ArchivesJanuary, 2013

31Jan

I hate the mail. It’s taken on Grendel proportions.

First there is its problematic arrival. My mailbox hates me, and the feeling is mutual. It’s recalcitrant at best. Every day I insert my key, jiggle it and curse for 2 minutes.  Sometimes it opens, sometimes it doesn’t and I have to come back the next day when it’s in a more forgiving mood. Even the lock is conspiring against me. Why don’t I have it replaced? Because it’s my not so passive and extremely aggressive resistance to what’s contained inside.

Open the mailbox- release the Kraken!

A vomiting forth of things I don’t want to deal with, things that are the boiled peas on my overfull plate. There are bills, bills, and more bills. There are three bills for the phone service alone. The local, the long distance and the mobile. I know, I can hear my Millennials out there sighing at my refusal to give up my landlines. I cling desperately to phones with actual wires, crisis-crossing the nation. I have a good reason- it’s because I live in a colander. My cast iron loft somehow reflects cell waves back up to aliens who are secretly eavesdropping (and I’m sure quite amused by my conversations). There are only small pockets in my home where I must perch unmoving in order to have a conversation on my cell that doesn’t sound like a rendition of “who’s on first”.

The miscellaneous other bills pour over me like molten lava, mortgages, taxes, energy, cable, doctors and health insurance for the family and myself. I run screaming from the room and toss my checkbook behind me hoping that pile of bills will devour it, burp, and leave me be.

I also get about a gazillion notices from every charity to whom I have ever donated even a dime. I really do care about feeding the homeless, the multitude of diseases plaguing us, and many other manner of social injustices- all too numerous to name. My heart does wrench with every plea. I love animals and really care about the reduction of their environments. I love gorillas who know sign language. I am horrified we still use primates for research, and I don’t want polar bears to drift off on a final ice floe. I can’t seem to throw away a single plea for funds and the stack grows ever higher. I’m afraid I am becoming a socially conscious hoarder.

The next category belongs to the arts. I’m actively involved in the theater community and as a gesture of support for them I subscribe to four (count’em four) not for profit theater companies. Their marketing people are no dummies- I am clearly a theater sucker. Each production, Broadway, Off Broadway, Off Off Broadway and Somewhere in the Boondocks, inundates me with postcards and pleas for additional funding. I can’t seem to throw those away either. And of course, being a painter, I get the glossies for every gallery and opening, complete with Emperors New Clothes.

This year we have the additional onslaught of colleges all seeking the consideration of my son who is a junior. A dozen each day- which I neatly stack on his bed. Whew, at least they aren’t for me. They do however add to the visual of the overflowing mailbox. I know, I know, I’m just whining now, but those additional envelopes make my gone-postal heart skip a beat.

What have I forgotten? Ah, right. There are the school newsletters, which are occasional, and letters from the school soliciting funds- which are incessant. Really people, tuition just isn’t enough?

And finally… the magazines. There are way too many. Of those, none of which I read, all gifts send by my well-meaning family who know that I am a voracious reader…of books. Magazines scare me with their needy piling up, week after week, month after month. They slip and slide and multiply when I’m not looking, unlike my well-behaved stacks of books. Books stay put and wait their turn, quietly talking among themselves and not breeding tiny novellas or thin volumes of haiku. Magazines are not nearly so well behaved and breed like rabbits. Especially … The Dreaded New Yorker.

 This one I have to own. I brought it upon myself. In a moment of overzealous weakness I subscribed. What was I thinking? It’s like a mongoose in its lair, waiting to leap out on the guilt that broke my camel’s back. In The New Yorker, I read two things each week, the theater reviews and the cartoon. Actually to be more precise- the caption contest. And I’m not reading the cartoon and caption winners any more. I am on strike because the bastards never chose my captions- which are vastly superior to the ones they pick each week.  I blow my nose in their general direction. Their mother was a hamster and their father smelled of elderberries.

I do get the occasional real live honest to god letter, but not really. It’s usually a thank you note from my mother. That doesn’t really count because I believe she just copies them from a little etiquette book. There are occasional birth announcements, bar mitzvah invitations, or wedding invites, not necessarily in that order. Those thick ornate envelopes mean slithering into a cocktail dress and crippling heels. But the hors d’oeuvres can be tasty, so I’m good with all that.

Okay, that’s the diatribe for the week. Any comments, opinions or rude remarks? Just stick ‘em in the mail to me….

~kate

24Jan

I’ve been naughty. Admittedly, it’s because Christmas kicked my ass, but that’s no excuse. Somehow that season, despite my best efforts, takes a tiny cobbler’s hammer to my head and the reverb doesn’t stop until the end of January. And now it is so. I realize it’s been several weeks since I posted, letting down my loyal readership of… a dozen. Seriously, I’ve been inspired by so many of you who have told me that you look forward to the posts and have shared them with a wider audience, as well as some particularly touching comments.  Thanks for supporting me. There are people in the forest. All good.

So here it is, the topic of the day. Social media. This horse has been led to water and she has drunk the Cool-aid. How did this happen? Let’s say I had some help.  I call them My Millennials. They are fabulous young women, who became my writing partners, and media gurus. It was they who encouraged me to stop blogging anonymously. The hell with the feelings of my grossly obese feline, the hell with the privacy of my kids! After all, they’re on Facebook, so they no longer have any privacy anyway. The kids, not the cat. A shout out to my kids however, so far they are pretty good at avoiding the adolescent habit of over-sharing. Although their mother may not be. I’m a conundrum in that way, even to myself. As an artist I spew out huge chunks of my interior- sharing is the very nature of the thing. And yet, personally I have a horror of anyone really knowing exactly who the woman behind the curtain really is. Go away Dorothy and take your little dog too. I imagine that is why I hide behind characters on the page and images on the canvas. It’s time to come clean.

