Saturday, March 27, 2010

"I Guess This Must Be The Place"

Talking Heads

Life shifts and changes. We all take that ride. There are no guarantees on friendship and love. We must work at what we want everyday. And even if we do, it might all fall to shit. It’s just how things go. Then again, if we do work at it everyday; if we wake up and rub our husband’s back and massage the dog’s head; if we come down and make coffee and get it all going, it’s one step in the direction of our dreams. If we commit to the dream, who knows what life will present. Life is what it is: sometimes the success gained from living isn’t success recognized by our society. We must use our intuition to find ourselves, our love, our dreams. Some dreams don’t rely on our actions as much as our conviction. Faith that we will be presented with what we need at just the right time. Belief that we will find what we are looking for even if we don’t know what that is. Trusting our intuition that where our heart takes us is where we need to be.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Advocate...Anything...

I read an article the other day in the March issue of Colorado Biz. It was actually Rundles Wrap-up, Too Progressive, on the last page of the magazine (my first go to in any mag). Rundles writes about the loss of action and optimism in today’s day and age. He writes about how the majority has established themselves as experts ridden with opposition in their back pocket. He comments about how one gets ahead by being against everything. Tongue-in-cheek he goes on to write about the things that he is solidly against. i.e. “I’m against mass transit. Losers ride the bus.” I can appreciate the perspective. Though there are a million things that do need to be changed, we can all do more by actively affecting change rather than passively bashing it.

In any case, it got me thinking about what I do advocate? Spoiler Alert: I am putting on my optimism undies here. I could point out all the obviously wonderful things in my life like my health and my family. The loyalty of the best dog on the planet and good friends who incessantly find a way to make me smile or keep me inspired/informed. Granted these are pieces of my personal life; things more subjective to my emotional state. Perhaps the list should come from solid, social surroundings and tangible life experiences but I'm not that politically current or socially aware. So here are my thoughts, elementary or otherwise:

  • I’m for reading in any way shape or form. I don’t care if it’s about Oscar Dresses (Demi Moore knocked it out of the ballpark) or the effects of sugar on your neurological system.
  • I’m for public libraries. I’m for subjecting yourself to the community you live in and discovering worlds on shelves rather than on a web.
  • I’m for eating heathly, natural, organic, unsynthesized food. I’m for doing it as much as possible and not militantly all the time.
  • I’m for walking or running or riding your bike or doing something active to get from point A to point B.
  • I'm for Sunday radio; morning or night; NPR or KBCO; Car Talk or Prairie Home Companion; Red Rooster Lounge or the Groove Show.
  • I’m for spending some time each day to pay yourself first. We provide so much more to others when we give ourselves what we need.
  • I’m for the benefit of the doubt. I’m for taking what people say at face value. Sure I might pick it apart from the comfort of my own bed, but I do like to believe: you say what you do; you do what you say.
  • I’m for travel. Any kind of travel. I’m for changing your surroundings to change your state of mind. I’m for seeing other countries, tasting different food, and hearing different speak.
  • I’m for happy hour. The time of day and the mentality.
  • I’m for supporting other people in their goals. I’m for that positive contribution. I’m frugal and it doesn’t cost a thing to believe in someone else.
  • I’m for staying up late and talking with old friends and not wanting to go to bed. I’m for slumber parties.
  • I’m for self-employment. The little guy; the under dog; the impossibly possible.
  • I’m for picking up your dog’s poop even if it’s in an awkward place. I’m for acknowledging it rather than pretending you didn’t see it.
  • I’m for creating something. Anything. A good meal, a piece of art, a blog entry.
  • I’m for snail-mail. Always.
  • I’m for love: as the never-ending patient teacher, the medicine, the answer, the challenge.
  • I’m for being genuine; and if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Not always but mostly.
  • I’m for work life balance.
  • I’m for keeping your head on straight and recognizing when someone is trying to steer you off a cliff. I'm also for politely sidestepping to offer them the first step.
  • I’m for ice cream. I have never had a bad experience eating ice cream. No one ever gets in a fight over ice cream.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Recurrent

Wednesday night I went and hung art with Jody and J at the N E X T Gallery. Jody needed to get everything up on the walls before her art opening, Recurrent, this weekend. It was fun to go and be behind the scenes in an artist's world. When I showed up, Jody and J were waiting for me with a giant pizza and hugs as I came in the door.

