Doors inside out. The occupants never thought of them; instead they thought of boxes. The ones piled up too high behind the locker door made of corrugated metal, and heavy, and blue grey, with a cold past squeezing out from around it. This was really a solid gate, not a door.
Real doors were warm and wooden and painted red like the ones on the front of heritage homes. That’s the best color for a door because it shows off a Christmas wreath just right. It draws attention to its structure and co-ordinates well with a black wrought iron mailbox. The lawn is happy with a complimentary splash of color.
Birds find it cheerful, and the loud rumblings heard coming from behind it; the angry voices, the shouting seem even more violent when passing through the scarlet wound of the house. If the door were made of glass, one wonders if the occupants would be quieter and reflective. Who made a decision to inflame the door; and when was it so.
Zilli rifled through the pages of her journal looking over her writing. There were only six empty pages, and then she’d slip into a new one, with a cover decorated in dried and pressed flowers. This Spring flowers would embellish every outfit and accessory. Zilli kept an eye on the NYT fashion pages and felt gutsy knowing she would be wearing her jeans with a wardrobe of striped shirts this season. Full of confidence she chose to peruse a two year old entry from her journal written at a time when she wondered if she’d ever write for publication. Here’s how it went:
A stay-at-home Saturday last week; Zilli’s favorite. Sleep in, love up, afterglow (pink apple cheeks), oatmeal with fresh blueberries and strawberry applesauce, brush teeth, climb back onto bed beside Mac, admire the view, the birds, the white sail sailboats, start to read, fall asleep in the Saturday sunlight with some of the windows open to the sea breeze, wake up one and a half hours later, make lunch; big plate of fruit using one pear that tasted like liquor, a cara cara orange, grapefruit, cameo apple, and a mandarin orange…
Zilli and Mac ate sunflower seed butter on ancient grains bread made with spelt and kamut, lightly black salted, and served open face. The French music radio station played fifties jazz. Incongruous as it seems, Zilli started to knit the pink mohair pullover she’d seen displayed at the wool shop in her neighborhood. Four double-size cotton candy balls of wool, bamboo needles, and a printout of the pattern were tucked into a clear plastic bag with a black shoulder strap and a smile. The only reason Zilli knew how to knit was due to her maternal grandmother who the family called, “Chickie,” so Zilli and her younger brother did too. Chickie made heavy wool jackets with zippers up the front for each member of the family. The Canadiana-style patterns always included snowflakes, deer, or elk on either side of the zipper; each above a knit pocket, and below a full collar. The jackets became a trend; smart looking, warm and beautifully made. Quite the opposite of the relationship occurring between Zilli’s parents. The more the tension increased the more Chick knit, and knit, and the relationship still came unravelled.
The daylight dimmed and Zilli got up and washed all the dishes including the ones used the night before. Why, she wondered could she not keep up with cooking and cleaning the way other people do? This transitive thought did not stop her from making snacks for the movie at eight, her choice: “American Cousins.” She couldn’t remember it now but had written, “loved it,” at the time. She washed her face, made triphala tea, and sat down to write thinking maybe she should write for other people and stop writing for herself. Perhaps that’s waylaid thinking: Zilli wondered if that was the reason her blue pen got damaged and had to be returned to France for reconditioning. Very little had been written in her journal since she decided to stop whining in it. Zilli stopped writing down her dreams once she noticed them becoming repetitious. She was dreaming a lot but not taking a pad to bed to capture them.
It’s been suggested that a person write for 5 minutes as soon as they wake up. She would try that for a change. Change is what she felt she was about now. Finally the old habits of mind just don’t work any more; they were stalling her and she knew it. In order to gear up for progress in life a person has to think new, be fresh, open and eager to be the change they’ve made. “Be the change I’ve made!!” said Zilli to herself. She came across a directive in a small coiled book from 2002 telling her to write a story and it wouldn’t have to be a story about her. She gave this some serious thought. She would buy a book, any drama in print, and alter the cover. This would be her story: appropriated, altered on the outside, and just like any other on the inside.
