Friday, February 25, 2011

Hype

We bought a piece of artwork when we were in Taos at the end of December. D suggested the idea; he’s good that way (always buying things when the mood strikes). Me? I’m usually too frugal but I admired his initiative. In any case, we found ourselves perusing the art down south for something we could bring back up north. It was a good way to commemorate our first trip with Miss M (and Gingy, since it was the first time old girl has been out of CO or tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of piƱon). We found a piece in an artists collective just off the main plaza. The moment we saw it, we both liked it even though it wasn’t what we had envisioned purchasing. It wasn't from some fancy gallery or painted by some big name artist. Still the piece spoke to us - what we love about road trips and the mountains. Now it also serves to remind us of that great little getaway. Sometimes it brings me such joy just to think about when we bought it on that trip and sometimes it makes me happy just to imagine a lovely afternoon like the one in the painting.

Red Bug by Alan Heuer 
(apologies for the bad photo)
Recently I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was my overdue follow-up to discovering Banksy and it really fired me up for the Oscars. I started perusing online to find out more information: Who is this guy? Is his identity really unknown and did he, perhaps, create another contemplative piece of artwork through this documentary? Could Mr. Brainwash be a hoax? The creation of Banksy to make a statement about the commercialization of the graffiti art genre, the commodization of art in general (good right?! it's not mine), and the climate in the US for that matter: are we all so superficial that we acquiesce to hype? And if so, is that a bad thing?

All of this leaves me believing the hoax is why the movie is up for an Oscar. In fact, I find the documentary much more intriguing from that perspective (and if so, Banksy is a friggin' genius). Certainly it makes an overnight artistic success like Thierry Guetta more interesting. Sure I can appreciate the limelight of Hollywood and a person's 15 minutes of fame but, as Banksy says in the movie (much more eloquently in his English accent), he never earned it. He didn't follow the rules for becoming an artist, which is ironic for a medium that lives by the belief that there are no rules. And in that context, how suiting for a piece of Banksy artwork.

When it comes down to it, what I like best about the documentary is that it begs for conversation. And isn't that the highest form of flattery in the art world? 

Thierry Guetta (Mr. Brainwash) is seen near his mural on La Brea near San Vicente. (Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times / February 2, 2011)

We don't have enough money in our house to have artwork from big name artists but still we manage to have pieces that are dear to our hearts. I like to think that's how it should be as both the artist and as the admirer. The rest is just hype.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thursday Night

I’m standing in the Ogden Theater zoning in on some “gold plated” circle in the center of the ceiling - I've had one too many beers. Pete Yorn is playing his music and it feels like 150 years since I’ve heard something live. In actuality it’s been 14 months and the last time was at the a Fox Theater in Boulder. It might as well have been a different life, a different world - I was young, skinny, and still a newlywed.

Pete Yorn is living the dream of having a good show: old songs recognized and new ones winding their way in to fans hearts, great graphics to back his show up, a tour in Europe, and girls crazy for his sensuality. The setting makes me idolize musicians and want for some experience of my own. I ask ME if she could sleep with any lead singer, at any time in their career, who would it be? She has to think about it and asks me for my answer. I say Robert Plant circa late 70s. It’s a safe submission (since I can't think too clearly) but an answer to the question none the less. ME comes back with Dave Groul or Beck after she’s had time to think. After she’s asked me for clarification on Robert Plant, (as in, what band did he play for, which is one of the things I love about the old girl). Then she’s revokes it for Eddie Vedder and I have to take back my classic 70s insert and submit Vedder myself; he’s too hot and too in tune with my coming of age.

Standing in the crowd makes me feel like I am old. Not the old that sometimes sneaks in when you're surrounded by twentysomethings in scantily clad hot pants, but rather the old that you feel when you realize going to a concert has become REALLY novel. I haven’t even listened to Pete Yorn’s new album. Suddenly the elastic on my jeans feels obscenely obvious. Still I am having a great time remembering the me that used to be up close to the stage, taking shots and dancing till I sweat. A me who needed no good reason to find herself out on a Thursday night. My new reality has me questioning how these people around me are gearing up to go to work tomorrow. So much has changed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Method Singer, Trapped In A Mother

I've been thinking about this Diana Krall interview a lot lately. I heard it a while ago and remembered it having more of a slant about how, as a mother, her professional career affects her children's relationship to music. It must have been something I imagined myself after stealing a moment from the interview. Like suddenly I envisioned her kids coming in to have their mom playing the piano and singing Toy Story tunes and yet they don't realize that she's "Diana Krall" playing a private concert for them every day (or that Elvis Costello is their dad... and what a trip that is - yeah that sounds about right for what I would project in to an NPR interview).

