Sunday, April 17, 2016
Sunday, April 3, 2016
We are arranging to meet at an art exhibit I was going to see. I tell my husband about the exhibit. That I am meeting with the person who is interested in my art.
Dean pats me on the head and says,
“that's good, Beth.”
Why do I expect more than this?
I know that this is, most likely, the main reason I am meeting with this person. To see if Dean will show some reaction, some indication that he notices something that I do; a confirmation that I exist, that I am not just a prop. Like the toaster. Just there to perform a function in his life.
Because I doubt this.It is not that I am disinterested in the prospect of something lucrative coming out of my work. It is that I am uncomfortable meeting people. I tend to avoid this kind of thing. I am not good at this kind of thing; people.
The exhibition is by someone I know. She does mostly 3-d art made out of recycled objects. I make sure to show up early because I promised Norma, whose art this is, that I would stop by to say 'hello'. We talk for awhile about her show, she tells me about some good sales she has had on some of her pieces.
I like her work. It is nothing like mine. I suspect this has much to do with why she and I get along so well, there is no competition.
“Which one do you like?” she asks me.
“I like the 'fish for sale' one,” I tell her.
She starts to say something, but someone comes over to talk to her. I move away, find my way back into the clusters of people and walk around studying pieces. But the whole time I am thinking that I want to go home. I am even half hoping that he does not show up.
I see a tall man with dark hair and a beard standing by the door. He is wearing sunglasses. He is looking at his phone and doing something on it and as I observe this, my phone alerts me that I have a text. As I go to dig it out of my bag, the tall, dark man turns to look in my direction.
The text says,
“Are you here yet?”
As I answer,
“yes,” he is walking over to me.
He is the tallest person in the room. He is imposing. And as he walks over to me, the first impression he leaves on me is that he looks like a poet. It is his dark, wavy hair and his medieval beard that is cut close to his face. Yes, he looks like a poet. He wears a reddish brown tweed blazer with corduroy trousers of the same hue.
He stops in front of me and removes his sunglasses. He is good looking,
“you're Beth Jones,” he says.
It is now that I notice the color of his eyes. They are a dark hazel, textured by shards, the colors of earth and moss. Like the kinds of colors that you would find on a deep forest floor. They are warm.
“Yes,” I reach my hand out to shake his formally. His hand is warm. And very big. His long fingers wrap around.
Like most tall people, he has a kind of slouch and this seems more pronounced as he stands in front of me. So I find myself trying to be taller, I find myself pivoting onto the toes of my shoes to close the height distance between us. We start to walk around the exhibition in this way, me on my toes and he somewhat slouching. I am nervous. I show him the 'fish for sale' sculpture as an excuse in order to hide my shyness.
He says very offhandedly, almost to himself,
“that would be a useful pail in this situation.”
The sculpture is of a robot attempting to fill the pail with a pound of fish. There is a sign that reads, “$3.00 for a pound of fish”. But if you look more closely you can see that the pail has a hole on the bottom because Norma uses reclaimed material. This was not intended, of course, as part of the piece's story but it is funny because of how he said it.
It makes me laugh unexpectedly and when I look up at him his smile unhinges me. In that moment I knew that we would be lovers.
“do you want to go get coffee?”
And it is only after we are sitting facing each other, that the awkwardness begins to melt away. He begins to tell me about his work. His work is very interesting but I cannot write about it here, it would be exposing too much about him, and even as I say that this is fiction, there are parts that are not.
“I want to use your image, that one of yours that I told you-- for my project,” he tells me, “it would be for the cover and very visible so.... and I'd pay you up front what I told you but also any profit I make you would get a cut.”
“Wow, really....?” but I am dazed and do not really know what I am saying and have to stare out the window.
I feel his eyes watching me but he looks away when I turn to look back at him. He says,
“you're married?” so casually that I am not sure I heard him right.
At first there is no answer, he is just staring into my eyes and then he whispers,
“yes. I have a son and a daughter. You?”
“I have a fifteen year old daughter.”
He looks momentarily shocked but recovers quickly,
“I'm sorry, you just don't look old enough to. Do you mind if I ask you how old you are?”
He smiles. Then he asks,
“so what does your husband do?”
“He's a consultant for a technology company. He works with computers.What does your wife do?”
“She runs a day care.”
And then after that we don't talk any more about them. We talk about our own work. We talk about art, we talk about literature, we talk about music. I find that I am not shy with him the more we sit there talking. And I find that I really like listening to him. I want to keep him talking. I like his voice. It is deep and textured. I like his accent. I like the way he speaks and explains things, I like his views, the way he thinks....
And when I tell him things, he listens to me.... he listens....
