New Idea: I love fashion…

This is an example of a mid-rise reset button. For example, I notice in a bigger way what my constant interest in and excitement about clothing is about. I knew I loved fashion and putting together outfits, that I’m really a visual person and drawn in by the creativity of fashion.

Putting this together, I saw how I can see this in a much more meaning way; coinciding with me realizing I’m not having a mid-life crisis or mid-life review; I am creating my own mid-life reset button.

I already had my “crisis” about thinking I was having a “mid-life crisis. I pondered it more and realized I want my mid-life experience in the here and know to be a meaningful process of tying together things from my past self and seeing how they connect in a meaningful way. If I didn’t live awakened and fully present in my past, I can do it now and see what there is to see. I thought it was extremely narcissistic to be looking at this whole topic. I should be caring about the world now, putting aside irrelevant activities or using them as breaks. Maybe that is true. I guess it’s my life, and I am actually participating in the fight for democracy and civil rights and really to get rid of the current president…

Anyway, I have decided to post images of outfits, maybe daily probably once in a while. Take photos of the different aspects of the outfit, talk about what it means for me if it’s connected to something important. Like the headband I’m wearing. It has story. The other clothes I’m wearing have stories too.

Maybe in posting more often, I will pick a specific part of the outfit, including accessories and just muse about that in order to not get overwhelmed. I’ve given up on worrying about readers of this blog getting overwhelmed or confused. I’m never going to be able to unconfused anyone. It’s blog: you’re allowed to be narcissistic and people often look at pictures, read a bit, and move on.

The Mid Life Crisis, Continued. Movies

There have been great movies made about people having a mid life crisis. Too many are about men experiencing one: “American Beauty”, “Lost in Translation”, “Manhattan”, etc.

Are there any good movies about women or other gender identified people having a good old fashioned mid life crisis? Woody Allen made one, “Another Woman”, (1988). It’s a great def fpiction of a woman going through all the aspects of a mid life crisis. There’s the idea of having a sudden break of time, where you’re not doing everything as usual, in this case a sabbatical, then the way things can suddenly appear different and give you a different view of yourself, noticing other people’s perceptions of you not matching your own, the typical suddenly looking at a long marriage and seeing it and yourself and your partner differently. Noticing someone else and it having a big effect on your own self identity and concept of who you are. Big changes happening as a result, some that you don’t engage in as a choice. I found the movie very compelling even when I wasn’t viewing it as a mid life crisis movie.

I can’t really think of or find many movies about women having a mid life crisis. The Huffington Post dug up movies that will make you feel better about your mid life crisis, with women as the protagonist, “Enough Said”, “It’s Complicated”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, “Kramer vs. Kramer”. I draw the line at that one. Just because Meryl Streep is in the movie does not mean it’s a genuine mid life crisis movie. Yes, it has a lot of the ingredients, and she is the character that’s going through a crisis of identity, but she is just too young to make it convincing to me. It feels like she is questioning her life and choices, but it doesn’t have the elements of urgency having to do with a sense of the life span. It’s more like, she’s still young and wants to rewrite her story, but it isn’t that she wakes up and looks back on a long life with many choices and all the other complicated elements of a mid life crisis.

This is movie land, so all the movies you could dig up on this topic are full of the usual drama. There has to be a lot of extreme stuff going on on the outside to portray the big conflicts of mid life that go on inside the character.

In real life, it isn’t always about affairs, divorce, affairs, losing one’s mind, affairs, falling in love with someone really young to gain back one’s youth.

The title “In Search of Lost Time” sums it up well. I haven’t read the book, so it’s the title that appeals to me.

To be continued…

The Job: Will You Wake up or Stay in Bed?

Sometimes my job as an art therapist is to help someone get out of bed, go outside, and get to my office. Once they’re here, they may not do that much besides be here, if they are very depressed or traumatized.

People don’t understand the way this act of getting out of bed can be so huge. That’s because a lot of people don’t see depression as an illness and don’t look at a their own lives as a struggle between being awake and staying asleep.

