Tag Archives: art

loveliness

Standard

Rarely if ever have I remembered my time before recovery with wistfulness. Today was an exception.

Spotify may be the best investment I’ve made in many moons. A few keystrokes and “Layla” is streaming through my headphones.

Something about the late sun striping the bedspread in the tender angst of Friday afternoon takes me back some decades ago, when I knelt before my cheap little speakers, strained to cracking with Derek and the Dominoes.

The ache of all my hearts, the one in my mind and the one in my soul, the ones past and present, poured out as I howled away some murky loss, too deep for my own understanding. Today I marvel at how I was able to release the deep cold keening from my guts to the accompaniment of Duane Allman’s wobbly blues guitar.

I loved being that drunk. I loved the ability the wine gave me to smash through the restraints of society and discipline and shame and just wallow in my pain. I never felt more alive than when I was intimately in touch with the thing that hurt me, that walked every step with me, that never seemed to abate without the blessedness of alcohol roaring in my ears, drowning out my thoughts.

This is how I know that I am an alcoholic and that I will always be one. This is how people who are like me immediately identify with what I’ve written. Booze gives us a religious experience like no other. It puts us in touch with the God within us in no other way because it provides a visceral awareness of our own blood and the mayhem of our lives.

As a recovering alcoholic, I am mindful of the power of these thoughts. I try to refrain from glamorizing that time when I am in AA meetings, because I well remember sitting on a hard metal chair, teeth chattering from anxiety, wishing I could do it any other way.

But nothing else worked, and until I could touch the God within me through grace and mercy, I would recite the words and say the prayers and hope like hell no one talked about how glorious it was to be potted like a plant by means of some chemical.

I go tonight to be with those like me. Many of us are artists, writers, chefs, creators of lovely things, and we are giving of our loveliness to raise money for people who are also trying to do it our way, finding God within themselves. There will be alcohol there. That’s a big puzzle for some.

The truth is, we find that the harder we try to obliterate the fact of alcohol, the more likely we are to drink. I personally have found that shaking hands with my demons and calling them by name is more likely to keep us in a civilized partnership.

And interestingly, in spite of my nostalgia for the past, I have no desire to drink today. The price is simply too high, and the extremes of emotion as consequence of it are exhausting. Most of that deep cold keening has faded and crumbled, and in its place is the quiet knowledge that I know where I’m going, even when I don’t.

Advertisements

the freedom to be outlandish

Standard

outlandishI am up early; the house is quiet. My editors don’t need me yet so I can sip my coffee without a file waiting in my queue. It’s a nice feeling, unpacking a brand new day at my leisure.

I cruised by Julia Cameron’s blog for a bit. She’s bookmarked in my ARTS folder. It’s the place where I park important sites related to creativity. There’s lots in there about knitting but also about spirituality.

My rationale goes something like this: if God is the Great Creator and we are made in His image, then we must be creative as well. Julia says that in all her years of teaching she has never met a totally not-creative person.

Personally, my creativity is not limited to what I do with my hands. When I was an art director I learned how to think creatively, to find interesting solutions to common problems, to turn a thing on its head, to view life through a prism. Even at the time, I knew I was living in a gift, being paid to have the freedom to be outlandish.

We’ve had a break in the weather. The sun sets sooner and comes up later. I quit knitting a tank top and started knitting a shrug. The neighborhood yard sale is this weekend: it’s a good time to take inventory and divest myself of stuff.

I’m still married to the notion that I have to hang onto things because I might have a need for them someday. There’s also the pile of objects I keep because I just like the way they look. But occasionally I play a mental game in which I am packing to move into a new space. It sort of helps me determine just how much crap I really need to take with me.

This is true of my inner residence as well. Stubborn myths and contracts remain attached to my heart even though I have chipped away at them over the years. But others have become mushy and friable and I am relieved to realize that I am no longer bound by the peculiar catechism of my childhood.

Being outlandish can be lonely. But I find it attracts people of like-minded pursuits, those who find joy in service, those who are tired of their rut, those who are pioneers. These are the ones I depend on to lend me an arm when I am limping.

So down the path I go, probably the one less traveled. Surely treasure awaits.

Weasley Blanket

Standard

I made a small blanket for Elijah when he was about four, and it came out as a distorted parallelogram.  If any of you use Photoshop, you know exactly what this looks like.

When I frogged it out it became a pile of small balls of worsted weight acrylic yarn, which I never use any more.

Now I hardly ever go to movies.  I think it’s because I watch them so much on my laptop that I get used to having a (mostly) purely cinematic experience.

Watching a movie in any of our local theaters is sort of like seeing them at a bus stop.  I just find it hard to tune out all the cell phones, the conversation in the seats behind me, the feet up on the seat next to me, etc., etc.

So one weekend I decided to catch up with the rest of my family by watching ALL the Harry Potter movies back to back.  By the time it was over I was sure I had been living at Hogwarts for two days.

Ron in his room at Hogwarts

every boy needs a blanket.

Then somehow when I was trolling my usual sites I came across a wonderful project by Jackie Wierzbicki— The Ron Weasley Blanket.

You can read about her journey at http://penguineerspurls.blogspot.com/2011/12/potter-pattern-done.html.

So I found yet another destash project, this time using those orphaned balls of worsted.  I’m averaging about three squares a week and hope to finish this by the time Eli needs a blanket on his bed.

I ran out of stitch pins, so I substituted whatever circular needles were hanging around, just transferring the squares and letting the needle tips dangle on either side.

I also had a hard time keeping up with where I was, since I didn’t QUITE have all the colors I needed in progress (Ravelry, Listia and eBay to the rescue, of course) so I stuck the squares up on the wall with pushpins.

