Intersections

 

Bathing Beauties

 

Mister and I recently watched “Marwencol” and it left me, well, fucked up.

 

For those who don’t know, this 2010 documentary is about Mark Hogancamp and the world he has created. He was just an ordinary dude until some assholes beat the crap out of him. After that, Hogancamp found he had lost his memory. It’s far more detrimental and detailed than I’m telling (so please go to the link above and read for yourself), but the documentary is quite lovely in explaining the story. It also gives the viewer an eye into the art Hogancamp is now known for making. There’s a new drama out currently (“Welcome to Marwen“), based on Hogancamp’s story, but I’ve not seen it. I got lucky. I was at a different fabulous documentary screening last month (“Kusama: Infinity“) and the director advised attendees to see “Marwencol” before seeing the dramatization. Boy was she right.

 

But back to the fucked-up part. “Marwencol” is amazing. The intersection of art, real life and fantasy shown in the film overwhelmed me. I want to say it was a good thing, but I’m not sure. I mean – it really rattled my brain, y’all. It led me to see that I don’t have much of a clue about the intersections of my own life. That even though I try to stay on my path, I am lost more often than I care to admit. That my path doesn’t come with a map. “Marwencol” hit me pretty hard. I’m working through the triggered feelings, but I think this might stay with me for a while.

 

In trying to ease my mind and soul along, I thought maybe I should take in some art, live and in-person. So I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. I freaking love this place. It’s quite accessible and a gal can get through the displayed collection in one outing. I’ve been there a few times recently, and my affection for the place continues to grow.

 

"Tiptoe Down to Art" by Hassel Smith - 1950

 

On this day, my soul fell into a painting and I needed to sit for a while. Hassel Smith’s “Tiptoe Down to Art” grabbed hold and I was done for. The colors seemed to hold me, warmly. The texture stroked my spirit. I spent a good twenty minutes studying this piece and I’m quite certain I still missed obvious aspects. I wish I could tell you why it moved me so, but I have no idea. It simply did. I smiled some, cried some. And when I stood to go, I looked over my shoulder, one last time. I may have to visit it again.

 

"Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece" by Guariento di Arpo - 1344

 

I was listening to music while walking around the museum, and when I got to Guariento di Arpo’s “Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece,” I again found I needed to sit. This time it was Laura Cantrell’s fault. Her song – “Bees” – came through my ear buds and it zapped me. Though the song/album is dedicated to John Peel, I found it astounding how well-suited the lyrics were to the various panels of di Arpo’s work. My eyes moved over the piece, settling on a new aspect with each line of the song. At some point, I actually imagined Jesus missing bees. I’m not kidding. With the song’s final words, “My time is short now, I feel it coming, I’ll see you darling on the other side,” I looked up and saw Jesus on a cross and was awed by the meshing. I was in that shit and it was powerful. When the song ended, I took it as my cue to mosey.

 

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just wandering around. I also wasn’t listening for anything in particular. The playlist keeping me company holds close to 200 songs and was set to random play. It wasn’t odd or even interesting that a Dido song came up in the rotation. Except that it was. For just as the song began, I rounded a corner and saw this…

 

The Legend of Dido

 

The exhibit was lovely. It had nothing to do with the music in my ears, but it made me smile. The gods enjoy a little humor from time to time. This time it was relatively banal, but it was appreciated just the same.

 

After a while, I walked out to the garden. I figured it was my last chance to get some clarity. I searched, but found none.

 

"Reclining Figure" by Henry Moore - 1956-60

 

“Marwencol” really did a number on me. Good art is like that. Sometimes we are centered enough to understand its effects. Sometimes not. I’m feeling a mixture of both right now and may be dealing with the resonance for some time. There’s a lot of life swirling in my mind and in my soul. That’s just who I am. How I am. It’s true I don’t have a map. I often don’t have a clue. But I keep going. That’s also who I am, how I am. I can’t imagine being any other way.

Dry-uary

 

This is the 4th day of Dry-uary for Mister and me. We’ve been doing this for a few years now and it’s okie dokie. We don’t drink (or do anything else, ahem) the entire month and in the end, our livers thank us. For the most part, we stick with it. There have been a few times when an emergency shot of bourbon was necessary – for medicinal purposes of course – but that’s about it. It sounds boring, I know, but I really do feel better after January. And then I’m a freaking light-weight! Bonus!

 

Enjoy This Lifepg

 

I saw this sidewalk graffiti yesterday while out walking. I tend to the optimistic side of things, but always appreciate when the world reminds me where my bread is buttered.

