The bravest, strongest, wisest man I’ve ever known

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I am so incredibly thankful for my family. A close family member sent me this article from 1985 today, otherwise it would have been lost to me forever. My dad has been gone since 2007 and I haven’t read his words since I found parts of one of his sermons in his bible after he died. But this. He wasn’t just courageous. He was courage. He was strength. He was kindness. He was wisdom. I watched him struggle and struggle and struggle with depression and I knew it was bad enough where he wanted to take his own life. But he didn’t. He raised me and provided a great comfort to others for the remainder of his days instead. I never remember a man who had a great ego. I remember a kind man who was a stay at home parent taking me to the park and the library to read whatever I wanted, uncensored. I remember him being my protector and my shield against difficult times. I remember very well his first mental breakdown although I had only just turned four. I knew the dark sides of him as well as the light.

I used to spend a lot of time wondering if I would be like him and wondering if when I reached his age I would experience a mental break. Well shit, I am like him and proud of it. But so far I’ve managed to hang onto my sanity despite a lot of difficult situations in my life. I think he’d be proud of me. I think of him and what he would do in any given situation, often. The other day it occurred to me that if he hadn’t gotten ill when I was a child I would have grown up in the church, moving every couple of years to a new place, constricted by that lifestyle. Instead I had an idyllic childhood on a bucolic hundred acre farm, living like we came from money without the burden of actually having it. I had art. Books. Water. Mountains. Gardens. I had everything. I used to spend a lot of time upset that I didn’t have the same upbringing as everyone else but if I had I think my life would have provided considerably less adventure, less risk taking and less living.

The fact that he suffered so was terrible. But it was also beautiful. He inspired many people throughout the course of his life, but especially me. I love you dad. I remember your struggle. I honor it. And you.

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Man enough to wear a funny hat

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He wears funny hats


He sits with me when I meditate, sometimes only a few moments at a time. Then leaving like a butterfly taking flight.

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He runs and leaps and mirrors us during the most ferocious, martial, dragon slaying form of dat ma kiem. Fearlessly.

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He interrupts important soccer games, because he knows he can get away with it, and he likes the sound of my angry voice. (He does not like the sound of my angry, southern voice).

And I am never alone.

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Too much thinking

My sister and I used to joke that we were going to move to France when we were 85 and live in a tiny village town together, going down to the local pretend village for food with little baskets in our pretend future and maybe have a couple of pretend cats despite my allergy. Neither one of us speak fluently, but that’s neither here nor there. Up until the time she died I always had this sensation that we would grow old together, the two of us. Free of life’s concerns save for what we’ll walk down to the village and purchase to make dinner. She died in January of 2011, four months after her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I had just come off of the worst pneumonia/upper respiratory infection I’ve had as an adult and the doctor prescribed me the pediatric dose of xanax to help counter the effects of my albuterol.

I remember screaming when my brother in law told me she had died. The night leading up to her death I kept mumbling wordless prayers even though I’m an atheist. Mainly it went like “don’t take her, because of her son. please don’t take her. he needs her, I need her. but her son. don’t take her. please. you can’t take her. her son. her son. her son.” Then there were all her hospital transfers and sheriff escorts because of course she would pick the shittiest snow storm of the year to fucking die of pneumonia at 45 years of age. My childhood best friend’s father was working on her during one of her emergency surgeries. One of my oldest friends was working as a nurse at the hospital during that time. I hoped that these connections to me mattered since these people knew me and she and I looked so much alike, maybe if they saw her and thought about me they would work harder and save her life. I sat at home that night she died pondering questions like, the sky has opened up and it’s snowing and I can’t get there for three days and how will I get a pair of winter boots?” While she was fighting for her life I was wondering what I was going to put on my feet. She lost.

I wondered if my best friend’s dad looked at Miriam thinking she looked like me. I wondered if he stood there over her, looking at his own hands. He saw me as a patient when I was young, for my respiratory problems. I can’t imagine he knew that he would one day care for my sister as she died from hers. I wondered if that hurt him. Cut him. Pained him. Troubled him. Followed him that he couldn’t save her. No one could.

Ric called at about 4am. Deep down, I already knew she was dead. I knew around 11pm. Somehow I could just fucking tell that the universe had taken the person I share the most genetic material with, who I look like, who mothered me, who thought nothing was ever good enough for me, who fought for me, who understood me. We had more shared experiences than with anyone else on earth, especially now that I’m raising her son. As I age and look in the mirror I catch a glimpse of myself out of the corner of my eye and I gasp because I look just like her.

