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My incredible stint as an mature model

 

I’m having a hard time lately with auditions. As I get older, I know what I want and where I fit in.  Most of the time I have to make up my own opportunities. I went to a film audition the other day and asked to audition for one of the many male characters as I often do because they are usually less one dimensional. Even as a clown, I take my art seriously.

This modeling opportunity presented itself as a chore no one else wanted. Basically I volunteered to play an elderly patient who could not identify herself and needed help eating. We were helping Certified Nursing Assistant students practice their skills. Here I am pondering my meal tray.

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Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias can do many things for themselves. Sometimes they cannot. The CNA’s had to practice not making assumptions and practicing good hygiene.  One thing I enjoyed is that they all basically talked aloud about everything they were doing. This is something I do in order to remember steps and to help the person understand and be able to give consent.

 “May I come in?” “Would you like a clothing protector?” “Would you like any assistance with that?”, “I’m going to put your bed in a position so you can eat.” “I’ll leave your call button here if you like.” These were all great prompts I heard. My part didn’t require much but I added small things to put the person at ease like saying “thank you” when they provided me with care. I exaggerated my shaky hands when eating and  did try to  help them out a little bit if they forgot something. For instance, I would say “Oh no, I’m spilling on my new pants” if they forgot to offer me a clothing protector. Sometimes I got a little goofy and asked them if they wanted to sing with me.

There was some weird chocolate rice hazelnut bar that was on the lunch tray. I would stick it in my belt after the meal to see if they recorded it as eaten or not. I soon began fantasizing about actually eating it and wound up taking it home with me. I consider that my payment. Here is my co-worker Jenny who did the judging for the enactment. I finally got to eat instead of just feigning it.

eating

We are birds of a feather, both a little kooky and dedicated to fun. The other enactments in our room involved processing a discharge and taking vital signs. They were much quieter folks but when they weren’t busy they would laugh at us.

Tomorrow I will go to an audition for a play about The Irish Uprising of 1916. I’m interested in this because it is supposed to be a working class perspective of the event. The majority reaction in Ireland is documented to be negative as there was little working class buy in to what was largely a project of the intellectuals of the time. It was a confused and confounded effort but was largely successful in galvanizing an independence movement because of the British decision to martyr the leaders. Even if there is no part for me, I hope I will learn something and have more fun.

I judge myself for not wanting to audition for stereotypical older female characters but life is short. My contribution to feminism is to resist conformity and expand expectations. I believe that is the challenge of artists and all those who are curious about humanity. It’s difficult not to want approval and security. I succumb to this everyday in terms of my anxieties about  work, relationships and the meaning of life. Luckily I live in Alaska where nature rules and human must be humble and creative to survive.

My roommates and I have a new project, the kazoo band. We have about 15 kazoos. It will be time to really celebrate spring when the trails get plowed in a couple of weeks. We are going to organize a flash mob of sorts to meet at Westchester lagoon and march to the nearest bridge playing popular tunes. The whole neighborhood will be invited to bring improvised instruments and dress in antic attire.  So far our playlist includes such classics as Row, Row, Row your Boat, Three Blind Mice and Losing my Religion by U2.  More details to come!

 

Stop losing weight, looking younger and making more money with the new human being plan!

Let it go!

Let it go!

1.  Wear shorts this summer!

Stop worrying about how you look and what the dress code is.  There are amputees out there in shorts. Don’t go telling me they’re lucky because they don’t have your ugly legs.   I won’t go as far as saying you have to wear a bikini, speedo, micro-mini or short shorts.   Just take the challenge to let those legs breathe, varicose veins, sun starved, rashy, hirsute whatever.  I have a rosy red birthmark in the shape of a human hand on the rear of my thigh. You can imagine the comments I get. Since I have grey hair I no longer get asked if I knew I was bleeding.  Remember when shorts weren’t allowed in school so we couldn’t wait for summer to start? Shorts mean fun. My mother always said, no one can really get a look at you on a moving horse.  Don’t just lie outside, get a move on.  For those of you with doubts, just try running out to get the mail in your shorts. I do it in Alaska, even in the winter.

2. Eat something bad for you everyday.

Not arsenic, but give your healthy diet and the rest of us a break.  Do you really want to be the last one standing? When I obsess about  food, my figure, my health or try to change the eating habits of others, I’m just advertising my anxiety.  Eating healthy also means enjoyment and flexibility. You may be allergic to gluten or a carbo-holic but you might enjoy a treat of some sort now and again. Please make enough for everyone else while you’re at it.

