art · creativity · level up

Gallery of Indeterminate Art.

still life feb 2011In an effort to “not go back in the cave,” I’ve been (egregiously slowly) asking for and (less slowly) accepting help.  I’ve been tending to the idea of getting an “accountability buddy” for many months now, someone with whom to mutually check in about progress on our goals, but I haven’t gotten far in that realm.  There’s something so daunting about accountability—even when it’s in service of my own health!

So I’ve been skirting up to the line by asking for help around smaller, task-specific items, which seems like a nice middle-ground and huge progress nonetheless.  Yesterday, I texted an artist friend of mine to come by and help me “look at” my art studio space.  To help me talk out what it is I want to do with it or in there.  Because most of what is up there is of the “Someone could use this for something” variety, but that someone hasn’t been me.

Magazines for collages; baskets of fabric samples; all sizes of canvases, plywood, and thick paper.  I have finger paint, oil paint, acrylic paint, watercolor.  I have charcoal pencils, colored pencils, water-color pencils, and pencil pencils.  In my art studio, there are scissors, brushes, glitter, embossing tools, stamps, ink, turpentine, and gesso.  Rulers, compasses, sharpeners, and cleaners.

And what is a girl to do?

I have no idea.  I’m no painter (“yet,” she adds hopefully).  I took an oil class in grad school that produced all the paintings that are up there, 6 years ago.  I loved it—more specifically, I loved the accountability and deadlines.  I loved having to work toward a goal, with an assignment (interior, live painting, still life [seen above]), an end date, feedback, and completion.  I also loved being around other people creating, too.  Yet, in the absence of an end date and the presence of self-judgment, all my ideas spool out to the egg yolk on the horizon.

(Speaking of spools, I also have a sewing machine, bobbins, embroidery thread, and knitting!)

So, I’m hoping that my friend standing next to me today, looking into this candyland of undiscovered art, will help me discover:  What is next for my art studio?  What is clamoring in there to come to life but I can’t hear over the shaming voice that tells me I’m wasting it?

Perhaps it’s something I make, perhaps it’s a group I host with access to it all, or perhaps I tell her about the few pieces I’ve done that I know would make a series, but that I’m unsure I feel enthusiastic about anymore.

In order to create anything, I need people.  And in order to have people, I have to ask.

 

Advertisements
action · art · awe · community · faith · friendship · love · miracle

The Miracle of 12 – 13 – 14

Normal
0
0
1
422
2407
20
4
2955
11.1287

0

0
0

“I’m getting married on 12/13/14,” I half-joked to my
coworker early this year.
I just love the order, the numbers, the unique fact that
consecutive dates like that won’t happen again until 2103 (1/2/03).
My favorite time of day? 12:34.
Although “5:55” is another favorite, because my brother and I
used to stand in front of the microwave (the only digital clock in the house
then), look at the time and announce, “Five fifty-five!” and then lean over
sideways, our heads upside-down, and announce, “Fifty-five five!” and then stand up straight and do
it again: 5:55!! 55:5!!
I love that kind of order and ease, palindromes, sequences.
THREE POINT ONE FOUR ONE FIVE NINE – I THINK PI IS MIGHTY
FINE!, is one our mother taught to us.
And so, when early this year, I looked at the calendar and
saw that one of these special dates was coming up, I declared to my coworker
that would be my wedding anniversary date.
Now, this was, say June, maybe? No boyfriend. No prospects. It would be a short
engagement! But I figured, What the hell, it’s always good to declare things to
the Universe. Why not?
And 6 months later, yesterday, it hit. December 13th, 2014.
No, I did not get married. Alas.
But I did get something else. An outpouring of love that
rivals the strongest romantic connection:
Yesterday, you all erased my cancer debt. In 36 hours. Less than two
days. Poof! Gone. Done. Finished. Eliminated.
FREE.
Yesterday evening, I became free. Because of the love and
generosity of you, my friends, your friends, and even people I barely know.
One of the donors is a woman I helped at my sales job this
week. A brand new woman I hit it off with, and happened to mention the launch
of the campaign on Friday.
“Send me the link,” she said. And she donated, too.
Over 60 people contributed to the campaign, not to mention
the shares and “likes” and “We’re with you” emails and messages.
In 36 hours. It’s done. Something that has harangued me since I got sick is over. Something I put in every monthly budget and calculate how long it will take, and that I can never move from my apartment with that debt. Something I was shackled to. 
Until yesterday. 
Now, I have to wait for the campaign to officially close in January,
and for the crowdfunding site to take their cut and then send me the donations.
But then, I get to write a check to my landlord. And I get
to say, Yes, it’s time to clean out that janitor room–cum art studio, unstick
the windows, clean out the dried cat poop, put a lock on the door, and hand me a key. 
And then I get to move my art supplies up. Out of my closet.
Out of random drawers.
The half-started art projects, the oil paint, acrylics, and embossing gun, the colored pencils, and easel, and oil pastels, collage magazines, glue
sticks, stamps and stickers, brushes and sketchpads and canvases, exact-o knives and glitter.
All of this. All of this hidden away in my studio apartment
closet. All of this out. Up. Lit. Alive. With me, available to me. Creation
incarnate.
I get to m o v e 
o n.
12 13 14.
I didn’t get married yesterday. But what is a wedding except
a display of love, commitment, hope, cherishment?
On 12/13/14, I absolutely received that. Your love, your
hope, your belief in me.
Wow.
And: Thanks. 

