Saturday, August 6, 2011

The last post before I moved to my new blog.

This morning I woke
A visitor beside me
Whispering "it's time."

(and then I started over, here.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

professional development

I'd file everything I've experienced in the past looong 2 weeks as Xtreme Professional Development.
But darkness, meet light: a booked-long-ago professional development session I was doing with a class of adult learners just made my day. In my chapter in 20Under40 I conclude with a call to honor and support the "gardeners" of the tender sprouts of the next generation of thinkers and creators - early childhood caregivers, teachers, and parents. I spent my Saturday morning with a posse of these gardeners, fully committed to really drop the craft-habit and give their kids opportunities to do their thing. their teacher is really doing something right - they love her class and arrived clearly ahead of the game in many ways. We shared our tragic scarred-for-life moments when the artist in us was squashed by a well-meaning adult... and committed (by signed contract!) to do our best... well, I'll let them tell you themselves. I'll be posting something on soon. I think this group will help me get some really helpful content on there - they were real, insightful, and passionate people. Here's a list they came up with when thinking about creativity outside of artmaking.
Wordle: creativity

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Would Hallmark Say

Faced with the need to express love and care to my father's wife, living alone (well, with a cat they seemed to have a hate/love relationship with) after my father suddenly passed away... a month after their daughter died of cancer. I've spoken with her twice in the last year - once was the call where she told me my dad died and not much else. The other was to affirm I'd received the boxes of stuff she'd mailed to me. She said she had on the table before her two death notices - stuff was still not taken care of for my half sister when my dad passed. She made it clear she didn't want my help, and at  some point even sent a "have a nice life" note. But she seemed to enjoy hanging on the phone with me that night - we laughed a lot. What else can she do? Our relationship being as strained-at-best as it is, I'm a little at a loss for what to do for her... let alone the fact that even if we were close, what do you say or do for someone in her position? She's in the middle of nowhere, on the big island of Hawaii. They left Ohio for a parcel of land my dad had bought down there in the eighties - he explained "if i'm gonna die old and poor, it's not going to be in Ohio." They made a little world of their own, barely associated with the mad world abroad. Smoking cigarettes while watching hours of TV, pretending to hate the cat, cutting back the jungle from overtaking the yard, eating, and taking care of each other. My sister left Maui to move in with them. In some way I saw that as a similar"later, world" departure. One doesn't move to Hilo side Hawaii to meet people. Getting a job was a struggle enough. Her mom (the survivor) was diagnosed with colon cancer and was treated and seemed to be well. That alone blew me away. How did they manage that? It's like a 40 minute drive to the closest doctor. Then my dad's black lungs caught up with him and he "got old". Took meds for heart stuff, stopped smoking, and eventually got an O2 tank to drag around the house once or twice a day. Then Linda was driving to work one day and pulled off the road, sick. I forget if someone found her or what. But she had Leukemia. From then on my weekly calls with my dad were a scary and barely comprehensible list of updates - blood counts, treatments... And the thought of the three of them in that house keeping each other running was heartening and frightening at the same time. How could I not think of a "domino effect" should one of them die? I did think about it. I guess I never thought specifically about it. Linda passed before the holidays. Dad and Sharin fumbled through grief - i sent my dad links about grief I thought would help. Dad seemed to love our calls more and more. He'd ask 20 questions as soon as we got on the phone, every Wednesday after my boxing class. "How'd ya do? You using your legs for the power on those upper cuts, right? Are you on a bus? I can't believe you're talkin to me from a bus. That just blows my mind." (cell phones=a wonder).
Anyhow, this stoic little woman is in an empty house with rooms closed off - I'm not sure what room wouldn't be difficult to inhabit. The terms of our relationship are unique, and so my usual natural way with words is null and void here.
So I got out my scissors. Laughing at the earnest but seemingly feeble gesture.
For many years I labored over artwork and handmade gifts for them at Christmas time. My heart fell a year ago to hear that she (and my sister, she said) didn't like me. Hadn't for the last 10 years, since my last visit. I had no idea. I thought we were a happy family with limited phone time - that's why she'd so quickly pass the phone to Dad, or never want to jump on when he called me. This crushed me and sent me reeling on a lot of different  things - one of which was thinking about all that artwork. Was it all hanging, but disliked? Was it in drawers?
But I find now, when at a loss for words, it's what I've got.
I crafted her up a card. I hope it makes her smile. That's all. There's not a lot to say anyway. I just want to send her some joy if it helps another day pass less painfully. Maybe she won't like it. Maybe she doesn't want to hear from me anymore and will throw it out. I just kept gluing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

