Day 86: Time Machines and Russian Brides

I watched 2 movies tonight. It’s 2am so it’s Saturday. Because I am inside all day and Friday I didn’t look out the window much less leave the house and spent most of the day in my tiny closet office, there is not much sense of time beyond the 50 minute hour, so I get insomnia and a perverse interest in staying up late.

I watched “See You Yesterday” about 2 smart black kids who make a time machine. They go to Bronx Science. It’s just able to go a day behind, but the girl gets caught up trying to save her brother who gets shot by a white cop. All the reviews on IMDB are harsh, but I saw it with my kid and thought it was cool. I love time machine movies, and if you don’t think Bill and Ted movies are so awesome, why would you say this is such a bad movie? They have a more pressing reason to go back and it’s not a comedy. It’s almost a Groundhog Day type movie that’s a tragedy.

I went through a Groundhog Day movie search with my kid a few years ago. We found all the ones like it and watched them. They were pretty bad especially two Christmas movies but the concept is so fun and Twilight Zone they can be really bad but good. The best was about a girl in high school who starts out an oblivious jerk popular girl, and in the end she’s hell bent on saving an “invisible” classmate nobody notices from killing herself. That one wasn’t Christmas but you had to go to a typical high school party several times.

Maybe my taste in movies has gotten a lot less snobby and “discerning” since having a kid. I still hate movies she likes so I haven’t lost my particular flavors. I tried to show her the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie I can rewatch, a favorite, but she didn’t get into it. Being John Malkovich and Stranger than Fiction are also my types.

We both loved See You Yesterday and the ending is great too. Then she went to bed and I saw Birthday Girl, a Russian Bride Order heist gone bad movie with Clive Owens and Nicole Kidman from 2002. I thought that was fun too. I’m sure it got bad reviews too but it was cute.

I always enjoy movies that remind me of Bartley the Scrivener types, guys who have predictable lives and wake up one day and things go nuts and they get transformed and usually there’s a nutty woman involved. Like “Stranger than Fiction”.

A time machine that can only go a day back is interesting, and the concept of avoiding seeing yourself from the past is always played with in these movies. I guess the idea is pretty obvious. If you made a time machine to save George Floyd from dying, some other guy would die the same way. You can’t fix what’s broken unless you go so far back you’d have to mess with so much. Would it be Christopher Columbus or slave ships?

Was the guy an idiot to order a Russian bride? Like the guy in Stranger than Fiction who’s a tax auditor this one works in a bank.

Maybe quarantine has lowered my taste in films but they’re supposed to be fun and make you think. I’d like to mix it up and see some queer films as the heteronormative stuff gets stale just like the all white people movies do too. Yesterday we watched Flipped. It takes place in the 50s which I don’t love but it’s a cute love story.

I’m watching I Know This Much is True. I read the book a long time ago. Twins and schizophrenia of course make for interesting stuff and Mark Ruffolo is great playing both.

I’m trying to mix it up with important movies and more diverse casts as well as dumb stuff that’s fun. More documentaries and queer films on the horizon. Crip Camp, LA92. We just finished Kareem: Minority of One which was great.

Day 85: Friday, June 5

It’s been quite a week. I just got off Zoom with my last client of today. I had 6 people.

I am truly grateful for this job. It helps me stay halfway sane. I was going to write my answers for this project called The Unlonely Project, about art and quarantine, but most of the answers I’ve written about in here anyway. More on it another time.

I have family members who live in Minneapolis. They texted me two photos that I’m waiting for to post here as I of course asked permission and they’re going, well it seems I can go look at 5 photos and get them up here! My brother took them with a camera except the panorama with iPhone.

Day 83: Burial Mounds

So burial mounds have different names, like Tumulus, from Latin meaning bulge/swell, Barrow, Cairn, Kurgan, Rujm. Seems it goes back to around 1000BCE or earlier. Sometimes it seems, a mound was made for a king with a lot of stuff like treasure and artifacts and made with high quality stones. At times it was an easy way to bury a bunch of people, which to 21st century people may seem gruesome, but it’s not the same as digging a hole and throwing a bunch of bodies in it.

It’s sort of like a high rise for the dead, instead of a spread out cemetery. Maybe it would be nice for a whole family to be buried in a “green” way, wrapped in shrouds in a nice place near trees but in a mound instead of digging holes.

Anyway, my second reincarnated altered book seems to be going mostly with this theme of burial mounds. I found a website with the stats on NYC Covid 19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths and added them to the book on pages with burial mounds.

Pages from my altered book, turning Kurt Cobain’s Journals into Covid 19 Journal of sorts.

