happiness is…

this is one of those rare instances where I call upon my face to serve as art replacement – I believe I was about 16-17 years old here – I do remember the t-shirt – very fond of it at the time – Happiness is a German Shepherd 😘

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selfie-centered society

“Go back to the healing huts,” yarps an Avatar voice. Not watching, the big son is. Every once in awhile a neat phrase escapes cartoon lips. I hear these animated words while noting black crap on the kitchen floor. The college-bound daughter and gal pals went globetrotting last night in search of charcoal. Much to the chagrin of her perplexed mom who enjoys using charcoal for paper not flesh. Activated charcoal capsules, broken then mixed with Elmer’s glue make a fab face mask. Apparently, it’s a thing. Did you know? Try telling a precocious lass “non-toxic” labels occasionally list half-truths. And don’t put glue on your face, I don’t give a shit if it’s Elmer’s.

The real sticky stuff is in the why’s of putting Cow Stick on the face. Raised in positivity all-around, peppered with lessons in humanity, unfocused on exteriors, try as one might–THEY suck impressionable minds in like the BLOB–these harbingers of “beauty.” This from a woman who was boy-banished during her formative years. These young girls are not unpopular with opposites. Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter. Pretty pressure pushes hard and fast. Worrying about flawless skin, optimal eyebrow shape, plumped lips, over-blown chests and asses…it’s sometimes too much to ‘bare’ in today’s selfie-centered society.

We are fast becoming excessively outside people. Maybe we always were. Narcissism–the ancient Greeks lived it, called it, coined it. We are a brilliant, colorful society reducing ourselves–at all ages–to so much less than who we are. Scott Westerfeld smartly uses his young adult titles to demonstrate. The Uglies live in book one. The Pretties flap inside book two. The Specials or those with wide wallets get special billing can bump to book two if they’re willing to rain money. The Extras don’t make the cut through no fault of their own. Is this anyone’s fault or all of ours.

Looking back to my teens and twenties, I regret getting caught in the very same crap. Wasted too many hours trying to buy the word “pretty.” And feel “special” for that moment.
MM super close upthis is Marilyn, you might not know her;) -created with contĂŠ crayon on paper in 1983 to decorate an empty college wall (used talented photographer, Philippe Halsman’s image as ref)-over the years she has graced my garage wall, but I fear she will eventually die again there-she has many thumbtack holes in her corners, smudges and is torn in a few places (you can see a forehead tear in this pic detail)-at some point she is going on ebay (never tried to sell anything this way) -if she doesn’t sell-she will be rolled up and placed in storage or a time capsule, not a charcoal one though;) -oh, there is one other thing about this particular lady-this drawing is 7 feet tall and 3 1/2 feet wide-why I ever did this, I can’t recall…

Westerfeld’s YA series is a tantalizing read-I read quite a bit of YA a few years back while writing YA stories. Mr. Westerfeld’s stories are much more than the titles might have you believe. I used Mr. Westerfeld’s titles in my post above just for the ‘illustrative’ wording – the books are quite different – thank you

virgin voyeurs of earth

out the kitchen window
frenetic tenants
little prodigious noise makers
mustering their gumption
marshaling silken feathers
willing to tap the sky
drum wing beats on blues wind
a small hole
window to the world
a movie trailer sans surround sound
until this moment
and here I am cursing under my breath
gotta get on that damn elliptical
freakin’ pushups
then chauffeur
a carload of young men
shop the mall with a teenager
I want to draw, have to write
shit
the birdlets
damn, look at them
eyeing the planet for the first time
virgin voyeurs of earth
number one
the leap
fluttering onto the pooped deck
hopping like a freak club dancer
next
halfway out
shit, I’m wasting time
but how often
do you bear witness
to life’s entrance
I glue my antsy feet
watching
c’mon two
I’m egging her on
there she goes
crap
lands on the glass table
a venerable Rockefeller skater
those twig legs glide on sandy ice
whoosh
she’s gone
hop, skip, jumped onto a nearby tree
the little crapper on the pooped deck follows her lead
two new babies shaking up the leafy world
the third
hanging with its mouth agape crying for more food
time check
okay, I watched
I satiated my mother guilt observing the little miracle
I know I can write about this later, good for something
no more action coming from the hole
show is over
two newbies out to rock terra firma
I wonder how the fourth would have grown
a few days ago
I picked up a little broken body off the table top
she was not a skater
maybe a dreamer
well, I don’t want to think about this anymore
there is an elliptical that must be dealt with
pushups to be cursed through
a giant son and equally large friends to bring places
a daughter to shop with
and
there is a small window
a place
a baby might look through
before
crashing the world party

red-crested woodpecker

red-crested woodpecker

Birthdays and Band-Aids

We cannot protect our children anymore than we can make ourselves less vulnerable to life. The best we can do is arm them with self-confidence so when their young, conflicted minds step into those ‘precarious’ fields the mantra, “I’m better than this…,” whispers like a gentle school bell, muffled beneath piles of internal clothing.
maxThe big son is still young. He turns fifteen this week. Like many others of his ilk, he enjoys sports. ‘We’ made it through another wrestling season uninjured and now it’s on to football. The big son is a gentle soul by nature–a pacifist at heart. I know it’s impossible to ask for such a divine favor as to keep one’s child completely safe while playing competitive sports, so I’ll just ask that he has fun and only requires a Band-Aid from time to time. And of course, I also ask that every child participating in sports this year remains safe. I know it is a tall order and a selfish prayer.

