Saturday, December 31, 2016

There is a Disturbance in the Force



I will be thrilled to see 2016 end. But then I do not see a lot of hope that 2017 will be better for the world. And on a very personal level 2016 has not been horrid. Just not good. I lost two great pets; Wee Willow and Mardi Gras. And the vast majority of my idols from my youth crossed the bridge.

I am very empathetic and many of my dear friends have been going through some very tough times. Would be nice if I could just disconnect but that is who I am. Seems I am just past one round of tears and another begins. 

On the world stage this year saw the death by self-emulation of the Democratic party. As soon as the last primary was over I re-registered as unaffiliated. And watched as the United States created slow suicide by the election of a false idol. Like so many of my friends I suffer still from STSD (Severe Trump Stress Disorder.) The one spark of hope is the complacency of my generation is beginning to fracture. And light can be seen on the other side. Time to get active again. I assure myself each morning that breakdown comes before breakthrough.

But I am going through mourning for my society. I no longer see the victories of my socially committed youth as safe. I must fight to see that the equality and freedoms gained will not be crushed by an egomaniac in a golden tower. But I am older.

I learned in my youth when I marched or campaigned for way too much that I am most effective when I concentrate on just one or two fights. As a photographer living near the wilderness I have chosen the land and the rights of the peoples of that land. Seems fitting as this year I got a new camera.

The problem seems to be in remaining stable while the world is being shaken to its very core. There is indeed a disturbance in the force, and we are in for a very bumpy ride.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Side Effects



As, no doubt, the whole world is aware we just had presidential election in this country. In some ways it reminded me of my first windowpane LSD trip. The trip was awesome but the side effects lingered and colored my whole world. Prior to the birthday acid I thought I was happy. Afterwards I realized I wasn't and radically changed my whole life in a matter of weeks.

After this presidential acid trip I knew I was severely depressed. And the signs had been building since the Democratic primary in New Mexico. First result is I changed my registration to unaffiliated after being a Democrat for most of my life. For a while I was rather too self-involved to realize that most of my friends were crying more, more withdrawn, more afraid. And soon I began to suspect anyone who did not exhibit these signs. Did they get the placebo or just cheek it?

Or, heaven forbid, did I have friends who voted for him? During the beginning of the cabinet picks I waited for them to become aware of their mistake. Instead they became brazen. Rude. Crude. And downright socially unacceptable.


One dear friend even told me to "grow up and get off it." Well, that ended a friendship based on art and history which had survived the election. Nobody tells me to grow up. Especially on my own Facebook page. I began to notice that it was suddenly more and more acceptable to use once politically incorrect racist and sexist terms and "grab pussy" even on the internet. I used the unfollow and then unfriend options a lot more than I had.

Would this wear off I asked myself. Rather like cleaning up your act with your dorm mates the weeks before going home for the holidays. But, no, it seems to have gotten worse. I went from crying to abhorred. This cannot be my country, not my president, and not my friends. I was never a prude about cussing but I do not like verbal abuse in any form but especially not in the elected leader of our country or my friends.

I am an introvert but my circle of friends has gotten smaller. My public appearances less. I wear safety pins on my jacket lapels and found myself just recently searching the internet for decorative original jewelry in safety pin form. Say in silver with turquoise? Obviously this is not going away fast and the safety pins I found in my sewing drawer will not suffice for all occasions.  Couldn't they have picked a spider symbol? I have lots of spider lapel pins.

I have even found myself watching documentaries about French resistance in the German invasion, and The Man in the High Castle streaming, and taking notes of how to deal with the reality outside my castle walls. Maybe I can just stay home. My cringes will give me away as an enemy of the state.

Some side effects are permanent. Some fatal. Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Which Came First

Chaos in the Studio

Let me open this discussion by stating clearly I am not a hoarder but I am a collector. What artist isn't? And one of the big things I collect is art supplies. And I paint more than I sell in these trying economic times. In short I could never be Oprah. Decluttering is not an option by her standards. First I do not have a full time maid.

But I also do not believe a chaotic life is caused by clutter. I think it is the reverse. If something isn't working well in your life your home reflects that in very big ways. I have been depressed. And my studio showed it in big time ways. I was not depressed because the studio was a mess. In fact I won't even notice the mess until I am less depressed.

Mother used to tell me when I was down to put lipstick on and I would feel better. Let me say that is bullshit. At least to me. But then I just told a grieving friend I was glad she went in for a make over. Not because it would make her feel better but because it was a sign she felt better. So when I noticed how big a mess my studio was in I figured I was on the uptick emotionally.

I have always suffered from periodic depressions. Usually once every six to seven years and for 6 to 7 months. This election just gave me a grand excuse to be depressed. And it probably made me more depressed than normal but it did not cause it. But I am writing this without crying and I am cleaning up my studio. I don't think politics caused this depression but it may have made it worse. And feeling better does not mean I like Trump any better than yesterday or the day before. Or this next four years isn't going to be damn depressing.

But depressions, be they chronic or periodic, connected to a head injury or the death of a loved one are not something which gets better by not watching the news or putting on lipstick. Being told to snap out of it just leads to wounded friendships. 


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Keeping the Dark at Bay



No light switches to grey the ebony black
Till the night beyond the windows begins to grey
And the sun creates a delicate pink
Against the blue howl of the wind
Left behind by the lightless dark.