35 Reasons Gratitudinal:

I was distracted by my birthday party at my birthday party, and failed to make the numerous toasts and dedications I meant to. Starting with the folks who made it to the party, will add more, of course:

Joanna "Why Not" Hooper inspires me with her fearless approach to life. It seems if I let a month go by between visits, she's gone and done something Major again. Looking for a new place to live… "Why not buy a house and rent it out?" House has a couple issues. "Why not learn to install new windows myself?" Thinking about property, value… "why not get a realtor's license?" Lost her job. "Why not move to Timor for a bit and see if I can/want to live there for a while?" So she's not only utterly capable and responsible in numerous "grown-up" ways, she is also completely free-spirited and spontaneous. Cheers to having full capacity on both sides of the brain. She is an artist in her own right, and at the same time, solid as a rock and skilled (and licensed)for dealing with traumatized women - making her the perfect compliment to a swinging bucket of emotion like myself. Fun Fact: she also has full recall of song lyrics for thousands of songs. Including ones you wrote, performed once, and forgot. You want Joanna on your team.

Mara Br*d, photographer and friend. I don't even know how we met. But she never minds telling me again. Mara shared her own Passover at her house with me, though we'd known each other for maybe half a year, probably hung out a half dozen times. Patiently teaching me the traditions and ways of Her People (Jews, and Working Artists). Mara challenges me to stay open and forge the kind of friendship I've always wanted - minutes after sweating out a touchy and emotional spat over (not about) rootbeer floats, we negotiated the terms of our first artistic collaboration. I'm honored and excited. Although we could just keep manically taking pictures of melting ice cream for hours, too. That'd be fine. I love our photography dates. SPEAKING OF: her captures from my birthday party are here.

Melissa Cheekbones Chaney is a starsister. We met when we were supposed to. And waited a year to met up and hang out, right just as we were supposed to. Melissa has the patience of Jobe, whoever that is. She told me stories of roommate situations she mothered that had me pulling my hair out. She shares the path of the artist-unfolding in the hours left around a full-time job. She's on the frontlines, teaching at a public high school in Cambridge, her relentless spirit at the center of a maelstrom of troubled teenagers - white grrl Miss Chainz holds her own. Melissa is a hugger, a loyal sister, and a fellow Transparent. She inspires me to follow my heart and assures me no matter how far I veer, our journeys are parallel. The first? second time? we met, she was hell bent on sharing a movie called The Fall with me - spot on that I would love it as much as she does. I took her to PowWow with me soon after - I love sharing the sacred, big picture and mundane with Melissa. Bonus: She even offers me fire medicine - with an open invite to make a fire in her yard when I need to. She gets it.

Nancy (Henriquez) Harrod. (ex-BCM-er) Nancy is the most vibrant person I know. I can bring her to mind instantly to anyone who met her even for a minute by doing my Nancyface, which involves big eyes and huge smile, with my hands gesturing radiant beams of light emanating in all directions. Nancy has a laugh that is with you every time you think of her. Somehow, I'm the world's funniest person when I'm with Nancy. It's remarkable. And quite enjoyable for us both. Nancy is also impossible not to be happy for. Her warmth and loving nature are so contagious you can not help but reflect it back to her - what a way to create a life of goodness. I was so honored to sing at her beautiful wedding (to Jeff, her perfect match) (and I am SO not a wedding person), I was truly singing from the bottom of my heart for that Heavenly Day I got to witness. I shed tears of joy at that reception, for this phenomenal combining of two loving happy families - that was a moment and a feeling I'll never forget. FYI: Nancy was given the role of PigsInBlanket producer for my parties years ago and has served faithfully. SUre to be an expert at wrapping her new piglet in blankets...

Shirleygirl Vieira. Craigslist win - after a truly traumatizing first 2months in Boston in an unforeseeably unlivable situation, I found Shirley on Dane Street. And we entertained ourselves spastically for two years thereafter. What were the odds I'd find someone as amenable to yelling in each other's face in fake accents and dressing absurdly for parties as I? She let me torture her disinterested cat with "hearing tests" and in-your-cat-face breakdancing outbursts, but that's the least of it. When my beloved dirtyoldman best friend Larry (AKA Goat) lost his home, Shirley didn't hesitate to let him come live with us for a most memorable period of time. It was half hilarious sit-com, and the latter-half, heart breakingly difficult and scary as his health declined. Shirley was a true friend there. On a more serious note, Shirley is one of the few I have nearly pissed myself laughing with, since moving to Boston. My only regret is having to move out of studio 54 before The Emergency Numbers, her hott videoband, was born. I love being liberalartsdirtyhippieeducator Laverne to her fashionista/stylist/nightlifer Shirley.