Satisfied with herself she got out her handbag, daubed some glue on the front and stuck an old metal belt buckle to it. That would do until she went shopping in the morning for faux flowers to attach in a frame-like manner around the ornament. The keys to the Benz glinted against the white marble countertop, they knew Zilli would take them for a drive tomorrow.
We’re living in a Birdcage. The floor is covered in seeds and feathers… pumpkin seeds that slip out of our hands or out from between our fingers as we pop them in our ‘beaks’ while watching movies. Feathers have been squeezing out of seams around the bottoms of the cheap, made in China, slippers that were purchased at Daniadown.
We are taking refuge from the elements. The sky’s pouring cold ice-rain and blowing it hard against all the windows. The wind is howling provocatively and the treetops echo these sounds. Parts of the wind escape the outdoors and squeeze inside through aluminum moldings loosely holding the windows in place: a lovely day!
A lovely day is then followed by a day of reality… never my favorite. Still I make an effort to ease into this kind of day and try to savor parts of it.
“Clutter Composition a.k.a. Mess Makes Music”
My daughter came by and looked into the room at the far end of the apartment and let out a LOUD proclamation: “We’ll take a photograph of the “disaster” and send it to Oprah!
She has no idea of the mountains I move but goes on to say Oprah will get me a therapist! I have three already, and a friend who used to do therapy. A game of Scrabble laid out, ready to be played, cuts the contention short and I make another promise to get to it. It being the: I don’t know if it will be an office or a studio.
A trip to the library for help leads to “Clutter’s Last Stand” written by Don Aslett. It was a quick read and more enjoyable than retackling the “zone.”
First off: “You may have a serious junk problem if: you have to think about how to cross a room!” I can hear laughter but I didn’t find it all that funny!: I had a map to cross the floor!
I’m not the only culprit. Aslett writes:
“Paper weight… is a psychological ton.” My dear friends, Katherine and Gavin Hainsworth, authored “A New Westminster Album,” and collected mountains of paper while researching it. Gavin has taught special needs kids for eighteen years and Katherine is a full-time artist and an historian. Cartons proliferated filled with files from all their pursuits. I always felt relieved after I visited knowing I was not the only one staggering under the remains of days working on projects. One weekend I was surprised to hear that Gavin had made three trips to the paper recycling dump. Each time the van was filled to capacity with these cartons of paper. The weight of his deliveries was calculated at one and a half tons. Yes, tons!!!!! What are we all sitting on in our own spaces??
Some people stack newspapers up in and around their homes. I have a modest half banker box of clippings clumped into a half dozen yellow file folders.
At one time there were plastic bags full of New York Times Week-end editions I had hoarded and bunched about so I could sit and clip. Here’s the reason I stopped saving them:
I was formerly a Real Estate Broker and had gone to visit a couple in shaky health whose house I had listed. They were in their last decade of life at best. This couple lived on one acre and their flower and vegetable garden had attracted visitors and won awards in the past. The ocean was a couple of minutes drive away yet the newspapers had taken priority over nature. When I saw the wife sitting at a card table surrounded with stacks of newspapers arranged in the middle of the livingroom, cutting away, newspapers became an arm’s length item for me. No longer something to follow but a quick peek at now and then; I only went for the arts, and books and fashion anyway.
Aslett goes on:
“Keep files up to date and when you need something you won’t have to mount an expedition or perform an excavation to find something.”
“Shrines need to be tended.”………and dusted!
“Keep a piece, a symbol, or a sample of a big object or item and let go of the rest.”………….Huh???
“Storage units are the ghost towns of clutter, a testimony of shame.” …………….Oops!
“A rental unit is a kind of oversized Emotional Withdrawal Box.” ………………..Is he talking about an apartment-sized storage unit?
I laugh a lot as I read what Aslett has to say next: “A varnished horse pooh with a few wires for legs, wings, and a beak: The “Turd Bird” @ $5.99 each which tourists flocked to the store to buy.”
“We’ve junked up simple pleasures – everything needs accessories, costly ones, or else it seems impossible to do.”
