They Shoot Salads, Don’t They?

I’ve got a new humor/memoir piece up this month at Wraparound South about the very first vision board ever created, satin formalwear, signing things in my own blood, cannibal mice, and SaladShooters.  My life when I was thirteen, basically.

You can read it here:  They Shoot Salads, Don’t They?

The amazing part is that this issue of Wraparound South is described by the editor like this:

“This issue, though not strictly a themed issue, orbits around that mirrored labyrinth that is perception – of culture, of race, of personal values, of ambition… As humans, we seem to have the ability to see ourselves mirrored in every situation, blind to our own reflection and to the illusions that we project about the spaces we inhabit.”

You will find this doubly amusing after you read my story.  🙂

I’m never not fascinated that these literary folks let dirtbag me into their world, but I’m so thankful that they do.

As always, thanks for hanging out here with me and being awesome and stuff – and hey – it’s almost October!  That means it’s time for Nicolas Cage and his not even remotely passable wig in:

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Season of The Witch!

 

 

Pajama Man and Toilet Swiffer Woman: A Guide to Living

I was at the local fancy produce market one afternoon, pretending to be fancy knowing all the while that I grew up strictly on canned vegetables that were cranked up to a boil, when a man wearing a dirty t-shirt, plaid flannel pajama pants, and bedroom slippers walked past me on his way to the herbs.  You know, like it was a normal thing he was doing:  inspecting the sage, rosemary, and thyme in his jam-jams.

A grown man.  In public.  In pajamas.

It reminded me of a certain woman who works on the same floor as me at my conservative office building.  A certain woman who wears big, fuzzy bedroom slippers from her office all the way down the shared corridor and into the public restroom.

If you check under the stall to see if one’s available, you’ll often see her big, fuzzy bedroom slippers right there, two inches from the public toilet.

I mean, you have to hand it to her.  This is such a great way to pick up all of the stuff that’s lurking on a public restroom floor and track it everywhere afterwards like the freaking E-Coli-ster Bunny.  It’s like a one-stop-shop for all your bacteria needs!

I’ve taken to calling her “Toilet Swiffer Woman”.  If you need to call the CDC on her and they ask for a description, just say that she’s a brunette, about 5’6″, 130 pounds, and has public toilet germs crawling all over her fuzzy-wuzzies.

To be fair, I’m sure those slippers probably come in real handy for when you need to do lab experiments on the fly at your desk and don’t have a bucket of deadly pathogens nearby.  Just take off your Toilet Swiffer slippers and give ‘em a shake over that petri dish and finally get to the bottom of that Cholera problem!  Easy peasy!

Which reminds me.  If we’re talking about describing something that’s easy, it’s easier to just say the word “easy”.  You can feel free to leave off the “peasy”.

And I’ll tell you what you can definitely leave off:  “Lemon squeezy”.

I swear to Maude the next time I hear someone say, “Easy peasy lemon squeezy!” I will not be held responsible for my actions.  JUST SAY “EASY”.

I tried to give Toilet Swiffer Woman the benefit of the doubt the first time I saw her – maybe she was just breaking in a new pair of terrible high heels and her feet were all sliced up or something.  At least some attempt at a reason.

Nope.

She wears those Toilet Swiffer slippers every single day – and I saw her regular shoes one day when she was leaving the building and they were ADORABLE fancy designer leopard-print ballet flats.  They were so cute I wanted to knock her down in the parking lot and steal them off her feet, until I remembered that she spends most of the day ankle-deep in fuzzy poop-germ incubators.

Pajama Man and Toilet Swiffer Woman are just a small sampling of the much larger problem at hand here.  I can’t tell you how many people I see out in daily life wearing pajamas and bedroom slippers in public, and I’m here to tell you something about it.

I’m tired of this hoozle-dizzle, people.

Put on some real clothes.

Your public pajamas are a far too visible sign that the fabric of society is unraveling.  Like I need a reminder!  And those pajamas are probably filthy, too, because who the hell washes pajamas every time they wear them?  Maniacs?!  I once wore a Nirvana tour shirt as a pajama top for two months straight without washing it, until my skin oils actually ate through the fabric like moths.  I will out-lazy and out-filth you in private any day of the week, so don’t even try me.

I don’t care if you’re “But I’m cooooomfortable!!!” in your pajamas.  I own plenty of articles of clothing that are really, super soft and comfortable, that are also not actual pajamas.

I’m not saying go put on a suit.  I’m not advocating for the reintroduction of hoop skirts and steel-boned corsets.  Pinchy-waistbands can 100% go eat a wiener, as can those pointy-toed, narrow shoes that feel like actual torture devices.  By all means.  Be comfortable.  Just put on something that’s not pajamas if you’re going to engage in daily public life.

We live in a society, you bedtime fashion derelict.  Get it together.

And don’t even get me started on people who take their shoes off on an airplane and then put their BARE FEET on things.  I was on a plane last year and turned around to find the woman behind me had taken off her shoes and wrapped her toes around my armrest like the paw on a clawfoot tub and it took everything I had to not ask the pilot to re-route us directly into the sun.

And Now For Something Completely Different

In case you didn’t know, September is Suicide Awareness Month.  I know, fun times!  (Many trigger warnings on suicide ahead, because that’s pretty much all we’re going to talk about here, so if you need to dip out, I more than understand.)

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, then you know I’ve struggled with Depression off and on my whole life, and that this is a subject that is very important to me.

If you suffer from Depression, then you know how hard it is to describe it to someone who’s never had it.  It’s so much more than being “sad”.  Depression makes you feel like negative space in the shape of a human, an entity that can’t even muster the energy to cry anymore, where it feels like it doesn’t even matter how much you don’t matter.  It’s incredibly difficult to reach out for help when you’re at the bottom of that well.

