The P-word, and How To Avoid It

Creative types are indoctrinated to the P-word as soon as they get excited about something they made. If you're like me, you got excited after someone else did - in other words, you accepted someone else's excitement as permission to be proud of your own work.

And then someone else came along and took your joy by saying you didn't think of it yourself.

Yeah, THAT P-word.

The very nature of what we do (you can take that "we" to mean creative types or the Royal We as makes you comfortable - either one is accurate) is to translate the world around us and how we interact with it, or don't. We use languages we think will come close to our interpretation - spoken word, written, paint, texture, song, or sounds - in an effort to pin down the butterfly. We hope you find something in our message that speaks to you.

I've been stepping outside my comfort zone in all directions and mostly liking what I discover. I'll intentionally do things on my own because I fe…

Dirt Catharsis II - From the Other Shore

I followed my own advice:  when you don't know what to do, garden.
Pulling weeds does something to clarify the bigger picture. What keeps growing back is native; understand its purpose. Study your soil and weather - and the local wildlife - when choosing to interject a garden into what's already there.

You can take risks and plant something you really like, but know that it may not survive the environment even if you dedicate yourself to protecting it. Decide which way you're gonna play this - in my opinion, there are no wrong answers.
Sometimes I feel like I'm standing a planet away from what should be my peers. As a rebellious teen cliché, I gravitated toward highly intelligent people who did not hold degrees. They made sense to me, and I seemed to make sense to them. They were happy in their hippie lives, happier than I was in mine. They presented a version of stability to which I could aspire.

I get very clear signals from time to time that I did not respond appropriat…

Juggling Muses vs. Parenting Myself

"I assume, if I haven't heard from you, that things are okay." -me, to H------, ca. 1998 You know my sarcasm and wry asides are for hiding the raw edge of something I desperately want to share but also don't want uncovered. Overreaching typically indicates anxiety. If you don't hear from me, things are probably okay.

Things are okay.

I said words and that was all:  promised this year I would learn to be more me than I already am, and do it unaugmentedly if possible. There was no plan. Basically I started a bunch of shit and it's all taking off - all of it. Terrifyingly. If you aren't seeing me where you're used to seeing me, I'm busy making my own hell and reveling in it.

Much like starting a family, there's no best time or place, and all the planning in the world won't make it easier - you just jump in the deep end. There will be surprises, disasters, and glory; at least one more tattoo. I am my own child, and I'm giving myself enc…

Teef vs. Why I Can't Take a Nap Right Now

I'm fresh back from the dentist, and dying because I want to take a nap but my written instructions say:


I so much want to lie down. Here I am with y'all for another 1.5 hours, so it's story-time.

I started this trouble when I was 18. After a weekend of nothing but Coors' Light on the beach at Port Aransas, I decided to go home and fix a hot dog. I woke up the next morning still at the neighbors' house. I went to the bathroom and cleaned the blood off my face and shrapnel out of my mouth; everyone playing cards in the kitchen could say only that I'd fallen on my face.

One of my front teeth was broken. I went around like that for a while and even survived a spectacular abcess. That's what you do in this country if you're too poor for proper medical treatment, what you do if your family structure is such that you can't support each other.  My grandma finally footed the bill for a flipper - removable artificial tooth. A lot of people h…

The Bringer of Good News

I saw this tank with wings patrolling my tiny cottage a couple days ago, and then it was gone.

And then it was back last night.

I enjoy all the beasties that find their way into my home, and I enjoy putting them the fuck back outside. I've liberated many spiders, including an adorable teenage Orb Weaver, moths, a butterfly, a skink, two baby snakes and a mole. Not the ants.

I thought at first it was a variety of bumblebee who'd bumbled in from the mint out front. I couldn't find a picture online of a bee like this -- but wait...shoot.

I'd forgotten all about yellowjackets.

One of the first things we learned as wild kids in Michigan is that bees don't want to hurt you, because they will lose their stinger and die; wasps and hornets can sting you over and over, unrepentantly. While I flipped through pictures of things that will stab me, the hovertank disappeared again. I thought maybe it had gone to bed, so I would do same. And then the cat yelled for dinner (which …

...and That's What I Did This Weekend.

The tall guy turned around and came back to my art station - he was wearing a Bell's Brewery shirt and had trouble finding his words.

"I never do this, I'm from Michigan, but could you draw a skitty sk...shitty sketch of my best friend and I at the bar there, like a Hemingway feel, you know...a well-lit room..."