Sooner or later someone will feed you something with gluten, meat or sugar inadvertently and you can thank them for reminding you that you are human but not made of glass. Yes, you could die from peanut butter or clams or leftover souffle but  hypervigilence is also toxic. I should know.  I went to Walmart and bought some kale today. The checker had no idea what it was. Meanwhile, at the other check stand a 7 year old was enjoying a fried chicken leg and Mountain Dew because he couldn’t hold out until they paid. Is that my business? No. Neither is the emaciated man who I saw walking into the health store parking lot earlier. Was he alive because of his health food or dying from it?  No clue.

I would rather be the chicken boy. He looked happy.   My mother followed every health trend she could find – no butter, then no margarine, water to drink, no coffee, alcohol or cigarettes, restricted meat, raw veggies, jogging, swimming. She died  in middle age. It must have been the chocolate and ice cream.  Just saying, at least she had some fun.

3. Throw some money away.

Down the toliet, into the hands of someone you don’t know or trust, or just drop it in the street.  I was in a bank today and another customer told me that we don’t get interest on savings accounts anymore because money isn’t really worth much.  Let’s celebrate.  Maybe it’s time to investigate the power of barter?   I just visited a friend who told me that her son had conducted a brilliant experiment in college. He dropped money and had an observer tally the reactions.  More people returned it than he thought would.  Think how good this would make you feel.  Yesterday a man called to me, ” You dropped your pocket”. I was carrying a purse so I thought perhaps he meant my “pocketbook” was open. He was just trying to make me laugh.

 

4.  Be real bad at some form of art

Enjoy your bad ass attempts.   Sign your paintings Madonna or  Justin Timberlake.  See if you can get a group of friends to have an bad art show and donate the money to the charity of your choice or just buy or trade each other’s work and have a big party!

 

 

5. Rejoice in your errors!

I let a cart run into a motor coach the other day. I also misrouted Mr. John Smith’s luggage to another Mr. John Smith.  I said something stupid on Facebook to someone I didn’t even know.  This is progress for me. I’m used to alienating people with my anxiety to get everything right and please the world.  People like me better when I’m human.

Myths about creativity, creatively debunked

1. People who have mental health issues are more creative.

Oh bullshit, who thought this one up? We people who have mental health issues have to be pretty creative to find and keep a job sometimes. My hypothesis is that people who don’t have mental health issues wind up getting regular jobs and following a regular schedule so they scarcely have the time to exploit their own innate creativity.  Now if you want to talk about charisma, yah some of us may have a natural chemical energy that  screams  “Bet on my success at any endeavor including romantic wink, wink,”  but you may also may want to place some money on the slow and steady horse to finish the race.  Do most wonderful creations come from the depths of despair and horror? No! Believe it or not, some art comes from people who are outside the culture and some from those who are deeply embedded in it. Art and ideas can come from beauty and health or from sorrow and pain.  Some may come from a recovery process from that despair.  We are lucky that we pursue our creativity despite the fact that it is not rewarded by anything more or less than peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment.

Instead  I posit,

“All people are inherently creative, some may have more need, more time, more encouragement or desire to make art, candy, babies or trouble.”

2. Drugs and alcohol help people be more creative.

This one is even worse. Many creative people live wonderful lives and do wonderful work without drug and alcohol issues but our attention is drawn to those who release the pain of their boundaries with  a shot of something. It’s a loss when one of them dies. It’s a loss when anyone dies from neglect, addiction, an accident, abuse, and their story isn’t heard. But the stories that drugs and alcohol tell are, in my experience, boring and over-glorified.    If another person tells me they discovered the meaning of life when they were high but can’t communicate it to those who haven’t been there, I will volunteer to expound on my preference for death rather than listen to it. I don’t count medication taken as prescribed in this category. If your heart meds or psychiatric meds help you be in the world without putting you too far out of it, I’m all for it. I’ve never heard of someone becoming less gifted from appropriate medication. They might have to find the right balance between train wreck and interesting person, at least I have.

Instead:

” Artists drink and so do accountants.”

3. You can learn to be creative using my new formula! Have you found a recipe that everyone on earth can eat without someone saying they’re allergic to it? I thought not. There are even “quinoa intolerant” people out there.  Some people will insist that creativity needs a structure or a safe space to “hold” it.   Yes, if you have a room of your own you might have more space to be creative or drink or get laid but creativity can be found just about anywhere, using as few tools as the brain, heart and perhaps arms, legs or a mouth to communicate symbols & ideas to others.  There is no cure for being uncreative although  fear and sloth might be significant motivators.  I’ve bought the books ” The Artist’s Way”, “The Artist’s Way at Work”, “The Artist’s Way in Traffic.”  There ‘s no end of ways people will take your money to teach you how to be creative. Truth is you have to create to be creative. Whoa, I’m getting deep! Remember Shakespeare did not use original plots so I use the word  “create” loosely.

