Elevensies

 

4th Day_Highgate Cemetery West_Entrance_Phone Photo

 

New month.

 

It is entirely possible I have loads to say about that. It is likely I won’t share my thoughts – here – on the subject. That I’ll just ride it out like everyone else. Those in my immediate vicinity will surely have to endure my opinions, but I’m not new to them and they knew I was a cross-dressing pirate when they met me. Ahem…

 

I’m finally getting through the photos of Mister’s and my summer trip to the UK. We saw art in public places, which sometimes tickled and sometimes intrigued. Sometimes both…

 

1st Night_Elephant Statue during taxi ride_SB Phone Photo

 

We attended a Gin class. I’m okay with gin, but Mister is keen on it. My notes from the class mean nothing to anyone but me. I’m sure the notes of others were far more informed and detailed. I’m good with that…

 

2nd Night_Gin Master Class_Phone Photo_Notes

 

We saw both of the Harry Potter plays. In one day. I’m still processing. The stage craft was amazing and I can only tell you that magic is real…

 

3rd Day_Harry Potter and the Cursed Child_Outside_After_Phone Photo

 

We went on a cemetery tour. Lord knows I love a good cemetery and Highgate West is a doozy. (Many thanks to Drunken Bunny for hipping me to the place.) I would very much like to live there. Now. While I’m still kicking…

 

4th Day_Highgate Cemetery West_Egyptian Gateway_Phone Photo

 

We saw the Christo installation in Hyde Park. I’ve missed a few other Christo installations in the past, in various places. I was so happy to make this one in person…

 

4th Day_Hyde Park_Christo and a Queens Swan

 

We traipsed about the British Museum. The hours we spent there weren’t nearly enough to see all that’s available. I guess we’ll just have to go back…

 

5th Day_British Museum 2C

 

And then we took our asses to Scotland. Still working on those pics, and I won’t lie – the task is wearing on me. Who knew photographic evidence of travels could be so overwhelming? In case you’re thinking, “But Mikki – you’ve only shown a few photos here. What’s the hubbub, Bub?” Well, I’ll tell ya. You’re seeing only a few of the thousands of photos being processed. So cut me some slack, Jack. Dag.

 

But don’t misconstrue. I’m not feeling pitiful. I have great music in the headphones and cooler weather surrounding me while I work. I’m feeling creatively inspired and downright hopeful. Next week’s elections may put a tremendous damper on that, but not today. Today I welcome Elevensies, a whole new month. Right this way, folks…

 

5th Day_British Museum_Ancient Hand

Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

 

The other night I was at this thing at my ladies club, a sort of mixer, and there was this ice-breaker game. This gist of it was this – upon entering, each attendee had a sticker placed on her back. She couldn’t see it, but others could. Each sticker had an image (likeness) and description of a woman of note. Some were recent (Rosa Parks, Queen Elizabeth II) and some were ancient (Sappho, Eleanor of Aquitaine). The wearer of the sticker asked yes/no questions of other attendees, in order to try and figure out who was on her damn back. It was fairly simple. How hard could it be?

 

When that sticker was slapped on my back and the game was explained, I immediately declared that unless the broad over my shoulder was T-Swift, I was unlikely to figure out shit. It was a joke, of course, but it was also kind of true. I don’t necessarily have a clue about, well, anything. Let me cut right to it. I wasn’t excited about this game. But I’m a go-er. So I did my best to encourage others to ask questions, to involve and engage them and make them feel welcomed at the club. That was not only easy for me, but fun. But wouldn’t you know it – there were other people there who also wanted to involve and engage others. That means they turned to me and put me in the hot seat.

 

As a friendly introvert, social stuff takes a certain amount of energy. And that usually means stress is involved. I’m a grown-ass woman, though, so I can generally muster the strength and deliver the goods. At least I think that’s the case.

 

Anyhoo – once I chilled the hell out, I went for it.

 

Living or dead? Dead. I liked that.

 

European? Yes.

 

World of literature? Yes.

 

The UK? No.

 

France? Yes.

 

And so I asked, “Am I Simone De Beauvoir?”

 

Yes. I freaking was.

 

Simone De Beauvoir

Low Country Paintings

 

As if there weren’t enough weight in this world, the dire news of our climate crisis has now landed. But we already knew this, right? I mean – a person would have to be a complete fucktard to deny this science, right? Right.

