Videos. Who? Me? No.

One day, prompted by an urgency to play, I grabbed my video camera and waltzed into my studio, dead set on becoming a star!  Oh how I lie. In fact, I’ve never longed to be in the spotlight, nor any spot that might remotely draw attention. So don’t ask me why, in God’s name, I began making videos of myself reciting odd little writings smack dab in the middle of my studio, before an unforgiving camera that is now filled with enough footage to blackmail me and the characters I rode in on. Yet I must confess, it’s almost embarrassing how much fun I’ve had.

Still, recording the videos was one thing, watching them, another. After the initial horror, displeasure, then acceptance of seeing and hearing myself on-screen, I became intrigued, and marveled at the way I’d broken my silence – acted out instead of in.

It’s known that sharing one’s creations is as important as creating them. That must explain my compulsion to out these videos. Thus far, the fun is outweighing the potential humiliation.

Never did I think I’d have the audacity to take center stage, even alone, safe in the confines of my studio. Clearly anyone can do anything. What is it you’ve got wrapped so tight it’s unable to breathe? I’d love to hear about it.

On with the show.  (The words are below the video.)

 

Stone Face

Well I dragged into my apartment after an especially long day and all I could hear was the rug – something about leaves, flowers and footprints.  I didn’t know what it meant, and it was makin’ me nervous.  So I stepped around the chaos to my jerry-rigged bar and I fixed myself a drink, on the rocks, a perfect complement to the stone face I’d been wearin’ all day.  What was gettin’ me down?!

OCD – A Relentless, Cunning Perpetrator


“It wrangles you. It’s a control freak, gripping and merciless. Fearful you may forget it, it never leaves you alone. Not for a minute. It hops in the driver’s seat before you’ve had a chance to get into the car and sits there laughing as you try every which way, including sideways, to get in. You scream, “Move over! This is MY life!” but it’s already got you pinching every loaf of bread and counting the number of cracks in Safeway’s floor, down on your knees, everyone staring. So you make it a joke or like you dropped something, but they can tell when you try to stand and can’t remember how, that something’s wrong. You’re up and down and up and down trying to make it feel right and soon people start offering you fearful glances and a wide berth. Realizing you’re in it for the duration, you slap on your worn out sign, “IT’S NOT ME, IT’S MY OCD.” If only they knew what that meant.”

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a relentless, cunning perpetrator. The physical and emotional energy it takes to combat nonstop, intrusive obsessions and compulsions is monumental and often totally debilitating. One of the most hurtful sidebars for my sister, Diane Hope, who agonizingly wrestled with severe OCD, was the fact it isn’t recognizable with the naked eye, therefore her inability to function simply made her appear crazy, to some, even scary. In truth, she was the funniest, most brilliant, creative, compassionate person I’ve known.

I’m not implying her disorder was in the least bit enjoyable. However, because Diane was exceptionally funny, her coping mechanisms were wildly amusing and became a saving grace for her and the entire family.

The OCD was like a third, unwieldy leg that forever turned Diane the wrong direction. It made her uncomfortably stand out, yet it also supported her unique dance, and for that she was grateful. In time, her compulsions took center stage, inciting a full on theater production as she exaggerated, waltzed with, scolded, talked to, mimicked and tried to laugh away the impulses. True, some folks were put off by her, but I thrived in her presence. I loved the feeling of freedom that came from playing in her wake, like following her lead at midnight as she marched down the aisles of Walgreens, singing to the Muzak while arranging 15 neck pillows around and about her body because it felt good and she couldn’t stop. With Diane I could be out loud, I, the quiet one who refused to yell when I was mad and whose throat would slam shut if I tried to scream.

Though not technically (or even remotely) twins, Diane and I were symbiotic. I took on water, she’d spit it out; she’d forget to breathe, I’d inject a hurricane into her lungs. I cannot express how much fun we had, nor can I convey the extent of the pain.

“The damned double stick tape hadn’t lost its tack in all those years. It was supposed to be a joke. We alleged  that by trimming ourselves in adhesives, a myriad of lovely, exotic items might attach themselves and we’d end up looking like eccentric, old gypsies. But the only things that stuck were dog hair, Taylor’s gold stars, and the refrigerator magnets with freakish features. Instead of looking like gypsies, we just looked insane.”

Diane and her daughter, Taylor

Diane was broken yet so strong, the sparks that arose when she was momentarily aligned illuminated a great many fortunate people. It’s a tragedy when folks, out of fear, choose to navigate around those that appear abnormal or different, as they’ll never benefit from the gifts beyond their periphery.

At age 48, Diane discovered she’d had Hepatitis C for some 25 years. Four years later, the disease seriously kicked in, but because of the OCD, she was unable to attempt treatment – you had to be of sound mind in order to maintain and administer the very regimented therapy and even more stable to endure a liver transplant. Diane Hope passed away July 31, 2008 at age 56, due to liver failure, yet she maintained that no matter how life threatening the Hep C became, it was the OCD she couldn’t live with anymore.

