August 28, 2014

August 26, 2014

Toynbee Tiles...

So far I've found 2 tiles.  I went online to find the locations of Cleveland tiles and located this one near the casino:

What was really magical is walking down 6th ave in NY, on my way to dinner with a friend, and I looked down and I was literally stepping on one:

I think I screamed.  I snapped a photo before any taxis could run me down.  

Places I've Lived (Feeling Nostalgic)

I've recently shoot senior pictures for friends I grew up with, their kids now old enough to be seniors in high school.  Yesterday we shoot at Colby Park (the park my Grandpap would take me to when I was little.) 

Also, that's not a typo.  I called my Grandfather "Grandpap".  I don't know where that came from...

Anyways, I had an hour to kill before the shoot, and I realized I was near my grandparent's house and the first house I lived in.  So I decided to start a project I'd been thinking about for a while.  Taking photos of the homes I've lived in.  And other places of importance to my life.

First home (1970- 1975)

This is our house on Twin Lakes Blvd.  Technically, it's my 2nd home, because my parents were still in an apartment when I was born.  But shortly after I arrive, they bought a house.

I can remember the family room at the back of the house, where we watched tv and I played with toys.  The backyard was huge and our dog Snowball would dig deep, muddy holes (causing him to go from his beautiful white coat to muddy dog.)

This is where I once organized a "boycott your parents & run away from home" movement at age 5.  I got all my friends to bring their stuffed animals, loaded up a wagon, and headed off to live in the park at the end of our street.  My dad casually pulling up in his pickup truck to say, "hey, where do you think you're going?"  He might have even giggled before he rounded us up and sent us home.

I remember the house across the street being painted pick, with matching VW vans in the garage (hippies in the suburbs.)

This is where I played with a little boy around the corner who tried to get me to eat raw hamburger meat.  (I declined.)  Later that summer he accidentally shot himself in the head with his father's loaded gun.  He survived, but lived in a wheelchair and couldn't speak.

2nd home (1975- 1977)

(I googled our old street name from Bowling Green KY and found a pic of a house that looks sort of like the one I recall.  Someday I want to go to KY and see the house and other spot.)

We left Wickliffe in 1975, around the time my little sister was born.  I recall travelling with my dad in his van, driving through the windy roads and mountains in Kentucky.  I think my mom said behind with my sister for a short while.

On that drive, my dad told me about his family, like his great Uncle Hansel the pig farmer & moon shiner.  He showed me where the coal companies cut down hills and destroyed the land.

We were only in KY for about 1 1/2 years.  I recall the first winter, wondering where all the snow was.  I vividly remember a hay ride at an apple farm, getting to pick an apple off a tree and eat it right there.  It was the best thing I ever tasted.

I got to know my dad's Uncle John and his wonderful family.  My cousin Jenny Lynn (same age, same blonde hair) and her magical teenage sisters.  They wore halter tops and listened to cool music.   "Fly Like an Eagle" was once they played over and over.  There was a sister with Down's Syndrome that I really liked.  We were pen pals for years.  Her parents kept her home, and made sure she got to go to public school.  This was rare back in the 70's.

Uncle John was sheriff of Louisville, a big deal.  They had a fancy big house and an antique bed that you had to climb a step stool to reach.  We'd go over on weekends and watch "The Jackson Five" and "Donnie & Marie", make popcorn in the big fireplace.

But I was always homesick for Cleveland and my friends.  I especially missed my grandparents.  They visited once or twice and my Grandpap was obsessed with the little metal tee-pees that stood at the end of every street.  The area we lived in gave streets native american names (like Mohawk).  My Grandpap swore we could sneak out one night and sleep in one of those tee-pees.  I think my Grandma talked him out of it.

Kentucky was supposed to fix everything my dad thought was wrong in his life.  It was where he thought people were nicer and jobs were plentiful.  It didn't work out, so we came back to Wickliffe in 1977.

3rd home (1977-1978)

We moved back before finding a new house, so for a year we lived in these apartments on Euclid Ave, around the corner from my grandparent's home.  I could walk to school and then to my Grandma's after school.

It was kind of a junky apartment complex.  The kids were a little rough.  One older girl, nicknamed Cricket (because she was bowlegged) seemed to run the show.  She came up with all sorts of "adventures" for the kids in the complex.  Like taking her parent's match collection and teaching us how to catch the grass on fire.

This is where we meet a Chinese family, and I became friends with Linda.  We were the same age and same temperament (we liked to hide indoors, read books and look at her Dad's Beatles albums.)

One thing I recall was a small little bench in the woods where I loved to hide out, read books and chill.)

Throughout my childhood, I probably spent most of my first 8 years at my Grandparent's house then I did anywhere else.

