Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Cry for the Ocean - short film by Maggie Lawrence

> - U-tube link

Maggie is a film-maker and comedy writer who currently resides in Sydney, Australia, who sometimes goes by the name of her alter-ego, Lady Ophelia, a genius in the art of proper tea making. This film is about our dear friends, the dolphins.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dear Lady O - put on the kettle!

Dear Lady O,
I so appreciate your concern. As usual, you have shown your deep affection and concern for my circumstances. I must confide something to you of a very personal nature. I have recently visited my doctor here in America who has informed me he is most concerned I am suffering from some rare type of personality disorder (I am shocked and, of course, a bit put off by his tone. He feels my condition has given rise to confusion regarding my actually identity. It seems, my dear, at times I get myself confused with that aggravating Kartika woman, and somehow, my life has become intertwined, if you will, with hers. It seems from your recent letter that you may share my doctor's concern. Yes, it is true, some woman named Michele is residing at my small cottage, and has forced me to put my art studio in my dining room. She brings home Dove bars (quite tasty, I must admit)at night, and we watch Netflick videos about a serial killer named Dexter (quite engrossing if I do say so!) Now, my dear, I know this does not sound like me at all. As you know, my taste is extremely refined, and my doctor is quite concerned. Also, I have found myself sending e-cards to that Maggie person (I think she's a communist - aren't all film-makers these days? And, I have only made tea once in the last week. I know, my dear, you will be most shocked to hear this, and I warn you to put your kettle on and get your china out before pressing on.
In addition to these horrors, Libbett has been showing up again (I do seem to remember some problems with her in the distant past regarding peanut butter and sunflower seeds, oh well!) During times such as these, we always rely on our closest and dearest of friends, and I remain confident you will not forsake me. Would you mind dropping everything to come quickly to my rescue. The Michele person will soon be returning to her dismal abode, and your room will be ready and waiting.

In the service of our Beloved Queen,
Lady Betsy

Dear Lady Ophilia has written

Hello my dear lady Betsy, I am most concerned that you might be communicating with that Maggie woman. Please send me a note in your best quill pen and put my mind at rest that you have not succumbed to her persistent cards and emails. I heard that she might be trying to persuade you to go on line and speak to her over the internet. Oh dear. Has it really come to this? I also heard that you may have some woman living with you called Michelle? Dear you must be firm with these vagrants and not allow them to take over your life and your living space.
First it was the dog, and then that frightful Maggie woman who just would not leave. I mean you had to pack up an entire house and move to a smaller one just to get rid of her and still she was hanging around. I ask you. Some people just cannot take a hint. Thank heavens she moved back to Australia where they have no idea how to make a proper cup of tea. Mind you they have a slightly better idea than the Americans who cannot even boil the water properly. I mean how hard is it to boil water? No wonder they have got that silly George Bush running the country. I bet he can't boil water but he makes me boiling mad listening to his idiotic voice prattling on about his war in Iraq. I am certain the silly little man doesn't even know where Iraq is. He probably thinks it's a state of America.
Well I hear the kettle boiling now and the tea pot is ready so I must go.
I do miss you dear Lady. We had some lovely walks in the park even though you had that wretched hound with you.
Yours every truly,
Lady OSC.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mother Named Me

A kartika is a small, symbolic crescent knife or 'chopper', used in Buddhist ceremony. It symbolizes the severance of all material and worldly bonds and is crowned with a vajra or dorje, which is said to destroy ignorance, and leads to enlightenment. In Buddhist teachings, this tool is held in the right hand of Yama, the conqueror of death. It is also used in Feng Shui.


I was 20 years old and majoring in recreational chemicals at the University of Iowa; I was sad, disappointed by love and the fact that pot failed to deliver. I smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day and could not stop lighting one off the other. I was already burned out and ripe for a non-addictive high. I started TM and regularly practiced for 30 years. I stopped drinking, taking drugs, and eating red meat. What did I learn from Maharishi? I learned about a different paradigm called consciousness, and that it is possible for human beings to experience a bit of peace by stopping.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Drug Town

At first I didn’t know what to say to that lady I met in the back of Drug Town while waiting for my friend get her blood pressure measured. The lady looked half-dead, but told me she is not eligible for disability because she is still able to stand. I doubted she could stand for more than five minutes. She told me she is over 62 and has had aneurisms and blot clots and trouble breathing, yet they are not going to hand over the checks until the hospital in Iowa City puts the pressure on. You have to be nuts to get government money these days. If you slash your wrists you can get it more quickly. They want you to put a gun to your head first, and then they will talk to you about sending the checks.

She and I talked while my friend had her arm in the cuff, and as I listened to this lady's story, I could hear my inner voice trembling, “She’s some form of a future me. She is every woman of a certain age with support-hose straining to hold in her varicose veins, sitting on a chair in the back of a drugstore waiting for them to fill four prescriptions she cannot afford.” Suddenly the twinges of discomfort I get in my lower back became a crippling form of arthritis and I was wheelchair bound. I am her a few years or a stroke away. I say, “I know what you are feeling. They always make you wait—they try to run you down with bureaucracy so you will wither up and blow away and forget your brain is about to burst.”

