Friday, May 31, 2013

Love me tender


"Oh, she may be weary
Young girls they do get weary ..."

-- Otis Redding, "Try a Little Tenderness"

Self portrait 5-31-13
“And then I remember this morning and I wonder 
if it really happened or if I dreamed it. 
It was nice. And weird. And tender. 
I'm not used to tender. It's a fossil, that word. 
Conditions changed and it died out. Like the woolly mammoth.” 
-- Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Luna tick, Luna tock


“Zaphod felt he was teetering on the edge of madness 
and wondered if he shouldn't just jump over and have done with it.”

-- Douglas Adams, 
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Polymer clay face 5-30-13

“Of all the things a man may do, sleep probably contributes most to keeping him sane.” 

-- Roger Zelazny,  Isle of the Dead 

“I lie on the floor, washed by nothing and hanging on. 
I cry at night. I am afraid of hearing voices, or a voice. 
I have come to the edge, of the land.
I could get pushed over."

-- Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye



Ding ding ding!

Insomnia fun fact!

Since I was up all night and the moon was big and bright ...

Luna is the Roman name for the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene. She is best known in ancient art and literature for her role in the myth of Endymion.

Endymion was a shepherd, and is thought to be the first human to observe the movements of the moon. I figure he watched the moon a lot because he was up at night literally counting sheep and looking out for predators that might be stalking his flock in the dark.

At least he had a good reason to be awake, unlike me, who was up all night fending off anxiety, agitation and total lunacy by polishing all of my boots and shoes, lifting weights, reading a photography magazine, and watching Robert Irvine salvage yet another dying eatery on "Restaurant Impossible."

Ding ding ding!

Bonus insomnia fun fact!

"Lunacy" is a term that comes from the word lunaticus, which means ... wait for it ... "of the moon" or "moonstruck". "Lunatic" is a term referring to people who are considered mentally ill, dangerous, foolish or unpredictable. Hence, today's crazy face.

Yay! Fun with etiology!

But back to our myth.

According to the story, Selene (aka Luna) was super-infatuated with Endymion the hottie demigod shepherd, who was a son of Zeus, and who was young and beautiful (especially, it seems, by moonlight).

Apparently, Selene/Luna thought Endymion looked particularly good when he was asleep, so good, in fact, that she asked Zeus to grant him eternal youth and eternal sleep so that she could enjoy gazing at his flawless, moonlit, slumbering face forever and ever. Zeus granted her request, and every night until the end of time, Selene visits Endymion where he sleeps endlessly and eternally in a cave on Mount Latmus.

Sleeps endlessly and eternally ...

I'm totes jelly.

Some hottie demigod shepherds have all the luck.

Ding ding ding!

This isn't fun anymore.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cut & paste


 “We're all misfits here,” he says, almost proudly. “That's why I started this squat, after all.  
For people like us, who don't fit in anywhere else.  Halfies and homos and hopeless romantics, 
the outcast and outrageous and terminally weird.  That's where art comes from, Jimmy, my friend.  
From our weirdnesses and our differences, from our manic fixations, our obsessions, our passions.  
From all those wild and wacky things that make each of us unique.”

--Terri Windling, Welcome to Bordertown

Collage 5-29-13


"There are no extra pieces in the universe.
Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill,
and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle."


-- Deepak Chopra

We're so quick to cut away pieces of ourselves 
to suit a particular relationship, a job, a circle of friends, 
incessantly editing who we are until we fit in.” 

-- Charles de Lint, Happily Ever After

I haven't made a magazine collage in a while. So ... if you hate them, bear with me. And if you love them, today is your day! 

I have been chipping away at this collage for a few weeks. It just kind of lives quietly on a little table by the window, and every now and then I noodle with it, usually while I'm sorting out an idea for something else. A collage-in-progress functions like creative free-time for me, creative recess. It's malleable and changeable and forgiving and ultimately becomes a picture I didn't maybe imagine. 

