Mother Blue

I photo. I take day trips. I lightsaber battle. I analyze the stuffing out of myself.

Category: Birthday Art

40 on 20

“Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true

You stand at the edge while people run you through

And I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.

 — Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

• • •

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Dave teaching Jack how to skip stones at the lake after Rosh Hashanah services.

 

SUMMER

What a long, temperate, and very temperamental summer it has been.

Dave and I watched Jack play with his buddies while we sat on the only available park bench. We had just emerged through a difficult winter and spring. It was the very beginnings of the summer.

Dave said something to the effect of “I just can’t do this job anymore.”

Work had been sucking the life out of him and the money out of our bank account for quite some time. Radio sales in Pittsburgh is not what it used to be. Living to work, not working to live. Stress and snippiness. The past two years had been the equivalent of running uphill through tar while wearing ankle weights.

Exhale.

The perfect blue skies of the day contrasted the gravity of our conversation. We lamented over our choices and acknowledged that as of late our lives were more focused on surviving than living. We both agreed that if he was going to quit his job, then the pursuit of happiness had to be one of our priorities. We had to revisit some of the dreams we had planted in our early youth, once cultivated by our glorious naivety. The dreams we let fall by the wayside over the past 20 years. The ones that got supplanted with more “age appropriate, responsible” things. We had to find the road where responsibility and dreams intersect. We had forgotten.

He woke up the next day, made a phone call, and walked away. Things felt heavy and light all at once.

Summer was stressed and struggling. We fought and made up and made the best of things. More stress and snippiness. We took on extra work, odd jobs, and part-time opportunities; job interviews and freelance newspaper articles and board meetings for the both of us.

Jack’s version of the summer was less tethered than ours. It was youth-filled freedom both by design and necessity. Playing outside both in and around the neighborhood. On his own for the very first time. Coming home when dinner was almost ready.

Car repairs and haircuts. Bills and expenses. Sleepless nights. Sunrises that I wasn’t looking forward to be awake to witness.

I lost sight of myself in the midst of all this change. I mistreated my mind, my soul, and my body. I gained and lost weight and gained it back again. I felt the weight of everything that laid on his shoulders and the weight that rested on mine. Were we doing the right thing? We both were working hard at make things work and their was little room (or time) for much else.

August was near its end. I sat at my sister’s kitchen table, fearful of the future. I worried about the person we created and I lamented over all of the mistakes I have made.

And right as the first leaves began to lose their summer green, tiny opportunities came filtering in.

Dave will finally be able to publish a book of his poetry. Twenty years of his work that he has long wanted to see as a compilation is being printed as we speak, all thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, his talent, and some very generous and wonderful people. One of his dream projects is on the way to fruition.

I, too, am finding more work, or new work is finding me. I am creating more things and laughing at myself and with others.

I am grateful we are slowly traversing to the other side.

 

NY24TIRED SCENES COLOR

“Tired Scenes” in color. NYC 2003.

• • •

THE OTHER SIDE IS 40

I arrived at 40 and took on a project.

It originated as my annual birthday art project. A simple social media celebration and a gorgeous reflection of my friends creativity.

I wanted to make 40 a little different than the previous years’ art.

I sent a digital message to the masses: “This year, I turn 40 and I would like to give all of you a gift. I would like to send everyone a word. The word I send to you makes me think of you or is inspired by you. You can do with your word whatever you like. You can print it out and photograph it, share it with others, write it on your arm, or maybe you just want to keep it for yourself. As I approach a new decade, I thank you for being a part of my decades… I would love to see a picture or interpretation of your word post over the next month or so: You holding your word up to the heavens or placing in front of a waterfall or on your desk or on the subway or wherever. It is up to you. It is a gift that asks for nothing in return. I may try to make a book out of your images if you do indeed decide to share them, or at least a blog or Tumblr post of all your word creations.”

I have assigned about 450 words or so out of 700. I am taking my time with this task and really thinking about words, their gravity, and what they mean both in and out of context.

I will keep everyone posted on the progress and I will let everyone know if these creations do indeed become a book.

 

photo-(1)-40_Snapseed

40

• • •

“Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies

Beyond the yellow brick road.”

— Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

 

40 on 20

 

It’s been 20 years since the course of my life changed. The butterfly effect of September 27, 1994. Twenty years ago, tomorrow.

I think I will visit her gravestone, even though I know it’s merely a symbolic gesture. Maybe I will lay on her stone and pose like Madonna. My mother would be slightly horrified.

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from “Truth or Dare”

I have been thinking in key moments as of late. Those key moments of life peppered in with your own versions of the actual events. A lot is forgotten in 20 years. Just the other day, my sister and I were trying to remember her favorite foods, her favorite restaurants.

