I miss my Dad.

I miss my Dad.

He’s been dead since 1994. He died of a heart attack while living in his old room at his Mom’s house. He and my Mom were separated. They couldn’t see eye to eye.

There hadn’t been a lot of real communication all along anyway.

In a way I could say he was never really alive.

He was abused by his parents. He was never good enough for them. They treated him like a stupid child. He was sullen as a father, and greedy as a person. I was embarrassed to bring boyfriends home.

But I miss him.

Do I miss what could have been? Do I miss the Dad of my imagination? Would I feel an opposite amount of joy for my sadness if he were still alive today?

I can’t know.

I know that when I saw a picture of him today, laughing, joyful, I was struck with sadness. I am sad for what never was. I am sad for a life not lived fully. I am sad that I never saw him live up to his potential. I am sad that he was crushed by life, by other’s demands on him. I’m sad that he didn’t live at a time where mental health professionals had better tools in their kits.

He taught college English anywhere and any place he could. He did distance learning before anybody had a word for it. He would teach people the joys of writing and reading fine authors in the evening in high schools, in the afternoon in prisons, wherever a class could be formed. Teaching was his life.

It has been nearly twenty years since he has died. I think he would be very proud of the person I’ve become.

I know that he loved me more than he had words to tell me.

I know that he tried his best.

I don’t know if I’m crying more for me, or for him.

“The Natural Look”

There is something very radical about hair and makeup.

If you go natural, people look at you funny.

I celebrate black women who don’t straighten their hair. I celebrate white women who let their hair go grey. I actually cheer them on. I want to counteract society telling them that they aren’t quite good enough unless they conform to the norm.

Why are we told that we aren’t beautiful unless we change ourselves? We are asked to lay ourselves down at the altar of Avon. We are asked to grind ourselves up in the crucible of Clairol.

What is the motto of L’Oreal? “Because we’re worth it”.

Something sounds very backwards about that, now that I think about it.

Like we don’t deserve respect for looking exactly the way that God made us.

You want that natural look? Go natural. Get some natural sunlight and drink some natural water and eat some natural food. You’ll look great.

When you have to buy your “natural look” in a bottle from Walgreen`s, then you know something is wrong.

Our society is telling women that they aren’t beautiful unless they alter themselves.

Shave your legs and armpits. This is reducing our appearance to that of a prepubescent girl. This is really creepy. We are telling women to stop looking like adult women.

High heels are the modern equivalent of foot binding. Uncomfortable shoes cause damage to women’s feet that can only be fixed surgically.

It takes a lot of energy to escape the gravity of this cultural training. It takes a high level of self-esteem to achieve escape velocity.

Look at all the women getting plastic surgery to “fix” something that isn’t broken.

Do you want to have a radiant smile? Take the money you were going to spend on that plastic surgery and give it to a charity.

Mother Theresa was far more beautiful than Paris Hilton will ever be.

Our society tells women constantly that they aren’t good enough. Too fat. Too thin. Hair too stringy. Hair too dark. Skin too pale – get a tan. Skin too dark – bleach it.

No matter what we look like, it isn’t good enough. We have to learn to see through this deception.

We are never “just right”, according to the media and the marketers. We need to remember that the media and the marketers make money on feeding us poison.

Our goal needs to not be beauty but health. I exercise and eat well not to be thinner but to be stronger.

I go to the Y out of a sense of rebellion. I eat vegetables as a political statement. I skip deserts and fried foods to show that I can.

I don’t want to be ruled by autopilot.

Each act is a stone I’m adding to my wall that I’m building to shore myself up against this wave of collective insanity that we call modern society.

My goal is to become fully awake, and to inspire others to do the same.

My goal is to let you know you are beautiful, and you are loved. That you matter. That you are important.

Supplies – to paint or not to paint

I have so many unused art supplies it isn’t even funny. I have canvas, paint, and image transfer tools. I have books on how to do new techniques. I have fabric and beads. I have stamps and magazines for collage.
And sometimes they just sit around because I’m afraid of messing it up. I’m afraid of using it wrong and wasting the materials. I have to admit that I’d rather do nothing than do something.
Beads are a little more forgiving. I can restring them if they don’t work out the way I planned. But paint and canvas and collage? Not at all. Once it is used, it is used. That is money wasted if it doesn’t work out. But I’m wasting money by not using it either.
I’m trying to change my mind on this. I’m trying to see it as process, not product. Working on a piece is a process. Every failed attempt is a learning event. Everything I learn from trying something new will end up in teaching me how to do it “right”.
I want everything I make to be perfect. I’m not very good at giving myself second chances and do-overs. I’ve found the way through this with writing. I’m OK with the idea of writing about the same subject from different angles. I’m OK about using the same idea or concept in different pieces.
But that isn’t as easy with artwork. Some pieces are permanent. I could make copies of things and use them, but somehow that lacks legitimacy. There is a risk in using the real thing. There is something about that risk, that legitimacy, that I crave. Yet that is also the very thing that I fear.