Being in bed is sometimes the only safe place for a person. When they’re really depressed, they don’t think they have any reason to get out of bed, which is true. They have no ideas for getting out of bed and it is very convincing to stay in bed.

THat’s where therapy can come in, thanks to modern day technology. The person can stay in bed and text me and read my texts. IF they want, they can call and talk on the phone. They can do this for 5 or 10 minutes, rather than 50 minutes. They can also use video technology to have a session and we can see each other. They can even make art in bed.

The goal would not be to get them out of bed. Why would I be able to convince this person that there is reason to get out of bed when they have no reasons? Stay in bed until you feel like doing the work of getting out of bed and dealing with not being in bed. Sometimes I too see no reason to get out of bed. At those times, my daughter is the only reason to get out of bed, since it is not ok for me to stay in bed and not take care of her and be active in her life. Before her existence, I could be entirely convinced to stay in bed.

My job then becomes just communicating with someone while they stay in bed and they are not alone during that time but not required to do anything except say hello and anything else they feel like saying.

There is a whole Russian novel about a guy who stays in bed all the time but he has a servant since he’s rich so he gets his servant to do stuff and come into the bedroom. The servant might as well be his servant and therapist. The guy in bed is very likable, I don’t remember much of it, besides understanding hime spending his waking hours in bed. He had not smartphone or even a telephone and no visitors so when he was in bed, he just lay there unless he was talking to his servant.

More about Movies

I love how movies are so complicated to make. There are so many people involved and there’s a million things that are done. It’s like people working on a cruise ship. The captain is like the director. IF the movie tanks, like the ship, the director goes down with it. Most of the people are behind the scenes.

A movie really stays with me when I get the purpose behind it, what the message really is, when you look at the whole thing. It’s a splendid dressed up narrative; you can get lost in all kinds of things, the setting, the dialogue, the acting, the stunts, the genre.

Ultimately for me, there are things that stay with me even after I’ve forgotten the plot or main thing of the movie.

The other day I was reminded of a movie that really got to me a long time ago. I looked up the name. IT’s called The Sweet Hereafter. It was one of those punch you in the stomach and rip your heart open and scratch out your eyes. To me, it was just another version of the Catcher in the Rye, served up differently, from different perspectives. A yellow school bus is meant to be carried along by special angels or invisible catchers, like pall bearers carefully carrying a coffin, but the opposite. The bus has to get wherever and pick up kids and never get crashed or crash. In the movie it has crashed. There’s a girl who survived barely and a man coming there who has a problematic relationship with his drug addict daughter.

Once you’ve forgotten a lot of the movie, it’s the little pieces that remain, the pieces like little stained glass colored mosaics, that still shine and sparkle. The movie came to mind a few days ago, when I was thinking about how hard it is to cross the street without getting hit by a car because I easily space out. I’ve been working on this very consciously for the past couple of years. Now I stop on the sidewalk and wait for the light. I have a patient who is doing it too. We’ve talked about how important it is to stay on the sidewalk. A lot of people in NYC do that head start thing where they are already not on the sidewalk, with the pent up energy of horses wanting to get out of the gates at a race.

I have a bigger challenge when with a few kids dealing with crossing the street. I learned a long time ago with my daughter who is now 9, to “cross at the green, not in between” as my dad used to say. It’ goes through my mind a lot.

I like the new countdown lights we didn’t have back in the 70s and 80s. The light run into numbers so if it’s at 9 I wait but if it’s at 15 I cross and count the numbers down in my head. Numbers and counting can help me get out of daydreaming.

Herding four girls from school to gymnastics, about 10 blocks or less, can be very anxiety provoking. when you’re with another adult,  you can’t just do things your way. The other adult doesn’t always wait about the light, she looks around and crosses if the light just turned red. Sometimes I am standing behind girls physically pushing them, holding them, standing in a place where I’m like a gate wall. I’ve tried to get them to stop talking and messing around while crossing the street. It sort of works. I scared the baby sitter the other day but saying that I wanted to lecture the kids because it is bothering me and I can’t stop thinking about the girl in her first grade class who got hit by a car and died. She highly said we shouldn’t scare them and just do what we’ve been doing. She already was annoyed that I put the story in her head.

