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

Lost In a Living Dance

 

Spring has sprung, people. It’s hit near 90 degrees already and since 80 is the new 70, I expect to be getting the vapors any minute now. Such is life in La-La Land.

 

OMD at The Wiltern

 

Anyhoo – I’ve got music on the brain! And here are the 3 creatives holding my attention of late…

 

OMD – This one is easy, because Mister and I just saw them live. I had seen them back in the ’80s, but this was Mister’s first OMD concert. They did not disappoint, y’all, and I think they were just as good as when I saw them – gulp – over 30 years ago. So giving to their audience, so appreciative of being able to do what they clearly love, such camaraderie on that stage. It was a real treat to see them.

 

Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel – This one is easy, too, because Janelle Monae is so friggin’ awesome, I can hardly stand it. I’ve been listening to this song on a loop and I’m still not over it. Now before anyone says something about her trying to emulate Prince, know that this is a song honoring His Purple Highness, and Prince was a mentor of sorts to Ms. Monae. Rumors abound that Prince was even involved with this track before his death. Whatever the truth may be on that one, I do believe Prince would have been proud of this song and of Janelle Monae. I love the song. I love her. Mean it.

 

Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland – Copland, as creator of this beautiful music, may very well be my favorite composer. (Like colors, my mind changes on this fave from whim to whim and today Mr. Copland is tops.) This suite of music has moved me from curiosity to joy to blubbering, on more than one occasion. When I listen to it, I usually find myself seeking solitude at some point, so that I can cry in isolation. It is that perfect. Since the calendar rolled over to this new season, I haven’t yet allowed myself the privilege of hearing it anew. That time has come.

 

It will probably take a while for me to get Janelle Monae out of my system. And then I’ll surely return to it from time to time, just as I do the works of OMD and Copland’s masterpiece. That’s one of the great pleasures of music – renewal. It comes around in our lives and even though we’ve known each note for years, it feels and sounds fresh. Alive. New. Pretty much like spring itself. I am lost in a living dance…

 

Spring in Los Angeles

Glennon Doyle

 

 

I just received a beautiful video from Glennon Doyle. I don’t know her or anything, but I do follow her and the work she does.

 

The video is about the students who are leading the way toward sanity in our gun-crazed country. It’s truth. It’s sad. It’s inspiring. It’s real.

Soul Sparks

 

Joy

 

This month. Hmm.

 

I was going to start this post with dark thoughts. Thoughts about all but giving up on my country. Thoughts about being ashamed of people who’ve chosen to forfeit their moral compasses. Thoughts about the fear of where America is headed. But then I switched gears and read some things on the interwebz, watched a few videos and chose a different mood for myself.

 

Erica Buist had this to say on her insta-account: “Why not just ban guns and when people are upset about it, just send them thoughts and prayers? If ‘thoughts and prayers’ are good enough for people who’ve lost their families then it’s good enough for people who’ve lost their guns.” Ms. Buist has spoken truth to power here. She is also a bad-ass.

 

Scott-Dani Pappalardo posted a video of himself destroying an AR-15 rifle. Not only is Mr. Pappalardo a registered gun owner and proponent of the 2nd amendment, he is also someone possessing decency and common sense.

 

And then there are the kids. God bless the kids! Too many children in this country have been lost to gun violence. Too many survivors have witnessed it up-close. Thank all the gods, the kids are now making their voices heard. On March 24th, there will be an organized show of common-sense, can’t-wait-another-moment support for gun control. The “March For Our Lives” is planned to take place in Washington DC and in cities across the country. (I’ve even read about marches around the globe. Fingers crossed and thanks to those who haven’t given up on us here in the US! We need your support!) As many have pointed out, these young people may be mere teenagers now, but a lot of them will be old enough to vote in 2020. (I’m counting on these kids to register to vote and then to actually do it!) Every single politician who has accepted dirty NRA contributions should be scared as hell. If you look at this single issue, it’s incredibly easy to discern which elected officials are with us and which are against us. At the rate we’re being murdered in this country, there is no time to be wasted when it comes to gun control. And any politician who tries to talk his way out of this one doesn’t deserve another chance.

 

So. This month. I’m hanging in there. I’m trying to grab on to hope, where I can, when I can. It ain’t easy. And I don’t always win my personal battles. Some days I feel nearly broken and struggle to find even a shred of joy. But I still believe there are more decent folks than not. And the spark in my soul is still glimmering. Every little bit of positive momentum helps. Every time someone chooses to be an honorable human, I find myself exhaling into love.