My world reduced to circles of yellow cast by candles
Begins to expand beyond my lantern
But not to the global proportions of the internet.
The cat traverses between flickering flames
How does his tail not catch fire?

He toys with his fresh caught mouse
while I boil my eggs upon the wood stove
My internal clock trying to guess the time
While avoiding the question of how much longer with no power
Will the water, wood, candles and batteries last.

Will the sun break through the now clouds
Its light war the studio interior
Only shades of Whistler grey are promised
I dare the windows to assure myself the winds have not
blown the world away in the night.

J. Binford-Bell
December 16, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

More is Said in Jest

The Path Through the Storm

Or in fiction. Or at least the best of both. A Canadian friend of mine recommended the Louise Penny mystery books to me. I have begun my first, Still Life. And with every page am more and more glad she has written a lot of books about Chief Inspector Gamache's adventures. A well crafted mystery is always an escape from depressing times, and if it is cerebral, intelligent, and filled with compassion I will sign over my life to the world created in words.

Reading such a mystery is not easy or fast because there are references I must look up, vocabulary I must acquaint myself to, and books I must note down for a further read. Or at least determine if they are real or just a part of the fiction. A very good mystery writer not only entangles you in the story but in the ideas put forth in its telling.

One of the well crafted characters in Still Life puts forth a life concept from a book she enjoyed; Life is Loss. And she and Gamache have a discussion on that. I find myself totally in agreement. Welcome or unwelcome, expected or unexpected, material or personal we go from loss to loss. Sometimes joyfully and sometimes reluctantly. But the success of our life is on how we move through our losses. They become part of the tapestry of our lives.

We need awards and photo albums and Time Magazine covers to remember our successes but we carry our losses with us. They are what make us real. They are the basis for art, and poetry, and song. They make us strong and compassionate; they make us human.

We must work through our losses. We cannot get over them or put them behind us. Or medicate them away with Prosaic. They are who we are. They are the fabric of our lives. 

I am quite sad at the moment. I have many friends who are also very sad right now. My empathy leads me to cry for them as much as I cry for myself. I eat chocolate, drink coffee, love my fur kids, go into the forest and take pictures, and lose myself in books which speak to my wounded spirit. These are my bandages.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Slip Sliding Away

MacArthur Park is melting in the rain

In my youth, the heady days of rock and roll, I was in love with the lonely poets of song; Richard Harris, Paul Simon, Don McLean, Carole King, Donovan, Neil Diamond, Joan Baez, John Denver . . . the list goes on. I only sing in the car with the windows rolled up but I know the words almost instantly and if the song struck a cord in my life I am doomed to never forget it.

The songsters of my parents' generation were musical instruments singing the words of others. But the lonely poets wrote of their own lives and so often mine. Since it looks as if my dreams of my youth are melting away I seem to be haunted by all those lyrics. I have a MP3 player where I have uploaded a lot of my favorites from the past so I can tune out. If music is to calm the savage breast why is it end up in tears?

My list of lonely poets has grown with Prince and Bowie and Queen and Adele. It isn't the rhythm or tune it is the words. The songs are my audible poets.  And it is not just songs but novels. I remember whole paragraphs. Words written by an author as if they are living my life. In a world which largely doesn't read let alone write poems and seldom speaks in words longer than one syllable, let alone complex thought, I am obviously a creature of a dead world melting into the past. 

How could our generation be so wrong that a whole political party wants to erase us? And everything we achieved. We created so many beautiful songs and stories and art? We embraced so many. We marched for peace and fought for equal rights. 

Was I wrong? Has my entire life been a waste? Is the progress of a generation to mean nothing?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Farewell and Good Riddance 2016


Seems like all the idols of my generation died in 2016. I begin to see it as a hint it is time to depart myself. And I must not be the only one thinking along those lines because social media seems rampant with suicide hot line telephone numbers everyone is suppose to copy and post. I keep wondering why it is sharing isn't good enough. And why would I want to be talked out of it. What is the plus side of hanging around.

I am not, in my opinion, suicidal but I have never been totally opposed to it. Maybe it is my theatrical experience. Know when to make an exit. Or my generations battle cry of live hard, die young and leave a beautiful corpse, but it is too late for that. Or maybe it is simply if I am to hang around for a while in the cosmic consciousness awaiting my next earth experience those who have passed on seem like a really good group to be part of. I do not think along the same lines of those left in charge of the world.

Admittedly I felt like this in the days of Don McLean and Bye Bye Miss America Pie.  But I had so much more energy in my youth. I don't know if I have the heart to fight for civil rights or women's rights or against the mining interests to save the National Parks. I don't have the drive to join the Monkey Wrench Gang again. Or even march with candles to the White House to end the War in Vietnam.

And maybe it is because we all got so comfortable with what we had achieved we never considered it could be taken away from us. But I remember telling a doctor who I was petitioning for a tubal ligation that I never wanted to bring children into this world because I didn't figure it would last that long. At least not a world I would want to pass on to anyone. The doctor's wife was a leader in trying to get the ERA passed. We were at that time, 40 some years ago, just one state away from ratification.

Now I have to face the fact I will have been born, lived, and likely will die as a second class citizen in a less than stellar country. I just find it all so depressing. I want to apologize to all diverse friends. And to my late mother to whom I promised I would not let them take our right to choose away.

But even in the worst of times I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Dad's survival training wins out. And there is the custom of blaming it on a bad year like a wine vintage. Really cannot wait for this year to be over.