We don't realize how long we have been sitting there until we notice the sun is beginning to descend and he says,
“I'm sorry, you have to get back to your life, don't you? It's too bad that I have business in Chicago and am flying out tonight. I would have liked to have met with you again before I have to fly back home later in the week. I would like to see more of your art. Maybe you can send me some of your images?”
“Oh...” and I have to mask the disappointment from showing because I suddenly feel very sad that he has to go.
But then I have to remind myself that it is better this way as we are both married.
Monday, July 7, 2014
more representation in the portrayal of themes
When I first began writing as Electra, it was for the purpose to define identity because I see it as a source; the seed of where it all began.
But often, I feel like Don Quixote, delusional. Today I don't want to dwell on whether or not this one or that one was my father. It is almost irrelevant to the argument in some ways. This struggle over meaning. This struggle. This conflict. I know that none of this would have mattered to me at all had I not been desperate enough to call a suicide hotline when I was twenty-one. And the years that dragged me to that point. The rejection of father. From my father. I tried to replace something with something else. Like Freud’s thesis. Today's modern books on the young feminine psyche outline a fragile ego, as portrayed by Pipher's Ophelia complex. A neatly sketched picture. The early formation of ego. In many ways I am a stereotype. There is nothing that unique here in my head. But that was never what I needed to prove. Maybe in some ways in order to stand out as individual, yes. But not to really rally, as some present day Joan of Arc. All I ever wanted was to just fit in.
My own theory is: if it is this important to me and I am not all that unique, than I would not be alone in these themes I obsess over and dissect. Maybe this is really not all just for me. I am definitely driven. Driven crazy. Over this. It has a hold on me that won't let me go and I have no choice but to follow this through to the end. So follow me. I dare you. Because you might just see you in me. And even if you don't, you might see something else that answers something in you and your need to follow it.
Without an avatar, where do you hang a self-image? I mean this in a way, like a title of Self. Like when I first watched my daughter begin to wonder who she is in her place in the world and I watched her need to define herself through her earliest choices. Her favorite color. Her favorite imaginary characters. And then, later, when she asked me over and over if she was good enough to be an artist, or good enough to write, or good enough to be ….anything. And it was like pushing the graphite across the paper and the graphite took control, the way it should. As artists, we simply dust off what is already there. Like an archaeologist, as I have said. It forms itself and our hands are the vehicle. But my daughter is her own graphite and I chose to never force the hand. I wanted to watch what would happen on her own. And without the limitations I had. The manipulating chains of limitations.
I saw it happen and it was invaluable to me to watch her learn this. It heeled something that no therapy ever could have. I got to watch it happen slowly through time as she discovered self.
Electra really only became my avatar in full dimension when I caught on to this. Watching self born in her. Being cast off from a mold forces you to invent yourself. And it isn't always the choice to do this. At first, the early inventions were reactionary. Basic survival. And things like taking sharp objects to do self harm were one of those reactions. And a form of basic survival, as ironic as this may sound. In the silence and in silence scream. Hidden with no voice in rooms in my mind.
And no, I don't condone self harm. And this is why I didn't want to force the hand. I had to let go of her, step back and watch her, like those first steps alone. As mothers we must let go and always, every day, more and more. We are forced to act the opposite of what we emotionally fear. But then, letting go of her was not really my choice. It was chosen by my ex-husband. Hanging a concept of self on your child has devastating consequences. But I wasn't ready to let go of her. Especially, because I knew I was on the brink of discovering something that has something to do with the meaning of self.
As I paint my mural of Demeter, as she mourns over the pomegranate, symbolizing Persephone.... I am releasing this. It marks a hallway in my cerebral passages. And once I put this down, I can go on to the next level, like the levels of purgatory.
But the Self is still chaos. It is elusive to me.
If I give up now.... only I think it is really driving me mad. Which is why I write this self-involved journey. If I am honest, maybe something really worthy can come of all of this. Even if it emerges out of me like a tiny whisper and the chance of being heard is actually impossible.... because I hide. Because I have no voice. And this is why Bran is so necessary, because he gives ….Electra voice.
I can do it through him....
because, before there was silence
….and then there was Orpheus.
I know that what I confess here --may be wrong....to. It is not as if I close the pages of my diary and tuck it in a drawer. I know he sometimes reads my blog. But there is the need to pour it out and I seem to be more honest on here than when I just do it on a piece of paper. I say here what I don't say out loud. Like the voiceless things I say to him in the dark. I guess there is the part of me that wants him to know but also hopes he won't.
I don't want to need him. I am not someone who clings. But I see there is something I need to learn.... in him.
And I think now about talking to my marriage counselor about this. But I don't want to admit to this. She is not my confessor. And I wonder if I am just trying to give merit to something sinful in order to deliver myself. But I need him, I know I do. Because before I was ….losing all definition. And losing the belief in caring.
