Necessity: Time to laugh and puppies.

It was pouring rain when I left my home on Saturday.

Errands then to the movies with my girlfriends. We were going to see Long Shot. But as luck would have it we went instead to see POMs. What’s that? I can hear whispers through the ether “that doesn’t sound like a particularly thought provoking endeavor” “you seem to have lower standards when it comes to movies” “tsk. Tsk.” Or is that my inner critics (yes I have many) who pass creative judgement upon me?

The fact is, we all need to laugh, a lot. Unfortunately the movie, like its reviews, was not very amusing.

Face it. The past two + years are quite a truckload serious bullshit for this socially conscious human (would’ve said f-load…but I’m working on my daily dose of expletives). Many of my friends agree we need laughter whenever and as much as is possible.

There is something quite wonderful about having people one can call/text/email and say, how about some laughter?” What’s even better is when they say “Hell yeah!” And so this is exactly what we did…we went to the movies, then out to eat and talk about the issues facing us. I felt somewhat comforted knowing I am not alone in this creepy time of peril.

Now reality is what it is, and as i sit here in my comfortable rental, my puppies asleep by my side, silently awaiting me to put down the iPad and don my shoes and grab leashes, I know that said danger, though not far away is as omnipresent as i choose. This may be the issue of why many people are not taking seriously the threat of evil, which is not a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong (or do, your choice) I am perhaps just as willing to vacate the awful, blood pressure raising feeling of dread at the thought of women being jailed for miscarriage, children ripped from their parent’s arms. rape victims forced to birth the product of assault, mass incarceration at the benefit of greedy scoundrels, people of color being murdered by cops, students being shot in schools, houses of worship bombarded with bullets, medical bankruptcy, gerrymandering, election tampering, species extinction (us included), natural habitats destroyed, and yes, people being told where to poop. Did I forget anything? Probably, and so you may add or put in the order your most importance.

So where to begin? I know I don’t have all the answers, but feel somehow we must work outside of the box – to change the ill tide, to come at this horrific mess o’shit (there goes my expletive limit) with a different, more effective means, because honestly, postcards get pitched into the circular bin, emails get deleted, as do phone calls – if they get answered by a human at all. Marches of millions have momentary impact though they are indeed community empowering. The Handmaids are visually effective.

I cannot or will not forget these many issues facing us and I feel it is my duty to remind others as I remind myself that we must envision and work toward remedying this awfulness! Even with necessary laughter and cute puppy breaks.

Massive, selective boycotting, pulling the plug on advertisers who support faux news etc., may be a more viable answer since it is one thing to walk the talk but to shop your talk is much more powerful. In our consumer/capitalist society businesses don’t like to lose money-the bottom line IS everything. And time IS of the essence here.

I’m spending the rest of my day making art, puppytime and doing research. Will keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you’ve read thus far, put on your (god is this making me sound old) thinking cap, then send me a note of what your ideas might be,

Is there No Escape???

My dreams are having a hard time differentiating reality and fantasy. Yes, I know, having studied sleepy time dreams of ride the rainbow elephants across possible planes of existence, their meaning, REM sleep patterns, out of body experiences, etc., I am aware we often are using our dreams to work though the challenges of unreal reality life. Unless we do exist in different dimensions, which in my warped mind does really happen and then I’ve been having a very interesting set of lives one or many of which I might prefer if given the choice.

Lately I have noticed that the possibility using sleep to escape from our strange and not so wonderful political landscape, at least for me, just does not cut it. The daily, though fortunately not constant, trauma induced thoughts of nazis, the blatant stripping of women’s rights, the demise of the US constitution, chemical/psychological/ballistic warfare, Iran, Yemen, Venezuela, black lives not mattering, not to mention global species annihilation, election hacking, plastic ocean gyres, fracking, the demise of our natural habitats (see species destruction), the total outrageously priced and ridiculous inadequacy of the US “health care system”…I could go on, but it IS more than troublesome, is enough to make nearly anyone pop a few Valium with an aged bourbon chaser, the intent or hope might be to sleep it off, waking totally refreshed in the morning.

Alas, that is not I. No, no no, I prefer to have my societal malaise straight up, take it like a Wo-man, strong capable and along the river I wanna be standing and by the way my name, from time to time, is Cleopatra.

