Friday, January 7, 2011

San Fransico Magnets

I went to San Fransisco to celebrate Christmas. My husband, mother and I stayed for a week as guests of my sister and her husband. My sister put us up in a hotel across the street from their apartment. The apartment was in central San Fransisco so it was easy to walk to Chinatown and just about any type of store you could imagine. Mornings were free, because we didn't want to interrupt my sister's family, her husband slept late and she had her hands full with taking care of her three year old daughter and her six month old son. So mornings my husband and mother and I went walking, and it became my wish to visit the major museums in town and collect art magnets for our refrigerator at home.

The trip was difficult because of my illness. I loved seeing my sister and brother who just a month ago moved out to the area and is supporting himself as my sister's nanny. My brother is trained as a massage therapist and hopes to start his own business. He is looking at the challenge of moving from the East coast to one of the most expensive parts of the West coast as a challenge. He has a lot of belief in himself, at one point during the visit he said that he has the tendency to make his dreams come true. Not many people can say that this is the way they operate. He loves where he has found an apartment, just steps away from his back door is a wildlife preserve with miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking. My brother is very healthy and looks ten years younger than he really is. He is a survivor. I am not. I am fragile. I survive, but it is with the grace of others whom I am dependent upon.

Sometimes during the trip I felt overwhelming fear. It is hard to look at great art when you are experiencing anxiety. I was afraid of losing connecting airplane flights, I was afraid of not finding taxis, I was afraid of even saying something that would displease my sister. Sometimes the muscles in my upper back ached from all the tension that were in them.

But the days had a rhythm to them, a morning adventure upon the town, an hour or two of rest and a little more medication, then afternoons and evenings with my sister and her kids. I learned that I am not one to immediately bond with a child, it was the right decision for me not to have children. I do better with owning a dog. The energy my sister expends with her children is mind boggling, and she has a nanny and a night nurse hired to come into her home and help her. Some of the time she makes extra work for herself, she is careful with her children to the point of being neurotic about their feeding and sleep and general wellness and safety, but this doesn't harm the children, it just makes mental stress for herself. My sister was always a perfectionist and has the tendency to worry.

My sister asked that I come to California and live close to them. To fold up my life in Vermont and start a new one just so that I could see her family more often. I told her that when her husband becomes a billionaire I would do so. She asked if it was possible I do so just if he becomes a multi-millionaire. Its sweet that my sister loves me so much, but she is used to people marching to the beat of her own drum, that's what having money does to you. It makes you used to being in charge and getting your own way. Its funny. She has a three carat diamond on her finger that is so pure that in the sunlight it sparkles with all the colors of the rainbow, more big diamonds in her ears, and she wears old navy sweat pants and a coat that she got for $15 at a used clothing store. All their china is miss matched and her husband sleeps on the floor in their gigantic, penthouse closet. That's so the children and his wife don't wake him. When I visited my sister last I saw that on their bed they were using a tee shirt for a pillow case. The husband owns his own internet company and drives a Porsche. From one angle they are rich, from another angle they are poor. They are so busy living the height of civilization that sometimes they skimp, too busy, too distracted, too forgetful, and they endure the strangest situations.

My sister told me a story. The night nurse was telling her ways that she could be helpful. "Can I do this for you and can I do that for you?" was the way she was talking. And my sister said to her, "Will you just be my friend?" It was supposed to be a joke but in a way it was no joke. Her husband works such long hours that she rarely sees him and it is understood in their family that he earns the money and she takes care of the kids and the apartment. If it weren't for all the hired help my sister might be very lonely.

So I got a good view of another person's life and I concluded that I preferred my own life. I am certain that my sister feels the same way - she has always wanted to have children be the center of her life. And she loves diamonds. I was passed down the diamond earrings that her old boyfriend, fifteen years past, gave her - tiny things but real. I wear them all the time. They remind me of my sister. And they make me feel cultured. I can feel sophisticated in thrift store clothes and cast off diamonds. I guess so can my sister, even though she doesn't have to wear thrift store clothes.

Right now I am at a cross-road in my life. My therapist yesterday was horrified when I told him I had given up on my book project, what I spent the last year working on. Today I drew cats. They weren't cats from my imaginations, they were cats from pictures in books. They are part of a larger composition with two elegantly dressed women, one whose upper head is blown off, just intended to be a mass of smeared red. I can't seem to avoid violence in my artwork. Drawing cats was slightly boring, just compare, analyze, correct, compare again. Wish to work only in a limited sense from photographs because I get bored quick. I'm straining to go in a new direction with my art. Have to buy more art supplies. On my list; a pallet knife. Painting with a pallet knife will loosen me up. Wish for tiny details and big smears.

I'm going where the wind blows me. Working, but not with any long range plans. I'm praying, when I pray, for strength to walk this road that seems to be enveloped in fog. I would like, and I do ask God for this, for a style of painting that will sell. I would like to sell artwork. But I don't know if the talent is in me. More then this, I don't know if the fate is for me to sell my work. Some of what you get is luck, some of it is hard work. I'm starting, just barely, but I think I'm starting to ramp up to doing hard work.

1 comment:

  1. So good to read your blog again Karen. I'm very glad that you had a safe journey to California and back and that your visit went well despite your illness. You realized some important things this trip, that you love your own life at home in Vermont, that it is just as well that you don't have children and that you are recommitting to being a visual artist. Personally, I think it is fantastic that you have returned to art and I am looking to get inspired by your work to do some of my own. You definitely have the talent. Your work is very original. It takes a certain bravery to create an entire world and I hope to learn from you. When you're ready, post pictures of your work and know that I am a fan.

    Love Kate : )


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