Tough Art

Time and time again Alf and I marvel at people who are immensely talented and yet shy away from their gifts. We know of several with writing gifts who never put pen to paper. Others who have a terrific fashion sense and keep it all to themselves. And there are those who do pursue their artistic callings with courage and conviction, but with little support from friends and loved ones. In fact, they’re often told to get a real job. What is it about art that garners less respect than other professions like business or engineering? Heck, there’s more respect for the G-Man (garbage collector) than a painter.

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We live in a day of practicality. Does the job make money? Will it sustain you and a spouse and children? Will it give you a house, a car and a yearly vacation? Or will you have to eat out of a paper bag full of moldy veggies?

Being an artist is not for the fainthearted. It wasn’t easy living for Van Gogh and his generation nor is it any easier for people today. But one thing is different. Anybody with an ounce of skill is posting like mad on social media in the hope of getting noticed. Consequently there’s a lot of bad art out there. There’s also some good stuff. The serious artist, however avoids it all in favor of a website with class.

It’s like commercial fiction. The serious literary types look down their erudite noses at the fabulously successful writers who make millions with their popular, badly written novels. Secretly they probably wish they could make that kind of money, but they wouldn’t dare try. It would be beneath them.

So what’s an artist to do? I say keep at it, no matter how difficult the task. Post away. Talk it up. Send it out. You never know what door will open.

Calvin says, “I’m so glad I’m only talented in one thing – food. What’s for dinner?”

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Sock It To Me

It was beginning to appear that her interesting face covered a most uninteresting mind. – Anne Perry

He would look at you as is he were really interested in all you said. Hcropped-photo1.jpge never seemed to be merely polite. It was almost as if he were half expecting you to turn out to be special, and he did not want to miss any opportunity to find out. – Anne Perry

Don’t mistake a street address for where you actually live. – Ruth Reichl

Art is what we call the thing an artist does. It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters,
what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human. Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist. – Seth Godin

“So was that the reason you left Herminia?” Miss Prim said.

He looked at her in silence for a few seconds, as if trying to guess what lay behind her question.

“I think you didn’t really love her,” she said.

“No, that’s where you’re wrong,” he said firmly. “I did love her. I loved her very much. But the day came, or maybe the moment, I don’t know, when I realized that she was asleep, whereas I was fully awake, absolutely, and totally awake. I’d climbed like a cat up onto a roof and I could see a beautiful, terrible, mysterious landscape stretching out before me. Did I really love her? Of course I did. Perhaps if I’d loved her less, cared for her less, I wouldn’t have had to leave her.”

“I thought the religious were closer to other people than anyone else.”

“I can’t speak for anyone else. I only know what it’s meant to me. It’s been my touchstone, the line that’s split my life in two and given it absolute meaning. But I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy. It’s not easy, and anyone who says it is is fooling themselves. It was catharsis, a shocking trauma, open-heart surgery, like a tree torn from the ground and replanted elsewhere.

“And there’s something else,” he continued, “something to do with looking beyond the moment, with the need to scan the horizon, to scrutinize it as keenly as a sailor studies his charts. Don’t be surprised. My story is as old as the world. I’m not the first and won’t be the last. I know what you’re thinking. Would I turn back if I could? No, of course not. Would a newly awoken man willingly go back to the sleepwalking life?”

–         From The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Calvin says, “Oh brother, what have you been drinking?” beagle

Whatever It Takes

cropped-photo143.jpgA colleague at work decided to host an English tea party for all the women in the office. She draped the common room with streamers in pinks, yellows, soft greens, and lavender. The tablecloths were pink with white polka dots. Her finger foods included an English trifle, thumbprint cookies with a cherry jam center, cucumber and butter sandwiches without the crust, caramel pecan brownies, and lemon bars. Toward the end of the party, one woman disappeared and returned with a strawberry shortcake and candle in it. It turned out it was the organizer’s birthday.

“Oh, we had no idea,” said one co-worker with a furrowed brow.

“That’s okay. This way I got you all to come,” said the organizer.

Calvin says, “Clever. For my next birthday, I’ll invite all the neighborhood dogs for a bone barbecue. Tell me if they wouldn’t all come, well maybe not that boor Nigel, with a stomach that drags on the ground, who stays up barking all night believing he’s the neighborhood ninja defender.” beagle

A Good Friday

I love when police officers ride the subway in the mornings.

Immediately everyone calms down and there’s peace in the car.

These officers usually travel in pairs and stand close to one another by the door as they chat.

But you know they’re not really chatting. They’re checking everyone out.

This morning another pair showed up.

This time it was a tall officer with his Westminster-Dog-Show K-9 companion.

Nobody looked at the officer.

We took a collective breath of admiration for the dog.

He was simply gorgeous. And friendly. But that was camouflage.