A side-benefit of collage is that it also kind of frees your mind while your hands and eyes are busy searching for just the right piece (kind of like rummaging through a mountain of LEGOs for just the right block or working on a jigsaw puzzle). For me, it's kind of a palate cleanser between other projects. Like doodling.

Anyway, after a few weeks of fiddling, this collage kind of decided it was done, and I'm trying to be a good collage-whisperer who knows when enough is enough and just let it be what it is.

Remember, I am not  collage artist by any stretch nor do I profess to be. This is more of a peek into a part of my process than it is any kind of attempt at an actual finished product. I find ideas and inspiration for future faces through this medium, and I feel like some of my unspoken, underground artist's ideas get to drop by and say "hi" and have a voice.

I do think I like a couple of things about this collage, though.

I began this piece with the cascade of falling smiles that flow from the top left corner and filter through the birdcage and out the bottom. They come in all toothy grins and laughing and chatty, and then they go through the cage. It's kind of hard to see it, but there's a bird cage teeming with fading smiles, holding them captive until they're tamed, or quieted, or shut down -- until they're made into less of a smile and more of a sneer. There are still teeth visible, but all the happy is drained out in the cage. And when the cage gets too full and some of the caged un-smiles finally do escape, they are not smiles at all anymore. Just lips. Closed lips saying nothing. (*Your interpretation here!)

I am also pretty crazy about layering on faces -- putting someone else's mouth and another someone else's eyes over a another someone else's face, with someone else's hair or body. So that the eventual collage is a collection of mini-collaged individuals -- hims, hers, boys, girls, pick your mashup -- cut apart and re-made from any number of who's whos into brand new characters who all owe their existence and appearance to any number of others. They're made up of parts of each other.

Also,  I seem to use a lot of arms and hands in my collages. I am not sure what that says about me, but they are actively doing stuff all over the place, so that hands and faces tend to dominate a landscape run through by a ribbon of words.

There are lots of words in this piece, but my particular favorite words are shooting from the gun in the lower left corner, just above the chameleon. They say: "The artists will save us. Or at least blow our minds trying." 

Yep. We will.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inside looking in


"Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul."

-- Ezra Taft Benson


Self portrait 5-28-13

"Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life,
few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope,
by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within."

-- Stephen Jay Gould

Self portrait 5-28-13
                                                       
“I burn, I shiver, out of this sun, into this shadow.”

                                                                                                   -- Virginia Woolf


Monday, May 27, 2013

2:49 a.m. ... at least somebody's smiling


"Always keep your words soft and sweet, 
just in case you have to eat them." 

-- Andy Rooney
Smiley face cookies 5-27-13
Smiley face cookies (2) 5-27-13
"Life"

A crust of bread and 
a corner to sleep in,
A minute to smile and 
an hour to weep in,
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
And never a laugh 
but the moans come double;
And that is life!

A crust and a corner that 
love makes precious,
With a smile to warm and 
the tears to refresh us;
And joy seems sweeter 
when cares come after,
And a moan is the 
finest of foils for laughter;
And that is life! 

-- Paul Laurence Dunbar

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Inka dinka doo


"Something stirred beneath my skin,
some being inside I'd only suspected existed, 
demon or angel, I couldn't say.”
-- Ellen Hopkins, Burned


Self portrait 5-26-13

 “Tattoos, after all, are a passionate, 
usually doomed assertion of mastery of your own destiny,
or at least a defiant embrace of one that you cannot control."

-- Mark Simpson,  
Saint Morrissey: A Portrait of This Charming Man by an Alarming Fan


 
"Ink, a Drug."

-- Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister
 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

That'll make your head spin


 "As long as the world is turning and spinning, 
we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes."

-- Mel Brooks

Arranged face on a head of lettuce (spinning) 5-25-13


"My tides were fluctuating, too -- back and forth, back and forth -- 
sometimes so fast they seemed to be spinning ... 
It's a marvel that a person can appear to be standing still 
when the mood tides are sloshing back and forth, 
sometimes sweeping in both directions at once."

