Wednesday, July 31, 2013


"Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?"

-- Albert Camus

Face composed from rubber donkey teeth, alien eyes and a mustache 7-31-13

"She didn't know what Liam made his coffee with,
but it had to be magical sparkles and crack beans,
because it was the most delicious stuff she'd ever tasted."

-- Rachel Caine, Two Week's Notice

"I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now."

-- Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

I love coffee.
Strong, black, clean, unadulterated by milk or sugar.
I like coffee that has body, texture.
If I could, I would drink cups and cups of it all the live long day.
But I can't.

Due to a handful of health "conditions," (including insomnia and anxiety) I have become one of those unbearable middle aged people who has to carefully limit their caffeine intake. So I allow myself a single cup of coffee in the morning. Sometimes I sneak a second cup, and almost always regret it. Realistically, I'd probably be a lot better off without even drinking the first cup. 

But Jesus. 
I'm battling chronic insomnia. 
Something's got to give. 

To save me from myself chugging a whole pot of temptation, I rely on one of those one-cup brewers that uses the little hermetically-sealed, single-serve plastic pods. 
It makes passable coffee. 
It's drinkable. Just. 
No body. 
No texture.
Just coffee.

On weekends, if my husband brews a pot of "real" coffee, I drink a little demitasse-full.
His coffee is so, so very delicious. 
I savor it. 
I appreciate it. 
I wish for more. 
I try not to give in.

I drove past two Starbucks on my way home from the insomnia clinic yesterday. 
I really, really wanted to stop. 
I got up super early that morning to get to my appointment on time, and I felt like I deserved a little reward for the ride. 
Just a little treat. 
But the list of sleep rules and guidelines laying on the passenger seat was giving me a definite "look." I think it might have even rolled its eyes and made that exasperated sound.

I kept driving.

And don't say, "Why don't you just drink decaf?"
I loathe decaf.
I'd rather drink ink.

Sometimes I get resentful and angry about not being able to enjoy something as seemingly innocent and harmless as a second, or third, cup of coffee.  And if you've been visiting the blog for long, you know what I do when I get resentful or angry or whatever about anything. 

I make a face. 

For obvious reasons, I named this one "Buzz."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Laid to rest

"Wanderers eastward, wanderers west,
Know you why you cannot rest?
'Tis that every mother's son
Travails with a skeleton."

-- A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad

Self portrait 7-30-13

"The longest way must have its close --
the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning."

-- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin

Self portrait (2) 7-30-13

"Might there come a time
When we stand over a grave
And mourn ourselves?
Mourn the past, a previous life?
Shall we weep for the passing of time?
Shall we grieve for unfulfilled dreams?
In my naivety; in my belief
In immortal youth, 
I sleep walk through life.
Someone ... wake me up.
Wake me up.” 

-- Samantha Young, Slumber

Today could potentially be kind of a big deal.

Today I am driving to a city about an hour and a half away, to a hospital with a sleep disorders center, to meet with a specialist who deals with chronic insomnia, to maybe, possibly, lay my sleep troubles to rest.

I am cautiously, tentatively optimistic.

Today could be the start of something good. 
It could be a step towards living again, towards reclaiming my life, which feels like it has been circling the drain for months -- dying a slow death, too exhausted and too wasted from sleep deprivation to do much else.

I've read and learned enough  about insomnia to understand that a permanent, non-pharmaceutical solution won't be easy and will probably involve a lot of hard work and effort. 

I'm prepared for that. 
The bright, hopeful side of me is, anyway.
I think.
I am also realistically, skeptically wary.

Today could big a big flop.

The specialist could tell me that a permanent, non-pharmaceutical solution is an impossible dream as she hands over a prescription and laughs like a cartoon villain. Bwaaa haaa haaa!

The specialist could simply say "You're fucked."

I'm prepared for that, too.

The darker, cynical, jaded side of me is, anyway.

Either way, I have to at least try.

And I will. Try.
Because I want insomnia to be something I once had. 
I want it to be a memory.
A bad dream that I was forced to stay awake for.
A visitor that came and way, way way overstayed its welcome, but ultimately left.
I want it dead.
A ghost.
A skeleton.

I want it, and me, to rest in peace.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Putting it together

"Arrange your face."

-- Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall 

Self portrait 7-29-13

 "He has been disassembled by her.
And if she has brought him to this,
what has he brought her to?"

-- Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Self portrait (2) 7-29-13

"It's all in how you arrange the thing ...
the careful balance of the design
is the motion."

-- Andrew Wyeth

Self portrait (3) 7-29-13

"Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade
just as painting does, or music.
If you are born knowing them, fine.
If not, learn them.
Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself."
--Truman Capote

Self portrait (4) 7-29-13

“Bit by bit, putting it together...
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just the vision's no solution,
Everything depends on execution,
Putting it together, that's what counts.”

-- Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park With George


Sunday, July 28, 2013


"At the end of the day it's about how much you can bear,
how much you can endure.
Being together, we harm nobody;
being apart, we extinguish ourselves."

-- Tabitha Suzuma, Forbidden

Self portrait 7-28-13

"Emotional unavailability means that for whatever reason, 
you are choosing to honor protection of your heart instead of love...  
Emotional unavailability is the layer (how you show up to other people) 
that is covering the pain or fear of pain, which is covering up who you really are ... 
When you are only sharing parts of yourself, 
there is no way the other person can unconditionally love you, 
because he or she doesn’t know you. 
It is like taking someone on a tour of your home 
but keeping the door closed and locked on your favorite room. 
You’ll let them into the kitchen, living room, and even the bedroom, 
but not into your most treasured room; 
perhaps it is your shrine, perhaps it is your garden. 
In any case, it is your sacred place. 
The “heart of your home” is off-limits, 
leaving others to feel as if they don’t really know you completely, 
or feeling left out of an important part of your life. 
This leads to mistrust because they don’t know for sure what you are withholding, 
and they begin to feel like you are hiding something. 
Indeed, you are; your most authentic self.

-- Monique Marie,  
"Emotionally unavailable: What it really means and how to get on the right path"

“I’d begun to notice her less and less often, 
like her colors were fading and blending in with walls. 
She was shrinking.”

-- Laura Anderson Kurk, Glass Girl

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Faking it for real

“Since you can't touch me, you made something that could, didn't you?"

-- Jessica Verday, The Haunted 

Self portrait 7-27-13

Gus:  Pretend that she's real? 
        I'm just not gonna do it.

Dagmar:     She is real. 

-- Lars and the Real Girl

 “To an untrained eye, need and love were as easily mistaken for each other 
as the real master's painting and a forgery.”
-- Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

Friday, July 26, 2013

Because I can, that's why

“If I have to face the end of human existence,
 I want to look totally smoking when it happens. 
Now shut the hell up.”
-- Angeline Trevena, Fifty Shades of Decay

Zombie Barbie 7-26-13

 “The pretty ones are usually unhappy. 
They expect everyone to be enamored of their beauty.”

-- J. Cornell Michel, Jordan's Brains: A Zombie Evolution

Yesterday there were cement workers tearing up my backyard, ripping out my plants, breaking up my patio with skid-steers and very loud saws and jack-hammers.

When the dust and smoke cleared, the yard was in ruins.

My patio is now a vast expanse of gray gravel and stone.
The once-lush view out my window has turned grim and kind of post-apocalyptic.

Like a wasteland.


So ...
The way I see it, when life gives you post-apocalyptic wreckage, the only logical thing to do is to complete the picture by making a naked zombie to lurch across the lifeless wasteland.


And not just any zombie.
A Barbie Zombie.

Because the way I also see it, when life gives you post-apocalyptic wreckage and an abundance of thrift store Barbies, the only other logical thing to do is sacrifice one of those Barbies and make a zombie with absurdly unrealistic female proportions, so that the other zombies feel fat and ugly.

In the spirit of giving credit where it's due, thanks to The Zombie Apocalypse for helping me with this idea, and for some super tips and other fun zombie crafts!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Unfinished business

"In hell there is no other punishment 
than to begin over and over again 
the tasks left unfinished in your lifetime."

-- Andre Gide

Polymer clay mask 7-25-13

"I don't like the word 'experiment' in the context of art in general. 
It implies something immature, unfinished, 
something entertaining for a moment before it becomes irrelevant."

-- Abel Korzeniowski

Peg Boggs:   Oh, my. What happened to you?
Edward:      I'm not finished.
-- Edward Scissorhands

Typically a face has to be "finished" before I post it on the blog.

