Sunday, August 20, 2017

magnifying the woes of the world


i scroll my facebook feed and it depresses me. it's filled with scorn and outrage for the spray-tanned freak that holds the reins in the land of my birth. i too feel scorn and outrage for him and his most recent behavior (e.g. the past 7 months). but i also find it exhausting. and so i post pictures of kittens and i spend time with them and their joyous little souls. and i clean and tidy and donate and throw away and organize in our "box room." and between rain showers, i go out to the garden and i try to convince bella to be my friend. and i sit with molly and talk to billy and i pick kale and carrots and beans and cucumbers. and i feel better for a few minutes. but the monster is still there. and facebook still continually throws him in my face. and so i wake in the morning with an aching jaw and i try to forget. but i can't help but think that's not the right thing to do. there must be something we can do. that we should be doing. other than sharing the words of people more eloquent than we are or more outraged, to people to whom it won't make an iota of difference. and meanwhile climate changes means we haven't had any summer. and that weasel pulled out of the paris accords, which, while weak, were at least an agreement that most everyone agreed upon. and i wonder if bringing a child into the world was the right thing to do in light of the world we are leaving her. and i think those fucking assholes who voted for him should be ashamed of themselves. and i fear many of them are members of my family. and i think back to myself, screaming at my mother from a street in paris, as she told me how horrible obama and hillary were and how they were trying to take away her right to be a christian. and i remember thinking about how horrible it was that it might be the last conversation i'd ever have with her, since i certainly wasn't speaking to her again after that utter bullshit. and i told her so. and for a few minutes, it scared her back into her old self and we actually ended up having a proper conversation. tho' my throat was raw the next day from the screaming. and now this is my memory of paris. and i feel despair again. for all of the things that are lost and irreparable...the damage the cheeto is doing. and the loss of the mother i remember. and i realize facebook is but the magnifier of the woes of the world.

Friday, August 18, 2017

uploading 63%....


63%...the plumber backed his oddly large truck into the roof and broke some bits off. of the roof, that is, his truck appears to be fine. i am annoyed looking through my instagram feed at people whose work consists of taking the same picture over and over and sharing it every day (says the girl who constantly posts cats)...72%...i'm watching the percentage of my upload crawl ever-so-slowly upward. it's cloudy and grey. again. i'm not really having as bad a day as it sounds...76%...it's just boring watching files upload. and i'm tired of the grey. and i'm really tired of that out-of-focus, bokehlicious, pretentious reflection shot of princess leia. get over it already and move on to another motif...84%...91%...(the ellipses represent much more time than you might imagine)...the millennial podcast announced their last episode yesterday...it seemed as self-absorbed and self-conscious as the rest of it had been...a few recent episodes had seemed like they'd run out of ideas and navels at which to gaze anyway, so it was time...another podcast i'm finding annoying after initially liking it is not by accident. it also has descended into some kind of self-pity party. yes, we get it, being a parent and having a job is tiring and hard and not for the faint of heart...96%...when will this bloody upload ever complete? it's only 18 photos! 98%...i think i'm ready for the weekend to begin...the child is having a few beers in a park with her new classmates after school, so i don't have to pick her up...99%...also, i'm cranky (it is hangry, perhaps?)...so i'm probably not being fair to the two podcasts mentioned above...i'm just in a mood...i'm sure they're lovely people with perfectly lovely navels upon which to gaze...98%...how did it go back down? i think i need me some kitten time...happy weekend if there's anyone out there...99%...100%.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

to grieve or not to grieve, that is the question


so many thoughts swirling in my head of late, especially as i listen to podcasts, which i do constantly. i don't always know if the podcasts provoke the thoughts or reflect them. a growing suspicion that i suck at grieving has been crossing my mind of late. and then a couple of podcasts i listened to on the way home today covered the topic of grief - this week's death, sex & money and malcolm gladwell's revisionist history touched upon it as well.  i don't know if they helped me work through my own struggles or not.

it comes down to that i don't think i've properly grieved for my father. i shed tears on the plane on the way there, as he lay dying in a hospital, nearly three years ago, but i don't think i've really, truly cried about his death. and i am not sure that i know how. there are times when i miss him acutely. most often when i'm in the garden, which is also where i talk to him. he's come to my sister on two occasions, reassuring her, but i've not even heard a whisper from him. i'm not envious exactly, more puzzled. is it because i lack the ability to open that portal to him? am i less open to it? or am i at another stage of my grief than she is? have i even started it properly? can i even recognize it? these are the thoughts that have me convinced that i suck at grief.

