Waiting quietly

28 Mar

“You’re like a hummingbird,” Karen told me, years ago, “and the rest of the world is made of starfish.”

She’s right, of course.  And others have, unprompted,  made the same comparison: I’m like a hummingbird.

My mind goes a million miles a minute as I zip about in different directions.  A million miles a minute, all the time, except when I’m asleep.  Being on turbo, my mind plays with every thought, every idea, every feeling, exploring it until it comes to its natural conclusion, quickly.   But thoughts, ideas, and feelings usually affect other people–starfish– at a much slower pace.  Left alone, they often come to the same conclusion as I did, just a bit later.

But, it’s the waiting.  I’m not good at the waiting.  I’m not good at sitting on my hands while others puzzle through at their own pace.  FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, can’t we just GET THERE?  CAN’T YOU SEE IT?

And in my impatience, I have trouble staying silent, waiting quietly, and in a way that lets life unfold as it would if I would just……wait quietly.

Tiaras and fake babies

22 Mar

Pointing to a display of rhinestone and pearl-encrusted plastic tiaras, I tell Karen,  “You know, Ima wear me one of them ti-aahh-ras when me and DaWyane get married, ’cause DaWayne  says I’m his princess. “

We’ve  stopped by AC Moore to pick up gesso, and we’re shocked to find they now have a wedding craft aisle.  The aisle is full of….. well, it’s full of really questionable items, blogosphere.  No part of your bridal attire should come from this aisle, and I don’t care that AC Moore says otherwise.  They lie.

Wistfully fingering the tiara, I confide, “We just wanna wait ’til L’il DaWayne’s  outta diapers.”

Karen nods.  Tiaras and potty-trained babies are a reasonable part of wedding plans.

“I wore a tiara when  me and Harlan got hitched,” she says.  “It was pink with real faux diamonds.”   Karen holds her hands up to her head,  gesturing to indicate that the pink faux diamonds were the size of eggs.

“Ohhhh!” I say, ” Pink diamonds?  Like JLo!”

“Yes m’am,” agrees Karen.  “They’re the classiest kind of faux diamonds.”

A  woman standing in the adjacent framing department is covertly watching us, listening, perplexed.  Poor dear.  Eavesdropping is tacky, and Karen and I are too classy to notice.

“DaWayne said he and Harlan was goin’ bowling,”  I tell Karen.  I shake my head and purse my lips,   “But they got that whole case of Budweiser, and  I just know they’re going to a titty bar.”

“I know it,” she commiserates, “I told Harlan if I find ONE MORE PAIR OF PANTIES in the pick-up truck….”  She trails off,  and I’m left wondering what Harlan’s fate will be if he’s caught packing panties ever again. It won’t be good.

My heart breaks for Karen; pretend Harlan can be a dog.  My pretend DaWayne is too much of a gentleman to bring home panties when he goes to the strip club.

We’ve moved on from the wedding department, and as we walk through the store we comment on various items we pass, speculating on how we might use them.

Glitter-covered feather boas would be perfect with the tube tops I picked up at The Walmart: L’il DaWayne was NOT good in The Walmart, I tell Karen,  “…and I told L’il DaWayne: ‘ You eat any more of them Cheetos and I’m gonna SMACK YOU!’ You gettin’ orange all over my tube tops!”

Day-glo panties made for the application of decals: “Ima put ‘PROPERTY OF DA WAYNE’ straight cross my butt,” I tell Karen.

She nods, but she’s clearly not in the mood to consider the same for her Harlan, what with all the stripper panties in the pick-up.  Now I feel badly about pointing out the panties;  panties are a sensitive subject in Harlan and Karen’s pretend marriage.

Plaster columns and pedestals: “We used to have one of them pedestals on each side the door,” I tell Karen, “and my DaWayne used to make me stand on ’em all the time, and I said ‘DA WAYNE!  I cannot be getting up and down and up and down all day!’  We got rid of ’em cause they kept falling over on the baby, but DaWayne says I’ll always be on a pedestal to him. But I don’t even know what that means..”

“Harlan says the only reason to put a woman on a pedestal is to look up her skirt,” Karen responds.

Karen is just jealous, but I’m secretly tickled that my pretend DaWayne wants to look up my skirt.

“Well, I am definitely gonna need them decal panties now!”

www.vakadesign.com

Stop calling him that

21 Feb

“No, he’s actually not a medieval dickweed,  so stop calling him that.”


Riley, Bill and Ted: Not medieval dickweeds.

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Lara Logan

17 Feb

I have a girl-crush on Lara Logan. I have for ages.