-- Jane Pauley

 
Arranged face on a head of lettuce (still) 5-25-13


 "You spin me right round, baby
right round like a record, baby
Right round round round
You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round."

-- Dead or Alive, "You Spin Me Around (Like a Record)" 


 "All the dreamers in all the world are dizzy in the noodle."

-- Edie Adams


Friday, May 24, 2013

Simple as that


"We spend so much time creating a facade of what we want to project to the world, 
we almost forget what we ourselves are truly about in the process."

-- Jason R. Thrift, The Civilization Loop: The End Is the Beginning


Self portrait 5-24-13
Self portrait 5-24-13


"Sometimes the simple
 is the most difficult.”

-- Linda Olsson

When I tell people about my self-portrait projects, I get mixed reactions. The response that intrigues me most is one of sheer horror. In this Facebook world of self-image over-indulgence, believe it or not, there are people who just can't fathom even taking, much less sharing, photos of themselves. 

I must admit that some self-portraits are easier to share than others. It's the simple ones that are, for me, the most difficult. No costume to hide behind. No effects. No makeup. No disguises. No body paint. No sunglasses. No nothing. Just me. Me looking straight into the camera. Exposed. Open. Unadorned. Vulnerable.

These are the self-portraits that put a lump in my throat as I press the "publish" button.

The ones of the "real" me. 

If you look intently enough, this kind of self-portrait contains flashes of me at age 4, at age 8, at age 21 ... all of me are in there looking back at me. It can be unsettling. Disturbing. Scary.

But I find a kind of solace in these images as well -- a sort-of settling as I lock eyes with my self. It's a "Well, I guess this is where we are" kind of feeling. It feels true, and honest, and basic, and actual, and real, and centering somehow. Like getting back to the most basic basics. To the barest bare bones.

Lately, my daily existence feels as if it has been ground down to its bare bones. As I scrabble to live with the unpredictable and arbitrary side-effects of chronic insomnia, sleep deprivation, chronic pain and fatigue, I am learning a different approach toward how to live. Less is definitely more when you don't have the energy for much. I am adapting, surviving, by keeping my agenda as clear, as empty, as unscheduled and as simple as I can. I have pared away all but the absolutely necessary-est involvements, relationships and commitments.

My brain can't handle complicated right now. My spirit can't handle difficult. And my body can't handle hard. Sometimes I can't even bear the weight of clothing much less the weight of demands or expectations. My softest, least binding t-shirt and a pair of worn, loose jeans is as dressed as I can get. 

Anyway.

Even though it might seem like I am looking out at you from this self-portrait, I am actually looking in, at me. I am simply letting you see what I see.

And that is the hardest part.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is it getting dark in her?


“... Richard began to understand darkness: 
darkness as something solid and real, 
so much more than a simple absence of light. 
He felt it touch his skin, questing, moving, exploring: gliding through his mind. 
It slipped into his lungs, behind his eyes, into his mouth ...” 

-- Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere


Self portrait 5-23-13


“There is darkness inside all of us, though mine is more dangerous than most. 
Still, we all have it—that part of our soul that is irreparably damaged 
by the very trials and tribulations of life. 
We are what we are because of it, or perhaps in spite of it.” 

-- Jenna Maclaine, Bound By Sin


Self portrait 5-23-13
 

“What strange places our lives can carry us to, what dark passages.” 

--Justin Cronin, The Passage
   
I am trying really hard.
I am trying really hard to keep my attitude positive. 
I am  trying really hard to function normally in spite of persistent sleep deprivation.

I am trying really hard to change my perspective and not see my insomnia as a curse, or as the whole universe conspiring against me, but rather as a mere inconvenience that I have work around for now, or forever.

I am trying really hard to use my sleepless nights constructively, to grab control of them before they get any traction so that they don't wreck me. When I can't sleep, I water the garden, mop the kitchen floor, bake banana bread and cookies, lift weights -- all in an effort to stay a step ahead of the anxiety-riddled fatigue that stalks from the dark perimeter.