 

I also had my first Elvis sighting of the year yesterday. Now I see Elvis quite often at the grocery store. (We shop the same aisles, don’t you know.) But this was an entirely different part of town and an entirely different Elvis. The King’s birthday is next week, so I’ll keep an eye out for him around town. You never know.

 

Aside from that, I salute this day. I want to celebrate it, to honor it, to enjoy it. Today is my life. And it is good.

Bubye 2018

 

Bubye 2018

 

Most people I know are ready to toss 2018 into the wood chipper. Here in the States, among people with a modicum of integrity, the past year is viewed for the poo-show it was. Good riddance.

 

But there were glimmers of vitality and joy. Just the other night I danced my ass off and that was definitely a highlight. Not only that, but when I sat and watched other party-goers tear up the dance floor, I felt a joy bubble burst in my brain hole and just about smiled myself to death.

 

Rodin at the Norton Simon Museum

 

I saw amazing art, locally…

 

4th Day_Hyde Park_Christo and a Queens Swan

 

and abroad.

 

Sunset in December

 

The Los Angeles sunsets brought ridiculous awe and wonder to my front door. Thank you smog!

 

Bentley My Lover Dog

 

I got to visit with a dog I adore. Only this time he decided to show his love for me by going to town on my leg. As this is very uncommon for this well-behaved soul, I think his affection may be due to a past-life experience. Maybe Bentley and I were lovers in another time. I do hail from white trash, so maybe there’s some dog in my lineage. Whatever the reason, it was unexpected and not cool, dog.

 

Desert Respite

 

Mister and I had a desert respite. It was fun and restful and beautiful and we got to see dear friends. Win-win, y’all.

 

Blindfold Puzzle

 

While in the desert, I witnessed my friend SJ assemble a puzzle while blindfolded. Yep. She discerned which side of each piece was up while blindfolded. She separated side and interior pieces while blindfolded. Then she put the mutha together and it didn’t take very long. I love this gal for a lot of reasons. And now I love her even more.

 

Beer Advent Finished

 

Mister and I finished our Beer Advent Calendar, and we had a blast doing it. All those German beers were a treat. And the cans look so amazing on the mantel. As we don’t live in a frat house, they’ll be coming down today, however. That’s alright. We enjoyed them while they lasted.

 

I got through the first draft of part two of the book I’m writing, and as my goal was to get it out of my head before the year’s end, I’m feeling pretty good about that. Miles to go, of course, but still. Sometimes baby steps are incredibly fulfilling.

 

Mikki and Lorinda 2003

 

I also reconnected with someone I love more than butter. If you know a soul who seems to be part of the fiber of your being, then you can appreciate how I feel about this chick. She’s woven into me. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Gratitude abounds.

 

2018 was a janky year, I won’t deny. But there were moments that stood out, moments that made a difference. And I want to do all I can to make even more stand-out moments come to life this year. It won’t be easy, y’all. My country is still being slowly destroyed by the worst president in history. Jackasses around the globe are discriminating against human souls in more ways than I can comprehend. Our environment seems to be dying. And don’t get me started on gender issues. Honestly – it’s enough to break a person. I know a few folks who have fallen so deeply into depression that they may not make it back. I’m not kidding. That’s heartbreaking.

 

But! I’m not ready to give up. In fact, I’m just getting started. You want a piece of me, 2019? Bring it on. I’m your worst nightmare – a Club 50, optimistic, brave, excited creator. And I’m about to make this year my bitch. Here we go…

 

Happy New Year!

 

This Beautiful Ride Called Living

 

Christmas Cheer!

 

How the hell did it get to be December already?

 

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just surprised. And honestly, I enjoyed November so much I wasn’t quite ready to see it go. I didn’t enjoy all of it. The fires were terribly awful. And then there was that one crazy thing that happened, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Mostly, it was a pretty good month.

 

The Broad Mikki Outside

 

A couple of weeks ago, Mister and I spent an afternoon at The Broad and it was aces. For some reason, I thought there was a new Ed Ruscha exhibit and I was all hopped up about it. Only we got to the museum and I was hopping for no reason. There were a few new-to-me pieces on view, and those pieces were awesome, but my expectations were not met. Not by Ruscha. But then we wandered into an installation of Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors and I no longer wanted to hop, as I was floating. If you’re in L.A. and get the chance, please go. I cried through a smile so big, my cheeks still ache.

 

Ed Ruscha Works at The Broad

 

After the museum visit, we walked toward the train and found this young man on the sidewalk…

 

The Broad Poems for Sale

 

I immediately started digging in my pockets for cash, as there was no way I was gonna pass by a guy with a typewriter, selling poems, and not make a purchase. I didn’t get the feeling Jacob was one for talking too much, so our interaction was mostly limited to transaction…

 

The Broad I Bought a Poem

 

The very next day, I walked from DTLA…

 

DTLA_11.17.2018

 

 

to Santa Monica.