But sometimes I like to indulge in a process that takes a little longer than a day to complete, from start to finish.

Often, if I am waiting for such a process to take its time, I make other less time consuming faces simultaneously, post those, and wait for the time consuming one -- the lolly-gagger -- to be finished.

But today's face, even though I plan to do more to it, looked kind of cool in it's unfinished state. 
So I decided to share it, and some of my process.
For anyone who's interested.

This face is a mask -- a life-sized face -- made of polymer clay.
Usually when I make a mask this size, I use the clay as a mold only, and render the final mask from it in papier mache.

But this face  looked pretty cool in clay, and it had some details that I didn't want to lose in the papier mache.  Plus, I haven't ever made anything this big in polymer clay and I was in an experimental mood.

So I went ahead and baked it and made it permanent.

Here it is "raw," while the clay was still pliable and before I glued in the teeth.

Polymer clay mask (unbaked) 7-25-13

Polymer clay mask, baked, with teeth 7-25-13
And here it is "baked." With the teeth glued in.

While I was photographing it, it was getting dark, so I had work lights on. 

I dug how the light filtered through the mask highlighting and shadowing the different thicknesses of the clay. 

Also, it made this face look super-sinister. Which I also dug.  

It looked like this:

Polymer clay mask (2) 7-25-13

He looks pretty devilish, doesn't he? 
Or maybe she's a she.
 I haven't decided yet. 
Stay tuned.

To get the image at the top of the page, I used this same image, and just fiddled with the colors and contrasts, turned and tweaked a couple of knobs.

I plan to do more with this mask, but I enjoyed playing with it the way it is. 

It's a lot like raising kids.
You don't have to wait for them to grow up before you can enjoy them.
They're lots of fun at every age.
And its nice to take pictures to chart their progress along the way.

Also, just in case I fuck up this mask by doing more with it, I wanted to have a record of its existence while it was still pretty good.

Which is also a lot like raising kids.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Darkness and light

“... when an endless night seems to have fallen, 
hope can be found in the realization that
the companion of night is not another night, 
that the companion of night is day, 
that darkness always gives way to light ...”

-- Dean Koontz, Lightning

Self portrait 7-24-13

“So don't be frightened, dear friend, 
if a sadness confronts you larger than any you have ever known, 
casting its shadow over all you do. 
You must think that something is happening within you, 
and remember that life has not forgotten you;
it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall. 
Why would you want to exclude from your life any uneasiness, any pain, any depression, 
since you don't know what work they are accomplishing within you?”

-- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

 “It's part of what we call the Shadow, 
all the dark parts of us we can't face. 
It's the thing that, if we don't deal with it, 
eventually poisons our lives.”

-- Michael Gruber, The Good Son

“A shadow is never created in darkness. 
It is born of light. 
We can be blind to it and blinded by it. 
Our shadow asks us to look at what we don't want to see.” 

-- Terry Tempest Williams, 
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Plasssssster casssssst

 Interviewer: "So Frank, you have long hair. Does that make you a woman?"
Frank Zappa: "You have a wooden leg. Does that make you a table?”

-- Frank Zappa

Self portrait 7-23-13

“She was the most beautiful creature on Earth -- 
her hair said so in that language only hair can speak.”

-- Gabriel Ba, Daytripper

“Phyllida's hair was where her power resided.”

-- Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot

“Round and round they went with their snakes, snakily...” 

-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


I remember reading some writing advice once that said, if you have writer's block, to simply start scribbling. Just doodle and draw loops and whirls on the paper until you start making words.

Sometimes I have a vision of exactly the face I want to make on a particular day.
But honestly, much more often I have no ideas whatsoever.
When I don't have a face in mind and the ideas aren't flowing, sometimes it helps to "scribble," which means I just start playing.
Quite often, a face results after a lot of meandering, wool-gathering, and poking around in the detritus of my workspace.

I have lots of stuff in there.
Masks, paint, hats, glasses, toys, mustaches, clay, balloons, scissors, glue, tape, stickers, pipe cleaners, action figures, Barbies ... you name it.
I hold onto things just in case I need them later.

For instance, I made this plaster cast of my face last year. 
While my kids were at school, I was laying on the floor in my bathrobe with a blow-dryer aimed at my face (which was wrapped in wet, plaster-coated gauze), breathing through drinking straws shoved up my nostrils, wondering what the other moms were doing right then.
I didn't really give a fiddler's fuck what the other moms were doing right then. 
I just wondered.