 

For a while now, I’ve been obsessed with the eastern United States’ Low Country. Something about the area’s beauty has gripped me. Fear of it disappearing forever swirls, too. And I’ve been working on a series of paintings featuring my own visions of the Low Country…

 

Low Country Peace

 

This one came first, and it’s my favorite.

 

2 Low Country Paintings

 

These two little paintings were next. I want to go to there.

 

Low Country

 

This one caused me grief. It just didn’t want to cooperate and I nearly drop-kicked the canvas more than once. Then my sweet friend Gwendelyn suggested I change one simple angle and it made all the difference. Go figure.

 

The thing about these paintings, for me, is the uncertainty of what’s going on. Is a storm a-comin’? Or are the clouds clearing out? I suppose it depends on the mood of the viewer. Speaking for this viewer, there seems to be a never-ending storm on the horizon.

 

And yet, still, no rain.

Summer in the Rear View

 

Mikki in a Mirror

 

Another summer has passed and I’m not sure I’ve anything to show for it. It wasn’t wasted, mind you, but I can’t claim to have bettered myself. Honestly – if I weren’t writing this post, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. But when you take an assessment, details – or the lack thereof – become apparent.

 

Happy Birthday, Gwendlyn!

 

On one fine summer day, my friend Gwendelyn persuaded me to go register voters with her, south of L.A. She does this on a regular basis, because she’s a giver. But me? Not so much. It takes a lot of energy for me to interact with strangers and as I’ve been dealing with a fair level of anxiety for the past few years, I’m reluctant to engage with people I don’t know. But Gwendelyn is persistent. And she’s one of my very favorite souls, so I agreed to accompany her. In a very red part of the state. (I’m a proud liberal, don’t you know.) So there we were, trying to get people to give a damn, and Gwendelyn was dealing with more than her share of push-back from people who didn’t seem too thrilled with her Obama t-shirt. I was wearing one, too, but for some reason, the flack seemed reserved for my friend. And then it was my turn. I asked some passersby if they were registered to vote and a lady looked my way and said, “You’re on the wrong team!” I don’t know what possessed me, but without skipping a beat I responded, “Oh – as Americans, I thought we were all on the same team.” The lady stopped walking, looked at me, stammered a bit, and when she was unable to come up with a reply, she turned and walked away. That was the worst of it. Otherwise, it was a fine way to spend a Wednesday. And you’ll never catch me complaining about being with my friend. She really is that awesome.

 

Gwendelyn Cake Topper

 

Speaking of Gwendelyn, that girl went and got hitched to a swell guy this summer. As she’s an amazingly creative person, she wanted something a little different for her wedding cake. So she and her fella got themselves duplicated and then she and I built a mighty fine cake topper. I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to make. And I think she and her Mister really liked it.

 

Pool Rules

 

There were more pool days than I can remember. A lot of them ran together, though, as Mister and I took it upon ourselves to scrape the tiles surrounding the top of the pool. All 1500+ of them. I don’t know how many years of mineral build-up there was, but we addressed all of it – by hand. We finished the task just as the summer was ending and the water temperature was dropping to an unsavory level, making it too cold to swim. It was a lot of work, but I’m glad it’s done.

 

You're Never Too Old...

 

Physical Therapy was a constant for me all summer, due to some tearing in my shoulder. My range of motion has definitely improved, and that’s a very good thing. The cringe-worthy pain has finally gone – thank all the gods. A little remains, however, and I still can’t move my shoulder as fully as I’d like, but I’m working on it. This particular injury has forced me to acknowledge my age in a way I hadn’t previously. Healing is so much slower now. And that sucks, friends. No doubt about it. But I’ll tell ya – I’ve seen some folks in PT that aren’t doing so well, so I’ll take what I can get. Really.

 

London Concert Day - Happy Anniversary - Photo by Mister

 

Mister and I had a big, fat anniversary along the way and we celebrated in London and Edinburgh. I’ll work on sharing some of that in a later post, as some of the sights, sounds and experiences seem worthy. But for now, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it was an awesome trip.

 

Mikki Dancing

 

This is definitely an abridged version of my summer. Some of that’s because I don’t keep a damn calendar for all of damned time, like a damned freak (ahem, dammit). Some of it’s due to my knowing that most of my summer was of interest to exactly one person – me. And even then, sometimes, not so much. But you know what? I still had fun here and there. I can honestly say that there were a few times I laughed so much, I cried. It’s been a while, y’all. Joy has been a bit of a stranger in my little world. To have her visit, and to assert herself, well, it was a gift. I’m hoping for more of that. Always hoping, at least…

 

Dancers Hearts

I Believe Her

I Believe Her

Ahoy!

