Monday, September 30, 2013

Keeping my cool

"As Elsie says: 'Why don't you each draw a picture 
of the coolest, most refreshing thing you can think of?'"

-- 1950s Borden "Elsie Popsicle" TV commercial

Self portrait with magazine cutout mouth and cutout Popsicle 9-30-13

"When he sings, it makes my heart melt like a Popsicle on the Fourf of July!"

 -- Darla, "The Little Rascals."

"A little something happens when I grab that stick
I become a pop star in just one lick
I'm a p-p-p-Popsicle pop star
I'm a p-p-p-Popsicle pop star

All my favorite flavors come on that stick
I become a pop star in just one lick
I'm a p-p-p-Popsicle pop star
I'm a p-p-p-Popsicle pop star."

-- 1980s Popsicle commercial

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shadows fall

 "But I felt them ... hungry shadows who knew my name, 
clawing at my mind and my soul to be let in."  

-- Peter S. Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother

Self portrait 9-29-13

"Your nightmares follow you like a shadow, forever."

-- Aleksander Hemon, The Lazarus Project

Self portrait (2) 9-29-13

"There was nothing the matter out there. 
It was in here, with me."

-- Cornell Woolrich,
Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Mystery Novels

Self portrait (3) 9-29-13

"This life is a shadowy thing, lad."

-- James Michael Pratt, The Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pop! goes the easel

"I had a definite sense of somehow being a passenger 
in an evil vehicle cruising through Paradise."

-- Sam Shepard, Cruising Paradise

"In the Car" self portrait 9-28-13

"You call this a chariot?"

-- Missy Lyons, Alien Promise

"I don't mean this, but I'm going to say it anyway. 
I don't really think of pop art and serious art as being that far apart."

-- Twyla Tharp

My computer and my printer have been behaving badly, causing me undue frustration and rage.

So I am giving them a time out.

"In the Car," by Roy Lichtenstein, 1963
Instead of digital imagery, today I decided to go old school and busted out the paper, pencils and markers.

I love pop art -- its strong graphic nature, the bold lines, the bright colors, the clean simplicity.

I am also drawn to the imagery in comic books and graphic novels, and admire the artists who can create it.

I am not one of those artists, but it was fun to try. It was definitely fun pretending for a day.

The result is my personal riff on Roy Lichtenstein's 1963 painting, "In the Car," (above) which depicts a tense, icy moment between a well-dressed man and woman driving, well, in the car. In my version, just for fun, I drew in my own face for both characters and made myself into a pop art self portrait.

As it turns out, Lichtenstein's painting is also an homage. It is one of many pieces he based on panels from the comic book series Girls' Romances, which was published during the 50s and 60s, and covered romance topics like dating and marriage. ("In the Car" is based on a panel from issue #78,1961).

So today's face is an homage to an homage.

Pop on.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Number one suspect

Proctor:      Woman. I'll not have your suspicion any more.
Elizabeth:   have no --
Proctor:     I'll not have it!
Elizabeth:   Then let you not earn it.
Proctor:     Now look you --
Elizabeth:    I see what I see, John.

-- Arthur Miller, The Crucible

Cemetery statue 9-27-13

"'Yesterday, some hooligans knocked over a dustbin in Shafsbry.' 
Wooooo ... The hooligans are loose! The hooligans are loose! 
What if they become roughians? 
I would hate to be a dustbin in Shafsbry tonight."

-- Bill Hicks

Yesterday I drove my motorcycle to explore a new cemetery in search of faces.

There was just one statue in this particular graveyard. This sort of melancholy girl with her hand on her cheek.

She was pretty, except a caterpillar had made its cocoon right the hollow of her eye socket, right in the tear duct, (or where the tear duct would be if a cement statue actually had tear ducts.) It was gross, and I didn't want it in my pictures.

I looked around on the ground for a stick or something to scrape it out with. I found a broken hickory nut shell, and, camera in hand, I climbed up on the statue's base to remove the nasty eye goober. 

That's when I heard the unmistakable sound of gravel crunching and popping under car tires. 

I looked over my shoulder at a fat police cruiser sitting on the lane right behind me where my motorcycle was parked.