My relationship with Diane was so textured, complex, dramatic, loving and hilarious it could fill a book, which, in fact, I’m writing. I’ll be posting bits and pieces on the blog as it progresses.

“A forget-her-not was attached to the sister’s forehead so people would stop and ask, and she’d forever be able to yak about the magical spark she called Hope.”
 

 

 

Resources

OCD is a serious anxiety disorder for which there is a variety of treatments. For more information, visit:

About Us


https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

Hepatitis C isn’t always symptomatic, indeed many people are unaware they have the disease. However, if you do require treatment, the World Health Organization claims cure rates above 95% – greatly improved since Diane’s day. For more information, visit:

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Hepatitis C?


https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm

 

 

One of My Favorite Toys

One of the most prized toys in my Playbox is my cousin Don, who’s old enough to be my father, yet in all the time I’ve known him he’s never grown up, even now, at 90. He’s the quintessential example of a person who has lived a life of play – well, he also worked, but that’s beside the point. Or maybe that IS the point. Despite working, he always made time for fun, and so we grew together, along that same path.

Truly, Don’s among the most creative people I know, as can be seen by stepping foot into his house full of toys, handmade jokes, and of course, art.

His style is whatever happens, happens – unpolished, imperfect and incredibly inventive.

He’s fabulous at capturing gestures…so graceful.

He nimbly morphs wire, clay, glass, paper, wood, useless whatnots, into utterly clever, comical, and unique statements.

I mentioned I’d like to make marionettes – he beat me to it.

Inspired by my bookworm, Don made one too. He even finished his.

Clearly I’m not the only one who loves his work.

We’ve played together a great deal over the years at his house on the beach, in his magical garage, where we’re forever kids having fun.

I periodically take immensely embarrassing pictures of myself for laughs and for family’s eyes only. Although everyone’s amused by them, Don has the audacity to display them proudly and prominently in his home. We’re sincerely each other’s biggest fans. The Playbox wouldn’t be complete without him. Here’s a little something I wrote about us.

Our Story

There once was a boy with a creative bean up his ass,
who never much cared whether the thing would pass,
yet when he moved to the beach and squatted in the sand,
the bean was squeezed out, and burrowed deep in the land,
providing a perfect place for the boy to play.

Along came a girl with a creative bean in her ear,
which made her lean in so she could better hear,
until one day she bent totally in half,
hence the bean fell out and rolled down her calf,
planting itself at her feet so every day she’d remember to play.

When boy met girl, a few years in,
damn if they weren’t introduced as kin.
From the onset they’d been sharing genes,
now they looked at each other and screamed,
“Hey! Matching beans!”

And so it went from that day on,
the girl named Soozer and the boy named Don,
were forever connected by their creative whims
his often comical, hers sporting odd limbs.

To each other they were a huge inspiration
always in awe of each other’s imagination.

If there was one thing they’d repeatedly say
it’s, “Damn we’re glad we were made this way.”

Big Top

I’d like to welcome you to a place where
nothing’s too weird or nonsensical, too sad or misshapen.
It all lives in and under The Playbox.

 

Inside The Playbox you’ll find an array of works that express the bulk of my story, beyond Pondering Pool – writings, drawings, sculptures, and videos that speak about such things as a love so deep, being a Band-Aid, compassion, neuroses, you had me at ha, and so much more. What doesn’t fit inside lovingly resides beneath, where it needn’t worry about smiling or taking care of anyone else, it can simply rest.

It’s taken me a while to be ready to talk about the delicate, sticky areas, but dammit, the poignant stuff can be very connective and healing, and dare say, funny.  On that note, I hope these works will not only be amusing and meaningful to you, but will inspire you to create, fill, and share your own Playbox.

Click here to watch my video interview.

 

Breaking free

Big Top

So I’m sitting in my chair, twiddling my mind, tweaking each moment into a smile, when to my left I hear a roar then a burp.  He’s awakened, and if I don’t remain twiddled, chances are my smile will fall into a slack and drool and I’ll morph into a lap dog, there only to serve him.  I’ve managed over the years to step beneath his loud voice and negative vibrations and in so doing, burrowed underground.  To my delight, there was an entire circus awaiting me.  So instead of lowering my head in sorrow or subjugation, I clowned it up, made nice with the ringmaster and became friends with the wonderfully intriguing array of characters that lived beneath the “big top.”  This turned into my second home, where I grew new versions of myself full of charisma, humor and color (lots and lots of red) – take-offs on peculiar thoughts I’d always had but had been afraid to nurture for fear they’d send me spiraling out and away from home.  Then I realized they were my home.  Lucky me.

 

Tarletta – one of the many dear ladies I met who were born with a touch of clown.