 

Wendy and Mikki at Sunset

 

Because I can. And because why the hell not? And because I had two friends along and one of them is a freaking light in the universe and the other was celebrating her actual birthday.

 

Route 66 Wendy and Amy

 

Hey – there’s nothing like a 17-mile stroll to make you feel young. This was my 3rd time participating in The Great L.A. Walk (GLAW) and I have to say – it was my personal best. No blisters or crazy soreness after. I felt pretty damned good, in fact. It was a beautiful day, the walk was smooth and the company couldn’t be beat. There was also that moment when we crossed paths with Bono (for reals). This is L.A. Shit like that happens.

 

The Broad - Metro Station

 

Before I tell you this next part, I’d like you to remember that I am fine and safe. I mean – I’m typing this and all is well. Um-kay? Okay. After the walk and subsequent GLAW celebrations had ended, when I took the train home from Santa Monica, there was … an incident. A young woman on the train was being harassed by a dude and it was one of those moments when you have to decide if you’re gonna be a stand-up person or not and all I could hope was that if I had to stand up for the woman that others would stand with me. The train was crowded and a whole lot of us were all too aware of the situation and again, I just hoped decency would prevail.

 

This particular young woman was seated directly in front of me, as our seats were in an L-shaped arrangement. Next to her was a young dude who, for whatever reason, decided to lean against and talk to the young woman. Never mind the fact that she was wearing gi-normous headphones and clearly not interested in talking to him. She tried pointing at the headphones, as if to indicate she couldn’t hear him. He was not deterred. After leaning against her for a bit, the dude stood up and – no shit – took off his shirt. Like that was in any way attractive. Or normal. Then he began leaning against her again.

 

Someone seated next to me moved and the young woman immediately asked if she could sit beside me. I nodded and she moved to my side. I leaned slightly toward her and removed one side of my headphones. She removed one side of hers. I said, “I’ve got your back.” She said, “Thank you.” We put our headphones in place and tried to act as if nothing was going on, all the while keeping watch on the dude three feet in front of us.

 

He began shuffling things around in the bags he had brought on the train, and that’s when he pulled out a knife. He held it in his hands and looked it over, turning it to admire the blade. That blade appeared to be around 8 to 10 inches. The dude just held it, studying it, and the young woman turned to me, terror on her face and I said to her, “Okay. You go.” She moved between people, ending up somewhere behind me on the train. I had already looked for the car’s emergency call switch and located it – behind the dude with the knife. That was out, as it would have put me in direct contact with him. I was holding my phone and as the train was still above ground and I had service, I called 911. I cupped my hand over the phone, to try and make myself audible over the train’s noise. I smiled and laughed a bit while talking with the emergency operator, trying to appear as if all was right in my little world. I gave as much information as I could and was told police would be boarding at the next stop. I told myself to breathe deeply.

 

The next stop came and went, y’all. No police. The dude was still one seat away. I thought maybe the next stop would bring help. Or the next one. Or the next. When the train moved beneath the city, I knew I could no longer call anyone for help as my phone service had ended. I was the closest person to the dude now and I was just trying to keep it together, hoping we’d pull into that last station without something going terribly wrong. All I could do was wait. That was all any of us could do.

 

When we reached the final stop, passengers were hustling to get the hell out of there. I stood calmly, picked up my pack and walked to the exit. Once I stepped off the train, I saw around 15 uniformed officers. I made eye contact with one and pointed toward the dude. About 3 of the officers nodded and headed into the train car.

 

Now – I needed to transfer to a different line to get home, but fear had caused me to just about pee myself. So I walked upstairs to a fabulous, familiar restaurant. The first person I saw was a busboy. I walked up to him, in my sweaty walking clothes and said, “I’m not here to order anything. I have been here many times and I love this place. But I just had a terrifying moment on a train and I really need to calm down in your ladies room.” That guy sweetly smiled and said, “Sure! Right this way…” and he walked me back to the loos. I think I peed for twenty minutes, then splashed some water on my face. I headed back downstairs to catch my train.

 

As I was walking down the escalator, my phone rang. It was one of the on-scene officers. He asked me some follow-up questions and I answered. I told him I was coming back to board a train and could talk in-person if he wanted. He acknowledged seeing me and suggested we keep it on the phone, so that I wouldn’t be identified during the arrest taking place nearby. I didn’t argue. I told the officer I had seen the dude place the knife in one particular bag. He said, “Oh – we found the knife and everything else.” Da fuh? Our conversation ended and I got on the next train headed my way.