Moving slowly, acting naturally, I sat my camera on a headstone, then walked over to my bike and politely moved it to the side of the path, out of the cruiser's way. Then I picked my camera back up and started snapping pictures. I let the nice officers see that even though I was dressed in leather and rode in on a motorcycle, I wasn't dangerous. I was no hooligan. I was just a girl with a camera. I wasn't there to desecrate, or vandalize, or steal, but to appreciate, memorialize and create.

What I didn't know at the time, however, was that there'd been a recent string of cemetery thefts and vandalism in the area, in some of the very cemeteries that I like to explore. Someone had been stealing statues, urns and other items from cemeteries across northern Ohio and southern Michigan. 

I'd love to say the cop told me to drop the hickory nut shell and put my hands up where he could see 'em. Or that he threw me up against the car, cuffed me, read me my rights, then told me to watch my head as he pressed me into the back seat and carted me off to the big house. Because at first glance, it certainly might have looked like I was inflicting some harm on that statue. I mean, I was all up in her face scraping away with my little nut shell. If that doesn't arouse suspicion, what does?

But he didn't do any of that.

He clearly saw that I was simply a non-threatening, passionate artist at work, and without a word, he left me to it and drove slowly away.

It turns out police had already nabbed the real cemetery vandal anyway. He is sitting in the county jail on  $20,000 bond, charged with felonious theft, breaking and entering, and vandalism. They found dozens of stolen cemetery items, which he was planning to re-sell, at his house.

I looked the story up online. I personally loved what the guy who manages my favorite Sandusky cemetery said about why stealing from a cemetery is wrong:

"Nobody can defend themselves."

As I exited the cemetery and headed home, I passed the same cruiser twice more. He was tailing me, keeping his eye on me until I rode out of his town on the horse I rode in on. Well, on the motorcycle I rode in on. Anyway. I did feel a little thrill knowing I was a prime suspect for just a second.

Honest, officer. I didn't steal anything.

You can check my pockets. You can search my backpack. 

Just don't look inside my camera, because it's full of all the pictures I took.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Keep it short

"You're only as good as your last haircut."

-- Fran Lebowitz

Self portrait 9-26-13

"A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life."

-- Coco Chanel

"Long hair tells men that you are all woman, or a real woman, or at the very least a girl. Short hair always makes them wonder. Short hair makes children ask each other -- usually at the school-yard gate, when parents are late -- 'Are you a boy or a girl?'

Short hair removes obvious femininity and replaces it with style ... Short hair makes you aware of subtraction as style ... the neat is suddenly preferable to the fussy. You eye the tweezers instead of the blusher. What else can you take away? You can't hide behind short hair ... you may look a little androgynous, a little unfinished, a little bare. You will look elegant, as short hair requires you to keep your weight slightly below acceptable levels.

Short hair makes others think you have good bones, determination, and an agenda. The shape of your skull is commented on, so are its contents. They can pick you out in a crowd, and you can be recognized from behind, which can be good or bad. But your face is no longer a flat screen surrounded by a curtain: the world sees you in three dimensions."

-- Joan Juliet Buck, Vogue, 1988

I got my hair cut.
It was getting a little shaggy, so I visited my awesome stylist Heather for some overdue maintenance.

I have worn my hair a dozen different ways, some more successful than others. Some, flat out hideous.

The worst, I think, was when my mother gave me a home perm. A very smelly, really curly home perm that turned my hair a brassy reddish color, and made me look a lot like child star Johnny Whitaker, who rocked his red afro as Tom Sawyer and in "Sigmund and the Seamonsters." (see photo, below, but imagine Johnny in a red gingham check blouse and you'll have a pretty accurate idea of what my sixth grade school picture looked like).

Johnny Whitaker as Tom Sawyer

For some reason, my mother thought curls were preferable to the poker-straight hair my three sisters and I were all born with. I always felt a little bit deficient whenever Mom or Grandma bemoaned my straight hair and dragged me to salon for a scalp-eye-nose-and-skin-burning, ammonia-scented permanent. There was always some vague promise that it'd just be a "body wave." But the end result was almost always a kinky, frizzy, embarrassing mess. I'd go home and condition the shit out of it all weekend long, hoping that it would "relax" (they also always promised me it would "relax") before walking the gauntlet into the viper pit called middle school Monday morning. 

