Recall; the Muppets

It’s taken me five hours to find the inner stillness required to properly enjoy a pot of tea, damnit. Twitchy, grumpy and unsettled since Tuesday evening. Yesterday I went to bed at 7pm and rose at 1:30am of course, doing my best to find serenity* while writing and drinking coffee. At 6am I took myself back to bed.

*See Animal and James Coburn on the Muppet Show.

Then I dreamed that I called David Bowie for help while trying to sleep at Larry and Kate’s place after a party there. Except it wasn’t Larry and Kate’s place it was more like a sprawling tacked together old cottage near Balmy Beach, full to the brim with odd characters and bizarre but predictable inebriation.

Bowie came from the afterlife when I called, of course, because he and I are lovers. I have a million questions for him about how the afterlife and coming back to visit works but we are amorous first. Just before I wake up into the first day of our second covid lockdown in Ontario he looks at me from his brown eye and says ‘there’s something. A gift? I ask. No, something you own. Or owe..’ – to myself maybe? Hard to know, he’s fading out.

I get up and as I make coffee I do my best to seek more forensic internal questions (because I love and respect Bowie), but they evade me in my twitchiness.

I need Action. I’m determined to set up what I could gather from my studio yesterday (because of lockdown) in the dining room which will be my work space for the next month or so. As I work through this I can feel my blood boiling though I don’t understand why so I grit my teeth and persevere until I almost wreck a painting I like and hit my thumb with the hammer. Fred Flintstone comes to mind then which is a slap upside the head, then funny.

I stop. It dawns on me that I’ve been reliving the awful awful trauma of winter 2017 when I moved my beautiful huge old studio in the Circle Bar into a little bedroom in my dark rented house. Good lord that was a horrific time, forced on me by vindictive separation negotiations and in the midst of nasty litigation with my sister over – gah! – family property**. Oh my sad sad old self from that winter. I felt as though I was being dismantled piece by piece and completely utterly helpless to prevent it.

That feeling came back four years later to twitch me for 2.5 days then hit me in the thumb with a hammer, just to remind me that I got through it all just fine. I’m glad I experienced that time; I’m grateful to both my ex and my sister for the good, hard lessons; I’m glad it’s over.

Feels good to have broader perspective to observe now from. This three year self directed Hamilton residency looks a lot like a doughnut with 2020 as a hole, and oh can I stretch that metaphor. Into that hole has disappeared a brilliant (?!?) strategic career plan and an astonishing amount of savings money in studio/ apartment rent and living expenses (I did not qualify for CERB). Also my ego, my confidence, my community both here and in Owen Sound where I hail from and my foster cat, who died in my arms in November, damnit.

But, my dear Bowie, I do not feel dismantled now, I feel reconstructed. My coyote ego and I are friends, he trusts me to lead. My studio work is better, more interesting, more direct and honest. I am learning how to draw water – a thing I would never have attempted until this fall – more than halfway up that mountain of curiosity now. I’m submitting show and project proposals to galleries and funders I respect and building ways and means to offer the work online in a meaningful way – in full acknowledgement that we are all online-weary. I’m devising ways and means to make sure it’s not about the solo, but the connection.

Happily, I have not moved out of my beloved studio at the Cotton Factory – the new archaeology pieces wait, safely and patiently there, for my return. I finish the tuba triptych this month – the third of five commissions that have all been my good teachers. These pieces, and the tea ceremony ones are interesting and different; they are fun and light and edgy.

Thanks Bowie. I still have a million questions so you’ll need to come back again tonight. Thanks Larry and Kate for that weird party. And thanks, Animal. You will always be an inspiration.

Pot of tea is almost done, just one cup left. I’ll close this laptop to enjoy it as the skies turn to dusk above the trees.

You can watch Animal again.

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