Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Run Away, Anubis

In Egyptian mythology, Osiris married his sister, Isis, was killed by his brother Seth, and his body was burned in several parts of Egypt . After his resurrection, Osiris was no longer able to dwell on earth, and fled to the underworld where he became judge of souls. He was resurrected by his other sister, Anubis, goddess of embalming.

Run Away, Anubis

Where have you gone and where have you been?
He waits and weeps in the nightmare sand,
Rotting in the roasting sun.
His flesh little more than the pulp
Of a crushed tomato,
Baking in an oven valley for its third day.

Why have you waited so long?
The meat of his five fingers
Winds like Grettle’s trail,
Leaving only bloodless bones
To search from the Nile to Stygian Shore,
Hunting for the other five.

Cavern for a cranium, two-thirds consumed
By a lone, circling vulture.
His languishing raw-hide thighs,
Once powerful vehicles of might and speed,
Twitch and disintegrate to grit among sand.

Have you enough fluid left
To parch the one deflated, juiceless eye?
Defunct, vapid staring orb
That sees none but Elysian Fields
And freshly turned soil.

Have you the strength to squeeze
That perished muscle trying to remember
To pulse, floundering mass that aches,
Desperately drawing in and out for blood
Long since drained, wizened, and thirsty?
The scorched casualty of heat and wind.

Have you stomach enough
To find his carious corse
Beneath the teeming maggots?

Even now he wails and counts the hours.
His nether realm stagnant, waiting for creation…
His flesh longing for your resurrection.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Mother's Paint

As a child I used to sit for hours at my mother easel, watching in awe as she transformed a blank, white canvas into a work of art far beyond any I hoped to create myself. I longed for that visual medium that came like magic to my mother’s brush or pen or chalk. I cursed my clumsy fingers that lacked the ability to draw a straight line, much less anything more complicated than a stick figure in a field of thumb-print flowers. My admiration for my mother’s talent was boundless, and I still look on her work with the awe of a four year old on Christmas morning.

My mother always included me in “art time.” When we could afford to, we’d go to those ready-to-paint ceramics studios, and we’d paint plaques, or figurines together. And when Mom gave art lessons on barter or to friends, she would encourage me to join in. I would sometimes be able to draw with decent approximation whatever the day’s object might be...a flower on a window sill, or a table with different-shaped vases. I wasn’t half-bad at still-life once I really put my mind to it.

But I felt that I always went too far with my project, or not far enough. When we chose identical ceramic pigs to paint, Mom’s turned out lovely and delicate and life-like, with soft brown hair and sweet expressive eyes, and mine turned out…well…a bit more like a cartoon pig with far-too-vibrant peach hair and big never-found-in-nature-blue eyes. That pencil sketch of a flower that would really have looked quite lovely left as a sketch? I’d ruin it when I tried to color it in, smearing the pencil outline and muddying the reds and greens I tried to add. The drawing I made of children walking hand-in-hand on the beach remained forever half drawn, their incomplete faces never gazing into the soft waves I left out all together…

My mother would probably tell you a different story about my own abilities as an artist. She’d remind me that Wilbur, my favorite pig as a child, WAS a cartoon, so of course the ceramic pig I painted would emulate him. She’d say that the flower I ruined wasn’t ruined at all, that I was merely illustrating what I saw the way I saw it. Mom would point out that the children I began to draw, but didn’t finish, were in fact quite an accomplishment.

“It’s very interesting what you’re doing there,” Mom would say as I bent my head over the sketch pad she loaned me.

“How so?”

“Well,” said Mom, “you started with the feet first.”

“Is that wrong?” I asked, anxious now that I thought I had, once again, ruined what might have been my masterpiece.

“No, it’s not wrong, it’s just different. Hands and feet are the hardest to get right.”

It took me twenty years to really understand the things my mother tried to teach me through art. In my young mind, if I wasn’t getting the same outcome at the easel that my mother did, I was a failure. If the colors in my flower weren’t as crisp as Mom’s, then they were awful. If I couldn’t draw faces the way she did, or even finish a drawing, I had no talent. I never thought about the fact that my mother had been drawing and painting and honing her craft her entire life, or that I’d always chosen choir and drama over art class. It never entered my mind that perhaps one of the reasons I couldn’t create what my mother could wasn’t because I had no ability, but rather because I had not 1/100th of the passion my mother did for drawing and painting.

I didn’t grasp then that the reason my mother was so amazing with visual mediums, and so very gifted at crafting people, was because she loved it, and she nearly always drew what she loved. She wasn’t just being nice when she commented on how remarkable it was that I drew the feet and hands of those children first, she meant it. For her, feet and hands were truly exasperating because they weren’t what she was interested in. Feet and hands weren’t what she saw. Character was my mothers delight as an artist. The sadness in the eyes of a neglected wife, the beaming smile of a little girl with her favorite toy, the sagging jowls of an elderly man, the weathered creases in a farmer’s brow…if my mother was extraordinary at capturing someone on canvas, it’s because she painted what fascinated her, and she captured what she saw, the way she saw it.