 

We’ve lost a lot here in the States. There may be more pain ahead. More struggle. But I’m not giving up. Nor should you. Those of us who’ve held on to our decency will continue to show up for one another. Personally, I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday with the “March For Our Lives.” Supporting others whose soul sparks continue to glimmer is going to be an honor. Hope I see you out there.

My Own Personal Hell

 

Construction

 

Have you ever had one of those days (weeks, months) where you’re just trying to get shit done, but your whole house is shaking because of the construction going on next door, and you keep having to move things from counter and shelf edges to keep them from falling to the floor and breaking, and the noise is so freaking loud that you suddenly realize your heart is racing and you’re starting to feel physically unwell, but those rat-bastards are gonna keep at it until it’s dark, only to start again the next morning – probably earlier than allowed by law, and it’s been going on for so long (a couple of years) that you’re starting to think you may actually have died and are now doing time in hell, and this is your life now, for all eternity?

 

No? Oh. This is clearly my own personal hell then. Be grateful it isn’t yours.

Strangers

 

Love

 

During the month of February, 12 years ago, I sold my first CD to a stranger. I know this because it was such a pleasant surprise, at the time, that I scribbled a note about it in my then-current calendar. When it came time to transfer significant dates to the next year’s calendar (things like International Talk Like a Pirate Day and Tom Baker‘s birthday), I took that little note along. And I’ve done so each year since.

 

I just got an accounting of digital music sales and it was lovely. Not for the money (of which there was barely enough for a beer), but for the information contained in the report. Canada, Japan, the UK – all were shown as places of downloads of my little songs. It really made me smile and reminded me of that day, 12 years ago, when someone I never met paid for my musical art. My heart really needed that boost this week. And I’m so grateful the world gifted me with that sweet energy.

 

Though the world doesn’t know it, I still carry dreams and ambitions for music. I have plans (that shall remain private for now), I have hopes. I have many new songs. I have the soul of a creator. Denying it doesn’t change the fact. It only gets me down. So I don’t deny it. I own it. I practice voice training and work on songs. I paint things I want to look at. I weld art for my own home. I cook good food to savor and share. I create, when and where I can. If I don’t, my soul shrinks. That’s no good for me, and when I’m not good to myself, I’m of little use in the world. And just as I cannot deny my need for the best me I can be, I also cannot deny the fact that the world needs me to show up every day. To be a good human. A good citizen. A good artist. You know what I’m talking about, I imagine, because you know that the world needs you, too. Desperately.

 

So – this month. I endeavor to move toward creativity, with kindness and purpose. I endeavor to love deeply. I endeavor to be the best me I can. And I do it with gratitude for the global souls – strangers – who have reminded me how it feels to be appreciated. My heart overflows…

Los Angeles Women’s March 2018

 

Womens March 2018 - Still Protesting

 

The day after our ridiculously inept, single-party-led government failed to keep the lights on (way to go, fuck-sticks), I and 600,000 of my tribe got together in downtown Los Angeles for a march. We numbered about 150,000 fewer than last year’s march, but we still felt mighty. And so we were.

 

Womens March 2018 - 5 Girls on the Subway

 

Mister and I again took the subway down for this year’s march. But unlike last year, we started early. We did this because it was a flippin’ nightmare boarding a too-crowded train last year, and we wanted to maybe not be all up in someone’s breathing space during the hella-rough flu season we’re having. And, we wanted to relax. The early departure worked. We were comfortable and even met these 5 lovely teens, with their awesome signs. A couple of them are on the verge of voting status. I’m counting on them to show up at the polls in November.

 

Womens March 2018 - Breakfast of Champions

 

Since we arrived downtown with time to spare, Mister and I headed over to Grand Central Market for some breakfast. And some beer. Because, you know, we’re grown. Then we moseyed toward the designated gathering area.

 

Womens March 2018 - DTLA

 

Without meaning to, we found ourselves immobile in just about the same spot as last year, near the march’s starting place in Pershing Square. I had a brief moment when the immense crowd began to overwhelm me, but I looked up at the sky and tried to dig deep. I pulled myself together, toughed it out and stayed strong. A dude nearby wasn’t so lucky. He had an anxiety attack and hit the bricks. Nearby folks did all they could for him, and he seemed to be coming around after a while. Once the crowd started moving toward City Hall, the guy looked much better.

 

Womens March 2018 - Wild Feminist

 

Like last year, the mood was peaceful. Some signs were funny. Some were terribly sad in their honesty. The crowd was mostly female, but all comers were welcomed and plenty of males attended. I was happy to see so many fathers there with their young daughters.