I shouldn’t have. I keep it to myself most of the time. I can’t forget it. I used to go into the yard at pickup during 2nd and 3rd grade, I’d see all these kids and know that Tess wasn’t there and sometimes I’d imagine every kid had an expiration date on them, and hope that no other kids were going to die too young. People are annoyed by the book Cathcer in the Rye, but I feel like him a lot. I hear terrible stories from adult survivors of the car crashes of their childhood, which involve dead parents, live parents who didn’t take care of them, getting raped by someone when only 5 or 6 r 7 or even 12 or 13. I forget some of the details but not the stories and often think of these stories when not at work. I remember a 7 year old girl who wrote a poem that she put on her dad’s coffin; she was sexually abused without him being there for her. HE was a gambler and the whole family was a terrible monster she lived through and she had no childhood, it gotten stolen and beaten out of her. Being a therapist for adults who had terrible childhoods no child should ever have is like being the catcher in the rye but the one who gets there and finds the kids that fell off the mountain and helps them get up and then the therapy is about them getting some piece of childhood, learning to play again, and some consistent support to restore their faith and trust in other humans.

The movie just really says, there should be no school bus accidents. The dad should keep helping his daughter and keep being there through her drug addiction; she should know he wants her to survive it and that is it. The movie gets into the complicated wrinkles of the traumatized town and the movie is a tapestry of different threads.

Keep the children safe, the movie screams. Get many catchers even if they can’t cath every one of them.

I just saw another movie that got me and really hit things open and clear. The Fundamentals of Caring. A similar movie about a man who has lost his son, his child son, and trying to get up from the fall by working as a caretaker of a woman’s son who is in ahweelchari and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It’s just another manual for surviving the same kind of emotional killer, losing a child and then helping a mother keep her child alive despite his very disabling illness.

IT’s all about the balance between protecting and letting go, a constant job for a parent. You can’t hold on too tight and try to safeguard too much or you’re getting int he way of a child feeling free and able to get up from a fall. They can get up on their own, you can be there in some way so they can do it. You can’t get up by yourself unless someone has picked you up many times and been there and watched you learn to get up on your own. There is no catcher in the Rye as much as there should be one to make sure kids get through the first 20 years of their life alive and intact and their childhood has not been messed with or taken from them.

Not all movies need to be so serious. Actually Fundamentals of Caring is very funny and plays on the whole idea of being too careful. there are many pranks about faking scary things, the movie ends on that kind of note.

I should think of some funny movies that had some kind of stuff like the crust of a pie, it’s not just mushy inside sweet stuff. La la land really got to me in terms of it feeling like an unfinished desert that you eat it and it’s not satisfying and your stomach hurts. We’ve all seen a million love story romantic comedy movies. What makes any one particular one any good? I’m not sure the last one that was really great. If I take a really old one like Bringing up Baby, with Katherine Hebburn and cary Grant and a tame leopard and a wild leopard, that is just  a fun caper and something I can watch many times. Is it seeing Cary Grant in a woman’s bathrobe looking for the dinosaur bone and it’s not on the bed so he and Hebpurn have to follow a dog around digging holes and trying to find where he put it. She wants him, he wants to get away from her and all the mishaps and accidents he causes, he’s trying to get to his fiancé. You know he’s having a crazy time and you want to watch it and see him learn that he would rather spend a day of tame and wild animals and rushing around trying to get a dinosaur bone somewhere.

 

Is everyone in la la land over “La La Land”?

I saw it today, The IT MOVIE that’s getting all this buzz, etc. I thought it was meant to be a parody of musicals and references to old movies, and that the plot was a joke on all the typical musical and romantic comedies. If they were picking an actor to play the part like she’s not a person but a kind of cardboard poster of any happy go lucky old style films, they did it right.

