Friday, February 15, 2013


Hi everybody.
I'm moving to Wordpress. I think it's for the best...
It's also a private blog, meaning that you can't read it unless I personally invite you. If you'd like to keep reading, just reply to this post with a comment, and send me your email if I don't have it. Or you can send me an email. Please don't hesitate, I just want to create a safe space for posting and commenting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Worry

I'm worried. Right now I have a stable job, a stable living environment, and stable health.

Why am I worried? Well, it's because things are stable. And, for as long as I've been able to think, I have understood that stability is, above all, one of the most dangerous illusions out there.

When I was a little kid, I never felt that anything was stable -- boundaries that existed so clearly for other people, escaped me. I remember looking at a homeless person and knowing that any day, tomorrow even, I could be homeless. My mother brushed it off, saying, "You'll never be homeless." But for me, it wasn't so clear.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that I'm in a different arena than most people who find themselves in that position, but what I am saying is, I don't think I ever really felt free from the possibility that everything could suddenly collapse.

This may be a symptom of my upbringing. Both of my parents had pretty extreme tempers, things could escalate with them pretty quickly, a lot of times things ended with some kind of physical or emotional blow. I tried my best to avoid and protect myself from this, but some of these conflicts were impossible to predict, let alone avoid.

Another contributor to my little mindset might be that most things we experienced growing up were called "privileges." Privileges included the most basic things -- like eating dinner with the family -- to bigger things, like going out and seeing friends. They had to be earned, and could easily be lost. Growing up, I was very mindful that almost everything I experienced was a privilege, which I don't think is bad, but it does have some funny side effects later in life.

Two years ago, I fled my home in the middle of the night when a drunk roommate had a violent eruption. I couldn't sleep for a while, feeling that at any moment, somebody might come pounding at my door as I lay in bed crying to the 911 operator. Then, last year, right when I was starting to build some real momentum with my work, I fell ill for about eight months, and felt idiotic for not doing more when I had my health, for taking it so for granted. Later in the year, a dear friend/surrogate father fell ill, which of course reinforced my shame at having taken health for granted, but highlighted another thing I took for granted. My two surrogate parents were absorbed in the crisis -- they were and are my primary emotional support -- and I realized then that I could lean on nobody. I guess that's growing up in a lot of ways; or a realization that alone is what we always are, but cannot always admit to being. Financial stability was the last of my concerns at this point -- when everything else, things that were really, really important seemed so fragile.

Right now, I'm in this funny place. The various crises have lifted, I feel better, I live in an emotionally and physically safe house, and I have a job. I have allowed myself to become comfortable again, as much as one can be able after being confronted so directly with the potential for personal loss. Being somewhat stable financially (e.g. having a regular paycheck) has played into this sense of comfort.

And now I feel like I must be crazy, seeking out and pursuing opportunities which may dramatically reduce this stability. I will be moving, again, into the unknown. Away from the people who have supported me through thick and thin. Away from the only truly safe house I've ever lived in. The only stable job I've ever had. And money ... is going to start to be a bigger problem. What am I thinking? I know in my heart that I have to continue to pursue my dreams. But, folks, it's scary. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


As an act of contrition for my self-obsessed posts, a story. Of course, it is a story that I have been ruminating on due to a recent turn of my own personal life events, but whatever. It'll probably be more enjoyable for you, my dear non-readers, than my constant roller-coaster-ride of emotions. It's also possible that I've written about this before, but in that case, it'll be a nice reflection on memory.

Here it goes!

My mother's mother is the most wonderful, wacky human being in the world. She's also one of the strongest people I know.

She divorced my grandfather after discovering his infidelity, and watched him cut every last one of her credit cards up in front of her and her six kids. He closed her out of her own checking account. She had a high-school degree, no skills, no money.

She had been making things for the kids for a while, bags and clothes with her little sewing machine. And I'm not sure quite how it happened, but she decided to start making more of these things for other people, and selling them.

A scrunchie in action. Hers were nicer.
When I was a kid, a trip to Nanny's house was synonymous with scrunchies. Somewhere in the mid-'80's my aunt Dorothy who worked as a floor person at the Manhattan Bloomingdale's (Dorothy, as an aside, was denied the opportunity for a college education by her father, who didn't believe any of his four daughters deserved an education) sported a scrunchie in her hair. Nanny yanked it right out, and asked her what it was. Dorothy said it was the next big thing, and Nanny immediately started production of the things. Well, my Nanny rode the wave of that scrunchie fad, sometimes raking in thousands of dollars in sales of that foppish hair accessory at a single craft fair. She had trash bags full of them in her garage, and I would go in and put ten on my arms to take home.