Instead:

“Creativity is an involuntary response, which may lead you somewhere you don’t want to go. Follow it with caution and don’t kill anyone on the way.”

4. Creative people are so undervalued.

To this I say – Grow up! Manual labor is undervalued so is parenthood and  a decent pair of socks.  Being creative is a way to approach the world, not a method of supporting ourselves.  There are some people who sell creativity on the motivational speaking circuit. There are some fabulous artists, singers, writers, inventors who make money creating.  They are people who have an intersection with a talent or idea at an opportune time for commerce.   The art I like is priceless but sometimes it is worth $0 and other times it’ s more than I can afford. Let’s value our own creativity by giving it time and pleasure so it will grow. Don’t grow old waiting for someone else to value it.

Instead:

“Your beauty and purpose is to be. If that is “to be a fool”, then so be it.”

5. Creativity is hard work

I don’t think so. I think we just don’t notice how creative we are everyday. One person might dress creatively, another might drive creatively, making up their own rules. Forcing creativity is against my rules, kind of like forcing myself to eat chocolate or forcing an apology.    I’m not saying that everyone’s scribble and poetry  should be  applauded with  exuberance. It may take a bit more time than we think we have to discover everyone’s gifts but let’s at least give ourselves time to find our own. Then we can be generous with the time we give to others to find their voice.  I like the word “grace”, not as in the opposite of “awkward”, but as in something falling from the sky, lucky and unbidden. I love “awkward” because things falling from the sky sometimes hit us and knock us down or leave us  hobbling.  I don’t think of creativity as magic or play really. Creativity is an attitude towards life, towards the dishes and the toilet, the commute and to courtesy as well as to paints and musical compositions.

Instead:

“Creative people are killing off death with each breath.”

Thank you for reading. Feel free to share your ideas. I am a person in recovery who fails to be creative as many days as I succeed. I blog, write poems, rake the leaves on my lawn to make pictures in the grass , cook by combining multiple recipes and hold down a full time job, just for today!

The Art of Balance and other Baloney

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I am the very model of a modern major general

I  do believe in balance and I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do. I also have eaten bologna though it doesn’t taste good to me anymore. Fluffernutters taste good but I was born in Massachusetts so I guess it’s in my genes. I strive for balance but it’s a bit like trying to work on serenity, the effort is counter productive. As a human I am subject to change. I am seasonal, hormonal and  a bit of an eccentric cowardly individual yet I yearn for the idea of stability.

Today I felt all out of sorts. I haven’t really slept well for three nights. I’m sure I slept a bit because I had some anxiety dreams about escaping some bad guys in a construction pit, I was trapped like the steam shovel Mary Anne.  I’m out of balance and I can’t force myself back. I get to enjoy my lack of balance and am doing so by writing while eating mini peanut butter cups. I got the medium size package because the bargain one was so large I could imagine using it as a saddlebag and the small one added up to over $8 a pound and that’s just not right! So I guess I’m subconsciously balancing desire with caloric and monetary expense.

I used to sleep so well. Probably because I was not menopausal and I was so out of balance – sanding and refinishing floors all day then  rehearsing for plays and going running in my spare time. Exhaustion was the key to my rest. That’s probably not right either.

I ran yesterday and am preparing for an audition and am exhausted now but still no sleep. My therapist suggested it was seasonal affective disorder which make sense as I live in Alaska. I took a trip to Louisiana in early December and took lots of walks in the sunny-ish weather.   My therapist’s theory, which sounds right, is that I felt good  until the dose wore off. I took some extra strength tylenol  an hour ago but still not even a yawn.  I could have skipped the peanut butter cups but I had already laid in bed for 45 minutes so I just gave up and decided to have fun.

In Louisiana I saw some statues in a garden of a place called The Shadows. Before it became a national landmark it was owned by an artist. It was obvious that this home was built and maintained by slave labor but that was not dwelled on. The tour presentation was unbalanced so I bought a copy of Twelve Years a Slave at the gift shop as it takes place in this part of Louisiana.  The statues represent the seasons although I would guess if one was a slave, the seasons might be represented a bit differently. But that’s another story.

