Wednesday, May 09, 2012

In the wee hours of Monday night/Tuesday morning, I'd finally had it with my sleeping schedule being so messed up that I was still awake to see dawn turn the darkness into a purple twilight hue. Granted, I've been making good use of the time, but I'd just had enough of life as a vampire, sans the insatiable hunger for blood.

But first, before I continue this story, I want to bring attention to a wonderful thing that a dear reader Sue, did for me in the name of my recently departed and beloved cat, Scout. A little history here, is that I was lucky enough to "meet" Sue when she became one of Oliver's generous benefactors in response to my plea for help in paying his enormous vet bill after I rescued him from a hoarder neighbor. That story is here. Though I've only met Sue through the WWW (Wonderful World of the Web), I consider her a friend. She recently emailed me, letting me know that she gave a donation in Scout's name to the Nine Lives Foundation in Redwood City, CA near San Francisco. It's a no kill shelter that also has an inspiring and wonderful story about Christopher the Cat who was brought there after being hit by a car. Don't worry, it's an extremely inspiring and happy ending!

"I looked at their 'Wish List' on Amazon and noticed they desperately needed a small window air conditioner. I bought it for them and made the donation in memory of my little Minnie, Vesper (she belonged to my friend Bob), and your sweet little Scout."

How sweet is that? In return, I'm spreading the word about their organization. If you could, visit their site and if you're so moved, support them so there can be more stories like Christopher's. These people, and Christopher, do good work and a little goes a long way. And Sue, thank you so much for honoring Scout's memory in such a thoughtful, wonderful way.

Now, back to me being at Starbucks this early. Around 4:30 AM on Tuesday morning, I decided to help sleep along by taking a Tylenol PM. The dose calls for two, but I only took one. I fell asleep pretty easily, then woke up around 10:00 AM. After eating breakfast and checking email I felt tired and went back to sleep. From there, I slept off and on through all of Tuesday, with a brief waking time from 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM, then I went back to bed, and slept until 4:30 AM, and off and on until 6:20 AM this morning. Wide awake, I got up, showered, dried my hair and here I still sit in Starbucks after getting here around 7:15 AM. That was one heck of a pill. Thank God I didn't take two, or I'd be making this blog entry on Thursday morning. However, I'm glad it happened, because it puts me on a good course to right my sleeping schedule. When I walked in, the look on the Starbucks employees' faces was priceless, as they know me as a late afternoon, nighttime Starbucks person.

It's interesting seeing the place in the morning, and all the people that come in before work. It's extremely busy and a whole different, well awake vibe.

I'm in the process of creating my second art piece. Along with looking for full-time jobs, that is what I'd spend those night hours doing. I'm excited to see how it turns out. So far, so good. Again, I've been able to get into that wonderful zone where everything just feels right, and I know I'm creating something that can only come from me.

Upon paying my rent this month, I marked my five-year anniversary in Los Angeles, and living in my apartment. I never, ever thought I'd live in that apartment for so long, but the truth is, I love the place and I've made it my home. There are drawbacks to the building, sure, including the occasional douchebaggery from the NYFA students who live in the building. For the most part, nice kids, but many times they've had to be reminded that our building isn't a dorm. And, every time that I've even thought of moving, even just down the street, I'm overcome by dread at the thought of it.. Boxing everything up, moving, unpacking, and getting used to a new space. Not to mention, having to get to know all new neighbors. I was talking to one of my neighbors last night, who has lived in the building a long time with his brother, and he was saying that especially now that the world's worst neighbor is gone, as long as our core group stays here, things are good. I haven't told the story about being instrumental in getting a mentally ill, drug addicted, nuisance neighbor evicted, which has made it a lot more pleasant to live here. It's been probably six months since he was forced out, but neighbors still come up and thank me for that.

Aw, don't mention it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Update: Just saw that the New York Times linked to my blog from this article. Look to the right of the article, I'm up there with The Huffington Post and Gothamist! Thank you to the NY Times editor who chose my blog as a source for your blogrunner!

On a previous post, I'd mentioned that I'd been taking yoga again at the same place where I'd had an unexpected creative breakthrough in writing ten years ago. I'd been talked into yoga by a friend and thought I was just going to get a good stretch out of it. I sure did, and my brain got one too. I also talked about my mindset in going into it this time.

"I haven't had that awesome creative breakthrough yet, but I'm not discouraged nor forcing it. I have a lot more life under my belt since then and things will take longer to undo. I'm patient and persistent, so I can only see good things coming. Since I've taken it back up, some "synchronicity" has occurred that has literally left me incredulous. I think those events are partly the result of putting myself in a situation to become a welcoming vessel, instead of one that is more guarded, as I've been with my hatches fully battened. I look forward to what it brings my way now that I have sent out the welcoming beacon."

What's wonderful about the wisdom to not force things, is what can bubble up to the surface. And this time it wasn't writing. It was visual. During those quiet times at the end of class, instead of a story breakthrough or motivation to write, I found this:

It happened over several experimental processes. A while back, I mentioned the time I discovered that I had synesthesia. It can come in many different forms, but in my case, I see sounds. All the time, every waking hour, for my entire life. It's been a huge influence in any creative undertaking that I do. As a result, I've always wanted to try to paint what I see. And, it was at those quiet on the back relaxation times during yoga at the end of class, as meditative ambient music played, that they'd particularly be clear and vivid.

So, I went for it. I bought acrylic paints, bristol board (a thick, archival paper) and began painting what I was seeing, whether it was through memory or the music that I was playing at the time. At first, it was a struggle to not only figure out how to represent what I hear/see in painted form, but then know what to do with these painted sounds. Sure, they were artwork by themselves, but there was more that I felt they could communicate. And that's where I honed in on passion, heart and the pieces that make up my "heart." Before I started painting the sounds, I'd been collecting and categorizing colors from magazines to make a collage. How wonderful to discover that my painted sounds, which came uniquely from me, could make up my collage instead. My CollageI cut two-inch square pieces of each "sound" painting and from there arranged, chose and cut the pieces to make up my heart. Then glued them into a heart shape. I titled it, "Pieces of my Heart." It was a wonderful experience, to have a creative vision flowing directly from my head to the paper. When I was doing it, there were many times that I noticed how right everything felt, including me. I got into a wonderful zone because I knew I was using skills that I was put here to use. Without sounding new agey, it really felt like I'd crossed a creative threshold to reach that coveted sweet spot that every writer, musician, artist wants to reach. That finally, I was in the moment, articulating a completely original piece in exactly the way that I wanted to in a visual form. And not only that, but I finished it.

I haven't switched this for my personal writing. On the contrary, I think it will benefit it. I also think it's going to infiltrate my professional writing as well to create visually. Here are some closer pictures of the heart so you can see the details of each painting that makes up the heart. Shannon was kind enough to take these pictures for me.

Detail of Collage Heart
Here's a closer look at the collage, "Pieces of my Heart." You can click on the image to view it larger. Depending on the light and where you are standing, the colors can appear to change hue. You can see even in these photos how the colors can differ. I call this a collage, since I pasted the pieces down, but I also tapped into mosaic principles as well.

Detail of Collage Heart Painted piecesThis angle illustrates the texture of the pieces. I glued them down with archival adhesive on a background that I painted. When I was designing the heart, I wanted to communicate by using colors and textures the emotions and life experiences that imprint on our hearts. I am very happy with the result of this first experiment and have started my next collage. I plan to do a series of heart pieces, but am not sure if that's going to be my next collage subject. But like this first piece, it won't be forced and my expectations are as open as they were when I started this one.

I look forward to seeing what comes next.