Then after I caught up through May and June 1, today I started the mound of names of black people murdered by police, basically a burial mound of modern lynchings by mostly the police.

I salute the protesters, many of whom were downtown near my neighborhood last night, but having a 12 year old and a high Covid risk partner, I did not participate. Luckily due to the internet and social media there are plenty of other ways to participate in protesting police brutality towards people of color and donate to various causes, either directly to Black Lives Matter or to the many other organizations effecting change.

I started writing in names for this Black Lives Matter Burial Mound that of course could be centuries long…

I had interesting sessions today with several people of color and one of my clients who is convinced that the system is broken and the only real change that can occur is a total overhaul, rather than simply protests and voting in progressive and socialist people. Basically revolution.

Who knows? The protests have caused some slow change but justice delayed is often justice denied, and at some point there may be a tipping point. I just hope the protesters arent’ the ones who get sick in two weeks…

Story Number 2: Tanisha Anderson

The idea is that when you and I see and say her name, you will know her story and can find out more about her story and who she was, as there is more to the story than how police brutality killed a young mentally ill black mother: Tanisha Anderson

“On Nov. 12, 2014, Tanisha Anderson died while suffering a mental break while in police custody. The two officers who responded that night reportedly took down Anderson in front of her east Cleveland home and restrained her face down. Anderson appeared to stop breathing. Emergency Medical Services didn’t arrive until 45 minutes later.”

Her mom: “Speak out. Make some changes,” Johnson said. “And maybe we can change some laws for the mentally ill. Because Tanisha’s never coming back.”

Day 18: 13 Minutes Stay Home, Stay Home, Stay Home

Just finished watching this week’s John Oliver show, very sober in the sense of the word that means taking what needs to be taken seriously very seriously, and ending with a painting of rats in a compromising position from a 1992 auction in Pennsylvania somewhere in the dark caves of Netflix…

When I discussed doing a ‘Covid 19″ Crazy thing, I definitely meant in your house because you should be there if you’re not doing something on the front lines. Like cutting your hair weird because you are not going out to get a haircut and the only way you’ll get a good one is if you are a haircutter or live with one.

I did cut my bangs last night, very quickly with a pair of scissors lying around. I don’t have haircutting scissors even though I am obsessed with scissors and there is a pair I desperately want sold in the MoMA design store (online of course).

I had a good day today because I had work to do and felt good about being distracted by work with clients. The weird thing is that while doing remote sessions with clients, I am of course sometimes talking only about Covid19 and its effect on their lives or briefly checking in on their situation with it, BUT, it’s not the same as hearing the news or reading it and does not bother me because I like hearing how my clients as individuals are managing it and what their points of view are as well as helping them mange dealing with stressors around it if that’s where they’r at.

.Some people could tell of course that I am not in my spacious art studio office but a very cozy little tiny makeshift office. I even dodged being asked if I was home by saying I was in a spaceship. Of course my clients know I’m not at work, but who’s to say that I’m definitevely at home. I still like that boundary of the potential for the fantasy that your therapist exists only in either my spacious cave on Franklin Street or in a space capsule, as both have no windows. I once had a client who said she imagined me sleeping in the paintings stacks and always being in my studio.

I don’t know if I’ve written about it, but way before today, after an initial few days of manic energy posting on list serves about remote therapy, as I have been doing it for years, and posting about online therapist classes, etc. and very hyper quickly starting a Facebook group of Covid response art and an starting my Covid I Ching Altered book, I am now in the second stage of my own stuff with this, being overwhelmed by the news and everything else. This includes all the emails and feeling bad that I can’t make masks. I signed up to voluteer/give free therapy to Covid workers who of course have no time for therapy, I am at a point where I am not demanding much of myself (I considered finishing my book proposal about altered books and working on some other big works as well as trying to arrange art face time hangouts with my friends…) That went out the window.

My new, low bar for self-esteem: I am just showing up at my office, working with my already enough batch of clients, trying to keep up with paperwork and doing this writing daily as well as yoga, remembering to eat, and also sharing the family cooking. Not yet caught up on my comic strip.

That’s it. The rest is just stay home. When outside only every few days, wearing mask and gloves and stay away from people. It’s called Physical Distancing, not Social Distancing.

My days feel even fuller than before. My last big challenge is going to bed at some fucking decent time as I’ve gone into the 1am zone and I should be in bed now at 10:45. That’s it. I’m just a little person trying to do the right thing, happy to have my clients and family and friends and grateful to be healthy and alive another day.

Stay home stay home stay home.

I can edit this tomorrow. I just edited it at 11:39 am. Time to go put together a cool work outfit with makeup and jewelry as my own self-care.