I haven't really done anything with this mask.
But I've kept it. Just in case.

The eyes on this "Medusa" are actually mine. I recycled them from two different self portraits that printed badly because my ink cartridges were running low. 
Yay, recycling!

The bendy, wiggly wooden snakes came from the craft store. They were on sale a couple of weeks ago for $1 each. I bought all they had. I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with them, but I knew I'd use them eventually.

Plus, I have lots of styrofoam wig forms laying around.

So I just started scribbling, and kept scribbling and doodling and playing until I had a face I liked ... a plaster-faced Medusa with wooden snake hair and paper eyes.

Maybe it's good.
Maybe it's art.
Maybe it's not.
Maybe it isn't anything.
Maybe it just "is."

Maybe I don't give a fiddler's fuck.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Twisted sister

"The face and body may be perfect,
but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters,
may not the same process produce a malformed soul?"

-- John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Self portrait 7-22-13

"Most people tend to think the best of those who are blessed with beauty;
we have difficulty imagining that physical perfection
can conceal twisted emotions or a damaged mind."

-- Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

Self portrait (2) 7-22-13

"The more fucked up you are, the more I like you.
As long as you've managed to hold onto your identity through all the shit,
then it won't matter how twisted you are. 
I will love you more for it."

-- Ashly Lorenzana

Self portrait (3) 7-22-13

"The truth is not distorted here, but rather a distortion is used to get at the truth."

-- Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hooking up

"And it was pretty much the best underwater kiss of all time."

-- Rick Riordan, The Last Olympian

Fishing lures 7-21-13

"You've got an awfully kissable mouth."

-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby Girls

"Luck affects everything. 
Let your hook always be cast; 
in the stream where you least expect it there will be a fish."

-- Ovid

These adorable little fishing lures are homemade, by my son, Leo.
He's really good at making them.
He whittles the wood, meticulously paints on the spots and stripes, and attaches all of the hooks and hardware.
I love their silly faces, particularly their suction cup fish lips.
As charming as they appear, these lures actually do catch fish.
Maybe that's why. 
They're so cute, the fish can't resist the urge to eat them up!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Half and half

"Life is half spent before we know what it is."

-- George Herbert

Self portrait 7-20-13

"He has the deed half done who has made a beginning."

-- Horace

"Begin -- to begin is half the work, 
let half still remain; 
again begin this, and thou wilt have finished."

-- Marcus Aurelius

Friday, July 19, 2013


"It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for;
I can never fight for myself, 
but for others, I can kill."

-- Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls

Mama  7-19-13

"If by my life or death I can protect you, I will."

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Mama  (2) 7-19-13

This is my mother's dog.
Her name is Mama.
She wandered into my mother's yard about 7 years ago. She was a stray and a mongrel ... a mix of Pitbull and, we think, Dutch shepherd. Maybe some other stuff.

When Mama first appeared, she was Whippet-thin, with a scar across her lip, and a belly covered with nipples indicating that she had recently given birth.
But she was alone and her puppies were who-knows-where.
She was either a runaway or else she'd been dumped.
Whichever, she was on the lam with a black Labrador Retriever.

Neighbors had called Animal Control to report the strays. When the officers showed up, they said they could transport the Lab to a rescue shelter for adoption. But because of her breed, they said Mama would have to be "put down," unless someone agreed to keep her.
My mother agreed.

Mama was skittish at first, afraid.
It took a frying pan full of pepperoni to lure her in.
I remember the e-mail my mother sent out, ebulliently announcing Mama's arrival. The news drew mixed reviews, concern, and questions from the family.
Our mother had just adopted a stray Pitbull, for Christ's sake.
But 7 years later, none of us can imagine Mama not being there.

My mom lives alone. Dad died 9 years ago.
For the first couple of years, Mom struggled with the noises and shadows in the empty house.
She was lonely and sad, and all of the other things people are after a traumatic death.
Mama  filled the emptiness, both in the house, and in my mother's heart.

Mama barked back at the scary sounds.
Mama stood between my mother and any would-be intruders. 
This dog looks about as bad-ass as it gets. I mean, she's part Pitbull, after all. But she's also gentle and sweet and lovable. When Mom came home, the house wasn't empty anymore. Mama was there to greet her with puppy-like glee.

