Sunday, January 29, 2006

That Takes Ovaries

This afternoon Mom and I met friends to see "That Takes Ovaries," a play at our local community college. Our entourage consisted of 3 men, 3 women.

The book of narratives that the play is based on, edited by Rivka Solomon, is probably one I'd enjoy. The play was tauted as
"a bold, gutsy, brazen, outrageous and courageous collection of real-life experiences and first-person dramatic narratives from women and girls. This 90-minute play is packed with true tales of estrogen-powered deeds that range from playful and sassy to political, including women fighting for their human rights."
It was all that, yes. Each actress did an amazing job of performing their assigned narrative. Some were hilarious and shocking: a woman confronting a burglar in her home wearing nothing but a t-shirt (no panties!) and reducing him to tears by shaming him with a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. Another tale of a young girl, who with her girlfriends, stops a long-time highschool ritual of the boys scoring 1-10 on each of their body parts as they walked by.

So, there were empowering tales and some heartbreaking tales. It was entertaining, and interesting. I laughed. I cried.

What I strongly did NOT like about the play, and about a lot of "women's empowerment" messages that we encounter, is that there was no tale in which any man was portrayed in a positive light. They were burglars, pimps, abusive boyfriends, abusive husbands with knives, guns and strength.

I was more than a little uncomfortable and embarrassed to have invited my male friends to a play in which the underlying secondary message seemed to be "men are shit." I'm positive that had the genders been switched in the play, if I'd had to listen to men tell tales of women portrayed only as catty, loose, nagging, money-grubbing shrew-bitches, I'd have stormed out in an indignant huff before the play's end.

There are a few women in my life that like to occasionally get on that "there are no good men" bandwagon: "they're sexist, they're pigs, they're never faithful..." and I'd like the Gentlemen in the room right now to know this: I have NEVER sat still for this blather. Though I'm usually one to sit back and quietly let idiots reveal themselves, I have to voice my opinion on theirs: "Hogwash!"

Sure, women have to empower themselves against the bad guys. Against unequal wages. Against sex discrimination. Abuse. Violence. But there's no reason to walk all over the good guys to find that empowerment. We have to also acknowledge, ladies, one other important fact:

Women sometimes have to empower themselves against other women.

There, I said it. Now THAT took ovaries!

Seriously, who among us hasn't been hurt or betrayed by a close or not-so-close female friend that should have been standing by us? I, and most of my female friends, at one point or another, have had to cut loose other women in our lives for our own sanity.

One close friend of mine chose to end a lifelong friendship after her children were repeatedly seriously injured by the other's children, with no repercussions, no end in sight. The friend spurned harassed her via telephone and doorbell, and went so far as to case the neighborhood and look in her windows during the day while the kids were napping.

A tough time for her; she was empowered by her female friends, and by her best male friend: her husband.

Men Hurt Women. Women Hurt Women. Men Hurt Men. Women Hurt Men.

But so also do we love and support one another. And maybe YOU can find empowerment on your own, and maybe I can too. But's it's sure a hell of a lot easier with a little wind under your wings from both your male and female friends.

So. To Mike, Atef, and Ilaiy:

Thanks for being such great men and such great friends. Thanks also for being such good sports this afternoon; it was for a good cause. I should have stayed for open mic and said all of this on stage.

An embarrasing story and a shoulder update

I was late in coming to the internet, I think; got my first home computer in '97 or so, and eased into surfing, posting, chatting. Once I got the hang of it, I made a few great friends, some of whom I'm still in contact with: Maria, Rob, Evelyn, Jane. I think I did a pretty good job of filtering out the forum/chat nutjobs, through the years.

Cautious, I am. At one point, through some message board or another, I began chatting with a local doctor. Humorous stories, a few email forwards, and conversation, as it will, turned into a more personal nature: He shared a few of his dating disasters with me, lamenting about patients fixing him up with daughters and nieces. I told him of planning the family vacation, had him brainstorm about a few affordable destinations. That was about the extent of it, but after laughing and yakking for a few months, he suggested we meet for coffee.

Hm. Married at the time, and having an 11-year-old kid, I didn't find the idea very appropriate, and declined the invitation. He eventually let me know that he found the correspondence a waste of time. No coffee, no e-mail, he said.

No skin off my teeth, though it did make me feel a little paranoid and immature; would coffee have been so bad? No matter, if I was uncomfortable, I was uncomfortable. End of story.

2 years later. A kickboxing aerobics class at Gold's gym, and OUCH! I irritated something in my hip. For 3 months I let it go, unable to make any sort of smooth transition from sitting to a standing position. After having enough of the creaky, painful starts, I went to see my family doctor.

She referred me to a local specialist.

Yes. The doctor I would not have coffee with. I felt a certain panic, when she mentioned "my" doctor, and asked her if there wasn't someone else she could send me to. But no. The only other doctor within my healthcare system was a 2-hour drive.