“New – improved: it failed, and we want you to guinea-pig the second round.”………..Top Producer in the nineties anyone?
“Kids don’t get much satisfaction out of elaborate toys because there’s really not a lot a kid can do with them – toys do everything themselves.”
“Accumulate good health, talent, friends, experiences, and sensations.”
“You can get used to what you are instead of what you have.”
I followed Lagerfeld on Twitter and found this advice: Karl Lagerfeld admits: “I try not to be sentimental and obsessive about possessions. I love collecting, but I hate owning.”
The Story of Stuff: The Important Information in this Video must be embraced by Everyone ASAP! Every Mother and Child is well positioned to organize and bring much-needed change into the world.
I have read of women with a family of 5 children and a business to run, a husband and meals to cook, going to University to get their Master’s or Doctorate degree and still doing charity work, socializing, and looking immaculate; that’s where I got the idea I could go to University to get a BFA.
I hesitate to write this. Yet it saddens me to frequently hear from women I meet, who would love to become artists, how they stop themselves with notions of so-called sensible reasons.
This was: My Journal entry August 6th, 2001. It came from a hand-held cheap, Mead, Five-Star in a class by itself, spiral bound,Neat Sheet Perforated Pages, with 200 ruled sheets, and 400 ruled pages.
Runnng a family is at best fun and rewarding but a woman needs to be as free as her husband and children to be an artist, even if it only means designing her life to fulfill her dreams. Dreams that don’t cost her her family, but allow her to feel proud of accomplishing her vision.
When we are in our teens we have a million ideas – do these ideas get pushed back – do they become expanding waistlines, huge backs and hips?
If you had a short sentence period of life left to live because you are dis-eased would you make certain that you cleaned the house, picked up the cleaning, paid the bills, washed the car, and did lots of laundry between doing all the other self-imposed obligations you didn’t want to do when you felt forced to say yes.
Each day is so precious even when you are not compromised in your health.
My personal discovery is that nothing in the house changed while I went to University full-time for two years. (Notation: two years for a diploma worked into being five for a degree). The dust still sat on the top of everything. The house still looked the same at the end of a day even when I hadn’t spent ten hours wandering about in it.
The same little imperfections were on the walls. The messy areas, where there was no other place to use the messy items or to store them, still struck me in an uncomfortable way; even though I had not walked past them a million times a day, as in the past, wondering what to do with them.
But while the house lived its life without me, I created hundreds of projects, got a diploma in Studio Art and following that a BFA degree, showed my work in galleries, was published on the cover of two literary journals, wrote, painted, entered juried competitions, and put my work on the Internet. And I didn’t know I had it in me when I was taking the garbage out regularly for something to clean up.
Art School was one of the dirtiest and messiest places I had ever worked in. I learned we were focused on the project not on our surroundings We had great relationships; we learned what we had never known about ourselves and each other. The mystery of life came upon us and we had feelings; strong feelings!
We became sleep deprived and were told to do things we had never dreamed of. We were let loose!! I called the courtyard full of industrial junk our play pen: our toybox. Sometimes we felt isolated when we worked and sometimes we worked in groups.
There were many times I ate pizza, celery and peanut butter, plain bread, cereal, or junk near the end of a term, but it did far less harm than resenting the doing of something I no longer wanted to.
There was one time when I had to wear the same clothes for three days – that’s about as much inconvenience as I remember. (Notation: This is when I remember feeling like a REAL artist having read up on Louise Nevelson, one of my favorites, who would roll on and off a small bed in her studio wearing the same clothes for days while she worked on a wall-size sculpture.)
I never knew a house could run itself. My family was amazed and thrilled with the difference in me. My secret self shone. And to my amazement they all knew how to look after themselves. It wasn’t a slice; I have never worked harder in my life; had only 5 hours sleep a night, worked 7 days a week, and pushed myself to the, and beyond the, limits of my imagination.