I wonder if her kids assume all mothers sing like that? I know I do. I'm inspired at how she tries to bring a fresh voice as she interprets the songs she covers. I too do this at night with Miss M. Really I do it all day long as well. When I became a mother, I whole-heartedly took the opportunity to ratchet up my singing career (it was one of the perks, ya know). I worry about how one day M will discover that I am not a professional singer with my own tunes found on any given ipod. It is then she will join the ranks of those who love me and don't have the heart to say the words I see coming from their eyes after they catch me singing, "don't quit your day job just yet."

But until then, I'm gonna start working on You've Got a Friend in Me. Perhaps I'll release it on my own album due out later this year.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

PR

My PR company put out a statement about what it was like to go to Florida two weekends ago and spread my dad's ashes: "It was tough but good. I'm glad we went." Not much to shake a stick at but necessary for presenting to the general public because I hadn't really made sense out of the whole experience. Hell. I don't think I ever will.

And then it came in the middle of a phone conversation yesterday.

Truth be told I was avoiding the question and when I couldn't sidestep it any longer, I was unable to even get the words out. I had been anticipating the inability to breath two weekends ago but not then; not on the phone. I couldn’t blow it off with the canned “it was tough” response. The finality was so true and thick; hard and heavy like hearing cold metal latching a door closed. It surprised me so much that I apologized not because I was crying but rather because I didn’t expect that to be the situation that would bring it out.

I waited for it to come in Florida. I welcomed it there. It was almost as if the trip was my time to mourn. But when we got there, it felt like strictly business. I was on autopilot filling boxes and emptying shelves; looking at photos and reading old letters; feeding Miss M and packing what was left to hold on to him by. In fact, I found my emotional reaction came more from a place of anger than sorrow. Anger at having to discuss who gets what or what to throw away. Anger that, in the end, we are left with someone digging through our shit trying to make sense of it all...

---
Later in the day, I finally went to see a doctor to get some antibiotics for this nasty cold. He was trying to earn my business as a general practitioner. I was telling him my story of the past four months. I was explaining that no signs of postpartum were standing out from the regular feelings of cabin fever being housebound because of this cold and the weather - that and having just spread my dead father's ashes in a river two weekends ago. Nope. No strange emotions outside of the general emotions that come to light having done that.

Even that felt surreal. Strange. Unavailable. As in: my dad was already gone. Spreading the ashes was letting go of what was left of his "physicalness". Him and Helen; because that’s how he wanted it to be and that's how I could be part of a ceremony to gain closure.
.
.
.

His silent absence was the most profound part of the trip. I kept feeling like I should check in with him at the other end of the table at trivia or in another room at my aunt's house or back at his condo sitting in his favorite spot. He just was nowhere to be found.

No Where.

I’m not one for making more out of it than it is. He’s not saving us a spot in heaven or watching down on us with immense pride - he did that during his life. When I was with him, it felt good. Knowing what I know now, I almost wish he would have kicked me in the ass a little more but that was not his style. He loved me and made me feel like I was always enough as the person I was at any given time in my life.

Now I am left with a knowledge I always wanted and never understood what I would have to live through to realize. My interpretation of myself is deservedly honest these days: having wasted some of the opportunities he provided, having spent my time angry about what was rather than using the resources I had to build what could be. And yet, I am obliged to be nicer and tread gently with myself as well, since I don’t have my dad anymore to tell me he loves me when it feels like the world doesn’t.

I do hope someday I will experience an energy as lovely as his again.
It is one of my most cherished things.
_______________________________________

I was lucky enough to find the open arms of caring friends as I lived through last year, especially at the end of it; for that I am filled with gratitude.
I refuse to consider it anything less than a good year
(a good year with one hell of a morbid sense of humor).

This year I plan to do it all over (this business of living life) with a kinder heart; with the knowledge that this day is all we have and
this moment is THE moment.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Big Blue

Miss M has a sleep sheep we turn on to play white noise so she drifts to her unconscious state a little smoother. It has whale sounds, falling rain, the ocean and one other I can't remember right now. A few weeks ago I started playing the ocean sound so she could get used to it for our weekend in Florida.


Sunday morning I was up before sunrise. I had a moment to take in the moon and a bright planet right below it on the horizon. The house was silent. I went down and got Miss M and brought her back upstairs to watch the sunrise over the ocean through the sliver of horizon I could see between houses. A little later on, I dragged D out of bed so we all could go for a walk down along the beach before everyone woke up and the day's events ensued. I knew it was the only time to escape. 


There was a chill in the air and I bundled the dangling M with her blanket and hat. We walked and watched the birds. We stopped and examined the shells. We watched others run by or walk along holding hands. Every now and again Mr. Maillet would stop to look out on the Atlantic like some deep sea fisherman.


I took photos from strange angles trying to capture this first visit for the little lady. M mostly slept (cursed Pavlovian response). I asked M if she remembered being there in July when she was in my belly? 


She had no comment; she might have been snoring. Her little hands were freezing and her cheeks rosy. Still I think she liked it and I promised we would return.