 I was stationed between the bar and the side-door at Palette 22 as an Artist-in-Residence. Heavy humid air bustled in with every turn of the revolving door. Outside, two young women with elaborately-braided hair nestled together as they perused the menu taped to the window above my table. The young man was in front of me, unsure whether he'd made his request clear.

"I hate Hemingway," I grinned. "Also I dislike Kalamazoo very much."

My daughter's voice giggled in the recesses of my brain:  "You're the one who taught me, if it isn't worth doing for the story it isn't worth doing at all." I looked around at …

The Battle of the Laundromat

@RageMichelle and I were talking about writing funny. I thought about how my daughter's friends think I'm hilarious and always ask for stories, but there isn't much humor on this blog. I'm gonna try it - here ya go.

@lia likes to tell people I got drunk and broke the laundry machine, but that's not how it went. I was staying with her in Michigan while she had knee surgery. Maybe it wasn't that visit - I think she left me unattended to go to her job. All I know is I got bored. I would be HELPFUL. I would do the laundry.

At my place in DC, we didn't have machines so I used the laundromat down the block. Across the street from the laundromat was Room 11, an excellent Foodie joint with talented mixologists (hi, Shaun.) I wisely developed a routine:  put my clothes in the washer, set an alarm on my phone to signal the end of the wash cycle, cross the street and order a drink. Before the alarm went off  I'd order food, which would be ready by the time I came…

The Hole vs. Maybe a Gap in the Smoothie

I was terrified of the hole, and did whatever I thought would keep it from manifesting.

...the empty feeling when a loved one is gone; when your relationship still feels empty; when you finally get the thing you always wanted but it doesn't feel like your dream.

These losses are each very different, but there's a unifying thread. I've felt "the hole" when there was absolutely nothing wrong or different in my life. That tells me it's not always situational. And it's not always gnawing. Psychological or biological, it's real and part of the sum total of Me.

Maybe I shouldn't think of it as something that needs fixing, a literal hole, but a space - and here's the thing:

Nothing is really empty. An empty room has things in it: sunlight, air, dust, energy. The University of Konstanz is home to ground-breaking science on what's really in a vacuum - they call it a Traffic Jam in Empty Space.

That empty space within us also contains things we are …

Random Emails I've Sent Myself - (n) in a Series...

When in unsure territory, I reach out to people whose perspective I value because they've proven themselves. I can test their advice to see if it works for me and be comfortable putting it down if I don't get the results I'm after.

It wasn't always thus; I used to reach out to people whose opinions could impact my life. Emotional baggage weighed in on every decision. Those people proved treacherous. 

Scientists trust the data; if results don't match then your data isn't accurate. Maybe you're not measuring the right thing, or you've left out a variable. Data doesn't lie, but it doesn't check the weather outside or the atmosphere in the office. It may have been compiled by someone who didn't ask the right questions. 

If you aren't getting the results you want, reassess. Don't acquiesce to a person for who they are.

I Tried Hard to Write Ecolo-poetry, and This Is What Happened.

You have a beautiful mind.
Thank you.
And we want you to use it.
Thank you. On what should I use it?
You can use it on anything you like.
Well, yes, butterflies. But don't you want to use your mind productively?
What means productively?
Something that progresses the state of the world.
The world seems very big and moving due to gravitational collapse...
The citizens, then...mankind as a whole.
Just the mans, then? I am not a man.
No, silly...humans. All humans are equal. Okay. Am I a humans?
I like butterflies. Are butterflies humans?

No, butterflies are not humans, but you can like them.
I want to use my beautiful mind to help them.  I can study what they need and they will always be and I will be happy. Will this progress the state of all humankinds?
Well, perhaps...butterflies need oxygen like we do...
And food. Butterfly foods are in flowers, and I like flowers. Do humankinds find that production of flowers helps to progress the world?
Maybe. That's an interesting cal…

Regurgitating Little Conversations

You know this one, too - those loaded thoughts you can't. let. go. even though you've parsed them backward and forward and you know your official statement on the topic. Even when you're not sorry you responded the way you did. Even when you don't even like that whatever anymore.

This is not the same as the way I can remember the tan wood paneling in the house where we lived before I was 2 years old (confirmed it with my mom) or almost every word I've seen in print. I'm no Marilu Henner, but I astound and annoy even myself.

I'm talking about the the thoughts that push their way through the project on the table:  wondering what someone's doing whom you haven't seen in forever, or making you think it's time to put on pants and go because you need biscuits right now.

Minneapolis-based rap artist Dessa talked about the "inventory of feelings" she addressed when she used neurofeedback to finally get over a long-term relationship:



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 don't know where I was the first time - I think 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's stabil…

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…