Thursday, September 29, 2011


You guys.
I recorded an interesting video journal this week with no way to document it. I've tried three times to download it here, and it hasn't worked.
Back to the drawing board.

Monday, September 26, 2011

ceci n'est pas un film.

It's just a test to see if I can put stuff I've filmed on my bog. I don't know if it'll work. I have to go slow, you know?
I shot this at an Independence Day party at a friend's house. Those are his fireworks. I'm standing in his driveway. Every time the camera jolts, it's because ash was falling on my arms.

drawing journal, week 2

I was thinking of integrity this week. I thought a tree must have all kinds of integrity. It knows what it is, and all it tries to do is keep growing in the best process it has.
That sounds either zen or just utterly ridiculous. But somehow in the week of teaching, writing, sorting in and sorting out, it made sense.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In Defense of Compassion on Facebook:

Or, Why Social Media Is No Substitute for Good Therapy

So I don't really love Facebook. Yes, it's been helpful in connecting me to people I've fallen out of touch with. I've given away tickets to shows on Facebook. I've been a part of thriving artistic communities. I'm trying to network--which is going slowly, and which is part of the reason I decided to connect up in the first place. But still, it makes me feel exposed in a way that makes me nervous and I find myself acting as voyeur, peeping at the kinds of lives others portray, wondering how real that life is. There are people that love it and use it as a resource, and although I'm not one of them, I may well be soon. But right now I don't have a lot of affection or understanding for it.

Which makes it hard for me to understand the way I sometimes see it used. I know this guy; he's smart and talented and quite skilled, and I respect and admire him, hope I can call him Friend. Recently my Friend posted a status update about being in a cafe and witnessing a break-up between two people. To hear my Friend tell it, she was the dumpee, an attractive woman in a pantsuit who flipped her hair too much. He was the dumper, a professional-looking dude in a suit. It was a bad break-up--she was shouting at him, evidently she hit him at one point--all of it was ugly and uncomfortable, and presumably my Friend was annoyed and made to feel so icky by witnessing such public relational carnage.

So he posted about it on Facebook. He told all of his Facebook Friends--of which I am one--about what he was witnessing. This opened up a thread of comments (35? at the point I'd read them) from people who were responding to what was happening. These were comments about how thoughtless it was for these two to break up in a public place, and suggestions for my Friend to diffuse the situation that included asking the dumpee out and trying to set her up with my Friend's single male acquaintences. The pervasive attitude seemed to me to be one of witty and careless shadenfreude.

I was confused, and a little disappointed, by what I saw. I know it sounds naive, but I wondered reading the thread, Is this what's become of us? I thought Facebook was a tool of self-marketing and networking. I mean, I've heard some of the stories--I know people have arguments and take shots at each other via their blogs, FB, etc. I know about that young woman in Colorado who was so shamed and humiliated via social media from girls and their mothers that she was driven to suicide. But Facebook is also useful, isn't it? I mean, it's a tool for outing fashion conglomerates who steal designs from working artists, and it's a place to amass awareness and raise money for Katrina victims and tsunami-ravaged Japan. But has it allowed us to become so disconnected from our common link to each other as humans that we can post about someone's misfortune and lose sight of their (and our) humanity? How do we locate the same compassion for equal marriage rights and victims of natural disaster and give it to two real people, two strangers who are sitting right in front of us?

Dig this: I'm not defending the choice to publicly end a relationship. I think I'm asking us to consider that these two people need compassion. What this guy was going through--trying to end a relationship--even in the best of circumstances isn't easy. Has it been so long that any of us got dumped or had to dump, that we forget, in our partnered privilege, how much it sucks? And the woman: I don't know her, but if my Friend's account of her behavior is any indication, she has some problems. I don't mean she's crazy like, "Aw man, I split that chick, that bitch is crazy." I mean there's some serious heavy shit that she hasn't dealt with but she lives with every day, and unless she can get it figured out, she's gonna walk through the rest of her life a damaged, incomplete human being. Who grows, who is healed, who is made better by our snickering at what happens to people like these two, even in a space like Facebook where we can't get caught? 

'Cause here's the thing: we can blog about people who do dumb shit on the train, who piss in public like carriage horses, who are rude or loud or violent. But as hard as this is for us to remember, we are just like them. We are as sad, scared and broken as that woman in the pantsuit who was shrieking at her (ex)boyfriend, demanding that he love her. We are capable of that same level of fear and loneliness, and we're capable of reacting out of it, too. If your brother or sister, if your best friend since 7th grade or your new work bff were hurting to the point of humiliating themselves and others, to the point of physical violence, you'd want to get them some help. You wouldn't want me posting their public acting out to all my friends on Facebook.

