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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Until Waiting Fills

The title of this post commemorates one of the sublimely bohemian hangouts I once frequented in New Orleans. It was one of those cavernous corner dives down on the Esplanade end of Royal Street or Decatur - I don't remember which...with garage size doors on all sides that were always open. It served coffee, tea and there were always rasta-haired, tatooed bohos reading or playing chess along the walls and bar. This was 1984. I worked for a an Italian American printmaker who had a cavernous studio on the second floor. I remember glancing out one of giant french windows and seeing a couch on the roof. The French Quarter was a place for artists and musicians, as well as tourists way back then.

I am in mourning now for the city that God forgot... (I was in a show there with this title in the 90's...) Nature finally got her way. I've been waiting. It was inevitable. The thing of it is, if I had a place down there I don't know if I would have left. There is enough voodoo and religious ferver in the crescent city that somehow the big ones always bypassed her... nature had mercy for a long time...but they didn't pay attention...the city hasn't maintained its infrastructure and its all gone. We used to jokingly call it a backwater bannana republic back when govenor Edwin Edwards was indicted for gambling with state money...under the name Wang Chung. A few years later we were glad to see him willing to run again when David Duke, former grand wizard of the KKK came out of the wood work to run for state office... this resulted in my favorite political bumpersticker of all time...."Better a lizard then a wizard..."
(my second favorite is the recent one "Evil lurkes in the Bushes" communicated in a creepy appalachian woody-style font.

As bad or worse than New Orleans is the loss of life and limb on the magnificent gulf coast. It was a beautiful place lined with antebellum homes and palm trees...yes, and casinos, too. My sister and mom both made the coast their home for a long time. My mom, thank the stars, left when the cost of living escalated due to the casino development.

My sister stayed. I haven't heard from her. No one has heard from her since she told my Mom she decided to wait it out in a home that survived Camille. No one thought anything could ever compare to Camille. She is in my thoughts and prayers.

Monday, August 29, 2005


My sister lives in Biloxi and several very dear friends and family members live in New Orleans. My wedding ring is even in New Orleans at the moment... where its maker lives and it is being repaired. These good people are in our thoughts and prayers.

The news media is making me crazy....all the talking heads yelling above the wind.
Its good to see Dubyah can at least learn from Daddy's mistakes.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I've been wondering if it is time to reconnect with my family, friends and peer groups? I've been doing other thing for awhile now and I've done a pretty good job of isolating myself between my blog time and time away.

Yesterday I went to a birthday brunch for a friend. It was very nice but I felt like I was in a terrarium outside the conversations most of the time. I need to talk to my accidental therapist C. She went through a phase like this 7 or 8 years ago. She is my accidental therapist because she called me once many years ago - identifying herself by her first name...

She asked me how I was doing and I blathered on and on about the state of mt breakup at the time. She gave me some surprising helpful suggestions and as I listened I realized that I wasn't sure who I was talking to.... I realized this was NOT the therapist I had been seeing for awhile to help me get my breakup...but it was someone who had the same name...someone I barely knew!

I was horrified, of course... and Amazed.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Rather than focus on my recent pathos (whining) I've decided to just post interesting pictures that I make me feel better in the meantime...if not better, then at least curious!

I did not take the photo above and didn't even own a camera at the time. My parents gave me a Kodak 110 when I was 9 or 10.

This was taken a few days before Thanksgiving in 1965. Thats me, fourth from the left on the front row. This art project was very formative to me since before it I was pretty lost and unsure of my place in the world. We were, of course, creating Indian costumes to celebrate Thanksgiving. I remember drawing my design on my cotton tunic and my kindergarden teacher held it up and make a big ooohhhhhh sound over it. She thought it was great and didn't make a big deal over anyone elses!

I realized I could do something special at that moment and that was important to me since I wasn't in the preschool reading group! (I noticed everything back in those days... I was lucky that my first grade teacher taught me a trick for overcoming my dyslexia before anyone ever acknowledged there was such a thing... I made straight A's after that...) During the past 10 years or so I've realized what important mentors my teachers were.

Last night I had a lovely moment. I was in bed early and the phone rang about 10:30pm. We assumed it would be one of my parents since they know that's the best time to reach me. My beloved came upstairs dubiously inquiring who was asking for me...

It was a slightly intoxicated former student. She had just learned that she won best of show for a series of sculptures she made while studying with me. This student is a grandmother - not my typical graduate student. She was thrilled, shocked, excited, etc. It was something nice to learn after a pretty wretched week.


