Somewhere in the next year

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
― Neil Gaiman

I don’t know where this quote came from, other than Neil Gaiman’s Good Reads page, which seems legitimate enough. Of course, I wouldn’t put it past me to intentionally share an illegitimate quote that said something I felt legitimately worth sharing.

About five or six years ago I decided I was too cool to be someone who cared about New Year’s Eve beyond wearing sparkly dresses, drinking champagne, and kissing. After all, it is just some arbitrary beginning that many of us happen to agree on, unlike the arbitrary beginnings you might set for yourself to start spending more time with your kids, eating less fast food, or saving money to travel. It’s everyone’s favorite joke, an easy punchline, to mock your own non-committal to this new year beginning.

For whatever reason this year, I am feeling a bit warm and fuzzy about the one following. I considered that maybe I just want an excuse to dress up, drink champagne, and kiss (a lot of kissing, actually), but I’m not someone who really needs an excuse for all  that. It could be a Wednesday. I don’t mind. Being honest with myself, it may just be that I am caught up in the momentum of potential (the scary and exciting kind) that myself and my loved ones appear to be experiencing for various reasons.

What I want for myself and for them is what Gaiman has expressed (or maybe didn’t express) in this quote (which is maybe not a quote). So, I won’t go so far as to make a resolution in the formal sense.

How about a wish?

And that’s how I was magically all better

Dear Body,

I realize I should just be thankful that you don’t get sick very often and that your response to stress or poor decisions (such as living off of coffee and crackers) is just a tough love wake-up call to adjust my behavior lest bigger problems emerge down the road, so first of all, let me say thank you. I appreciate your unwillingness to let me get away with behaving like a raccoon trapped in a adult woman’s body. As anyone that has ever lived with me knows, I am not very good at being a living thing. I’d be a much better unicorn, mermaid, or vampire. So, you’re ceaseless slaps on the wrist are useful.

However, I can assure you that on this particular occasion, the occasion of my seemingly endless sickness that lasted through Christmas and appears to intend to plow on through New Year’s Eve, the lesson has been learned and you can stop punishing me. I have plans, mostly work plans, but also plans that involve exercising and eating salad. A real salad. Remember how a few months ago I was thinking, ‘I want do long distance endurance racing on my bicycle so I need to turn into Sarah Connor (T2 version, obvi)’? I wasn’t kidding. This isn’t another ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to be one of those acrobatic strippers?’ moments. And you know what I can’t do when you’re making me dizzy and weak every time I try to be upright for more than 5 minutes? Ride my bicycle.

So, you can stop it now. Focus your energy elsewhere, my friend.

Love,
Jaime

Dear Jaime,

You just want to be well so you can drink and have sex. I know you.

Sincerely,
Body

Dear Vengeful God of a Body,

Yes, I will do those things. I will also take care of myself. Besides, if I can’t have sex, you can’t have sex. Don’t try to convince me that you’re asexual. Remember when I tried to convince us that we’re asexual? It didn’t work then, it’s not going to work now.

Emphatically,
Jaime

Dear She-Beast Trickster Jaime,

Fine.

Some ground rules:
1. Coffee is not breakfast. It’s also not lunch, for that matter.
2. Calling wine “PM Coffee” does not make it dinner. It’s also not funny.
3. If it comes out of a box and you can eat it with your fingers, it also doesn’t count as a meal.
3. If you’re going to eat pizza two to four times a week, at least make it at home and eat it with vegetables. (Beer does not count as a vegetable.)
4. You don’t get a free pass on eating actual meals just because you’re busy or the sink is full of dishes or you want to keep watching videos of puppies on your laptop. I know your natural inclination is to sniff around all the cabinets and the refrigerator to find some easy, quick thing you can eat while crouched on the kitchen floor like you’re in a romantic comedy about how a woman raised by wolves finds love, but you need to eat real meals made of real food. Besides, your husband thinks it’s creepy when he finds you using your hands to put leftover macaroni and cheese onto leftover pizza before stuffing the whole disaster into your stupid face at 10 AM.
5. That reminds me. Pizza is not a plate.
6. For the love of all that is holy, drink some water! You like it. You have it. Drink it.

Agreed?

Sincerely (even though you don’t deserve it),
Body

Dear Body,

Fine. Agreed. But only because I want to be Sarah Connor.

Sincerely (because we’re stuck together),
Jaime

Bless This Mess

This blog was once devoted to my artwork — prior to jumping ship to test out Tumblr, which has evolved into its own separate thing — and I am returning to it mostly because I like WordPress and my writing needs somewhere to go. Tumblr is great for images, both collecting and sharing, but it’s not so great for words.

Two things have recently impacted my thinking about how information is organized in a substantial way: building a website and acquiring a smart phone for the first time in my life.

