Saturday, November 4, 2017

Just Today

I'm making a piece of work to trade with a friend who gave me a gorgeous ring -- I decided to ask his partner for a quote he loves and I would do something around that.  He did give me a great quote, "Just Today", which my friend loves and actually wears on a ring on his hand.  I love the sentiment, as well, the idea that we'll all get by if we just take it day by day.  Concentrate on just today...  So, I made the artwork:  I sewed on the machine, I hand-stitched this juicy vintage fabric, I built these little balsa-wood structures to hold the work up and out, I finished it, adhered it, slept on it, walked back into the studio the next day and didn't love it.  I could suddenly see so clearly, it wasn't what I was after.  I immediately set to dismantling it.  

It happens.  Not often, but sometimes.  I make a piece of work, or part of a piece of work, and it just doesn't come together.  Then I'm left with bits and pieces that were worked and re-worked with total intention and love and I just  cannot throw those bits and pieces away!  So, a couple of years ago, I decided to start leaving these little pieces behind... on my chair in the court house after jury duty, on the library keyboard after some research, in the underground book vault at Pratt university, on the cork board in an elevator, on the counter at the Post Office, in a book store, on a wall at the park, and taped to the child's seat of a cart at my local grocery store.  I try to always take a photo of the piece "in the wild"-- and if I shoot it just right, you can see the message I've left for someone to find.  I've started to call them #messagesfrommolly on Instagram.

Passing by a lot of intense characters on the streets of downtown Los Angeles:  sad, crazy, tweaking, babbling, dancing with their eyes closed, screaming and then the everyday down-on-your-luck people, some days, the whole of it seem just seem intrinsically harder than others.  I leave a lot of these messages downtown in places I hope someone who needs it will find it.  The most current, left behind from the work I just dismantled:  the fabric, the leather letters, tiny shreds of thread and the message, "Just Today" -- taking it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day...I just know someone that passes it will need it and they can even take it with them.  It's why these messages go out there, rather than in the trash.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Habitual Hello's

I'm a habitual hi-er.

Hi There.
Hows it going?
Oh, hey.
Oh, hi!

This "hi" habit has led to the following short-list:

1.  Some amazing stories.

2.  Some exhausting exchanges.

But, I can't HELP it.  Truly!  I'm sure this habit is heavily influenced by my parents who can barely walk by a human, let alone a common, domestic animal and not stop to recognize it as living being, acknowledge it profusely, and get into a conversation of some sort.

It's our way of saying, "I see you."  Each and every one of you living beings in this animal kingdom.  We are people-people.  We love people!  What we're really talking about is humans being positive and all inclusive with one another.  This is what my parents instilled in me:  It should be the norm to look at each person and think, "I see you, you are important, you are noticed.  You. Are. Here. Too."

I happen to be in Downtown LA most days, my studio is right off skid row, and I can't ignore even the most intense person walking by me:  They're clearly down on their luck and not at all in the same headspace as me, yet I can't help but look at them as I am walking by and if eye contact is made, my mouth instantly forms and emits the sound for "Hi!"  Often, a "how's it going?" tagged on the end of that, as well.  It doesn't always go over well, but it also rarely goes bad and it usually just lifts someone's spirits, which is my aim.  For those rare times it does go bad, I am always surprised.  RK, as my loving partner and protector, is always surprised at my surprise and usually has to talk me down from this as he continues to wonder why I do it so often.

Apparently, I actually invite further engagement when I make eye contact...
I suppose I do.
I didn't even know I was doing it.
It's automatic.
It's almost impossible for me to walk by people and dogs and babies and look down or look the other way.  I have to acknowledge each being.  I actually feel as if I'm being rude if I don't say hello to every single person I pass.  I am working on this.

But there is an ultimate reward: 
Many, many times that "hi" leads to things I'd never expected. 
I have had incredibly interesting conversations with people from all walks of life. 
It's gotten me into trouble almost never. 
It's gotten me numerous invites to places I might never have gone.
It's also gotten my phone number into some pretty random phones and filled my own contact list with a list of first names that just don't ring a bell anymore...
but, most definitely, the pros outweigh the cons.

Just now, as I walked back to my studio from the bathroom, I said "hi" to a complete stranger in the hallway and, right after that walked by someone's studio with the door wide open and I had to firmly tell myself not to look in:  Molly, You do NOT need to say "hi" to the people inside that room!  Yes, the door is open but open does not always mean an invitation to acknowledgement! Get ahold of yourself!

Yeah, Hi, I'm working on this... 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Even Lucy, Linus and Charlie Brown have had enough

I grew up in the 70's-80's, reading the Peanuts comics.  I went to the library every week and checked out all the books they had.  And then my mom started buying them for me and I read them over and over.

When I say "in the 70's & 80's" this in the same way that people like Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein claim about the "times" they grew up in.  Yet, they were raised (I can't say "grew up", that seems like a contradiction) within a few decades of me, a certain time, not that long ago...

