Saturday, April 09, 2005


Adjusting to the loss of my best girlfriends. Caroline went on a Course in Miracles retreat, and after a week she called to say she wasn't coming back. In fact she did come back, but only after quitting her job, finding someone to sublet her apartment, and returning to get her car and some personal possessions. I'm happy for her, getting enlightened and all, and I think it is High Time, for one who has been in a state of spiritual emergency almost since I've known her. She simply has a Calling, and I have to respect that. I cried, though.

And my other best girlfriend still isn't speaking to me, after I told her that there was no way I could risk going into business with her. I do not feel bad about telling her this, and I would tell her again if I had it to do over. Anyone who leaves a note on her living room door saying "The dog had an accident, you can't do yoga in there this morning," and leaves the shit and the note for the next two days, then takes me to task for cleaning it up, saying "You need to MAKE me take care of my responsibilities," is Not A Person I Can Work With. I mean, damn, that's pretty clear--"I know the shit is there, I know it's my responsibility, I know it's inconveniencing you, and I'm choosing not to deal with it--so make me!"

Her view was that little things like this don't matter, and I'm mean and horrible and not giving her a chance. My view is that every time I've noticed a problematic character trait in a friend, like, say, she's a spoiled brat who doesn't pay her bills, or he's a womanizer who cheats on all his girlfriends, or she's an egotist who gets sudden paranoid fits and decides her best friend is Satan, and I ignore this and let them be my roommate or my boyfriend or my business partner anyway, thinking "Oh, they wouldn't do that to ME," guess what? THEY ALWAYS DO IT TO ME. Always. That is what makes "character," character. I have finally learned to fire people BEFORE they screw up my life. So either my other best girlfriend will get over it, or she won't. At least I didn't give her the chance to leave a dump on my art installation for two days, metaphorically or no.

Meanwhile I'm sort of lonely, but not terribly. That's what cats are for. I had to take my baby cat to Manhattan for an X-ray this week, after he had a bladder infection that didn't clear up after a month of increasingly strong antibiotics. The first vet thought it might be a bladder stone. The second vet didn't find any stones, but prescribed an expensive cat food that he has to eat for the rest of his life to prevent him from getting any. Both cats seem to like it okay, but this now means that I can't leave town for the weekend with a big bowl of kibble to tide them over. They eat a third of a can at a time, and wake me up in the middle of the night when they're hungry. Often I wish I lived in Mexico again, where cats just stop coming home when they get sick, thus obviating expensive dilemmas like this.

Oddly, the bladder infection seemed to clear up after I let my baby cat sleep under the covers with me, and I visualized blue light enveloping him and pulverizing bladder stones. This is probably correlative and not causative. I am getting weird, being alone so much. Of course, my cat was already weird, with his predilection for getting under the covers with me.

Try letting a cat with a bladder infection sleep under YOUR covers.

After making the appointment for the X-ray in Manhattan, it occurred to me that I myself have had a chronic medical problem for which I have not yet seen a real doctor, for going on four years now. I called Dad for feedback, since Dad is the only other person on the planet with feet as bizarrely constructed and chronically painful as mine. Dad confirmed what I'd already intuited, that the pain in my left ankle is probably inflammation of the tendon, due to the abnormal sesamoid bone in the instep rubbing on it. I told Dad that I was doing yoga and Pilates, and wearing a brace and a lift and custom-made orthotics, and taking ibuprofen and glucosamine and chondrotin and hyaluronic acid, and it still hurts, what should I do?

He said, "you're doing too much. Just stay off the foot for awhile."

This is easier said than done, when you live in a fourth floor walk-up in Brooklyn, and your car has to be moved back and forth across the street every day at 11:30 and 1, along with Caroline's car that you're car-sitting, and the only cash you bring in is by doing massage, some of these outcalls, which means that you carry your table up and down from the fourth floor walk-up, and load it into the car and walk it a long city block back and forth from your clients' apartments, who also live in a walk-up. And stand up for an hour during the massage, which Dad says is worse than walking. And even going out to dinner and a dance performance involves trekking eight or nine city blocks. Hell, I can't even return my videos without walking a quarter of a mile.

I tried to stay off the foot, though, and after three days it hurt worse than ever. My theory is that inactivity causes all the other muscles in my body to cramp up, and in compensating for the sore foot they get horrendously out of balance, and yank up on the tendon and make everything worse. So today I went back to yoga, accepting that my foot may just have to hurt for the rest of my life. It's better than being couch-bound.