Mom also cut our bangs when we were too little to know better and hide her scissors. She always cut them in a sort of curve to "frame our faces." Ugh. I know now that she did it to save time and money. Taking four girls to the hair salon is an expensive pain in the ass.

I've worn my hair long (briefly as a child, and then when I married my husband, because I thought it was what he wanted). I've gone with bangs and without. Permed and straight. Feathered. Colored. Pinned up and complicated in a chignon for my wedding, complete with little sausage curl tendrils (Ugh, again). Highlighted, for a day, but my husband said it made me look older, so I raced straight to Drug Mart for a box of Nice 'N Easy medium brown to undo the damage. I've grown it out for roles in plays. I've abused my hair with curling irons, flat irons and blow dryers and caustic chemicals.

But I feel like I look like my truest self when my hair is short. Really short. Too short to curl. Short enough to air dry. And straight. I am proud to wear my hair in its natural state, the way I was born, as nature intended.

After a haircut, I always feel better. Fresher. Life seems full of possibility and hope. 

I feel like me again.

Plus, it makes the shower drain and bathroom floor a lot easier to keep clean. 

Yeah, I have been mistaken for a boy. It happened a lot when I was a kid (it didn't help that I was Johnny Whitaker's doppelganger). It happened as recently as this summer. At Best Buy. My son and I walked in and the clerk was like, "Hi gentlemen, can I help you find something?" I was totally fine with it. Sam and I simply grinned at each other and said "Just looking, thanks."

When I donate blood, they always say, "I have your gender down as female. Is that correct?" (I am soooo tempted to stand up, look down my pants, and say "Yep. Sure looks like it.")

None of that matters.

Somewhere along the continuum, I realized, finally, that my hair is my hair. I have to wear it on my head. Nobody else's opinion means jack shit.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Behind the mask

"Behind every mask there is a face,
and behind that a story."

-- Marty Rubin

Self portrait 9-25-13

"I hold my face in my two hands.
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands
to keep the loneliness warm --
two hands protecting,
two hands nourishing,
two hands preventing
my soul from leaving me
in anger."

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

"We were not meant to mask ourselves before our fellow-beings, 
but to be, through our human forms, 
true and clear utterances of the spirit within."

-- Lucy Larcom

"Because the mask is your face,
the face is a mask ..."

-- Faith Ringgold

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Drawn and quoted

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray."

-- Rumi, Essential Rumi

Self portrait (Sharpie marker on paper) 9-24-13

“It was amazing what an hour with her sketchpad could do for her mood. 
She was sure that the lines she drew with her black marker 
were going to save her years of worry lines in the future.”

-- Victoria Kahler, Their Friend Scarlet 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Don't cry over spilled milk. Cry over spilled vodka.

"Life is just a plain bloody mess, that's all."

-- Athol Fugard, "Master Harold" ... and the boys

Spilled milk face 9-23-13

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep."

-- Scott Adams

"And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall
We cannot pick it up.
There is no way at all!”

-- Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

"Spilling your guts is just exactly as charming as it sounds."

-- Fran Lebowitz

Sunday, September 22, 2013


"It felt like she was an outline empty in the middle."

-- Ann Brashares, Sisterhood Everlasting

Self portrait 9-22-13

"Fingers trace your every outline
Paint a picture with my hands."

-- Maroon 5, "Sunday Morning"

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Death mask

"We all must die. 
There is no better way to do so 
than in the pursuit of something you love."

-- Jim Butcher, Death Masks

Wood mannequin with a skull mask 9-21-13

"I'm dealing with a lot of scary things. 
I think you have to react to them. 
And you either laugh at them or you go insane."

-- Jim Butcher, Death Masks

Friday, September 20, 2013


"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost."

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

Self portrait 9-20-13

"Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights."

-- Mae West

"When you're around me, you're going to get glitter on you."

-- Ke$ha

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beneath the sur-face

"For her face was no more than a cover of skin, 
showing nothing of the terrible, complicated things, ugly and beautiful, 
that were going on inside her."

