Friday, July 29, 2005

rock n' roll never forgets

Happy Birthday,

(That’s right ~ from now on, it’s the same card every year. Soon you’ll be so old, you won’t even notice.)

Have a blast! Wish I were there ~ pop a cold one for me…



Monday, July 25, 2005

bad yoga babe

It’s been a long, hot, busy week. For one thing, we were expecting my husband’s niece, her husband and four children to be coming in from Chicago, and spent much of the week on the usual preparations ~ cleaning house, tending the garden, fixing the more obvious defects and hiding everything else under the rug or in the shed. I was vacuuming the bathroom floor I heard the burbling sound coming from the toilet. Turk came tearing around the corner.

“You hear that?”

“Yeah. The toilet is gargling.”

“Both toilets. It’s overflowing onto the carpet. The bathtub is full.” He disappeared. I opened the shower door. My shampoo went floating by.

Miraculously, we found a plumber, but not before some serious carpet damage had been done. We went ahead with plans for a family BBQ anyway. My husband hadn’t seen his niece since her mother (his sister) died about five years ago and was looking forward to her visit. He had just gotten home with several hundred pounds of meat and was about to light a fire when the phone rang. It was Mary Kate, and she wasn’t calling from the airport. Turns out she hadn’t been feeling that well and decided to stay in Chicago. She only just thought to call. Hope you didn’t go to any trouble, Uncle Turk.

We called friends and rounded up enough people with nothing else to do on a Saturday night (thank heavens our friends are no more popular than we are) and threw a mini shindig that grew lively when a heated argument broke out between Turk and Bill over the cause of the Civil War. You’d have thought they were veterans. A compromise was eventually reached and everyone parted as grateful citizens of a United America. You know it’s a good party when you can unite a divided nation and find glassware in the bushes the next morning.

All this is by way of saying I was really looking forward to yoga this morning. My chakras were off, my center akimbo and my aura needed highlights. I wanted to embrace a mellow universe. I wanted to be one with my fellow man.

Or so I told myself. The truth of the matter is that I am too cranky to be a really good yoga practitioner. I have a very pronounced ~ some might say exaggerated ~ sense of personal space. I understand that definitions of ‘personal space’ can vary greatly from culture to culture, with Americans tending to require more, Europeans and Asians less, but I certainly seem to need a lot.

This means that every time, like today, some woman comes toddling in 10 minutes late and slaps her mat down not 5 inches away from mine I get aggravated. And move delicately 4 feet away. And when a second woman comes in and repeats the action on the other side of me - in a huge room, mind you, with acres of empty space - I get really, really agitated. This is a problem.

Because yoga is really about letting go of that sense of self that becomes defensive at violations of personal space; it is the liberation of ego into an infinite universe. Namaste, the salutation repeated at the end of practice translates roughly as the divine in me recognizes the divine in you, and allows individuals to “come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection. If it is done with deep feeling in the heart and with the mind surrendered, a deep union of spirits can blossom.”
Aadil Palkhivala

And therein lies the problem. I am deeply bonded with my own ego, and can’t let it go. And I want to, I really do. I am nothing if not a seeker of wisdom and truth, and to that end it could be argued that I surrendered my mind years ago. But I am also a westerner, a Brooklyn–born one at that, and am thus plagued by certain cultural limitations.

So it is with deep regret that I swear by my Uncle Vinnie that the next woman who throws down next to me and blocks my chakras by waving her divine feet in my face is …well, she’s not getting a Namaste from me, is all I can say.

Yeah, yeah…I know. Fuhgeddaboudit. And go in peace.

Monday, July 18, 2005

wistful thinking

I’ve been working on a new painting on and off for the past couple of weeks. It’s an abstract/expressionist sort of thing, the idea being to expand my horizons by pushing beyond the confines of subject matter and focusing strictly on paint, texture, color, and their relationship to each other. So far it’s been going relatively well, all things considered, but now the canvas seems to have turned a corner and entered an awkward stage, poised for the moment between two extremes. At this point, it could be an extraordinary work of unprecedented genius. Or it could be a train wreck. It could go either way.

For the painting has developed a mind of it’s own, and something of a personality disorder in the process. It’s defying me at every turn. The colors, once bright and clear have turned dark and brooding; the composition, originally accessible and well proportioned, now appears tight, intense and too closed in on itself.

The canvas is talking back and challenging me ~ it’s staying up late and wearing too much pigment; taking the car, smokin' the linseed, hittin' the turpentine. It’s threatening to run with a dubious crowd ~
Baziotes, Basquiat and Schnabel ~ oh, fine paintings if you like that sort of thing, but not exactly what I had in mind for it. I had planned on it hanging with more of a Johns, Bartlett, Miro set, a more subtle and refined bunch, to my mind and frankly I’m not willing to give up on that dream. Not yet.

So I feel as I imagine the parent of any such rebellious and angst ridden adolescent must feel ~ do I continue to try and impose my will upon such a reluctant canvas, for it is mine and I maintain the right to direct the course of it’s destiny, or do I relinquish the cherished illusion of omnipotence and serve merely as guide and conduit, keeping it as much out of trouble as possible, but otherwise letting the paint chips fall where they may?

The critic in me recognizes that this is all silly, romantic nonsense, of course. Painting is pigment, brush and canvas, and any skilled technician is fully in control of the process, from conception to final execution. But I am more fanciful than skilled, and can’t help thinking that sometimes things help create themselves, often in spite of our best efforts to control them.

I like to think that. It makes me happy to imbue such objects with free will. I enjoy them more; they become my friends. Some are prettily luminous; some dark and complex. Some are thoughtful and precise; others chaotic and entertaining. All are appreciated for their internal strengths and weaknesses, whatever they may be, and are revelations in their own way whenever they appear.

Also, if objects help to manifest themselves, it’s not entirely my responsibility if a piece turns out poorly ~ like Jessica Rabbit, they’re not really bad; they’re just drawn that way. Oh wait ~ I guess I do have to take the fall for that.

Never mind.