Growing up, it never occurred to me that I might ever be limited by my gender.  I was a Title IX girl, raised by a mother and father who were the type of people who firmly believed in such things, and I don’t ever remember being told that one thing was more or less appropriate than another because I was a girl.  Both my parents pushed themselves physically and intellectually, and my sister and I were encouraged to do the same.  I’m not sure if what was expected of us would have been any different had we been boys.

Believing there was nothing a girl could not grow up and become,  in my teens I narrowed my options to pursuing: A) The life of a globe-trotting, beautiful,  impoverished and yet wickedly chic artist going city-to-city, lover to lover, leaving brilliant artwork and broken hearts in my wake when the spirit moved me to move on with no apologies or excuses. OR, B) The life of a globe-trotting, gritty and yet impossibly feminine hard news reporter, going war zone to war zone, lover to lover, traveling light, throwing  back whiskey with the boys, leaving broken hearts and a reputation for top-notch journalism behind me when I left without warning to pursue my next story.

This all seemed so very reasonable,  and yet at every turn my gender pushed me towards the path I walk today.  Just because options are available for women doesn’t mean it’s easy, or even in our nature, to pursue them.

And that’s why I admire Lara Logan so:  She’s doing what the reckless, badass, fearless side of me boldly imagined it would be doing if I were so much less me.

Since the first time I saw Lara Logan interviewed by Jon Stewart –me, sitting surrounded by the accoutrements of my very gender-based choices– I’ve thought she was impossibly cool.  When I see a picture of Lara Logan pop up in a news feed, I almost always stop and read up on what she’s doing, mentally cheering on a woman who makes living a fearless life look easy; who has used her brains, kept her femininity, and set her own limits.   I’m sure her success hasn’t been as easy as she makes it look.

The news of her attack has stuck with me in a way that other, similar stories have not.  I don’t want to believe that men–men who went home to their wives and mothers and daughters after sexually assaulting Lara Logan–could visit such violence upon someone simply because they can, because their victim was a woman.   No woman should have to suffer such brutality, but I don’t want this to have happened to her in a way that’s a bit different from the way I wouldn’t wish this type of horrific attack on any girl or woman.

In a public square with her news team, doing her job, she paid a price for her success no male reporters did, and I didn’t want to believe that a barbaric sexual assault could be one of the hurdles of success she’d have to jump.  Sure, bad things happen, but she’s Lara-F***ing-Logan, living my young woman’s Title IX dream life, and my dream of being a gritty, sexy, hard news reporter did not include “and maybe getting gang raped while doing your job” in its description.

The grown-up part of me empathetically wants to cry when I think of any woman having to suffer in the way she must be suffering, but another part of me feels differently.  The idealistic part of me left over from childhood–the part that my parents nurtured to believe girls can do anything, and women only have the limits they take upon themselves– that part is really pissed off because….well, girls can do anything boys can do, damn it.

Put both those parts together, though, and I’m rooting for Lara Logan more than ever.   She’s Lara F***ing Logan,  and she’s just cool. I hope she shows the world that she will continue living her life on her own terms, because yes, girls can do anything.

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Don’t pee on the couch

16 Feb

Karen and her kids, Emily and Patrick, have come down for dinner.   Karen and Emily sit down to keep me company while I finish cooking, and the boys head into the living room and the PS3.  Patrick, 12,  is the last boy to leave the kitchen.

“Hey Patrick,” I say, “don’t pee on my couch, OK?”

“What?”

“Please try not to pee on the couch?”

“Miss Katie, why would I pee on the couch?”  The boy is understandably perplexed.  I’ve known him since he was a year old, and he’s never peed on anything in my house.

“I have no idea,” I tell him now, “but the bathroom is right there if you need it, OK?”

“But…why…..  Why would I pee on your couch?

I don’t know.”  I say. ” But just don’t, ok?”

His head cocked to the side and his eyebrows knitted, Patrick heads into the living room while Karen grins at me, shaking her head slowly from side to side.

In a moment Patrick returns.

“When did I pee on your couch?”  Patrick demands of me.

“I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”

Through a fit of giggles, Emily shouts at her younger brother, “JUST DON’T PEE ON THE COUCH, Patrick!”

“No, wait. ” I put up my hand to forestall another outburst from Emily.  “He was about to tell us when he peed on the couch.”

“I DIDN’T PEE ON THE COUCH!” Patrick exclaims.

“OK.  If you say so, I believe you.”

“I didn’t.”  He insists.

“That’s great!  And I really appreciate that.”

“So…why are you telling me not to pee on the couch?”

“Because it’s a leather couch, and once that smell gets into it, there is just no getting it out.  I don’t want to have to replace the couch.  It’s expensive.”

“But… why do you think I’m going to pee on the couch?”