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I’m pretty sure this guy is winter. He doesn’t look like he’s embraced ice skating or x-country skiing like I have.  He’s embracing himself so he doesn’t freeze under that stone blanket. I know that Louisiana has different winters than Alaska but they still serve a purpose in that they balance out their really hot summers. They give time for the sugar cane harvest, ( done by big machines and factories now),   an opportunity to eat Satsumas and really HOT food.

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I was thinking that this one is fall because of the wheat. I would like to say that I’m not depressed in fall but that’s not so. I’m kind of depressed all the time but in fall I sleep lots. The end of summer has come and I do too much and sometimes fall in bed after work unable to eat dinner. I sometimes make room for some carbohydrates and a run or a bike ride.  But a balanced meal – no.  I tend to eat soup in the winter but it all seemed too much today. Couldn’t even open a can let alone chop vegetables.

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Spring, with flowers? At first I thought she was pregnant but that would be fitting for spring as well.  I usually run a triathlon in the spring to jump start my summer. That means I can be a little miserable training although lately I just try to relax and hope that my heart doesn’t stop going up a hill.  Best not to get too hyper.

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Summer, I presume holds a wealth of flowers. I love summer. I bike to work, I look for love. I’m not very contemplative and wear outrageous outfits. Okay, maybe I wear the outfits all the time, just adding tights in the winter.

What I get from the statues is that  seasons are part of my nature and I might as well embrace them. If I lived on the equator, I bet I could still discern a rainy season from a dry hot one just like we have real cold up here in winter, cold in spring and fall and just coolness in the summer. I can’t force myself to sleep or be serene and no matter how far I run or how much I write or meditate, I sometimes just have to live with what I’ve got.   I shouldn’t even force myself to go to work 5 days a week when I can’t sleep but then it becomes apparent that I’m not the very model of a modern major general. I’m a mess. Well, the world is a mess from what I can see, so in a way, I fit in despite my wacky outfits.

So while a lay awake tonight with all the parents of small children, the people with painful illnesses and those who just don’t know why they can’t sleep, I will embrace this season of my life and all the baloney that comes with it, even if it doesn’t taste so great.

Help me figure out the % of my being which is okay

I got an email  yesterday which saved my life.

“Good fitness”, he said, “is 90 % food, 10 % exercise.”      I ‘ve heard this before, (with the percentages upside down and sideways), but never before in an application for a roommate.  If he did live here I might have had to bop him over the head and go to jail. So thanks very much for the info.

I am entrenched in my belief system about fitness, food, and  life.   What you eat, drink, believe, smoke is your own business. I’ve got enough problems to worry about.  Perhaps I am gravely mistaken. So here is a poll about life saving statistics. You can help me with a reality check on how to live a better life and perhaps become my roommate.

Iditarod Fever/Flu

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I thought I was feeling well enough to check out the Iditarod. I was not. I don’t really care about the dogs, I just hate missing any free event where people dress up and are happy. Pardon me if my photos are a bit strange, I was out of it and spent the rest of the day in bed shaking like a chihuahua.

Not a Chiuahua, and not shaking

Not a Chihuahua, and not shaking

This is a great coat and few people have the figure to pull it off like this man. I like the suggestion of an evil face and perhaps the nub of a tail.

IMG_0069This coat is also gorgeous and is set off well by the gentleman’s purse.  Iditarod is a bit like an Easter parade here. People love to break out their bonnets.

High fashion

High fashion

Sitting on dad’s shoulders is better than wearing high heels. I wore my fake fur hat last year. This year I followed the trend in faux animal headgear again.

I look a bit ill but at least I have a good hat

I look a bit ill but at least I have a good hat

There was an icy fog yesterday that made things seem colder than they really were.

You could definately see your breath

You could definately see your breath

Some people like to be colder than that so they go to the carnival.

Cheap thrills and big chills

Cheap thrills and big chills

Yes those are flying swings on the right. These are probably outlawed in every other state of the Union due to their propensity to fly off into the crowd and kill  people. Luckily it isn’t too crowded here.

For those of you who like art, there is plenty of it in downtown.  In order to avoid dog sleds I walked down an alley and noticed several murals I liked.

Big bird smackdown

Big bird smackdown.

A lot going on here

A lot going on here

If you like your art quick and dirty, there are snow sculptures.  I refuse to show you the largest one which is of Christ being heaved up on the cross. Someone thought they were doing us a favor. Maybe they do Jesus in chocolate and marshmallow too.

Red Bull

Red Bull

I added a some artificial coloring to make this more energetic. The next one is perhaps more tame but  made me laugh. A family came by and one parent noted that the snowmen were like people gathered around the theatre. Then the child retorted, “Some of them are dead.”