There were a lot of moments that seemed like a joke. Every kiss seemed to be imitating the big typical kiss of the romantic comedy that is wholesome. The profiles of each of them and the tilt of the head and placement of lips.

Whoops! Wait, am I really supposed to care about these two people who are mostly in montages for the real life part of time continuing but they are like advertisements of a life and of a relationship?  There are three parts to this kind of movie relationships : meeting and rubbing each other the wrong way, suddenly realizing they’re in love, being in love and having things to talk about and care about, telling each other they’re talented and believe in each other and that their dreams will come true, living out the dreams and realizing they can’t go down the road together any more and have to choose separate paths due to their successful careers. Oh how sad and bittersweet. Are you for real in 2016. I thought I went to sleep and woke up in the early 60’s but then got bored and went back to sleep.

It was like the whole movie was a clever ad, the kind where you’re wondering what exactly is the product they are trying to get me to buy? The colors are great and some of the visuals and movement of scenes have more of a cool movement than any of the boring dances and songs I can’t remember.

Here’s a fun quote about the costumes. She wears dresses in almost every scene of the movie,in bright primary colors that swing for dancing around in la la land. He wears the thin ties of the serious artist/musician as opposed to the husband character who wears regular ties for their regular life which she sacrificed the romance for.

I wanted women in the audience to be wooed by Ryan, and the men to feel romantic about Emma,” says costume designer Mary Zophres.gh

Are you kidding me? Is it actually 2017 or the 1950’s? I’ms supposed to be “wooed” by the guy and if i’m a male, I’m supposed to feel romantic about her through their boring typical musical sort of retro costumes? The costumes give the movie good pops of color but they’re hardly anything you’d swoon over or feel anything about these people. For sure nobody is sexy. It’s one of those movies where sex doesn’t exist even though were’ supposed to be so emotional about the characters arc of relationships etc.

Watch “Splendor in the Grass”. I can admit that movie makes me cry and feel the tragedy of how life can interfere with some kind of intense true love, but younger than the people in this movie. There is more going on in it anyway. The girl gets in a fight with her mother about sex while she’s taking a bath. It’s Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. I’ve seen it at least 3 times.

They go to see Rebel Without a Cause. It’s like Annie Hall where the Woody Allen character takes her to see terrible movies about the Nazies. This is Two Couples with no Cause in search of an Author and some Academy Awards.

“La La Land reeks of mothballs”. What a great sentence by one of the few film expert/critics who haven’t drunk the Koolaid.

http://observer.com/2016/12/good-intentioned-but-overrated-la-la-land-reeks-of-mothballs/

What is the big deal about the acting in this movie? I used to be annoyed by people oohing and aaing over great performances where the actor had to play someone mentally ill or some other extreme and people went on and on about it. At least there the actor has to deal with real circumstances like schizophrenia or being blind. What kind of acting can you get out of a person who has maybe two or three facial expressions. There are a few versions of smiling, mostly done by having her  perfect mouth closed, slightly open or open big. There’s the biting the lip on the outside to stop herself from bursting into tears. She is able to get her eyes wet and look emotional but really her face is blank and one dimensional. She’s very good at the blinking and not blinking at the right moments in very close closeups and that’s about it. I don’t get the big hype.

Go back and actually watch any of the movies this movie seems to reference to, either on purpose or accidentally. Bye Bye Birdie is more complicated with the same kind of wholesome feel good ness.

I saw the movie with a 9 year old who liked it but wasn’t absolutely in love with it. She commented that basically there were only 2 characters in the whole movie. Exactly. The only romantic movies with only 2 characters and a few background ones that works is the series about the man and woman that meet only for a day, and again in several movies, sort of a copy of the plot of Same Time Next Year: Before Sunset, Before Sunrise and Before Midnight. Guess one reason why we want to watch these 2 people in 3 movies? I’m not sure, but it feels way more realistic and romantic/nostalgia/sad. It helps that the woman in it, Julie Delpy writes the screenplays of the second two movies with Richard Linklater.