SO KIDDIES...just which underwear do you wear to see the doctor you wouldn't have coffee with? Yes, I had to meet him IN MY FREAKING UNDERPANTS!! I had to BEND OVER IN HIS FACE while he pushed around on my hip joints.

Did he recognize me, my name?

Duh, of course he did! HOW did we know one another, he asked, didn't he recognize my name? "Hiiiiiii, I thought it was you!!!"

Well, he was actually nothing but polite and professional, we caught up on each other's lives, I got the Rx I needed to reduce the inflammation in my hip, and then made Diane, my chaperone and moral support for the day, drive me straight to a pub for a beer. That was in 2001.

Ask my how my shoulder is.

X-rays have shown it to be an effect of arthritis in my neck (Mother pronounces it arthur-itis). An Rx relieved some of the symptoms for a minute there, but I got excited and declared myself better, and I've did overdid it; I spent the day on the couch today, back with the heat and ice.

My family practice doctor has offered one alternative, if this doesn't work:

She's referred me to a specialist for a cortisone shot in my neck.

Dammit all to hell.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Old Lady Ass-Kicking

Click here for a great laugh :

It's a phone call from a man in Texas who witnessed a car accident that involved 4 elderly women. It was so popular when they played it on CHUM FM radio station that they put it on their website...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chris Penn, 1962-2006

Chris Penn died today. We do not yet know the causes. Before the Hollywood Hub-bub breaks out, I'd like to get a word in.

We met 2 celebrities on a family vacation in Las Vegas, in 1999. One was Mohammad Ali. He was walking through the Bellagio with several bodyguards surrounding him. My son, then 13, and never having heard of Ali, accidentally sauntered into their path, and was startled as all get-out when one of the bodyguards yelled, "Don't Touch Him!!!" and sent him flying with an elbow.

It was somewhat comical, my poor kid getting the crap kicked out of him by the bodyguards of the World's Greatest Boxer.

But down the hall, then, we spotted Chris Penn. Brian told me, "that guy was in the Jackie Chan movie!!!"

We screwed up the courage to approach him, and we were met with the utmost kindness. Penn was warm and friendly. He talked with Brian, and didn't make us grovel for the photo we were dying to take. He saw the camera, saw an admiring little kid, and said "let's take a picture."

I almost don't want to read tomorrow's papers. This is what I will always remember of Mr. Chris Penn; he touched our family with his warmth and kindness. Let them say nothing that will make us forget that.

Faith: Disenchanted

You won't believe this. After going to Chicago Sunday, and having my purse returned to me, after walking through parking garages with fistfuls of money, after walking around dark streets in a strange neighborhood, and coming home safe and sound...

...Melissa had her wallet stolen yesterday, right out of her purse, she thinks right off of her desk in her workplace. 2 purchases were made with her cards before she could put a stop to it.

It really takes the wind out of your sails, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Faith, Reinforced

Sunday was Get The Heck Out of Dodge Day. By 9:30 in the morning, Melissa and I were screaming and laughing our way up I-57 on our way to Chicago. By noon we were sitting in a place called Ada's Famous Cafe & Deli, trying to decide on brunch or lunch before we engulfed ourselves in culture: Agenda for the day: The Art Institute.

After a little snack,

!!! A reuben sandwich at Ada's.

we schlepped to the museum, and spent the next 5 hours admiring art, and impressing everyone within earshot with insightful commentary such as "I don't get it."

By 6:00 we left the Institute with sore feet, sore backs, and a desperate need for hydration coffee and chocolate. We holed up in a window seat of a cafe for an hour or so of people watchin'.

I swear I'm trying to eliminate bathroom stories from my blog, but the topic just keeps coming up. Nothing graphic here, just a sidenote that Gent's was Out of Order, and a new generic "His & Hers" sign was taped over "Ladies." During my visit there, someone repeatedly rattled the door handle, causing me to rush through the handwashing. I opened the door and slid past a guy that seemed to be in a major hurry.

A few minutes later my restroom Evacuator approached me. He had my purse in his hand.

My purse. Credit cards. Money. Camera. All handed back to me on a silver platter by a knight in shining armor in the middle of the big city. What're the odds?

Melissa and I then headed back to the car. We'd parked in an automated garage, that required payment at a vending machine. We got off the elevator, and each stuck in $20 to cover the $24 bill. The machine started kicking out change in $1 bills.

$16 isn't that much money, but it sure looks like a lot when it's flying out of the machine a buck at a time, falling all over the floor. Melissa couldn't get a grip on all that dough, and was ass-end up, laughing and trying to gather it, when a man stepped off the elevator behind her. She had no idea he was there, and jumped when she straightened up. We scurried off into the garage... the wrong direction. And then in the wrong direction again. So, there we were, a couple of blondies lost and wandering around a city garage, carrying fistfuls of dollars.