My wailing lasted for what seemed like forever. My brother in law sat on the other side of the phone, tired, busy dying with cancer. Impatient to deal with my bullshit, no doubt, but I had just found out my sister died and this primal screaming came from a place I never knew existed. It lasted long enough to wake up my husband and my daughter and for my mind to say “who is screaming.” And why is this screaming lasting for so long. I’m pretty sure I fell down in that hallway. Dmitri and Ric were with her at the hospital witnessing god knows how many horrors. Perforated bowls, military grade respirators, emergency surgeries. ARDS. Sepsis. The medical professionals kept performing cpr on her so her husband and child could come into her room and say goodbye. I’m pretty sure I felt her ribs break, all the way in California.

I had had this intense fear of flying when I began flying commercially in 2000. It was all the usual bullshit, sweaty palms, upset stomach, the urge to run from each gate where I sat shitting myself with the opposite of anticipation. My first flight, I was headed to San Diego to work in Sally Ride’s UCSD Earthkam lab for the summer as part of a research experience for undergraduates. My sister and my mom came to the gate with me and sent me off, back in the days where you could walk someone to the gate even if you weren’t traveling. Miriam snapped a photo of my worried face before I boarded the airplane. I flew many many times through my fear. I would look at the comfortable little old ladies in the seats beside me with panic on my face as we did a totally normal bank. Or clutch the armrests with fear during turbulence, sweating. Miriam would tell me regularly, you had better just get used to flying because you’re going to need to fly for your career. So I did my best to do what she said. Eventually after enough traveling I could make myself go and experience mostly mild panic and anxiety.

That all changed after she died. Fortunately I had had that bad bout of upper respiratory infection and I had this sweet bottle of pediatric doses of xanax. Being anxiety prone I cut those in half because I had anxiety about taking anxiety pills. There was no way I could board that airplane home to her, dead, without that xanax. The first week she died I took a whole pill each day. The day we went up to the house (now my house) and Ric told me it was his fault I wanted to physically crawl out of my skin. If I had had the means to exit my body during those moments, I would have. I couldn’t bear to be in the house. I had this fear I would catch whatever killed her. I was afraid to touch her glasses. Her notebook. Her pen. I sat in her room where she convalesced until she died of fucking pneumonia, shaking, wondering if I would catch it and die next. That day he told me it was his fault I should have taken two xanax, but I didn’t. Instead I quietly lost my shit and we went back to the hotel where my three year old and her dad played in the snow.

I kept telling myself if it were me and Mike was dying she would do what I did. But how could she ever know I would take care of her husband while he was cancering his way to the grave. That I would take him to oncology appointments and Dmitri to therapy appointments and feed them and clean up after them and spend time with them. The worst was when I would drive her truck with Ric in the passenger on those back mountain roads, creeping along at 5 miles per hour and the cancer was in his bones and every bump and crevasse would send pain through his body. Or maybe the worst was when his heart was troubling him and he didn’t tell me and we’d have to go to the ER and sit for hours. No the worst was when he dropped a pain pill in his favorite leather chair and he thought Dmitri maybe ate it and they had to go to the ER to see (Dmitri didn’t take it, in fact). Or maybe the worst was when Dmitri ran to his father’s room to give him a pain filled hug because we all knew where this was going as I stood in Dmitri’s room, silently watching. Until I said “it’s okay.” Ric angrily, furiously, manically yelled at me “IT’S NEVER GOING TO BE OKAY.” For a while I thought the worst was when I walked into the house that May and when Dmitri laid eyes on me, and saw how much I looked like his mother without actually being his mother, he hauled ass up up to his room to cower in the corner, sobbing like a small, helpless kitten. Listening from downstairs to Ric asking him “Why are you crying, Bud?” “Why are you behind your bicycle over there? Come over here” cut me in the deepest of places. I stood on the porch, shaking, with the wind burning the exposed parts of my body because my face, something I had no control over, hurt this little, precious child who had already experienced a lifetime of hurt, ten lifetimes of hurt, a hundred and seventeen thousand lifetimes of hurt. I hurt him simply by existing. I got the fuck out of there as quickly as I could, worried I would hurt him even more. I remember the rental car tires skidding on the rocks at the bottom of the driveway as I hauled ass right the fuck out of there.