Every new term Dad would go into the hospital for a couple of days for cancer treatment. Usually he announced it without any warning and always when a printmaking project was due. Our business dropped when Bailey, our soft-coated wheaten terrier of 14+ years, got old suddenly and collapsed. For seven months I was sick at heart with the thought of soon losing her. Bills piled up and at one point I measured the pile: it was over 10 inches high. We had a robbery in our home and lost $25,000 in property that we were very fond of; some was sentimental.
What a blessing to have something so rich to focus on as my art: my heart’s desire. It was a ten year dream that still continues. Our wheaten had a seven month old age and died a natural death, my Dad died in the hospital on the 3rd day after an operation a year before my graduation, and a very close friend died soon after. I couldn’t prevent the deaths and I couldn’t control other lives either.
What I have learned to do is concentrate my attention on my gifts and talents and make something from these instead of living through other people’s lives: ie. family, friends, people in newspapers, on TV, celebrities in magazines, etc.
How does your own life look, could you write a story about turning down a different road now and becoming what you dreamed you would when you were still in high school?
Please check out this short and direct explanation of how Monsanto is Round-ing up alfalfa and systematically eliminating each individual’s right to choose between conventional and organic foods. Alfalfa is a main source of cattle feed and as this GMO mutant rapidly pollutes organic fields people who are fearful of, “mad cow disease” will no longer have the option to buy organic beef. Three comments (and ‘Moi’) follow this post at the link below and they contain excellent information.
Do we want to find our hands bound by losing ownership to the seeds of life? Will we tolerate one publicly traded company to control whether or not we’ll eat, how much we’ll eat, how much we’ll pay to eat, and whether our grandchildren and beyond live or die because just maybe the GMO experiment fails because its mutations even to date cannot be controlled or predicted.
Read: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.
“Oryx and Crake explores developments in science and technology. This society, which not only tolerates but promotes such extreme commercialization and commodification of life, has also produced an exacerbated gap between rich and poor, as well as the commodification of human life and sexuality. Oryx and Crake does not depend on imagining new scientific or technological discoveries; the novel merely extrapolates on the basis of technologies that are, in principle, available today and carries current social and economic developments and their attendant ethical choices to their radical conclusions.” (Wikipedia)
I seldom post an alert for my viewers yet I believe the underbelly of Monsanto needs to be exposed as the out-growth of impending catastrophe gains momentum. Shun GMO products and let your circle of influence know about Monsanto’s determination to become the one-party ruler creating the world’s monstrous reign of terror and domination.
Thank you all for making February my best month since I began blogging last year in mid-November. XXOO My family’s happy: less harping, more blogging.
Listening to jazz and a woman’s clear voice belting out, “Breakin’ rocks on the chain gang…I still have so far to go…I’m goin’ a break this chain off and run…”
Running Dialogue with My Journal, August 31st, 2008.
Food is becoming a political volleyball. Organics are rising in popularity by 16% – 20% every year. The “system,” dependent on sprays and chemicals, is fearing a systematic loss of revenue.
Articles “slamming” organics as “unethical” and “privileged” are leaking into the media. Now the detractors are using an argument based on organic and sustainable farming taking up 20% – 45% too much land. Land that could produce higher yields with engineered foods.
A quarter of a century of eating organically and our family is fit and fine and doctor-free.
Is it possible we don’t have to super-size our crops if we can teach the mainstream not to overeat; obesity is one of our main problems: a direct link to chronic illness.
Maybe there would be more space to farm if:
farmland wasn’t being sold to high density development
yards were still part of our homes and we could have gardens and fruit trees
if beef wasn’t consumed
When we eat organically we consume small portions because the color, taste and texture of organically produced foods is so rich and satisfying. We stay healthy and slimmer. We stop draining the dollars out of the national budget for medical treatment.
Nature is natural; science is costly.
I break for Yoga Class where our teacher, Corrie, reads a passage on compassion and it confirms that you even have to have some for yourself.
I would feel so liberated if I could drop my concerns over every environmental and political prod. The papers are so full of man-made problems it’s disgusting – see, there I go again: my head filled up. We live in Utopia (there’s no visible guns). We have everything to be thankful for yet nothing is ever enough.
“Breakin’ rocks on a chain gang…I’m goin’ a break this chain off and run…”