Is it delusional to need to keep the faith of some tired old cause because it gives you an anchor that keeps you from flying out of orbit? He gives me voice. He is Electra's voice. I can express these things I never could have before. On his stage Electra comes to life. And even if he went away forever, I would be OK. Electra would still exist.
Because I know he will never be able to get her out of him now either.
But I don't need anybody. And if he leaves my life forever, then maybe he was only ever a vehicle too. The hands that shaped what was already there by dusting off the chaos.
I don't know what I am going to do. Maybe nothing. And maybe I am full of shit. No, I most definitely am.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
On the plane going home I have that Sinéad O'Connor song stuck in my head, those lines: this is the last day of our acquaintance/we will meet later in somebody's office.... I am sad on the plane going home.
Thinking about what faces me when I land in Detroit. The void that seems as if it will engulf me. I feel it grow inside with each mile. I try not to think about him.
Then stare into the darkness from the airplane window that looks into the emptiness of space. I don't care what I'm looking at. I know it's taking me away from where I wish I still was.
I got lucky, I had an aisle seat but nobody came to sit next to me. But is it really luck to get an unexpected window seat when it feels the destination I am being carried to is breaking my heart and maybe the distraction of a passenger beside me might have let me fool myself for awhile.
I am not good at 'good-byes'. I have never been. I would assume just say nothing, just walk away.
I say to him the night before,
“let me take a taxi. Let's say 'good-bye' here.” Because it would be easier to leave alone and the place we had lived together for a week.... as if it were only just for a few hours. I would rather pretend not to care. I do not want to deal with pain. I don't like pain.
But he says,
“no, Beth, I'm taking you to the airport.”
But he just looks at me as if I make no sense, as if my question is ridiculous, he says,
“I'm going to bring you to the gate.”
But that is what I didn't want.
I feel irrational. It feels unfair.
But I know I can't leave Dean, even if Bran considered leaving his family. It has something to do with a promise and a commitment and years of history. It has something to do with knowing that –- I don't do good-byes well. And I guess-- love. But it is a different love. It is not the kind that inspires poetry and not the kind that fills your soul. And, although, I pretend to be hard, I'm not. I'm not able to be cruel. I can't be ungrateful. And I know that Dean needs me. Even though he would never say it. He is unable to express or show.... those things I deeply crave. And thinking these thoughts-- I feel so guilty. It is useless to long for the moon.
But then I wonder when I will see Bran again. And the fear. There is always that.
I didn't want to love him. Didn't plan to fall in love. I didn't think I could. Anymore. I long accepted that ….old romantics turn into cynics.
I take a taxi from the airport, knowing Dean is still at work. And when I step in the door I want to burst into tears. The place resembles a fraternity house.... and almost trip over a beer bottle that rolls across the floor when I walk in. I have no choice but to start cleaning before I even put down my backpack because of the smell. I follow the trail of disaster to the bedroom. And in the process of cleaning, I find my phone to charge it, it is completely dead. And then later, I step into the shower and stand there under the pouring water trying to void my mind. I stand there a long time. It is like I am washing off a week of illusions and returning back to real life. Returning from some kind of fugue.
After the shower, I face the mountain of dishes piled in the sink and piled everywhere else. I am exhausted from traveling and my heavy thoughts, but I need the therapy of cleaning. It is the guilt that is also returning.
I go to bed early, too exhausted to think or move and fall instantly asleep. It is some time in the night that I wake up to noises. They scare me. I am disoriented. It takes awhile to figure out where I am. I had been dreaming. I hear retching. I get up and find Dean on the floor of the bathroom vomiting. I see he is drunk.
“Are you OK?” because what do you ask in moments like this?
He doesn't look up. His face looks mottled blue and red. He grunts,
“huh...?” I see he has missed the toilet in places. There is vomit everywhere.
“Dean, I'm home,” I say stating the obvious but wanting to get a reaction.
“I thought you were coming home tomorrow,” he mumbles mostly incoherently.
He puts his head on the seat of the toilet. He looks pathetic. He starts to snore there. I find something to clean him off with then drag him to bed. He lands face first into the mattress.
I go sleep in the other room.
But it is hours later of being awake ….because now I can't fall back to sleep. I get up remembering my phone and unplug it from the wall. There is a message from Bran that says: call me when you get this, I miss you.
But while I've been away there are problems with Jamie. The next week back in the real world are filled with the debris of my daughter's problems. I feel guilty for having been away. It was only one week but it seems so much can go wrong in just a few days.
And then, much worse, my symptoms return. The worst kind. The worst pain. The kind that makes me want to die. I think I am being punished.