This cute picture of gigi has nothing to do with this story
One of my favorite days was the weekend I was released from the eating disorder ward and visited a girl who was let out earlier and had her own apartment. Visiting her as well was some guy who said he was a brother of the nurse on our floor, and, knowing I was a newly released mental patient, thought I'd be an interesting afternoon.
He told me he was an angel.
He was very serious and had an elaborate story, which I don't remember because I had not eaten solid food for two years and mustard on my finger was lunch, but I wasn't crazy enough to believe him. I know though that having been on a locked ward for 32 days with girls pouring protein drinks into their socks, or marathon jumping jacks I witnessed in the bathroom, after spending most of my time closed in an orange "Quiet" room with a plate of food I was terrified to swallow, I was ready to pretend for a cute boy who wanted to pay attention to me, that he was just about anything.
I left with him and in his van we drove all over town. He talked to everyone out his window. He waved at other cars while we were driving and at stop lights he'd have full conversations. Amazingly, people talked back.
Not being able to leave my house for 6 months prior to rehab without a brown paper bag to breathe into, I wanted to be this guy. He was socially fearless. I remember sitting in his car and feeling like I had discovered a truth, an elusive key to unlock every quiet room I'd be faced with for the rest of my life. This guy had freedom.
When you have severe and chronic anxiety, you are never free. Nor are you free if you are in chronic pain, if you are clinically depressed, if you don't know what to do in your life and you are expected to, by now, what is wrong with you? You are not free if you don't know how to trust, or if your heart is broken. Even the rare people with stable emotions, the ones with marble topped kitchens and happy kids coloring peacefully, those people aren't free either. They dream of more too, and think, "Is this really it?"
No one I had ever met was as free as the angel.
He took me to a park and we sat on the grass. He said he was sent to save me, and as he told me some shitty story I was thinking how creepy he was, a young, good looking guy, my age or maybe a little older, having nothing better to do than get a mentally deficient girl to believe some crazy thing. He thought I was vulnerable. What I was, however, was a swaggering, literature loving drunk. A heartbreaker. A counselor to both my parents since I was 12. A rebel. A joan jett worshipping runaway. A 20 year old with dissapointment deep in her pockets. I wished I was mentally deficient enough to not think of things. Like how boys coax your virginity then break up with you the next day. How the abortion doctor makes you bring cash into the surgery room. How drinking from 11 in the morning until 11 at night does not erase anything, but how you keep drinking hoping it will. Believing in a living angel sent to help me was what I wanted more than anything in the world.
When it was dark we kissed in the back of his van. It wasn't long, just a few minutes, and then a struggle when I didn't want my clothes to come off. I jumped out of the van and ran to my friends house and he didn't follow. He let me go, I see that now. How lucky I was.
But the idea of what he was, a glimpse into something I had never thought of before. That the world does not have to be an unfriendly place. That you can talk to everyone and it doesn't matter what they think. If you are entertaining enough they usually talk back. Time can also be your own. You can spend days off grid. You can make your own rules. You can love thy neighbor. You can live without fear.
Just don't get into a van with anyone crazier than yourself.
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Scary things can pile up, the older you get. We begin life fresh but experiences layer over each other and soon you are filtering through past pain instead of seeing life as new. It is true that if you see a hole in the middle of the street you learn to walk around it rather thank thinking, "This time it will be different," but it is not the same as letting holes scare you into believing there is one on every street, or sidewalk or grassy meadow you walk on.
Your fears are meant to protect you, so is your inner critic. They protect you from holes and shifty boys and whatever else that is waiting to get you. But you can't let fear rule your life. Here I am balancing all my cups, keeping my life together, and I'm doing a great job. I might drop some but so far I haven't. Nothing scary is going to disturb my balance. I can see a threat, breathe deeply, and carry on.
From me to you - do the right things to keep you peaceful and in balance, eat well, sleep well, smile, and you will be able to live the way you want. Holes and all.
To a Gypsy Girl, environment is sacred. Especially the environment she finds herself in. Whether it is on a beach or in her tiny apartment, pre-bought mass produced generic furniture will not make her happy. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford eclectic furniture, and most of what is available is downright ugly. So what can we do?
I really, really, don't like white plastic. Plastic in color is better. If you are a girl who lives in an apartment with white walls, more white will make you sad. If you can't paint your walls, then you can paint everything else instead.
