How long will my short attention span allow me to finish a thought?
I want to preface this with the fact that I watch The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad and Quentin Tarantino movies, not for the blood splatter factor, but for the human drama and how the blood splatter enhances or explains it. So I thought maybe I would enjoy American Horror Story. It definitely was intriguing in its first season opener. The human drama was there: a miscarriage, infidelity, rebellious teenage daughter, new beginnings with a move across country; a creepy, stylish haunted house with a mysterious history. Unexplained things begin to happen, add to that a nosy neighbor and her Down Syndrome adult daughter, a disfigured man dressed reminiscently of the 1940s, and a maid that appears different depending on the eye of the beholder. So many interesting elements and a story line that recalls old classic horror movies, like Frankenstein, Rosemary’s Baby and Amityville Horror. Then the murders and the violence start to pile up, right from episode one. I kept watching searching for a reason behind it all, but it never came. Maybe that is the message behind it all: that violence and murder have no reason or meaning, that it is a force that we all have inside us, dormant and seductive, and we decide if it is unleashed? Black Dahlia murder case and old Hollywood, deranged killers, suicide, crimes of passion. The list goes on and on. It became more and more negative in feeling and content with each episode, and what I thought was a homage to the theater of horror became derivative, hollowly vengeful and pointless. But I still kept watching and I knew that I shouldn’t have. Taboo or touchy subjects like abortion, gay relationships, and S&M enticed my sense of curiosity and so much sex. What is even more surprising is that this show is from the creators of Glee, but if you really think about it, what did Glee have in common with AHS? Sex, over the top drama, more sex, throw in gay relationships and a Down Syndrome character, and over the top singing. Replace over the top singing with violence and the comparison is clear. I felt cheap watching it and the references to classic horror stories and true events became a gimmick for this negative sex, vengeance, and violence vehicle. Maybe shame on me for wanting something meaningful from all the violence and sex, but aside from the meaning in the actions we take in response to all the violence and sex, there is no meaningful message we can take from it in itself. Newtown, Aurora, Norway killings, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Penn State, 9/11, Oklahoma City, Unabomber, Syria, Holocaust, Khmer Rouge, World Wars, slavery and so on. You would think violence is the norm. The meaningful action that I am taking in reaction to shows like American Horror Story is to not watch anymore and to stop feeding the violence that is a part of the genetic history of my species.
When we moved to our first home, we updated the carpet and chose cream-colored carpet to replace the original mauve. We had one very young child, no pets, and no foresight. The excitement of purchasing our first home made rational decisions disappear, replaced by naive idealism. White carpet, a blank canvas, pristine, virgin, new and perfect. It was the metaphor for our new life together in our first real home with our first born. As the years progressed, that carpet was bombarded with life - spills, dirt tracked in from outside, blood and urine, etc. Each stain had a story. Take the stain on the stairs. It was Mother’s Day and my husband and daughter wanted to bring me breakfast in bed, which included a double espresso. Our bedroom was upstairs and needless to say, the stairs enjoyed my double espresso that morning. Another set of stains reminds me of my husband’s 50th birthday. We had had a party and invited a few close friends and I had a guitar cake specially made for him. The cake rested on a table that abutted a couch and after the party, it sat there on the table. The next morning, we found mysterious purplish pink stains all over the sofa and carpet in one area of the house. We noticed the cake had been gauged, evidenced by the rough edges. I left out that we had two small dogs at the time. One of them, a mixed Jack Russell terrier, was known to secretly hop on chairs and tables, looking for tasty morsels. He had done just that, eating a nice chunk of the cake, and it didn’t sit well with him. He had vomited on the arm of the couch and one of the cushions, two spots on the carpet near the couch, and once luckily on the ceramic entry way floor. The fondant on the cake was made of chocolate and was tinted a deep red violet. Mixed with a nice yellow cake, the color was a bright purple pink. The last set of memorable stains still tints my first daughter’s bedroom floor. We had purchased hamsters as pets for the girls, since I had had hamsters as pets as a child and really enjoyed the experience. We had two males that