We found the car, got in to count and find we were $3 short; we'd either been ripped off or we'd left a Hansel & Gretel trail to the car, where we sat and counted the money 3 times.

After that, we wandered off to unchartered territory, parked the car in a neighborhood strange to us, and walked to a cool sushi restaurant we'd spotted.

Melissa later recounted our day to her boyfriend, who *happens* to be a Cook County Sheriff.

His response, which I've been assured was spoken with a tone of laughter and love was: "You two are a criminal's wet dream."

Hey, I resemble that remark! I was completely aware of my surroundings at all times; remember, I wrote this last Fall.

All right, it is not lost on me that we were very lucky. I know that Sunday could have had a lot of different twists to it, leaving me to write a much different blog tonight. There was a lot of potential for a lot more disaster, some of which I out-and-out invited with my own absent-mindedness.

However, if I had the day to do over, I'd do everything the same--except for one thing. I'll bet you're thinking I'd have held on to my purse.

Nope. I'd lose the purse again.

What I'd do over, better, is to thank the man that returned it to me.

I'd thank him with proper enthusiasm; I'd give him a hug, instead of standing there slack-jawed in shock and blurping out a lame, "ohmigawd, thanks!"

I'd thank him for giving me the gift of once again experiencing appreciation and gratitude. Can we stop and feel those things too many times in our life?

I'd thank him for reinforcing my belief that people are inherently good.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Kids, my shoulder hurts. I've put it out. Kickboxing. Sleeping on it wrong. Or mousing too much. I don't actually have any idea what I've done, but I'll just share that I'm in such agony that I've made an appointment with my family doctor. Tuesday. 8:00 a.m.

That might not seem like much until I share with you the fact that I don't even HAVE a family doctor, that's how little I see a physician. Oh, I do the responsible Ob/GYN annual thang (sorry, gentlemen, TMI) but shoulders aren't her area of expertise.

In the meantime, I cannot turn a steering wheel, lift a chip to my mouth, or apply that mascara I bought 2 entries ago. I can't wear anything but a button-down, and when showering, I can't reach the other armpit. Imagine it: washing your left armpit with your left hand; I want to start making crazy chimpanzee noises and splitting open a banana.

Enough with the imagining, already. Times up!

Anyway, Blog Entries are bottle-necking in my head, and I'm taking notes with my left hand. Cross ya fingers that the doc will send me home with Ibuprofen, instead of an Rx for needles or knives.

Amen, miss ya, stay tuned, catch-ya-latah!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Lady of the House

Meet Sylvia: AKA Bilbia, Sylvinkia, Silvie, Silviebaby...anything but Sylvester, which is what Brian wanted to name her when we got her 15 years ago. I coerced him into settling for the feminine version.

So. Sylvia is 15 years old, 15 pounds, and lately, yakking up on the white carpets, that the idiots that lived here before me decided to install. Yakking more often than the average bear. Uh, cat.

So, she gets a new diet. I've always given her the best, but maybe it's time to revise. I went to the pet store tonight. My choices, for my cat: Science Diet Light, for the Overweight Cat. Science Diet Hair Ball Control. Science Diet Senior [Citizen, I call it], and Science Diet Sensitive Stomach.

Where in the hell is the "Science Diet I'm the Queen of this Household, Bee-otch, and You'll Spend $48 on My Delicacies and Then Go Fix Yourself 17-cent Ramen"?

Awww, look at her. I talked it over with the pet people, and we decided to mix the AARP and the sensitive tummy cat food, and so the total was only $23. She's worth it, the little snookums.

Oh. Gotta run, my noodles are boiling.

Fun Browsing

Artist's name: Penbender,
when I tried to find more about the artist's name, I met with a restricted page

If you're into toying with Photoshop at all, you'll love browsing There's are several different contests topics in which the masters present their work. This entry is from the "Mamsects & Insmals" competition. There is a ton of fun stuff on this site.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz Zebras

It is "slow season" in my company, and work hasn't trickled in since last Thursday. I am pretty good at occupying myself when faced with a day of staring at 4 cubicle walls.

Yesterday, I read your blogs. All of them, along with all of the comments. Then I read every blog that every blogger posted to. I looked at Lord Celery's wedding pictures. I watched Steve & Carol's Hanukah celebration on video-blogging (vlogging). Who are Steve and Carol? I have no idea, but I laughed along like I was one of the family. His Mother just kills me. I e-mailed. I dusted.

Today I got bored and took some pix of the studio. Here it is, with a painting that I did for the bossman at least 2 years ago. There was a photo of some zebras in this stance in some National Geographic or something, and he wished for a graphic painting. His dime, I say: He wants zebras, he gets zebras.

It looks like a fairly simple one to do, just one color and all, but it did cross my eyes at times. I finally had to stop and label the drawing like a paint by number, in order to make sure I was painting INSIDE the stripes instead of outside of them.

Anyway, the studio's cool, the easels are big, and wouldn't it be cool to have a setup like this at home? If the workload remains this slow, maybe I'll go tug on his sleeve, and head back there for a few days.