I spent a large portion of the following summer laying in her bed, in her room reading book after book every night, finding the one corner in the house where I could download these books and standing there fiddling with my blackberry to ensure I never went without something to read, trying to find a way to live with taking care of her husband and her child. There was a lot of panic of how the fuck was I going to parent a disabled child. Right after Ric died, using the only currency I could think of, I would take D to McDonalds for some chicken nuggets. He was so fragile and angry and hurt. I remember him screaming loudly, defiantly, red faced, refusing to get into my sister’s truck, and I was thinking “someone is going to think I am kidnapping this child and call the police on us.” Fortunately no one did. I sat in Ric’s pain pill chair slowly going through his bills and paperwork, with my inhaler nearby because every surface in that house and every paper was covered in goddamn cocksucking cat hair. Settling an estate is no easy business. Being 34, when you don’t know shit, and settling your sister and your brother in law’s estate and taking on the lifetime care of a child with down syndrome and autism is staggering. Mindblowing. Mind altering. I just sat there, in his chair, in his room, in front of his tv with both of them gone, having left me with this looking at paper after endless paper trying to piece together my life. Maybe I can weave my life together with 10,000 sheets of paper that don’t mean much of anything after you die. I don’t know.

It emptied me. It emptied me all out. I would carry Dmitri up and down the stairs like an automaton and sometimes maybe a martinet, he weighed 65 squirmy pounds. The stairs had a landing halfway through. Right away I told Ric I didn’t like making Dmitri do things because it made him cry and then that made me cry. Ric very firmly commanded me in his official navy voice that he and Miriam and discussed it and they had decided that Dmitri had to be forced to do the things he was required to do and that I had better sign up for this fucking program or else. I sat there with tears in my eyes and a broken heart, hurting. Okay. Okay. I will make him do the things he is expected to do even though it makes us both cry. Dmitri would struggle out of the clothes I would put on him each morning. He would refuse to go downstairs to eat breakfast so he could go to school, each morning. Like his parents wanted him to do. So I did it all, even though it meant carrying him up and down and up and down and down and up. He would sit on the ground spontaneously. Sometimes in crosswalks with oncoming cars. Many times in parking lots. I got proficient at picking him up. Sometimes I would calculate how many pounds I had lifted that day after the reading but before I drifted off to sleep. Sometimes it was 650 pounds. Sometimes it was 1100. I would make his oatmeal in the quiet mornings to the sound of the oak trees using the dishes I had given my sister when I left everything behind and moved out west, listening to the steady hum of her kitchen appliances. What was I doing in her house taking care of her son. This was her job.

The trees up there on that quiet mountain sound like the water when the wind blows. I would sit in her room looking out her window into the yard at the deer. I would wake up in the mornings when the ground was dusted in snow and see the animal tracks leading up to the back porch. There were a rash of black bears that year and we lived in the mountains and one of my favorite women on Ric’s side of the family said, when the black bear comes up to the house, kill it with one of Ric’s guns and then tell the sheriff you were just shooting “at” the bear and you didn’t mean to kill it.

Ric loved to antagonize me by telling me he was the only member of the NRA AND Greenpeace. This election cycle has made me appreciate the second amendment for the first time. I’m planning on going shooting soon. He antagonized Miriam with it too. She hated having guns in the house. I gave both guns and the gun safe to a family member. I got to do that since everything in the house now belonged to me, including a very angry and hurt little boy.

2010 had been a very fruitful creative year for me. I was sewing, spinning, knitting, taking photos, growing my business. I finished my thesis and finally received my masters degree in physics. I went on a couple of terrific business trips. I met new people. I got so sick with that respiratory gig I remember laying in bed thinking my heart was beating too fast. I ended up with a steroid shot, xanax, a zpac eating pho at every meal until I finally, finally felt better. I spent a fair amount of time remembering how hard it was to breathe, since my sister drowned in her own pneumonia. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about the sound of my visceral screaming. I spent a lot of time thinking.

