bed (where most lost things wind up), on the living room coffee table, or under the seats of the car. I always pray to St. Jude whenever I lose things, and he has been admirably efficient in that regard. I have only lost one thing that never returned to me in the 16 years I have adopted this practice. So, this morning, I made one more sweep of the area, then sat down to have a little talk with St. J, and it occured to me to check the pocket of my jean jacket, and voila! There it was. How sweet it is. Except it would be infinitely better if I could remember in the first place. Sigh.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Today, we drew each other in drawing class. It was a hoot. I drew little Serena, who has a sweet heart-shaped face. The best thing was that her drawing of me was very flattering. I just love that kid! And then I worked on my self-portrait in painting. As usual, mine was different from everyone else's work. I actually did what the teacher suggested. Well, I am kind of timid and don't know what the hell I am doing, I don't have a lot of choice here. Anyway, I mixed up a lot of different values of skintones, from pinkish to brownish to grayish to greenish (like under the chin) and just kept putting them where I saw them, and voila! There I was, with a gigantic ear and a jawline that went clear to Chicago, but it was definitely me-like. Today, I got to cut back the ear, parse the bangs with some intervening skin, shorten that jaw, highlight and undertone my hair, and put in little touches like light on one side of my face, little sparkles in my eyes, shadow of my glasses over my nose. And it is really much like me. I am not unhappy. This is good. I think even the teacher was impressed. I know I was.