I woke just before midnight, having realized I had not written a thing yesterday. For shame. For shame. Yes, ladies and gents, Jewish guilt does occasionally raise its imaginary sheitel-covered head even after therapy, study of various religions, conscious language and regular self reflection. I had made a promise to lil-ole-me to write daily. No, nothing as restrictively habitual as “morning pages”, because frankly with two loud dogs demanding food in the wee hours of the morning I rarely have the time or accessible brain power to begin to write-that is unless I wake at 4am stealthily, reach for iPad and quietly type. Currently my girl dog is busily running and talking in her sleep at the foot of my bed. It is past midnight and unless there is the rustling of food wrappers in the kitchen, she is dead to this world, alive in dreamland and I am free to pursue my exploitation of word on virtual paper.

Now. This tonight, or rather morning, may prove to be more than my interrupted sleep can take. For my mind is racing with a force so strong and I am trying to get my fingers to catch up before the thoughts become something else entirely. Such is my life. And I do not chose to tell my active brain to shut up and go to sleep for that would be disastrous and more than frustrating in the morning when I finally woke up to discover I had blown my verbal wad on something as mundane as fatigue.

Okay, dreams. Actually I don’t think I’m talking here about dreams, but instead my conversation with my new friend, Carla, yesterday may have planted the seeds of this night’s banter on the societal in-fluenza we are all experiencing. Together we discussed how for us we are well aware how deeply traumatized our population is but more importantly how different groups of people are processing this awful malaise. Specifically we contemplated aloud about young parents handling the situation with their children and what they are doing to not only emotionally cope but if they are at all empowered to advocate, march, complain, write, call, vote, run for office…etc.

It is more than a little disheartening that our elections are at great risk of being fucked up by evil minded, heartless, SOB’S who for some UNGODLY reason/s, though probably are full of greed, elitism, racism, fear, hatred, homophobia, anti-semitism…) believe they must win their agenda at all costs. So. Getting out the vote might even be moot, which is not at all an uplifting idea compelling us to stand in line for hours, now is it? Which is, I think, the point of all the gerrymandering, Faux news propaganda to blast us with a shitload of problems thus giving us a case of “I don’t know what to fucking do!”, apathetic inducing bullshit.

I’m part of a regular group that meets weekly having written well over 30,000 postcards to politicians, corporations and individuals since the orange monster took office. We are a combination activist/emotional support group. The fact that we are not now a bunch of raging alcoholics is a huge ducking testimony to our tenacity. And though tempting, apathy does not motivate us. Our group song should be “We Shall Not Be Lulled (or moved….you pick.) These wonderful inspired and inspiring human beings make me proud to have a properly (mostly) functioning brain and verbal skills to communicate with others who can also do this similarly. The only agenda we seem to have is to empower others to do the right thing – love, honor, respect, charity, help the powerless, protect our earth…If I didn’t know better I’d think we were all really truly, honest to goodness, (not the fake ones) Christians.

For me (and probably those with whom I meet weekly) there is no escape from choosing to change the current reality in which we are living. My children and grandchildren and the planet upon which we live is at stake. My imperative is to help make things/life better.

Otherwise what is the point, really?

Now. I’m going to sleep.

Another Day – Another Coffee Shop

I’m sitting, drinking a loaded decaf coffee (almond milk and brown sugar – gawd I am decadent) at a round table for four at the Flightpath Coffee Shop. While is most definitely not Quacks, It is a decent coffee and snack place on Duval here in Austin. I have been joined by a woman who is amenable to occasional chatting about things artistically expressive, etc. I have allotted myself approximately an hour to be here to write and sip.

Today is another schlepp day. It’s really okay. My schedule is pretty open otherwise as I have been of late focusing on writing and put my trash transformations on semi-hold. Currently I am allowing the thoughts in my head and daily situations to be transformed into words on virtual paper, the refuse rests upon my work table awaiting perspiration (inspiration is always lurking close by).

It’s my daughter’s 40th birthday today. When I brought coffee into her room (I am a nice person, yes) whilst singing Happy Birthday, I marveled that forty years ago I was moaning and groaning and pushing and wondering why it was taking so damn long for her to just get here. Time certainly flies, too fast most of the time, on that day it didn’t.

I thought, in honor of her, today, I might flash back to a few early events in the course of her life. Many of these occasions stand out as being pivotal in my relationship with my firstborn.