action · art · community · dreams · help · inspiration

Re-Ignition.

Normal
0
0
1
392
2237
18
4
2747
11.1287

0

0
0

Unstructured time isn’t the best for me, and yet I am
feeling a bit panicky about my upcoming full-time employment in sales starting
on Tuesday. What has been lovely about
this time, besides the “brain space” I spoke of the other day is that I’ve
gotten to take my long walks again, meet up with my folks again, play with my cat again.
I’ve enjoyed being unemployed, though I know it’s not
sustainable.
On that note, though, I’ve been meeting up to “co-work” at cafes with a friend
also looking for work and get some applicationing done.
This has led to conversations, which have led to ideas, which are leading to
action. Particularly around things that “light me up.”
Such as the long-lost “LocalArtists Productions” I started
a few years ago, which hosted a successful group art show, but in which I
put too much of my own money and ended up in a pickle. Since then, I’ve
sort of let that idea drift. But talking to my new friend about what lights me,
I said, “My favorite thing I’ve ever done? This group art show I put on.”

Even as I sat listening to my friend at her CD release party
the other week, I looked around the space. I came home and looked up the rental
costs for that space: this could be a great place to host another one.
I love bringing people
together, people who “normally would not mix.” I’ve met so many types of
artists on my path – poets, writers, painters, photographers, musicians, actors – that
it only makes
sense that I bring
them together. “Oh, you make jewelry, my friend does still photography, maybe
you can work together.” “You’re a painter, my friend just participated in an
open studios, maybe you can talk to her about getting your work out there.”
There are too many opportunities to learn from and
collaborate with each other. I don’t want us to miss any!
So, I may be starting a Kickstarter campaign soon. To pay
off my back rent (accrued when I was in chemo) so that I can rent out the art
studio space on the 4th floor of my apartment building. I said to my friend
over our laptops, “Yeah, people would be willing to donate to a cancer survivor
who wants to produce art again, wouldn’t they?”
They’re slightly different avenues I’m beginning to chase
down again: One is the studio space I want to rent so that I can start working again. The other is the creation
of a space for artists to get together, these events and gatherings that I
love to host.
I feel putting grease behind one will help with the grease
behind the other. And so, before I start my full-time work on Tuesday, my
friend and I are going to brainstorm about the video, and maybe even get to
making it.
Because time is ticking away and we all have art to make and
people to meet. 

art · fulfillment · money · self-esteem · trying

The Writing on the Walls.

Normal
0
0
1
521
2972
24
5
3649
11.1287

0

0
0

After yesterday’s heaviness, let’s talk about something
lighter: gratitude.
You know, there are a lot of things as I look around that I
have to be grateful for. It is always easiest for me to start with my
apartment, because, small though it is, and however much I’d love for my bed to
not be the main prominence of my studio apartment, I love it here. “Warm” is
consistently the response I get from friends and visitors who come in. It feels
warm here.
Someone just said it recently, and it’s precisely the phrase
I heard from a friend when he left one of my parties in my San Francisco
apartment: I felt warm when I left. How many parties does one leave feeling
that way? It was a thrill, and what I love to hear. Inviting, warm, cozy,
artful.
The art has been culled over a few years, and recently, in
the re-organization of my closet, I pulled out the enormous oil pastel lips
with flower, created for one of my Pre-Val Hearts & Stars parties in SF. I
think I’ll put it up again, but even if I don’t, it reminds me of what I can
accomplish when I set my mind to it.
I’d started with an idea. I made some sample studies, small
two-inch colored pencil drawings, and then I asked my artist friend if she had
any super large butcher-size paper. In fact, she did. And I stood with a pencil hovering over this
expanse of 5 foot wide and 4 feet tall paper laid on the floor of my apartment,
white, untouched, and daunting.