The studio

Da sink, in our now defunct darkroom

And at home, I'm slowly moving things in from the sunroom. The paints are thawed out, and seem no worse for the cold-air wear. I'm rearranging the house, looking for a place for the easel to stand. That's all I have to report from the homefront, regarding painting.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sundays with Mama, Vol. III

I was thinking, just yesterday, about how I've had little fodder for "Sundays with Mama." I even started to write a crazy memory from a year or so ago, with intentions of posting it tonight or tomorrow. As luck would have it, new fodder presented itself, on this Sunday.

First of all, I showed up today, as I do every Sunday, at noon, to pick her up for lunch. The screen door was locked so that I couldn't let myself in with my key. After a longer-than-usual wait outside, while I pounded on the door, and her pekinese, Buddy, barked his Little Buddy head off, my mother opened the door, in a daze.

She was still in pajamas with hilarious bedhead, and still in a sleep stupor. In so much of a stupor that she didn't mention that I'd just woken her, she just shuffled off to get dressed. I was actually initially alarmed, but then she explained that she'd been "partying" with my niece and nephew last night (ages 20 and 16) the mall, and then renting movies and watching them until ... well, today! Mom had pulled an all nighter!!!

So, while Wild Mom got herself together, I walked Buddy, went over her bills, flipped through the Sunday ads, used the "little girls" room...Hm. Interesting find in there; I came back out and met Mom in the kitchen. "Uh...Mom...what happened to the TP?"

She just stood at the counter, entirely composed...for several...seconds... I waited for an answer, with the maimed roll in my hands. She tried to wait me out, but a smile began to spread across her face. "It got chewed," she finally announced, very matter-of-factly.

"BY THE DOG?" I yelped! She broke into laughter then, saying "well, I didn't want to WASTE it!!!"

I was, by then, laughing also, but still incredulous. "Mother!" I chastised, "there is dog spit on this!! You can NOT touch your vagina with it!!"

"The V-word" is not really one that was ever spoken outloud in my parents' household, and my naughty brashness buckled her over the kitchen sink, laughing until tears rolled down her cheeks.

No exciting conclusion, as there rarely is with Tales of the Mother. I put the TP back long enough for a photo shoot, then slam dunked it into the garbage. We sped off for lunch and errands, still giggling.

It's funny: my mother has a quiet, hilarious way about her. An understated hilarity, that makes you laugh your ass off while you're with her, but after, you can't, for your life, remember what had been so funny that afternoon.

I am extremely happy to be writing this stuff here.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mall Rat Day

I went to the mall today. For mascara, of course; thanks for all of your advice from the last post. I try to avoid the mall, but Mom & Pop mascara just hasn't been working out for me. (Blink, blink..bat-bat-bat.)

Today's observations:

The Limited had a BIG, BIG sale. Last week, the sale was 50% off. THIS week, the big big sale: Buy one, get one free.

Only they're selling the first one at the original price. So, instead of $18 for 1 sweater, they are now 2 for $36. Wow. What a bargain. Do they think we're stu--oh, wait, we ARE stupid consumers, and their job is to trick us into buying their product. Fine. Still... I want to boycott them just for their marketing department's lack of imagination. C'mon! Trick me!


It's that time of year when winter catches up with my dry skin, and I'm desperate for a good, heavy, gooey, oily moisturizer. I screwed up the gumption to step into The Bath & Body Works.

Fending off the clerks in this place is worse than ducking plaid-panted salesmen in your local used car lot. There are girls stationed every 4 feet to hand you a basket, offering their help, fluffing you with glitter powder, and ticking off the sales, which are anyway posted on signs in 30-inch intervals. It's just soap and lotion, how much help can I possibly need?!!

I have a suggestion that will cut down on this customer harassment: After I encounter the first clerk in the store, and listen to this week's sales, then she can slap a sticker on my forehead that says "she's just looking." Then let me shop in peace.

Today's promo: Buy $25 worth, get a canvas tote bag with sample products in it for only $15 more dollars. "A $125 value for only $15," the sign said.

$125 value?!! Look, if I'm to get a $125 value for only $15, you can keep your ugly canvas bag, and spot me any of these things: a small television with a built-in DVD player, a decent calphalon stock pot, 6 bottles of wine, my power bill, (for months other than December), the suede coat that I keep waiting to go on sale. I know! Just give me $125; hell, knock $25 off of that, I'm feeling generous.


My final observation:

I do not, for the record, consider myself a prudish sort, but I have to admit I raised my eyebrows more than once at little girls in high-heeled shoes, and make-up. I'm not talking about adolescent or "pre-teen" girls, I'm talking about LITTLE girls, girls that won't even be considering a training bra until the year 2011.

