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Choosing Myself

Several magical things happened today: I painted this painting of a girl reading with coffee (Books and Coffee, acrylic on wood panel, 10”x10”x1.5” $100) and doing so reminded me of who I am and why it’s important that in the end I chose myself. I chose the freedom to be myself and the peace to read and write and paint over a relationship that meant the world to me. Mercury Retrograde had me questioning that choice, feeling sad and regretful, feeling even that my life despite its business and its ambition is kinda empty. Today I was able to remember that it’s not. I made this painting thinking of one my favorite readers, who is also a close friend, someone who’s stood by me through my transformation but also someone who values being herself and devoting herself to the things she loves, things like art and reading. She’s definitely the girl who reads in the painting, but then again so am I. And I want to enjoy being me, doing the things I love, and seeing where this journey takes me. I do want other things in my life too. I definitely want love. But not at the expense of losing myself.

The other magical thing that happened: You won’t believe it, but finally after 13 years in Texas, my dream came true! I saw live armadillos! Not somewhere out in the country but right here in the heart of Houston, in the lush greenery of Memorial Park, during an evening walk with a friend. There were two of them! One for me, one for my friend! They were round and bouncy, full of energy, like Holly. They were lovely armadillos! I guess experiencing this little miracle here in Houston was a sign that I’m on the right track. Also, you know what the symbolism of armadillos is? Defense and boundaries, so yes, it’s the Universe telling me that protecting myself and my creativity is the right thing to do.

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Balancing Act

It’s been a bit of a complicated day, but I’ve made it through. I can even say I’ve accomplished a few things. Sometimes when I’m tired old sadnesses come back to haunt me. People I miss. Even worse, people I miss yet know I can’t be around, lest the avalanche of emotions drowns me.

Please tell me that by now you’re used to me being a little dramatic! It’s what I do best. And anyway, you don’t know the story. Suffice it to say that today’s been a fine balancing act, and that I’ve made it through. As to the sadness, it will pass, just like the flu. It just requires sleep and water and steering my mind away from certain topics. It is for the best.

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Stories We Tell Ourselves

Long day. Lots of start of the month things. Bills, schedules, planning, public liability insurance for my new Studio at Sabine Street (purchasing that felt both very daunting and very exciting), feeling overwhelmed, and in between it all still finding time to visit with two of my closest friends, one by one, the way I like it, and talk in-depth about all sorts of things including cats (one must always talk about cats), art (one must also always talk about art), and in a late night conversation that threatened the few hours of sleep I can look forward to before my trip to Beaumont tomorrow, the stories we tell ourselves about the things that happened, which are sometimes hard to pry apart from what we know for a fact to be true. Our interpretations merge with reality. We infuse memories with the emotional baggage we subconsciously choose to weigh them down with. What someone said gets distorted into what we imagined them to mean. A simple gesture acquires mythical proportions. It takes a very patient friend to sit down and try to detangle hurtful memories from the even more hurtful inner discourse projected onto them. Luckily I have such a friend. And no, I have not figured anything out I didn’t quite know before. Neither have I slain all my inner monsters. I’m just more aware, maybe, of the fears I tend to project onto certain experiences, of the negative ways in which I sometimes see myself. I’m obviously not sharing it all here because it would be oversharing. I just drew this sad horse as a symbol of the distorted gloomy alternate reality we all can sink into at times, the self-sabotaging stories we can tell ourselves.

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Betty’s Got Trouble

And finally I wrote the scene I’d been thinking about, the scene I’d been plotting all day yesterday while in Galveston. Betty’s got some serious trouble because she’s having an affair with Cornelius. Mrs. Guidry, the cook, knows about it and doesn’t approve, but she covers for them anyway out of loyalty and also because she doesn’t want anything terrible to happen. It’s 1961, and even on the Island, with its sweet breezes and easygoing people, a young black man sleeping with a white woman could come to a bad end. But Cornelius doesn’t care. He’s brave and daring and full of anger. He’s also got a plan.

I won’t give away any more than this. Suffice it to say, I’ve reached an enjoyable stage in the writing, one where it just flows. I only wish I had more time. Still. Slowly but surely it will happen.

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Hotel Suites and Back Alleys

We woke up in the plush luxury of our bed at the Tremont House with oil rigs and cruise ships and whistling grackles just outside our windows. I tried to take in the details that make these rooms so enticing to me, the tall ceilings, the hardwood floors, the glass tables whose four legs have little copper hooves, like sheep that might run around at night to a rhythm meant to put us to sleep. In the end I settled for painting one of the doorknobs. I felt mildly satisfied, as if I’d absorbed some of the essence of the room. Still, checkout came too early. And wanting to stay on Island to hang out with our friend, Holly and I went from being princesses to being virtually homeless. Welcome to our vagabond lives!