 

Day 4: 13 Minutes, Happy Monday

Today I am going to do yoga after this, do my daily comic and post it early in the day and then check in on people before having my normal work day, all remote therapy sessions for my clients. There’s my lovely friend in Italy. I started a friends thread text with two best friends and then with two other best friends we transformed our text thread about Sunday meetings into a frequent checking sharing text thread. I have a lot of millennial patients who have ongoing text threads with a bunch of friend groups; I thought that was a great idea. I really admire so much about millennials and am amazed at how different they are from us Gen X Slackers. I do like the term “Slacker” as it sums up our generation well.

I had a weird dream about being on an airplane and landing and then seeing this big airplane land right near where I was into the water and people getting out but being safe, like the famous plane that landed down the street from me in the Hudson River. I have a lot of airplane dreams. This one was funny in that it seemed normal to watch it land in the water. .

I think this dream is very obvious. I’m landing safely; that means I am feeling safe so far from this virus outbreak. I went to Whole Foods yesterday and things were pretty normal. Watching a plane land in water and the people being helped out, in the dream it was kind of dangerous but exhilarating watching what happened. That represents the people who are not safe right now and need a lot of help but are receiving that help and getting out of the water to dry land. It also highlighted the plane crew calmly doing their jobs, just like all the admirable medical people and other workers on the “front lines” of Covid 19, the police and fire departments, the sanitation department, etc.

I have been especially aware of being grateful for the sanitation dept. in NYC, as my big “crazy fear” about all this involves trash not getting picked up and rats running the streets. The other day I was walking home and a large rat ran towards me. I’m used to seeing little rats scurry on the sidewalk, due to all the construction in my neighborhood.

I found the dream hopeful and it wasn’t scary. Plus, the sanitation department, superheroes in my eyes, are doing their job in a big city that generates lots of garbage. I was born in 1968 in the height of a sanitation strike, and since childhood, have had an obsession about garbage.

 

Day 3: 13 Minutes

I had a great conversation with my friend. We meet ever Sunday, she, I and another close friend, for coffe and conversation as well as peer led yoga. I always get inspired talking with her.

I usually have an abundance of ideas and get too disorganized. Having this be 13 minutes helps stop me from continuous rambling. I think I will pick a topic each day to keep this coherent.

Today I’d like to talk about precondition mental health issues and dealing with this crisis. It is hard on everyone, whether they have any mental health issues or not.

Anxiety disorder and trauma related disorders are usually part of a mental health diagnosis, whether it be depression, eating disorder, etc, because having a mental health issue in today’s societal invalidating environment causes anxiety. Now many healthy people are having panic and anxiety.

So for people who have bipoar disorder, depression, complex trauma, OCD, Panic disorder and all the other ones, how do you manage and use distress tolerance now?

If you’re in therapy, continue your therapy by phone or video. Now is not the time to decide on leaving therapy if you have a longstanding relationship with your therapist and if you just started and founds someone who is a good fit, keep up your therapy. Be in frequent touch with your therapist if need be.

Talk openly with your therapist about your financial issues in general and pertaining to paying for therapy if you do pay a fee or copay. I believe in sliding scale for therapy which also involves sliding scale in the present. For example, if you have someone who pays $90 on sliding scale from your regular fee, and they can only pay $60 due to job issues connected to the Coronavirus, I would ask your therapist for a temporary change in fee.

I have been informing clients that if they can’t pay their regular fee due to current hardships, they can pay a reduced fee. If this whole disaster becomes very extreme, I will offer free sessions to clients, partly for my own sanity. One client out of her job not paid anymore reduced her fee with me by 50%, so I am happy that my new plan is working. I don’t want current clients to drop their therapy with me due to financial hardship.

Also, if you’re needing a $30-60 per session for people, you can guide them to go to the Open Path Collective; we’re a group of therapists dedicated to providing therapy that is accessible and affordable for people who can’t afford high fees. The client pays a one time fee of $59 and can choose a therapist and start affordable therapy.

I am already doing remote sessions with a lot of clients due to other issues, so many of them are familiar and comfortable with phone and video sessions. Ask your therapist for telehealth sessions. Many therapists are starting to do this exclusively, whether they are experienced with it or not. I am very greatful to be part of Open Path as I believe strongly in our mission. I will be contacting all my current clients who come in person about starting remote sessions and notifying all appropriate ones about temporary discounts. That’s all for today. See you tomorrow. I plan to continue this topic with providing links to info about it.

Day 2: Saturday, March 14, 13 Minutes

Happy Pi day! I have a great Pi t-shirt I got at a science museum in Myrtle Beach on summer vacation. It’s 3/14!

