Archive for November, 2016


Hanging on to little things

As an artist by trade, and in how I view the world, I always pay attention to the first projects I work on after a major event.  Sometimes markers of time, such as first and last projects of the year. Sometimes tragedies, like 9/11, or a terrible natural disaster.  Sometimes a time of worry, like The Great Recession.

This is one of those times.

Business has been slow; October and November always are.  I didn’t work directly with a client until 2 days ago – a quick project, a little bee.  I often ask people, why this image? why now?  She’d always wanted a bee, she said, but the Now was because of the election. She’d been saying to herself: Be here now. Be Strong. Be Resolute. Be Compassionate. Be Aware. Be Committed.

She teared up telling me, she has two sons who are gay; on the 11th, one of their friends was beaten by attackers saying (as we’re hearing all too often) Trump was president now, fuck you faggot, etc etc etc.  I teared up listening. I told her about Pantsuit Nation.  I told her the 2018 midterms were more important than ever. We committed to The Fight, without knowing what exactly that was yet.  We became allies.

Yesterday, my client was a Native woman, getting her tribal number and a feather on her forearm.  She works with the public, a small, demure woman with a sparkling smile even in these days of fear. She has no visible tattoo work, and hadn’t been tattooed for 11 years.

Why this design? Why now?

We had already talked about the election; we shared the feeling that, of course, we were disappointed Hillary didn’t win (she was also an enthusiastic Clinton supporter) but Trump and the racists he brings with are frightening on a whole different dimension. We had already established that we were allies.

Why this design? “They can’t take this away from me.”

Why now? She choked up. She didn’t need to tell me why.

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After 9/11 happened, two of my first projects were the Japanese character for “peace.”  That was somehow comforting to me.  These two pieces after Nov. 8th, are soothing to me as well, but in a different way. In both of these women, there was a fight, a commitment. And in all three of us, there was the need to reach out, to find fellow fighters, to establish alliances, to find safety.  Ahead of commitment to specific actions, this is how we network.

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Connections

On the 12th, I was still shell-shocked from the election. But I was starting to recover. I was starting to really feel the fight, the need to dig in.

I went out to breakfast with my pal, a small cafe where the tables are jammed in tight, and the clientele ranges all over the map when it comes to politics. We spoke in hushed tones about the coming storm, our fears, our terror at the racism and xenophobia and sexism being released in our nation, our ideas about how to dig in and how to support the folks around us who are really frightened by the potential disasters ahead.

Late in the breakfast, I caught the eye of one of the women sitting 20 inches away. She spoke up immediately – she’d heard us talking, thanked us for some of the things we’d said, and nearly broke into tears saying, “I’m so scared right now.”

The four of us talked for 20 minutes or so, sharing our concerns, how hopeful we’d been, shored each other up.  There is something disturbing and touching about complete strangers opening up like this. I feel like there are going to be a lot of these moments over the coming weeks and months.  I am rethinking my tepid response to the Clinton campaign’s motto, Stronger Together.

Storm’s a-comin

Regroup
Reassess
Retrench
React
Recommit

yachats-11-nov-2016

This is the day I picked myself up off the floor of political defeat.  I went to the ocean to decompress, to cry, to get myself together.

I walked down to the edge of the cliff to watch the water, storming and pounding the basalt that makes up the rocky shorelines of the Oregon Coast.  I said to myself, completely aware of how sappy it sounds, “Maybe the ocean is feeling our pain.” and then “Nope, the ocean is just the ocean.”

The ocean endures. So will I.

 

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