How do you start, where do you make a first mark? What if
it’s wrong, and you’ve ruined this enormous (and only) page you have?
I remember that moment, the taking of a deep
breath, and the creation of the first mark. And wherever it was on the page is now well-blended into the rest of the drawing, and you’d never know where
it began with a brave and tentative mark.
You drew that? Yep.
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I’ve stopped often. I thought I couldn’t
anymore, as a 40 oz went hand-in-hand with my art for a while. I
also tried again and so out of practice, was not so great, and put it away,
saying this wasn’t for me anymore.
Then, the parties began, and they were the impetus to draw
again, to paint, and make art again. With an aim and purpose, with people to
create an environment for, it was simple. It was enlivening, and it wasn’t
perfect. Yet it was fun.

I spoke the other week to my property manager about the
upstairs abandoned 4th floor room with the two work sinks, northern light, and
great ventilation. They’re happy to rent that space out to me for 25 bucks a
month. … Once I settle my account.
When I was sick, my landlord said about my rent, “Don’t
worry about it.” Which I thought meant, We’ll waive it. I found out later,
several months of not paying rent later, that in fact, what he meant was, “Pay
it when you can, and we’ll be counting every cent.”
So, I became over $4,000 in debt to my landlord, and even
though it was great that they held my rent for a while, it sucks that it wasn’t
clear that’s what was happening, as maybe I’d have begun paying sooner. But, it
wasn’t. I didn’t. And I’ve been paying $50 over my rent each month for over a
year now to help pay down the debt, because that’s truly what I can afford.
I have more than $3,000 left to pay back. Before I can
rent that art space. FOR TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!! God, I want that space! But, first things first, I suppose.
In the meantime, maybe I do unroll those lips and put them
up, proof and inspiration once again that I can do what I fear, that I don’t
have to be perfect, that I love producing things, and that I have talent when I
focus.
Who doesn’t need a reminder like that?

art · dreams · expansion · perfectionism · self-compassion

forget frida.

Normal
0
0
1
454
2589
21
5
3179
11.1287

0

0
0

When I was sick (that phrase again!), I wrote a blog
entitled Frida. I was questioning why I wasn’t putting into action all of the
passions I was saying I’d staved off for so long, asking why I wasn’t engaging
in music and art during those long swaths of empty time laying in bed. Why wasn’t I
being like Frida? Creating from my place of weakness and also of determination?
Of course, the feedback a cancer patient gets when they say
something like this is, Molly, be gentle with yourself. But, it’s hard to do
that when you feel riled up in the manic thrall of fear and impending death.
You want to do everything right now. You
feel you have to. And yet, of course you can’t. Because you’re sick.
It’s nearly two years since I wrote that blog, and the
patience I wasn’t able to give myself then, the compassion and forgiveness of
being in a situation that didn’t allow for movement like that is finally
arriving – because I am and have changed.
I, of course, couldn’t change so much then; it was a “hold
onto the ropes and try not to fall overboard” moment and series of moments.
But, the storm has passed, and I have,
despite any chiding I may have toward myself and judgment about where I am in
life, I
have moved to someplace
different – I
have implemented
the changes I begged myself to take.
Of course, too, it’s hard in its own way to show up for
yourself differently, to put yourself on the line – to put your dreams and
goals out there, in black and white and in the real world. It’s
nerve-inducing, it’s uncertain. As you’ve read recently, it means that I battle
self-questioning, and “compare despair,” and still a nagging sense of “You’ve
got to live your best life NOW!”
Well, in retrospect and with perspective, I get to see that
I am. I am on that path I longed for. It’s become a bit more clouded (for me) since
I’ve made the decision to leave my steady job at the end of the month. But, I
have to trust that these actions and decisions are the outcome of a woman who
started walking out of the dark when she wrote a critical, demanding blog about
needing to be like Frida Kahlo, and who has taken impetus from that by engaging in
those things she thought were too late.
To quote Galaxy Quest:
Never Give Up; Never Surrender.
If I can hold the compassion of acknowledging where I am in
comparison to where I was, I have to celebrate myself. Hard as that is for most
of us.
But how many times, too, have I written that we never give
ourselves the chance to acknowledge our successes? We climb and grapple and
trip up a mountain, and once finally to the top, we pause for maybe a
millisecond to look around and take in what we’ve just accomplished before we
charge up the next mountainhead.
So, I take this moment to look around from the top of this
place, at my bass I sort of know how to play now, at the script sitting on my
kitchen table, and I thank myself and the opportunities around me for allowing
me and helping me to get here.
The only person I can rightly compare myself to is myself.
And today I whisper through the veil of time to that woman in a hospital bed –
demanding she be something different – that she is. We are.