Easter weekend is not a good time to seek outdoor nourishment in the company of a mildly aggressive dog on tourist-swarmed Galveston Island. I’m afraid I had words with the humans of a pair of Jack Russel terrors who wouldn’t leave us alone. Other than that though, the logistics of seeking out food places that are mildly peaceful and allow beasts were actually rather inspiring. If it was so hard for us to go someplace with Holly, where, we wondered, would Cornelius have been able to take Betty back in 1961? Betty, of course, was not a dog, but given their relationship and the times they lived in, a canine dining companion would have been a lot less shocking.

In the end, we ended up at Trattoria la Vigna, at a nice, quiet table, in a nice, quiet alley. And we figured that was just it. Cornelius would dine with Betty in the back alley of a restaurant where friends of his worked and could serve them on the sly. Hidden from view, he’d be able to treat her to candlelight, romance, and fresh seafood. Perhaps, over grilled snapper, or maybe later, over dessert, he’d say: “I’m gonna take you to Paris so we can live like people.”

On a side note: I got all of my paintings from Tangerine, as I’m replacing them with brand new stuff to fit the newly remodeled store! They’re all in the trunk of my car. Except for Betty. Betty sitting on the moon talking to Cornelius, the first Betty I made back in January, she’s nowhere to be found. As always, it’s Betty who’s the troublemaker. It just fits!

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Iguana

Drew this iguana inspired by a social media friend who’s posting pictures from Mexico. Drove back to Houston with a bunch of dresses. John wants us to have a photo shoot tomorrow. That should be fun!

It rained hard last night and everybody was scared. I guess we’re all still traumatized from the hurricane. I wonder what alligators do when it rains. I wonder if they like it.

The moon is almost full. The jasmine is in full bloom. There is a mix of magic and anxiety in the air. And quite possibly this tension will birth something interesting.

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Famous Artist Meets Giant Reptiles

I was lying in bed on a blah morning in Beaumont when my mentor, John Ross Palmer, the world famous artist, texted to say he was getting on I-10 and coming to see me. As soon as I realized he was serious about driving 100 miles to get a glimpse of my alternate life, I called Gator Country and asked if they were open. For those not in the know, Gator Country is an alligator theme park full of giant reptiles. Some escaped during Harvey. Some are still there. “Yeah, we’re open,” the man on the phone said. Also: “Bring me a sandwich!” and “I love you!” Note: We’d never met. More significant note: John stopped at a gas station off I-10 and bought the man a sandwich, a Coke, pink snowballs, and some chips. Even more significant note: When John pulled up in the parking lot in his art van with “John Palmer Art” written clearly on its side, we heard some women screaming loudly, not because a gator had attacked them, but because one of them is a huge fan of his art! They had come all the way from California and the serendipity of the encounter was positively surreal, but hey, when you’re world famous you meet hordes of screaming fans everywhere! Even in a gator park in Beaumont. After having our picture taken with the group of women we proceeded to buy tickets, find the man who professed his love for me in exchange for a sandwich, and contemplate some philosophical questions such as: Is it wrong to wear alligator shoes to the alligator park? The rest is history.

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Fabulous

Surviving the full moon madness. Made it to Beaumont bright and early, while my mentor was texting me to remind me of all the fabulous things I was missing in Houston. I liked that. I mean, it’s what a good mentor does. Gives you perspective, and reminds you you have a fabulous new life, even when you’re wading knee-deep through your old one and start having that sinking feeling.

So yes, the day ended up being pretty good. I ran into one of my favorite students and she told me about all the progress she’s been making learning Russian (I told her to listen to Russian songs in her car and she’s doing it!). I taught good classes, walked my dog with my friend, then finally, in the evening had a visit with another friend – the one who calls me Candela because he knows me so well.

Oh, and I booked a suite at the Tremont House for me and my dog to stay in the near future, because we simply haven’t done anything absolutely fabulous in a while.

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The Real Me

So today I painted this woman in her underwear and somebody wanted her immediately and I sold her. That was pretty awesome. I also painted a squirrel. I got the inspiration for it from my dog’s Instagram (@biggestdogintheuniverse).

I also went to the gallery, did my weekly cleaning, and played with the dogs. It was a pretty day though I was under the impression of last night’s dream, probably one of the craziest dreams I’ve ever had, with some beautiful imagery in it, but crazy no less. In it I had a two-story house, and I was watching from an upstairs window as someone who has let me down in real life was putting Christmas lights up in one of the trees in my yard. The person was shrouded in darkness, wearing a hat, and handling the lights in anger, as if grudgingly fulfilling a promise. I was wearing a short white embroidered nightgown that once belonged to my mother. I only went to the window because the person was making too much noise. I was hoping they wouldn’t see me. I had no intention of going downstairs. The next day I was in my backyard eating gumbo with someone else and having fun. And then I woke up.

I felt, in the morning, that the dream was somehow bittersweet. All the intense dreams, good or bad, are things I cherish, things I’m fond of. As if they are a gift from a secret friend, a gift from a voice deep inside, from someone who is there to guide me on a deeper level, someone who navigates for me on the meandering paths of the subconscious. Perhaps it’s the real me. And perhaps I only meet her, very briefly, at night. Maybe that’s why I love being asleep.