-- Douglas Woolf, Wall to Wall

Self portrait 9-19-13

"One of the first things she was going to do when she got to heaven, she said, 
was to ask somebody what was written on her face and why it had been put there."

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Deadeye Dick

"All art is at once surface and symbol
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril."

-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shake it like a Polaroid picture

"The creative act lasts but a brief moment, 
a lightning instant of give-and-take, 
just long enough for you to level the camera 
and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box."

-- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Self portrait 9-18-13

"Photography takes an instant out of time, 
altering life by holding it still."

-- Dorothea Lange

"I'm working on bringing the instant film camera back as part of the future."

-- Lady Gaga

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Like a rock

"Life is mostly froth and bubble, 
Two things stand like stone -- 
Kindness in another's trouble, 
Courage in your own."

-- Adam Lindsay Gordon, "Ye Wearie Wayfarer"

Cemetery statue with flower garland 9-17-13

"Cold as winter, strong as stone;
She faced the darkness all alone."

-- Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Shattered Mirror

"The place, with its gray sky and withered garlands,
its bared spaces and scattered dead leaves,
was like a theater after the performance --
all strewn with crumpled playbills."

-- Henry James, The Turn of the Screw


Monday, September 16, 2013


"It's no surprise to me
I am my own worst enemy
'Cause every now and then
I kick the living shit out of me."

                                                                                          -- Lit, "My Own Worst Enemy"

Self portrait 9-16-13

“Struggle is proof that you haven't been conquered, 
that you refuse to surrender, 
that victory is still possible, 
and that you're growing.”

-- Jon Walden

"Those who say life is knocking them down and giving them a tough time 
are usually the first to beat themselves up. Be on your own side.”

--Rasheed Ogunlary

“I will no longer mutilate and destroy myself 
in order to find a secret behind the ruins.”

-- Hermann Hesse

I have good news, and I have bad news.
The good news is, the sleep restructuring program is working, and it is working well.
The bad news is, it would be working even better if I didn't keep getting in my own way.

Why do I do that?

Why do I continue with behaviors and habits that I know have a direct negative effect on my progress?
Why can't I follow a few clear, simple rules?
Why can't I just do all the right stuff?
Why do I repeatedly sabotage my own hard work?
Why do I stand in my own way?
Why do I beat myself up when I fail, instead of picking myself up and trying to do better in the next round?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am my own worst enemy.
That's why I have the phrase "Don't let me get me" tattooed on the inside my left arm.
It's me vs. me in a no-holds-barred fight to the death.

Well, it ain't over 'til it's over.

Today is a new day. A new round.

Win, lose or draw, I will keep fighting.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Patternity test

 “If we experience any failures or setbacks, 
we do not forget them because they offend our self-esteem. 
Instead we reflect on them deeply, trying to figure out what went wrong 
and discern whether there are any patterns to our mistakes.”

                                                                                              -- Robert Greene, Mastery

Self portrait 9-15-13

“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. 
Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns.
If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself.
What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. 
What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher.” 

-- Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor 

“This is the time for every artist in every genre 
to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. 
It doesn't matter to me what your position is. 
You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, 
and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it.”

                                                                                                 -- Toni Morrison

Saturday, September 14, 2013


"Did I mention I've finally decided on a nickname for you?"
"I didn't know you were looking."

-- Alexandra Adornetto, Halo

Self portrait 9-14-13

"Could you just call me Pigeon?" he asked the teacher when she read his name.
"Does your mother call you Pigeon?"
"Then to me you are Paul."

-- Brandon Mull, The Candy Shop War

Self portrait (2) 9-14-13

"Must a name mean something," Alice asked doubtfully.
"Of course it must," Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh; 
"my name means the shape I am -- and a good handsome shape it is, too.
With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost."

-- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

They call me TwoCent.

My family, that is. 

It's my nickname. My alias. My alter-ego. My AKA (for "also known as", like the rappers and hip-hop stars. You know, like Shawn Carter, aka "Jay Z." Or Curtis Jackson, aka "50 Cent.").

Around here, we use nicknames more than we use real names. 

They started calling me TwoCent several years ago, because evidently I was always on a soapbox about something, always giving my opinion, my advice, my input, my "2 cents."