Grandparent's Home (1970- 1995)

Oh, seeing this house yesterday, I couldn't believe how small it is!  When I was there as a child, it felt infinite.  There was a giant pine tree in front where I hid out.  We spent many summer evenings on the front porch when Aunt Helen and Uncle Chuck visited.  They came up every summer to stay for weeks.  Uncle Chuck brought home brewed root beer.  They had a can full of pennies and played cards and Yahtzee every evening.  Uncle Chuck was wild & funny like my Grandpap, and he had a tattoo of a Hawaiian lady that he got during the war, and he could make her dance!

In the summer I liked to explore the basement.  My friend Sherry would come over and we'd roller-skate on the cement basement floors, each of us with a mop that we pretended was one of "The Hardy Boys".  ( I liked the one on the left.)

When the weather turned cooler, I'd spend my days up in the attic, looking through old boxes of family photos (pics of my grandpap's family in Yugoslavia, pics from some war...)  And I'd read my grandma's trashy true crime novels.  I was probably 5 when I read "Helter Skelter", "Sybil" and a book about Ted Bundy.  That might explain a lot about me...

Grandpap's garage

This is where grandpap kept all of his tools and his red Camero (before his stroke.)  He had a large conch shell in front, and we'd sit out there and talk.  I recall me eating water melon and he told me if I swallowed the seeds a melon would grow in my stomach.  I might have cried.

He loved telling me about Yugoslavia from his childhood.  The family had chickens & sheep (and he loved to tell me about how they cut the head off a chicken and the body got up and ran!)

The back sun-room

This was added on to the tiny house after they bought it.  It was a beautiful sun room with my grandma's lilacs on the windowsills.  

4th home (1978- until I left for college)

We finally settled in to this house in Willowick when I started 2nd grade.  Another new school and new neighborhood.  I was excited to get the huge attic bedroom all to myself.  It was like my own apartment and all through school my friend's loved to hang out there.  My parents weren't strict so we could stay up all night watching horror movies.

This is the house I think of when I think of "home" as a kid.  We were there until my sister and I both graduated high school.  We were there with my dad and then my step dad.  

The photo above shows the 2 trees my step dad planted, as well as the front porch he built.  

I wanted to get a pic of the garage, because that's where my dad spent most of his time, working on cars.  He was a gifted auto mechanic and also did custom paint jobs.  He also loved to ride dirt bikes.  And before I was born he raced cars.  So the garage was his sanctuary.

Here's where I'm stopping.  Maybe someday I'll add more to this.  If I went through my decade in Columbus I would list 1 dorm room and around 10 different apartments.  Moving every year to another crappy, cheap campus apartment.

I guess I'll end this with my home today.  But I need to snap a pic!

August 23, 2014

I was Trying to Describe You to Someone: by Richard Brautigan

I was trying to describe you to someone a few days ago. You don’t look like any girl I've ever seen before.

I couldn't say “Well she looks just like Jane Fonda, except that she’s got red hair, and her mouth is different and of course, she’s not a movie star…” I couldn't say that because you don’t look like Jane Fonda at all.

I finally ended up describing you as a movie I saw when I was a child in Tacoma, Washington. I guess I saw it in 1941 or '42, somewhere in there. I think I was seven, or eight, or six.

It was a movie about rural electrification, a perfect 1930’s New Deal morality kind of movie to show kids. The movie was about farmers living in the country without electricity. They had to use lanterns to see by at night, for sewing and reading, and they didn't have any appliances like toasters or washing machines, and they couldn't listen to the radio. They built a dam with big electric generators and they put poles across the countryside and strung wire over fields and pastures.

There was an incredible heroic dimension that came from the simple putting up of poles for the wires to travel along. They looked ancient and modern at the same time.

Then the movie showed electricity like a young Greek god, coming to the farmer to take away forever the dark ways of his life. Suddenly, religiously, with the throwing of a switch, the farmer had electric lights to see by when he milked his cows in the early black winter mornings. The farmer’s family got to listen to the radio and have a toaster and lots of bright lights to sew dresses and read the newspaper by.

It was really a fantastic movie and excited me like listening to the Star Spangled Banner, or seeing photographs of President Roosevelt, or hearing him on the radio “… the President of the United States… “

I wanted electricity to go everywhere in the world. I wanted all the farmers in the world to be able to listen to President Roosevelt on the radio….

And that’s how you look to me.

August 14, 2014

The Bird Dream...

One night in NY, I was having trouble sleeping.  Because I was having trouble breathing.  I was asleep having a minor asthma attack.  And I was dreaming while it was happening.

I dreamt that someone (either god or my husband) handed me a small clear bag with a dead brown sparrow in it.  The sparrow looked peaceful in the bag and felt cold to the touch.

As I looked at the dead bird in the bag, I struggled breathing, in my dream and in real life.