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Meditation hurts

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No one told me meditation hurts. But it does. Your feet fall asleep. Maybe it makes your butt hurt or your hip. It makes the middle of my back ache depending on where I put my hands. The main part that hurts in the beginning is your heart and your mind. If you’ve been disconnected from yourself or your feelings or have felt numb for any length of time and you start meditating, your body has a lot to tell you and most of it you won’t enjoy hearing. But it has many benefits. If you start meditating you’ll have a lot more insight. And eventually you’ll be able to deep breathe your way through some difficult shit. But you’ll still get angry and yell at people and act like a dick because you’re still a person. Meditation can’t and won’t cure being a cocksucker. Probably you’re stuck with that one for life. But maybe meditation can help you accept the fact that you’re a cocksucker and deal with the other cocksuckers out there. So that seems like a pretty good thing.

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Cause and Effect

I used to hold this really stupid belief that I had to be unhappy in order to create art. Jesus, when I decide to believe something I hang onto it til the bitter, tear soaked, crash and fucking burn explosiony end. I know for certain that I believed it at 17, when I struck out on my own and looking back I probably held onto it before then.

But it’s not unhappiness that creates art. It’s stepping outside your comfort zone. Leaping. Slaying the 1000 angry dragons that lay between you and what you want. It’s failure. It’s pain. It’s happiness. It’s fear. You have to feel.

I’ve been on this journey in my life where I started walking away from things. Things I “should” keep. A mountain full of shoulds will never bring anyone any happiness. Should I list all the things I’ve shed like old skin? Maybe. Maybe not. Religion, Marriage, Physics, a successful business. So many things I used to define my self worth and happiness. It’s hard to feel happy when you let the things that define you scatter in the wind, fed by the ashes of a fire you yourself set. But what if I let this go, and what if I let that go. Who will I be then? What if I am nothing? What if I am unloved and unworthy, an imposter and alone? What if indeed. You can be unloved and unworthy and an imposter and alone.

I still feel fear. But not in the same way. I still feel the same emotions everyone else does. But I can contain them now. I can hold them in my heart and transform them. Or just sit in quiet acceptance until those feelings go away. Or drink some wine and fucking cry that shit out. Or make a rash of really terrible decisions to distract myself. In the end it doesn’t really matter.

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When I left my marriage, we kept getting lice. Maya brought it home three separate times. That last time I cut off all our hair. It got rid of the lice. And I felt my power was contained in my hair, like Sampson’s power in his. And you know, all my femininity was wrapped up in my hair. It hurt when it was gone. People didn’t look at me or treat me the same. But shit, if you’re going to leave a 14 year relationship pretty much the first fucking thing you should do is cut off all your goddamn hair.

For women, hair is power. The shorter your hair, the more power you have. Want me to go further with the thought? I can ramble on for days. For me short hair was a physical manifestation of a long period of celibacy that lasted until my divorce was finalized. Not only was I unavailable by my own choice, I wasn’t desired because I didn’t feel desirable. I was broken into a million different pieces that were never going back together again. I was so broken I didn’t even bother trying. That’s when I really started doing the hard work. Who was I without a marriage and the security of that relationship? I felt a lot of smug satisfaction in wearing my wedding ring and doing what the fuck I was “supposed” to be doing. Which was totally separated from the realm of my actual feelings.

Who was I when I had my daughter and decided I didn’t want to do physics anymore? I couldn’t bear the thought of building something that would hurt someone else, of hurting another mother’s child. Who was I without my career? Who was I when I decided to leave behind being the parent of an only child and becoming the parent of two, one who is disabled?

Who was I when I left religion at 16, but was too afraid to say outloud that I was an atheist for another 20 years? Being forced out of necessity to focus my full efforts on my children instead of continuing my business growth hurt the most, by far. Because I had to walk away from something that was going really well and I felt a lot of pleasure in those successes. Scaling back to only work travel for marketing was agony. Those first few shows I had to cancel. Stumbling when people asked me what I do for a living, opening the computer to work and have nothing to give. That was pain. That was my pain. And fear that I would never revive my business to where it once was.

Every bucket I’ve poured myself into, I’ve upended. It was a messy lot of overturned buckets that held the perceptions of who I am without actually being me. I felt really trapped by success, so I overturned that bucket too. I was starting to feel like I couldn’t say or do what I wanted because it would upset the apple cart. Now I’d like to set the apple cart on fire and burn it to the ground. Every single day and night. Like Sisyphus. Let it burn. Let me burn. Let it all burn. But I was carved in that fire. I could look at myself and say even if I’m not this, I’m still that. I don’t need that to be this. You can take it all away. Take it, I’ll give it to you freely because I’m willing to give it all up and start over again. Here is the bucket that is me. Dump it out. Dump it all out. That place is where power is. That’s how you find art. That’s how you make art. Give it all away and what’s left inside you is more concentrated. More potent. More fearless. More you.