When I was growing up, I believed in Peanuts comic books, I believed in the power and beauty of the library, I completely believed books could change your life, and I believed that Catholic priests were a certain type of person who would never purposely hurt anyone, and I believed as humans we all had a right to be ourselves as long as we didn't hurt someone else.  Never in that time, or in the years since then have I ever believed a man was supposed to sexually molest a child; I never believed that sexual assault was okay or the suggestion of violent sexual conduct was "locker room talk".

Even in the 70's and 80's when, I believe, the men and women alive then, including Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein (and Archbishop Bernard Francis Law and Woody Allen and Representative Mel Reynolds [D-IL],  and Senator Robert Packwood, and Bill O'Reilly, etc) were also alive, participating in society and seeing times a-changing, there were always some basics:  Treat people with respect, give everyone a chance, women are not there for your entertainment (unless they chose to get paid in entertainment, and then they are at their freaking job, so leave them the hell alone), adults should not harm children, men shouldn't grab any part of a woman's body, period.  You know, the obvious human kindness factor.

Now, 2017, this dumpster fire of current society, this crazy round of excuses, for any of them, is just that:  CRAZY.  We ALL know right from wrong, especially the men with a shit-ton of power, men who run massive companies, a major congregation, or the friggin free world!  ESPECIALLY the friggin free world.  And if they don't then why the hell do we keep giving them these positions of power?!

Now I'm slightly more grown-up in the 2000's, and I'm still going to the library every week and checking out lots and lots of books, though, seemingly, more reflective of the time...


or, so I thought, until I found that sticker above and realized the Peanuts have understood it all along...

*this particular book was sent to me by a good friend who knows me well, but it rides along with my library books, next to my bed, on my reading table, so it's included!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Stella Marie: Her heart, Our heart

This week we took Stella Marie in for a check-up and found that she has chronic degenerative valve disease.  It's done a number on her heart, which is now severely enlarged.  We start her on medication immediately and indefinitely.

For months now, Stella has been breathing heavily and scratching incessantly at her chest.  I thought it was the heat of summer, then I thought it was the humidity, then fleas, then dermatitis, then allergies, then anxiety.  I never once thought it was one of her very important valves not working properly and therefore allowing blood to engorge her heart and make her struggle at every turn. 

The interesting part of it is the way she seems to have relaxed, her breathing regulated, and her chest itching almost stopped, all since we took her to the cardiologist.  It's as if she knows we now know.  She no longer has to send us dramatic signals to get our attention.  She has finally been heard.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On Why I Miss The Classroom

“As far as I can recall, none of the adults in my life ever once remembered to say, “Some people have a thick skin and you don’t. Your heart is really open and that is going to cause pain, but that is an appropriate response to this world. The cost is high, but the blessing of being compassionate is beyond your wildest dreams. However, you’re not going to feel that a lot in seventh grade. Just hang on.” 
― Anne LamottStitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair

I felt like that adult voice.  I felt like the adult voice that completely relates, still, to that kid in 7th grade.

It occurs to me, after the last few years of searching, I should be back in a teaching role.  That, and I miss being around the wisdom and the wackiness of kids.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day

Stella, in her floral glory.  

We love a good blossom.

A tree most appreciated in the summer, a moon for the darkness to come...

Itty bitty baby ferns,

Teenage ferns,

and, it's actually a hallucinogenic, wouldn't you know!

May Day holds a lot of heavy stories, and a lot of different meanings for a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures.  In researching "May Day", I now know that.

But, before I knew that...  I, on the other hand, sat on our porch, in the garden at the end of the day with our dog, Stella, and pondered the fact that we have a porch, with a yard, with a garden and, we actually have another backyard, as well, with a soon-to-be garden.  I decided to think back to the day, not that long ago, when RK and I thought, 'all we want is to able to walk out our front door to a garden, a porch, a yard.'  That seems simple now, done!  Which made me think back to allllll the times we think, 'all I want is _________' and fill in the blank.  We WANT all the time!  Okay, not all of us.  But, most of us.  Definitely those of us in a first world country where we get most everything we want all of the time but just can't see it for the next thing we want is already being wanted.

It's rare, like a bloody steak, that we actually notice the wants we wanted are now the haves we have. The little wants, the big wants, the constant wants, and the painful wants.

Stella = wanted dog / have dog
Move to LA = wanted change / got change

wants/ haves = more family time, great husband, fantastic neighbors, cars, a Sunday subscription to The New York Times, to be in Uppercase Magazine, to have a studio, to travel , blah blah blah blah.... but you get it, right?  I'm grateful (though the overuse of that word and especially the reality of that emoji, make it difficult to use these days).

And, so, on this, the arbitrary first day of an arbitrarily named month, I decided to spend my time being grateful for the haves.  The haves that might seem little now were actually once big wants. Stopping to appreciate the them is what makes them big haves.