I have been stupid productive this last couple of weeks. No – really. I’ve made a set of spring scarves and gotten them up on Etsy, I’ve redesigned the Doublebunny store, done a ton of art, written some press releases, finished fundraising* for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and issued a venue challenge for it, done some writing for a pet project with a good friend, led a collage workshop, put down the bones for a website for another pet project, and did I mention, I’ve made a ton of art? I’ve made a ton of art.

I blame it on Edward James Olmos. Well, the Admiral.

See, I got home from a fantastic retreat feeling energized, and reading Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life, which I had picked up while away. When I hit the part about focus, I sorta lost my shit for a week, and everything started to fall apart as I thought myself into a corner.

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If an eavesdropping stranger told you that the project that you are working on full-time and hardcore right now, the project that’s your baby, the project that you’re longing to see come to fruition, that is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning to work on, is doomed to failure, would it take the wind out of your sails?

Or if someone you trust told you that you weren’t clear enough about what you wanted for the project, and maybe people just don’t get it, so that’s why they’re not taking part.  Or if you realize that your current reach is that of a t-rex, and you, clearly an otherwise impressive beast, are waving your tiny little arms in the air, and no one is really seeing you, because, you know, tiny little arms. Or no one is looking, because, you know, dinosaur.

Would it slay you?

Here’s the truth: I’m not stopping.

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Sister Corita nailed it:

Thinking about road tripping to Pittsburgh or Cleveland this spring.

Hello, I am returned – Ta-DA!

Last week was amazing. I spent five days in the Berkshires, taking a collage and yoga workshop with amazing women and an amazing teacher, learning and playing, cutting and piecing, and having a bit of a reunion.

It wasn’t just a reunion with other people, tho’ that part was pretty great, too – some of us have been taking the Vibrant Visionary Collage Workshop for years now, and it is a delight to reconnect and catch up. My mom & I attend together every year, and with her living in FL and me in MA, it’s a really good come-together for the two of us as well.

But the big reunion, really, was with myself.

There’s just so freaking much on my plate at home, it’s not even funny. There’s the film festival , there’s the household stuff,* there’s the art rep,** there’s the businesses,, there’s getting ready for the workshop I’m teaching at the end of the month, not to mention all the messy crap that goes along with the health insurance change that we just made.*** And did I mention that Our Man Cub broke his poor nose last week at the Memphis May Fire show?†

To say the gas was low in my tank is an understatement. And retreat couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Good morning, Brave Monday, I’m all wound up.

What I really want to say is: I dreamed last night that I was making Thanksgiving dinner and had forgotten to go grocery shopping, and that there was a baby scrambling around (that might have been a kitten?), and I was at the top of some stairs that I couldn’t get down from. And that dreams are super weird, but anyone can see that there’s some interpretation to be gleaned from that there pre-wakeup business.

What I really want to say is: this is about courage.

I put it out into the world. Yes, I did.

So you know about the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, yes? This is an effort in bravery, and I’m not afraid to say so!* I got up off the sofa at the end of January with my good idea tucked under my arm, and pushed it into action. Holy crap, it’s in action!

Since then I’ve been figuring things out – like making pretty web pages, getting logistics in order, shouting out news, learning to write a press release, chatting up people I don’t know, and sniffing around cool venues for the scent of amazing things in potentia.**

And now I’m asking for help – which, in case you were wondering, is terrifying. This morning I set up a Go Fund Me page  in order to make submissions to the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival free, and now I’m buzzing all over and feeling weird and excited, and hopeful, and and and…

Look – here’s the scoop:
Right now the plan for this festival is to use money that I have been carefully socking away since the beginning of the year as prize money. And I was planning to use that and money from submissions to cover the cost of throwing the awards ceremony event, right? But the more I think about it, the more I think about how often money can be the one thing that keeps me personally from submitting my work. Money for poems in the mail or money for groceries, right?*** The groceries usually win out. And I thought about how people who make a lot of art don’t have a whole lot of disposable income†. Conclusion: I want to make submissions free.

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So, sister, there’s been some talk about my talk. I *can* call you sister, can’t I?

Have a look at this:

—Where are we going then?

—Brothers, brothers…

—I ain’t your brother, a woman shouts.

—All right bloody hell sisters then, and everyone is laughing.
 -from Iron Council by China Mieville

Iron Council is one of those books that I can just read and re-read, and it never suffers for it. It has trains, and remade people, and union politics, and golems, and sex workers, and civil rights, and magic, and it’s a fucking artful piece of writing. But all that aside, it’s the interaction in that quote that stays with me beyond the entire adventure, more than anything else at all.

Shall we talk about sisterhood a moment without getting granola? I mean, I’m sure that at least half the people reading this are expecting granola. I can get granola with you, if you want – personally, I’m down with the notion of sisterhood and the hippie magic associated with it. I have no shame around that stuff, ‘cos there’s nothing to get shameful about. But the hippie magic isn’t where I’m going when I call you sister.

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Lately there’s been a spate of crap on my facebook feed of judgement, specifically the type regarding what people look like, or how they dress, or what they eat. A lot of it is of the high and mighty variety – commentary on Michelle Obama’s behind, or what dress Gabourey Sidibe should or shouldn’t have worn on the red carpet (and how she’s obviously going to die young, because omg, deathfatz), or coupons leading to even more omg, deathfatz because dontcha know, people who use coupons don’t know how to eat good food. Or the latest, straight up shit talking about Harnaam Kaur’s choice to rock a beard instead of conforming to homogenized standards of beauty, complete with assumptions about her religion and medical status.

And it just irritates the shit out of me. First and foremost because it assumes that anyone who has a little padding or some extra hair is inherently stupid. Secondly, because, holy shit, why is it your business in the first place? Why so judgmental, buddy – got nothing going on by you of interest to talk about?