Alan Watts says we exist simply so the Universe can look at itself. I decided to start by looking at me. Now I see myself with nothing but myself, looking back. And that is everything.

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Dualities

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The Maiden, The Mother, The Crone. The three stages of a woman’s life. Innocence, new beginnings, stability, sexuality, fertility, power, wisdom, death. Rebirth. Artemis, Selene, Hecate. Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvati. Kali.

Femininity is not weak. It is strong. You can’t hold it in your hands, like a tiny bird. It is rushing water. You can’t contain it. Water flows to the lowest places and cleans them out. It cuts rock and stone. It takes life. It gives life. Sometimes in a rushing torrent, sometimes in the tiniest trickle. It looks soft and yielding, and sometimes it is. But sometimes it cuts like the sharp edge of a sword.

Femininity is stepping over the side of a bridge, looking down once, and then jumping head first into oblivion.

Femininity is teaching children what their limits are and then how to fucking push them.

Femininity is speaking up. Femininity is staying silent.

Femininity is more listening than talking. Femininity is more talking and less listening.

Femininity is a roar. Femininity is a whisper.

Women are tigers. We are lionesses. We are roaring grizzly bears. We are killer instinct. We are givers of life. We are nurturers. We are innocence, we are wisdom. We are power. We are weakness. We are lessons. We are empty. Until we are full.

Women know when to not-act. Women know when to take action.

Each day is a new opportunity to embody all three women. A new beginning every morning, life, followed by death and rebirth the following day. Like a gift.

I look forward to growing old. There’s power in it. You learn to use not-strength as your strength. I’m greedy. Give me a rushing torrent of days and years and decades and experiences and new beginnings and endings and I’ll sink to the lowest points and clean them out. I’ll clean me out. I’ll take all my gifts, give them to me.

The heron stands impossibly still, watching water flow under its feet, waiting for the right moment. The moment is here, and it’s finally time to fucking feast in a flurry of feathers and untamed movement. It’s time to be free.

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Look at the middle painting, it has three figures in it. Like me. Like all of us. We are free.

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That time you were really upset over an election and you started knitting pussy hats and then you couldn’t stop. That.

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After three years of running away from knitting I’m running right the fuck toward it. So thank you Donald J Trump.

Two separate people have said the hats don’t go far enough, so we’ll see where the third draft takes us. Let’s go from Merkin to full on pornographic pussy, because why not. It feels pretty good to be back, bitches.

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A new piece of Art!

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I love it so much.

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You can see it in the top third left of the photo, obscured by the column.

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This is the last piece of art I bought.

So I’m thinking maybe I’ve sung my bones back to life, as instructed in Women Who Run with the Wolves.

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Enter Title Here

It’s 3:48am and I have insomnia. I’ve had it since at least 2007 right after my dad died. I’ve tried everything I can think of to not have insomnia (sometimes melatonin works, but if I take it at this hour I’ll be groggy as hell in the morning and I want to make a huge, special, birthday breakfast first thing). Anyway I’m going to try writing to see if I can squeeze a couple hours of extra sleep in after I’m done.

So.

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My first book was based on leaves. I called it Leaves. You can see some of the leaves in the pieces if you look really closely. Cowl is called Leaf Relief.

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My second book, On Holiday was based on summer sunshine, sun dials with a dash of paganism. (Sun in Glory by Kate Poe, in my second book where I decided to make myself an editor as well as an author).

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This is the book proposal for Ballerinas in Pink, my third book (published 2013). inspired by, Degas.

My childhood was full of a lot of religious inspired deprivation. No secular music (I had to figure that out on my own). Not much tv. No R rated movies. Books went uncensored because my Dad would take me to the library and get whatever I’d like. That was pretty subversive of him. If I had to describe myself at that age I was simply a head with eyes and ears because that’s how I took everything in and most adults didn’t care for the working mouth part of my face. And that’s how you have the crude, unfiltered, highly opinionated probably overeducated woman before you today. I would say I went from hearing and seeing to speaking, and now I can’t shut up. I won’t shut up.