“Patrick,” Karen puts up a hand to stop her son’s questions, and with each word clearly articulated says,   “just   do   not   pee   on   that   couch. “

“But, why would—“

“Just don’t!” Karen orders.

As Patrick leaves the kitchen, Karen, Emily and I double over in silent laughter. Each of us knows what will happen next, and almost immediately, it does.

Matt bursts into the kitchen, “Why did you tell Patrick not to pee on the couch?”

“Because I don’t want him to pee on the couch,” I explain.

No one should pee on the couch,” adds Karen.

“When did he pee on the couch?!” Matt demands.

We didn’t say he did.  We just don’t want him to pee on the couch.”

“You shouldn’t be peeing on the couch, either.” Karen informs Matt.

“I’m not going to pee on the couch,” says Matt.

“I hope not…..” But Karen sounds dubious.

“I’ve never peed on the couch!”  Insists Matt.

“You sure? ” I ask him, “You haven’t? “

“WHY WOULD I PEE ON THE COUCH?”

“We don’t know.”

And then suddenly the kitchen is full of  boys, all talking at once, all insisting that they have NEVER peed on my couch or any other couch, anywhere.  Ever.

“And no one said you did!”  I explain, “And we want you to keep up the good work.”

Karen sums it up for them, “Don’t pee on the couch. It should go without saying.  Now, we’ll call you when it’s time to eat.”

Muttering and confused, indignant and questioning each others’ urinary histories, the boys leave the kitchen to return to their game.

“And don’t pee on the chairs, either! ”  Emily calls out.

Really, how do people amuse themselves when they don’t have children?

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New painting: up from below

15 Feb

Here you go.

I’ve just finished this, and my wee little brain is too fried to talk about it.

 

up from below, 36 x 52 inches. Acrylic and graphite on paper.

 

www.vakadesign.com

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Full of awesome

14 Feb

Matt had the best weekend in the history of ever, because his team won their age group finals at this weekend’s soccer tournament.

Awesomeness in motion

The boys’ Dad took them to their Sunday morning games, and this is the text message exchange I had with Matt after his last regular game win, letting me know that there was more awesomeness to come:

 

Matt always introduces himself to me at the start of every phone call and text. Otherwise, I might not know who he is. I love him so much.

The finals were seriously badass, going into overtime AND requiring ten penalty kicks (one made by Matt) to decide the game.  The final game was similar to the World Cup finals, in case you’re trying to picture it.

Matt is now so full of soccer awesome, you could poke him with a stick and awesome would ooze out.  You could squeeze him like a sponge, and you’d soon be standing in a puddle of rainbow-colored soccer awesome.  He is the valedictorian of soccer awesomeness.

AND, if you want any part of any of his four games reenacted?  He can do that for you, because he is also the valedictorian of soccer play reenactment.

Such awesomeness is very tiring, however, especially for one so young.  The boy and his awesomeness  have gone to bed early this evening.

Cousin brothers

3 Feb

Making breakfast, I’m softly singing as Riley joins me in the kitchen.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together, ” I sing.

“What are you singing?”

” John Lennon.  It’s a Beatles song.”  I tell him, and sing the lyrics again.

“Was John Lennon on drugs when he wrote it?” Asks Riley.

“No Riley,  he wasn’t on drugs!”  Yes, Riley,  he was on drugs.  Lots and lots of drugs.

“I’m he, and he’s him, and you’re me and we’re all together… That doesn’t even make sense.” Riley says. “Mom, he was on drugs, admit it.”

“I does make sense,” I insist, laughing.  ” ‘I am he as you are he, and you are me’… he’s saying that I’m you and you’re me.  That we’re all the same, we’re all one, we’re all interconnected.”

“Oh,” says Riley.  “So, it’s a song about West Virginia?”

“It IS NOT A SONG ABOUT INBREEDING, RILEY!”

My words come out in another burst of laughter, and because laughter is a rallying cry in this house, Matt has joined us in the kitchen.

“What’s inbreeding?” My eleven-year old asks.

“It’s what they do in West Virginia,” explains Riley.  “John Lennon wrote a song about it.”

Oh, that one.  What am I going to do with that one?

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www.vakadesign.com

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Muffin lechery

2 Feb

Mr. Muffin

The boys settle at the table while I finish making a pot of tea.   I’ve made blueberry muffins for breakfast, and as they help themselves to the muffins in the basket,  Riley notices that one muffin resembles a human face.

Soon the muffin is serving as his puppet, and it has a lot to say.

“Heeey Matt,”  the muffin says, “heeeeey.  I’m Mr. Muffin, yeaaah.  How you doing?  Heh heh, heh.  Yeaaah.”