Suddenly the bag with the bird in my hand started getting warmer.  My breathing (in my dream and real life) started to get easier.

The bird slowly came alive, as my breathing improved.  It gently flew out of the bag as I woke up being able to take a deep breathe.

I don't normally remember my dreams, but I'll always remember this one.

August 13, 2014

The Tender Heart...

The suicide of Robin Williams really triggered me.  I found myself experiencing real, intense depression about it.

A friend sent me this quote a few weeks ago and it applies to today:

Joining Heaven and Earth- Pema Chodron 

 "Recently, in a friend’s kitchen I saw on the wall a quotation from one of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s talks, which said: “Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea.” 

 I was struck by it because when I read it I realized that I myself have some kind of preference for stillness. The notion of holding the sadness and pain of samsara in my heart rang true, but I realized I didn’t do that; at least, I had a definite preference for the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. My reference point was always to be awake and to live fully, to remember the Great Eastern Sun—the quality of being continually awake. But what about holding the sadness and pain of samsara in my heart at the same time? 

 The quotation really made an impression on me. It was completely true: if you can live with the sadness of human life (what Rinpoche often called the tender heart or genuine heart of sadness), if you can be willing to feel fully and acknowledge continually your own sadness and the sadness of life, but at the same time not be drowned in it, because you also remember the vision and power of the Great Eastern Sun, you experience balance and completeness, joining heaven and earth, joining vision and practicality." 

I'm going to try and hold the sadness in my heart but not drown in it.

August 12, 2014

Thoughts on Robin Williams & The Terrible Whisper of Depression...

As a child of the 70's, I grew up watching Robin Williams.  I had the "Mork and Mindy" rainbow suspenders.  I watched him on Letterman and Live Aid.  I fell in love with him in "World According to Garp".  I wept in dark movie theaters watching "Awakenings", "Dead Poet's Society" and "Good Will Hunting".  

I spent an evening in NY last week, walking around Grand Central Station, remembering that waltz scene from "Fisher King".

Everyone has been commenting about his death.  I think it's good we are talking about depression and suicide.  But this time, I don't have many words. 

Except to say that DEPRESSION LIES (to quote the bloggess.)  

I watched my father battle similar demons as a child.  I fight my own battles against depression.

It's a wind whispering terrible things in your ear.  It's a dark cloud over your head, the black dog on the bed.

Anyways, I just started to make some lists and it's just stunning, how many people we lose to depression, addiction, and general deep pain in being human.  It's also been happening for ages.

Suicides of Artists I love (In My Lifetime) 

  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman (actor)
  • Elliot Smith (musician)
  • Freddie Prinze (actor, "Chico and the Man", loved that show as a kid)
  • Hunter S. Thompson (writer)
  • Charlie Rocket (on 1 season of SNL, had a crush on him as a kid)
  • John O'Brien (author of "Leaving Las Vegas")
  • Spaulding Grey (actor, writer, "Swimming to Cambodia")
  • Paul Hester (drummer of Crowded House)
  • Richard Manuel (musician)
  • Kurt Cobain (musician)
  • Wendy O'Williams (musician)

Suicides of Artists I love (Before My Lifetime) 

  • Diane Arbus (photographer)
  • Ernest Hemingway (and his father, his brother and sister, and his granddaughter)
  • Francesca Woodhouse (photographer)
  • Syliva Plath (poet)
  • Anne Sexton (poet)
  • Virgina Wolf (poet)
  • Lupe Velez (actress)
  • Nick Drake (musician)

Not Really Suicides, But Death by Addiction/ Overdose

  • Chris Farley (comedian, actor)
  • Heath Ledger (actor)
  • Frederick Exley (writer)
  • John Belushi (comedian, actor)
  • John Cassavetes (actor, director)
  • Michael Hutchence (musician- INXS)
  • Richard Pryor (comedian, actor)
  • Rick Danko (musician)
  • Jason Molina (musician) 
  • Amy Winehouse (musician)
  • Marilyn Monroe (actor)
  • Lenny Bruce (comedian)

People I Know In Life Who've Lost Someone to Suicide:
  • AK (sister)
  • SN (brother)
  • AF (boyfriend)
  • RL (Cousin)
  • SA (family friend)
  • JM (friend) 
  • EO (brother)

"Depression is one of the most tragically misunderstood words in the English language"

A black eyed dog he called at my door
The black eyed dog he called for more
A black eyed dog he knew my name
A black eyed dog he knew my name
The black eyed dog, a black eyed dog
I'm growing old and I wanna go home
I'm growing old and I don't wanna know
I'm growing old and I wanna go home
A black eyed dog he called at my door
A black eyed dog he called for more

I found this image as part of an art series called "When Grown Men Cry".  Intense stuff.  This pic kind of breaks my heart.

Here's a link to his appearance on Louise last season.