As this lady tells me her story, I want to scream. I imagine thousands of older women with aneurisms who can no longer stand for their eight hour shifts at Wal-Mart because their backs are breaking and the veins in their legs are popping. I imagine a sea of them sitting at kitchen tables long into the night, filling out forms for disability, knowing their efforts are futile, and certain they will be denied assistance because they can still manage to stand. I imagine them giving up, too tired to try, as they finish Diet Cokes head toward sofas where they curl up in fetal positions with TVs on until the pictures turns to fuzz. I imagine they refuse to get up for any reason other than to use the bathroom for the most basic of necessities, or to quickly grab some Fritos from a peeling kitchen cupboard before resuming fetal positions on warn and stained sofas. They lay with cats whose litter boxes are full, but who devotedly curl next to them as they refuse to open mail or answer the occasional ring of their phones.

And, I wonder, is it the pop tarts, the insidious infiltration on a massive scale of sugar and salt laden foods that causes popping veins and aneurisms? If they had only juiced and eaten organic, like good people should, and jogged and enrolled in Pilates classes, would they now be curled up on sofas watching television screens turn fuzzy? Will I, who do not practice Pilates, be punished, forced to join this mass movement of sofa-ridden aged women? Will I, with a rarely used juicer sitting on my counter and several pounds of organic apples sitting uneaten in my refrigerator, succumb to popping veins? Is being too lazy to cut up a few apples and carrots and put them in a juicer on a regular basis (especially when I possess these resources), grounds for that prison sentence called aging?

When my friend checks the results of her blood pressure, she looks relieved. Her pressure is lower than it was a few days ago when it was so alarmingly high it threatened to burst the vessels in her eyes causing an inconvenient state of blindness. We had been to the University of Iowa Hospitals earlier in the week, and the specialist told her that her vision was not permanently impaired and would improve if she increased the dosage of the dugs she was taking. She had waited to see the doctor because she was in-between insurance having just left a job and started as an independent contractor. Thank god, I said, now you won’t go blind. My friend walked to the counter and picked up her new prescription. I noticed her new JJill tee shirt looked tight around her midriff and tummy. I remembered when we were both more slender.

“Do we need anything while we are here?” I ask. After all, they do have a small health food section. “How about some Ben and Jerry’s fhish?” she answers. “Yeah,” I say, “We deserve it.”

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Exhausted by Art

I’m exhausted from trying to be artistic – in my art studio past the comfort zone of bedtime – an already challenged time when reading or television always compete to keep me from much needed rest, but my art teacher, guru of sorts – a creative director and wizard of artistic transcendence – directed me to set up a designated space in my house allocated to art only, where paints, paper, brushes, glitter, glue, markers, magazines, gesso, and all manner of artsy material are arranged in baskets on the table, strewn across the guest bed, poke from under the guest bed in plastic containers. I am now officially obligated to create that illusive product – art. Art – that category of mystic and mythic proportions that cannot be defined, and continues to be the subject of argument, awe, fear, and reverence. I am now on permanent assignment to be creative, in tune with the right hemisphere of my brain, and on alert to notice all opportunities to move spirit into matter. I, who cannot draw a straight line or anything that remotely resembles subject matter, am suddenly required to produce the true and the beautiful. I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of this spiritual assignment springing from the depths of my being and progressing under the guidance of my mentor.

It started out simply, when one day, two years ago, while I walked by the art gallery, a friend pulled me in to the art studio, and asked me to sit down and start decorating paper mask molds to be auctioned as an art gallery fund-raiser. I had not glued much since kindergarten, when I typically threw my own attempts at making flowers look like flowers across rooms. Yet while mask-making, it seemed the gluing and painting process became instantly addictive, and the right brainwave activity leading to suspension of time and space, had the profound effect of creating a yearning for a repeat experience of the out-of-the-box mode of operating, leading to a discussion with fully-credentialed- art-gallery-owner-and-art-instructor-par-excellence who recommended continuing art education at his gallery/studio on a regular basis to enliven that field where the creative so easily go, and, in some cases, never return. And now, just a few weeks into the exploration of this new terrain, with a few collages under my belt, and lots of time spent with Dick Blick, and a designated art studio on my premises, I am exhausted by the demands of the creative life and the expectations I have put upon myself to be “an artist.” There – I have finally uttered the A-word and now must suffer under the mantle of expectation and the realization I know nothing about art, and do not know anything about making it other than cutting out magazine pictures and pasting them on masonite. I am a fraud in a field where absolute truth and honesty are required for any modicum of success. And so, I often stay up past ten or eleven, and sitting on a chair in front of the easel purchased on e-bay even before my decision to embark on formal but actually informal training, I stare at my board, gesso-ed and painted, with scraps of cut paper, renderings of skulls, pictures of lipstick tubes, and words lightly glued (still in process). I stare, worrying that I suck and that I am a wanna-be, and fuck the "process only" preachers who are adamant that product is not where it is at, while they stick cool looking product on the pages of their books that claim process is the only thing that matters. And sometimes when in process, I feel that flow, that sugary rush of time suspended, and that light headed no-fly zone when I know that picture of the Goth girl is perfect for that spot directly underneath the orange torn paper in the right corner. I just know it, and all is well.