My Millennials have put their sneaker shod feet on my ass and shoved me into the world of networking and social media (apologies to anyone who got one of those dreadful linked in invitations). I now have a Facebook page. I even have friends! It’s supposed to be a “curated profile of who I am as an artist and human being.” The idea terrifies me. I would rather go sit in the coat closet with my cat, pull furry beast and shearling garments around me like a cocoon, have the kids shove donuts under the door and live the rest of my days out in peace. But I’m not. Here goes nothing. I have even posted a photo, but I am never ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

My painter’s web site is under re-construction, and will be joined with this writer’s blog. If any of you have good reason these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace. Ahem. Anyone? Rats. The process daunts me. I have barely figured out how to cobble the posts and photos together and add paintings to my portfolio and now I have to learn something new. The bane of my existence. However, they insist, my young media socialites, that my site be representative of all that I am, writer and painter. I will no longer hide behind the gingerbread. Witches be damned.

So I’ll be having my make over now. Be afraid. I’m coming out of my coat closet.

~kate

01Jan

There amidst the piles of artfully arranged and carefully wrapped gifts was something for me. A pile of poop, a Christmas turd, deposited by the cat, perfect in its symmetry and ripe with a freshly minted aroma that only newly deposited shit can emit.

Was this his version of coal in my stocking? Was he doing Santa’s dirty work?

I know I should have been posting all along during these past few weeks before Christmas. I mean there’s serious fodder in the farcical holiday season and now it may seem a bit after the wise men have sailed, but I was unable to deal with the realities of the season, preferring to stay safely in the land of frenetic holiday denial. There’s so much about this holiday. It’s loaded. Just like Santa’s sleigh of expectations. I didn’t know where to begin and I had to process. But I’m ready now, so be afraid.

I’m torn between the happy-pants-let-it-snow Christmas post, and the reality that it truly is for all of us; a mixed blessing. Seriously, no one has one of those perfect families caroling around the wassail depicted in holiday specials and films. If they claim to, they’ve been into the eggnog big time.

As for me? I’m facing my second “alone” Christmas. And it’s all good.

Not really. I lie. At least before the separation we all knew what the script said, just what our roles were and our pretending came naturally because we’d been learning our lines for years. Now I’m faced with a blank page. I adore my ex-husband and we will always be a family, but we aren’t what we were and although everyone is better off, there is a sadness.

Let me tell you about my Christmas tree. The tiny blown glass wine bottle gifted to me by Astrid and Nic, a symbol of their profession and passion. The gaudy hula girl Jane gave Scarlett and I in commemoration of the victory hula dance we preform on the tennis courts after a victory. Green glass Tinkerbelle; chosen by Scarlett on our first trip to Disney World. It was a long hard decision for her back then, we visited each little kiosk searching for the perfect representation of the Magic Kingdom. She chose a fairy. Not a Princess. She was three.

There is Pooh and Buzz Lightyear, for Clay, as well as two tiny bunnies I bought for him on his fifth and sixth Christmases. There are Toot and Puddle, Sponge Bob and Madeline. There is a magnificent crystal acorn, from a long ago holiday party guest. There are many of those, hostess gifts from the days of the crazy beer and tequila fueled bash we threw each year, sometimes 150 people in attendance. I did the cooking. I did. I swear. That was a different life.

There are the numerous glass chickens, and the wooden reindeer hand painted and purchased by me at the Museum Of Folk Art some many years before the kids were born. There are glass icicles gathered a dozen per year, beginning when I moved to Manhattan, young and single. I couldn’t afford to buy a hundred of them all in one fell swoop, so as an optimistic 20 something, I started with a dozen, just as one starts with one push up at the gym with the expectation that in time there would be enough to make a difference. And now the tree is heavy with those glass spears, glittering and fragile. It’s survived numerous cats, a visiting Great Dane, and two toddlers. There were years where all the ornaments were hung in three square feet, and after the kids fell asleep an OCD Elf arranged them into a gorgeous tableau, complete with clusters of large clear glass balls, tiny opaque white ones, interspersed with cherry red globes all dangling between yards of white organza ribbons and 25 strings of tiny white fairy lights.

That same OCD Christmas Elf has over the years given each ornament a special box labeled with the year of gift or purchase and the giver. It’s been a tradition with the kids and I to take out each ornament and talk about the year it was acquired, the person who gave it to us or the year or time in my life when I purchased it. In other words, it’s a thing.

This year as I take each ornament off the withered tree I have great sadness. I feel as if I am putting parts of my life away in their neatly labeled boxes. I’ve left entire swaths behind, sometimes willingly, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes kicking and screaming. But in this case, it was a choice I needed to make and the most difficult one I’ve ever had.

I drop a particularly fragile and precious glass globe from the highest point on the ladder and in those moments of free fall I know it will break, and I am regretful and sad about the loss. In those ten seconds I accept it. And then it hits the hardwood floor and it bounces.

2013 begins in a few hours. I’m ready.