I still wonder at my mother’s gift, and her ability to see through a blank white square to the portrait that’s waiting inside. And I hope that I can create characters on stage half as true to life as those my mother creates on canvas.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As I was saying...

Commandment #2: Listen More, Talk Less

I’m a loquacious gal. If you haven’t figured out by reading my previous posts let me clue you in - I talk. A lot. I’m also an actor, so naturally I can (and often times do) talk, ad nauseam, about my feelings, and my art, and my current project, and my past projects, and my other feelings and my, and my, and my… I have a tendency, as much as I hate to admit it, to be quite a selfish conversationalist. I recognize this in myself – I recognize this as a weakness – a big one. And I want to change it.

I want to think less of myself and more of others, and I think that starts with listening. When someone speaks to me, I want to be engaged. Within the breaths between words, I want the possibility of learning from others to open up - not my mouth. And when my mouth does open, I want the words I speak to be informed by the information just provided, and not by thoughts waiting impatiently to burst from between my lips the minute the other person stops talking. Listen and react is the cornerstone of acting, and I want to do it better. Really listening to a friend when they need you is the heart of friendship, and I want to be a better friend. Listening, not just to the voice or the words but to every thing not being said in the between, is absolutely essential to being a good partner, and wife and mother … and oh how I want to be a good partner, and wife, and (someday) mother.

So in the next few weeks and months, when you hear less of my voice, understand it’s because I’m making the effort to hear more in yours.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Commandment #1 – Be Cali

I’ll admit I lifted this one directly from The Happiness Project. The Authors simple “Be Gretchen” really spoke to me – her need for it even more so.

Why do we find it so hard to simply be ourselves? What does that even mean – who else could we be? When I really look at that deceptively simple commandment “Be Cali” I start to realize why it may very well be the most effective commandment I choose (and why I choose to list it as number one). Because it’s not simple to be yourself, be happy with yourself, be fully in the moment as yourself, to wish nothing more for yourself than to simply be the best YOU that you can be...

I have a girlfriend I admire greatly for many reasons. She’s celebrated my triumphs with me, played nurse maid when I was too injured to properly care for myself, and taken care of my heart when it most desperately needed a gentle friend. She’s brave in ways I’m not, fiercely loyal, the kind of talented that makes performance seem easy, and on top of it all she just happens to be smokin’ hot. Seriously, the girl is Susan-Sarandon-cum-Bull-Durham-but-prettier-and-with-eyes-so-blue-they-could-cut-glass-with-a-glance hot. It would be very easy for me to wish I had her effortless grace and sex appeal, her ease on stage, or her ability to tell anyone exactly what she thinks about anything regardless…it would be very easy to cross that fine line between admiration and jealousy.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t possess some nice qualities myself. I have a few tricks up my performer’s sleeve, I’m maybe even a little more comfortable on stage as myself than she is, and my fiancĂ© would tell anyone willing to listen (and some who aren’t) that I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. Unfortunately these aren’t the thoughts that pop into my mind 50,000 times a day. We can’t possibly consider what we have when we’re concentrating so hard on our have-nots. Sometimes it’s easy to see wonderful qualities in others and wish they were your own. Sometimes it’s far too easy to see a leggy blonde walk by and wish you had her body, or to visit a home someone else has and wish you had one that nice, or to see someone else perform on stage and wish you were THAT good, or that you could play the ingĂ©nue for once, or that it was your multi-million dollar selling album or…the list could go on and on, and sometimes it does. It’s just so very easy to look outward and yearn, pine for, covet all that belongs to others, because their grass is just so much damned greener than ours. And the inevitable flip side of that coin is always devaluing what we do have. It’s a destructive, ugly cycle that only serves to beget more negativity. And it’s pointless because you never can be someone else, you never can have what others have, and you never can live anyone else’s life but your own.

Frankly, I don’t want to waste my time anymore. I’m all for self-improvement. I just want whatever improvements I put into action to stem from me, and not what I perceive as someone else’s “better-than”. I want to be myself without comparing my looks, my body, my talents, my career, or my pocket book with those of other people. It’s not as easy to be happy being yourself. It’s constantly reminding yourself until it’s second nature to believe that who you are is great, it’s replacing the “have-not” thoughts with the knowledge that what you do have is plenty, it’s comparing who you are today only with who you were yesterday, and who you want to be tomorrow. It won’t be easy to just “Be Cali” but it’s far more beneficial than the alternative. And really shouldn’t I be most proud of the one thing in the world that only I can do?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happiness is...