“La La La” – Some may dispute what I heard, but if the years of her amazing singing which followed her initial melodic cries at birth, and perhaps her voice was merely music to my ears, she did indeed utter “LA LA LA”. Cool, eh? She continues to sing to this day, delighting many…especially me. Her voice is truly a gift to the world.

“I don’t want to” – Picture a very small child barely six months, standing up in her crib, propped up by the bars which would for a short time provide a barrier between her and the floor. She’s rocking back and forth, a twinkle in her eye. I tell her its time to go to bed, and her reply, quite clearly “I don’t want to”, with a subsequent wink and a smile. I said, “what??? You don’t even say MaMa and you speak in full sentences. Do it again!” She just looked at me and laughed. No witnesses there, but I swear I was not imagining it. She still has the same twinkle and knows how to let people know what she thinks and feels.

“Asshole, mommy?” – We are driving in the suburbs of San Jose. She’s probably three. Someone cuts in front of our car, causing me to abruptly put on the brakes and remark out loud “You….” She interrupts with “….Asshole, mommy?” I gaze back at her through the rear view mirror into the backseat at her with that same smart as grin I have come to know and enjoy. One might’ve thought the incident would’ve curtailed my penchant for expletives. It didn’t. She, however has a tamer though incredibly large vocabulary and an explosive gift with words in general.

“Where’s the placenta?” – She is about two weeks away from being four years old. We are in the birthing room at St Joseph’s Hospital in San Jose and I am in labor with her brother. She has attended Bradley Method birthing classes with her father and me; unlike the other children in the class, she has been extremely interested in the process of reproduction and birth. Everyone thinks its cute she is coaching me along with her father, has remarked how loud my yells are when I only have to push three times to birth her brother and then remarks “Where’s the placenta?” Her interest in learning has extended into many other subjects way beyond women’s reproductive health.

I could keep going, ad nauseous, to wax poetic on the many and varied events I have witnessed over the years, but my daughter might frown about further exploitation of her experiences for my own tawdry authorship.

My time is up. I’m off to drive here and there. Enjoy your day wherever.

Quacks ! Getting out of the storm.

Thunder is clapping, lightning is striking and I’m holed up in Quacks, a hip bakery coffee shop, waiting out the rain, sipping taboo hot cocoa and munching a peanut butter cookie. Heck its scary outside, i gotta have my creature comforts don’t I? I wasn’t the only one who had the bright idea of escaping the waterlogged streets and possible flash flooding. No, there are at least twenty other people- mostly singles hogging tables for two or four. I wasn’t going to remain standing, goodies in hand, so i marched up to a table with a woman sporting headphones which were plugged into her HP laptop and asked if i might share the table with her. Fortunately she agreed or i would’ve had to try another table and that first rebuff could’ve set an uncomfortable precedent.

Anyway, I’m here, munching, sipping, writing and occasionally watching the vertical lake outside. Up until arriving at this place of delectable pastries and comforting drinks I had been mulling over what I might write about today. And now that I’m here i have chosen to report my glimpse of coffee shop life in Austin which I believe might be different from places elsewhere. This is not a Starbucks. They use real plates and cups here.

First off, in Europe it is common to share tables with strangers. Here in Austin, one must get up the nerve to intrude upon someone to sit and share a meal, drink or laptop space. Some people are quite affable, and willing to engage in conversation, while others prefer to be focusing on their electronics, communicating with others at a distance, rather than the person across the shared table. Its a shame as far as I’m concerned, since I love meeting people.

I am currently sharing a table with a young purple haired woman who is multitasking: text checking, reading on her laptop, sipping some sort of coffee drink, taking bites of a streusely thing and listening to music on headphones. Adding a human interaction might just be too much. People at adjacent tables are engaged in conversation, one guy is talking across the room at someone who is hidden by a corner…I don’t think he is merely talking to himself, but then one never knows. Mostly the crew here is solitary, though this fluctuates.

Oops my table mate has found a lone table and is moving, so now I will be available to possible company. In the meantime I will stare at the loaded bakery case and observe the people waiting to add inches to their waistlines. This place does sell really good stuff…filled with real butter, eggs, sugar and that evil gluttonous gluten flour, none of which is on my dietary plan to reduce blood pressure or kill off the virus which has been knocking me off or rather on my ass. But the weather is at fault here and I claim no responsibility whatsoever.I may pay for my fear induced indulgence later, but so it goes.