I don't know why this drawing gets so much it the simple fact that it reproduces well but gives a little more without giving away too much?

Its a mystery to me.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Peaceful kingdom

Looking for a point

This photograph was taken at my Aunt Mary Pearl's earlier this summer. She is 87. She had a double mastectomy last year and just earlier this month had to have surgery again because a brown recluse spider bit her on her breast bone. She has lived in the same house for over 50 years. She has raised her niece as her daughter, buried her son and her husband and been the matriarch for 14 siblings in her lifetime. She is still beautiful. She still drives although she suffers from a little dementia these days. Her daughter Bettye Maude lives with her. You can get a little taste of their life if you read a slender autobiography Bettye wrote that is available on Bettye is very eccentric...very talented. She is a lot like Forest Gump in that way. They amaze me.

I have been blue all week for reasons that are so awful and meaningless and typical of a someone like me. Still, its real. I plug along waiting for the tide to turn... doing what I can to be productive, to make money, to prepare for January.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Brutal August

I've been missing my blog of late and but it looks like everyone else has been busy doing other things. School has started though my schedule hasn' t kicked in. I have much to do but there is veil of depression that has descended this month... I'm trying to be pro-active and maintain my sense of humor. This morning that awful song from Hee Haw descended on my psyche and I've been singing it all morning...

"Doom, despair and agony on me...deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all...." Its so pathetic and over the top - which is why I love it. Yeah, I saw a more than a few Hee Haw's when I was a kid staying on the farm with my grandmother.
I think that's where I developed my fear, apprehension and fondness of things that many would consider hicksville... andy griffin, mayberry, bluegrass, gospel music, etc.

It is a beautiful day. I am determined to make the most of it. I have the chance to return to Paris in January and it looks like I'm going to do it... I just need to make some money before I go... any suggestions, anyone? My singing voice sure won't get me anywhere.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

pool gazing

Ok. Now its my turn to spin the wheel or squint my eyes and look into the pool. I think I've been watching other people spin and other people's reflections. Now its time to take my turn. Yikes.

Some of you may remember my comments regarding the power of Mars....whew, whew...! No one bothered or noticed and pointed out that the astrological event I was so excited about happened more than a year ago. This may be as good a metaphor as any for my ineffective strategies for making a career for myself.

We spent last night with my cousin, her husband and my aunt. They are headed to N. Virginia for a memorial service and stopped in for the night. I especially love to see them since Diana and I are about as close as two cousins can be. We've known each other out entire lives and are almost the same age. She recalled a great time she spent with a friend of mom's - Geno. He was the man my mom left her husband for...he was a man who made such incredible italian meals that Diana remembers the meals he prepared - 25 years later. We haven't thought of Geno since he married my Mom's roomate...not very cool and divine retribution for everyone in the long run. This morning my mom called to tell me that Geno has died. He had Lou Gehrig's disease. I don't know what such coincidences mean but they seem to be unfolding this weekend.

After learning that I won't be doing the big commission I learned that I have the option of working in Paris next winter. (more winter is a drag..., but I'll take what I can get)
If I decide to go I have to make it count. Working in Paris is an investment for an American. It is an artist residency in the center of Paris with studios for over 400 artists from all over the planet. MY goal, other than the production of new work, would be to find a GALLERY!

The dollar buys half what it once did and there are no guarentees I would have ANY dollars coming in while I am working there. Nada. If I decide to go I may be spending a lot of time on EBAY and selling everything I don't need. Its a lot to think about. The best thing is my beloved Mr. Amie is completely supportive. He will take care of our home and feline friends while I am away though we would both prefer that he come with me.

I think we need to walk over to the Japanese Gardens down the way and spend some time pool gazing.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Art Armor

Its time to put on the armor. After a number of rather depressing phone calls yesterday I wasn't surprised to finally hear that the commission I was praying for went to another artist. As soon as I knew she was another one of the finalists I knew it was a long shot. Its like competing against Lance Armstrong... you gotta do it for the love of the ride since the odds are you know he is going to win as long as he plays. Yes, its a head game, too. Still, odds are odds and they can change. I always resented the importance of football when I was a much money for so little return.... but when our team broke Bear Bryant's 200 game winning streak I was impressed and realized that sometimes that head game can work to a loser's advantage. (oh, our team usually lost - to make it even more humliating for the mightly crimson tide...)