but it's also mom's decline. alzheimer's is so cruel and strange. she's still here, but it feels like we already need to grieve her. i don't even know this strange fabulist she has become...telling lies, or perhaps fractured fairy tales, to explain the world around her in a way that makes sense to her, as her brain fills with holes and erases the old ways of making sense. i worry that my good memories of her are being similarly erased, but i'm not sure that what i feel at this stage is grief. i find it hard to even summon pity, which sounds horrible, i know and then i feel guilty for that. but it remains that it's how i feel at the moment. 

and then i can't help but wonder if i ever properly grieved for sophia. when it happened, i was so sick and we had sabin to focus on, so did i properly grieve her passing and the passing of the specialness of being a mother of twins? i don't know. it seems like maybe it got pushed under somehow and never really dealt with, though i have always been able to speak of it, so it's not like that. but is glibly being able to mention it the same as dealing with it? i suspect not.

but how are you supposed to know how to grieve? i think our culture today places so much pressure on us to get back into the saddle immediately that we maybe don't give ourselves time. maybe grief takes years. maybe it doesn't look a certain way. maybe i don't wailingly grieve my father because i think he lived a long, amazing, worthy life and died the way he would have wished, so i can have nothing but respect for him and and be grateful for the time we had and how he shaped who i am. maybe i don't wail because it was his time and i feel that in my heart and while i am sad for me and for us and for mom that he's not here, i'm not sad for him per se. or maybe i just suck at grief.

with mom, it's more complicated, due to the disease and that she's still here, strangely more physically fit than ever, even as her personality changes so radically that she seems like someone i don't know. maybe grief doesn't come because the time isn't right. maybe i will learn to grieve when it's needed, or find my own way to do so. maybe our grief is singular, individual, so unique that i don't even recognize it because it's so much a part of me.

oddly, i think i've grieved harder for lost jobs than for lost loved ones. what does that say about me or about the times in which we live? what we do is so important to identity that we feel it as a loss of self when we leave a job, whether it's by choice or not. and so a period of mourning follows.

and then i wonder if grief is really about missing who we once were? do we lose that? or do we contain it within us, so there's no sense grieving it...

as you can see, i have more questions than answers. and rather a lack of grief. or at least the ability to grieve in a definable way...

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daily affirmations from lenny.
"fucking up is how you go pro." - words to live by, i tell you.

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i want to be e. jean when i grow up.

Friday, July 14, 2017

the scent of the summer


you know, if you've been reading for awhile, that i love perfume. i recently read this piece about finding your personal scent in the lenny letter. and it's all about layering. even before reading this, i had taken to combining a couple of scents - at the moment, it's been a rather unorthodox combination of the sweetness of  for her by narciso rodriguez and the spicy, greenish masculinity of vetiver insolent by miller harris, but it's felt like the right scent for me at the moment. i was relieved to read in the article that a note or two of something rancorous is in fashion, since this cold, damp summer combined with living in our old farmhouse, my personal scent is surely laced with a healthy dose of mustiness from the damp that seeps up through the brick walls thanks to high ground water. there's probably also a dash of litterbox needing to be changed and perhaps a vague aroma of spilled coffee thrown in, which may be a note or two too many of rancour.


when we were in lithuania, i ran into these beautiful scents, named after italian cities, in a high end perfume shop. i'm not even sure who makes them. i tend to have trouble with scents and my own body chemistry, as they can turn rather nasty on me, especially if they are full of synthetic ingredients. but i tried, over a couple of days, four of these gorgeous scents and they all just got more beautiful on me. tho' at €149 per bottle, i didn't buy one, having decided we were having a vacation experience, not a vacation shopping trip. but, i may have to try to find them again and buy one, as they were just gorgeous. the packaging is simple and elegant as well. they have everything one could hope for in a scent. maybe this autumn..i think florentia would be lovely when paired with the dusky scent of autumn leaves.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

stitching identity :: kgb museum vilnius


we had three teenagers with us in lithuania, so we told them we had to visit a museum. after perusing a swedish brochure we found at our rented apartment, they chose the museum of genocide victims, mostly due to its other name - the KGB museum, owing to the fact that it is housed in the former KGB headquarters (look at me, capitalizing KGB...hmm, i'll have to ponder that) of the soviet state of lithuania.


