Monday, February 19, 2018

it's up to the kids

I remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out about the Columbine shooting. My boyfriend (now husband) and I were checking out a fitness club we were thinking of joining in Oakland, and we were getting a tour of the facilities. There was a television on over a group of treadmills, and I could see that there was something very wrong happening on the screen. There were kids jumping out of what looked like a school building, and that building did not appear to be on fire. Other groups of kids seemed to be running for their lives, flanked by police and people in SWAT gear. I stood there, watching the TV, while I slowly started to absorb the information, this event that had taken place just a few hours before.

The horror and diabolical nature of that shooting has stayed with me all these years, as it has for many. The mass shootings have continued, gaining in velocity and violence, with shooters seemingly using Columbine as a point of reference. Our societal response has taken on an equally horrifying and repetitive nature. An iconography of grief and outrage, familiar to all, played by our media for consumption and diversion.

The result is a peculiar numbness that has taken hold. It comes from the lack of change in our system while all indicators point to an overwhelming need for change. It's a system that has ground to a halt when it comes to addressing the realities of violence and guns in the United States.

I don't know what it is about the shooting that just happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but I felt it right away this event could shift the dynamic, that an opportunity may have been created. The only people who have any moral authority in this situation to force some kind of change are the kids who have been affected by school shootings.  They are smart enough-- kids today are so damn smart-- to realize the grownups aren't doing their jobs, and haven't been for a while. The people in charge have given up and given away their power, to corporations, to lobbies, to anyone who promises to help them keep their jobs. It's the kids who have to lead.

I hope we are at the beginning of a major youth revolt. All of the pieces are in place: the adults who are running things are out of step with the younger generation on just about every issue that matters, and they are making decisions that risk the future. The young people know it. They are equipped to do something about it, and I believe they will be formidable. Their passion and level of articulate rage puts to shame the one-dimensional, paper thin assurances of our governing bodies that they will consider change. I don't think it's up to them anymore, they have already lost everything that matters. It's up to the kids.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

short takes

I have so much I want to write, and exactly no time or space in which to write it all at this particular juncture. Here are some short takes, and at some point in the near future I will be able to be more expansive, more reflective, and say some more. But for now:
  • I found a new studio in Vallejo, in the Old Town area directly across the street from Temple Art Lofts. It is just a tad smaller than my old space, and just a tad more expensive, but it feels just about right. It looks and smells like an insurance office with a slight mold problem (I am chalking that up to being all windows on one side with the door being closed for months while the owners find a new tenant) and I plan to do some major transformational work on it over the next 2 weeks. Sage will be burned, spells will be cast, carpet will be pulled, and contractors harassed. Wow, that's a poem I think.
  • In my spare time I have been working for a friend of mine as a hired gun, throwing production pottery for her restaurant tabletop business that has been in the weeds on orders. Remember last year when I was so fucked up over my mom's death that I thought I needed to get a job? Well, I didn't necessarily get one, but working as a potter mercenary--- which I may put in as "occupation" on my taxes this year--  is the closest I've come to legit employment in almost 20 years. And it's not even close to legit,  just a day here and a day there when I feel I can spare a day to make some real bucks as I try to figure out what the hell I'm doing next. This gig has reminded me of a few things:
    1. The joy of throwing pots.
    2. The importance of asking for help. My friend waited until she was having nervous breakdown before she asked me to help her, and implied the she "knew" it was beneath me to do this kind of work. Little does she know that this work is so healing for me right now, and it gives me such pleasure to not only help a friend, but get paid quite well while doing so.
    3. The satisfaction of mastery, of becoming aware and awake to endlessly repeated acts and finding something new to appreciate. When I go in to her studio I usually throw over a hundred items and when I leave my mind is empty and I feel totally calm.
  • I read a book that I think all people-- not just artists-- need to read, The War of Art. It says a lot of things I've already said, time and time again, about the craft of creating stuff, and it's written by a guy who has done the work, and it's a good reminder to me on how to get shit done. You can read it in a few hours and it's well worth it. Though there was one thing that really annoyed me about this book, and it's a reflection of its time, published in 2002, which in current warp speed time is basically 100 years ago. The author uses "she" in place of "he" a lot, to show that he understands women make art too, and are probably the biggest audience reading his book. And that's all well and good and inclusive. But almost every example he uses of people actually making art or otherwise making things happen-- you know, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Maugham, Tiger Woods, and about 20 other examples that I don't have time to look up while I write this-- are all men. And right about now I'm pretty sick and tired of reading about men's accomplishments. We know, we know. Dear Steven Pressfield: time for a second edition.
  • I have been really happy lately. I don't understand a lot of things, including my own moods, but I have been finding a lot of happiness the past few months. I love my new (old, very old) house. I love that my husband and I, who are consummate slackers, managed to buy it together without fighting, and we are fixing it up together without drama. I am proud that I jumped through every hoop the bank put in front of me and got the money we needed to make it happen. I love that I am in a new community that is totally strange to me, and I am an outsider. I love that I am meeting lots of new people. I love planting a new garden. I love the motorcycle club that is two blocks from my house that hosted a rally on saturday night with dozens and dozens of riders on their stupid Harleys making so much noise that I woke up in the middle of the night confused about what the sound in the air was. I think I'm starting to get it. Life is hard, but it's also limited. The stuff that I stress about basically doesn't matter. My people matter the most, and they are good, which means I'm good. For now.
That's probably enough for now. I'm going to be moving out of my studio over the next week, and then I will find some new things to write about. Here are some pictures:

one of 40.
a peaceful domestic scene.

new studio.