This miniature scene from Tuscany was painted on an up-cycled shoe polish tin, with acrylics, and metallic paints. The tin was also lined with velvet cut from a cast off dress I had been saving to use for such things. c 2.5 ” in diameter. (I have really crappy brushes that splay out all the time and with stray hairs, so it is hard to get any details correctly but one of these days I will have the luxury of decent brushes and then watch out!!!)
Note that this is a two part posting. First half is my Q and A part of the Nomination, and tomorrow’s will concern the nominees that I select for the Liebster Award. (I see no other way to do it, as I have already spent four hours on this and it is midnight now).
The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn’t that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.
Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you
First half is done here. Second half of the award will be done tomorrow in the post then.
plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!
FIrst things first.
11 Things about me.
1) I am a twin, most likely identical, though there are some questions about it. I guess that has to be said first, though I am pretty certain it is not first and foremost on my twin sister’s mind much these days. In fact, I am pretty certain that she cannot stand having me in the world.
2) I have never been able to work a full-time job.
3) I recently taught myself to use my left hand for a lot of things, including using scissors. I write exclusively left handed, though I would be naturally right-handed.
4) There have been four miracles in my life, field botany, poetry, Zyprexa (an anti-schizophrenia drug) and art. Each miracle involved my mind more than my body and each completely changed my life for the better in ways I could never have anticipated.
5) My idea of a great meal would be to forage for berries and greens and wapato tubers during day and prepare and cook up what I gathered that evening…
6) I love eating vegetables and fruits. I love healthy foods, like quinoa and flax meal, and amaranth and yes, brussel sprouts and jerusalem artichokes.
7) I am teaching myself Italian. Come stai? Sto abbastanza bene.
8) Tuletko ouiman? (If I remember the spelling correctly, that should mean something close to “Do you want to go swimming?” in Finnish…but I am reaching into deep down memory banks because I learned that when I was 16 and spending the summer with a Finnish family in Helsinki. That and “kitoksia palmin” or thank you very much, are the sum total of all the Finnish I remember from that summer of 1968.
9) I quit smoking two weeks ago. Blimey!
10) I like new shoes, though I never buy them.
11) Generosity, kindness and honesty are my core values.
11 questions for the nominees:
1. What food do you eat that people around you find extremely weird and/or disgusting?
Sorry, I hate to be boring, but I don’t regularly eat much that is weird or disgusting, except maybe brussel sprouts. I love those….Yes, okay, I have eaten grasshoppers. I even made a youtube video of that.
2. Why do you choose to blog?
I was first asked to blog at schizophrenia.com. and I would still be there writing the original Wagblog except that they experienced a most unfortunate server crash which made the site go down for more than a year, devastating all their blogs. Wagblog was their first, and for many months the only one, so I had a great deal of traffic in the early 2000s – and to my knowledge, while the site is back up and running the blogs remain still only archives of their former selves.
I waited about 6 months, hoping that I could return to my schizophrenia.com “homebase” but no word ever came from the webmaster, so I decided to start Wagblog elsewhere, that is, here at WordPress.
I know that’s only a partial answer. I could have chosen not to blog at any point even after they asked me to do so, and especially after that devastating server crash, but I have always, always been a writer, paid or unpaid, and it never occurred to me to quit just because I had no sponsor. I have never needed outside motivation to write. I write because things just need to get written down. Period.
3. Where do you get your inspiration for your posts?
Hmmm. Inspiration is a tricky word. I believe that if you need something as insubstantial as inspiration to trigger your writing or any other art, you are going to be on shaky ground and had better rely on something else for your bread and butter, better choose a different career. Not that I am anything like a career writer, or a professional journalist, I have no career or profession at all. But I do know that I can and could write on demand, mostly because I have practiced it. If I want to write on a subject, if I am asked to write on a subject, I know how to approach it and all things being equal, I can and will do an okay, and even a bang-up job most of the time.
That being said, I do pick and choose what I want to write about in my own blog, and I don’t write all the time or even regularly, mostly because I am too busy with my art projects. OTOH, I have plenty I could say and plenty to talk about. So I would never be at a loss for things to write. I guess it just feels like a weird question, The entire world is out there so how could there ever be a dearth of subjects to be “inspired by”?
As William Blake wrote in Auguries of Innocence:
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
That’s the key, that’s the mindset one must get into. Then everything is a source of inspiration, and you never again need to worry where the next blog post inspiration will come from because everything will inspire.
4. What was your favorite subject in school?
School? Yeowch, that was, what? 40+ years ago now…I can scarcely remember what I gave a damn about in school. In high school I was good in history, mostly because the teachers understood never to call on me, but to let me decide when I wanted to volunteer a comment or question. When thus permitted to choose, I would come out with something worthy of being said…I could not be badgered into speaking. In all other classes if called on, I would be mute, but the history teachers hit on the right solution, and so we got on okay. I did not know how much I would love ecology and botany at the time. Not until college. But I wish I had learned field botany in high school. I wish we had been introduced to natural history and ecology in my day. It wasn’t a subject of as much interest in the 60s.. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” had come out, yes, and other books, but there were so many social ills and protests going on then that “eco – anything” was just one movement of many that needed attention. Plus, I was already getting ill and unable to attend to anything beyond my own little world. Eventually my own little world did include field botany and ecology, mind you, it just didn’t include much of the rest of the world in addition.