it's a moodily-lit place, in keeping with its sober subject, and has a big focus on the lithuanian patriots/revolutionaries who resisted the soviet yoke, especially in the decade after stalin and hitler sealed their fate without consulting them in a secret agreement in the early days of the second world war. the green cells in the basement, where prisoners were held, interrogated and tortured and then, quite literally, taken out back and shot, were stark.


but i think it was most struck by the stitched objects on display. most were made by prisoners who had been exiled to camps in siberia. they obviously used scraps of fabric and thread that were at hand. stitching to hold onto their homes, loved ones and traditions. and the stitched items were made by both men and women, both having a need to cling to their home and memories.


the sign said that this little black striped pouch contained some lithuanian soil and that the prisoner had kept it with him throughout his confinement in a siberian hard labor camp. i have a jar of stones from south dakota, where i grew up, so i could relate to this. we have a need to hold onto something tangible of where we come from.


some of the stitched cloths were large and all were beautiful. each stitch holding a memory of home and comfort and family. such beauty coming out of such adversity. it's amazing.


it was also a way of keeping their religion and belief alive, as sometimes the cloths were used in religious rituals and at holidays, like easter, which they surely practiced at great peril.


there were other objects, made of materials at hand - birchbark containers and the like, but i found the stitching most fascinating. especially since it wasn't just women who were stitching, but men as well, in a human need to hold onto beauty and home.


there were many pouches, which surely held precious mementos, like the wrapped-up soil of home or a photo of loved ones or a locket. there were also sayings, carefully stitched in lithuanian, a way of physically holding onto language and culture. each stitch a small act of defiance against the oppression, each stitch a way to hold onto an identity that was being torn away.


and i wonder if my soft guns aren't a similar way of coping with the sense that my very foundation has been ripped away by that ridiculous clown that cheated and colluded his way into the white house, robbing me of any pride i may have had in being american. maybe not, but they are definitely an act of defiance and mocking of the gun culture that has so strongly taken hold. not as deep as the items in the genocide victims museum, but a small act against the regime nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

vilnius :: a hidden gem









if you hang out with me on instagram, you know that we spent last week in lithuania and we loved it. there are a few shots of sights that i actually managed not take with the real camera and not share on instagram. i'll admit most of my shots were taken with my iPhone 7+ - that camera is the shit and hey, it's right there in my pocket. but lithuania was also great. it's lovely, with cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings, vilnius is totally walkable and full of cafés where you can a seriously excellent latte for €2. i highly recommend it. it's like prague without all of the awful tourists. shh, it's a hidden gem. and i don't want everyone to know about it and spoil it. because i'm definitely going back.

Monday, July 10, 2017

paradox :: soft guns


soft guns. in light of police shootings and folks murdering one another daily with guns in the united states, what could be more paradoxical than a set of cuddly guns? especially ones with happy, cheerful, bright flags extending from them, cartoon gun style? these were my contribution to our spring exhibition in creagive, our local group of creative souls.


paradox :: a whole bouquet of soft guns
i think i also made them as a way of working through how i felt about mom's bowling ball bags full of handguns and ammunition that we found in her car last december. i still can't breathe when i think of what she might have done with those guns in a fit of alzheimer's-induced paranoia while she was still alone out in her house. and a state that renews a permit to carry a concealed weapon for an elderly woman with dementia, when they've just ruled her unfit to drive. unfit to drive, but fine to go around with four loaded handguns. now that's a paradox.



i find myself thinking about that obsession my mother has with guns. especially one old, wonky 22 rifle that belonged to her uncle adam. a memory of him wanting her to have it has imprinted on her otherwise swiss cheese brain. interestingly, her sister, whose memory is just fine, tells a different tale of how mom got that gun - rushing to sergeant bluff to get it before a cousin could snatch it up after uncle adam died. it wasn't presented to her in solemn ceremony after all. and for some reason, it's the one thing she can remember these days. she's constantly asking my sister when she will bring it to her so she can go hunting. as if one hunts pheasants in the middle of the summer with an old 22 that doesn't shoot straight. as she stamps her foot and hisses in frustration, she doesn't seem to understand that she won't be going hunting again. maybe i should send her a soft gun to comfort her.

and you can have one too, if you're interested -  you can find them in my shop on big cartel - price is €70, including shipping. they are one of a kind and i will not be making any duplicates, tho' i may make more eventually. it was quite therapeutic to sew these up.