Mr. Muffin sounds a lot like a cross between Beavis and the late, gravel-voiced DJ, Wolfman Jack.

“Hey! You better look at me when I’m talking to you,” Mr. Muffin tells Matt.  “No respect, no respect.”

Matt is ignoring Mr. Muffin.  This is remarkable, as Matt’s hobby this morning is being easily offended.  It’s a hobby he’s really, really good at, as good as Riley is at his chosen hobby: being offensive.

“Hey kid,” Mr. Muffin continues, “you better look at me or I’ll kick yo’ a** !”

“RILEY!” I tell my 14 year old as I join the boys at the table. “No!”

But Matt and I are both laughing, and this only serves to encourage Riley.

“Mom,” says Riley in his own voice,  shaking his head and throwing up his free hand in a gesture of defeat. “It’s the muffin.  He has a really bad attitude. What?”

“Well, your muffin needs to behave,” I tell my son.  “Your muffin better take it down a notch, OK? “

Riley sighs and looks admonishingly at his muffin. Then the muffin is turned my way, as if noticing me for the first time.

“Heeeeey baby!” Says Mr. Muffin. “Hey pretty lady!  How you doin’?”

“Riley!”

“How ’bout you give Mr. Muffin a kiss?” Suggests Mr. Muffin.

“Ri!”

“Just a little kiiiiiiissss.”

I am not kissing a muffin, and I tell my son so.

Mr. Muffin turns to Riley, now.

“I just wanna little kiiiiss.”  Says a sad Mr. Muffin to Riley. “I just need love.”

“Oh, I’ll give you kiss, Mr. Muffin, ” says Riley, giving the muffin a quick peck between his blueberry eyes.  “Geez Mom, can’t you be nice?”

“I’m NOT kissing your muffin,”  I laugh.

“Just a little kiss. ” sniffs Mr. Muffin, inches from my face.  “Just ooone.  One little kisssss.”

It’s kind of sad, and maybe if I kiss the muffin we’ll all be able to eat breakfast.  I give in, and lean forward to give Mr. Muffin a peck between his eyes.  As I do, Mr. Muffin opens his huge muffin mouth and makes lascivious noises:

“He hllllllaa, heh he he ehhhhhhhhhhh.  Heh he he!  Tongue Kiss! Heh!”

I feel so dirty, and a bit disturbed.

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Today in the studio

31 Jan

Working on this painting (below),  listening to this,  headed to Mass at 12:15. This afternoon I’ll finish some custom pieces, and maybe post photos of how the painting is progressing.  Maybe, blogosphere.  I promise you nothing.

I’ve temporarily given up on the last painting (here, here, and here… see the problem?).

Sometimes a painting flies out of me (figuratively not literally, because that would really hurt.  In fact, if paintings literally flew out of me then I’d probably stop painting, because ew. ).  Sometimes a piece deserves abandoning: once you get started it just does not pull together, and the concept or idea is weak and not worth pursuing.  And sometimes–like this time– the concept is deeply compelling, yet the piece is really hard to get.

The newly abandoned painting was a progression of the one I did for Vinnie.

One night, Vinnie and I were talking about the nature of the universe, and I said that trying to understand the universe made me want to cry.  It was too much, too big, too complex, too indefinable.  Vinnie said that understanding the nature of the universe through string theory made sense to him, and that he found it quite reassuring and beautiful.  Curious, I set out to understand string theory.  And because I am me, I felt the need to process this concept visually.

“But you can’t draw string theory,” said Vinnie. “It’s a concept.

Oh Vinnie, concepts are meant to be drawn, painted, sculpted.  That’s what art is: visual communication where words fail.

Vinnie’s painting, then, was about connectedness; about emotional string theory.  It was about the almost spiritual feeling of being gently connected to another entity within endless planes and dimensions within endless time and space.   To paraphrase Rick in Casablanca,   “of all the gin joints in all the world…”  What are the odds of that connection? What an amazing thing, and yes, how very reassuring and beautiful.

In the second painting  I wanted to explore the multi-planed individual components of Vinnie’s painting further, but……  but I can’t f***ing make it work, blogosphere!    Honestly,  I think the subject is just too emotionally loaded for me at the moment; my feelings about it change day-to-day and moment-to-moment, and so I can’t find clarity in either my head OR this work.  Confused and yet compelled to clarify my thoughts and the work,  I’ve gone at the painting from every direction, and to no avail.

And so……  that painting is out–placed out of sight and out of my mind– and this one is in.  Interestingly,  today’s painting is one I abandoned in frustration once before.  Perhaps there is something for me to learn here:  understanding and resolution will come when they will, and not a moment sooner.

I hate life lessons.

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