She continued selling her sewing products at craft fairs well after the scrunchie fad fizzled. She started making tote bags, which were and are a huge hit, and different kinds of scarves and necklaces. Her eye for clean shapes, and funky fabric/button combinations made her table a hot-spot for fair regulars, and she even started selling them to stores and making money on commission. Until recently she maintained another job, but the sewing was a creative outlet for her, and also, at times, a nice extra source of revenue.

To my knowledge, she never dated anybody again, and from what she's told me, she never wanted to. She just "couldn't imagine" having to compromise what she'd managed to create for herself. Which, I guess was a safe place, solace, independence, creative fulfillment, happiness.

I started talking to her on a routine basis a few years ago for both personal and artistic reasons. I was going through a terrible bout of heartbreak, which was exacerbated by creative frustrations, or really a lack of creative activity, which always has me feeling low. I wanted to latch onto anything, anything at all that interested me -- or lit a spark in me, or had me make something, even if that something was ultimately meaningless and didn't "amount" to anything. That was the primary reason for starting this blog.

I digress. Well we were talking one day, and I forget exactly why this came up but she said she wanted to tell me about something extraordinary that happened.

She was at one of her craft fairs, and sitting next to a man who had a table full of bird houses. Not just any bird houses, but "the most beautiful, intricate little houses." She started admiring them and struck up a conversation with the man, his name was George. George was a widower who had remarried. He had been in investment banking, or some other high-powered career in finance. He retired early after his wife's death, and decided to start making these bird houses to pass the time. They hit it off, and from the sound of it, the conversation got pretty deep in a short span of time. He offered her some of his popcorn, she obliged. There was a lull in the conversation at that point, and I think for a moment they just sat and stared at each other in disbelief. Maybe he was embarrassed by the realness of their encounter, or maybe he didn't have much else to give, but, he offered her some of his cherry soda as well. She said something flirtatious in response. I think it was something like, "Sure, George, I'll have some of your cherry soda." Nothing sexy, just like with the tonal implications that make something unmistakably flirty. They laughed, and continued gabbing over their shared snack, and the kind of shared experience that I guess can only be acknowledge by individuals with a certain amount of age and experience and I-don't-give-a-shit-ness. At a certain point his wife stopped by and seemed perturbed by something or other. My grandmother immediately disliked her. After she left, things quickly went back to normal with a joke or two. Their time together whirred on by. Then, other booths started to pack up, and it was time to go. They dragged out this process a bit, and then it came time to say good-bye.

Now, here's the first truly amazing part of this story. He looked at her, and asked her if he could give her a hug. She said, "Sure, George. You can hug me." So he did. And then he looked at her and said, "It is what it is."

Listening to my grandmother tell me these this particular detail over the phone -- I was agog. The fact that he'd say something like that out loud -- something that actually acknowledged and validated what they'd been feeling and thinking -- somehow verbalizing that they had been both feeling and thinking the same thing...this really took my breath away. I was amazed that this kind of stuff could ever happen, let alone happen when there had been utterly no grounds for saying something. How much of this sh*t goes unremarked, or is brushed under the rug when people in their youth or pride or ignorance are more invested in saving face than facing reality? How much of the stuff that I'd felt in my little life, but de-validated in my mind and my actions, had also been felt by somebody else, who also didn't utter anything in response? It was a bit overwhelming...

As I sort of re-composed myself, clumsily managing to sputter out something inaudible -- but which probably still intoned something naïve and conciliatory -- she hit me with another whammy.

She said: "I waited forty years for a hug."

Bam. On the floor, once again. She had admitted not only to herself, but also to me a fact as plain as day, but one I'd never dare to think about. Forty years...for a hug. She had waited for just the right moment, the right guy, the right hug. There was a sort of quiet sadness to the way she said it, as though it didn't even matter whether or not there was somebody on the other end of the phone. It wasn't a self-pitying kind of sadness, but the kind that comes with a relinquishment. A realness. (You've all seen it at the end of Titanic, when the old lady drops the billion-dollar necklace into the ocean. Yep, like that.)