Ellen "DBD" Roth is a woman you draw a cartoon of. Then you walk into a party where 20 people are coloring copies of the Ellen Coloring Page. Because she is such a widely-and-well loved character, why wouldn't you? I'd wear a T-shirt of Ellen, and be liked more for it. I'm having trouble picturing Ellen not smiling, except for this OH NO face she makes in between, when the storyline calls for it. The woman is a devoted fan on the local music scene, and I'd wager everyone she considers herself a fan of is in turn a fan of hers. She goes out almost every night as far as I can tell, after working long days as a social worker with autistic kids and their families. Ellen is consistently surprising, with the hilarious sh*t that comes out of her mouth with this trademark earnest delivery. Cheers, Ellen - to epitomizing the nature of the perfect loving and supportive Friend-Fan (we have no English word for it, but I trust her to come up with one).

Eric/G.B./TinyDancer I've known Eric forever. We were childhood buddies, went to the same school, picked up after college without missing a beat. None of that is true, but it kinda seems like it. Actually, I have actually only seen Eric in person 4 times. We met in December at a dinner for the authors of that 20under40 book. I told the guy in charge of the project, by the time of the release, "I'm in this to meet those two guys. We will be friends." I'd googled them to see who this other musical act was at the book release party and got a facefull of HolyCrapTheseGuysAreAwesome, with bonus material implying both silliness and kindred Path walkers/evolvers. Add the fact that their chapter was the only one I fell in love with at-abstract, and a good dose of multi-kismet (which continues), and I was 100% confident about absolutely nothing in life except the fact that I would meet these freaks at that dinner, hit it off immediately, and proceed to enjoy and ideally participate in their wonderful creative worlds. And So It Was, just hours later. And Then Something Else Was, That I Did Not Forsee or Would Not Have Wished. But it was quickly made clear that the universe, in fact, was surely unfolding as it should: one night there was a holy trinity, an unlikely team, somehow recruited for the impossible task of saving a twisted sister from herself. And this ray of sunshine spirit, this gigglebox in the corner, ends up throwing the last-attempt line that reached. Eric listens and hears. While knowing he's no dancer, really, but that we all are the dance. Post-apocolyptic apologetics, it's my wish to chill, talk, and create more with this guy. Ok, go. (Eric and Jeff made that.)

Jeff "Liebes". See above. I may not get to further connect with these two cameo appearance characters. Busy guys=understatement of the century. But it's true - there are some people you are better for having met. My father, in our last conversation, said he was so happy I'd met "those guys from the book" - that something seemed to light up after that initial meeting. He was right. I remember sitting next to Jeff at that dinner, with a mouthful of bread, when he said "it's [really strange] that people think of themselves as separate from their environment." And what I wanted to do was spit out my bread and say, OK, who T.F. ARE YOU?? But I just nodded and kept chewing. Over the next 2 weeks an impossible number of amazing threads were uncovered over email that would never be followed through in person as the subject matter demanded. But what DID happen was, that first night we hung out, upon getting a 2 minute explanation of SleepytimeSongs, Jeff suggested ColorMeBadd. One of about 50 "no you didn't" moments of kismet I no longer bother to get into. On the non-stoopit level, the first time I came eye to eye with Jeff (same night), I recommitted to my practice (meditation/whathaveyou). In Jeff I saw a clear, peace-full creator - I saw my own true self, completely obscured over the past year or so, and without a doubt now, worth the work of returning to. This wayfinding is a priceless gift that's shifted my life considerably. Not to mention in another selfless moment of compassion toward a virtual stranger, Jeff inadvertently snipped the wires on a dreadful stubborn circuit, by Staying (on the phone) with a wigging-out Matros and psychic sidekick till 5am. Jeff is a conduit, a see-er, a reflector, and an amplifier of the infinite beauty of what is. Fun fact: Jeff has THE quintessential Get Laid Book Collection, wisely displayed in his living room/entryway (good call, Sweeney).