There were two artistic periods. The first being when I was eight. My brother moved to Vienna in 1979 after he finished college. In those days you had to return to the states every five years to renew your visa. So when I was 8 he came back and brought his lovely European knitting girlfriend Christine with him. My sister Miriam used to laugh about their childhood and tell me that Ivan “was really into Dadaism” and what she actually meant by that was that he was fucking weird. All three of us are fucking weird, so this doesn’t hold a lot of weight.

To the best of my knowledge and memory he was here for about 6 or so months. He and Christine lived in this tiny, deep green trailer that had belonged to my grandmother. We lived in a tiny modified house with a great view. We all lived together on my Uncle’s 100 acre cattle farm.

And there was so much art. Nearly every day there was some form of art. This was a lot of color on my plain white chaste canvas childhood. Christine would knit, she’d make us goulash. Ivan and I would work side by side, him with real artistic media, me with crayons. He’d rip the pages out of beautiful books and incorporate them.

It was a creative time for my mom too. She painted this really beautiful watercolor cottage surrounded by hollyhocks and country flowers like we had in her flower garden.

He waited until she was at work to get out his gouache and paint “Kitsch” on the glass covering her watercolor and hang it back on the wall for her too see it, transformed.

Ivan and Christine totally redid my grandmother’s trailer. Man I would love to live in that now. I remember one day finding them on the trailer roof painting on it “to give the airplanes something to look at.” Being 8 and a total rule follower I never did make it up there to see what they had done. I remember walks to our very small town, (it’s not even a town, just a couple of homes and a store or two) to see this yard absolutely covered in sun dials. We played a lot of badminton and chess. He would roll me in badminton and chess. Once he pretended like he was going to lose to get me to bet a month’s worth of tv watching on the game. At the time my favorite show was Batman with Adam West. About 3 weeks into my tv free period Miriam came to visit and found out and was so furious with him she made me turn on the tv.

We had a huge garden. I remember Ivan doing the backbreaking work of digging that garden and accidentally coming upon a family of moles (RIP moles). He was so upset. Later in the season I would sneak into the garden and take the green peppers and throw them as far as possible into our huge farm yard. Until I got caught and couldn’t sit for a week after.

It was a time of creativity in an otherwise quiet childhood. But everything is impermanent and I remember the dread I felt when it was time for him to return to Europe. I remember hugging him in the driveway. I remember the feeling of palpable sadness. It was probably my first really big ending.

I can’t place it, but at some point also in my childhood we would go to my sister’s apartment in town after church on Sundays. That’s how I got to see the Princess Bride about seven hundred times. She had one shelf of books. I read them all.

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A beautiful glossy book on Degas. (Photo taken in late 2015, San Diego Museum of Art)

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And another full of Le Chat Noir art. (Photo taken in late 2015, San Diego Museum of Art)

When I was 13 her and my brother in law Ric started taking me on art outings to get me out of my house. There was a lot going on in my house from age four on because of my dad’s illness. And there was a lot of religious authoritarianism. So it was important to get me out. My sister had three cats, which prevented me from living in her home. Sometimes I think she would have liked to rescue me from it all. But she never did. Anyway it was at this age when Miriam and Ric took me to the Hirshhorn and the National Gallery of Art and probably a few other museums I’ve forgotten. Two things about that trip.

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(Photo taken in late 2015, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago)

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(100 years of solitude, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Dec 2015)

The first being I saw a huge Andy Warhol exhibition, which is still probably my favorite artist today. As an adult I’ve sought out his work all over the US, in the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, the MOCA in LA when Mike was courting me, other random and various places throughout my years, and when I was in Denver last year I tried to sneak by security to see a large exhibit opening the following day (I was not successful but there was some great fucking art in the Denver Art Museum including a huge Wyeth exhibit with the seven deadly sins depicted by seagulls and art based on one of the many works of fiction Ivan gave me, One hundred years of solitude). (No I’ve got it completely wrong, the Andy Warhol pop art exhibit was Chicago at Christmas last year, Wyeth and One Hundred Years of Solitude was Denver in November). (Shit. I can’t remember where One Hundred Years of Solitude was) (Chicago, it was Chicago). When I moved in with Tristan at 17 he had this huge volume called the Andy Warhol diaries. And I read it cover to cover. It was influential.

The other work that I remember from that trip was Dali’s The Last Supper hanging in the Hirshhorn. I spent a lot of time looking at it. I still remember the soft continuous light in the museum and how it filtered through the windows as I walked down the stairs.