I've also noticed that I can't be content with gentle, repetitive workouts. The most crowded yoga and Pilates classes are always the ones where the routine is fairly basic and rarely changes; this drives me batty after a few weeks. My favorite yoga class is the one where the teacher says things like, "Okay, downward dog, now plank, now chataranga, up dog, down dog, lift right leg, hook your right toe behind your left ear, plank, chataranga, pushup, three-legged dog, standing split, fling yourself into a handstand, turn sideways, one-legged backbend, hold five breaths..." and so on. I'm not actually GOOD at this stuff, but I do like a challenge. No sooner do I finally achieve my first Full Wheel in twelve years than I'm calculating whether I'll ever be able to do a back walkover. I get out of my Power Yoga class wishing it happened every day, and hobble to my car like Quasimodo. In one of my other lifetimes I must have had a much springier physique, and I can't get used to this one.

On Monday I got the fiscal sponsorship application mailed, under the wire. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, vowing to forget the whole deal for the next four to six weeks while I get ready for my show. Then I turned on my computer and had a mild anxiety attack when I saw that the first two Swing Spaces are going up for grabs in one week, application deadline April 18. I emailed my team and told them that maybe we should wait these out. The team is, potentially, a really good one; I was proud of how responsible our application looked. It was also a real joy to meet with them and have someone who understood spreadsheets, payroll taxes, and grant research, and someone else who came up with a realistic-looking events schedule, projected budget and fundraising plan on the spot. Nobody needed to have simple concepts explained four times; nobody had a panic attack over an imaginary problem; nobody got obsessed with irrelevant details and needed a reality straitjacket. Everybody was enthusiastic. It could happen.

Meanwhile I'm entering the "I've got paint on every extremity and can't bother to scrub it all off every day" phase of show preparation. I've noticed that with each of these big linen canvases, there comes a phase where I'm sure I've irredeemably screwed it up, and will have to throw $100 worth of art supplies out the window. Then, agonizingly, I haul it back from the lip of the dumpster, using all the desperate invention and radical risk-taking at my disposal, and the result is a more dramatic, forceful and complex painting than I've done yet. It's a very slow process; my productivity in terms of quantity is still far below what it has traditionally been, in March and April of most years when I've got a show booked for the end of May. But I think the results are going to be interesting.

My "one piece of music on a repeat loop" tendencies are getting radically out of control as well. In past years I have plagued the neighbors with Arvo Part's "De Profundis," Chris Isaac's "Wicked Game" and "L'autre Valse d'Amelie." This year it has been the last track of either of two Rachel's albums, "Music for Egon Shiele" and "the Sea and the Bells," or one of two Bebel Gilberto songs--"River," or the short one near the end of the album that sounds like a torch song in a jazz bar. Any of these can and has been repeated for two hours or more. I am considering getting a videographer friend to make a music/painting video when I'm finished; it's like I'm trying to capture a certain complete dynamic.

One or two more thoughts on discipline and friendship--it hurts my feelings when 1) my friends don't seem to get that I Mean It about being an artist, that I seriously intend both to make a living at this and to achieve some critical recognition; 2) that I Work Very Hard toward achieving this end; and 3) that they seem to begrudge me what little I have earned in this direction thus far. Sometimes it's subtle; it's more on the level of assumption, as in "what kind of a job are you looking for?" or "you could move to (X location where there is nothing resembling workable studio space), or do (X occupation that leaves no time, money, space or energy for painting)." They seem to assume that hard work has nothing to do with results; that having a real career has as much to do with luck as intention and prioritization. We live in an instant gratification society, unfortunately, where raw talent and Getting Noticed are supposed to do it for you. Then a barrage of editors will suddenly descend on you and correct your grammar, spelling and syntax, a sound engineer will mix your recording, a professional tailor will manifest your design concept, a curator will mount, install and light your adolescent splatters, and a critic will divine your vague, amorphous intent and praise you so highly that collectors will elbow each other out of the way to drop ten grand on one of your sketches. If this isn't happening, people seem to say, if you actually know your grammar, your software, how to sew a hem stitch and how to write a review, well then! Why aren't you an editor?

Don't mind me, I'm just a little cranky. My cats are hungry.