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this blog. Not that I’ve not written anything -bits and pieces per my usual, and I’ve been working on a musical parody as my first official assignment as (ehem) a new Artistic Associate with Hubris Productions (more on that later). And my absence certainly hasn’t been lack of inspiration – in fact I’ve had a wealth of inspirational articles and topics and readings come my way since last I blogged. A friend of mine passed along a fantastic videoed speech on the nature of creativity given by Elizabeth Gillbert. I read Eat, Pray, Love , a memoire authored by that very same Elizabeth Gilbert (if you haven’t read it, you should). I read a quite disturbing article about luxury and relative personal economics. And I’ve been meaning to have a long-overdue discussion with Feminism…but oi, I’ve been busy.

I stumbled upon this blog yesterday* 13 Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Done , which prompted me to go here today*. I realized, if I go back to the very first post I made here, this blog has always been about the pursuit of happiness. A creative happiness, but happiness none the less – and it’s high time I picked up my blogging-stick.

I’m going to start by working on my own set of happiness commandments. I’ve been compiling a list of quotes and potential commandments and would like to share a few (ha!) that may or may not make the official list. Perhaps over time I can suss out the ones that seem repetitive, the ones that bear repeating, and the ones I can’t (or at least shouldn’t) live without. And the ultimate goal would be to have a succinct (good luck Cali – perhaps my 1st commandment should be “be brief”) list that applies to both my life and my creative productivity (perhaps there’s another commandment “creativity is life and life is creative – stop trying to put them in separate boxes”). I can see already that “be brief” one would be really tough…

The list so far:

Be brief

Creativity is life and life is creative – stop trying to put them in separate boxes.

Philosophy is best expressed in the choices we make. – modified quote, Elenore Roosevelt

Being happy is a choice and a duty. –modified quote Robert Louis Stevenson

St. Therese wrote: "When one loves, one does not calculate."

Act as I want to feel / fake it till you make it (thank you Candice Koern)

Quit bitching and do something.

We don’t sing because we are happy. We are happy because we sing. – Dr. Claire Buie Chaney

Be Kind and Patient

So you say I gotta be me – Revenge of the nerds

When asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40.

Say Yes, and… - Second City

Ralph Waldo Emerson :
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded."

Progress, not perfection, is what we should be asking of ourselves. – The Artist’s Way

On that same topic: Practice does not make perfect – but it does make progress.

Love is action

If you can't show compassion for yourself, how will you ever be able to show compassion to others

I will sell this house today. – American Beauty

Let go

Persistence, Permanence, Perception – Dr. Claire Buie Chaney
(I would add Patience)

Happiness is a choice

Words have power. Speak into existence only that which is positive.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do

Seek God and give thanks.



Give for the sake of giving


You can’t get what you don’t ask for

Give more than I take

Finish what you start

Quality time with loved ones does not include TV

Be Cali

Until I get these distilled down to 10 I’ll be spending some time with them here discussing what they mean to me, how they can and should apply to my pursuit of happiness, etc.

*The yesterday referenced was actually Wednesday 5/27 – perhaps I should add “Stop procrastinating!”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another reason to be jolly at Christmas Time...

Thank you National Lampoon

Ooooh, midnight in the ghetto street
A desperate boy, he wants somethin' t' eat
('Cause he's dead on his feet)
To "The Man" in the squad car, it's just his "beat"
(He don't care, he don't live there...)
He lives in Queens
(Not Manhattan or The Bronx, or, Brooklyn --Ahhhh, oooooh!)

A thief on the roof, a mugger in the hall
(Stick 'em up, stick 'em up!)
A baby on the floor, eatin' paint off the wall
(How's he gonna grow tall?)
But, there's one time of year that brings joy to one and all
(When ev'ry race has a smile on it's face...)


Junkie on the corner, the Pusher uptown
Diggin' the Yuletide, Santa's gettin' down
Holiday colors of red and green
Turkey's big and fat and The Gangsta Lean
Numbers runner stops for a chat
The Apollo doorman tips his hat
And he says:

"Have a Kung-Fu Christmas!"

Livin' in The Ghetto, you always lose
They'll shoot ya' for your socks
And, they'll stick ya' for your shoes
When you're a Super Bad dude,
You pay Super Bad dues
(Where fear and strife is a way of life...)

But, there's a man comin' today
With lots of loot
He's got a Pimp-mo-sleigh,
A red and white fur suit
He's a SuperFly guy;
And, he's awful cu-u-ute
(He's about to arrive, bringing Jingle Bell Jive!)

Santa Claus is makin' the Soul Train scene
Slickin' down his beard with Afro Sheen®
Eeny meeny and miney mo
Frost in your hair, and snow up your nose
Diamond in the back, trimmed with holly
My girls are on the street, an' I'm feelin' jolly
Christmas Eve's comin' with the last-minute bustle
Santa tells the elves "You'd better do The Hustle"

Music by Paul Shaffer and Christopher Guest
Lyrics by Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I couldn't say it any better than this...

Please read my friend Josh's post about teen bullying in Cy-Fair ISD (where we both went to school).

Thank you Josh for your words and your brave heart.