Friday, June 25, 2010

The End From Where I Was.

Jim Hodges, The end from where you are, 1998. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, restricted gift in memory of John S. Baran with additional restricted support from the Meta S. and Ronald Berger Family Foundation

This is a piece hanging in Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. As a rule, I appreciate art. I see its beauty, I see the artist's talent, I appreciate its context. There are very few times that I have ever been truly moved by a piece of work, however. This particular piece set off in me a depression I've not yet been able to overcome. It is silk flowers, delicately sewn together, with bits of colored silk strewn throughout. This is what the end is from where I am. What the artist's intent was, I have no way of really knowing. But for me, this was indeed the end from where I was. The end comes, filled with darkness, filled with sadness, filled with the fragility of delicate memories, hopes achieved, failures magnified. So many things have deaths; we lose things daily. For some of us, we die a thousand little deaths each and every waking day. This has been a year of deaths for me. The death of a career, the death of friendships at the place where I worked, the death of faith in myself as a capable adult. This trip was a death, too. Not all deaths are sad. This was the death of pain, suffering and blame I'd carried with me for many years. Mixed with those things were the loss of the love of youth, the ecstasy of insatiable sex, the memories tied to dedications of love that would last a life time. My colored bits; they were a bit sad to see disappear with the rest, but the promise of what the beginning will be from where I am is far brighter. I'd rather have a friend forever, without fear of loss, without fear of abandonment, than the weight I'd clung to for so long.

I Guess I'd Rather Be Emo Than an Emu. Emus are Kind of Fucked Up and Mean.

image courtesy of Sober in a Nightclub

This I Dedicate to the Bitch at the MCA Gift Shop That Took Ten Years To Ring Up a Fucking Chocolate Bar and a Set of Salt & Pepper Shakers.

image courtesy of Sober in a Nightclub

Elves. This Made Me Laugh So Hard I Almost Peed.

image courtesy of Sober in a Nightclub

Human Nature and Doubt.

I've never been a Michael Jackson fan. Just never really appealed to me. I was a kid when Thriller came out, probably fifth grade or so. Everyone else was caught up in the fever that hit, but it just wasn't something I latched on to. As he aged, there seemed to be so many odd things that came out about his life, and it was easy to dismiss him as an out-of-control pop star. Neverland, the sleepovers with kids, the odd friendships he struck with other celebrities -- they all seemed like something that someone empty did to fulfill a vision. When the trials were held over molestation charges, it made sense. An odd duck's real secret came out. I never gave it much thought; like too many people in the United States I tend to believe that charges equal guilt. After his death, there have been so many depictions of what his life was like, all showing him in a very sympathetic light. I've not ever watched any them -- again, it's because of lack of interest. Tonight, on the anniversary of his death, I got sucked into one of these docudramas. I found myself really thinking about this man. Such a sad life. Just a misfit his whole life, and one that everyone wanted a piece of. Before, I'd always assumed that the stories of molestation rang true. Now, I find myself questioning these assumptions. This man identified with children as opposed to adults. He had so much love in his life for which he seemingly had no outlet. There are people in my life that I can easily see sleeping in a bed with without any sexual overtones. You can love and want to simply be sweet with them and share your adoration without any discomfort or additional impulses. It dawned on me that if I can easily understand this about myself, I am a total hypocrite for not being able to see it in someone else. No one knows for certain, other than the man and the children with whom he spent time. When you stop and pay attention to a person's real story, the things that shaped them, the hurt they were never able to overcome, the real motivations that spurred them onward, your outlook about that person changes, too. At least if you have a heart. I'll never be a fan. I'll never sport a "I Heart MJ Forever" tee shirt. I'll always ride on the fence on what I think about his dalliances with children. As with so many other people and events, I am far more willing to be hopeful about character and disappointed than completely jaded and filled with unjustified blame. To quote a self-described angster rap artist, "Just because someone over thirty plays with a child that isn't their own, doesn't mean they're a pedophile. Some people are just nice."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drew Carey May Not Be Bob Barker, But He's Certainly Grown On Me.

