Meaning

What does it all mean?
I work at an art gallery,
And I get asked this all the time.
But I’m neither a theologian,
Nor a philosopher.
I’m just an artist.
More like a doodler.
I draw pictures of faerie folk,
Mermaids, elves, fantasy figures.
Some of it was displayed at the gallery.
People asked me what it meant,
But my work is not particularly meaningful.
I suppose it means I have too much time on my hands.
It’s hard enough talking about the meaning,
Of my own work.
Let alone, the work of other artists.
They’re asking the wrong question, anyway.
Like Deep Thought pondering the answer,
To Life, the Universe, Everything,
For countless centuries,
And producing the answer, 42.
I can’t really tell you what art means,
But I can tell you what it does.
It gives us something to do.
Artists make it and you come to see it.
It provokes a reaction.
Indignation:
“My kindergartner could have done a better job.”
Most often, confusion:
“What the hell does this even mean?”
“Why is this so special?”
“Why is this garbage even here??!!”
I know the answer,
But the answer is boring.
It’s not the answer you want, anyway.
I usually just say,
“Well…that’s open to interpretation.”

A Tiny Trace of Her

Urn

“It all comes down to that.”

Four pounds of pulverized and fragmented pieces of bone.
Packed in a plastic bag labeled with the coroner’s information about the contents.

A plastic bag tied with a rubber band.

Several tiny delicate urns had been prepared, each about three inches high, each containing a small bag of grandma’s ashes. Keepsakes for me and my siblings, my cousins, my mother, and my uncles.

My brother saw those urns lined up on the beautiful antique tea cart in our mother’s living room. The tea cart that had once been grandma’s.

He said those words above, and turned his face away. His cheeks were wet with tears. My amazingly tough and strong brother wept at the sight of those tiny urns.

A larger box containing the remainder of grandma’s ashes will be scattered over family land in Colorado.

Mom showed them to me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to look at them, but I did. I poked at the bag with my finger.

They didn’t feel like ashes at all. They were hard and granular, like sand flecked with with small bits of white bone.

“It all comes down to that.”

Grandma was the granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants from the west coast city of Bergen. She once journeyed there, along with my mother and cousin, to trace her family roots. She found her grandfather’s name in a church registry.

One day I will go there, to scatter my portion of her ashes. A tiny trace of her, delivered back to her ancestral home.

For now, however, grandma is with me.

Inside or Outside, Can’t Decide

I am a little cat.
I like to sleep,
On the doormat.
So I’m always ready,
Should the door be opened,
To go outside,
Or stay inside.
I am a little cat,
And I like to stare,
Out of the window,
While meowing,
Open this window!
It is imperative,
That the window be opened,
Forthwith, human!
So I can decide,
To go outside,
Or not go outside,
Or stay inside,
Or not stay inside,
Or decide,
To not decide,
To go outside,
Or stay inside.

In any case,
The window needs,
To stay open,
Until I decide,
To decide.

Hardcore Grandma

About five years ago, I sat in my mom’s cubicle at the Arcadia office of the Fish and Wildlife Service and wrote this down in a leather bound journal:

She’s not the average grandma. As I approach my forties, she’s still alive and kicking, although not as high as she used to. When I was little we would make jam and cookies. She’d curl my stubbornly straight hair with steam curlers, and we eat cheese and crackers and drink Constant Comment tea. Now hot water has turned to wine, and we have adult conversations over glasses of chilled Pinot Grigio. She tells me about her high school days in the 1940s. She shows me a photo of her in her knee-length song leader skirt, one knee raised, and both hands gripping enormous crepe paper pom poms. The picture perfect All American girl.

She was a real stunner then, and was still as glamorous as a movie star well into her 50s and 60s. More pictures reveal her older, married, pregnant, her head piled high with Betty Grable curls. When I ooh and ahh over how beautiful she looked in a bathing suit, she chuckles with embarrassment or maybe sadness, that she no longer has the figure of a pin-up girl.

She hates being old. Not that anyone actually loves it, but she really, really hates it. She hates having to wear glasses after a lifetime of 20-20 vision. She can no longer wear high heels due to her feet being damaged from years of wearing too-tight shoes. She rejects computers and hates sending emails, but she’s nevertheless a modern woman. She lives a quiet life now, a lonely life. Though she still drives herself around in her Honda CRV, uses her cell phone, and reads books on an Amazon Kindle.

During one of our last shopping trips together, she couldn’t get her handbag open. The zipper was hopelessly stuck and neither of our best efforts could budge it. So she asked the cashier for a pair of scissors and proceeded to cut open her purse to retrieve her wallet. We laughed and laughed as she performed this emergency wallet C-section. The cashier looked at us like we were nuts.

“I’m not the average grandmother.” She said.

Indeed not.

“Grandma, you are hardcore.”