In med school, by the way, my favorite subject was probably hematology, but that was because it was a little like field botany and natural history, using my visual skills to identify blood on slides.
5. If you had a million dollars, and could NOT use it for charity, what would you buy?
Ah, what a lovely question to have to ponder…I would buy, I would would buy…I know exactly what I would buy: land somewhere in New England, with a big old house, nothing too fancy but with potential, and turn it into a eco-friendly Wholeway House and Healing Community for me and other recovering (or getting older) so-called “mentally ill” persons who need a permanent home. Ideally, it could be built into the side of a hill so as to take advantage of natural geothermal heating and cooling properties, or a would love to do that…and be as green as humanly possible.
6. Biggest pet peeve? You really shouldn’t ask me because I will only irritate people by admitting that “my biggest pet peeve is when” 1) people who should know better say things like, “I should have went” instead of “I should have gone” 2) “I think I will lay down on the bed” instead of “I think I will LIE down on the bed.” Oh, you know I am SUCH a language snob!!!!! Beat me, beat me, beat me with that wet noodle! 8p
But you know I cannot help it, I really get peevey when people say, 3) “I would have been rich too, if I would have had your luck…” instead of “I would have been rich too, if I had had your luck!” You know, it is only a matter of knowing the proper use of conditionals. But we don’t teach conditionals any more in this country, the US at any rate. I don’t know about England, but proper grammar seems to be a problem here – at least to my ears. No one cares any longer, maybe no one understands that there are rules in the first place.
Lordy, Lordy, where are the English (Language) Teachers of yesteryear?
7. Are you one of those people who keeps focused and organized, or are you one of those that keeps open and a bit messy?
Here are a few photos of my apartment, which should be answer enough.
8. One word to describe your blog. (I almost wrote “yourself” instead of “blog” but remembered that is the most cliche question EVER and that I absolutely HATE it!)
Enduring (I cannot think of the word, the one word I want to say to mean, “Not temporary” but one that has lasted…I started the first Wagblog in 2003, at schizophrenia.com and here it is, still going strong ten years later at WordPress.
9. First book you ever read (or remember reading)?
Black Beauty…I had no idea what it was about, and was disappointed when I found out it concerned a horse. Read it through to the end purely out of duty and a sense of competition with Los Bender, who had told me only that she could not put it down. She was an “equinomaniac” so to speak, so I should have anticipated the subject but having never read an entire book before then, I didn’t know that one could write nearly 300 pages about a single horse . (It is possible that I misremember, that this was not my very first book per se. But at any rate. it is the first book I recall being disappointed by, and that stuck in mind more strongly apparently than whatever the very first book was.)
10. Do you blog only when you want to, or are there times when you feel you need to post something to keep a routine?
I confess I do literally nothing by routine. I do not even eat on a routine or at regularly scheduled hours. Sigh. Oh, yeah, I do see my psychiatrist at set times, because she keeps a regular schedule of appointments, and I cannot exactly subject her to my sort of whimsical lifestyle, but otherwise I cannot think of a single thing that I do on a regular, literally routine basis, the same time every day, on my own by choice.
11. What is your real job? (Yes, the answer can be blogging, Mom or Dad, nothing, etc. No judgement, just curious)
No real job, alas. Not for pay since I suppose that’s what you mean by “job” is what do you do for a living…? I have been considered and designated officially “disabled” by ther federal government since 1980, I believe. Since that time, I have been in and out of hospitals, halfway houses and lousy apartments…until and even after, I landed here in this “safe” elderly, disabled HUD-subsidized housing complex. Very nicely kept up, 250 people or more live here. Community living in a way, though I keep to myself. And while I am not hugely unhappy here (I just used a figure of speech called a litote, if anyone cares) I do not like it, and want to move out someday if I can, before I am really too old to be able to…And I want to be UN-disabled before it is too late.
Truth is, I was always too ill to work, all my life until I became an artist five years ago by a stroke of happy accident. But now that I am able to do art I think I could actually earn some income from it, and in that sense earn my way and a living by hook or by crook, and get off some of these programs, if only I had a chance. It is just that so many people are worried that I would lose my actual living, housing situation and be out on the streets if I left here and couldn’t earn enough…As am I, as am i. I am too old to fend for myself as a homeless person. I never did have any savvy even when I was homeless. Luckily, I was always rescued and hospitalized by those who knew the street was no place for me…I was not someone who would have survived there, or would ever have preferred the street to the hospital…That said, I have had it with hospitals in CT and the abuse heaped on me here. And I do not want to be disabled any longer. I want to make it on my own. And regarding my last twenty or so years or however much time that may perhaps be granted to me, I would love to know that I would have some freedom to use the time as I chose. That’s why, purely selfishly, if I had that Mythical Million I would buy a big house on land in New England, preferably Massachusetts or Vermont where there is universal health care already set up in a liberal state, and create a Wholeway House and Healing Community.