I find it interesting that since I began my “diet” I have had few cravings for sweets and when I eat said items I discover they are cloyingly sugary and not to my liking, even though today is a slight exception…I managed to eat and drink it all, like a good neurotic who abhors being out amidst the thunder and lightning.

This purveyor of fine carbohydrates has a very steady flow of walk-in traffic. People can be seen carrying multiple boxes or bags of cupcakes, cookies, pies, pastries etc. back to their wherevers, to the adulation of many, with exception of those who actually remain faithful to their dietary restrictions.

Ah the sky is brightening, the rain has begun to let up and I’ve finished my forbidden items. It may be time for me to head out once again, but wait, what’s that i hear? More thunder? I’m sorry I’m too full to stay here any longer. I’m going. Wish me luck. Stay dry wherever you are.

It takes a (big evolved) village.

I woke up yesterday morning to the plaintive cries of my adult daughter who had discovered she was unable to put any weight on her right foot. Here is a woman with more stamina and energy than a ten year old…I’d say five but clearly her son does tire her (and me much readily) out. She also has a demanding job and is a single parent, so things are without saying, but I am right here, often stressful. To make matters a tad more complicated she is proctoring tests all week at the school where she works full time.

Okay, enough with the situation set-up. I knew immediately what i had to do. Feed dogs or their incessant barking might drive me to drink, if I did, or drugs if I did, or insanity which is possible, make coffee, wake grandson, who definitely did not want to wake up, or get out of bed, or eat the breakfast which I had somehow managed and then decided to throw a fit over spilled maple syrup. (One might suppose he had heard a distorted version of crying over spilt milk but whatever). I then made said child’s lunch, filled his stainless steel bottle with filtered water, packed it all in his unicorn lunchbox and deposited all into his backpack. Aside: Did you know small children in the USA have to schlepp a lot of stuff to school these days, besides books in backpacks? It is a ridiculous “entitlement” problem to be sure.

I am well aware there are small children toiling away in sweat shops in other parts of the world who cannot go to school, or kids here in the US who don’t have the luxury of giving orders for their lunch or have filtered water (think Flint, MI). Though i am a doting grandmother I am also a socially conscious one who works to raise the awareness of my five year old, extremely lucky, white grandson enough so he becomes part of the solution to world challenges, rather than a pain in the ass jerk.

Okay, so I got everybody ready, took grandson to school, bade goodbye to my hopping daughter whose thoughtful boyfriend fireman’s carried her to the car and then drove her to emergency. Came home to sort my day out until I could pick up said daughter, now on crutches and sporting an unfashionable black boot to then drive her to her job. Dedicated to her students is an understatement.

My family is lucky, as am I. I’m here, sharing our abode and to do this sort of thing, mostly. A couple months ago I had a strange bout of high blood pressure which landed me in the hospital and my daughter came to my rescue. I’m also here to live my life as an (I never thought I’d be one) active senior citizen.

Multigenerational households can be great, especially when the members of said residence have the skills to deal with daily stresses and can respond with a high level of emotional intelligence. This is the case for us at our place. But I have witnessed other situations.

Years ago I was part of a non profit organization that worked with women and children survivors of domestic abuse. There was always the discussion as to who we should help first, the mothers or the children. Obviously the answer was always both.

I say obviously because it is not apparent to many.

1. Parents are role models, be they good or bad, who teach by example if not also by word. We must remember that until recently, parenting classes were either not available, blatantly awful or steeped in distorted dogma…or a combination. I am saying until recently but though there have been some strides in the general evolution in parenting…it may be moving backwards. Now, I won’t get started on the religious dogma aspect except to say there is an awful lot of hypocrisy in the area of practicing what one might preach…but I suppose that can also be said about child rearing in general. I can remember my (atheist) mother telling me to do as she said and not as she did. Even as a small child I could see through that bullshit; that was not the word I used at the time.

2. Children – because even if mom or dad were getting support there was also the need to unravel the damage that had been wrought by the abusive parent, grandparents, social services or family members who had neglected the abuse, by teachers, police or medical personnel who were too busy to respond quickly, etc. The kids are going to repeat what they experienced because its stored in both their conscious and unconscious, ready to surface at just the right (?) time.