Well -- I didn't know how to react to this at all, so I just ended up waiting. She finished the story by telling me that he'd chased her down in the parking lot. He gave her his card, and an apple. She said thank you and then left, and that was that. I still didn't know what to say. Eventually, I mustered up a, "Well, what do you think is going to happen?" I felt dumb. Of course nothing was going to happen. Really, nothing did happen. A lot had happened.

It was as though she'd struck my head like a gong, and it was vibrating and reverberating inwardly and outwardly. My little head was buzzing, and every time I thought about the story I felt tingly and a little sick. I kept this drunken feeling to myself for a few days, but then I had to start selectively telling people. I may have told two or three people before I started to get a grip.

A few weeks later I was talking to her again, and I asked about George. I asked her how she was feeling about it, about what had happened. I was really curious.

She said, "You know, I was starting to feel really down about it, and then I did something amazing. I changed it in my head." I let her go on, again, not knowing what to say. "I do this sometimes when I start down a path of self-pity or doubt or when I want something that I can't have. I am just taking it for what it is. I'm really thankful that it happened, but it is what it is and now it's over. I just want to preserve the magic of it in my head, and protect it. I don't want to ruin it. I do the same thing when somebody wrongs me. I don't hold grudges. I just take each day at a time."

Well, and that was the third time I was floored by her resilience and candor. And strength. And positivity. And I admit I realized a great deal of how I think must come from somewhere, and that somewhere might be in this other person.

I'm not really sure how to end this. So. That's all I'm going to say about George.

I'm not being fair...

I'm not alone, I do have help. People don't always understand me, and can't always give the help that I need/want, but they are there and they help. Most of the time I have trouble asking for it, and am impatient.
The fault is in my own.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

OK, so...

I guess I have to face it: I am the quintessential blogger stereotype. The old-school kind. The kind that only blogs when they have something to vent about or rant. This is me accepting that fact and moving on, this time -- surprise, surprise -- to vent. I wish I had the time or mental wherewithal to write some more luxuriously meandering posts like I used to, reflecting on things or people or experiences. But right now, I'm in a really selfish time in my life, because I'm fighting at the teeth for something that nobody fully understands, something that I, myself cannot fully understand.

So, dear non-readers.

Right now, I am feeling very alone. (I'm sorry to be so, cringeworthily cliché). This is not because I lack friends or a social infrastructure in my life. It is because I have committed myself to a singular vision for what I want to do. This is not something that I entirely know how to achieve, and it is absolutely something that 99.9% of people in the world do not understand.

I would like to be in the company of people who have a higher chance of understanding what I want, and am busting my ass for the mere chance of achieving that privilege. I don't think it will be a 100% payoff. But, one could liken that which I seek to the sensation of relief one feels when you find yourself seriously in love with somebody who seriously loves you back. It's a first big step in a long life of ups and downs, but it is a major prerequisite for those ups and downs, and a relief nonetheless. I want to allow myself to feel vulnerable again. Right now, I'm in the Hunger Games, and I'm keeping constant vigil.

And I don't really have anybody to talk about it with except for my computer screen and keyboard right now.

I need this to happen...I need this to happen....

Monday, October 1, 2012


The world has always been kind to me. Sure I've been through some stuff in my day. But -- right now I am feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I have and have had.

Two amazing things happened today:

1) I mentioned that I needed a studio to somebody, and he said, I have one, take it for as long as you need. And so I was given an 800 square foot studio. I asked him whether I could pay him, and he said absolutely not. So now I have a key to an 800 square foot studio. And I can do my work, and photograph it.

2) My brother, who is going through some serious shit right now, is living his dream come true of becoming a professional dancer. Today was his first day on the job. In addition to this he sent me a care package. ME. Because he thought I was "going through it." Which, I guess I am, but it's mostly out of worry for him. But he saw that, and saw past his own troubles and looked to mine, which I didn't even realize that I had...really.

I could go on about all of the other out-of-this-world gifts I have been given from the universe lately. A warm, safe house where I wake up happy every day, a visit from out-of-town friends, a phone call from somebody who noticed my work online ... etc. etc. But the list might never end. All I can do is acknowledge it, and try my best to contribute in my own little ways.

And then of course, after saying all of this, I remember. The universe didn't have as much to do with these things as people did. Real people, goo and flesh and flaw, with real problems and real lives, who just happened to go out of their way make other people's lives a bit more awesome and probably don't know the extent to which they bring the sun into my world. Well. Universe, and people, or some combination of the two, thanks. I needed that.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dear Universe,

In response to your recent reply....

THANK  YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love you, I love you, I love you. You're the best,

De Vita