She stayed close. 
She still does.

A Dutch Shepherd is a fiercely protective herding dog. It's sole purpose is to take care of its herd.
And I suppose my mother is Mama's herd.
They take care of each other. They need each other. And it is a pretty beautiful thing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Eye-eye-eye eye of the Zombie!

"It's all fun and games 'till someone loses and eye,
then it's just fun you can't see."

-- James Hetfield

Zombie self portrait 7-18-13

 "The eye altering, alters all."

-- William Blake

Zombie self portrait (2) 7-18-13

"I look very different on camera compared with how I do in real life.
On camera, I look my best when everything is enhanced,
especially my eyes."

-- Martine McCutcheon

Zombie self-portrait (3) 7-18-13

 "I have scary eyes ...
I remember coming home from school and asking my mum
if I could get an eye transplant, 
and of course she declined."

-- Tim Ferriss

Hoo! Oooooh!

Shadows on the mountain, and the night begins to fall;
Gather up the children, 'fore the darkness takes us all.
Tribe has come together, standin' naked against the night;
Twenty feet from the fire, the evil waits with zombie eyes.

Eye-eye-eye eye of the Zombie!
Eye-eye-eye eye of the Zombie!

-- John Fogerty,  "Eye of the Zombie"


I promise.

Not every post and portrait is going to be about my stupid twitchy eye.

But it is my blog, so I'm afraid you'll have to indulge me for at least a little bit while I deal with it.

Because if you haven't already noticed by now, that's how I cope. It's how I deal with stuff. By making pictures of it.

A couple people have told me that, from the outside, my eye twitch isn't that noticeable.

I don't believe them.

Because from the inside, it feels like it's flapping and flopping all over my face like a bloody, dangling zombie eyeball. Well, maybe it's not that bad, but I'm exercising my artistic license here to make a point.

Did I mention that it's my blog?

Also, can I just say that when it's too hot to be outside, you might want to try making yourself up like a zombie!
It's a fun indoor Summertime activity the whole family can enjoy.
Although there is something even more fun about making yourself up like a zombie when the whole family is off working, or watching TV, or drinking iced tea, or whatever families do when it's too hot to be outside.
Because then you have a fun little zombie secret to keep in your pocket all day. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Aaaaaarrrr! A pirate's face for me!

"Life's pretty good, 
and why wouldn't it be?
I'm a pirate, after all."

-- Johnny Depp

Self portrait 7-17-13

“A taste for adventure is by no means a masculine monopoly.”

-- Lloyd Alexander

“I do not see, for there is no I to see. 
That is what the pirates know. 
There is only seeing and, 
in order to go to see, one must be a pirate.”

-- Kathy Acker 

"I have a pirate fetish --
 I just always thought eye patches were sexy."

-- Michelle Branch

So, remember how yesterday I said I might start wearing an eye patch to hide my fluttering, twitchy eye?

To quote myself, I said,

"I'm thinking about wearing an eye patch.
A really cool-looking, bad ass eye patch.
It could be my thing.
I could be that cool, bad ass chick with the eye patch."

Well, I went one step further and made myself a bad ass pirate eye patch.

And once I'd made the pirate eye patch, really the only logical next step was to actually dress up like a pirate and wear it for a self portrait. Besides, it was a perfect excuse to try out my tarantula neck tattoo.

Granted, I don't look much like a chick, but I still think I look pretty cool.
Pretty bad ass.
And that fluttering eye thing?
You can't even notice it behind the skull and crossbones and dozen metal spikes.

I totally love it that my kids don't even flinch when I do shit like this.

While I was finishing up this costume, my 18-year-old son, Sam, came home from his responsible, normal, grown-up, big kid job.

I should have been fixing supper, but instead I was upstairs blacking my teeth when he came into my bathroom.

He was like, "Hey, whatcha doing?"
And I was like, "Dressing up like a pirate."
And he went, "OK. Do I have time to mow a couple of lawns before supper?"
And I was like, "Sure."

I love my family.

I mean, you know, when I'm not at sea, swashbuckling and avasting ye hearties and plundering and getting booty and lots of other super-adventurous, dangerous pirate-y stuff.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


"The primary and most beautiful of Nature's qualities is motion,
which agitates her at all times."

