Shadows And Sheen

“Writing was a dream I had when I was a kid, but then I grew up.” Tim Allen’s character in Joe Somebody said that.
I don’t remember wanting to be a writer when I was a ‘kid’. I dreamed of being an artist. That was all I wanted out of life — to be an artist. All.
My parents both had talent and dabbled. My mother drew us the most wonderful paper dolls and images to embroider. My father sat with me one time to show me how to draw in perspective.
My mother recognized the passion I had and purchased a used Jon Gnagy drawing kit from a thrift store one year as a Christmas present. She couldn’t have gotten me anything that would delight me more.
Jon Gnagy was a television personality — an artist who taught — when I was a young girl and all we had was black and white TV. He was mostly just teaching how to do perspective and make shadows and sheen — so black and white was enough.
Years later, when I was in the beginning of 20s, I had a date with a handsome young man who took me up into the mountains and we stopped at the very venue where Jon Gnagy was practicing a new color concept in front of an audience there and we sat in. He was hoping to eventually broadcast it on color TV, which was prominent by that time.
I was excited to death that I was meeting one of my heroes. He was trying to overcome having become a has-been but I didn’t register it then.
Throughout his whole presentation, I was jumpy and couldn’t concentrate because I had, just before we arrived there, found a tick on my chest and kept thinking there were more — so I was fidgety in my seat.
The handsome young man and I had just been out trekking in the shrubs and my long hair had caught one, me unawares, and I had also slid down a steep hill on my butt and had rocks and sand in my pants. After finding the one tick and being aghast, I couldn’t help but think, from then on, that every little bump was a tick.
Most of what I remember about that presentations was ticks — and shaking Jon Gnagy’s hand. I was very fascinated with the concept he was trying to accomplish though and had a feeling of great admiration as I sat there worrying about ticks.
I was still wanting to be an artist. I was probably just back from a summer art school scholarship and still thinking I could be.
Being young and wanting to be an artist, I wasn’t quite aware yet that art takes all kinds of forms — but I did know that I was dying to find a way to get something that was balled up inside of me outside of me and at that time it was through drawing and painting — though I gravitated to all things creative.
When I got too balled up, sometimes I wrote — or drove in a car — once I was old enough to drive. Before I could drive, I rode my bicycle to do what I called clear the cobwebs from my mind.
Writing was a go-to for the ultimate pressure release to try to escape overwhelming emotions — so, if bike riding or driving didn’t do the trick, I wrote. I never thought anything of it, I just simply had to do it. Things came pouring out.
I would read things over again from time to time through the years and as I got old enough, most of it went in the bin because it was pitiful. I could see though that it was definitely a way to congeal thoughts and, at the least, get them out of my head.
I would eventually take a creative writing class and begin to take it more seriously. There was still a nagging need. That was in the 80s.
The only reason we may have to give it up when we grow up is because earning a living gets in the way. I was lucky to find a way to make a living and practice art, (though many wouldn’t agree), by working in the field of interior design. It was basically selling stuff, but it still used my passion and artistic muscle throughout the practicing that was required to formulate the things I needed to sell.
As it turns out, everything is about selling — so that was good practice too.
Nothing in life is a waste.
It might be a hologram though or a computer interface. We may never know.
But in the meantime, the best we can do is to use this interface to try to make the most of what we are given.
A science fiction writer will use that interface curiosity to write a sci-fi novel. It’s way out of my league — though I am immensely curious. Curiosity is another one of the necessary ingredients to finding a way to make whatever this interface is make sense to enough of a degree to get by while we’re in it.
Jon Gnagy may never know how important he was to me when art was a dream I had when I was a kid. I tried to let him know a little the time that I met him. What an odd event that that chance encounter happened.
Not so odd if this is a game we’re in after all and we are at the controls. Now to learn better how to write the story line and draw my avatars.