When I was purchasing mascara, a woman stopped with her little daughter and let her try on some eye shadow and lipstick. Ok, it's fun to do girly stuff, they were just playing. Cool. But I later spotted a little girl, 5 at the oldest, wearing high-heeled shoes, jeans with gold studs all over them, and a sequined gold shrug over a cropped top.

Another girl in front of me at Bath & Body, about 7 or 8 years old, had jeans tucked into knee-high platform boots that had heavy chains around the ankles. Big, heavy, biker-goth-style boots.

These are just 2 of many I noticed. Hmmmm...

I know it's fun to dress up your babies. I'm "guilty" of letting my son choose to get his ear pierced when he was only 10 years old, after properly educating him and warning him of possible judgment of some small-minded midwesterners. I took slack for that, and so did Brian, but he was prepared and unconcerned.

Is it a complete double standard then, that seeing little girls with lipstick, cropped tops, and high heels totally creeps me out? I want to approach the parents of these kids and say "what in the hell are you thinking? Haven't you seen Pretty Baby? It's your responsibility to decide at what age your daughter can start experimenting with this look, and...and...and...well, I say she's too young! She's SIX! She should have a milk mustache--not Revlon 8-hour China-Red--on her lips! Give her a ponytail and some keds!!!"

Lord, I'm turning into a sensible-shoed, old fart schoolmarm.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Random Thoughts & Photos

Random Thoughts

  1. Can anyone recommend the world's greatest mascara? Really. Comment or e-mail me immediately.
  2. Same goes for a body moisturizer.
  3. Mary Janes require entirely too much attention to socks.
Random Photos
[Click on the photos for an enlarged view.]

1. Here's a "snap" I took Sunday afternoon. I'm feeling smug about it's cuteness--look at that little popped balloon that just happened to match the bike's color! And someone out there already wants to frame it, how great is THAT?

2. I've heard rumors about this guy for some time, and so went out hunting for him Sunday afternoon. This is the fun kind of stuff I think up to take Mother to do: Cemetary Photography.


I'm not sure what drove me to believe that a "dusk" pic would be a better one, but I actually went back to that the country...while the sun was going down...FAST. Look, it was creepy as hell: I left the car door open, the car running, dashed out for my pix, and ran back to the car with my heart beating against my breastbone. Oh, grow up! The daytime pix were better, but not does this head make ya feel?

3. I accompanied a friend to PetSmart the other day, and got bored of conversation algae: brown vs. green. I wandered around and found this naughty chew toy. I don't know what else to say.

4. Multiply this star by about 40 million, and you'll have the a bedspread that my mother crocheted for my Great Aunt Evelyn in the mid 70s. A few years ago, Aunt Ev decided that GodForbid anything happen to her, the spread should be returned to my mother. Mother begifted it to my for my 40th birthday.

Mind you, this is not a "coverlet"; it is a bedspread that will cover a kingsize bed to the floor on all sides. It is enormous and beautiful, and currently encased in an Amish-made glass and oak case in my home.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Demise of "I can't"

This is the last installment of pieces past for now. Others may trickle in, but for now I'm going to just get on with it.

The frog is my first painting, in the year 2000. After building a new place, my employer built a studio in a large storage room. He had our maintenance guy build some easels, stocked us up with paints, and, when our slow season fell upon us, said, "have at it, folks!"

I'm embarrassed to admit that I told him "Thanks but no thanks" for the first 2 years. I would have nothing to do with it. "I can't paint," I told him. It was sheer boredom that finally sent me to the easel, and this is what emerged. I was...well, rather astonished. I guess I CAN paint, if I apply myself. I've had something in the works ever since, in a lame sort of way.

I am contemplating my next project. I AM going to be a contributing artist in this year's Artist Against Aids charity event.

And you'll be hearing more soon! Thanks for ya support, friends!

Donning My Red Bra of Courage...

You may or may not have noticed that in my profile, I categorize myself as an "artist." Those that know me will agree, with major frustration, that I am a rather Apologetic Artist.

THIS is what I plan to overcome, this year.

Starting now.

I have always been able to draw anything I can see, and with any medium. Though my skills increased with classes, a basic technical knowledge of perspective and proportion, and practice, the ability to place image-to-paper has always come naturally to me.

Some Boring History

My first "real" drawing, of a hummingbird, was wrought over envy at friend Dan Smith, when I was 12 years old. I wanted to do that; I wanted to excel; I wanted to compete. Mostly, though, I wanted the attention.

Huh! Easy! I was in direct competition with Dan for the next 7 years, always managing to squeak by with the a slightly higher award, though his work was better than mine.

There is a nationwide program called The Scholastic Art Competition. "Back in the day," the highest award you could attain was a "Hallmark;" 5 were awarded in each state. After leap-frogging and edging one another out since 6th grade, Dan and I ribbed each other constantly in our last year of school: last chance for the Hallmark. In that graduating year, 1981, the unthinkable happened: 2 of the 5 Hallmarks were awarded to one high school: Dan Smith. Lori Stewart.