We sat and talked and ate pizza while looking around the room. All of Jody’s paintings were leaning against the walls, like people waiting in a train depot to leave on a journey. They were all positioned in the spots where they were to be hung. Jody talked about her considerations when it came to figuring out where the paintings would go. She ultimately felt that her biggest piece would hang at the the front of the room to greet people when they came in the door and to invite traffic in from the street. Thinking back now, I wish I would have asked her for the names of more of her artwork (I am a heal for not remembering the names of any of her pieces). J knew them all; she was assistant number one.

Since it was just Jody, J and I , I felt like I had the chance to ask her more questions about herself; like why she ended up getting her MFA and how she was feeling about the show. She did mention the underlying sense of baring her soul a bit. Her body of work would hang all around her while friends moved through the room. I thought about how intense that must feel: standing in a room full of good friends and strangers while they interact with your art. None of it is bad, but all of it can be a little risky. One thing I admire about Jody though, is her ability to wear her heart on her sleeve. She seems to just live her emotions and let the experiences affect her.

She talked about being a graphic designer in an earlier life; at that time she believed she wasn’t an artist. She had her dream job as an art director and when the Internet boom ended, she found herself working in a technical world just doing work entirely different from what made it a dream job. For the first time since she was a teenager, she took six months off and then found a job at an art organization until she could figure out what she wanted to do next. One day she saw a bunch of kids running around and playing and decided she liked that. She went back to school and started teaching. In school she learned about all the different types of art. She sculpted, painted, learned to draw, made jewelery, and ultimately she found she was more of an artist than she realized. She finished three years ago. She said sometimes it takes a while to get to [one of] the places you should visit in a lifetime. I admired that she had finally arrived. It's funny to learn those facts since the Jody I know is 100% an artist. It makes me think about the lifetimes people live and how we do change and morph and grow into new versions of ourselves.
I had not anticipated having to do Math when I signed on for the ride, but I got kung-fu'd by the Math gods in this experience. I'm more of an eyeballer myself but the goal was to make the center of each painting consistently at the same height. It's a very technical process I won't go in to here but it does require sheer mental strength, a measuring tape, and a pencil. J was quick to the draw with division. We all joked about it how simple it seemed in theory but it took a few times to get familiar with the concept that 60 inches from the floor is the center of the painting (all around the room, any painting size). We measured each painting and did the math... and remeasured... and pounded in the nail and hung the art... and then sometimes kind of eyeballed it... and readjusted. All around the room we went, and slowly the pieces came in to their space. Jody adjusted the lights, creating an even more vibrant look to the paintings.

We went outside to look at the show through the windows of the Gallery. Some men walking by stopped to comment on how cool it was that "they" were changing the art. The guys looked through the window as well and talked to each other for a few minutes (probably until the noticed some random woman taking their photo). I was trying to catch Jody and J together inside. It was nice to watch them relate. There was a painting of her underwater, huge smile and her hair disheveled from the lack of gravity. At the end of the night, her and Jody stood next to it as I took their photo in the finished process. She stood alone to so I could get the resemblance of her to her painted self. It was a great comparison.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Committed: Take Two

I found out about Wordle today when I was doing some Oscar "research". I thought it would be cool to try it out on a blog post I did in January. You can also just plug in words and it will wordle them in to something. Click on the photo below for a closer look...

Wordle: Committed

And The Winner Is...