The nickname stuck.
I like it.
I like my nickname so much that it's on my car's license plate. 
My husband had a "2Cent" necklace custom-made for me a couple of Christmases ago. It's my favorite piece of jewelry.

And now, finally, I have TwoCent on my skin -- a new tattoo on my outside, proudly proclaiming who I really am on my inside.

I hope I'll always be TwoCent.

There's something about a nickname, especially one that's given to you in a spirit of love and endearment, by the people you love and that really fits, that feels really good. It's like secret code, or the private language that twins make up that's just between them. In our home, our nicknames are an important part of our family's unique culture. We use them so ubiquitously around here that when anybody uses my "real" name, or even "Mom," it sounds strange.

I've tried being less opinionated, to keep my unsolicited advice to myself, to stay off the soapbox, to hold onto my input until someone asks for it. 

Nevertheless, I've gotta live up to the nickname. 

So every once in a while I still give somebody my 2 cents.

Sometimes I even give a nickel.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Stir-fryday the 13th

"You need to give money when someone gives you a knife.
So the bad luck won't cut you.
I wouldn't like it for you to be cut by the bad luck, Jimmy."

--Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

Lemon halves and a bell pepper carcass 9-13-13

Squidward:    You mean you've never heard the story of the ... hash-slinging slasher?

SpongeBob:   The slash-bringing hasher?

Squidward:    The hash-slinging slasher.

SpongeBob:  The sash wringing ... the trash thinging ... mash flinging ... 
                     the flash springing, bringing the crash thinging the ...

Squidward:    Yes. The hash-slinging slasher.

-- SpongeBob SquarePants, "Graveyard Shift"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Una cara de un día

 "... and Fred's eyes stared without seeing, 
the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face."

-- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Day of the Dead Barbie face 9-12-13

"Al vivo todo le falta, y al muerto todo le sobra." 

("For one who's alive nothing's quite enough,
while for one who's dead anything's too much.")

-- traditional Mexican Day of the Dead saying

I realize that Dia De Muertos, or "the Day of the Dead," is still a month and a half away.
But I couldn't help it.
She was there.
So was I.
There were Sharpie markers.
It happened.
We're both trying to move on.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm not making this up

 "As far as cosmetics are used for adornment in a conscious and creative way, 
they are not emblems of inauthenticity: 
it is when they are presented as the real thing, 
covering unsightly blemishes, 
disguising a repulsive thing so that it is acceptable to the world 
that their function is deeply suspect."

-- Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch

Self portrait 9-11-13

 "How can an  'ideal' be about women 
if it is defined as how much of a female sexual characteristic 
does not exist on a woman's body, 
and how much of a female life does not show on her face?"

-- Naomi Wolf, 
The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Like a virgin

"It's certainly much more impressive than another eBay item now on sale,
a grilled cheese featuring the likeness of Hello Kitty."

-- Brendan Koerner, Slate,
"How the Virgin Mary's Grilled Cheese Stayed Mold-Free for 10 Years"

Self portrait on a grilled cheese sandwich 9-10-13

"We believe that everyone should be able to see it 
and learn of its mystical power for themselves."

-- Richard Rowe, CEO,,
whose $28,000 bid won the Virgin Mary grilled cheese

"I went to take a bite out of it, and then I saw this lady looking back at me ...
It scared me at first."

-- Diane Duyser, 
owner of the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pour me

"Looking back you realize that a very special person
passed briefly through your life  -- and it was you.
It's not too late to find that person again."

-- Robert  Brault

Metal pour spout from a box of sugar  9-9-13

"A face stared up at her from the mirror beside her hand.
Was that really what she looked like?
Was that really what she looked like, all sharp lines and huge silver-grey eyes?
... those extraordinary eyes ...
what memories lived in them that she could not share?"

-- P.C. Hodgell, God Stalk

"Perhaps it is impossible to understand one's own face ...
People who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors
as they appear to their friends.
I have no friends."

-- Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

"Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

-- P.G. Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hip to be square

 "The thing about boxes," I said, "is that you can open them up.
Even though they're completely boring on the outside, 
there might be something interesting inside."