I wouldn’t want to smell like a bad guy because that friendliness would turn into a growling mass of teeth.

So I got up from my seat one stop early and walked over.

I had to.

“How old is he?” I asked.  IMG_0970

“He’s seven,” the officer said. The dog looked up at me and then lay down. Phew. I passed the bad guy test.

“Was he brought over from Germany?”

The officer shot me a look that said, How did you know that? “As a matter of fact, yes.”

“Do you speak to him in German?” I asked.

“No, he speaks English,” the officer said.

Of course.

The dog continued lying down and looking very relaxed, to keep everyone on board oohing and aahing over him.

I said thank you while I kept my hands in my pockets to keep from reaching down and scratching him behind the ears. Sweet and lovely as he was, I also know he’s trained like a ninja and I didn’t want to see that side of him.

But he did make my morning commute oh so sweet.

Calvin says, “Somebody has to play bad cop. Glad it’s not me. I’d just sniff out everybody’s lunch.” beagle

The Friendly Skies Are Cheap

Flight attendants these days are not a happy bunch.

I noticed on a recent flight on the hipster airline with the purple cabin lights that the 20-something flight attendants were less than overjoyed to be serving us.  cropped-photo7.jpg

Not once did we get a smile with our no-frills cups of water and no peanuts.

They served one round of drinks and went to their jump seats for the rest of the flight to read their e-books. I suppose they would have paid a little more attention to us if the weather had turned turbulent or a bagpiper had walked down the aisle blowing his pipes.

I noticed the same behavior on the flight back home.

And this from an airline that prides itself in innovation and creativity.

I noticed another thing. This airline flies Airbuses and they all need oiling. Every plane I’ve been on squeaks and moans and makes swirling noises like a giant cake mixer. This is especially true at take-off. Landings aren’t any quieter. The landing gear comes down with a thump. First time I heard the racket I wanted off. Now I’m used to it. What is it about European aircraft that they make so much noise?

A flight attendant friend says it’s the low pay that demoralizes everyone.

That may be true. One flight attendant on another carrier makes so little money that she is forced to live in a flop house with 26 other attendants.  Others can’t even find flop houses because they’re all full and sleep in airline lounges, except they’re not allowed to, so they sleep on the floor in the gate areas.

That’s just not right.

If McDonald’s pays $15 an hour, why not the hipster airline? Oh wait. That is the base pay. You get a raise when you turn 102.

Calvin says, “Kennel workers make more than that. That’s why I don’t fly. I like hangin’ with the ground squirrels.” beagle

 

 

 

 

Hurry Up and Win!

I’m holding my breath for Sunday’s final match for World Cup supremacy.

The match between Argentina and Germany should be a nail-biter.

Okay, I know. That makes three posts on the subject of the World Cup.

I’m not obsessed.  Sock It To Me

Really I’m not.

“Yes you are. Tell the truth,” Calvin says.

“Okay, I am.”

Here’s why: Argentina, besides being my birth country, needs a shot in the arm of inspiration and positive world attention.

It’s a country which has a long history of government corruption and mistreatment of its people. And yet, it keeps getting up and forging ahead in spite of its misfortunes and financial reversals.

Argentinians are tenacious people with indomitable spirits. They’re strong, passionate, and intelligent.

And they’re very good at soccer.

Here’s their moment of world attention and I’m cheering them on for an extraordinary finish.

Won’t you join me?

Calvin says, “Not me. I can’t wait for it to be over. Then you’re all mine again.” beagle

 

 

 

The Rumble Under My Feet

My sister, who lives in Los Angeles, was rocked awake this morning by a 4.4 earthquake.

“Our cats levitated off the bed, helicopter style, with fur on their backs straight up. Impressive!” she said.

Then she added, “Keep those emergency supplies well stocked! This is California!”

And Kentucky, and Oregon, and a slew of other states that are not immune these days from the earth moving under people’s feet.

I grew up in earthquake country.  Floorless roller coaster

I can sense an earthquake before it hits. There’s an eerie feeling in the air, and everything grows quiet. The birds stop chirping, the weather is warmer, and oftentimes a dark cloud hovers over the city.

Not sure if that was true of Los Angeles this morning, but I wasn’t there.

As a child, as soon as the floor began to rock and roll, my father would run into the living room and hold onto the crystal vases that lived on top of the bookshelf.

My mother hovered over the parakeet as the bird flapped around the cage panting it’s little heart out.

My sister and I looked on in wild-eyed amazement at the floor until it came to a stop.

I lived through the 1989 earthquake. I was home with my children. The garage door was open and Calvin and I were checking the freezer for dinner when all of a sudden the driveway transformed into a corkscrew roller-coaster track.

Calvin’s fur stood straight up, his ears flapped back, and he bayed. Then he fled into the house.

Calvin says, “I didn’t flee. I hid under the bed covers because I was dizzy.”

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