One might say I am hyper-sensitive to our culture because it continues to ignore and cripple the needs of most people, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, and even economic status. And its not just the crappy politicians who are supposed to represent us who are messing things up, its the other social institutions which enforce this emotional and intellectual laming behavior. Of course corporate media plays into this, in a big way, but sheesh how much can we cover in this essay without wanting to sit on a street corner and drink Ripple? Until we come to grips with this social dis-ease we are going to get more and more fucked up as a society. You don’t want that, do you?

Yeah, the evil Hillary said it takes a village, and she is absolutely correct. Every one of us plays an important part in our world. I sincerely hope that we, the human race, evolve into something much better than we are, as a current whole, today. In the meantime I’m going to keep plunking away on this keyboard and sending my words into the cosmos with the deep desire they do not fall on numb minds.

Talking (about) Trash – It’s in our hands, stupid.

Yeah, yeah, some of you may know about my work, transforming trash into art, (plug) but perhaps you are unaware of the real reason I make my art? I’ll explain as best I can.

I am a died in the organic, sustainably raised, sheared by hand, wool environmental activist nut-job, at least that’s what someone called me once – the “nut-job” part that is.

I was, until recently a vegetarian/mostly vegan because I love animals and think they needlessly die when we can get what we need from plants…until I got real sick from some crazy ass Epstein Barr virus that keeps me from eating treenuts (I can now no longer even be considered a “nut-job), dairy (bye bye delicious Brie), gluten (so long croissants), or chocolate – give me dark chocolate or give me death doesn’t even figure in here anymore. To make myself feel emotionally better I am currently creating altars to the animal gods for the sacrifices they are making to feed lil ole me. Anyway where was I?

Oh yeah, environmentalist, trash, art. Okay I’m here again, thinking that you don’t know why I do what I do, art-wise. Well, after the oh so many years of tie-dye, sprouts and knowing, even before it was somewhat tragic-hip, that we are basically committing global harikari (that’s suicide in case you don’t know), and after my dearly departed soulmate, Max Middleton, passed into the Great Beyond, I knew I had to do something to heal myself and hopefully raise the, excuse the woo-woo, vibration of the masses of people who have been lulled into consuming vast quantities of corporate palm-sugar-laced carbon dioxide water mostly stolen from tribal lands and becoming brainwashed by Fox and Breitbart. And what better way to transform our world than take the trash I find on the street and make it something pretty or useful or thought-provoking or, you get the picture.

Frankly, it is often I shake my head in dismay at the masses of folk who believe we are not facing disaster, that Donald Trump is a good guy, that its okay to hurt people you’re afraid of, that LGBTQ people are sinners and that men who rape children or women should get off with a head shake and an insincere scolding. I mean reallly! Who the fuck didn’t raise them? Oops, they are products of our own disregard and our own naivety that all people are as intelligent as we.

Now, once again I may have swayed from my talk about my art and trash and our sooner than we’d rather think about it, potential and quite definitely quicker than we’d like, doom. But then again, maybe not, since i sincerely believe in my progressive, anti-Vaxer (don’t get me started on that subject) eco-warrior, never shy enough for my own good, yet loving puppies, kittens, baby goats and all life in general with few exception, self that maybe people will wake the fuck up, smell the dead whales on our beaches, rotten fish floating in our streams, taste the chemicals in our food and DO SOMETHING NOW!

Face it, we don’t have til 2025 to eliminate plastic bags or bottles, stop utilizing fossil fuels that are polluting our damn drinking water, outlaw and militantly prevent the use of harmful pesticides which are poisoning our pollinators (bees, butterflies, birds) our food supply, quit cutting down trees to make our dwellings, and so much more- you get the picture.

My latest collection of art on which I am working is about our oceans.

For a long time (30+ years) I have been acutely aware of the oil, pesticide and plastic pollution in our precious waters. When faced with the probability we are killing the seas and therefore ultimately you, me and everyone we love (or hate for that matter) I knew I had to do something in my attempt to trigger the necessary “aha moment”.

I am posting with this piece one of my works, “Lunch at the Pacific Garbage Patch”. If it makes you hungry, ok, if it makes you write letters to the stores you frequent/alleged representatives/corporations, pick up some trash in front of you, use less plastic, drive less, use natural, biodegradable soaps, etc then my work is doing that which I intended.

And if you think this is all bullshit, I can unabashedly say “shame on your worthless souls.” I’m probably old enough to be at least your mother or grandmother and you need to listen/take heed and get off your asses. Your future depends on it.