I had planned to build a website for about three years, but the practical actions required that I have started to undertake made the complicated structure of it more “real”. How do I determine what work to put there? How do I represent myself now with consideration for what I hope to accomplish in the next few years? How do I keep it minimal and elegant without it looking cold or generic? And so on. I have felt so obsessed with pinning down every aspect of its organization.

Then I got a smart phone and the flood of excitement over the capabilities of this device took hold. Instead of carefully placing a piece of information in one area and stepping away, I regularly consider posting to multiple areas and watch how each item plays out differently according to the landing site. It’s like watching paper airplanes float or dive across a room. You have some intention about yourself, but also some uncertainty and joy. The dull paper force of its nose hitting something is satisfying, even if it means the flight is over. You can build another plane. You can enjoy the tactile sensation and precision of folding the paper, turning one object into another.

But then what do I do with all these planes?

So while I’m feeling less concerned about organizing every detail of my extended, digital self (beyond the obvious privacy/audience concerns), I also have a lot of unanswered questions. Maybe I will write about them here. Maybe not. In any case, there will be writing here of various sorts — personal posts, articles, art exhibition reviews, and links to other words that I find worth sharing.

Forgive the mess.

Overdue

I’m not a very good blogger. There. I said it.

My intentions are always good in the beginning with occasional moments of rejuvenation, but then I fall flat the moment I am distracted by something shiny or tired of my own endless spewing of words, words, words. For someone that has such a shaky relationship with words, I am terribly verbose.

Explanations aside, I’d like to move onto something (hopefully) more interesting: my work in progress.

Aside from writing articles, I’ve also been putting together a proposal for a group exhibition and working on an upcoming exhibition with Liz Layton. And by “upcoming”, I mean in a little less than three weeks.

Here are this details from the Facebook event page:

Moderna Blondin is an exhibition of work by Liz Layton and Jaime Santos-Prowse containing paintings, installation, and performance. This new work is inspired by “The Magician’s Cape”, a Swedish fairy tale written by Anna Wahlenberg with John Bauer’s illustrations. It’s also inspired by Manichaeism, Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring“, Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides“, the obsession and idolatry of adolescence, and glittery sparkling things. 

The opening reception will take place on Friday, March 1st (First Friday), 7 – 9 PM at Nelson Fine Art Center in downtown Johnson City. The performance art piece begins promptly at 7:30 PM.
Live music before & after art performance (bands TBA). 

The reception will be catered with sweets and treats. Prints of the artists’ original art work will also be available for sale at this time. The paintings and installation will remain in the gallery until the end of March (specific date TBA). The reception is free and open to the public, though the artists and musicians would greatly appreciate donations.

There’s still a lot of work to do. Cue sudden stress baking. Chocolate chip coconut or blueberry anise scones, anyone? How about tomato rosemary? Cranberry orange?

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By the end of the month, I may very well bake every variation of scone imaginable. My pants agree with my husband, that this is perhaps an unhealthy development. I’ve recently acquired three new literary / art magazines so maybe I can make myself read in the tub the next I feel an overwhelming desire to bake.

hoard your heart away

“Wouldn’t it be funny if we all achieved enlightenment and then the world ended?”

Apparently, 2011 was rough for a lot of people and now those same people are cartwheeling into 2012. We all look shinier, which might just mean we need a shower, but the shower will be a triumphant shower. With hot water and bergamont grapefruit scented soap filling our nostrils. With a sigh and cool, overcast winter light shining in on our fresh faces. This kind of optimism requires no smiles or cake or cards. Just… a shower.

(What I’m trying to say is that I’m still a bit dirty.)

I’ve been preparing to move some of my art materials into my soon-to-be new studio, where I will mostly paint and work on moderately large projects. Since I’ve been thus forced to acknowledge the boat load of crap that I own, I’ve also been purging a bit of it and devising a plan that if I don’t start using it all within 6 months, it’s gone.

On many occasions, my hoarding of papers and other materials saved me from having to buy those materials for a project; however, at this point my possessions feel more oppressive to me than time or money saving. They are an ugly reminder of all the time that I have wasted, opportunities missed, ideas forgotten, creative (redemptive) impotence. Instead of seeing the potential that I originally saw in them, I see myself failing. Constantly.

(See what I mean.)

I am giving myself the chance to use those items — at least to a degree that indicates productivity, instead of weirdo hoarder — and then if I don’t, I’m letting them go. Because I need to. I don’t even know how to sew and I have three large plastic bins of “scrap” fabric. Yes, three. That’s just one example.

(Yep, you see it.)

I will probably never stop squirreling away some materials because they are legitimately useful to me. There are other reasons, too, but I feel like that’s a given. Some stuff you can’t ever wash off.

It’s Okay If The World Ends

When you played Duck Duck Goose as a child, if you did, did you ever get the sense that you were chasing and being chased simultaneously? Perhaps it was the circle configuration of the game. Perhaps it was the other screaming, giggling, cheering children. Perhaps that is just my emotional response to groups.