You.
I've been thinking about the Oscars the other night. For some reason, I was so excited this year to watch them. The show itself seemed a bit off. The timing between Steve Martin and Alec Balwin was forced and there were many scenes where I wondered what was happening as we watched people walk in front of the camera or run across the stage when coming back from a commercial. I was surprised to find myself completely drawn to the dancing before the best score presentation - that seemed to be the show stealer, even missing the (seems-like yearly) shout out to Debbie Allen.

In any case, there were just a few phrases that stuck out like sweet beacons in the sea of Hollywood luster (though as anyone online will, I'll do my obligatory vote for best dress). They were phrases of goodness brought forth from dreamers who dared to dance with their dream. These people passed along their sage advice and the magic from the night; I like to think they were trying to inspire the possibilities.

"We need inspiration...We must all exceed our own expectations."
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/dor/objects/945524/invictus/videos/invictus_5_120809.html (sorry I can't embed the video)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Film: "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Winner: Geoffrey Fletcher
I don't know what to say. This is for everybody who works on a dream every day. Precious boys and girls everywhere. All the cast and crew, anyone who's kept believing in me...

Music (Original score)
Film: "Up"
Winner: Michael Giacchino
Thank you, guys. When I was... I was nine and I asked my dad, "Can I have your movie camera? That old, wind-up 8 millimeter camera that was in your drawer?" And he goes, "Sure, take it." And I took it and I started making movies with it and I started being as creative as I could, and never once in my life did my parents ever say, "What you're doing is a waste of time." Never. And I grew up, I had teachers, I had colleagues, I had people that I worked with all through my life who always told me what you're doing is not a waste of time. So that was normal to me that it was OK to do that. I know there are kids out there that don't have that support system so if you're out there and you're listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it. It's not a waste of time. Do it. OK? Thank you. Thank you.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Florida Concentrate

My sister and I went to visit my dad last weekend in Florida. She wanted to introduce him to her new son, HRR. I went along to serve as her Paula Ab-Doula but really it was more of a Sherpa roll. I was happy to do it though for the time it gave me to spend with her and to catch up with my dad. The visit was really good, it felt vibrant. Dad was happy to meet HRR. We spent our days in easy conversation and naps. My dad was more himself again, making jokes and smiling at us. Of course, HRR brought a sense of promise into the mix with his gummy smiles and curious eyes. We spent our time doing the normal routine: Trivia at Panama Hatties Friday night, eating (always), talking about life over drinks, and learning new things about our family history. It was great to catch up with some cousin’s who were in town as well. All week I’ve been searching for a way to replay our visit. It seems specific concentrated moments are suitable to report.

N and I took to southern accents and referred to HRR as John Henry (saying it quickly and curtly in what we thought were accurate southern tones). The idea came about in the car on the way from the airport (perhaps after the 100th Florida billboard reminded us we were in the south). As all those silly things do, it added a funny element to the weekend and made us all laugh.

“Mind your manners, John Henry.”
“John Henry, go fetch your Auntie some water from the intercoastal. Quickly now.”
“John Henry, you listen to your momma. You don’t need no piece of pie after your hotcakes. Just ‘cause we at the Village Inn doesn’t mean you have to act like an animal.”

We were in forth place after the first round of trivia. Panama Hatties was too loud, too bright for a sleepy HRR so N was in the car with him. We ended up leaving early from trivia – Dad and Uncle G figured we weren’t going to win anyway. My contribution to trivia that night: “What young actor appeared at the beginning of Michael Jackson’s video Black or White?”
(Answer: Macaulay Culkin)

I caught one vibrant sunrise from the semi-comfort of my dad’s couch, surely the best treat of that sleeping arrangement. The lanky and curved trees had some moss hanging off them. It created a nice silhouette against the orangey-red colors diluted across the sky. It would indicate a day of rain, but at 6 am there was nothing to do but enjoy it. I did take some photos of the intercoastal on Sunday morning with the sun reflecting across it, low enough to create a band of dancing bright light on the water. Later in the day it doesn’t seem so obvious a scene until you find yourself stopping mid-conversation to appreciate a boat streaming by. A land-locked gal like me always finds that novel.

