Monday, May 09, 2005

for Caroline, gazing on infinity

Just did a painting in two hours. Pisses me off. The last one took four weeks. I think this one is better. But perhaps I had to get to this one THROUGH the four weeks of troweling and scraping and reconfiguring and color-considering, and turning it upside-down and glowering in despair, and rolling around on the floor to "The Sea and the Bells," hoping that the surging rocking sea energy would transfer to the canvas by osmosis.

And maybe I will hate this new one in the morning. I hope not, because it is my 'sample work' for the Park Slope Studio Tour opening, which has to be delivered on Tuesday. I painted it at the last minute because I didn't have any recent paintings under 2'x 3' that I was willing to show, particularly as a representative sample. You'd think that with three months to prepare for my show, I'd be readier, you'd think, but you'd be wrong.

It's been a rocky month. My little cat almost died, and that is not melodrama. He had an undiagnosed illness which could have been, and probably was, distemper. He came down from the ceiling one morning drooling, and vomiting copious amounts of green slime. I rushed him to the emergency room, where they charged me a lot of money to do nothing in particular. His regular vet charged me even more money for blood tests, and after he had been drooling and vomiting nonstop for three days, the vet called me in a panic, saying that his white blood cell count was dangerously low, a red flag for distemper. "That's not the kitty flu, that's the kitty PLAGUE," she said. I prepared emotionally to bid my kitty good-bye.

But I took him to the vet one last time, and told them we didn't want any more tests, but to give him subcutaneous fluids for dehydration, and vitamins, since he couldn't ingest a drop of water without vomiting. (I tried to feed him with an eyedropper and was sorry.) I had a solemn talk with him, telling him that I was grateful for the time we'd spent together, and it was his decision whether he wanted to stay or go. I gave him Reiki for an hour at a time, and got a fluid bag and a handful of needles to inject him myself.

Evidently he has decided to stay. He's not completely up to speed, but after a couple of weeks he stopped drooling and took a mild interest in nourishment. Oddly, he has become more affectionate than he's ever been; he used to sleep at the foot of my bed, and disdain being petted, but now I wake to find him snuggled under the covers, his head pillowed on my hip. He follows me around all day and tries to climb into my lap, seeming to prefer affection to food or water. Last night I told him, sternly, 'you can't LIVE on Reiki.' It's like having an anorexic teen-ager. I am terribly grateful that he's still here, even with the nine hundred dollars in vet bills; life without him would have been bleak. He's still one of the only reasons I get up in the morning.

Getting ready for my show is, of course, bringing up Issues. The self-promotion Issue, the financial Issue, the laziness Issue, the am-I-just-kidding-myself Issue. I alternate between periods of working so much that the whole apartment smells stiflingly of asphyxiating solvents, and periods of severe procrastination, depression, denial, and percolation. It doesn't help that the 'gallery' isn't helping me promote AT ALL, to the point where they could not manage to email me a JPEG of their logo after a week and a half of phone calls and emails requesting it. Finally I faked the logo and sent it to the printers, already too late to have the cards ready for the BWAC opening. This entire episode was worth two and a half days of Issue-processing instead of working. Am I pathetic or what? Do all other artists have these problems?

O., however, is a magically wondrous new friend, having essentially replaced Neneng-girl in a surprise switcharoo. Last week during the non-promotion crisis, I was carping to the Powers that Be as I did my grocery shopping, daring them to provide me with some, I don't know, nurturing or something. Upon returning home there was a message from O.; "I have an early class in your neighborhood tomorrow morning, and wondered if I could come by afterward and give you a massage." Glory glory hallelujah. This week it was her turn; she came over after work and I gave HER a massage, plus a nutritious dinner, and she brought me some Dead Sea bath salts and healing chile compress for my tendonitis. I have a deep-seated need to mother people, but it's awfully nice when they reciprocate.

I finally broke down and went to the doctor about my ankle. He grabbed it, flexed it, said 'it's jammed,' and I screamed and burst into tears. It wasn't so much that it hurt horribly, it was more a reaction to the cumulative stress of trudging around for months and months and months with the pain getting slightly worse every day. He taped it up and sent me off for an X-ray, which established that there are no stress fractures, it's just chronic tendonitis. I'm supposed to 'stay off of it,' which is making me cranky. I put an ice pack on it three times a day, massage it with arnica before bed, sleep with a pillow under my knees to maintain proper alignment, and spend ten minutes with the Theraband before I attempt to stand upright in the mornings. It has improved to the extent that I can walk with most of the sole of my foot on the floor. I have high hopes of being able to return to yoga in a week or so.

And then our fiscal sponsorship application was turned down. Damn and blast. I biked around the park a couple of times, went for a pot of tea and a ginger plum scone at the Tea Lounge, and thought dark thoughts. Then I called them. "We'd like some feedback on what mistakes we made, so that we can correct them," I said. Tactful, huh?

So we will do it again. I am deeply grateful to have an indomitable team of philosophical non-quitters in my corner; nobody even considered giving up. Nobody threw any tantrums or called the cultural council nasty names, either, not even me. We shall prevail, oh yes we shall.

Three times in the last two days, I've been the recipient of surprise hugs. I ran into a 'friend' of my ex's at an art opening, and instead of failing entirely to recognize me, as I almost thought she would, she said "we miss you" and buried her face in my shoulder. Then I dropped by the Young Designer's Market to visit O.; as I spotted her from a distance she looked all busy and aloof and not-wanting-to-be-bothered, but when I wandered over to shop at her table she gasped with joy and launched herself at my cheekbone. This morning at the co-op I spied a grouchy-looking Marion wearing a purple hat with a pom-pom. I said "I'm going to pull your pom-pom, Marion" and she hugged me, too. How about that? I don't know why I think people will get sick of me if I continue to exist.

Caroline is gone, gone, gone. I was in denial until twenty-four hours after her plane took off, then I dissolved into miserable tears. Caroline has been my rock in NYC for the last three years, my link with the past, my spiritual sister. She's not a city person and I didn't expect her to stay half so long, so I am grateful. But it's lonely here without her. Ergo the title of today's painting, "for Caroline, gazing on infinity." It's the first serious abstract painting I've ever created, and the abstraction was an accident. It frightens me, as though I'm cutting my tether.


Phylameana said...

Hi, I stumbled onto your blog when I did a search for "infinity" for the Carnival of Healing. I even added a link back at


Anonymous said...

Nice site! |