 

I can’t tell you how fast my brain was processing everything around me that night. Where were my exits? Where was the emergency call button? What was the train car ID number? The upcoming stop? Why the fuck was this happening at all? And why was it happening after I’d walked 18 miles and needed some friggin’ sleep? But my brain did process. And I somehow stayed calm. I wasn’t called upon to fight anyone or to put out a fire or to be a hero. I was simply being a human in this city. My city. I did my part.

 

I didn’t see the young woman again, the one who’d been subjected to harassment and terror. I hoped she would be okay. As for me, I rode that second train to my stop, where Mister was waiting to pick me up and drive me home. I was safe. Tired and frazzled, too, but definitely safe.

 

Some of you reading this will admonish me for ever taking the train at all. Some of you will tell me to avoid crowded places, to shelter and hide from the dangers of the world. I get where you’re coming from. I do. But I’m not ready to give up this beautiful ride called Living. Not yet. I’m not ready to miss out on unexpected art. Or an introverted poet on the street. Or Bono, for cry-eye. I’m also not ready to give up being there for someone who’s decided to accomplish something on her birthday. Or someone who needs a stranger to have her back. Or Bono, for cry-eye. I mean – come on.

 

The world can be crazy. And parts of it have gone bat-shit mad, I admit. But in my city, the good still outweighs the bad. And I intend to do all I can to maintain that balance. That includes Living my Life. For as long as I’m able. God knows, I love being alive.

 

Yes.

 

Love

November Sunsets

 

Sunset on Thanksgiving

 

This is a photo of the sunset on Thanksgiving night. Mister and I were at the home of friends in Santa Monica, and we all took a stroll after our al fresco dinner. Mister had fried a turkey for the table and the bounty was amazing.

 

We’re entering that time of year when our sunsets come earlier and earlier. May they all follow lovely days. This one certainly did.

My Lower-cased life

 

On Friday morning, I took this photo in Santa Monica, looking north toward Malibu.

 

Fire Up The Coast

 

At that point, the fires had been burning overnight and not dying down. I say fires – plural – because Los Angeles is dealing with multiple burn areas. As of this writing, none of them are slowing and fire fighters are struggling to achieve any containment.

 

After snapping the pic, I went into my friend’s place for a painting session. Turned out my friend was providing shelter for a family who had been forced to evacuate their home due to the fires. I’d met this family before, so they were familiar to me. The kids joined in during the painting session and that bit of time was fun. Ordinary. The kids didn’t seem to have any cares and all was right with the world. Later, when I talked to their mom, it became clear that she didn’t know if their home was intact or not. She couldn’t find out much of anything and just had to wait. And wait.

 

The fires have exploded now and though I live in an area that isn’t in danger, the smell of smoke is everywhere. I’ve heard from other friends who’ve had to evacuate and for so many people – so many friends – waiting is all they can do.

 

I was supposed to go beach-camping this weekend, up the coast. The fires put an end to those plans. I’m okay with that because Life isn’t about my plans. Lower-case l is my world, not upper-case L. That world is bigger than how I roll my eyes when I’m out of half-and-half for my coffee. It’s bigger than how I wonder where I might get take-out when I don’t want to cook dinner. Or how I have to wait to buy shoes, until they’re on sale. Or how I sometimes have to choose one social event over another, because I’m too lazy to attend multiple outings. My lower-cased life is pretty damned good. I have struggles and pains and wants and disappointments and still… My house is standing. My middle-aged health is tenable. My will is strong. Pretty damned good.

 

More and more people are being displaced by the fires. Lives have been lost. Property, too. Folks are doing their best to get through this, to survive. Some are even managing to shield their children from the uncertainty, to help them to see this day as being as ordinary as any other. I’m amazed.

 

Wendy Friend on Painting Day 2

Hold for Annette

 

Yesterday I was in a bookstore – an honest to goodness bookstore – and I looked over at a display and saw a book with a sticky note attached:

 

Hold for Annette

 

I picked up the book, thumbed through it and had myself some legit laughs. Turns out, that Grumpy Cat is a hoot.

 

But I wondered about the attached note. Just who was Annette? And why was that book supposed to be held for her?

 

I wanted to buy the book, if only to fuck with Annette. But the check-out line was ridiculously long, so I put the book back where I’d found it. Good news for Annette, I guess.

 

But I did decide that I kind of like Annette’s idea of putting sticky notes on things, to hold them for her. And I’m thinking I might start carrying a bunch of prepared notes around with me, so that I can place them on various things I might want at some point in time. So if you see an item with a sticky note on it reading “Hold for Annette,” you’ll know your pal Mikki was there. Or maybe Annette. I mean really.

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

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.