When people hear the word "fantasy," sex is usually the first association. It's not to say that I don't have a few of these. There was a certain staff member I'd love to have banged in the student greenhouse, after all. But my fantasies really lend themselves to a much more mundane world. I dream of finding specific, amazing antiques. I think about who I'd give away my fortune to should I ever be lucky enough to win a lottery. I long to be the next person to make an archeological discovery akin to the Rosetta Stone. I want to travel the world in style, sampling every nation, every exotic locale I've ever heard described. But my most specific is all about The Price Is Right.

I hear my name called to "Come on Down." I hit the bid on the nose, and win $500, straight out of the gate from Contestant's Row. I get to play Golden Road, and the prizes are a worldwide vacation, $50,000 to spend along the way, and an apothecary chest. (Plinko, hitting the $10,000 spot each time, is a close second.) I, of course, hit a dollar on my first spin, and then the nickel spot on my second go. I am awarded the appropriate gifts for my ability to do so. I play the Showcase, and I am not only under, I am within $100 of my bid, and I win both showcases!!!! I win several trips here, a new car, a houseful of new appliances and carpet, and a jukebox. All of this, and I am allowed to be the one who asks viewers that day to "Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered."

Wildly inappropriate fucking is one thing, but The Price is Right, man. That's just unbeatable shit right there.

Greener Grass.

I am fortunate enough to be friends with an amazing family. The husband I've known since I was seventeen; we worked in a record store together. The wife, I have gotten to know over this last year. A reconnection over facebook. People claim that facebook reconnections are bad for the world, but this is proof that they cannot possibly be. They have the most beautiful children. The most wonderful home. The best dogs. They are really incredible. The thing that makes them this way, however, is not the seeming living out of an American Dream. Instead, it's the fact that though they could be settled and contented and do nothing more, they both follow their passions.

He is a musician, and a really talented one at that. Guitarist with a fantastically beautiful voice. The kind of voice that breaks your heart when you hear it sing the desperately mournful songs his band plays. He shrugs it off, saying he prefers the girl's voice in the band. He has a business, but the one he really longs to be putting his time and effort into is one of recording and producing music. One night, I watched him while he worked on a song. It was the rare vision of getting to see someone do what they really, truly love. Intimate, in a strange way, almost like watching someone make love to their soulmate. There was just such a sense of beauty and calm, but one completely surrounded by and exhilarated energy. It made me so happy to see that he has a calling that he worked to attain, and a passion that can be fulfilled.

She is a woman that can do no wrong, so far as I can see. Undoubtedly, this statement would only make her blush, and make her point out several things that she feels she doesn't live up to standards with. She's filled with modesty. Were I her, I think I would introduce myself to all the world as the most perfect female. Instead, she simply sees herself as someone that does what anyone would. She cares for her children, she loves her husband, she makes fabulous dinners, she decorates her home for every occasion with whimsical yet elegant choices, she is stunningly beautiful, a talented dancer, a discerning person that can still somehow put anyone at ease. She has immense education, and an extreme talent for educating others. For most, this would be the life that was led. Teaching, Family, and Friends would be it. But she too has greater ambition. She's beginning her own business. It's an online venture that hasn't even been officially launched yet, and she already has 200 followers. (I can't get more than four people to regularly read this stupid blog.) She is tireless and dedicated. Instead of coming up with an idea and saying, "wouldn't it be nice to someday...," she has taken hold of her inspirations and followed through. Already, she's landed major interviews with varied individuals for the business, and she's finding ways to make it a success. In the midst of taking on the world, she somehow found the time to send me a card to make me feel better. I don't know what magical land she hails from, but I have my doubts that its of this world.

I love these people. They are my heroes. It's so rare that you come across someone that's actually followed their bliss. It's so rare that you come across a couple that is real, and lovely, and happy, and a genuine joy to be around. They could be living in squalor and not doing anything with their time and I'd still think that they're fantastic; they're just "those people." But to see them really striving to fulfill their lives, to provide themselves with what makes them happy -- it's just a vision to behold and admire. They fill me with a sense of awe. I'm older than both of them, but when I grow up, these are the people I want to be.

(Thank you both for who you are, and for looking after the sad little Paddington Bear found via facebook after all these years. Thanks for seeing something in me that I often fail to see in myself. For not judging. For just loving me back. It means more to me than you know.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

True Crime.