I don't want to be a player that has to rely on the ineptitude of a winner to play a winning hand.
Thats the game of a gambler. I just want a chance to make a contribution... to leave a mark. The work required just for the chance to leave a mark is more than most people are willing to do. It is exhausting, occassionally inspiring and financially risky. Thats where I am today.

I have the opportunity to participate in the Strasbourg Art Fair in France this fall. I was contacted by a gallery in Madrid who is interested in representing me. It sounds very exciting but the fact is that to participate the require their artists to pay part of the booth fee for the event. (Its like FIAC in Paris or the Armory Show in NYC). In exchange for this their commission is substantially lower than most galleries. Its a lot of dollars since the fee is in Euros. I have been invited to participate in this type of event before - in Venice - but I didn't have representation, don't speak Italian or French and felt it would not be money well spent. I've always wanted to visit Venice...but that did not seem to be the right time or event.

Most galleries pay for all of these expenses and take a larger commission...more risk for them. This is more risk for me and I am not feeling very confident at the moment. I am feeling like a loser... or someone who is grasping beyond their reach... is that an overachiever? I don't think I am one of those...what I am, it sucks at the moment.

I need to strap on my art armor and face the world today. I have family coming to town and a house to clean, work to finish, proposals to put together, etc. And all I want to do is sit on the screened porch, listen to the rain and read Hemingway.

He is one of those writers I read more ABOUT in my early life than I actually read. Now I find it more relevant to my headspace than most other things.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Dog's Day

It has been one of those days when the phone has rung off the wall and I have been waiting for news regarding that damn public art commission I proposed.

Maybe it will work out. Maybe not.
Either way I need to know last week.

While I was waiting for the phone to ring today I learned that a brilliant actress we know is fighting cancer and is in an oxygen tent as I write this. Another call confirms that a favorite cousin of mine lost a cousin our age on the other side of her family tree this week... a lovely man that I've met several times over the years.

He was about my husband's age. He died instantly in a car accident involving a commuter bus in Northern Virginia. It breaks my heart to have to add another name to the growing list of family or friends who have been maimed or killed in automobiles. Its becoming an issue with me.

His mother and my aunt both grew up during WWII and lost husbands, parents and other children during their many years. They have experienced enough pain in their lives... now this. Dimintri, may you rest in Peace.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Male Bonding

It hard to connect without being present. I look at this picture when I feel disassociated from the people and places I love. Both of these men grew up in this city. Both have aspirations that transcend their time and place. Both are artists. We are all in this together... even though we live in different times and different places.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Changing my Tune

Please note that I've changed the address of this blog if you happen to have it linked to your site.
My original address for these postings can best be used elsewhere.

Last night we watched the ode to Six Feet Under. Allan Ball is such an artist. What an experience it must have been to work for him. We are excited to see what he does next. His work is so personal, so risky, so real. His sister died in an automobile accident which puts a whole different spin on the show. I nearly lost my life in an automobile accident and many of my relatives have either dies or been horribly maimed at the wheel of a car. Everything changes. The point was made last night that our culture is so inept with dealing with death that we won't allow photographs to be made of the caskets being shipped in from Iraq. Poof. We are gone. The rest is fall out.

Its not often I use my writing time to talk about something I saw on television but when its art I quess the medium doesn't matter. Six Feet Under had such resonance with us... particularly now. Frames from the show seem to be straight out of the history of painting... they are timeless images yet they push the boundaries of what has been done before. That is what I want my art to do. Its not an easy thing.

Liberty in Repose

When the heat is on like it has been for the past few weeks I think everyone should just be able to take a holiday like they do in Europe. Entire towns close so everyone can escape the season. The trashmen, the bakers, even the mail service. (ok, well, I'm not sure about that one...) all go AWAY. Or read. Or garden. Or lay in the sun... whatever. Oban, (the town where the scotch by the same name is distilled)....where we were officially married, is one of the towns that many escaped to back when this practice was more common.

We need a break that doesn't require a hurricane or snow storm to enforce some stillness aound here. Its too hot! I know, I won't happen. But it should. One sabbath day isn't enough anyway...even the Bible Belt doesn't recognize the Sabbath anymore. Traffic does lapse while everyone is at church...other than that its business as usual.

I am not suggesting another blue law or anything like that...just a well needed break for about a paid vacation? I would support any politician who would spend some of our tax dollars on a paid vacation for EVERYONE. It might even help bring the peace.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A time for snarking?

Last night Mr. Amieo and I wound up having dinner at a Mongolian restaurant we had been to once before a long, long time ago. It wasn't my idea since I don't like having a huge meal late at night but I wanted to please him since I am usually the general around here so I gave in.