 

Womens March 2018 - A Patriotic Pink Panther

 

After morning turned to afternoon, Mister and I did something we did not manage last year: we met up with friends. And it was lovely. Then we all made our way to our respective homes and collapsed. Well – that’s what Mister and I did anyway.

 

Women March 2018 - Vaginas Will Vote You Out

 

Only after we got home did we hear our numbers. Only then did we hear that, like last year, no arrests were reported. It had been peaceful. It had been powerful. It had been inspirational. I and my tribe will be focusing on getting out the vote during the coming year. We’re so completely over the racists and the sexists and the bullies and the liars and the cheaters and the predators and every other ugly asshole out there. I heard Samantha Bee say something about how women are like elephants in that we never forget. She’s right. We don’t. We won’t. And we are absolutely pissed off. We’re also more hopeful than ever before, and more committed to bringing about change than the assholes can even imagine. I would say to the incompetent prigs running for re-election “you’ve been warned,” but they’re too superior to listen.

 

Womens March 2018 - Womb Tang Clan

 

Those November mid-terms… Can’t hardly wait.

 

Womens March 2018 - Dog in a Pussy Hat

Bloom

 

Sometimes when I’m out walking, I look around and marvel at how great Los Angeles can be. Our sweet neighborhoods hold every type of house and mostly good people. I love seeing what folks have done to their homes and how they deal with drought in their landscaping. Mostly, I enjoy this city when I’m out walking. I lay claim to it, and it lays claim to me.

 

Road Closed

 

But not always. Los Angeles, like a lot of the country, is injured. And I’m not talking about nature, with her drought and fire damage. I’m referring to our staggering homeless population and city policies that have contributed to it. Rubber-stamping high-priced developments continues to diminish affordable housing here. Hell – the bunkers going up by our home wiped out the character-filled, affordable homes that once added to our neighborhood. The ugly-ass structures now towering over our street leave me wondering which hideous box will serve as the local fall-out shelter. (They really are that heinous, y’all.) And the unprofessional, callous behavior of the developers themselves is appalling. But I guess they donate to the right campaigns, as they continue to enjoy free rein in this town, regardless of their conduct or product.

 

It’s “development” like what’s taking place in our neighborhood that is tarnishing my adopted hometown. Now, when I walk around, I see the cracks. I see the failures of our leaders and the trickle-down effect. The photo above captures this perfectly. When the powers that be dump on their constituents, the constituents dump on their surroundings. It ain’t right and I don’t like it. But there’s no denying it’s happening. And no matter how sweet the neighborhood, no one is immune.

 

I’m trying hard to remember to bloom where I’m planted. And I am definitely planted, y’all. Today – like every day – will find a busload of arriving souls, starry-eyed and hopeful for dreams of L.A. And for her part, Los Angeles will deliver what she can. But she’s not perfect, and those who govern her are as flawed as anyone can be. So while those of us who choose to plant ourselves here get great weather, we also get the weight of the city. And for as long as we remain, we must carry it. That isn’t new. I’ve known that since day 1. It’s just that sometimes, well, it’s hard to bloom where you’re planted when the bloom is off the rose.

So Long, Sucky Year. Hello Hope!

 

Happy New Year!

 

Many, many years ago, while living in Boston, I walked along Newbury Street and passed a homeless lady. She was a regular in that area, and I was used to seeing her on that block. As I walked by, she sang out, “Help the homeless! And happy fucking Mother’s Day.” It did, in fact, happen to be Mother’s Day, so her chant wasn’t terribly odd. I did find it to be terribly funny, though, and I’ve never forgotten it.

 

I bring that up now because in my mind, I’m singing, “Happy New Year! And happy fucking Mother’s Day.” You’re welcome.

 

Seriously – it’s finally here. That god-awful 20-and-17 is behind us. Personally – I’m hopeful. Last year was ugly and depressing. Truth be told, the ugly hasn’t gone away. But at least now I know about it. We all know. And knowing is good, y’all. We know what we’re up against. And we can choose to be better than those who continue to choose ignorance. Better makes me hopeful. Better makes me smile. It’s the right choice for me, and I sincerely hope it is for you, too.

 

As for that homeless lady in Boston, I remember crossing her path on another day. It was summer, and my friend Beaver, who was wearing shorts, was walking close to the lady. As Beaver passed her, the homeless lady looked at Beaver and loudly said, “Ha. I’ve seen better legs on a piano.” You’re welcome for that one, too.

 

Happy New Year.

 

And happy fucking Mother’s Day.

Merry Christmas, Y’all!

 

Wanted to send out sweet wishes for a Merry Christmas. So-Cal style…

 

Palm Tree Rudolph - Made by Gwendlyn