-- Marquis de Sade

Self portrait 7-16-13

“Oh, my twitchy witchy girl
I think you are so nice,
I give you bowls of porridge
And I give you bowls of ice
I give you lots of kisses,
And I give lots of hugs,
But I never give you sandwiches
With bugs

-- Neil Gaiman, Coraline

"A guy who twitches his lips is just another guy with a lip twitch --
unless he's Humphrey Bogart."
-- Sammy Davis Jr.


I have a most annoying condition.

It is called a hemifacial spasm. It is a nervous system disorder which causes the right side of my face -- primarily my eyelid and all the muscles around my eye -- to twitch. Involuntarily. Constantly.

Usually only my eye is involved. But sometimes it spreads down and grabs onto my lip, my cheek.

For years it has come and gone. But it is particularly persistent right now.

In the past I have had it injected with Botox, twice, which worked, but also paralyzed my eye open so that I couldn't blink on one side for weeks. Both times I had to tape my eyelid shut to sleep so that my cornea wouldn't dry out overnight. Gross.

The doctor said that paralysis only happens to .02 percent of people who get the treatment. He also said I should never get injected there again. Oh, and he also said there is no other treatment.

And so I twitch and flutter, flutter and twitch.

It's super distracting and really embarrassing. I notice that people can't help looking right at it when it happens, and it makes me feel terribly unattractive and self-conscious. Eating makes it worse, so I don't meet friends for lunch or dinner.

Smiling triggers it too -- locks it up in a full-blown spasm, twisting my eye grotesquely.
So I avoid smiling.
Or I turn away to hide my google eye, my monster face.

I mostly avoid social situations if I can. And if I can't, I position myself so the other person can't see that side of my face. Or I try to camouflage it with my hand or sunglasses.

I've even started avoiding auditions for plays. Which really bothers me. Because that's what I do. That's my work. I am an actor. But a little bit of stress or agitation, like audition nerves, really kicks it into high gear. It happened on stage in a play I was in a few months ago, and the other guy doing the scene with me saw it and blanked on his lines. Then he teased me about it in the greenroom after the show. He wasn't being mean or anything, but the whole thing caused some really uncomfortable 6-year-old outcast kid emotions to burble up inside me, so I hurriedly changed out of costume and went and cried in my car.

This is one of those unavoidable struggles that nobody can do anything about.
No one can help me.
And that's where this blog comes in.
Making today's self portrait did help me deal with the difficult feelings I have been having because of this annoying condition. Somehow, strewing butterflies across the twitchy side of my face made me feel like less of a gargoyle.

I'm thinking about wearing an eye patch.
A really cool-looking, bad ass eye patch.
It could be my thing.
I could be that cool, bad ass chick with the eye patch.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bone head

"It is not my intention to be fulsome,
but I confess that I covet your skull."

-- Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Self portrait  7-15-13

“Life's true face is the skull.”

-- Nikos Kazantzakis

Self portrait (2) 7-15-13

“The trauma said, ‘Don’t write these poems.
Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones.”

-- Andrea Gibson, The Madness Vase

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The icing on the face

 “They laugh at me because I'm different; 
I laugh at them because they're all the same.”

-- Kurt Cobain

Self portrait  7-14-13

 “Don't dare to be different, dare to be yourself -- 
if that doesn't make you different then something is wrong.”

-- Laura Baker

"What you're doing by being yourself is you're keeping it real, 
and you're being really brave.” 

-- Adam Lambert

It's my birthday.
It's also Bastille Day, the French National Day of independence.

So, Vive la France!

I like it that I was born on a day of uprising and rebellion, even though I'm not much of a protester or a demonstrator.

I'm not planning to storm any fortresses any time soon.
I probably won't break down many doors in my lifetime.
It's unlikely that I'll ever free anybody from any kind of oppression. 

I'm a quieter kind of rebel.

Mostly I'm just hoping to someday break down my own walls.
Mostly I'm just trying to free myself.
If, while doing that, I can help somebody else feel a little bit freer, that's just a bonus.

It's the icing on the face.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

This face is on fire

"To cause the face to appear in a mass of flame make use of the following:
mix together thoroughly petroleum, lard, mutton tallow and quick lime.
Distill this over a charcoal fire and the liquid which results 
can be burned on the face without harm."