I like the fact that the patron can select whatever ingredients they choose and watch the staff grill it over a large hot donut shaped grill. We were enjoying our meal when we picked up a conversation that had been interupted earlier. A colleague of my husbands (younger with less seniority) will be taking time off work to travel to Hong Kong this fall. Great for him. Close to two weeks away from the office in a place where a dollar still buys something.

I got excited since the two week vacation has been a big no no at his employers and suggested that we try to celebrate out 10th wedding anniversary in Scotland next summer. We were married there in 1996 in Oban. My suggestion was the beginning of a terrible fight that is still unresolved.

He got the most awful look on his face. This happens, I realized last night, whenever I mention the possibility of doing something that requires he take time off from work. (for my art opening out of town, a vacation to Montreal, a trip to see my family - whatever) Its not like he owns his own business or it will affect his income or anything. He just hates asking off from work since they only give him two weeks a year and only a week at a time. It is so %^&% uncivilized. He hates this aspect of it but its the best gig in town for a writer. He has considered doing other things but it his gift. If he were comfortable freelancing that would be fine with me. He has been there 12 years and is so ready to move on but hasn't. He's a Capricorn if that explains anything.

In the meantime, I make my own money and my own schedule. I pay for half of our expenses plus my studio expenses, whatever. Its not the expense of travel that causes us conflict... its the fact that I have a flexible schedule and he doesn't. Thats the way its always been. I've never had a 9-5 job where I had to "punch a time clock" since I've always been an educator when I wasn't a drifting bohemian or graduate student.

I have empathy for his situati0n. I know he is frustrated but how are we to ever make plans if everytime I suggest something good for him, for us, something fun, that requires time off we have a fight? It is tiresome. We have reached an impasse and I don't know what the answer is. I asked him what he wanted me to do to avoid these conflicts in the future. He has no answer for me. He knows I am quite capable and willing to go by myself - via a residency or teaching job... but that becomes something else.

When we left the restaurant I had horrible indigestion. I don't know if it was from the food, the fight or a combination of both. Regardless, our friday night was shot. I hope today is better.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Rising Temperatures

I am an escapist.
There is no doubt about it. I love being home... I just love it more after I've been away... for awhile.

It will be 98 degrees today, not including the heat index. Its around 8am and the humidity is 93 percent. I think escapism may be on the rise.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Biblical Weather

I've been talking about my work a lot lately. Its not what I do best but it is part of the job. I am a maker more than a talker although I find words to be facinating, inspiring, cheap, referential and stimulating. I've been reading Hemingway this summer. Good for inspiration. Bad for work. He's hard to put down.

Artistry and context combined with necessity and need....can a blog do all that? I think so.
I've read a few of late that come very close and its one of the reasons I haven't finished Hem...(!)

I am very connected to the two people depicted above. We have history and are all very committed to the relationship we have. Its a beautiful thing. I hope we can all make more time for each other this fall. Everyone stays so active the only time we make to 'sit on the porch' is when there is some sort of enforced stillness....(snow storm, power outage, biblical weather!)
The B-52s did a song about that way back when...on their Love Shack record. I realized then that those times have mostly come and gone unless I escape to Mississippi and visit my ancient relatives. (The big topic of conversation is usually what to cook for supper. My family knows how to cook. It comes more naturally than walking.)

Unfortunately I didn't inherit the cooking genes.

This piece above is titled "Perfect Lovers." by F.G. Torres. It works on so many levels... as time passes these two synchronized clocks become out of synch... much like we do in real life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

knots and ties

I love this image of my friend, G. She is a force to be loved, admired, befriended, puzzled by. confused by and cherished...

We spent 4 or 5 monthes as neighbors back when we were at the end of one life and the beginning of another... a life where men were always left floating in the wake.

We live in different worlds now and don't hear from each other often. She surprised me a while back when she called me the first night I was back in her town. I hadn't heard from her in many years and had tried to track her down on the internet. I guess it worked.

Our time together late last year meant so much to me. We were both under pressure with our work but we tried to be there for each other. During my last 10 days in town she couldn't be reached and wouldn't return my phone calls or emails. I have tried not to overreact...which is what I am prone to do when I sense something is wrong with someone I care about.

