Any sensation can trigger memory: a smell, a sound, a song. Tonight it's a specific temperature and humidity combined with sodium lighting and just the right curve of a very flat road under a full moon between green trees and black sky. I turn off the radio so I can try to remember what was playing then. I remember being happy.

I can't remember where I was the first time - I think it was Texas or Oklahoma. I was carefree, cruising in someone else's car, nothing left to lose. Unencumbered. It was nice to transport back there for a moment, to know I'd felt this way before like I feel it now. That means I can feel it again in the future; it's not specific to a time or space. I own this happiness and this beautiful night. The sky is amazing and the moon looks so proud.

The freedom of fetters loosened comes after hardship and pain, like a mermaid losing her tail and gaining legs. Awkward, bumpy, gashes on the sole. I can do what I want without upsetting someone else&#…

A Hanging at High Noon - Does This Smile Make My Natural Bitchface Look Big?

The deed is done; the art is hung. I'm officially live and public.

It's weird to see my ugly babies outside of home. I go to my usual weekend hangout and they're hanging out, among strangers and draped over tables, no looks of recognition toward me. Like teenagers. I wonder if they smoke and drink with their friends when I'm not around.

Pieces are numbered 1-14 from the front door to the back corner; Jennifer had me call out titles so she could write them down for pricecards. This was weird, too.  Titling is exceeding difficult for me. I had to take ownership of what I'd assigned to my babies, call them by their names. It gave me a feeling of...legitimacy, maybe?...something I haven't yet digested. Definitely I've done a real thing here, and I will do it again. It'll be easier next go-round.

In the meantime, I'm at the laundromat doing what's amassed while I made decisions and wrangled hardware for 3 weeks.  A lady here is wearing a shirt I th…

Mirroring vs. Reavers at High Tea

The more we learn about psychology, and the more psychology learns about itself, the quicker we assess a person in whom we find challenges. Our pattern-extracting brains seek a path to agreement, in other words seek to eliminate discomfort. We want to connect; when we can't, we want to know why. This one sounds like a narcissist; that one over there clearly has control issues. Be wary of people who seem co-dependent. The easy thing is to assign labels for quick sorting. It feels like a safeguard.

At some point, society chooses how we should approach one another, and when, and how much. Kids learn by getting feedback from their parents, mirroring. I take cues from others when I communicate, looking for the way someone wants to receive information. Sometimes, though, I'm looking for something to mirror and I have no idea what I'm looking at. I don't get it right; things turn awkward, and suddenly there's a mess.

I've always been The Weird Kid. People often call …

Facades vs. Rejection, Art, and the Philosophy of Japanese Pottery

Jason Horejs blogged about How to Deal With Rejection as You Seek Gallery Representation. He reminds us what we all know: a "no" is not a red mark on your overall brand. Sometimes it's a "not here" and sometimes it's a "not right now." He advises that it's good to review what you're putting out, but don't assume a full revision is required. "Force  yourself to keep going," he says. He's right.
There are many ways to increase your odds for success and reduce the likelihood of rejection (may I humbly suggest reading or rereading “Starving” to Successful), but some level of rejection is inevitable. All the same tenets hold true when connecting with actual humans. There's a formality involved that I can't always navigate. I'm a huge fan of politeness but also of transparency, and integrity above all else. If someone asks me a question, I default to "honest", no matter what protocol is expected. Maybe &qu…

Nostalgia for the Basement Days...How to Build An Art Exhibit

Putting together an art show seems very much like putting together a music album.  Some of you-all may  not remember albums. They told stories and wore cool jackets, sometimes smoked. Dark and enigmatic, glistening in the dim light of somebody's basement while the needle danced over the grooves. God, I miss analog. 

An exhibit needs to tell a story. Our brains seek patterns but like surprises. We want the A-HA! Like the words I write, my paintings blurt images in quirky detail, narrative a little jumbled like that last dream before you wake up.  As I compile my varied works to hang on the walls of Beanetics Coffee Roasters, I may find a piece doesn't fit, quite, next to its compatriots. I can bend the narrative by reordering the pieces so one nuance leads gently to the next. This project wants editing like any other.

A good whisky and a good perfume are the same way. The first impression may be bold; you're not sure you want it to waft away, but here comes another too irresi…

Preserve Life, All of It - a Political Post

Preserve life.  We all agree on this. We do.

Remember that tadpole you found as a kid? You brought it home and put it in a jar and it died. You bawled your eyes out and your mom threw jar and all into the trash bin.

Abortion laws are big news this week. So are floods along the Mississippi River (it's a really big river - check out a map.) Universal Healthcare and international trade tariffs have sort of taken a back seat. Government subsidies for farmers are barely making headlines. These things are all tied together.

