Well, I have been in a giant funk for the last couple of months. A deep depression came over me while I was visiting my parents (duh!) in Las Vegas. I went out there with many goals in mind, and became disappointed at nearly every turn.
Firstly, I had recently purchased a mini DV cam so I could begin documenting interviews with my family members. I don’t know what I was going to do with the footage, but I thought I’d better get something on film since they weren’t getting any younger. They are plenty old enough as it is, and they are both in bad health. As a matter of fact I also went out there to take care of my mother because she had foot surgery and was not able to walk on it for several weeks during the healing process. She has needed to have both her feet totally reconstructed because they have been badly abused throughout her life as a dancer, stuffing her feet into tiny high-heeled shoes. And not that kind of dancer… She taught everything from ballroom dancing to the Cha-cha – while taking wild amounts of speed to stay skinny and compete all night at the clubs. Needless to say, it took quite a toll on her feet throughout the late 1940s and 50s.
Anyway, I never did interview either of them. I filmed nothing.
I also brought them my old computer, hooked it up, bought them a desk and a printer, and 6 months of high-speed Internet access, so that my mom could learn the computer while she was laid up. I also hooked up a new DVD player for them, and bought them the first 2 seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Showing old people how to use the computer is not fun or easy, but I went through it with both of them a little at a time. I wrote out easy instructions on how they could check their email and compose messages to other family members, as well as going through it with them several times. As for the DVD player, I had to draw them a diagram of the TV and the remote and circle the buttons so they knew how to watch their TV. I went through that with them too. But did they pay attention? Yes, yes they did. Can they do it all without me telling them what to do? No, they just can’t do it.
[Mom & Dad (right). From my moleskin notebook.]
They really can’t do much of anything other than what they are used to doing. I guess they have some excuses though. They are old. They are on plenty of medications that make them less brainy than the average senior. My mom has a severe mental illness that requires a large cocktail of meds, and she’s been on pain killers for the surgery. But really I think they are both just stuck. They are stuck on the Game Show Network.
They are stuck in hating each other. Stuck in enduring time together. My father’s life consists of counting his medications and sleeping 18 hours a day. My mom has a routine of getting up in time to watch the Price is Right and staying glued to the TV unless either one of them have a doctor’s appointment.
In the meantime, back in LA there were other family dramas going on that I shouldn’t disclose, but my brother wasn’t in good shape at all. He has since come back from his own black hole and is doing well, but for a while there, it wasn’t pretty.
I was just trying to get settled into my new place after a big move from San Pedro to the northeast end of LA. I lost my studio at Angels Gate and I’ve been in mourning ever since. It finally occurred to me that I’m not prepared to rent another studio for a while, and so I was to work out of my home office and had to resort to the garage, so I hadn’t been working on anything really art-wise since I moved. I’ve just been sewing these things. The change of the Everything was just eating at me and my brain chemistry began to go very very bad. The OCD got so bad, it was almost impossible to leave the house. My depression and anxiety kicked into high gear and one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was in a deep black hole so dark, it wasn’t easy to come out of it. In the midst of this, I was there in Las Vegas, without Michael, and with my parents who had me doing chores for them around the clock. I have MS and can sometimes hardly walk myself, but I was walking their poodle around their apartment building 4-6 times a day when it was 33 degrees out.
Somewhere along the line, I don’t even know where, I wound up 40 miles outside of Vegas looking for a deserted place to just be alone in the night. This is not a good idea when you are as depressed as I was.
Somehow I got back to LA after a week, and after dying my hair purple, and after being in some altered state of being, from a handful of Ativan. I felt like I was a subject to be filmed for the TV show, Intervention. I had to get my shit together back in LA and let my parents get on with their odd lives by themselves. Since then, my father went into the hospital for congestive heart failure, my mother fell and nearly broke her hip, and the caretaker person that has been doing their cooking and cleaning and shopping for them, decided to just up and quit associating with the two of them (who can blame her?) but it was just the shittiest timing you could think of. Now I’ve been looking for some assistance for them there from here, which is a royal pain in the ass. And ontop of it all, neither of them even try to make one positive change in their lives. It’s difficult to watch.
It’s when I got back to LA is when I found out that my book was accepted into the National Museum of Women in the Arts. That was some excellent news. In the same breath I was told this (by the director at George Billis Gallery) she also told me she was leaving her job and going back to Gallery C, so that was a bummer to hear (for me). But I rode pretty high on the good news about the book and that was about the only thing that got me to slowly but surely crawl out of the hole.
Then Saturday, I went to a meeting at Self Help Graphics in East LA, where I met with the Master Printer José Alpuche, along with the President and the Vice President of the Board of Directors, Artist/Curator Yolanda Gonzalez, and a group of women artists about the Maestra’s Atelier – an all-female silkscreen workshop that is about to start in late February. I was so excited hearing about the program and the process of silkscreen, something I’ve been very interested in for a while. So I think I’ll be chosen for this residency (I hope so anyway). There will be 10 women in all and I think my chances are pretty good. We’ll see.
[Happiness, 2008. In progress.]
Since then, I’ve been inspired. Meeting with my friend James Scott helped me a lot too. Seeing his work at his studio always makes me feel free and inspires me to pay better attention to my artistic feelings, so I finally started my first painting since I’ve been in this new house. Perhaps things are looking up now for my work and my soul.
A new painting by James Scott (size: big!)