Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sketching Space

My room is on a floor. Strange how I remember exactly where I was each time when I start charcoaling after a long hiatus. First, on the floor Sophomore year in my college dorm; several times on the floor in the living room, in a studio when I worked at a boarding school, and last night on a rug watching Hackers. My room consists of me, my drawing board, my box of charcoals, by large-print paper (it seems to be the only size my hand can control) and a shirt that can get dirty. I’m comforted by my creation, fours it’s been the same study. Female head with hands at 24”X36”. I made two last night. The loneliness of not having my children with me was forgotten. I was in a room –no. I was in a place. I was happy.


Plucking a Swan

I plucked a swan. I dealt with overstepping my welcome with a capstone project, beginning unfinished proposals, refusing job offers that would change my direction, realizing deadlines two months too late, researching unfinished projects, and just-missing an opportunity with an esteemed colleague,
With the spring semester coming to a close, all that I have not done seems outweighed by the realities and vicissitudes of actualization. My ideas were made impotent by circumstances beyond my control. I had to learn to let the boat take the lead while I sat without hands, even -to paddle through the endless dark water, overwrought with leviathan and endings.

But as I sat in the uncertainty, I was able to stop looking down into the darkness that could consume me if I were to tip. I was able to just sit in the boat. As I sat, a feather fell from the empty grey sky and spoke to me, “this feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.” I stared, listening to the feather, and soon enough began to believe in it. As I closed my eyes and breathed in the intentions of my failures, I was able to piece together the purpose behind my attempts. I had been letting Pandora’s box eat me whole; allowing myself to tear a bird of beauty bald in my own desperation.

In the boat, I shamefully released one tear for what I had done. It fell upon the feather and good intentions began to pour out from me. I was ashamed, but know I need to let that go to recognize that endings will always surround me; and so will hope.

The murky sludge surrounds my boat, and goes down, down to the bottom, and perhaps it is there that the water will be made clear. Unfinished projects are unfinished, deadlines re-set, and opportunity is always waiting. The boat stirred forward on its’ own accord. I am adrift, but at least not sinking.

While staring at the feather Iglanced forward, in hope of a clearing, and am reminded of Amy Tan's feather, more for luck than a pluck.  She is able to see that, “this bird was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look! --it is too beautiful to eat.” I am thankful for the literature that guides me; for the wisdom of others to bring all of my good intentions into being, and most of all, for the good intentions that drive me. For my children. For love.

*Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. NY: Penguin, 1989. pp 17.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What a Game

I stand tall in my red patent-leather stilettos to balance the conforming parts of our thematic red-white-and blue for our faculty meeting-day attire. This would be fine, had I not also worn a skirt with an unknowingly high slit.  

It didn't used to be so high, but age, like waist lines, shortens things in unexpected ways.

But there will be no more subtle attempts at fitting in while remaining true to myself.  This winter, I was let go.  Budget cut-backs like battle-axes 

Did I ever fit in?  I had three students who didn't want to learn how to write; they only wanted a passing grade for playing school well.  They didn't even take advantage of writing persuasively which surprised me; after all, they convinced even themselves that they weren't responsible for work they didn't do and shouldn't be "punished" accordingly.  They have no idea that enabling of that sort will not go far in their college-bound ventures.  

Ah, entitlement; what a game.

I don't think its possible for me to conform on any level, not even when I try.


I remember reading a character of Cisneros; her youthful rebellion against waiting on the hand of mournful regret on embracing hand; a sign that the wild horse-women have given up.  I hope we are just waiting.  

Unlike Nenny, I am no Magdalena, allowed to be softer when I come home; I am not even Esperanza growing up too fast; which is more than I can say about my daughter; also born in the year of the horse.

I wanted to cover up the dragon tattoo I etched into my skin so long before I knew what it meant, not even knowing that an Asian horoscope existed, only to find the dragon to be the year of two-lovers (twelve years apart) and an ex-husband –all horrid.  All wrong.

Many argue that I should have put the tattoo on top of the weak symbol, but I chose my own symbolic form.  Rather than cover up my past, the horse rides above the dragon with powerful front legs; a constant reminder of overcoming.

My children will know what it means to treat women well.  My daughter will not settle for abuse of any kind, and my son will NEVER justify any violence (seen or unseen) toward women.  