I sound so fucking self-righteous, don't I? I don't mean to. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I've used Facebook as a message board when I'm pissed off or annoyed. I publicly lamented witnessing an act of prostitution in the basement of my building. After being nearly hit by a car on my bike, I urged motorists to keep an eye out for cyclists. But that sentiment was borne out of anger and frustration, not a desire for common safety and goodwill. God knows I have a tough enough time showing compassion to people I know, my friends and family, much less to strangers. I fail at being compassionate on a daily basis. Maybe that failure doesn't give me the right to consider how social media cultivates a lack of compassion. Maybe instead of writing this post on my blog I should be on my yoga mat, dedicating my practice to myself, my Friend, and to those two who were breaking up, that we all might learn self-compassion and compassion for one another.

Maybe I will.

But right now I'm in this space.

The thing about social media is that, for all of the connecting and access and information and voice-giving it does, it turns us all into pundits. Political, social, artistic, culutral: suddenly we all have opinions and now we all have a platform to be heard. We compete and hustle for hits and eyeballs and whatnot, and hey, that's great, right? But it's only great if we know what we're doing, if we take the choice we've made to comment on our lives and the lives of others with some reflection and some compassion. In such a tech-savvy world it's easy for us, for me, to feel like everything around is good material, is fodder for my writing or shooting or commenting. And yes, it is. You better believe it.

But what's around me is also real. The woman squatting on the Morse el platform pissing like an animal is a mother, and she has a kid she's trying to raise. The woman in the pantsuit screaming at her ex just wants to be loved. How human are these qualities? These people are just like me. They're just like my Friend. And they're just like you.

We can't let technology foster so much autonomy and independent expression of thought that it robs us of our humanity. If we do, all that connectedness is worthless.

om mani padme hum

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Full Disclosure

So since I finished the photo journal, I've been trying to keep a sketchbook journal.
It's not going so well.
I'm finding that for one thing, I'm not drawing every day the way I was shooting every day. My paper journal tends to be a space I go to when I want to go, when I want to write or work or just figure out what's on my mind. So I haven't chained myself to a kind of regularity in the journaling practice like I did when I was shooting photos every day.
I'm also not very good, as far as drawing is concerned. But I know that's not the point, so it's no biggie.
I've been looking to the journal of Frida Kahlo for inspiration of how to approach this part of the process. Even her journal is raw, unflinching and stunning in its imagery. What chance do I have, right?
But I'm doing what I can do. So here's an example of what I've got so far.

Friday, September 16, 2011

photo journal--day 14... er, belatedly

no self portrait today. I think I got tired of myself. The day itself was so busy, and a lot's happened since then. This is my first chance to post these photos.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

photo journal--day 13

A busy day today, and not a lot of time to shoot. BUT, a celebration of my husband's birthday, after which I feel vaguely like a python in the grass who doesn't need to eat for a week...

self-portrait 9/10/2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

photo journal--day 11

self-portrait 9/8/2011
Went to see this movie tonight--see it. Please God, see it--and left feeling frustrated and thoughtful and vulnerable.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

photo journal--day 10

I'm exhausted. First day of class. Still trying to figre out how to document my class experience without violating my students' privacy.
The light in my morning yoga practice was so warm and strong, my shadows were really striking. Hard to capture...

I don't know how to shoot strangers on the train without drawing attention to myself--but this woman's toenail polish was such a great color!

For contrast, this photo I took with my finger over the flash--it didn't mask the light, it just turned it red. Bloody.

self-portrait 9/7/2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

photo journal--day 9

this is a Starbucks in a part of the city that I frequent that is literally around the corner from a Starbucks. It's happening, people.

Self-portrait 9/6/2011--In my mother's white sweater

Monday, September 5, 2011

photo journal--day 8

This painting, at a First Watch in Worthington, Ohio, was a beautiful pear and he and I just couldn't take our eyes off it. Got me thinking about the abstract still life work I started this summer...

self-portrait 9/5/2011--you'd never know she used to be a vegetarian...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

photo journal--day 7

Not many pictures today. Traveled to the Buckeye state for a family wedding. It was the first time I'd seen my parents in more than a year. We didn't speak to each other. I saw them from far away, and I don't know that they saw me; there was no eye contact.
This was the best I could do today. I was present for someone who invited me, from the sidelines to avoid drawing attention to the black cloud that hangs between my family and me. It was exhausting.
But I'm here.

self-portrait 9/4/11
That's not smugness you see on my face, it's surprise that I'm not dead. Two nights before I dreamt that two versions of myself went head-first off a skyscraper.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

photo journal--day 6

All day long--ALL. Day. Long.--preparing for something I'm supposed to be looking forward to, but really don't want to do.
packing. all i wanted to do was crawl into a hole and hide and never have to come out.

self-portrait 9/3/2011

at the in-laws. beads that remind me of my grandmothers house, that look like they are, but aren't, made of glass.

Friday, September 2, 2011

photo journal--day 5

This project gets tricky when there's not much I'm doing from day to day. But it rebounded nicely.

"self-portrait" 9/2/11--
I did everything for this shot but push the button, that was left to my faithful helper and equipment hump.
Some debate over whether or not pushing the button makes or breaks the self part of a self portrait.
What do you think?