And I could let it roll off, all duck’s back and water, sure, but the fact is, this shit is personal, hello.

Point in fact, I’m a fat and kinda hairy lady, myself. At 4′ 10″, I’ve been around 167 pounds pretty much all of my post-teen years. I was 190 when I was pregnant, and then around 130 twice, for a hot fifteen minutes apiece. This body involves years and years of fat shame from doctors and strangers, as well as occasional, “concern,” from members of my family,* and, if I may speak frankly, sister, I don’t need that crap from my friends.**

I walk around in this body – do you know that? I look after its stray hairs and lumpy bits, and feed it and bathe it, and exercise it. It’s mine, and I’m in it, and I take it to the yoga mat, and I drag it to doctor’s appointments where it gets weighed and tsk tsked over sometimes, just like Michelle Obama and Gabourey Sidibe, and everyone else. I have two options in this world with this body: 1) I can be ashamed of it and hide it away at home, or 2) I can walk out into the sun and have a life.

Let me tell you a story:

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Ok. So I can’t seem to get more than a third of my to-do list tackled on any given day,* but I can totally manage to start new projects.

The stuff that’s sitting on my list right now is mostly the hard stuff: some emails I need to send out (two of which require me to be brave), an art submission (which also requires me to be brave), and some handwritten letters that need to be sent out (two of the five require me to have something to say, and one more requires me to organize my notes into a comprehensible letter after reading someone’s poetry manuscript). Also, I need to call the health insurance company about optical, find all three of us new PCPs, arrange a dental appointment for Our Man Cub, and arrange for our car to be serviced.**

Yeh. So my plan today was to make mail. To sit down and write letters and pack stuff up to send out. I didn’t do that, so much. I handled the ironing and the changing of linens. I cleaned and finished a scarf and posted a couple new listings on my Etsy. And then this happened:

I’ve been aching to try out arm knitting for what feels like forever – A woman I worked with shared a video of it with me and I became intrigued like whoa. I even pinned*** it, intending to try it out when I got a chance. Ok, really, intending to try it out when I found the right yarn (chunky) at the right price (cheap – I’ve never tried this, so no need to spend a lot of money on it). I haven’t found said yarn yet. Also, I’ve heard tell of making yarn from tee shirts, and have been just dying to try that out. Then I mentioned to a friend the tee-shirt yarn thing, and she mailed me a pin about how to do it, and omg, SHOWED UP AT OUR HOUSE WITH A BAG OF TEES! Squeee! Thank you, Sarah!

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Fourteen years ago in winter, Snowball broke into our house. No – really. It had been bitter weather, and he had been hanging around our porch, probably because it afforded some shelter from the miserable cold, semi-enclosed as it was. I had started leaving some food out for him when it became obvious that he was sticking around more than part time. He had a red flea collar at first, and no tags, and no one on the block knew whose cat he was, if he was anyone’s at all – I didn’t feel bad about feeding him even a little bit. He was such a scrawny little bit of a thing.

My mom was up from FL to visit that week, and Our Man Cub was almost two years old. We had gone grocery shopping one evening and were sitting down in the living room after putting things away. Then I turned my head, and there he was, sitting on the back of the couch like he’d lived there all the time and we’d just never noticed. Well, hello you.

And it’s like this: the temps were sub-zero, and I couldn’t bring myself to send him back out. And Dearest Will was in New York that week, when we got the news that our friend Pat Storm had passed away in Thompkins Square Park. And Our Man Cub was really but a squirrely kit then, and my mother was in town, and really? The last thing on my mind was putting an animal back out into the cold.
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Good morning, and welcome to Pretty Pretty Princessland, winter edition.* I am currently blogging it up in my pjs and bathrobe, with a nice hot cup of coffee, IN BED. Yes, sister, I am blogging in bed.

And really, what’s that about? you may ask. I might spend some sweet space justifying purchases here, but, really, let’s cut to the chase: teenagers today (the delightfully nerdy ones, at least – you know, my favorite ones) don’t use the phone so much as talk for hours over Skype while playing together on the same Minecraft server, and recording it for YouTube, and I share a desk with Our Man Cub. Which is to say, it can become a touch noisy at my desk. And I payed down the Best Buy card from the winter holidays last week. So a Chrome Book? Yes, please. I joked that I would blog in bed, and so here I am test driving that business, in bed, cup of coffee, big orange cat purring up a storm beside me, and all up in some soft blankets. Also, I sat in my studio the other day and collaged like a badass while watching Netflix. SO MUCH WIN.

SO! I’m trying to indulge myself more. Does that sounds ridiculous so early into the year? I know everyone’s all about getting back on the stick and losing weight and being more disciplined about their exercise regime, and cutting out sugar and all that – it’s resolution time, still, after all. But I’m so totally into indulgence tight now.

Honestly, I’ve been working like a dog since about mid-November. With the museum where Will Dearest and I work(ed)** closing down and then the cleaning and moving and consolidating, I’ve been on my feet constantly, and not taking very good care of me terribly well. And I discovered something important: when I don’t pour enough sugar on the everyday, when I come home exhausted and eat junk food and zone out, just waiting for it to be late enough to go to bed, and then get up and do it all over again, I don’t like being me so much. When I operate like that, even my weekends go to the dogs – I spend a ton of time just sitting still and feeling sorry for myself over how much energy I’m expending for someone else (no mind that I’m being, you know, paid for it, and that I really like the people I work with, and that I actually like the work I’m doing there) and how I never get enough time to do my stuff and blah blah blah whine whine whine oh, my feet. Yeh, I don’t like living in that headspace. It’s like moving a 9′ metal horse through a 7′ door – you can do it, it’s just really hard and involves a lot of heavy lifting.

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