I left school that day before my art teacher was able to contact me with the good news. My mother was giddy and dancing around the house when I got home. She thrust the newspaper in my face. There, on the front page, was my award-winning drawing....

And I was MORTified, dahlings! This was not one of my advanced art projects! This was one of my 10-minute drawings, of which we were required to turn in 5 a week. My art teacher had submitted it behind my back! This drawing was SHIT, I thought, and good god, here it was on the freakin' front page for god and the whole world to see! I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Instead, I was then forced to go thru a series of awards ceremonies, dinners, a day touring the U of I art classes, more photos, and exhibitions.

I look at it now, and I realize, it wasn't so bad. I had higher hopes for other entries, and couldn't see that the 10-minute drawing had any merit.

So. Life after high school, as life does, took a series of twists and turns, that involved some art, some college. I got a job doing what I went to school to learn, dropped out of college, and have been doing some semblance of art or art-related projects, layout, and design, for publishing companies, and for myself, since then. 1 son, 1 foster daughter, 2 husbands, (not in that order) 6 houses, 2 cats, lots of laughter, a few tears...and 25 years later... I am.

Read my lips:

I am Returning to Art.

And the first thing on my agenda is to shed this Mental Hurdle, this self-doubt and degradation of my work, that has lovingly stayed by my side through it all.

For all of my ability to put something on paper, I still doubt myself. I say, "I can't" and "it's not good enough." I panic, quit early, have lost some of my attention span. That I actually HAVE managed to produce a few nice things has been of little consequence, for some reason. I shrug them off as a stroke of luck, a fluke.

How'm I ever going to get over this?

Well, I'm just going to do it!

To start out, I am going to post some of my drawings and paintings now, and over the next few days.

I don't need your commentary so much as I need to take this step. Really, what's the point of having a God-given talent and squirreling it away out of shyness?

So! I am going to share a few pieces with you, and then I'm going to get back to getting back where I left off. I WILL keep you posted.

Click on each piece for a more detailed view. I'm going to go lie down now. All of this courage is wearing me out.

Acrylic on masonite.

Bittersweet. Prismacolor Pencils.


Brush & ink.



Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pee, Nuts, and Roundabout Compliments

Melissa and I went out to dinner Friday night. I haven't figured out why dinner with anyone else costs about $12, but dinner with Melissa always comes to about $48,000,000. We met for gumbo and a salad a week before christmas, and with a glass of wine each, the bill with tip came to $58.

Last night we had tapas. 2 endive leaves each with a mayo slapped on, 1 scallop each, 3 cubes of tuna, and 3 shrimp scampi's each. Overall, we found the food bland, but each time the waiter returned, we told him everything was fine.

We opted to split a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Something went awry in the kitchen; we gave our cake a little push and it fell into a pile of chocolate potting soil.

Give her drab dressing and tasteless tuna, but I am warning you, do NOT mess with Melissa's chocolate. When the waiter asked us how the dessert was, she smilingly said, "awful." She said it in such a cheerful tone that he replied, "I can't tell if you're being serious." She wiped that smile off her face and graciously, but very pointedly, explained that perhaps someone had microwaved the desert for too long.

In the end, the chef tried it, agreed with Melissa, and took the cake off the menu for the night. After the price of the dessert was taken off the bill, our bite-sized dinner came to an even $70.

We just have a knack.

After dinner, we went to a local pub, where beer and peanuts were in abundance. As luck would have it, Melissa found the world's biggest peanut, which, after a few beers is hilarious good fortune. Mel was very possessive about her Guinness-book-worthy peanut; "It's MINE" she exclaimed, "and I'm taking it home!"*

Well, it got to be 11:00, which is late for us old folks, and we decided to head on home. As we stood to gather on our coats, a man approached me and said, "I just have to tell you that my friend over there that thinks you're gorgeous; he's too shy to tell you himself."

Really?!! Someone thinks I'm gorgeous? Who? Where?

Melissa chimed in immediately: "Look at my peanut!"

While they got about figuring out how many peanuts made up the length of Melissa's peanut, our new friend continued, "No, seriously. He thinks you're gorgeous! In fact, here's exactly what he said: He SAID, [now get this] that 6 or 7 other men could look at you and not see a thing, but if they watched carefully, they'd realize how beautiful you are."

I cracked up. What do ya say? I'm in no hurry to hear a "Lori's Gorgeous" case that entails a list of reasons the 7 other guys would look right through me. Let's just take a few more peanut photos and quit while we're ahead.

As Mel and I headed out, laughing our butts off, I lamented that I am the Queen of Receiving Roundabout Compliments.

Still laughing, she insists I am not. "Oh, HUH!" I tell her, even last week while I had dinner with her and L.A. Lori, I remind her, they both commented on how great my hair looked...