had not lived together and were trying to slowly introduce them to each other. One day, my daughter had taken her hamster out of its cage and was playing with him on the floor of her bedroom. For unknown reasons, her hamster acted erratically and bit her on the finger. She hauntingly screamed and when I ran up to her room, there was a ring of blood drops on her floor. It was like a crime scene. The shallow bite on her fingertip had unleashed a flood of blood and tears. Her finger mended and the hamster was forgiven, but the blood left its impression. I often think whether any of those accidents could have been prevented, aside from our initial bad decision to install white carpet, but my conclusion has always been that that is life. Perfection is an illusion and a concept that only serves to frustrate and confuse what life is really like. Life is dirty and bloody and in hindsight, only is it truly clear. Obama’s second inaugural speech highlighted all the stains on our collective history, which didn’t begin with a clean slate anyway. Political Tyranny, Annihilation of Native Americans, Slavery, War, Civil Rights, Economic Inequality, Natural Resource Depletion and Environmental Disaster. Each stain was/is an opportunity to grow and learn and ultimately, rectify problems. With each stain being addressed but not necessarily erased, we come closer to what it is to live and be human. We still have our white carpet and surprisingly, with all the stains that have occurred, it still looks amazing, but we still have to persevere in keeping it in decent shape. The stains represent past mistakes, but over time, they fade and we learn not to leave cakes on tables; we learn to celebrate Mother’s Day in the dining room downstairs; and we always have band aids on hand.
Was it unthinkable at one time to mix peanut butter and chocolate? According to Reese’s peanut butter cup, it is a match made in heaven. So commonplace that what is it that you don’t mix with chocolate? Chilis, cheese, and bacon, no less. How about truffle vodka or pizza-flavored beer? Someone had to think about it and be curious enough to explore that new possibility. In art galleries, the theme is often common things creating something new, which changes the role of the common thing. Tara Donovan grouped foam cups in such a way that created a heavenly, organic, cloud-like skyscape (http://www.acegallery.net/artwork.php?pageNum_ACE=10&Artist=8). She used straws, scotch tape, toothpicks, and nails and shifted the focus from the small details to the larger form. And aren’t we all these nails and straws and foam cups trying to make ourselves a little less common and finding our larger, unique form? I just want to come up with an original idea and I am appreciating the someone who thought of putting wasabi and peas together.
After two weeks of an upper respiratory infection and coughing incessantly, I can finally pursue the idea of getting a job. The idea came to me while being sick, an antidote to being useless and sedentary. Though being a stay-at-home mom initially was intended to be temporary, it has turned into my career, and as with all careers, there comes a time when you question the future, the satisfaction, the practicality of it. My soul-searching is long overdue and I don’t know if it is worth getting into the reasons behind my procrastination. I am able to think of endless reasons that I am not qualified for a job and the main one that recurs over and over again is that I just don’t want it that badly. Every qualification I have is in the past: college grad with honors from an engineering program, computer-aided drafting trained, volunteer for many years at my children’s elementary school. You would think that I could spin these skills to any application and I probably could. I just don’t want to work for anyone and be beholden for a paycheck and the time which isn’t mine. After giving so much of yourself and your time to parenting, you want something of your own, something that is internally generated and that you are ultimately responsible for, and a job just doesn’t cut it. You want another “baby”. You want something that demands all of your time and is a constant source of motivation, inspiration, and challenges. It constantly grows and changes and you have to stay on top of new ideas and innovation, becoming an expert in many different areas. This is your creation and there is nothing more satisfying and disappointing and frustrating and anxiety-ridden than this “baby”. This is your life.
Cascades of books pour out of buildings in flowing forms like waterfalls.
“Biografias” by Alicia Martín (2003).
Aerial is a new site-specific installation by Baptiste Debombourg (previously) at an old Benedictine monastery called Brauweiler Abbey near Cologne, Germany. Debombourg used numerous sheets of shattered laminate glass to mimic a frothy flood of water rushing into a room. Remarkably beautiful work. See much more by clicking on the thumbnails here. (via mission / vision)(