If you can't take a shower, keep your clothes clean, and show up on time every day, you won't be able to keep a job. If your front teeth don't look nice, your job options are severely limited. If you can't have a job, you can't have a roof over your head. You see the circle yet?

Once you preserve life, it's alive. It has to eat, sleep, breathe. You have to take care of it.
Quality of life is not always rooted in personal decision-making. A…

From the Temple Floor: How Art and Math Are the Same Thing

I've known for a long time that it's useless to force creativity:  often the work will have to be done over.  Thanks to discussions peripheral to Gödel, Escher, Bach - an Eternal Golden Braid, I've learned to use math terminology (imperfectly) to further identify aspects of the process.

According to me, the difference between one person's brain and the next is the degree of pixelation each can discern.  How fine a grain are you able to manage?

I can work with very, very, fine grains; I have challenges taking in the forest.  I see not only the trees but pebbles, lichen, the tiny little things that creep therein.  I can discern minute intervals with alarming (to myself) accuracy, even when I haven't figured out what they are, but I can get lost trying to drive across town. Also, I can see wisteria vines, bats, and birds in the grounds left at the bottom of my coffee, so I'm interpreting that vision in scratchboard.

There's a place in every creative work wh…

INFP-AF. (Hint: the F is for Forgiving.)

I took somebody's online quiz (having no faith in online quizzes but needing entertainment.)  

The quiz proclaimed me INFP-T. As I read their breakdown I kept mumbling IS ALL WRONG.

It's an online quiz, for cripes' sake.  But the quiz-creators take themselves relatively seriously. The Briggs-Meyers test is considered reputable to some degree.  

Worse, a friend sent me a link of Quora discussions:

 "I dunno about that infp stuff," Sharon said. "Google says infp types tend to be verbally unassertive. (I think you assert verbally, frequently)"

Sharon's met me. 

Jim adds: "Because you know how much more there is that you didn't assert." Yes, Jim, so much yes.  It is nice to be understood.
Let's just be clear on one thing:  I AM JUDG(E)MENTAL. I am measur…

No Pennies - me vs. Bathroom Floor

The landlords have given me explicit permission to hack at any shrub I see fit, and then they went out of town. 
So I tore up the bathroom floor in my cottage.
The linoleum tile has been cracking and peeling since I moved in; also, I've noticed uncharacteristic water-collection during monsoon season (meaning not associated with the toilet.)  Since the back side of the cottage is about three feet underground, water may seeping in through the foundation somewhere.  That's something I'm not prepared to diagnose or handle.  However, it also seems the concrete floor wasn't sealed before the tile was laid; I can do that.
Being frugal, Scottish, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi, or influenced by my grandmother's depression-era conservation tactics, I went to Craigslist to look for someone getting rid of flooring.  I found a nearly-new gallon of KILZ for $10.  Bill, holder of the paint, said he worked literally down the street from my job, and we agreed to meet during lunch fo…

Love from the Twitterverse - Blogs to Investigate

The friend who suggested (read: signed me up for) Twitter has recused herself from my universe.  This is really okay.  All humans have the inalienable right to do what's best for them at any given time. They have the right to change tack - please remember that, for yourself and for anyone you know.

That said, I've gotten a glimpse of the horror stories, but my twittersperience has been pretty okay so far.  I'm networking, I tell people, and I actually am.  I'm building a web of people who won't tell me whether I should date or dump somebody, but will tell me it's okay to wake up at 0400 hours to edit a manuscript - in fact, it's recommended by some.  I could follow people who scream politics or watery platitudes, and I could froth at the mouth whilst telling people what I think they should believe or not - but I don't.  It's been suggested that people get from Twitter what they bring to it, and I can see a grain of truth there - that's true of …

Free Time vs. Dream-poetry Explained

I took the day off work so I could score tickets to a museum for my book club.  I succeeded.

This may sound silly (and if you've met me you're unsurprised) but I assure you it was very serious.  Glenstone allots free tickets monthly, two months in advance, at 10 AM precisely on the first of the month.  By 10:03 they're gone.

We do something like this at my day job.  There's a set opening date and time for convention exhibitors to book blocks of 5-50 hotel rooms.  Madness ensues as people all over the world vie to get into the preferred  hotels.  We usually have juice and bagels on opening days; we discuss strategies for moving phone conversations along because every second counts.  So when I tried on April 1 to get Glenstone tickets, and failed, I knew what had to be done.

At home and unencumbered by other duties, I set my alarm for 9:55 and loaded the website. Hit snooze when the alarm went off, refreshed the site, and got ready to hit enter. This was my one shot...

Pursuit of Happiness vs. Make-up Advice and Serial Killers

Patrice used to take a personal interest in my looks.