 

Pirate

 

It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, mateys! What does that mean to you? Nothing. But it sure is fun to throw some pirate lingo around once in a while.

 

I’m just sayin’.

Half In The Dark

 

Just a quick catch-up… Sorry. Sometimes I find I have John Oliver on the brain. (If that makes no sense, too bad for you.)

 

Aretha Franklin. For a while now, I’ve been drunk on her version of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Now it seems more poignant. More important. And I adore it.

 

Because I love, love, love Kate Bush, the gods gave me this video of Big Boi, referencing her work. Right to the end, it is everything I love about music and how it can (and should) be universal.

 

I’m stuck on repeat of a playlist of mostly ’80s songs and it’s fortifying my soul. I will never apologize nor regret it. Same for a playlist of slow jams. Both lists go damn well with a glass by my side.

 

I recently finished a first draft of – something. Maybe it’s a book, maybe not. Today, I just don’t know. I’m just giving it some breathing room and trying to love me for getting it out at all.

 

I’ve started writing songs again. (Well – I’ve started writing a song – singular.) That’s a big freaking deal. Honestly – I love me for that, too.

 

Looking over this list, I see a lot of love present. Hmm. The world can jack me up sometimes. So I hide. Okay. But I can’t hide from me.

 

It’s good to be back, even if I’m still half in the dark.

 

Hallelujah.

 

Shadows

Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette”

 

The other night I watched “Nanette” on Netflix. It’s billed as a stand-up special from Australian Comic Hannah Gadsby. I had heard she tied art history into her routine and I was intrigued. I like art. I like history. I like comedy. Win-win-win.

 

When I tell people to seek out “The Babadook” because it’s a deep, philosophical take on traditional horror films, I’m not wrong. But to suggest it is merely a deep, philosophical take is bullshit on my part. It’s scary. It’s supposed to be, granted, but my underselling that aspect is still bullshit. I’m telling you this because for anyone to tell you “Nanette” is merely a stand-up special is also bullshit. It’s funny, yes. But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s only funny. Because it isn’t.

 

And I’m wrenched by that. I knew while I was watching “Nanette” that I was bearing witness to something daring. Something smart and moving. And yes, something funny. Gadsby’s humor is intelligent and biting. And I loved that part of this special. But I also loved how honest and real “Nanette” is. It broke me. It actually left me sobbing, friends. Gadsby somehow touched on all the colors of my soul, the lights and the darks. Honestly – I can’t remember any comic ever moving me the way Hannah Gadsby did with her “Nanette.”

 

When I finished watching, I turned to Mister and said, “That may have been the best TED talk I’ve seen in recent memory.” And it was. It is. I’m telling you this, not to discourage you from watching, but precisely because I think you should watch “Nanette.” I just want you to know that if you do, you’re in for so much more than comedy. Your funny bone will be tickled. But don’t be surprised if your heart cracks open a bit, too. That’s nothing to fear. It’s just the ache of making room for more love.

 

How I wish everyone could feel that ache.

Living With an OCD Ghost

 

I’ve been open about the fact (fact!) that Mister and I live with a ghost. Miss Harmon is mostly laid-back, but once in a while she becomes a wee bit assertive. When that happens, we I do my best to acknowledge her and send some attention her way. It mostly works, and peace is generally kept.

 

With Miss Harmon, it’s easy. With other ghosts, not so much. In working through the nut-job bullshit that makes up my life, I very often forget just how many ghosts are floating around in my psyche, futzing about and causing a general ruckus. Sometimes the ruckus is anything but general, and I lose whatever weak grip I have on my sanity and only when I remember the root causes of my thinking/feeling/hurting, am I able to cease wobbling and find some semblance of balance. Ghosts. They’re little assholes sometimes.

 

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I want to share a recent Miss Harmon experience, as that broad can be a little persnickety. Case in point – when an orchid plant in the house reached the time of dropping its blossoms, logic would have seen said blossoms falling randomly to the floor. But when Mister and I found the withered blooms, they had been arranged in a perfect arc. I don’t have any idea why that was necessary, but I don’t have to know. That’s Miss Harmon’s business. I just have to clean up her messes. Like I said – little asshole.