Popcorn And Berries

There was the year that the Christmas tree was hung from the ceiling, in the home of the man who never paid us, so that we, who were attending his house party, could spin it to trim it with the popcorn and berries that we were stringing while we were eating fudge and cookies and drinking wine and enjoying each other’s company with music and dancing.
We were all in it together and he was like our cult leader — charming and charismatic.
We scarcely noticed that we weren’t making any money all the while he took the money out of the cigar box under the counter to buy new shoes to schmooze a new client who might put more cash back in the cigar box that could, sometime later, be used to pay us. That was just the way it had to be.
His sister was worried and a member of the ones who had invested. She was as worried for us as she was for herself. She snuck us pay on a very few days and not much of it the few days she did while she apologized profusely. She was as kind as he.
He didn’t mean to. He did everything with the best of intentions but he was known around town for failing one adventure after another — though not by us.
We all wanted so much for it to all succeed because, well, because he was so handsome, charming and charismatic and we loved him and loved the work that we were doing — and each other.
He discovered me and had great hopes which, in turn, made for hopeful me. It was my first job out of high school and he called me his Girl Friday. I delivered papers all over town on my gas in my car — loving every minute.
He wanted to get me on the radio and send me out for promotional broadcast talks. He had more confidence in me than I could seem to stand — but none of it came true before he had to let us go — without any pay.
My mother kept saying, “Wait and see. He’s just getting off the ground.” My mother had found that job for me, driving by his window with a “Hiring Girl Friday” sign and she was pleased because she knew that I didn’t like peas or doing anything conventional and she saw how charming the man could be and she had great hopes for him to succeed — especially with me on board doing something she knew I’d love.
It was long before Kinkos was well known, though it had been founded, but he had a copy machine and could bind a book and made business cards and did ad copy and published ads in newsprint and hired copy-and-pasters who used press on letters and tape and cut them with X-Acto knives and he had an artist who designed logos with pen and ink and another artist who curated the gallery on the top floor that you got to by going up a flight of stairs lined with gold-veined mirrors that he left.
He had one idea after another and set about instituting all of them and everyone he knew wanted to be a part but then got nervous. If one of us came up with another idea he tried to institute it too.
I saw him years later at a bar, as charming as ever, selling something to the ones clamored about him listening to him like he was still the cult leader that he had always been except that by then he was more of a cult leader who got drunk and stammered some. I still loved him and longed for the hope that we had all had all during that Christmas in the 70s when none of us made any money to buy our families presents but had nothing but hope for the future.
Hard and soft it was a Christmas when conventional wisdom got in the way of play but satisfaction kept trying to bring it back. Waiting and hoping just the same way kids wait for Santa. I’ll never forget the Christmas with the tree hanging from the ceiling right side up instead of upside down the way they do now mocking Christmas.
If memory serves, I think his name was Walt. Thank you Walt for making Christmas 1972 as indelible as Mozart’s style of writing.

 

  • There are two missing days from the writing one-a-day commitment, (returned to drafts because they were too auto-biographically intimate), at the beginning — that started July 12, 2019 — and today is one of those days where my fingers are itchy, so it’s a dose-of-two day for filling in a missing link.

Panther-Looking Cat

There was a giant panther lying on its haunches in the back yard facing away from me so that what I first saw was its back and head and ears. I started to reach down to pat it, thinking it was the stray that reminded me of a panther that has been recently traversing my yards. As soon as I realized that it wasn’t a little kitty — the same time I saw my indoor cat had gotten out and was meandering around with her butt in the air like she was trying to attract the panther — I scooped her up and gingerly walked back into the house through the closest door. Then I realized that I was dreaming.
I’ve read lately that dreaming is an indication that one isn’t sleeping — at least, not sleeping well. But I have also read that being vegan cures almost any ill. I’m not finding that to be as true as so many others do and it’s alarming. I can’t think of what else to do but I keep trying.
Recently my back gave out and forced me to stop in my always-busy-doing-something tracks. It’s been extremely tempting to become depressed with thoughts that I will never be the same. The dread of things getting worse is overwhelming thoughts of better hopes. It’s a real struggle and not at all good constantly ruminating those unpleasant waves of doubt.
One of my friends said, “I’ve always thought it was all a bunch of hooey,” and by that she meant, my trying to eat better. I’m sure my meat-eating friends will say my troubles are all due to not eating meat. Dr. Roby (Fitt) Mitchell will probably advise to quit eating fruit because sugar in the diet, so he says, is what increases insulin resistance and that insulin resistance is at the root of all our ills. Dr. McDougall and many of my other food gurus will say, cut out any added salt and don’t eat liquid, processed fat, (and certainly not meat) because fat is what’s the real culprit in insulin resistance after all is said and done and all the studies are revealed. Does anybody really know — that’s all I want to know.
So, since not eating meat is not an option to change, I’m trying to figure out if I can be my own placebo. Lately I’ve been trying to let fears rush over me to see if I can find what might really be behind them — and then change that poor thinking like any good vegan would instead of eating any meat.
The latest book I bought to try to think better says that we only think we’re getting sick because we see so many others buying into that kind of thinking and we think that it is normal when in truth, he says, it isn’t normal at all — quite the contrary. And the placebo man says he healed a broken back with just positive thoughts — believing he could direct his genes to do what he asked them to. I tend to believe he’s not lying. I think we fall far short of being what we can be.
As with most dreams, actions are often thwarted — feet get stuck in concrete. In the dream, after I scooped the cat and brought her and me back inside the house, I tried to call animal control. There was some kind of contraption on the phone to make it easier for someone other than me to us like a shorthand for the buttons under it — as if pushing buttons on a phone isn’t easy enough. Once the contraption came off, the buttons still wouldn’t push right and whoever I got, a policewoman it seemed, couldn’t seem to find the right solution. She kept asking me questions instead of sending someone out. Fortunately, I woke up right after that and by then the panther disappeared — except for the little panther-looking cat.
So, what’s the moral of the story: any day we wake up is a good day because that means there’s another day to seek the truth. And maybe, just maybe, the bad back is trying to tell me how to be my own placebo because the only way might be to slow down enough to read the book and let waves of fear rush over me and see what they mean. And maybe too, just maybe, it’s time to try to be an artist again instead of always moving heavy things around the garden.