I liked the colors and the editing of the movie. I just told a friend maybe it would be fun to watch the movie without the sound on. There are these great cuts, unexpected, funny, meant to confuse between real life and “movie” life, and seem like a funny joke about the movie itself being so fake you think it’s done on purpose

Emma Stone has not written anything, thank goodness. I do not understand how everyone is swooning about this performance. I don’t get it. You would think singing and dancing was practically impossible in most movies that she is so great at it.

Once you’ve seen Charlie Chaplin in anything you can’t argue with the fact that in comedies especially, facial expression is everything. Ryan Gosling doesn’t have an expressive face either. People like Jim Carrey maybe go too far in the other direction. There’s Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, Helena Bonham Carter, Robert Downey Jr. and hosts of others who actually have faces that move and can carry an emotion or idea where the camera is on them and they do something magical. I don’t see that with the Stone face smile of Emma Stone.

The editing and composition of the scenes is great. I got pretty dizzy in a lot of the film with a lot of sudden cuts and the camera’s movement.

I’d say that was the most moving part of the movie, being moved around like that.

Supposedly the scene where the break up is happening is supposed to be so “real”. The lighting and choice of no music etc yes, but the plot is so boring and typical, it’s like real celebrities complaining about how they can’t sustain a relationship because both people travel so much for their jobs and don’t see each other. Oh no, she has to choose between her own success and seeing him less or just going around with him and giving up on her own career. Wow. i’m so sad for them. I won’t even list the real life celebrities that had this problem, touring for music and acting in movies all over the place. So tragic.

The whole plot is built on cliche. You can’t see the mold and the mothballs through the shiny feeling of this movie.

I just hate when everyone swoons over something that really is just not that great and not even good.

Sorry but I just don’t get it. I’m going to have to deliberately not watch the Academy Awards. By the way, I did for sure notice the weird racism in the movie; you’d have to be an idiot not to. I won’t even get into that. This review captures most of it:

http://fusion.net/story/377467/la-la-land-oscar-hollywood-musicals-race/

 

My Solo Art Show in Brooklyn!

#Bathroom Art Only is the name of the exhibition of my art in Williamsburg at the gallery of the art therapy clinic, New York Creative Arts Therapists. The opening reception was at their Open House on Saturday, October 29.

Somehow, with Halloween and the pre election events, and the election and post election events and reactions going on and ongoing, my show event got lost in all that, and I neglected to post photos on this blog, my Facebook page, Twitter and everything else. I am still trying to sort out how this very important event in my career seems to have been pushed to the side by me, the artist. Another post can address that complicated issue…

The show is still up through the end of 2016.

I wrote some posts about my art project, #bathroomartonly (#Bathroom Art Only), which was created to address the rights of transgender identified people, as well as gender non comforting, gender fluid and every gender in between, to equal access to public bathrooms. I started the project in the spring and over my summer road trip, I posted photos of public bathrooms I “visited”, as part of my whole project, which I think of as going beyond just having this exhibition of my work.

The work in the show is meant to be provocative and humorous and to use the comic strip medium to address how we construct gender and invite people, whether cisgender or non conforming, transgender, and all others, to look at gender in a different way. The show is organized in categories of “characters” that typically are not viewed in terms of gender, office supplies, cats, heads with non gender bodies (self-portrait collages), toilets and poop all talking. Not all are directly talking directly about gender, some are more subtle ways of thinking about gender construction. Here are photos and you can see the messages without me explaining it:

 

Cupcakes still on my mind

I must add as an afterthought, that I just realized during one of my Guilty Internet Window Shopping Black Friday weekend experiences, I put a cupcake watch in my cart. I put things in carts and then get off quickly after having spent too much time figuring out the 35% discount.