I think she liked the dinner rolls at Red Lobster. I know she loved Paulie’s Lookout and Jim’s Hot Dogs.

It all starts to get a little fuzzy.

 

• • •

 

“Sweet freedom whispered in my ear

You’re a butterfly

And butterflies are free to fly

Fly away, high away, bye bye.”

 — Someone Saved my Life Tonight

 

laugh mom

Happier times. Mom and dad on their way to the Poconos after their wedding.

 

20 on 40

My inner strength was reinforced with a value meal.

She said goodbye as he pleaded to stay.

She had had enough. I think in some ways he did as well. He still wasn’t ready to admit it to himself.

I watched her stand with stoic strength and tears of goodbye that somehow, willfully, would not stream down her cheeks.

He wrapped his arms around her waist and begged her to let him stay.

The cabbie came to the door, helped him to the car, and took him to the airport.

The tears started to come, just barely, as I watched her do one of those “hardest things” we all are called to do in this life. A necessary thing. The sadness and the heartache needed to end for the both their sakes.

We watched them drive away. She picked up her dust rag and started cleaning again just like it was a regular Tuesday. My brother and I didn’t say much.

When the divorce was finalized, she showed me and my brother the legal announcement in the papers. One small line announcing the dissolution of their 23 year union. She bought us McDonald’s to “celebrate” — a meal we could afford, a meal that symbolized the future.

I could write about how difficult it was for the next three years and how she struggled to get to the life she had always dreamed of. I could talk of how hard she struggled with depression and anger and with the very notion of her kids growing up. She wanted a do over. She wanted us to be little again. She wanted us to be there forever.

But that stoic moment with the cab driver and that last embrace will always be my symbol. When life is hard sometimes you have to be harder for everyone’s happiness. Even when the tears that won’t come tell you otherwise.

• • •

To all of these ends, I am inspired by the women in my life who have taken the place of my original maternal mentor. I watch you in awe and observe you and listen to how you act and react in the world. I see how your subtle grace and sometimes roaring power encompasses you. It influences and inspires me and allows me to “Tetris” together a cohesive identity. From this Frankenstein monster creation of emotions, I become better.

 

EPILOGUE

 

I was given three words in the 700 Words/Birthday Art project.

• One by my friend, Nique. We met for lunch. We asked for chalk and then we wandered the alleyways of the SouthSide and created this.

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Compassion

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Compassion

 

• The second word was poignant given to me by my friend, Tracy. This post captures that word better than any other image I could possibly create.

• The third word is the one I give myself. It is the one I usually forget to name myself in my list of the many descriptors of me. My tribute to them.

Daughter

Daughter

 

_____________

UPDATE:

I don’t usually write two blog entries this close together, but yesterday turned out to be an epilogue to the epilogue. Enjoy.

40 on 20, a Short Epilogue to the Epilogue

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Birthday Art, part 2

I woke up with the words of a poem in my head.

It was spoken to me in my dreams by a silhouetted traveler adorning a fedora and trench coat. His outline looked like the love child of William Burroughs and Leonard Cohen. He smelled of lucky strikes. They weren’t my words (although my brain dreamt them up). I will share the poem in its entirety next time, but here is the ending:

are we always all born restless?
or is it only me…

i spent 10,000 days alone
spend 10 years getting famous
10 years getting rich
then 10 years getting forgotten (by the time i’m 66)
will i get what i need by the time i’m 66?

_____________

The words made me think. They made me make promises to myself:

• I was going to enjoy this birthday. I was going to recognize through my lens the little moments.

• I was going to wear a dress everydayof this birthday weekend. I was going to accept that side of my femininity that isn’t related to motherhood, combine it with my other selves and make it more apparent.

In the spirit of the Birthday Art Project, and as a present to myself, I was going to attempt to make some sort of statement about who I am. (However narcissistic that may or may not seem). So within the tiny quiet moments of my solace and reflection, and within my (sometimes) loud, boisterous, self-imposed attention grabbing, antics, I let myself experience moments this year, moments through myself and through others. I captured them. I documented them. Each photo took a nanosecond to take, but it painted the story I wanted to tell. This weekend was my art. It was the first birthday over I decade where I took time and experienced the moments. So here is my birthday, my weekend, my moments, my art, my dresses, party feet, other people’s feet, my feet and my birthday dancing, my laughter, my images without words.