I’ve been feeling like I am running, toward and away.

I don’t believe that running away is necessarily always a bad thing to do. Sometimes you do it because you need to survive. You cannot fight at that particular moment in time, and there’s only one way to keep breathing. Sometimes you do it because the momentum alone from putting down and leaving behind a heavy and oppressive thing feels the same as flying. It’s hard to believe you can feel that much lighter, stronger, faster, more beautiful. Of course, it’s not permanent, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be. It just has to be a moment that is filled with more than inhalation and exhalation. Because you need to do more than survive.

So when I speak about running toward and away, it’s not Bad. It’s not Good either. It’s significant, complicated, and solves nothing. Not on its own. Not overnight. Certainly not before bed. I feel like I am capable of giving chase, which has been a foreign concept the past year. Almost two years. I tricked myself into believing that I am meek, incompetent, unlovable, filthy, ugly, and somehow profoundly disabled. Completely incapable of defending myself in any capacity, let alone fighting. Similarly to how years earlier I tricked myself into thinking I was invincible. Neither extreme has gone well for me.

I don’t regret the things that have happened, the things I have carried. Despite episodes of veiled cowardice, I really did want the best for me, for us, for you. I believed. I acted. I went down with the ship. I grew gills and left songs in empty shells. I saved the red tulips from frost. I haunted houses. I set fire to those houses. I found my hips beneath a volcano. I left the signs of my power before Ereshkigal. I shaved my head and threw my hair from the tower. I watched the ice melt into orange light. And I am not done yet.

After so long standing safely on the shore, I have decided that I would rather risk it. Risk foolishness, loss, and the peculiar feeling of looking back on it thinking, That’s not how it was at all. There are always at least three ways to tell the story of 10 minutes, and I do not think less of myself or those 10 minutes or those stories because of it. Not at all. If I have to choose, I would rather go down with the ship than never leave the harbor. And I will drink to that.  I will run toward and away. Joyfully.

Celestial return

Paint like this reminds me of images that I used to see of galaxies, celestial bodies unnamed in my mind. They have names. Everything has at least one name. My mind just didn’t know them, similarly to how it can’t match a Honda Accord with a Honda Accord. The car was dirty silver, like an old coin found in the street. The tree had leaves like pointy elongated tears. The  fabric feels like a spider web looks. 

No one seems to have much use for knowing the names of ghosts. Or whatever they are. Ghost is a name, too. We all know that name, like names of God, only more people snicker about Ghosts.

My throat is sore, my head hurts, and my nose feels like someone has been scraping the inside of it with a serrated knife. I need to get to work, but I wanted to take a moment to think about something else, and it ended up being this picture. Then it ended up being names. I still have to title my work.

Back to it, then.

update: almost September:

+ Listened to Wicked (the audio book, not the musical) on the way to & from OCNJ
+ Now reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz & the eighth issue of Annalemma magazine
+ Been thinking a lot about “the making of” a witch & the shapeshifting nature of a story & what the little things mean for big things
+ Enjoyed Fright Night much more than previously expected
+ Learned how to play Crazy Rummy, Rummy Cube, and another game I can’t remember the name of thanks to my Gram
+ Sold a total of six paintings from the circus series (which comes down tomorrow)
+ Beginning new projects involving books, a zine, stitches, and/or paint
+ Playing the piano everyday as per a pinky swear agreement
+ Feeling that September will be a very good month – hard, but good

When he calls to me, I am ready

Yesterday was the first time I’ve had a seizure in quite a few months. As if some spiteful child-god decided to make matters worse, the episode occurred while we were in Target, during a particularly busy time for them. According to my husband, Target employees surrounded us almost immediately. One of them insisted on calling EMS while another fetched some cold water and a non-employee brought us a wheel chair. We rolled on out of there in case the EMS were actually called.

I read Sandman comic books in bed and ate Pomegranate Chip coconut “ice cream” most of the day while I nursed an awful headache. It was hot all day and all through the night. It made sleeping difficult. So did my traitor imagination that wouldn’t let innocent noises of an old house settling remain innocent. I could almost feel clammy, cold hands grabbing my ankles at the end of the bed. I watched ivy climb the walls with large spiders and lizards following behind. Like they were following the yellow brick road. Except it was ivy, dark and shiny green, with every leaf hiding someone’s whispered secret, someone’s last words. You can almost hear them, but the spiders and lizards are distracting.

It was a cemetary half sunk in marshes that smelled like sweet rot.

Robert slept well on account of the melatonin he took, yet still rolled and sighed in his sleep while the heat made our bodies sticky.

It is cooler today and I am trying to make some more progress with our new apartment. After days of non-productivity (unless you count modeling for reference photos at the Nolichucky River with lovely ladies, which was too fun to really feel like work for me), I am slowly reminding myself the benefits of having Things In Order. I’d rather go back to the river with a picnic basket, but I suppose anyone would.