Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mississippi Avenue Spring 2

Two perfect pictures.
Two windows to get lost in.
One pink, the other teal.
Do I like them because they look like prints I've seen?
Or do I want to make them prints other people see?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mississippi Avenue Spring

Sitting silently staring off into space.
They talk to each other from either side of me.
Spring tree outside the window contrasts nicely with the building wall color across the street from it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

7 Year Curse

For about seven years in my early thirties I experienced a case of writer's block. I don't mean that I had trouble getting started on projects or finishing them, I just didn't write - no, couldn't write. Of course I kept up with the minimum that was required of me at my non-writing job. But I did almost nothing else. Up to that point, I had kept a journal since I was about 10 or so. Not a dear diary, locked account of crushes and fights with my mother (although those fights were in there aplenty). No, it was more of an OCD act. So to not be able to do this was excruciating, soul crushing.

When I was four I would play "writing" - I LOVED to pretend I was writing in cursive even before I could write the entire alphabet in print. When I finished my first journal I had a visceral need to keep writing. I have referred to it as diarrhea of the brain. Some people compulsively eat, or exercise or watch sports or masturbate, I wrote.

I also "arteested" as my dad referred to it. I liked to create things with my hands from salt goop and then I graduated to paint. I made abstract paintings, terrible impressionist pieces, and papier-mache masks that I adhered to canvases and painted with acrylics. My favorite thing was to turn up some Madonna or Christian rock (yup, that's right) or U2 really loud on my Walkman and have a Jackson Pollock session spattering paint onto a canvass. God love my mother, she was very anal about many things but for some reason she let me get away with this. Eventually the music progressed to Jane's Addiction, Husker Du, and Nine Inch Nails.

Through college I continued both these things. I took art classes and learned to draw with charcoals, blowing coal snot out of my nose after class and feeling this made me a "real" artist. I rabidly filled journal after journal. I got to the point where I had a favorite brand journal and I could look for weeks for this cheap, lined notebook if it wasn't at the first store I went to. I had to have just the right pen too, which was also fortunately cheap.

I got into block printing and spent my summers out of college out in the sun making prints in my Danskos and my grandma's old butcher apron. I felt very chic when I found a nice broad brimmed straw hat. It didn't hurt that my apartment overlooked a beautiful blue bay and islands.

At the same time I started writing prose poetry. Some of which I still go back to and, for me alone, it puts me right into that place again. I even submitted some of my art to campus art shows and staff art shows. Some of it well received and some of it, rushed crap that barely got a nod. I enjoyed it though. I sold a piece once. $50 and a spaghetti dinner. I'm sure that ended up in a garage sale and eventually the dump. I think it was more of a pass at me than an actual appreciation for my art.

I also believed completely in suffering for art. Not like "not making money at a regular job and devoting oneself to art" kind of suffering that might actually produce an artist in the end. No, much more practical and seriously more masochistic. I believed that the depression I had suffered since I was about 8 or so was a source of my creative urges and that they would dry up if ever I ceased to suffer. I have also never felt like what I create is worth anything to anyone but me and so I've always known I need a full-time paying job that is "serious" - preferably something good enough for a saint, martyr, monk... Something good for society. Like being a library page, grant writer, filing bitch at a non-profit or a data nerd at a non-profit.

Then I went through a mildly nasty divorce, came out as a lesbian, suffered a blocked artery in my left eye that left me with a permanent blind spot in the center of my vision, and I sucked big time at writing my Master's thesis. Oh the dreaded thesis. Nothing in my life has ever made me less sure of myself, less sure of my ability to write, less sure of my ability to create, than that fucking thesis. It didn't help that for a time I wasn't able to look at anything within 4 feet of my face for more than 10 minutes without falling asleep for a couple of hours. (That's what it was like getting my brain retrained to see a whole picture without a blaring white spot in it. By picture, I mean someones face, an oncoming car, my cat, my girlfriend's face - all just one big white spot like you'd stared at a light bulb and then looked away.)

Then the dreaded writer's block hit me. Not all at once, but pretty close. I think it was the first time I was told to "try again" on my thesis that really started it. Then there was the article I "co-authored." I put little quote marks up there because, although I helped develop the structure, content and many of the key ideas in the article, even my own quote was initially rewritten. (But yes, this one article does make me a published author by the way.) That was it, that was the hammer on my voice that I had never before realized was so frail. Nail in the coffin that is. Almost overnight I found myself straining to do anything but stare at the grotesque, awful, disaster that was supposed to be my crowning glory, my going out with a bang, 120 page thesis. This Rosemary's baby from hell hung over me, dug it's claws into my back, squirreled it's way into my head, stole part of my soul, and - silence. No writing. No journaling, no art, no block prints, nothing. Not even Green Day or Red Hot Chili Peppers could jump start me.

I was devastated and convinced that the loss of my vision, my ability to read (which like breathing to me and crucial for the academic I thought I was becoming) meant that I was on the wrong life path. Especially when combined with the "straw man" comments my thesis was garnering. My total identity was in shambles. If I couldn't write, who was I?

This dry spell lasted for approximately seven years, which now I can interpret as having been related to breaking a mirror and not my self worth. Right? No actually, the end of the drought has more to do with sewing and Facebook. I took up sewing about a year ago because a friend gave me her old machine for free. Knowing nothing about sewing except that it requires a needle, some thread and fabulous fabrics, I felt free to create anything I wanted -because I didn't know what I was doing I knew my projects couldn't turn out perfect. I couldn't get stuck in technicalities and my own judgement. How freeing!

Then one of my friends urged me to start a blog as I kept filling up the Facebook limits. Probably he just wanted to keep my absurdly long posts off his homepage without defriending me. (Thank you for not blocking me Jason - smiley emoticon.) Either way the end result is now the start of my fourth blog. Because I am back to diarrhea of the brain friend. The seven year curse is broken.