-- Dan Wells, I am Not A Serial Killer

Self portrait 9-8-13

"The thoughts you loved to think about, 
the memories you wanted to hold up to the light
and view from every angle --
it suddenly seems a lot safer to lock them in a box, 
far from the light of day and throw away the key.
It's not an act of bitterness.
It's an act of self-preservation.
It's not always a bad idea to stay behind the window 
and look out at life instead, is it?"

-- Ally Condie, First Day

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift."

-- Mary Oliver 

"Life in a box was unbearable
How did humans stand it?"

-- Patrick Jennings, We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Eye Spy

"There was a moth in there, and it still had its wings crumpled up,
and it was just starting to pump its wings up.
Life continues in lots of places, and life is a magical thing."

                                                                                  -- Laurel Clark

Self portrait 9-7-13

"The Moth don't care when he sees The Flame.
He might get burned, but he's in the game.
And once he's in, he can't go back, he'll
Beat his wings 'til he burns them black ...
No, The Moth don't care when he sees The Flame ...
The Moth don't care if The Flame is real,
'Cause Flame and Moth got a sweetheart deal."

-- Aimee Mann

Self portrait (2) 9-7-13

"If you cut through a cocoon in mid-winter, a thick creamy liquid will spill out and nothing more.
What goes into that cocoon in autumn is a caterpillar and 
what comes out in spring is entirely different -- 
a moth, complete with papery wings, hair-like legs and antennae. 
Yet this same creature spends winter as a gray-green liquid, a primordial soup. 
The miraculous meltdown of an animal into a case of fluid chemicals and its exquisite regeneration into a different animal .. was a feat that ... fed Clive's obsession."

-- Poppy Adams, The Sister

"Eyespots" are the markings on moth and butterfly wings that resemble eyes. They are a defense mechanism that let the moth mimic a different animal. Using its eyespots, a moth can deceive a predator by appearing inedible or dangerous. Essentially, the moth looks fear and danger in in the eye until it backs down.

If the eyespots on today's face look familiar, it's because they're my eyes.
I had a picture of my eyes all ready to go (above), but as I was riding my bicycle I saw lots of butterflies, which gave me the idea to transform the photo of my eyes into wings. Just to see what happened.

So today's face is a two-layered self portrait. 

The me is me. 
And the wings are me, although stylized.

Without getting too heavy-handed with the prolonged "sleep"- transformation-nocturnal symbolism of the moth, I do feel like the moth represents me best right now. 

Thanks to sleep therapy, my sleep is slowly righting itself.

I am sleeping. 
I am changing. 
I am emerging.

With the help of my sleep specialists, I am looking my insomnia in the eye, and it is backing down. 

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I might just be OK.

Friday, September 6, 2013


"I'm the bearded lady! Who are you, one of the freaks?"

-- Spaceballs

Arranged face with beard, mustache, cutout lips and a cigarette 9-6-13

"People talk about my image, like I come in two dimensions, 
like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind ..."

-- Ani DiFranco

Arranged face (2) with beard, mustache, cutout lips and a cigarette 9-6-13

"I smoke so many cigarettes, 
there's no way I could have glossy lipstick."

-- Isabella Blow

"I have a beard of fog that I wear on misty mornings.
It's not cigarette smoke, but I'd understand if you wanted to
shave it off and inhale it."

-- Jarod Kintz,
At even one penny, this book would be overpriced

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Beautiful dreamer

"How do the angels get to sleep
when the devil leaves the porch light on?"

-- Tom Waits, "Mr. Siegal"

Sleeping angel 9-5-13

"A pillow for thee will I bring,
Stuffed with down of angel's wing."
--Richard Crashaw

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

-- John Lennon

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A face full

"It doesn't matter if the glass is half empty or half full.
Be thankful that you have a glass 
and grateful that there's something in it."

-- Unknown

Self portrait 9-4-13

"I do rely on having a full face on."

-- Kim Kardashian

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

She didn't bat an eye

"Around us the night creatures have their say. 
We are surrounded by a symphony."

-- Libby  Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

Self portrait 9-3-13

"The streetlight outside my house shines on tonight 
and I'm watching it like it could give me a vision ... 
make me bright and beautiful
so all the moths and bats would circle me 
like I was the center of the world and held secrets."