art · community · fortitude · friends · fun · say yes · vulnerability

Ain’t Dead Yet

Last night, I went to a Halloween party. Like a normal
person.
I did fancy glitter make-up on my face, pretended my
dress could pass as a 60s throw-back, donned my friend’s blue wig, and called
myself a psychedelic stewardess (as they were called in the 60s, pre-politically corrected “flight
attendant”).
It was amazing. It felt like normal. Like something a normal
person would do the weekend of Halloween – get dressed up, go to a party. It’s
something that has felt nearly unattainable for me after the whole cancer
thing – normal. I danced. I danced a
lot. I laughed, talked with friends, and it
wasn’t about my cancer. Sure, a few people asked me how I was feeling, and
if there was anything they could do, but for the most part, the people there had no
idea the blue wig covered a shaved head. They just saw a girl at a party – and
I am grateful for it.
Part of the anomaly of being so sick is that sometimes my health is what’s top of my mind, and it’s immediately what I talk about when people call or visit.
Sometimes it’s top of their minds, and they want to know about it. But … sometimes, I just want to know what the heck else is going on in the world. I mean, I didn’t even
know the Giants were in the World Series. (Though, I remain partial to the NY
teams, ahem.)
I want to know how your new job is, or your relationship, or
what happened with that thing. I want to talk about something other than
CANCER. It’s so overarching and undergirding that it feels hard to get away
from, and just talk normally. That’s part of the “watching Ben Stiller movies”
thing I was questioning yesterday – am I allowed to still have normal
conversations, activities?
Thank G-d, as shown yesterday, YES. As I painted a star over
my eye yesterday and asteroids on my cheek (despite a weird double-vision thing I have that the
doctor tells me “will resolve itself”…) — I felt
like my old self. Engaged in an activity I love.
I do feel the guillotine though. I go back into the hospital a
week from tomorrow, and it’s hard to not feel like my days are numbered. It’s
hard to not get defensive in advance. I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to
do this 4 more times. And yet, this is what they know to do to cure cancer, or
at least send it packing for what they hope is years, if not forever.
So, I try and remain present, if possible, but I know it’s
looming. I have scheduled a bunch of self-care things this week, chiropractor
tomorrow to realign all the sitting in a bed for three weeks issues; a masseuse
that a generous friend gifted me on Tuesday to work out the rest of the kinks;
Thursday, I’ll do work with a friend who’s a professional at inner/spiritual healing to help work out the kinks from the inside as well.
It’s seems hard to try to live normally, and yet, as I saw
yesterday, it wasn’t hard at all — All I had to do was show up. – Plus, I kept the wig. 😉

acceptance · adulthood · anger · art · faith · frustration · gratitude · progress · recovery

Cancer.