Rudy H. AKA "The German" in spite of his objections. When my last roommate left me high and dry when no one was looking for housing, Craigslist to the rescue yet again. I had 3 prospects total. One stayed for 2 hours during the interview and over a year later leaves me creepy voicemails inviting me to holiday parties and valentines day dinner. The other disappeared. But I truly had a feeling my last hope, the German, would be It. And I think it's fair to say he and I agreed about half way up the stairs to the apartment. Rudy's singular fault is that he is sometimes TOO GOOD A FRIEND for Bridget to live with - used to living with antisocial jocks or serf-like barely-there rent-splitters, I was caught off guard at how quickly Rudy and I connected as friends, staying up late night after night, standing in the kitchen sharing life stories and comparing the contours of our lives in conversations unlike any I'd had with people I've known for years in Boston. Rudy bends over backwards with kind gestures, including procuring two glass lanterns I remarked on at Crazy Burger over a year ago, outside Providence. He wrote letters and eventually drove to Providence to pluck these lanterns from the decor of the place, having charmed the owner with his Rudyways. Rudy also is a guy who barely batted an eyelash when introduced to Beary White, and in fact has taken Beary for drives and shared trips to the beach with us. Rudi deserves my gratitude and sympathy for having to deal with my closed door so often, when I'm in cave-mode. Goddangit, Everybody Loves Rudy.

Ellen T. = E.T. The "cool mom" figure of the long line of  former colleagues, ET was my manager for a while, and a friend during and since. I will never forget going through a particularly difficult time several years ago, and answering the door to the most magnificent flower arrangement I'd ever seen. I was sure it was meant for the neighbors. I'd never received anything like it. It was from ET, wishing me well and assuring me she was there if I needed anything. That's ET. Theres no way I'd have kept my job without her advocacy and encouragement, when I was struggling to keep my head above water. She also kept me sane by insisting we laugh at what made us crazy, and kept priorities straight: life first, then work. I love ET's joie de vivre - she's a role model for any woman pining for a joyful, fun, and self-defined life. Her kid is damn lucky, and so are the rest of us she has spoiled over the years.

Daniels(Alissa). SCIENCE! I think Alissa and I share this warm and fuzzy unspoken appreciation for the fact of our friendship, made novel by our many differences. We contrast in manner, appearance, interests, skills, backgrounds, beliefs… and we ham it up as Science educator meets Art educator (the educator brings the Extreme edge off of both, representing the common denominator of wacky, kid-at-heart do-gooders). She's infinitely patient with my foggy brain compounding my extreme right-brained ways. I know when things in a meeting are a jumbled muffled mess of meaninglessness to me, I can go to Daniels afterwards and without any shaming get a direct "you missed nothing." or a simple, slow explanation of WTF was being said. I don't understand Pi. Alissa will try to explain it to me every year on Pi day just as sure as she will mortify me with her merciless and long Birthday Song at staff meetings. Alissa is an artist-spirit in a scientist's life, and I love witnessing her outbursts of creativity and performance art. Every Matros needs a Daniels.

Lizzie Sweeney. "The thing is guys, we don't REALLY know each other that well. Like, I've only ever seen Lizzie while volunteering in her classroom, maybe a couple of parties. And then we went on our trip to San Diego." Fate put me in her preschool classroom 8 years ago. I met her, and a small part of me said "Hell yes I'd go roadtripping with this woman any day." Again, different lives, common denominator wins all. Her stories of Southie pub-crawls and the debouchery that followed were jaw dropping glimpses into the huge slice of American culture Oberlin freaks never saw the likes of. All shared in snippets between breaking up lego fights and redirecting bathroomhands to the sink. Lizzie is the hardest working woman I've ever known, laughing her way through it all, and kicking ass the whole time. How does one pay off college loans while teaching homeless preschoolers at a non-profit that pays like one? Well, how does one have the energy to work a second job as a virtual bouncer at the Garden to manage that feat? Must be the same superheroine that manages to go to Grad school at the same time. Did I mention the preschoolers are a veritable pack of wild animals, acting out the anger and fear their unstable lives engender, some with undiagnosed disabilities? All managed expertly with grace and unmatched skill as a teacher and caring, nurturing friend if not second parent to every child to come in and out of her life. How does she do it? Off the hook sense of humor. NO ONE else would plunge whole heartedly into Meeting Bridget's Stranger Relatives In California as an obvious hilarious misadventure. AND be the same one to drive around in the dead of night terrified, looking for her spiraling out of orbit sister. How does she do it? Heart of gold. Lizzie is one of few that come with Guarantees.

