Friday, November 30, 2007
It seems there is a Starbucks on every corner of NYC. Disgusting except for the bathroom opportunities offered.
The other day in SoCal I took the kids there for hot chocolate. Kid.02 spilled his before even taking a sip; he was distraught about the stains on his pants, poor guy. I went into the store to get a clean up rag and order a replacement drink, and they charged me for it. Let’s just say this didn’t give me the warm fuzzies.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I am like a blanket with holes cut out of the center. I am missing people, and there is no way to replace them. Slowly I must patch and mend.
I have been kicked off a Turkish mountain into the dry California scrub. After a prestigious Senior Fulbright Scholarship, I am once again a lowly art instructor with no security.
I am trying to submerse myself in painting to help me feel better. Working on two series now, a small group of gouache studies on paper, and a larger cycle of acrylic interiors on canvas. Both are figurative.
I am loving my family and friends.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
It is the center of the world for artists.
It is fashion, where Abercrombie is like a disco, where designer shops line the neighborhoods, where discount stores are wild with shoppers.
Food is everything, from pizza-by-the-slice to wild boar and polenta, from toasted bagel with cream cheese and jelly to warm squid salad with radicchio, from warm beer to martini.
It is the holidays, trees and lights and windows dressed with snowmen and mermaids.
At 3am the streets are still full of partiers, girls in mini skirts and five-inch heels in 30 degree weather.
And New Yorkers are so friendly, they talk to you, they treat tourists kindly.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Got through it. Party was good. Everyone exhausted.
That evening we saw a Black Crowned Night Heron. It stood in the light a few minutes, and then unfolded it’s squatty body into a huge and graceful W as it took off.
Am going to NYC tomorrow to be with friends and see art.
Take care of yourselves,
Sunday, November 18, 2007
• Travel your little heart out
• Be glamorous
• Throw great parties
• Cook a mean pot roast
• Clip newspaper articles for other people
• Deflect the conversation from yourself
• Wear beige, pink, and navy blue
• Take meds if you need it
• Stay fit and slender
• Drink good gin and scotch
• Eat quality chocolate
• As you get older, make younger friends
• Put up a good front
• Hold hands
• Look at the sky
Friday, November 16, 2007
Kid.01 said that the “boy teachers are funny, lady teachers are nice but strict.” From his limited observation, this is true. But does teaching naturally attract different kinds of people based on sex? In my experience male teachers tend to “perform,” even art professors (and especially art history ones) are well beloved for their use of heavy joking in their lectures. Maybe teaching attracts a broader range of women (and let’s face it, it is traditionally “woman’s work” and lower paid, so the brightest and best women don’t choose it). I try to be a bit funny, but can’t pull it off every class…
But what makes a good teacher? Creativity, flexibility (can’t stress this enough, nothing ever goes as planned, and if it does, you’re doing something wrong), humor, empathy, organization. Keeping yourself fresh. This was why I went to Turkey, and it definitely gave me new perspectives on teaching. Wonder where I’ll go next?
(shot above is a student piece about texture, isn't it fun?)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
People who are dying can be very irritable. They are not easy to be around, and hospice nurses and caregivers must be saints to deal with the moodiness, changeability, and downright surliness if the elderly person still has her wits about her. You would want to just slowly and sweetly fade away, right? But we fight it, we can’t accept it, we don’t feel old in our minds, even if our bodies are wasting away. We don’t want life to end, we want one more month, one more day, one more hour.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
My family is an odd combination of Puritan-frugal and priviledged middle class values. An older generation that did quite well, and succeeding generations who have done less well. I am about to witness something I haven’t before: the extended, blended family dealing with an estate. I’m afraid it won’t be pretty. Thank god I’m not directly involved. But I know my gram promised people things, and didn’t write them down. It’s human nature to make assumptions, and then comes hard, cold probate. Some will be furious. Some may feel betrayed.
I am trying to feel detached. That I won’t, for example, get the piano (I, the only one to play it). That the paintings I made in the house may be given away. There is no way to quantify love, no use in trying.