 

Her Favorite Critics

She checked out Wuthering Heights from the library because she just couldn’t make herself labor through trying to read Jane Austen any longer. For all the hoopla so many make about her, she really wishes she could make herself — read some of it — but it just isn’t in her good sense and sensibilities to bother with. She typed in to her browser, “why do people like Jane Austen so much” and the only thing that made any sense was a comment following a raving post about her that said “if she was writing in these times, she would be writing for General Hospital.” It wasn’t that she even got that much out of whatever she was able to read because all she got out of it was a similarly draining convoluted narrative like reading the book of Genesis in the Bible — just too many begets — begets for Jane being all the convoluted lines of relations of who knows who knows who or which of them might be married or intended or hopefully intended and far too many words in that doing — no economy whatsoever it seemed — seeming to take forever to get to any weight. Now, the Bronte sisters, they look a little more promising — at least the introduction by Charlotte in the second edition of the publication of Emily’s book where she is disclosing how the publishing of it came about in the first place — even that was more compelling than Jane Austen. 

So, what she figured by the popularity of Jane and the comment revealing what she might have discovered if she’d been able to endure, people want common. They want General Hospital or a romance novel like what they might find at a checkout counter before boarding a plane — most people — and any that don’t are rarer to find and certainly probably not sufficient to make a living on and why so many might write things that are common.

“I watched a movie about Jackson Pollack and you know what? When he finally got to a point in his tortured life of painting where others thought, ‘now there’s an artist’, he didn’t want to paint anymore because everybody from that point on wanted him to spit them out like he was a machine or something. The doing lost all of its value and any meaning for him as an artist.”

She had just read something she’d written to one of her favorite critics — a friend, an old boyfriend, who wrote a story with her once upon a time. Actually he wrote it and she expanded upon it because he gave up to easily, letting the story of a little Christmas tree end by the poor little tree lying in a ditch somewhere. She had wanted the little Christmas tree to have a better ending than that so took what he had written and enlarged upon it — taking the little tree to a recycling facility and back up to his forest family and friends. He loved what she wrote — not quite at first because at first it hurt his feelings some — and that silly little story became their child, something that kept them together, at least on a string, for many years thereafter, even until now — “When are you ever going to finish The Little Christmas Tree and send it off to a publisher?” he’d ask on just about every occasion he used it as an excuse to call her.

Anyway, he loved the way she wrote even when he couldn’t understand the meaning, so she decided to read Floating Dress Dancing to him to see what his reaction was since not one single person bothered to read it and it had been like a Jackson Pollock moment to her — a moment when you finally get something out of yourself that you’ve wanted to get out and it comes out just the way you want it to and even though you love it, no one else gets it. He didn’t get it either but still said he loved the way it sounded. “There’s something in there and I want to know. And even though I don’t understand it, I love the way it sounds and the way the words make you think about other things.” That was enough — actually what she wanted. She told him the story behind it. He understood it more but what she really wanted was for him to understand why no one getting it or liking it should matter anyway.

“You know how you love to sing and would be a singer writing and singing music if you could make yourself do the difficult work of pushing through the artistic barriers but you don’t care if anyone hears it or not, you just have to do it because it is a thing inside you wanting out? Well, that was Jackson Pollock but he pushed through the barriers and arrived to where he saw a thing and knew that it was good. I want to push through those barriers,” she said and hoped she could whether anyone ever got her or not. She just wanted to know that she could do it — get to a place where the getting to is felt in all it’s magical measure. She was hoping though that the getting there wouldn’t have her wanting to end it all like Jackson Pollock did.

“Yeah, I understand,” he said. “Do you want me to sing the latest things I’ve written?” he asked.

She let him sing — over the phone.

“You’re my pillar,” he said. “You’ll always be my pillar. Do you know what I mean when I say that you are my pillar?” He went on to explain. They were still connected by some kind of string but The Little Christmas Tree still wasn’t published. Maybe it never would be.

Wuthering Heights