 

Living With a Very Particular Ghost

It’s Not a Perfect System

 

Actual Quote From George W. Bush

 

So many people have reached out, asking about my goings-on, my well-being, that I feel a response is due on my part. And that’s not easy for me. On the one hand, absolutely nothing is going on. On the other hand…

 

Mikki and an Art Show

 

While trying to create new art, I was also recently one of the featured artists in a local show. It was good for me to participate in the event, to interact with friends and strangers alike. It’s also good for me to tackle new works. I’m elbow-deep in a painting now that is so Mikki. It requires hours of taping, layers of planning and is a logistical quagmire. For some reason, that appeals to me and brings me contentment.

 

Art Show

 

I’ve also figured out how to build floating frames for my work and that has been incredibly fulfilling. I learned quite a bit at a framing class, but the logistics of floating frames wasn’t covered, so I had to rely on my own ingenuity and mechanical mind to suss the sitch. I don’t mind telling you – I nailed it.

 

Physical Therapy

 

While trying to wrap my head around my body’s aging, I’m also undergoing physical therapy for an injury. I’d love to tell you I hurt myself playing footie (World Cup fever abounds in our home), or while throwing down in a late-night dance battle on the streets of Los Angeles, but the truth is much more boring: I hurt my shoulder while shoveling rocks. It’s true. Rocks. The repetition and the weight were more than my body could bear. And so now I’m dealing with a humerus that doesn’t seat itself correctly in its joint, which is anything but humorous. The pain is sometimes enough to make me cry. And for now, I just have to ride it out. I’m not on pain meds, but I am on ice packs. And booze. Those things help a bit. I’ll take what help I can get.

 

Vonnegut

 

When not wringing my hands over how terrifying “The Handmaid’s Tale” is in relation to our fucked-up world, I’m re-reading an old Kurt Vonnegut book, Cat’s Cradle. I saw it on the shelf and was drawn to it. I don’t often re-read books, but I think following my gut on this one is a good choice.

 

Mikki and a Blurry Tony Bourdain

 

Depression is heavily at play for me these days. The injury, the sorry state of my country… Some days are almost too much to handle. When the world adds another log to the desperate fire of my soul, I struggle more than I can say. The recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain was one such weight. I didn’t know the man or anything, but I did appreciate the hell out of him. Watching the final two episodes of “Parts Unknown” was heartbreaking. I don’t know why, but I believe I’ve not yet shed my last tear for Mr. Bourdain. I can’t explain why his death has hit me so hard. It just has.

 

Panda Cake

 

Sometimes I’m able to avoid the news. Sometimes. I was able to distract myself with a young cousin’s first birthday party. And that was a gift. Watching the little guy eat his panda cake was a reminder that not everything is bad. Remembering that simple fact can lead to noticing other good things in the world.

 

Mikki in Pretty Shoes

 

Like wearing pretty shoes.

 

Mikki At JPL

 

Or spending an afternoon with science-loving geeks at JPL.

 

Strawberry Moon

 

Or gazing up at a Strawberry moon, with Saturn’s glow nearby.

 

Families Belong Together Rally

 

And yesterday I attended a local “Families Belong Together” rally. The crowd had full hearts and positive energy. Even though I was quietly crying through most of it, I was reminded of hope.

 

Families Belong Together Rally - Migration is Beautiful

 

There is good in the world. The hate-filled, ignorant, fearful masses can’t do a damn thing to change that. They can’t eliminate beauty. Or hope. Or love. On good days, I simply feel sorry for them, the haters. (They really are a pitiful group of pathetic souls.) On other days…

 

I struggle. I’m trying, but I don’t always prevail in my attempts. Truth is, I’m upside down right now. The shadows and weight can be downright awful. If I had no inkling of how sublime life can be, I might not know how far down I’ve gotten. But I have walked in the light. I do know the pleasure of joy. And this ain’t it.

 

These are some of the reasons I’m out of touch. Why I’m in mostly silent mode. Trying to practice self-care is taking more from me than I can sometimes spare. And so I pull back from the world. I try to preserve precious energy. To protect my fragile heart. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best I can do right now. And for the record, I am doing. I know me. I’ll keep doing, keep going. Not for you or for anyone else, but for me. Yes.

 

Highgate Cemetery - Fallen Angel copy