So!  I’m going to pause from dick jokes and judging people’s eyebrows for the week and share something a little (a lot) different with you, and then we can discuss, if that’s cool.  It’s something that I wrote on the subject of suicide.  Two somethings, actually.

They’re, oh my god, poems that are in this month’s issue of The Hunger journal.  I know.  Poems!  Just bear with me.

Like all sad/angry girls in high school, I was both a painter and a poet.

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Acrylic and tempura on 26″ x 24″ board, 12th grade.  What parent wouldn’t be thrilled to have their 17-year old daughter bring this one home?  “Look what our little girl made in school!”

I started painting again last year and started writing poetry again a couple months ago after a 25-year hiatus.  Poetry and painting were the only things I was even semi-decent at in high school, and they were really the only reasons I ever bothered to show up to class.

I wasn’t sure if I still had it in me at all, so I gave it a shot and submitted a few new poems to just a handful of journals.  I was truly blown away when The Hunger accepted two of them and gave them a safe and supportive home.  These are actually my first published poems ever.  (At 43!  It’s never too late, friends.)

These two poems are about the early deaths of two of my favorite painters.  Click the links in pink below to read the poems on The Hunger journal’s site:

Death, Jackson Pollock

About:  Jackson Pollock struggled with what they now believe was Depression and Bipolar Disorder, and self-medicated with much, much alcohol.  Famous for his “drip paintings”, he died in a drunk driving car crash at the age of 44.  (44!  For the love of Zod, he was my age.)  It was officially declared an accident, but witness accounts say he crashed the car deliberately.

His mistress, Ruth Kligman, who was also in the car, survived and went on to be the mistress of Willem deKooning, another one of my favorite artists.  Willem deKooning’s wife referred to Kligman as “the pink mink”.  I would have certainly called her worse.  Kligman’s best friend, Edith Metzger, was also killed in the crash.

 

Death, Mark Rothko

About:  Mark Rothko had a successful career as an artist.  Like way, way successful – for his entire career.  Famous especially for his red “color fields”, he died at the age of 66 after suffering with Depression and slashing his arms with his painter’s knife until he severed an artery (as well as taking an overdose of barbituates).  Alone, on the floor in his kitchen, he died one of the most successful artists of the 20th century, from the very same painter’s knife that he used to make his art.

I can’t take that.  I cannot take that image.  As an artist, it haunts me in my spine.  His death makes me cry every single time I think about it or look at one of his paintings, and I cried off and on for a whole day when I wrote the last lines of this poem.

Depression doesn’t discriminate, whether you’re wildly successful or living in the gutter.  It’s an equal opportunity disorder, and it’s killing people every day.  Suicide rates in the U.S. are actually rising.  Depression is a health crisis and a goddamned epidemic.

I’ve written another dozen of these poems and I’m planning to make a chapbook of them along with creating accompanying paintings about artists who left us too soon due to untreated mental illness.  (I’m hoping to donate the profits to mental health charities if I can find someone to publish it.  I don’t know what else to do, I just feel like I have to do something.)      

As author Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess we all know and love says, “Depression lies.”  It tells you that everyone would be better off without you.  That this is just the way things are.  That’s there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  That you’re out of options.

Let’s all say it together:  Depression lies.

I wrote these poems because if you’re an artist, there can often be an added obstacle to seeking help.  Everyone tells you that as an artist you’re supposed to be “tortured” and that it’s normal.

Maybe you feel that you write or paint or create from the darkest part of yourself, and you’re afraid that if you “fix” that part, that you won’t be able to make your art anymore.  If your entire identity is your art, then not being able to make art anymore is like death in itself.

You suffer in silence because Depression tells you that getting treatment will change who you are for the worse, even when you’re so low that you curse each new day that you wake up alive, angry and numb that you have to face yet. another. day.  That’s when Depression whispers in your ear, “Hey – you think this is bad?  It’ll be even worse if you do something about me!”

You suffer in silence because you think “tortured” is just the way artists and writers are.  Maybe you’ve been taught that suffering builds character.  Maybe you think were meant to live this way.  You’re just one of those people who “spends too much time inside their head”.  These are lies that Depression has told me I don’t know how many times in my life when I was down in the well.  Just suffer.  It’s who you are.

If you’re trying to make a living from your art, you more than likely have limited or no access to mental healthcare on top of everything else.

What do I want?

I want the normalization of the “tortured artist” and “tortured writer” to stop being a thing. 

I want people to have access to resources that teach them ways to take care of themselves and make their art at the same time.

I want to start a dialogue about Depression, suicide, and artists, be they painters, writers, poets, dancers, sculptors, or musicians – and what the communities that rely on and serve artists can do to help:  schools, galleries, writing workshops, museums, art fairs, record labels, dance studios, and community centers.

I want posters in classrooms, formal discussions in about how to spot Depression in ourselves and our peers, mental health lessons to be added to curricula, support groups, foundations, you name it.  I want people to talk about this instead of suffering in silence.

And I’ll tell you what else – I want the people who make money off the backs of artists to pony up for it.  I want them to give away free ad space for suicide hotlines in their magazines and journals, foster a network of mental health professionals that they can refer their artists to, hell, just ask their artists how they’re doing, donate some profits from gallery sales or book sales to mental health charities, start a charity of their own.  

Take care of yourselves, folks, and if you’re struggling, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  Don’t listen to the lies that Depression puts into your head.

Thanks for listening.  I promise next week we’ll be back to dick jokes and eyebrow judging and whatnot.  🙂