-- Sherman Alexie,  
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

"The baby bat
Screamed out in fright,
Turn on the dark,
I'm afraid of the light."

-- Shel Silverstein

My sleep doctor gave me a prescription.
It's not a pill.
It's rules.
It's a sleep prescription.
She said that for the next several weeks, I have to take sleep like it's medication ... at specific times and specific doses. 
She didn't bat an eye as she told me I am not allowed to go anywhere near bed until 3 a.m., and that even if I don't fall asleep until 7 or even 7:30, I still have to get up at 8.

If it works and I start sleeping solidly between 3 and 8 a.m., my "dose" gets titrated up. The plan is to increase my allowed amount sleep weekly until I am ultimately sleeping a healthy number of regular hours.


It's part of my insomnia "cure." It's a process called sleep restructuring, and I really hope it works. 

Like many prescriptions, there are side effects. For instance:
  • You may watch endless back to back to back to back episodes of Miami Ink, because you've already watched every episode of L.A. Ink and New York Ink.
  • You may stand on the patio in boxer shorts in the rain at 1 a.m. and take pictures of the sky.
  • You may drink a bottle of O'Doul's at 2 a.m., even though you think O'Doul's tastes like dirty dishwater, but you are supposed to avoid alcohol near bedtime but the guys on Miami Ink are drinking beer and a cold one sounds really fucking good right now. 

Staying up until 3 a.m. isn't easy. I kind of run out of stuff to do. If I try to read, I doze off. And that's a no-no. I'm not supposed to do anything "stimulating." I'm supposed to do intentionally boring shit. Hence, the Miami Ink.

So for most of those long, night hours, I just "am."
I hang out.
I exist.
I wait.
I'm a lonesome night creature watching the slow crawl of time until my next meager fix.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Agree to verdigris

"I caught myself in the act of focusing on her temples 
and automatically analyzing the succession of appropriately graded colors 
which death was imposing on her motionless face."

-- Claude Monet

Weathered bronze cemetery face 9-2-13

 "There is much pain that is quite noiseless ...
 kept secret by the sufferer committed to no sound 
except that of low moans in the night, 
seen in no writing except that made on the face 
by the slow months of suppressed anguish 
and early morning tears."

-- George Eliot

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Taken for granite

"Everyone breaks a little sometimes." 

-- J. Kenner, Release Me 
Broken angel  9-1-13

"... the wounds of the past and the scars of the present 
don't disfigure me in your eyes ..."

-- John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

"He jests at scars that never felt a wound."

-- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I went to the cemetery yesterday, searching for faces.

I was looking for new material, but I also wanted to revisit a couple of familiar faces that I've photographed in the past.

One of my favorites is an enormous monument bearing the stone image of a larger-than-life angel. I photographed her several years ago, and wanted to do so again for this year's 365 days project.

I have a large framed photo of this angel on my bedroom wall. I shot the photo in 2004 and it is one of my all-time favorites. I love it because of the way it captures the combined sense of strength and sadness, power and helplessness, spirituality and humanity. I was eager to see her again.

After meandering around the winding roads cris-crossing the cemetery and successfully finding a handful of interesting new faces, I made my way over to where she stands.

My heart went cold. I felt sickened by the sight.

She'd been damaged.


Her nose was completely gone, along with most of her upper lip. In their place, dead-center on her lovely angel face, a disfiguring, jagged, gaping granite wound.

I have no idea how it happened.

Natural disaster?

It's an old cemetery with lots of trees. Perhaps a branch fell during a storm.

Cemetery vandals?

God, I hope not.

Despite the damage, I photographed her anyway.

I was deeply moved by the beauty of the images I was seeing.

It wasn't the perfect beauty of the past, but beauty of a grittier sort. Even though her face was badly scarred, this angel somehow still conveyed that same combined sense of strength and sadness, power and helplessness, spirituality and humanity.

Maybe even more so.

The way she looks now ... it's like she gets it, she understands, she knows something about pain and damage, about scars and wounds, because she's been there. You get the impression that she can sympathize with the sadness and loss and tragedy that surrounds her, because she's seen it up close.

You know she knows how it feels.

You know she's felt the hard impact.

You can see it all over her beautiful face.