All of this trying really hard helps, sort of, for a limited time and to a certain degree, for a while, -ish. 

Me and my insomnia are learning to co-exist like roommates who don't have a choice, who are forced together circumstantially and made to cohabit even though they don't really like each other all that much -- who honestly loathe each other -- but who are good at faking it, at play-acting a charade of civility and politeness and tolerance, who are good at making the best of an unavoidable situation so that nobody gets hurt and the rent gets paid.

Still, in spite of all that genteel courtesy and politesse, something still lurks in the shadows, twitching, watching, waiting. Waiting to ambush me, like Cato in the Pink Panther movies, the martial arts genius who masquerades as a humble manservant and who hides behind doors and atop bookshelves in Inspector Clouseau's house and repeatedly jumps out and attacks and beats the shit out of Clouseau in his own home.

That's how living with insomnia feels -- like I'm constantly being ambushed in my own home -- in the one place where I should feel the safest and most protected. 

It's hard not to get skittish, watchful, fearful.

Dark.

Because even though I am trying really hard to outwardly project a brave and positive face, the darkness still blooms and spreads, like internal bleeding. I have to let it out from time so it doesn't destroy me. I guess that's what today's post is about. It's a bloodletting, of sorts -- a controlled attempt to draw out the darkness and bad humors -- to let the poison out before it kills me.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Clayface


"What is a face, really? 
Its own photo? Its make-up? 
Or is it a face as painted by such or such painter? 
That which is in front? Inside? Behind? 
And the rest? 
Doesn't everyone look at himself 
in his own particular way? 
Deformations simply do not exist."

-- Pablo Picasso


Self portrait with polymer clay face 5-22-13

Polymer clay face with jiggle eyes 5-22-13


 "No man for any considerable period 
can wear one face to himself 
and another to the multitude, 
without finally getting bewildered 
as to which may be true." 

-- Nathaniel Hawthorne


"Facing it, always facing it, 
that's the way to get through. 
Face it."

-- Joseph Conrad




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Never mind

“Your battles inspired me - 
not the obvious material battles
but those that were fought and won
behind your forehead.”

                                                                  -- James Joyce
 

“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.” 
 
                                                                                  -- Marcus Tullius Cicero 



Self portrait 5-21-13
 

“You're wrong. The mind is not like raindrops.
It does not fall from the skies, it does not lose itself among other things.
If you believe in me at all, then believe this: I promise you I will find it.
Everything depends on this."
"I believe you," she whispers after a moment.
"Please find my mind.” 

-- Haruki Murakami,  
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 



Monday, May 20, 2013

Nighthawk


“All my life I have been a poor go-to-sleeper. 
No matter how great my weariness, 
the wrench of parting with consciousness 
is unspeakably repulsive to me. 
I loathe Somnus, that black-masked headsman binding me to the block; 
and if in the course of years I have got so used to my nightly ordeal 
as almost to swagger while the familiar axe 
is coming out of its great velvet-lined case,
 initially I had no such comfort or defense.”

-- Vladimir Nabokov

Self portrait 5-20-13

Somnus is the Latin name for the Greek god Hypnos, 
a son of the goddess Nyx  (night) 
and the personification of sleep. 
His palace was a dark cave where the sun never shined. 
His dwelling place had neither door nor gate 
lest he be awakened by the creaking of hinges.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nobody puts Baby in a corner


 "We put limitations on the way that we think about things, on ourselves, 
think about all the boxes we live in, male or female, 
you're this age, that age, this is your job, this is not your job, 
everything is about getting boxed in."
-- Brit Marling

Wood mannequin with cutout face and hair 5-19-13
 
 "The way they boxed us in here. 
Bricks and windows, windows and bricks."

-- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

Wood mannequin with cutout face 5-19-13


 
"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

-- Johnny, Dirty Dancing  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Serenity now!