Anchorage landmark, with corpses

Anchorage landmark, with corpses

That was the best line of the day so I went home. I stopped at The Fire Island Bakery on the way home and got a $5.00 cupcake. I’ve never had a cupcake that expensive before. It was a big one, like a jumbo muffin – red velvet, kind of crusty on the outside with ground pistachio paste injected inside and a cream cheese/whipped cream frosting.   Yummy. I was still sick but I felt better for a minute.

Iditarod treat

Iditarod treat

2012 – from my cell phone

I took a look at photos I hadn’t used in my blog and a few I had that were still sitting on my cell phone card. I was reminded of what a fine year 2012 was for art, for rain, for travel and fun in general.
Here are a few reminders.

I went to Minneapolis for a conference and became aware that Anchorage was not the center of the Universe. The art was like drinking pomegranate juice after having nothing but Pepsi for a year.

The best art challenges the status quo - African print debutante gown

The best art challenges the status quo – African print debutante gown

Some Minneapolis school children were out celebrating their Native American heritage. It reminded me that people are resilient. Cultures can go underground but are carried inside us until they are safe to express.

What this lake looked like before the white people

What this lake looked like before the white people

After white people

After white people

Back in Anchorage I witnessed a short parade, part of a religious festival for the Filipino community. I hadn’t seen a pageant like this since we had May Day parades for The Virgin Mary in my childhood.

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A celebration of Our Lady – Filipino style

It was a year for remembering childhood. Our classmate Dan Goodwin died, as did his father. There were memorial services and a 35th class reunion. Things change. The parents of our generation are nearly gone. Our generation will be next. It’s already starting. Our time together is more obviously limited.

Some things remain the same. The spirits of the young, the old, the living and dead may find solace in the shoreline. I try to visit Singing Beach each time I return to Manchester by the Sea.  I loved it as a child and as a teen. As an adult I find myself lost amongst the strangers who with my myopic vision remind me of people I used to know. I only find my 8 year old self when I enter the ocean.

Who walked here before?

Who walked here ?

A few things have changed. My mother used to work with Lillian Theriault at the bathhouse. They would give you a number, you would get a basket to put your clothes in and they would guard it all day. My sister Beth and I worked at the canteen selling hotdogs and popsicles. This is what they sell there now.

Would you like a tubesteak with your Orso?

Would you like a tubesteak with your Orzo?

Then there was the rain, and more rain. Anchorage had a very wet summer and fall. It was a little depressing as this is the time we like to stock up on Vitamin D.

Chester Creek trail

Chester Creek trail

With a long cold snap in November,  very little snow and warming back to normal in December we now have ice overflow all over the trails making them  pretty messy but that doesn’t stop most folks from sliding through. The ice is so thick in this tunnel now that I have to duck my head to walk through.

We lost a strange neighbor, The Sunrise Bakery, owned by Hostess. This was a home to most of the city’s pigeon population who had been staging an Occupy movement in the front dumpster for many years.  We have a couple of newer, smaller, better bakeries nearby so I can’t say I’ll miss the Sunrise much. I did like the sign though, especially on a day where the sun didn’t come up until 10:30 or so.

Wake up everyone, someone baked the Twinkies!

Wake up everyone, someone baked the Twinkies!

Then there was The City of Anchorage’s Zombie Emergency Preparation videos which got me interested in making some shorts of my own. Theatre is a wonderful thing but I have never quite thrived in it. My creativity is the only thing I brought to the table. I’m getting older and work full-time so my energy is more limited. I have to deal with the non-profit which pays me so my tolerance for the institutional limitations of theater companies is limited.  It turns out that I’m more of a clown/ comedian/satirist than an actor, so sue me.

And I photograph well!

And I photograph well!

No pay for the zombie video but they did serve us lunch.

No pay for the zombie video but they did serve us lunch.

I went to Juneau near the end of the year for The Alaska Peer Consortium meeting and fell in love with Alaska again just when I needed it. Juneau hosts our cute little state legislature, and apparently karaoke as well. It’s very beautiful.

Just up the street from the legislature

Just up the street from the legislature

Our legislature only convenes for Jan-May so I had the House to myself.

Our legislature only convenes for Jan-May so I had the House to myself.

It was good to see the economy  is doing better down there.  Our new focus at work is finding jobs for people in recovery so I found the following ad encouraging.  Now if I can just find someone who is okay with relocating.

There is hope!

There is hope!

Most everything else I covered in earlier posts, the rowing, the staph infection, whooping cough, roommate angst, computer snafus. The world didn’t end so I guess it’s just going to change, either that or I’m going to.  I’ll be back.