Suck it up, as she would have said.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
When you realize someone is in her final weeks of life, you stop penny pinching and counting calories. You buy the best food to try to get her to eat, you open the caviar and champagne that’s been sitting around. You bring expensive flowers. There is no reason to give tangible gifts, in fact the person is giving away her stuff right and left. You spend a lot of time just sitting, being with the person who you can’t believe will soon be gone.
Monday, November 12, 2007
My gram wanted to be cremated. That’s not the normal thing in my family, but I was not surprised when I heard it. She felt alien in the body she had in the end, in the past 10 to 20 years. She always told me how hard it was to grow old, even though she did it gracefully: the physical indignities, the lack of privacy, the fatigue, the slow diminishing of the body. My gram was a very glamorous woman when she was younger. She was beautiful in old age also, but she couldn’t see it. I don’t blame her.
Beauty is hard to possess, because it is lost. Her old age body had to go.
Photo above is me in her mink stole, which she gave me before she died. I wore it in a performance piece last weekend. It cause big stir, intended, of course. Somewhere I think my gram was cheering me on.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I just finished teaching a first semester design class. My final project was to “write a letter to someone who is not in your life anymore” (or to someone you have yet to meet) in images and words, using all the media and elements of design we studied in the course.
I was so moved by these student projects I’ve included them below. They include letters to grandmothers, an unborn child, a sugardaddy, a future mate, an absent father, and a boyfriend in prison.
(text to the steaming pot)
There are times when I go to your house
I close my eyes and wish to
See you again. I open the door. I start walking
Wishing that when I turn into the
Kitchen, I’ll see you there cooking like always… but
You are never there
And my heart shrinks back down again.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
This is a good indication of my life. Art boxes for each school, text books, projects-graded and ungraded, portfolios, extra pads of paper. Then gym bag, food and emergency clothes for kids, sun umbrella and chair (soccer mom stuff), change of shoes for when I can’t walk in heels anymore.
Next semester I have to teach ART HISTORY OH MY GOD (caves to cathedrals), art orientation, and linear perspective. Am hoping for a miracle to keep me from this fate…
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I’m feeling very disconnected these days, a combination of overwork, undereating and grief. But I’m also surrounded by friends, near and far, who are comforting me.
As you may have guessed, the months since I’ve returned from Turkey, that I’ve been talking about art and cars and blogging, I’ve been unable to write about one of the primary situations in the life of Kloe, that of watching my beloved grandmother slowly fade out. I couldn’t write about it because she was still reading this blog, commenting on it, giving me advice, etc.
She didn’t accept her own terminal state, her scarred lungs, her inability to breathe. How can I understand her, she who was always so sharp and self-aware, until I am at that same point between life and death? I cannot judge. And she is a Christian, believes in Heaven and salvation and God. What will I do in a less comforted state?
If you know me in real life, you are welcome to come to my mom’s house on Nov. 17 at noon for a memorial party. I and my family would appreciate the support.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Today Bush met with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in Washington to try to convince Turkey not to attack PKK militants in Northern Iraq. NPR said there are 100,000 Turkish troops massed on the border, waiting. Although most are skeptical that this meeting had any affect, I think it’s possible. I certainly hope Bush offered some pretty big incentives to Turkey not to attack.
I worry about my friends who have teenage sons about to go into the army. I worry about my Kurdish friends in Turkey. I worry that Turkey’s economy could take a dive.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
One day she told me she had forgotten how to turn on her computer. She couldn’t focus on the conversation, but she did say, “Kloe, what are you doing?” after I told her about an incident in my chaotic life. And she was right, of course.
Two days later when I saw her she was staring at a painting of a young boy sitting in a watermelon cart. And she asked for watermelon. It was one of the last things she ate.
The next day, she only looked out the window at the sky, not at me anymore, so used to being the center of her focus. How can I function without that adoration?
The next day, she was in her bed, and she didn’t open her eyes anymore. Her face was one I’d seen before. I held her hand and just told her I loved her. I know that she was showing me the way to die, at home and quietly, without fuss. I took the photos of her and her sister and my grandfather, all young and carefree, and arrayed them over her thin legs under the quilt. This is the way she wants to be remembered, because she was vain like I am.
And the next day she was gone.