"We can be serene even in the midst of calamities."
-- Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
 
"Let reality be reality."
                                                 -- Lao Tzu


Stone garden statue in my backyard 5-18-13


Frank:      "Serenity now! Serenity now!"
George:    "What is that?"
Frank:       "The doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high,
                  the man on the tape tells me to say 'serenity now!"
George:     "Are you supposed to yell it?"
Frank:       "The man on the tape wasn't specific."

-- Frank and George Costanza, Seinfeld episode 159, "The Serenity Now"


I am trying a new approach.
Instead of lying awake all night struggling for sleep that never comes, I have decided to stop fighting against my insomnia and start cooperating with it instead.
The first step is acceptance.
Insomnia is my "calamity." It is the card I've been dealt. It is my reality and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. 
So we're going to have to find a way to co-exist.
I think it's called coping.

I did a dry-run of the new plan last night. It went like this:

I went to bed at 11:30 p.m.

I was still wide awake at 2 a.m., so I got up and lifted weights for an hour. 

I know, I know. Trust me, I know. All the sleep advice says not to exercise late in the day or in the evening, because it might disrupt normal sleep patterns. Well guess what? My sleep patters are already abnormally fucked and I'm not sleeping anyway. Also, I've been wanting to work some strength training into my routine. And, 2 a.m. is neither late in the day nor is it evening. It is technically early, early morning. So I was actually getting a head start. Look at me being the early bird. Getting that worm.

I was wider awake (and sweaty) at 3 a.m., so I baked molasses cookies.

My very wise friend Jill suggested this tactic. In an email (all the way from Chile!), Jill wrote:

"Do you ever cook at night? 
I used to do that a lot. Actually, baking, more often. 
You can just make tons and tons of things, because it doesn't require a lot of concentration 
and it gives you something to do that has a tangible outcome. 
Plus you live with guys, so they can eat your stuff." 

She was right. 
It didn't require much concentration and I wound up with a satisfying pile of 5 dozen delicious cookies that made my not-sleeping seem not-so-futile. Plus, the house smelled amazing -- spicy and welcoming and homey. Jill was also right that the guys I live with would eat my stuff. This morning, my husband went back for thirds with his coffee. Even my paleo, carnivorous, carb-hating weightlifter-of-a-son gobbled a few. As he was chewing one cookie and reaching for another, he told me, "These are really good cookies." Bonus mom points.

While the cookies baked, I watched an interview from 2009 with Jason Bateman on "Inside the Actor's Studio," in which Bateman said there would be a film version of  Arrested Development. Wait, what? Did I miss something or is Jason Bateman just a big fat liar?

At 4 a.m. I was still pretty awake (and salty about Jason Bateman being a liar and all), but I went back to bed anyway. I drifted off around 5 and dreamed that an old friend and I were de-hoarding her mother's house. So it appears as though I accomplished that, too.

I slept about an hour and a half. 
I was awake again at 6:22 a.m. and got up for another day. 
This day. 
And even though my eyes are puffed like Mr. Magoo, and even though I am really tired and will probably be pretty much worthless for the rest of this day, at least I managed to sidestep a lot of the negative, toxic, self-loathing, dark, emotional and psychological turmoil and anxiety that usually shits on my sanity while I'm lying helpless and hopelessly awake for hours and hours on end. 

Also, my shoulders look pretty buff.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Charmed, I'm sure


 "But upon that perfect countenance 
was the mark of eternal pain, 
of deathless agony and suffering past words."

-- Gertrude Bacon, "The Gorgon's Head"

Polymer clay Medusa face 5-17-13

“I was my face, I was ugliness ...
It became the launching pad from which to lift off,
the one immediately recognizable place to point to when asked what was wrong with my life.
Everything led to it, everything receded from it--my face as personal vanishing point.”

-- Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face

“I would pay snakes to bite her.”

-- Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

You don't have to rip my face off

“I want to make something of myself. 
I believe it’s called a statue. 
” 

--Jarod Kintz
The Titanic would never have sunk if it were made out of a sink.