_______

EXCERPTS: MY FRIDAY

_______

EXCERPTS: MY SATURDAY

_______

 EXCERPTS: MY SUNDAY BIRTHDAY

Birthday Art, part 1

Birthday Terrarium Chairs, by Sarah Wojdylak

I like the wisdom that comes with getting older, but not the aging process itself. Both my parents died way before their due, so I feel like I am constantly traversing through time and space on moments that are borrowed. September 4th brings me both reflection and melancholy in a way the rest of the 364 don’t. So last year on my birthday I decided to make an event (albeit a small one) on my “special” day. Using social media to connect to others, I made a public declaration (in my Facebook status) for whomever was online, right at that moment, to make homemade art by the stroke of midnight on September 4th. I was half kidding and I was not sure if anyone was awake or even around, but I put my words out there. I thought that it might be neat to see what people came up with on a moments notice and who might actually respond. I love art and have a lot of talented and creative friends and colleagues. I gave the participants little parameters, the only stipulation was a 4 minute time frame to complete the work. The person didn’t have to be an artist by trade or hobby, just passionate about absolutely anything. I wanted to see something; a simple statement on the day; a nice love letter to September 4th: A very ordinary day. I closed by asking them to post a pic of their homemade art on their FB walls (before midnight) and tag me in the post.

Last year’s experiment heeded some brilliant results — FB BIRTHDAY ART, 2010 — so I decided that this year I would make homemade, spontaneous art an annual event. I cheated a bit and made my declaration a few days prior. I wanted to make a few more folks aware of the impromptu art gallery. In doing that, I don’t think many stayed within the 4 minute parameter but some brilliant art was to be had.

Here are this year’s results — FB BIRTHDAY ART, 2011.

For your Birthday Art Installment, from Dom and me. 🙂 Dom and Mom just fooling around. 🙂 by Melissa Zezza

Poppies in the garden! by MaryAnn Ward Carosi

Done this past week: screen printing fast and cheap with an embroidery hoop and mod podge to create a screen... art for fun and fashion! by Pannay Burt Guigley

Thug in a hoodie (Puppy collage 🙂 by Jennifer Obrosky McCalla

This is your homemade "virtual" birthday card. I did all the "drawer-ings" myself! Happy birthday! by Gab Bonesso

A lovely rhyming poem by Joel Cunningham.

Happy birthday Kim! This Picture is not original Brenna art but I thought expressive for birthday art. Hope you had a great day! by Brenna Connolly

Happy Birthday Kim! This is from Lucy. by Amy Mortensen's beautiful daughter Lucy.

Maggie's "fish bowl".... for her Aunt Kimmy... happy birthday!

Birthday Scribble Love, by Jackie.

Moving picture postcard, by Kate Hansen

eflections of Montreal -- One of three in a series, by Ken Selig

Reflections of Montreal -- Two of three in a series, by Ken Selig

Reflections of Montreal -- Three of three in a series, by Ken Selig

Birthday cupcake lollipops, by Jill Garon Harvey

Birthday Terrarium, by Sarah Wojdylak

Happy Birthday Kim! Here is my art. I call it Drunken Blur. by Jennifer Anders Reeger

photo of ceramic bert doll, taken at my pal al's house, words added with wordfoto iphone app. by Lisa Cunningham

This was the only artistic thing that happened at our place today. Che filled our mailbox with petals and leaves from our front yard. So I guess this is his Happy Birthday art to you. Happy Birthday Kim! by Christine Brocco

by Kristen Lauth Shaeffer

Shadow & light wishing you a happy birthday & many more fantastic years on this planet. by Stephanie Dennis Cooley

I tested my PX600 film in my Pronto B, and the photo was so blown out you could barely see the creepy statue. I upped the contrast in photoshop a bit so you could at least see her eyes staring back at you (he he). I hope you have a lovely birthday! xo by Lisa Toboz

I will get you a better picture of this picture. Happy birthday Kim!! Filled with real dried 4 leaf clovers. Next time the chair may fit into the room better. by Cara McDougal

Birthday art in two parts. This was made by our friend Sam Panico that's based on one of the photos from Christina McGinnis Krasman and my wedding. by Christina McGinnis Krasman and Brian Krasman

Part 2. My mother Pam Krasman made this stained glass that's based on the wedding invitation from Christina McGinnis Krasman and my wedding invitation. Sorry my photog skills aren't so good. That's not art. :--( by Christina McGinnis Krasman and Brian Krasman

Happy belated... I hope this year is filled with all the love in the world! by Avi Bonime

About this image: taken with a 60s era Canon Rangefinder lens (50 f1.2) on a NIkon D90. Flowers from the spring. by Manfred Woodall

And here are the two songs that were written in my honor:

My Birthday Song: xtmprns from George Anthony Harvey 

Silver Dollar Lady by David Rullo and Sergeant Peppermolasses

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Tomorrow I will reveal the art I created for this project. Stay tuned!!!!!!!

PREVIEW:

I danced a birthday dance.

feet were most definitely present.