I haven't pursued an explanation from her and I haven't written her but it not because I haven't wondered what the heck happened. She is a very European women... and when she becomes tired of someone she simply writes them off. Its a practice that I still don't fully understand and I guess I never will if I don't hear from her again.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Heavy Weather

Maybe its Mars, maybe the weather. Whatever it is, its got me chasing my tail all week. Kittens don't know any better. I do.

My "higher level executive" skills are either on vacation or maybe they are finally short circuting from my concussion as that neurologist suggested. Whatever the reason August feels like the calm before the storm.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I've been in such a hole in my head the past week that I needed to counter it with something positve. Art isn't enough...but art about LOVE might be. Several years ago my beloved and I collaborated on a performance/installation piece titled "Venus Rising." It was designed to honor my muse, now OUR muse, Aphrodite and to attempt to tell her story in her words.

It was a great way for us to deal with a long distance separation. I was teaching across the country and he was holding down the fort at home. We emailed this monologue back and forth to each other for monthes. The final version was performed by an actress/muse we knew - in a galleries and performance spaces throughout the southern and mid-atlantic states and we've shown the video of it just about everywhere. Still, I think it is best experienced live... either by listening to Aphrodite tell her story or by reading it.

I will be posting several sections of the monologue each week at:

She reminds us to make love, not war. Love is tough enough.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

le petite morde

It's been one of those weeks I would be taking Ambien if I had a really early day to rest up for. The stars were in my favor this spring when the summer schedule came together. I would have a hard time commuting across the state to teach a morning class this summer with so much keeping me up at night.

Bushmill helps! Miro's early wake up call helps. She is determined to get us out of bed since she has embraced the idea that she is the alpha creature under this roof. It would be funny if our wee Flannery weren't victim to her shrill howling and claws whenever the two doth meet.

In the meantime I divide the time I am not in the studio or at my desk or in class or in the garden between them. All would be easier if they could travel to these places with me but that would be a recipe for disaster.

That's a list I should be collecting for posting :

Recipes for Disaster.

Hey, anyone out there smell impending doom? Send me your recipe! Your top ten! I will post them for all to see and learn to avoid. If only we could learn from others....that would be an interesting list as well:

Lessons to Avoid Learning First Hand.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

New Mantra

Its usually disappointment or the shock of the new that unravels me. I hate being told no. My dad was very demanding and strict and the answer to most things growing up was always no. It taught me to go out into the world and empower myself. My Dad wonders why his kids all live on different coasts now. He taught us to be independent and self-sufficient. It goes with the territory.

Now, I am reminded of why I left my tenure in 1997 for the life of a recovering academic. Since 2001 I have been teaching the same schedule every semester (as adjunct faculty) at another university - a place I respect. There has been a giant shift in the administration of the department over the past few months and now I have received a letter saying that there aren't any classes for me this semester. Never mind that I received a letter earlier in the summer encouraging people to put in new proposals since there was faculty shortage or the fact that I encouraged friends who have no experience teaching in higher education to give it a shot (they got classes)....

It is a giant wake up call and reminder that in the real world if you need more pie you make more pie. In academia if you need more pie you are forced to take someone elses. It seems I gave mine away without realizing it. Adjunct pay is nothing to brag about but it has afforded me the flexibility I needed to pursue my creative work. I am trying to look at this as a gift. A gift of time to put into other projects... a reality check and reminder that I don't want to become one the numerous bitter terminal adjunct faculty members who give the university 20 plus years of their life with no benefits, retirement, etc.

Of course I have questions....will I be able to make up the income? How? Ebay? Art sales? (unlikely) Who knows? Do I want to look for classes in other departments? It may be inevitable in the long run. Why did I get nixed? (because I applied for the new director's job?) Who knew? I didn't know it was his job nor would anyone ever think he would now be the interim director. The place is a political quagmire at the moment. The last place I need to be.

When I left my tenured position for another job close to my parents (they promised me tenure in a year but I wasn't ready to relocate after it was all said and done...) the secretary of my tenured institution (!) told me I needed to learn how to kiss ass....(!) and I would have an easier time wherever I went...(!)

OHHHHHH! That's the problem, I, know...I was a vegetarian for a large portion of my life and I never liked the taste of ass! So...I am not an ass kisser. I do my job, do it as well as I can...sometimes brilliantly, sometimes I struggle. So much depends on the students - and I am not receptive to ass kissers! There are always students who had rather kiss ass than do thw work and I guess that has worked for them in the past. All I ask is that they do their best and be present and receptive. Unfortunately, for an adjunct faculty member these requirements are not enough. It is a reality check I needed. A wake up call. A gift. (This is my mantra this week.)