Smiling bendy man with magazine cutout statue and a polymer clay face 5-16-13


“Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. 
But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances. 
Stealing is not excusable if, for instance, you are in a museum and you decide 
that a certain painting would look better in your house, 
and you simply grab the painting and take it there. 
But if you were very, very hungry, and you had no way of obtaining money, 
it would be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it.”

-- Lemony Snicket, The Wide Window

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

4 a.m. blues

“There is a dead spot in the night, 
that coldest, blackest time 
when the world has forgotten evening 
and dawn is not yet a promise. 
A time when it is far too early to arise, 
but so late that going to bed makes small sense.”

-- Robin Hobb, Assassin's Quest 


Polymer clay face 5-15-13



"I could hear the roots of loneliness 
creeping through me when the world was hushed 
at four o'clock in the morning.” 

-- Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle



“Night is the hardest time to be alive  ...
It lasts so long, and four a.m. knows all my secrets.”

                                    -- Poppy Z. Brite

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now you see me


“A tangled forest and the feeling of hidden eyes watching.”

― James C. Christensen, Voyage of the Basset

Self portrait with black paper flowers 5-14-13
 
"You are like a chestnut burr, 
prickly outside, but silky-soft within, 
 and a sweet kernel, 
if one can only get at it.” 

-- Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 

Self portrait with black paper flowers (2) 5-14-13

Monday, May 13, 2013

Egg on my face ... er, I mean, face on my egg


 "Because each of us is an egg, 
a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. 
Each of us is confronting a high wall."

                                                                                                            -- Haruki Murakami


Egg face with jiggle eyes 5-13-13


“It's what's buried deep inside that frightens me 
because it's broken, 
like a shattered mirror.”

-- Jessica Sorenson, The Secret of Ella and Micha 


 Egg face (2) with jiggle eyes 5-13-13

 "She was just a shell of her former self,
 functioning and talking but hardly alive."

-- Sarah Dessen, Dreamland

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Only if for a night


 And it's breaking over me,
A thousand miles down to the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head.
Never let me go, never let me go.
Never let me go, never let me go.

-- Florence + The Machine, "Never Let Me Go"

Self portrait 5-12-13









“Self abandoned, relaxed and effortless,
I seemed to have laid me down in the dried-up bed of a great river; 
I heard a flood loosened in remote mountains, 
I felt the torrent come; 
to rise I had no will,
to flee I had no strength.”

                                                                                              -- Charlotte Bronte, Jayne Eyre
 
 
I slept.
All night.
Somehow I cracked the code.
Probably it had something to do with the fact that I had slept less than 2 hours in the previous 36. 
But still ...
I am rested and alert -- a strange feeling for sure -- all buzzy and tingly. Scrubbed. 
When I woke, I wanted to marinate -- no, to drown, in the beautiful buzziness. 
I wanted to sink further into it and soak it up and to never get out of bed again lest I break the spell -- that magical convergence of fatigue, hope, hopelessness, the planets, the gods, and pure dumb luck that mercifully pulled me under and held me beneath the surface, only if for a night.
I know the spell won't last.
All magic spells are momentary, breakable, un-doable.
There is always a reversal, an anti-spell. 
But for now I will accept this elusive and magical gift that comes along but once in a very blue moon, before it slips away and is eventually and inevitably, undone.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jesus, my face is up here


"Let me give you a little inside information about God. 
God likes to watch. He's a prankster."
-- The Devil's Advocate

Cement garden statues 5-11-13

 “We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake."
 "That is true," said Mma Potokwane sadly. 
"There are many temptations in this life, but cake is probably one of the biggest of them.”

-- Alexander McCall Smith, In The Company of Cheerful Ladies
  

“We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it.” 

-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
                                                                                                                   
For the past several weeks I've been driving past this nursery/garden supply place in my town as it's been re-opening for Spring. They sell flowers, plants, seeds, gardening tools, birdbaths, fountains, wheelbarrows, hoses, fertilizer, trees, mulch, dirt, you name it.

They also sell statues.

The statues are all situated under a pergola near the road, and after driving past a few times a week, I got curious wondering whether there might be any good faces in the crowd.