These past several weeks have been pure hell for me. In fact, despite some of my “up” posts, these past 18 months have been hell. I have found it nearly impossible to move beyond my experience and the trauma and degradation, the deliberateness with which they were visited upon me by people who should have not only known better but should have…
Wait, I have determined not to go there, not to revisit that dark place in my mind any longer, or not for now, after I can handle it better than I can at the moment. It serves no purpose, one, and two, it only feeds the fever of despair and revenge-seeking, an emotion that can eat you alive if you let it.
It was the notion, the actual feeling of wanting revenge and Dr Angela’s dismay when I said so this morning that brought me up hard against my own deficit of forgiveness, my own inability to accept that which I cannot change. I suddenly understood not only the horrendous feeling that parents must have when a child is murdered, how they must want to see the murderer killed, and how they must want the death penalty for the killer…I felt that much anger for my torturers. And at the very same time, I suddenly saw how useless it was, that nothing could be done, that in fact they would and had “gotten away with it” but that my only recourse was not revenge but to accept it and move on, because not to was to get mired in fury and bitterness and the morass of despair that was weighing on me and driving me nearly to madness every day. I had to stop, I had to stop and find a different way to deal with it, or I would die. Simple as that.
So I considered that family of the murdered child, and I understood that if that killer were executed to serve their revenge fantasies, would it actually bring closure and peace to them? Time after time, that has been promised, and time after time, people have not found peace in the killing of another human being because it never works. Violence to revenge violence cannot relieve the trauma of loss, or make anyone feel less awful. It would be far better for that family, and for me, too, to learn better ways to cope, to breathe through the despair I suppose, or even to work so that others do not go through what they or I have experienced, as long as doing would not reignite the trauma for us.
I am not sure I am ready to do that sort of thing just yet. I do not want to get angry on behalf of anyone else at the moment, for fear that I will only get angry, and anger by itself for its own sake will not help me. But already I speak out about these things, say what happened to me but in my speeches I try to end with words that segue into messages that bring hope to my audience. I could never speak about those traumas without something that would bring it full circle to recovery from trauma or I would leave them in despair and myself as well. As in a poem, you start with darkness but leave with at least the assumption that light is on or just below the horizon, headed in the right direction.
So there I was in Dr Angela’s office, and even though I was sobbing about this trauma that I could not surmount, that was eating me alive, the picture of that angry but grieving family appeared in my mind’s eye, and I realized that I had to find a way to help them, to heal them…and how would I do that? I would, I would, I would…First I would help them stop ruminating about the killing, since rumination is itself a way of making the injury or trauma worse, like continually picking at a scab. I would have them open up to the world and see what is around them, see what remains alive, what has not died. For me, I would look and see what in myself was not violated, what I can do in spite of what they did to me, understand that I still write and draw and paint, that in fact they did not take those things from me.
They hurt me, but they did not kill me. They only degraded my feelings, they only humiliated my feelings, they only frightened me. They made me feel as if they might hurt me when they attacked me and pushed me to the floor. I felt scared but they did not do anything that permanently injured my body or caused irremediable damage to my brain. I am still alive and in fact can still do what I used to do. I only feel hurt, feel traumatized. Feelings are feelings, and while they are not nothing, you can change your feelings. I might not be able to change an injury that led to an amputation or brain damage and I certainly could not if they had killed me.
I need to think about this differently in order to change how I feel. I need to think about what I can do, both constructively and creatively. What I can do about it and what I can do instead of thinking about it day and night. Well, tonight what I can do is prepare my speech for the Farmington Library tomorrow, and pick out the poems I am going to read. And tomorrow I will be cleaning my apartment and then meeting my ride and going to the library early. I won’t have time to brood or ruminate. I will bring my sketchpad and pencils, so I will have something to do while I wait.
One thing I won’t do is leave myself time to think, no, that will not be an option I am going to allow myself. If the Commissioner of Mental Health contacts me after reading the letter and documents I sent her, so be it, I will leave the issue in her hands. But otherwise, the case is closed, at least for now. I have a life to live, and I need to get on with it. If one of those people who deliberately hurt me, just one of them, went home that night with a bad conscience, ashamed of herself, ashamed of herself as a nurse, I am glad. But it may not have happened and in any event I will never know. But i will not brood over it, and I am not going to think about any of it tonight.
One day at a time, just take it one day at a time.
“In India when we meet and part we Often say, ‘Namaste’, which means: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides; I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us." ~~Ram Dass~~