That cupcake watch, I thought about it today and sensibly told myself, you certainly don’t need another watch, another Bestsey Johnson watch, after all you have the sugar skull, that Alice looking one, the cat one, the Marilyn face one…

Writing this list, I realize I already went into the too too much so much that you can get more because the muchness has already gone over the top, so it’s again so tantalizing to think, after writing this Ode to Cupcakes, don’t I need to reward myself with that cupcake watch, if its’ still on sale of course. Oh no. I will try to resist it.

Cupcake watch

I confess I have a small “cake” wristlet bag that was one of those I must have this, things, It says let them eat cake on the bottom. But still, cupcakes are better…

we can sketch it out.

I love these quotations and how they are placed in these great portraits!

malcolm-yelloThere is nothing better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time. — Malcolm X

leonard-cohen There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. — Leonard Cohen

tawakkol-karman In our hearts, we are just human beings who want a dignified life. Is that too much to ask? -Tawakkol Karman

bill-murray-yello The last time doesn’t exist. It’s only this time. And everything is going to be different this tie. There’s only now.  — Bill Murray

coetzee We are not by nature cruel. — J.M. Coetzee

mother-teresa Peace begins with a smile. — Mother Teresa

tim-gunn Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration.  — Tim Gunn

shermanWe are all products of what we want to project to the world. — Cindy Sherman

henry-jamesThree things in human life are important. The first is to be kind…

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there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

Great! So sad to lose Leonard Cohen.

We lost singer-songwriter-poet-artist-novelist Leonard Cohen, one of my personal heroes and the mentor I never met. Here’s my little tribute.

leonard-cohen There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

cohen-color Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.

leonard-love Love is the only engine of survival.

cohen-yesterday-colorHow can I begin anything with all of yesterday in me?

cohen-trainingBTW, I’m training mediators in New Orleans this week, and Mr. Cohen was my co-trainer.

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What kind of American are you?

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. James A. Baldwin
Newly edited: what I’ve learned from this Election Process:
1.) Shut up and listen.
2.) Act, don’t react.
3.) Edit yourself.
5.) slow down and breathe.
6.) Be grateful.

I mostly turn to literature and writers and some other wise figures for explanation and important things to consider. American Literature is a place I go to to see how people answered this questions on what it is to be American. Here are quotations from them.

This passage in the Great Gatsby is etched in my brain. It comes up often when you work with oppressed people…

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

In just a few sentences you see the complexity of American History since it was born starting with “smashing up” Native Americans, slavery…

James Baldwin has written so much about all of it that resonates today, it’s hard to choose what to put in here:

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. James A. Baldwin

Here is a quote that speaks to a part of myself I certainly don’t like. Baldwin is talking about taking responsibility. When you are born or choose to become an American, you are agreeing to participation in its history and learning from it, I’m quite not sure how to say that; Baldwin articulates it well:

Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. James A. Baldwin
This one really gets at what is happening in this moment of our collective history:

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

Here are some from Leonard Cohen, whom I think about today and thank him for his magic.

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”
This one above speaks to me as I remember many times when I’ve tried to figure out how to emulate someone’s behavior and it seemed like I needed to wear this person on me to be like them; you can strive but I get weary of chasing buses.

“We are ugly but we have the music.” this short sentence seems to sum up how it is to be an artist made in America.

Last one:

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded,
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed,
Everybody knows that the war is over,
Everybody knows the good guys lost.”

American women writers:

Here are some words for today and tomorrow: Audre Lorde

There’s always someone asking you to underline one piece of yourself – whether it’s Black, woman, mother, dyke, teacher, etc. – because that’s the piece that they need to key in to. They want to dismiss everything else.

Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/audre_lorde.html

There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/audre_lorde_2.html

In other words, I would be giving in to a myth of sameness which I think can destroy us.
Emily Dickinson:

In other words, I would be giving in to a myth of sameness which I think can destroy us.
Here is a provocative one that speaks to the last year and last few days:

People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.

Finally:

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. Abraham Lincoln

Here is Malcolm X with a prescription for all of us people asking today what to do, what can be done:

“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” — Malcolm X

I will end with this. I always fantasized about just reading for the rest of my life:

“My alma mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” — Malcolm X