Megan "OK, now do me" Dickerson. That's a reference to a photo collage I loved making for my birthday, chronicling 6 or so years of taking dumb pictures of each other. Megan is my go-to for partnered self-amusement. We are playmates, often disappearing into our own magical world while physically in a room of other people, either uninvited or unable to decipher our nonsense as ingenious humor. Megan lives her life as an artist, her work being her art. It fascinates me, as my art is so late-coming and compartmentalized and stifled, but called Art. I make things. In my room. She makes things happen. In the world. Sometimes her vision exhausts me. And I think, Jesus, I've got a real Artist on my hands here. I'm so lucky she brought me onboard for the production of Smell-o-Vision, one of my favorite things I've done in my life. Our work styles are perfectly complimentary when not directly opposed. Megan has given me another gift, the thoughtful naming of my strengths when I can't come up with one. I have loved the evolution of our friendship from self-degredating humor and sarcastic commentary into sisterhood, where fragile things that require care and real communication are testing grounds for the quality of connection we stumble towards.

Emily (Kuross)Vikre. Here's Perfect Emily.  Health & fitness educator a while back - charitable to work in a on profit,  since she could have been making big money with her ridiculous brains - I don't think she really got to use her wide and deep knowledge of biology/physiology while presenting kids with a choice between a box of Corn Pops or a plastic banana. Oh yeah, and she has a blog about cooking. So I can make some goat cheese crostini with Meyer lemon, olive, and fig relish whenever I'm ready. Oh yeah, Masters in Nutrition - might as well get a PhD in food policy (pretty sure she's going to outlaw pigs in blankets and the rest of my diet). I'm not making this up - I think she ran a marathon. who cares. What truly impresses me is the fact that Emily stepped up when called upon to learn the choreography to Madonna's Express Yourself video, performed (in bustier, monocle, and suit pants) at my 30th birthday party. She even dragged a friend alone for the other bookend. Applause for Emily, please.

Joel N. My Christmas tree went topless this year. because Joel and only Joel tops my tree. Another met-through-Passim friend, Joel is an enigmatic character with deep waters shared selectively with close friends, and with strangers through his fantastic narrative songwriting. I've never known anyone so serious about his craft, and it has inspired me to respect myself, and respect the Muse, or whatever that direct line is to inspiration, and to give it the time and space it deserves. I've felt honored to have Joel enthusiastically share a newborn song with me, or any other of the dozen ideas manifesting materially at any given time. The guy made his own shoes for godsakes. Joel's brain is analytic and productive. And so talking to him means getting privileged-info reports, in addition to spot-on imitations of the Market Basket Announcer Guy. Joel called me from somewhere out west when my dad died, and left me a voicemail which said very little, while conveying the most sincere care and at-your-sideness an inbox can hold. Joel is another force to be reckoned with in the Livin' the DREAM department: he's always on some barely-believable bike/hiking across the Alps on his hands with nothing but a lighter and swiss army knife type ventures, just for self-fulfillment, barely telling a soul what he's up to. Fluffy bonus note: Joel will have to hear me say he is one of the handsomest guys I know till his dying day.

Jenn "My life is F***ed, wanna have lunch?". Jenn is supermom in some super challenging circumstances, teaching me what a mother's love looks like - grizzlybear style when called for. Again, with the Very Differents, Jenn and I connect across two very different ways of interacting with the world. We've become close friends over the last year or so, at some points a split-screen portrait of women, one red-hot and tightly wound, spinning from stressful life circumstance, the other quiet, unravelled, having spiraled from inner circumstance. Coming to the table (literally) to break bread with one another and bear witness to each other's stories and ways of making sense of them. Jenn is a coyote friend - one to get mischievous with. Filming knitting assaults on the redline comes to mind. Jenn will take it as par for the course when I show up to her wedding "fresh" out of the woods for 3 days, armpit washing in the sink in front of her horrified mother… we take each other "as is", thank god. I love Jenn's irreverence and always-up-for-a-good-time-let's-go leanings. Which WILL not be compromised by wedlock.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


For Dad, from Dad, with Dad. My father was riddled with guilt and regret late in life, about his part in our dysfunctional family. Even more so after coming to spend time with me in recent years and hear in person the details of what demons have somewhat ruled my last decade. Again, he blamed himself where i didn't hold such grudges or blame. He recorded this song for me at some point - maybe best that i can't find it. I'm so glad these last years he came to knowing many ultimate truths, one being that the past is gone, regret is futile, and todays are for loving as much as possible. This last 2 years I fully had the loving father of my dreams, and I'm so grateful for his courage and wisdom and tenacity to know it wasn't too late.
I guess it's my turn to experience that full circle of sadness, regret, letting-go, and self-forgiveness. "We do what we can do with what we got, one day at a time. That's it."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the three

Bottled messages
clink and slide across the ice
too far above me