Painting on plastic is a problem, though. It is non porous and acrylic paint looks crappy. Another alternative, and a very gypsy alternative, is alcohol ink.
Alcohol Inks dry immediately when dripped on a non porous surface and will not come off with water. I've used bleach to get it off but water won't budge it. The look of alcohol inks are instant Gypsy. Kinda like tie dye. Espescially if you use jewel colors.
Because they dry so quickly layering is super easy. I drip them straight from the bottle, sometimes using the tip to draw with, then go on to a different color. You can let the inks bleed together to make swirls. I have great pictures of that below.
Have a fan going or do it outside. The odor is not nearly as bad as spray paint, but inhaling alcohol fumes is not good for your lungs. Much better out doors on a sunny day, sipping something sweet and cold. You can do it with a friend, each of you with a different color. I call this project part one because even though most of the surface is covered, it doesn't look unified or finished. I think lining the inside drawers with decoupage decorative papers, and collaging the door windows on the outside, will make it look more finished. I could add more alcohol inks but adding paper will give it a more complete hand made look.
I used the Bright colors, but you could also try contrasting the bright with the softer tones as well. I think this exact look done in pastels would be more than brilliant. Still Gypsy, but a softer gypsy. You can try something small first like a white or clear plastic pencil case. Super easy to do. I'd love to see what your Gypsy Plastic looks like!
'Angels Hear You' Print found here.
I love the idea that an unseen force is gently cradling you but you can't see it. I don't care if it's true. I don't need video tape, I can believe it's true, if I want to. It isn't going to hurt in fact, beliving you are loved and cared for even if you see no evidence of that in your life will make you feel as if you are. There is no difference.
Even when there is no one in your life, currently, that is acting like they care about you, someone you haven't even met does. We are all connected, that is why we cry at other's tragedy. It is only when we consciously block ourselves off from caring, that we act like we don't care. But we do. Unless people are fundamentally screwy on a dna level, and there are those like that, just watch court tv, humans care. They just have learned not to care.
There is a girl who took away the only boy I ever (thought) I loved, and even then I didn't hate her. I hated him for making me believe he loved me when he only loved himself. I am easily manipulated because there is no room in my brain for me to let you into my life and then think you have ulterior motives. That requires more thought on things that are not art and puppy dogs and hot chocolate. So I trust. Blindly.
Over the years I have learned not to trust, not by dating and checking cell phone messages and keeping boys on short leashes, but by not dating anyone of substance that would turn into anything. Never allowing the situation that defined most of my life, to occur.
I tell you this because that girl, who took my guy, well, they got married. Then they got divorced. Then she found someone else. And just the other day, he died. The new guy in her life.
I feel nothing but saddness for her. I do not believe she got the better part of the deal. I am grateful I did not have to spend more years with him, knowing him the way I do now. And seeing her pain, from a life time of tragedy, I no longer take it personally. I don't care that he chose her over me, he never knew me. The real me. Some people aren't capable of seeing who we are.
I feel nothing but compassion for her. I want her to be happy. She has had two other horrible tragedies too, of loosing people she loved. We are fb friends but we only met once in real life. I was dating him and she, drunk at a club, came up to me and said she was sorry she still loved him, and tried so hard to get over him but couldn't. He was her drug and she was letting him kill her. Just like I did, when four years later he broke up with me over the phone to marry her. I was 26. (Then it was my turn to be drunk. For five years).
I never gave my heart away since that day. Of course, I was a kid. I had no idea someone could look at me and say I was everything, but not mean it. He played us both the entire time. Wanting his, "Cake and to eat it too." His words the day I found her drivers liscense on the floor of my car. He got her pregnant. We stayed together two more years.
I know now to run away from guys like that, but I never learned to trust again. I think though that I don't want to go through the rest of my life without that magic. You know? But I can't do it like all the other times before. I get lost on a jawline, I'm an artist. I can't help it. But that is not knowing someone. I need to somehow learn how to burn past the passion and take the time to get to know a boy. Because, I would rather die than go through any of that again.
So I'm saying, to this girl, and to whoever is reading, you may feel alone, but unseen forces truly care about you. If you believe in spirit, then this may be easy. But if you are unsure, you can still believe in the human race. Somewhere, someone does care. Even if at the moment you can't see them.
For a three day intensive workshop with me, in New Jersey. Start to finish learn how to draw and paint beautiful Gypsy Girls. Registration closes September 16th.