Daily photo, another great t-shirt:

I am sometimes sad that in high school I was so good at math and did BC Calculus and took the exam. Now I barely know what Calculus is. I have a terrible memory for exact experiences that are recent and my memory of the far-gone past is terrible. I can’t remember how to play the piano or read notes. In high school I was playing Chopin Nocturnes.

Anyway, the silver lining in my terrible ADHD memory where everything is like trying to hold sand, is that I remember odd irrelevant things, and they can be fun to write about.

Today I had a WhatsApp video call with one of my best friends who live in Milan with her 13 year old. They are very inspiring, as they obviously are in the later stages of the Coronavirus, but still have hope and a sense of humor, despite there now being strict rules about leaving your house: only to walk dogs, go food shopping or to the pharmacy, so not even a curfew, a total stay home order.

I have a nail polish bottle in my studio where I keep my nail polish collection. You can use nail polish for art, like decorating your pillbox or the front and back of a journal.

This nail polish bottle is special. I actually bought it with my Italian friend soon after 9/11 or maybe before, in downtown Brooklyn where we worked. We both lived right near Ground Zero. Anyway we went to a department store near work. I can’t remember if it was a Macy’s or another one. We both bought the same color of Lancome nail polish, a kind of iridescent peach color.

Not only do I still have that nail polish, it still works, meaning it hasn’t thickened and gotten clumpy like many other nail polishes do in even 2 years. You open this bottle and it’s like your bought it yesterday. I wish I had a photo of it.

Some stores that have closed long ago, like Pearl Paint, I remember the exact layout and where they put the Sakura gelly pens and the frames. I remember the fancy pen case and the floor with sculpture tools, all the floors. I remember waiting on line on the paints floor in the palette aisle and seeing Bob Ross brand of things and the paint knives on the left side. Pearl Paint had a few specialty stores on Lispenard Street across from the main building, which was red and white brick. There was a store for home depot kind of stuff, wallpaper and paint and home decorating stuff. There was a store just for art furniture towards Church Street. There was an awesome craft supply store, with 2 stories and you went up the stairs for stuff and could see the bottom floor.

The main building had an old creaky elevator with a cramped waiting space and a bulletin board of flyers and announcements for art lessons and other things. The stairs in the main store were worn dark wood that wasn’t flat anymore. I remember where the turpentine was and the orange scented one that I discovered and bought, on one of the lowest shelves to the left of the entrance to the paint floor. You had to purchase whatever you got on that floor. There was a little room for specialty paper with someone behind a counter who would get certain papers that weren’t out on the racks. They wrapped your big paper carefully in brown paper. One of my clients even reminisced about going there after therapy with me and picking up art supplies. I even remember the customer service nook. All the cashiers and stock people were artists. It was the most magnificent art supply store I ever went to. It was an experience. I remember seeing people with their typed out lists of supplies from their painting classes searching for maybe their first tube of oil paint in September.

Thinking of Pearl Paint always makes me happy because it was so connected to me of my first ten years or so of being an artist. Going in there was magical.

 

Day 1 Yesterday’s 13 Minutes

Friday, March 13: I decided to use my 13 minute daily writings to be a kind of diary of living with new restrictions and a state of emergency during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Remember, life is all around you and there is still nature to appreciate even in NYC: trees, birds, the sky…

I live in NYC a few blocks below World Trade Center. I’ve lived in this apartment since 1998, except for a few years post 9/11.

Anyway, my plan is to focus on positive things in here. Anyone reading this knows you can easily access what’s going on and the news, and I believe focusing on good things that are facts happening alongside bad stuff is a way to keep one’s humanity intact. I saw a Hawking video I posted on Facebook 2 years ago today when he died. It is especially a great message for right now. I think I can find the link from Facebook.

Stephen Hawking Video

Technically it’s Saturday, but I’m writing my 13 minutes for yesterday, Friday the 13th. I will also post art I make daily; I hope to inspire people to use art making as a coping tool and if you’re doing it even 15 minutes, it is your life, not just a distraction tool. I strongly believe in DBT’s Distress Tolerance skills, but I also think that even if you’re doing something to calm yourself and avoid something for a while and then get back to it, that while you’re doing your art or music or crossword puzzle, you aren’t avoiding your life; that’s is you living it.

I was inspired yesterday to get back to my Daily Comic, “The Daily Grind”, which I’ve been only doing sporadically. I want to commit to some daily “self-care” minutes of my life spent doing things I already do but will be more mindful to keep up now.

Daily photo: I just got this t shirt and wore it to work yesterday. Some of my clients quite enjoyed it, even by video session!