Nothing's funnier than the truth; we were doubled over laughing, until Melissa peed her pants. And just for that hair comment, and because she keeps telling me that I'm the sweet one of the group, no matter how I tell her what a Bad-Ass I really am, I'm going to post THIS picture, of Mel checking the laughter-damage.

Oh YEAH! Who's sweet NOW, girlfriend? BWA-ha-ha! Woot-Woot!

[P.S.: When we going out next for some $100 mac n cheese?]

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fairy GodKarma

Each year, I attend a fundraiser called Artist's Against Aids. Painters, weavers, jewelers, sculptures, and other artists submit their works, and donate a percentage of the sales to the cause.

Last year, there was a piece at the fundraiser that I LOVED. I am not a frivolous shopper, and am willing to let my house sit stark until something really grabs me, even if it takes years. I'd rather have nothing than something I don't want, and I can wait it out.

That evening, I came back to this piece, an abstract, of oil pastels, time and again. I met and complimented the starving artist that created the painting. "How much is it worth to you?" he asked me. I told him I'd sleep on it.

Despite returning 2 more days of the show to look at it, in the end, I just didn't feel like I could afford it...the price was more than the lawnmower I needed to buy. Priorities. Rats.

Ahh... That painting, that one that got away...

...That painting came back into my life last night.

When I look back now, I feel like I must have stumbled on a magic lamp, and wish after wish is mine to be had.

I see now, that the ball started rolling almost immediately toward where I am today. Shortly after that show, my friend Ilaiy introduced me to a "very nice couple" he'd met at the coffee shop, Marcy and Mike. My first impression of them was that they were stunning and sophisticated. Well, they were all that AND wacky and fun as hell, and loving and loyal friends. How we managed to filter out those that were too weird, and those not weird enough, and settle on each other, PerfectWeird, is beyond me. Lucky us, I say!

This summer, I also "met" Melissa. Actually, I'd been acquainted with her for several years, we "share" a best friend, Lori, now living in Los Angeles. Melissa recently divorced, and Lori gave us a call, alllllll the way from California, and said, "why don't you two get the hell out of your respective houses and go drink some damned beers, and bat your eyes at some boys?" We did, and we have done nothing but laugh since then.... She is adventurous and decisive, and her inner strength inspires me. We have incorporated "WWMD?" into our vocabulary, when we can't make up our minds. (Actually, it's "WFMD?")

Sometime later, Marcy and Mike introduced me to a colorful new character that had joined the coffee table. Bizarre. Energetic. Challenging. Did "we" like him? The jury was cautious for a minute there. It turned out, that we did indeed like one Mr. Atef Ayadi, a crazy Tunisian with a degree in physics, but a desire to live off of his art. Atef, who claims he has not a brain, but a blue-eyed frog in his head, and that he thinks with his toes. Atef, also a loyal and loving friend, with a desire to protect all of us.

And Atef: The starving artist that I complimented at last years' Artist Against Aids fundraiser.

He showed up last night to share pizza and pool with all of us, including my son and a friend. And he brought to me, The Painting. It was my birthday gift from him.

How can this painting be in my life by coincidence? Yes, I feel like I've had a wish granted. Only my wish was granted with a stipulation that I follow a destined path for one year, one that would take me through a labyrinth filled with fierce friends, laughter, protection, loyalty, support, motivation, and encouragement. Then I get my wish.

And the painting is here now. And I'm going to hang it right over there, and let it represent the transitions of the last year, the friends I've made, and the paths we are to follow in the next year.

I will hang it there, and let it be, and if there are magic wishes left in it, they are yours for the taking.

If you give me a magic painting, I will squeeze the stuffing out of you.

Fluff du Jour

Now that I'm writing about these, I find I'm really still as speechless as I was when I stumbled across them. They are, as the sign says Pee & Poo toys. Click on that link, and you can even buy some very sexy temporary tattoos. I didn't see any scratch-n-sniff products, so you're safe there.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year's Obsessions

New Years' Resolutions. Every year, mine's the same:

Drink More Water.

I don't think I get in my 48 oz. a day. I've don't really monitor it, but I'm sure I can do better.

That's it, drink the water. But, also, as I am every year at this time, I am ready to restore a little order in my life. It is time to hunker down and behave myself: put the credit cards in the freezer, pitch the sugarplums, and buy some carrots, take a walk.

I *am* feeling a bit like the Michelin man after all of the holiday gluttony, and it's not doing a lot for my outlook. It's time to get back on track, nutrionally and physically, and I intend to make as little fanfare about it as possible. I know the routine: chicken, fish & vegetables.

And hit the streets. I read an article in which a doctor stated that she constantly hears women saying, "I've been thinking about walking." Her response: "What's to think about?! Put on your shoes and walk!" Well, all right!

Promises for no fanfare aside, I still have to share this with you. I was browsing through the January Readers' Digest the other day, and came across an article, entitled 50 Habits of Naturally Thin People. "You just adopt some tricks naturally lean people do," the blurb reads.