Everyone tells us to DREAM BIG, but no one asks us to ask why. Why do you want what you want? I did, finally. After five days last week when I was convinced I needed a baby. A fat cheeked, healthy, rolly polly cutely dressed, happy, giggling baby.
I watched youtube videos.
Babies laughing, babies in hysterics at someone ripping paper, babies on tables in South American countries dancing to Ricky Martin. No babies crying, no babies puking, no shattered mothers longing for five minutes of uninterrupted silence.
In my dream life, my babies are only happy and cute.
I have a lot of dreams. One was to have a dog. For two years I kept a photo on my wall of a large headed puppy I met walking around in philly. I knew my life would be better if it had a dog. It is. Everyday. I have never doubted it for a minute. If one dies I will rush out and get another one just like it. I will always have a dog. It is not a choice.
It is also not a choice to make art fulltime. Sometimes I need a break but soon I get itchy, and people around me beg me to go away and draw. I have to expell whatever is inside of me into color. I process everything that way. When I was stripping I wished I could somehow make art for a living, even though I wasn't very good at the time, so it was only a distant dream. I worked at it very hard for very long. Today I don't take my clothes off for money, and I get paid for art, so that dream has come to pass. But did my dream match my reality?
There wasn't internet then, so I could not envision blogs or youtube or uploading onto an intangible web. It didn't exist. And that is the thing about dreams, often what you are dreaming of is not going to be your reality. Our dreams are too perfect. But most of what I dreampt is the same. Art still thrills me every day I sit down to white paper. I never did it only to make money. I do it because I cannot, not, do it. Like an insatiable urge to kiss fur babies in the morning, I have to draw and color for most of the day. Then kiss more fur babies at night.
A dream, the conscious ones, the day-dreams, are usually not reality but wishes of an ideal situation. Life would be perfection if I had this thing. Yes, sometimes. I look down at finney and watch his little finney breath and I am complete for that moment. Having doggies match my dreams of having doggies.
But sometimes our dreams are not based in anything remotely considered reality.
I have a pinterest board as proof, (here).
Pinterest is porn for dreamers. My board, called Someday, has pictures of children I envision myself adopting. In the pictures the babies are propped up on brightly colored, clean, Sweedish patchwork pillows from Ikea, they have on cute hats, and are hugging a very cool dreadlocked mom. These pictures are not very different then the pictures I take of me and my dogs. Sans cool dreadlocks.
When you have a longing you need to satisfy, first ask yourself why. I read the book HOW TO SURVIVE by Augusten Burroughs, all in one day, and he asks you to ask this question. What is it about this thing that will make your life so great? Then check reality. I enjoy quiet. Period. Children are not quiet and if they are made to be it is not fair to them. I shake at any noise, it is just how my damaged psyche reacts to things now. I hear a loud bang and I drop plates. People talking, even a tv for two long, and I start twitching. Stretches of time with warm sunlight and silence is my goal in life. This is not baby friendly atmosphere.
Whenever I get the craving for fat baby cheeks, I will seek them out, but I don't have to rethink my life because this longing will pass. I could do it. I am responsible. I take extremely great care of my doggies. I would give up my life for a child if I had to. But I don't. So that is that. I get all the quiet and time to read and make art that I want and I wont feel bad about it. I won't think your life is better than mine because you get things I don't. I get things you don't, so we're equal.
If you can imagine a life without your dream, then it is not your passion.
Just because you can dream, doesn't mean you should make it come true. There are many things we can put our energy into and easily become distracted. In the past I have taken on too many other people projects, wanting to please and be friends with everyone, and I neglected my dreams for theirs. You might have done this too.
If you want your Live Your True Passion, you must first know what it is, then say no to everything that is not. If you don't know what your Passion is, go look on your pinterest board. (I know you have one.) Write down your boards and pins and what you like. Imagine yourself living these lives. Write about them. Be wretchingly honest in your imaginings. Are your babies (insert your thing in instead of babies) all cute and laughing? Do you think if you were a full time artist you would suddenly be famous and make tons of cash? Do you think Ryan Gosling is really going to show up at your door and help you organize your scrapbook paper? Do you even really want him to? (I would be turned off by a cute guy who would rather color coordinate paper then do almost anything else.)
Which one of your day dreams is something that you cannot live without? This is a clue to what you should put your energy into making come true. If your heart stops a little and it scares you, then you are on the right track.
The above drawing is from my ongoing art journal group Paint & Chronicle.