I've always been a fan of the true crime genre. There's something sort of trashy and lurid about it, it's sort of a secret, guilty pleasure. But there is definitely something about the psychology of it that appeals the most. Just wondering what it is that snaps in some people, and considering what it must have been like for the victims, whatever the crime may have been.
In the news today is a story about van der Sloot, the kid that's been connected to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. He's been arrested for killing a Peruvian girl. Apparently he openly confessed to this killing. I feel so terrible for Natalee's parents. What kind of torment is it to have absolutely no closure to your daughter's presumed death? To know nothing for sure, to be tortured with the glimmer of thought that must exist thinking, "it's probably impossible, but what if? what if she's still alive somewhere?" How horrific, and how terrible that this fellow has made repeated "confessions" to the family, just to back off of them later. He's told authorities over four different versions of Holloway's death, each quite different. It's got to be a thrill to add to the pain and suffering of the family. Some sort of sadistic urges and attention need fulfilled.
My favorite thing to read about in this genre has always been serial killers. There's none better than John Douglas to read. The guy really designed profiling, and created the Quantico department. The books he's written are a wonderful blend of the crime itself, the context, the psychology of the people involved, the profiling aspect and investigation story, as well as his own psychology and effect that he and the case had on one another. He's not hurting for self-confidence, this guy, but he's not a pompous asshole either. I saw him at a book reading once, and got to meet him afterwards. I went to the event with my mom. Precious trait in common for mother and daughter team, a love of murder and mayhem.

image found at Bits and Pieces

Sunday, June 6, 2010

So Many Questions.

video found at Blame it on the Voices

Paralell Parking Master.

video found at Cynical C

I have often thought that were parallel parking an Olympic sport, I would be a fantastic member of the US Team. Living for the last fifteen years or so in areas without any off-street parking, I've grown pretty adept. My hat off to this guy, though. I'm not nearly so ballsy. Well played, sir.

Is Anything Better Than Traveling the World?

video found at Blame it on the Voices

Inspired by Iceland Video from Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo.

Bloody Brilliant.

video found at Cynical-C

There's No Crying In Baseball.

Last night I had a party for work friends. Busy time of year, especially for all the teachers that just got released from the pen and want to go, go, go while they can. Not a ton of people came, but in some ways that made it nicer. Really good dear friends. Each time I think I'm totally done feeling sorry for myself and mourning the job loss, I discover something new to make me all teary. Last night one of the most awesome people I know brought me a framed photo of our department. It was impossible not to cry at that. Some of my dearest friends brought over enough food and alcohol to feed an army and a new gnome for the garden. I still haven't made it through all the goodbye cards from work. I think I'm ready and then I read one and end up all weepy.
I don't know when my system decided its response to absolutely any emotion at all had to be crying. I hate it! Despite knowing different, crying is perceived as being very weak and irrational. Anger, frustration, exhaustion, happiness, feeling appreciated, feeling unappreciated, feeling loved, empathy, stories of love and happiness from others... they all result in tears. What the hell? There was a Sex and the City where the girls talked about this. Charlotte talked about a time at the gallery when she'd had a shit day and cried in frustration. She said that thereafter everyone treated her like she was a fragile nutjob and would say, "Oh, don't get her upset. She might cry." Yep. You just don't cry in front of others without some sort of negative reaction from them. I think the gnome present was because I cried on the phone with my friend earlier this week. One of my best friends in the entire world couldn't get me on the phone one day and actually wondered if I'd "done something stupid." Ack. And God forbid you ever cry around students. They just don't know what to do with you. A Holocaust survivor spoke to my class last year. I cried through most of it. This woman was just amazing and had so much love and joy to share. So positive, despite the things she'd endured. And the love of her marriage! Her rescuer, a soldier that liberated her camp, became her husband. They've loved one another immensely their entire lives. She relayed a story about being ashamed of scars from the camps and not wanting to go to the beach. He told her, "Darling, don't you know that those are simply your beauty marks?" Boy. That one made me just bawl. And one of the kids was recording the event, so it's been saved for posterity. I got a lot of flak for that. But I think the real kicker is crying around a man with whom you do not have a close relationship. They become so flustered, and you may as well never speak with them again. Irrevocable damage. You may as well have shit your pants in front of them, quite honestly.
So, if I could change this dreadful trait, I most certainly would do so. That and responding instantly with "Dude!" like I'm Jorge Garcia to anything that surprises me or pisses me off.