-- Harry Houdini

Face in the fire 7-13-13
"Fire has a mind and a determination. 
You don’t see it as a blind raging thing, which I suppose it is, 
but something that attacks and thinks and changes tactics. 
It has a malevolence that uses surprise, dirty tricks, cunning. 
You get to think of it as someone, not something, and it’s someone you have to beat, 
but right from the start you don’t like your chances 
because it’s so big and unpredictable and can do so much harm.”

-- Bryce Courtenay, Four Fires

Face in the fire (2) 7-13-13

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.” 

-- William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart's Desire

Jill, my super-awesome friend extraordinaire, came to visit yesterday.
We went for a motorcycle ride, had Tacos for supper, and then my son Leo built us a campfire on the back patio and shot off some fireworks.

I didn't have a face for the day yet, and it was getting late. I seriously did not know what I was going to post today. The cupboard was looking pretty bare.

Face in the fire (3) 7-13-13
Then Leo put some kind of color-changing glow-stick into the fire, and the flames started burning blue, green, red, fuchsia. I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. When I started looking through the photos I'd shot, my imagination conjured faces in the flames. It was kind of like seeing pictures in the clouds. Some of the faces took a moment to see, but once I saw them, they were obvious and extraordinary and magical.

The face at the top of the page reminds me of the Hindu fire god -- Agni.

The second one looks like a flaming warrior -- some kind of Spartan or something -- turned in profile, wearing full regalia, face upturned with a plume of fire on his helmet.

The one to the right is a little trickier to see. Take a second and look for it. The face is a sad one with little eyes and a frowning mouth.There is a large, gaping black space spreading across the middle of the face, just below the eyes.

The one below reminds me of a flame-engulfed comedy/tragedy theater mask.
Face in the fire (4) 7-13-13

If Jill hadn't come to visit, these faces never would have happened.
We probably wouldn't have lit the fireworks or built the fire.
But Jill did come to visit.
And these faces did happen.
Like Jill, they only stayed for a little while.
Like Jill, they burned and flickered bright and beautiful, and then they were gone.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Look me in the eye

"Every closed eye is not sleeping, 
and every open eye is not seeing."

-- Bill Cosby

Self portrait 7-12-13

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Freak show

“We’re freaks, that’s all ... 
We’re the tattooed lady, 
and we’re never going to have a minute’s peace, 
the rest of our lives, 
until everybody else is tattooed, too.”

-- J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey 

Self portrait 7-11-13

 “I was always an unusual girl.”

-- Lana Del Rey

“Eschew the ordinary, disdain the commonplace. 
If you have a single-minded need for something, 
let it be the unusual, the esoteric, the bizarre, the unexpected.”

-- Chuck Jones

“All forms of madness, bizarre habits, 
awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, 
are justified in the person who creates good art.”

-- Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy

I may not be the bearded lady.
I may not have a conjoined twin dangling from my chest.
I don't have the face of a wolf, or an elephant, or a bat.
I am not missing, nor do I have any extra, body parts.
I am neither unusually large nor unusually small.
I don't swallow swords or eat fire.
I am not "half this" and "half that."

My "deformity," my "biological rarity," is insomnia. Chronic sleeplessness is the thing that makes me feel like a total freak of nature. Insomnia is the thing that has shunted me off the bright, happy midway of life and into the murky shadows of the side-show tent.

It may sound like I am exaggerating, but I don't think so.

Lying awake all night long, night after night, alone, physically and emotionally and psychologically craving sleep that evades and eludes, nerves jumping, followed by days where I am useless, strung out and rattled from the exertion of exhaustion, when all I want is to semi-regularly experience a basic, biological, natural, normal human function ...


I should sell tickets. 

Step right up! Step right up! 

Maybe a few strangers gawking at me through the tent flap would lessen the loneliness. 

At least there'd be witnesses to my fabled sleepless reality -- people who could confirm, awestruck with jaws on the ground, "She was awake, the whole night!" because they'd seen it with their own eyes. 

At least I'd be earning a living from the very thing that, right now, seems like a midway pick-pocket intent on stealing my life right out of my hands.

For now, I guess the best I can do about it is to make art out of it, hence today's face.

I'd keep company with the other side-show freaks, but they're sleeping.