Last year the big son said to me, “I’ll feel bad if I hurt anyone, mom.”

I responded quite motherly, “Then tackle your opponents with love, son.”

I glanced up at the sky and prayed, “And God, I hope my son is tackled with love too.”
Love TackleLove Tackle, created last year with Prisma pencil.
Partial post previously published around this time last year.

Happy Birthday, Max!

maternal nightmares

scary baby masklittle witch babies and tormenting black skies
gusting wind
long dark dresses swinging like death bells

a frail newborn with antlers growing
crying out as it tries to lift its weak neck
ocean-deep in salted sweat
those early months

panicking…

a pink infant
without bony deciduous growth
or skull-sunken cheeks

seventeen Halloween moons gone by since,
those first seconds
one more fall harvest
until her
perfect little face departs

dreaming…

scary baby mask, mixed media rendered a few weeks back…
the first time I was pregnant: during the first trimester, I had many bizarre dreams–some were nightmarish, others surreal like Dali paintings…my oldest is now 17 and college planning is on, lots of positive dreaming 🙂

Ice Mountains

I sometimes, well who am I kidding, I often reread my words thinking exactly that
what am I thinking
what am I trying to get at
sometimes
I don’t appreciate the kind decades
generous, in fact
as I’ve had them
to write angst when I’m happy
create euphoria when I’m blue
mold dream sequences I dare not live
in both words and colored shapes
often content in my ability
to be discontent
moody
spoiled
the excuse
the “creative” mind or spirit
instead, the reality
human with the privilege of life
I write this with the clarity of a gorgeous sunup
and a cool affirming breeze wrapping my fingers
now set upon my pricey laptop

the local paper this morning
a continuation of an accident report
three died in a nearby town
driver’s ed car and a tractor
an intersection
teenagers
two at the scene
one this morning

beyond grief
is loss
young loss
beyond that

turn the page
ice mountains high as the Rockies
chasms six times deeper than the Grand Cranyon
Pluto artfully sculpted

may these young souls
touch beyond ice mountains
their vibrant spirits
forever reside
in the living
with the privilege
to do so

hearts out to them
families, friends…
wood hole nymphwoodhole nymph breaking from birch tree bark
created over the last three days – mixed media

Almost Infectious

sown young with grains of optimism
a throng of high-pitched voices giggle
their vocal cords will change
sequestered in my studio
their party is in the other room
separated by more than a door
as these teens will be one day
the hands stroking the keys have seen hard time
the eyes, have witnessed much
how can they have so much to laugh about
when they see each other almost every day
I hear the brightness of their skin
I taste the scent of possibility
almost infectious
ah, the teen years
for a moment, I’d kill to return
until I remember
I did a lot of dying back then
I’m glad for the door
Frank Sinatra and I can get cozy
I’ll continue writing with the hands and eyes that have been so good to me
all these years…

Caroline Hands Crossed

Caroline Hands Crossed

my lovely, delicate daughter, Caroline

 

Zealous Zombies

My Friends,
I hope the morning conversation I had with the big son gives you a smile, before darkest night settles into your bedrooms.

Setting: This morning. I’m in my studio working. The big son is in the family room connected with teen buddies via his mystical Xbox.
Action: Studio phone rings. I answer. Nana (my mom) is on the line with a tech question. The big son handles all grandparent technical issues.

Me, “MAX-”
Big son, “WHAT?”
“MAX, I need your help-”
“Ugh!” Speaking into his headset, “Guys, if I die just leave me there.”
Big son enters studio. “What, mom?”
“Nana’s on phone with a tech question.”
Big son takes receiver, assists Nana then ends phone call. “Mom, I was killing zombies!”
“Aren’t zombies dead already?”
“Yeah, but they can still run really fast-”

zombie skunkape

Ah, to be dead and still run really fast 🙂
Thank you. May you dream of outrunning zombies…
Pencil sketch raised from earth yesterday.

When You’re Lonely, Tell Your ‘Tail’

Dear Friends,
Those of you kind enough to pass by here and read occasionally know I’m a substitute teacher. Oddly, knowing what I know now, I’ve come to realize there are no substitutes for teachers. And, after four years of walking institutional hallways, I’ve also become a keen observer of student faces. Sometimes, the sea of faces makes me a bit blue. The stoic countenances – not the ones miserable to be in school, or the teens who didn’t want to wake at 7 AM – but the students who give the impression they could use a good friend or two. These down-turned mouths make me think back to my school face.
catholic school

So I came up with a friend who has the heart of a lion, the resourcefulness of a cat and the ability to find comfort in conversing with someone else – even if it is his own tail.

Blue Tale

Blue Tale

Thank you. May you dream of one thousand magical tales and one dear friend…
Blue Lion Tail created yesterday after subbing

House Mermaids

Dear Friends,
Look ’round your home. If you have a daughter, you have a mermaid. A beautiful, lovely creature who’s sometimes unsure of where she fits in. She is playful like the seal, but can be stormy like the sea. She adores her sparkling fin but pines for shoes. She is bold as the barracuda, when she’s not ‘hermitting’ within a vacated shell. She cherishes her hair, but would trade it to save the world.
lil mermaidMy little mermaid above, and my other little mermaid below.

Mermaid Girl

Mermaid Girl

Thank you. May you dream of swimming with dolphins and whales upon a sparkling sea…
Delicate Daughter Mermaid taken in Vermont 2007,
Earth Mermaid created after getting mad at daughter for her messy room.