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Dali inspired shawl in my fourth book, Dreams. Pattern by Natalie Servant

I would talk with Miriam about art. Moreso after her masters degree when she went back for her art degree. I remember looking at this self portrait she painted and realizing she was really miserable and unhappy and not knowing what in the fuck to do about it. In 2008 we walked through the National Gallery of Art and she would ask me if I was sad that Tristan had died and she started crying. Of course I was sad. Looking at the art and thinking about him. He had already been gone for so long at that point I both did and didn’t know how to hold it. I was sad that I had only seen her a couple of times in the years previous. The truth was I didn’t know how to rescue her from her sadness and herself just like I didn’t know how to rescue me, until I just got tired of being unhappy and fucking rescued myself already. Jesus. She was my best friend, we spoke every week and emailed. But I never knew how to help her. Maybe I’m rescuing her now by raising her son.

She told me Kandinsky was her favorite artist.

So my fifth book is based on Kandinsky. I’m finishing it up now. I’ve stalled out on writing it for the past three years. Like many things in my life it was at a complete standstill. I’d rather count ceiling tiles or peel paint off the wall than feel the feelings that would come out when I’d sit down to work on it. In fact there were many things I would do every time I felt it was time to work on it and none of those things involved actually fucking working on it. But that’s different now. Something shifted in me. I did make incremental process on the book. Last december I had Lindsey do the charts for me in illustrator. In my quiet period? Dark period? Post Divorce apocalyptic period? I canceled my creative cloud subscription when everything went dark. I had Stephannie tech edit it. My absolute favorite graphic designer Tracy had fallen ill so my plan was to do the graphic design myself. So I put that off for about 9 months and finally gave in to beg, plead, and appeal to Tracy to do this for me because I want it to match the other books in my set. She agreed. In this part of the process she and I have to work together, i.e. she asks me for info and I’m a shitty person so I procrastinate because I have other things going on concurrently but mainly I feel that awful sensation of non movement, touch the part of me that can’t feel creativity, freak out and do everything possible to forget the whole thing. But now I’m providing her with what she needs to finish up (shit, I should probably be pattern writing right now instead of blog writing, fuck it oh well, maybe after huge breakfast for the kids and kite building this morning). Because something, I don’t know what (I totally know what) shifted in me and I feel like it is maybe okay to get this done. That falling sensation, that emptiness of missing my creative half seems like maybe it has resolved itself. I can’t tell you or anyone else how to reach the other side of loss but I can say therapy, meditation, martial arts and simply accepting my jungian shadow eventually did it for me.

If you think now that I’m changed because I’m 40, the truth is I’ve always been a bad language using loud mouth. There were periods of success during my business, and absolutely during my formal training and working in physics where I tried to lessen or minimize it from a desire not to offend or damage my reputation and ability to work. But the fact is I don’t care anymore if you or anyone else is offended. I’m 40, suffered a lot of loss, I have two huge responsibilities to raise my two beautiful children into adulthood, with one offering a lot more challenges due to disability. I’m independent. Angry. Sad. Happy. Full of laughter. Inspired by energy. Inspired by Art. Inspired by Wine, sometimes. I can be loud, brash. Quiet. I have a resting bitch face now. Miriam told me when I hit 40 that our faces change and I would look like our paternal grandfather (I don’t remember him, he died when I was an infant). I am very loving and soft. But you probably won’t see that side of me. But I am all of these things, and more. And I’m no longer stuck and I’m unafraid to tell anyone and everyone how I feel. And how I feel is to talk about what inspired all five of the knitting books I’ve written and hope that there will be a sixth. That one will likely be a little more unconventional.

So that’s where we are now. I’m tired. It’s 4:43am and I’m going to try and go back to sleep. I’ll add some pretty photos to this post later.

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Transformation

I am her.
I am me.
I am you.
I am transformed.
Through fire.
My mother.
My grandmother.
My sister.
My other grandmother.
My daughter.
All those that came before.
I held onto that pain inside.
I wept.
I raged.
I drank.
I hit.
Hit me.
Fuck me.
Love me.
Kill me.
I am already dead.
I am alive.
I am already alive.
I am here.
I am not here.
I am love.
I am not love.
I am hate.

Rage.

I am not hate.

Burn it.

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