There are a few common-sense tips that are in every GetFit article, such as switch from regular soda to diet soda, (duh) watch your serving sizes...blah blah blah. However, there was a heck of a lot of mindless drivel in the article, and since I've done wasted my brain cells on it, I insist you do too.

Check these out:
  • While you brush your teeth, alternate standing on one leg as you switch mouth quadrants (every 30 seconds).

Thin people! Do you really brush your teeth standing on one leg, or is that a tip only for flamingos brushing their teeth? Have you ever even THOUGHT about your mouth being sectioned off in quadrants?

  • Anytime you're waiting in line, stand evenly on both feet, clasp hands behind your back and squeeze shoulder blades together to open your chest, an energizing yoga-based move that stimulates the nervous system.

I have a big fat picture of the eye-rolling I'd do if some chickadee sets her milk down in the grocery store and starts doing yoga in front of me. Really, tell me you wouldn't find her a little obsessive.

This one just kills me:

  • When you're grocery shopping or running errands, wear a backpack with a 5- or 10-pound bag of sugar inside to increase resistance and burn more calories.

Imagine it. Run to the post office, get out of the car, strap on your sugar-pack, get some stamps, take OFF the sugar pack, drive to Walgreens, get out of the car, strap on your sugar-pack, pick up toothpaste. And why are the bees so thick this time of year, and how did I get ants in my car?

  • Tone in traffic! ... Squeeze your derriere each time you tap the brake, holding for 10 seconds. Shoot for 10 to 15 squeezes a trip.

So much for mindfulness awareness while driving. Answer the phone, adjust the radio, brake, squuh-heeeeze those cheeks together, hit that 10-second timer, keep track of the repetitions, WATCH OUT FOR THAT Aurghhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Why don't we just let Toonces drive? I say skip the derriere driving, and do a kegel every time you Ctrl+S.

We use e-mail so much we've forgotten what our co-workers look like. Pick a colleague or two who sits farthest from you and deliver 10 of those daily messages in person.

If the person that sits farthest away from me at work ever get wind of this great idea, I will personally seek out the author of this article and kick her in the shins.

[Instead of chocolate, eat] reduced-calorie Jell-O chocolate pudding.... Eat it with a baby spoon to savor it longer.

And here I've been using a shovel.

  • Shop till the pounds drop! At the mall, try on at least ten outfits, both pants and shirts. No need to buy!

Seriously, was she stoned when she wrote this article?

Was it lost on the author that anyone that that eats with baby utensils, runs a lap around the house for every piece of junk mail received, carries a 10-lb bag of sugar on their back, or joins the church choir just to burn 70 calories on a Sunday morning in order to stay thin is NOT "naturally" thin, but a bit on the obsessive-compulsive side? Is it not a bit irresponsible to insinuate, if even just with the title of the article. that thin people just DO these things?

OR. Or, or, OR, am I missing the boat, and you naturally thin people really DO incorporate these habits into your life?!

Are you shaking your heads and whispering "Well. I didn't want to be the one to bring it up, but it's no WONDER she's 20 pounds overweight, she's not even carrying sugar! Have you seen her brush her teeth? Two feet! She stands on BOTH feet when she brushes her teeth! You can't feel sorry for her, if she's not going to brake & squeeze. There's nothing you can do, it has to be her decision."

Well. Pass the carrots, I'm over it.

*Get a Clue art by Hugh MacLeod,

(Thanks Andy)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006: Let's Get This Party Started!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I rang in 2006 with great friends, wearing feather tiara's and popping streamers and dancing around the dining room. Before the hooting and hollering died down, there was a cake with a match in it, and everyone was singing happy birthday. To me! A surprise, an early celebration, as one of us has to hit the road tomorrow for a business trip (Vegas, yeah, right, business), and didn't want to miss out on any b-day fanfare. (I'm not telling you when it is.)

That was the beginning of my busy day. I slept some, had a little lunch and shopping with Mom, and then joined Ilaiy to help him prepare for his Vegas trip. That means, primarily, that I was bequeathed all of the fantastic home-cooked Indian food that won't survive his 2-week absence. In exchange for cilantro chicken and goan fish, like Mama used to make, I helped shop for sundries, and harped about what all he should not forget to pack. Look, I will nag for food!

I just have to share the Amusing Encounter Du Jour, then:

While erranding, we ducked into a sparsely-populated Walgreens to buy a camera battery. I don't know which music was being piped in, but it had a good fun beat to it, and on the way up to the check out, which was empty except for a bored-looking young man standing at the register, we started dancing.

We sashayed up to the counter, and continued to dance around. The clerk got a slow smile on his face, put down the plastic bag he was opening for us, and joined right in, dancing and shakin' it behind the counter. He started laughing, and said, "oh, you guys makin' me feel so dance-ful!"

A laugh and a dance! I can't think of a better way to start and finish the first day of this new year.

I wish you all a Danceful 2006.