Um. There were.

It tickled me so much, this juxtaposition of the religious with the carnal, the paradox of Jesus and that weird little monk-robed dude hanging out beside David and the Venus de Milo. I love how Jesus is sort of fondling that flaming heart-thing on his chest, trying not to look but clearly stealing a sideways glance at David's junk, with Venus' tits tempting him right there at eye level. The little monk-robed dude is just totally fixated on David's candy.

So many photo captions and dialogue bubbles, so little time:

"How's it hanging?"
"Wait, what? You mean this isn't the Christian Mingle mixer?" 
"Yo, Dave. The Miracle Gro is in aisle five."
"Jesus, my face is up here."
"No one said anything to me about the full Monty!"
"When I think about you, I touch myself."
"Did you find that thing in the annuals or perennials?"
"Don't touch my junk!"
"Look but don't touch look but don't touch look but don't touch look but don't touch."
"I guess that other thing wasn't the last temptation of me after all."
"Get thee behind me, Satan. You're blocking my view."
"Nice mums."
"I have a heart on."
"He isn't risen."

OK, I'll stop now.
 
I promise, I did not in any way touch, arrange, pose or artificially assemble these statues for my twisted photographic amusement. I shot them undisturbed in their natural habitat.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Can I buy a Z?

“Winston was gelatinous with fatigue.”

                                                                                             -- George Orwell, 1984

Polymer clay face 5-10-13


“You cannot imagine the craving for rest that I feel—a hunger and thirst.”

                                                                                     --H. G. Wells, When the Sleeper Wakes


Soooooo tired.

After an all-too-short sort-of hiatus, my insomnia has stalked me down again, with a vengeance.
Just when I thought I was making some miniscule headway, crawling out of the dark and tangled forest a sleep-drug-free inch at a time, insomnia reached out and snatched me back into its spiky, spiny briars.
And not just the "it takes a long time to fall asleep" kind of insomnia. Oh no. It's the "wide awake all f***ing night, a 42 mile bike ride, two Ambiens, two Unisoms, a fistful of melatonin and valerian, white noise machine, sleep hypnosis CD, all the chamomile tea in the world can't touch it" kind of insomnia.

Forget about catching Zs. I can't even buy any Bs or Cs.
Go big or go home, right?

I frequently, seriously and hopelessly wonder if it will ever get better, or if the rest of my life is going to be this -- this search, this struggle, this quest for something that is supposed to just naturally happen, that is one of the most basic functions of being human. Or maybe it's not so much as a "quest for" what should be happening, as it is a wish to "escape from" what actually is happening, this mean and terrible thing.

Either way, it's a tug and pull that is grinding me down, hard. A lifetime of it looks pretty bleak.

Not sleeping can crush a whole day -- just pulverize any possibilities and potential into a dry pulpy dust.
So as a result, I don't make plans.
I don't look ahead.
I don't commit to anything.
I don't "hope for."
I don't make promises.
I don't go anywhere.
I have no great expectations.
I have no not-so-great expectations.

Because chances are I won't be able to show up or follow through anyway. And I hate having to back out of things and cancel stuff all the damn time. An uninterrupted string of empty blank squares on my calendar is soothing, a comfort. If I don't make plans, then I don't have to worry about letting anybody down, because nobody is expecting anything from me. It's easier to just say no, and to isolate myself, like I'm under quarantine. At least behind the self-protective closed door of my life I'm the only sufferer.

And behind the closed door, I have this 365 days project. And I will not let insomnia ruin this. Because right now, this seems to be the one thing that I can plan on, look forward to, commit to, hope for and expect. It's someplace I can go. It's the only promise I seem to be able to keep. So I will cling to it.

I tried to shoot a self portrait today, but for the first time all year I just deleted every photo, every file.
I looked ninety eight.
And not a good ninety eight.
I haven't played with my clay in a while, so I sculpted this exhausted little face as a stand-in for my own.
My fingerprints are all over him, though. So I guess it is a self portrait of sorts.