About a month ago, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. And my
whole life changed.
I don’t know what this change is, was, will be, but I know
that I am in several ways entirely different than I was. The way, at least
right now, that I see things are entirely new. And profoundly grateful. I
almost died. And yet, I didn’t.
We each get this each day – I got this each day, prior to this happening. I got the chance to
understand that life was precious, but I didn’t, really. I
understood it,
but to really
feel it? Well, it’s
different now,
and it brings up a host of other questions. Am I allowed to still watch Ben Stiller movies? Am I allowed to spend a day on the couch? Will
I now stop stopping myself short on all my varied art projects, and allow
myself to follow through on anything
that I’ve started? I have no idea.
I’d like to think that part of this “change” – for lack of a
better term for “life altering sudden tragic happening” – will indeed move me
toward being more in my art, more in my life. I’d like to believe that part of
this whole thing is a very nasty kick-upside-the-head lesson in not living for
tomorrow. That I’m being given the chance to very acutely see that life is
short and tenuous, and so I ought to embrace the talents that I have, and finally
let myself explore them fully so that I might share them with you.
I’d like to believe that there are lessons here. Otherwise,
what the fuck.
I’d like to believe that the Universe or my Higher Power
couldn’t — for some reason completely unknown to me – send me a postcard, or a
dream, or a message on Facebook. That
for some reason this lesson had to be learned hard, and fast, and
therefore more gentle methods of smoothing a rock down to its shiny parts were
not available to this massive Power.
I’ve been out of the hospital for a week now, and I will go
back in next Monday for another round of chemo. This will be the 2nd
in a series of, likely, 5 treatments. The words that I’ve had to learn over
this month scare the crap out of me. I don’t want to use words like chemo,
nausea, pain meds, pneumonia. I don’t want to hear “How bad is the pain on a
scale of 1 to 10,” or, “It’s time for your shot,” or “Well, we expect this.”
I’ve oscillated since I’ve been out of the hospital between
those few stages of grief – anger, grief, acceptance. Often within the same
minute. When I was in the hospital, there wasn’t time for anything except acceptance. This is happening. Period. Go with it. And, despite
what you may think, it’s really f’ing busy in the hospital with people coming
in and out at all hours of the day and night, throwing information or
medication at you. There’s not really time to process, space to absorb and
consolidate what has been happening to me.
And so, being home now, I’m getting the chance to experience
what I couldn’t while basically holding my breath for 3 weeks. I’m getting to
realize the enormity of what happened. The slow, marinating, seeping
reality – I almost died. The nurse told me that I had 49% leukemic cells in my
blood when I came into the hospital – WITH STREP THROAT – and that if I hadn’t
come in, I would have died within two weeks. I would have gotten a bleed,
likely in my brain, and I would have just died. No one would have known – no one would have known why. Relapse?
Suicide? Understanding this fact has begun to lead me to know that I need help
in holding the space for all this – and yesterday I contacted a cancer support
group.
AND, I have to tell you, I don’t want to be someone who needs a cancer support group – I shouldn’t have
motherfucking cancer in order to
need such a group. A month ago, this was unfathomable.
This morning, I read my last Morning Pages entry from the week
before I went into the hospital. I haven’t written morning pages since then, I
was too sick, and then too hospitalized. And so I read them, and I see myself
talking about how my throat really is starting to hurt. About how I went to the
art store Flax and got new pens and a notebook and talked to the woman in the
back about different types of pressed paper – hot press versus cold, what would
be good for the art I want to do. About the café I’d emailed with the month
before about putting up a show in their space, and how he wanted to do
November, but I simply wasn’t ready, as it was the end of September at the
time.
I’d written about the clothing I’d bought for cheap at good
thrift shops, and the flying lesson I was scheduled for, which ended up being
the day I went into the ER. I wrote about being excited, about art that I would
make. About missing my family, and wanting to go home for Thanksgiving to see
them.
In some ways, it feels like reading a journal from junior
high, it feels so long ago. And yet, it’s all still me. And that’s something
that I want to take away from this too. This process is going to be HARD, challenging, painful, difficult, and yet, I’m still
me. As I was writing my first Morning Pages this morning since that last entry,
I was inwardly elated to see my handwriting hadn’t changed. That major facts of
who I am have not changed. That things that were important to me then, “before
cancer,” are still things that are important to me now. – art, family,
adventure.
I’ve been blasted with some of the nastiest chemicals, shorn down
to the barest slices of my body … but my handwriting is still the same.
I could go into the ways in which gratitude has become this
sort of well of tears behind my eyes at all times. I could talk about how just
waking up this morning feels like a gift. But I don’t want to today, really. I could
list the thanks and the inundation of love and support and care, but that’s not
what this blog is about this morning, at least. It’s not a love fest, it’s just
a truth fest. About where I am this very day, at this very time, arguing and
stamping and shaking a fist at the sky with WHY in the m’f’in hell couldn’t you
have made this a little bit of a gentler lesson? About how I feel like I’m some
sort of icon now, with people telling me all the time what an inspiration
you are
, when I’ve had diarrhea for 3 out
of the last 4 weeks. I’ve asked people what on earth that even
means, an inspiration to what? What have I inspired in
you? What am I inspiring you to do?
I haven’t done anything except lived.
I get to be bitter about it. And I get to be amazingly
thankful to get to be bitter about it –
to be alive enough to have emotions enough to get to scorn about it.
It is surely true, the love and support I’ve gotten. And
yet, there’s a part of me that feels angry that I even have a situation in
which to receive such love and support.
I know people love me. Couldn’t I have had my 31st birthday at a
restaurant with them, instead of in a hospital bed? Couldn’t I have learned to
get out of the way of my own creativity and drive and lust for life in a
different, gentler way? Couldn’t I have gotten to see my family by flying East
for Thanksgiving, instead of them flying West to hold my hand while my hair
falls out?
I’m grateful for this blog – this tempestuous blog that
gives me the chance to be honest in every way. Which I want to use to
springboard to something else, to write in another venue, maybe one that’s
paid. I’m glad that I get to write here, as someone told me, as I speak – that if I
write the way I talk, they said, I’m surely a great writer. I don’t know how much that is
true, but somehow the cancer lets me see it a little more clearly. And perhaps begin to accept it. I want to explore my talent more – because there simply is
more there. I want to push into it, and I want to share it.
I swear I would have gotten there without this whole cancer
thing, but I guess I really didn’t have a choice in this one.