I am more than a horse.  I am a mother.  I am a survivor.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Disappointment; like a Drug

What happens when the light gets blown out?  When an 8"x11" document shows up in the mailbox having the power to minimize custody?  I know that when it comes, part of you dies.  Life becomes bleak; fifty percent less humane.  You have to shade disappointment from loved ones in a cloak of rot.  The new lens that accompanies this shattered dream you knew as life, has the power to help see the cliched glass as half-full, -but full of what?

Though not purposefully chained to it, the drug disappointment is force-fed until it creates addicts of us.  This over-abundance of failed case after case after case knows our name, where we live, and how to hurt withoug visible scar or bloodshed or any evidence of its whereabouts whatsoever.  It is; in fact,  so subtle that no-one can see the depression creeping into our hearts, "sugaring over like syrup sweet" until it is tar-black and pumping toxic thoughts and fear through our systems.

When lies are accepted as truth, and fear is mistaken for guilt, the truly guilty party goes free and with the table's winnings.  But nobody looked at his hand.  Both bullshit and bloody, the truly culpable goes galloping into the red sunset, and tells you and everyone else that the red was the sunlight.  He insists it was an illusion; imagined, ignited, and false.  The court is so tangled at this stage and provoked by my intrusion on the beautiful view he had painted, that it scolds the face that holds her breath in fear for trying to prevent such lovely red tones, mistaking her breathlessness (-held; of course, because she knows his hand so well) for guilt.

And so the bevel came down; off with my head and out with my heart.  It was captured in ink, both type-set and print.  It was damning in ink, their mind-set succinct.  I lost so much, and my name is muddied.   No longer seen as fair, I damned fairness down the basement stairs, screaming rampant through my empty house.  I was damned.  I was drained.  I questioned righteousness and no longer believed in much of anything, least of all myself.  Disappointment, like a drug, takes over so quickly.  And I so want to get off it's needle-tipped ink.  I so want to feel clean; feel whole, have my kids.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Insulting as "Always"

Insulting people is one of the more exquisite art forms of the English language. Be it in physical form, by "biting our thumbs," "flipping the bird," and "mooning" -or the more loquacious bouquet of four-letters and their kin, insulting one another flares almost instinctually when menacing malapropisms spew forth. Unfortunately, events have us believe that we need to swear in order to do so successfully. By debunking them demonstrating with "X" words, I will show that a harmless little word, can indeed be the most potent.

When someone is up-front and launches the trusty four-letter F-bomb, It's lands with the snap of a small fire-cracker in the palm of an open hand. Sure it leaves a burn, but it doesn't completely blow up the clenched-fist grenade that might leave the recipient without an appropriate finger to further the formality.

Sometimes, you only need a piece of something, like a piece of "S," or having a fat piece of "A." These words tend to connect with a string of linear insults -often having to do with my mother. Again, the slang is slighted both by it's over-use and the strange associations I make to comedies that involve an overweight male-actor who finds he has friends when he needs to confront the "bad-guy."

The five-letter female follow-up bites me in the smirk most personably. Usually when a woman is called a female dog, she is trying really hard to be the "B" word anyway, leaving the insult instead as a compliment to the femme-fatale. When used on a man, the insult is usually said by another man. This leaves everyone speechless, being that you don't discuss religion, politics, or gender when passing the insult at dinner.

If one must force fowl language, it makes it that much more humorous, much like Ramona Quimby saying "guts" when she promises to say a REALLY bad word. It's cute, or even endearing to hear a novice try to sound bad-"A." So many small curses, so little creativity, so minor the insult.

Overall, if you think about it, it is easy to laugh at the tale-tosser's ignorance, smile (it is, perhaps one of the most underrated vocabulary words despite its overuse), and smile with mild wryness, mutter an almost rehearsed, "what?" or the superfluous, "what did you just say to me?" -all without getting fumed up.

Currently smirking at the dictionary of more "British" slang I have begging to pour like a pint from my fingers, I will withhold them and allow your imagination to run freely so I can enter into the one word that will piss off even the most titanium-sided egos.


As in: "You're ALWAYS so..."
  • Dramatic
  • Emotional
  • Quick to Judge
  • Arrogant
  • Insulting
  • Mean
  • Rude
  • Nosy
  • etc.

My conclusion is that one of the most underrated insults we sling around the mouth is the seemingly harmless word, "always." Although not the first word to meet the mind as "swear," it nonetheless has a tendency to send another person into a rage -especially when used as argumentative advantage. And; after all, isn't THAT the real point of insulting someone in the first place?