Or more accurately, a self portrait out-of-sorts.

Sigh.



Thursday, May 9, 2013

You're nobody 'til thumbody loves you


"Do not underestimate the power of the Thumb!"

                                                             -- Black Helmut Man, Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle

Thumb face with cutout eyes, bandana and a cowboy hat 5-9-13

Under my thumb
The girl who once had me down
Under my thumb
The girl who once pushed me around

It's down to me
The difference in the clothes she wears
Down to me, the change has come,
She's under my thumb

Ain't it the truth, babe? 

-- The Rolling Stones, "Under My Thumb"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mandala me


“If her own life was that carefully described pencil line, 
she knew it all at once that the two ends were drawing close together. 
I have come full circle, she told herself, and wondered what had happened to all the years. 
It was a question, which from time to time, caused her some anxiety 
and left her fretting with a dreadful sense of waste.”

-- Rosamunde Pilcher

Self portrait 5-8-13

“I have begun to wonder where I came from. 
The person I am now, this fumbling, stumbling supplicant ... 
was I built on the foundations of my old life, 
or did I rise from the grave a blank slate? 
How much of me is inherited, 
and how much is my own creation?”

-- Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies

“Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous.”

-- Confucius

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Burn, baby


“...that yearning inside you that seeks for fulfillment -- does it still burn?...”


-- John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

Thrift store doll with cutout hands, lighter, cigarette and eyes 5-7-13

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

                                                                                                             -- Plutarch

“This disease of curiosity.”

                                                                                                  -- Augustine of Hippo

Monday, May 6, 2013

Kung Pao Barbie

Hot and spicy faces.
Ready in five, ten minutes.

Barbie heads Chinese takeout 5-6-13

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Jarhead


“We are not trapped by our thoughts. 
What we generally do, however, 
is create thoughts that trap us.”

-- Joshua David Stone,  
A Beginner's Guide to the Path of Ascension

Self portrait 5-5-13

“The things other people have put into my head,
at any rate, do not fit together nicely,
are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another,
are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.”


-- Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions 


As a chronic insomniac and someone who struggles with anxiety, I often long for the ability to take off my head at night, literally unscrew it and remove it. If only I could shelve it and it's squirming tangle of restless, anxious thoughts, and stick it all in a jar with the lid screwed tight. 
I also sometimes think that about my feet, when they are throbbing and keeping me awake. But I can put ice on my feet and they'll quiet down. My head, not so much. 
I can't ice my thoughts. Can't turn down the volume. I can't turn the knob to "off." The more I try, the louder the static, the more intense the voices. I've tried creating new thoughts to replace the disruptive pre-existing thoughts, but the result is just cumulative, more and more thoughts piling on until all there is to do is listen to the maddening, creepy dry rustle of them writhing and tumbling atop and in and around one another like a den of snakes.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Does this nose make my octopus look fat?


“Telling yourself you like the way you look is easy. 
Believing it is an entirely different kettle of whales.”

 --Andrew Biss, The Impressionists

Self portrait 5-4-13

Face it.
There are days.
Days when makeup doesn't help.
Days when masks won't work.
Days when dark glasses don't cut it.
Days when the thought of answering the door is out of the question.
Days when another self portrait is, well, unthinkable.
Days when I feel so unattractive, so un-photogenic that there is really only one solution.
Put an octopus on my face and forget about it.

*no octopuses were harmed in the making of this self portrait.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pin up girl

“This thief was an artist of theft. 
Other thieves merely stole everything that was not nailed down, 
but this thief stole the nails as well.”
                     
                                                                                                -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery


"Pin up girl" collage 5-3-13

When I was born, they looked at me and said
what a good boy, what a smart boy, what a strong boy.
And when you were born, they looked at you and said,
what a good girl, what a smart girl, what a pretty girl.

We've got these chains that hang around our necks,
people want to strangle us with them before we take our first breath.
Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same,
when temptation calls, we just look away.

 -- Barenaked Ladies, "What a Good Boy"