The days started out with a happy HRR swaddled in a blue and brown blanket. I held him while N got dressed and he cooingly smiled at me as we woke up together. He worked on rolling over; by the end of the weekend it seemed he made progress. Dad got up soon after that. I watched him do his early morning routine: taking his cholesterol medicine and orange juice; then retrieving the paper and unfolding it all. He looked at the news for a few moments only to refold one section and settle in to the crossword. Forever, this will be my dad’s move. No one I know folds a paper and sits with a crossword like him. Leaning over it with one arm curved on the writing surface he is at. Every now and then, he looks up over his glasses and considers the answer before penning it in his decisive engineer’s penmanship. It is his morning coffee.

Still raining, we drove back to dad’s passing the cemetery where Grandma and Grandpa are buried. I asked him if he goes to see them. I had some strange urge to stop by. N and I ended up doing it Sunday on our way back from downtown. We left HRR sleeping in the car and used our memories from my Grandmother’s funeral to find their stone. They are next to their good friends, the Tooleys. In fact, they have the same gravestone though Grandma and Grandpa’s is smaller. Standing there didn’t stir emotions as I thought it would. I just wanted to take a minute to check in with them. It’s funny how visiting a grave can seem so strange and comforting at the same time. Does knowing their physical bodies are still there make me feel better? Does that make them seem more “with us” for a few minutes? We walked back to the car considering names on stones; considering life spans.

Dad and I watched news about the quake in Chile. We checked the world map to see where Santiago was and how the ocean currents curved toward the islands. I was in disbelief that a tsunami would hit Hawaii as opposed to say French Polynesia. I love that my Dad has a world map hanging up to reference (D and I always consult ours at home). The news reported Hawaii had an hour before the tsunami would hit. I hate the news these days for the sheer drama played out. Was news that way before? It seems like they are gunning for the next big disaster. They already had branding of sorts for the “Hawaii Tsunami”. I'm all for getting to higher land but let's wait till something happens before we sell it to the American public. We left for my Aunt G’s as the hour countdown was on. The tsunami never did hit.


It’s always so nice to go over to the M’s beach house. Dinner was an amazing gluten-free lasagna and eggplant parmesan with a colorful salad and drinks. The lasagna was so yummy I had to go back for seconds (I was hungry from the VI experience earlier that day). Aunt G made some fantastic bundt cake too (I need to ask her about that recipe). The boys played and watched movies as we all chatted and moved around the room. We were the last to leave that night. Aunt G was tired in her chair, J was ready for more partying, and Dad was staying out later than he had in a long time. It was around 11 pm. We went back to his place and sat up for a bit talking. Perhaps this is my most favorite part of visiting my dad. It seems the late hours of the day inspire candor: stories are recounted and feelings are shared. We ask dad questions about his thoughts on life in the past. That is the thing I always want to do when I am around him: get more memories. Downtown St. Augustine was busy. We hung with Aunt G, J and R and their boys. J had to leave to play golf, but using his typical enthusiasm he came to hang for as long as he could. We sat and had lunch with the ladies and then putzed around the shops, making our way to a playground on the other side of the parking garage. Little J kept jumping through some tires and having me lift him up to the second tier. “One more time,” he kept begging. We didn’t stay on the playground too long. We said our goodbyes and made our way back to dad’s to hang out with him before we left for Orlando.

We sat in Dad's kitchen and looked at his photo albums for a while. The photos were of round-faced babies who are now teenagers. We watched the hockey game and switched to the Phoenix Open. It was around 6 pm when we decided to head to Orlando. Dad walked us out to the parking lot and we hugged goodbye. He went back inside as N and I got the car together. He came back out before we left to tell us Canada won the hockey game in sudden death. I thought that was cool, he wanted to share it with us.

(thanks to N and R for some of the wonderful photos)

Waste Not, Want not

I can't let this go to waste. It just puts a smile on my face every time I see it.