"You need concilla," she told me in her South Cackalacky accent.  I made her repeat the word a few times and finally spell it: C-O-N-C-E-A-L-E-R.  She had a point - my dark eyecircles are legendary.  Patrice was a beautiful woman, masterful with fashion, trying to help me out with the obvious.  Over time, though, I found an awkward trend to her advice.  One day she was adamant - adamant - that I should try parting my hair on the side.

"Just do it one time. You'll love it," she insisted.  She'd done her hair with a severe side-part. Obviously it would be good for me, too, because she liked me.

Understanding her motivation is exactly the kind of thought that plagues me for years, but I think I've finally sorted it:  Patrice felt an elation when she found herself beautiful with side-parted hair.  I think she was trying to recapture that elated feeling by replicating the action on me.

Sounds goofy, righ…

Looking In

There's some incredibly vocal bird - maybe a warbler or canary - nesting in the azalea outside my window.  He's going to help me succeed in my plan to wake up near sunrise every day.

The Order of Emergent Magick recommends practicing intent:  choose one thing you don't currently do, and perform that action every day for 30 days.  It can be something as simple as changing the place where you put your shoes every night. You can choose something you feel is more impactive, like meditating for 20 minutes.  Be very specific about the repetition.  And then after 30 days, intentionally don't do the thing for 30 days.

Learning how intent feels will lap over into other things  you do every day.  This morning I've sent a proposal for an editing gig, filled in some more squares on my project spreadsheet, and cleaned cobwebs.  You can buy cleaning equipment - a telescoping duster, for example - employ them and they actually work.  I am the master of my ship, dammit.

I took a …

Regret: To Be or Not To Be...

Michelle posted a tale of 4 cats which tells of the time she was a bad cat-mom. I get this; I've been a bad cat-mom. I've been a bad mom. I'm currently a bad bike-mom to a Bianchi who deserves better.

I just went through a round of re-forgiving myself for various ill-conceived decisions I made when I thought I was smart. I've reached a point in my life where all my miscalculations are auto-functioning and I no longer have to monitor them with my guilt; but the guilt doesn't go away, no.

However, I can stop following that guilt around with actions meant to mollify it, and I can use the available space I didn't have when I needed to monitor my miscalculations. I can actually do things now that I wanted to do - should have been doing, if we want to use the s-word - back when I was trying to clean up my own messes.

It's not as awesome as it sounds; it's awkward. I have space and no instructions on what to do with it, - I should have learned the steps ages …

Depression Talk - a Bullseye Drawn.

Were I capable of taking my own life, I probably found the place where it's done.  Now that the darkest dark seems to have passed, I'm telling you what I found. I'm practicing reaching out.

If you didn't hear from me, it's because I'm wary of your intentions. I know you care, and I believe you want the best for me.  A hug can become an extra burden.  Questions and empathy bruise when my answers aren't received the way I gave them. I'm afraid of being smoothed over.

The standard response to things we don't understand is to disregard or re-frame, fit into something more comfortable for us; it's natural. The knee-jerk reaction is to drop everything and address someone else's problem. We instinctively seek a fast resolution so we can go back to tending our own.

Please note I never used the words "someone needs help."  Needing help is frowned upon in our culture, and nobody wants to be needy. We don't want to believe it about ourse…

Ping - a letter to non-proximal friends

I miss my friend horribly today.

I miss the way we could joke about anything, knowing this was the safe zone, knowing we were really all okay and could be trusted in the world despite what we thought funny right now.

I miss coffee under palm trees.  I miss painting the stairs. I miss laughing over school assignments. Not holding back.

I don't miss those days, but I miss the safe zone and the shared vocabulary.  We knew all along that we'd move on eventually, not knowing to where - it's a rite of passage. We are processes, always moving but not always with translatable maps.  Knowing never makes it easy.

I'm alone among friends where I am now.  I've built myself a fort, and I am safe, but it's a different sort of safety.  I miss feeling understood.  I'm afraid of possibly never being understood again, since every minute of every day puts more mileage between then and tomorrow. Now is frangible.  I assure you the fear is valid.

New words are built every day,…

How to Teach Nuance

When I'm unsure whether I'm reading nuance correctly, I check in with someone whose perception I trust, or whose decision will factor into the success of the project.  I tend to check smaller packets of information than others do, because I can.

I've already calculated a few probable outcomes. I want to know which outcome we prefer as a team. However, everyone's busy and would like to not follow the trail of my process to grasp what I'm after. I can't formulate the easy question on the fly. If someone asks me "why", and I try to answer, we're all in trouble, because I will tell you.  All of it.

I've always been this way.  I probably was an annoying kid.

Kids bring to you things that aren't important at the moment to you. You may be sorting some high-level issue for the household, and you don't get why the kid needs to know right now.  The short answer is: "the kid wants attention."  There are nuances, though. The answer may …