Station Birdies

Little bitty station birdies,
Fly to and fro while people scurry
To their platforms, in a hurry.
If you see one, you might worry.
Little bitty station birdies,
No need to worry where they went,
If they flew in by accident.
Through a door or through a vent.
Little bitty station birdies,
Are not here by happenstance.
They do their happy birdie dance,
And nest inside the hanging plants.
Little bitty station birdies,
Live in the station house, you see.
Not out in the cold, not in a tree.
There’s no place they’d rather be.

Comic Fatigue

Every marriage, no matter how solid, can suffer little cracks and major faults. It’s normal to have challenges to overcome, and given that your husband/wife is not your superior/inferior, but in fact, your partner, you should be willing to listen to them and likewise not be afraid to ask them to listen to you. Communication breakdown is one the major causes of divorce.

That’s easier said than done when you are making an honest effort to be a better person by participating in the things they enjoy, but that don’t necessarily bring the same amount of joy to you.

I consider myself to be a hardcore sci-fi Star Trek geek, as is my husband. But he is also a comic book nerd, and let’s just say that it’s never been a better time to be a comic book nerd. There has been a ridiculous amount of comic book movies and series released lately. I’m a latecomer to the world of comics, but my husband is a lifelong devotee. He has been reading and collecting comics since early childhood. He knows all the stories: the origin stories, the back stories, the alternative-universe stories, all of them.

My husband introduced me to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and its DC counterpart, in which there are some truly outstanding and not-so outstanding films. So devoted is my husband that he even likes the “bad” films. I’ve become a big fan of them, but lately I find that my enthusiasm has waned. There used to be one or two comic book films released each year. Then they started releasing more and more…and more…and more…

I found myself less enthusiastic about seeing the most recent (as of this writing) MCU release, “Ant Man and the Wasp.” I still want to see it, but after seeing “Black Panther” and “Justice League” and “Deadpool 2” and “Solo” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Well, you get the idea.

And then there are the TV series. This has become a bit of a nightmare for me. There are so many comic book series now, many of which are excellent, and they keep releasing more and more. It’s impossible to keep up.

There’s Arrow/Green Arrow, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield, and Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, and Gotham, and the Gifted, and Legion, and Krypton, and Titans, and Black Lightning, and Riverdale, and Cloak & Dagger, and Runaways, and all the Netflix “adult” series, like DareDevil, and Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, and Defenders, and the Punisher…

And they keep adding more…and more…and each time they do, I’m a little less excited than I was about the previous one. My husband wants to watch them. Every single episode of all of them. Last night, I wanted to watch a Netflix show that looked good, and he wanted to watch “episodes,” of one of the many, many comic book series listed above. This has become a minor crack in the solid rock that is our marriage. I find myself no longer wanting to watch “episodes.” It’s probably only temporary, but I still feel…so fatigued. He asked me, as he’s done before, if I preferred that he watch them himself. I said…uh…maybe? Previously, I said, “Of course not. I love those shows.” Which I do. But I’m sick and tired of them. I feel bad for feeling that way, of course. Comics and their related movies and series are one of his greatest passions, and I feel bad that I’m not as passionate about it as he is.

The producers of the movies and series won’t give us time to process the previous film or series before releasing the next one. Why are they doing that? Because they want to make money, and they know that comic book nerds are the most loyal fans and the most dependable of butts on cinema seats. And they are glutting us with more and more stuff to watch. I wish they would not necessarily stop, but just take it easy for a while.

And it’s not just me. A google search for the phrase “comic fatigue” revealed several articles written about this phenomenon, which I did not realize was an actual thing until I wrote this post.

Here’s one from a couple of months ago.

Here’s one from a couple of years ago.

It’s a thing, alright. Its effects vary depending on the individual. In my case it’s ever-so-slightly affecting my marriage.

Marshmallow Farms

20180616_145740

I bet you didn’t know,
That marshmallows grow,
Big, white and round,
Right out of the ground.
Of quality top,
This organic crop,
So perfect this year,
Time for harvest is here.
Plain white is society’s
Most wanted variety,
But some specialist growers,
Produce some real showers.
Pink and yellow in heaps,
For marshmallow peeps.

Ellipsis

Everything that is left out.
Implied. Inferred.

Like the Saddest Story Ever Written,
Often attributed to Ernest Hemingway.
“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
An iceberg tip of six words.

Dive deep down and explore,
That submerged mountain of subtext.

Illuminate the ellipsis.

Or don’t.
You probably don’t want to know,
What’s really under there.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Donald Trump Edition

On the first day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
An Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the second day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Two Russian dossiers, and an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the third day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the fourth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me.
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a pear tree!
On the fifth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the sixth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Six geezers spilling, FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eighth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eight Flynns a flipping, seven secual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the tenth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Twelve million tweets, eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments,
Six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!