My daughter likes the look of this, so I told her for my next project I will knit her a wall.

 

Sunday Morning ~ Jack Grapes

Standard

Sunday morning. Spring. I wake to the sun lifting one leg over the top of the Ticor Building on Wilshire Boulevard. The new leaves on the tree outside my bedroom window are tinged with sunlight. If only I were a photographer or painter I’d freeze this moment and crawl into it.

Sunday morning. I have to get up but my body wants to drown right here in the bed. Spring ambles up the street waving its arms. A matinee today. I have to be at the theater by two. Yesterday, I find out from my agent that I didn’t get the part I was counting on.

Eat this, they say.
It’s good for you.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.

I eat and concentrate on the window, on the tree, on the sun beginning to beat its chest as it comes over the top of the tallest building.

I drive down Beverly Boulevard, take the curve where it changes into 1st Street, turn on Grand and park right across from the museum. It’s just after ten, hardly any cars on the street. MOCA doesn’t open till eleven. The sun has followed me all the way, reflecting off the Security Pacific Bank Building, glass and steel going all the way up.

I get off on this urban sleekness, especially the unfinished building across the street, another skeleton of steel and concrete. Someone should stick a sign on it, make it part of MOCA, part of the Permanent Collection, and leave it just as it is, unfinished. No clear line where the museum ends and the rest of the city begins. One easy flow, stretching all the way back into our homes, into the very center of our lives.

I walk past the California Plaza sign, running my hand along the chrome and glass, then head downstairs for a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll at the “Il Panino.” There’s a girl two tables over, in the sun. We both drink our coffee in silence, checking our watches, writing something down in our journals.

She’s an art student from Santa Barbara come to see the Jasper Johns. She asks what am I here to see. “Oh,” I say, “the art. Just the art. I don’t care. Just something.”

I AM FIVE YEARS OLD.
I don’t understand anything.
Hot and humid days;
nights, dark and mysterious.
They take me to school.
I stare at the blackboard.
The kid from around the corner beats me up at recess.
Some nights my father doesn’t come home.

My mother shrieks on the telephone.
My pet turtle dries up in the sun.
My uncle dies on the floor in the empty kitchen.
Who is the world?
Why is the moon where the sun is?
If the street goes nowhere, why is it in my bed?
What is the rain that rains just rain,
and why does it rain crows, or bats, or baseball gloves?
How is the pencil writing my name,
and why is my name the name for the thing that fixes tires,
the name for the flag on the pirate ship,
the name for the clown crushed in the box?
Outside, the kids continue to jump rope on the sidewalk,
singing, “A my name is Alice,”
seeing everything, but knowing nothing.

I AM SIX.
The class takes a bus with Miss Cook
to the Delgado Museum on Elysian Fields Avenue.
We’re going to see Vincent Van Gogh.
Later, when I tell my mother,
who was born in Antwerp,
she says to say it like this,
Vincent Van Gough,
and she coughs as she says it.
Van Gough! Van Gough!.
But Miss Cook says Van Go.
We are marched single-file from one room to another,
walking past each painting that hangs just above our heads.

Vincent van GoghI look up at the painting.
I can’t believe what I am seeing.
Everything mysterious and horrible about the world vanishes.
He paints like I paint!
Trees outlined in black.
All those wavy lines, all those colors.
And he piles the paint on.
He’s wasting all that paint,
just like I did before they told me not to waste all the paint.


He sees everything I see.
The moon is where the sun is.
The street that goes nowhere is in his bed.
It’s not just raining rain,
it’s raining crows and bats.
He sees the blood, he sees the faces.
Everything so bright it’s on fire.
Everything so dark it swallows me up.
The man cuts his ear off.
The man leans against the table so sad.
The man dies on the floor of the empty kitchen.


I stop in front of the painting with crows above a cornfield.
The world I see is real.
I bring my hand up and touch the dried paint.
It’s real!
Mounds of paint,
swirls of paint,
rivers of paint!


But it’s not paint.
It’s real.
It’s the world.

“Don’t touch the painting!” Miss Cook yells.
She pulls my hand away.
She yanks my arm into the center of the room.
“Never ever touch a painting!”
She shoves me into a seat in the back of the bus.
It doesn’t matter.
The world is real.
I fold my hands in my lap.
I know what I will do.

I will write about the real world.



Frank Gehry11 o’clock. The girl heads off toward the Jasper Johns. I walk into the J. Paul Getty Trust Gallery and find the Geary cardboard chairs and cardboard houses. “Can I sit in them?” I ask the guard. “They can be sat in,” he says, “but you can’t sit in them.”

“Oh,” I say, and walk into the room with the huge pavilion shaped like a fish. I walk into the belly of the fish. The wood inside is so beautiful.

“Don’t touch the wood, please,” says the guard.

I wander over to the Nauman video. A clown is being tortured on simultaneous video screens. “Clown Torture,” it’s called. Later, in the Permanent Collection, I bump into the girl from Santa Barbara. In the center of the room, a metal sculpture of a man moves his motorized mouth up and down. A silent

YAK

YAK

YAK

This, I understand. I stand as close to it as I can. The guard watches me suspiciously.

Over in the North Gallery there’s an empty spot in one corner. Something was there, but it’s been                 removed. I make a sign for myself and hang it around my neck. I stand in the corner of the Permanent Collection, North Gallery, as still as I can, one arm out in the gesture of an actor about to speak.

Eat this.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.
The street that goes nowhere is in your bed.
You know nothing,
but you can see everything.

A woman and her little girl walk up to me. “What does the sign say?” the girl asks.

“Touch me,” her mother says. “The sign says touch me.”

So the child reaches out a hand and touches my own.

by Jack Grapes